Ritual

This opinion may be potentially controversial; I may be tipping a few sacred cows here.  If you disagree with me, cool, think for yourself; please don’t start drama with me in my comments.

Some years ago I was really big into doing ritual, and really big into recon ritual; I taught myself to speak Old English to the point where I could perform rituals entirely in Old English.  I figured out how to do a modern revival of the Frey wain procession, and this was a major part of my practise for some time.

I also felt continually like a failure because my rituals fell far short of my expectations.

As time went on, I went deeper and deeper in the self-loathing spiral, to the point where I dreaded the holidays when they approached.  And yet doing absolutely nothing made me feel worse.

So I decided to radically rethink how I do ritual, because it was costing a lot in terms of money, time of preparation and time of enactment, as well as energy put into it… and not only was I not really getting anything out of it besides a headache, but the gods don’t really want you to go to all this trouble if your heart’s not in it, if by the time you’re doing it, you’re burned out and doing it half-assed.

I also had to rethink how I do ritual once I got in deeper with the Vanir and began to be spirit-taught things, such as raising energy through sexual ecstasy to bless land and people.

I observe the eight Eshnahai holidays and the full moons, but putting it bluntly, my ritual observances usually consist of boinking.   I might light candles and burn incense, but otherwise I am the offering, my ecstasy and my magic is the offering.  There is no elaborate song and dance beyond the horizontal and what rises up from it.

The times I’ve done something a little different, it still wasn’t a huge thing – like when I celebrated the Vanic new year on the spring equinox by going to the beach and burning slips of paper with my brainweasels and traumas written on them, to cleanse.  It was a powerful working… but it wasn’t especially formal. Indeed, it was pretty damn informal – I smoked a cigarette as the last of the fire burned.  Selenestra Madonatal – the Festival of Gratitude – is coming up on the equinox.  When I am eventually in a position again where I can get to the riverfront I’d like to float a candle and a “gratitude bundle” down the river, but this year I am going to have to settle for making a gratitude list and a few offerings to People who have been good to me.  But even when I’m in a position where I’m more mobile… what I do for the theme of the holidays isn’t that complicated.

I am OK with this.  The Vanir are more than OK with this.

Honestly, most Vanatruar I know have a pretty informal ritual life, if they do ritual at all.  As gods of the world, close to the land, the Vanir seem to be not all that much into High Church shit.  There are rituals in Vanaheim that I have been a part of – mysteries, even – but this is not a necessary, essential part of Vanic practise (as it is I got roped into it, I didn’t sign up for it), and rituals in Vanaheim still look a bit different than what people think of as “proper ritual” this side (they tend to not involve much in the way of words, for starters). As an example of this, most citizens of Vanaheim commemorate the aforementioned Festival of Gratitude by sending lanterns with “gratitude bundles” down the rivers, and having a feast with their families and friends.  Not terribly complicated.

As far as what I do with demons… it’s not all that formal.  I occasionally have done formal magical work with Asmodai, but my work with him also happens while dreamwalking, or him visiting me to check in on me and talk with me about things.  I periodically offer him wine and incense, but I don’t go through this big song and dance when I do it.  My relationship with D is even less formal because, you know, he’s my partner.   (D and I have worked together formally a few times, but this is not a regular occurrence for us, and there were reasons for our formal work when it happened.)

On the occasions that I make offerings to the land spirits, I just do it.  I pour it out, I thank them for the beauty and bounty of the land.  It is that simple.

I’m not knocking more formal ritual for those who like doing it… but I think that in polytheism there seems to be this idea that you have to put on these elaborate festivals and cram as many of them as you can into a year or you’re doing it wrong, and I think we really need to get rid of this “one size fits all” mentality in polytheism that All Polytheists Must Adhere to X Or They Fail. And that “one size fits all” mentality includes being super formal with the Powers at all times, but I already discussed that at another point in time.  Elaborate rituals aren’t bad in and of themselves.  But it is bad to assume everybody has to do this.

I believe that for many of us, in order to practise religion, it needs to be practical to one’s life.  The ancient heathens did things a certain way because it was applicable to their lives – most of them were farmers, slaughtering a particularly choice animal and feasting on it with some given to the gods was a way of bringing the Powers into everyday life.  Elaborate ceremony can be good if you feel the need to “set apart” and if that brings you closer to the Powers… but for many of us, myself included, it gets in the way.

