[Pagan Experience] Silence

This is part of the Pagan Experience 2016 prompts. Each month brings a new prompt with options for alphabetical weekly prompts tied to the monthly topic. For this blog, I’ll be doing a monthly post on the associated topic.

“You have no concept of privacy,” Hawthorne’s mother says to me over tea. She practically hisses the words at me, except she is a bit too dignified for that sort of nonsense. I hold my teacup like a lifeline. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with you.”

“I won’t write anything,” I tell her.

“You’re a liar,” she says. She lifts her tea with grace I’ve seen shadows of in Hawthorne. His family home is incredibly regal. His mother watches me with hawk-like dark eyes, heavily shadowed with eyeliner.

I am a liar; I’ll end up writing about her all the same. The first time I sit down to write a story about her, I mumble an apology. I can almost feel her disgusted glare. Most of the spirits of the West are magnificent and awe-inspiring, yet they rarely leave the impression that I am less than them. Hawthorne’s mother can’t wait to bring it up through perfectly white clenched teeth. ‘Little bird’ is not an endearment from her blessed lips.

The idea of ‘being silent’ is as foreign to me as any writer. Writing, I’ve heard, is cannibalism. When my partner and I heard that, driving home and listening to NPR, I couldn’t help but exclaim my agreement. I struggled to articulate just why it was so true, though. Writing consumes.

My writing as a teenager was the shallow consumption of the self. Being a teenager is an exploration of who we are and who we want to be, though those adventures never really end. The hormones just stop slamming you face first into a brick wall (for a time). My teenage life was kicked off with a bleak adventure to the ‘otherside’ via a few handfuls of over-the-counter painkillers and a trip to the ICU. I was as self-centered as any teenager. For a year or more I wrote pages every day about my life. All the minutiae was recorded. My emotions existed to be stripped down to the page.

Rereading the journal months after I’d written in it, I fell asleep.

It was when I hit adulthood that I began writing more honestly. Having jobs, fucking up my life, reading more literature, coming to terms with the monster called depression – my writing morphed from the whining posturing of my teenage self into whining reality. I felt as though I were coughing up my own spine. And I realized how quickly I could switch myself around telling stories.

“Don’t turn this into a story,” I remember my mother telling me one day after I’d begun entering adulthood. We sat at a red light, waiting for it to turn green so we could turn down towards her friend’s house. I had no idea what she meant then. I have no idea what she meant.

Everything is a story to a writer.

I wrote about myself in roundabout fashion. I was never myself. I was always masked, always someone else. It made the feeling of my tongue being yanked from my mouth more tolerable. Half the time I wasn’t writing about myself but just a feeling. My deepening connection to writing came as I formed the Otherfaith. Writing became divine. When I was full of awe at the spirits I needed to capture it. I hammered it down with words. The emotion and experiences always fractured into pieces, but I was able to bottle some.

It was no surprise to me that one of my oldest spirits appeared, when I was in the throes of inspiration, to show me how to symbolically devour my own flesh. I considered it a useful spiritual skill. Of course it was a metaphor for my ‘process’ as well. Writing ripped off and processed all the parts of myself. I could break them down and string them out. I could make them better. I could edit them to shreds.

I could edit the spirits to shreds.

The Llewellyns

Evelyn Llewellyn, Hawthorne’s mother, only takes Lady Grey tea. I sip coffee and hunch my shoulders when I meet with her. Over a year of marriage to Hawthorne and I’m no better terms with his mother. Her long nails tap, tap, tap against the table of the cafe we’re meeting in. It’s one her family frequents. I scratch my neck. She sips her tea, her bright lipstick not leaving a trace on the mug. I wish I had half her sophistication.

“I’m sorry,” I offer.

“This is why I didn’t want my daughter marrying you,” Evelyn says. She shakes her head. Her hair is just as dark as Hawthorne’s but completely straight. Hawthorne is a hot mess; his mother is prim and proper and well-dressed. I’ve thought of bringing that up to her before. She’d probably blame me and my human cooties – or human influence. Same thing.

“I guess it’s why the Clarene wanted me to marry Hawthorne?” I say with a soft laugh.

Evelyn breathes sharply through her nose. I stifle a despairing cry.

“No concept of privacy,” she snaps at me, not for the first time. “You couldn’t keep your nose out of it even if you tried.”

I did try, for the record.

“She just wants your story told,” I protest. “I didn’t even realize how deep your history was until.”

Evelyn appears to slam her fist onto the table, but no loud bang shudders through the cafe. I certainly feel no tremble of the table against my own hands.

“Enough. *I* didn’t want the story told, much less for your fingers to be all over it.”

I grit my teeth. “You know, the story involves *my* family too, I have just as much right.”

She slaps the table this time, and the harsh sound does fill the room. The rest of the cafe falls silent and their eyes turn to us. I flush.

“I am the head of this family, which you are a part. You will not make an embarrassment of me.”

I lower my eyes to the table and nearly break a tooth with how hard I clench my jaw. The only one embarrassed here is *me*. Evelyn is one of the oldest spirits I’ve met in the West, yet she acts as if I have the power to topple her expansive empire. I knew marrying into Hawthorne’s family would provide its own challenges. But having Hawthorne *with* me while I deal with his mother might be nice.

“I’m still going to write it,” I mumble.

“I know you will,” she sneers. “You’re incapable of *not* doing so.”

I stare into my coffee.

It’s a story worth telling, damn it.

I call Hawthorne’s family the ‘Llewellyns’ out of ease. Whatever their name truly is, I can’t speak it. Evelyn would rather string me up by my entrails than let me know her holy name. I’ve called Hawthorne by ‘Llewellyn’ since I’ve known him. I only began applying it to his family as a way to differentiate between my spirit family and his, the one I married into when we wed over a year ago.

Hawthorne’s entrance into my life marked a decided shift in how I approached my magical and spiritual practice. Writing had factored into my religious life as a footnote. With his insistent appearance at my home, writing became the practice. Part of it was an attempt to cope with Hawthorne. I told him often he was just a character. I disavowed him in as many ways as I could. If I could just write him into smaller fragments, maybe he would disappear.

In hindsight, Hawthorne showed me how to engage in inspired writing. He taught me how to journey through words. Every attempt at cutting him down failed. He was certainly the starry, dark-haired brat I’d imagined him as, but he dodged all my flailing efforts to deny his selfhood. In trying to write him out of existence I was forced to learn the line between writing for myself and writing with the spirits. Writing journeys of him were infinitely more accurate than throwing my mental goop at the paper. (I eventually learned how to turn my idea muck into more concrete energy, though the experience of that was as unintended as most of my religious work.)

