What Little Sense There Is

It’s a pity, I sometimes think, that I didn’t come to these conclusions years ago; I feel, more than usual, that I’m here shouting into a void, preaching on a matter where the players have moved on, and the bystanders don’t know what I’m talking about. I doubt it would’ve made any difference, I’ve never had the ability to command attention or influence people, my words have always had a limited range (as frustrating as that can be at times, in certain circumstances, it’s probably an overall good; I wouldn’t really want the sort of responsibility that goes along with that). I don’t know how many people, in the aftermath of that long ago shit storm, were in the same boat as me, where their problems were coming from inside and not the external sources that were being held to blame, but I imagine some were, and an alternate perspective may or may not have been helpful. So many are gone now, vanished from the community altogether. Not uncommon with Paganism, it is still something of a pop phenomenon (though some argue it’s losing it’s power as such, and I think they may be right and I don’t think that’s a bad thing), attracting too many people here mostly for the scene, sub cultures or just some way to rebel against mainstream society; those types usually either lose that impulse or end up moving on to the next new thing. I tended to know more serious, devout types, here for the religion and the gods, but even there, circumstances change, burn out happens; it’s possible they just decided they were sick to death of the online community (understandable) and are off doing their own thing in the real world and just telling no one about it anymore. I hope that’s the case. For others, old battle lines are still drawn, and it looks like some additional fighting between some of the same people is still occasionally happening, amazing enough. I don’t think for a second any of them will ever see this, and if they did, one half would not care, and the other half wouldn’t want to hear it.

I don’t intend to obsess over this any more than necessary. The mistakes I made are done, that time is lost and I can not get it back; all I can do now is move forward, rebuild the bridges I neglected, and try not to let it happen again. Some understanding is needed for that last part, and that’s why I make these posts, but I may be coming to the end of the history book here (or at least the part of it I will share publicly). I won’t say this will be the last post on the great crisis, but there may not be many more.

When I read through one of my old blogs, as you may recall my mentioning, I was disturbed by an apparent attitude of callous disregard for the gods that I saw in my old words – one where I could still claim a close connection but I didn’t have to actually do anything on my end, and furthermore shouldn’t have to try, because I decided that I can’t, and if I say I can’t then I really can’t and that’s that, I can have my cake and eat it too and you can’t argue with me. I think if, at the time, you had attempted to point that out to me I would’ve been surprised that you’d even think such a thing; it wasn’t my intent, it wasn’t what I’d been thinking, and yet there it was, having slipped right through the cracks.

I’ve tried to make sense of my thought process, how it came to that point, but I’m not sure that sense can really be found. I think, for lack of a better way to put it, that something in my head broke and I went a little nuts there. My mind was just off kilter, seeing things that weren’t there, saying things out of line with what I meant and so out of touch I never realized any of it.

I can’t connect myself to those posts anymore, to even say what I was thinking. They seem to be written by a different person. Sometimes literally. I don’t see myself in those words, but I do see former friends of mine, people I was spending a great deal of time with after the initial blow up, a couple such people in particular. Certain words, certain turns of phrase, that was all them – I didn’t talk like that, not before, and not since. It was peppered in, all the time and increasing with every post, toward the end those were hardly my words at all.

To reiterate, again, not playing the blame game, not as far as this goes. Just to say I was parroting ideas that were not my own, over and over, and if I can make no sense of them now, well, those thoughts were never really mine to begin with.

I find that disturbs me even more, more than the first thing; it seems an even clearer sign that something was very wrong in my head. I wonder how it ever got to that state? I can’t say for sure. All I can think is that there was something wrong and I knew it, but I didn’t know what it was, and these people were the first who agreed with me, they recognized the problem and more, they offered a possible explanation. Maybe I just wanted it to be true because I didn’t have any other answers.

I can see, on this blog in the older writing before I abandoned it for seven years, I can see in some of the later entries that deterioration starting. It’s a tonal shift I notice very clearly now, though I’m not sure if you would (unless you’ve been following me for a while). On that second blog, a few years later then, it was in full force. I made some jokes at my own expense, but they were hardly exaggerations – every statement I’d make there would be ten paragraphs trying to justify it. Now I’ve always been a bit of a windbag, on a medium like this, it’s part of my lack of charm, but there’s something different about it there. It just seems so endless, so pointless, I cover the same ground in a thousand ways, repeat the same points over and over (and I’m the sort of person that might spend days writing a post like this, read it over several times before hitting that publish button, and I still thought that shit was fit for public consumption).

There is an air of desperation to it – this is all true, this statement is true, this mindset is true, it can all be justified, please believe me. And I think back to the recent half joke: are you trying to convince your audience or yourself?

I think I was trying to convince myself. I think every one of those desperate, unhinged posts were aimed at me, trying to make me believe any of it. And I don’t think it ever worked either. That’s why I had to keep trying, until I just gave up, why this sense of wrongness never fully left me, however many times I may have said I finally cornered it. If it ever had worked I might’ve been all right again, for a little while, I might’ve been able to move more down that path others who had convinced themselves were forging (I never did more than tip toe on it, before getting thrown off again, the delusions the path produced just weren’t enough to sustain).

I would’ve disappeared up my own ass that way, spending the rest of my days in the company of mental sock puppets I’d convinced myself were the gods I once knew and loved, who only now indulged my every petty whim and never asked anything difficult of me, while my life continued to go to shit around me. I will tread carefully here, but I believe I’ve seen a glimpse of where that path would’ve lead, what I would’ve turned into by now had I stayed on it: this connection watered down to a vague meaninglessness (assuming anything of it remained), and I a far more miserable and dysfunctional person. I am very glad I dodged that, very glad whatever sense I had left then kept me from it.

One of those people that I personally held to blame for my problems, that her mindset was poisoning me (toxic, it was toxic, fuck have I grown to loathe that word, loaded thought stopper that it is, I’ve made a concerted effort to purge it from my frequent vocabulary), she’s since published books. I own two of them, recently, and I’ve read through them a couple times now. I like them, I find them to be helpful, insightful and inspiring. Of course, I was in her circle once for a reason, because I liked what she had to say, because it felt meaningful and relevant to me (not that we were ever on exactly the same path, there were always some stark differences there, but there was also enough I could learn from, and I remember her being one of the first people I saw that was doing something more, someone who wasn’t laity, who wasn’t a community minister either, something other and making it work in spite of everything in society set up against that). Whatever happened, forever ago, in meatspace, doesn’t take away from that.

