The tent flaps rustle and the fire in the brazier before you acknowledges the new influx of air. The crowd has gathered outside; all who have traversed the circle have been anointed and are become discerning to the sign.
You hear the loud drumming, music and revelry outside the tent over the soft pulsation of the rhythm being played inside the tent, you stand between the worlds.
You have prepared for ten days. Phases of fasting, meditation, ritual bathing, and profound formulations have brought you deeper and deeper into trance: all for this moment.
You rise, without staggering, you are brought out before the people. At your appearance, they are enthralled by the Vardhlokkur you repeat softly under your breath; you can feel their anticipation reach toward you like a needing hand. You resist their pull and let the music carry your body into the familiar dance.
The gyðia dance around you; each has her own role today. Two guide you to the high seat. The goði hands you your stav. As you find the deepest rhythm, feeling the pulsation in your body and your being, you intensify the chant. The gyðia join in. You feel the last strings of yourself snap and you step silently out of your body, which slumps slightly in its seat. There, past the mist which obscures the worlds, you can see the futures of the men and women before you as clearly as crystal.
You send the word of power to your mouth and your voice cries out over the crowd, like the howl of a keening wolf. Some of those gathered can also see the glimmer of truth which lies beyond the fog, in that other world, where you stand.
The priest, the servant of the people, supplicates himself before you and inquires. Your vision ranges far and near. And you answer him.
You are the Völva of the people.
I have been talking to Bertie a lot lately. She’s been reminding me of the specifics of the ceremonies involved in my training—though I remember the classroom details, the reading, the writing projects, the people, etc. with specific detail, I’m a little fuzzy around the edges of “rituals.” I mean, I remember the structure, I remember the doxologies, I remember the clothes and the instruments; but I don’t have such precise recall of the events themselves—primarily because I spent much of my time in trance.
I go into trance easily.
Cleaning the chicken coop.
Writing–typically, I have a sort-of half-in/half-out cognition; I know what needs to be typed but cannot think of the words; as I search my (human) lexicon, I lose touch with the (“other”) thoughts.
But there was this one time.
Once, I started typing and, though I have never considered myself an auto-writer of any sort, I looked up and had two pages of really profound, almost archaic, poetry.
I only mention it because it has started happening pretty regularly again. I had actively suppressed it—which I’ll explain in a minute—but find that circumstances have allowed me to explore this skill in complete safety again.
I showed the two pages of poetry to one person ever. That one and only Pagan I knew in town. A big fan of Sappho, she (at first) thought it was some ancient transcript I had found. That same person is one of two people I allowed to see me in trance (since I moved South, that is). You have to have a profound trust for that shite.
In that same spirit of throwing STFU to the wind, let me tell you a story or two.
One time, I was drinking with some friends on a porch and the house-husband started telling a story about his childhood—I finished it for him with fluid accuracy. Creepy details and all.
It’s not like clairsentience. Thought that happens too. Another time, similar situation, I “saw” a situation between the person to which I was talking and her bestie. Thankfully, that time I caught myself before regaling the crowd with the tale. But when I “trance-out,” I’m gone and someone else is borrowing my vocal cords for the moment. Ain’t much I can do about it.
And no, I’m not schizophrenic Booze is just the Heathen’s entheogen.
Here’s a very important story that helps me understand the last four years of my life with great clarity. Ironically, these are The Bad Witch “Files” I always intended to write but somehow never shared. But I should have–there’s a great lesson in it. But I guess I had to get out the other side of the experience before I could really place a name on it.
Long story short—I came to town in 02. Met a woman and told her I was a Witch; she freaked out a little but understood exactly what was what. She moved in 07; came back in 08 having fully embraced her own witchyness. Hooray, right? She even brought a disciple with her. In the meantime, I had made fast-friends (that never ends well) with the woman who would eventually become a bane of my life. She claimed witchery too. I should have known by her relationship with her rosary that not all was “right.” But I had known enough syncretic Witches to talk myself into finding it quaint. Besides, I was a little tired of going it alone.
