Sick again.

I’ve had a kidney infection for the past week and a half, roughly. I will see my doctor tomorrow, and she will probably prescribe more antibiotics, which will hopefully put a full end to this and I can get back to other things. I had high fevers and constant vomiting during the worst part of it.

It’s left me feeling very weak and tired, considerably too much so to do more than scrape together a donation for the Buddhist holiday, Saga Dawa, instead of doing the practices I’d been planning on.

I wonder what I need to do to get into a place with my health where I can do the things I want to do. In general, my illnesses respond to good nutrition and mild exercise, like walks, or qi gong, or yoga, but both of those, and especially cooking, require a baseline of health that I’ve fallen below. I can probably manage the mild exercise, and take all of my vitamins again, and maybe that would help boost me back up to a place where I can do more cooking? Hard to say, but I would love to eat a more varied diet than I have been.

What Lives, Evolves

“Do one thing today,” he said. “What you do matters less than that you find something you can do. Your foundation has been washed away, between losing your home, the wreck, and all that has happened since then. You need to rebuild it, and, contrary to what you may be told, building it out of pebbles will be just as good as building it out of a solid stone. The important thing is to have something beneath your feet. You can glue them all together later, when you’re no longer dangling in the open air.”

“I suppose I… haven’t really been told much that it’s all right to do that. That, if you haven’t hauled back an entire mountain to put under your house, it’s just going to collapse on you.”

“It did collapse on you. Simply, shit happens. The idea that anyone, whether a spirit worker or a mundane human or even one of us can be so careful and do things so perfectly that there will never come a terrible storm in life is ludicrous and also cruel, because it places the blame for Life always on you. Sometimes there is nothing you or anyone can do. Simply that you are still here, still sitting there talking to me… Many people would have stopped entirely. When someone’s life is on fire, they often can’t try to manage things in more than one world at a time, because they are focused entirely on surviving in one of them. It requires more energy than a healthy person has, Shannon, and you are not healthy, but you never left me. I don’t doubt that it would have generally been easier to have done so. But you are so hard on yourself that you don’t think that that means very much. You don’t think that working to stay near us and in contact with me counts for much, when held up against things like whether or not you were able to meditate or make offerings or do spiritual writing. What is the goal of all of that, if not to make it easier to draw near to us?”

“I think I felt like it was my job, and I wasn’t doing my job. I was being lazy or slacking.”

“Few people go through periods of starvation through sheer laziness. Not having enough well-being or money to take care of your mortal body is a crisis. Not having a home is a severe crisis. The trappings of a spiritual life, the things you do and ways you practice, are important, but they are less important than those kinds of things. If you were part of a mainstream religion, such as Christianity, would you consider yourself any less Christian if you were unable to go to church for a long time, but still, as they say, kept Jesus in your heart?”

“Well, yes, probably.”

“Don’t hurt yourself for needing to live through something any way you could. You are still alive. That is all that matters. Start from there. Remember that you are alive, and breathe.”

Attempting a comeback.

I’ve had a very difficult time since the car wreck in February of 2014. My depression has been intense, and there were many months of physical therapy, plus as usually happens to anyone suffering from ME/CFS. it got worse following the trauma/injury of the accident and I had little to no energy, turning being largely housebound to being almost entirely bedbound. I have hardly  had the energy to take care of myself and feed myself (I’ve had a few periods of losing a lot of weight because I couldn’t cook and eat regularly), and my ability to do spiritual things went away, and I could not concentrate to meditate.

Then we also had to move in the autumn when our lease was up because one of our neighbors was behaving very dangerously toward us, driving nails into our tires and things like that, and coming to our house to scream at us because he did not like it when we parked in front of his house on a street with no off-street parking. We double-checked: it is legal to park in front of anyone’s house anywhere. We also filed a police report. But we began to wonder if the accident, when our brakes made a strange noise and failed and we slid through an intersection on ice, was also due to sabotage on the part of this neighbor, and no one wanted to stay there.

There are willow trees near the new apartment and I’ve hoped that would ultimately be a good sign. It is warmer and I should walk over to one to visit with it when I can and see what it is like.

But it probably says more about my fatigue and depression than anything else that we have been here since November and I have not unboxed my altar yet. I don’t actually have any statues of Freyr, so it is mostly other little things like willow wood, or things that make me think of him (some little ceramic boars and deer), and my Buddhist stuff.

