More plum mead! and some ruminations on UPG shaming and my spiritual practice

So, the day after I wrote this post, I got a call from Jo while I was at work.  She said she had access to 3-4 lbs of golden plums for free (someone had just dropped them off at her place of business–obviously fresh-picked from someone’s tree, not supermarket or even farmer’s market) and asked if I wanted them for meadmaking.

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I found the timing of this to be very, very interesting, and I’ll be frank in saying that I felt it to be a validation–not of the topic of the post (because I don’t need any validation of that; my own experiences, Odin’s word, and the many, many signs and omens–as well as impressions from other people–that I’ve already received are more than good enough for me), but of the fact that this was the right time to post about this, that it was needed. And the comments I’ve gotten, both publicly and privately, have reinforced that it has been helpful to people, something they needed to hear. I posted what I did for three reasons: 1) I owe it to Odin to trust Him on this, finally, 2) I think it’s past time for the UPG shaming to end, and 3) when Heather commented that she had realized she just didn’t care anymore what anyone thought, I realized I didn’t either.  I am going to be 49 in a few weeks; I have been on this path with Odin for almost 12 years now, have been practicing oracular seidhr for 7 years, and have been witchy/pagan since the age of about 13.  That’s more than enough time and experience for me to have gained enough discernment and “signal clarity” to satisfy myself, and whether or not anyone else thinks I’m just a crazy middle-aged woman is not my concern.

Now, I will admit that despite my disgust for the UPG police, I myself don’t always “buy” all of the doxa I encounter online from other people (“newbies” or otherwise).  And you know what? There’s no need for me to do so; no one needs my validation or acceptance of their personal doxa, anymore than I need their acceptance of mine. The difference is that I am not on public forums snarking about other people’s doxa, making scathing remarks about them in my posts, or in general being a dick. I believe people have the right to discuss their experiences and perceptions without being ridiculed, if they so choose, and I have the right to either engage them in discussion about it–if I’m interested, and they’re open to that–or ignore their post and go my merry way, back to the very long to-do list waiting for me. What I don’t have the right to do is shame other people publicly about their spiritual life or practice–and no one else has that right, either.

But back to the point of this post: the mead. I thought I had made plum mead (with locally harvested plums) in 2013, but upon checking my blog archives I found it was actually 2012.  And this was, as far as I can remember, the last time I made mead for Odin.  Given the context of my spiritual life and practice, this is absolutely deplorable.  But it also wasn’t surprising because–and this is a big admission here, one it isn’t easy for me to make–my outward spiritual observances (apart from seidhr, crafting, and readings for other people–have been very spotty for the past few years.  A lot of this has had to do with wrestling with the Gunnlod doxa. I have had a pattern in the last few years of becoming terrified and backing away from my practice, and/or doing anything possible to sabotage my forward progress. It’s cyclical, because Odin always steps in and pulls me back again, and then I keep going for a while, and then I back away again.

What started to pull me out of the cycle was that I suddenly realized I was working endlessly–like a hamster on a wheel, I guess–towards having a mundane business that completely did not fit into my life, and never would. Much as I love spinning, it can’t be the center of my life because that spot is already taken (by Odin). So I’ve had to backpedal from my yarn business and reconsider, and will be putting more emphasis in the future on the cords, and other witchy accoutrements that have more to do with my spiritual life, than on the handspun yarn per se. (The whole notion of having a business started even before the spinning, because I wanted to find something I could do to get myself out of having to work a day job, because having one is so hard on my body.) Odin encourages the spinning because I love it, and because it can be used to teach me things about working Wyrd, but, as He put it at one point, I can’t just spin all day long as if I were a farm wife; I have other obligations. Besides, all or most of the women who actually make a business out of spinning are SAHMS or WAHMS, which I will never be.

The fear comes from the realization of what Odin wants from me, the fact that my Job has entirely to do with spirits and other worlds and really nothing at all to do with this one. It’s something I asked for, but as soon as He gave it to me I began finding ways to retreat from it, other things to distract myself and to throw up in my own way. All of the stuff I do that involves people–the oracles and divinations, and the cords and whatever else I might make–are because I chose to do them. And those things are spirit work. But none of the spirit work He has directly assigned to me has to do with people or even with this world, at all. And that’s what terrifies me, because it is so completely isolating and because it can too easily seem like something I’ve just making up in my own head, even though I know (deep down, even if no one else does) that that’s bullshit.

