The world explodes into unraveling meaning, and it is we who re-weave those unknotted threads into new tapestries.
I don’t know how to describe these days of approaching Imbolc. I have only images I cannot yet string together into narrative, a fierce but obscure montage, an inscrutable but breathtaking tableaux.
‘Walking a myth,’ it’s been called. Or living a mystery. Like when I started my series for The Wheel of The Year, everything became more vivid, patterned. I was a character in a novel that They were writing, but anyone who’s written fiction knows something indescribable happens as the words pour onto paper: the characters seem to write themselves, and you are only their servant.
Brân’s been everywhere since I’ve been back, but by everywhere I don’t quite know what I mean. Sometimes he is striding like a giant through my story; sometimes, I am walking in his. Stories weaving together, like love, and I’m far from knowing precisely how to tell his tales. The Fisher King and Percival, the still-living Head, Bard’s Cloaks which are ravens which shred the flesh from bone to build towers. A Dark Bear exhuming a skull, a small chapel at the foot of a druid mountain, a King who rides across seas with the Queen of the North, away from a drowned city. Stories, haunting like love.
As in the Hafiz poem Cara Freyasdaughter just posted:
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair…
I‘ve been also thinking about what Lorna Smithers has written about being an Awenydd for Gwyn Ap Nudd. It seems not dissimilar, and perhaps very much like what other writers have found themselves doing for other gods. I think particularly on Sannion and DIonysos, or Morpheus Ravenna and The Morrigan with this–how much do we all know about what these gods are up to on account of them? Much, much more than if we relied only on the lore.
[Speaking of Lorna Smithers, the collection of writing she’s done for Gwyn ap Nudd is complete and now on sale, for very, very little money. I’ve said this elsewhere–her words are luscious and haunting–I think you’ll find you’ll agree]
With Brân, each mystery becomes another mystery. Something happens, reminding me of another thing, and between those two things is a third and suddenly I’m chasing down lore from something I thought utterly unrelated until a fourth thing is unearthed. That last thing becomes another trail through an Alder swamp until, thirty things later, the first three things begin to make sense.
I’m too accustomed to urgency, too insistent that I must answer a question the moment it is uttered. I’ve had to remind myself such tendencies are not demanded by the Gods or even by many others, but ingrained and inculcated through schooling and work. A customer shows up at a counter with a question and you must answer; a ticket is printed into the kitchen and you must already have the saute pan hot for what is required. Urgency and immediacy is a demand of modern commerce–we even begin to demand this of others, tapping our feet impatiently when our coffee isn’t ready or bitching on Facebook when we were put on hold by a phone representative.
Time’s money, yeah? But it’s only money because it’s the only thing most of us have to sell, the only thing the rich will ever find valuable about us. Even the higher-paid amongst us are only possess more-valuable time, regardless of how much they like to assure themselves it’s their ‘skills’ or ‘intelligence’ that’s being marketed. Because all we have is time, we fiend over our own like addicts picking through carpet or scraping a pipe.
This tendency gets in the way of hearing the gods. They don’t speak quickly. They grow within us at the rate of trees or forests, they wash over us like glaciers. I’m trying to rebuild the cultus of a giant-king, not ring up an impatient customer.
She of The Reforging, She of The Hearth
Another related matter–I had an experience in Dublin I haven’t felt comfortable talking about because I haven’t fully been able to figure out what it meant. It involved Brighid, or, better said, a lack-of-Brighid. Of all the gods I know and worship, it was she I most expected to find very close and present in Ireland.
But…no. The Brighid I know is not, from what I’ve been able to understand, any of the Irish Brighids. She was present in Wales to some extent, quite present in Seattle still (before and after), and most present thus far in Bretagne. She’s still, as far as I know, Brighid (or perhaps Brigide, or Brigantia, or Ffraid), but definitely did not seem natively Irish.
Most of my CR readership is probably getting grumpy at these statements (to hear some, Brighid is first and foremost Irish and all others are derivative), but my experience is beginning to lead me to think that some of the theories of an older Brig- are true. That is, perhaps there was a pan-Celtic Brighid expressed in a particular way through the Irish but not belonging to nor originating on that island. Not many goddesses enfolded into one like the occasional Wiccan “The Goddess,” either.
I can be completely wrong. I should hope such a possibility exists. It’s also likely that The Dagda didn’t like me hanging around his home.
Either way, I intend to perform the Imbolc ritual that I’ve done for her the last few years, the Rite of the Reforged Candle. It’s been a powerful event for me, and this year I’ll write it out afterwards. I suspect others may benefit from it as well.
And on home and hearths…. The house I’ve been renting with others is being sold, and I shall have to move again, likely away from my forest. This isn’t the worst thing–I share a home with a television, and it and I have been at relentless war with each other as to what sort of hearth this is. It belongs to two roommates, hangs above the literal hearth, and has been a very hateful thing, an anti-god, an ambassador of Capitalist Hegemony and flashing lights, a perfidious enforcer of Disenchantment.
It’s better to move on, though 5 weeks is hardly grand notice. My cunning-man roommate and I shall be looking for something we’ve more influence over, and while discussing what we might do, we joked about one of his candles. He’s not quite precise on their effects, and they’re too often more powerful than intended. When I suggested one as an option, he sagely replied,
“Hell no–we could end up whisked away to Narnia. And…Aslan’s a dick.”
On Being Presentable
Anyway, speaking of all sorts of gods, registration for Many Gods West opens 1 February. Early registration is 30 dollars.
We’ve also gotten lots of great proposals (some I’m awfully excited about–it’s gonna be awesome!), but we want more. There’s even the possibility of needing to expand outside the hotel spaces. So, do consider proposing–we’re hoping to have a very good mix of experienced and new presenters.
And, on the matter of presentations, you probably have already heard I’ll be at Pantheacon this year? Alley Valkyrie and I will be presenting Gods and Radicals on Satyrday, 14 February. I’ll also be part of the Patheos Pagan Bloggers panel on Friday at 1.30. And the rest of the weekend I’ll be running around swilling tea, causing havoc, and also occasionally helping vend for Practical Rabbit, Alley Valkyrie’s damn awesome line of the coolest things you’ve ever seen done with fabric.
If you’ll be there, I’ll have plenty of copies of Your Face Is A Forest for sale. Come find me.
And there’s also the matter of feeding corvids. I’ll post more on this in a bit.
I’ve got some longer pieces of writing I’m working on, and have had a couple of reasons to write poetry again. If you missed it, I recently wrote this, which is maybe a bit titillating and was lots of fun to write. Also, part of one of the mysteries I seem to be walking through, dream-soaked days as the light returns.