Being himself, Hawthorne didn’t mind being talked about. I could peel away his skin and pluck his heart out and he’d be happy as long as somebody was watching. He was, and is, a perfect match for me in a myriad of ways.

His family is another matter.

Evelyn – his mother – was a myth when I first knew her. She appeared as a silhouette in visions, her distinct profile striking every time I saw it. Hawthorne shrunk away from mention of her. I didn’t need to meet her to know she had an iron fist on her family. But as my journeys shifted focus, off of Hawthorne and onto spirit I’d never really know, she faded from memory. It wasn’t until we married that I had to confront her.

I offered her tea with a bowed head and many apologies. She sat stiff, like the Laethic spirits I’d met, and her hair fell in a determined line down her back. She was pale as the moon. Her lips could become a captivating smile. She never smiled at me.

She was an adopted sister to the Dierne. That much was obvious from the star imagery adorning every space around her. Her children were all part of the Dierne’s Court. It was later, when I was unintentionally stumbling into her history, that I saw her fighting alongside the silver god of sexuality and consent. She appeared far younger than I’d ever known her, blood dripping from a cut above her eyebrow and a gun dangling from her hand. She was muddy. I had never seen her with a speck of dirt.

She hissed at my knowing of her.

Writing is cannibalism.

Evelyn enjoyed my writing of her as much as any mother would. I can’t even count how many writers have horrid relationships with their family. Laying bare the sins and secrets of their kin earns ire. Writing puts down in ink our own perception of reality. The ink clashes with another’s. We cut them up and eat them so we can create sense, create beauty, create nice flowing sentences with the perfection combination of words. We find what tastes good.

And then we offer it to others.

Evelyn was, surprisingly, less defensive of her family than of herself. Then again, she trusted the rest of her daughters to have more sense than Hawthorne did, running off with a human writer like he’d done. But her ire toward me when I played with her origins was pale compared to her rage when I cracked open the egg of my own spirit family.

Star spirits seem exceptionally good at conveying a thousand years of disgust in one look.

The Blakes

I stare at Blake’s strung up body. Her stick-thin arms drape over the stone chair in the middle of the gurgling room. She is shadowed by the huge tubes behind her, the cords threaded from her body winding up and dumping some energetic equivalent of bodily fluid into the swirling, bubbling liquid in tubes. She wears the colorful silks I associated with the *Glateau Elves*, a variant of the Western fairies that make up the majority of spirits in the Otherfaith.

She tilts the remnants of her head sideways. I flinch at the slick sound, like eggs cracking against a counter. She has no mouth to speak. Her face is long gone. Instead of the flat-face the Glateau are known for, her neck meets a whirling mass of light and blood and sparks. Maybe I want to retch. My shoulders quiver.

A few months after my small spat with Hawthorne’s mother, I was completely and totally minding my own business. I didn’t have time for the epic journeys that used to influence my life. We were moving, for fuck’s sake. (A simple month or two of moving radically altered my approach to nearly every aspect of my life, but especially online.) I didn’t want new revelations or ideas for stories. Trying to get my life in order, I was thinking.

My beloved spirits had a different idea.

Alynah Blake came thundering it, as she does.

“Hey, little one!” she called, tossing a hammer half her height in the arm before catching it. She held it loosely as if it were some small paperweight. “Tell a story for me.”

“I’m kind of busy,” I protested. Busy cleaning dishes and listening to Panic! at the Disco.

“Story time!” she exclaimed. She yanked me toward her.

Alynah is electricity. She is also stars and fire. She’s a unicorn and a wolf and a kirin. Being close to her makes your eyes water. Static ripples through you. She hurts.

So I listened when she gathered herself around me. I plopped myself down in front of my laptop and wrote like she damn well wanted.

There may be some misconceptions about how I weave my stories. They don’t come fully formed. I have to string together inspired visions with more drab world-building. Part of why I slowed in my story-writing is because my vicious editorial side came out. She would roll her eyes at my works. I knew I could write better. I wrote what flowed, what felt good. My self-editor wanted what read well. Cut it up, piece it together, weave it back with marvelous ribbons.

A few stories did come easily to me. ‘The Red Room’, about Aletheia 003 and William, gushed out of me in a day. Most of the 2013 stories are like that. I cut open a creative vein and let it bleed everywhere. Now I’m more likely to chain myself up like Blake and seal all my wounds with cement. It hurts more when I rip them open. But it gives me a new feeling to write about.

Blake’s story was the more common drip-drop I’m accustomed to. Alynah Blake instigated my writing of it, but she gave little advice.

I knew a few things about Blake before writing her: she was the first Blake and who we all got our names from; she was from the Temple of the Fathers (a part of the West) and a Glateau Elf; she didn’t have a face. I’d heard from other spirits that she was a ‘time-traveling demon’ who had ‘erased her face’ from history. An over-exaggeration, of course. Story-building, I could see her face. She was foggier than most spirits, but she was there. An impression left on a pad of paper that you only find when you rub charcoal on it.

She’d had huge golden eyes, a tiny flat nose, and hair over five feet long. “Ridiculous hair,” I thought. Hair longer than I was tall.

And before I’d married into the Llewellyns, Blake had been the head of my family.

Not that it mattered. By the time I came into the picture she was already the deathly still body sitting deep within the house of the Blakes. Alynah had known her before she’d been reduced to that, though, and like any good chaos spirit decided to bring chaos into my life by overturning everything I’d known about my spirit family. I knew Hawthorne and I were twins (which in the West meant we were ‘created’ at the same time). I knew I was related to the Blakes. I’d known since I was little I was related to some of the older spirits in the Otherfaith. I had gone through pride, anxiety, rejection, and settled at acceptance.

Alynah struck down and insisted that, no, believe her, there was so much more to the story.

I wanted to know more anyway.

Blake had been young and naive and new to the West. And in a moment, as fast as a lightning strike during monsoon season, the pieces of my spiritual life fell together. The Blakes and the Llewellyns were so damn close because Blake and Llewellyn – Evelyn Llewellyn – had been close. At least before Blake’s skull had been split open to release all the potentials that she held in her.

Where the Llewellyns were restrained chaos, Blake was overflowing with energetic possibilities. I saw her pulling spirits out of her gut. She skipped through time leaving splotches of herself behind. And the more she pulled out, the less she could keep it all together, until her face started cracking, until she starting oozing out a toxic gas full of spirits wanting out of her.

