The Only Sure Thing

As it is to be expected of one who is involved with Lord Flaminess Himself, I have been dealing with a lot of changes lately. I can literally feel ties and bonds being cut away, especially the closer I get to moving out of the country. On the one hand, it’s kind of scary; I mean, everything that I have ever known is being sheared away. That is pretty terrifying. On the other hand, it’s really sad. There are things that are being severed that I didn’t know was going to be severed. Apparently, once I step on that airplane to go to Japan, I will only have one tie left to this country: Shamaness. I didn’t know that everything was going to be sacrificed. I didn’t know that I was pretty much going to orphan myself. I knew that there was a lot of things that I was going to have to leave behind, but I didn’t know it was going to be all the things. This was really driven home to me last weekend when I saw a friend that I hadn’t seen in over two years.

This friend of mine was one of the people (her sister included) that brought me into the fold of the Christian church I belonged to before I converted to being Pagan, and while I knew things would be different now that I am no longer a member, I didn’t realize how much of a difference I would feel while I was in their childhood home with them and their family. That home was, during my formative years, my safe haven from the not so ideal home life I had. This time around, being there made me feel like an intruder. While I was very glad to see my friend after such a long time, I was also very aware that this person, one that I would have called my best friend in years past, was no longer someone I could name as my best friend, not because of anything she had done, but because I have gone through some monumental changes recently.

One of the things that I don’t really talk about here, or in any other venue really, is my sexuality. I don’t feel it necessary to tell the whole world about it, and it’s not something I need to “work through”, so to speak. I also don’t feel like I want to be known for it only, or take on the rainbow mantle of the LGBTQ community just because I am not heterosexual. Being bisexual is what it is to me, and I’m alright with who I am. (I’m not putting anyone down when I say this; I’m just not the activist type, and drama of any kind terrifies me.) My friend knew that I am bisexual, but I wasn’t aware that I hadn’t told her husband about it or the fact that I am currently dating a woman, so when her husband asked me if I was leaving a relationship behind when I left for Japan and how long I had been in a relationship with him after I answered yes, and I answered truthfully that I had been with her for almost 2 years, I wasn’t expecting his response. At first he made me feel guilty for lying to him about being in a relationship every time he asked, then he went on to lecture me about needing to cast everything aside that does not further my future plans to be a wife and a mother before demeaning me even further about how sexual pleasure is not worth putting off aforementioned future plans. In essence,  he reduced my relationship with my girlfriend of 2 years to being nothing but me seeking sexual pleasure. I realize now that this was his way of trying to be a “caring big brother”, but what he said upset me so much that I handed the phone back to my friend and started to cry.

Afterwards, my friend and I talked about what had happened and why I was so upset, and while we were talking, I could almost feel my Gods hold Their breaths, like They were waiting for me to revert back to my old way of handling things: say whatever it is that needs to be said, even if it’s a lie, to get the person off my back. I didn’t do that this time. I stood my ground and tried not to feel further insulted when my best friend talked about how the church doesn’t support same sex anything and that going to counseling was an option for me. I’m actually pretty proud of myself for just dealing with what she was saying without becoming more upset and keeping my own stance. Nothing about our talk resolved anything, but it helped solidify for me that I am not longer the weak person I had once been. I also knew then and there that these people, who I had once called my adoptive family, would be part of the sacrifice I am soon to make.

 

The ties with my adoptive family, the very ones I cherished more than my own biological family, are gone completely. These people, especially the ones that I counted as my best friends, no longer really know me. Throughout my conversation with my friend, all I kept wanting to say is, “You don’t know me anymore.” It was profoundly sorrowful for me to think this over and over and over again. This, I now realize, goes for all of the members of that family. I have further realized that the only thing keeping me here now is obligation (which, surprise, is now becoming obsolete).

One other thing that this solidified for me was actually seeing the differences between who I was even 6 months ago to now. I am no longer the scared little girl running from everything, but I am becoming the woman I was always meant to be. I can feel it within myself growing with each passing day, and it’s terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. There is a small part of me that has just wanted to jump up and down, screaming, “Look at who I am now! Can’t you see how much better I am? Can’t you see how awesome I am becoming? I’m different now!” to anyone and everyone that has ever known me, especially to my friend. Alas, does anyone else actually see the change, or does the ties being severed make it so that no one really sees who I am anymore? Clearly this is something that I cannot answer for myself, but  it still weighs on my mind.