So now I’m faced with the task of picking up many of the pieces of my practice I’ve managed to drop in the interim. It’s a big task. Apparently, meadmaking is one of the first steps, and Odin obligingly supplied the plums for the occasion.  (Apparently He really liked that plum mead.)

Himself: “You have a magic touch, and I want it.” (And He wasn’t talking about sex, here, or at least I don’t think so; sometimes the distinction between sex and mead can be a blurry one for me.) “Do I not deserve it? Have I not done My part?” (*indicating the box of plums*) He made it very clear to me that I had been avoiding this particular devotional act because of its implications; so naturally, this was the first thing that had to be picked up again.

So I bought a brand new mead pot on my way home from work today, halved and pitted the plums into it (you don’t have to peel them; the peels add tannin), added some lemon juice, bee pollen (yeast nutrient), water, and about 4 1/2 lbs of local orange flower honey, and heated and stirred over low heat until everything was well blended.  (Do not boil your honey, people. Do not.  Unless you enjoy flavorless mead.) Now it’s cooling on the stove, and in the morning I’ll pitch the yeast, after which time it will live on the stovetop like a witch’s cauldron for about the next week, the yeast bubbling, until it’s time to strain everything into a carboy.

I wish I could send you all some of it; my last plum mead was killer, if I do say so myself (and I’m not the only one who does).  But the important thing here is that I’m doing it, I’m making mead. I’m not running away or dancing in circles anymore. So there. My post may have helped other people–and I’m glad of that–but they’re not the only ones.

 

Forbidden UPG

This post was sparked by Heather’s post “UPG, apotheosis, and what does community work mean anyway?” I commented to her post, then decided I had even more to say and reblogged it with MOAR commentary, and have finally decided there really needs to be a post of its own to unpack some of the things I said.

But before I go any further I want to say: you know that post I wrote not too long ago positing that Frigga and Gunnlod are perhaps one and the same being? Yeah, that one. Well, I’m recanting it. It’s a notion I had only two years or so ago in response to a single vision (the one about Gunnlod receiving little gifts and letters from Odin addressed to “Beloved”). Since then, I’ve tried to sell myself on this particular bit of doxa (that They are one and the same Person) because it would have made so many things in my own spiritual experience make more sense, if true. But it also creates too many problems and is at odds with too many other things I’ve experienced. It may be that I myself am the only point at which They join.

Yup, I said that. But let me backtrack a bit.

Way back when I was a baby heathen and a new godspouse Odin began addressing me as His goddess. When I asked Him for a heathen name, the first one He gave me was Wodandis, which means goddess or protective female spirit of Wodan. (You’ve seen it in my email address if you’ve ever emailed me.) But He had one goddess in particular in mind when He said this. Even before Jotunbok came out, with its UPG/PCPG/assorted alphabet soup from various Jotun-centric practitioners, He had me journeying to Hnitbjorg, watching scenes unroll between Him and someone who felt, in some impossible way, like me. He also pointed out various characteristics about Mountain Etins and their culture (their love of artistry, the fact that they are characteristically solitary and territorial, withdrawn, strong willed like rock) that explained my own personality, likes and dislikes, why I am the way I am. A lot of the stories in my two self-published books came from these early journeys and discussions. I am not going to say that all of the stories I wrote back then concerning Odin and Gunnlod are absolutely true and happened exactly that way; I may write a few new ones, with some of the nuances reflecting my current understanding, but in the final analysis, a lot of this stuff is Mystery. But even as I railed against His telling me “You are Gunnlod” (because how could that possibly be?) a lot of the basis of my relationship with Him seemed to share a common ground with Theirs. Even my bond with Queen Anne grew out of my awareness of Gunnlod/myself as an upstart, in opposition to a powerful incumbent (Frigga).

(I will insert here that Gunnlod/me is not in opposition to Frigga in the sense of being Her enemy or anything like that. In fact, She has helped me a great deal. But Otherworld politics…they are complicated. On the one hand, Snorri may have been on to something after all when he named Gunnlod as Frigga’s rival. On the other hand, Odin did tell me at one point that I have a little bit of Frigga in me too, a tiny bit, no more than a finger. I blame that finger for ALL of the spinning, by the way. I suspect it’s my right index finger.)

