Meh

The Pagan Blog Project: M is for Meh

Because that’s exactly how I feel right now.  I don’t really feel like writing anything pagan-related.  It hasn’t been in the forefront of my thoughts lately.  And you know what?  It doesn’t have to be.  There’s a lot of other things going on, many good things, some stressful things, and sometimes those things get more attention.

May Meh be a teacher of life balance.

 

Lantern

The Pagan Blog Project: L is for Lantern

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really have a good feel for deities.  The ones I’ve connected with the most are those in heathen traditions.  Today I want to talk about imagery used for deities in my experience.

I’ve used two main image sources for altars: actual physical statues/picture representations and symbolic imagery.  Statues and pictures are nice if you find something (or better yet are able to create something) that speaks to you as authentic in your mind.  I’ve seen people commission artists for portraits to adorn their altars and shrines which can often be much more personalized than ordering one of maybe four designs of a deity’s statue online.  Depending on the deity, you may have more options or much, much fewer.

For me, I find hard images to be helpful if I don’t have a great grasp on the deity.  The face is helpful.  There is of course the drawback though that being fed an image created by someone else, you are going to basically imprint with that specific image in mind.  Still, if the image works for you, use it.  And remember, it doesn’t always have to specifically be a statue or portrait of that deity.  This may go a little into the realm of symbolic imagery, but if you have an image of a character that makes you think of that deity or an unrelated design that just strikes you as perfect, those are perfectly acceptable as well.

I usually enjoy symbolic imagery better for a few reasons.  First of all, I don’t feel as if I’m drawing impressions off of someone else’s idea.  But possibly more important for those who have to keep their pagan life sort of secret, you can be a lot sneakier with symbolic imagery.  And by sneaky I mean you could possibly create a shrine in the middle of your living room without guests or family ever batting an eye at it in suspicion.

The title of this post is “Lantern” because that is one of my main symbolic images.  The first deity I was very drawn to and to this day continue to go back to when I’m lost is Heimdall.  After awhile, I wanted some kind of image of him, but was not satisfied at all with the sculptures available (which are sadly few and far between).  I thought about a Gjallarhorn representation, or something Bifrost-like.  While the horn didn’t really work out, I did end up making a multi-colored tile incense burner for his shrine.  But it was more for him and not for me to use as a way to reach him.

I ended up choosing a lantern because to me a lantern represents vigilance as well as self-knowledge and path-finding.  All three of these things are aspects I see in Heimdall or that he has helped me with.  I like this even more because the lantern I found (pictured above) has a tealight holder in it, so lighting a tealight is sort of like training my mind to get into a different mode.

Each person should really use whatever speaks the best to them.  While I’ve noticed that my symbolic images tend to resonate with me more than the statues or portraits, I know many people really enjoy the more traditional route and get a lot out of it.  But I am also glad that I found something that worked for me.  The lantern has provided a lot of comfort at very dark times.

 

Learning

The Pagan Blog Project: L is for Learning

As I’ve mentioned before, this year my focus is less on deity worship/spirit work and study and more about putting myself back together.  I have a tendency to get swept up in something that interests me to the point that I lose myself either in whatever it is I’m interested in or I lose myself to an idea of myself which isn’t true.  This leads to me going into things that I think should be interesting to me and then being overwhelmed by disappointment when they really aren’t doing anything for me.

I used to mask this issue with learning.  It was like I was a constant student willing and able to learn anything presented to me.  Always the perfectionist and straight-A student, learning came easy to me (and when it didn’t I faked it pretty well anyway).

In pagan studies, there are so many tracks that it’s easy to not know where to start.  But that wasn’t really the issue here.  The issue was more that there were so many images of myself that I entertained that I became fractured.  This is why learning has gotten set aside, at least relevant to paganism.

It may sound really weird to most people how you could lose yourself to ideas of yourself.  I’m not really sure how common this issue is.  For me, I don’t have the most “normal” of emotional interfaces.  I’m extremely non-reactive, or I just react how people expect me to.  (That is until I suddenly overreact to nothing important at all, but anyway.)  A lot of basic human emotion doesn’t really register with me.  This has been pretty normal since I was a child – in fact, my family suspected I had AS, but never got me diagnosed, so here we are today acting like a robot and often being accused of “not liking fun” because I don’t experience “fun” the same way other people do.

Thanks to stunted emotional development, my personality and subsequent social skills have suffered.  It’s manifested as more of what people have made me to be, but housing a will that wants to be something else but doesn’t know what or how to be it.  Because of the emotional and social issues, I have a tendency to mimic what others do if they are a person I admire.  I want to be like that person.  So, for example, if there’s someone I respect a lot in the pagan community, my go-to strategy is to do exactly what they are doing and be exactly like them.

This was a huge tangent for the “learning” topic.  So what’s the point?

The point is that I’m having to change what learning means to me.  Before it has always been what I can learn from a book or a person and their behaviors.  It’s always been show me and tell me.  Now it’s turning in to something else.  I’m having to learn about myself.  This sounds easy to most people who can with confidence say, “I love the color green and mint ice cream is my favorite food and I love to sing.”  It’s not easy for me.  The same list turns into, “Do I like green, really, or did I paint my wall green because someone said it makes a happy house?  Do I like mint ice cream, really, or was that the flavor my best friend in third grade liked and so I liked it because I wanted to be just like her?  Do I love to sing, really, or did I take that major in school because people told me I was good at it and so I went with that?”

It’s honestly been very painful so far.  Things that seemed completely honest and true are staring at me with new faces.  Everything I think I like I have to step back and look at.  Many times I find that it was an idea I was obsessed with, not the thing itself.  The thing itself did not provide enjoyment.  What’s been the hardest part is that somewhere in the past twenty years I seem to have lost most of my ability to enjoy something.  I fall into routines that make me not miserable, but not happy.  But at least they are easy and they make sense.

I feel like this makes me come off as extremely shallow or codependent.  This bothers me because I know I’m not.  I feel much different, I just don’t know how to express the difference.  Often my expression becomes a reflection of the things around me, and that seems to be the biggest issue.  It seems like I just need to cover the mirrors for awhile and learn about what’s within instead of without.