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Serendipity and Wyrd

Serendipities have been on my mind lately, and actually have been since I moved to Arizona. Things align in ways that seem random and coincidental, but I don’t and never have believed in coincidences. 

My graduate classes often have books/authors/themes that overlap with each other that are then also somehow connected to the classes I am assigned to for my work as a TA. 

Talks that I attend by visiting scholars or small informal gatherings I attend somehow lead me to information I wouldn’t otherwise have about my current research projects – small moments that interweave in a complex way. 

As an example, I read a book for my borderlands history seminar entitled Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait by Bathsheba Demuth, where she used as her methodology an indigenous one I only recognized because I took an American Indigenous Studies seminar on Indigenous methodologies. Floating Coast was the book I ended up assigned to discuss, even though the book itself deals with the Arctic and I’m an Atlantic historian focused on the Caribbean. 

I wanted to lead the discussion for Sharika D. Crawford’s book, The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making, due to my research interests, but a classmate beat me to the signup for that book, so I had to choose another one. Floating Coast was that book. And, of course, since it wasn’t my first choice, I wasn’t thrilled about it – at first. 

But I read Floating Coast in a very deep way, seeing in it the Indigenous methodologies I had previously learned about, as well as the complex abstractions of temporal imaginaries and the cyclical exchange and transfer of energy. I found myself glad that I was the one assigned to lead the discussion because I knew none of my classmates had any training in Indigenous methodologies and would most likely not see as deeply beneath the surface of the narrative. 

An exceptionally well-received and well-reviewed book, we managed to find it one critical weakness that none of the reviewers had gleaned – the lack of a discussion of the Indigenous politics of the Bering strait in favor of a discussion of the competing temporal ideologies between U.S. capitalism and Soviet socialism – both seeking to create a potential future in the present through the exploitation of limited ecological resources. Both failed to contend with the reality of ecological time, and ecological time prevailed. Ecological time always does.

Of course, that also caused me to think about time and how it is conceptualized through the Norse worldview, a time that weaves the past and present together and does not imagine a future of any sort. What is present now is all we have, and it is here because of the actions taken by those who have come before us – human and non-human. 

That, in turn, has led me to the consideration of serendipities present in my life and the working out of wyrd in my life in complex ways that I can never see because my view of wyrd is very narrow and limited. I can take small steps back and see some of those more complex patterns on occasion, but those are rare moments and I still can’t grasp the full pattern my life weaves in the fabric of wyrd. 

Take, for example, my decision to attend a small luncheon and talk with a visiting professor, Allyson B. Brantley, the author of Brewing a Boycott: How a Grassroots Coalition Fought Coors and Remade American Consumer Activism. Both the time period and geographic area are technically outside my field of study, but socio-political protest movements are interesting to me. Especially right now, as I’m working on a research paper about 19th-century Spain and how Spiritism, in the space of 50 years (it was born in 1848 in New York) had become a critical political opponent of the Catholic Church in Spain by the 1900s.

Spiritism, known more often as Spiritualism in the United States, may seem like an odd research choice for a Pagan scholar. Except it isn’t, once you realize that many of the concepts about mediumship and spirit possession trace directly back to Spiritism. I actually started out wanting to research Espiritismo because it is, today, considered an Afro-Cuban religion and is prominent in both Cuba and Puerto Rico.  

It has been really intriguing, over the course of this project, to see how Spiritualism started in New York, traveled to England and then to France where it became systemized as Spiritism by Allan Kardec. It is Kardecism (Kardec Spiritism) that traveled into Spain and from Spain into the Caribbean. Some scholars have asserted Spiritism played a prominent role in the 1898 Spanish-American War, which is what I wanted to learn more about.

However, due to time constraints and travel restrictions, visiting Caribbean archives was out of the question, so I turned my attention to how Spiritism became such a strong socio-political movement in Spain. I chose that direction because in 1861, Barcelona church and city officials sanctioned the burning of 300 French Spiritist publications in an auto de fé. By 1868, Barcelona was the seat of Spanish Spiritism. Such a drastic turnaround made me curious, of course, and the sources I have consulted thus far suggest that the Catholic Church saw Spiritism and Freemasonry as two its strongest opponents (and often referred to them as satanic). 