Yes, all the same words that I once thought the very embodiment of everything that was wrong, not just in the overall community but in my own life. Now, I’m hard pressed to find anything that warrants more than a mild disagreement. I still remember some of the issues (perhaps because those few were genuine, if once minor quibbles that only started to look big when amplified by an angry mob), and maybe the books just offer better explanations than I remember seeing way back when; or maybe the passage of time, the life experiences I’ve acquired since have moved me closer to that view than I was then (particular attitudes about mundane mainstream culture and wishing distance from it fall under here, can’t say I was ever a huge fan, but years of radio silence with nothing but the mundane world to contend with soured me further). But the rest of it, the majority of it, I just don’t know. Multiple readings have offered no enlightenment. I don’t mean places where I’ve changed my mind, I mean that I have no idea what I could’ve ever seen as wrong with any of it.

Oh, all that talk about work and responsibility is still there, of course. Of course it always had been, and I had no problem with it once. And I understand what it means: relationships are hard work, relationships with non corporeal entities are harder work, not everyone can be a mystic (or fill in title here) and even those who can still have to work for and earn it like you do absolutely everything else. Simple enough, common sense even.

The words themselves haven’t changed at all, in fact some of them in the books date back to that time period. The only thing that changed is me. I can’t imagine what twisted, anxiety brain Babel Fish I was using to translate it all into the threatening dirge I had come to see it as.

Because the problem (the toxicity, as it were) was all in me, and that bears repeating. Something was shaking lose in my head, cracks were getting bigger, and one result of that is I was scared. I was scared of the responsibility I was handed, I was scared of failure which was both most of what I had known and all that my unconscious impulses (not having attachments, goals, or even anything I want) were set up to achieve, I was scared to lose this thing that had come to mean so much to me. The mindset she advocated touched on just enough key points in that storm that I projected meaning onto it that wasn’t there, I projected a condemning, judgemental tone that (maybe?) was never there.

Just getting away from those people and their ideas would never have helped anything, anxiety brain could cause havoc just fine without them. And no amount of do whatever you need to comfort zone self indulgence would’ve ever helped, either; my ideas were wrong, my unconscious impulses were getting in my way, and it needed to be challenged so that I could come to see that. Sometimes you really do need to be pushed out of your so called comfort zone in order to realize that it’s not really all that comfortable, that it might actually be smothering you and maybe you’d be more comfortable elsewhere.

Though those vows were once a source of so much of this anxiety, I think it may all have ultimately been a good thing. If I can take anything from this experience, perhaps it’s the clear lesson on how I don’t get to just walk away. Seen from that light, failure isn’t possible, not the sort of failure that leaves you holding onto nothing. Just the more minor kind, where you get to get back up and try again, however many times it takes, until you do it right. I never knew how to look at it as a source of stability; while I do not know, and may never know, it’s possible that was at least part of the intention.

That I can read those books and see them for what they are, not the distortion my anxiety turned them into, says a lot about how far I’ve come. That soft reboot that happened a couple years back, when I’d just stopped trying and let go of it all, seems to have done wonders. Going back wasn’t just about practice, it was about mindset: getting back to the mindset when things worked, and then from that point, picking the better path.

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Lost in the Storm

As I said last time, my spiritual breakdown caused a lot of problems, and other outside problems gathered around, coincidentally or not, piled on top of each other. It all combined to create a storm that was difficult to get out from.

Some of it was indirect, like the place I was living. I’d moved twice in quick succession when this was all getting going, my room mate and I were not in the first place a whole year before job opportunities took us elsewhere (and a good thing, that first city wreaked havoc on my health, I was allergic to everything and my badly clogged lungs sent me to urgent care three times in six months; I’m someone who doesn’t like doctors and normally does everything to avoid going, that’s how poor my health was). The second city had a few good points, but I hated the people there and I hated the culture, and the feeling was very mutual. Even for someone naturally unsociable, living in a place where you’re that isolated and that unhappy is difficult, with every passing year the environment was more of a psychic drain. I only escaped this last year, somewhere new that, for whatever faults it will later be revealed to have, is more my speed and I’m more comfortable in it.

The biggest directly contributing factors I’ve been able to identify thus far:

  1. I lost all ability to receive and correctly interpret signs and communication from Hermes.
  2. I didn’t know myself as well as I thought I did, went with the surface reactions instead of asking the right questions.
  3. I was hanging out with the wrong group of people.

On that last point, I’m trying not to play the blame game or make it too much about other people; if I’ve learned anything, it’s that blame can serve as a distraction and you may later end up eating your words. I didn’t have to listen anyone and I didn’t have to stay, what influence they may have had I allowed them to have; I’m mostly interested in my part of it, how it affected me and why I stayed far longer than I should have, so that I don’t make the same mistakes a second time.

Also, it bears clarifying, I’m talking about many people here and they’re not all to be painted with the same brush. Most were decent people who meant no harm, only wanted to help and who maybe got a different experience out of things than I did (I don’t know, I have a few ideas and opinions on that but it’s not my place to say). For some, this might’ve been just the group therapy they needed; for me though, it was the wrong group, with the wrong mindset at just the wrong time.

It was a ragtag collection of people who seemed to be united mostly in grievance: everyone felt burned by, and angry at, certain other people, including the individuals I’d had a then recent falling out with and had connected them to the spiritual problems I was having. Admitting to this was practically like being welcomed into a little club of people who all felt the same way, recounting experiences that sounded very similar.

This is not a great reason to form a social circle (even inadvertently, as it was on my part). Objectivity goes right out the window. I said I was encouraged to think the way I did, and a good part of that was the environment: that was the message, the truth that was agreed upon that united us all, those individuals are poisonous people and they ruin everything they touch, there were whole lists of things that contact with them ruined that got talked about very often. You hear this enough and it becomes true, you don’t think about it, why would I question that there was more to the problem than them when its so obvious? And as I said, I was angry myself at the time, due to the way things ended, I fed into that environment myself, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t.

