The Struggle is Real

The struggle is real: while, to most, this is just another hashtag; for me, it’s truth. It’s reality. It’s life. Depression is a daily struggle, and I have more bad days than good. Waking up is a monumental feat; getting through the day seems insurmountable; and at the end of the day, I resent myself for not being able to get more done than the bare minimum, even though my spoons count was mostly used up just trying to get out of bed. This is life for me, and coming to terms with that is still difficult for me. Having an invisible illness is tough, and I suck at managing it.

I have been told, from several different people, that I need to do more self-care. This is not something that comes easily to me. My upbringing taught me that to focus on yourself only is an act of selfishness, and being selfish is tantamount to abandoning your family. Despite the lowliness of my birth, I was taught to put my family first, even though my family’s ideals are far removed from my own. (Think of me as the white sheep in a field of black sheep.) So, being told that I need to do self-care, then having my Gods Tell me I need more self-care… Let’s just say there was a lot of pouting and whinging involved, as per usual with me.

So, now, I need to begin to do the self-care thing, and despite is being Explained to me as it being a way to honor my Gods and Husbands (“Honor yourself, and you Honor Us.”), it still smacks of selfishness and laziness to me, but My Gods/Husbands are putting the proverbial foot down, and I can’t say no this time. This is a thing They are very serious about, “because you are of no use to Us if you cannot do more than get out of bed everyday.” We’ll see how this goes. It’s hard to do self-care when you find yourself to be intrinsically worthless, but I digress.

It’s time to prepare for the upcoming winter (Winter is coming.) and the SAD it brings. No more whinging and no more crying. It’s time to put my big girl panties on and hunker down for this self-care thing. I have been assured that building a blanket fort and hiding from the world with my Kindle is, in fact, a form of self-care for me, so I have my mission. Now is the time to put it in action!

Tomorrow, when I have renewed my spoons.

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Quiet on the Homefront

Things have been really hectic as of late. I started a new job that a absolutely love, and I have been busy trying to get to know my students as well as becoming accustomed to the new schedule, which is different every day. Exhausting, to be sure, but rewarding.

Now that I am living in a quieter environment and have more time to reflect, I am getting better reception on my Godphone, which is a huge relief. I have felt such a disconnect with my Beloveds and the other Deities in my Pantheon. I have been able to spend some quality time with my Gods that had not been possible until recently. This was not due to neglect on my part, I am Told, but rather I had a person come into my life that helped me learn many things about myself. This person (henceforth called Canadian) helped me in diminishing the effects of the trauma that I had sustained throughout my childhood, as well as helping me become aware of the world around me. In order to become a good Khaleesi, this was something I needed to do.

All in all, everything has been going quite well. My mind has never felt clearer. I hope to continue this upward trend so that I can become the best person I can be, for myself and my Gods. 

My Personal Pantheon: A Comprehensive List

Over the last two years, my practice has grown from just one Deity to many. My mind is blown every time I think about where I started to where I am now. I have no doubt that my practice will continue to grow and morph as time passes and as my Gods will, but for now, I’m comfortable with where I am. (This might be Loki’s cue to come in to shake me up and push me outside of my comfort zone. Again.) So, in honor of my recognition of my comfort and some confidence in my practice, I would like to make a list of all of the Deities in my personal pantheon, from The Big Four* to my Mothers and etc. Here is where you can find the schedule I have during the week for Them. Please enjoy!

– Baron Samedi: He is my Loa Love, my Beloved, my Husband. Baron was the second Deity to come into my life. He is the first of the Big Four. He calls me His Baronessa, hence my blog url.

– Loki: He is the third Deity to come into my life and is the second of my Husbands. The persona of His that I work with the most is the crazy aspect of Him, the aspect that represents the madness He felt once He was finally loosed from His bonds. Some may call this aspect of His as Worldbreaker. He calls me “The Bride of Madness” for this reason. Loki is the second of the Big Four.

