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Getting It Wrong

This was originally going to be another post about names, but with a much stronger emphasis on them in a religious context and specifically my own personal religion. The spirits had different plans, though, and decided to yank the rug from under me.

Since January I have been praying and making offerings to better understand the mythology of the new gods I worship, to receive something close to the complete picture or at least the first complete ‘part’ of their mythology. I had bits and pieces, but they were disjointed and did not make much sense. I frowned and tried to piece them together. They wouldn’t fit. Though I longed to have at least part of the main mythos, I decided to let it be. I had other spirits to focus on and other stories to weave.

Then, yesterday, sitting down comfortably and chewing on my pen, it came to me. It wasn’t a flash or sudden burst of knowledge, but a slow unfolding of ‘this is the story’. As strange as is sounds, the answers and events were not my own but belonged to the spirits and gods and the land I work with.

And the story showed that I got many, many things wrong.

The ‘divine fire’ I have felt has often gone into my hands; not surprising, considering.

At first, once I had come down from the frenzy, I felt nerves nip at my heart. I’d gotten the original myths wrong. That was pretty big, in my mind. I’d messed up. Why didn’t I figure that out sooner? What if I kept getting all this wrong? Would I ever get the stories right? I’d misrepresented my gods. I felt awful. I was trying to put pieces of a puzzle together without having any idea what those pieces even were, in truth. I decided to talk to a friend about it, and they said something that resonated: “…that [you could admit your mistake] speaks of someone who respects his gods more than his own ego.”

And I realized that it never occurred to me to brush aside the story that had been given to me because it reflected that I hadn’t been listening or patient enough. My gods come before my ego. My path has a healthy amount of pride, but the gods are first for me. I jumped ahead and misunderstood the stories and even misunderstood the fundamental nature of one of my gods. I’m probably going to do that again.

I think even if I was on a more lore or scholarly based path I still would run into this issue and feel the need to correct it – but this path is new and the gods are new and I trip all the time. Still, what I experienced today was a revelation. All the pieces I had been trying to understand fit together and moves together. My body itself – my arms and fingers and feet – responded, full of that presence that I know as one of my gods, and I held on as long as I could to the story I saw. Motivations became clear. Epithets fit beautifully.

I do not yet possess the words to describe that joy and ecstasy at being so close to the gods I love.

And now the story does, in part, belong to me – in that I claim it, will take responsibility for it coming from my fingers. Too often in our communities poetry or words are attributed to the gods’ and those speaking or writing them are given a ‘free pass’ for what is said or written. And while I do believe entirely that this story is not mine but the gods who gifted it to me, I still am responsible for writing it. I am still responsible for crafting the story into art and honing my skills so they present the story well. I must claim it as such – least of all because responsibility is such a huge part of my religion. Just as I am responsible for getting the story wrong, I too must own this in the ways that I can.

There is little for me to saw now but: Praises, praises to the Four Gods of the West – burner, burier, drowner, dancer; you who gift life and love alike. Praises to Fear, the dark, the Star of the West.

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About Aine

Aine Llewellyn is a 20 year old girl creature currently mucking about in southern Arizona. She enjoys the winters and rain but can’t stand the heat. She is a difficult polytheist that natters on and on about her faith.

  • http://www.12stepwitch.com 12stepwitch

    This is tremendous. Getting it wrong is IMPORTANT. Being wrong is important. Because only then can you walk a path of humility to reality. Humility is a state of being teachable and it is where, in my mind, the transformation occurs.

    Those last few lines are gorgeous too.

    • http://daoineile.com Aine

      Thank you – and I agree. Humility is important and vital.

  • Christopher Scott Thompson

    “I think even if I was on a more lore or scholarly based path I still would run into this issue and feel the need to correct it”
    That definitely happens. Sometimes I will think I have a handle on Brighid’s nature only to read some obscure academic paper presenting evidence of an aspect I had never known existed, forcing me to demolish my mental picture of Her to make room for the new information. The most recent time this happened it was a strangely liberating and joyful experience.

    • http://daoineile.com Aine

      I think that ‘liberating and joyful’ experience goes along with most revelations – where ever they come from (academia or spirits or our mind jumping ahead of itself!). It’s a wonderful feeling, I think.

  • Eric DeVries

    Beautiful. For me it’s all about humility, I can set down a new path anytime I want but it’s only when I’m in that open, humble, teachable state that I can reach out and let Brighid take my hand and let her lead the way and that’s where the Magick is. When I was your age I was completely lost, my whole life path was a mad race to self destruction. I didn’t even start to have these kinds of experiences until I was well into my thirties, you are blessed. When I was a child and being raised Mormon sometimes during testimony meeting members of our congregation would give God credit for the words they spoke. My mother told me never to trust anyone who said that, taught me to own my words, that’s another thing you are out in front of. Responsibility, humility, being open and flexible, these are all powerful tools that will serve you well on your paths.

  • http://aediculaantinoi.wordpress.com/ P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    This is a beautiful set of reflections–thank you for sharing it!

    I share a lot of the errors that I’ve made in practice. In my own poetic creations, though, because of the poetic path I’m on, the gods tend to inspire and inflame, but the words are (mostly) my own; the general story outlines are inspired, but the full contour of the resulting narrative is mine to organize and massage. Sometimes I’m even given a pile of gods and am told, Tim Gunn-like, to “make it work,” and I do…mostly, I think. It doesn’t always work, and when it doesn’t, I know it, and I know it’s my own lack of skill and not the gods’ fault that such has occurred.

    So, well done to you for having the discernment, the humility, and the honesty to admit when these things occur–and to do so is, I think, a matter for legitimate pride (no matter how paradoxical that may sound considering the humility mention earlier!) in the integrity and maturity of your path. Well done! :)

    • http://daoineile.com Aine

      Yessss, I agree very much! (And paradoxes, how I love them~~)

      I was actually thinking of a post you wrote a while back when I was writing this – you pointed out that often the gods are used as, basically, cop-outs for poor poetry/prose. “This god gave this to me so it shouldn’t be criticized” sort of thing. And I really don’t want to go down that path at all, especially since that’s just not true for me. After all, my mistakes were and are my own, in large part because I was so eager and jumped ahead of myself and wasn’t listening as well as I should have been – the story was always there, and the gods were helping guide me, tossing me pieces, I just wasn’t piecing it together right. I think working on the organization, writing the story down, making it into a narrative that can be read and understood and enjoyed – that’s the part of the poet or the author, and we’ve got to be aware enough to know when it’s not working.

      Sooooo basically just more agreement, and many thanks!!

      • http://aediculaantinoi.wordpress.com P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

        Yes…so often, our discussions in the comments here and elsewhere are along the lines of “Yes, exactly!” Which is good! Far too often, the “no, you’re wrong, and here’s why you’re also stupid” sort of comments get a bit trying; so, it’s nice to have the assurance of encouragement and further discussion when and where possible, I’ve always felt!

        It is a big worry to me, especially when the gods that some people claim to be speaking for are known to be very clever with words, that they end up being such poor writers in the work of some people. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess…! ;)

  • Christopher Scott Thompson

    The gods send the Imbas, but the job of the human who receives it is to express it well in human language. There is no guarantee we will do it well, or even accurately!


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