Working Bibliography

Religion, for me, comes with homework.

Below the cut, you can find a list of books, blogs, and articles I’ve found useful thus far in this whole process of Having Religion. They’re sorted by author more or less in MLA format.

[image description: just some library books stacked on a table]
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Mountain-longing

This is another of those posts that will fall under the banner of, “Not to sound ~woo~ but…” so adjust your expectations accordingly.

For reasons that are surely as much neurodivergence as anything else, I’ve always been unable to “connect” with people, to such a degree that it is clinically significant. I wonder if it isn’t also spiritually significant, sometimes, or at least if I can use faith to make meaning of my perpetual sense of Otheredness.

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Loptr

A Month for Loki – whenever today is.

I have a wealth of sympathy for comets these days: Slingshot slung by celestial giants every time they finally get close enough to get warm– sent screaming by worlds they can only just glimpse.

One of my favorite unsubstantiated theories of evolution is that the amino acids necessary for generating proteins– and therefore single-cellular life– came to our primordial oceans by comet impact. Some unnamed mass destroyed the earth as it was, stable and unbothered by life, shook molecules loose and slammed them together, and eventually, this happenstance made the things that would develop into life as we know it today.

I wonder if anyone ever thought to name a comet for Loki? If even in a passing, private thought they drew a line for themself between one consummate, fate-struck traveler and another? Pondered up at the trail of pure potential hurtling past the planet and thought of that changeful sky-treader?

If I’d had the sense to follow my grandmother to the stars, I like to think I’d’ve done it. I’d’ve someday found a brilliant wanderer from a telescope perch and called it Loptr after its serial number was set that we might all remember: everything we know and love comes from planet-shaking change.

Lævísi

A Month for Loki, somewhere near the end

My oldest friend points to a pile of rocks, just like the song goes, and asks me to pick one up and put it down somewhere else: by this other rock, on top of that flat stone, by the stream, just toss it on the pile there.

The rock is my job. (It’s my friends, it’s my mother, it’s the myriad of modern toys he scoffs at, it’s my dubiously reliable body, it’s having to move house yet again, it’s my entire concept of faith, it’s learning to spin, it’s another arcane avenue of study.)

Pick it up, he tells me with a pregnant pause: but only if you want to.

It’s all vulnerability and trust and choice, all the time. 

You could always just quit.

It’s always about choice.

It’s no skin off my nose.

As if I could just quit.

We’re building something together, you know, so … why not pick up another rock?

When I make the mistake of asking why, everything comes up peorth again and again and again and again until I want to chuck my painstakingly painted pieces of antler across the room and the candles and the shot glass, too, until everything is beeswax and soot and whiskey because I am so tired of not knowing where I’m going.

It’s up to you. 

I’m not a fool. 

No one will make you.

I know when I’m being led by the nose.

Choose this–

I know what happens when I stop letting myself be led– I’ve had more than enough of my deathbed.

Choose me–

Any clearer direction might see me fleeing right back to the still, clean chill of the mikveh where no sly spirit suggests I choose anything. I know he knows it.

Choose every step on the road.

Bless that Lævísi, he’s a sharp one and he uses it well. For all I gnash my teeth and complain, I can’t say he doesn’t know me.

Farmr Arma Sigynjar

She doesn’t speak in words but she does give clear advice: 

It’s easier on your back if you kneel.

Keep it closer to your torso– you’ll spill less.

Hold it high – if it spills the angle is safer.

Tuck your fingers under, keep your thumbs beneath the rim. You don’t want it on your hands.

This is how you learn to live within kissing distance of the serpent.

She had asked me for a glass of water– or rather he asked me on her behalf.

Just a glass of waterWith ice, if you have it.

The him that is here and now makes a sound like a sigh. Relief. She breaks up the ice with her teeth and feeds its chips to him one glittering sliver at a time. (It reminds me of when my grandmother lay dying: the ulcers, the muggy hospital room full of machines’ unrelenting heat, the sere skin around the mouth that used to sing so sweetly.)

For herself, she drinks in slow sips. Maybe she doesn’t want to make herself sick with plenty.

Be quick when you go to empty it– and warn him first. He’d rather know.

(I don’t think he sees anymore. Not here.)

I count down for him and, while I scurry away as fast as I can without losing a drop of venom– feeling like the world’s worst waitress. I haven’t heard screaming like that since I lay dying– 

Be quick but don’t spill; you’ll be sorry.

And I think that he’s right to curse me for it– lazy, faithless, feckless, fool– that I am all the things he accuses me of–

Ignore him. He’s not in his right mind today. 

– and back kneeling again, propped up by her clear advice. He may be right about me but that won’t stop me trying.  For both their sakes.

Taxonomy

A while ago, my sibling and I were talking about religion and comparing notes. They told me, “You know we don’t have gods, right?” I didn’t know this and I asked them to clarify because I’m ignorant about most things to do with First Nations religions broadly, let alone Cherokee-specific traditions. The short conclusion of the evening-long lesson that followed was that they weren’t raised to draw taxonomical lines between the entities I might have referred to as gods, spirits, wights, fair folk, and so on. The emphasis on categorization in White pagan practices was something they personally found alienating. This is particularly relevant to some thoughts I’ve had lately around The Lore ™ and the spirits I honor.

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FUNGUS – the narcissist cookbook

This piece of poetry is relevant to a post I made about Loki– and his kenning, Gammleidh— but it also, for reasons I haven’t yet gotten pinned down, reminds me of Sigyn. Maybe because the way the poem is delivered sounds so gentle but its contents are painful and profound. I believe Galina Krasskova wrote a book for her called Our Lady of Staying Power. The resilience and adaptability of fungus seems to follow from that byname.