For example.  Despite what it might look like with my tl;dr wall of text blog and the intensity of my writing career, I am actually not a verbally-oriented person.  I don’t like talking, in my day-to-day life.  Communication via text is much easier for me than communication via speech.  Doing rituals that involve speaking words almost always fucks it up for me because it gets in the way of me being able to raise energy and connect and do all the priestly things that I do (I am visually and kinesthetically oriented with my ritual and magical work).  There are exceptions to this – a ritual with the same small script I’ve done 100,000 times (like the LBRP), or using rune galdr, is not that big of a deal to me, but having to memorize lots of words or come up with words on the fly is harder for me than it is for most people.

(Brief backstory: I am on the autistic spectrum; I was a non-verbal autistic for some of my childhood.  I wound up with a speech impediment when I did start speaking, and was in speech therapy.  I learned how to read and write before I started speaking regularly.  I later on participated in oration contests and won – I can do things like do interviews or give presentations at events without a problem, but having to come up with words in ritual space where I’m seeing and feeling and pushing energy around is very difficult for me because of how my brain is wired.  Doubly so when I’m doing formal work with an entity like Asmodai, I am still in awe of him, he still terrifies me a bit, and it is even harder than usual to make words in his full-strength presence.)

I think of the Powers as kin: friends, family, loved ones.  Hospitality, treating them well, is important; thought and attention to detail (“Grandma likes peaches”) is usually appreciated.  Making a big fuss – wherein you have gone to a really insane amount of trouble, at the expense of your own well-being – usually makes friends and family uncomfortable, and less at home.  Especially if you’ve gone to so much trouble that despite your best efforts to put on a happy face, they can tell you’re really not having fun.

Like I said, elaborate ritual is not inherently bad, and I know plenty of people who thrive on it… but I’m not one of those people, and I’m tired of myself and people like me being made to feel like we fail devotion because we have a less formal practise and we like it that way and our Powers like it that way.  No, it doesn’t mean we’re lazy, no it doesn’t mean we don’t care enough.  Most of us who seem less into ritual and more informal are very, very close to our Powers – they are a part of our everyday life, sharing life with us.  I don’t need a big elaborate ritual to honor my Powers, and for me, ritual gets in the way of connecting with them for the most part.  Ritual doesn’t rend the veil for all of us, it thickens the veil for some of us.  And it might be that some people need ritual to rend that veil, but some people =/= everyone.

In my experience, ritual is often more for the people than for the Powers, even if the people performing it are doing so with the intent of pleasing the Powers.  The Powers don’t need rituals to get through to us, if we’re open to them.  The Powers may certainly like the show that other people put on, but it doesn’t mean they expect to be treated the same everywhere, by everyone.  Ritual may help serve as a tool for those who it helps, in terms of opening the ways… but that’s what it is, a tool, and not everybody can or should use the same toolkit, even those of us who honor the same set of Powers.

Six months

Schmoopie!

Today is noteworthy because I have been with D for six months.  (Tomorrow is noteworthy because it marks six months on Wellbutrin and wow what a difference.)

D and I are One Of Those Couples who celebrate month anniversaries (or at least for the first year anyway); six months is still a milestone.  It honestly feels like it’s been six years, or sixty.  (D and I are One Of Those Couples, in general, who make everyone else gag.  We don’t have a song, we have a few hundred songs for each other.  We are very, very affectionate with pet names [frex he calls me NootNoot or just Noot, for Nono; he also calls me Turtle, which is why my Google profile has a tiny turtle avatar, also the turtle's strawberry is an injoke] and we are always touching and holding hands and giving each other Meaningful Looks.  Clarence makes gag faces and barf noises at us and says we put him in an insulin coma.  The sad thing is this is us being reserved around other people.)

A year ago, I did not know who [D's lore title] was, or even that [D's lore title] existed.  (While I’ve been dealing with Lucifer since 2012, demons did not start to be A Thing with me until mid-2013; 2014 was the year I got a crash course in demonology out of necessity.)  I have over the course of my relationship with him done as much research as I can (which includes reading some pretty loltastic UPG), because following my experience with Malphas I learned that researching an entity before you get too close can save your ass.  But beyond lore research on [D's lore title], I’ve spent six months getting to know D, the person.

