bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Tag: background

Pandoramancy: I’ll make you a believer…

This song is evocative of some of my first interactions with L as an adult:

While I was familiar with the original Depeche Mode version from 1989, I preferred Marilyn Manson’s cover version (released in 2004), as Manson’s voice felt closer to the weary tone and cracked pitch of L’s voice, especially considering it had been several months’ post-breakdown*

~~~~

 

*Another personal Ragnarök had just occurred in my life in late February 2008- so when He came to me with that particular face and aspect, I found it to be more comforting than disturbing at the time.

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It’s a bittersweet symphony, this life.

 I’ve always felt a profound connection with this song – Bittersweet Symphony, by the Verve.

As I’ve been hearing this song a lot in the past month, the resulting thoughts and feelings that this song generates for me have been rolling about my brain for some time.

I hemmed and hawed about posting these thoughts, as I am aware the subject matter can be quite triggering for some.

And yet, in the spirit of my ‘Keeping It 100’ project – I decided that I might as well share those thoughts today, the intent being that if I come clean about this particular part of my personal history, perhaps someone out there might feel a little less…alone.

***So please be advised: In this post, I discuss my mental illness, including some details/references to episodes of personal self-injury.***

I was once diagnosed with bipolar axis 2, and I thought that I was – for many years.

I even took medication for about 5 years  – which I hated doing – because that’s what I was told would help me get a handle on myself and my negative thought patterns, behaviors, and emotions. 

(It’s one of my personality traits: I’m pretty much a strict follower of prescribed rules regarding certain aspects of my life. )

Though the high level of prescribed medications actually didn’t help – for obvious reasons I’ll touch upon in a minute – I took my meds as prescribed, without fail.

And yet, I still found myself with a distinct inability to feel happy. 

In therapy, I was told to embrace change, to meditate, to talk about my feelings, and to reject negativity.

And this song – Bittersweet Symphony – signified all of these aspects to me:  this song resonated deeply with me because it gave me the words to describe my personal struggle with being bipolar.

Because bipolar was the blanket mood disorder that was ascribed to me.

My being bipolar was the explanation and the reason that I displayed all those ‘negative’ personality traits: moodiness, a penchant for melodrama, emotional instability, anger management issues – even the personal quirks that I talk too fast and too much was ascribed to be further proof that I must be bipolar.  (The speed of my delivery must indicate the speed of my thoughts!)

And oddly enough, as much as I hated it, the diagnosis of bipolar was a relief too.  

Because being bipolar explained everything.

Even if it didn’t.

When I went off medications in late 2001, my psychiatrist at the time insisted that I shouldn’t because he claimed that possibility that I would self-injure again or attempt suicide. 

But my stubbornness er, determination to prove him wrong was a powerful force.

Thus, it is a point of pride for me when I admit that I did not even think of self-injury nor suicide for 12, almost 13 years.

But when my 20 year marriage was on the rocks and I left my husband in the summer of  2014,  to stay with LOL, my self esteem was at an all time low.  

And I admit that I entertained some dark thoughts while I was staying with LOL.

While I am certain that she felt that she was helping me, I realized within that month, that I had simply traded one form of mindfuckery for an even more insidious form of manipulation. 

I felt as if my world was falling apart – and I was simply existing between that rock and hard place, and while I should be ashamed of this, I suppose, thoughts of self-injury came rushing forward like an equally manipulative but familiar friend.   

 (Trigger warning: discussion/reference to self-injury follows)

Now, allow me to point out that the desire to self-injure is not the same as suicidal ideation.

This is a concept that has only recently been recognized by the psychiatric community. 

An act of self-injury is not, and should not be conflated as a suicide attempt, and yet I have been in therapy long enough that I can recall when it was difficult to find a therapist/psychiatrist that subscribed to the idea that self-injury event did not equal a suicide attempt. 

And yes, I have a ‘helpful’ but essentially misguided Massachusetts social worker to thank for a three day stay in a state mental ward in 1998 to show for that.* 

But if you have never self-injured but have always wondered why the fuck self-injury should not equal suicide attempt, allow me to explain my personal take:

When I have self-injured, it has always arisen from my being in an intensely overwhelming emotional state. 

Usually my self-injury arises out of a combination of anxiety coupled with despair, as well as – and this is the most important part – a desperate need in me to have control of something. Anything.  The levels of my anxiety and despair have reached critical mass and I am not just emotionally overwhelmed – I feel like I have lost control of everything. 

Emotionally, my thought-patterns and self-image have swiftly become stuck in an endless dark loop of hopelessness and negativity. 

I have likely hurt someone’s feelings with what I’ve said and done.

It is likely that my words and behavior have concerned (if not terrified) someone I love.

I start thinking in absolutes:

Nothing is good.

Everything is wrong.

It is all my fault.

I cannot fix it. 

In short

I feel I have lost control of my thoughts and emotions in response to the situation.

Then, that emotional situation might be coupled with the physical symptoms of what is most likely a panic/anxiety attack:

My heart, blood and breath rates are going through the roof.  I am bathed in a cold sweat, and all major muscle groups ache and twitch with tension.

My neck is tight, my chest feels constricted.

If I’ve been on a crying and/or screaming jag, it’s likely that I’m become so congested from crying that I am having trouble breathing, my stomach muscles ache from all the clenching/sobbing, and my throat has probably gone raw from screaming/crying.

My head and teeth ache from clenching my jaw, and I cannot seem to regulate my body temperature.

I am shaking. 

I feel nauseous.

If I’ve lashed out physically, I might have gone and broken something. 

I have likely terrified or upset others with my physical response.  

I may feel like I’ve physically lost control of my body and its responses to the situation.

The loss of control – in the combined mental and physical responses –  is terrifying.  I feel disconnected from myself.  I need to get control of something.

I want to get control back.  I want to connect again to my body and mind.

And so then, I might focus on the repetitive actions of scratching/picking at my skin.

In extreme cases, I might move to using other implements – usually something with a point or with a sharp edge – and I might proceed in cutting or scraping until I reach the desired level of pain which brings me relief. 

It’s the pain, you know.  I need to focus on the pain. 

It is my attempt to create a little physical pain as a distraction –  to distract myself from my mental pain. 

The pain is nothing more than a coping strategy – the effort to create a controlled distraction for myself, from myself.

Self-injury is a coping mechanism some people develop to deal with emotional pain.

But self-injury was, in my case, an unhealthy avoidance maneuver/coping mechanism.

But self-injury, in my case, was never a suicide attempt. 

I didn’t want to die; I just wanted to have control of somethingand in the case of self-injury, it was a cause/effect paradigm that was much easier to control. 

When my levels of emotional pain and the anxiety/panic attack sensations were overwhelming (out of control), this was a pain I could handle, something I could control. 

Though honestly, I do understand now how my anxious attempts to create sensation-situation I can control could easily lead to damage – anywhere from permanent scarring to accidental death.

(And yes, I do have scars as reminders of several episodes of self-injury.)

So.  There’s the background on the memory of my feelings that led to most of my self-injury attempts, which includes that last major self-injury attempt in 1998.

