20 Years Ago Among Cranes

It’s been 20 years since I last attending Twilight Covening, so I’m noting mentions of this one popping up on my flist. That was a powerful event for me in many ways, it was a big time of change for me anyway, a lot of what I feel defines me today started that year. The group I was in was a warrior group, Cranes; the leaders of it are still people I count as friends (at least on FB, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen either in person). I was sick as a dog….so was almost everyone. I had a powerful vision during the event which I think set my feet where they needed to be as opposed to the wandering I was doing.

It was also odd and jarring and made me realize I probably wouldn’t attend again. It as when I first realized I didn’t really fit in the Pagan community at all, by this time I was pretty much not practicing Wicca any longer, was already on the warrior path, but I hadn’t really thought about how different I had become. It was, of course, clearest at the group ritual although we ended up with fire and that worked out well. But I know I felt apart from the rest; I think all in our group did for that time, some of us appreciating it, others feeling at odds with it. Many were and remained active not only in the general Pagan community but in Earthspirit.

How much that event changed me and how much it just gave ritual to the changes I was going through is something I probably can never sort out. Some are obvious, I was already more serious about weight lifting and the martial arts by this time, having done both for a few years at that point. Then again, some of my perceptions on those things may have changed during the event. I do know that compared to any other such event, including the TC of the year before, it has made a lasting impression. There are other reasons for that feeling which I won’t go into here.

One impression is that, man, I really sort of thought I’d have gone a bit further along my work than I have. But things always get in the way. 10 years ago I had a stark reminder that at least I still have time, while there are others who what ever they did already was it for this lifetime. And, yet, other things still get in the way and I haven’t done that much since then. But I’m still here *knockswood* and so a bit more down the path I go.

I am hoping that that means finishing Teh Project soon and writing in this blog more…and blogging stuff other than this fucking navel gazing which I realize I’m doing again.

On Friday I get ink, a piece that is something I probably should have gotten 20 or at least 10 years ago. Which all relates to this. Putting things on my body helps me solidify what I’m doing. We’ll see what this one grounds in me.

I have always looked through the TC information each year, first the paper mailings I still got and then on the website. There is a part of me that still desires doing something like that. Of all the gatherings out there, the concept of Twilight Covening remains the most intriguing, I think most useful. It’s not a “social” focused gathering, with various rituals to pick and choose from and that participants can take down time from if they wish and just hang out. Each person signs up ahead of time for a working group, you stay with that group (some even require sleeping in the same location and eating all meals together), each group focuses on some aspect of work and they do it together.

There hasn’t been a group focus that has called to me, or if there has there has been something that has put me off to the actual group. Often it’s the utter vagueness of the descriptions sometimes it’s just knowing who the leaders are. Each year I feel more distant from what it’s about. I want that sort of focused working, but, well, yeah….on different things. Of course, there still isn’t enough interest at this point for a Reconstructionist focused event like this. Hopefully someday there will be, but there are a lot of steps to take before that works out, I think.

But as I see all these “I’m back from Twilight and wow…” posts on FB, I’m thinking again. Two decades. Fuck.

Changing jobs, deepening vocation

I left my job recently. This is a good thing, but it’s left me thinking a lot about this path and how the job did, didn’t and should have related. It wasn’t a “warrior job” in the sense that those who claim all warriors must do “warrior jobs” such as serve in the military or be law enforcement officers. I was basically a baby sitter, although if you go by hourly pay I was less well paid than most are these days from what I hear, although I got full-time hours and, therefore, benefits. I was a night watch person at a camp for troubled youth. So I was a babysitter who walked around in the woods and kept fires going. But it fit for someone on the Outlaw warrior path.

I rather liked the job at first, although switching back to nights had been difficult for me. After most of a lifetime of being very nocturnal by nature, I seemed to switch suddenly when I moved back to the North Country about 11 years ago now. I thought I could switch back easily, but it was hard for me. Otherwise, it was great, I like wandering in the woods, liked time to myself. I liked that connection that I noted with my path.

See, the Outlaw Warrior bands, the Fianna, were made up of young men, possibly some women as I’ve discussed here before, who were basically seen as unfit for society to live until they were. That was, primarily when they were marriageable and could inherit.* Obviously, there are stark differences between camps such as this and the old war bands, for example, they’re not taught fighting arts but rather to not fight (yet many might end up in the military in their future so….). Yet it’s, well, reflective…reflective is a favorite word of mine if you’ve not noticed (consider the name of my home is “sgàthan”).

In the context, I was even an outsider among outsiders, being there to guard at night only. The teaching fénnidi and banfénnidi there are the counselors. I remember being hit by this passage from The Wisdom of the Outlaw:

“(“They gave Finn the task of keeping watch during the night, and he was told to wake up a fénnid if he heard anything calamitous”). We have already seen that one of the duties of Finn’s fían is to protect human society and its borders. In the present episode, as part of his initiation ito a fían, Finn is to stand watch for his fellow fénnidi. Like the ideal gill described by Cormac, he is to listen carefully in the forest and be alert during his watch. Finn stands guard on the periphery of a peripheral group; in this stance his being a chronic outsider is all the more obvious.” pg. 176

And to some extent during this time I was able to work out some new concepts and connections with my path. But due to the circumstances of the job, I was also limited, especially over time. Because working nights took a toll on my body, and the body is an important thing to a warrior. To anyone, but all fantasy aside, it’s impossible to fight with out a functioning body.

While at one point I still trained hard in what I already was doing and even took some time to start firearms training, my body started to burn out. I started to sleep less, my fitness level was deteriorating despite working out, I was just fucking tired all the fucking time.

Somewhere along there I got back to work on Teh Project again, however, so that was a plus. But as my body began to show wear, so did my mind. My periods of concentration often were short, a real problem as some of this stuff is pretty mind boggling to begin with.

With concentration goes the ability to do the spiritual work involved, namely the trance work. And as my body was tired, going out into the woods and into a fugue state became more limited. Obviously, I couldn’t go into altered states at work, even if I was in the woods.

Other things which I consider related, such as working with my young, spoiled horse and dealing with prepping/homesteading stuff also were a problem.

I realized to a large extent, I was not living the path to the extent I need to be. I also realized that the crappy pay and crap benefits were no longer worth it. And for the past few weeks I’ve been regaining my equilibrium, repairing my body, starting to build up on the amount of training I’m doing (although I have a long way to go) and getting some progress with my horse and prepping. Writing not so much yet, trance work not at all yet. I still need more recovery for those things. And winter is coming, it will be a time to focus on some of that harder when we’re settled in for the season.

My mate is taking more shifts and will be developing himself more as an EMT. I will try to build something of a fitness business, but it’s a rough location even in better times for that. I may also go for my EMT certification, maybe. We’ll also see what else comes along that can help us survive.

What I am getting here is that I strive to find a way to learn and build from all things that I do, starting this job enriched my path, leaving it at this time does so too. Onward to what ever comes.

*See, for example, Joseph Falaky Nagy. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition and Kim McCone, “Werewolves, Cyclopes, Díberga and Fíanna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland” Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, issue 12, 1986

Copyright © 2011 Kym Lambert