Each week, before I sit down to finalize my thoughts on Monday’s new blog entry, I like to reread what I published the week before. While I avoid sticking to any particular topic from post to post, I do think that each week’s musings are informed to some greater or lesser extant by those which came before. Reviewing my previous efforts puts me in the right frame of mind to “continue the conversation” as it were.
And so I’ve just been pondering my entry from last week discussing the goddess Bríde and the Celtic holy day of Imbolc. Looking back on it now, I find that, while I said nothing untrue in that particular post or any other in which I have discussed the gods, the image I present of them could be, for the uninitiated, somewhat misleading.
The gods of our ancestors are like hot water: refreshing to the spirit and beneficial to our lives, but to be handled with great care, ‘less we are burned.
Danu, the great mother goddess of the Irish pantheon, did not unleash a divine band of timid flower-children upon the Earth. The Túatha Dé Danann are warriors all, who swept out of the descending mists in the early age of the world to wage bloody war on the older powers that came before them.
When the long years had passed and the mortal men came at last to Ireland, they were not welcomed to it’s green shores by loving beings who heaped affection upon them. Their boats were dashed by wave and wind until the survivors forced their way ashore through fierce determination and magic. Even then, the gods did not simply hand over their sacred lands to the newcomers, they forced the Sons of Mil to take the land by force of arms, staining the fields red with the blood of man and immortal alike in the process.
Our ancestors would not have wasted worship on the passive love-starved creatures that many people today imagine.
The gods may be our friends and yet stand in our way.
They can love us and leave us bleeding in the dust.
And although we may hope to earn rewards when we do well in their sight, what must we expect if we slight them in some way? Might they not also punish?
These last several weeks have been difficult ones.
Sometimes, life is just hard: loved ones become gripped by illness; aging pets begin to falter; budgets tighten and travel plans are changed or abandoned. We don’t need angry spirits to rain these curses down upon us any more than we need friendly spirits to bring us our every good fortune.
Sometimes, life just sucks. And wouldn’t it be refreshing to see that printed in a fortune cookie!
On the other hand, if you are a believer in the gods, and especially if the gods you believe in are not of the “touchy-feely” variety, it’s a very good policy to stay on their good side.
Seriously. Don’t piss ‘em off. It’s a bad idea!
A couple weeks ago I moved the altar which I keep in my home. I was rearranging things in a hurry because I had a guy scheduled to arrive the following morning to do some minor installation work near the spot where the altar normally sits. I didn’t like that idea of him bumbling around it and knocking stuff over, so I moved it across the room and out of harms way.
I was exhausted.
I was not thinking clearly.
I moved it, quickly and without reverence or ceremony.
And I knew I’d screwed up the moment I did it.
First I sliced a finger on the sickle I keep there, even though my hand was several inches from the blade at the time. Then I managed to smack my kneecap on the leg of the altar as I carried it across the room. As I sat massaging the feeling back into my leg, I knew I was in trouble.
On the following day, as I lay napping in an attempt to recover from the exertions of the previous day, a framed poster that hangs above my bed fell from the wall. I heard the snap of the wire giving way and looked up just in time to see the frame embed itself, corner first, into the pillow not more than a couple inches from my left eye. Quite a trick when those pesky old laws of physics should have had the frame falling straight down to wedge itself between wall and mattress.
I’ll wait patiently while my atheist friends work out what outward force acted to propel the frame away from the wall as it fell.
There have been many other signs over the last several days, including a sharp decline in readership of this blog. Of course, I can’t say for certain that there is any actual intent behind these happenings. I may just be having a run of really bad luck that just randomly corresponds to my haphazardly moving the home altar. But as they say “It’s not paranoia if they’re really after you.”
They also say that “time heals all wounds” so perhaps I have come through the worst of it. Perhaps the powers that be, knowing that I have learned my lesson, will ease up with the bad luck for a while.
Or maybe I’m still in hot water. Metaphorically that is, I haven’t had hot water in my house in almost a week now. My hot water heater shut down last week and I’m looking at cold showers until I can find either an affordable plumber or the time to replace it myself.
Before I begin that project, I think I’ll take some time to re-dedicate the altar which I keep for the gods and ancestors. Best to have friends in high places when one is working with natural gas.