~~~

But back to June 2014 – when my husband and I seemed definitively headed for divorce, I left my husband and I was living with Local Other Lokean. 

I was, as you may imagine, feeling an overwhelming level of despair.

(And as I had mentioned before, it was the first time in 12 years that I’d even allowed myself to entertain thoughts of self-injury.  That alone was a sign that I was in way over my head in  dealing with my emotional pain in a healthy way.)

So I checked myself into the closest mental health facility that took my insurance which happened to be in Bartow, FL.

While there, I began therapy, and again, I was put back on bipolar medications, also for the first time in 13 years.

I thought about what my psychiatrist had said to me in 2001, and I had to chuckle: if his understanding of the unmedicated bipolar patient were to be trusted, why did it take me 12 years unmedicated to get to this moment?

The assigned therapist couldn’t answer that question.

As well, she couldn’t answer why the bipolar medications that I had been recently been given (and took as scheduled without fail) for the last 3 months did not seem to have any of the desired effects.

I still couldn’t sleep more than a few hours a night.  I felt just as anxious, just as ‘manic’ as ever, though the meds did affect my memory skills and I did have trouble concentrating most of the time. 

If calmer meant feeling as if I was uncomfortably drunk to the point of nausea, then I wanted no part of this version of calm.

But I am a follower of rules in regards to my mental health, so when the doctor suggested I try another medication, I did.

So I tried another medication.

And another.

And another.

And yet, it was not until relatively recently that any psychiatrist, social worker or therapist thought to question my bipolar diagnosis. 

I would explain what my symptoms were, and they would ask if I ever had a diagnosis.  I’d tell them that I was diagnosed with bipolar axis 2 in 1997, and then,  they would write me a prescription for another bipolar medication.  

And it didn’t seem to matter if the medications didn’t work – I was bipolar, wasn’t I?

