Cernunnos in the springtime

Since Spring has come, I’ve felt a slightly different presence around my Home. The fact that it felt like Cernunnos immediately sounded the alarm in my Head; I am so used to His absence that, when there is presence, I feel it immediately. But this is different – and, at the same time, truly the same in every way.

This Cernunnos is slightly younger: brown-gold hair, a charming broad smile, forest green eyes – that bright rich color that leaves show off when the afternoon rays hit them. He’s a young King of the Forest, full of laughter and jokes. He comes bounding up like a young, proud colt, and for a moment I’m frozen because I can’t logically understand that it’s Him.

Miss Me? I can’t help but laugh at Him; in all of His radiance, mischief plays about in the corners of His smile. If I ever had any doubt in my mind that Cernunnos was King of the Fae, it’s gone.

“Yes… and no,” I chuckled. In all honesty I had become used to the Dark King – the god I married had been serious, the god of whipping and cruel absence and blood and Winter and the Hunt. (To His credit, though, the days before and after were actually very sweet). He was terrifying, showing great majesty in that maddening power He exuded under His black pelts. (I found this post and this post on my old blog; they’re the closest I’ve come so far to depictions of Him in this way).

I told Him all this, laughing that just as I was getting used to having Him around, He changed out of the blue. In a way, I was already mourning the Dark King. I had gotten used to Him, had been getting better at accustoming myself to the idea that what we had was perfectly fine, and that He comes and goes as He pleases.

Well, get used to it, He smiled. Winter’s gone.

This Cernunnos was the one who asked me to marry Him. This Cernunnos is the sunlight in the meadows, the crowning glory of the Forest. This Cernunnos wades in all places, is the last ray of light shining through the spiderwebs in the impenetrable parts of forest. This Cernunnos weaves spring into every flower, speaks to bees and races with the hawks. This Cernunnos is the young stag fresh with responsibilities, full of enchantment and energy – and, yet, He is older than all of the rest, for He has done this since the birth of time. This Cernunnos is the gleeful Robin Hood tearing through the Sherwood, bags of gold coins rustling in his hands as he once again foils the Sheriff of Nottingham.

And His magic is strong, crackling and circling in a way that perhaps I had not felt before. It spits at me like frying oil jumping from the pan, burning my skin and scalding me.

I saw Him when I was Seering, on a vision-hunt through meadows and marshland. There was gold in the light that nuzzled the bark of trees; songs and hymns in the wind; dancing in the leaves and stalks unabashed and free. He laughed at the taken-aback expression on my face, holding me and grinning. I felt like an animal, soaring with the energy to run, like a young doe that just wanted to play-fight and race and butt my head against His neck. I wanted to be a trouble-maker, to pull pranks on Mother, to spend nights star-watching in the flower beds and have Him teach me each star as we tangled up in each other.

“It’s just fantasy,” I confessed with a sheepish smile. Maybe this was just in my head, the vision-hunting I do. No matter how many times it is proven otherwise, I still return to the root of discernment. But His next words shattered the reins in my hands:

It never is. 

He’s back.

EDIT: Thanks to my Sister, Julie, for posting a photo closest to what He looks like to us. Apparently, He’s been showing up like this, too! The only difference for me would be that He’s clean-shaven.

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Source

 

St. Patrick’s Day: A Day of Mourning for Pagans and Polytheist Traditions

When I awoke today, there was a heavy feeling in my home and in my heart. Cernunnos is silent today, and He is in mourning. The house is quiet and somber. He shall not be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day today, and neither shall I.

Besides the fact that it’s been a year now since my beloved abuelo passed away, today marks a day where celebration partly revolves around a story of St. Patrick “driving out the snakes from Ireland.” In truth this is a description of driving out the old, evil pagan ways and traditions from Ireland – of converting Ireland to Christianity, which meant not only killing pagans but pagan traditions as well.

Pagan gods. Our gods. My gods.