I remained angry for a good long time, way out of proportion to what was really deserved. That’s another reason why social circles like this are not that great. I don’t have a negative view of anger, I’ve gotten through rough periods of my life thanks to it, I’ve said before and stand by the statement that not everyone deserves to be forgiven (that letting go of the past and forgiveness are not the same thing); that’s the point of view I come to this with, and I was very ready to let this go, much earlier than I did, but I wasn’t allowed to. There were some there, shit stirrers, who made it their business to monitor what those individuals were doing, and there were regular reports, just enough time goes by when you haven’t been thinking about it and you’re all cooled down and then here they come, “Oh you will not believe what so and so just did! Don’t they just suck? Hey, remember what they did to you?” Well, now I do, thanks. When I eventually stopped talking to every person involved in this (all at different times and for different reasons), that anger was already long gone in any real form; lacking any shit stirring, I realized it had been more than a year and I hadn’t even thought of those individuals once, and when I did I just didn’t care anymore. And only then could I look back on events with something like objectivity.

Starting to move through the other points, though they do all feed into each other, let me tell a story about that first move; the one that happened after the vows, before the blow up, when everything was falling apart but I didn’t know it yet. This move happened because my room mate had been laid off, as a lot of people were at the time it was at the height of the recession; the city we’d been living in wasn’t hit as hard as some others, fewer people were out of work but the ones who were weren’t finding anything. We weren’t very happy there and it was starting to look like homelessness might be in our future so maybe it would be a good idea to try our fortunes elsewhere, and some people we knew only online said hey, why not try them here, where we live? That’s the long and short of it.

I don’t know anymore where this started, and it doesn’t really matter, if it was me, if it was them, or if it was all of us at once, independent of each other, but it came to be said that Hermes was behind this move, that this was something he wanted and was orchestrating. This wasn’t uncommon talk among the people I knew then, and hey, it was possible. It lent the move a sort of weight and meaning in my mind that I didn’t even realize was there, until it all went so wrong (or, well, not entirely wrong, to be fair, homelessness was avoided after all, money was even pretty decent for a while).

Sometimes you assume things, what in your life is attributable to the gods, what are they guiding, what are you causing and what is just life moving along its course; sometimes you make mistakes, you shrug and move on. That’s on a normal basis. As it was, with things falling apart, with the way my expectations had changed post vows, that was the first solid arrow flung at my sense of connection and my confidence in that sense. It was something that very quickly snowballed out of control, until I barely knew what was what anymore.

There were a lot of people I knew whose gods exerted a lot of influence and control over them, you’d almost think they needed divine permission to shit. That’s only half a joke. There were people who reported the gods directed their actions every minute of every day, dictated their free time, the length of their hair, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, on and on. What is reported online doesn’t always match reality, to be sure, though some of it may be genuine. Hermes had never acted that way with me, there was no logical reason to think it would all of a sudden change, and while I know I said as much more than once I apparently had absorbed a very different idea. It was the crack that just kept on breaking, already uncertain and with every time I was told or told myself that something came from him and it turned out not to be, that grew more uncertainty and lead to bigger and bigger mistakes.

Getting past that, well first I needed to get away from every outside influence, then I started telling myself stories again from times when things happened, clear signs of presence and strings of coincidence that spoke of his blessings, the times when I knew beyond a doubt, the stories that formed the basis of my relationship with him. Patterns started to emerge.

I can say with certainty now Hermes had nothing to do with my move out there, and not just because of how badly it went. When he is orchestrating something he leaves obvious fingerprints: a dramatic change, a sudden windfall or loss that seems to come out of nowhere. For the very first time I moved, when he was rearranging my life, the windfall came in the form of a stranger I never met, who was living with one of the few friends online I had, who went out one night and decided to never go back not even to collect his belongings for whatever reasons only he knows, leaving my friend with an empty room that needed to be filled and just two weeks after Hermes told me it was time to move out. During this most recent move it was a loss, the only reason we were still in that city was because her job was good and we were trying to see if it couldn’t be transferred with us, then a year of being jerked around on getting that answer and us starting to wonder how we could plan around that, and she was called into work and out of nowhere laid off. The final obstacle gone, decision made, the rest of the arrangements fell immediately into place and we had saved up enough money that we could just pick up and go. Nothing of the sort occurred in that middle time. Furthermore, on both occasions his intervention was about getting me out of somewhere that was sucking the life out of me: the first city that was just where he was able to make an opportunity appear, this time my room mate and I picked the city ourselves, for a host of very mundane reasons. He didn’t care where I went, so long as it was somewhere new.

I have at this point set aside every spiritual notion I’d had during that time frame, few though they are; if they were important they’ll come up again, but I wouldn’t be surprised if none of it ever does. My mind was very compromised at the time, out of touch, too susceptible to outside influences (and once or twice actually hijacked by said influences, twisted far out of what I’d said and used to reinforce someone else’s narrative); it doesn’t follow patterns, what I still remember, it’s all very out of line with everything that came before it.

Though even as I’m working on this, another possibility presents itself to me; through John Micheal Greer, whose writings I’ve been binging on as of late. It is a possibility some of those more outlandish ideas were meant to be taken symbolically, dissected for the actual messages they contained, rather than taken literally, to make yourself seem more important. There certainly was plenty of that going on around me, taking everything very literally no matter what it was, claims moving from unusual but within the realm of possibility to more outlandish, and finally slipping all the way into fantasy role playing. A lot of boundaries got blurred and this sort of thinking (that there are boundaries, that some things are not possible) was not encouraged; it was easy to go along with the flow for a while, when the circle of people got smaller, more insular. Sorry to say my brains fell most of the way out of my wide open mind before I caught myself and shoved them back in. Discretion, it’s a very important element.

In some ways I might have been better off going in blind, taking things as they come (and in other ways not, it really is hard to say). Had I not been over exposed to other people’s stories, I might not have been preloaded with a particular set of seemingly common experiences; I might not have gotten caught up in literalism and labels, it may never have occurred to me at all to adopt the sort of language that I did had I not seen other people doing it, because the label and accompanying imagery means something to them and gets them in the right place but my mind doesn’t work that way, it doesn’t mean the same thing to me.

