Early this year, after a great sorrow and a sudden re-awakening of parts of myself that I’d let go dormant (or likely consciously buried—I don’t know, and there’s no one to tell me this answer), I initiated into the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. I needed to.
I had dreams, you see.
A massive, diverse throng “from all nations” waiting to get into a skyscraper, entering a passcode at the great mirrored-glass doors. I didn’t know the code. I was terrified, because I needed to get in. A man took pity on me, saw my confusion, asked what worried me. I told him I didn’t know the code, and he said, “Oh. It’s Brighid. You can tell by the way the rain is falling on your cloak, and in-between the rain.” I entered, and I was in an immense, ancient temple. But what does this mean? I don’t know. There’s nothing to tell me.
A lover and I with a third man. A woman washing dishes in a sink, watching as I watch her back rather than participate. She tells me it will be okay, beckons me elsewhere. And then I am on paths, and a woman with a cauldron stops me and questions me, and I answer, and then I am allowed on those paths. What are those paths? Who were those women? I have only guesses and suspicions, because there is no-one who collects these dreams and suggests what they mean.
Another dream. Me attempting to escape from a massive house familiar to at least one friend (and, from what I’ve learned, possibly three others). I can throw myself off cliffs, but I don’t. I take a difficult (but not deadly) path which leads me back towards someone I was fleeing, and two figures stop me (one in shadow, one in light, “and he a face still forming”) block my path. The one in light wears my the same flute case I carry, and he asks me, “did you forget your recorder? You shouldn’t forget your recorder.” And I am left for days with only “hints and guesses” at who they are and what this means.
There are many, many more dreams. But consider my waking hours.
I ask a question of a goddess. The next day, the answer comes to me in the voice of another, seeming unbidden. But this could be just co-incidence, and I don’t know how the gods work.
I am given stones and crystals, and they do what they are purported to do, and very well. But this could be just superstition and placebo.
I pour some wine out to a god known to enjoy that sort of thing, and suddenly I am flooded with random, incredibly erotic encounters with men so much so that I have to stop for my own balance (and certain parts of me need a bit of rest). But maybe I was just looking for it, and the god had nothing to do with it, but I don’t know, because few who deal with that god have written books about his ways in the present.
I can calm a schizophrenic, except maybe I can’t and just think I can. Or maybe this is just good counseling skills.
I have waking visions where I am somewhere else, I am someone else. A voice speaks, and I listen to what it says, and suddenly certain things happen in my life that go better, easier. I could consult a Christian priest and get an exorcism, I could consult a psychiatrist, and get medications.
A god appeared on the face of a lover the other night. His face contorted, I saw different features, a mirthful sneer or an ecstatic delight. The next day, a friend who’d seen this god in dreams (unless he’s wrong, too), shows me a drawing of this god, and it is the same. And what, I ask, do you dare do with that?
I have a very strong sense of self and will. I have lived my entire life as my own. I am from the dregs of the lower classes, I am gay, I look like a thug, I live with other people in a crumbling but beautiful house for an eighth of the rent that any of my friends pay. I do not care what people think of me, I raised myself and my little sisters from the time I was 13. I enjoy being a fool, getting kicked out of bars for dousing conservatives with my beer, I will say ridiculous things in public to ease tension.
I believe ridiculous things, like Capitalism is evil. I’ve been to jail because I believe this, and thought it was kind of cool. I would rather live poor than dress well. I’ve had my genitals out at inappropriate times, including in the middle of busy intersections with other people doing the same thing, in high heels.
This is all to say, I don’t care what other people say or think of me, and I am completely happy to come to my own conclusions about things, to live my life the way I want to, to build my own world and embrace the (almost unmanageable) throng of wonderful, beautiful people who have thought I’m doing something amazing.
And yet, there is no one to tell me what the gods mean, what they want. I have to dig. I have to churn through libraries (I read more than almost anyone I know, and it’s not enough). I have to consult others, Tarot, the stars, the spirits, my own soul, my Order, the flights of birds. I compare this all to what the science says, what the histories suggest.
And I have come to conclusions, yes, and I’m happy with my conclusions, and I now have theories, I know have fragments of a (gasp) theology.
And it’s ridiculous that I’ve had to do this all myself. Hours and hours on the internet sorting through discussions with no clear reference and in no obvious direction. Morbid fear derived from the terror that there’s something wrong with me until I risk asking an uncomfortable question to a stranger and find out they’ve seen the same, they’ve heard the same, that there is a pattern here, a system, that there are shared beliefs amongst scattered, isolated, strong-willed souls already used to being thought of as freaks, subaltern, wrong.
Where can those of us without such strong will, already scarred so thoroughly by the wounds of difference that we no longer feel the pain of our different paths, go? There are initiatory orders, and these are great but far from perfect or sufficient. There are festivals and gatherings, leaderless (and I’m an anarchist, so I’m not advocating what you suspect I might be) where the only guidance is provided by “the land” or a helpful older man who will guide you after you ride his cock for awhile. Great for those of us who don’t mind that sort of thing, but I am in yet another minority here, and this idea really should make anyone a bit nauseous when they consider the abuse inherent in such center-less “teaching moments.”
There’s an obvious reluctance to tell anyone what something means. That’s fine. Don’t.You might be wrong, too, and that’s a frightful risk. You might be right, and that’s even scarier.
And there’s an obvious danger in being told what something means, particularly if the recipient of this knowledge has no experience parsing stuff out. Taking stuff at face value, without using your mind–that’s the stuff fascism and hegemony is built upon.
Orthodoxy requires Heresy. The High Priest (or the Heirophant) can be upright or reversed. This seems commonsense, but it cannot be reversed if we remove it from our deck, tear it into pieces, and declare that we all must find our own way and don’t need or want those sorts of people who are actually good at making connections between other peoples’ experiences and patterning this together into something that works.
The theorist, the theologian is a weaver, and the woven threads are our collective experiences of the spirits, the gods, the Other. Smash the loom if the tapestry makes no sense, binds you instead of liberates you. I’ll help.
Or better, show that weaver someone else’s tapestry. Compare the two, or ten, or hundred. None of us wants just one weaver (and if that happens, I’ll happily help break that weaver’s fingers). But for the love of the gods, or, better yet, for the love of all of us struggling alone, consider learning to weave, or finding us some people who dare.