The four of us were supposed to meet on the full-moon between Winternights and Samhain. Two (#3 and #4) bowed out, leaving me and #2 to go it alone. (I really like calling her “#2.”) I was totally fine with #4 not being present; it was #3 that upset me. It was all her idea after all.
During the evening, #2—who I foolishly trusted with far too much over those years—asked me to act as oracle. She didn’t use those words, but I got the idea. She wanted to know what-was-what. So, I did the thing that came so naturally.
A little later, word got back to me that #2 and #3 were exchanging smack-talk and #2 was reporting, “Her eyes rolled back in her head and she started speaking in another language. I swear she called up some demon because there was this thing growling at me from the back of the yard!”
About a year later, after some of the nasty fallout from #2 (tee-hee), Witch #3 came by to do a little “work.” Sitting around the fire, she too asked me to do some what-what. As I started going into trance, she grabbed me and shook me and yelled at me, “Stop that! What are you doing?”
I should have known.
Since then, I kinda-sorta made sure there was always too much going on to allow myself to go into trance. I even avoided sitting in those taller chairs in the bar-areas of restaurants Silly, I know; but it was too evocative for me. I think there were things I didn’t want to know. Didn’t want to see. Certainly things I knew I didn’t want to do. (Because in trance? Yup. I can do things.) Something about having your magical abilities trounced on and shat upon by women who are supposed to be your fellows makes a girl want to be a hermit. Or hang out with only boys.
So, last spring when I was incited to “Do it all Ehsha style,” I declined. There was a stroke of damned good judgment on my part for once!
Nowadays, I hear tales of how #4 has taken to trancework. *shrug* It’s good work if you can get it.
This is all just to say that having gone through all the crap you’ve been through with me, fine readers, I’m glad to announce that I am finally able to return to my origins. It’s been a crappy set of years, y’all; but it feels like I’m going home.
You have held my cyber-hand and seen me through the roughest of the journey and I am entirely grateful. If it weren’t for you—especially those of you who send me emails and PMs on FB and Skyped with me in the thick of it—I don’t know that I would have had the tenacity to stick it out and do what’s right.
Cyber-community rocks pretty damned hard. Particularly when it leads to flesh-and-blood community, and maybe even a self-proclaimed “fangirl” ❤ t’boot.
And this is also to say that I’m not going to let my praxis be held hostage by a community that “just doesn’t understand” anymore. As a matter of fact, I have picked up where I can only surmise I am intended to be and am embarking on the task of educating my community. My whole community. Anybody game? I’m all up for a roadtrip.
After a profound near-year of rereading everything Bertie ever gave me (and reading the new stuff she’s piled on), I’m back in my own skin.
The journeyer has returned, y’all. A little bruised–maybe from the cosmic stav upside the head–but a lot wiser.
I’ve had my stav out for a few months now and was ashamed at the dust it had accumulated. (The last stav I held was one I had made (carved and everything) for #3 a few Yules back. Likely she’s used it for firewood.) But I’ve moved past the regret and on to the Neetsfoot oil.
Today, my lovely will bask in the sunshine and soak up some much needed oily deliciousness.
Tomorrow, she will be in my hand as I lead a Disírblot/Ælfablot in the back 40.
All Ehsha style.
Dancing. Trancing. Chanting.
Have a loverly weekend!
B, Q, 93
This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . . The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).
 On purpose—I mean, it has happened on accident a few times when I was physically impaired. Don’t think less of me for losing control and sliding into the aether now and then.
 You know the real story, right? I closed my eyes and chanted an ancient galdr. I was neither possessed nor invoking anything aside from the oracle. Both I and my late-neighbor had dogs—though I do have this rather protective “friend.”
 I certainly knew when, in a conversation about thoughtforms, she told me, “Yes, [she had] servitors,” and that, “sometimes they don’t even know who they are.” *faceplant*
 Of which I see there are currently exponentially more than they were last week—thanks for sharing.
 I wasn’t trying to “convert” her (because that’s what she’ll argue), but I was trying to “share” a piece of myself.