Decks, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Too Much Information

Let’s talk decks, Zaphod Beeblebrox, too much information, and self doubt. Spoiler alert, I’ll be mentioning a small bit from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the book by Douglas Adams that contains the character Zaphod Beeblebrox), so if you want to read it but haven’t yet, you have been warned.

We’ll start with decks. I own around 200 tarot and oracle decks. I often find this an embarrassing fact, which is interesting in itself. I chose to acquire those decks. I didn’t fall into them. Though I don’t use all of them, and I definitely don’t use all of them at once, I cycle through many of them. They are not unused tools. I do find the overall number a bit excessive, partly because I’m not currently in a space where I can have them all out at once. Out of sight is sometimes out of mind, and ideally I would like to be able to display all of them so I can better see, find and use them. There is also the talk that floats around the pagan communities about practitioners who buy all the flashy stuff and do none of the work. I felt like this was me for a long time. Sometimes I still do. I have, however, had the benefit of other practitioners of varying traditions point out to me where I am doing the work. This has helped me see it myself a great deal. I don’t think anyone needs the flashy, but I find joy in the tangible, be it decks, statues, or other things. I don’t need the things to have my practice, but I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t inherently bad or wrong to want or have the things.

Now onto the spoiler about Zaphod Beeblebrox. It’s been ages since I’ve read the fantastic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I do remember that at one point Zaphod realizes that he has locked up part of his brain by burning his initials into it. How does this relate to me? I do think there can be a challenge in knowing too much, and it’s something I’m currently struggling with sorting out. I don’t think the future is set in stone. I don’t consider myself a psychic. I definitely don’t know where I’ll be in five years. However, I’m very aware of certain bits of my possible futures, and I have realized how much I struggle not to let that knowledge . . . misdirect me. Whether due to fear, self-doubt, feeling that it’s set or already happened when I still need to put in the work, or something else.

I initially picked up cards as a way to interact with deities and other spirits. I was a bit envious of all the people talking about their “godphones” and wanted to find a way where I could connect. Since that time, I have learned how to do journey work, learned multiple ways of receiving messages, and realized that I am very connected, even I don’t consider myself to have a “godphone.” At this point, sometimes I use the cards as a buffer between myself and spirits, sometimes I use them to get past self-doubt or self-misdirection (though that can easily enter into card reading anyway). I use my cards in multiple ways for multiple things. I am aware of periods where I have tried to give my power away to the cards, so I try to be wary of that. I will always be responsible for where I ultimately end up, whether through action or non-action.

I have also realized that even if I don’t use the cards myself, I will sometimes receive extra information I wasn’t looking for. I am trying to be open to investigating the why. Why do my spirits feel the need to share specific information with me? Getting similar information over and over again through different avenues probably means there is a need for it, even if I don’t want it. It might mean that I’m veering off track. It might be because I’ve expressed doubt and my spirits are trying to allay my fears. There are many things about my future that I won’t even be able to guess. I won’t know until I experience it. I have tried to appreciate the fact that I have had an overall feeling about my path and general purpose for a long time, even if I haven’t always followed it. I’m currently trying to figure out how to move forward with extra bits of information without letting that information impede me. Once I learn how to do that, maybe I’ll find a way to use it in a helpful manner.

Back to Zaphod Beeblebrox. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt and self-acceptance. There have been many times when I’ve ignored or written off extra information that I’ve received. There have been times when I’ve wished I could close off part of myself and forget. When it’s all said and done though, I really appreciate my life. I like that my connections to my spirits. I always want to know more, even while I don’t know how exactly to handle what I do know. Everyone has their own struggles. No path is necessarily easier or harder. We all have our big bumps and small hiccups. We all have our different blessings. I wouldn’t change mine, but I still have work to do on accepting it all (ups and downs) as legitimately mine.

How Spiritual Do You Need Your Partner(s) to Be?

This is a topic that I asked people to weigh in on recently. I don’t think I ever formulated my response, so I’ll just put it here. I think the answer is unique to each person, and it might be unique to each pairing (i.e. it might not be an issue between a polytheist and an atheist, but it might be one between that same polytheist and a different atheist partner). To clarify, by partner I mean someone whom you date or marry or have a similar type of relationship with. I would say a romantic relationship, but I know there are aromantics who have those types of relationships too, so I’m just using the term partner. My short answer to the above question is that I don’t know.