For those unaware of the history of modern Paganism/western esotericism, the Golden Dawn had strong ties to Freemasonry, and Freemasonry had strong ties to Spiritism, which in turn had strong ties to the occult. What is really interesting in doing this research is that I am also gleaning information about the slow emergence of modern Paganism, even if that’s not currently the main focus of my research.

So, to go back to serendipity, it was at this small luncheon that someone suggested – when they heard what my research was – that I should consider making it public via either a podcast or as a pitch for a talk. Her suggestion made me consider the paper in a new light and think about what value it might have as a conference presentation. 

Between the luncheon and the talk, I ran into a fellow graduate student who gave me references that may be useful for later research and reminded me of an upcoming dissertation defense about the folk appropriation of Santa Muerte from Catholicism throughout he southwestern United States, which I’m sure will be fascinating. 

So, how does all this relate to wyrd? These are small moments of serendipity, small ripples that connect in ways I cannot fully see. But though my sight is limited, I get the feeling that the connections are present, that there’s an unseen pattern that my presence is weaving in the world. A pattern that I contribute to in meaningful ways when I make decisions that may seem trivial and meaningless on the surface but may be unlocking the potential for a wider variety of patterns for the Norns to use to weave the web of wyrd.

Wyrd is both fixed and mutable, as there are points that can never be changed – a person’s birth and death are fixed points along the weave, but almost everything in-between can be changed. Wyrd conceptually refutes the idea of a dichotomy of free will versus determinism, allowing for the co-existence of both free will and determinism. Some moments cannot be changed, but the amount of fixed points in someone’s life is often directly correlated with how their ancestors lived and the choices their ancestors made. This is because, from the perspective of the Old Norse, we are all our ancestors in a single form- we inherent all their deeds, good and bad. Our opportunities and obstacles are a direct result of the actions taken by our ancestors, who we embody in the present.

Regardless of how many fixed points a person may have in their wyrd, there are always moments of choice. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we can always recognize those moments. Decisions that seem small and insignificant can catalyze a series of events that result in global disasters; conversely, decisions that seem critical can turn out to be insignificant. That is somewhat of a truism within history. Many small things can lead to global phenomena while one big thing may end up, in the scheme of things, not mattering much at all. Historians often chase after an understanding of why things happened at X instead of Y, when Y seemed to be more likely to cause the event that X orchestrated. Life is complicated, people are complex, and wyrd is a mystery that we will never solve.

However, it is good to keep in mind that every decision we make in life has the potential to create a ripple that echoes, regardless of how small it may seem. Sometimes, just replying to an email can catalyze a series of events that, while we may not be directly involved in, only became possible because we chose to reply to it. Small things matter, and they often matter in invisible ways. As a friend once reminded me, we are never truly able to see the impact that we ourselves have on the world around us.

We can never see the impact our words truly have on someone else, can never know what words that someone else will hear us say that they will internalize – in good or bad ways – and we can never know the full impact we make on the world with any decision we make. If we could see further than we can, we would, most likely, be paralyzed with fear. And a life lived in stasis is not a life at all. Such a life is anathema to the Norse cosmos, which takes as its core dichotomy dynamic movement and stagnation.

Being unable to see the potential far-reaching effects of our words and our actions is a blessing in a cosmos ruled by a dichotomy of change and stagnation, a blessing that allows us to live freely but also forces us to contend with the illusion that we make no impact on the world around us. We all impact the world in ways we will never see, catalyze events and moments in the lives of those around us in ways we can never truly understand. This is, I think, both the greatest blessing and the greatest misfortune that we hold.

Readings: Holiday Sale

From today until December 20th, the first day of Yule, I’m offering all readings at a 25% discount. 

Oracle card readings, usually $30, are $22. In-depth rune casts, usually $40, are $30 while the single question $10 casts are $7. Astrology readings ($20, $40, $60, and $80) are $15, $30, $45, and $60. 

Oracle card readings offered: 

Chakra reading 

Past life

Shadow work 

General

Year to come 

Deity-specific: Odin, Loki

Rune readings offered:

Single question

Nine worlds general spiritual guidance

Nine worlds deity specific: Loki, Freyr, Freya, Ullr

*Astrology readings offered:

Basic – big three and inner planets 

Basic + Houses 

Basic + Houses + outer planets 

Full- all planets, houses, aspects

*Must provide birth date, birth time, and birth year

*********************************

All readings come with a digital PDF interpretation. All astrology chart interpretations are done without using automated software – I write the interpretations myself. 

