Seidhr, or, How I Became Half a Heathen
"What wisdom would you find at the well of wyrd?"
There were so many questions I had when I sat down in this field, ready for the ritual. I was 18 years old, had just finished my first year of college, had just had my first taste of adulthood. I had questions: about school, about women, about writing. Life questions. I was at the age to decide my life: I sure I could have used the guidance.
But all that seemed very far away when the woman in black asked her question.
"What am I doing here?" I ask. "Is this where I am meant to be?"
I had been a pagan my whole life, but specifically, I had been raised a Wiccan: I had been raised in the arms of the Lord and Lady, worshipping them by light of the sun and moon. This was my first experience with something else, something strange and familiar: my first encounter with wyrd.
I knew immediately that this appealed to me. I had known of the Norse myths since I was a child, of course, and had always felt fondly toward the gods of Asgard, but I had never experienced them so directly before. And yet I was, in a way, frightened: I had heard the heathens talking before the ceremony, and the way they talked, there would be no going back from this. They even signed contracts declaring that they would have no other gods before these, a declaration which, then and now, fills me with unease.
I felt both at home and in a deeply foreign place. I was a Wiccan; I had just begun to discover just how important to my identity Wicca was. Did I want to be a heathen too? For that matter: could I even be both?
The seeress gave no clear answers. I suppose divinations rarely do.
When the questions were done, the woman in black urged us to take deep breaths, to prepare us for the journey sunward. With trepidation, I grabbed a root, and begin to climb back toward the grass.
Up, up, up, she calls us. Come up, and back again to the tree.
The last thing I saw before the man with the spear called for us all to wake was the squirrel, staring at me. I could still hear the man's voice, calling me back to consciousness, back to the waking world. . . . And yet I heard the last chitter from the squirrel.
We stretched and yawned as though we had spent hours exerting ourselves, when in reality, the whole of the trance probably only took forty minutes. My friend Alaric gives me his imp grin as soon as our eyes adjust to the firelight. "You make it back, buddy?"
I told him yes. But in truth, I'm not sure I ever did.
Eric Scott was raised in St. Louis by Coven Pleiades, a Wiccan group based in the Alexandrian tradition. His fiction and memoir explore the joys and doubts of being a second-generation Pagan in the modern world. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Ashe! Journal, Kerouac's Dog Magazine, Caper Literary Journal, and Witches & Pagans. He is also a Contributing Editor at Killing the Buddha.