I’m not going to go into tremendous depth about the years I spent fighting Odin’s revelation that I am somehow Gunnlod, or why I eventually came to accept it. Were there signs? Yes, plenty of them. But like any external signs one receives, things can be explained away, and explain them away I did. Even now, having accepted it, I will say that even if I have a lot of Her in me, She as a goddess is obviously much bigger than me, and in no way am I claiming that I am the entirety of Her. I’m human, an ordinary woman in a chronically ill body. Odin has talked to me about gods going on walkabouts, about some of Them choosing to have a human experience. He claims He Himself has done this a time or two, while still remaining Odin the god. (He is capable of multi-locating anyway, so why should this be any different?) So I’m not disputing that spirit workers and others who journey to the otherworlds and speak with otherworld beings may not have met an spoken with Her, entirely independently of me. (I certainly have wondered, by the way, why She would choose me, of all people—but I digress.)

Years ago, it used to bother me when some of the spirit worker folks would relate their own doxa about Her and I would realize that it didn’t match mine, at all. Now? I figure the gods can tell Their stories differently, and show Themselves differently, to different people, just as They please. This idea also occurred to me back then, but unfortunately I seemed to be in the minority about it, because when I published my stories about Her, people not only lined up left and right to let me know how wrong they thought I was, but I also received snide remarks when I mentioned to some folks that I felt She was still very important to Odin, rather than some abandoned reject who had served Her purpose and been thrown away. (“I’m aware of your UPG,” one heathen-ish shamany type responded snootily when I mentioned it.) I was even told by one friend that people were saying (and not in a very nice way) that I thought I was her reincarnation.

Well, this was in the days when I still thought I might have a future in heathenry, when I was still trying to fit my round doxa peg into a hole that was–even among spirit worker types–remarkably square, so I was horrified. I began furiously backpedaling, at least on a public level. I began telling people that She was important to me because I was descended from Her (yes, I’ve told you that lie on this very blog) and otherwise tying myself into knots to avoid being tarred as a heathen infidel. And now, the fact that I did THIS horrifies me, because in a way it was akin to publicly denying Odin’s word, publicly decrying what He had told me to be true and what I myself had felt—no, known–to be true. It was nothing short of selling myself out, really. It could even be argued that it was blasphemy.

Which is why I’m writing this now—not as any kind of “ooh look at me” announcement, but because I’m thoroughly disgusted by the notion of personal doxa as popularity contest, as a game where your friends come up with an idea and you salute it, but anyone else’s experience can be discounted out of hand. Since then, I have played UPG chicken with one woman ( a Thor’s wife) who had been Told she was Sif but was afraid to talk about it with anyone. (After talking about it with me, she abruptly disappeared from my radar, never to be seen again; maybe she backpedaled too.) I’ve also seen some of my friends do what I did and tie themselves up in arcane knots just so they could talk about something really important to them on a public level, because they knew damned well what the response would be if they just came out and called a spade a spade and talked about it openly. And while it is anyone’s right to set boundaries around what they choose to reveal and what they keep private, people shouldn’t have to feel that they need to do a complicated dance (I’ll call this the UPG Jig, I think–the counterpart to UPG Chicken) in order to talk about their experiences and doxa.

I’m a little perplexed, anyway, as to why this brand of doxa should be a problem for anyone. It seems to be the new Otherkin, in terms of both its growing frequency and the horror with which even the most magically and shamanically inclined react to it. Are people so insecure in their own doxa/UPG/whathaveyou that this sort of discussion threatens their entire faith structure, or their relationship with their gods? Does it seem disrespectful to the gods to them, in some way? And if the latter, how, exactly?  Is it materially worse to say “I have some of the essence of a (lore named) goddess in me” than it is to say “I’m married to a god”? Why is the latter acceptable (at least within certain circles), while the former throws people into a tizzy?

I don’t have the answer, but if, as Heather noted, she has been approached by about twenty people with some version of this doxa, regarding different gods (I know a handful myself, but nowhere near this many), then it is something that needs to be dealt with, in a way other than sending hate mail and snarking at people on public forums. (Suppose for a moment: no matter how unlikely you think it may be, what if that person whose name you’re so eager to drag through the mud really is a reflection of a goddess in some way? What do you imagine that goddess might think of that?)