It would do me a world of good to start extremely small and try to meditate for ten minutes again every day, and work that back up to half an hour for daily practice, and then get back into my online classes that require a day of full practice to finish each module.

I have still travelled when I’ve slept, and sometimes when I’ve been awake, so I know that if nothing else, I have been able to maintain my friendships and relationship, with him and his household, and people like Brand’s parents, and some of the other gods and spirits that Brand works with or is friends with.

It isn’t very satisfying, though, to only do things that way. No one has seemed to mind it, particularly, except insofar as that I have been unhappy with it. He has never demanded more from me or been disappointed that I’ve been too unwell to do anything. He tells me love is not about what someone can do for you. When you love someone who becomes very sick, you do not stop loving them simply because they are in bed and very weak, and can’t do things like they used to.

I have, however, had the experience with other people that they do, in fact, stop loving you when you get sick. What few friends I had not already lost from being sick, I seem to have lost during the time when I was too tired to write emails or chat with them, and subsequent attempts at talking when I was feeling better resulted in things like, “I thought you weren’t talking to me anymore,” despite how many times I said in multiple places they could read that I was doing very badly. It hurt a lot, and has always hurt, every time it has happened, which  has been every time I have gotten sicker. Most people never stop being ill, so it is always going to come in waves, and if this is what is always going to happen, even with friends I’ve had for close to ten years, I feel incredibly hopeless about the concept of friendship with other humans.

When I mentioned this situation to him, he gave me a long look — the sort that he usually does when what he wants to say is something that I will not like and he is trying to find another way to word it. Then Loki saved him from it by saying, “You can do better,” and literally patting me on the head.

I don’t remember where some of the things are on wordpress like subscribers, but probably most people who read this journal are not still reading it, and I can’t blame them for that, but I am planning to use the extra energy of the springtime to try to regrow the barren wasteland of my spiritual life, and start writing nearly every day again.

Thoughts on the Aesir

Wytch of the North

(Reblogged from my Pagan Square blog, Threads)


Years ago, when my friend Nornoriel’s writings on the Vanir as a tribe were first starting to become popular (he was Svartesol at the time; make sure to give him credit if you quote his older work!), I felt a pull towards attempting to write about the Aesir as a people, as a collective, and was urged to do so by Odin (as doing PR for Asgard in general, and not just for Him personally, is supposed to be part of my Job). But I ran into a few challenges, the first one being one of an assumed entitlement: why do the Aesir need PR in the first place, when all of the myths are supposedly written from our/Their perspective, and when the most well-known modern religion established for the gods of the north (Asatru) is literally named for Them?

And yet…

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Will you deny Me? (Heh, no, no I don’t think I will . . . .)

Cast Adrift: My Unmoored Path

Will you deny Me?
In the dark hours of the early morning,
In the quiet spaces of your day,
In the busy moments snatched here and there,
When you come back into My embrace
When you rest your head where it belongs,
When you place your soul in My capable hands,
Will you deny Me?
As your heart is filled with My loving,
As your body is filled with My breath,
As your mind is caught up, and your very spirit infused with My presence.
I have loved you
Not for what you can give to Me
Not for what you can show to others
Not for the names that you call Me
I have loved you
For you are a balm to My being
You are warmth and wonder and joy
Do you think We, too, are not moved by hearts reaching out?
Do you think We have all…

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How to do Tonglen Meditation – a Beginner’s Guide

You do not need to be Buddhist or belong to any tradition to do this sort of meditation. It is a way to help yourself, people you love, and the numberless sentient beings at the same time.

Cauldrons and Cupcakes

Heart Chakra image from Juicy*S Heart Chakra image from Juicy*S

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” 
~ Charles Dickens

At times it is easy to feel small and insignificant – unable to help when all we feel in our hearts is an urge to try. When those we know are suffering, or when there is a catastrophe in another part of the world we might wonder what can be done.

There is something we can do. Meditate!

I first started practicing this meditation as a small girl – maybe three or four years of age.  No one taught me.  I just seemed to know what to do.  My baby sister was fidgeting and restless one night, tossing and turning in the bed beside mine as her teeth came through. I breathed in her fever and distress with every in-breath, and with every out-breath I imagined my breath covering her…

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Commentary on this post on tumblr.

My rapid decline in health after I was forced to move continues to worry me. I was already, most people would have said, somewhere in the Jar Jar Binks infinite loop region of a life lacking in quality or tolerability. But I have collapsed into areas I do not know how to label or define. My pain scale has moved into heights no one is buying.

