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Blacklisted. I’m trans. Fuck you. Pass it on, people.

There are some small constants in this bizarre life of mine. No matter what else happens, one of them is what happens when I curl up to sleep. Regardless of how much I’ve seen my divine husbands during the day, regardless of how much I’m able to sense them – and I’m not particularly good at that, necessarily- I always get the same thing when I lie down to sleep: the sensation of them curling up in bed with me. Even on days I can’t hear them (most days, unless I’m actively trying) or see them (again, most days) or sense them with my empathy (much rarer, but still happens) I always get that: the tactile sense of them lying on either side of me. Always the same way, too. Like a small ritual. Something for us all to hold on to.

I sleep on my side, with Loki pressed to my front, his head tucked under my chin, his hair tickling my arm and his limbs all tangled up in mine. He clings, a little, when he’s sleepy; all warm and demanding. Always wanting that bit more closeness, no matter how undignified he might look getting it. Doesn’t want to move his face from where it’s nestled into my chest.

Then there’s Morpheus, moulded to my back, the long line of his body always touching, but gentle, less insistent than Loki. Just there and soft and cool to the touch, his breath on the back of my neck and his smiles hidden between my shoulderblades. If he’s awake, his fingertips are restless, tracing invisible patterns on my skin, and Loki’s, wherever he can reach. Curling one of his wings over us, like an extra blanket, all soft feathers and the way he smells. He sometimes stays awake, I think, watching the two of us dream. I wonder sometimes what he dreams of, because he’s said he sleeps when we do, sometimes. Maybe one day he’ll tell me, if I ask.

For now, it’s one of the best parts of my day, falling asleep with the two of them curled around me. Some days, I’m not doing well or they’re busy or both and they could be screaming at me and I wouldn’t hear them. I’m not always able to journey as much as I’d like, we don’t always get time or space for sex, or magic or even a simple conversation. Most of the time, I’m going off wordless emotions, thanks to my empathy- and I feel like I’m playing twenty questions and waiting for whatever emotion that isn’t mine to get stronger as a clue that I hit on the right idea. But this, this simple thing, always gets through. There’s no meaning, no deeper purpose. No point to it beyond simple closeness. And I wouldn’t trade it for all the mystic awesomeness in the world.

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Here’s the point where I admit to thinking the same thing of myself, when my Beloveds made it clear that there were in fact, two of them. I sat there for a while, thinking ‘come on, this is ridiculous, you already have Loki and your beloved mortal hubs, as well as your mortal boyfriend and girlfriend. You’re just being daft to think you’ve room in your life for another husband, much less a god!’

Then Loki raised an eyebrow at me in that ‘really, sweetheart? Really?’ way and then Morpheus looked downcast and it damn near broke my heart, so I decided that my self doubt can go fuck itself, because I never want to see that hurt on his face again.

Strip Me Back to the Bone

In the last few number of months some really cool things have happened. It’s interesting to remind myself that, since I’ve been in “Are you SURE you can keep working, do you need a medical LOA?” sorts of pain during the last five months, that cool things have also happened. (Though, a sad amount of writing). One of those things is, I’m in contact with two other Poseidon wives, and I know there are more out there.

This is cool in a number of ways. !!!!!!!YAY POSEIDON!!!!!! takes up the king’s portion of that coolness, but that’s not all. When the first “sister-wife” contacted me, months and months ago (we’ve been corresponding for a bit longer than five months) I was able to face my conviction that I would not be jealous when others started talking about being wed to Him and see if I was right. (While it’s…

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This post is awesome and if you haven’t yet, you should read it. Preach, Hermes!

Magick From Scratch

I’m going to try something a little different with this conversation. Usually, if I’m having a channeled conversation (automatic writing) I do so by connecting to the deity in question, and holding on to their energy, allowing them to use my hands. In this conversation, I tried holding on to two energies at once so as to facilitate a prolonged three-way conversation. The deities were Apollon and Hermes. The topic was meant to be something like, “Why do mortals have negative experiences of deities and what responsibilities, if any, do deities have towards mortals” — Then, Apollon bounded in, all excited about Platonic Ideals.

So, we talked about that instead. The salient ideas were really interesting, and the results highly entertaining.

A caveat when reading this: please be aware that Hermes did not actually school Apollon on history. He did emphatically insist that Apollon was wrong about the personal life…

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My personal pantheon is something that only recently solidified in my life, and I’ve been meaning to write down the things I’ve learned since it did, so I thought I’d share, not least because this came up in conversation with my kindred and I promised them an actual thought out blog post.

