Friday, July 31, 2009

Conversation with Idunna

Because it might make me feel better, and because I don't want to forget...

Last night, Idunna came to see me while I was driving to work. She does that sometimes. I think she likes the quiet in my van. She can be soft spoken, you know.

Idunna came to tell me to stop feeling guilty and worrying so much about things that are out of my control. I did a lot for a lot of people in the past year, and it is not my burden to bear when help is not taken in the manner in which it is given. You can't make people heal. You can't solve anyone's problems. I did my best with what I had and that is all that anyone can honestly expect from me. Yes, I have made mistakes, but don't wallow in them; learn from them.

I asked her why I am so sad, if I have done good works for others? I asked her why I feel so abandoned? I even had the nerve to ask her where yhey (the Gods) had been during all of this, and why it took them so long to do anything?

She paused and said, "42."

Why do all the Deities in my life think they are hilarious?

"Seriously," she said. 'Because just like help from humans, people do not always take what We give them."

"What about the children?"

"They have lessons and wisdom to gain from all of this. All things that happen to you can be used later for the benefit of others."

"That's not very comforting."

"Do you really want to know these answers?" --this is a trick question. Apparently, you are supposed to say, "no."

"We Gods, as you call us, find ourselves oftentimes waiting for you. Sometimes, we help without being asked because we are with you and will do our best to protect you. Sometimes, you didn't know you were in need of help. But sometimes, we help because we can see what needs to be done and are tired of waiting for you to ask. You ask why you feel abandoned. When was the last time to you came to me, or any of your other Gods? It's alright. I know you have been with Freyja. You needed to learn to fight. I think if you look, really look, you will see that more often than not, the thing holding you back is you."--ignoring this 2X4 for now.

"But those children--"

"Are with Frigga. Do you not trust her to care for them, no matter where they are? Is that not why you dedicated someone else's children to her." --Apparently, this is usually not cool.


"You did everything you could think of in your power to help them. Let us do our part, as well."

"I have one more question, but you may not have the answer."

*raised eyebrow*

"Mannanan mac Lir came to help those children. Frigga practically told me she was taking them. Freyja stood beside me and gave me strength and endurance. You have brought me healing. Where are my Olympians?"

"You have said yourself that you sensed them moving further away from you. You have spent eight years with them, yes? Perhaps there are others from whom you need to learn right now. Besides, I think you know whom they are with right now. I hear you have taken up the amber?"

"Yes, funny you mention that. Is it always--"

"Yes. You'll get used to it in time. Not everyone can wear the amber, you know. I suspect you will have no problems."

"I'll do my best."

"Ok, now get to work. Stop worrying and stop wallowing in your over-active empathy. And come visit. You know what they say. An apple a day..."

And she was gone.

Ok, I do feel better. I have a lot to think about and a lot for which I should spend more time being grateful. I am not pleased with my recent trend towards giving in to negative emotions, but I have been so drained that I let my guard down. Hail Idunna for snapping me out of this!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A letter I sent to one of my DP Mentees.

The following is part of an email I sent to one of my DP students. I welcome any and all thoughts about this, as long as this conversation remains civil. I, like everyone else, had a moment at which I needed to decide if ADF was the right choice for me. It was not a decision I made lightly, and I finally made my choice based on much prayer and divination and loads of thinking and soul-searching. Ultimately, I decided that ADF is the place where I want to make my spiritual home, and here is why:

Off the record, I wanted to tell you about my view of ADF and why I decided to stay. My first disappointment with ADF was a lot like a child coming of age and realizing for the first time that their mom/dad wasn't perfect. It was quite a blow, and made me question everything else they told me that I took to be truth verbatim. I eventually learned that their intentions were good, even if they weren't always right. More importantly, I learned to do a lot of thinking for myself, which lead to disagreements and mismatches of opinions as I became a teenager.
Many of the issues I disagree with in regards to ADF as a whole are some of the very things that keep it from turning into an organized national church with a dogma. It took me a while to understand this.
I said, "Am I doing this right?"
They kept saying, "If you are doing, you are fine. Right Action! Piety!"
"Doesn't it matter what I do?" I asked.
"Yes and No," they said. "When you understand that answer, you will understand the nature of the organization as a whole."
Yes, it matters what I do. No, ADF doesn't care what I do. I can do whatever I want, but anything that falls outside of the defined Core Order or IE studies is not "ADF." I can write, perform, sing, wear, go, do, or say anything I want, as long as it is pleasing to my personal Gods and the relationships I have with them. It doesn't matter if they agree, and there is no set one right way to do anything, which means there is no set one right answer to any questions I ask. It is frustrating, but it needs to be so. How else can we get a Celt, a Greek, a Roman, a Heathen and a Vedic all in one rite and happy about it?
One of the reasons we have such a hard time getting study groups and other resources together is because there are always a lot of people who disagree about what we should be teaching folks, if we should even be teaching them at all. All of the study groups mediated by the Mentors or other ADF officers in the past have fallen apart. In addition, the presence of "authority figures," for some reason, puts quite a few people immediately on edge.
ADF, to me, is a common thread used as a unifying factor between an otherwise highly diverse group of people. There can be study groups, and these groups can be facilitated to start relevant conversations and keep people relatively focused, but there can't really be "teachers," not in the truest sense of the word. ADF can't be taught. ADF must be experienced. ADF wants us to think for ourselves and frowns upon taking anyone's word verbatim without checking the source of those words. And even still, as we learn more about the past and the Kindred, our views and words may change, and that needs to be happening constantly. The organization needs to be solid enough to provide a base structure but fluid enough to change with the seasons. ADF will truly be broken only if it stagnates. That's what happened to the Christian faith. They found their rock and set it down. They built a building (box) around it and cut it off from everything else. The world changed and new discoveries were made about the way things really were in the past, but no! They can't fit those ideas into the box their rock is in. So it stagnates.

