Pagan Paths

A twisting (and sometimes twisted) exploration of devotion, seership, hearth witchery, and spirit work.

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Spinning all of the Things

Summer has reached full boil here in Eugene, with temperatures climbing into the mid to high nineties—and it's only July 2nd! Our animals are miserable in the heat, and my partner and myself only slightly less so. I know you east coast denizens out there are rolling your eyes at me, and I do understand; I am from Pennsylvania originally and I realize that one month of sweltering, killing sun beats eights months of stagnant humidity. But the heat kicks some of my health issues into high gear (while somewhat alleviating others, and then in the cool weather this situation reverses itself; I can't win!) so while I am not intending for any of my blogs to be on strike this month, the heat has me feeling somewhat more introspective and less verbal than usual.

That said, I'm very pleased that the first installment of my “Baby Heathen/Odinist” series has garnered so much positive attention, and I will be continuing the series very soon--never fear—but in the meantime I wanted to share an anecdote. This blog is called Threads for a reason: because although many of the posts seem to wander off in their own direction they are all part of the central fabric that forms my life, and the other day I was struck by how cohesive that weaving is, even when I am occasionally tempted to think otherwise.

To backtrack a bit, I have probably mentioned before that when I first married Odin a little more than a decade ago He insisted I be very public about our relationship right from the start. That insistence was not a happy situation for me, as there was very little talk about such things as godspousery (or even spirit work, in the terms it is now discussed) back then, and thus very little in the way of support for newbies. (And while Odin had been in my life since my childhood in various guises, I had yet to meet anyone else involved with Him, and I hadn't even figured out who He really was until recently.) I was living in Philadelphia, and other than Jolene and a handful of Norse-friendly witches the only other Heathens I knew of were part of the fairly conservative northeastern Asatru community, and while I wouldn't say I met with derision and scorn across the board (and in fact, several notable members of that community eventually came to admire my devotion, and told me so), there was a fair share of understandable skepticism. It would have made my life a whole lot easier, in terms of being able to worship and socialize with people who were devoted to the same gods as me, had I been able to keep the more witchy/magical/godspouse core of my life private.

But as many of you are no doubt aware, Odin doesn't do easy. And each and every time I tried to underplay my relationship with Him in order to better “fit in,” He made sure it was paraded out into the open all over again.

Well, flash forward to now. I am a public polytheist and witch, and while not a “big name” pagan by any means my Wordpress blog has garnered a good bit of popularity in the past few years, having hit the milestone of 500+ subscribers just this week. However, as you know if you've read the intro text for this  blog, I am also a heathen artisan, and I'm far more new to that than I am to being a godwife, new enough that I often catch myself feeling like an imposter, like I'm not a “real” fiber artist, when confronted with people who are lucky enough to be plying (pun intended) their craft full time. Recently—in the wake of my growing realization that Making is central to my spirit work path—I made the decision to begin seriously pursuing it as a full time occupation as well, and to work at turning my little hobby business into a profit-making enterprise. But one of the difficulties I faced was my shortage of contacts in my chosen field; while I am fairly immersed in the pagan blogosphere online, I had yet to interact with any fiber arts bloggers, beyond occasionally lurking on their blogs and watching their You-Tube videos. Honestly, I've been a little scared to become involved with this community because of the “imposter” feeling described above; I am fairly new to the fiber arts, and while I have been training myself as a handspinner pretty intensely for several years, and was lucky enough to be able to attend Camp Pluckyfluff (a two day workshop taught by art yarn superstar Lexi Boeger) last year, many of these people have been spinning for upwards of a decade. I am in the same position, relative to them, that a new godspouse might feel herself or himself to be in when approaching me; there is bound to be at least a little intimidation involved. Add to that the (inexplicable, to me) fact that many full-time fiber artists seem to be conservatively Christian. So, I have hung back.

And then something happened to break this stalemate: the other day, I learned about the Tour de Fleece, a month-long spinning event inspired by the Tour de France. Participating handspinners aspire to spin every day the Tour de France rides, in addition to completing other spinning-related challenges they set for themselves. (As an aside: egads, I can't imagine bicycling through France through what I presume is the hottest part of the year for them, too--or darn close to it, anyway!) I happily joined the Ravelry group for the TdF, marked my day planner with all the relevant milestone dates, and drew up my own list of challenges: spin every day my body and the heat will allow it, get my standing special orders done as well as some new skeins for the shop, begin spinning on the spindle again (which I have abandoned since getting my first wheel), and brush up on some of the fancy art yarn techniques I learned in Lexi's workshop. This fit in perfectly with my master plan of devoting much of the summer to spinning, and would—I thought—give me an excuse to interact with other spinners, while conveniently flying in under the radar on the religious issue. Right?

Wrong.

Because the punchline of all of this is that the very same day discovered TdF, I stumbled onto Team Nevermore. I nearly sputtered when I saw their raven badge, and as soon as I followed it to the blog of the team leader—the very cool and uber-talented Christiane Knight of Three Ravens Yarn—and read about her rather less structured, more individualistic take on TdF, I thought to myself “Great! Sounds like my kind of group!” and asked to be added to the team. (I purposefully did not mention my own blog, in the vain hope of flying under the aforementioned radar.)