The ramifications of such actions plague us as polytheists. They weigh heavy on us as we try to return to Them, to return what was stolen from Them. Our great loss is the leash that pulls back tightly on our necks as we struggle forward to be in right relationship with the gods, to be able to leave behind a legacy for polytheism, to be able to worship rightly. Hell, to be able to understand the world from a purely polytheistic perspective is near impossible, simply from the cultural, social, moral, and religious presence of monotheism deeply engrained into our lives.

When we work with the gods, we do so with the sorrow and emptiness of having had traditions and beliefs erased – robbed from us and from the world – for the sake of a “better” religion. We do this knowing little of the traditions of our gods, and the little that has been saved is rife with Christianization (prose and poetic eddas included as well as Beowulf). We do this knowing that, today, Daesh vows to destroy all remnants of polytheism from the East (sound familiar with St. Patrick?) – do we celebrate this, too? We do this knowing that all of that culture, history, tradition has been lost. And we do this knowing that our traditions and our framework of polytheism has for centuries been dragged in the mud as an inferior philosophy, something that no educated person could truly espouse. A lesser mind, a lesser capacity for intellect, is the only logical reason why anyone would return to paganism. “Only stupid people can be polytheists. Only inferior people can really believe in the gods. Forget the Fae, too.”

Paganism is just story. Paganism is anything goes. And the gods are just stories, archetypes, forces. Never allow us to be reminded that these gods are real, and that They were worshipped as People. As gods. I see and hear this all the time, and all of this enrages me.

In the face of all of the troubles that we as polytheists have right now in developing our traditions; in the face of a cultural climate hostile to polytheism; in the face of our religions and spiritualities being demonized; in the face of a theology and belief never taken seriously; in the face of the reality of witch-burning and paganism considered to be actual crimes that merit death in many counties, and St. Patrick’s day celebrating the deaths of pagans and druids that refused to convert; in the face of people who read the myths of the gods and see them only as stories and archetypes to simply explain natural experiences alone (as if our ancestors were so primitive); and in the face of a true impossibility to bring back the fullness of history from the dead, I cannot celebrate this day.

I see it in the way that the Fae are treated as some sort of tinker-bell spirits, and people are so quick to call the Unseelie as “evil, malicious” Fae (where, truly, there is barely any information on the Unseelie Court). I see it in the way that people try to approach the gods as pagan converts from monotheism – not pagans. I see it in the way that our gods are reduced, simplified, posited as “here for our service” and unable to do no wrong – to never have complexity or sentience of agency. I see it in the way that people stare at us, in that way that tells us that we’re either devil-worshippers or deluded.

I don’t think people understand how much hurt this brings – to us, to our gods, and to what we are struggling to make for paganism and polytheism as movements and established traditions. We have no traditions to fall back on. People don’t take us seriously because, well, anything goes in paganism, right? Our community is rife with drama, back-stabbing, and ridiculous nonsense that truly holds us back. Our community has the idea that piety is for losers and that our gods don’t really give a shit about having had their cultures beaten down by others. Our community has the idea that tradition is equivalent to dogma, and immediately becomes defensive the moment someone tries to say something worthwhile and constructive. “You don’t own me! You don’t tell me what to do! I don’t do that!”

And what of our gods?

Cernunnos is a title in Latin – “cornu” from “horned or antlered” forming the word “the horned one.” All we have are depictions that were not erased. All we have of a great and flourishing worship to this integral god is gone. We know that He was worshipped (and widely so!) and yet there are no temples, no remains, no legacy. The face and person of my god was demonized by Christians into the devil as a way to invalidate the beliefs of the Celts and to force them into Christianization. And for all of the information on the internet and in books, we have NOTHING on Cernunnos.

NOTHING. Not even His name. We do not even have His name. All we have is a title from the language of the Romans – not even His name in His language. I do not even know the name of my most beloved god, my Husband.

The fact that I cannot even know His name, that I cannot ever speak His name, that I can never murmur it, or sing it in a hymn, or scream it, or love it, or write it down… that, to me, is heartbreaking.

The fact that we only know of Cernunnos from the side of a cauldron devastates me.

This has happened to countless other gods, spirits, entities. (And many Others have not been so lucky). This, to me, stands amongst the greatest crimes of all time.

