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22 September 2014

equinox reflections on Hel, and death as duality

"If there is spirituality in nature, it is in the sublime purity of wild roses and wild mushrooms in mossy woods and the vitality of deer nibbling kelp on the beach and the violet light of an oncoming storm and, equally, in the anarchy and filth of the spawning grounds, in the undoctored real of the ever-dying world...

Nature is not simply done to. Nature responds. Nature talks back. Nature is willful. We have no dominion over the wild darkness that surrounds us. It is everywhere, under our feet, in the air we breathe, but we know nothing of it. We know more about the universe and the mind of an octopus than we do about death’s true nature. Only that it is terrible and inescapable, and it is wild."

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Some things, we know.
Some things, we know as pagans.
Some things, we know as pagans who follow Hel.

The two sentiments quoted above are both from the same article. The author is facing the world knowing she has very little time left in life. Soon she will cross over to wild death's hands.

Roxy, my ancient boxer, is approaching that same door, though I'm not sure she knows it. I'm not sure she doesn't know it, either. Maybe, like the salmon in the article, she seeks it instinctively and defiantly. Mostly, she seems very tired.

Equinoxes are balancing times; the Autumnal Equinox turns our faces toward death. The natural world becomes darker and more deadly, and living things prepare for the cold wait til spring. This is the turning point in the year's balance. Life and death hold equal sway, today.

Hel is spoken of, almost entirely, as a 'goddess of death'. We discuss how death and life are entwined and interdependent, and we comment on Hel's appearance as being half alive and half dead, all in various terminology. Then, we name her Death. This is not inappropriate, as long as we recall that death is life, and life is death. When she collects our souls in her realm, she does so at the time our wyrd dictates, never early, never late. Her timeliness - her balance - marks her as a preserver of life, until that moment when death holds more sway than life. At that moment, she preserves death. Always, she is both. Ultimately, she is a perpetual equinox, inescapably balanced. 

19 September 2014

coming home to Hel

During the lunar eclipse last spring, I dedicated my home to the service of Hel. Then I decided to move. The two events were not causally related. 

In the weeks before moving, dead things began appearing on my doorstep. I mean that literally, and no, I do not have a cat. A hummingbird, perfectly preserved in flight-like posture, was laid in the center of my back step one morning. A bumblebee curled hollow on my windowsill, outside after a rainy night. Et cetera. 

I thought it an odd coincidence.

I - we, the denizens of my new home - have not yet done any sort of ritual blessings or dedications for this new house. 

Lately it seems that "death's door is flung wide open" - a quote I'm stealing from a friend of mine. And probably these many deaths - in my presence, in my community; our small town has lost so many over the past few months - are nothing to do with my springtime dedication to Hel. 


I feel myself called back to Hel. 
Not that I had ever left, but I have been focused on other things beside my spirituality - moving, for instance. The pull of my spiritual path has been strengthened by a tie recently cut, that held me - somewhat - away from pursuing my faith in the manner I would chose for myself. That is, I've cut ties with the coven I was a member of. 

Technically speaking, they cut the ties. They sent me an email, addressed to the entire coven, that detailed a list of complaints about my lack of attendance. I hadn't made it to all the meetings during my move. ...Before I allow this to devolve into sarcasm, I'll just say that it's for the best. The coven's spiritual path had never truly been my path. 

Mostly because I'm not Wiccan, and they were (they don't call themselves that, but they use all Wiccan books and rituals and believe that all gods are essentially the Consort and all goddesses are essentially the Lady. As a result, they don't bother getting to know the gods they call on, beyond a cursory internet search for relevant myths. So, yeah. Duo-theism. Is that a word?). Anyway, I'm a polytheist. My gods are separate entities. I anthropomorphize them like crazy, because it makes it easier to think about them, but really - if I really get down to it - I think of each as a separate energy with its own traits. So anyway, tangents aside, my reverence of Hel, or any other of the individual gods I work with, doesn't mesh well with their 'all goddesses are one goddess, who is the source of life' thing. 

So anyway.
I'm not in a coven anymore. 
This gives me more time to pursue my personal spiritual path. And ironically, will leave me more time to mentor my mentee from the coven. But that's another post. Is 'mentee' a word? I'm out of writing practice... 

And now I've circled back around to Hel. 

I'm not quite prepared to establish an altar in the new house, mostly because I don't know where to put it. So my house does not yet have a sacred space. My old house had become a sacred space in its entirety; I'm still searching out even one altar surface in this house. 

The house is still coming together as a living space. I have to be patient.  

For the moment, it's enough to know where I'm heading: home to Hel.