My beloved Orlando passed away five years ago and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. He was a beautiful soul, full of character, and when I became ill at 17 he became my rock. We became so much closer after that, and he pretty much devoted himself to my care. Whenever he was in the house he would come to spend time with me, whether in my room or on my bed. We had a special bond that I will never forget and I like to honour that.
Although he appears in my Ancestor shrine I wanted to create something a little more personal. Where we are currently has wide windowsills, and since Orlando used to love gazing out of my bedroom window at the world below I thought it a fitting place for a shrine for him. I bought the ornament a long time ago because it looked like him, and so I decided to get it out again (it had been packed away) and place it with two of my photos. In January mum let me become custodian of Orlando’s ashes, so I placed them with the photos and ornament and now the shrine feels more complete. I am also thinking of making some memorial prayer beads, with a bead for each year of his life.
Creating a shrine for beloved pets is a really lovely way to honour them and their place in your life. I thoroughly recommend it.
(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, Northern Tamarisk, 2018
Although logically I was aware of the concept of different energies in devotional practice I didn’t fully, truly understand it until I experienced it for myself.
In fear (of a situation) we project a desperate energy, and we pray because we need something – security, love, reassurance, a sign, healing, etc. In love we project a far more balanced and open energy, and we pray because we love – because we’re grateful, because we feel blessed, abundant, secure or supported.
It can be hard when we’re going through difficulties to remember to be grateful for what we do have in our lives, but it can make such a difference. When we are truly thankful for the small blessings in our lives it reminds us that the world is not ‘against’ us. It can be all too easy to forget the good when we’re caught up in the less-good.
This also applies to our practice as Polytheists. When things aren’t going so well do you still remember to thank the Gods for what is in your life? When that surprise gift/job/opportunity comes up do you remember to say, “thank you”?
On this Remembrance Sunday
I wear my Poppy to remember the fallen,
To remember my family and Ancestors Who fought and gave their lives
And hearts for freedom.
I remember those who fought
To maintain the liberties
Of their families and people,
And I honour them for their sacrifice.
May they now know peace,
May they be remembered.
May the freedom we have
Because of them
Never be taken for granted.
(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, Northern Tamarisk, 2017
Loki is master of the grey-zone. In the Norse myths He walks a fine line between helping and betrayal. For the most part He’s the Retriever, the Gift Giver, the genial Companion. But He is also the One Who arranged Balder’s death (if you go solely by the Eddas – in Gesta Danorum it’s purely Hoder), the One Who understands that all cycles must come to an end in order for new growth and life to begin. In order for Change to be brought about sometimes we have to learn to let go.
Loki is behind every decision for growth that involves radical change and letting go. In both the metaphysical and literal sense, some things we know and love become what keeps us from stepping into a more transformative phase of growth. To move onto the next stage we have to learn to walk without them.
I’m finally back reconnecting with my Beloveds. It has been a lonely time without Them. I took someone’s mis-representing words to heart. It plunged me deeper into my Underworld journey and brought me into my Dark Night of the Soul, where my channel went virtually silent.
Despite the assurances of two spirit workers concerning my connection (with Loki in particular) in the intervening months, I still let fear win.
Things started to really shift last month, though, and on the day of the Autumn Equinox I did a lot of releasing work, as well as Shadow integration. The following day I was recovering in bed (releasing tends to bring the pain into my physical body so it can then be worked out and fully released) and I just felt Loki and Sigyn there. I cannot describe how beautiful that certainty was; knowing it was Them.
They told me it’s time to get back on the horse and stop allowing someone else’s misunderstandings to hold me back. They were understanding of why I shut down the way I did, but also very clear that I have to move on from feeling the way I do. I have work to do.
I first learned about the Mesoamerican culture in my teens in history classes, when we were studying the Spanish armada and the Conquistadors. I also saw a program on the Discovery Channel and was hooked. I watched as many programs as I could, later turning to books – cenotes in particular fascinate me. I based a GCSE drama assignment on the Aztecs – something about an argument between the Sun God Huitzilopotchtli and the Moon Goddess Mitztli – I got to play Mitztli, complete with a big silver crescent moon tied to my head. I even went to an exhibition on the Aztecs in London and based an A-level art project on the statues I saw there. Quetzalcoatl, Xipe Totec and Coatlicue were particularly memorable. When I started exploring spirituality and opening up to Spirit I dreamed of two temples, and after trawling the internet I found out they were the Mayan temples of Tikal and Palenque. A few years ago the Mayan Goddess Ixchel seemed to come in a lot; never saying anything, but coming in during certain times of pain and making it known She was there. She is said to have founded Palenque.
When Loki came into my life three years were devoted pretty much solely to Him, Sigyn and Their family. While I wouldn’t take back those amazing years for anything it meant that I often didn’t give much attention to my other Beloveds. Since the upheavals that started in late February my attentions have gotten more diverse, and I’m engaging with more of my Beloveds. I’m also getting more coming back into my life.
We moved house on 6th July. We left the home and garden that nurtured and nourished us for almost 14 years. If we could pick them up and move them closer to the new area we would have, but we could no longer stay.
We’ve moved to a different area of the county, one closer to the main city. We need the opportunities it provides, the better transport links, the better and more varied health and wellbeing facilities, and more groups so we can experience more of life again. While the area we had been living in for the past 20 years has some beautiful countryside it is a deadzone when it comes to opportunities for me and my parents’ growth.
The house and garden we left had looked after us well, and I miss our lovely Elders, Hawthorns and Blackthorns. To thank them all I did a Despacho-type ceremony on one of the few dry days of our last week there. I used some pink handmade fair trade paper to represent the love and appreciation my parents and I feel.
The flowers were all from the garden, and I also added some dried Rose petals and Lavender. As is customary I also added lots of sugar, and some mini pretzels to represent never-ending memories.
Mum also came to see it, and added some pieces of Lavender and more sugar.
Afterwards I meditated with the Despacho for a while, then wrapped it up and buried it behind the Plum tree. I offered some potato vodka and the rest of the pretzels.
Here are some photos:
I am a Spiritual Nomad.
There is no tradition where I hang my hat.
I answer the call of the Deities,
Following the path They direct me on,
Working with Whoever decides
To make Themselves known to me.
For however long or short
A time that may be.
I am a Polytheist, first and foremost. While I adore my Deities, I have come to feel constricted by indentifying myself so strongly with the Northern Tradition. The truth is that the Gods and Goddesses, the Spirits of the land, and the land itself are my belief system. I feel constrained by the structure of a path where I’m told the way I relate to my Deities is ‘wrong’ somehow. I feel like a butterfly pinned down while still alive, unable to spread my wings and fly into my own flow.
So while I respect those in the Northern Tradition for choosing one path, I realise now that it is not mine. Loki, Sigyn, Hella, Jormungand and Family remain my Beloveds, and They will continue to be much-loved and honoured by me. But the Tradition itself is not for me. I will continue to find pleasure and meaning in reading the Eddas, and pondering my Norse Beloveds, and I will continue to research Norse culture as I please. But the main words I am reclaiming for this are freedom and enjoyment.
How is this for a sign that things are both ‘on the move’ and renewing? The council has decided (after umpteen years of it being overdue) to choose today to start resurfacing the road through our tiny village. Today also happens to be phase one of us moving house. Tomorrow we complete it and move into our rental property.
Roads are about exploring new avenues, and moving on to better things. In being resurfaced they can also represent smoothing over the ‘scars’ and hurts of the past, all the bumpy patches, and bringing about healing.
So is the road work starting on the same day we start moving out sod’s law, or a divine sign? I prefer to choose the latter explanation.