I have seen all different types of belief systems, be it monotheism, polytheism, agnosticism, atheism, and whatnot, work together successfully in different relationships. Most of my partners have fallen into the agnostic/atheistic category. I definitely don’t need my partner to agree with all my beliefs. I see the divine as being a bit unknowable/incomprehensible overall, with each person just using the lens that works best for them. I can’t say your lens is wrong, I just know that mine is what works for me.

I definitely need my partner to respect my beliefs. My partner has to be able to respect me, and my belief systems, every tweaking as it is, is a part of me. There is a difference between tolerate and accept, and I’m not quite sure where I fit on that spectrum. My life revolves so much around the spiritual, that there are times I want to be able to express parts of it to a partner. As I get deeper and deeper into my practice, I realize I might need someone who can listen without writing it off. So perhaps I need (a) partner(s) who are able to accept the unknowing. They might not hold my beliefs, but they can accept the possibility that my experiences or beliefs are true.

I had a long term partner who was very respectful of my beliefs and practices in general. However, I felt deep hurt and disconnect when they eventually expressed their desire for me not to discuss my spiritual life. They never claimed a label, so I referred to them as agnostic with atheistic tendencies. I had tried to mostly share my spiritual stuff with my spiritual friends. But I was excited one day and trying to share that excitement and joy with them when they shut me down. So it’s a question that I’m still sussing out. I think it depends on the person I’m with, but that past experience has caused me to either block off or overshare in those situations, out of a fear of not being accepted or a need to feel understood. So again, my short answer is that I don’t know, but I think it might depend on each individual relationship.

Sacrifice

Today I had a death tent, which is small-group ancestor-focused journey work led by Cris Ashburn (website, patreon). Cris provided a few questions that we could take with us, but I had one in mind already. I wanted to know what I need to sacrifice/release. I know I’m still holding on to something that is holding me back, but I wasn’t sure what that was. I interacted with a few spirits during the meditation. My ancestors were present but more of a blur. Hades, Loki, Angrboda (briefly), Sleipnir, and Odin came and went. My journeys tend to be experiential, but this one I seemed to get pulled away from everything to make sure the message was sticking.

The answer that came up was illusions. I need to sacrifice interacting with illusions instead of the actual things, be it people, objects, activities, or even assumptions about myself. When you interact with the illusion, you can assume/control the outcome. There is a false sense of safety and security that comes with this feeling of control. I don’t intentionally interact with the illusions I’ve built (based on past experiences and perceptions) instead of the reality, but acknowledging it is the first step towards shifting.

Some of my assumptions of outcomes aren’t even positive, yet I hold onto to them because of the comfort of control. I have to learn to sit in the uncomfortableness of the unknown. I have to be willing to and take steps without knowing the outcome. After the journey, I pulled a few cards. I pulled the Tower from my Hades deck, the Dark Royo Tarot (nudity warning for the deck). The woman in the card has two much larger figures behind her. This is a reminder to me that though I might not know the outcome of my steps, I am not alone in taking them. Wherever I end up, my spirits will still be with me.

Another Year Older, Musings

Today I turn 39. A lot has evolved in my pagan practice over the 9 years I’ve been practicing, but this week my Father, Djehuty, had a big question for me to start wrestling with. Why am I so hesitant to stay in my body? My Kemetic Orthodox name, Iretisenu, the purpose of two, has layers that I will be peeling back for a lifetime. One of those layers seems to be my ties to both this world and the other worlds.

Trance journey work is something that I had to learn how to do, but I have developed some skill in it. Being in a liminal space has a certain comfort for me. I give a nod to my Sagittarius moon for my love of traveling in any form. There is a certain sustenance I get from every form of traveling. The covid pandemic has definitely curtailed my physical traveling over the last year, though I’ve done way more to cut my own wings than covid has. Fixing that is one of my most intimidating priorities.