I started to wonder.

~~~

Well, finally in April 2016, I started going to another therapist who also had a degree in  psychiatry.

Oddly enough, my bipolar diagnosis was the first thing that he questioned, mostly because I’d begin to question it myself. 

So I laboriously described both my past and present symptoms in great detail over the next two months. 

As well, we talked about my meditation practice, negative self talk,  behavior modifications and mindful choices.  

Also, to ease my mind – and satisfy the insurance company – we sat down with the latest DSM of psychiatric disorders and methodically went through the symptom lists of bipolar axis 1 and 2, schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD, borderline personality disorder, and several anxiety disorders.

Turns out, according to his professional opinion, while I am melodramatic, talk fast, and I definitely have my moments of rage and depression, I don’t fit the diagnostic criteria of bipolar either axis one or two. 

As well, I am not schizophrenic. 

Nor do I have borderline personality disorder.

And I do not have ADHD.

But I do have an anxiety disorder with some rather definite overtones of OCD.

And that, my friends, is all I needed to know.

It’s nice to finally be heard and understood.

As well, it is good to finally be working with a therapist and a correct diagnosis.  It’s good to finally be able to function.

While the path to this point was not easy – I am grateful that I am making headway on treating my life-long issues with anxiety and depression.

~~~

* By the way: Thank *you*, Claire!   Sending three policemen to meet me at my home directly after our appointment on that miserable January day was an especial treat…and your suggestion/threat to the intake staff that I might require a straitjacket to ‘calm’ me when I arrived at the hospital for intake was a lovely though unnecessary touch.  Thank you ever so much for giving me and my powers of self-control the benefit of the doubt!)

The Other.

<<<<see previous post for context<<<<<<

1 September 2016 – Day 2

The visualization today requires one to look in the mirror and ask oneself:

What is being hidden? What is holding you back?

When I looked into the bowl – I saw myself, at approximately age 10 or so.  I was crying, I was cutting – words into my skin.

And then I saw myself (at age 6 or 7) sitting at a table, deep in concentration.

I am making things out of clay.

My mother is there, but she is cleaning the kitchen.

(I am remembering, I am hearing snippets of my mother’s commentary:  Stupid little junky things and making such a mess.

These were things my mother hated: messes and ‘junky things.’

And I am making a mess.

According to her, I am sitting there, always making ‘stupid little junky things.’  My mother hated them; but my father collected them.  I see them lined up on the top of his bureau, these things I’ve made.

I watch myself trying not to cry, trying not to listen or to care about what is being said.

I feel defeated.

Suddenly, the words

strong

and

creative girl

run through my head as I consider my younger self in this vision.

It is difficult to see her.  I want to push this away.

I want her to be someone who is not afraid to say ‘No’

I want her to be the sort of child who is not afraid to stand up and tell her mother:

You are wrong. 

That is not true.

I am more than you know. 

I am more than you think. 

Where is she? The one who can do – the one who is unashamed – to create, to be, to shine?

She is crying.  I am crying.

Suddenly I remember those words, said just a few nights ago:

How dare you dull yourself for others….

I saw a girl who stopped trying.

The girl who gave up, who accepted their words

their ridicule

their anger

feeling like she deserved this treatment.

The quiet girl who simply tried harder to be perfect.

I wanted to show you…the one who decided to accept their opinions rather than creating herself. 

This is the one who hid.

This is the one you hid.

And then, I saw a ten-year old  girl pinned to the wall of a well-lighted bathroom – disassociating from the humiliation of what her mother is doing.

‘Come here, will you? Stay still! Just let me…goddamnit, I am trying to help you!….’

Feeling ashamed.  Trying to disassociate from the pain of fingernails digging into skin; face feeling hot and swollen…. and crying.

‘You know, you’d be so pretty if you would just let me fix…let me get this….’

I feel ANGRY.

This is the girl who holds it all in.

This is the girl who doesn’t complain.

This is the girl who didn’t think that she could win, so she didn’t fight.

This is the girl who acquiesced.

I wish that I could tell that girl that she did not deserve that  —  she did not have to accept that treatment – she didn’t have to allow her mother to do that.

I realize that this is why I have always inwardly cringed a little bit at those words Accept and Allow.

This is why I Can’t.

Because I realize when I accepted that – I accepted the unacceptable along with the acceptable and I allowed behavior that should not have ever been allowed.

And why?  Because I thought that if I was ‘good,’ I would be loved…but I was never good enough.

‘Here.  Step into the light.  Look at your face…let me fix that….’

Crying didn’t help.  Anger didn’t help.  Physical resistance only led to escalating altercations that just exacerbated things between my mother and I.

So what did I do — to cope?

I learned to ‘fix.’

Like my mother, I compulsively examine my face in the mirror.  I pluck my eyebrows and pick and scratch at the skin of my face, trying to fix.

I am wrecking my skin. I routinely  over-pluck my eyebrows.

And she ‘taught’ me how, because at some point, she stopped pinning me against the wall – because I learned to do these things to myself – to fix.

But I always feel so ugly afterwards.

Each time I tell myself that I won’t do it again.

Until the next time, every time that I feel or see an ingrown hair growing crooked or feel a bump or a flake of dry skin.   I always think my ‘fixing’ will make things better.

So I spend a lot of time examining my face in bathroom mirrors, looking for the slightest flaws – lumps, discolorations, hairs.

I also pick and scratch and worry the skin around my fingernails and at the tips of my fingers… and while I do not bite my fingernails, I try to keep them short enough so I can’t.

I convince myself that I’ve gotten better, you know.

Because it has to have been a good 25 years since I had gotten so lost in scratching or picking that the only thing that broke me out of my stress-induced reverie was that my fingers were bleeding.

When I’m stressed, I lightly – though compulsively – scratch my scalp.  (I still actually find head-scratching rather soothing.  Head-scratching is one of the only OCD things that I still do that doesn’t seem to do too much damage, but I can be obsessive about it, and thus feel ashamed enough to sit on my hands on my particularly ‘bad days.’)

It is OCD.

But the important difference between my mother and I – is that I respect the bodily autonomy of others.

And I have been through enough therapy to realize that what my mother did was abusive and wrong

This is hard.

You must step into the light…

But I realize that I am the one holding me back.

 

Month for Loki, Day 18: Lost…and found.

Since I am still struggling with several overlapping illnesses at this time – ear infection, sinus infection, and general malaise – you may that I haven’t had much of the wherewithal to write these past few days.

Hence the reason that I’ve gotten so behind in keeping up with my daily posts this July in the Month for Loki.

But I have been reading a lot – and this powerful post came across my WordPress feed today, concerning Loki as a God Who is rather popular with folks who have struggled with various forms of abuse, difficulty, and dysfunction in their lives.    I agree with her especially in this:

One of the biggest groups of people who tend to find themselves interacting with Loki are those who have been abused in some way. The ones who have lost themselves and need to be guided back – who need to learn who they are again. Loki teaches us that it’s okay to not be okay. He teaches us that it’s okay to be wounded and feel the wound so that it can heal properly.

While my experiences were not exactly the same as those of Ms. Kyaza, I can relate to a lot of her experiences, especially in regards to dysfunctional family relationships.

I can definitely identify with the ambivalent feelings that arise out of having suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of those whom I trusted most to love and respect me.

In fact, there were several occasions wherein I found myself dangerously close to tears while reading her post, as her description of her thoughts and feelings about her mother and their relationship so closely resonated with my own experiences so powerfully.

Reading her post made me feel a strange mixture of feelings.

I felt both a sense of exposure and a sense of triumphant relief in reading this post.

I felt an incredible sense of exposure and shame – as in reading her words, I was so acutely reminded of the immensity of my own desire to please my mother (and in turn, my siblings) who often rejected my efforts by responding with anger, ridicule or outright dismissal.  And yet, I remember that guilt, that shame.  I had grown up feeling that somehow, if I could just do better, work harder, love more – then finally, I would receive love; I would deserve love.

And yet, while reading, I also felt an undercurrent of strange relief – here was someone who writes so eloquently of navigating emotional landmines that I understand.

I felt understood.  I felt heard.

I am not alone in this pain.

I am not the only one.

You see, I have both loved and hated my mother and my siblings – and as a result, in turn, as a woman and as a mother, I have both loved and hated myself.  I struggled – and still struggle – with the emotional scars of my upbringing.  I crave to feel understood, to feel safe, to feel loved, and yet I have been skeptical of the existence of a relationship wherein I can feel understood, safe and loved.  Sometimes, I find myself skeptical of those who have tried to nurture me, so deeply ingrained was my belief that I did not deserve even my mother’s love, the love of my brothers and sisters.

It took me years to decipher that it was not my inadequacy or failing, but the lack of self-love and incapacity to receive love that my mother (and perhaps of those even further back) suffered with that continues this horrible chain.

It affects all of my relationships. I have tried valiantly to be the mother that my own wasn’t, and yet, I still find myself wondering if I’ve fallen short, if I’ve done a disservice to my children.  As a person, I have endeavored to be emotionally reliable, compassionate, and kind, and yet, sometimes, I am a victim of my own perfectionism and pessimism, and my own distorted habits and worldviews.

I am estranged from my family, even today.

But the truth is, I am no longer estranged from myself.  I am no longer lost.

I had to learn to break the cycle of the past.  It is daily work to remain mindful of my emotional responses and reactions whenever I interact with others.  (Is it kind? Is it necessary? Am I responding from a place of love and understanding rather than from fear or anger, for example.)

