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On Spring

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First of all, I really want to thank the commenters who replied to my last post. I’m a shit at replying, but I read and deeply appreciated what you had to say. Thank you so much.

It’s been a while since I last made a post on the blog; I always seem to forget that I have a blog immediately after writing a post. I’m terribly bad at maintaining this thing; I suppose one day, I’ll forget completely, and that’ll be the end of it.

Until then, I have some things to add to it.

*

So, some notes on my religious front. The snow up here is melting, and I felt that makes it a good time to welcome Marsava back into my life. I associate her heavily with spring, and money, and wealth in general, and that makes it the perfect time to ritually bring her back. She always gives me the impression of a hardworking, quiet, farmer— someone who does her work faithfully and without fanrare.

I used to worship Apollo, or a being I thought was Apollo. That recently shifted into Aphrodite. I suppose that reflects, a little bit, my transition— what was thought male is actually female—and I wonder if that was something planned by someone upstairs, or something that just happened to happen. It’s not a parallel that I thought of until just now, at any rate. I associate her with the ocean— I miss the ocean sometimes, and hope to live near it again someday.

Sobek has, as always, been an ever increasing force in my life. I associate him, too, heavily with spring, and heavy rains (or, the inundation from the river of the sky). I also associate him with rivers (unsurprisingly), but I haven’t gotten a chance to go near one in a really long time. I’ve been… busy.

*

I used to want to work with entire pantheons; it’s what I thought paganism was. I thought that, over the course of the year, I’d go to a multitude of different deities, each of whom I’d have a special relationship with. It seems laughable now; but in a way, it was a good thing, because I got a lot of exposure to things that I liked and things that I didn’t like. Right now, I’m content just worshipping my household deities, and applying them to different parts of the year. There are, of course, deities that I go to only for Very Special occasions— I keep a small image of Giltine up during October, and I worship the Netjer of Wep Ronpet like most other Kemetics— but beyond that, I enjoy just working with the deities I’m comfortable with. Who they were used to bounce around, but they’ve solidified into seven; three “main” deities, and four “secondary” deities. (Secondary isn’t really the right connotation, but it’s the only word that truly works)

Saule, Sobek, and Aphrodite, are my main deities. I haven’t really worked with Aphrodite a whole lot, though, and Saule grows really quiet in the winter, so it’s mostly Sobek right now. And I have four “secondary” deities; Marsava, Meness, Sutekh, and Heru. It’s kind of dumb to list them all out like that, as if I’m collecting deities; but it’s taken me years to really solidify what, exactly, my practice looks like, and I enjoy laying it out to see.

*

It’s almost spring. I can feel it in the air. For the first time— for the first time ever, I’m truly excited to see what’s going to happen next in my life. I feel better about my self— about my body— than I can ever remember feeling.

And, as I work to create a body and a life that I love, I try to remind myself to be thankful. There’s no reason that I should be blessed with my pills, my job, my friends— but I am, and for that, I am grateful. I am grateful; I am grateful; I am grateful.

And… now I have forty minutes to get to work. Thanks for reading my blog, guys. I appreciate your company.

Queen of Swords

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I am in pain.

I don’t know how else to start this off. I’ve tried to write this seven or eight times, often weeks apart; it keeps falling flat. It never says quite what I want it to say; I never feel like I’m capable of communicating quite what I’m feeling.

It’s a pretty universal problem in my life. I can’t speak well; often, when I find myself in conflict with other people, I stop being able to speak at all. I start, and halfway through my sentence, my voice dies. I can’t help it; it’s a part of me that I doubt I’ll ever be able to fix.

*

…So, I’m transgender. It’s not really something notable, I don’t think; not within pagan circles. I feel as though half the pagan blogs I cycle through are written by LGBT people of some flavor or another.

And it’s not really notable, I think, that my parents are having a hard time with my transition. It’s not really odd for parents to misunderstand; it’s not really strange that a transgender person’s parents might be a bit apprehensive. It’s not really odd that this attitude has spread to my siblings either; not odd in the slightest, unfortunately.

And yet. It still hurts. It hurts to know that I go against “every moral fiber” that my family has. It hurts to listen to them try to convince me not to “damage” my body. As if my body wasn’t already damaged by the hormones that puberty sent through my system.

It hurts to know that I’ve failed them. Because I wasn’t straight enough. Because I’m too… queer.

