Coloring Outside the Lines: Ancestry and Metaphors

Coloring Outside the Lines: Ancestry and Metaphors February 25, 2018

a woman covering her face with her hand, revealing streaks of paint and very blue eyes

So let’s take a quick, overly general look at the pre-Christian, aboriginal religion of the early Germanic peoples, shall we?

Disclaimer: I’m so not an academic. I know my sharing facts format is atrocious. But you should see me write out a murder scene…

From our Good Friend Wikipedia (trust…but verify!):

Germanic religion refers to the indigenous religion of the Germanic peoples from the Iron Age until Christianisation during the Middle Ages.

Right. Easy so far.

Rooted in Proto-Indo-European religion, Proto-Germanic religion expanded during the Migration Period, yielding extensions such as Old Norse religion among the North Germanic peoples…


… Continental Germanicpaganism among the continental Germanic peoples, and Anglo-Saxon paganism among the Old English, a West Germanic people.

Wait a freaking minute…

According to John Thor Ewing, as a religion it consisted of “individual worshipers, family traditions and regional cults within a broadly consistent framework”.

Sometimes I feel like I should have my own sound-faerie to follow me around. It’d make those eureka! moments all the better.

When I think of the Western world, I think Christianity. I think Holy Roman Empire. I think, you know… white. And while my skin is white (with a weird olive tone whose background genetics we can’t figure out), the colors inside my Self and my head and my imagination is anything but.

(It’s awkward mixing skin color plus color theory but here we are. You’ve come this far. May as well stick it out.)

So we’ve talked briefly about how the traditions I grew up with always struck me as white in feel and color, right? I mean, yes, culturally, but just in palette, too. Like an empty canvas you can’t paint on; or like a modern room all in white, inviting no touch or personalization. Santa! Flags! Costumes!

So? So… (Sew buttons on ice cream and watch them fall off!)

What colors am I looking to paint with, then?

a woman looking up into the camera, her face painted in vertical lines of dark red, yellow, white and black.

I don’t know if I’m predisposed to rebel against structure or if my early attempts at Finding GodTM steered me away from it. Rather, I’ve shied away from organized religions and gravitated towards the other aspect: yes, disorganized religion.

Like me. A disorganized outer god.

Can I say again how depressing and laughable and stupid this is? Because I’ve been flailing in and out of these waters for years, decades, and in the past two months alone, it’s been eureka! after silently played eureka!. I don’t know what the catalyst was, exactly, or how I just managed to see or read or find what I needed to jar it all loose, but it’s led here.

As a reminder…

“…individual worshipers, family traditions and regional cults within a broadly consistent framework…” (see above)

So why would this make a faerie shake their noise-maker? Because of my frenetic and often tangential way of cycling through connections.

Yes, I know it doesn’t make the clearest of sense. Welcome, friend.

My head:

Celtic obsession => ([Celtic roots + Germanic ancestry] = [proto-Germanic = proto-Celtic]) => scattered traditions => hearth-witches and seers => localized practices => solitary witches! => …me?

I’ve always, always felt drawn to Celtic culture (as I learned about it and then as I re-educated myself in later years). I have always been drawn to the concept and practice of practical magick; the workings of the fire and hearth and will and heart.

Do I want a religion? Do I see a religious calling?

No. I don’t think so? Not…yet? Currently? (Who knows.)

What I see now is tradition that bends to the need; work that, well, works. I believe that what some may call miracles by deity, I call powerful workings of will. Are they the same thing?


My roots, my traditions, my holidays, have always been pinned firmly into post-Christianized Germany, and as we’ve discussed, mach das nicht.

Yet suddenly (magically!), I find this link that goes deeper than “just Germany” or “just Celtic”. It connects not just my genetics, but my internal compulsion towards the culture I never thought was mine? And combines the two into an early Germanic-Celtic foundation that hits me like a metal file to the teeth.

I’ve Just Had an Apostrophe

Y’all. Since absorbing this, I’ve felt that disconnect clench like a sphincter on the ragged edge of a fingernail. Less a hole and more a puckered scar, if you know what I mean.

(I’m not saying my sense of Self is a sphincter, but I’ve been called an asshole, so it’s a metaphor that just barely works.)

That connection I couldn’t nail (ahem) before? Somehow, there’s electricity crackling across my scalp, prickling the roots of my hair. Colors play under the white I’m saturated in. Throbbing greens, thick with life, the chill of deep and richly brown earth cradled in gleefully filthy hands. Oranges and reds, fire gold and blue.

I’m a writer; I imagine for a living. I play scenes and settings and smiles through my head, refine them on the page. Is this my imagination doing what it does best?

Is this something else?

How would I even go about figuring that out? How does one know?

Does it connect me to something only because it’s not the tradition I grew up with?

Am I grasping at ghosts?

Fucking lightning. Always messing with those brainpans.

a woman's face half on-camera, covered in paint splatters, with a single blue eye

Lines and Liminal Spaces

I write in liminal spaces, and I pride myself on writing between the usual lines. It’s a sort of motto, my personal elevator pitch.

Part of me wonders if that’s the only reason my brain is engaged by all these eureka! moments. It’s the kind of stuff that would be so much easier to grok when in fiction.

But then…

Outside the lines (between them, if we’re talking wordage and not art) is where I operate best. It’s my identity and my mission statement. Between the lines is how I like to splash my colors and watch them bleed through; even my tattoo spreads beyond its black borders. I am drawn to the suggestion of structure, and yearn for the freedom to push beyond it.

Perhaps, just maybe, it’s also where I’m called to practice…

Question for you: how does one even begin to find out?

Availability Notice:

I’m going to be away at Emerald City Comicon through the first week of March. So if you leave any comments, it may be a bit before I get to it.

K. C. Alexander is an SF/F author and very proud of smearing her bloody fingers all over the lines. She writes aggressive transhumanist sci-fi, co-wrote Mass Effect: Andromeda: Nexus Uprising, and may or may not be a witch. Like what she does? Consider checking out her tarot reads and behind the scenes glimpses of her work.

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