Know thyself. But that involves asking questions, asking the right questions, not stopping at the surface answers or the ones that make other people look like monsters and you a put upon saint. Back then, a lot of people claimed to feel pressured by certain people in the spirit worker circles; in retrospect it was entirely unrelated to my own issues. The sudden onslaught of talk about duty and responsibility and workworkwork that came directly to me from certain corners very much rubbed me the wrong way, reminded me of a bad childhood in a way that I couldn’t exactly pinpoint. Not to say I tried very hard, hit the wrong button and off you go, old defense mechanisms engage and the initial response seems like the right one. It was years before I really started thinking about it, before I could understand not just the way that I was once made into a scapegoat and set up for failure, but also (and more importantly) the way that has continued to affect my thoughts and behavior. That the talk brought to mind people trying to bait me into doing something that either they know is an impossible task (so that I can fail before the public and be humiliated, fulfilling my role as the reason everything else sucks) or they’re just trying to manipulate something out of me (and they’ll turn it into an impossible task by moving the goal posts last minute so they never have to follow through on their end), and the only way I ever learned to deal with such people is by not engaging, not being drawn into the game. It was also by not wanting things, not forming attachments, not having goals – that is a point I didn’t understand until relatively recently.

The person a lot of this came from, she was a, shall we say, goal oriented type, maybe a bit of an overachiever. She spoke in the language that motivates her, what she wants to hear and what gets her excited for a project. I do get that now, that in her own way, the only way she knew and understood, she was trying to help. The same words, to me, sounded like a trap, and in the middle of everything crumbling down the two fed off each other. I wasn’t able to articulate this at the time, not even had someone asked and of course no one did, not the original group and not the support group that sprang up in their wake. Whatever missteps original group may or may not have made, that’s not a healthy coping mechanism on my part, it’s something that needs to be recognized so that it can be adapted to. That’s not something that’s ever going to happen if you’re too busy running with initial instincts of bad feelings and pointing the finger at those who set it off.

More importantly, do you throw the baby out with the bathwater? Just because you had an initial bad reaction to some advice, does that make the advice wrong? No. And in this case especially no. If you want anything, want to learn a skill or advance in one, want to develop a relationship, secular or spiritual, it always, always involves study, practice and work. Even if you’re naturally talented, even if the gods are giving you a giant green light, no one escapes the need to work at it. You’re not special that way, it’s not going to just come to you for free; avoiding that reality means stagnation.

And that there is where the support group failed the most, as far as I’m concerned (and like I said above, this is how it worked for me, your mileage may have varied). People felt pressured, they were hurt and burned out and wanted to take people’s personal well being into account in a way they felt had been lacking before, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but as happens it went too far and created a dynamic that encouraged no growth. There is a vast difference between taking care of yourself (or we could reword that as being realistic, about your limits, which of them can and should be overcome, what you can and should reasonably be expected to do) and being so careful you produce nothing but a long string of excuses for why you stay exactly where you are. If that is where you want to be then fine, but that’s not usually the case. There were those (as the group got smaller, more insular) who went so far in the opposite direction as to be convinced work was not needed at all, that progress would just happen – all told it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the tone and content of beliefs and practices started to change so rapidly, started to look more like fantasy role playing than anything else.

Sloth is a big danger for me, it’s something I can slip into all too easily with the right circumstances and it can be very hard to pull back again. On the other hand, if those hot buttons don’t get pressed (and they usually don’t), being around people pursing their passion is beneficial and inspiring. They were beneficial and inspiring for a very long time, until this crisis stirred up a sense of insecurity looking for a cause. It can be too easy to take good ideas too far, start seeing every issue you have, not as an obstacle that can and should be overcome, but as an insurmountable brick wall in your path, as a pit to wallow in or a badge to wear, especially if you have a lot of other people around with the same issues, and their issues are most of what they’re talking about, it can make it all look bigger than it is. That focus was not what I needed.

There were a couple times during this mess that I really thought I’d hit rock bottom, but there was always more digging to do. Bottom came when I lost all touch with anything spiritual, I didn’t know how to hear Hermes’s voice anymore and all the religious thoughts and actions I’d collected were meaningless, and so it all shut down. I imagine this is usually where the story ends, but for me, perhaps owing to a strong stubborn streak, perhaps because I have no other life, it was instead the best thing for me. I let go of all the structures and social circles that had been built up around religion, and it provided a soft reset, no longer so bogged down I could think about it clearly again. I could finally do what I’d been advised to do multiple times but that my brain kept bungling the message: go back, all the way back to the beginning and then to where it started fucking up.

That soft reset applied to many other areas of life, spending a little time at bottom filled me with the angry determination to fix all this shit. Sorting out my health and living situation took precedent, but there’s nothing wrong with that, a poor physical condition and bad environment weighs on everything and it’s easier to focus when all that is in better order.

I know myself much better now than I did before. It’s still a jumbled, scotch taped mess in there, but I’ve found some solid pathways through, know where the hidden sinkholes are and know how to get around them, can recognize problems developing before they get too out of hand. I don’t know everything, certainly, and I won’t ever make the mistake again of thinking that I do.

So that’s my story: an internal crisis, set off after an initiation of sorts, that got confused and tangled up with the large amounts of drama that was happening with me and around me. It was not caused by former friends and acquaintances, it wasn’t caused by former social circles or the religious paradigm I was trying to work in at the time – quite the opposite, now that I can look back on it calmly. It still resonates, that paradigm, not perfectly but better than what came before and certainly better than the misguided and increasingly empty gestures that came after. All except for the duty bound and work driven language the message was dressed up in, but that’s the fun thing about language, it can be reworked. Find the words that speak to you, if you know yourself well enough (with a brutal honesty) you know what motivates you and what’s going to get you to the same end goal. Lucky for me, I’ve gotten pretty damn good at that.

The Great Spiritual Crisis

Before I get into the meat of the post (The Great Spiritual Crisis or How I Learned to Stop Shooting Myself in the Foot and Got My Shit Together), perhaps a brief refresher on how I got there to begin with might be in order. It’s been a long enough time that people have probably forgotten; hell, I forget myself sometimes.

I discovered Paganism in my early twenties, first through very questionable material that could be bought in bookstores, then gradually less questionable material found online. Making those first tentative steps from reading to practice, I met Hermes, who quickly claimed me for himself and went right about restructuring my life; several sudden out of nowhere changes and strings of dramatic coincidence that left me with very few doubts, and a great sense of security in that connection (kind of a rarity for me). I was a member of ADF and in the Hellenic Reconstructionist community, eventually I was sort of on the periphery of the spirit worker circle; I knew and was very friendly with a handful of individuals who were well known participants thereof, I brushed up on the edge of the wider circle as a silent lurker but most of my exposure was through a smaller group of individuals who were then all mutual friends.