3-5 day turnaround on oracle card and rune readings. 5-7 day turnaround on astrology readings. Turnaround based on time payment is received. 

Payment options:

PayPal: kyaza18@gmail.com

Venmo: @Kyazah 

Please make sure to leave a note with your payment detailing what reading you want and your email address. 

Let me know, if ordering an oracle card reading, if you have a deck preference. If ordering an astrology chart, you must provide birth date, time of birth, and location

Halloween Sale

http://www.theknottyoccultist.com

I previously mentioned that I had started an Etsy metaphysical supplies store with a friend. We’re offering a discount through the end of the month. I’d love for those of you who follow me here to try out some of our products and let me know what you think.

A joint endeavor

Although I haven’t written much in the last year, mostly due to the stress of living in a disease ravaged world, I haven’t stopped honoring the gods or practicing magic.

In fact, in the last year, I’ve done a lot more magic. I have even ventured into the Etsy world and opened a metaphysical shop: http://www.theknottyoccultist.com

I moved to Phoenix, Arizona to start a PhD program and while I’ve been here, I’ve become more proactive with my magic largely because I left behind my group of Pagan friends in NC.

Even then, I collaborated with Blue Huntington, a two-headed doctor (Hoodoo), and with her recipes and my crafting skills, we’ve created stock for my Etsy shop that is unique and beneficial. All of our herbal products are fully charged with the intent they are meant to serve, and I use what I make in my day-to-day life as well (especially the travel charms).

The name for the shop was inspired by Loki (Knotty is obviously a play on naughty!) Loki is also a god of knot magic, and I do a lot of knot magic. Most of my items incorporate knotwork of some sort, and I have specific amulets and talismans that are knotwork imbued with strong intentional magic (I watched one of my spiritual focus talismans trip someone into a trance as soon as they touched it).

So the shop I’m running on Etsy is a joint endeavor with my Hoodoo rootworker partner, a Pagan out here who makes beautiful handmade journals, and the gods.

I’m planning on writing more here now that I’ve finally found a bit of a groove after a cross-country move, and I’m hoping all of you will support me by continuing to read my blog and by supporting my Etsy shop.

The Abundance of Misinformation

Divine Multiplicity

When it comes to spiritwork and magic, there is a lot of misinformation. Misinformation on both spiritwork and magic abounds in both published books and online platforms. It takes experienced spiritworkers and magic workers to discern what is good and bad information within books, which is really unfortunate for those starting down spiritworking and magical paths.

Spiritwork and magic both adhere to certain rules, just like the physical world adheres to certain rules. The fact that many authors and online influencers promote methods of spiritwork and magic that often ignore the rules of the spirit world and magical workings is problematic on many levels and has a range of harmful effects.

At the least harmful level, ignoring those rules leads to a failure to connect to spirit or prevents magic from working altogether. In situations where some rules are followed but others ignored, there may be limited results that then…

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A Reading List on Race

Black Lives Matter.

The tragic death of George Floyd is another name in a long list of BIPOC individuals who have been killed for existing. Racism is rampant in the United States, in every social institution imaginable, and the institution of the police is no different. Hell, the police was originally created to catch runaway slaves. If that doesn’t tell you how deeply racism is embedded in our country, here is a list of books that will give you a clearer picture.

All of the following books are ones that I have read, and I guarantee that they  will help you understand more about race and racism within the U.S.This list in particular is directed at other white individuals, as we (white people) have a hard time talking about race. Let’s change that, so we can change the system and create one where color is visible, diversity is celebrated, and life is affirmed. Notes follow each title so you can determine if it is something you can read with a reading level and a difficulty rating between 1 and 5 with 1 at easy and 5 at extremely difficult. Please feel free to share this list.

