The Wandering Hearthweaver

If I were someone who was given to metaphors, and I am, I would liken the experience of ordination to that of a snow globe; the various bits and pieces and glittery things that have been floating around in here were shaken up and swirled around, and all those little flecks are each settling and re-settling at their own pace. It’s been just over a month since I Did The Thing, and just in the past week have I started to feel some of the bigger pieces begin to settle.

As part of my service to myself, my community, and to the world, I have publicly dedicated to two deities: Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, and Beiwe, the Sami reindeer mother and sun goddess. My relationship with both of these entities has deepened and grown stronger over my year of initiatory work (and indeed I have discovered they have both been with me for far longer than I knew), but having completed the rites and rituals to solidify my connection to them has been a whole other level!

Learning to navigate the ebb and flow of these two personalities who now reside solidly in my head has been and continues to be a rewarding challenge. Hestia and Beiwe have many things in common, and I experience their energies in similar ways, but the new emotion I have been struggling with the most is a newfound urge to wander.

I have always been a homebody, content to stay in and tend to my home and my family; I’ve enjoyed the travels I’ve been on, but I have always eager to return home. This new pull, though, it has a wild, untamed edge. I go for long, rambling walks. I stop and stare at things which flash and flit at the edge of my vision. I get distracted from a family Easter egg hunt and spend two hours visiting the local land spirits and making myself at home with them. This new pull frightens me a little.

Like many things, this fear is likely grounded in my desire to not lose or change my connection with my lady Hestia; if I follow Beiwe’s call and go off into the land, who will tend the fires? Who will keep the wards maintained? Will I still be welcomed back at the fire when I return? Hestia’s answer to this, of course, is simply “yes”, but while my brain may hear this my heart does not yet.

The truth She is slowly revealing to me is that the hearth is not a singular place; the hearth and the hearth fire is what you carry with you into the world.

It is the quiet strength of the warder, who works to keep sacred space safe.
It is the compassion of a smile given to someone who is out on the streets.
It is the warmth of a care package, delivered to a loved one who is ill.
It is an open ear, and a kind word, and a hard truth delivered with love.
It is the ability to create and tend the hearth where the hearth is most needed.

And so, my friends, the time has come to trust in my training and give in to this wild wilfulness. In a few days, I will be packing up my car and heading on a grand adventure north! My final destination is Portland and the newest location of The Sacred Well, but along the way I will be making a stop to visit my beloved teacher and friend Yeshe Matthews for a day of Deer Mother work and much-needed socializing. I cannot wait!

Not to worry, my friends and loved ones in the Silicon Valley, this is not a permanent adventure! When I return I hope to bring stories and laughter and late-night magic, and perhaps a song or two. If you wish to follow along on my adventures, check in on my Instagram feed! I’ll be sharing photos and videos of my travels there, using the hashtag #TheWanderingHearthweaver. I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you!

When a female reindeer senses it is time to give birth, she calls the others in her herd to her and leads them to a space where it is safe to bring new life into the world. Oh my Great Mother, please show me the way.

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune

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Fire and Air, Fire and Air

(For everyone else who grew up listening to Libana tapes in the car, you’re welcome for that earworm.)

The Air quarter has drawn to a close for my Initiate siblings and I, but I think my work with Guanyin is just beginning. She has brought me a tremendous amount of peace, during a time in my life where I desperately need that. She has taught me patience, and compassion, and the value of gentle silence (as someone who always has the radio on while they’re driving, that one took me a while).

Of the other deities I have worked with in the past, my relationship with Her has been unique. My patron deities thus far have been loud, brash, warrior types– Oya and Xango, for instance. But Guanyin’s presence has been so soft and so gentle that I almost didn’t realize that She was there at first. She sits right behind my heart, and simply… radiates. I have yet to hear Her speak in actual words. The boundless quality of Her love drives me to my knees and moves me to tears. I am humbled and inspired by it, and I hope to learn from Her for many months to come.

This patience and compassion has been a vital tool for me as we moved into the month of July, and into the quarter of Fire. This has historically been the portion of the Initiate cycle where things start to get really hard for everyone. We are weary and heart-sore after half a year of diving into our shadow selves. We have served on numerous rituals, and have been asked to take on bigger and more important roles in our community. I feel like I am racing to keep up with my own calendar, and I find myself not wanting to make plans with anyone for fear of double-booking myself. To that end, when the time came to choose our deity for Fire the first presence to step up and knock on my door was Hestia.

