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.
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’.
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.
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
I will walk out into the rain.