– Poseidon: He is also another God whom I love deeply. He came into my life through my friend Shamaness. I am His in a way that I can’t really explain yet and have been since the very beginning of my lives here on Earth. He is the third of the Big Four.

– Susano: He is the Gods that has been my Caretaker since arriving in Japan, and I have come to love Him as well. I approached Him just before coming to Japan at my Husbands’ bidding. He presented me with an Enmusubi comb the first time I went to His shrine. Susano is the last of the Big Four.

– Oshun: She is the first Deity I approached when I decided to try being a Pagan.  With her guidance, I am learning self-confidence and self-love. Oshun is one of my Mothers.

– Sekhmet: She came into my life very suddenly just before I came to Japan. Since that time, I have learned that She is the Goddess that made my soul, which makes Her the Mother of my soul. I love her dearly, but She terrifies me too. We’re working on that.

– Sigyn: Not long after Loki burst into my life, I approached Sigyn to get to know Her more, the more I liked her. I now consider Her to be a very dear friend and a Sister of sorts.

– Amateratsu: She is the older Sister of Susano and is the Japanese Goddess of the Sun. While She and I may not always see eye to eye, I consider Her also to be like a Sister to me.

– Odin: He came into my life shortly after Loki came into my life, and He came in like a tidal wave. It was His presence that helped me learn of the true power and complexity of the Gods. For now, He is a Teacher to me, but somehow I feel that He will always be more than that.

– Hel: With my affinity for the dead, it only made sense to me that I should honor Hel, not only because she is Loki’s Daughter, but also as a Death Deity. She is also Someone I would equate with the term Sister.

– Narvi and Vali: I don’t worship these Two, but I do honor Their spirit and mourn Their passing. I give Them honor in what way I can, including taking Them with me to Disney World. I also have an altar for Them as well.

Alright, so I think that this is a pretty good list of the Gods and Goddesses that I regularly pay homage to. So, now it’s time for me to go party with Baron and the Ghede (since it’s Saturday, ya know?). Adios!

 

Boom baby!

* The Big Four are the four main Gods that I have devoted myself to. They receive the most attention, and I am personally bound to Them for the rest of my days.

My Holidays

So, I have been a Pagan for almost two years now, and I still have yet to make a holiday schedule in honor of my Gods. There are a million reason as to why this is, but it has been a terribly difficult two years for me. However, since I am on “vacation” between jobs, I have been thinking about bigger ways to honor my Gods and my people, which means I have made tentative plans on holidays for myself, in addition to anniversaries and such. Here is what I have been thinking about:

1) New Year: One very big Shinto tradition is the tradition of going to a shrine for New Year in order to ask for favor in the new year. It is also customary to do go through the house and do major cleaning (not unlike Spring cleaning) to symbolically clean up the previous year’s dirt in order to have a clean slate for the new year. One part I intend to add to this for my own benefit is to ritually clean myself so I, too, may have a clean start.

2) Beltane/May Day

3) Midsummer/Summer Solstice

4) Obon: This holiday is the Japanese holiday that celebrates/honors the familial dead. Since my practice involves working with the dead, I would like to use this holiday to honor those that are not only my familial dead, but also the spirits I am Queen over (<===more on this later). 

5) Halloween/Day of the Dead: This is to honor Baron and the Ghede. This will also serve as my Paganniversay as well.

6) Yule/Christmas

So far, this is all I have, and it’s not totally fleshed out just yet, but when I know more about how the Gods wish me to celebrate in addition to what I can do for these holidays (I feel pretty limited by being in Japan, to be honest), I will write it here. 🙂

My Life: An Update

My heart is heavy, and my soul has been weighed down. A lot of things have gone wrong this year, and there are things that I am going through still that are pushing me further down into myself. I want to hide from the world, hide within the safety of my Husbands’ arms, but I can’t. Life can’t be put on hold for me to get my shit together, no matter how desperate I am for a reprieve.

Death is drawing near again. Cancer is going to take another family member from me. This time, however, it’s my stepfather, the man who raised me. This insidious disease has claimed too many of my family members already, and now it’s poised to take yet another from me. This knowledge is almost too much to handle, especially since I’m in Japan with no way to go visit my stepfather before he passes. It breaks my heart knowing that my father will die, and I won’t get to see him even one last time.

