Racial & Cultural Boundaries

On the surface, I appear to be a late teens to mid twenties, black female. In reality, I am a multi-cultural female knocking on the door of 30.

The fact remains, though, that I was raised black. What that means, in my particular experience, is that I wore black girl hair styles. My family was stereotypically black (hair, mannerisms, music preferences, slang and vocabulary use, etc.).

But from a young age, I didn’t identify with the “typical” traits of “blackness”. I didn’t reject anyone that did. But I didn’t.

Beginning with my extended family, I heard from a young age that I was “the least black” of all of them. Or that I was “white-washed”. All I knew at that time was that it meant I didn’t fit in; I was out of place in my family. I spoke clearly and didn’t use much slang. When I did it was words like “dude” and “cool”. I enjoyed reading and had a large vocabulary for my age. I was quiet and polite. Gentle, considerate, and compassionate. I was emotionally sensitive and didn’t take well to ribbing, teasing, or bullying.

I heard it again and consistently when I got to school. White friends would tell me how much more black they were than me because I didn’t know of this or that rapper. Or because I didn’t know anything about gang signs or colors. I came to take pride in being the token black friend in the group. I made jokes before anyone else about the lack of people of color at social gatherings. I wore jeans and screen tees. I read comics. I enjoyed pop music. I excelled in school and had no rhythm when it came to dancing. The only notches I could punch on my “black card” were my inescapable hair texture and my inability to swim.

Somehow these things could quantify how much I belonged – or didn’t belong – to my race.

Only just this year with the current climate of American society and what our present “leadership” represents, I’ve begun to really look at how that’s shaped me. I realized that I had allowed myself to be isolated from my own racial heritage.

I had a moment of crying out. This overwhelming grief overtook me and I felt the need to grieve for everything I had denied myself. I made a conscious decision to embrace those parts of me. I shaved my head to remove the processed and heat treated hair that I had clung to. I listened to music that I realized I had been refusing to listen to in fear of seeming “too black”.

And that’s where it stopped. What else could I do to “be more black”? 

I began looking at my beliefs. The magic I do, the Gods I worship – all of them are, pointedly, not black. While people of Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean are arguably people of color, it wasn’t what I was striving for. I was searching for my blackness and coming up a bit too pale.

I began researching African Deities, Haitian Voodoo and Folk Magick. Nothing pulled me. Nothing drew me in or made to embrace me.

The Greek Gods had called to me from childhood. Years before I ever heard the word Pagan I knew they were real and True. I simply assumed them long gone or otherwise inaccessible.

So why not the Gods of my ancestors?

Fast forward to a few months later when I discover that my maternal grandmother is half white. German from her mother’s blood. Something we don’t currently know from her father’s blood. She’s a quarter Cherokee. Again from her mother’s blood. And from her father, she gets blackness.  My maternal grandfather and my father’s blood seem to carry the rest of my blackness (my father’s blood may hold more secrets).

If magic is genetic, I get it from my mother’s blood. She told me stories of my grandma’s Voodoo when she was growing up. My aunt worked her craft in her own way. And here I am.

So, after all this, I find myself wondering. To what roots is my magic tied? Which of my ancestors calls me to Work?

I’ve accepted, at long last, that I’m black no matter how I speak, think, dance, dress, or wear my hair (though I’m determined to discover how the hell my natural hair actually works).

But I find myself frustrated. I look to the Pagan community for a reflection of myself somewhere and I dont see it. I find the same judgements from the Hoodoo sisters saying I’m disgracing my black blood by worshipping blue eyed Gods. The white women I know shout at me to embrace Osha in place of Persephone and Poseidon, to get to know Her. But does she want to know me? Is the power of my Gods lessened by O/our lack of physical similarity?

And now, I’m being drawn to answer the shamanic call that I keep putting off and I find yet again that it’s not born of African roots. Not even Native American roots like so very many others. It’s those far removed, Northern roots calling to me to pick up and finish the stang I made 3 years ago.

But my skin is dark. My hair is kinky and coarse. By all obvious judgements, I’m black. What place do I have in Northern Tradition Shamanism? And if there is a place for me, am I afforded the right to adapt the tradition to my own path? Or is my place so privileged that to make changes would be disrespectful?

I find myself in a position where I can’t accept the call without more clarification. But not accepting the call has it’s own consequences.

If this is the first dilemma I face in this, I might come to dread the ones that follow.

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Recovering from a Spiritual Fall

Since about September I’ve been on a journey that I always seem to find myself on. Like I’ve taken the fork in the road back around to where I just was.

The best way I can describe a Spiritual Fall is when you let Ego, in one way or another, blind you from the direction you had set your intention to go. A lot of times you hear or read about people whose egos became inflated; they get full of themselves or ahead of themselves and find that life has put a pin right where they couldn’t see they needed it.