And our gods live, and I rejoice in Them daily. The snakes are not gone, and They are coming back stronger than ever, and I know that They are here to stay.

But massacred people, murdered traditions, and forgotten gods have never been cured with joy. And they never will be; reality hurts, doesn’t it. All I can do is offer Cernunnos a drink, hang my head in mourning, and continue my Work.

Tyr, Tiwaz, and Laughter: Lessons from The Warrior

 

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The Norse be all up in my business. (No, I’m actually not kidding – my house and my practice have taken a decidedly Norse flavor).

A month ago, Frigg stepped into my life with the quiet of a cat’s padded paws. She tugged me gently, a touch so soft that it was near impossible for me to figure Her out all by myself. She’s taken me under Her falcon-cloak, so to speak, and slowly I have been making little changes in my life. I’ve been tidying up my room, keeping my promises, working towards doing the duties in my path while managing my naturally low energy. She sustains me, teaches me, comforts me. She reminds me to walk with my back straight, to try to be mindful of what goes in and out, to sharpen my Sight with Her. Most of all, She reminds me that She is there to help me – that She is there, holding me by the elbows when my legs can’t hold out anymore. And when I think I can’t do it, She touches the Tiwaz medal that She chose for me. Remember, She said, that I gave this to you. Learn to live rightly, by yourself and by Us. And never forget to call upon your own strength, upon your courage, and upon Us.

But Tyr – the wood floor of my room creaked under His weight. I couldn’t ignore those enormous muscle-padded shoulders, those giant forearms, that braided red hair and those radiant dark silver eyes. I couldn’t ignore the pure smell of man, and it would have been a sin to turn away from that glorious warm smile. It was that last part where I was really caught off guard, and the reasons He divulged to me on why He was there was definitely something that blew my socks off.

It took me a while to understand that what I was Seeing and Hearing wasn’t just something dark and deep inside of me that flared up at the sight of such a handsome Man – wasn’t just a sensual Taurean illusion. Me? You want me? That was the shock that came to me when my divinations proved true, when Frigg chuckled and reminded me gently that I could divine as much as I liked but I would receive the same answer.

To me, the blood and breath of passionate affection was a Mystery that I only had small tastes of, for I was used to a much different kind of Passion – the painful, the suffering, the absence, the cold, for someone who is big on affection and sensuality in ANY relationship. But Tyr had other ideas.

And I didn’t understand. I didn’t get how the greatest Warriors of the Aesir came to me with outstretched arms, arms that came to embrace me and with an honesty that was clear and true. I didn’t understand how He could tell me that He wanted to be my soft place to land, or how He could mean that He wanted to enjoy something that I could offer Him simply by being myself. I didn’t understand how a Man like Him could be so fucking radiant with me, like an overjoyed lover. No. I clearly had the wrong Man. I must be coloring Him the way that I want to see Him – it didn’t make sense to me why I would do that, and it was all the more reason to stop myself and to not believe what had happened. I’ve just broken up with my long-term boyfriend, right? I was just feeling blow-back from not having an affectionate Husband, right? I’ve just had a bit of pent-up frustration festering in me, right?

Why do you question My judgment? He stopped me for a moment, watching me calmly. Do you think I am not capable of joy, tenderness, desire? Do you think that you are not worthy? For all of your talk of passible gods, fair devotion, Relationship, you are very quick to tell me Who I am and what I am allowed to do and feel.

Those words stuck with me, my Eyes struggling to convince me that what They Saw was true. That a god of war, battle, courage decided to make a home in and with me, that I had something He sought.

Those words are reminders that the gods are not simply what They do, nor that They are reduced to Their roles. Being a Warrior does not mean that They are not able to enjoy life, to laugh, to seek out pleasure in all forms. And being a Warrior does not mean that He cannot be a Man, that He is not capable of such warmth and tenderness as I have felt. He overwhelmed me with love and laughter, holding me close and making me begin to understand the more affectionate, tender sides of the gods. Are we not all homes for Them? Are we not all able to receive from Them what They wish to gift us?