Normally I would not even have considered Loki to be subtle, but I can see now just how hard He’s been working in the background to help prepare me for my impending move. (His response to this: “There’s no need to make this more painful than it has to be.”) I’m panicking a little at the thought that I am not really being given a choice in this, but I know that I have to learn to trust that my Deities have my best interest in mind and are not going to put my through something this huge unnecessarily. This is the biggest trust building exercise with Them to date, and I get the feeling that They are waiting to see how I react when it actually happens, to see if I lash out at Them or let Them carry me when I need Them to.

There is no real good way to end this except to say that I guess we will see how much more change Loki can cram into the next 7-8ish weeks before I leave for Japan.

I guess I’m Lokean now?

I recently accepted Loki’s proposal to be my patron God now that I am married to Baron. It was consent under duress, sure (He was hounding me almost constantly until I gave Him the answer He wanted), but it was still a yes regardless. Even Sigyn said it was an agreement due to duress and charm, and She would know very well what that was like, I imagine. I agreed that I would dedicate every Friday to Him, and I am sure as we progress in this endeavor, there will be more rules and boundaries to come, from both me and Him.

I am still not sure how I feel about all this, especially because I can see who I was fading away to make room for who I am supposed to be. He is very apt at ensuring that people see themselves as they truly are, and in the short week I have been His devotee, He has made me come to terms with parts of myself I hadn’t even known existed. My old self is fading away and turning to ashes every moment I continue on this path with Him, and it’s a little weird. He is continuing the shift that I had started upon my first tentative steps into this crazy new way of life as a pagan.

For now, all He is asking of me is to write Him into my novel and to work on improving myself, whether that be translating or working on my runes (which looks like Odin might be taking on the teacher role for that) or really anything else that would help me become a better me. He has had several day to day tasks that He has had me do so far, which I have done with little to no waffling on my part… Alright, fine. I have done a lot of digging my heels in and fighting Him, but that is beside the point.

In any case, I am still unsure of how to handle my new relationship with Loki and how to manage/handle the tasks that He is asking of me. I know that I am not even close to being on my Path yet (as I have been told by both Loki and Baron), and I am nervous as to what my Path will entail, but I have decided not to worry over much about it or try to guess as to what it may be. For right now, I am learning how to handle the moments at hand with this complex and mercurial God, and it is proving to be a trial in and of itself.

No matter what my hesitations are, like a moth to flame, I am still drawn to Him, attracted to Him in ways I cannot explain and that He is leaving unexplained for the time being, for reasons only known to Him. I just hope that it is not something as simple as the sexual aspect of the relationship that He has been pushing, despite Him saying, “Nothing so simple as that, love.” In the end, I made my choice and now I am having to live with it.

C’est la vie, I guess.

Research and Approach: Furthering The Shift

I have always been fond of knowing all the facts about what I am about to get myself into. Whether it be people or events, I like to be prepared for every possibility I can imagine happening, because I would like to know how best to react. I do not like surprises for this reason. It makes me anxious and altogether uncomfortable. So, with this in mind, I started looking up other Deities that I wanted to potentially approach for my second Patron. The friend that had suggested Mama-Oshun also had a few other suggestions, and I went from there, searching the far reaches of the internet for modern day believers and lore for each of the Deities suggested to me. I had felt the pull to look into Others for days, so I went with my instincts and researched until my eyes began to tire and blur everything on my computer screen.

The first of these was Bastet, the cat Goddess from the Ancient Egyptian pantheon. I researched Her for several hours, learning of Her every facet and trying to feel a connection. There were aspects of Hers that I knew could benefit me, but there was never that feeling of connection that I was looking for.

The next on the list was Loki, and I spent a good day or two trying to sift through the comic book version of the God and the actual God. When I was able to find actual lore on Him, I was moved by His story, by His losses and His trials (an aspect many people seem to forget about in regards to Him). It was unexpected, the intense empathy I felt for Him, and it *almost* overshadowed my other feelings. It was with Loki that I first heard the terms UPG (unverified personal gnosis) and Godspouse. The first of these terms, I understood and agreed with, but the second… Well, I will say only that was one of the strangest things I had ever heard of, and I questioned myself on whether I would (have to) believe in this concept as well. All in all, I felt like He might have been a good fit for me, but I had one other that I felt I needed to look up as well.