“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
-Reading Level: General
-Difficulty Rating: 1

“Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi
-Reading Level: Written for a general audience but thoroughly researched and credible academic source
-Difficulty Rating: 2 just b/c of length

“The Racial Contract” by Charles Mills
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate students and upper-level undergrads (philosophy majors); it is a philosophy text
-Difficulty Rating: 5

“Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process” by A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.
-Reading Level: Academic – grad and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4
-Kind of dry but absolutely essential for understanding how the law disenfranchises BIPOC

“Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (and everything else he has written)
-Reading Level: Academic but approachable for upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity” by Tim Wise
-Reading Level: Written for academics but is suitable for undergraduates at all levels and general audience
-Difficulty Rating: 2

“Racial Formation in the United States” by Michael Omi
-Reading Level: Academic but approachable for upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal” by Andrew Hacker
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4

“American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Working Class” by Douglas S. Massey & Nancy A. Denton
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4

“The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing” by Joe R. Feagin
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads (especially sociology; it is a sociology text)
-Difficulty Rating: 3.5

“The Invention of the White Race” by Theodore W. Allen
-Reading Level: Academic – all levels
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“The History of White People” by Nell Painter
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4.5

“The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class” by David Roediger
-Reading Level: Academic – all levels and also suitable for a general audience
-Difficulty Rating: 1

“The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics” by George Lipsitz
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“The Constraint of Race: Legacies of White Skin Privilege in America” by Linda Faye Williams
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“White: Essays on Race and Culture” by Richard Dyer
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads (esp. communications majors).
-Difficulty Rating: 4.5

Aetherial Realm Shift – What it Means

I’m going to start by saying that I am 100% aware that the post I am about to write (and that you are about to read) will seem unreal/unusual and maybe even hit buttons of “this is crazy” for some of you.

That said, I feel a pretty urgent need to post this b/c I witnessed it first-hand happen to my roommate.

A few days ago, my roommate started being harassed by a spirit. She’s a two-headed doctor, so her immediate response was to do all the normal things – cleansing, banishing, warding, etc. The spirit did not respond to any of those things – in fact, it loved the energy. However, it did not stop harassing my roommate.

At that point, my roommate came to me and asked me if I could talk to the spirit and see what it wanted. Most of you aren’t really aware of this b/c I don’t speak about it much (for good reason) but I primarily do work as an astral mage – the majority of my magic takes place in realms outside of this one. Spiritwork is thus a huge part of it.

I approached the spirit, which resembled a celestial horse made completely of starlight (with wings), and I asked her what she wanted. Her response to me was “She (my roommate) needs me, but she doesn’t know it yet” and then proceeded to explain to me that she was, in fact, my roommate’s astral double who had somehow been forcibly removed from her home in the aetherial realm.

I didn’t have the tools on me to fix that (it’s not exactly a common thing to have to contend with), so we went to bed that night after my roommate set up an altar to her double to stabilize it a bit (this was a chance thing we tried that helped). My immediate action upon hitting the dreamworld was to consult with aetherials (I am a dreamwalker) to figure out what was happening. The only aetherials I’d really interacted with before had been a couple of angels, one of which was Michael.

So, I approached him (more like yelled at him while he was luckily flying over me on a mission and asked him what to do) and his response to me was “I’m busy, this is happening everywhere, you’re going to have to talk to some humans.” So, the next day, that’s what I did. I consulted everyone I could think of – no one had any idea what to do or what to recommend. Many people I talked to had stopped even practicing magic given the state of the world (which is understandable but inadvisable given the age-old magic truism that the macrocosm and microcosm reflect each other).

Then, by chance, a friend came over who does work with angels. She suggested my roommate consult with Raziel. My roommate followed that advice, and Raziel basically did the astral equivalent of open-heart surgery to re-establish the connection between my roommate and her astral double that had been severed. Papa Legba helped the astral double return to its rightful home in the aetherial realm, and a few other spirits helped the process along.

However, Raziel told my roommate that after the surgery she could not do magic for the rest of the night because that would potentially undo his hard work. He also told her that she wasn’t out of danger. The surgery itself caused her to experience a lot of physical pain. When that physical pain ended for her – about three-four hours later – our power went out.

The power went out in our entire apartment complex, so we figured it was just a downed power line somewhere since it wasn’t raining or storming. We found a couple candles and decided just to go to bed and say fuck it. Within about five minutes of that, though, my roommate came out of her room and told me that it felt really hostile and that she was afraid to sleep in her own room. She also brought me some red brick dust to line our apartment doorway with.

I took the red brick dust, invoked Thor for extra protection, and laid it across the doorway. As soon as the door shut, the power came back on.

One of those things being a coincidence – the power going off when she stopped being in pain or the power coming on after shutting the door – I could potentially buy. But not when power went out and was restored at very specific magical moments – that told me something weird was going on.