I want to be your soft place to land. He faced me fully, speaking clearly and with power. Yet that voice is like silk in my ear, as if He were murmuring an adoration peppered with kisses. I want to hold you, to seek sanctuary with you. I will give you what your Husband cannot. I will give you everything else you need.

“And what do you see in me?” I asked later. I curled up to Him on my bed, something in my chest pulling me to His thoughts. He had trusted me with His feelings on Fenrir, had gifted me flowers and had shaken off the anxiety and adrenaline of war. A Man, not just a  god. “How can I able to look at myself as You look at me, so that I could understand what You see?”

Simple, smiled He. Look in the mirror.

Oh, Tyr. I look forward to your lessons on courage, oath-keeping, service, sacrifice for others, protection, righteousness…

And a different kind of love.

My gods: may my Eyes See clearly – may my Ears Listen to every word – may my hands always do Your bidding – and may my spirit always bend to Your will, for Your will is mine.

The Tale of the Thousand Decks – and How to Choose One

Even after all of these years of Seering and performing divinations, sometimes I still find myself back at the beginning, where I was stumbling about with learning the difference between the tarot and the oracle. I remember how my head spun when I stepped into a metaphysical store and was dazed by the racks of decks offered to the public for purchase. I remember my fear when I heard tell that decks had to be gifted, never bought; and, perhaps, you could imagine the crushing, overwhelming feeling of complete fascination and horror when a simple online search gleaned thousands of thousands of thousands of tarot decks.

Even to this day, even with the many divinations I’ve performed and the Seering I’ve done for both clients and myself, sometimes that feeling comes back when I see fellow pagans proudly showing off what seems to be an endless collection of decks. My stomach lurches when I look at all of the beautiful boxes and books arranged on huge tables, or even on bookshelves – divinatory tools treated like collectible commodities – and it all looks to me like a meaningless collection of pretty things in a showcase.

I will say that I love looking at other people’s collections of decks, but something in me asks, “How could they do that? Fifty decks? Sixty decks? Eighty? How? How?” And it’s not a matter of price; it’s a matter of how it is possible for someone to connect with a thousand decks. If one is a Seer, acquiring decks for superficial reasons should not be the primary drive to welcoming a new deck home. If I can put it this way, it is much more than simply saying, “Ooh, that’s pretty” and spending the money. It is establishing, with judicious and refined care, a carefully curated assortment of fine tools for one’s work. It is employing the thoughtful vulnerability that a Seer espouses with when they are doing their Work.

Strictness married to Taurean good taste yields very painful results: my Seership ends up being, partly, hours spent online looking at decks with a strong sense of increasing frustration. For some reason, the artwork on the majority of decks is loose, empty. It holds no content – when it does, it is light and airy. It is superficial, and it is no tool that allows me to Seer properly. I need decks that truly hold depth, darkness and light, something that can help me Seer into someone’s wyrd. I need tools that can clarify and expand messages from the Powers while also challenging and testing my limits. I need tools that can help me access the entire human condition, in different ways, so that can offer proper advice and guidance.

My Seership involves communications with the decks Themselves. To me, every single deck has a personality. Each has a gender, a Voice, and a particular way of dealing with an issue. This is another reason why it is all the more crucial, to me, to be particular with the Decks – and it is another reason why I scratch my head in horror when I walk into a house and I see a collection of a thousand decks. One has to establish a relationship with each Deck and make sure that each personality is compatible. More importantly, one has to consider the necessity of being able to interpret advice in the way that it’s said from the Deck. Have you ever met a person who has said something wise in a way that comes off as cruel or unfeeling? How about someone who takes a long time to explain one concept – or someone who can pull an Ernest Hemingway and tell you a whole story in six words? Decks are exactly the same; it’s all about discovering the right relationship with the Deck, as They truly have a mind, soul, spirit of Their own.