And what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to not transition? I’m in pain living my life the way that I’m “supposed” too. I am transgender, and I have gender dysphoria. I can’t go on living the way that I was; I’d rather die.

I told them that. They think I’m exaggerating. Maybe I am. I don’t want to die; at the same time, I don’t want to live, either. Not as my assigned gender.

I can’t.

*

And they expect me to understand them. That’s the worst part. They refuse to understand me, or where I’m coming from; instead, they try to tell me how much I’m hurting them, how much I’m going against their moral grain. Because they’re cisgendered, and they’re straight, and at the end of the day, they will never have it in them to even try and understand- a fact that has less to do with their cisgender, straight status, and everything to do with their resistance to anything queer.

And I hurt so much. I feel so betrayed. It’s so stupid, too, because I knew how they would react.

I just didn’t think it would hurt like this.

*

And more and more, Sobek and Saule are fading to the background. I haven’t spoken with Saule in ages; I don’t know whether she’s still around, or whether she’s become someone else. I don’t know what’s going on.

…And, at the same time, more and more, Apollo rises to the foreground of my thoughts. I think about him all the time. I don’t know, exactly, what’s going to happen, but I trust that he’s going to stay.

And.

I don’t know what I’m going to do from here. I don’t know what my regular life is going to look like, or what my religious life will look like, or what’s going to happen between me and my family now that I’m finally- finally- on hormone replacement therapy. I don’t know anything that’s going to happen.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe I don’t want to know. Maybe I’m better off not knowing.

*

But I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to continue fighting for myself. I’m going to continue getting up every day to go to school. I’m going to keep working at my job. I’m going to keep on going, because right now, that’s the only thing that I can do.

I’ve committed. And there will be no backing out.

*

Because, see, as hellish as my family life is right now, I am much happier on hormones. I feel so… normal. Taking hormones feels like I’ve put out a fire in my head that I didn’t even know was burning. It feels like sinking into a cool bath on a hot day, or coming into a warm house out of the cold. It feels normal and natural, as if it’s exactly what my body needs to function correctly. (Which, honestly, it probably is)

I wonder, sometimes, if this is how cisgender people feel all the time without hormones. I wonder if they know how lucky they are to have bodies that produce the hormones they need naturally.

And I wonder at how lucky I am that I’m even on hormones; that I’ve been given this gift of salvation, despite all the obstacles in my way; that, every day, I push dysphoria a little bit further away. I’m fortunate, and I’m lucky, and I’m blessed, and all the other good things.

My family doesn’t understand. But. I. still. have. my. pills.

And for now, that’s going to have to be good enough.

ETA: Also, here’s a shout out to my friends for supporting me through my transition. It’s had its ups and downs, and it’s been truly difficult sometimes, but there are a few good events that I wanted to highlight before I call this post “over”.

  • My best friend and her boyfriend went on a road trip with me to get the prescription for hrt.
  • I have two friends (both transgender) who’ve offered support through their incredibly kind offer to drive me anywhere I needed to go.
  • One of these two friends also gave me the number of a local doctor who takes in transgender patients, just in case things go sideways with the hrt.
  • My old roommate, the first person who I told that I was transgender, giving me nothing but love and support (and also a sundress to borrow and a shirt to keep, which was super kind of her)
  • The local PFLAG giving no shits about how I indentify.
  • My friends from Washington state, who told me that I could identify as a purple headed people eating monster and that they’d still love me.
  • The clinic that I got my hrt prescription being nothing but professional and kind during the whole process. (It was Planned Parenthood, for what it’s worth. They’re a good bunch)
  • My friend in Europe who, without question, changed the name and pronouns that he used for me.
  • My aunt, who told me that she was proud of me for having the courage to be who I was.
  • My uncle, who despite being confused about what, exactly, transgender was, took it in stride and proceeded to ask question after question to better understand where I was coming from.
  • My other aunt, who told me that she would love me regardless of whether I was her niece and nephew.

It’s hard, sometimes, to for me to see all the support and love that I’ve been given. But I’ve been given so much of both, and I’m more grateful for that than words can ever describe.

For the Beloved Departed (The Orlando Shooting)

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For our brothers and sisters at Pulse

A thousand loaves of bread

A thousand jugs of wine

A thousand of all good things

(If you can, please donate or share Equality Florida’s gofundme page. All the funds they receive will go to the survivors of the shooting.)