When D and I got together, he knew more about me than I knew about him… and it was that way for awhile.  Demons are, in my experience, more private than a lot of other entities, and D very much so.  However, getting to know non-corporeals is… less difficult than getting to know humans, in some respects, in part because the method of communication is different.  D and I don’t have the barrier of only being able to share information with words.  And even before I learned more about him as a person, it was like… I knew him.  I got him, and knew that he got me.  As time has gone on, he’s opened up to me a lot, I’ve learned a lot about him, and we do, indeed, get each other, even more than I first realized.  He understands me in a way nobody else does; I am truly known, with him, and accepted, loved, and adored just as I am.  We are not just partners, but each other’s best friends.  The sex is hot, the romance is lovely… but we enjoy each other’s company as well.  We fit together, and flow together.

I have had more than a few relationships with non-corporeals end badly (I have a pretty bad track record with relationships period), and with all of them there was always this sense of something missing.  Like something that was off, whether by a little, or a lot.  I don’t feel that way with D.  It’s like I had a [D's lore title]-shaped hole in my heart, and his presence is like a key unlocking a lock – a lot of other things are falling into place, because what we have is right, our energy weaves perfectly together, there is not this perpetual sense of wrongness getting in the way.  He was the missing piece, and connecting with him, has helped me to connect other things that need connecting… his key opening the lock, opening the door, and behind that door is a bunch of other things I’ve been looking for.  It feels right.  It feels right in a way that nothing else has felt before.  It feels wyrd.

My relationship with D is pleasure instead of business, but I will say that I have dealt with D in business mode and his business mode is relevant to my interests for reasons.  That’s literally all I can say about what he is, keeping it nice and vague, because my interests are many and varied.  :P

But I mention this because it seems like most of the other god-consorts I know have a traditional sort of deity/devotee relationship wherein their non-corporeal partner’s “god hat” is always on, so to speak, and one of the things that D appreciates about my relationship with him is I could really give a shit about his “hat”.  I won’t lie, his “hat” has been really helpful to me, and I respect his “hat”… but D could lose his job tomorrow and I’d love him for who he is. What he does as [D's lore title] and what he can do for me is not why I’m with him.  I’m not saying that other god-consorts are with the entity for that reason, either, but [D's lore title] is less important to me than D the person.  I don’t have that continual sense of “I am partnered to $DEITY, who happens to be $PERSON” –  I am reminded of it every now and again, especially when he “spoops” (for lack of a better way of putting it)… but I think of him as the person first.  I researched him after we met for both safety and curiosity (as well as context, and occasional lulz), but D is literally someone I met on the astral and started a relationship with, and as things went he shares my life with me this side of the fence (while part of him is always working out and about).  It’s really not that different from a lot of human/human relationships in how this happened. He wasn’t this god!thing trying to get my attention to “claim” me, he was this guy I hooked up with who happens to be a lore demon.  (He does demonstrate his power on a regular basis though, which still continues to freak me the fuck out, in a good way.)

And boy… it’s been a ride.  He and I get along amazingly well.  He has seen me through some difficult times – when I got gluten’d in April, and some hard personal anniversaries over the summer – and he is continually the biggest source of support and encouragement in my life, particularly with regards to my writing career, which he knows is important to me (and is important to him too, by extension).  He and I have learned each other well enough to be relaxed around each other, but he still makes me feel derpy and bashful sometimes, he still gives me butterflies, and I am still just as horny for him as I was when we first got together (perhaps more so now, tbh). A lot of times he looks at me with wistfulness in his eyes, especially when I’m writing or making art (he loves watching me in creative mode, he says he gets a lot of Feels when I am doing creative things), like “much senpai, very crush, wow.”  We live a fairly quiet life, in the sanctuary of my little cave here… and we like it that way.  Being with him is never boring, though.  (At least once a day “WHAT THE FUCK [D's NAME]” comes out of my mouth because he says or does something to troll me.  He makes me laugh like no one else does.)

