One thing Hermes has always been good at is making sure I get the information I need when I need it (whether or not I actually recognize it as being vital information at the time I get it is a whole other matter). Just as I’m sitting around figuring out how to begin working to regain the ground I lost over this last year, I see this post from Naiadis on her excellent blog (seriously check it out).
What in particular about that post jumped out at me like a divine slap to the back of the head, was where she talked about how writing played a part in her relationship with Poseidon, in meditation and awareness and in her interactions with him.
I am grateful that these things occur to someone, because it certainly never occurred to me.
Receptivity is not something that comes easily to me; despite what you may have heard around Pagan circles about women being receptive in nature and men being projective (and let’s not get me started on that), I am predominately projective maybe somewhere around seventy percent. What receptivity I do have is further complicated by the lingering effects of the survival methods I had to use to get through an abusive childhood, severing and walling off most of the connections I had to anything outside of myself. Naturally Hermes can punch through those walls when he wants to, or else I would not be here now. And I can achieve a state of openness and awareness when I concentrate on it, turning my usual focused attention outside of myself. And this was fine in the beginning, but I know he expects more of me now, something a little more consistent, in order to progress our relationship and the Work. And that means I have to work through these blocks and move past this hurdle.
Browsing around Pagan sites and forums you will find a lot of suggestions on meditation, on opening up and achieving awareness. A lot of them though do not seem to work for me, go against the way my brain processes things. As an example, many of these more popular techniques are geared toward more visual thinkers, and I am more verbally oriented I think in words (I have found a way to make visual techniques work for me, but it involves using a running dialog in my head to paint the picture I’m supposed to see, it all starts with language). While I might be able to move up to the more common techniques in time, first I need to learn something that works with my brain’s natural inclinations.
Oddly, I have never thought of writing as a means to open awareness to things outside of yourself. And the more I contemplate that, the less I understand why it never occurred to me before. Lost in trying to follow other people’s lead, I seemed to have missed the obvious for such a long time.
Writing has always been something that was important to me. Since I was three or four I was constantly making up elaborate stories, and from the time I learned how to write I was committing those rambling tales to paper. When I was a teenager that intensified as my writing was my only escape from what was going on around me. It was always so easy for me to get lost in my work, the hours go by unnoticed, the rest of the world slips away, just me alone with my thoughts that increasingly stop feeling like my own and start feeling like something outside of myself that’s flowing through me, using me as a conduit. It’s amazing what comes out of my head during these sessions, very rarely looking anything like what I originally intended and which sometimes contains layers of meaning it might take me months to see.
And isn’t that exactly what I’m looking for? Isn’t that what the meditation and visualizations are ultimately supposed to achieve, something very close to what I can easily fall into just from having a writing project to be involved in?
Writing has also played an important part in my religious life and my interaction with Hermes, although it was very early on and I think I may not attribute the proper amount of credit to that experience any longer. Who knows why, since every time someone calls me by name I’m reminded of it.
No, Gavin is not the name that I was born with, but one given to me by Hermes and that I took when I made my vows to him. It is my Pagan name, or at least one of them, one I can use in all aspects of my life. Its not an alias I use on the internet, everyone I know now calls me Gavin and most everyone I have met since those vows were made have no idea my name was ever anything different. I have plans at some point in the future to have it legally changed, since the name I was born with (which only my immediate family still uses) feels even less like my own than it did before.
The name itself came from an epic rambling story I was working on for about five years, during the period of my life that I didn’t leave the house and was trying to figure out how to function again. I began working on it maybe a year or so before Hermes officially made his presence known to me, and it pretty much consumed my life at the time; I would get up and do nothing but work on it, eventually coming out of my fog long enough to remember that I have to eat and then right back to it again. Eventually Hermes helped me to see what I was really doing there, aside from fine tuning my ability to write sadistic violence (what? you didn’t expect rainbows and kittens, did you? ;-)), was writing about myself.
