Last year, today, I noticed something which sort of shook me into beautiful pieces. I asked Brigid something, and she answered.
A year ago, after a damn hard winter, my existence changed radically. The world became different, the valley and lake and mountains outside my window, cloaked in winter, were of a different hue. Not to my eyes: rather, something shifted in that mechanism between the eyes and the mind, some filter lifted, some veil parted.
I’d been a Pagan most of my adult life, but I’d describe what I believed as “cultural Paganism,” a general pagan outlook upon the world without much internal ferocity behind my beliefs. The gods “existed,” or I hoped they did because I really, really liked the idea of Them.
I sometimes described myself as an “agnostic with deep suspicions.” My bookshelves were full of histories and fantasies and leftist theories; herbs hung above the stairs to my home, a small stone altar above a radiator in my room had candles constantly burning (and so much incense ash!), flowers and stones and animal statues and other holy-ish things (holy to me, I guess). I threw large Beltaine and Samhain parties, typically buying most of the drinks and food (some people swore they came just for my hummus), filling my space full of candles and mirrors and music and delighting in the idea of the gathering of so many beautiful people (my largest had 120 people at its height).
Those parties, in particular, were my favorite. Other pagans, anarchists, stern but wonderful Trotskyists, atheists, neighbors, co-workers, friends, and a remarkable amount of men I’d slept with at some point or another, or many points and others and many I’d share a bed with that night while gorgeous gender-queers and punks played violin on the massive patio outside my room.
I’d say “hello” to places where I suspected Other things lived. I’d greet the plants in my garden, read Tarot, hail the moon. I built a shrine to Kaun-Yin in my yard for a former lover, modified a spell a roommate had performed that went a bit wrong. Started a medieval-rock band, spoke to trees, and lost myself in ecstatic revelry in moments of nature where I felt myself both disappear and “become one” with the beautiful places I reverently approached.
I run the risk of offending some of my readers by speaking of this. This isn’t my intention, at all, as I do not judge their beliefs anymore than I judge my previous beliefs or existence. My time before the gods is as important, beautiful, and valuable to me as my time now. What I felt and believed before informs what I am now, and I’m actually glad of all the time I spent pursuing other goals, other thoughts, other things. I wouldn’t trade the incredible lovers, the mind-wracking conversations, or the subtle sincerity I possessed then, as what I experience now doesn’t negate it. Rather, it fulfills it.
On this day a year ago, I noted that some new thread had begun to weave itself through all the threads which made the tapestry of Rhyd before, some new color, or cord (or chord), some new thing which wasn’t new at all. The gods I’d been hoping existed were real, and what I’d been suspecting and wanting suddenly…appeared.
Go figure. I’m still not quite over the moment of wonder, and now, looking back upon it, I’m in awe.
Near midwinter, I burned a journal. I’m one of those sorts who thinks such a thing is a really awful thing to do, as no words should ever be committed to the flames. But building a fire to Brigid in the backyard of my sister’s home here I noted the flames would not take, and I heard her voice (this is rare, so I have to listen) say, “paper of value.” I hadn’t intended to use paper to start the fire, but I went inside and collected some of my better stationary.
The fire wouldn’t take, and I heard the voice again and this time knew what those words meant.
I read each page as I ripped it from the journal and committed it to the (remarkably bright) flames. The three years before she appeared, I’d had a rather difficult life, and found myself nowhere able to grasp some of the dreams and intimations I’d experienced during that time. Accounts of them increased as the pages remaining in the book dwindled, and at one point, I read words which shook my entire soul with an almost wicked, eerie laughter. My unconscious and half-conscious visions of what was coming were plain to me now, but impossible for me to grasp in the midst of such difficulties. There was a line which I’d quote verbatim, but it’s ash now. Still, it said something along the lines of
“Something comes, that beckoning. You, reading this in the future–what is it?”
A World Full of Gods
So, here I am. I’m near done with my first year of Druidry, having left a city I lived for 13 years, learned to speak to land spirits, encountered a few ancestors, learned how to collect stones for the fortifications of a temple from a woman wearing a robe of sea-foam on a sacred Breton mountain, gotten all kinds of fascinating and confusing visions of sigils and symbols. I’ve learned to enchant stones and candles, to travel through dreams (involuntarily, mostly) and to peer through gates. I’ve met several other gods, learned what offerings some of them prefer, learned what not to say to some of them.
And I’ve started writing for other people, and I guess some of you like what I have to say, or like how I say it. This, you should know, is also what I’ve always hoped for.
I’m writing this all mostly for myself, really. Sometimes I write for others, or for others and myself. But this is mostly for me, to remind myself of the dazzling awe of that moment a year ago when everything changed. And if this helps others, that’s pretty fucking awesome, too.
Here’s to more of this stuff, and particularly more of the gods. Because…wow.
Be damn well, yeah?
Side note: I’ll be on Wyrd Ways this week, 5 February, at 10pm EST. This, I think, is the listen-live link, and it’ll be archived.