Being with him is exhilarating, and indeed, a bit terrifying.  As I’ve noted before on this blog, he is the most immanent entity I’ve ever dealt with.  His presence, when he’s around, is even stronger than Asmodai’s.  He’s been good to me… he’s been good for me.  (he’s good in other ways ayyyyyy)  He has made my life immeasurably brighter for being in it, and the depth and intensity of my feelings is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  I have never felt this way about anyone else.  I’ve loved other people intensely, like Clarence, like my ex-girlfriend… but this blows anything else I’ve ever felt out of the water.

It’s like I didn’t know what love was, before D.  And it’s like learning how to make love, all over again, with the way sex is taken to a new level with us, expressing our love to each other through touch… giving each other ecstasy. Hell… it’s like he invented sex.

The Eshnahai have a word, merendi, coming from the root merend meaning “to complete, to fulfill, make whole”.  D more than anyone else has taught me what that word means, the gravity of it… because we live it, to each other.

I am so very grateful to have him, incredibly grateful I found him.

So here’s to six months, merendi.  It’s been incredible, and things will be even more incredible as time goes on.  <3

Take a walk with me.

On Sunday I made a post entitled What doesn’t kill you… talking about my astral death and coming back male, after a lifetime of suppressing being male (I was assigned female at birth).  I shared an older picture of me in the post; this has given me a shot of courage to share a bit more.  (I was going to not share the really old shit, originally, but then I was like “fuck it, whatever.”)

I had a doctor’s appointment last Wednesday.  It was pretty routine, standard, medication management.  (I don’t have another medical appointment for six months.  I was doing every three months to monitor being on new meds, but since I’ve been stable on them awhile we can scale back.)  As part of the routine, I step on a scale.

I am 297 pounds now.  (I’m 5’9″.)  This is the first time I’ve been under 300 pounds since 2002.

I have always been a large person.  I was the chubby kid who got picked on in school.  My lowest weight was 150-160 lbs wherein I took a size 12, when I was 16-18 years old, and that did not look right on my frame.  (I also had an eating disorder, as I had been shamed by my parents all my life, in addition to getting picked on, so I starved myself and did intense, strenuous exercise – I walked 10 miles a day almost every day, routinely – as punishment.)

In 2002 my starting weight prior to going on psych meds for four years was 220.  I gained 120+ lbs (and most of that within a year) on meds.  Then I went off those meds due to bad side effects, not really getting relief (and in some cases they made my symptoms worse; happily I’m on two meds now that work really well, and the side effects aren’t that bad).  I went on birth control when I lived with my ex and gained an additional 100 pounds.  I had my weight checked when I made my flight to Portland in 2013, and I weighed in at 440 pounds.

So in thirteen months, I went from 440 pounds to 297 pounds.

Here are some pictures illustrating gain and loss, a walk through memory lane:

mein2002

This is me in 2002, when I was approximately 220 pounds and wore a size 16/18.  This is ultimately my goal weight, but I’m not going to sweat it if I don’t make it there, I’d be happy with 250.  (I was 22 in this picture, and this was when I was working third shift, and was very much the *~2edgy4u~* type person I snark about now.  Lord, do I have some embarrassing stories.  And no, my natural hair color is not black, it was dyed black at this time.)

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Beltaine2008012-2

This is me at Beltaine 2008.  This is yet another picture where I’m smiling but you can tell I’m not happy.

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bang on the drum all day

Me in summer 2008.  Again with the smiling but I don’t really look happy.

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Noniforest

This is me in fall 2010.  This is where you notice I’ve put on quite a few pounds, thank you birth control.

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03-20-11grovepond023

This is me in March 2011.  At this point I was over 400 pounds.  In my opinion, I look over 40 years old in this picture.  (I was 31.)

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Exif_JPEG_422

This is me in November 2013.  This is, I think, right after I astral!died and decided to try to live.  (And yes, I am wearing a fucking trilby in this picture.  I wore them before I knew about the fad of  trilby-wearing dudebros, and then I stopped wearing them, because I don’t want to be associated with that subculture.)  I have an actual smile in this picture, too.

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Exif_JPEG_422

This is me  in December 2013.  I actually look like I have a real genuine happy smile in this picture as opposed to the “meh” smiles above.