I’ve always felt connected to Spirit. I was raised in Roman Catholic household, so deity and spirits have always been a big part of my life and focus. Schooling was also highly prioritized in my family. I spent a lot of time in books and in my own head. I still do. I’m still learning how to come out of my head, whether through doing something or just expressing myself. I think that is one reason my spirits have been on me to speak aloud to them more (something I’ve been forgetting to do again). I forget to make things tangible.

As much as I am in my head or off in spirit, I do have deep connections to the physical. I have Taurus sun and rising signs. Being in nature revives me. It revives most people, but I sometimes think I have a greater need for it than some. I like to be barefoot outside. I love to dance. I love to actually enjoy my food. And yet, even though I know that I both love and need these things, I still shy away. I forget. I don’t make time or space for them, except in a very surface way.

Last Saturday I was able to attend an outdoor drum circle put on by a local coven. I only made the last bit, but it was long enough for me to do some ecstatic dancing. It was wondrous. I realized it had been ages since I’ve prioritized dancing, even just dancing around the house. It took extra effort to make the circle. I had to forgo attending something online, make sure I got a much needed nap and shower beforehand, and get myself out the door on my night off. But I did it because I wanted to and I recognized how much I needed to connect with those people and experience that atmosphere again. I so often feel that my self-made problems are insurmountable, but when I look behind me I see all that I’ve plowed my way through. I am, after all, a Taurus. I might be slow, but I can always get there.

My ancestors have been wanting me to connect more with plants in a deep and useful way for a long time. Learn how to work with them. I know one reason I’ve avoided plant work is that worry of failure. I feel expectations build, even if no one else can see them, even if they are only my own, and I don’t respond well. But the only way to find out is to do. If I want to be more joyful, learning how to be in my body more, accepting those sensitivities and connections, is a part of it. I’ve always identified strongly as human, whatever other pieces my soul might contain. It is part of who I am. Part of honoring that is fully living this earthly embodiment.

Djehuty also said that I don’t need to journey in order to do everything that I do in my journey work. That is giving me some pause as well. Have I been using the trance work as a buffer, an excuse to ignore and avoid the spiritual parts when I’m not in trance? It will take some pondering to sort it all out. Likely a bit of shadow work as well. I don’t plan on giving up my journey work anytime soon. It is also a source of joy. However, I can no longer deny the need to learn how to live in my body. The purpose of two.

When You Have No Time . . .

Hmm. Maybe I will start adding pictures to some of my future posts. Time is a very finicky thing. Lately, my body has required more attention, while at the same time my household responsibilities have increased. More things to do, less energy to do them.

I have a lot of altars in my bedroom, but the picture above is how much of my altar work has gone the last few days. Bringing a few things out to the living room, so I can still spend time with my spirits but get things done.

Tea with the ancestors is something I’ve mentioned here before. They get tea, I get tea, and we chat. Sometimes t includes a candle, water, and/or incense, sometimes just the tea. Today they really wanted me to remember that I don’t have to carve out separate times every day for all of my spirits. I can invite them to join in my activities and even have that as the offering.

That is what I’m doing now. I added a glass of water for communication. I made myself another cup of tea, which I offered to some of my gods before reverting it. Then I invited them all to join me in writing this post.

If I try to do too much at once, I get scattered and nothing gets done. I enjoy giving offerings to my spirits. My ancestors have reminded me that the invitation to join me can be the offering. They love their treats, but time with me is the most important. So I should invite them (gods and spirits) to join me in certain things even if I don’t have the energy to prepare a drink or other offering beforehand.

I was also reminded of the importance of spending time with myself. Meditation is considered such a beneficial thing for good reason. Djehuty has probably spent my whole pagan life trying to get me to integrate the practice more into my routine. I’ve always rebeled a bit against it, but as I get ever older and busier, I am more aware of the need to sit with myself. Or walk or dance. There are so many different ways to approach it.

So here I am, soon to be another year older, relearning, reseting, and retuning the basics. Foundations are important for building. As unsure as I am about how I will rebuild strong foundations and fix issues in certain parts of my life, I’m still so excited for the future. I’ll be another year older soon, a year with a lot of mistakes and a lot of successes, but mostly just more wisdom to put into my new pillars. It’s going to be a fun one. 😉

Where am I Amongst my Gods and Spirits?

