Well, some folks are.
The other day, I was thinking about this duty to evangelize that a lot of Christians have got going….and this default assumption that their evangelical Christian behavior is welcome anywhere that they are.
And it got me to thinking about my own religious beliefs and how I am sometimes reluctant to ‘come out of the closet’ as it were, because I personally live in a community dominated by Christians – namely Baptists and Jehovah Witnesses.
I’ve always chalked it up to the fact that I am living in that state in the South which is not the South but still has a lot of Southern conservative Christian attitudes, namely Florida.
(But even so, I will admit that even before I was publicly identifying myself as Norse non-reconstructionist polytheist, or as a Celtic-flavored Pagan, I still grew up surrounded by people who often made the assumption that I must believe in a God and of course, that God had to be the Abrahamic God that they and their parents believed in — despite the fact that my parents styled themselves as agnostics — because I grew up celebrating Christmas and Easter.)
So, in that sense, I hardly think that I am the first person to point out that when you tell many people that you’re spiritual, they assume by default that you must be some form of Christian.
But aside of all that, I’m getting pretty cranky about some of the people in my neighborhood.
Mostly because there is a woman in my neighborhood who keeps tacking these little cardboard signs everywhere:
…and I mean everywhere.
Walking my dog the day before yesterday, I found at least a half dozen of them during the first 1/2 mile of my walk. Two of them were taped above the walk signal button. Three were tacked and/or stapled into tree trunks that were at least 100 yards from the road-edge. And one – the above one – had been affixed to an electrical pole that held a public cable line repeater.
Walking today, there were at least eight more tacked, taped or stapled unto various things, often at eye-level.
One little sign had been twist-tied into the branches of a decorative hedge.
And it got me to thinking that someone was going quite out of their way to spread these blurbs of God.
I suspect that this is why small towns often put up those ‘Post No Bills‘ signs in downtown areas.
But no one seems to care — except for maybe me – because I watched several workers for the home association (whose job seems to be come out every other Thursday or so to clean up the litter along the sidewalks, and remove other things that don’t belong like the handmade cardboard signs of past garage sales and whatnot) – and I watched each of them stop as if to read these little signs, and then each walked away without removing it.
So, since the homeowner’s association seems to approve of these little signs – I mean, their job is to remove things like that all under the auspices of removing ‘litter’ and I distinctly witnessed each of them leaving these signs alone- I decided that I would turn each of these signs over and write my only little spiritual blurbs on them.
So far, I’ve re-purposed two with stanzas from the Hávamál, one with a short passage from the Vedas, two with verses from Thelema doctrine that came through the Ape of Thoth randomizer, and one with a portion of the Homeric hymn 26 to Dionysus.
Now let’s see if those signs stay up.
Have you ever played with the Ape of Thoth?
It’s a searchable database of Thelema texts – by verse and chapter, if one knows the number – but what makes it fun is that there is also a feature on the site that is a Thelemic text randomizer.
It’s pretty neat, actually. You type/ask a question, and it brings up a portion of text from the books of Thelema as an answer.
Which makes it so much more interesting than the Magic 8-Ball these days.
So…I have an issue that is quite emotionally-laden for me, and I was having trouble keeping a clear head about things.
So I decided to ask the Ape of Thoth for some guidance, simply typing:
What to do? RE: LOKI
[And this was the answer:]
“Continuation. Further concerning occupation.
Let the devotee transmute within the alembic of his heart every thought, or word, or act into the spiritual gold of his devotion.
As thus: eating. Let him say: “I eat this food in gratitude to my Deity that hath sent it to me, in order to gain strength for my devotion to Him.”
Or: sleeping. Let him say: “I lie down to sleep, giving thanks for this blessing from my Deity, in order that I may be refreshed for new devotion to Him.”
Or: reading. Let him say: “I read this book that I may study the nature of my Deity, that further knowledge of Him may inspire me with deeper devotion to Him.”
Or: working. Let him say: “I drive my spade into the earth that fresh flowers (fruit, or what not) may spring up to His glory, and that I, purified by toil, may give better devotion to Him.”
Or: whatever it may be that he is doing, let him reason it out in his own mind, drawing it through circumstance and circumstance to that one end and conclusion of the matter. And let him not perform the act until he hath done this.
As it is written: Liber VII, cap. v. —
22. “Every breath, every word, every thought, ever deed is an act of love with Thee.
23. “The beat of my heart is the pendulum of love.
