Sacrifices in the Name of the Gods

When we speak of polytheism, we speak of bringing the Gods into our daily lives, and visa versa. Most of us are okay with this, we feel comfortable as long as the relationship still allows us to live our lives, on our own terms. But what happens when it doesn’t? What do we do when the Gods push us and push us, when They tear down our walls and walk all over our comfort zones? Is this like a bad BDSM relationship where the Dom isn’t listening to us scream the safe word? Or do the Gods know better than us, really know what we need and desire for our lives to be better lived? What happens when the Gods start demanding real sacrifices of us?

The last few months have been rough here in my little world. The balance of mundane and spiritual started to lean heavily towards the mundane. My step-daughter moved in with us full-time, which requires me to be a parent to a teenager 24/7. And when we refer to her as “hyper-verbal”, believe me, that is an understatement. I was initiated and accepted to two different seminaries (yay!) and then discovered, in November, that my job was downsizing and I was being let go. So this has been a very difficult time in the mundane world.

The interesting part of all of this is that, as my stressors multiply in my life, I am forced to confront my deep dark emotions and fears head on. All of them, all at once. And as each one forces me to face it, I am simultaneously struggling with the concept of sacrifice.

Sacrifice comes from Latin and means to make holy or sacred. Sacrifice is not something that we just do or that just happens to us, rather it should not be a passive verb in our lives. When we sacrifice something we make it holy and sacred in the act of the offering. Simultaneously, sacrifice is not something that we can be forced into. When the offering is forced, it remains just an offering. It is the choice behind the action that transforms it into something sacred. That is why even the smallest crumb or tiniest drop of something, when offered from the heart, can become a holy sacrifice to the Divine.

So, how do we decide what to offer up as sacrifice? What suffices?

In my opinion, the gift should be equal to the gift. In short, our sacrifices should hold the same weight as the blessings that we are asking for. Blessings are not payment for sacrifices, rather sacrifices are our acknowledgement at the enormousness of the blessings.

For me, the sacrifice is in aligning myself closer to my Goddess. (This is very personal, all nasty comments will be deleted. This includes anyone who wants to try to advise me to keep fighting. Those comments are just as devastating as any nasty ones could be.) I was diagnosed with infertility a long time ago, not long after I reached adulthood. This information has both devastated and informed my life. Choosing to fight the infertility is one form of sacrifice, that of time and money and resources that could also be used in other aspects of my life. Choosing to give up my dream of birthing a child is another form of sacrifice, one that brings me to my knees even as I know this is my choice. This means that the only child my body has ever help is the one who died in order for me to experience death and become a shaman. This means that the only child I will ever truly parent came into my life fully grown.

But this is my sacrifice, my choice made sacred because it aligns me to my Goddess, She who has only mothered the dead babies, She who nourishes untold legions at her table, She who knows the depth and breadth of grief and chooses to keep going. I choose to give up my dream of a child because fighting against the tide would take resources away from the one I am now responsible for. I choose to give up this dream because the world is a dark place and my being the best shaman I can be means that I bring a little light back into it.

I make this sacrifice because it is mine to make, and the act of making it allows me to transform it into something beautiful, the way Death transforms grief. I make this knowing it alters the course of my life.

Not all of us are called to sacrifice. For some of us, the calling can be the scariest thing ever. For others, it seems like nothing until the weight of the sacrifice is upon us and we are living the reality of our choices. Either way, our constant struggle to align our lives with the Divine is what living is all about.

A random break in the usual to push a cause that is close to my heart

For the last year, my Wiccan group, The Order of the Red Grail, has been meeting in park shelters, random backyards, and anywhere we can find space. The local UU, where we would usually meet, has been under construction for renovations, and their makeshift home with the Methodists was not pagan-friendly. This has really made us aware of how much we need our own space, and we have decided to start an Indigogo campaign to crowdfund this. We are looking to create a landscape and retreat that would benefit the entire pagan community of the Midwest.

Any donation, even if it is just a dollar, will help us tremendously in our goal. The other way you can help us is by spreading the message through facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs and any other way you have to reach the wider pagan community. Feel free to reblog this post. Pagan land in any part of the country allows the entire population to be one step closer to freedom and protection.

Here is the official link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-red-grail-spiritual-retreat-center

When we alter our appearance, when we can no longer hide behind our shields of “normal” or “one of them”, we stop putting effort into “passing” and start putting our energy towards our jobs. If that is spiritual or magical, this entire process frees us up for wild, primal self-discovery. It doesn’t matter what the transformation looks like, or what the external result is. It is the internal changes, the changes of the soul, that help us create a new identity and a new way of thinking of ourselves and our role in this life.

Who we become, then, is, in the end, entirely our choice. It is the alchemy of the act of changing itself that hold the magic, the fire. There is more power in our stating “I am…” then there is in Their conferring a of the same title, “You are…”.