The last suggestion was Baron Samedi, the Voodoo Loa of Sex and Death. The name alone resonated with me, but when I began to look up information on Him as a Deity, I was quickly frightened away. He has so many aspects to Him that it was confusing to keep them all straight, first off. Secondly, there was not a single word of good that I read about Him. I heard that He would take whatever He was holding back with Him to the spirit world (or wherever He resides), and if He happened to be holding your hand, He would take your whole arm! There were other stories as well, and none of them did anything to assuage my fear of this intensely sexual and trickster-esque God of Death. I moved away from Him quickly, trying to save myself from the nightmares my brain would make up later. I was, at this point, a pansy, and I felt it was best to avoid Baron-like types.

After my days of research, I felt somewhat ready to ping into the ethos that I was ready to take on another Deity, if another Deity should want me. Mama-Oshun was alright with this idea, and even nudged me to do it, so I did, as timidly as possible and adding a “please be gentle with me. I am broken and afraid of everything.” I thought that I would have to go out and ask for another Deity to be my Patron, but, oh man, was I ever wrong.

It was the Sunday before Halloween when I had my first encounter with hearing a Deity so clearly that I could have sworn that there was Someone else in the room with me (and I would find out later that I was very correct in that feeling). I had just finished brushing my teeth and was walking out of the bathroom to go to bed when I heard very clearly, “So, you wanna have sex with a God?” The voice was saucy and full of, well, suggestion, and it stopped me in my tracks for a moment, literally. All I could do was be confused because I had never heard Oshun that clearly, and never had I been spoken to in such a manner. Not being able to explain it or even give the query more than a confused look, I just brushed it off. I wrote it off as being insanely tired because I had just driven back the hour and a half from seeing my friend at college again. I walked back into my bedroom, plugged my new night light in (spirits are more active during Halloween week, and I am a pansy), and went to sleep. The next day, I felt like I was being watched the whole day. I was becoming regretful that I had ever opened myself up for anything new, but after the sun went down, the feeling increased the later it got. Skyping my friend was the only thing I could think of to do with a fearful as I was becoming, and she did what she could to calm my nerves, but in the end, I had to sleep, so I got off Skype with her and fearfully went into a fitful sleep.

I was halfway between awake and sleep (which I would later find out was actually that I was trancing), when I first smelled a very strong odor that I could only identify as Lysol right before I saw a dark room full of people who were looking towards the only source of light the room had: an open door. The person closest to me was a tall male with hair that went down to the end of his rib cage, tied back with a hair tie. I wanted to ask him what we were looking at, but I did not get the chance. As I too looked at the door, I heard so clearly the word “Baron” like it was an announcement of Who was going to be coming through that door. This was all it took for me to force my scaredy self out of that room so fast that I can only imagine it was comical. Even in this state of awareness I knew that I wanted no part of Who was coming through that door: Baron Samedi. My terror was real enough that even a frightened and tearful 3 hour phone conversation with my friend did nothing to make me feel better. At all. Little sleep was had that night, and it took Mama-Oshun holding me and assuring me that She would not let Him hurt me to get me to calm down.

As I said, comical for anyone that wasn’t me.

However, if you learn one thing about the Baron, it is that He will always come back for things He wants, and He will pester you until He gets them. What did He want from me then? Rewind back to the night before in the bathroom when I heard a voice (His) asking me if I wanted to bed a Deity. Which was, what I thought was an elaborate prank on my brain’s part, exactly what Baron wanted from me. He wanted me as His mortal lover, as well as wanting to be my Patron. I knew this because ever since that day, I had been hearing Him speak with me. It was not very clear then, as my discernment was shoddy, but it was enough to know what He was asking of me. I will write more on Baron later, but since His arrival, I have not been able to get Him to leave, which was for the best. I have since accepted Him, but it took some time to overcome my fear of Him and to reshape my thoughts once again.