During the latter half of the functional years there was a gradual shift away from the former groups and more firmly into that last; accompanying that was a shift in my religious practice. It wasn’t my calling to be a layperson or a holiday Pagan (not in my nature either – full on life consuming obsession or don’t bother, for better or worse that’s how I can be), and while I appreciate all the studying I did on ancient and modern tradition, I didn’t feel the connection with the culture that a lot of other recons seem to; it was a means to an end not an end in itself, my interest was solely with the god. Boundaries started to blur a little, things got more intense, and I found myself being pointed in an altogether new direction.

I accepted a new role with him, a new responsibility, and took vows to that effect. Once I was more open about this, but that was a long time ago and I’ve since changed my mind; for many reasons, I’ve gained a deeper respect for privacy, some details do not need to be (and maybe should not be) shared. Said vows and responsibility do not involve the community or any other individual people, so there is no pressing reason why anyone else needs to know; you’ll just have to bear with me on it, I promise not to bring it up a thousand times in teasing hints and glimpses.

I mention it because it was after those vows that everything went to shit. Like, right immediately after. In retrospect, the connection between the two is so obvious it’s painful. Not that I understood it at the time, or for a long time after.

It was an…initiation crisis? Is that the right word? The sort of breaking and remaking that happens when you let the gods in, give your life to them. I was not then (and am not yet) in any way fit to fulfill that new role; oddly (or not) it brushes up against near every weakness, trauma, social deficiency and life experience gap that I have. I was never going to naturally grow into someone who could, poof, done! No, this was always going to be necessary, and it was always going to be unpleasant – and will be unpleasant once more in the future I have no doubt, but this time at least I will understand what is happening.

It seems hopelessly naive now, but at the time I wasn’t expecting anything of the sort. Much earlier, when I recognized Hermes as a patron (to use the common phrase) I solidified it with a ritual that did involve some formal vows. I suppose I had thought it would be similar, an acknowledgment of the situation as it currently stood, and things would just continue as it had been, no fireworks let alone a mass explosion. I probably knew a little more going in than other people get to ahead of time because of the company I was keeping – though in other ways that same company left me more unprepared for the individual experience than I might’ve been had I gone in blind and took things as they came. Maybe there is no real way to be prepared?

Had someone sat me down before hand and explained what might happen in undertaking this, would it have made a difference? It’s easy to think you can handle something in theory, the reality doesn’t always turn out as you’d expect; I suspect that would’ve been the case. Though if I had known, perhaps I could’ve braced myself for the onslaught, perhaps I would’ve recognized it for what it was sooner. I do not think I needed to lose as much time to it as I did.

I made a very crucial, but likely common error, in trying to trace the problems back to the source, when I could no longer deny that there was a problem. Some of it was a matter of unfortunate timing, some of it was the environment I was in at the time, but some of it I don’t have any other excuse for. I laid the blame for it at someone else’s feet. Particular someones. Everything stemmed from my close association with them, they were poison people, their ideas were poison, their practices and standards are poison, and I got to purge it all out of my head, out of my practice, and then all will be well.

It’s easier to blame others than it is to take a good long look in the mirror. It worked out as well as such things usually do.

Wrong assumptions can have a degree of truth in them, as this one did. It was my association with them that started it, they got the ball rolling (entirely unintentional on their parts), but it was less a deliberate sabotage, or malicious neglect, more like stumbling onto a hidden landmine that set off so far away you never know what you did. If it hadn’t been them it would’ve been someone else, or something else, a light breeze would’ve done the job. I’d thought I knew myself better than I really did, I’d thought (more naivety) that I had my shit together more than I in fact actually did. My psyche was a jumbled mess of psychological scars and broken bits held together with store brand scotch tape and hope, I knew just enough how it worked to get through the basics of life, but I was adding a lot of stressers to the mix, even before giving a god free range of the place. It was going to fall apart sooner or later, with or without all this, it needed to fall apart because it wasn’t stable and wasn’t healthy.

As I said, there was some unfortunate timing involved in this. That association had come to an end in a, shall we say, less than ideal fashion. All the result of very mundane personality clashes; some friendships only come about because of the distance the internet provides, they don’t all translate into meatspace reality, some in fact go very bad very quick without that distance. Things had deteriorated by that point when the blow up occurred, enough so that it was just starting to dawn on me that there was something going on, something wrong. You can see where the mistake was made – it was not a full mistake, the connection was there, I noticed it at a time when I was mad for other reasons, and so I ran with it.

I was also encouraged to think this way, at the time and for a long time after. But this is getting a bit long as is, so I think I’ll save the other, outside factors that helped push this already unpleasant ordeal into the half decade time sink that it turned into, for another post.

I’d thought the whole situation was external, that I’d gotten lost on (lead down) the wrong path, and I needed to find my way off of it in order to get it working again, find that right path I had in fact never left (just stalled while some internal maintenance was done). And so in going off to look for something I already had in hand, I created the mess I was trying to solve and spent years lost in the storm.

Leaving the storm, and some of the reasons it was such a struggle, that will be next.

Don’t look now, I think it’s a new post…

Do you know that I still sometimes get follow notices for this blog? Even though I haven’t touched it in…good gods, seven years! Wow, has it been that long? Yeah, I guess it really has. Is it just on the off chance I change my mind, after all this long time, and wander back to post again?

Well, if so, I guess someone’s getting their wish. 🙂

In truth, I’ve gone back and forth on reviving this blog zombie for maybe two years now, debating with myself the pros and cons. Do I have anything to say anymore? And if I do, is it really worth it for me to say it?

It has been a wild ride, these last seven years; to say it has left me very changed is a vast understatement. Looking through these old blog entries again, I feel no connection to them, they were written by a different person, a very stupid person. A lot of it now makes me wince with embarrassment, and a strong desire to reach back in time and try to knock sense into past me.

I think I have some insight, I think the problems are passing… Oh foolish child, you have no idea. It has only just begun, and you are all unknowingly walking ever deeper into the shit storm. You don’t know a damn thing.

It’s that experience that runs through my mind when I consider raising my head again, when I consider what I might have to say. If for no other reason than because I did have a lot to say about it once (perhaps I should add here that I have had other blogs in the intervening years, though they do not exist anymore for good reason) and almost all of it was wrong. Maybe the sort of wrong that needs to be corrected – especially where other people were concerned, even if no names were ever mentioned plenty knew or could easily guess whom I was speaking of. If I do nothing more than get that story out, leave it here for bored internet wanderers to find and then vanish forever, it might be worth it.

