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23 August 2013


Someone asked me an unexpectedly great question the other day: 'what symbols are you drawn to (in your spiritual path)?' It's unexpectedly great because it seems like an easy, superficial sort of question until you think about it. Then you realize it's not so simple, or so superficial. Or at least I did. Anyway, here's my response.


So, ten years ago... holy shit, no, more like 20 years ago - good gods I'm getting old... when I first started on the pagan path, I would have said (immediately and without a lot of thought, cuz that's how I rolled then) that I *totally* was drawn to the pentacle and pentagram. Mostly because I started out as a Wiccan, and they - especially the pentacle - were what I knew of as the "Symbols Of Wicca," much as the cross is a Symbol Of Christianity. I thought about is that way - caps and all - because I thought such things were Really Important.

In hindsight - and this is totally a tangent, btw - I think that sort of thinking was/is part of the cognitive legacy of having been a Christian for the first 12 years of my life. The put Caps on a lot of their Ideas. Know what I mean? Anyway, the more I broke with the underpinnings of Christian theology, the farther I got from that sort of thinking. 

Hmmm... the following will make a lot more sense if you know this about me: I'm on a shamanic/Heathen path. I am not Wiccan.

These days, I pick symbols that have personal meaning... which is probably about as clear as mud. So, let me give you an example: Ravens are strongly symbolic to me, and I'm very close to them in the sense that they are a totem animal for me. (There's a kinda long-ish story behind that, which I'd be happy to tell you, but it's totally another tangent so for now I'll just move on.) As a totemic animal, I see them as symbols but not *just* symbols; I have to incorporate all the *real* things about them, too, in order to work with them effectively.

When I work with my gods (I'm a polytheist), I use symbols that are meaningful to them. My 'patron goddess' - if you will - is Hel (aka Hela), so skulls/bones/dead things, but also signs of new life and transition like the remains of bird eggs and nests, or the shed skin of a snake, are all symbols of her. Working with Odin, I use runes, Ravens, Horses, or maybe even a bit of Jack Kerouac's writing... all depends on how I'm approaching him. So the symbols I am drawn to in my work with the gods are dependent on which god I'm working with, and what's important to both me and that god.

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