As we approach the end of the calendar year, it’s natural to look back and contemplate both the objective details and the subjective experiences of the year. It’s more than natural – its good and helpful and, I think, pretty close to essential. I’ve been doing this for most of my adult life and I’ll do it again on or around January 1.
As I begin to think in that direction, it becomes clear that while 2022 has been a challenging year (is there any other kind in Tower Time?) it has also been a year where good things happened.
Some of those good things happened because I – or we – made them so. The people who insist that everything that happens to you is your own doing are wrong, and cruelly so. At the same time, no one has more of an impact on your life than you. If you want things to get better, take steps to make them better.
In 2022 I made a few good things happen. But there were many good things that happened that were not of my own doing, or that were far better than I could make them with my own efforts.
Divine grace is not an exclusively Christian concept.
There are some polytheists who believe the Gods are so far above us that expecting Them to care about us as individuals is absurd. Even those of us whose experiences tell us They are approachable and accessible (or at least, some of Them are) find Them opaque and mysterious. They can be demanding, particularly for those beyond the beginner stage.
But They can also be gracious and loving.
When someone – or Someone – is gracious to us, the appropriate response is gratitude. And so I want to give thanks to the Gods whose presence and blessings have meant so much to me this year.
I’m thankful to Cernunnos
I am oathed to three Gods, I honor several on a regular basis, and I am fortunate to be acquainted with many others. But Cernunnos is always first. Year in and year out, I’m always thankful to Him. He’s been with me since before I knew who He was. He was the first God I experienced in ecstatic communion. More than anyone else, He keeps me grounded and connected to Nature and the natural world.
2022 has been three years in one. The first third was basically a continuation of 2021: slow, dull, very much a time of “wait and see.” The middle third was terrible – it was the worst segment of my life in over ten years. The final third has been pretty good.
Cernunnos has been there through all three. Feeling His presence in my nightly prayers and weekly offerings is comforting. His continuous insistence to spend time in wild places reminds me to put myself in situations where good things can come to me. He reminds me that whatever else I may be, I’m also an animal who needs to tend to my animal needs – especially the need to move my body.
Nature is huge and powerful and ancient. I am small and weak and even at this age, so very new. And yet I’m a part of it all, experiencing it all. I am so thankful for that.
I am also thankful that The Book of Cernunnos is finally nearing completion. There is no publication date yet, but Jason Mankey and I reviewed the typeset proofs couple weeks ago, so once those edits are complete it should be ready.
Thank you, Cernunnos!
I’m thankful to Cerridwen and to Brighid
I begin each of my Under the Ancient Oaks online classes with a prayer or other invocation to a divine patron. Part of this is to remind everyone – including myself – that the material we cover is being presented in a polytheist context. But another part is that the patrons have a connection to the subject – They’re a part of it.
Cerridwen was the patron of the Intermediate Spiritual Practice course early this year. My first work with Cerridwen was in the OBOD Bardic grade and the Tale of Gwion Bach. She was the perfect patron for a class that included an emphasis on transformative rites.
Brighid was the patron of the Pagan Monasticism class. Sometimes it’s unclear who the patron of a class should be – not so this time. I’ve been able to visit two Brigidine convents, one in Kildare in Ireland and one in San Antonio here in Texas. Both are nominally Catholic – both (especially Solas Bhride in Kildare) are more concerned with doing Brighid’s work than with arguing about theology. They provide a living example of what good monasticism can be. That inspiration carried over into the class.
These were smaller classes, but they were the most focused and well-received classes I’ve led so far. And so I give thanks to their divine patrons.
Thank you, Cerridwen!
Thank you, Brighid!
I’m thankful to the Morrigan
Even when the Morrigan is quiet, She’s active.
The Morrigan has been a major part of my life for most of my Pagan journey. She was very active during the early and middle part of the 2010s. Jason Mankey included her on his 9 Pagan Gods You Should Know post, but when we discussed it privately we agreed that She hasn’t been as vocal recently.
But She was in my ear telling me to participate in the creation of a new piece of devotional art.
Four times this year, someone asked me to make a presentation at their Pagan gathering, either online or in person. Four times I listed several topics I could speak on. Four times the organizer said “we want to hear about the Morrigan.”
I’m not the only one She’s speaking to quietly.
I don’t know what She’s working on – transparency is not one of Her virtues. But even though She’s much more quiet these days, She’s not silent. Far from it.
Whatever She’s doing, I want to be a part of it.
Thank you, Morrigan!
I’m thankful to the other deities in my life
I’m thankful to Danu, who rarely speaks but who is always there.
I’m thankful to Lugh, who constantly reminds me that while I am not the Master of All Arts, I have more skills than I often realize.
I’m thankful to Isis, who has many roles but who for me is always the Mistress of Magic.
I’m thankful to Thoth, who reminds me that writing is a sacred profession.
I’m thankful to all the deities who are not part of my regular prayers and worship, but who have been a part of my life this year in the exploration of lore, in ritual, and in contemporary culture. I’m especially thankful to Loki, who drafted me as a journalist to spread His message to the wider world. I do my best to avoid trickster Gods, but this was a simple and straightforward request and I am glad I was able to fulfill it.
The Gods in the coming year
I do not know what is coming in 2023. I’ll do my annual divination for the new year on January 1, but even when that divination is accurate (and this year’s was very accurate) it’s never specific. Things in my personal life and in the wider world have been better in the last third of this year, but there’s no guarantee that trend will continue.
And we’re still living in Tower Time.
But I do know this: Cernunnos, Danu, and the Morrigan will be in my life, because They have promised to do so as part of our oaths. I expect Brighid, Lugh, Cerridwen, Isis, and Thoth will be in my life, because while we have no oaths we have formed regular connections based on the virtues of hospitality and reciprocity. I expect some other deities will present Themselves, because I’m open to Them – and because They always do.
I am thankful for Their presence and blessings in 2022.
I will be thankful for Their presence and blessings in 2023, whatever comes my way.