Prayer to Geb

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(My Prayer to Geb)

Geb

Son of Shu

Husband of Nut

Father of Aset

I give Thanks for all that you offer

The meals that you grant

the beauty You create,

The firm ground beneath my feet

I pray that you rejoice, but that you laugh

Not too often

Nor too Loud

May you Live Forever

 

On Critical Thinking

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Atheism has an allure to it. It really does.

See, with atheism, there’s no room for blaming divinity instead of science, or for claiming that god has a reason to hate X group of people. Theoretically, this would lead to a group of very logical people that use reason, and Science! to justify their thinking. It doesn’t always do so- atheists are just as human as the rest of us- but it should.

Now, the problem with religion is that many people allow it to take the place of critical thinking. They allow belief to take the place of observation, or proven history, or evidence. Then, they often push their beliefs on other people, trying to make sure that everyone else also believes. So that their thinking– which is rarely their thinking– is validated by everyone.

In this example, of course, I’m talking about extremist Christians.

I really, really wish that I could say it was just extremist Christians that did it.

It’s most definitely not.

It’s a little harder to discern this type of thinking within the pagan community, because- well- we are a minority. And unlike other minorities, we’re a minority in which most of the members choose to be part of that minority. It means that we’re more likely to have placed thought into why we want to be part of enter pagan religion here, and that we’re less likely to have cultural reinforcement helping us maintain our fallacies.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have them, however.

The easiest example of belief trumping fact would be the “burning times”- a myth about how millions of “witches” were burned at the stake for their pagan beliefs. (I don’t think I have to tell you that none of the people burned for witchcraft were casting spells in Diana’s name, or dancing under the moon to worship the Goddess.)

Another, more serious example, would be people using their religion to encourage white supremacy within the Norse Pagan community. (Not all Norse pagans, of course. It’s a very tiny minority. Unfortunately, though, it’s also vocal.)

Or the appropriation of Native American practices in the general pagan community.

People often take their prejudices into their religion. And, after a couple “talks” with the divine, they decide that the deity also thinks the same way that they do. And that because the deity thinks the same way that they do, they’re now excused to do what they want to do, whatever that is.

For that reason, it’s important to remember that you should never, ever use religion to justify your morals. Use your head.

“Because God said so” is not a valid reason for anything(Beyond, of course, certain situations involving ritual practice or- in very rare cases- .)

Another way people allow their beliefs to take the place of logic in their lives is when everything becomes a sign. Their lives are constantly About to Change; casting a spell is going to Fix all their problems- and if it doesn’t work, that just means that they didn’t do it right. I worry that these people are often very unhappy with their lives.

But religion is not a cure-all.

Religion doesn’t solve your problems. Religion rarely brings major change. Signs are rarely signs.

The gods work slowly, guys. And they’re subtle, most of the time.

Thinking about it, I don’t think I should say that the gods don’t bring major change. It’s just that usually it happens slowly, over several years. And they don’t do things for you. I doubt that they can.

And ultimately, I think that religion is about working with cycles- slow cycles, seasonal cycles. It’s not about major OHSHIT changes, and it’s not about forcing the world to work the way you want it to, and it’s definitely not about harming other people.

I love my gods very much. I couldn’t imagine not worshiping them. And ultimately, I doubt that religion (or lack of religion) really has any effect whatsoever on one’s moral code. But if you’re going to be a jackass (and I doubt that you are, dear reader, don’t worry), you shouldn’t be blaming your gods for your actions. Not only does that smear your religion as a whole, but it’s a way of shifting responsibility away from yourself.

Use your head. The gods gave you a brain for a reason- not so that you could slavishly do what they order, but so that you could think for yourself. You- not the gods- are ultimately responsible for your life and your actions.

On Constants

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“Why Buffalo Dance”  by Susan Chernak McElroy is my first constant after Saule.

It’s a small book that talks about spirituality- not in a religious sense, but in a way that makes sense to me. It takes human action and ties them to the seasons; turns the actions of animals into lessons.

The book… well, thinking about it, it’s a very small book, and it’s not the wisest book I’ve ever read. It doesn’t necessarily talk about big issues, like morality or why does death exist. What it does discuss is how to live; how one deals with loss, birth, and opportunity, and how to work with the  events in our lives.

“Why Buffalo Dance” is about cycles.