That was where Alynah came in. Alynah and her hammer. She wasn’t a hive-off of Blake but instead forced into the family through her mother Althea, who gifted her the last name ‘Blake’ despite Blake’s own vehement disagreement. Blake had cursed Althea to be despised by Alynah. Althea knew that hatred couldn’t compare to what Alynah would do to Blake, though.

All that remains of Blake’s face is a violent splatter of light and magic. It glows to this day still. But Alynah cracked open her head and let out all the spirits dying to get out of that shell.

Evelyn Llewellyn flashes her claws at me when I tell the story. Maybe the wound is too new still. All the memories she and Blake had together, with Blake hopping through time and interrupting Llewellyn’s life with colorful explosions, shimmer around her. Or maybe she just wants me to shut up.

Writing is cannibalism, but I find myself butchered even when I’m holding the knife.


Thank you for reading. ‘Of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist god religion. We are supported through Patreon and want to give special thanks to our patrons Jack at Drawing Stars and Leithin Cluan at ‘from stone onto sand’. If you enjoy the writing here, consider becoming a patron!

[Pagan Experience] Spiritual Growth

This is part of the Pagan Experience 2016 prompts. Each month brings a new prompt with options for alphabetical weekly prompts tied to the monthly topic. For this blog, I’ll be doing a monthly post on the associated topic.

Ava Laetha (who is described here) appears to me at times covered in blood. At times she glows with a shimmering divine light, and still at other times she appears as a sharp-tongued, observant god masquerading as a child. She is most childlike when covered in blood: bossy, temperamental, vacillating between affection and enmity. Glowing in divine light she is a vision of eternity and hope.

During Reunion, however, I see her most as the small-figured god without trappings of death or overpowering divinity.

“Anne Blake,” she greets. I frown around ethereal pastries stuffed in my mouth, the sounds of the cafe out of place for when I usually meet the Laetha as Ava. Cafes are part of Reunion for me, though.

“Llewellyn,” I correct. “I’m a Llewellyn.”

She ignores my comment and sits across from me. Her Companion – the winged giant Erann – stands beside us, not taking a seat of his own. I don’t look at him. I keep my focus on Ava. She is not the type to simply visit.

“I have a task for you,” she says. She manifests a teapot and cup, snapping sugar into existence with her fingers and busying herself with the preparation of it.

Erann shoos away the barista who approaches us.

“I want you to take the new recruits on their Trial.” Ava sips her tea, and through the steam her pale, pale eyes meet mine. Her lips curl up. “Up to our Northern Neighbors.”

The ‘Northern Neighbors’ is slang, a phrase tossed around by Ava and myself and, daringly, in my own stories. They aren’t relevant to anyone besides myself, I suspect. But they are how I came to know Ava and how I came to cement her as my Antagonist.

ANTAGONIST

Antagonism is a theoretical structure for god-human relationships within the Otherfaith. The Antagonist god disrupts the Other Person’s religious and spiritual life in some way. This includes mockery and criticism of a Person, tampering with one’s spirit body and energies, thwarting magic or magical-spiritual practices, or throwing difficult obstacles into a Person’s life. Antagonist gods have spirits at their call or command whom may also join the god in harassing an individual.

Antagonist gods are not universal among the People; Ava Laetha is my Antagonist, but she is not necessarily the Antagonist to another practitioner or devotee.

At first blush, Antagonism may seem entirely negative. We are being harassed by a god and their spirits, and they poke at our soft spots with glee and/or ease. For a long time, I could only describe my relationship with Ava as ‘awful’. She hated me and didn’t hesitate to point out how little she thought of me. She seemed to go out of her way to cause problems.

Problems that conveniently resulted in learning new skills, adapting a weakness to a strength, or a breakthrough in my practice.

That is the crux of Antagonism, beyond the frustration: growth through ordeal. Its opposite is the Beneficent: growth through aid. Both of these relationships are entered into through deals we make or reject with the gods.

Ava became my Antagonist shortly after she burned the Northern Neighbors entire land to ash. I had prayed to the Laetha, begging for them to bring absolute ruin. I’d barely known Ava then. She was just the shimmering golden child who was crowned and enthroned among the Laethas. It was a personal plea. The story of Ava burning down the ‘Northern Neighbors’ is personal, something I don’t consider ‘canon’ in any sense. It’s an in-joke between Ava and myself.

But when she came back from the North, dripping in blood as if she’d stepped out of a shower, it damn well didn’t seem funny.

“Blake,” she called to me. I’d been brought to the border of the West and the North by the Firebird. He was hovering over my shoulder, his head bent down and his beak touching my shoulder. Ava laughed joyously. I could see smoke streaming from the mountains behind her, mountains I had once known almost-well.

“I burnt everything down!” Ava told me excitedly. “Even the Firebird helped. The mountains are burning from inside!” She was practically screaming with glee.

There hasn’t been a moment I regretted praying to my god for it.

Ava wasn’t content just delivering the news. She had twirled and then held out her sticky hand. Her smile was full of too many teeth. I knew there was more than blood on her. I knew she was bigger and scarier than I could see.

“I can give you this power,” she offered. “I’ll teach you how to burn like I do without ever going out. All I want from you is worship.” Her grin split her face open. “Devotion. Piety. Absolute adoration. I’m a god, after all!”

With the Firebird’s feathers and heat against my back, I refused her.

Ava changed immediately. She became smaller and sharper.

“Excuse me?” she snapped.

“No thanks,” I repeated.

“Oh, is that so,” she said through her nose. “I’m a god; you can’t say no.”

And then I made one of the poorer decisions of my life and spat out, “Watch me.”

BENEFICENT

The catch was I couldn’t have made the deal with the Laetha Ava anyway. I already made a deal, years earlier, with another god. I’d signed away my soul to the god that accompanied me that day: the Laethic Firebird.

“Technically, they’re the same god,” I argue with myself. “Then again,” I tell myself, “they’re not the same god.”

the Firebird had come to me when I was still a teenager and proposed the deal that truly gave form to the Otherfaith. I didn’t realize at the time what sort of relationship I was setting up with him. ‘Signing away my soul’ isn’t quite accurate. It wasn’t nearly so severe. But I was from then-on intertwined with the fiery Laethic bird.

That day, as our goals and desires aligned, as I agreed to serve him and his divine family, he became the Beneficent in my spiritual life.

I didn’t have a word for either relationship at the beginning. ‘Antagonist’ and ‘Beneficent’ are possibilities. They fit perfectly with how I interact with Ava and the Firebird, and it may be that they work for the rest of the Otherfaith. (I’m acting as-if they will for the moment.)