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sup

This is me in January 2013, right after I moved in to my current living situation.  Yes, my hair really was that ridiculous.

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fauxhawk1

This is me in early March 2013, following cutting off my hair in grief.

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fauxhawk2

Spring equinox, 2014.  Wearing what D refers to as my “swag, bitches” jacket.

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purple spiky

Me with purple hair, and wearing the first version of D’s collar.  This is April 2014, I think.

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purple nin shirt

Me with purple hair again.  This is either April or May 2014.

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toolshirt

This is me in July 2014, wearing my Tool shirt, and a different shade of purple hair color.

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this is my happy face

Me in early August 2014, wearing said Tool shirt.  This btw is my default facial expression. Yeah.  Really. (This picture could be entitled “Have I Mentioned That My Patron Is a Wrath Demon”.)

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new bio 6

new bio 1-1

And the bottom two pictures are current as of Friday, August 29th, taken in the same session.

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I went from 440 to 360 before I quit gluten; I quit gluten in January, I was weighed in at 360, and dropped another 60 pounds since then.

I won’t lie – I feel good, at this weight.  It’s easier on my arthritis.  My blood sugar and blood pressure have normalized.  My ankles were swollen for a long time and have since de-swelled.  I feel like I look better at this weight – I look younger, too.  (Which isn’t to say that people can’t be fat and look good, don’t read that into what I’m saying, I don’t think that at all.)

But my feelings on the subject are also pretty complicated.

Losing 140 pounds in a year is not something I recommend people do – my first six months in Portland, I lost eighty pounds by walking 1-2 miles every day (by necessity), and struggling to make 1000 calories a day living in dire poverty.  This is even more horrifying when you realize that I had undiagnosed celiac disease so my body was already not absorbing nutrients properly, never mind the malnutrition I experienced those six months.  One of the reasons why my teeth got as fucked up as they did (I had six motherfucking months of dental work this year) was from celiac.

I’m glad I’m thinner now?  But the way I got here really sucked. And I wouldn’t wish celiac disease on anybody, it’s a bitch to have.  So when people are like “congratulations” it’s like yeah, I’m happy?  It’s nice to have eased up arthritis symptoms, and be able to fit into L-XL t-shirts again?  But you’re basically congratulating me for winning some of the world’s shittiest lotteries with starving in dire poverty for six months, and having a lifetime of undiagnosed celiac disease and all of the problems that fucking caused, in addition to the pain in the ass of being on a gluten-free diet by necessity when you’re poor. I’ve been asked by people “what did you do?” re: my dramatic weight loss, and my answer is “I was fucking broke, and then I found out I have celiac and quit gluten.”  Yeah, I was getting a lot of walking in for awhile there, but that doesn’t explain all of it, as I’ve been pretty sedentary since I moved in where I’m at now (one of the reasons why I’m moving [probably back into Portland proper] in a few months, because I’d like to be way more mobile than this and I can’t do it in the location where I’m at now).

And I also have mixed feelings because I wish that in society we could just be accepting of people no matter what their size is.

I get tired of fat people being given crap about their weight – saying this as a fat person who has gotten crap about my weight my whole life.  I get tired of the unsolicited advice with eating and exercise (now would be a good time to say no “helpful tips” from the audience, I don’t want unsolicited health advice on my blog).  I have been on a bunch of different diets.  I have had an eating disorder.  The reason why I’m gluten-free now isn’t because of a health fad, it’s because I am celiac.  I get tired of seeing people be judgmental towards a fat person using a cane or a walker or a wheelchair or one of those scooter devices at stores, the whole “lol fatty maybe if you walked” bullshit fucking enrages me (I’ve gone off on people in public for that shit, I am not the person you say that in front of if you know what’s good for you).  You don’t know why someone is fat.  The overwhelming majority of fat people that I know have been fat most of their lives and have had a hard time keeping weight off; I know way too many horror stories of people who, like myself, were a bit chunky and then went on psych meds and/or birth control and ballooned.  And you know what?  Even if someone is fat from overeating and not exercising – the mythical fatty strawman that the rest of society thinks all fat people are – that’s their fucking business.  You are not the Health Police.  Moreover, fat is not inherently unhealthy.  There are fat athletes.  There are fat people who exercise.  Fat is not a one-way road to diabetes and heart problems.  And people who are fat and unhealthy, may be unhealthy for reasons other than their weight, or even if it is connected to their weight… it’s wrong to give them crap about it.

