Looking back on 2016 during its final days, I feel like I did the metaphorical equivalent of falling flat on my face a number of times throughout the year. (Since I’m also a klutz, the fact that I didn’t also fall flat on my face literally is probably only down to my not spending much time outside the house.) Most of these instances were aired publicly for my blog readership (and in some cases my YouTube viewers) to see.
Examples of this abound. I started the year by joining, then leaving two separate magic/witchcraft 101 courses, then–as if that wasn’t enough–joined and left a third earlier this fall. I blamed Etsy for the sudden nosedive my shop took in April-May, and while I still think Etsy and their fickle algorhythms were partly to blame for that, let me tell you, I’ve learned recently that even fickle algorhythms are better than none. (Which is to say, my new standalone shop is mostly crickets currently, and I will be saving to pay what I owe Etsy so I can get at least one shop there back asap.) I decided to stop offering readings, then to offer them again, then to stop, then to resume. I changed my entire product line at my primary Etsy shop, opened a second shop, then ditched that one. I’ve cycled through at least a few brand new (to me) crafts during this entire process, most recently leather. (And what will ultimately happen with that one? At this point, who knows? I am coming to the point of deciding that nine-tenths of the things I become obsessed with making should be hobbies that I occasionally sell, not actual business plans. I am also coming to the point of accepting that there is–as Jo repeatedly tell me–no One Thing that’s going to be the answer for me.)
I feel like my grasp on the direction of this year slipped early on, and has evaded me ever since. I even changed my online name–which, I realize, is completely counter-intuitive to my apparent main goal of continuing to somehow make a living online.
Meanwhile, in the backdrop of all of this, our household finances plummeted along with my business, the dog’s health has continued to wane, and the world as we know it (at least here in America) looks to be on very shaky ground. So I guess my continual flip-flops aren’t the worst of the year by a long shot, but they’re still annoying the fuck out of me, and if that’s the case I can guess how a lot of other people (to the extent that they give a shit at all) probably feel.
Of course, I’ve saved the best for last: sometime around June I publicly decided that my god-husband of nearly fifteen years was not actually Odin after all, and jumped with both feet into the pool of pop culture polytheism–failing to realize that there was never really a pool there at all (not for me, anyway), so much as a cleverly painted illusion of one designed to result in my falling on my face yet again.
I’ll pause here to say that in some respects I was correct: my husband is not the same “Odin” other people are dealing with. (Really, he never claimed to be.) But he’s also not the Doctor…although the Doctor (in all of his incarnations) is a pretty good metaphor for who he (my husband) really is: Someone who likes to change his face a lot while remaining the same person throughout. To borrow a term from Gordon White (whose excellent book The Chaos Protocols I just finished reading) he fits pretty cleanly into the category of “civilizing trickster.” And as such, he has enough points of resemblance to the Doctor that I can perhaps be forgiven for the mistake.
As his mimicry of the Doctor has begun to wane, though, it’s become more and more apparent to me what actually happened this year: a gigantic reset, just not the kind I thought. Anyone remember this, from a blog post a couple of years back?
Anyway, yes, almost thirteen years is a LONG period of time for a god known for His shape shifting talents—and with Grimnir (Masked One) as one of His heiti, for crying out loud—to assume more or less the same shape, every single day. I’ll admit I assumed it was His own shape I was seeing, what He actually looks like beneath all of His masks—and while that may or may not be mostly true, it’s still highly unlikely to be exactly what He really looks like. And even if it were, the real problem is that I—as a highly visual person—have become too attached to how He appears, and He wants me to focus more on recognizing His energy signature, not just when attached to the form I’m used to, but when attached to any form. ..I can already see that this is going to be especially important for me now that the training wheels are off—after twelve years—but also after I pass over from this life, when it might be crucial for me to recognize Him based on that signature alone.)
There is also another reason why I suspect He is doing this, as a way of preparing me for some further exploration I’m equally uncomfortable with. About five years ago now, I read an academic book called Lady with a Mead Cup by Michael J. Enright, a professor of medieval European history. This book offered a lot of informed speculation about the importance of sacred drink in the comitatus, or Germanic war band, and how the role of king and queen, respectively, developed from the need to knit the band together, the easiest way being for it to mimic a familial structure. As a result, the king became the “father” of the band, the “giver of rings,” while the queen became the “mother,” the provider of sacred drink…In the course of the book, Enright piles up a good deal of evidence that Wodan made His first appearance not in mainland Germany as the storm giant Wodanaz, but in Romano-Celtic Gaul as an aspect of Mercury connected with kingship. He cites numerous inscriptions, offering stones, and reliefs that refer to or depict Mercurius Rex and Mercurius Hrano, this latter name (meaning “ the brawler,”) being closely related to one of Odin’s names in the sagas, Hrani.