This is actually one of the few books- possibly the  only book, actually- that is so dear to me that I would feel personally slighted if someone were to say anything negative about it. See, I have read it more times than possibly any other book (except for “Harry Potter”), and I reread sections of it almost daily. For such a small book, it takes up a lot of space in my life.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been leaning on it quite heavily this spring. As you know, I moved to Idaho last fall, which was a big change for me. And while I’ve made a lot of new friends, and I don’t regret moving, the spring’s brought a lot of nostalgia for Washington.

It’s as if I’m finally beginning to understand what a big change I’ve made in my life, and what exactly it entails for me. I’ve never gone through a move quite this big, and it’s more than a little scary.

(Well, maybe that’s not completely true. It’s also exciting and interesting and all these other things that I can’t quite articulate.)

This is actually one of the few times that I don’t think that Saule’s really… hmm. Well, she’s listening, but I feel like she’s taken a very hands-off approach with me the last few months. I mean, I can’t be sure- I’m never sure when it comes to my invisible buddies, ha ha- but that’s what I feel. The last time I really felt her communicating, she  was telling me to pay more attention to Hathor and… Teliavelis? Or Apollo?

(I actually think that Apollo’s trying to communicate something, but I don’t know what it is, and I really, really hope there’s no deadline on me finding out. I mean, I am not good at this whole deity communication thing)

*Sighs dramatically*

I wish that I didn’t feel like I was overreacting. It’s just that everything keeps changing on me. Which might be another reason I’m leaning on “Why Buffalo Dance”- it’s something that’s remained constant for me, even with the move.

Which is nice, because beyond a few items (such as my clothes, my computer, and my bright orange backpack), almost everything has changed multiple times in the last few months.

And things are going to change again at least once more before I can actually settle down. (Which is, again, fun and exciting and scary and multiple other things that I can’t quite communicate.)

But… oh well. I’m really enjoying things, and I’m really excited about the future, even if I worry about it a lot.  And as long as I keep making goals and making progress on them, I think everything’ll be just fine.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

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So, I’m three hours away from having stayed up all night; from sundown to sunup on the winter solstice. And I have to admit, I’m terribly, terribly tired.

This post is not going to be the most articulate thing that I’ve ever published.

So. Why stay up all night? Well, there’s a very good reason for that. The Cauldron (an amazing pagan site that I strongly recommend) hosted a “Up All Night: Technopagan Solstice Celebration” thing in which several pagans decided that it was their goal to stay up all night to celebrate it being dark for a really long time. (Okay, sarcasm aside, it’s kind of amazing, and I strongly recommend it. Anyhow.)

This is actually a bit of an annual thing. I did it last year too. It was truly exhausting (much like this years) but it was completely worth it.

And it’s kind of nice, honestly. I’ve been lighting candles as the night’s gone on; one candle before midnight, one at midnight, and one after midnight. I’ve been talking with Saule a lot (quite a lot) and while I feel exhausted, I feel like I have a better handle on my life than I did before tonight. Which is funny, because literally nothing’s changed… I just feel like I can deal with things.

I really can’t wait for the night to be over, however. I mean, I do love Saule (ah, my Goddess), but my devotion to her has its limits. For instance, tonight, the limit is eight of clock in the morning, when I’m going to pull myself together, put everything away, and go right to bed.

It’s kind of funny. Right now, as I complete this, I feel like I actually have a ritual calendar. See, in the Summer I celebrate Wep Ronpet, at Halloween I honor Giltine, and at the winter solstice I honor Saule (and then Sekhmet a few days later). And then at the spring equinox, I celebrate Saule again.

I also have a spring thing that I do for Perkunas (ideally, at least) but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it is.

And then beyond the Big Yearly Things, I also have my daily rites for Saule, my monthly ones for Menuo, and whatever I’m doing for Sobek, Ubaste, Apollo, and Marsava.

Hah. I’m going to be honest. The Big Yearly Things are the only things that are ever likely to get done. The daily, monthly, and weekly ritual stuff? I flake.  A lot. But that’s okay, because I keep getting back on my ritual feet and working it.

Anyway. Basically, the whole point of this post is that I’m proud of my ritual calendar, and I think I did a great job tonight in not falling apart and going to bed. And now that I’ve written this post, I only have to survive two and a half more hours.

Happy Solstice, everyone!