Posted on

Struggling Faith: The God Of Green Hope

Digital artist journal page by Connla Freyjason for Iaconagraphy, using our upcoming ArtLife set of digital assets, by Frances and Connla.

May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your spiritual life, filled with the life-giving energy of inspiration, will brim over with hope!

I began my arduous search for the God of green hope in February of 2016, following the realization that I had become hopeless.  Clearly, Jesus wasn’t “that guy”, because He and I weren’t exactly on speaking terms by that point.  Lleu Llaw Gyffes wasn’t “that guy”, either, even though I had considered myself a practicing Druid for a number of years previously.  So I began my dive into the Norse Tradition, in hopes of finding “that guy” there.

I had been a “weekend Druid”, but I was anything but a “weekend Heathen”.  From the very start, my journey down the Norse Path led me to daily prayer, weekly blots, and active participation in my newfound Faith.  By June of 2016, I had finally begun to “feel better”, but I still hadn’t fully recovered my hope, nor had I met the God of Green Hope.  A year on, in February of 2017, I still had not found Him/Her/It, and those feelings of quiet desperation began to slowly seep back in, this time compounded by my inability to figure out the “riddle” within that verse that I had been given.

The truth of it was this: I couldn’t find the God of Green Hope because I was looking in all the wrong places.  I was looking outside, when I should have been looking within.

I am the God of Green Hope.  You are the God of Green Hope. We are the God of Green Hope.

I automatically hold anyone suspect who says in a serious tone that they are the god of anything. Sure, people may jokingly say things like “I am the god of homemade tacos”, and I’m perfectly fine with that, because it’s a joke.  But to claim godhood for oneself smacks of a brand of pretentiousness that I have a difficult time fathoming.  It’s part of why I take issue with the writings of Aleister Crowley.  Yet, hear me out.

For a full year, I prayed, participated in rituals, researched, and searched, trying to find that one, great, outside source that would fill me up with joy and fill me up with peace as that passage promised.  A full year, and yet I still felt that I was hanging on the tree.  I looked outside, and outside, and outside, but only on the rarest of occasions did I look within.  And even when I did, my focus was on where I fit into our business, rather than on where I fit into the World.

In March of 2017, I finally looked inside.  The business was tanking yet again, and as I sat in my office literally crying, it finally dawned on me that doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.  So I decided to do something different: instead of shaking my fist at the heavens, I took a deep, long look within. And I discovered something I definitely didn’t want to discover: I was the problem.  The good news was, if I was the problem, I could also be the solution.

Becoming the God of Green Hope:

  • Stop looking back; you aren’t going that way!

Mistakes and triumphs you’ve experienced in the past are precisely that: in the past.  The longer you dwell on either, the more they are allowed to control your present, which in turn leads them to shape your future.  Do you want a future shaped by your past mistakes and triumphs, or do you want a future shaped by you, yourself?

  • Stop mourning, and start celebrating!

Stop mourning all of the things you don’t have, haven’t accomplished, or didn’t do, and instead focus on celebrating what you do have, are accomplishing, and are doing via showing gratitude.  You’re likely great at sitting down and making detailed inventories of things to mourn; take that skill, and instead turn it towards making a detailed inventory of all the things about your life that are actually good.  These don’t have to be big things!  Things for which to be grateful can be as seemingly insignificant as a shockingly blue sky outside your window, or as mindblowing as having your art published on the cover of a popular newsletter or magazine.

  • While you’re making lists, make one of everything that worries you right now.  Read through it, and then discard it, and actually let go.

Worrying is basically looking towards the future with dread, instead of looking towards the future with eager expectancy.  We all do it, and we all have done it, and even after you make this list, discard it, and make a conscious decision to let go of those specific worries, the chances are fantastic you will find a whole new list of things to worry about at some point in the future.  When that happens, you should repeat this exercise.  Worrying is a useless endeavor: all it does is leave you feeling defeated, and make you tired.  It actually accomplishes nothing, so why keep doing it?

  • Rediscover joy.

The marrow of what we really want out of life is locked inside the bones of those things which bring us joy.  Make a third list: a list of everything in your life, no matter how big or small, that actually sparks joy in you.  In case it’s been so long that you’ve forgotten what joy even feels like, these would be things that create a sense of well-being for you; things that make you feel successful or fortunate; things that make you deeply happy or cause you to brim with delight.  Your gratitude list might be a helpful jump-off point for creating this list.  Once you have your list, take some time to actually spend time with these joy-sparkers.

