Hi friends~ I did commit to posting the sermon I preached for the Ole Time Goodspell Feri Pagan Tent Revival, so here it is. It begins with the choir singing “Changes”…
Yes, my beautiful kin, Time will change us, but can we trace time? The movement of the stars and the planets in the heavens, breaking up our lives into nights and days and seasons, the rhythms of the Cosmos following its own patterns. Flowing on without ceasing until the end of Time and the end of Time’s changes.
Blessed be the endings and the beginnings.
Now when we’d heard that the theme for this Con was Changemakers, the crew here started throwing ideas around. I believe it was John who first suggested Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes and the wheels started spinning. We were just getting revved up when the Prophet left this world. Suddenly, the whole Revival became fraught with a different kind of meaning.
Now y’all know that we do like to have some laughs while we’re here, but we also want to remember that this is a real thing, the Revival, and it responds to the needs of the worlds. And the world told us what it needed.
When David Bowie appeared on the stage half a century ago, he blew into an uptight, repressive place. Our ‘Patron Saint of Enchanted Misfits’ (thank you, Brother Brennos) danced the androgyne into modern consciousness. He spread the word of acceptance to all those who were Strange in ways their world wasn’t ready for.
But here’s the thing! Even tho the world wasn’t ready, it was hungry for him. Though there was resistance from what had come before, from the establishment, the world really really needed the Strange. Needed to face the Strange and embrace the Strange!
And that was hard! Needing something and not being ready for it? That is a difficult situation. And it takes a fearless creature to push that limit. To birth themselves, all others opinions be damned.
Making way for the strange means standing strong in our own uniqueness, listening deeply to our inner voice. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the Gods call us into physical being when we are needed here. They invoke us into the circle of this time and place. And it is our charge to show up here with all of our unique gifts intact. That’s what Bowie had to do. Whether it was comfortable or not. His muse would not be denied.
Now. You might have no idea at all of who or how you are ‘meant’ to be. But listen close and I’ll tell you a secret: All you are meant to be is what no one else can be. You are meant to make space to hear yourself think. You are meant to take the time to consider your needs AND the needs of the world. You’re meant to take your place among the co-creators of the worlds in whatever form you like.
And you don’t have to be “good at it”. Please, feel free to be “bad” at something! Feel free to completely suck at something!
Now, the Preacherman talked about our three souls. About how there is this part of us that is a part of God that is a part of us, our Godsoul. Our own Ascended Master, Major Tom. That is the Divine Will I’m talking about. That part of you that is God Herself. Let’s take a breath now through and for our own Starry Crown.
And blessed be our Holy Names!
Our Godsoul holds the essence of our unique spirit. Zie is the root of what makes us “Strange”, unlike any other anywhere! The voice of our Godsoul is what gives us strange ideas, offers us strange choices in dress or manner.
Well, what do you think we are here for? To be exactly like what came before? Not at all. We are here to take what has been and put our stamp on it, put our Strangeness all over it, before we carry it into the future. We are a crucial part of the story!
So we mustn’t fear our own Strangeness. One of my favorite bits in the Christian bible says: “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We must think and work and engage with the world.
We must turn and face our own Strange and embrace it.
But this isn’t only about our own strangeness. It’s also about how we see the Strange in others.
This is a hard one. Our evolutionary path has taught us to fear what we do not understand. New people, new ideas are dangerous. That is true. It is much safer to stay within our little communities of those whose politics agree with ours. It’s safer to remain snug in the bosom of the very much expected.
It is safer to stay away from the Strange.
But does that sound right to you? Is that truly the call of the noble creature we are?
When our Nimue runs through the forest, laughing as the brambles catch her clothes, is she teaching us about fear? HELL NO. She is teaching us about freedom.
When the beloved Dian y glas plays his flute from behind the trees, hiding and seeking, is he is teaching us about fear? HELL NO. He is teaching us about pleasure.
And so on!
Our Mari teaches us about responsibility, not fear.
Our Twr comes, tall and hard, teaching us strength and solidity, not fear.
Even our Ana and the Arddhu, those who wait at the end of the road, drawing us into dreaming of tooth and claw. In our resting, we are still brave.
Okay, our gods are unique. They are STRANGE! Very strange. So how do we approach them? Try to make them more palatable, easier to digest? Do we gather more appropriate clothing and props for them to wear and carry? Or do we accept them as they are, in all their wildness and not-fitting-in-ness?
Now all this talk about Changes and Turning to Face the Strange, it’s ultimately about one thing. To my mind, it’s all about shapeshifting. Now y’all know that the Shapeshifter is a near and dear concept to your Sister Jenya. That is because it feels so important to me that we are allowed to, encouraged to, Change our shape, become something new. Each of us, as we desire, allowing our curiousity to guide us to what our minds want, what our bodies want, what our souls want.
Also, that we allow others the same freedom, because that is how we all grow. And we need to grow. That lesson is all around us, everywhere. Everything is connected to everything else, offering new ways to learn and respond and participate in the Great Conversation that is life and death, right now.
Now. Y’all know the one who modeled this ability with the utmost grace and finesse. And we come back around to our original modern rock-n-roll Shapeshifter.
We talked before about how we are called into the Universe by the Gods when we are needed. One might say that the Prophet was invoked into the world by a world that needed ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. He came onto the stage, outrageous, courageous, dangerous, lit from within with a fire that would burn down so much of the confines of gender expectations and social conventions.
And he would be reinvented over and over again, from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke to Aladdin Sane, his look, his style and his music bore new fruit constantly, until it didn’t, and something told him to stop and he listened. For 10 years he stayed out of the spotlight and in the refuge of his life with wife and child. That was his calling just as Ziggy Stardust had been his calling.