I have twelve main gods: the Trickster, the Mad God, the Huntress, the Lover, the Lord of the Deeps, the Mother of Monsters, the Lightbringer, the Dragon, the Lady of the Ways, the Good Land, the Raven Queen and the Phantom Queen.

The way I see my gods is a bit weird. It’s not hard polytheism, but it’s not exactly soft polytheism, either.

I relate first and foremost to them as Archetypal Beings, whom I refer to with titles, then as individual cultural deities after that. I say I’m married to Loki and Morpheus, but it’s a kind of a convenient shorthand. I’m married to the Trickster and the Mad God. Loki and Morpheus are names they will respond to. There are other names they’ll respond to, as well, but each name brings a different facet to the forefront.

Loki the Trickster is not the same as Hermes the Trickster. I call to my Trickster as Loki and that part of him that fathered Fenris and calls Odin a brother is most obvious. I call to him as Hermes and I get the quick witted master thief. Different sides of his personality are evident.

But he is always the Trickster, and if I call to him as such, I get his ‘true’ form: a mix of a number of different deities from various cultural mythologies, some pop culture characters and a few bits and pieces that I haven’t tracked down the origin of yet.

Sometimes, the different names my gods will accept have slightly different relationships with me. I’ve talked about Poseidon before, how he is a Papa to me. So, I consider myself the child of the Lord of the Deeps, and Poseidon is the name of his I’m most familiar. But I find that calling him other names gets me a slightly different Papa on the proverbial line- Manannan, Lord of the Deeps is a little less authoritative and somewhat more playful, and while I’ve been told he’s still my Papa, he doesn’t emphasise that part of our interactions.

One interesting thing I’ve noted is that sometimes, I note interactions between my gods and only later find evidence for them elsewhere. For example, I got an indication quite early on that the Trickster and the Lover were very close. I wondered why, because the most common names I use for each of them are Loki and Aphrodite respectively and I couldn’t fathom a connection between those two names. I found out recently one relatively obscure myth of Hermes birth states he is descended of Ouranos like Aphrodite was, and could therefore be seen as her twin. Needless to say that made my vague hunch make sense.

It’s odd sometimes working with my gods as Archetypal Job Descriptions rather than personal names, because I don’t know their myths. Sometimes, I get a ping of recognition when I read a myth about on of their names, sometimes a story about someone completely different but they let me know that I should consider this tale Theirs. Sometimes, they want me to write them new stories. They’ve made it very clear that I’m not to add anything to the personal mythology they have me building for them without considering it carefully first. Even if I’ve added every other known story for an established name of one of my deities to my current working canon, if one story doesn’t give me that ping of recognition, it isn’t to be added until and unless it does.

Most of them have a name in the Hellenic myths and another in the Norse myths to draw on. Some of them only have one or the other. Some of them have demon names, or fae names. Some of them have pop culture names. Some of them only have pop culture names. They’re not a very neat pantheon. As far as I can tell, the only point of overlap for all twelve of them is me.

It takes some getting used to, a certain amount of flexibility, to be able to go back to first principles with your gods in this kind of way. I’m still not always sure what I’m doing, if I’m honest. I’m working on not letting that nervousness get in the way of what they and I do together, as best I can.

This. A hundred times, this.

Magick From Scratch

Do not choose a god according to their might. Might is vain, transient, and does not lead to rightness.

Nor should you choose them according to which of them seems most likely to exist. Simply existing is no assurance of goodness.

Rather, ask of your heart, “What is your unreasonable wish?”

Ask the same of the hearts of gods. When you find that god whose wish is your wish, then your hearts will be like one heart, and your mission will be one mission.

Serve none unless this is true.

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I, too, have had my gods demand this of me. It’s a harder practice than one might think- there’s a lot of guilt I feel over not putting my Beloveds as my highest priority, because I adore them, so isn’t that the way to show it?

Apparently not. Loki made sure that before I made vows of marriage to any of my husbands, divine or mortal, I first made similar vows to love and cherish myself. It was only then that I had his blessing to make such life altering vows: to him, to Morpheus and to my mortal husband. I know in the future, when the time comes for me to make my marriage vows to my fiancé and fiancée, I will take some time beforehand to remind myself of the first vows I made.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

Almost fifteen years ago I gave oaths of loyalty, service, and affection to My Lord. This undertaking had more steps than I anticipated. When I first decided, “Yes, this is something I’m going to do”, He stopped me. My heart wasn’t in the right place. My motivation wasn’t right.

