Wednesday, June 22, 2011


That's right, Internet, I'm getting married. The WTBf asked on Father's Day during a beautiful toast about the wonderful love and values and people our families have given us. I'm supremely happy about getting to make it official, to build a life that is wholly our own, to belong to one another. That part of this is exquisite happiness and a great sort of relief to be becoming more autonomous as a unit, rather than as myself against the world.

I don't really want to plan a wedding. I've done enough wedding planning already for friends, and I have no precious illusions about what this means and how much it costs. People are already telling me what I can't do, when I can't do it, and not taking polite but firm refusals. My mother was asking me about officiants within an hour of the thing, pushing me at a Christian wedding with one of her minister brothers leading it. I don't know if it was that conversation or if something else happened, but they figured out that I'm a Pagan. Maybe my office smelled too much like incense. Maybe the altar looked more altar-y than I had thought. I don't know.

I got asked about it outright today, and it was bad. Worse than I'd ever expected because it came up when I had already spent hours having an anxiety attack. Not the best time for clarity, calm, or diplomacy when negotiating such a sticky issue. My mother thinks the vows being Christian are somehow tied to eternal salvation. I'm almost certain that she is unhappy about us getting married, and that hurts more deeply than anything she has ever done or said to me. More than the shitstorm on the way, thanks to them digging up the truth.

I had promised myself that I'd be honest about any of the things I hide if asked about them outright. I was. When anything but a particular flavor of Christianity is seen as a wrong move by me (but not necessarily the adherents), you know things won't go well that flavor is very officially Not Christian. I'm not sure if it makes it better or worse that I work with Jesus and that I still worship the Christian God as part of what I do. (Hey, it's what I was raised with, and it's a powerful, instinctual thing.) I do believe I am now in the "loved, but deemed unacceptable" category with my family. I'm not the first to go through this, won't be the last. We didn't even touch witchcraft, and it's not any of their damn business. Needless to say, this hurts a lot.

There are so many wonderful things going on right now, so many things I'm learning and doing and working on - all of which would be more interesting than this clusterfuck. I'll get back to those and back to the bittersweet task of getting to plan a wedding that's less stealthily pagan.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Viriliter Age | Act Courageously

I haven't been formally initiated into a tradition. No nudity and ceremonial flogging. No being smeared with oil and sprinkled with holy water. Part of me wants the ceremony because it is a demarcation and public declaration that you are dedicating yourself to something, that you take the yoke and follow the disciplines. It's something I take very seriously, and I get the feeling that I take it more seriously than a lot of people who are actually initiated.

People say you can't self-initiate. The power must be passed from one person to another, and you can't do that if you don't have the power. I get the importance of community, accountability, and spiritual mentorship. What I don't get is that denying solitary initiation's existence denies that a deity is incapable of initiating their own devotee without the help of a human. I have offered myself to serve and have been filled to overflowing. If I wind up on the floor, shaking and sweating, skin cold, and unable to talk for hours afterward, have I not been found as a worthy vessel by the divine? The purpose of initiation is irrevocable transformation, not attaining your +3 Robe of Sorcery and +5 Wand of Casting.

Whatever it truly means to have been initiated into the service of divinity happened a very long time ago. Maybe that's why I take it so seriously. The benefits of service outweigh the demands, but only when you let yourself be used as an instrument. Resisting will wreck you, and the work will still have to be done. I've already been made a fool and a freak for following instructions. It comes with the package when you sign up to serve. I've already been broken and re-formed more than once, and it will happen again. And then it will happen again after that. Their truth is incisive and inescapable. Its scars run deep and proud.

Maybe the gods call some people to huggles and snuggles and glittery kittens. I believe that we are all called to do our best to live in love, no matter what else we are called to. I don't walk with death and decay often, though it wouldn't surprise me if we interacted more in the future. Birth and death work together, and at this time, I am called to fecundity, gestation, birth, and nurturing. The Empress card. The mama bear who nurtures and protects in equal measure. It's fitting that I have these birthing hips. In my important dreams I am almost always heavily pregnant, even if I am handing out justice with a blade in my hand. Grandmother teaches me about these things, breaking my heart with the depth of her love, and I still cannot find words to express my gratitude.

Truth be told, the ongoing service and devotion is a lonely thing. Who can come with you when Grandmother points down the path and tells you to go in spite of your fears? We are often called to strange and uncomfortable work where it's easier not to have to explain yourself. There's more than enough of it to go around. Lonely, frustrated spirits of places and things and beings, eager things clamoring for your attention or for the chance to be a part of something, all of them ready to be heard by someone who can hear them. Those things are hard to ignore, hard to walk away from, and can affect you more deeply than you'll ever be able to explain. So you serve because you have been called.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Learning the Lay of the Land

This is what you look like if you go single dig the smaller of your two front beds on a day where it's 96°F in the shade. I've not dug up the land by hand since 1998, back when I spent a few months gutting and refinishing group homes for unwed Romanian mothers who had been kicked out by their families. I'm talking about using a scythe to clear the land, then digging and turning with spading forks, which is darn close to what I'm doing now. I can feel Grandmother (my own grandmother's grandmother) guiding me, feeding me knowledge I didn't have until she put it into my hands and head. I had no idea enriching and restoring dirt was such hard work. Her approval radiates around me, erasing any anger or frustration that might pop up.

The land nudges me along, too. What was a little uncooperative the first day I started weeding is suddenly teaching me the structures and growth stages of the things it's been growing forever. Things that have no place in a flower bed like great thorned thistles and jimson weed nearly as tall as I am with tenacious, vast root structures deep in the clay soil. They tangle around the husks of shrub roots whose insides have died and rotted, leaving only the woodiest outer layer. The small bed has been reduced to three sage bushes, smaller than basketballs, and the mint that has a plan to take over the world.

The land spirits here are... interesting. It's old pasture land, finally developed after years of disuse, and dotted with rental houses that show evidence of a crooked contractor cutting corners. There hasn't been time for years of tenants streaming in and out to make things go as sad and dormant as an elderly person in a home who never gets any visitors. I suppose it's wary, but not unfriendly right now. It is used to peace, to surviving the cycles of the seasons and nourishing cattle. At the nursery, my choices seemed to be more about making the garden idiot proof than anything. Now I know, after spending hours with my hands in this earth, that I made the choices of hardy native plants, native organic composts, and native cedar mulches because they are in keeping with the spirit and purpose that the land understands for itself.

I'm fixing the house, fixing the land, making it right so that we can stay happily until the WTBf is done with his PhD. The land and house are blessedly quiet and calm in comparison to the apartment living we've been used to. They're taking their time to assess us and my intentions. I'm doing the best I know how to do, and in return, small gifts are showing up. Herbs I haven't known how to find. Interesting things turning up as I turn the ground, like foreign coins and odd grubs with legs on the upper half of their body and disturbing, smashed in ochre colored faces. Most of what turns up is leftover building materials - plastic spacers, bent metal stakes, scraps of wood used to shim in the columns, and what seems to be an endless supply of concrete and masonry lumps. What they left in the back yard is far worse, and I'm honestly intimidated by the necessary prospect of it.

For now, the weekend is ahead, and I have a beautiful selection of plants, herbs, and flowers to place in the earth. Rosemary for protection. Lantana for color and to keep the critters away and attract butterflies (the smell gives it the taxonomical name lantana horrida). There's a bottlebrush tree which makes bright red flowers shaped like its namesake. And I have some small herbs to plant either in the earth or in pots - Mexican oregano, lemon balm, and rue.