I stopped by Skidmore fountain on my way to my first day at my new job. Left three pieces of silver for the Ladies there, thanking them for bringing me here, for the job I start now, for the better job I’ve yet to find.
I was browsing in the library shop and I found they had Portland playing card decks. I looked at this deck a couple of weeks ago at the Saturday Market and passed it up because I didn’t have a use for it at the time. When I was thinking about divination systems, though, it occurred to me. I first taught myself to read tarot with playing cards, and these had the additional symbolism of the Portland landmarks depicted on each card. They’ll also be useful for pathwalking in the city, if I want to divine a destination.
I’m very much in love with Portland as a place full of many different energies and spirits. I have animist tendencies and I tend to try to talk to everything – rivers, trees, bridges, statues, buildings. This is one of many eclectic tendencies and techniques I’ve gotten away from that I want to reclaim.
When I first started learning magic, I was a teenager living with my parents in a rural area. The library was tiny, and the county library half an hour a way wasn’t much better. Most of my introduction to magic came from Waldenbooks and the kinds of magical material you could find on dial-up BBSes, combined with a lot of fantasy novels and my own personal experiences with gods and fairies. In my high school there was one Wiccan and one Druid for me to compare notes with, and both of them were coming from essentially the same available research as I was.
This basically meant that I did a lot of Making Shit Up and a lot of Trying Shit To See What Works. A lot of things did not work, or worked badly, but by the time I went to college I had a functional, productive system of magic and religion.
Then I met other pagans and it all went to hell – I became self-conscious that I was doing astral travel “wrong,” I encountered the idea that you should only work with one pantheon for the first time, I learned to use more popular divination systems with proper tarot decks instead of the mashed-up systems I’d taught myself. And I convinced myself that if I just did enough research and enough work, I’d find the Right Path and then everything would make sense.
One of the side effects of being so isolated as I was learning was that I had a lot of stolen vocabulary from fantasy novels and roleplaying games. I got that trained out of me right quick – you so much as say Hollow One in a serious magical discussion and everyone’s going to be politely ignoring you for the rest of the night, after all. So I even lost my vocabulary
I’ve been seeing other people who aren’t afraid to use what works for them, even if it’s roleplaying terminology. (It was a ridiculous relief to see other people, people I take seriously, use them.)
I’ve started coming back around to the things I put aside in the interest of being taken seriously. I’m working with my old gods, and with the elements, in ways I haven’t done in ten years. I’m comfortable in a way I haven’t been in a long time. And I’m learning that the path where I use what works for me and what makes sense? Was the Right Path all along.