Unlike when I began this blog, I have become very reclusive over the last several years, perhaps especially on the internet. I have retreated from group involvement, I am not on social media, I’ve had little to do with people who are not family by blood or choice in quite a while now. For the most part, I am okay with this, furthermore I think I’ve been better off this way. I have a personality type that is heavily introverted and disagreeable, which makes me something of a natural loner and I have embraced that. One day I may change my mind and wish to reach out again, but that has not been my inclination of late, and I’m not sure I see it changing in the very near future.

The pagan community as well has changed quite a bit since I was active in it – much longer than seven years ago. That is to be expected, and honestly most of the changes I note are ones I’m not terribly surprised by (for good or ill), but there is a lot I don’t like about the current tone and focus. There are a bare handful of pagan blogs I pay attention to any longer, as in I could count them on one hand – a depressing situation, one I try to rectify sometimes, combing through what I can find for something that doesn’t give me a headache, occasionally I even find a new gem but very often it’s just more headache.  And this will change again, I’m sure, as all things do, and maybe it will even get better instead of worse. For now though it is what it is, and it’s another factor keeping me at bay.

Only partially, that last. Because there is a part of me that thinks to come out here and offer an alternative, talk about the things I want to see discussed, as I used to, what I miss seeing. Amazing to me that there is anything left in me that thinks that way, the aforementioned introverted/disagreeable personality type making me both ill suited to and uninterested in the sort of go forth and set the example thing certain groups I used to be a part of would encourage of each other. I suppose some things are important enough to you that you want to try, even if it’s not in your nature.

I can’t promise I’ll be a regular presence here, in fact I can all but promise I will not be, I was never great at scheduled content. I do want to get my post up about the great spiritual crisis (which might be several posts, depending), and after that I’m not sure. We’ll play it by ear.

If you remember me from years back, or if you’ve just wandered by at some point and were curious: yes I’m still alive, no I haven’t converted away, still here doing what I need to do (trying, trying very hard), still getting by and doing a little better at it than I used to.

The gateway is full of ghosts, also full is the courtyard

Before embarking on our epic, cross country move, the girlfriend and I did a divination to see if we had the gods’ backing, both in regards to locale and timing. That was what came up as the description of our lives in Baltimore. It is apt.

Almost every post I’ve made here has in some way referenced the constant struggle my spiritual life has become, it has been going on for that long. I would come here with some insight, convinced I knew the root of the problem, convinced I could move forward, or at least fake it until I make it. And things really would be better, for a while at least. And then it would all fall apart again, leaving me often more depressed than I was before. I just could not seem to climb over that wall or outrun the negative thought loop in my head.

I was not able to try working off the success I had with my Hermaversary celebration (which was my last post here until recently), because just shortly after that the circus freak show that was my cross country move swung into high gear. I was unable to spend much time dealing with religious matters because all my energy was going to dealing with epic amounts of stress and keeping my head from exploding. When I arrived here and much of that stress (though by no means all of it) was gone, its cause if not its after effect, I took a much needed and well earned break. I lost myself in some of my favorite relaxing activities and swore off anything that would cause me more stress – which, sadly perhaps, did include my spiritual life. It wasn’t how I wanted to come down here but I was at my absolute wits end and I needed it.

But just because I wasn’t actively pursuing it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t in the back of my mind; turning over and over, insights bubbling up to the top, as these things often do, just waiting until I’m ready to deal with it again. That moment finally came a short time ago, and finally here we are again. Yet another post on how I know what is wrong.

Yes, I do think I have some new insight. But I don’t think any of the old ones I came up with were wrong. They were all a small part of the puzzle, but not the whole picture that I initially took them for. And those insights I did have I tended to underestimate and downplay their effect on me, in my desperation to have it all be over and over now, I tried to convince myself the problems were not as bad as they really were. Of course my mind knew better, and sooner or later it reminded me of that.

The change in my relationship dynamic with Hermes is a big part of it. Probably I should have seen this coming, but I didn’t. Thought it would be okay because it was Him and I know Him and I trust Him, but it isn’t. No matter how much I just want to be okay with it, it just hasn’t happened. Yes, a lot of my expectations were heavily influenced by the experiences of others and that did me no favors, but that certainly isn’t all of it. It changed the way I see Him in relation to myself, it changed my instinctual reaction to Him. It made me uncomfortable; and when I’m uncomfortable, my walls go up.

My leaving the company of two groups was harder on me that I at first wanted to admit. I had spent quite a while with both of them, both had in some way shaped my spiritual life when it was in new and vulnerable state, and not all of that influence was ultimately healthy or beneficial. It is amazing how your behavior can be influenced by group think, even when you might not personally agree with something you might still do it anyway, or just be reluctant to go against it, even if every sign is pointing you in that direction, because its just not what’s done. It wasn’t just the stress from interpersonal drama, the way I would be told I’m one of the group while at the same time being singled out by them, being needlessly ridiculed over practices and beliefs and attempts (on both sides) at re-education when my life didn’t perfectly line up with your standards. I have a lot of lessons I need to unlearn, a lot of group imposed taboos to shatter, in order to move on in the direction I need to go in.

I have acknowledged that I feel a good deal of bitterness toward my former spiritual homes, one for leaving me so woefully unprepared for the things that happened to me, and the other for not being the support base it purported itself to be. Recognizing this anger will,  I think, be helpful in moving forward. But it will likely take a lot of time and work to find all those unnecessary and toxic beliefs running around in my head, and deeply ingrained thought patterns don’t just vanish overnight.

But that, I now realize, was not all of it. And even acknowledging the true severity of those issues wouldn’t have helped me earlier. Because the problem, the bigger picture, was my life itself. Everything in my life was wrong.

I remember something that Hermes told me right before I moved to Baltimore at His request, when I was still talking things through with my future room mates but before anything was finalized and so my mind was still thinking of other potential places to go. Hermes told me I needed to go to Baltimore first because there was something I needed to do there; after it was done I would leave, go further out and settle elsewhere. I always remembered that even if  didn’t pay close attention to it. And it didn’t take too long to figure out what I was doing in Baltimore, I was there to collect my partner, to help to drag her out of her life and take her on the road with me. My moving there was a catalyst for both of us, almost immediately our lives began changing in ways we never would have predicted and in ways that were unsettlingly similar; we both began more and more disconnected from things and people we had thought were important, and pushed us closer together as a result. That experience bonded us together even before we fell in love, which is of course exactly what They wanted. Once I saw the writing on the wall, I knew my purpose in that city had been fulfilled and it was time to leave.