I have learned to be acutely aware of my own negative self-talk and self-limiting behaviors and beliefs.  I am learning to accept myself and recognize my strengths and weaknesses, as well as accepting and recognizing that everyone else also has their own struggles with similar issues, with similar emotions, behaviors and beliefs about themselves – and none of us are perfect.  Perfection is stagnation.

I am learning to allow myself …to feel vulnerable.  To feel angry.  To be open to my own emotions and not fear the emotions, reactions, or responses of others.  I am learning to be accountable.  I am learning to let go of what doesn’t work and focus on what does.  I am learning to let go and trust the process.  Trust Him and trust myself.

Loki taught me a lot of these things.  He has taught me to embrace imperfection, to confront fear of loss or change, to let go of the need to control outcomes, to work with what I’ve been given, and most of all, to allow myself, to open myself to love.

Love the process of living, love the process of learning.

Just…LOVE.

~~~

Hail Loki, God of the lost and…found.

Thank You for finding me.

 

 

 

 

 

Month for Loki, Day 6: Student.

Being that this is the month for Loki, you may see many devotional blogs that feature a convenient little survey (like this one) that details the particulars of the development and practice of hows and whens and whys of  a devotee’s journey to working with Loki.

And in the interest of my task to keep it 100, I wanted to write a post today that talks about the first role that Loki played in my life once He re-introduced Himself to me in 2011.

Loki is, for all intents and purposes, an academic.   While His relentless desire for knowledge often does mirror Odin’s singleminded quest for wisdom in several ways, in my experience, Loki’s methods  seem infinitely more eclectic.

Loki doesn’t care how or by what means you’ve attained your knowledge; He just wants you to get it.

In that, Loki seems to value those with a variety of skills – and the more varied your skill-set, the better.

So, in that sense, His role in the development of my devotional practice for that first year, was as my Teacher… and I was His student.

That was pretty much the dynamic for the first year.

I was incessantly prodded to notice and examine the energy around me, and to become aware of the energy within my body.  In this sense, I was being encouraged to learn that everything that exists consists of energy, and that much of how matter (and by extension, will)  is manifested in this world is through movement of energy – the vibration of light (color), the vibration of sound (words) and the vibration of movement (dance, exercise, even sex.)

All matter that exists vibrates with differing frequencies.

In short…

13620924_1205141012829532_5055681162747369593_n

Then, of course, there was  The Three Laws of Thermodynamics.

As I never paid much attention in physics class, I despaired at all this complex talk about energy.

But then, as He is wont to do, Loki nudged me from other angles.

I began a meditation practice, that later grew to involve the use of chanting and mudras.

I began studying runes and other alphabet systems.  I re-acquainted myself with studying linguistics, as well as the structure and history of Proto-Indo European languages.

I learned about drumming and dancing as a means to bring about altered states, including trance.

I learned about the ‘energetic body’ – with intense focus on chakras and auras.

I learned about shielding, grounding, warding and other magickal exercises.

And looking back on it, I realized that there are definitive links between what is defined as science/history and what is defined as spirituality/magick.

Perhaps there is little difference between the two as long as there is focused intent, and a commitment to study with intent.

~~~

And my practice grew.

My interactions with others and my experiences with Loki at that time seem to reflect my student role back at me:

I saw myself as a devotee of Loki, nothing more.

And I was satisfied with all of that and with all that I was learning — about science, about magick, about Loki…and most importantly, about myself.

I was so taken up by what I saw as a rapid and very exciting process that was focused entirely on the pursuit of knowledge.

But then, things changed.

Suddenly, I began losing focus as a student… because my marriage was falling apart.

I could not ignore the profoundly emotional energetic shift that seemed to be occurring in my life.

Despite the fact that I was connecting with so many things on both a physical and a philosophical level, the structure of my most valued relationship was failing.

Suddenly, I started to chafe against that scholarly distance that I had created as a student.

While I could muster a polite respect for Him as a Teacher, underneath the surface, I felt distracted and disconnected.

Soon I began to daydream and avoid the lessons that I had once embraced.  I put away my runes.  I stopped my various studies of mudras and chakras and auras.  I stopped all of my daily rituals – the daily practices of grounding, centering, and warding.  I gave up focusing on energy work altogether.

The only thing that really stayed was my meditation practice.  It was the only mindful connection that I seemed to be able to have with Him.

And then, He began to come to me while I slept, in dreams.

For several months, I had repetitive cycles of dreams wherein He would encourage me to approach Him, to come close enough to touch Him.

Even though I had given up studying and I had been dodgy about approaching Him…

He was remarkably relentless and yet – surprisingly –  infinitely patient with me in my stubbornness.