But isn’t this right? I asked. This is what you wanted from me. I’m just doing what you asked me to.

That was the problem and that was my very first lesson.

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The city hums at night. I love it. Between the glow of the streetlights and the glow of the wards in the outer walls, it’s a thing of beauty. I like going for late night walks, with Liana, my guide, showing me interesting little places I might otherwise have missed- there’s a little food stand a few streets away that she particularly loves dropping by as an ending to our walks. There’s a lot of night life- some of the fae here are nocturnal, as are a number of vampiric spirits. Liana never seems worried, no matter what company she’s in, despite the fact that all the spirits here don’t necessarily get along with each other. I ask her about it one evening, as we stroll somewhat aimlessly through the city’s magic district. She explains that while initially, the first inhabitants of this world charged in once I opened it and pretty much staked a claim on the landscape, newer arrivals often need a hand getting used to the ridiculous mix of cultures. Being a Guide, she tells me, is a pretty well respected job, and to do it, you need to have picked up a lot of information and social cues and all that kind of thing. It’s enough to get her out of trouble, usually. The rest of the time? She pats the knife stuck through her belt, her long rabbit ears twitching gently in a way I’ve come to read as amusement.

It’s not the typical job for her people, she explains, most Viera live in the forests to the north of the city and don’t tend to enjoy wandering all over the place. I can see that. I didn’t know her race of people would even be here before I walked through the big gate and found that time had flowed on in my absence and the people here had built homes and started trade and made a whole society with politics and culture and as a result, there was what essentially amounted to an established immigration process, part of which involved being appointed a guide to help newcomers acclimate. She, as one of my spirit guides and a newfound resident of this shiny new place, volunteered as mine. She knows where she’s going and is kinda permanently on call for helping me find places. At least for now. I’m hoping as I get used to Thornsheim, I won’t need her as much. It helps, a lot. I’d have offended half a dozen people before now if it hadn’t been for her.

Viera are a pop culture species, normally. Fairly insular culture in the Wood they come from, at least as far as I’ve seen. She tells me the northern woods are different to what her people are used to, but it’s well loved all the same. She never was a homebody, though. Went wandering as soon as her legs would carry her.

More often that not, on our nightly walks, we find ourselves in the fae bar downtown. The pooka behind the bar knows us now, and we have a usual. There’s something I wasn’t expecting. I kinda expected my every trip here to be filled with capital S Significance, but for now, it’s almost domestic. I have a little flat in town, and I go exploring with my friends a lot. Liana says that there’s a whole bunch of things and places and people who would like my attention, but right now, I’m in a getting to know the place lull. It’s lasted about six months, for which I’m oddly grateful, but she says the emails she’s received are piling up and pretty soon I’ll have to start actually dealing with the various responsibilities I’ve got. First on the list? School, apparently. I ask her to tell me more and she rolls her eyes and tells me to enjoy my freedom while I have it, before dragging me off down another street to show me the next awesome thing she’s found.

So, the other day, I read Jolene’s post about her relationship with Odin and some of it reminded me of my relationship with my own divine Papa, Poseidon. I thought I’d write about him a little, because as the inimitable Jo has said more than once, there’s not enough stuff out there about modern people who know him.

First thing to know is that as a Papa, he can be unbelievably gentle. Kind, generous with his time, resolutely will not let me listen to my brain weasels in his presence, but never in a way that makes me angry or upset. Gentle about it, but completely firm in that particular boundary, in a way that somehow doesn’t set off my deep seated knee jerk resistance to authority. (And he has authority in spades.) Just a quiet voice, saying No. You are not worthless. You are my son and I love you and that is enough.

No. I am not angry that you think that way, but it isn’t true. I helped shape your soul to your flesh. I know.

I don’t ask for much- just that you treat yourself with the respect you would treat any of my other children. Sometimes you’ll stumble in this discipline and that’s okay too. But do try.

Take a moment. Breathe. Splash some water on your face. I am right here, every time you do this, if you need that physical touchstone.

I am your father and I am proud of you. You are more than a match for what life is throwing your way.