I think, as with most negative reactions, fear has to be at the heart of this, so why are people afraid? We aren’t going to be setting up a cult, aren’t going to force you to drink the Kool-aid, and probably won’t (due to distance separating us) even organize a bake sale or show up at your local moot wearing matching tee shirts. And I promise, I promise, that I won’t show up at your house in the middle of the night and drink all of your mead. (Unless Odin makes me.)

For most of us, delving into this aspect of ourselves—and talking about it publicly, for those of us who feel moved to do so—is part of our own journey of self-discovery, part of the unfolding of our spiritual selves, and part of the continuing development of our relationships with our respective gods. And no matter what our particular Work is, that has to be at the base of it. Knowing Gunnlod, and knowing that part of Her exists inside me, has helped me understand sides of myself that I never even knew existed, and it has been foundational to going deeper in my relationship with Odin and my own personal Work. Is that really such a bad thing?

New: Elemental Ritual Cords from FiberWytch

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Hot off the wheel: Elemental Ritual Cords, featuring the most adorable little charms ever! But while the charms may be cute, these cords are serious magick. Each cord was crafted entirely by hand from locally sourced wool top and locks, hand dyed and hand blended with sparkly bits, silk, locks, and other goodies to add texture and pops of color. This magickal mix was then spun with intent and healing Reiki energy and energetically consecrated with the energies of the element in question. They were made in very small batches, and are available in very limited quantities.

Which of the elements are you most attuned to? Which one/s do you need help in attaining balance with? Let’s explore the elements together!

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From gentle breeze to bracing storm, the power of Air brings us communication, intellect, freedom, wisdom, and new beginnings. Elemental air can empower magick for divination, travel, job interviews, study, visualization, finding lost objects, astral travel, and telepathy.

Deities associated with elemental Air include Odin, Mercury, Jupiter, Lucifer and the Archangel Raphael. Animals include butterflies, bats, dragonflies, and most birds and flying insects.

Rinsed with essential oils of lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and fir needle, in addition to genuine labradorite, added to the rinse water.

The cord ends are adorned with three charms: an antiqued goldtone dragonfly and antiqued silvertone swallow–to be your companions and guides in exploring the mysteries of air–and a white howlite, a stone known to calm the mind and free it from fears and anxieties. Charged with the alchemical symbol for Air and the rune Ansuz, which rules communication and intellect, and releases bonds and fetters.

You can use this cord:

- To adorn your altar for any ritual involving elemental Air
– As a portable elemental Air altar in itself
– To mark out sacred space
– For any ritual or spell having to do with divination, new beginnings, travel, study, astral travel, or visualization
– To boost the power of a spell related to the powers of Air
– To cleanse, purify and consecrate magickal tools dedicated to Air, such as your athame
– As a dedication cord to a deity attuned to elemental Air
– For the altar of a goddess (or god) aligned with elemental Air energies
– For a handfasting cord
– As a necklace lariat, belt, or hair tie to wear to any ritual circle
– For knot spell work
– To spread on the floor to mark out your ritual circle
– To wear in support of a spell you are working, or on any occasion when you want to surround yourself with an aura of freedom, joy, humor, or intellect

I have two full length cords available (3 yards), and one shorter cord (2 yards).

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Some like it hot! From hearth fire to raging conflagration, the power of Fire brings us passion, desire, will, strength, and action. Elemental Fire can empower magick for sex, energy work, purification, banishing, exorcising, protection, and success.

Deities associated with elemental Fire include Loki, Prometheus, Brighid, Pele, and the Archangel Michael. Animals include lions, tigers, and salamanders.

Rinsed with essential oils of petitgrain, ginger, rosemary, nutmeg, cedarwood, coriander, and a goldstone gem, added to the rinse water.

The cord ends are adorned with three charms: an antiqued goldtone campfire, an antiqued goldtone salamander–to be your guide in delving into the mysteries of Fire–and a yellow jasper, a stone known to provide protection from negativity and increase personal power. Charged with the alchemical symbol for Fire and the rune Kenaz, which rules creativity, passion, and insight.