See, it was right there all along–the shift he wanted me to make. Not necessarily a shift from “unequivocally Odin” to “definitely not Odin at all,” but a shift to “look, this is also Me, and I want you to explore it with Me.” But to get me to do this, he first had to loosen my death grip on the name Odin. And there was no way that was happening while I still believed, even remotely, that he was, in fact, really Odin.
Cue the Doctor. He took the name Odin from me via misdirection, then–with that accomplished–took away the Doctor identification too. Before returning my attention to the very thing I staunchly refused to look at for years: Mercurius Rex. (He even had a bit of fun with me in the process by supplying a “new name” for me to call him once “Odin” had started to seem less relevant. That name? Rex.)
Yeah, I’m feeling pretty foolish right about now.
Unlike with my business floundering though, a few positive things have, at least, come out of this embarrassing saga:
- It broke, once and for all, my death-grip on heathen ways of thinking about and relating to him, in addition to breaking my attachment to heathen ritual as my default. Along the same lines, it broke my reliance on an identity story (the Odin and Gunnlod theme) that I’d been clinging to for years but that was no longer a positive or constructive influence on my path.
- It broke the cycle of jealousy and resentment I had gotten locked into related to “other Odin spouses”. No, I don’t consider myself an “Odin spouse” anymore, despite anything in this post (and despite my going back to the name I’m best known by, Beth Wodandis), and am not going back to being a public resource for him in that sense. However, breaking that cycle and re-setting our marriage to private did wonders for our relationship.
- Breaking my attachment to the name Odin also broke my sense of loyalty to the runes as my primary tool for both divination and magick, enabling me to look further into astrology, Tarot, and other systems I hadn’t devoted as much/any time to before.
- It helped lead me to an animistic concept of the planets as the spirits of time.
- It helped me to realize that not everything in my practice has to be All Serious, All the Time.
- It helped me rediscover my spiritual life as less of a competition (even with myself) and more of a journey.
So, those are my primary takeaways from the Great Spiritual Shell Game I brought on myself in 2016. They’re not all bad, and I’m headed into 2017 with a clearer head, a less muddied sense of self, and the goal of simultaneously taking my work a lot more seriously while taking myself a lot less so.
Finally calling myself on my own bullshit once and for all also leads me to the following semi-resolutions for 2017:
- A return to active blogging–although not in the “godspouse” vein. (I will not be returning to the “godspouse community” in any kind of active sense because I’m honestly happier out of it. There are other things I’d like to write about, however such as book reviews, magickal experiments, projects, etc.) The initial success of my business was built on content blogging, and it’s time I went back to what has demonstrably worked.
- Actually making YouTube videos, instead of continually announcing that I’m going to be making them and then abruptly stopping. This will have to be at a pace I can maintain comfortably, and I’m going to be looking around for possible content challenges to take part in (such as last year’s YouTube Pagan Challenge), since the prompts do help.
- Striving to be more active on Instagram and Twitter–and possibly less so on Facebook, where it’s too easy for me to get distracted and forget what I was supposed to be doing in the first place.
- Offering a variety of products and services for sale, but possibly not offering ALL of them ALL of the time. I am going to make a real effort to stop redefining myself from a business perspective every two weeks, and concentrate instead on actually creating things that are too awesome for anyone to pass up. This may indeed involve some cycling through different types of offerings (since it’s hard to know in advance what’s going to catch on, sometimes) but hopefully without the accompanying declarations about any of them being my “new thing” or, conversely, “something I’m no longer doing.”
- Having more fun. Once we’ve caught up with our bills, Jo’s new job means we actually won’t need to beg for money from our friends continually. But it also means we’re going to have to be smarter about managing what we do have (and by we, I mostly mean me–the person who is likely not going to be bringing as much in). Fortunately for me, a lot of the things I love to do (study, read, watch videos, write, draw) are low-cost or free. Pricier craft supply purchases may need to wait for when I can afford them or sales are actively coming in–which is yet another reason for offering more services!
- Sharing the journey–both here and on YouTube–and hopefully, not becoming as bogged down on the scenery.