And then, one day, in 2013, He asked me the question:

Wouldn’t you rather be in love?

And I didn’t know what to say.

Sunshine Blogger Award

sunshine-award

Thanks Amber who nominated me for this award!

Here are the questions from Amber:

  • What drew you to blogging?

I have been keeping a journal – in notebook form – since I was 8 years old. (As a matter of fact, I still do write in my notebook journal nearly every day.)

In 2002, I began blogging at LiveJournal and the now-defunct OpenDiary in an attempt to keep in touch with friends that I’d made in various online (and offline) Pagan and kink communities.

  • How did you meet Loki?

This is a difficult question to answer, as it depends on how one would define ‘meeting’ Loki.

I’ve known of Loki since I was a kid, mostly due to the combination of my interests in reading world mythology, cultural lore, fairy tales and comic books.

As well, as I’ve written before, I had an imaginary/invisible friend as a child who ‘left’ me around age 9 or so.  Then I started writing – keeping a daily journal/diary, as well as writing short stories that featured several characters.  Then, around age 12, I also started drawing in an attempt to illustrate some of these stories, and there was a particular man whose face I drew a lot.

It isn’t a far stretch for me to admit that that man had been my childhood ‘invisible friend.’

But I didn’t think of my invisible friend again, until the spring of 2008, when my younger son became severely ill, and was in and out of the hospital for several months. Though my son was hardly ever alone (besides that my husband and I took turns staying overnights with him throughout each hospital stay), my 5-year-old son told me in April 2008 that a tall, friendly man would come to visit him in the hospital, and that once, the man brought his wife and two sons.  The first time that my son described this man – how he looked, what clothes he wore, even the way that he talked – I could not help but admit that this man seemed a lot like the ‘invisible friend’ that I’d had until age 9.  But I didn’t think that it could be possible. (I am still not certain if these were dreams my son had had or if these visits were brief waking-visions, but after the third visitation, my son informed me that this man had told him to tell me that of course (he) knows me because (he) was my friend a long time ago. O.o)

And I still didn’t want to admit that that could have been Loki.