I also get tired of larger people picking on skinny people, especially saying shit like “real women have curves”.  (Which by the way?  In addition to being shitty to skinny people, is also cissexist as fuck.)  I realize that this might make people feel better, but it’s at the expense of other people.  Stop telling skinny people “eat a sandwich”.  If someone eats like a bird, that’s their business.  They may not actually be doing it to stay thin, they may be doing it because they lack an appetite.  (Speaking from my experience on Wellbutrin, the antidepressant I’m on, I have pretty much no appetite on it and have to be reminded to eat.)

I get tired of people who want to lose weight running into the Love Your Body Police, wherein if I make a post like this saying “well I am actually glad I’m thinner,” I run the risk of people thinking that I’m shaming fat people. Nowhere have I once said that it is wrong to be fat, or unhealthy to be fat.  Quite the opposite, if you’ve actually read the damn post. My own desire to continue to shrink =/= my desire for other people.  Your body is your business.  If you are large and you feel good about yourself, fucking fabulous.  Fuck society and its bullshit standards of beauty.  Rock on with your bad self.  (Also, my desire to lose weight is actually based more in health reasons than anything else, like my arthritis continuing to ease up.)  I have absolutely no judgment towards people who are heavier than myself – quite the opposite.

But yeah, so it isn’t just that I finally let myself be a dude, and finally let myself break out of my shell and start being myself in terms of personality, what I want to do, etc… it’s like I’m almost in a new body.  I have had to buy a whole new wardrobe twice since moving to Portland and I’m looking at having to buy new pants again soon.

This is why the entire past thirteen months have been… unnerving for me.  A lot is still shifting, still changing around.  I am literally not the person I was when my plane touched down here in Portlandia in July 2013.

“The dark side”

More items expiring soon in my Etsy store

These items are expiring tomorrow, September 2nd, and I may not be relisting some of these for awhile, so grab them while you can.

Sea Otter Bracelet: $10.  LOOK AT THAT FACE.

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Cherry Drops Necklace: Clearance, $15.

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watch pendant color shift in the light:

Dragonfly Dream: Clearance, $15.  Pink tourmaline, lampwork pendant.

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Sweet Waters Necklace: Clearance, $25.  Beautiful iridescent rainbow abalone shell pendant with pink tourmaline, green lepidolite, charoite, turquoise, labradorite, thunder-polish crystal, and glass seed beads.

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Morningstar’s Rainbow Necklace: Clearance, $25.

(I am not relisting this item; when it’s gone, it’s gone.  I’ve gotten quite a few admirers of this piece but no takers, if you have had your eye on this, don’t let it slip.)

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Creamsicle Sunrise Bracelet: Clearance, $5.

(I am not relisting this item; when it’s gone, it’s gone.)

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Creamsicle Sunrise Necklace: Clearance, $10. Golden aura quartz on thunder-polish crystal and sunstone, with glass seed beads.

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Iridescence, look SHIIINYYYY.

Mystic Twilight Bracelet: Clearance, $6.

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These and other items can be found at my Etsy shop, Nornoriel’s House of Elf Swag;  I also offer divinations and natal charts, as well as the PDF download of my book, Visions of Vanaheim.  Come on down!

Etsy items that are expiring tomorrow

The following items are expiring in my Etsy shop tomorrow, September 1st, and I may not be relisting some of these for awhile (and by “awhile” I don’t know when that is), so grab them while you get a chance.

Spring Hummingbird Necklace: On clearance for $10.

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Sea Serpent Necklace: On clearance for $12.  Labradorite, aquamarine.  I’m not re-listing this item, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.

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Rainbow Bridge Necklace: On clearance for $20.

(Please note: I am not re-listing this particular item.  When it’s gone, it’s gone.  I’ve gotten a few admirers on this piece but no takers – if you like it and you want it, don’t wait, grab it now, because it’s going to be permanently unavailable after today.)