24. “The songs of me are the soft sighs:
25. “The thoughts of me are very rapture:
26. “And my deeds are the myriads of Thy Children, the stars and the atoms.” And Remember Well, that if thou wert in truth a lover, all this wouldst thou do of thine own nature without the slightest flaw or failure in the minutest part thereof.”
All I could think upon reading the above is – what remarkably specific advice – even if it doesn’t answer the question that I thought that I was asking.
But sometimes that happens.
Perhaps this is the connection in discovering the meaning of that phrase
Love is the movement that gives substance to the Will
‘There is a secret about human love that is commonly overlooked: receiving it is much more scary and threatening than giving it. How many times in your life have you been unable to let in someone’s love, or pushed it away? Much as we proclaim the wish to be truly loved, we are often afraid of that, and find it difficult to open to love or let it all the way in.’
‘Is it so difficult?
And so I will tell you again what you must do:
Open up to love.
Let love consume you.
Let love engulf you in its joy.
You must trust in your love.
You must allow love to take hold of you.
You must allow yourself to feel.
You must forgive yourself and allow yourself
Love without condition,
Love without attachments,
Love without goals,
Love without agendas.
You must love for the sake of love.
Don’t you see?
You must allow yourself to be taken by joy.
Release yourself to love. Surrender yourself to joy.
You must not fear being open.
You must open up to love.’
A derailment is said to take place when a vehicle (for example a train) runs off its rails. This does not necessarily mean that it leaves its track. Although many derailments are minor, all result in temporary disruption of the proper operation of the railway system, and they are potentially seriously hazardous to human health and safety. Usually, the derailment of a train can be caused by a collision with another object, the mechanical failure of tracks, such as broken rails, or the mechanical failure of the wheels.
In psychiatry, derailment is a thought disorder characterized by discourse consisting of a sequence of unrelated or only remotely related ideas. The frame of reference often changes from one sentence to the next.
In a mild manifestation, [this] is characterized by slippage of ideas further and further from the point of a discussion. Some of the synonyms given… are used by some authors to refer just to a loss of goal: discourse that sets off on a particular idea, wanders off and never returns to it. In some studies on creativity…it describes a similarly loose association of ideas, [but] it is not considered a mental disorder, or the hallmark of one; it is sometimes used as a synonym for lateral thinking.
From Thursday, 18 February 2015:
I was feeling good. I really was.
I was feeling as if a fog had lifted. I was feeling that I was being seen and understood. Things were good.
And then my friend, Phil called, wanting to talk. Phil said that he had been concerned about me and he simply wanted to ‘check in’ with me.
We ended up getting in an argument over the historical accuracy of the show Vikings.
Now I must wonder if Phil might not be as aware of my spirituality as I had assumed. While I’d thought that Phil was somewhat aware of the fact that I am a polytheist and a Pagan, it occurs to me that he might not given it much thought beyond that. He was flippant and downright condescending towards the spiritual beliefs and culture of pre-Christian societies, including the Vikings.
(I cannot seem to think of the concept that I’m trying to convey here – the belief that one’s ancestors weren’t as intelligent or spiritually developed as those living in the modern age. Edited to add: Urdummheit. The concept is called Urdummheit.)
He made several comments about the Eddas as ‘being a stupid bunch of poems,’ and that ‘the Havamal is a poem that has no basis in reality’ when I pointed out the cultural relevance of both in giving insight to Viking society. When I brought up Tacitus- since he was trying to make his point that his belief is that there is no historical record of Vikings being anything beyond what he was saying that they were – that is precisely where our conversation truly degenerated into something that was more contradiction than intellectual discussion.
We were talking about history, and the next thing you know, we were getting defensive with each other about the legitimacy of each other’s opinions.
And it disturbs me when that happens. Initially, I’d felt the need to defend my point, but then I realized that I’d lost all patience to do so.
I haven’t any patience to educate you on my opinions today.
In an attempt to cheer myself up and focus on things more positive, I thought about my upcoming flight to Atlanta to visit another friend over the weekend of March 6th-8th.
Earlier in the day, my friend had texted me concerning my plans.
I allowed myself to feel good when I read about how excited and pleased she was for the opportunity to see me, as we hadn’t seen each other in several years.
When I realized that I had missed some of her recent responses, due to my being on the phone with Phil, I returned her call.
And she didn’t answer.
I had to remind myself that it was OK. I had to remind myself that I was just feeling defensive and put off energetically by my phone call with Phil.