The Beneficent relationship between god and human is rooted in the god’s cultivation of their devotee. They assist and guide the human under their care, creating situations for the Person to learn and grow. They teach spiritual techniques and skills.

Which isn’t to say that the relationship is always positive or even enjoyable. I’ve argued with the Firebird and rebelled against his advice. The best way to describe the relationship is as father-son. There were times when I trusted him entirely.

And there were times when I felt utterly betrayed, like when I found out about the other Laethas. There were so many. They all had personalities and goals and opinions on who and how I should be.

A Beneficent isn’t meant to be an endless font of praise. They give us challenges, just like our Antagonist. The Beneficent doesn’t try to stymie our efforts however. They give us, in essence, ‘homework’. They guide us along the path we desire to go on, the one we agreed to when making the deal with them.

With the Firebird and I, the deal was that he and his kin would help me create a religion if I worshiped them. A rather simple deal when it was said and done. So when I say I sold my soul or my life, it is in a joking way. I did give part of my life to them, but it was part I wanted to give. I didn’t know what that all entailed or how hard the work would be. There are days where I’m frustrated.

The deal was completely worth it, though.

The Firebird and I still don’t get on better than any father (him) toward a misbehaving son (me). When he advises me now, though, I listen. His presence is like a warm fire. He is a giant flaming bird and frightening plenty of the time, but for me he will always be like a hearth fire. He’s the oven and the stove, the fireplace I crave to have, and the small fire built when out camping. His heat flows through me, both through intent and happenstance. His lessons are mine to live and learn and often to fail at.

Each of the Laethas has their own specific domain. Alaria’s is warfare and combat. Asier’s is prosthetic and medical technology. Arabella’s is virtual reality. Aletheia preside over robotics. Arrise and Azure preside over spaceships and the like (as well as giant robots). Artois is a god of dissent, embodying it in a very real way for the Laethas. Alma is healing and medicine. Ava is presides over the throne and, in essence, cruelty.

The Laethic Firebird is all about immolation and apotheosis. I don’t view my practice as incorporating apotheosis anymore, though having read quite a lot about it within magical practices it did influence me. Instead, what the Firebird guides me toward is a constantly shifting self. Unlike the shapeshifting of the Dierne, which relies on such a strong sense of selfhood that it persists through the shapeshifting, transformation for the Laetha (and the Ophelia, who also has a large roll in my spiritual life) is about many selves. My selfhood and identity is always a little bit at risk when I engage in the spiritual-magical aspects of the Otherfaith.

Trusting the Firebird – that he will bring me back to my self even if I’ve undergone significant, devastating changes and experienced many different ways of being – is something I learned and what solidifies our relationship. I trust Ava to teach me lessons, but I also trust that she’d toss me aside if I was too frustrating. The Firebird sticks with me even when I obviously cause him irritation. He agreed to do so, just like I agreed to worship him.

“Taking the recruits to the North is a good idea,” he tells me when I visit him in his nest. His nest is more of a mountain, a huge crevice in the face of it full of orange-leaved trees and crackling branches underfoot. His giant eyes look up at me, his head lowered to my face. “You need to do it.”

I sigh.

“Ava was right to ask you. You’re old enough now.” He gathers himself back up, and his neck arches into the blue sky. Like this, he seems especially regal.

“I am old enough, aren’t I?” I muse.

“Go then,” he says, jerking his head. “You’ll be starting soon.”

A few years ago I went on my own Trial, an event every Nix initiate and spirit experiences. Originally, I thought every Trial was the same for everyone. But I learned better. They are essentially tests of will. You delve into your own mind and swim in your nightmares. You stay there. And then you see if you come back, and if you come back what you carry with you.

“Everyone has to lead it eventually,” Ava tells me. “I hope you enjoy it,” she chirps, all saccharine.

She knows I won’t, but I know it doesn’t matter. I don’t snip at her. Time passes. My positions change. Every experience, pleasant or painful, allows me to learn new things.


Thank you for reading. ‘Of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist god religion. We are supported through Patreon and want to give special thanks to our patron Jack at Drawing Stars. If you enjoy the writing here, consider becoming a patron!

[Monday] Idea of the Week

We had another G+ Hangout last Saturday – it was incredibly fun and we discussed a lot. Most of it was not directly related to the Otherfaith. We discussed everything from anime (CLAMP, Madoka, and Neon Genesis Evangelion) to activism and self care. We also touched on the ideas brought up last week. For those who want to write posts or discuss this further, I broke the post into simple questions. Elliot already wrote a response to the Monday post!

  • What does it mean to perform religion?
  • What is acting religiously?
  • How does performance factor in?
  • Is thought a religious act?
  • How do we stay active?
  • What are our social obligations (from religion)?
  • How do we change today?
  • How do we encourage devotion in each other and ourselves?
  • What words should we use?
  • What words should we avoid?
  • What does devotion look like in your life?

We’ll be holding another hangout this upcoming Saturday. If you cannot make our usual one, let me know what time works for you. Any additional hangouts will be starting in April if necessary. I’ll also be organizing a text-chat where we watch movies or shows together and then discuss our ideas, as well as how what we’ve watched can relate to the Otherfaith. This may begin in April or June, depending on scheduling on my part. If you’re interested in organizing this, let me know, but I understand that all of us are busy in our own ways!

I’m current rewriting The Red Room myth, as part of my acknowledging the murder of William. Originally, I had wanted the myth to be a dragging, horrific story, but I cut down my intended word count and went with the story that flowed easier. Of course, this means we don’t have any context for why Aletheia 003 leads his lover to death. Until that is done, I probably won’t be writing a lot about them.

For this week, I think one thing we should focus on is the upcoming celebration of Epiphany. Sage wrote about Epiphany last Friday. I myself have a small ceremony written for her. My religious practice has always been very plain. Candles, incense, water, maybe bread. I’ve a dislike for writing prayers and poetry, having always tended toward prose, so even the ‘prayers’ that I wrote were just statements, talking at the spirit known as Epiphany. I’ll be giving Epiphany incense and a white candle, and on the shrine for her I’ll be putting up images that represent Epiphany to me. I’ll also be putting a book on the shrine (A History of Reading – it was hard to resist a book that describes reading as ‘seduction…rebellion, and…obsession’). Maybe she’ll lend her spark to the stories I’m working on!