You can use this cord:

- To adorn your altar for any ritual involving elemental Fire
– As a portable elemental Fire altar in itself
– To mark out sacred space
– For any ritual or spell having to do with sex, protection, banishing, purification, or success.
– To boost the power of a spell related to the powers of Fire
– To cleanse, purify and consecrate magickal tools dedicated to Fire, such as your wand
– As a dedication cord to a deity attuned to elemental Fire
– For the altar of a goddess (or god) aligned with elemental Fire energies
– For a handfasting cord
– As a necklace lariat, belt, or hair tie to wear to any ritual circle
– For knot spell work
– To spread on the floor to mark out your ritual circle
– To wear in support of a spell you are working, or on any occasion when you want to surround yourself with an aura of energy, enthusiasm, or daring

I have three full length cords available.

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From deep caverns and lush green forests to golden fields and fragrant meadows, the power of Earth brings us stability, strength, endurance, sustenance, and wealth. Elemental Earth can empower magick for prosperity, grounding, protection, fertility, manifestation, ecology, and a connection with the ancestors though awareness of the cycle of death and rebirth.

Deities associated with elemental Earth include Jord, Cernunnos, Cybele, Gaia, and the Archangel Uriel. Animals include bears, deer, wolves, and most four-legged nocturnal creatures.

Rinsed with essential oils of cypress, vetiver, patchouli, galbanum and rose, and a carnelian gemstone, added to the rinse water.

The cord ends are adorned with three charms: an antiqued silvertone beet root, an antiqued silvertone gnome–to be your guide in delving into the deep places of Earth–and a unakite, a stone known to help clear away energy blockages to promote physical and emotional healing. Charged with the alchemical symbol for Earth and the runes Othala (for ancestral heritage) and Berkano (for growth and fertiity).

You can use this cord:

- To adorn your altar for any ritual involving elemental Earth
– As a portable elemental Earth altar in itself
– To mark out sacred space
– For any ritual or spell having to do with grounding, protection, fertility, or prosperity.
– To boost the power of a spell related to the powers of Earth
– To cleanse, purify and consecrate magickal tools dedicated to Earth, such as your paten (altar pentacle or other altar tile)
– As a dedication cord to a deity attuned to elemental Earth
– For the altar of a goddess (or god) aligned with elemental Earth energies
– For a handfasting cord
– As a necklace lariat, belt, or hair tie to wear to any ritual circle
– For knot spell work
– To spread on the floor to mark out your ritual circle
– To wear in support of a spell you are working, or on any occasion when you want to surround yourself with an aura of stability, prosperity, or strength

I have three full length cords available (3 yards), and one shorter cord (1 and 1/2 yards).

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From gentle rain, sacred wells, and crystalline lakes to raging hurricanes and the vastness of the oceans, the power of Water brings us compassion, love, cleansing, healing, and understanding of our emotions. Elemental Earth can empower magick for divination, dreamwork, astral travel, healing, love, and fertility.

Deities associated with elemental Water include Poseidon, Njord, Manannan mac Lir, and Yemaya, and the Archangel Gabriel. Animals include dolphins, otters, fish, and all aquatic creatures.

Rinsed with essential oils of eucalyptus, lemon, sandalwood, spearmint, ylang ylang and opopanax (sweet myrrh), and a genuine pearl, added to the rinse water.

The cord ends are adorned with three charms: an antiqued silvertone wishing well (a sacred well of your very own!), an antiqued silvertone salmon–to be your guide in navigating the depths of Water–and a jade gemstone, cherished for millennia as the ultimate dreaming stone and said to bless everything it touches, assuring long life, wisdom, and tranquility. Charged with the alchemical symbol for Water and the rune Laguz, which rules psychic energy, dreams, imagination, and collective memory.

You can use this cord:

- To adorn your altar for any ritual involving elemental Water
– As a portable elemental Water altar in itself
– To mark out sacred space
– For any ritual or spell having to do with healing, dreamwork, emotional balancing, or love
– To boost the power of a spell related to the powers of Water
– To cleanse, purify and consecrate magickal tools dedicated to Water, such as your chalice
– For the altar of a goddess (or god) aligned with elemental Earth energies
– For a handfasting cord
– As a necklace lariat, belt, or hair tie to wear to any ritual circle
– For knot spell work
– To spread on the floor to mark out your ritual circle
– To wear in support of a spell you are working, or on any occasion when you want to surround yourself with an aura of compassion and healing

Please note that although I have tried to depict the colors as accurately as possible, monitors can still show them a bit differently. The cords in each small batch may differ slightly, but the one you receive will be either very close or identical to the one pictured.