Where am I amongst my spirits?

The room is crowded with bustling and jostling.

Can I find myself within it?

Next to the advice,

Behind some vows,

Near the offerings.

Am I still there

Or have I melted away

Into the noise of requests and behests?

Perhaps it is time

To declare myself anew.

Beltane 2021

I spent this Beltane in a bit of an unexpected manner. Catching up on reading some posts before bed at 6am, I saw that Silence Maestas had posted here about an online polytheist devotional conference happening later that day (9am my time). So I signed up and set my alarm to wake me less than 3 hours later. It was well worth it.

I’ve been wanting to write new posts, but my April was rather dominated by grief. Many people I know had grief come up. Personally, I was reeling a bit from 3 different people in different areas of my life passing away in the span of 8 days. The first passing I honored in the ways that I felt good about, but I’m still regathering spoons to correctly (for me) honor the other two who have passed.

I did a ritual the night my first friend passed away. April 18th was a Sunday, so I had the evening to gather myself and put something together. I reset my main altar for it, grabbing statues and things off shrines and other altar areas to get it just right. The next day I was rather spent. I had a session with Cris Ashburn (website, patreon). I felt so impacted by my friend’s unexpected death the previous day that I didn’t know what the session would bring. All signs were pointing toward Frigg, a goddess I don’t often encounter. I was both exhausted and up for anything at that point. Cris drummed and held space while I traveled to Frigg. Cris was actually somewhat involved in the journey as well. All I know is that I got to Frigg, blacked out, and came to only when it was time to journey back. Work of some sort had been done, and thankfully I had been able to rest.

My ancestors had sent the message that I could take the day off work if I needed it. I hadn’t called in sick in the three years at my current job, but I was so drained between the recent death and the fact that my uncle was going into hospice that day (he passed away the next evening), that I chose to put my health first. I took two one-hour naps/rests in the sun. When I’m really drained, weather allowing, I lay my quilt out in the backyard and just rest on top of it. Being on the ground and in the sun, letting those things feed me, is a key way of helping to restore my energy.

I was able to take that Friday evening off of work and attend a celebration of life for that friend. By that point my uncle had also passed away. His was a more expected passing, but living in a different state from my family still made it harder than I’d expected. That weekend another friend passed unexpectedly, though technically it was Monday morning when I heard the news.

My altars and shrines were still in a bit of disarray from the ritual I did at the first passing. I didn’t want to reset them completely until I had done a ritual for my other friend, but I didn’t have the spoons. A Heathen spiritworker group I’m in was sharing pictures of their altar and shrine spaces, and I finally decided that it was better to clean things up and just move them around again when I was ready to do another ritual. So I set my shrines and altars back to rights, which was really helpful for my heart. I still did other little rituals and things in that time, but having those spaces torn up did not help me regain any footing.

I got my shrines and altars in a mostly decent state just the day or two before Beltane. Work had felt hard this week, and I was looking forward to the weekend and the start of May. It’s my birth month, so I’m always very biased in it’s favor. I checked my calendar and was surprised to find I had barely anything going on Saturday. I wasn’t purposefully looking to fill my schedule. After all, I’d had to miss some of the recent events I’d signed up for due to everything happening. Recordings of those will be available later, but if I miss the live event, it’s a lot harder for me to remember to make time to watch the recording, especially if I miss one or more days worth of content.

I was a bit surprised that I decided to sign up for the polytheist conference the day of when I say Silence’s post about it. The mention of a godspouse talk (which was very well done, like all of the presentations) had me hooked. Looking briefly at the other content, I felt even more drawn in. I met lovely people, imbibed some excellent content, probably shared a bit more than I needed to at times (my tired self has more trouble censoring and limiting what I share). Even though I took a break in the middle and attempted to rest, I was very worn out by the end. The last bit, a ritual that was done in a really interesting way, reminded me one of the main things Beltane is about for me.

