I make offerings to my gods and pray for myself, my friends, my city, the nation, yet I don’t call myself a priestess.
I write fiction, poetry, and essays for the gods, but I don’t call myself a bard.
I slip in and out of trance states, imaginal landscapes, and dialogues with deities; carry crystals and tokens; talk to trees and birds and flowers; yet never call myself a witch.
I’ve spent much of the last thirty years, i.e., pretty much all of my adult life, studying various forms of religion and magic, practicing various traditions, finding the right medications and therapy to support a life focused on spiritual and creative pursuits, and yet don’t think of myself as accomplished. Still tend to think of myself as a Seeker and a Novice because I came to polytheism per se fairly late.
I’ve written fanfiction for over twenty years and produced hundreds of thousands of words of story, unpaid, yes, but motivated by love (and occasional fury), yet rarely think of myself as an author. Know all too well that many professional writers would never think of a fanfic writer, a blogger, as An Author. Know at the same time that I have a readership that is interested in what I produce.
I’m not here to teach. I don’t have answers. I can’t tell you how to be a witch, or a pagan, or a mystic, or a priest. I can only tell you what I am doing, have done. I can only give you my stories. Truth, as Ursula Le Guin wrote in The Left Hand of Darkness, is a matter of the imagination. I never call myself psychic; I just trust my imagination more than most people.
I have learned as much from books, from fiction, from dreaming, from writing, from observing the world, as from any particular teacher. Over and over again I’ve encountered spiritual authorities that I was certain had more knowledge and power than I did, people I could surely learn from, only to find out they had less of those things and less commitment, less integrity, to boot.
Lucille Clifton said in a poem written for her birthday that every day of her life something had tried to kill her and failed. I would not be telling the truth if I said that of myself. What is true, I think, is that every day of my life, someone has misunderstood me, misinterpreted me, tried to fit me into a box. And still, I am here, at once too fluid and too stubborn to be put into a box, too fluid and too stubborn to comply and conform, still not the person you thought I was, or you did, or you do. Still here, still queer, still coldly and unlikably myself.
A friend of mine died last month. His funeral was Saturday. Unfortunately, I could not go.
He was a Navy veteran, a black man from a Caribbean family, a gifted counselor and therapist to many.
He was also homeless.
I heard of his death when I went to get my hair cut at a neighborhood salon. Told the stylists who were there that he had helped me move almost two years ago. Learned that he had been a faithful supporter of the students at the arts high school, showing up for their performances. That through connections on Facebook, people had tracked down members of his family out of state and informed them, had formed a group for sharing reminiscences and information.
A local funeral home donated their services, including a place of burial. An Episcopal church gave him a funeral with music and the dignity of ritual.
I thought about my friend being found dead on a weekday morning, on the sidewalk where I had passed by and chatted with him so many times, dead probably because of an untreated infection in a minor cut, and I wished savagely that some old, wrinkled white man in power was dead in his place. I wished that the people whose political power had denied my friend adequate rehabilitation after his military service, education for his empathic gifts, health care for his injuries, or even the bare minimum of food, shelter, and clothing would die, even if it did not bring my friend back.
I don’t often hate people. I don’t like hatred in myself any more than in others. But I have felt a lot of hatred in the past four years.
Rest in peace, Dwight Claxton. Into paradise may the angels lead you, and with Lazarus, who once was poor, may you have eternal rest.
WordPress has kindly informed me that on this day in 2007, I signed up with their blogging service. At the time I was married, involved with a druid order, writing mostly fanfic. I started writing about my wrestling with the druid studies I was pursuing and went on to document years of trying to find the right religious and magical tradition, path, place, spot, label, whatever, with forays into what I was reading, watching, listening to. There was a November when I blogged every single day, the blogger’s version of NaNoWriMo. There were months where I didn’t write at all. I started more than one blog on the site; some are still extant, some have been deleted, pretty much everything is buried somewhere in my Google Drive.