In my case, my ego has a tendency to deflate before it ever reaches its ideal capacity. Unfortunately for me, this latest deflation happened somewhere along my path to Priestesshood. The fall has been something like falling down a dark, sound proof shaft and every once in a while gurgled voices and static come through.

Recently I visited an old blog that I desperately wish I could somehow merge with this one. I was reminded of my first experiences on my Priestess walk and my invitation into Persephone’s chamber. I reached a level of awareness and appreciation that I didn’t know could be reached.

Recovering from my spiritual fall is proving to be difficult and awakening, as you might expect. Persephone is encouraging me with Her patience but still keeping me on my toes with Her silence.

Poseidon still appears to be contemplating where He would like to fit in in this particular scenario, as He was when it first began. I get the impression that the formality of Priestesshood isn’t something He had considered before Persephone entered O/our life. Though I imagine W/we will find unity in the end.

Currently I feel like I’m making my way back through the paces of my early studies in Paganism. I’m back to Tarot basics and reconnecting with my sacred tools and symbols. I’m thinking heavily on my beliefs and my views of the Gods.

The true challenge of this recovery isn’t so much getting back on track, but learning to stay there and continue moving forward.

Dreamless Nights

It’s been a couple of months since the last time I remembered a dream. Before that, it was even longer. I wish it had been a profound and revealing dream that I could have woken from to say “aha!” or “that’s the answer!”.

Instead it was an off dream about reuniting with the last person I was in a relationship with. There was a recollection of days gone by and, I think, a mutual understanding that it was the best thing for us both at the time. 

Generally, the dream had that fuzzy feeling to it, like when you’ve slept just the tiniest but longer than you should have but you don’t exactly mind.

I’m hoping this will become a regular thing again (remembering dreams in general, not particularly about exes). I feel as though a piece is missing or that I’m not rested when I wake and haven’t gotten enough sleep.

It draws my mind back to Persephone and her dealings with the Lotus Eaters. And to Poseidon who has always helped sway me to sleep during times of continued sleeplessness.

Spring is around the corner and the great awakening of life will take place. As Persephone makes her return to light I hope she’ll bring with her a flower for me. One drenched mostly in red to bring me back my dreams.

15 Years

I’ve been doing some reflecting on where my path began lately and realized that this year marks 15 years since I began a journey of self discovery through Paganism. I’ve written before, I think, about how my path began when I read The Odyssey for the first time in my junior high school library. It was a crackly, blue, hardcover book that the librarian told me hadn’t been checked out since she had been working there.

I checked it out several more times that school year and sought it out the next year to find that it had been swept away with the other unpopular books. I moved on to reading everything I could find about the ancient Gods and was overjoyed whenever my Ancient History class touched on the subject.

I didn’t know then that I’d been on this path now. I didn’t even know the term Pagan or that it was an available path to follow.

All I knew was that the God of The Bible was not the only to receive love and honor. I had tried to give Him my love and I had tried to receive His, but I never felt Him. There was never a connection.

I searched endlessly for that connection until I was 18, spending my days and evenings wandering the shelves in the local Borders bookstore day after day reading (but not buying…) their books on Greek Mythology, when I discovered the metaphysical section and learned that people worshiped, loved, and honored these Gods and others like Them.

I took a chance and began talking to Them like I had tried to talk to the God of The Bible. I spoke, I wrote, I thought, and I began meditating for the first time. And I waited.

At the time I was an avid writer and was working tirelessly on a comic book script. My time spent searching for the presence of these new-old Gods was focused on finding Apollo. So when the first signs came to me I knew it must be Him. I grasped firmly to that idea for a year, wondering why I didn’t feel fulfilled in that aspect of my spirituality.

Then He came to me. Bold and strong. Dark and awe inspiring. My loosely Christian upbringing led me to interpret His signs as those of Hades. Dark, smoldering, with a “pitchfork” of sorts in His hand. His patience was endless as I tried convincing myself of who He was, but He wasn’t.

While Hades lent me His council on many things during this time as I gave Him praise Poseidon sat closely by my side, whispering truths. And when I finally welcomed Him in my heart, He left a place for Hades that would be filled by His Lady Persephone in the next couple of years.

Throughout that time I sought council and learned lessons from the Gods – some Greek, some Egyptian, some Norse. There are still whispers from some, God or otherwise I’m not sure, that I haven’t yet clarified. I’ve met guides and spirits in passing and welcomed my One, Sunrise, into my life.

My depression still sometimes interferes with my ability to connect to the Gods and to nature (and to myself and the people around me, for that matter), but along with my daughter, the Gods help me to work through it and continue on this path.

Struggling

My depression and anxiety have been alarmingly bad lately. I’m struggling to connect with my daughter, my self, and my Gods.

