Góðan daginn friends and family,
I had the great honor of leading a portion of a Yule celebration here in Athens among friends and families last night. It was beautiful, and it was especially good to see many children among us not only so that they too can be aware of our traditional ways, but also because like Yule and the Winter Solstice, it is a time to celebrate the return of the light, and indeed children are our light.
I had a moment near the close of the facet of the gathering which I was leading. Spirit had flowed through me as I recounted the tale of Odin's ride on Sleipnir across the nine realms to Hel [both the name of the place and the goddess who resides there] to retrieve the slain Baldr the Beautiful, the shining one.
It is a rich story that covers a lot of ground, so to speak, as far as the many messages it conveys. But I specifically I made the evening about Odin's eight legged horse Sleipnir. I will not go into the particulars here, but if you invite me over some time I am always glad to share these coffers of wisdom.
It was what happened at the end of the journey (think deep mediation if you are unfamiliar with the term, it is kinda like that only deeper, much deeper). I had been rattling a consistent three beats a second for about 10-15 minutes and slowed so that everyone could return.
Then, as I sat the rattles down, stood up, and began to sing Morning Sun, a shamanic song from a great teacher.
As I made my through the lines, "Morning sun, morning sun, come my way, come my way." Three more times of the same line, then "Come my way, come my way, take my pain, take my pain", it began to set in, in the solo voice there was a crack. "Take my pain, take my pain, down below, down below", the damn is breaking now piece by quivering piece. "Down below, down below, cool water down below," four times and I fall to my knees weepy and messy. That moment is with me now.
I am glad that my children Boone and Luna were not in the room to see this, and I was quickly comforted by my dear friend Jacqueline who rushed quickly to my side, but was a messy couple of minutes.
I sleep alone and have for a long time. It gets lonely, and the flat spot next to me is always cold. To help with this, I no longer "get under the sheets". Instead, I sleep on top of a quilt my grandmother made (don't worry it is washed regularly like "normal" sheets), and I just toss about eight blankets of various thickness on the bed and dive in.
This morning, about four, I was cold, but instead of pulling up my Icelandic wool, which is my go to emergency response team, I pulled across my chest and shoulders a relatively small blanket that is a heavy weave with gaps between the woven strands. My fleece blanket was having non of it and was being difficult in accommodating this strange, somewhat odd, blanket.
As I twisted and got way too awake for such a thing it occurred to me that the fleece no longer felt important. Like it was being replaced.
Then I was taken back to the Yule journey. As my friends were lying around on their journeys I had been walking around the room rattling. I was so happy to be doing this. I was so happy to see people who remember that we have deeper roots than just being Americans, or Christians, or Jews, or whatever box we choose to sit in today, that we go back much further.
This journey, on which I had placed them on the back of Sleipnir for a ride across the realms, was taking them to the place of their ancestors. If only for a little while, they were free, and not like American free, but free free. Freedom from even being free. Nothing and everything at once.
At these gatherings, people often say very nice things to me about the power they felt. It happens every time, and it happens with people on their first time, but it isn't me. I am a hollow bone through which Spirit flows and nothing more.
So, while I had been rattling I thought to myself, "Once again I put myself first. In living too recklessly as a youth, and even as a man, I may have danced too close to the edge and now could be lost) . What was I taking from these people? Who will do this when I am gone. There are a lot of people who do what I do that have heavy Native American, or South American, or some other distant tradition and that is great, it is just fine. But I am all Celtic and Norse, and there are relatively few who do this work in that setting.
Will these people ever hear of Heimdalr, or my beloved Danu, or anyone them should I fall?
So, as I lay there negotiating a peace between the fleece blanket and the new comer I realized it didn't really matter which I pulled across me, for both would keep me warm.
I know that my teacher Cancer is showing me these things, and I know it is working. I am grateful to Cancer for this expanding awareness I am undergoing. When I was diagnosed with cirrhosis six years ago it changed me in one day. No longer was almost anything from the day before important to me. In face, I actively undid all that I thought I believed because I had not explanation for how I had manged to get to a diagnosis of 3-5 years.
I walked out of the hospital not believe that at all. I have not had any desire to include drinking in my life since that day. In time I went vegan, and through it all I rededicated my life to help at least one person not get to the place I was in.
I began working with people in substance misuse Recovery, then I had my first individual client, and 15 months later he left fully sober and is living a happy life today. He still texts me from time to time, he calls me now his "Sage", and every time he does I momentarily get a bit weepy.
I am no Sage, I am Steve. That is all, and that is enough.
So that brings us to the blankets again, I don't really know who claimed the choice spot over my heart, but one of them did, and that too was enough.
It does not matter in the end, who did what, what matters is that it got done. We are all in this together. Someone will be there for my spirit tribe should I need to take leave, and that person will also warm their hearts.
I now see that life itself is all that matters. We are just pieces of the action as my mentor Larry Walton would say (he has never heard me refer to him in that way until say that until now),
We are all in this together. We are all in this together.
Happy Holidays everyone. I am leaving for Chicago today and won't be back until the middle of next week.
Do me a favor would you. Don't go out today and do something nice for just someone, go out and do something wonderful for the world.
I love you all,