So, I got my tools together. I have an astral wand and an abalone shell that I keep near my bed to make travel a little easier. I also placed amethyst and a stone dedicated to Raguel that Raguel lent me after my roommate (who keeps an altar for him) introduced me to him and explained the situation at hand. Those went in a pouch that I wore to bed to augment dreamwalking in the aetherial realm, which I am less well-versed in walking.

In addition, I created runic warding sigils for every wall in the apartment and astros sigils for every window and reflective surface. I was not willing to risk anything else happening that night because things had gotten really weird really fast.

Anyway, after I finished increasing the wards around the apartment (we already had several layers of wards before the sigils), we went to bed. I reminded my roommate not to touch me, no matter what happened, while I was sleeping, because it is incredibly dangerous to pull someone out of a dreamwalk – about the same dangers as someone pulled out of shamanic trance. If you aren’t trained to do it safely, you can do some serious damage to the person’s mind and body.

In the astral, I met up with Raguel who had basically told me when he lent me the stone that he would explain the basics of the aetherial realm to me. I got a crash-course in the physics of the aetherial realm, the first rule of which was never to try to traverse it without a spirit guide because everything in the realm is in constant motion. I’m not going to go into further details about that here, as it stands to reason that aetherials don’t want everyone knowing how to access their realm when a breach is what has caused this problem in the first place.

The real problem here is that astral doubles – aka flygjas – are being delinked from their physical counterparts and forcibly removed from the aetherial realm and transported to the realm where their physical counterpart resides. This seems to be happening at random – there is not a set pattern to who exactly has found themselves delinked from their astral doubles – so here are a few things to look out for:

If you are spiritually sensitive and feel a spirit around you that is basically an extended echo of you (exaggerates all your personality characteristics) and cannot be removed (b/c it’s not a negative entity), and it is continuously trying to cling to you – it is probably doing the best it can to recreate the link and get back to the aetherial. If you spend too much time delinked from your astral double, it can and will kill you (it legitly almost killed my roommate; we got incredibly lucky that we are both adept practitioners because we were also both pretty out of our depth).

There is absolutely no telling who it will impact and who it won’t – however, there is something you can do that will help. If you don’t have one, you need to purchase an amethyst cluster or geode for every person in your household (or you need to be an astral mage/dreamwalker with extensive training to create the right kind of wards to prevent such a delinking in the first place). That amethyst cluster can act as an anchoring point that links the astral double back to the aetherial realm long enough for a deity/aetherial to help you re-establish the connection and get the astral double back to its home in the aetherial plane. Only amethyst will work for this – it is the only stone with a direct link to the aetherial plane.

For those of you who are not sensitive to spirit, the physical symptoms – based on what I witnessed my roommate experience – are as follows: extreme lethargy, inability to sleep, inability to eat, difficulty moving, hot/cold flashes without a fever or any other physical reasons for it, random sneezing with no physical reason for it (no allergies), sense of impending doom/feeling like you’re dying with no underlying physical reason for it.

I can talk about what is happening right now only because of the extreme emergency situation caused by it. From what I have been given to understand, this particular situation was what caused the “shift” that many more sensitive individuals felt in the last couple of weeks. A lot of people have said it felt like a “positive” shift; others have said negative. The shift happened in one of the realms with the highest vibrational energy, and a type of energy that always feels good, which does help explain the oddness of it.

Because of what I personally witnessed and because of my own understanding of what is happening, I felt like I had to write this post. What you do with it is up to you, and I sincerely hope that no one who reads this ever experiences what I witnessed happened to my roommate. It was more terrifying than I have words to express.

Odin and Autosacrifice

Divine Multiplicity

About 10 years ago, I found myself reading Norse mythology and all the books considered part of the Heathen lexicon of lore. The whole reason I started reading books dealing with Norse mythology, history, and lore – I saw an unsettling picture of Odin on a website. The picture displayed him as an elder man with an eye-patch, but the look in his other eye came across like a leader offering a rebuke while simultaneously extending his hand.

The way that picture unsettled me actually prevented me from doing research into Heathenry for about six months. I was not sure I was ready to deal with another god after I had spent the majority of my life feeling betrayed by the Christian god; I certainly wasn’t sure I was ready to deal with a god that had the kind of unsettling presence I felt in that picture. I wrestled with…

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Adjusting to a New Reality

Note: This is long, and it is my attempt to respond to Beckett’s call in his article, “Letter to my Fellow Pagan Priests in this Time of Isolation and Uncertainty,” to be more vulnerable.