I’m so far from my usual self, let alone the person I’m working so hard to become. It’s frightening. For the past 2 weeks I’ve made no strong effort to seek guidance from Poseidon or Persephone.

As I’m writing this I’m hoping it’s not an effect of separating from the bond I had been developing with Hekate, but I don’t think she’s spiteful in this way.

Today, moments ago actually, I reached out to Persephone. I saw a shower of flowers in the cave like dwelling where I visit her and was overcome by tears. It was so strong and sudden that I immediately pulled out of the meditation.

Why do I not feel like I’m ready for this experience? Is it some deep rooted healing? Am I in such bad shape that she would be so forceful in her cleansing?

I fear I may be and I fear I may not be able to handle such a healing at this time, no matter how much I may be in need of it.

((Somewhat of a ranting blurb, but I felt the need to share this.))

One and Only – so far

Spirit guides seem to be the hot topic this full moon and it calls to mind – and heart – my Soul Sister. 

I’ve had experiences with spirits and other nom-Deity entities in the past, but I have one guide who has been embedded in my spirit.

I found her at a time when I was having experiences that were pointing me toward possibilities in therianthropy. I never found any conclusions there, but I did find her.

I went to a drum led journey ritual at a local sacred land site. I had my doubts about the group I was with and the fellow leading with his Drum, but my doubts turned out to be unfounded.

I journey to a site of personal power and burrowed into the Earth until it gave way before me into a downward winding path. At the bottom I found her there, lounging amongst her tumbling Cubs. 

I don’t think my eyes ever left hers, nor hers mine as we stared into each other.

Her fur was like flames in the darkness. A large and royal beast. Full of strength and wisdom. Grace and compassion. 

My Tiger stared into and dared me to turn in fear or rediscover doubt. I’m so grateful to have found her that night.

She’s been by my side through health failure and depression. Child birth and self discovery. Now she’s with me through motherhood and the return of health and depression issues and I don’t know if I could keep going through without her. I turn to her and find reassurance in her gaze. Reality in her growl. Strength in her silence.

On this full moon I dedicate the light in the sky to her as The Lighthouse Moon. No storm yet has run me aground with her lighting my way.

Self Discovery Through Journaling

Journaling used to be something I did when I was down. I journaled regularly from around 7 or 8 years old all the way through life. Mostly it was text. Pages and pages (and pages…seriously I wrote a lot in one sitting) of emotional text. I would write and it would sit on the page and fester.

They say there’s no wrong way to journal but, for me, that was the wrong way. I spilled everything onto the page without processing my feelings.

When Hekate entered my life this year She set me on a journey to find the right way. First with bullet journaling. I learned to organize all the things in my head without being too restricting. Tasks, events (what few I may have), journaling, and the endless supply of random ideas I have. All in one place.

I became comfortable with the my junk drawer of a mind and fell into an easy step with my bullet journal. Hekate led me by the hand (tugging at me a little to keep up…because She’ll do that) to the point in my journey where I now rest comfortably: traveler’s notebooks.

The method is simple -small notebook “inserts” placed into a simple cover via elastic bands- and the system of bullet journaling can still be applied. I tackled the DIY lifestyle and made my own notebook cover and inserts (after much trial and error even still). My traveler’s notebook has become more than “the thing I journal in”. It’s a companion, a friend, and assistant. 

Like a horcrux, but without the murder and the evil. A piece of me lives in it.

I’m finding that this is increasingly more true as I move forward with this style of journaling. At this stop on the journey, Hekate has shown me that journaling does not need to be frantic words that I spill onto the page without thought. It can be a tool for discovering myself not only later, but as Im journaling. It can be artistic. Visual. Interactive.

Ah, yes. Art journaling is where I have found myself from following behind Hekate’s billowing cloak.

I have never considered myself an artistic person. I used to cringe at the sight of any doodle, sketch, or handcrafted artwork of mine, be it traditional or digital. Now I look at my journal pages with watercolors and collages and I’m inspired and grateful to have discovered this ability, this piece of myself that I had never met before.

I find myself needing fewer words to express my thoughts and emotions. I react to my thoughts as I place them on each page and record them in turn. I draw conclusions and find solutions without brewing over my frustrations for days on end.

And at this stop, Hekate has gotten off the journey. Perhaps only for the time being.

Poseidon never made me choose but I’ve come to understand that I did so anyway. I didn’t put Him in a position to have to ask me to choose. Now Hekate lurks around the edges, patient, perhaps, for me to call on Her again.

I feel the openness of the space that W/we had made for H/her and I know that now W/we have to fill it back in. My pace has faltered from losing this Friend. This Guide. This Wise Woman who showed me my own hands and let me see their beauty.

I feel no malice from Her, but I know that if and when the time comes that I return to Her, it better be bearing gifts and marks of progress.