Daring to Dream: An Imbolc Family Adventure

Daring to Dream: An Imbolc Family Adventure

It all started this past winter solstice when Jeff’s youngest daughter told us that she was going to be a dentist.

Actually, what she said was that she guessed she’d have to be a dentist, because everybody knows you can’t make a living as an artist.

Our heads kind of exploded at that point, so what happened next was a bit of a blur. I vaguely remember sitting her down at the kitchen table and asking her why this sudden about-face — she’d been talking about wanting to be an artist for the last several years which, for a nine-year-old, is almost a lifetime. I remember treading carefully, lest I inadvertently suggest that being a dentist wasn’t perfectly okay, too, if that’s what she really wanted. The world needs good dentists, after all. But what the world doesn’t need is a grumpy, jaded dentist who’s secretly always wanted to be an artist instead. That doesn’t end well for anyone.

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Gods Like Mountains, Gods Like Mist

Gods Like Mountains, Gods Like Mist

My gods are not tame. They do not always come when they are called. This is not a failure of ritual or a weakness of belief. It is the nature of my gods. I would no more expect a god to “show up” in my ritual space than I would expect to be able to call a mountain into my living room. That is simply not the nature of mountains. If I want to meet a mountain, I am the one who must move.

Because I do not believe that humans are the only beings with agency in the world, I do not expect my gods to express their agency in the same ways that human beings do. There are gods who forever remain elusive, whose identities shift with the landscape, the seasons and the stars. And there are gods so intimate that they are never really absent at all, and meeting them is not a matter of inviting their presence but rather of quieting my own expectations and learning how to listen. There are gods whose presence looms like a mountain range on the horizon, and gods with(in) whom I walk with grace, my footsteps just one more melody in the great pattern of their being. What does hospitality look like to a mountain? How does a forest speak its mind? What does it mean to invoke a god of mist and sea on a mist-strewn shore?

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The Goddess, the Broom and the Barred Owl, Part 1

The Goddess, the Broom and the Barred Owl, Part 1

As an animist, my relationship with the gods is rooted in my relationship with the land and its many beings. Yet so many of my gods are in exile from the lands of their origins.

What does it mean for an American living in the Pacific Northwest to worship deities of Ireland and Wales? In part, it means that many of my gods are — like myself — pilgrims and strangers in a new world, still finding their feet and learning what it means to move in this new land with grace and respect. Their lessons today are often lessons of ambivalence, dislocation and longing. For me, no goddess has been more insistent in her teaching than the flower-faced maiden, Blodeuwedd.

Who is Blodeuwedd? She is a goddess of dangerous innocence, an innocence so pure that it threatens to undo our easy assumptions about the world and our place within it.

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In Praise of Boring Sex

In Praise of Boring Sex

I wasn’t exactly having any raging hot sex in my mid-twenties. What intimacy there was to be snatched between caffeine-addled swing shifts was difficult and desperate, and always over too soon. Why should love be so hard? The world seemed full of impervious surfaces — concrete, steel and glass — against which there was nothing to do but rip myself ruthlessly open to the possibility of contact. To make the foolhardy choice to stay soft and tattered; to refuse to be ground smooth into something polished, invulnerable, inhuman. To choose, each time, to throw myself once more into the harsh, cold waters where the restless waves broke against the rocks.

Which might be why, these days, I am still so often surprised by the utter heart-wrenching gentleness of quiet, boring sex. It is a blessing I am still getting used to.

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The Pulse of Autumn

The Pulse of Autumn

Why should our communion with the beloved dead depend on the coincidental turning of the Earth on its axis? Why should we not always be in touch with those who have crossed the threshold, in touch with our own mortality and death? One might as well ask why the angle of the sun should sometimes grace the crocuses and wet new buds of spring and at other times drop down heavy and hot into the deepest reaches of summer lakes, why childhood should burst with curiosity and buzzing movement and adulthood settle into the long, gentle pull of days one after another beneath a bright, cool sky. The truth is, I suspect, that there is no Other-world. That we live in this one world, together with the dead and the long-departed, drinking in the same gulps of breath as they once drank.

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Nature and the Awe of Childhood

Nature and the Awe of Childhood

Maybe I was a weird kid, more enamored, more sensitive than most, and as I’ve grown up, my perspective has changed and evolved. But that this is true only convinces me all the more of how important it is to appreciate the diversity of experiences and the many voices that strive to share them, and not to be too quick to dismiss certain experiences or perspectives as less valuable or insightful than others.

Is there only one way to appreciate nature? I can’t believe there would be just one.

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