“A seven is a profoundly good day, lately.”

“What’s equivalent to a seven?”

“When I had severely broken a bone and wasn’t given any medicine for it.”

“It can’t be that bad.”

What was once my idea of ten — 24 hours after the bone surgery to repair the break, which involved inserting six screws and cramming the bone back under muscle and tissue, when they had not given me any medicine for ten hours — is now residing around 8.5.

Right now, how do I feel? 9? 10? 11? Do numbers have any use, now? Do they make sense? If they’ve crossed into complete disbelief, what reason is there to try to accurately label my suffering?

try to imagine ‘the worst pain I can imagine’ so I can reset 10 to something I can point at with any lucidity. “Amputation of limb via dull hand saw without anaesthesia” is my current best guess.

I was speaking to someone recently, a chemical engineer, who was enraged about the complete lack of safety protections or measures for people who work in food service and handle large amounts of boiling water. I’d mentioned how often we all had gotten burned at work, and how very severe one person’s burns were (she would not remove her soaked clothing in the back room in private, and ended up allowing her skin to ‘cook’ for a lengthy period of time, which made it even worse than the water itself was). He was so angry about the commonality of serious and severe burns people get.

I thought about the day when I burned the entire back of my hand and between all of my fingers and silently put my hand under the tap for a couple of minutes until I was certain my skin was tepid, dabbed some aloe on it, and went back to work without anyone knowing what had happened. Later, I had to confess to it because I was having a difficult time unboxing individual cast iron teapots and rearranging the storage for them because my left hand was basically useless, and had to ask a coworker if I could trade them for what they were doing.

That burn? I suppose that’s a 3, by my current notions and using the descriptions in this image along with the other usual rating indicators. It was interfering with some tasks, but I could ignore the pain enough to do almost everything. Would that be a 3 to a normal, healthy person? Pouring boiling water over the back of their hand?

It seems my low end things, which typically are never worth mentioning, have been relatively static (judging solely by those physical responses, not what I would’ve said the number was back then, which probably would’ve been ratcheted up to 7), and I’m not sure if my sensitivity to pain has changed much — rather, I think my knowledge of pain has become extremely broad and filled with minute distinctions. I could probably work with numbers like 8.015, if I really wanted to.

3 is, however, functionally painless for me, now. My day to day chronic level used to be 4-5. At a 3, I was feeling pretty good. Then it went up to 5-6, then 6-7, then 7-8, and now 8-9.

I’d planned on doing the obvious pair of Fs this week and next: Freyr and Freya. Talking about how things have evolved and how they currently are, my life elsewhere, etc, and to talk about how she is starting to become a presence in my life after staying away almost entirely for the first year of our relationship.

I have no words for today. The widely varied agonies, including brand new TMJ pain that was so severe that I had serious trouble chewing anything and the joint is very swollen, the ongoing searing nerve pain, the three muscle spasms scattered around my body, the migraine, etc and so forth. I can write a list. Which is meaningless, really.

A blur of muddy red-black suffering with moments of shocking too-bright white, flinching, the glare searing through.

Plug a night light in
Leave the porch light on
Because the small dark corners have designs on me

Plug a night light in
Leave the porch light on
Because the small dark corners are establishing a colony

Plug a night light in
Leave the porch light on
Because the small dark corners breathe like heavy animals

Being a Spirit Worker is Like Running a Day Care

Brand experiences this terribly. His sister, particularly. He opened his birthday present last summer and as soon as he laid eyes on it, she declared, out of nowhere, MINE. The same has happened with various other things, and there are things bookmarked on etsy that gods help him if he doesn’t acquire for her.

The Twisted Rope

Alternate title: Once you are claimed by a spirit, you will never own anything again.

If there is something to be said about a large portion of god-touched folks, astral travelers and spirit workers in the polytheism/pagan community, it’s that we have a knack for having a lot of stuff in our practices. Statuary, jewelry, doodads and bobbles, you name it- we’ve got it. I’m sure a lot of it stems from the notion that we have a bit of Magpie Syndrome: it’s shiny, so I want it. But you know who has an even bigger affinity for being a Magpie?

Deities and other Unseen entities.

I mean, I guess it makes sense. Egyptian gods, at least, used to have all sorts of things offered to them daily: bread, exotic flowers and perfumes, prisoners, the best cuts of meat and lots and lots of shiny gold and silver. But…

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