And then he became ill. And made of his illness a new and frightening and captivating piece of art, which we all can spend many long hours trying to decipher. And none of us will be correct, and all of us will.
His passing sent a wave over the world. I heard someone say “David Bowie died and then they discovered a new planet. I don’t need to read your science article.” Exactly.
So what is there for us to learn in his story?
How are we each a Shapeshifter?
Okay, first, there is the world. The world without us in it. It’s growing and changing before we get here. Then things align and we show up. The world has its way with us when we are young. We don’t know what we’re doing. We’re vulnerable.
Then we start thinking for ourselves.
We learn to decipher our own secret messages from beyond. This is how we become ourselves.
We hear the voice of our deepest Will, our highest Truth, and there we are, at a CRUX, a crisis moment. We have to choose to either listen to the strange voice or we turn away from it.
Oh my lord. Let’s just take a moment of silence now for everything that never had a chance to be because someone turned away from that voice.
A wise person once said, an idea that is strong enough *will* find its way into the world.
(That’s why so many people come to the same realizations about spirit! We are all one; compassion is key; connection is healing. We come to these understandings because the idea is strong.)
But when one conduit disappears, there is one fewer channel.
Now the Prophet is gone, think of all that creativity looking for a friendly mind.
Listen to the rustle of all those ideas looking for a place to land.
So much more ready to come forth. So much waiting to be born. Now whose mind will those ideas seek? Where will they try to find their entrance into this world? Will you find your self tomorrow waking up with a craziness in your head? Will you let it in?
And let me be clear: it is not important that it makes sense to anyone but you. It may not even make sense to you! That’s okay.
Cuz here’s the thing: you already are a shapeshifter, constantly changing, being born and dying in every moment. Your body doesn’t fear change. Your entire physical form has been replaced over and over and over again in your lifetime. Isn’t that a strange notion? All the little cells that make you up, your liver, your heart, your hair and fingernails. All in constant motion. That’s lucky! Or good planning, more like.
Here’s another thing: our sweet Earth is a shapeshifter. Also, being born and dying constantly. All the little cells that make up her big body, humans and trees and mycelium, all coming into being and then going out again. Changing shape from single beings to a separation of molecules and recombination into all sorts of other shapes. Our sweet Earth doesn’t fear change.
And here’s at the really special secret at the heart of it all: our great God Herself is a shapeshifter too. The biggest shapeshifter of all. Made up of all things that are and were and will be and will never be, always in a state of flux, the Star Goddess breathing all things into being and then breathing us out again. Stars and planets and emptiness. And wholeness. And us. Shapeshifters in training.
Change is scary. Of course it is.
But that doesn’t mean we get to ignore the voice of Spirit, of Grace, calling us to change.
I want to tell you another story.
Once upon a time, there was a man. A deeply troubled and troubling man. An evil man. This bad animal was a slaver, a kidnapper and a seller of human beings. He went through many dangers, toils, and snares before he realized the error of his ways. And at some point, he was called to record his experience with a song. A song that, later, Mahalia Jackson would use to as “a magical protection” for her civil rights marchers, “a charm to ward off danger, an incantation to the angels of heaven to descend”.
This man was down in deep trouble when he received the calling from his Spirit. You may be there, or not. You may be floating down the river of your life just fine so far. But I invite you to stand in the shoes of one who is on the brink of a life-dismantling and life-remantling experience, and try to feel what he felt when he realized he needed a Change
Y’all know this song. These words that speak directly to that moment when Grace descends on our brow, opens our mind and heart, and we know without reservation Change is imminent and it is our time to Turn and Face the Strange.
AMAZING GRACE! HOW SWEET THE SOUND
THAT SAVED A WRETCH LIKE ME!
I ONCE WAS LOST, BUT NOW AM FOUND;
WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE.
’TWAS GRACE THAT TAUGHT MY HEART TO FEAR,
AND GRACE MY FEARS RELIEVED;
HOW PRECIOUS DID THAT GRACE APPEAR
THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED.
WHEN WE’VE BEEN HERE TEN THOUSAND YEARS,
BRIGHT SHINING AS THE SUN,
WE’VE NO LESS DAYS TO SING THEIR PRAISE
THAN WHEN WE’D FIRST BEGUN.
(shift to 2/4 time for energy raising)
AMAZING GRACE! <Amazing Grace!> HOW SWEET THE SOUND! <How sweet the sound!>
THAT SAVED A WRETCH LIKE ME! <Wretch like me!>
I ONCE WAS LOST <Was lost!> BUT NOW AM FOUND <I’m found!>
WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE <Now I see!>
Yes, that song was also a special favorite of our beloved Cora Anderson, and we share the merit of it with her spirit now.
Darlings, everything that came before feeds what is to come. Do you think the Prophet himself could have become Lazarus, the Blackstar, without having been Ziggy Stardust or the Thin White Duke? Or Aladdin Sane? Or David Jones, husband and father? Do you think you could be the adult you are without having been a child?
My beloveds, don’t fear the Strange. Don’t fear to turn and face it; don’t fear to embrace it, in yourself and others.
Let yourself become. Over and over again.
The Prophet himself gave us the greatest gift, when he reminded us that in this work, we’re not alone. He sang: Just come along with me, cuz you’re not alone. Let’s turn on and be not alone. Gimme your hands, cuz you’re wonderful. Gimme your hands.
My beloved kin. Look around you now. Turn and face the exquisite Strangeness that fills this room. We are surrounded by an overflowing of delicious animal Grace.