Now, when I saw that many of the other team members were successful and even well-known spinners, I did have a moment where the “imposter” feeling crept back in, a moment during which I was absolutely sure I would be rejected. Since it was the first day of the Tour, I also thought I might be too late to join the group. But those fears were brief, because that evening I heard back from Christiane that she would be happy to sneak me in and was excited to have me join. And this comment was followed swiftly by a second one to the effect that she had just checked out my blog and she loved it.

Hear that? It's the sound of my jaw hitting the floor—or maybe the sound of my worlds colliding, yet again. You'd think I would have learned my lesson on this by now, but apparently not because it keeps coming back up: trying to keep the strands of my life separated into neat little blocks of color that don't intermingle is never, ever going to work for me, because my life is—by its very nature—a crazy art yarn tapestry instead. In other words, whenever I am tempted to underplay my eccentric, witchy, godspouse path for my own convenience, I inevitably fail at it; I can't do it for long any more than I can spin plain white worsted-weight yarn forever. My life is a whole cloth, and I am not the only weaver of it; I spin the threads of my wyrd in partnership and collaboration with my Beloved god, and as such I can’t both be at His side (where I belong) and remain hidden (where I would be more comfortable). This doesn't mean that the things I make all need to be witchy or heathen in theme or design, but it does mean that they ARE all going to be inherently witchy and heathen of necessity, because I am those things. I think this is true of any Maker: just as a writer's words are always about herself on some level no matter what subject she is writing about, so an artisan's life and energy flows through her fingers to infuse the work at hand with her own special brand of magic. The threads are there, and there is no concealing them, for those with eyes to see.

So, where does this leave me standing, as an aspiring artisan? Right where I've been since I said “yes” to a god of inspiration and madness, with the only choice open to me after that initial choice was made: I need to spin all of the things.

 

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Wife of Odin, sacred artist, cunning woman. I spin spells and visions amidst the wild wights of the Pacific Northwest, in a household shared with gods, spirits and animals both living and dead. My handcrafted business, Fiberwytch on Etsy, offers ritual cords spun from hand dyed fleece and charged and blessed using traditional methods, handspun yarn, and other arcane goodies to enrich your practice and pamper your soul. My books Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin's Journeys, and Water from the Well and Other Wyrd Tales of Odin and both available on Amazon, and my work has also appeared in Idunna, Hex, and the now-defunct newWitch. I offer rune and Tarot readings by appointment.

Comments

  • Jolene
    Jolene Tuesday, 02 July 2013

    I'm always a little . . . cautious . . . when you decide to stick to your compartmentalizing. As in, "She realizes this isn't going to end well for her . . . right?" ((hugs)) You rock. Just Keep Spinning!!

  • Soli
    Soli Wednesday, 03 July 2013

    Here's the thing about our culture, which I am sure you realize. We're raised to believe that only a certain type of people are "allowed" to have the spotlight, be respected, what have you. And the less you fit that acceptable model the worse of a person you are and the less respect and praise you merit.

    Just for the record I do understand the hiding, as I have to do it to a point with my food blogging. At this point I suspect that I could be more out and not suffer any backlash but I have not had the chance to do so. Just life.

    Keep spinning!

  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir Thursday, 04 July 2013

    @Soli - I am curious, where is your food blog? I started one with some friends of mine recently who are all cooks and who enjoy kitchen witchin' - https://foodsforthegods.wordpress.com/ - all that blog requires is *real* food and mindful preparation, because Loki certainly enjoys a wide range of foods that aren't traditionally Norse. I'm always looking for new ideas and contributors.

  • Soli
    Soli Thursday, 04 July 2013

    Heather, that would be I Believe in Butter, and right now my big focus is on building that. Got too many writing projects up in the air to even think about taking on something new.

  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir Thursday, 04 July 2013

    You're "I Believe in Butter?" :D I dig that site. Nice to put a name to the blog.

  • Soli
    Soli Thursday, 04 July 2013

    That's me, yes! Glad you like it.

  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch Wednesday, 03 July 2013

    I suspect a good portion of the traditional foods blogging scene is also conservative Christiane, so it would be much the same issue.

  • Soli
    Soli Wednesday, 03 July 2013

    Exactly. And the funny thing is over the last few years I have gotten to know a lot of the bloggers in the community. Shock and surprise, I like these people. We may vehemently disagree when it comes to politics and religion, but they're decent people at the core. As am I.

  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch Wednesday, 03 July 2013

    Well, as Jolene and I were saying just this morning, neither of us feel we need to have ALL OF THE THINGS in common with a person in order to like them or find interacting with them worthwhile. After all, everyone brings with them a different combination of talents and interests, and I think an unwillingness to make time for anyone who is not a blueprint of yourself is doomed to lead to disappointment and a lack of friends. :) For example, last night the dog was having some seizure symptoms, from the heat. Our vet was closed, so Jolene ran down the street to get our neighbors, who've had similar issues with their own dog, and they rushed over right away to see what they can do. I don't even know where this couple stands in regard to religion, but the fact that they would rush out of their house half-dressed to check on my dog, and then bring over ice packs for him, makes them good people in my book

  • Soli
    Soli Thursday, 04 July 2013

    Exactly!

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