Fire, Smoke, and Steel

Photo by: Earthfirearts@gmail.com

The turning of the year and I found myself ill. Stomach and body angry and full of pain, cause unknown. Yet deep down I think that I knew.

You see, my mind and life had been occupied for over a month by the needs of the mundane world and of family. Daily devotional had slipped to every few days, to once a week. The spirit, my spirit was lacking the nourishment that it needed and that helps my body stay healthy. A lesson I should have learned long ago, but I am rather dumb at times and can get wrapped up in only what’s in front of me. Forgetting to care for the Self in process of caring for others even when it’s detrimental to health.

So it was that just days after the New Year I heard the calling from my altar, a pull that had nothing to do with the physical. It needs be said that when it comes to distractions my home is pretty good for it, especially of an evening. A four year old daughter, my wife, and a seven month old / fifty pound pupper and that isn’t even including all the electronics, the noise from living in an apartment complex, etc. and so on. So to feel the pull during that time while not unusual, was too strong to ignore.

My body was weakened to the point of taking all I had to just stand and walk from room to room. Yet the… prodding that was pushing me also gave me strength to stand and do what I felt was needed. I gathered candles for the altar, new incense, and tidied it up. I closed the door to the bedroom (where my altar is), lit the candles, the incense, and laid my hand upon the altar while bowing my head.

The sensation was immediate. It was as a starving man set before a banquet; a ravenous wolf finding a lone and wounded stag. A host of emotions flooded over me at once; shame, guilt, love, acceptance, and mild irritation to name a few. With it all came instructions to take up my personal blade (not my ceremonial) and to lay down in bed, the blade upon my chest, and let myself go.

I took up the steel, stripped down, and climbed into bed holding the blade on my chest over my heart. Beginning four-fold breathing, it wasn’t long before I was elsewhere. Where I do not know. It was a black void and felt as if my body was floating there, no pulling or urging, just floating. I let go of expectations, of hopes and fears, placing myself entirely in that moment with every ounce of will I had left. It was then that I realized a few things. First was that the Void wasn’t at all black, but it was all things, all colors swirling together constantly, blending and moving so that all that could be seen was the culmination of what we see as black. Second, I wasn’t alone in that place. There was a sentience there among and in all the colors and black and shadows. There was my beloved Patron, only hidden from view by a veil as thick as a silk sheet. It felt that if I but reached out and drew aside a curtain I could see anything, go anywhere.

The blade was still with me and glowed with it’s own inner light and had a warmth to it that had nothing to do with the fires with which I had made offering to Loki and the Rökkr. It was a light and warmth that comes from Tribe, of a gift given out of love, of a bond unbroken. It was a person symbol not only of protection, but of family as strange as it may sound for a blade. What makes it all the more “funny” is it was a gift from neither Rökkatru nor Heathen, but from perhaps the most peaceful man I have ever known that walks the Buddhist path and his son. The worth and meaning in this piece of worked steel is beyond words to me, and was reflected in that place.

There was a song there. Wordless and whispered that was felt more than heard, and I knew it to be Ancestors, entities not truly forgotten but lost to history and time. That song was beautiful and while a touch sad carried with it pride, the pride of defiance and survival. It echoed in and through me, I could feel the smile of my Patron even through that veil.

What that place was, where I found myself I do not know with any certainty. There was an echoing fear there that I did not know, couldn’t recognize except to know that it wasn’t my own.

That void was parted in front of me as a simple curtain pulled aside and an old woman stood there. Six foot tall and thin in her raggedy simple brown dress. I could smell the musk of both dogs and wolves (trust me, wolf musk is hard to forget) as she held the “curtain” open and yawned as if she just woke up. Hair unbound and white as snow, skin wrinkled with age, but golden eyes bright and crisp even though they were still drowsy. She looked to me, up and down, and only said “One: About time, but come back later. Takes old folks time to really wake up you ass. Two: You make some pretty babies.”

WTF? Ok…

Before I could respond, my four year old was shaking me asking me if I was asleep in a quiet little voice. My eyes opened to look into her bright blues.

I might have a very low self-image/opinion, but damn my littles are pretty cute. They can be absolute monsters, but they are cute.

This got me to thinking, thinking about many things. About how I was blessed with essentially a large family though not all are blood. About how my own bloodlines and ancestory have an influence on who I am, who my children are. About the trials that I have faced and my eldest child is now beginning to face. It may me look at my parents and the lineages that I come from, wondering how many of my ancestors faced the same trials. Were they thought mad? How did they make it through? Now, we have drugs to help provide what the brain cannot however even 60 years ago between the cultures, ideals, and lack of understanding so many went untreated.

How many who are schizophrenic or bipolar are not only that way because of the way they are wired, but because of a connection to the “Other”? In the United States hearing voices gets you locked up and drugged into zombie oblivion. Yet in tribal communities you are cared for and even respected as hearing the ancestors or the spirits of the land. You don’t get “treatment”, you get training. Medicine Men, Wise Women, Shamans, Herb Women, Oracles, Seers, and so many more names.

My family line, my blood, is strong with this gift and curse. I remembered the stories my own Mother would tell of the family. Saw and read the journals of others long gone. Letters. Mementos. It sometimes takes me a while to get to a conclusion, but I tend to get there eventually and I think I am close to something. Just not sure what.

I do know that I have been not just ignoring a part of myself. I’ve been outright neglecting those needs. Just as the body needs nourishment, so too does the heart, mind, and soul. Some of those aspects inside me where being starved and the rest react to it. When one walks the Rökkr path you can only go so long before they take notice, and at least for me risk of offense. Worse, they start “checking on” you, see what you haven’t been doing and remind you of what your obligations are. For some of us. So I will be going back to my devotions. If even just a moment before I go to bed in order to say thank you for the gifts I’ve been given, the blessings I have received, and those strengths I have found on this path.

I know, so damn esoteric right? That’s a different post, sorry.