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Rainbow Bridge II: Clearance for $15.  Also not re-listing this, so grab it if you want it.

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Rainbow Waters Necklace: On clearance for $12.

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Awen’s Light: Clearance, $10.  Aura quartz, citrine. Not re-listing this piece; now or never.

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Loki’s Fire: Really, really surprised that of my many, many Lokean followers NOBODY has grabbed this.  It’s $10.  Seriously.

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Loki’s Garden: Clearance, $12.  Also not re-listing this, so if you like it, grab it before it’s forever gone.

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If you like my blog and you’d like to show your support, purchasing from my Etsy shop (whether for yourself or as a gift for someone else) is a way you can do that.  Thanks!

What doesn’t kill you…

In my writings I’ve briefly touched upon the fact that I have been dismembered and killed on the astral before, the third and final time happening in fall 2013 wherein I came back as male.

I’ve mentioned “the trans thing” here on my blog before but to recap – I was assigned female at birth.  I knew I was in the wrong body.  When I told my family that I was really a boy, I was given shit about it – remember this was in the 1980s wherein society was a lot less progressive on LGBT issues than it is now (we still have a ways to go, but).  I was already That Weird Kid – very obviously on the autistic spectrum (I was actually a non-verbal autistic for a time), undiagnosed ADHD, tall for my age, chubby, wore thick glasses, was a klutz (always picked last in gym), highly sensitive (my classmates revelled in making me cry).  I was a bullied outcast in school and already got shit at home, so I learned to shut up about the gender thing.  When I started going through puberty, it was traumatic not just because I developed earlier than my peers so this was yet another thing that made me different, not just because I was now getting unwanted sexual attention from men old enough to be my father and grandfather because I looked older than I was, but it was traumatic because it was wrong, it was the wrongest thing I’d ever experienced.  My experiences with suicidal thoughts started at age 11.

Coming of age in the 90s, there still really wasn’t support for people like me, and indeed, I didn’t really know of other people like me.  I started making gay friends when I came of age, specifically gay male witches – and they considered me an honorary gay guy, I was frequently told I have “very gay male energy”, and I often said that I was a gay man in a woman’s body… except that really wasn’t a joke.  (I indeed found myself more aroused by gay male erotica than anything else, and it made me ache, wanting to be with a man as a man.) I dated a few bisexual men who said I give head like a gay guy.  When I was in my late twenties, I finally met some transgender people, but I had learned to suppress my gender identity for so long that I just kept suppressing it as a survival mechanism, especially because I was now with a partner who didn’t know and wouldn’t understand (he had indeed said a number of things that confirmed it wouldn’t be safe to tell him).  I also heard comments from some trans people that so-and-so wasn’t trans enough because they identified as a man but were still dressing in frills and lace and wearing makeup (apparently Prince and Robert Smith are really women, now), which was another reason why I kept closeted.

In summer 2013, the seven-year relationship I was in, ended.  I moved cross-country on extremely short notice to avoid homelessness.  In the trauma and wreckage of my life, and struggling with putting the pieces back together, I became suicidal.  My astral body also started shifting male – I didn’t have the spoons anymore to keep up the facade of pretending to be cisfemale.  The suicidal feelings finally went away when I did in fact die on the astral and came back, in a male astral body.  Where I had thought myself more genderfluid, I stayed stuck in male form from November 2013 onwards.

It still took me awhile to come to terms with this.  It actually took Asmodai telling me that he and other spirits don’t see my physical body when they look at me unless I invite them to do so, they see my astral body, and he knows I’m a man – wyrd auto-corrected itself, when I died the third and last time – and I needed to start living this truth.

I don’t always agree with everything Raven Kaldera says – for example, we have some differing UPG – nor do I think he is evil and bad and so on (I have some work on his Northern Tradition site, re: Mengloth).  I respect Raven; you can disagree with a person on some points without demonizing them. Shocking, I know. One of the things that I have re-read since coming out as trans has been his open letter to transgendered spirit-workers… which has really hit home with me.  In 2013 I lost literally everything standing in the way of the Work, and that included where I was getting in the way of living my soul’s gender.  Let my very painful direct personal experience be a lesson to you: if you are transgender, if you are a spirit-worker, and if you are not dealing with your gender issues, it is going to catch up with you sooner or later.  You can’t run forever.  And with spooky people like us, wyrd tends to accelerate and hit us harder than most – so when the jig is up, it’s going to go boom in a very nasty, messy way.