I am a writer. Writers write. It’s a useful mantra, because it’s true. I’ve used the site 750words.com for daily writing for almost as long as I’ve been blogging; in fact, this post was drafted there. Before I became accustomed to composing everything on a keyboard, even poetry, there were pens and notebooks (and there are still pens and notebooks in my apartment, waiting, hoping to be used). I started writing as a child and have never stopped. It is, along with my engagement in religion and my erotic energy, the great throughline of my life.
These days I am single, having been divorced and then lost my ex-husband to cancer. I sit lightly to labels, traditions, organizations, having found that “lightworker” is a useful bag in which to carry my Hermetic magical training, my devotional polytheism, my interest in multiple forms of religion and magic. I accept being called pagan, polytheist, and Episcopalian with equal aplomb. I call myself queer and bisexual and am learning that my gender may not be exactly what I thought it was. I watch some television–I’m already hooked on Star Trek: Picard–listen to a lot of Hozier, read fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One thing that hasn’t changed is the presence of my companion bird and avian life partner, Rembrandt the cockatiel, who’s been with me going on twenty years.
And I write. Every single day, I write. Here’s to sharing more of my writing here.
As you may know, Bob, I’ve been on unpaid leave for two weeks now because my employers fear the bedbugs in my apartment the way medieval Europeans feared lepers, bubonic plague, and intelligent heretics. Tired of waiting for something to happen, I went in person to HR this morning after seeing my therapist.
Things… did not go well. They refuse to pay me for leave that they ordered me to take, because I have no accumulated leave. Unless I can declare my life bedbug-free by July 27th, my employment will “become inactive”. A new level of euphemism has been achieved here: What they mean is that they will fire me for having a bedbug problem, in the city with the highest number of bedbug infestations in the country.
The best deal they can offer me, apparently, is to take a disability retirement, based on my knee problems and my ongoing depression. I’m going to get on the paperwork for that.
Meanwhile, I still have to vacate my current apartment by July 31st… just that now I have to do it with no income and no savings.
I invite you to donate to my Ko-fi if you can, but also! I can offer my services as a writer and editor.
For $25 I will write a prayer, hymn, or other ritual text to your specifications.
I will edit/beta read non-fannish writing, fiction or nonfiction, for $10/page.
Thank you in advance for any help you can give, and that includes prayers and good mojo.
Gentle readers, I’m facing a quick move from my apartment to a new place, hopefully not far away. Funds are short because health issues have caused me to lose time at work. If you’ve been following my writing, I’d appreciate your good mojo, and a little donation if you have a few bucks: ko-fi.com/mtodd
My only sister died suddenly last Friday. She went to the emergency room on Thursday for severe stomach pain, went into cardiac arrest while being examined, and was resuscitated. After being on life support for about twenty-four hours, she was released, authorized by her daughter and her husband. She died soon after the machines were turned off, in the presence of her husband, her daughter, and her five-year-old grandson.
My sister and I were never close, partly due to the eleven years between us (she was the older). This still comes as a blow, in a year full of blows. A number of people close to me lost family members in the past ten days. As it happened, I had an invitation to a dinner party for Saturday night that included a brief Remembrance Day ritual. This had been planned and scheduled weeks ago; the friends who hosted it were friends of my ex-husband also and had sung for him. So we had this dinner, made offerings to the dead, told the bees in my friends’ hive, and sang some choral music in memory of my ex. I wrote this text for the ritual.
The dead are neither present nor absent.
They are neither near to us nor far from us.
They live in us, in our speech, in our hands, in our memories.
We die in them, the parts of us that go with them into the dark.
If they are hidden from us in the shadows,
we are hidden from them by the light.
Yet from time to time we come together
and join hands across the great divide.
They remember us no less than we remember them.
If they are forgotten, they, too, may forget.
Let us not forget our forefathers and foremothers, grandparents and parents,
children born or unborn, spouses and friends, mentors and teachers.
Let us take hold of what they left to us
that we may pass it on before we go.
Let us say their names and offer them our continuing love.