This act of rebirth is a dirty, painful, messy, tragic, unforgettable rite of passage. And it is one in which we are asked to be active and wildly, unapologetically present. This is our rebirth, our lives that we are carving out of the mud and sweat. This is our link all the way back to our ancestors, our genetic heritage made active in this century. We can be as civilized and posh as we want to pretend to be. But the act of rebirth reminds us quite quickly that we are animals, searching for the spiritual.

When your Gods point to the act of rebirth and tell you that this is the next step, do you squirm and whine? I do. No one really relishes their pain and anguish. And if they do…. well, they probably aren’t doing it right, and they are probably being asked to repeat the same initiatory rebirth over and over.

And yet… sometimes I do look forward to it. I get tired of playing the games and kissing the asses. I get tired of pretending I’m not weird and disconnected and wanting very little to do with this side of reality. I look forward to the fire because it never lies. It may rearrange my soul and realign the fire and the ice that makes up my very being, but it allows me a pure truth that I can often find nowhere else. So I may whine and beg but somewhere in the prodding I become aware again of who I am. I begin to feel the mud and the fire and the ice and the wolf and the singing of the entire Universe in my head. And I begin to hit the “sweet spot” again, begin to feel this side and that side, the minute and the enormous simultaneously exist within my DNA.

And it is that sensation, that pure power pumping through our veins, that leads us to our true power. Whether your magic lies in your emotions, your knowledge, your reality, it all starts with a pure understanding of who you are at your core and where you stand within this world. People who cannot find their magic often do not know themselves. Ergo the need for rebirth.

Our power also lies in our connection to our “Others”, whomever they might be. Its very human to pretend that all we are is human and that all we have is human connections. We have “pets” and “backyards”, but we are just one part of a huge community, one that includes this side of reality and the other side of reality. My connections lay in the Jotuns of the Ironwoods of Jotunheim. While I look human and sound human, there is much power in being able to embody my role as a Shaman of the Ironwoods. And there is a specific purpose in reminding others that we are surrounded by those who are not human. Even the bacteria in the soil has something to teach us, when we remember to stop and take in the lessons.

I am not sure the point of this rambling, beyond that I was asked by Angrboda to write it out.

(For a friend of a friend, whom I have never met, but whose pain I can feel)

Let him not suffer.

This is my prayer offered on silent lips,
to Death herself.

Let not the weight of their tears
keep him tied to his mortal frame,
failing under the lashes of pain
and machines that beep out his life
in seconds.

Let him not lie there longer
than he needs to,
let him not waste away,
Death trapped in life,
let their tears not block the path we all walk
when our time is called.

Let him not suffer.

Mama Wolf,
Howling in my dreams,
pulling the blood from my limbs
and demanding I speak in fire and ashes.

My heartbeat
holds the coals
of your death,
blanketed down for the winter,
when the storms will rage yet again,
and the need for fire will outweigh
the fear of the rebirth.

Three times we die
and three times we are reborn.
This
and this
and this again
remakes us in your image.
The smoke and the flame and the ashes,
the dreams and the passions and the tears.

Speak to me in my mother tongue
and I will howl into the night.

Coming to terms with identity is difficult, even as a full-grown adult. Choosing to align yourself with a group that is fairly universally reviled is…. difficult. Its a long story but mysticism has lead to me semi-syncrenicity has led me to study the Jotun pantheon in more detail. And what I have found is amazing. When viewed as a complete entity, the story the Giants tell is awe-inspiring.

This does not mean that I am comfortable saying I am a Rokkratru or that I am “Satanic Norse” as I’ve been accused of before. But I have decided to work only with the Jotuns, forsaking the Aesir and Vanir. I make this choice based on a few different things.

The Gods who call me (and that I choose to work with) are all Jotuns. I’ve turned down quite a few others, including Celtic Gods and one Yoruba orisha (and an Egyptian Goddess with claws), I return again and again to the Giants. They feel like family to me, no matter how far abroad I travel.

Even the controversial UPG lines up. Their blood is my blood, their magic feels right and real to me, as natural as breathing. The things I can do without thinking, the things that make others blink and look at me oddly, are all attested to in shared gnosis and in spirit lore.

And I am very very tired of fighting my own inclinations.

So here I stand, a shaman with the fire and ice of generations of giants running in her veins.

Anyone else embracing their otherness?

Updates

Oh, what a busy little shaman I have been.

I am working very hard to start a shamanic services business. I’ll link it here if I ever get it off the ground. (Edit: You can find anc contact me here for shamanic services: https://www.facebook.com/IronwoodShamanicServices )
My heathen group, Nebraska Heathens United, is going strong, with open sumbles and a public class. We can be found on facebook if anyone is interested.
I am very close to initiation with the Wiccan coven I study with.
And at the behest of Hel, I have joined ADF and am about to start the dedicant path. I will eventually have (and link) a new blog as a dedicant’s journal. (http://fireandisa.wordpress.com)
All of that coupled with a 40 hr a week job and starting a nonprofit organization with my best friend, to benefit pregnant women experiencing domestic violence, means I’ve kinda let this blog die. (hehehe, die)

And as always, I’m on facebook and available via email if anyone needs me.

So yeah… not dead, just busy.