After learning that I put the project down, having no more need to work on it. I had gained a lot of insight into myself during that time, into what exactly had happened to me during my childhood and the impact that it had, how it altered the way I thought and behaved. And having a better understanding of what makes me tick, I was able to begin accepting things and learned how to function within my means rather than using the more common model of behavior. Without the knowledge I gained from that experience, I’m not sure I would have been able to move forward with my life.
I did not immediately connect Hermes to the project, since I had started it before I ever met him and this was before I fully realized just how interested in me he really was. Not until he moved in and ordered a complete remodeling of my life; in addition to requesting my vows and telling me I had to move out of my mother’s house, he gave me a new name, the one I used for that character I unknowingly saddled with all my problems and giving him a way out. Out of curiosity, I had grabbed up one of my sister’s baby names books and looked up the meaning of the name that had been given to me, which I thought I had invented years earlier.
That one name referenced an animal sacred to Hermes was a bit of a surprise, but by itself could still seem like a coincidence. The my new last name was, in essence, an epithet of his seemed like less of a coincidence – and as the years went by, as things changed (or were revealed to me more like it), that fact has gained multiple layers of meaning I never could have seen coming then.
This was my inital introduction to the world of Hermetic Meaningful Coincidence, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last time he brought about a change like that, quietly pulling my strings and moving things into position until I become accustomed to things enough that we can bring it up directly, plus the months or years of set up help to erase any doubt that the message is a genuine one.
I haven’t done much writing in the last several years, I fell out of the habit when my depression got too bad to continue it, which of course only made the depression worse. For the last little while I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that, about how even when life was at its absolute worst writing was a small bit of happiness that I was able to hold on to, that made things at least somewhat bearable. And while my life is certainly good now, there still seems to be something missing, a hole (or a severed connection?) that my writing once filled which simply can’t be filled with anything else. Writing, it seems, is one of the things I need to be doing in order to be happy and fulfilled and functioning correctly.
My parents, who simply didn’t understand my hobby, used to hang over my shoulder and wonder aloud whether or not I planned to ever do anything with my writing, because if I can’t ever publish and profit off my work then what was the point of it? Unfortunately I think some of that thinking might have rubbed off on me and may have contributed to my putting down the pen for such a long time. Normally I don’t buy into that unfortunately popular notion that it you can’t make money off it it’s not worth doing, and yet I allowed that to get in the way here. I think it was largely do to with lack of encouragement from family, and the people who spent so much effort directly attacking my habit because they didn’t like what I wrote (that it wasn’t all rainbows and kittens), it left me deeply insecure about my talent. In other areas I’m able to ignore or at least work through the negative feedback loop that runs through my head, but this is also the one area where I actually do care what other people think and so it’s a lot harder to overcome years of constant criticism and apathy even if I knew people had alternate motives for saying the things they did. I wouldn’t have the confidence to send anything off to a publisher, so why do it at all then, right?
Now I realize that doesn’t matter. I won’t lie, it would make me exceedingly happy and fulfill my only real childhood dream to get my work published, but making money off something is not the end all to be all, whatever our current culture might think. Writing made me happy, and it connected me to something outside of myself, and that is important, far more important than making money (having grown up around people trapped in careers that made them miserable, I learned first hand money isn’t everything). Even if I end up keeping my work entirely to myself, it will still have been worth my effort in creating it, it will still have served a purpose.
Writers write, that’s what they do and there is no use trying to deny it. I’m tired of feeling like there is something missing in my life, and I’m tired of struggling to open up using methods that don’t work with my brain wiring. With this now in my head, I think I may be able to kill two birds with one stone.
I’ve wanted to begin writing again for a while now, but struggled over where exactly I was supposed to start. I think I’ll take Naiadis’s suggestion and use it as a spiritual tool, a meditative practice and a means to connect again with Hermes. Do again what makes me happy, get my relationships back in order.
And so thank you, both to Naiadis who shared this and to Hermes who probably made certain that I saw it. Who knows how much longer I might have sat with this solution right in front of my face before I saw it on my own.