D is for… Doxology

I once had an English teacher who was amused by the fact that an awful lot of the D words in English are negative. And there are a lot of D words in this post.

So maybe it’s a fortunate coincidence that this week I only have negative things to say, even though I usually try to be all sweetness and light here. Well… fortunate for the timing. Not too fortunate for me.

Something I’ve been fighting to have recognized for most of my life, a key thing that’s ‘wrong’ with me, is finally in the process of getting sorted. And I’m not having the reaction I should be having. I’m not happy that they’re finally close to working out what’s up with me. I’m all rage-y.

So here I am, trying to link this to Pagan-type things. Because it’s Friday – not because I want to.

Sometimes things shake you to your core, and there’s not much you can do about that. The rest of the world is unlikely to understand, because it’s about your life – and as much as you can’t share their unique set of experiences, they can’t share yours. And that’s part of the frustration. Sometimes, you really are as alone as you think you are.

There’s also the thing where you hoped having it made ‘official’ would lead to everyone taking you more seriously. And of course, it doesn’t, because now everyone hears a label and has an opinion about it (usually based on stereotypes). I expected that, having encountered it before. That doesn’t make it any easier.

There’s also the thing where learning you’re a ‘textbook case’ makes you realise that they should have noticed a lot earlier. And that makes you look back over your life, and wonder, and wish.

I’m pissed off. At wasted years, and pointless struggles, and destroyed relationships, and interrupted potential, and endless second-guessing, and battered self-esteem, and countless hours of self-reproachment, and the ever-looming black hole of the future, and the neverending desperate doomed struggle to understand myself. Just for starters.

So. Anger.

My previous faith was not so happy with anger. God got to express it – the rest of us didn’t. (In my tradition, at least. There are of course many churches out there where righteous anger is a big thing.) I grew up believing that I had to be nice about it all. About the Christians who tried to cast demons out of me, and the teachers who didn’t know what to do with me, and the friends I lost because I did something wrong that I couldn’t understand was a problem, and the much worse things that I shan’t bore you with. Just trust God, they would say. Hah. Really??

But in fact the Bible is a lot more subtle about it than that. There’s a whole lot of cursing in that good book. (The more bits of hoodoo I learn to play with, which uses the psalms, the more fun I have with that.) My favourite type of psalm involves a long lament, followed by a doxology – a hymn of praise. It’s usually fifty verses of really serious lamenting about enemies, oppression, sickness, death, you know, the small stuff. That’s followed by just one or two verses of praise that, in the praising, re-establish the order of the cosmos. “Yet will I praise you…” Because sometimes, that’s all that can be said. And sometimes, that’s all it takes.

The myths from which I draw inspiration today have a lot of destructive anger flying all over the place. Dian Cecht killing his son and cursing his daughter, from enraged jealousy at their superior talent. Lugh and the sons of Tuireann – they kill his father, he takes extensive revenge, and tragedy is heaped upon tragedy. Macha cursing the men of Ulster, on down the generations, forever. These are my gods. The difference between them and the god I once worshipped? They don’t pretend not to be flawed. They emerge from lands where bloody, endless wars were fought, and where people starved when the harvest wasn’t viable. They are the forces of nature and the spirits of the tribe, and they don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are – power and chaos, and raging sea and roaring tempest, and nightmare and haunting, and plunder and rage.

But sometimes I miss the doxology at the end. A hymn of praise to the universe to round off the story with hope. An invocation of the future.

Which is annoying and typical. I can only do rage for so long before something in my head switches over to ‘a bit zen’.

Damn it.

I’m indulging in some despair. I haven’t been to my shrine in a week (though my ancestors are around). For now, I feel like the universe can fuck off. I suspect my gods are OK with this. As long as I don’t indulge myself forever.

The doxology at the end is the key.


Denominating: Doxology

The storm has a Name.

From its seat of aeons on the horizon it attacks and retreats again and again,
deep purple, flashing lightning, funnelling chaos, lifting sand beneath my feet.
I wait in a house of straw.

The mountain will not be moved by my faith
and the sea will not be turned aside by my prayers.
The harvest does not come for my offerings,
Nor will my supplications win the battle.

And yet in all things may the Creatrix of the mountains,
the raggedy King of sea and storm,
the Smith at the heart-searing forge,
the Warrior at the flooding, rushing ford,
the many-skillled Lord of the dark hills,
and the Queen in the castle that lights the eternal void beyond every tempest
be praised.

I will walk out into the rain.

9 thoughts on “D is for… Doxology

  1. There is power in rage en vengeance, surely, for good or bad. I have been in a rather depressing place in my mind lately, making myself alone, and I need something to shake me up. And sometimes anger is just the thing.

  2. Pingback: D is for… Doxology « Pagan Layman

  3. I apologize if this offends you, but I feel that God (whoever he may be) isn’t afraid to be flawed. The people who worship him made him out to be that way. The humans who wrote the Bible included their points of view, which may or may not have been shared by the majority at the time they were written.

    Aside from all that, I did want to say that I did sort of the same thing earlier this week. I had a “Coffee with Freyja” session in which I made a cup of coffee, set it on my Shrine for Freyja, made myself a cup of coffee, and just sat and told her how I felt at the time. I felt like my spirituality wasn’t being recognized, and I was being pushed into doing something I didn’t want to do. I asked Freyja for help and thanked her for listening (which is sort of a form of praise, right?), then poured out Her mug on the Earth as an offering.

    I felt immensely better after talking to Her. I think there is a human need to express rage, lest it destroys us (when we keep it all inside). So, I guess I’m saying: It’s okay, as long as you don’t let your anger consume you. Express it and move on.

    Many blessings,

    • It doesn’t offend me, and I’m doing a PhD in Biblical Studies and I understand how the Bible was put together – but I’m still entitled to express my experiences of Christianity. It’s opinion, not fact – and it’s about (some of) my personal experiences, *not* the religion as a whole. I’ve had a lot of VERY painful experiences as a result of that religion – some very, very good ones too, but I’m left with strong impressions of the god of that faith which, while solely my own, cannot be ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’. They are my experiences.

      Yes, I think that the expression of anger of this kind can be very creative and useful.

      • No problem – just wanted to be clear. I am sometimes not so good at saying when my opinions are just opinion. I could do better at trying to remember to state when they are :)

  4. It seems to be the case that any genuinely mystical path, whatever the tradition, is diffcult and lonely. And that’s without personal crises getting in the way. Rage can be all consuming, and destructive whether turned outward or in. It vexes me that anger, depression, anxiety, forces that drive, can inspire but also cripple us are emotional forces we get taught to repress, that smiling and stiff upper lips are the norm. I also find solace in the wildness of nature, the lawlessness of my gods and the inspiration of ancestors who have confronted similar problems.

  5. If I need to let the rage out I’ll kick the nearest thing, Lol. That doesn’t happen often though! I’ve come a long way in dealing with my anger, or ‘fury’ as the OBOD course in fire calls I, I used to punch walls, hit tables throw stuff. All of that was destructive and very rarely do I now grab something disposable in order to kick seven levels of shit out of the target (cardboard boxes are great). Fury helps us get things done, even though my house is messy, fury goes into cleaning it so its not dirty. So Anger, channelled properly can be a productive tool.

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