There was a five minute or so period towards the end of the ritual for us to commune with our gods and spirits. I thought I might visit with Hades. I did briefly before going down to my ancestors. Tending my ancestral plants in Hel’s garden. Visiting the cave of my ancestors. I was reminded that Beltane is the other bookend to Samhain, and thus is always a big ancestral celebration for me. It was unexpected and lovely. I appreciated having that space to remember and commune with my spirits in that way.

Asking, Receiving, Giving

Spirit relationships are a two-way street. You give and T/they give. You ask for what you want and need and T/they ask for what they want and need. The idea of giving and asking is not to use the spirit as a vending machine but to build up a connection. Through giving you can express appreciation and affection. Through asking, you can help ensure that you’ll have the internal and external resources you’ll need to keep building the relationship.

Asking and receiving have never been easy things for me. Part of it is bound up in feeling like I have to be independent. Part of it is tied to a feeling of unworthiness to receive. And part of it is tied to knowing the joy and pain of getting what I ask for and simply not trusting myself to make the right request.

As my life progresses, it is becoming more and more apparent that like everyone else in existence, I can’t go it alone. I need support and assistance to do what I want and what is asked of me. Yet the hesitation to express my needs is still very present.

Gebo is the rune that I connect to this two-way flow. It is also a rune I connect specifically to my relationship with Freyja. She is by no means the only god or spirit who has asked me to state my needs, but it does seem an intrinsic part of what she is trying to teach me.

I have realized that in the last 5 or so years (maybe more) I have lost a lot of skill in giving. I am certain that some of this is tied to an unwillingness to receive (which is slowly improving). A brittle stagnation is created when the flow of giving and receiving is halted. As part of releasing this flow again, I find I need to better integrate the pain that came with things I asked for, received, loved, and had to release again.

Water . . . nope, Sacrifice and Self-Love

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Maybe longer since I’ve written anything of substance. It gets frustrating sometimes trying to determine what to share and keeping up the energy to actually share it. So this post is going to be about water.

This is a rather fiery time for me. There is a lot that I need to get done, have needed to get done for a while, but I end up freezing up like a deer in headlights. I have been attempting to focus my practice recently on self-love and feeding my ka. Partly because my spirits have been pushing me to do so, and partly because I know that is what is needed to unfreeze myself.

It all feels a bit awkward. I think some of that is due to out-of-date ideas about how self-love looks that I thought I had already ousted. Self-love is not giving yourself everything you desire the minute that desire forms. As a Taurus (sun and rising), I can be very good at that part. There is a part of self-love that includes sacrifice. Sacrificing for yourself. I had thought this post would be about water deities, but it seems to be taking a turn towards Odin. Okay. I can go there, too.

I invited Odin back into my practice in a more really way this year, and he has accepted the invitation. He told me recently that “Every sacrifice will be repaid,” and it’s had me watching myself more and how I think about sacrifice. I’ve done a lot of clinging in my life, and especially this last year. I’ve bled myself dry in some ways while trying to overcompensate in other areas, but balance doesn’t work like that. I usually prefer the term harmony because I think it better describes the continuous movement of things, but even harmony can’t function when you completely deplete one area.

Like a lot of people, valuing myself in a work in progress. Fear and laziness have both played staring roles in allowing myself to stagnate, but I wonder if there is another player. Do I consider myself worthy of sacrifice? Making sacrifices to improve yourself and your life in the long run is a thing. Maybe even a necessity. I know for different periods of my life, I didn’t consider myself worth the extra effort. It is usually easier in the short term not to make the sacrifices, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s less painful. And I know for a fact that it’s more painful in the long term. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so perplexed about how to feed my ka.

Feeding your ka is a Kemetic idea. Forgive me if I misstate this, but I see it as feeding the part of your spirit that watches over the rest of you. A lot of the things that I would consider to be actual acts of self-love (ie healthy eating, taking a needed nap, time to pursue a loved activity) are all ways to feed your ka. And yet, despite knowing this, I’ve still been perplexed about how to feed me ka. Making an offering to myself. Making a sacrifice for my own betterment. I’m now wondering if that confusion is stemming from a feeling of unworthiness, that my ka doesn’t deserve to be fed if I’m not getting things done, which is just a self-perpetuating circle of yuck.