  • Realize that you are enough.

Re-engage with yourself.  The first question too many of us ask when attempting to “find ourselves” is “am I worthy?”  That is an adversarial tone, and we all know what such a tone gets us when we’re talking about exterior human relationships, right?  So why do we think it will go differently with interior ones?   Think about it like this: let’s say you’ve just met a new person with whom you’re considering building a friendship.  What would happen if, upon first meeting them, you introduced yourself by saying “I’m me, and I’m wondering if you’re worthy of being my friend”?  That likely wouldn’t go over terribly well, now, would it?  They would likely find you rude and pretentious, and they wouldn’t be wrong.  So why do we approach our selves that way?  The simple answer: we shouldn’t.  Enough means “occurring in such a quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.”  If you are enough, that means that you are capable of meeting whatever life throws at you halfway.  Look around at your life: you’ve made it this far.  You’re still breathing; you’re still sitting here reading this.  If you’ve made it this far, that is empirical proof that you are enough, and enough is the first important step towards plenty:  a large or sufficient amount or quality; more than enough.

Once you have found the God of Green Hope within you, you should start experiencing more joy and peace in your life.  You may find that you need to do these exercises multiple times–I certainly did–and there’s no shame in that. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately feel as though you have been filled up with joy and peace; that will come with time.  This is just the beginning, and we’ll discuss where to go from here in the next blog post in this series.

 

 

Posted on

Everyday Magick: gods, goddesses, and God: How Does That Work?

As those of you who get the newsletter already know, my Spirit Guides and I have been reading A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Asatru by Patricia M. Lafayllve, and last night, something in one of the chapters (over on page 118) really got us thinking (and arguing with the author from my desk chair), so I thought perhaps it was high time I did a blog post explaining how in our little corner of the world there can be gods, goddesses, and God (the Christian God), all at the same time. Lafayllve writes:

“…the innangardh/utangardh balance….is why heathens consider the gods and goddesses, and those related to them, as part of our innangardh (inner circle).  This is also why those outside of that pantheon are considered utangardh (outsiders; outside our inner circle; strangers).  The other pantheons do exist.  Polytheistic logic suggests that there is more than one everything, so it only makes sense that every other god and goddess exists just as ours do.  That said, heathen worship is for the Norse gods and goddesses, among others, and not generally given to those not in our pantheon.  Does that make another pantheon ‘less than’ or ‘better than’ ours? No–it simply means ‘different.'”

(Additions in parentheses are my own, to make it easier for the non-reader of this book to understand what Lafayllve is saying.)

Certainly, there is both historical and contemporary proof of this innangardh/utungardh “balance” of which she speaks–of insider versus outsider dichotomies between those who follow specific religions and the gods/goddesses/God of other religions.  Honestly, we see it every day in the way both some modern adherents of Islam treat modern Christians, and the way some modern adherents of Christianity treat pretty much everyone who isn’t a Christian (or their definition of what one should be).  If you watch the show Vikings (which is based on the story of Ragnar Lodbrok, a legendary Danish Viking King, as related in several Norse Sagas, Norse and Scottish skaldic poetry, and the Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus, which is considered the first full history of Denmark), you definitely see this insider/outsider dichotomy heavily at work in the relationship between Floki (the Viking healer/warrior, who frequently communes with the gods) and Athelstan (the transplanted Christian priest).  However, I would hardly call this a balance; instead, as you can see from this paragraph (and likely played out in the life around you), it is more of a divisive dichotomy!

To say that such a view doesn’t “make another pantheon ‘less than’ or ‘better than'”, in my opinion, is to live in a misinformed la-la bubble at best, and to attempt to literally support religious bigotry at worst.  If your own faith is regarded as “inside”–as close to you; as part of your extended family; as something worthy of reverence and respect–while all other faiths are regarded as “outside”–as foreign to you; unable or even forbidden to have relationships with; as unworthy of reverence and respect–how can that possibly mean that other pantheons (or faiths) are not “less than” your own?  How can your own not be considered “better than” those others?  Divorce this discussion for a moment from the talk of pantheons, and let’s put it in the perspective of people, and the actual bigotry that we’ve watched unfold in our past history:  at one time, African American human beings were seen by Caucasians as foreign to them, unable or even forbidden to have relationships with; as unworthy of reverence and respect–as outsiders.  (This still happens in some places, mind you, and in some places, the complete opposite is true, with African Americans now viewing Caucasians in this way.)  What happened in those scenarios? (or happens?)  The same thing happens when we view pantheons and faiths through this dichotomy. One need look no further than the current rise of terrorism to see that I’m right.