I remember sitting down to dinner with two of my friends sometime in mid-January, and we were discussing the earthquakes in Puerto Rico and how something like that had not happened in a century. We also discussed other historical storms. At one point, we talked about how the only thing that hadn’t yet happened was a global pandemic…as the last one had happened over 100 years ago.

That conversation still haunts me because it almost seemed to predict the situation we are facing now, with the Covid19 pandemic. The rational part of my mind knows that a conversation like that between friends cannot actually cause a global trauma to occur; the CPTSD that I live with every day makes me feel guilt and shame for even having the conversation because it tells me that somehow the conversation turned speculation into reality. That’s obviously impossible, but the trauma disorder twists my emotions into irrational and incoherent knots.

On top of that, when the virus hit NC near the beginning of March, I was at home dealing with allergic bronchitis that had turned into bacterial pneumonia. I spent nearly a week and a half feeling like I was going to die – I had to go into the doctor’s office for a nebulizer treatment, was prescribed Levaquin, Prednisone, and Albuterol (inhaler) – and that was the week before my university’s scheduled spring break.

When I had halfway recovered, I spent the entirety of that original spring break writing the rest of my thesis (which I am now revising). By the time that was done, I was still dealing with a terrible cough from the bronchitis-pneumonia and my school had announced a second spring break and a complete switch to online classes for the rest of the semester.

For me, that second spring break and the week following it felt surreal. I ended up going through periods of depersonalization and derealization; it felt like the world was no longer real and I had woken up in some alternate dimension to the reality I was supposed to be in. Because of that hazy-at-the-edge feeling of the world at large, I turned to what I normally do when I feel overwhelmed – research and the consumption of information.

I read absolutely every article I could find about Covid19 for two weeks straight, often spending entire days glued to my computer just to find out more information about the virus, how it spread, who was at risk, and what to do to lessen risk. I obsessively researched information about materials and liquids that were anti-microbial; I invested in a copper salt rinse because copper is antimicrobial (and I have bad allergies).

I bought hand sanitizer for the first time in my life – I hate hand sanitizer because the alcohol in it cracks my skin – and antibacterial wipes for my car. I dug out a relatively unused can of Lysol wipes from my cleaning supplies and sanitized every surface in my apartment; I started sanitizing groceries when I brought them home. I started opening mail, throwing away the packaging, then letting the items sit for 3 days before even daring to touch them. Every time I go out, I put my hair up and I twist on hair-ties to the end of my glasses to keep them from sliding down my face so I am not tempted to touch my face.

I bought non-medical grade nitrate gloves, and I have the materials to make a cloth mask…which I will use as soon as the county where I live has over 10 cases (right now it’s under that) because I cannot breathe well and thus hate wearing masks. I have asthma, exacerbated by allergies, so masks tend to reinforce for me exactly how hard it is for me to breathe normally. I generally have to breathe through my mouth.

I paid attention to the little details in news articles about what people were hoarding, what the poorest people were having the hardest time accessing, and I went out of my way to avoid those items, despite being a food stamp beneficiary myself. I refused to become a panic buyer because I knew that buying selfishly could result in the loss of someone else’s ability to feed their children, and I absolutely did not want that on my conscience.

I purposefully limited myself to no more than 2 of anything I picked up unless it was very obviously untouched/well-stocked (like diced tomatoes; I ended up with 5 cans of those). I bought no more than 2 of any meat item even though I knew from a friend who works in the meat processing industry that the meat supply chain was definitely impacted because meat processing plants around the country were shutting down. I did the best I could to avoid canned meats, knowing first-hand that often the only kind of protein that poor children get comes in the form of Vienna sausages, Spam, and canned tuna/chicken. Any item labeled WIC, I avoided, grabbing the cheapest non-WIC alternative I could find.

I refused to use cash, and any time a store employee asked about a store card, I gave them a phone number instead of reaching for my wallet to pull it out just to minimize contact for them, as they are some of the people most at-risk. I also used the antibacterial wipes I keep in my car after the grocery trip, wiping down my hands, my car keys, my door handles, my steering wheel, my phone, my purse, and the card I used to make the purchase. Once at home, I brought the groceries in, washed my hands, sanitized the counter, and used Lysol wipes to wipe everything down and threw away all of the bags that I brought the groceries home in. Normally, I keep plastic grocery bags to use as trash bags in the bathroom; I have enough stockpiled that I am not doing that any longer.

