Archives For Eugene

On leaving Eugene, I began to understand how–and why– we forget.

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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.

You need a cup of tea or hot cocoa if it’s cold enough (spike it if you’re a Thracian) and something beautiful to read that doesn’t involve someone’s sexual crimes.

So.  Read Alley Valkyrie’s latest piece in The Wild Hunt.  It’s fucking gorgeous.

As I stood in the middle of the Willamette, thigh-high in rushing water, my feet grasping for the next river stone in front of me as I tried desperately not to fall, a message came through to me loud and clear, a message that came straight from the river itself:

Do not focus on exclusion so much that you miss the enchantment.

 

 

As I stood in the middle of the Willamette, thigh-high in rushing water, my feet grasping for the next river stone in front of me as I tried desperately not to fall, a message came through to me loud and clear, a message that came straight from the river itself:

Do not focus on exclusion so much that you miss the enchantment.

– See more at: http://wildhunt.org/2014/03/a-confluence-of-outsiders.html#sthash.iLkPJy30.dpuf

As I stood in the middle of the Willamette, thigh-high in rushing water, my feet grasping for the next river stone in front of me as I tried desperately not to fall, a message came through to me loud and clear, a message that came straight from the river itself:

Do not focus on exclusion so much that you miss the enchantment.

– See more at: http://wildhunt.org/2014/03/a-confluence-of-outsiders.html#sthash.iLkPJy30.dpuf

Shadow or Song?

March 26, 2014 — 5 Comments

You know you’re doing it right when random street graffiti starts making sense

Showing signs from the gods

Like distorted images in a mirror

From Strange Spirits , by Jeremiah Lewis

Rhyd-ford

Photo by Alley Valkyrie

I don’t know what to make of this place.

I’ve been in Eugene a little over three weeks now. In that time I’ve glimpsed an Alder-spirit, felts ripples of wyrd off a bit of a stream surrounded by industrial waste, and have been caught up by what I can only describe as a whirlwind of synchronicity or a hurricane of meaning.

But my soul feels a bit small for this, my mind untrained, my heart a little weak.  Perhaps the only part of me which has had no trouble adapting is my flesh, which likes the feel of the ground below its feet, the smell of the air, the chill brushing of wind across my skin, the cold water of the Willamette as I crossed the other day to an island, the sharp sting of mending cuts from bramble and stone.

Sorting through old emails today I chanced upon one of the countless messages I compiled in preparation for my pilgrimage last year.  All of that seemed…easy.  Five weeks roaming around ancient paths, sleeping on druid hills and collecting stones and stories in a foreign but familiar land was a bit easier, or made more sense, then the last three weeks here in a very familiar yet utterly foreign place.

Something lingers in this land, and it is open, and it is not happy.  I recalled to a friend the other day how the spirits of Quimper would not let me leave without a vow, and oaths are really not to be made lightly.  I make few of them, and have learned to be more careful, because spirits mean it more than people do.

I’m drinking hot cocoa to warm my soul against the winds from the otherworld.  I feel a bit exposed.  I think a Jottan punched someone in the gut to get my attention, I suspect Arianrhod really meant it when she said I should learn magic.  I still think on how my 3 year old nephew saw me in a dream on Imbolc licked on the face by a great bear with her cubs.

I went to an island the other day thinking about Brân the Blessed.  We had to ford a bit of a river to get there (translate my name from Welsh if you’re interested, and then explain to me why it was given to me in a dream in a castle if you know, because I fucking don’t) and I’m grumpy because I can’t figure out why I thought Brân would have any interest in such a thing until we are about to cross over and I’ve got a walking stick and my friend doesn’t and then our nudist guide on the island suggests I give her the staff, or “just lay down in the river and the others can cross over you.”*

Hot cocoa doesn’t make sense of shit.

Why’d all these eco-anarchists come from here?  It ain’t the water, but it might be the spirits playing in the streams and hiding in the trees.  I’m particularly worried about several visions I got in ritual, “scrying” the gates of the year, and one in a very dark place where there could be no wind ever.  Down into the earth, the other earth, the shadows from whence springs the chthonic, and I’m at a gate and a man is explaining something before someone can pass through that gate.  And I told him, when he asked that I understood, but you know what?  Honestly I don’t.

No.  I do.  Just that part of me I don’t always listen to, that aspect who taught my friend to shapechange in his dreams and made him eat flowers, the aspect who said “hey–move to Eugene” and so I did.  He knows what’s up.  The other part of me, the one who can’t drink enough hot cocoa and shouldn’t drink tea this late has no fucking clue.  But the one who knows smiles at me pretty often, so it’s mostly okay.

The gods are everywhere.  The world is full of spirits, and I know very well why some wish to wall them out, as if disenchantment were a disinfectant spray to make pristine our beige-walled cages.

Eugene is Divine Trauma all over again, and I feel fucking fantastic.

 

*For those unfamiliar with Brân, he laid himself across the sea so that his armies could cross him in order to rescue Bronwyn.