Epiphany is a spirit of connections, to me. She’s what inspired me to knowing of the Dierne as Pallis, as the beautiful star boy-god that he is. She inspired many of my understandings of the gods. Which is not to say that they are perfect or capital-c Correct, but that they were definitely inspired. So some things to consider this week as we think about Epiphany involve connections, unexpected connections. What leaps of faith or logic have you made in your life? What friendships or relationships in your life were unexpected but beneficial?

Another thing to contemplate is how your mind works. Epiphany, and other Book Keepers, have different ways of thinking. How do you think, what is your process? Related to this is what sort of environment is helpful to you, whether it is beneficial to your creativity or thought or just general emotional state. Are you, for example, sensitive to certain textures? Dislike or prefer certain smells? How does the external world affect your internal one?

I figured there could be some connections between Epiphany and our seventh god the Darren, so I asked Sage for some ideas. They brought up the good point that both the spirit and god are connected to flame – Epiphany with her immolation and the Darren with his molten core. Are these fires of inspiration? Or are they another sort of fire? What does the different type of fire mean? What does lava mean metaphorically and mythically compared to immolation?

Another connection Sage brought up dealt with struggles of shame and confidence. Epiphany has to navigate herself once she’s become herself; the Darren faces this as well. Both fall between two worlds, having to balance both. How do we balance sides of ourselves? Do we fall in-between spaces, and where do we? What sides of ourselves tug apart from each other, trying to tear us apart? And what do we hide from ourselves, what do we keep away, ashamed and afraid to look at it? Why are we afraid of it?

Confidence is not something inherent. Confident people are not always confident. Confidence involves both skill, repetition, and performance. Acting confident can help us become confident. Confidence is not something that can be simply scooped up or faked into reality, however. As we said during our hangout, changing and acting is a process. We have to work at it every day, and we also need safe spaces where we can fail or take breaks.

The idea of becoming someone else, becoming something new, is a concept that can be applied to the Darren and Epiphany both. And we can try to find who we were before – we may even be able to grasp that person – but eventually that will fade and we will be left with ourselves, as we are now, in this moment, before we fade again into who we are becoming. Guiding that process of becoming is hard, but if we are not conscious of it we can wake up one day and find ourselves not knowing anything of what person we are. The mirror becomes a stranger, and then we have all the work of becoming and unbecoming to do.

We can lose ourselves in other ways, of course. But even then, we have to work to know ourselves.

If you would like, join us next week for our hangout. It is video, voice, and text chat, whichever you are more comfortable using!

In some interesting links, there was a funeral for AIBO dogs that just breaks my heart while also being amazingly wonderful. And, as usual, there’s a great post on Magic from Scratch.


Thank you for reading. ‘of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist religion. You can find more about us here and here. You can contact us here if you have any questions or would like to get involved.

[Pagan Experience] Canon & Headcanon

This is part of the Pagan Experience prompts. If you are interested in a blogging project, I recommend it!

Gnosis is a term that is used quite often in Pagan and polytheist discussions, usually as ‘unverified/unverifiable/unsubstantiated personal gnosis’. I find the term to be applied haphazardly among people, often without any clear definition of what constitutes UPG, much less gnosis itself. This is one, of a few, reasons that I don’t use the term at all in my own practice anymore.

I’ve seen UPG used to refer to anything from significant theological differences to debates about what a god’s favorite color is. I also understand that it is used to differentiate between Lore (the history and texts we have from ancient polytheist religions and cultures) and new beliefs and personal experiences with the gods. I’m sure, in the context of revived polytheisms, it has use. Within the context of modern religions like the Otherfaith – in which everything we do would count as ‘UPG’ – the term is worse than useless.

In the faith, we use the terms canon/canonical information and headcanon. Canon refers to information about our gods and spirits that we consider true and/or accurate to them. Our canon is open, meaning it can be added to and subtracted from. Our canon can also be challenged or generally changed. Headcanon refers to the personal beliefs of individual People within the faith. The term headcanon comes from fan communities, as a way to specify what is canonical information in a book or series and what is a fan creation.

Canon includes things such as the colors associated with the gods, the order of our gods, and the elemental associations of our gods. Another example of canonical information is that we consider the Dierne a god of consent and sex. Another example is that she is a god of stars. Meanwhile, we consider the Clarene a god of consent as well, along with love and kingship. We believe that the Laetha is a variety of spirits, not one singular entity. Canon also refers to our concepts of the spirit body and how to interact with that.

Headcanon refers to the personal beliefs and ideas that individuals have – including differing color associations, differing ideas of parentage for spirits, preferred mythic storylines, etc. It also relates to what offerings a god might prefer or the landscape of our otherworld. Headcanon has two purposes – to deepen our personal relationships with the gods by forming our own ideas and experiences with them and to build our canon.

Headcanon can be presented to the Other People for possible canonical inclusion. There are a few ways and reasons this can happen. The most common so far has been to add to our canonical information regarding the gods or spirits. Here are two possibilities concerning headcanon becoming more widely included:

It adds to or challenges current canon. An example of this is the inclusion of the Darren, the seventh god of the Other People. This god was suggested by Elliot and accepted by the rest of the community, and since then we have begun to learn more about this god. I try to take a backseat to involvements concerning our newer gods, following the direction of my spirits.

It establishes a relationship between Person and god or spirit. An example of this could be a Person believing themselves to be a child of the Clarene. They might want to formalize this relationship and have it acknowledged by others. In such a case, we could perform a ceremony acknowledging their position and celebrating it. This would be recognition of a personal relationship, not necessarily something that would impact the community widely.

Headcanon does have limits, however. We have something called Divergence. Divergence is ‘a belief contrary to established canon that is held by a small portion of the Other People’. It isn’t sin or blasphemy. It can be similar to a schism within the faith, just one that doesn’t cause actual separation. We only have to actual Divergences that were resolved and which can be read about in the link. As we grow, some headcanons will differ enough and have enough of a split between people who do and do not hold the belief that Divergences will be created, and future headcanons may fall into those Divergences.

Even so, both Divergences and headcanons have breaking points where one would be better off working with the Four Gods outside of the context of the Otherfaith. A very good real-life example of this is if someone believed the Dierne to be a god of rape. This is contrary not only to what the People know of the Dierne but also very contrary to our values in our faith; someone who believes such will likely prefer working with the Four Gods on their own rather than in our community.

