We spent last night’s snowstorm indoors. The sky darkened early, and the rain
turned to ice, then pounds of snow fluttered to earth. Etno shook his feathers in this storm as we heard geese fly high in the night. Truly an awe-inspiring moment!
The sound was amplified by the still breeze in the air, the snowflakes almost spiraled as they fell, and the quiet of the night in general gave an eerie tone to our evening. We spent the evening telling stories from folklore, playing the harmonica to folk tunes, laughing about memories of our Ancestors, and feasted on oven-roasted fowl and home-made stuffing. Bundled in blankets we ended the evening with gut-warming rum, and more tunes.
I did a lot of leather sewing during the day as the weather changed overhead. I finished another knife, stitched some leather pouches (ones with belt loops coming very soon), and worked with the bones. I finished the taxidermy process of the raccoon skin, and we had another round of ‘house tetris,’ gearing up for future parenthood. Busy, busy Saturday.
And speaking of bones, I looked around my house and it showed me why so many Pagans who have entered my home become very uneasy, nervous, or just flat-out didn’t want to linger around.
There is no divide between the living, and the dead here. It’s all intermingled and combined into what comprises our little home (we fully understand that there is no life without death, and no death without life). The Ancestral altar is not tucked away, in fact you see it when you walk in the front door. The hearth is plainly seen, the fetishes that are hung around my home aren’t covered but their white toothy grins peer at you throughout the house.
I have been working with the bones as I mentioned, making unique fetishes such as my tooth chime-charm to help with eloquence and understanding (because… I could use all the help I can get), and my Plains Charm of antler and coyote.
But therein lies the rub. There is no division – it’s tradition. When the shit hit the fan I received emails on how to cope. The main point of advice is ‘maybe you should turn away from those Gods, because obviously they don’t favor you.’ Or I was ‘forsaken,’ or ‘abandoned,’ and two Christians told me I should ‘Find Jesus.’
This is what I’ve been building from the ground up. I held on fiercely to my beliefs, wept over my bear skulls, curled up and received comfort in my black-bear skin. I turned to my Gods, Ancestors, and spirits for comfort when I was ripped open by tragedy.
They spoke to me in dreams, intuitions, and changes in scenarios. My Gods, Ancestors, and spirits did not abandon me. If the spirits know you’re building a living tradition – expect heart-ache. Expect trials and tribulations. THAT is what makes a tradition a living one. It is when the tornado destroys the world around you, and all you have to cling to is a beam imbedded in a foundation. If you hold on, you’ll see the end of the storm – and find out how damned strong that little tradition really is.
That’s a big point of the ‘why,’ I do what I do. That’s the point of tradition in my view. There is no book that can truly cover it, no weekend visit that can get the ‘jist,’ of it – it’s life.
It’s beautiful. It’s ugly. It’s strong. It’s tradition.
I will keep thinking about this the rest of the day, and onwards. The stories, the memories, the tears, the giggles, the nods, and the ‘knowing,’ is important to learn, remember, and re-tell this time of year, as we spend more and more time indoors (well, around my area, anyway).
It’s humbling to know that what you’ve built by hand is so sturdy. It reinforces my relations to Those I work with. The evening really honed in many things for me, in the deep still of the snow-fall.