And it took us two years to actually leave.

For her it’s completely understandable, it must be hard to walk away from a life you’ve been living for years, to fully convince yourself there is nothing there worth salvaging. But for myself? I’m honestly not sure now. I was miserable there more often than not, most of the connections I made (with few exceptions, and they know who they are because they are the people I’m still speaking to) brought me more stress than benefit. And yet I kept trying anyway. I put myself through the wringer trying, I wore myself out, I made myself sick, trying to make things work that I knew, somewhere in my mind, were never going to.

Perhaps because it was my first time out in the world after I escaped the abuse and retreated from society to allow my wounds time to heal; perhaps because it was my first chance at having the real life everyone always told me I never would. Perhaps because He had sent me there and I didn’t want to let Him down by blowing it all to hell, I wanted to make it work for His sake as well as mine.

It was not entirely a wasted effort, I learned a lot about what my limits really were, how to work within them and where I need to call it quits; those were mistakes I needed to make so that I don’t make them a second time. But once Renee and I were together, once we were bonded in that way that made us partners on this divine roller coaster ride, my purpose there was done and Baltimore became, officially, a dead end for the both of us. And yet there we were, trying to make a life in what was only supposed to be a brief pit stop.

I’ve come to see my time in Baltimore now as one long, long transitional period; things didn’t really improve while I was there, it all just changed, one piece at a time, into something completely different until, aside from the fact that Hermes and I were still standing there, all else was unrecognizable. It’s a lot for a person to go through, even if I was given someone to go through it all with. Everytime I thought I had a handle on where I was going, another piece was taken away and replaced with something different and there I was, back at square one. And when all that change was said and done (for the time being anyway, knock of wood), I had no hope of moving forward on my new path because I was living in a spiritually dead place, surrounded by the ghosts of what once was; any success I thought I found there would, of course, be only a ghost itself, vanished by dawn’s light leaving me alone in my confusion again.

Its hard for me to believe now that I genuinely didn’t see it. Right after we acknowledged it was time to go and then didn’t, everything immediately fell apart, and this spiritual crisis of mine finally reared its ugly head. The timing fits so perfectly, I feel like an idiot for missing it. But I guess it is easier to see clearly from the outside than you can in the middle of the fray.

But I am in a new place now, where my gods wanted me to be for the time being. I’ve been taken about as far away from everything I once was while still remaining in the same country, what better place to make a fresh start of everything.

I’m not going to say that all will be well shortly, or even that I’ve made any significant progress. I’m tired of saying that and turning out to be wrong, it’s getting embarrassing and I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about it. It’s unrealistic to expect that everything will just go poof overnight, even if I was in peak condition and I’m really not, I’m really burned out from the last several months and the last four years. These issues I’ve raised here can not be ignored (I tried, not going to happen) and exorcising them will not be easy work.

Starting my relationship with Him was easy enough, I wasn’t even looking for it it was just there. Some part of my mind thinks it should be that easy again; but its different now and it won’t work like that again. I look back on what I used to have and wish I could go back there again, forget all this that I was given because life was easier without it; that also is not going to happen, and I really think that, if presented with that opportunity, it is not what I would really want. And either way, even if the vows could be dissolved it’s not like it will erase this time it will still be different and I would always wonder what I might have had, likely to my detriment. I’ve been given a clean slate, but the writing that used to be there is still just barely visible, I can’t pretend I don’t see it or that I don’t remember what was there, or that it won’t continue to influence my behavior for some time to come.

I have now, I think anyway, done all that I needed to do to get myself in the right position. I’ve moved out of that city of ghosts, I’ve cut ties with all the dead ends in my life so none of that can influence me anymore than it already has. I’ve fixed it so that the only real voices I will hear will be my partner’s and my god’s. I continue to wish longingly that there was some other tradition I could join up, continue to think it might have been easier to have a template to work off of instead of feeling my way around in the dark (and I know some people out there would really envy me that total freedom I’ve been given, and maybe one day I’ll be able to look back and see this as a good thing, but I don’t envy me much right now and there is no use pretending I feel differently), but that is also not going to happen and it’s another mistake I don’t intend to make again. External circumstances are as right as they are likely to ever be; the rest is up to me, and time.

Will it all work out? I don’t know, I’d like to think so, but the obstacles are such that it feels foolish to make any promises. It will take time though, and work, real work, and that I need to keep reminding myself. I’m not just simply getting back on the horse like I’ve been trying to tell myself; that horse is long gone, there is a bull there in its place, and I’ve all but forgotten how to ride.

Hermaversary

This past Wednesday, March 10, was the three year anniversary of the vows I made to Hermes (dubbed the Hermaversary, and I wish I could take credit for that, but it was Sannion who made it up). Every year I have celebrated this as a personal holiday, and its always been one of the most powerful, meaningful days in my religious life.

Though things did not get off to the very best start, my chronic sleep problems were acting up badly the week and a half previous and an accident forced me to postpone the ritual until the day after its actual date. Which is of course frustrating, but its important not to let the frustrations weigh you down, important to do something anyway even if everything does not go perfectly as planned. This is a lesson I need to relearn from time to time.

A short time before I had begun serious work on the spiritual problems I was having, the way I’ve been sabotaging myself for a long time now, an area I’ve had many false starts on before but which I think I am making progress with now. Finally I had found the right person to talk to, that said the things I needed to hear, things that didn’t occur to me however obvious it might seem to me now, things that Hermes himself couldn’t have said because I wouldn’t have been able to listen.

That was the theme for this year’s Hermaversary celebration. Our status to one another had changed but our relationship was not clearly redefined in light of that change. And I got more caught up in the experiences of others, using them not as a guide and perhaps an inspiration but as a basis upon which to build my own expectations. And that is never the way to do things, if you take nothing else from my writings take that: your relationships with the gods, whatever those relationships may be, are defined between you and the god, not by anybody else; you set yourself up for nothing but frustration, not to mention setting yourself back, giving more weight to the opinions of others than the needs of yourself and the god.

I had that pounded into my head by a friend, and again by Hermes as I spent the greater part of the day sitting in seclusion by his shrine, praying, meditating and communing with him (as is traditional for me this day). We hammered out those details that need to be hammered out, and I was finally ready to hear what was and was not a good idea for me (and for him, he is an individual being after all) and not take it as a failing on my part.