That is, until mid-2011, when Loki began to visit my dreams, and actually identified Himself as such.

~~~

So, take of the above ^ as you will.

You could say that I met Loki when I was a young child.

Or you could say that I didn’t really know it was Him until 2008.

Or you could say that I didn’t want to admit that it was Him until He insisted on (re) introducing Himself to me in 2011.

 

  • How long have you been with Loki?

(See above.)

Since I was a kid, but I wasn’t really pushed to put it all together until 2011.

And even then, I didn’t officially dedicate an altar to Him until April 2012.

So what is that 3 years -4 years – officially?

Or should I say what He would likely say:  Forever, Heathir 

 

  • Do you interact with other gods than Loki? Who?

In 1997, I began to identify myself as a Celtic Pagan.  I had been studying the Celtic pantheon for a long time before, and I decided to dedicate a lot of my practice/devotion to the Morrighan, believing Her to be my patron Goddess.

But for some reason, things began to change around 2010 or so.  I had begun working on writing a book about the Morrighan, simply because I’d been studying Her in lore for years and there wasn’t a lot of discussion of Her at that time.  And though I couldn’t figure out why, the more that I attempted to gather information on the Morrighan, the more disconnected from Her I felt.

So, in February 2012 I received a divination that pointed me in the direction of Freyja, rather than the Morrighan.

For this reason, I have always had a permanent altar for Freyja ever since.  (Not surprisingly, both Loki and Freyja have interacted with me in an extension of that same sovereignty work that I’d attempted to do with the Morrighan years before.)

As well, before officially dedicating to Loki in 2014, I had had interactions with Dionysus, Baphomet, and Cernunnos. (Dionysus still shows up once in a while, but I’ve never maintained a permanent space for Him.)

I also offer to Freyr and Odin at times, and I maintain an altar for Hela.

  • Your favourite way to relax and unwind?

I have no set favorite way to unwind.

I like to walk in the woods.

I meditate.

I write.

I draw.

I like to crochet and do embroidery, as well.

  • Name one place you’ve never been but would love to visit.

Iceland.

  • What kind of music do you like?

I love all sorts of music. I can and do enjoy listening to all different genres of music.  I don’t have a favorite genre, but in terms of radio stations, you’ll find me listening to alternative rock, such as what would be found on DC 101 when I’m in the car.

  • What kind of books do you like?

Like music, I don’t have a favorite kind of book.  I’ve been reading a lot of mythology and cultural history lately, but I like a well-written suspenseful story no matter what the genre.  I also love reading anthologies of short fiction and poetry.

  • What’s your favourite song, and why?

As I’ve said above re:music, I don’t favor any particular genre of music, so I could not ever hope to choose a definitive ‘favorite song.’

But I can tell you that I have had Chris Cornell’s ‘Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart’ as an earworm for over a week now.  When I’m not humming that song, lately, it has been either Cold War Kids’ ‘First’ or Coleman Hell’s ‘Two Heads.’

  • Cats or dogs?

While I have no problem with cats – I suppose that I like them well enough as I have three of them living with me right now – I consider myself slightly more of a ‘dog’ person.

  • Tea or coffee?

Both.  I used to drink tea exclusively, but when I started to suffer from kidney stones, my doctor suggested that I should switch to drinking coffee instead.  So I drink 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day as a replacement for all that tea that I used to drink, but I still enjoy a good cup of hot spiced chai once in a while, or a tall glass of sweet iced tea.

Month for Loki, Day 13: More pieces that fell into place.

I was sketching Loki the other day, and it got me to thinking about how other aspects of Him were showing up in my life back when I was a kid, and yet how a lot of the pieces didn’t fall into place until 2012-2013 or so.

And I got to thinking about what I did after the SitD left (around age 9), and I was thinking about how I used to draw…a lot.  I briefly touched upon the subject of those drawings in a post on this blog back in early 2013, but I never wrote out my thoughts as I intended.

Here are those thoughts from my notebook…

(From 27 February 2013)

Something occurred to me this morning that I wanted to write about.

I had a brief visual/sensory upload – an unbidden visual/sensory upload while I was awake – of a man standing in front of me, holding my face in his hands. He is holding my face in his hands as if to make sure that I am making eye contact with him, and he is leaning forward, preparing to whisper into my left ear.

And this visual that I had made me wish that I could sketch out what I saw.  I mean, I can draw, but I am not so skilled that I can sketch things out as quickly or as deftly as I would like.  Rather I am more likely to get hung up on agonizing over every detail in my sketch so much so that I often lose the flow of the imagery and it fades quickly away before I’ve finished sketching it out.

So I was wishing that I could convey the shifting color of his eyes and the unshaven whiskers on his chin.  I wish that I could convey that I had looked down at his feet, and he was wearing dirty black canvas Chuck Taylors, with laces untied and loose.  He was wearing faded jeans, a t-shirt, and a shabby cotton overshirt.  I remember seeing the silver glint of an earring in his ear, and I noticed the way that his russet hair curled over the collar of his shirt, and how his hair turned a darker auburn toward the ends.  I remember noticing the smattering of freckles on the backs of his hands and along his fingers, and how his hands felt slightly calloused but pleasantly warm, holding my face.  I remember the trace of his grin, and the way that he slowly blinked and tilted his head, as those light-colored and impossibly bright eyes of his flickered with…satisfaction?  Relief? I’m not certain what word I am looking for but when I looked into his eyes, all I could think of was laughter and warmth and…home.

And I wish that I could have drawn that – the image of both my standing there with him and somehow standing outside of myself watching the exchange and the slow dawning of my recognition of who he was.

But I don’t have the skills.  I cannot sketch  this fast enough or well enough for you to see the vision as I saw it.

And I remembered.  I realize it now.  I am seeing a face that I have tried to draw before, and my heart skips a beat to think of it.  Can it be?

When I was younger — younger like 11 or 12 years old – I used to draw the face of a man that I did not know.  Or rather, he wasn’t anyone that solidly existed, that could easily be pinned down.  Sometimes I thought that I’d made him up, that he was simply an amalgam of pretty facial features — a young man with long, light-colored hair, with larger than average, strikingly bright-colored eyes, an aquiline nose, finely arched eyebrows, and a smile that I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a flirtatious grin or a sarcastic smirk.   Most of the time I would draw him clean-shaven, but sometimes I would practice drawing facial hair  – usually a well-groomed goatee or a Van Dyke beard.  I’d always envisioned his ears being pierced (even though in the late 70’s/early 80’s, it was still considered rather bold and overly flamboyant for a man to have pierced ears, especially in the right ear…)

But nonetheless, this man had jewelry and his face was a mixture of traditionally masculine features (angular jaw, an Adam’s apple, whiskers/facial hair) and feminine features (long eyelashes, high cheekbones, thinly arched eyebrows).  He was, to put it mildly, a very pretty man, and I often drew him in either medieval clothing or casual, almost hippie style clothing.  I would always draw him into background settings, surrounded by woodlands, mountains or snow.

Over and over, I drew this man, thinking that someday I would fall in love with a man that had this face, or something close to it.  Sometimes I would find myself comparing someone’s chin or someone’s eyes or the color of their hair to this man’s face, this man’s features.  And I can tell you right now, that face, those features never changed.  No, this man had a particular face that I loved, but never could quite find in reality.   So I just kept drawing him, perfecting that face as it could be seen from a variety of angles, expressing a variety of moods.

My siblings used to tease me, that I was drawing my invisible friend.

Sometimes I would imagine him saying all sorts of clever, wonderful things to me, all the words that I’d hoped someday that somebody might say: what a friend, a lover, a confidante would say.  Sometimes I would write him into stories, and they were often stories about learning and doing various activities – things I hadn’t yet learned how to do, such as how to ride a horse, or swim, or climb a tree.  Sometimes I would walk in the woods, and I would imagine delightful, fantastic possibilities, almost visualizing that I might find him further along the path, sitting on a tree stump, or fishing in the river, or laying in the grass, watching the clouds.

I remember when I first experimented with smoking, oddly enough, it was easy to imagine that he smoked too.  He did seem to have this smoky, fragrant scent about him that was entirely his — though I could never draw his hands holding a cigarette very well (aside of the fact that hands are notoriously difficult to draw, especially hands holding things that cast light and shadow.)

I cannot deny that I drew him so often that it seemed as if I drew him into existence somehow.

He was not simply a masculine version of myself, unless he was perhaps a part of me that I wish that I could have been.

And for many years, I drew him just so I could see his face.

It hits me like a ton of bricks today to realize that whenever I draw Loki’s face, I am drawing him; I am drawing an old friend.

And whenever I visualize Loki, I realize that I am seeing him, the handsome face of my old friend.

And I never made that connection until today.