I hope that this will show you where I stand, and why I choose stand here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Me and my guitar. Random Thoughts.

I was thinking about guitar and festivals, and I have some thoughts. I have been to only two ADF festivals, last year's Summerlands and this year's Wellspring. Both were a load of fun, but there wasn't much opportunity for random guitar playing. I certainly had time to play by myself at Summerlands last year, but I had to travel away from my campsite. It was very quiet over there, and people were always sleeping. Who goes to a festival to sleep? I didn't want to play too close to a workshop, which is where most of the people not attending were sitting. I tried to play a little in one group between workshops, but the people there didn't seem interested, and actually seemed rather annoyed because they were talking. Hehe, I can imagine their reaction if I would have actually sang. Boy, am I loud! And the drum circle was full of very enthusiastic drummers who played for hours. Not that I am complaining. It was amazing! Just not conducive to guitar playing.

Wellspring didn't leave me with much time to randomly play guitar. There was a lot going on. I had surprisingly little time to sit with the Cranes, let alone play guitar. Plus, I lost my capo, and the one I borrowed from Ian was on loan for only a short time, since he needed it, too.

I hear all these tales of folks singing around the fire and playing music on into the night, and I really want to be a part of something like that. When we go camping as a family, we habitually end up with a full audience and even get participants from other camps who have brought their instruments as well.

I think one of the reasons for my habitual disconnect with other ADF folks (and sometimes even the Cranes) is because I relate to people through music. It is a need of mine. Without it as a bond, I have a hard time making a connection. My guitar really has become an extension of myself. I use it to pray. I use to celebrate. I use it to mourn. I use it to relax. I use it to wake me up. I use to wind down. I find comfort and strength in it's tones. I love to play. Music is such an ingrained part of my life that without sharing it with someone, I don't really feel that we know each other very well--or at least that they don't know me.

The Bear-Man is probably my closest Cranie-kin. He's also been privy to all of the songs I have written for ADF purposes before anyone else. Heck, I even wrote one for him! Ris and Paul had a couple of get-togethers at their place to which I brought my guitar and shared quite a few pieces with them and their guests. I feel much closer to those people who were there, and the rest of my relationships are almost stagnating. I spent some time trying to figure out why and these are the conclusions I made. Just some random thoughts about me and my quirky personality. Some people you get to through their stomachs. Me? You get to me through my guitar...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rough times going around.

So many thoughts running around in my mind. Where to begin? With the autistic child who laid his head in my lap and fell asleep, after spilling a smuggled bottle of bubble solution on my bed and a bowl of dry cereal behind my nightstand? I could sing of my beautiful daughter who brought me the most gorgeous little flower from outside because she said it was pretty like me, after I cleaned up the carrot shavings from the carrot she peeled after lunch. I can rave about my eldest son's uncanny ability to give me a random hug when I am in need of one, regardless of the fact that I raised my voice at him thirty minutes prior because his laundry basket was dumped into the hallway--the clean laundry. I may decide that I want to talk about the subtle way I am reminded exactly where my place is--and remembering what size my breeches are, so to speak. Mine own thoughts are plotting.

So many people dear to me heart are having a rough time about things. Life is hard sometimes. Life is cruel. People are cruel, and commonly extensively so. How do you tell someone who won't hear you that she is beautiful? How do you tell someone whose own thoughts are too loud to listen when you praise her intellect? How do you show someone who has made himself blind how talented he is? And how do I open myself so I can hear the good things people are saying about me? I wonder; I wonder.

I wish that people would just say what they mean. I wish that people would mean what they say. I wish that people talked to one another the way they wish to be talked to in return. I wish for loads of things that I have no control to change. I do, however, have complete control over one thing in this world--and that is my reaction to them. To those who tear me down, even passive-aggressively. To those who speak words that are intended to diffuse a situation but somehow alienate me. To those who undermine me to get ahead. To those who have something to say about my child and try to give me advice, though many of them have no children and can't possibly know what it is like to be where I am. I choose to live with grace and sanity. I choose to be kind and thoughtful. I choose to persevere in the face of adversity. And above all else, I choose love and loyalty, friends and family, kin and Kindreds, for these are what really matter to me. I think I made good choices.

You are good enough; these things just take time. You are beautiful, and I wish the opinions of strangers didn't effect you so deeply. You are extremely talented, and I am sorry if I have taken you for granted or held you back in any way. You are loved, and I know that is not enough, but I hope it will hold you over, at least long enough to get some sleep tonight. I love you all. I can be strong enough for us all. Lean on me, and I will hold you, but when you can stand on your own again, don't forget the rock beneath your feet...