He asks me what is wrong. I can’t even articulate it.
A friend posted something today – and I responded to it, but I probably should not have.
It dealt with something that I could relate to that Loki had said, about joy being one of the only things that impresses Him; the sense of presence, the joy of being in the moment is all He’d ever seek. How He seeks energy, energetic presence that is pure, unadulterated by shame or guilt or guile.
This reminds me of the words that He has often said to me:
Just feel. Just be.
Do you know what you are?
You are light. You are energy. You are electricity. You are fire in a bottle, contained.
But, as is a human habit, I get hung up in negativity, in conceits, in an inability to see the opportunity, to allow myself the experience of the raw joy of being.
We squander it, I suppose, spending all of our time in making comparisons and in competition with each other rather than feeling compersion, or allowing ourselves connection.
Maybe that is the lesson.
If I am ever going to love him
I should just love him
and stop thinking of how I could do it better
or more profoundly
or whatever –
and just love him
Just letting the light of what I am –just letting that love flow out of me.
Just be. Just love.
It sounds woo-hippy-crazy, I know.
But I don’t care.
It’s difficult – but probably not nearly as difficult as I am making it out to be.
Let go of fear and open to love.
Happy Valentines’ Day.
While I’d actually intended on posting another piece that I’d found a few weeks ago (that I’d been saving to post here today), here is a lovely poem by Mary Oliver that I woke up to find on my RSS feed this morning:
THE FOURTH SIGN OF THE ZODIAC (PART 3)
I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.
So why not get started immediately.
I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.
And to write music or poems about.
Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.
— from Blue Horses, collected poems
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family:
Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love.
I awoke this morning to the sad news via Tweets and various messages on my newsfeed that Maya Angelou had died.
Within moments of reading the above words, I found myself unable to articulate exactly why I feel such a sense of loss.
Meanwhile, my friend, Sarah Sloane, upon hearing the news, put her feelings succinctly, thus:
“No…no. Losing Maya Angelou feels like losing my loving, empowering aunt, the one who told me that my soul had wings.”
Yes, that, Sarah, I agree with you.
Maya Angelou was exactly that.
She was an amazing writer, teacher, and activist certainly, but she was so much more than that to me.
Her words inspired me – in the truest sense of the word ‘inspired’ – and her poetry and essays carried me through some of the darkest hours while I was growing up.
I remember when my father had collected a huge cardboard box full of paperbacks and college textbooks that had been left behind in the dormitories during the summer remodel of Wellesley College in 1984. (The contractor company that he’d worked for assumed that the crew would just throw away any and all contents of the dorm rooms that were slated for remodeling, but my father has always had difficulty throwing away books of any kind.)
So that’s how I ended up with a dog-eared copy of her autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and her poetry collections, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diie.., and Still I Rise.
I don’t know if that’s exactly what my father would have intended, but I spent that summer, sitting under the back porch, readingreadingreading about the evocative power of love, grief, pain, and spiritual truth that also touched upon race, gender, and the intricacy of human relationships.
And so began my lifelong love of her poetry, her writing, and her keen, unflinching eye that always focused on the humanity in history. And whether her unflinching eye focused on the good or the bad of humanity, in the end, it seemed to me that the gist of her words always concerned the importance of moving forward, moving upward, toward the exposure of truth, and the revelation of love.
And I needed that in that difficult summer of 1984, when I was 13, and struggling mightily with myself.
I count many of her poems as inspiring, but here are three that I find especially so:
In what other lives or lands
Have I known your lips
Your Laughter brave
Those sweet excesses that
I do adore.
What surety is there
That we will meet again,
On other worlds some
Future time undated.
I defy my body’s haste.
Without the promise
Of one more sweet encounter
I will not deign to die.
Preacher, Don’t Send me
when I die
to some big ghetto
in the sky
where rats eat cats
of the leopard type
and Sunday brunch
is grits and tripe.
I’ve known those rats
I’ve seen them kill
and grits I’ve had
would make a hill,
or maybe a mountain,
so what I need
from you on Sunday
is a different creed.
Preacher, please don’t
streets of gold
and milk for free.
I stopped all milk
at four years old
and once I’m dead
I won’t need gold.
I’d call a place
where families are loyal
and strangers are nice,
where the music is jazz
and the season is fall.
Promise me that
or nothing at all.
Rest in peace, dear Maya Angelou.
It is with tears in my eyes that I thank you. and wish you safe journey.
May all promises be kept.