Take, for example,  The Wild Unknown by Kim Krans (1st Edition).This deck is one of my most beloved. We get along well because we share the same traits: I connect with Her on the sharp, uncompromising, and piercing advice She offers. She is an Empress who is not afraid to tell you what’s right, what’s wrong, what you’re doing well, and what you need to be doing. She is many times unyielding and displays alpha behavior even with the Seer She’s agreed to work with. She likes to give what I humorously call “technically unsolicited advice” – if you’re asking for details on your life path, the first couple of cards in your spread will most likely be Her counsel on the present problems in your life blocking you from your path. Then She provides the answers you seek. She is truly all about helping you get to where you need to be, and She is a selfless and generous deck – that is, if you can handle the longsword coming your way and the darkness of the human condition that She is not afraid to reveal to you.

By contrast, and yet in tandem, The Tarot of Delphi is the rich, sophisticated Empress who loves to wear rare jewels and furs for Her casual wear. This Lady is a lover of art and antiques, with a rich and truly refined taste earned from centuries of travel, art, literature, music, and dancing – perfect for the sensual and refined Taurus. She is much warmer and kinder than The Wild Unknown;  Her wisdom is proffered in ornate mead cups, lush gardens, and exquisite art. She is a precisely curated presence who speaks with the Otherworld, translating messages into an arrangement of rich wines, perfectly ripe grapes, and glimmering sapphire crowns. She is a Lady who is steeped in the beauty of the material world and its ability to be a conduit for the messages of the Otherworld. However, don’t let Her great taste fool you into thinking that She is only into superficial, tactile things – Her counsel is deep, just as uncompromising as The Wild Unknown. She can be merciless in Her own way by showing you your great horrors and fierce darkness in beautiful paintings – after all, She says, you did ask for advice. The Tarot of Delphi can be a terrifying oracle – all of my past-life readings done for clients has been taken by this deck and, trust me, She spares no expense and no detail whether it is a pleasant Seering or a sickening one.

However, don’t let Her great taste fool you into thinking that She is only into shiny, superficial, tactile things – Her counsel is deep, just as uncompromising, as The Wild Unknown. She can be merciless in Her own way by showing you your great horrors and fierce darkness in deep, close detail – after all, She says, you did ask for advice. The Tarot of Delphi can be a terrifying oracle – all of my past-life readings done for clients has been taken by this deck and, trust me, She spares no expense and no detail into the answers She provides as well as the questions She poses; She will often, while answering your question, add a gem: something truly deep and thoughtful that will leave you pensive for a lifetime.

All in all, this isn’t an article written for me to wag my finger at the person with a library of decks. Not everyone is a Seer; all Seers are different; and some people truly appreciate and love their decks, which is why they carefully collect them and love them. However, I am a very particular person (a Taurus, at that!) and, being a Seer, divination items such as tarot decks and oracle decks aren’t to be treated lightly; for me, they are the most important tools that I could ever have. Choosing divinatory tools necessitates a fine discernment because, for me, to perform a divination or an act of sacred Seership, I must have a powerful bond with the decks that I choose (or that, more appropriately, choose me). Having a thousand decks in my hands is like having a thousand tools for one task – or a thousand people in one room, all of them talking at the same time, and I have to choose one to help someone else with a situation. And that, even for an expert, can prove to be very, very difficult. Whether beginner or master, take care in the Decks you bring home with you; whether Seer or casual card-reader, be patient, respectful, and careful. Reading tarot and oracle is not just an art, neither is it simply memorization or technique: for each and every single person, I believe, Decks are sacred tools that help someone navigate through, and understand the Otherworld – and that, that, is why you need the right Voice to help guide you along your path.

 

In Progress: Frigg

 

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Frigg’s Shrine in Progress

I am used to dark gods, dark Creatures. I am used to the ripping, to the terrifying snarls in Their souls and the rageful gnashing of teeth. I have seen, heard, been through things you wouldn’t fucking believe. I am deeply understanding, connected to, harsh Beings. I am used to being blown from the water, suddenly ripped out and placed somewhere new, and going through the agony that comes with such change.