~~~

Hail to Loki, my sweetest friend ❤

 

~~~

A year or so after I wrote this notebook entry, I received a message from Him, that I suspect may have been intended to make me smile:

You didn’t make Me up; rather it is that I made *you* up. 

 

 

Tangled Up in Blue

Concerning Petrarch, poetry, and a question from a reader:

I read a lot of poetry, and I listen to a lot of music.

Often these two habits will intersect in my life in strange and delightful ways, especially where and when my Gods are involved.

One particular song that I have always loved is Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up in Blue.

And I came to love it even more when the Indigo Girls released their cover of that song on their live album, 1200 Curfews, in 1995.

As you may or may not know, it was not until 1997 or so that I started getting specific spiritual nudges again.  And sufficed to say, this song came up a lot on the radio at that time, and as a result, I heard the Indigo Girls’ cover several times a day.

But as much as I knew the lyrics, there was one particular verse that always baffled me, however.

This one:

She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue.

 

All I could think of was…what sort of words were those?  And even more so, who wrote them?

I mean, as a person who loves poetry, I could absolutely agree that poetry, in all its forms, is the highest form of word-alchemy.

As well, I would be the first to agree that good poetry certainly can and does transcend time.

But I had to, absolutely had to… find out who was that ‘Italian poet from the thirteenth century’?

And no, I don’t think that anybody really knows.

As far as I can tell, Bob Dylan has never identified any particular poet as being the poet that he references…so I began to wonder if Dylan was just simply trying to convey some universally profound fact about love and human relationships, as well as something similar to what I just wrote up there about poetry being word-alchemy.

~~~

Cut to three years ago, I was in a large retail bookstore chain, just browsing, as I often do.

If you must know, I wasn’t even in the poetry section.  Because, as much as I love poetry, I hardly ever buy books of it.

So it was more than likely that I’d been skimming a Kingdom Hearts graphic novel with my kid, or trying to choose between two or three sci-fi/fantasy anthologies, or whatever, when ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ came up on the in-store music system.

I remember looking up from the book that I had been browsing, to see that someone had left a copy of Petrarchian love sonnets on the floor.

…and that exact verse – with line about an Italian poet from the thirteenth century – was the verse that was playing when I noticed that book on the floor.

And no, I didn’t buy the book.   I brought it back to the poetry section and left it there.

If I bought anything, I probably purchased an anthology of short horror stories and a comic book for my kid.

But when I got home, I Googled ‘Petrarch.’   Having been an English major in college, I did know that Petrarch was an Italian poet… and just as any English major who studied poetry, I was familiar with the Petrarchian sonnet.

What detail that I didn’t know, or likewise remember, was that Petrarch wrote most of those sonnets about love and loss…in the 13th century.

In that next week or so, I hemmed and hawed about this whole thing being  a ‘universal sign’…

 

But eventually I did purchase a book of Petrarchian love sonnets a few months later.

 

So.

Yes.

You may take it however you will, but that book of Petrarchian love sonnets is on my altar because of one particularly sneaky incidence of pandoramancy coinciding with a misplaced book.

🙂