There are other reasons why one might not be a good fit in our community. These I only really understood after years of building this faith, and these lessons tie into the other focuses of this prompt for the Pagan Experience – knowledge and wisdom. Originally, I had a lot of information (knowledge) about these gods and where I wanted the faith to go. I shared it with whoever came along and gladly accepted partners. Now, five years in, I’m much better at assessing who would be a good community member. And that’s part of why the Four Gods are open to whoever. I can’t control who worships our gods, nor do I particularly want to spend time doing so anymore.

As a community, however, we can figure out who fits with us, our practices, and our behaviors. That was a bit of wisdom only actually experiencing bad fits and pain could teach. Unfortunately, we don’t know who will really fit or not until they try; others might view our community and writings and realize they don’t fit with us, however, which is fine! In such a case, they are more than welcome to explore the Four Gods on their own terms.


Thank you for reading. ‘of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist religion. You can find more about us here and here. You can contact us here if you have any questions or would like to get involved.

[Friday] D is for Devotion, Pt. 2

Friday posts are written by Sage of the blog Sage and Starshine. Every week or so they explore a different aspect of the Otherfaith through the letters of the alphabet.

This week I want to build on the previous essay about devotion to look at practical ways to start, rekindle, or strengthen a divine relationship in your life. We’ve established that all of us – human, spirit, and deity – are individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses. We all have personhood, which means consent and autonomy play key roles in these relationships. We all have preferences on what kind of relationships we want, and how we want to approach or be approached by our Beloveds. Let’s say you’ve decided all that and you know who you are (right now, at least!) and what sort of relationship you’d like to pursue. Our next question is… how do you decide what to do?

I think it’s important to note that anyone can pray to their Beloveds, converse about them, ask for or practice divination, and otherwise determine their divine partner’s opinions about the state of the relationship. Your satisfaction and their satisfaction are equally vital. Even if we can’t hear or sense our Beloved’s responses, it’s still important to make the attempt and ask. It’s just good manners!

Multiple Intelligences

I need to be honest and admit the inspiration for much of this post comes from my friend Jenett’s website. Jenett is a priestess in a religious witchcraft tradition and also a librarian, both of which make her excellent at organizing information and communicating ideas clearly. Her site “Seeking: First Pagan Steps and Tools” is written with the newbie Pagan in mind, but offers a lot of rich insight to “how and why do we do this religious thing?” for people of all experience levels and religious persuasions. In particular I’m lifting ideas from her essay on ways we learn and how we can apply that to our religious practice. I’m going a step forward and applying that to specifically devotional practice. What’s the difference between religious practice and devotional practice? I’d say primarily attitude; I can light candles and incense all day if I want, but if I’m not completing those actions for someone else then I wouldn’t call them devotional. (Your mileage may vary!)

Jenett links to a really nifty online quiz that tests your different modes of intelligence. My top three were language/linguistic, interpersonal/social, and intrapersonal/self-reflecting. I’m really good with words, I’m really good with people, and I’ve got a really good idea of what’s going on inside my head. My lowest scores were in visual/spatial reasoning, body movement/kinesthetic, and musical intelligence. So I’m not the best at moving in my body, knowing where things are around me, interpreting maps or visual puzzles, or at really getting and appreciating music. I, like everyone else, am a mix of these intelligences and smart in different ways, not all of which have to do with things like academic success or high IQ scores. Those are actually very limiting ways of approaching intelligence because they value certain ways of thinking and understanding the world over others. It’s also important to remember that intelligence, according to this theory, isn’t some static quality you get at birth. You can stretch and build intelligence just like any muscle, and you can play to your intellectual strengths in all areas of your life – including religion.

A newly-recognized form of intelligence that the above links don’t discuss is spiritual or existential intelligence. I mention this as a reminder that intelligence does come in any and all forms, and that new types are still being discussed and “discovered” today.

Devotionalism, Intelligence, and You

When we’re aware of our strengths and preferences we can start to apply them to our devotional lives. Perhaps collectively, the different standards of intelligence could contribute to an overall “devotional intelligence,” though I worry that such an approach, no matter how thoroughly explained, may unfairly preference certain individuals and ways of being smart over others. I’m pretty clumsy and knock things over a lot, and had a hell of a time learning to drive because I had no concept of objects in relation to my own body, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still offer devotional dance to the gods. My struggle with body/kinesthetic and spatial intelligence is part of the offering.

I’m going to suggest ideas on how to give devotion based on the theory of multiple intelligences, but remember that these categories can be fuzzy and theory is just theory. Take what makes sense for you and your particular devotional style and forget the rest.

Body Movement/Kinesthetic

This is about learning through doing and movement. People with high kinesthetic intelligence might be great dancers, enjoy sports, or constantly need to fidget with their hands. To incorporate kinesthetic intelligence into your devotion, you can:

  • Act out myths or spiritual concepts as you learn them.
  • Create devotional dance for the different gods; experiment with which movements and rhythms feel natural for each deity.
  • Try out a physical form of meditation, like walking a labyrinth or tai chi.
  • Choose ritual items or sacred jewelry based on how they feel, both physically and spiritually.

Existential/Spiritual

This form of intelligence asks questions like “why are we here?” and “what is my purpose?” It is linked to ethics and morality, as well as connecting inner self to the greater world. To exercise spiritual intelligence through devotion, you can:

  • Take up the study of ethics (also known as moral philosophy).
  • List the values of particular gods (such as the Dierne’s concern for consent) and consider how you can embody those virtues.
  • Practice skills in mysticism, energy work, magic, or divination as ways to understand the gods.
  • Explore your spirit body through meditation or visualization.

Language/Linguistic

This is about words, communication, and storytelling. It includes both visual language (reading and writing) and spoken language (speaking and listening). To use this type of intelligence in devotion, you can:

  • Read our myths and consider what they mean to you.
  • Use freewriting to explore your devotional relationship.
  • Look for books, essays, documentaries, or podcasts that relate to different gods’ purviews; what topics remind you of your Beloved?
  • Write about your experiences with the Otherfaith. You can submit essays and poetry to “Of the Other People” or let us know where you’re writing, and we’ll link to you.

Logic/Mathematics

This deals with manipulating numbers, thinking logically, and organizing data. If you excel at this type of intelligence, you likely have an easy time understanding processes and structures. To use this intelligence in devotion, you can:

  • Organize what you know about the gods in a way that makes sense to you. What information are you missing?
  • Dedicate time spent studying logic and critical thinking skills.
  • Make mind maps of myths and spiritual concepts as you learn them.
  • Describe rituals or guided meditations with clear, logical sequences of events. What do you do, in what order, and why?

Music

This intelligence deals with sound, rhythm, tempo, rhyme, and harmony and can be equally interested in spoken poetry as actual music. To use music intelligence in your devotion, you can:

  • Create playlists for the gods on YouTube or Spotify.
  • Write chants for your Beloved, focusing on which sounds and rhythms fit with their personality.
  • Focus on meter and rhythm when reading or writing poetry.
  • Play music as a background to meditation or prayer. Focus on how certain sounds and instruments evoke different feelings.

Nature

This is knowledge of and connection with the natural world: ecosystems, local weather patterns and geographical features, and lore surrounding animals and plants. To explore devotion through natural intelligence, you can:

  • Connect Otherfaith myths with the world around you. Where is the nearest river (the Ophelia) and what watershed does it belong to (the Laethelia)?
  • Go outside or use natural sounds as a backdrop to your meditation.
  • Make pilgrimages to sites sacred to the gods, such as the Appalachian Mountains for the Laetha or the seashore for the Laethelia.
  • Research common flowers, vegetables, or houseplants associated with your Beloved. Tend to those plants, starting them from seed if possible.

Self/Intrapersonal

This is knowledge of your emotions, your mental state, and who you are as a person. Someone with high self intelligence could use a variety of tools to learn more about themselves. To use this in devotion, you could:

  • Journal about your introduction to the Otherfaith and the gods or spirits you particularly care for.
  • Practice regular meditation and mindfulness to become aware and stay aware of your inner state.
  • Make time for self-care, such as visiting a professional massage therapist or practicing energetic hygiene.
  • Read (or write!) spiritual devotions or self-help books that focus on a particular aspect of your life you’d like to improve.

Social/Interpersonal

This is knowledge connected with groups and social interaction. Someone with high social intelligence knows how to connect with people in a variety of ways. To practice this within your devotion, you can:

  • Contribute to online religious discussion whether through blog posts, social media, or instant messaging.
  • Cultivate a close group of friends to discuss spirituality with and make maintaining these friendships part of your religious life.
  • Meditate or pray with others when possible.
  • Visualize meeting and talking with deities and spirits, or practice journey work to learn about them in person.

Spatial/Visual

This is proficiency with what objects look like and how they’re positioned in relation to other things. You might prefer visual or symbolic ways of obtaining information, such as through graphs and pictures, and may be highly artistic. To use this in devotion, you can:

  • Make scrapbooks, vision boards, or Pinterest boards full of images that remind you of your Beloved.
  • Study a form of divination that makes use of symbols or artistic puzzles, such as runes or Tarot cards.
  • Spend time arranging the objects on your altar or in your room to reflect your spiritual goals. Pay attention to things like color, texture, and shapes. What visual cues help you feel connected with the gods?
  • Keep a scrapbook to doodle and take artistic notes. Draw images of the gods or illustrate your favorite myths.

Wrapping it up

As you probably noticed, many of these devotional suggestions overlap with multiple kinds of intelligences. Blogging for me is a mix of social, self, and language skills, whereas my near obsessive doodling helps me visualize information in a mix of spatial and logical skills. Try anything and everything, mix and match, and never be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. We, like our relationships, grow with the effort and love given to us.

[Pagan Experience] The Spirit Althea Altair

This is part of the Pagan Experience prompts. If you are interested in a blogging project, I recommend it!

Every third week the prompt for the Pagan Experience will focus on gods, spirits, and other entities that influence us. I’ve decided to take this time to focus on the many spirits in the Otherfaith. This week will focus on Althea Altair.

Overview

Althea Altair is the daughter of Adilene and the Firebird, created when the Laetha tries to devour Adilene. She is torn from her mother’s womb as a fully grown adult (similar to her own child Alynah Blake) and from that point on serves her father as his right hand. She is classified as a Younger Spirit, a type of spirit that challenges the expectations or assumptions made by other actors in the myths and otherworld. Althea is an excellent example of this, and she can confront us on our own biases. She does this not with nonsense or with riddles but with cold stares and sharp words.

Althea Altair serves as an initiator for those seeking deeper devotion to the Laetha. She initiates spirits and Other People into the initiatory order of Nix. Like her order, she represents negation and restraint. This also plays into her spiritual power – unlike her mother or her daughter, she is not as spiritually powerful. She is more of a supportive spirit. This doesn’t mean that she is easy to push around, however. She is still the child of a god and almost-divine spirit.

House: House Hark
Court: Red
Order: Nix (initiator for)

Origins

I first saw Althea Altair in a vision during my early journeys into the West. She appeared at a suspiciously stereotypical faery dance, wearing regal white clothes and inviting me to dance. I saw her later on during my journeys and eventually learned more of her as I initiated into Nix in pursuit of a deeper relationship with the Laetha.

She is born from Adilene and the Laetha, technically the Laetha Firebird. However, she serves all of the Laethas, with more or less obedience. Her sister Lilibell is born at the same time and falls to earth, carrying the heart that Althea lacks due to being the child of the Firebird. Lilibell eventually rescues/seduces Althea away from her duties, which she was originally firmly bound to (never leaving the Laetha’s house). This eventually results in her being turned into a unicorn, shifting her form so she isn’t bound to her father as she originally was, and gives her unicorn imagery. This is passed on to her daughter Alynah Blake.

Temperament

Althea is cold. She has little kind words to share, at least up front. She exemplifies Nix ideals – restraint in her outward expressions and behavior. This doesn’t mean she’s not dangerous. Just because she is restrained doesn’t mean she doesn’t have boundaries or emotions. She might have been born without a heart, but she isn’t lacking in the wild feelings we associate with that part of our body.

Because she is so strict in her behavior, she expects a certain level of formality when others approach her. It is good to approach Althea out of utmost respect. She is a spirit that doesn’t care how you really feel, she cares how you act. Approach her while outwardly sulking is a bad idea. She holds others to the same standards she holds herself. Maybe too high, but it’s what she expects.

Themes

The most obvious of Althea’s themes are right action and formality. These all tie into her lessons on the importance of ritual and ceremony. Althea reminds us that talking to the gods conversationally is not the only part of religion – there is also the practice. There is formality and respect.

There is, in a word, piety. Which isn’t to say we don’t question the gods. If Althea bowed her head to what the gods willed she would not be the spirit she is. She may serve the Laetha, but she also questions them. She doesn’t always agree with the Laetha. This is very important, lest we trick ourselves into thinking that her devotion is about absolute faith and subservience.

(I think that leaving our perception and contemplations of her as a subservient spirit also plays into gross sexist gender roles. This is something we should always be wary of.)

