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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. 

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