The Garments of the Gods

We have our reasons when we travel.  Work. Vacation. Friends and family and all the rituals of life and death with which we celebrate our existences and world our stories into each other. Sometimes wanderlust or curiosity, the need for refuge.  Sometimes we flee a horrible place in hopes of security. Sometimes we travel towards a new place, one we do not yet know.

I don’t know if we take our gods with us, or if they are always in everyplace, but I know they often look different.  I wonder sometimes if Place is what clothes the gods in our presence.  I met Brân in a grove of Alder in the Hoh Rainforest, just after playing music to ravens on an island.  And I’ve met him elsewhere, in ritual, in prayers and devotions, but also in other places.  Brân seen straddling a valley in Bretagne wore a cloak of ravens, but Brân further south wore black and red, or red and green and browns, Alder god amongst other Alders.

Dionysos in a gay bar wears less clothes than Dionysos in a grove, or in a certain grove in a certain vision.  Dionysos furrowing the brow of a muscled ecstatic wears the face of a man, but at the pine tree shrine he wore the garments of earth.  I like that he has many clothes.

Arianrhod seen in the reflection of sky upon still clear water and Arianrhod seen in the wheeling of winter stars is familiar to me. But when I see Arianrhod in of summer stars or the fading light off the shore of the sea, I know it is her, too.  That she inhabits multiple dwellings and has a large wardrobe of many blues and silvers cheers me.

Where there are people, there are gods.  Travel to one city far away from home and you see them, to another and they are there again, peering through different eyes, wearing foreign but beautiful raiment.  Someone tells you about one you worship in a city of rain and hill, but they worship him at cave and in forest, and you hear his name and smile.

Where there aren’t people, there are probably also gods, but I cannot know this, as I am people.  There are certainly spirits when there are no people, but I do not know what they are up to when I am not looking.  I do know each has so far been different, according to the place we met.  The one by an ancient oak on a lake was different from the ones who played in the tassels of willow, and both different from the one in a street alley.

For the Christians, perhaps, it is also much like this.  St. Catherine of the Wheel in one cathedral looks different from St. Catherine in a secluded chapel in another land, just as each church was forged of different stone, or different woods, and yet still a church.  And she is both times St. Catherine.

I’m thinking on this matter now as I travel.  I am currently in-between, staying in cities where I do not live until I come to the place where I shall soon live, having recently left a place where I, for awhile, lived. The places are different, but the gods were there, and are here, and have been everywhere I have yet been, wearing the land and people around them like beloved garments.

About Rhyd Wildermuth

An intractable tea-swilling leftist-punk bard, Rhyd Wildermuth has left bits of his heart(h) everywhere—in a satyr’s den in Berlin, hanging from an elder tree over a holy well in Bretagne, scattered in back alleys of Seattle, and lost somewhere in the bottom of his rucksack. He’s devoted to Welsh gods, breathes words, makes candles, plays recorder, fumbles with tech, and refuses ever to learn to drive. He also writes at paganarch.com.


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