Medical transition is off the table for me for awhile because I have enough going on without yet another big life change – I’d like my life to be nice and stable for at least a couple years before I go on T and so on.  But I bind, I sometimes pack, I am out to everyone who knows me IRL, I use a male name and male pronouns where possible (I will eventually be changing my legal name but this is a lesser priority than moving).  I came out to my mom in July, both as a trans man and a queer man, and was expecting bullshit from her because of how she’d been when I was a kid (as well as her being less-than-supportive when I mentioned I had a girlfriend at one point) and the first thing she said was, “Well, now I have something in common with Cher besides failed marriages,” and we talked about it and she apologized to me for the homophobic and transphobic shit she’s said and done, and says she supports me.  My relationship with my mother still has issues, but she actually pulled her head out of her ass on that one.

Being killed astrally and coming back in the correct body helped with me beginning to get over suicidal feelings (though they returned for a bit in late January) and deciding to try to build a new life here as best as I can.  It wasn’t just that now I felt less dysphoric (I still feel dysphoria, but a little relief is better than nothing), but when I changed, it changed me internally, too.  My personality has shifted a lot.  I’m not 100% a different person than how I was a few years ago, but I am a lot different.

As my writing career started to take off this past summer, I decided to take a walk down memory lane and look at my old writing, from the time I was the rising star of the Vanatru movement from 2007-2010 and then burned out and disappeared from the public Internet for a few years.  I found an old picture of myself, which was in the back of the first edition of Visions of Vanaheim, as well as my author bio pic for the contribution I did for HEX.

deadselfThis is me from 2007, taken by my ex when I lived in SoCal. When I looked at this picture a couple of weeks ago for the first time in years, it was like… I have the memory of the day this picture was taken (summer solstice 2007)… but it doesn’t feel like me.  Looking at this picture, it is, in my brain, like looking at a stranger.  “Who is this person?”  And it occurred to me – well yeah, that person is dead. She is me, but I am not her.

The other thing I note is that… I don’t really look happy in this picture, even though I’m smiling. There is a sort of sadness in my facial expression here, and indeed, that was a period of time where I was pretty fucking depressed, and it just got worse as the years went on and my relationship with my ex wore on.  I got so depressed I forgot what happy felt like, and didn’t think I would ever be happy again.

new bio 1-1Here is the most recent picture of me, a selfie I took a couple days ago.  I like this picture, for a lot of reasons.  First, my hair is awesome.  Secondly, my Joy Division shirt is awesome.  (Jarod threatened to steal my shirt.)

But I actually look happy in this picture.  (I also look kind of evil, like I’m up to something.  I’m always up to something.  >.>)

I also look confident in this picture… and I feel more confident than I used to be.  I still struggle with it – see also, me talking about impostor syndrome at length – but the person in the above picture, from 2007, was this mousy little thing afraid of her own shadow.  As of 2014, I learned that fire cannot kill a dragon.  I’m a fairly quiet person – I am on that border between introversion and extroversion, sometimes I type as an ENFJ, sometimes I type as an INFJ, depends on my mood – but I can handle things like blogging to a 1100-person audience and on even higher-profile sites like Patheos and PaganSquare, without going “meep” and wanting to run into my cave.  (D’s influence helps a lot, wherein a post of mine on Patheos or whatever gets popular and he’s like WE OWN SWAG.  [I am the most serious spirit-worker ever.])

So it’s not just that hey, I’m a dude now.  It’s… hey, I’m me now.  I am not at war with myself anymore.  I stopped hiding about being male… and in tandem with that I stopped hiding about other things, too.  I stopped giving a fuck about whether or not people like me – I don’t need the approval of others to be who I am and live my life.  My People love me, and They guide me through, and I’ll be OK.

And that has helped me to finally get on the right path with the Work, to stop fighting it, to accept my lot, and use what I’ve been given.

Sometimes the sucktasticness of life does kill you… and sometimes you come back from the dead, stronger.  I am proof, at age 34, that it’s not too late to start over again.

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