I went to my dad’s house before the stay-at-home order was issued in NC so that I could do laundry there instead of at a shared laundry facility with the rest of the apartment complex where I live. I didn’t want the added stress of having to sanitize the laundry room every time I used it. I bought a laundry additive to help kill allergens to help reduce the potential risk for me getting a second round of allergic bronchitis…my allergies/asthma put me at a higher risk if I do contract Covid19…so lessening the impact of my allergies right now is incredibly important.

After those two weeks of obsessively consuming information about the virus and how to lessen the risk to myself, I have mostly moved away from reading the news. I got what I needed from it – what I can do to protect myself and others to the best of my ability. I am doing those things. I am washing my hands, maintaining social distancing policies, and doing everything I can when I go to a grocery store to minimize contact between myself and others. I am sanitizing my car when I get out of the store and my groceries when I get home. I am doing everything I can, and, for me, that has been enough for me to regain some sense of reality.

The world doesn’t seem hazy now; I’m not experiencing derealization and depersonalization anymore. I have, for the most part, adapted to this new reality. I am still struggling to carve out time for doing work – I have a paper on Zimbabwe to write, a movie to watch and respond to, thesis revisions to work on, and all of my work as a graduate teaching assistant to do. I actually wrote out a schedule to follow this week, and that has helped. I’ve never done well working from home (too many distractions), so I’m having to find new and inventive ways to trip myself into work mode.

Religiously, I have started working with the Egyptian triad of Ptah-Sekhmet-Nefertm. Ptah is a creator god, essentially a god of architecture. Sekhmet is a goddess of war and disease, both the spreading and prevention of it. Nefertm is the god of beauty and perfume; some sources also suggest that he is a god of medicine. This triad of gods showed up for me almost as soon as Covid19 was declared a global pandemic.

Loki, of course, is as present as ever. Although not an aspect as well-known as his trickster aspect, Loki himself is a god of healing. Many Lokeans can attest to this, as he has helped many of us deal with emotionally and physically traumatic pasts. He is also a god of change, a catalyst for what lies ahead. While it is uncomfortable that the world is changing because of a pandemic, the truth is that it *is* changing. What awaits us on the other side of that is still unknown. I find that working with Loki helps me tolerate the uncertainty of what is coming more easily, and he helps me find humor even in my darkest moments.

Helping others has always helped me cope with my own traumatic past, one that was rife with being constantly told that I was a burden and unwanted. When I can help someone else, guide someone else through darkness, it lessens that gnawing uncertainty inside me that has me constantly questioning if my existence even matters. When I am able to help someone else, I gain a momentary respite and can breathe into the knowledge that I can have a positive impact on the world. That is the only legacy I need; the invisible hand of the actions I take that have helped others find their own way through the darkness. I don’t need stories told about me or worry about what will be left of me when I do pass. The knowledge that I have helped someone, somewhere, who has then been able to go forward into their own light…that’s enough for me.

I once wondered why Loki chose me to be his priest, but I no longer do. Like Loki, I often act as a catalyst. I end up in places where I am needed to create bridges across divides for other people; I show people paths that they might not otherwise consider. And then I let them make their own decisions because no one else’s path is mine to determine. Knowing that I have helped create those bridges, helped forge connections between people and groups…that’s legacy enough.

From here on out, I am available for those who need guidance from one of Loki’s chosen clergy. I have, as it were, put my own mask on first, so now I can help you with yours if you need it. It has taken time, but adjusting to change often does. You can email me at kyaza18@gmail.com or you can find me on Facebook in the Loki’s Wyrdlings group.

May luck be with you.

Kyaza

When the Gods Seem Distant

Divine Multiplicity

Sometimes, it becomes hard to hear the gods. Sometimes, it feels like the gods are no longer present. In reality, what has happened is that we have lost touch with our ability to communicate with the gods. We have stopped reaching out, stopped turning inward. In those moments, we have become too focused on the realities of our physical lives. 

Our lives are full of noise. In Western society, everyone is always busy. Being productive is a way of life – to the point that not doing something productive causes anxiety and induces shame. Because time is considered valuable, and not producing something is often viewed as wasteful. That means to tune-in to society we have to tune-in to the noise and we end up tapping into that need to produce more. To constantly create something, constantly be on the move. Just never slowing down. 

To hear the gods, though…

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