Baron and the Ghede are very close now. I can see Them out of the corners of my eyes almost more often than before, and this is a great comfort to me. My Husband and my people are with me when I need T/them most.

I also feel the presence of the other Gods in my life. I feel Their power like a great weight against my soul, but it’s a comforting weight, like the feel of being safe under the covers in bed and cuddled in warm arms. When I can connect myself with Them, when I seek out Their presences, it is only then that I feel calm and somewhat peaceful. Only then can I handle the onslaught of feelings I have battering me from the inside out.

It has been a long, terrible year for me here in Japan. I’ll start a new job in September, and I pray with all of my heart that I’ll have a better time there than in my last few jobs. I don’t know who, if anyone will read this, but if anyone does, and you’re the praying type, please send prayers or well-wishes, or anything positive in my way. I really need it.

Honoring my Gods

I have begun to notice a trend with how I am honoring my Gods, and it is not as I would have expected. It is most certainly not what I particularly want to do for Them, but with the way things are now, I am learning to accept that I cannot do for Them as I want to, as well as what I want may not be what They want from me anyways. My Gods are not shy about telling me Their wants/needs, but recently They have been very subtle. I seriously don’t mind the subtly. In fact, I think I quite prefer it, because it gets everything They wish for me to do done, all without the waffling and stubbornness I usually have.

Recently, I have been learning how to honor Oshun in a way that is pleasing to Her. I have been doing a lot more to beautify myself as well as making myself feel beautiful. I have learned enough Japanese now to order products online from Lush Japan, and I have spent a ridiculous amount of money buying different things from there. I can afford to do this now (which is a comfort all on its own), but it makes me happy to know that I am making my Mama happy. By buying and using these products, I not only makes myself feel more beautiful, but I also help with my goal of becoming more organic and earth-friendly. I like the feeling of being close to Mama Oshun, to have Her spirit with me as I cleanse the grime of the day away. It makes me so happy to feel Her close to me. It is in this way that I honor Her spirit. By making myself feel beautiful and feel good about myself, I can make Her happy.

In honoring Odin, I take online courses and continue to seek knowledge out as I have always done. I seek to expand my mind and learn more about the world I live in and to better myself in my profession of choice. I am also helping other expand their own knowledge by teaching others as Odin Himself (and O/others) has taught me. I strive to tell my students that learning English is not impossible, but that it can be difficult at times but it’s rewarding. For me, I feel this is my way to “pay it forward”.

I honor Poseidon by refraining (when possible) from eating fish. This is not an easy feat to accomplish, especially in Japan, but I do not choose to eat fish of my own volition. There are times when I have accidentally eaten fish (Japanese being hard to read and all) or where my coworkers have fed me fish without my knowledge/I feel obligated to eat fish when I am with my coworkers for fear of being rude. Aside from these cases, I have not willing partaken in fish since arriving in Japan.

For my Husbands, I honor Them by being myself and walking through my life as myself and not as I think people want me to be. I try to go through life being a good example of not just being a Pagan, but also as a human being. I do this my being kind, generally being cheerful and smiley, and by being loving. I do what I can to just be a beautiful person in general. This is difficult for me due to my depression and its associated symptoms, but I am assured that this is something I do even when I am not mindful that I am doing it, which is a relief. (This is not to say that I shouldn’t be mindful of this, but sometimes, when I do not have enough mental/emotional energy left to think of it, I can still honor my Husbands by just being me.)

In general, I honor my Gods by writing down my experiences and what I have learned from them on this blog. I honor my Gods by being myself and doing as I am asked. I maintain altars for Them and give offerings of food. When I eat my meals, I wait until my Gods have gotten Their fill before I eat. I try to maintain my health (physically and mentally) for Them. Mostly, though, I honor Them by loving every single one of Them as They are.