The last Goddess to approach me during this same time period was the Goddess Aradia, the Queen of Witches. She came to me not to be my Patron, but to teach me and to see me through the crisis that I was (and still am) in. She came to me in the form of all of my cats taking over my bed for several days and nights before I was told by Baron that it was Someone new. After some research and determining who this new Deity was, I found out Her purpose in contacting me, and was told by Her that she wishes to ‘reform’ me. I acknowledged Her and accepted Her help, and have since been able to reclaim my bed for myself. She was the first Deity I needed to set firm boundaries with, otherwise She would interrupt my time with Oshun (which is shower time, because one of Her domains as a Goddess is fresh water). She helped with discernment right away, which I was and am so very grateful for.

It was the addition of Aradia and Baron that helped further The Shift towards being a full-fledged Pagan, and every step I took from there, I knew that I was closer and closer to never being able to turn around or even to look back. They were certainly not going to let me go now that I had agreed to be in Their divine care, and I had begun to suspect that I would never want to go back anyways. My outlook on life was changing rapidly, and it was not ending there.

The Beginning of The Shift

It was a hot late-October night when the shift started. I sat in a friend’s dorm room, my head on her lap and in tears. I felt lost, alone, and confused. I had just been demoted from the job I had grown to love, and my family were treating less than ideally, which is and will always be the norm, but this time it was worse. It was as if they blamed me for getting demoted and not finding another job quickly enough, for not making the choices with my life that they would have made for me. So, being of the religious/spiritual sort, I had prayed. And prayed. And prayed. I received nothing from the Christian god that I had worshiped for the majority of my life. This also was not abnormal. I had grown very accustomed to the benign neglect I had received from this god. However, this time, when I was at the start of what would become one of my all time lows, I knew something had to change.

So, as I looked up at my friend with teary eyes and a puffy nose, I asked her for the millionth time that night, “What should I do?”

My friend, with her knowledge of me and my struggles with all things, suggested gently that perhaps I should try to find a new deity to worship. She even had one in mind: the Orisha Oshun, the Goddess of beauty, love, and wealth. “What you need most right now is love, and who better to provide it than a Goddess of love. Will you at least try it?” Her honest query was all at once preposterous and enlightening. I had never tried this approach before, and seeing as I had never had any luck with the god I was currently serving, I figured, “what do I have to lose?”

Thus, the start of the shift.

I drove home that night reluctantly, in tears, but having nothing left to lose, in my mind, I called to Oshun and poured my heart out to her for the entirety of the hour and a half it took to get home. I felt a little better, but not completely. I had done my sobbing for the night and my begging, and having been blessed with not crashing my car or having to stop on the side of the road to use the bathroom, I felt a measure of comfort that perhaps Oshun really had listened to me, that for the first time, I really had been heard.

There was guilt. A lot of it. I felt like I was abandoning the iron rod and the course I had so stubbornly fought for, but there was also this sense of being freed from the restraints that my former religion had imposed on me, restraints that I had willingly (at one point) put on myself. There was paranoia that the people around me, my family and my friends, would find out that I had ‘fallen away’ from the Church and became a pagan. But, desperation came and pushed all of these feelings to the back of my mind, strengthening my resolve that I should continue on this new path in hopes that it would finally help me.

It took some time before I fully took on Oshun as my Patron. I do not trust easily, my past having taught me that I could not even trust myself, so I am slow to warm up to anyone or anything new. But, Oshun grew on me, filled me with love. She gave me tasks to start doing everyday that helped start to pull me out of the depressive funk I had fallen in to. Eventually, She asked for an alter, and it was when I gave it to Her, filling what little space I could clear for her with all the pretty things I owned, that I realized that I was never going back. I was never going to be Christian again, and to my surprise, I was very happy with this decision.

After getting comfortable with Mama-Oshun, I felt the pull to look for other Deities. Again, my friend was quick to point out a few Deities that she thought might be appropriate for me, naming off Bastet, Loki, and Baron Samedi as three she thought would help me the most. So, I did my research. I spent days looking all I could on these three Deities and several others. I learned new terms and read many blogs of those who worship the Deities in present times. I was overwhelmed with everything I was learning, from godspousery to discernment, UPG to spirit workers. There was so much to learn and so many thoughts t reshape within my own mind about all of this. It was evident from the very beginning that I was in for a whirlwind of a ride, for better or worse.

With Mama-Oshun by my side, this is how I became a baby pagan, and this is only the beginning of the story.