Finally he granted a request I’ve had for over a year and gave me a vision of what I’m preparing for, what Work in part I will do for him. Its not relevant now because I’m not there yet, but it is good to know what I’m moving toward, to have a solid if partial image of what that place will be. I think it says something about the overall improvement of my mental state that my request was fulfilled.

I’ve missed hearing his voice. I’ve missed the sure knowledge that it was his voice I was hearing. I need him to be in my life and I’m glad that he’s back – or that I was able to let him back in as he hasn’t gone anywhere, it was my ability to trust that that abandoned me.

I want to say this will keep moving in a positive direction, but I have had many false starts and so don’t want to say anything too early. But that I understand a few things now that I did not before, that there are some guidelines in place that weren’t there before, gives me some hope. Its a foundation to begin working from, a foundation built on what is between us in the here and now, not what was there years ago before things changed, not what I feel should be there because of what other people have or don’t have.

I spent about six hours attending him privately at his shrine in our temple room; it was intended to be an all day affair (as it has been in years past) but after that he ordered me to go out, a combination of sleep difficulties and bad weather has kept me in the house far too much lately and I needed the fresh air. The girlfriend and I walked down to the one park in the city where I can feel a sense of presence, bought him a coffee I poured out on the ground and continued communing with him and going over everything I had been told in the hours before.

Three years and I regret nothing, would make those same vows all over again if asked to do so. He continues to make my life better and richer just merely by being there with me, and I hope I provide some benefit to him as well (I must, because he lingers, not something he tends to do). I feel as strongly for him as I ever have and, however hard it has been, I still want to be right where I am.

Hail Hermes! May this next year be easier and more productive on us both.

Why I Serve

A friend of mine  answered this question on her own blog not long ago now, and,  Since I am now celebrating the one year anniversary of my second set of vows to him, vows which initiated a very difficult spiritual period for me, this may be the time to answer that question again.

I can not say that I was someone who always wanted to devote my life to religion and to a deity, indeed if people who knew me even ten years ago saw me now I bet they would be very surprised. Where I grew up the unspoken rule was that religion was something very private and not talked about with other people, my family members were either atheist or the sort of Catholic that went to church on Sunday and that was about it; with no one discussing it or seeming excited about it, it was hard for my child self to see what was so important about religion. I knew early on that Catholicism was not for me, that Christianity in general was not for me, and that monotheism didn’t feel right to me, and that was as far as it went for a long time.

I was exposed to Greek mythology first when I was nine, and I absolutely fell in love with those deities in a way that, in hindsight, probably was the start of a religious devotion. It was also then that I became what I like to call an intellectual polytheist (in that, if deity does in fact exist, polytheism makes more sense than monotheism). Had my childhood been quieter and more peaceful, I may very well have pursued that budding interest further and perhaps wound up on this path much sooner.

The notion of service as well was a completely foreign thing to me when I was younger. I am a lone wolf by nature and learned early on that the only person you can really depend on is yourself; I did not bond with my family (and though I get along with them now that I am no longer living them, the distance has made it even more clear that I am, for whatever reason, more of a close family friend than an actual member of the family) and many of the other people I knew at the time didn’t understand me, didn’t like me and were very often cruel to me. I could not have imagined then loving something so much, trusting something enough to want to serve it so completely.

But that was all before I met Hermes.

To say that I owe him my life is no exaggeration. What I was living before was nothing resembling a life and without his intervention I would probably still be there now; that is assuming I was still living at all and I do firmly believe I was rapidly heading down that path. He came to me when I had been beaten down, broken, written off as a lost cause and left to rot wherever I fell; bit by bit he rebuilt my spirit, rebuilt my life, made me feel for the first time that there was something worthwhile there after all, maybe I had something to live for after all.

My life does not look the same as it did even just a couple years ago, and I am noticeably not the same person either. He moved me out of my old life and into a new one that, after an understandably rocky start, turned out to be perfect. I have a home of my own, a wonderful girlfriend, a trio of pets, several friends (even if they are mostly online) and I’m content and I’m happy; as someone who didn’t have many life skills, worse interpersonal skills and never had a word of encouragement from anyone, that’s a lot more than I could have ever hoped to have.

Though it may not be what I started out wanting to do, I can not imagine ever doing anything else, couldn’t imagine not having him in my life. And yet still there are times when I really need to be reminded of that, of why I’m here and how much this really does mean to me.

To say this past year was difficult is an understatement, and the difficulty started with those vows made. It was not a minor step I made there, it was something I knew would fundamentally change our relationship dynamic, and as such it was going to drag a lot of issues to the surface (especially when dealing with an area where I already know I have baggage to spare) and force me to deal with them. I can’t say that I handled that part gracefully, but probably in a typical and understandable way, and probably exactly as he expected me to. My relationship suffered during this last year and I spent long stretches of time feeling cut off from him, cut off from the purpose he gave to me, and that only made it worse. And though I knew, both from moments when he forcibly punched through my walls and messages he sent me through other people, that he still loves me and he’s still here and not going anywhere, it didn’t make things easier or at least never for very long.

I spent a lot of time this last year questioning my path; if this is where I want to be, if this is something I can even do. I don’t know about the second part, but I do know that I want to try, that I’m not ready to give up just yet. After all that Hermes has done for me, all he has given me and everything he has come to mean to me, I owe him my absolute best effort and I know I haven’t given that yet. But even beyond the gratitude, I don’t want this relationship to be over, I don’t want to end it.

Hermes has given me a list of tasks to perform, items to acquire, things to learn; I have a basic daily routine I am supposed to adhere to, and regular times I am supposed to spend with him. This is how I will begin to get my spiritual life, my relationship with him, back on track; this is the first step I have to take before I can progress further. Hermes is not, in my experience, the sort of deity to grab someone by the short hairs and drag them kicking and screaming down the road – trick you into doing what he wants you to do yes, arrange circumstances that forces the issues he wants you to deal with to the surface yes, physically force you no. Especially not in our relationship, in these circumstances this is a decision I need to make on my own; I know what I need to do and he’s waiting for me to make my move all on my own, waiting for me to decide this relationship means enough to me that I’m willing to do the work and deal with the road blocks.

However hard this last year has been, and however much harder its going to get crawling out of this hole and training myself in what I need to be trained in, I still have both reason and desire to continue serving. This is still the path I should and want to be on, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

Hail Hermes! Happy anniversary and thanks for this reminder, I needed it.