Reading this section in the book last night, it was a lucky thing our resident Hereditary Heathen, Fenrir, wasn’t the one “driving” (primarily in-body; in control of motor functions), otherwise the book likely would’ve flown across the room!  It was, in fact, difficult for the rest of us to even keep reading, because in our little corner of the world, such dichotomies do not exist, and we certainly don’t view these types of insider/outsider prejudices as balance! No, in our little corner of the world, gods, goddesses, and God coexist just fine! We practice what might be considered polytheistic monolatry or henotheism.

Those big words are just a “nutshell” way of saying that all gods are ultimately one God. The modern practitioners of Kemetic Orthodoxy (another Historical Reconstructionist faith, based on the practices of the Ancient Egyptians) have a particularly apt way of explaining how this works: because God (whom they refer to as Netjer, the Supreme Being) is so much larger than our teeny tiny human brains can fully understand (a good word here would be ineffable), God appears to us in various forms, almost like “deified compartments”, that are small enough for us humans to be able to understand and form close relationships with.  These “deified compartments” may come to us in ways that we are more able to understand from our present cultural perspective (such as Allah for the Muslims, who were originally Bedouin Tribesmen), or Odin (the All-Father of the Norse Pantheon, who was both warrior and wise-man), or they may come to us in ways that encapsulate a certain lesson that we absolutely need to learn right now, but might not learn if it were “dressed up” in typical “God-talk”, such as Arianrhod (from the Welsh Pantheon, who teaches us about Sovereignty, but also about not feeling shame), or Loki (from the Norse Pantheon, who teaches us to laugh at our own mistakes, but also teaches us the grave price to be paid when we do things that harm other people).

I have found, as I have worked hard in my capacity as an ordained minister, that when I talk a lot about Jesus Christ here in this blog or elsewhere, people literally tune out and turn off, but if I talk about things from my Druid-Craft perspective, I get more and more readers, and more and more people actively attempting to learn and better their lives.  I can talk openly about Lleu Llaw Gyffes or Odin–who teach many of the same lessons to us as Jesus–but if I talk about Christ, people effectively “check out”.  Having dealt my whole life with Christians who openly promote the very same “insider/outsider” dichotomy that Lafayllve contends is upheld by modern Heathens, I can’t say that I really blame those folks who “walk away” on the internet when you start the “Christ-Talk” or the “God-Talk”.  While I don’t have an issue with Jesus, about 90% of His supposed followers clearly missed out on pretty much everything He tried to teach them! Because of this, I can easily understand why when you start talking about “JC”, people literally fear that you’re “one of those people”.

I’m not “one of those people”, and neither are my Spirit Guides–not even my resident Hereditary Heathen, Fenrir.  When it comes to gods, goddesses, and God, there is no “inside” or “outside”. Ultimately, they are all expressions of One Big Being that is just too big for us humans to understand when taken all in one big gulp.  I don’t have to work to prove that as a fact: you can see it all around you every day in the way most strict monotheists treat not only other faiths, but also other people.  The information they’ve been fed, through the narrow view of strict monotheism, is just too big for them to understand, much less practice the very good lessons that are often within those specific faiths.  I do my best to try to teach those very same good lessons, only in language (and through gods, goddesses, and, therefore, ultimately God) that people who have been hurt by strict monotheism can fully grasp, understand, and put into practice for themselves (and for Deity).  The only thing that is outside for me (and, by extension, for us) is True Evil: anything, deity or otherwise, that goes against our Values, as defined previously.  I’m sure we can all agree that there is nothing evil about not being a bigot, religious or otherwise.

And that’s how this “works”–having gods, goddesses, and Gods, all at the same time.  If you’re interested in exploring Druid-Craft further, or if you’d just like to become a part of my Tarot and Oracle Card Customer Loyalty Program, please sign up for my newsletter, and join us on Facebook!  I try to live my life in such a way that there are constantly new things both to learn and to teach, and I would love to continue that journey with you!