I brought out an old book today (Tarot Shadow Work by Christine Jette) to do a shadow work spread. It’s been a long time since I’ve used tarot for shadow work. I’ve been trying to avoid and unsee so much of myself that doing a shadow work spread has become necessary. Shadow work helps you to become more mindful of your actions so you can make better choices, but part of that process is looking at and accepting and loving all parts of yourself. You don’t have to like something in order to love it. At least, I think that is true. I’ll have to think about it more. And get on the ka train. My entire spirit family is working overtime to help me out. It’s about time I put in some work myself. Even if that means starting at square one and learning to acknowledge my own worthiness.

A Small Bit About My Ancestor Practice

I’m sure I’ve written about my ancestor practice before, but since I attended a workshop on ancestors run by Sarenth Odinsson today, I figured I might as well do so again. My ancestor practice started while I was taking the intro course to Kemetic Orthodoxy (2014-2015). Part of that course includes setting up an ancestor altar. My memory is hazy about time, but I don’t think it was more than a few weeks after setting the altar up before my aunt sent me a locket that had belonged to my paternal grandmother and originally owned by my grandfather’s mother. (My great-grandmother had it, then it went to her daughter-in-law, my grandmother). My aunt had been slowly going through my deceased grandmother’s things and sending them out, a lot of work when there are over 30 grandchildren. It felt like an acknowledgement that my ancestors were hearing me. The locket contains two pictures of my grandparents, one as a young couple and one after they have gained many grandchildren. It often stays on my ancestor altar when I don’t wear it. It is a touchstone of my ancestor practice.

My ancestor practice and altar have gone through a number of iterations. Currently, the altar is one of the shelves on a tall bookshelf. Tea, water, sometimes alcohol and occasionally food are present. The 6th day of each Kemetic month is considered special for the ancestors, and Kemetic Orthodoxy usually holds an online ritual via discord around that day to mark it. I’ve started attending those again. When I was able to attend group sumbels (a heathen ritual that I did pre-Covid and more easily before my move to Oklahoma), I would honor my ancestors during the round designated for that. I find something special about being able to honor my ancestors in a group setting.

I’ve often felt that my personal practice fell a bit short. At times that has been true. My ancestors have a lot of love and a lot of opinions, and I haven’t always wanted to listen to the latter. They have always graced me with so much support, and I really do love them, so I’m trying to create more bits in spacetime to spend with them. For a while, I was having “tea with my ancestors” every Wednesday. I’d make a cup of tea for myself, another one for them, and sit and chat. It’s no longer on such a set schedule, but I’m trying to do it more often again.

They have made it apparent how much they value it when I speak aloud to them about my life. They are happy to hear about anything that is going on. That is something I used to do much more regularly, so I’m working on remembering to speak aloud more. Driving to and from work provides a small bit of time to catch up. I also have a lot of time during the day where I’m lost in my thoughts, so I’m trying to catch myself more and vocalize some of those thoughts to include my ancestors in the discussion.

Allowing the time to listen has been one of my biggest challenges. My ancestors have a lot to say, and I’m learning that I need to allow them the space (quiet) to convey those things.

I often light a candle and incense for my ancestors, but I do that on another altar or space because I don’t want to catch the bookshelf on fire. Aside from food and drink offerings, my ancestor altar contains a few things that belonged to my ancestors, some funerals cards, and some stories about them that family members wrote. I think perhaps that reading aloud some of those stories/memories might be another good way to connect with them, so I might start doing that. There are a few other things on the altar, and I imagine it will shift again with my next move, but I appreciate having it as a current touchstone in my practice.

Twice a month, as part of Cris Ashburn’s patreon, I participate in journey work that is focused on connecting with my ancestors. Sometimes it takes me in other directions, but the overhead focus is the ancestors. I appreciate this recurring reminder and event, especially when I start to feel too busy to connect. It provides a needed kick in the rear sometimes. It marks off time for them when I don’t, even though taking time for them is as simple as opening my mouth and talking to them. There are a lot of areas I could dive into, such as ancient ancestors, pre-human ancestors, and non-human ancestors, but I think this is enough for now. Thanks for reading.

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