A Forest On The Ocean

An interesting effect of the recent explosion all over the internet about my recent words (let none doubt words have power!) is that anything I might say has a peculiar…weight, I guess. Not a good weight, necessarily–I suspect there are still some people who believe I’m an enemy of the gods, &c., but it’s a weight regardless.

It’s fascinating,actually. What’s it like to others to see me as the bane of the sacred or any of the scores of things angry people have said?

What’s it been like for me?

Well–it’s interesting, anyway. The form of shapeshifting I practice helps. At some point, I hope to be able to describe it better. I first learned it by Llyn Dinas in Gwynedd last year, and have only now begun to understand precisely how it works. Basically, it’s possible to turn the human tendency to ‘leave the body’ when it experiences shock or trauma into the same magic described in Branwen Fearch Llyr.

When priests (the word is swineherd, but many translators note that ‘swineherd’ was also a pejorative for priest) saw Brân coming across the ocean, they saw:

“a forest on the ocean, where we have never seen a single tree…a great mountain beside the forest, and that was moving; and a soaring ridge on the mountain, and a lake on each side of the ridge.”

That same ‘land rising up’ is described in other lore, usually a power available to witches. I describe this sort of bardic shapeshifting a bit in Awakening the Land: Madness and the Return of Welsh Gods (available in A Kindness of Ravens).

While the initial tendency is to leave the body or close off the body when facing conflict, another option is instead to become more-of-a-body. My friend Jes told me last year that I needed to learn to build a body large enough to inhabit the worlds I live in, a much larger body than what we think of as the human body. And she was right, and that body can inhabit much more than what I ever thought a body could.

Basically, you become a giant, and also the land around you, yet still fully you. In fact, ‘more you.’


I’ll say little else about the arguments right now, though, and instead direct you to a few essays and posts I’ve read where the writers are asking precisely the questions I was hoping people would ask.

Several have mentioned to me that the reactions to what I wrote appear to resemble ‘white fragility’ (a problematic term primarily because ‘fragility’ is historically a slur on women or men who do not gender-conform).These two posts make that link, with the subtext that much of our attempts to create an authentic Paganism or Polytheism are politically situated (consciously or unconsciously) in the history of the (very recent) creation of Race:

Leithin Cluan: On Doing Nothing

Twisted Rope: Not All Polytheists

And also, here, Finnchuill addresses the matter of Sacral Kings as it relates to reconstructionism.

And there’s no question in this piece, really, but I could read this a thousand times and still find it inspiring, saying better what I mean than I ever could.

Be well!

4 thoughts on “A Forest On The Ocean

  1. I think calling you an enemy of the Gods without knowing you (unless one is truly psychic) is a stretch. I may not agree with how you wrote the incendiary article that ignites the furor, but I do appreciate the attempt at establishing the vigilance we all should be practicing. Cheers and be well!! May the Gods watch over you!

  2. I wish we(collectively, as a community) could step back and evaluate things we may disagree with without a knee-jerk anger reaction, or at least give ourselves time to step back before responding. And treat things as a discussion instead of immediately closing the door on the other person. And maybe give each other a little credit now and then, instead of assuming the other person means the worst. I hope you are well, or at least will be well soon, regardless.

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