I am deeply introverted. I crave time to myself, in a place where I feel safe, in order to recharge my social batteries. My home is my sanctuary. In a time of my training where I am feeling desperately out of control, it should not be a shock that a hearth goddess made herself known to me!

I believe deeply in the importance of sanctuary and safer spaces, and of keeping the hearth fires burning. I am grateful for the times I have been able to open my home to members of my community who needed a quiet space, a friendly ear, or an offer to put the kettle on (as we say in my family, “if tea cannot fix it, then it is a serious problem indeed”). If you need someone to sit with you in companionable silence, I’m your fox.

I may not be the person who is out marching in the streets, but I can be here to care for the ones who are.

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What, doesn’t everyone do spellwork in the bathroom?

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune

Swords, First Dates, and Freeway Overpasses

(I promise these things are related. Stay with me here.)

Two weeks ago, at our April Initiate meeting, our initiator asked us, “what can you tell me about Air?”.

An array of answers tumbled out of our mouths. The element we invoke when we invoke East. Clarity. Strength. Flexibility. Decisiveness. The suite of Swords, in the Rider-Waite tarot (my favorite of the four suites, but that’s another post for another day).

Then, an even more interesting question. What were some deities we associated with air?

This was where our answers started to diverge. We spanned many pantheons, and many cultures. Oya. Skaði. The Morríghan. Hermes. Brigid. Hecate. Some names sprang to the tongue immediately, while others came later.

As we were thinking, our initiator told us that for the next few months we would be exploring a relationship with one of these deities through the connection of this element. My Hivemates and I all froze, and locked wide eyes with each other. This was the first real bit of Serious Working we had been asked to do as part of our training year. Some of us have established devotional relationships with various deities, while some of us direct our magical workings toward a larger concept (“Goddess” versus a particular goddess, for example). None of us really had any experience with directly courting a deity to see if they were interested in pursuing a relationship; as is often the case, Deity found us rather than the other way around.

Once our initial moment of panic subsided, we talked about it. We might have an idea for who we want to learn more about, but while casting around for a particular power it’s important not to miss any signs that might already be in your life. Look for confirmations or clues; there might be Someone or Something already knocking on your magical front door. Exploring this new relationship is like any other first date: if you don’t like what you’re seeing or hearing, you are totally within your rights to get up and leave. You can say “no”. This is not an ordination or a marriage contract; we’re not swearing any kinds of vows here.

We all left class with a lot to chew on. One of my Hivemates knew immediately who she wanted to work with, and got right to it. Another thought she knew too, but wound up taking a different direction. I left with a tentative idea that pursuing a deeper relationship with Guanyin (or Quan Yin, as it’s often spelled) might be to my benefit; I can certainly use more compassion in my life, and I have been struggling fiercely with my anxiety these past few weeks.

Within a few days of this assignment, I found myself feeling… hmm, somewhat desaturated? I do not mean this in a negative light, but rather like the volume of everything has been turned down to a more manageable level. Like I had been surrounded by eye-searing neons, but now found myself wrapped in softer, more dusky colors (which have long been some of my favorites, being the hues easiest to achieve with botanical dyes). My sleep has started to improve– I’m falling asleep faster, and I’m sleeping more deeply. I found some new clarity in a particular kata sequence I had been struggling with in my Shotokan practice.

I was thinking about all these things while I was walking to my car earlier this week. The building where I work doesn’t have enough parking for everyone, so I park my car in an offsite lot and walk a few blocks to and from the office, a practice I have really come to enjoy. Along this route I have to walk along an overpass spanning a very busy freeway, and I often stop for a minute to look down at all the cars whizzing past and to enjoy the rush of air that comes from all that motion.

Finding a moment of stillness and centering while all that air rushes over me, tugging at my jacket, my hair, a little piece of my soul.

…all that Air.

Okay, I think I can recognize an omen when I see one. I don’t yet know what form this work will take, or where it’s going, but I’m certainly interested in continuing to pursue this teaching if I’m already feeling calmer and more centered.

Guanshiyin, She Who Hears the Cries of the World,  I’m listening.

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune