DPM 16: Or What’s A Heaven For?

I am going through the Devotional Polytheist Meme questions from Galina Krasskova’s blog, together with my lover Lon Sarver, over the course of several months.

We encourage our friends to follow along, and welcome links to other people’s answers, as well as your thoughts on our answers, in our comments.

16. What devotional goals have you set for yourself?

I don’t want to seem like I’m avoiding responsibility here, but it feels like almost none of my devotional goals were really set by me at this point.

I basically set two grownup life goals for myself when I got out of High School:

  1. Have kids
  2. Become a Priestess

I knew quite well having kids required a lot of other Responsible Adult ™ things to be in place, but I didn’t have strong opinions about how I got there, as long as I did so ethically and responsibly. I thought I was doing pretty well when I got a full time, paying job and moved out of my Mom’s house, and bought my own car, and everything. Then the dot-com boom busted, and it all fell apart. Aaaand then the gods called. But that’s another story.

As for being a Priest, I wasn’t religious at the time, but I was always very spiritual, and I’d already started to dig into a magical practice beyond what my parents had taught me. I figured not having a religion meant I only needed to meet my own definition of “Priestess,” because nobody else was depending on me to be anything special. So my plan was to get a minor in Comparative Religion with my BA in something practical, and then register with the Universal Life Church, and consider it done. As a Pantheist that seemed like a good plan.

Yeah, I know. I’ll wait for those of you who know me to stop laughing and get back up into your chairs.

So the pinnacle of my devotional goals was technically met in 2013 when I took my ordination vows. But that is a far, far cry from having an empty devotional to-do list! On the contrary, ordination, as any clergy will tell you, is the beginning of the real work, not the end.

So what’s on that list now?

  1. Get into Stanford’s Religious Studies Ph.D. program (or possibly another related program, like Anthropology).
  2. Document the Vanic Conspiracy’s practices as the public form of RedWood Vanatru. Make them available to the public, hopefully as a book and/or website.
  3. Get the RedWood Vanatru Kindred up and running so we can put the Mystery tradition aspects of RedWood Vanatru together, and I can put those in line for deity dedication or community ordination through their paces.
  4. Figure out how this local land relationship… thing… is supposed to work.
  5. Learn [more] Herbalism.
  6. Finish writing this Vanic Edda thing They keep giving me poems for.
  7. Finish designing the Tarot of Seasons and figure out how to make the artwork happen. Write the books that go with that as well.
  8. I know there were other books on the request list, but frell if I can remember any of them right now…
  9. Figure out the curriculum for some of the classes I need to teach. Set up those classes as I can fit them into my schedule. Figure out if I can ethically charge for them so they’re not just yet another drain on my time, energy, and resources.
  10. Stop running away from self-promotion, dammit. Speaking of which, put more Vanic things on Zazzle, put any Vanic things on Etsy, and make paid Tarot readings available to the public.
  11. Figure out a sustainable practice around the African powers I developed relationships with via American Umbanda. Practice it.
  12. Continue with learning cooking and otherwise taking proper responsibility for the lives that are sacrificed for me to continue living. If I get past Cooking in this lifetime, learning to raise food animals and learning to butcher them properly are next on the list.
  13. BLACKSMITHING. Why have I not already taken this class yet?! ERMAGHERD! (Answer: My brother and I are set to take it together when our schedules allow, courtesy of our parents as a Christmas gift to us both.)
  14. “Learn Falconry”?! I don’t even. No. NO Falconry. (I don’t have to ask who said that. But still.)
  15. Find a way to be a financially independent adult as a mystic and clergy, so I can have my own CAT, dammit. Okay, maybe that one is more of a personal goal. Freyja and Bast seem okay with me borrowing other people’s cats most of the time.

For the record, having children seems to be nowhere in sight. I’ve had several gods assure me directly and via mediums that They are behind me 100% if that’s what I want to do, and I’ve been given unprompted predictions that I will bear twins, a boy and a girl. But I also keep getting handed piles and piles of now-isn’t-a-good-time-yet, and I’m not confident things will clear up before I hit menopause.

No, I’m NOT happy about this. I cry about it at least once a month, in fact. All my life I’ve felt very strongly that my greatest purpose was to bear children and raise them to be important, influential people. I never imagined it would ever be my job to try and influence anything myself. But neither that feeling, nor the feeling of being Called, has ever gone away. It’s only been the last few years I’ve started to really worry they might be in direct competition, that having followed the Call, I necessarily walked away from the path to children.

I hope to all the gods that’s not true, but the question is far too important to me to even consider doing divination about it – never ask the gods a question until you’re ready to hear the real answer no matter what it is. At best you’ll get no useful answer. At worst the real answer may break you.

But that’s life in service to the Gods: You don’t get what you wanted, you get what is needed, and it’s far more than you could possibly have planned when you started. I am so loved, so well supported, so surrounded by people who know me, care about me, understand me, and support my efforts, it’s hard to find any room to say I should have more.

I don’t have the life I planned or hoped for, or even dreamed. I have a life beyond my faintest imaginings. I have a life far, far beyond my goals.


Lon’s answer: The To-Do List From… Somewhere

About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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3 Responses to DPM 16: Or What’s A Heaven For?

  1. I would say my devotional goal at the moment is to reach my “Year and a Day” study/examination time. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that idea until a couple months after I started studying, so I have no anniversary date. I’m probably going to check my Amazon purchase history and use the date I ordered my Troth books. By then I’d read the Edda’s and a few other free Project Gutenberg books on Norse Mythology.

    Another goal to strive for would be setting a regular time and day each week for altar devotions for each of my gods. I came into Heathenism drawn by Loki and he’s very relaxed and flexible about time. Whenever I feel ‘moved by the spirit’ works well enough for him.

    Odin would like to see a bit more structure and regularity-not because he feels he needs it-but because he thinks I need the structure. Structure and f*cking discipline, lol. [Like the girl said in American Beauty. Odin boot camp. Man, now there’s a nightmare!

    Also, it’s nice to see someone talk about having kids unapologetically. When I was young, having kids as a goal was the most non-feminist thing a woman could do. But when I was a young child all I ever wanted was

    1. Get married
    2. Have kids
    3. Have a flower and vegetable garden
    4. Take care of my husband and kids

    Well, at least I did the first two. Only one child though. Marriage lasted almost 25 years and I was barely 15 when we moved in together, and 18 when I had our son.
    No house or garden though. Starting too young can cause severe problems that hinder you throughout the rest of your life.

    For now I’d just like to finish this book on rune magic. I’m not terribly drawn to the runes but I committed to reading the book and giving it an honest effort. Oh well, at least I can write with them! They look awesome in a journal.
    Devotional writing is something I want to work on too. More poems and also some works of fiction-some short stories.


    • EmberVoices says:

      The ovaries in my Mom’s family are too loud for us to discard the impulse just because Feminism – as my Mom found out the hard way ;p

      My favorite thing about runes is actually bindrunes. 😀



  2. Pingback: The To-Do List From… Somewhere | Drinking From the Cup of Life

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