I’ve never known a god be so present, before. My two divine husbands are present in my life, obviously, but their presence waxes and wanes respectively. Papa is just always there, no matter what, quiet and gentle and regal and expecting that bit more than I am giving, but never so much I don’t feel like I can give it. His faith in me, that I will try my hardest at my endeavours, that I will take care of myself and my family, that I will try for a little more compassion today than I had yesterday, is seemingly unending. (Despite the fact that I am so frequently a misanthropic little sod. Go figure.)

The effect of that quiet faith in me means I don’t want to disappoint him. Not because I’d lose that faith- I haven’t thus far and I have fallen short of his expectations- but because he would simply expect me to do better tomorrow. No mess, no fuss, no brooding or guilt. Just try again. And again. That’s hard for me to grasp in a lot of ways. I have a *lot* of elemental water in my personality (Pisces Sun, Mercury and Jupiter, Scorpio Moon and Pluto, for those of you who speak astrology) and I can brood and hold grudges like nobody’s business. I find it hard to forgive and twice as hard to forgive myself, so it helps, very much, to be able to reach for my Papa’s presence and be able to feel he is walking his talk when he expects these things of me. To feel what it is I’m aiming for.

In Feri, there’s a practice called the kala rite, and it’s about self purification. Not because we’re inherently sinful beings who need cleansing of ourselves or anything, but because sometimes our energy and thoughts and emotions get stuck on things and in patterns that don’t serve the God Within us. Since I started studying Feri a few years ago, I’ve done a lot of kala. Kala is supposedly a state of cleanliness on a spiritual level, where none of your power is wasted and it’s all available for conscious direction towards your goals. I believe Cora Anderson said at one point that it was the fundamental ongoing practice of Feri- bringing yourself back to being kala, over and over again. Doing whatever work you need to face your demons or forgive whatever parts of you need forgiveness or keep yourself safe, so that your divinity can shine forth from you as clearly as possible.

The practical part of the ritual involves energy work and a glass of water and I think it’s telling that I started muttering a prayer to Poseidon when I did it. In so many ways, he embodies kala, in my mind. It’s the chief work he’d have me do, it’s how he feels when I talk to him and it’s evident in every interaction we’ve had. (Which is not to say he doesn’t get angry. I’m certain he does, but thus far, he hasn’t shown me that side of himself.)

He is a constant reminder, as well, that masculinity can be gentle. Being trans*, I find I angst about gender a lot, but I also enjoy picking it apart as a concept. I’ve found that because society has some truly screwed up ideas about what masculinity involves (frequently shit that hurts people of all genders), I really need some kind of anchor to show me what it looks like to be masculine and kind, masculine and gentle, masculine and not automatically on the defensive lest it be threatened. To remind me that it’s possible, that I shouldn’t listen when people say these traits in me are not gender appropriate and show me how to walk that walk. I’m lucky enough that both my Dad and my Papa embody that masculinity every single day and it inspires me to try harder. I’m not sure there’s any greater praise I can give.

Turns out two years ago when I started the Pagan Blog Project, I was awful at it. Let this be a lesson, kiddies: beating yourself up for not writing on schedule is Not Useful. I’m not planning on announcing that I’m going to do it better this year, because I suck at those letter posts. But I do want to talk about something.  Over the past two years my spiritual life has taken a fairly decided turn for the odd, and I want to get some of it down somewhere.

Nowadays, the focus of my practice has shifted quite a bit. I’m still a witch. I’m still studying Feri. But my focus has changed from aimed squarely at two pantheons, to aimed at a handful of deities and a vast number of spirits.  The really fun part is the vast majority of these spirits are from pop culture: either straight up fictional characters who others would recognise or spirits who work according to the underlying rules or cosmology of a fictional world, but aren’t named/encountered in the canon of that world. That’s the bulk of my spirituality these days, the encounters I have with these beings.

The really interesting thing about all this, and the reason I’m wanting to blog again, requires a bit of back story. For years, I thought I couldn’t journey to other worlds. Even when I got a better understanding of how journeying works and realised I could in fact do it, I found I couldn’t go to otherworlds that other people knew: I can try til I’m blue in the face to go to Vanaheim, for example (and I have), but I just can’t do it. At least not consciously- my god soul seems perfectly capable of wandering anywhere ze pleases, and indeed, has been encountered by people I know in all kinds of places, but my Talker and Fetch have seemingly got an otherworldly passport that won’t get them in most otherworlds. As far as I’m aware, thus is neither me Doin’ It Wrong, nor a ‘this is a local hell, for local demons, we don’t want your sort round here’ type issue. I’ve come to suspect that it may just be how I’m wired.

