Today we continue our late-winter theme of “Order and Structure” with MortalCrow’s story of the influence of an archetypal dream spirit on her life.
I have never believed in “God” in the traditional sense. This is because the traditional definition was wrong for me. God, all powerful, all knowing, external male entity that dictated what you can and can’t do.
I grew up with an atheist dad and a non-traditional Catholic mom. My parents agreed not to have me baptised so that I could make my own decisions regarding religion. That said, as soon as my parent’s left me in the care of my grandmother, she had me baptised Catholic. She meant well, saving my mortal soul and all.
Once I was old enough to understand religion, sometime in middle school I would assume, I started asking too many questions. It may have started in history class, who knows now? But at that point, I knew that I was not a Christan. I managed to get through Genesis in the Bible once. I felt like everything in it was wrong. Being a girl, I was just as good as any boy. Flesh and blood. A mind. Why would my different parts make me less than a boy? Why wouldn’t my dad teach me to fix a car? Why are animals treated as less than humans? Why would we want to rule the natural world instead of protect it?
I didn’t know. So I became an atheist. I figured I had to be either on the Judeo-Christian bandwagon or an atheist’s. But while I identified with atheism, I also kept my mom’s words to heart: She always said that one did not have to go inside a church to find God. God was in everything, all around us.
At the time I had some interesting dreams. I’ve always had interesting dreams. So did my mom. We didn’t really talk about the meanings of these dreams. It was like an unspoken secret. Mom always just knew things. I didn’t think too much about it until much later in life.
I remember one dream in particular. It helped me get through a difficult time in my life. I had no friends in middle school because I was a little different. I was made fun of and threatened with getting beaten up on a daily basis. I had one punk punch me in the face because I glanced at him as I walked down the hall. I had a group of girls pretend to send me notes from a boy who supposedly liked me just to laugh at me. I felt very alone. Like I was the only one in the world like me. That I was flawed somehow. An outcast. A lot of kids are faced with this and there are really two paths to choose from. Path 1: Give in and change oneself to fit in. Path 2: Stay true to who you are. I’ve never been one to conform. It was just not my way. So I decided that I had to embrace being different. Even if that meant being alone. Thankfully it did not last forever. I did find friends who didn’t quite fit in either. It also helped enrolling in martial arts. I was pretty great at it and the boost to my self-esteem sure didn’t hurt.
Anyway, around this time I had a dream one night that was so vivid I wasn’t quite sure I was dreaming. Have you ever had one of those? A dream spirit called my name, not my birth name, but a new name. I remember getting up in the middle of the night to go outside to check to make sure there wasn’t anyone calling my name from the driveway. I’m sure I laughed at myself for being crazy but I could never shake the feeling that there was really someone there. Later on in high school when I learned about the Native American spirit Crow, I identified my dream spirit as Crow. Why? It felt right. And somehow the archetype of the trickster helped me get my footing in life and set my moral compass. (You can read more about the trickster archetype at my blog here.)
Typing this out for the world to see is a little daunting. I promise I am quite sane. I have always both believed and disbelieved in spiritual matters. 99.9% of the time I do not believe spirits or gods exist, except as parts of our own souls. Archetypes or divinities are what we call specific bits of our souls that we want to focus on. A simplistic example would be if I want to approach a problem with peace and serenity, I could focus on the Goddess Quan Yin, Chinese goddess of peace and kindness and unconditional love. For me, Crow symbolized a creator spirit, one who helped me to laugh at myself and all those stupid human things that we are so serious about, when, in the grand scheme of things, they really aren’t that serious. I need this reminder more often than I care to admit. For those that know me, I think I pretty much always have a smile on my face despite all the crazy and hectic things going on in my life. I do not see the harm in honoring a spirit that helps me cope and keeps me laughing.
Some might wonder why I call myself a Pagan since I sound so much like an atheist. Well, that’s a good question. I approach things with a scientific mind, but I understand that our soul/spirit has not (yet) been measured by science. I think I’m what you would call a Naturalistic Pagan. I believe in divinity, and therefore I am not an atheist. Just because my gods/goddesses live inside me is no reason to kick me out from the Pagan umbrella. (For any Christian readers, don’t worry, I found Jesus in here too. He’s shaking hands with Osirus and Baldur.)
So this brings me to the present day. I write and assist with rituals for the MoonPath Chapter of CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) and the Sisterhood of the Temple of Ahel Adom. I celebrate the quarters of the year, especially my two favorites: Samhain and Beltain. I keep three altars: a Goddess altar for Ishtar and Lillith, a ‘working’ altar currently dedicated to Hades and Persephone, and a third altar dedicated to a few Viking gods (Hail Odin!). I honor the spirits of my family and my ancestors that have gone before me.
And most importantly, I help support my community and take care of my family. All my family, literal and spiritual. I have a wonderful full house I share with my hubby, 2.5 kids, 3 dogs, 4 cats, a gerbil, a boa and 26 chickens. (Not all in the house, I swear!) I also work full time putting my math skills and people skills into use daily. I sew things and write stories. And did I mention my vegetable garden? I do keep busy. In my “spare” time, I also research Hun history, and I am currently reading the Elder Eddas and the The Looking Glass Wars.
MortalCrow: I am a mom of 2 small kiddos, 1 step-kiddo, 1 big kiddo (also known as husband), 3 dogs, 4 cats, 24 chickens, including 3 roosters (George the Bastard, Bill and Ted) and 4 goats (Pan, Mu, Loka and Flora). I am an archer, a writer, a crafter, a blackbelt, and a knitter. I am a spiritual equalitarian, a feminist, a heathen and a Pagan. For me divinity comes from within and it is both and neither, male and female, God and Goddess. I also like to think I’m funny. I am a member of the Moonpath Circle and local chapter of CUUPS and a Priestess of the Sisterhood of Ahel Adom. MortalCrow blogs at As The Crow Flies.