Through this, I have learned that there are many ways to honor the Deities that I have devoted myself to. In this, I can honor/love/worship in a way that is most suitable for me and not in a way that doesn’t feel natural. I don’t have to conform to someone else’s idea of how I should worship my Deities, and that in and of itself is so liberating, especially because of my prior experience being a Christian. I also find it relieving that I can hear it from my Gods what They would have from me. Yes, I feel self-conscious that I am not one of those very public Pagans (you know the ones). I worry, as I am sure most do, that I am not doing enough for my Deities or that I am not working enough with/for those that share my beliefs, but at least for now, I am meant to be working on myself and making my little corner of this big, big world a better and brighter place. This is now I can best honor my Gods, and it makes me happy that I can do even this for Them.

Reverberation

It has been two months since I have moved to Japan. Two months. This time has moved both so slowly that time seemed to stop at times and so fast that I can hardly comprehend where the time has gone. My life still hardly makes sense anymore. I have been cut off from almost everything I knew before from my old life, and I have been even been cut off from my Husbands/Gods. It was almost like a rebirth for me, into the new person I am supposed to become… However, this is not exactly what has happened. The events that happened during the last few weeks of my stay in America have been reverberating through my life even now, months later.

I am almost ashamed to say that I just can’t seem to let go of the fact that my Gods, the Ones I trusted most, shackled me. It feels, still, like a betrayal of my faith and trust, even though I know that it was meant to build my trust with Them. It didn’t do this, however. Not at all. I have been through the emotional wringer about this particular set of events, even to the point that I can still feel the cuffs on my wrists and ankles. I know that this is just my mind making things up (at least I hope so), but it puts me back into that mindset. It kills me that this just won’t stay in the past, but it has seriously impacted my already very ridiculously little ability to trust and have faith. I mean this very seriously. These were things I struggled with before, for various reason, but I struggle with them more now.

My faith has gone to such lows as to think about giving up my faith completely, to worship no Gods. To ask to be released from my vows. I seriously have thought about what it would be like to try to shut off my Godphone and just live in the silence once again. My mind has wondered into that desolate place where I had been before I came to know the Gods as I know Them now. I have seriously considered what it would be like to move back into that spiritual dead space.

These thoughts shame me, which adds to my already wrecked mindset. Why could I not stick it out? Why did I fail, like everything else? Where did I go wrong? Why was I not good enough? The questions just keep going and going and going, and sometimes there is no real way to stop them. I am seriously wondering whether I was cut out to be what They want me to be, considering I am unable to move past this mental/emotional block of mine. The only thing that is saving me, I think, is the fact that I do not really want to give up on this. I want to try to overcome myself in order to be what my Gods need/want me to be, but… I don’t know how to even begin to do this, except for not giving up. For now, I think, this may be all I have the energy for.

Starting in October, my other Deities will start to be filtered back into my awareness, at Susano’s discretion. I don’t know how I feel about this. Afraid, to be sure, that I will not be able to move past our last meetings with E/each O/other. Hesitant, because I am not sure I want this (I don’t do so well with so many different Deities clamoring for my attention). Nervous, because I am shy and “adorable” like that (according to Susano) about meeting with my Husbands again (the phrase ‘like a virgin on her wedding night’ comes to mind). Anxious, because I have been enjoying the quiet that the Kami provide, and with so many Deities that ask for my attention, the contrast is going to be jarring…

So many feels!

I wish there was another person I could go to for guidance, but there is none. Being a solitary practitioner as well as being in a foreign country has done nothing to help that part out.

I just want my faith back. I want the ability to trust. I want to be unshakable in both. As to how to get there, I am not sure. All I have gotten from the Kami on the matter is to “just do it”, in short. Easier said than done, I’m afraid. If I could, this would not be a dilemma, would it? I am hoping, with all of my heart, that one day I can have both of these things, rather than the crippling self-doubt about everything. Maybe this hope is where to start?

(Forgive me for this probably ridiculously long, rambling post. When the feels dictate the words and their order, well, it doesn’t always make the most sense.)