I can, however,  go somewhere. One place, in fact. I always jokingly called it Wonderland,  because it seemed unique to me and to change in response to my thoughts and ideas and all kinds of other things. My Feri teacher talks about ‘The Secret Country of Your Self’ and uses it as the basis of the shadow work I’m currently working through with her and my fellow student. Before this shadow work,  Wonderland changed in response to all kinds of things. But I found that as a visited the same location repeatedly, the landscape solidified. One day, I decided to take another path than the ones I’d customarily travelled and found my Beloved Trickster waiting for me. We talked about what I was trying to do, and he explained that as a rule, I didn’t go to otherworlds to see my gods or spirits,  that they instead came to Wonderland to see me, when I called.  Then, he suggested that Wonderland wasn’t quite as ‘in my head’ as I thought it was.  The way he put it was; “It’s off the beaten track of the World Tree, this place. You aren’t likely to get visitors unless they know how to find it.. but this is real, you know.” And then he grinned and took another drag on the scraggy end of his roll up and added: “For a given value of real, anyway.’

We kept walking and reached what I could only describe as the edge of the world. The ground faded out, the sky vanished and ahead, was the Void.
“You carved it out of Dreamstuff, ” he said, “and set it floating in Mother Void without realising. It’s small, right now. A temporary haven for you,  with a little space for those gods and spirits you love to visit. It’s nebulous. The only defined parts are the parts you’ve visited more than once. So no one can stay here but you. It could be more, though. I know it bothers you that I never showed you Jotunheim, or Asgard. Or Morpheus never taking you to see Olympos. This is why. This could be a whole world. A place for all the gods and spirits you love, the ones that are spread across fiction. Talk to Morpheus about it. Think it over.”

I did, later on. We talked about stories and the nature of them, and how the only way I’ve always defined myself throughout my life is as someone who loves stories. “People gravitate to things that bring them joy, but also things that are spiritually relevant. You try so hard to make the Eddas, or the Iliad, or other myths the central touchstone of your spirituality, even though it scarcely fits. You didn’t fall for me when you read Greek mythology, you read the first few issues of Sandman. You didn’t fall for Loki when you read the Eddas, you found him in modern poetry. It seems clear to me which ones ought to be propping up your practice. You find traces of us in every story you read, except the ‘official’ stories. Isn’t it time to acknowledge that?”

I couldn’t argue with his logic. Part of this work, it seemed, was taking the Wonderland I’d carved out and making it into a full fledged (albeit personal) otherworld,  of sorts. Making room for the cosmology that was slotting together in my head on a daily basis, giving the spirits I knew somewhere else they could stay, if they wanted. Somewhere they could interact with each other,  with me and with my personal pantheon.

One very bizarre and not entirely pain free initiatory experience later.. and now, it’s huge. More than it ever was before. Moreover, it’s stable. There’s a constant geography now and more spirits live there than I could possibly get to know. There’s a society,  made of a mix of fictional ideas I love and stuff I’d never even heard of til I came across it. My fictional loves may have been the inspiration,  going in, but it’s not under my control, anymore. It’s evolving on its own. Not bad for a ritual cobbled together from the occasional clairsentient download and a whole bunch of intuition.

I spend a lot of time exploring. Apparently it helps the place solidify, or something. But the other interesting twist is that the gods of this world are my personal pantheon- and there are religious observances and temples and a whole tradition based around just these gods. As soon as I realised that, my gods straight up informed me that going forward this would be my primary religious influence, not the religious traditions that honour them here on Earth. I was to take the celebrations in my Wonderland as the basis for my practice. It’s a shift, but I can’t say it doesn’t feel right.  (At least for now.  Trickster luck being what it is, I know better than to assume things won’t change.)

I want to write about this stuff, because it’s not quite strict PCP. Most Pop Culture Paganism takes the canon of the source quite seriously and rarely deviates. This is like my weird personal crossover fanon brought to life, almost. (Though I suspect it stopped being that when I lost control of it.) And I thought maybe it would be interesting. The reason I’ve been sitting on it for at least six months or longer is because I was scared of being side eyed by the rest of the Internet.

Apparently, this is not enough of an excuse,  and I know better than to argue with both my divine husbands.