Drowned Children and the Kindness of Death

My newest contribution to A Sense of Place is now up.  The fourth in the series, “Where They May Be Found.”

We consume the dead.  Grains and vegetables ripped from their umbilical roots, flesh carved from still-bleeding beasts who looked dumbly at the assassin’s blade.  We feast on death, fell trees to build our homes and wipe our asses.  The black blood and stone we rip from the womb of the earth were once flesh and fiber of forests we wouldn’t recognize, creatures we can’t comprehend, and we burn it to run our cars and turn on our lights.

I am the least macabre person I know.  I flinch at the very idea of watching a slasher-film, and really, really don’t like images of death.  So Ceridwen is both very difficult for me to understand and yet also somehow one of the most kind gods to whom I’m devoted.

There’s a story in that post about a memory I have regarding drowned siblings.  There are a few similar things from my very distant past which I don’t look at very often except when something reminds me.  And, really, I fucking remember this memory clearly, and how obstinate I was with my mother that my older siblings had been drowned.  More interestingly, I vividly recall being in the tub when I argued with her about the matter.

Where’s that memory from?  I don’t know.  But I developed an utter fascination with such events in my early 20’s.  There was a woman in Texas who methodically drowned her children (I think she had 6 of them), and besides the gory details of the event (one child ran away, and she calmly retrieved the child in order to drown him), the detail I remember most vividly from the accounts afterward was how both utterly calm and bewildered she seemed, as if she’d done it in a moment of trance.

Was a christian woman drowning children as a sacrifice to a Welsh goddess?  Hardly (I think).  And the circumstances of her life were horrible, and many people claimed it was a rebellion against her husband and her life, evoking stories about Medea and other infanticidal women.  Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch addresses how many of the charges against witches in Europe involved either killing their own children or helping others do so, particularly as acts of rebellion against men.

As I said, though.  That memory haunts me still.

And Speaking of Death…

Apparently I’ve got three more days in Eugene.  I’ve purchased my ticket to Seattle (I’m taking the train, loading my Dionysian altar on my bike and hefting my rucksack on my back.  I’m quite aware of how much I’ll look like I’m from Eugene when I show up in Seattle in this manner).  There’s one thing I have to do, and I’ve finally figured out the details of a certain top-hat spirit that’s been just on my periphery this whole time.  I’ll write about it later.

Meantime, I won’t be doing much writing for a bit.  My A Sense of Place contributions are now every other week to make room for all the other writing projects I’ve got going on, and I guess relocating might require a bit of attention, too. I’d like to write a bit about Eugene, but I’m not sure what there is to say quite yet.  It’s been magical, but magical is not always safe or sane.  I once remarked to Alley that Eugene seemed, when I visited last year, awfully like being chained to a 500 pound piece of hematite, so grounding that the notion of ever leaving seems the one thought you’re not able to consider.  There’s…something…here.  Lots of somethings.  I could spend an entire lifetime trying to track them down, but my life is probably best lived elsewhere.

Still, if anyone wants to visit a town where spirits ride random bus riders and chthonic wells spring up everywhere, it’s a good place to start.  Just make sure you buy a return ticket and read (and re-read) Tennyson’s poem about the Lotos-Eaters.

About Rhyd Wildermuth

An intractable tea-swilling punk, queer hooligan, and dream-soaked leftist bard, Rhyd Wildermuth has left bits of his heart(h) everywhere—in a satyr’s den in Berlin, hanging from an elder tree over a holy well in Bretagne, scattered in back alleys of Seattle, and lost somewhere in the bottom of his rucksack. He’s devoted to Welsh gods, breathes words, makes candles, plays recorder, fumbles with tech, and refuses ever to learn to drive. His main blog is: paganarch.com. View all posts by Rhyd Wildermuth

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