So when the All-Mother stepped into my life, Her touches were calm, almost sweet. They were subtle and gentle. She didn’t tear apart the room as Cernunnos, Maeve, the Unseelie had done; She swept in gently, commanding the space while watching quietly in attention. She had all the marks of a Great Queen: firm and precise, yet strangely approachable.

And those soft hands of Hers – that subtle way She came in and greeted me – that Presence that promised to solidify itself in my life panicked me more than any bloody vision, mad and furious Husband, or any sight of a water-horse brutally tearing one of Their Own apart.

Jormungandr? Yes. Angrboða? I am comfortable with Her. Kelpies, gryffins, dark beings that suck the life-marrow out of you? They are most welcome in my Home.

But Frigg? Frigg?

My terror of the All-Mother borders of severe adoration. But it is still terror. It is still feelings of unworthiness with the pure mess around me and the pure mess within me.

And yet – yet – She has been kind, and patient, and understanding. I am most grateful to Her.


Since She has stepped in, She has been a source of protection and strength. She has deepens my understanding of what it means to be a Queen and what it means to be a Warror. In all seriousness, She does not approach me solely as a devotee, or as a child, or as a friend. The strongest manner in which I can compare Her approach to is a Queen teaching another Queen how to be a Queen. It’s sort of like I am being mentored by Her on how to run a ‘kingdom’ and how to become a better Queen in order to be of service to others (because that’s really what sovereigns are – They are high servants). At the same time She is focused with me on developing my other Queen side, the wandering one: the Seer or the seiðrkona.

I feel Her presence around me constantly. Whenever I go to a museum, or I go out at all, She walks with me as if we were two Queens walking in a garden, perhaps speaking of diplomacy as we appreciate the fine aesthetics of the world around us. Her back is straight, Her hands are folded before Her, Her eyes are attentive (but They hide so much!), and Her dress strokes the floor with every regal step. She urges me to not slouch, to keep my back straight and my carriage refined and graceful. Your Body is a Palace, She teaches me. Poise, grace, carriage – these things are not merely physical cultivations. They are spiritual cultivations as well. Take care in what comes in and what comes out.

She is now present in my divinations. Now, every time I perform a Seership service, I pour out tea into a vintage tea-cup I had gifted Her (with Her permission) and do things at Her direction. If spirits and gods are present, She teaches me a protocol of welcome. She speaks to me and gives counsel to the querent, all the while teaching me the deeper, more complex subtleties of Sight through example. She confirms readings and corrects me when I make a mistake – gently, but firmly, in a way that secures that the mistake will be learned from and not repeated.

In less than an hour She showed me a much different way of Seering. Usually, how I Seer is explained in the imagery of a Lake. I immerse myself completely into the Lake; from there, I See all things. However, I will say that any kind of Seership where immersion is present and sustained for long period  is not only highly dangerous but energetically taxing; one is essentially Linking their energy to someone else’s and sacrificing one’s form in order to See.

Frigg instead shows me a tapestry, constantly woven even as I Seer; one long, thick braid trails down the tapestry resembling a witch’s ladder, and I realize that each charm/bone/object woven into the tapestry is the physical representation of fixed points in one’s life. In each charm/object was a swirling galaxy, showing me each situation with clarity and depth. (It took me a moment to realize that I was actually looking at this person’s wyrd, and I am still not over the shock and awe).

Slowly – slowly – She is enacting great changes in my life. She is taking Her time, but not a second late nor a second early. It is clear to me that Frigg came in order to help change me, this slow but sure and total change. With Her, with Everyone, I am becoming something and someone else. Her voice is measured, Her touch guiding, and Her Presence is powerful.

My Life is changing in Her hands. Slowly, order is being restored alongside lessons of how to keep things clean and organized. I am being taught how to be mindful and how to properly serve. She quite literally holds my tapestry, and She allows me to see how She weaves the threads of my wyrd. She shows me only a small braid, just what She is working out for me to observe… but I swear that, out of the corner of my eye, the rope of fixed points is thicker with charms and bones than with thread.

I am grateful for Frigg in my life. And I hope that I will listen, I will learn, and I will serve.

Great Lady, may I always be Yours.