We also shouldn’t take her to mean that only formality is appropriate. She butts heads with the gods and other spirits – she is a Younger Spirit. She won’t sweep in and tut tut at us. She does remind us that we may need to straighten our backs and bite our tongues, though.

One of Althea’s less obvious themes is that of personhood. This is one that will become very clear to spirit workers in the Otherfaith. Althea does not appreciate being treated like an object to be pushed around on your board of spirit work. Her restraint goes right out the window when she feels she is not being respected as an entity with her own life and goals. You can’t snap your fingers and make her appear. She will gladly hammer this lesson into spirit workers who do not understand it or think themselves much larger than they truly are.

Ethical Consequences

What does having a spirit such as this in our religion mean? What does she teach us, and how do we live in right relationship with her outside devotional activities?

The ethical teachings we are offered are, simply:

  • Utilitarianism
  • Contractarianism

But we have to beware approaching these on just their face.

Like the Laetha, Althea is all about utility. Reading the information concerning this on the Laetha’s page will help in understand this. Althea does not tell us to calculate out the numbers in a cold way, but to arrive at maximum pleasure with least amount of pain. This does not mean we should torture some people so others never have to experience pain, but that pain has to be spread out so that there is more balance of pleasure.

The consequences we face with contracts also becomes very clear with Althea. She is the initiator of the Laetha’s initiatory order. Once you initiate into one of the god’s orders, that is that – it’s done, you’re tied to the god, you’re cut off from other initiatory options in the faith. (As far as I know.) Once you sign yourself over to the Laetha, she’s going to come for you and start initiating you into that god’s stories – all the joys, pains, lessons, and nonsense.

Domains

  • The star Altair
  • Duty
  • Fire
  • Right action
  • Teabrewing
  • Transformation

Symbols

  • Cherry blossoms
  • Daggers
  • Gold bowls
  • Lanterns
  • Poppies
  • Sidereal compass
  • Unicorns

Epithets

  • Bowl Bearer
  • Disaster Maker
  • Fiery Steed
  • Heart Holder
  • Red Unicorn
  • Red Woman
  • Wolf Tamer

Related Spirits

  • Clarene
  • Laetha
  • Adilene
  • Alynah Blake
  • Dawn
  • Epiphany
  • Epiphia
  • Lilibell
  • White Mare

Links

Althea Altair (Otherfaith Wiki)

Lilibell of Two Hearts


Thank you for reading. ‘of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist religion. You can find more about us here and here. You can contact us here if you have any questions or would like to get involved.

[Pagan Experience] Earth & Stars

This is part of the Pagan Experience prompts. If you are interested in a blogging project, I recommend it!

In the Otherfaith, ‘earth’ refers to our planet, our world, our place in the universe. Earth is our physical home.

This is a bit in contrast with our otherworld. The West is not necessarily our home. The West is connected to our physical earth, perhaps. It is created from a ‘rod of man’ and a ‘branch of fairy’, after all. I believe it is a safe bet to assume that the West is tied to our earth. Many of our gods travel or originated from earth, this planet, as well. the Dierne is said to have wandered our streets. Various Laethas lived human lives before returning or being carried away into our otherworld.

I often question if the Otherfaith is an ‘earth-based’ religion, however. We do not focus on agriculture or pristine wilderness. Our holy days aren’t based on sowing or harvesting. Cities and wilds are both part of our reality. Urban life is not seen as something to be erased. Nor is humanity. But surely we are ‘earth-based’, as our gods manifest and represent very different things depending on where we experience them.

A river god means something completely different in the Southwest US than it does in the Midwest US, after all.

Earth as a planet is special to us. It’s our home. This giant rock sails through the universe, orbiting around the sun, taking us with it on its incredible journey. When we are gone, the earth will continue to exist. We will leave marks – only a fool thinks that all we have built and dug and destroyed will vanish when we do.1

The West is seen as tied up, in some way, with our own world. It is not a pure, painless afterlife. I don’t know if it could count as an afterlife at all. Perhaps the connection means that when the earth is destroyed, so will the West go. Or perhaps our own exploitation of our planet affects our otherworld. Certainly in the myths we see our own realities reflected. Our own influence shows most strongly here, however. (It has been said that it is difficult if not impossible to conceive of something truly alien, unlike anything we have encountered on this planet. I’m not quite sure if I believe that to be true, but it is interesting to think on.)

Our gods may be tied up in our world, but we don’t quite have an earth god or goddess. the Clarene holds the West as her domain, but she is not the West and capable of leaving it (she originated outside of it, after all). the Laetha is a god who is connected to the land, her soul somewhat horrifically warping to become one with the West. But she becomes one with the West, abandoning her previous home of our own earth. She isn’t an earth god. A land god, perhaps. But words are important, in all their broad and minute meanings.

And the earth is our physical world, our planet. This rock in space.

The West, in some ways, transcends the earth. the Clarene, for a variety of reasons, strikes out to the stars. Her world is full of spaceships and rockets and orbiting stations. There’s just the occasional complication of stars not being, well, stars, and instead often hostile spirits.

Which isn’t to say that since we are born on earth that we are bound here. This is surely the dreamer in me, but the stars captivate. Our own galaxy is so huge, the space between us and the planets in our own solar system bending the mind. We look out into a sky that is the past. And we continue to look up, and go up, and look farther all the time. Plenty of people don’t find value in space exploration. To me, it’s always been inspiring.

Of course, I’ve never believed we’re ‘alone’ in the universe, so I’m inspired by the possibilities of life elsewhere. And of the beauty of the universe, though our eyes could hardly behold it. (It is frightfully easy to forget, after seeing so many enhanced images of space, that these magnificent nebulae and galaxies do not look as colorful to human eyes.)

I haven’t not, personally, felt ‘of’ this world, this earth. It’s a feeling I don’t find use in idealizing. Especially when it detaches me from loving and caring for this world that is sustaining me. I may not feel as though I am rooted here, but I am here. I’m walking this world’s sidewalks, and its forests, into its rivers and down its dusty roads. My eyes, and my mind, might be turned up to the stars or sideways into otherworlds, but I’m still a human on the earth. I’m still a little earthling. There is, I think, a distinct power in accepting and integrating that into our being.

1. I know some people believe that referring to our planet as ‘it’ helps in our objectification and exploitation of the earth. I find that referring to the earth as gendered in some way to be distasteful, however.


Thank you for reading. ‘of the Other People’ is a site dedicated to the Otherfaith, a modern polytheist religion. You can find more about us here and here. You can contact us here if you have any questions or would like to get involved.