I have two full length cords available (3 yards), and one shorter cord (2 yards).

You can take a closer look at all of the new Elemental Cords, or grab your favorite before it disappears, at FiberWytch here!

Shrine Tour! part one

Although I forgot to mention it in the video itself, this is a VR to Silence and to Jo, both of whom posted their own shrine tour videos on the past couple of days. This one covers my Odin shrine and the household shrine, part of which currently houses the Frigga shrine left over from Midsummer. I hope you’ll enjoy looking at all of my treasures.

I will follow this with a tour of my Queens shrine in the next few days!

UPG, apotheosis, and what does community work mean, anyway?

Beth:

I have so much love for this post that I barely even know what to say. As I commented on Heather’s blog (it’s a fairly long comment, so go read it, as well as the rest of her comment thread), I’m not sure where the trope of godspouses as public servants came from, but it’s bullshit, and it’s high time someone finally said so. *high-fives Heather for writing this, and also applauds her brave revelation*

As for the UPG chicken (go read her post for details about that–omgs I love that phrase and there should be a cute .gif for it) I have been drawn into that game many times myself over the years. I’ve also been the target of it since my books about Odin and Gunnlod came out, and also since I began writing about Frigga in my blog. When the books came out, there were whispers throughout the wider “woo” community that I thought I was the reincarnation of Gunnlod. These were said in such a snide way, as if the worst thing in the world would be for a godspouse to be carrying a piece (and how could it possibly be more than a piece, since the gods are so immense?) of one of Her Husband’s divine Beloveds, as if that would be so strange and utterly unthinkable. And as if it should even matter to them one way or another, as long as I’m doing my Work for Him (the Work He gives me to do, not whatever their idea of what a godpouse “should” do might be). It isn’t as though I or anyone else with this kind of doxa expects worship or applause for this kind of thing; in fact, what we expect is what we mostly get—derision.

When I first asked Odin for a name after our Marriage, the one He gave me was Wodandis. :) I may need to get a tattoo of that, finally. He pointed out to me one day that the tattoos I already have (my valknut, my snake for Bolverk, my Gebo made of crossed bones with a crown for the Wild Hunt, my Gar) tell the story of who I am, if read aright. I now understand how that name fits into that picture in a way I didn’t, when He first gave it to me.

I have come to accept certain things about myself that I fought against for a long, long time, parts of who and what I am that have proven crucial to unlocking doors in my psyche. And from these doors, magic and inspiration and creativity have poured forth. And now I am done fighting, because when you get right down to it, Heather is right: I am not Heathen, there have always been enough people insisting that I don’t speak for Heathenry, that my doxa is wrong, that *I’m* wrong. You get to a point where what people might think can’t matter anymore. A point where only the Work and the relationship matters, and the repeated mantra of “that’s private” or “I can’t talk about this because of Reasons” begins to sound like a cheesy cop-out. (Not that I am going to bare all—but really, you get so, so tired of trying to please people who aren’t your tribe anyway.) It isn’t like any of us fit neatly into “normal,” anyway, so why are we so afraid?

Originally posted on Loki's Bruid:

Today’s post is going to be brought to you by the letters F as in frithful, G as in Gullveig, and H as in Heiðr. And maybe also by UPG chicken, which is the unspoken game people play when they want to discuss gnosis that is personally important to them, but don’t want to be seen as crazy, egotistical, or whatever other slur the UPG police are using.

I’ve stated publicly before that since I left my former mortal spouse, Loki has been telling me that I’m His goddess. And He used the word “Lokadis,” which is one of my tats for Him. And at some point, He began to drop hints. Lots of hearts. Hearts on fire. Spears. And then one day, He pointed to two (that’s right, two) of my tattoos for Him that have hearts on fire.

wpid-IMG_20121017_180307.jpgI’ve been given housewarmings gifts of artwork of hearts on…

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