September 22, 2016

This time four years ago, I wrote my first blog post about my spiritual journey. The night before, I had done ritual to mark the autumn equinox, and with that ritual I began an unbroken trend of celebrating the wheel of the year. The closest I have yet come to not performing some ritual for a Sabbat in those four years was this last Lughnasadh, when I was days from submitting my Master’s dissertation—but I did light candles, I did have a special supper and watch the sun set with my girlfriend. I’m not sure if I really knew, four years ago, that I would still be maintaining the habit to this day. But I am proud, in a way, that I have. It has been the one consistent rock in a life of avalanching pebbles.

This time five years ago marked the beginning proper of my spiritual quest. I did ritual then, too—though the rest of the year slipped by unmarked, as I was only in the very beginning stages of figuring out what I wanted and needed ritual to be. I was still using a very Wiccan framework; I still had not figured out what I believed, what really rang true for me cosmologically and theologically. I had real moments of revelation in the twelve months between September 2011 and September 2012.

August 31, 2016

This year has been hard.

In many ways, it has also been the best year of my life. I’ve felt myself coming closer to the happiness and purpose I’ve been striving after for years. But all this change has also unseated me from myself a little.

I thought that I could throw myself into a new sort of life—the life of academia and studying religion sociologically—without losing all of the purpose and meaning I had previously found. But because this Masters so completely took over my life, the more the year increased, the more I found that all of the powerful, nurturing, creative habits and feelings I had cultivated over the past few years slipped further and further out of my grasp.

The academic work, in and of itself, would have been challenging enough—but it would have been a challenge to relish without regret if it weren’t for this problem of a lack of balance in my life.

June 29, 2016

…and hello to something new.

 

Here’s the truth about this blog:

I feel like, somewhere along the way, while working at sounding passionate and authentic, while striving to do about ten different things in each leap of a paragraph, I lost my authentic writing voice. It got suffocated, maybe, under the weight of my muddied yet shrill aspirations. And it is this, more than anything, that has slowly ground the writing on this thing to a complete halt.

It is time for me to let Heart Story go. It will likely surface again either as an aspect of my website, or a project, or an e-book; but for now, I am rebranding again, turning to the simplicity of Áine Órga, and attempting to lay a more permanent cyber anchor for myself—something I can come back to again and again like a port in a storm, without feeling like it’s something I have to measure up to in some way. Áine Órga I can be, even on a bad day. Áine Órga makes no particular demands of me: she is just another name I call myself.

October 4, 2015

And so I have been living in this new city, in this new life, for just over three weeks. Already I feel totally immersed in this place, in what I’m doing. Already I have been through some major ups and downs. But I am settling in, I am happy and content with the new trajectory of my life. Here are some thoughts and some clips of my life and surroundings in the past three weeks.

 

August 30, 2015

Who is the Horned God?

The Horned God is an unusual deity, in that he’s not really a deity at all. He is an archetype, a category of deity, or a name for the God of the Wicca, the God who contains all gods. We see him depicted in Celtic art, sometimes called Cernunnos – but know little of his history or worship. We see him as Pan, one specific Greek deity, a god of the forest, of nature, of all things wild and untame.

Cards Chosen

king of wands ShadowscapesCourt Card: The King of Wands

The Horned God is associated with the forest, the natural world, and in this way he taps into the energy of the King of Pentacles – which is a card I chose when talking about the Green Man, a figure closely related to the Horned God. But the King of Wands also reflects the wildness of the Horned God, his primal energy, and his association with the sun and the animal kingdom.

The creative-destructive nature of the fiery King of Wands reflects the cycle of life and death that the Horned God represents. Connected to the hunt, and depicted in Wiccan myth as dying every year in sacrifice to the Goddess, this god embodies the life-death-life cycle and reminds us of the ferocity and finite energy of the blazing flame. His association with the sun links him to life-giving force, but there is a strong underlying sense of death and sacrifice.

five of wands shadowscapesMinor Arcana: Five of Wands

One of the primary images associated with the Horned God is that of two stags clashing antlers. The Horned God is an archetype not only of wildness and virility, but of challenge and combat. In Wicca, the life-death-life cycle is depicted as being set in motion by an annual battle between two faces of the God. While the Horned God is a slightly different archetype, this battle is highly reminiscent of stags fighting over their mates, and the usually stag-shaped antlers of the Horned God suggest a link between these myths.
This card challenges you to take up those challenges that life presents you with strength and grace. While violence is never to be lauded, it is important to acknowledge that life is a cycle of give and take, and we must roll with the ups and downs and seasonal shifts and tides.

the devil shadowscapesMajor Arcana: The Devil

The conflation of the Devil or Satan with Pan is likely a relatively recent phenomenon, and I am not of the belief that the figure of Satan was based on Pan in order to convert Pagans in early Christendom. But modern images of the Devil are certainly highly reminiscent of Pan, and it is from this trend that the concept of the Horned God likely arose.

But there is an undeniable relationship between the Devil, Pan, and the Horned God – and much of this lies in their associations with debauchery and excess. Pan is a god of the wild and of fertility – as is the Horned God. The Devil in many ways represents the shadow of a society obsessed with the control and restriction of all things natural.

the lovers shadowscapesMajor Arcana: The Lovers

As the primary depiction of the God of the Wicca, the Horned God is the consort of the Goddess. Here we see him as fertile Pan, in all the virile glory of his untamed sexuality. But this card also reminds us of the connectivity of everything, the reliance of each particle of cosmos on the next, and our own vulnerability and reliance on the All and each other.

Where the Devil warns of excess or relishes in the primal intoxication of sex, the Lovers speaks of the deep bond between the Horned God and his consort, and the sacrifice he makes as an innate part of that connectivity. This reminds us of our place as part of the web, and how we celebrate the wonder of our existence even as we gradually decline and return to the All. With our understanding of our oneness comes a knowledge of our inevitable return to the chaos of cosmos – and our celebration and our sacrifice are inextricably intertwined.

 

All images from the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui Mun Law.