Don’t think I’ve missed the irony in the title, that as oblivious as I am I still have the nerve to claim that the gods I honor are very blunt creatures. Faith is a funny thing, something that’s understood by those who have it and something considered foolish by those who don’t. Even the faithful don’t always have direct communication with and from the deity/ies they believe in. It sounds like absolute lunacy to those who don’t live it, and quite frankly, it’s sometimes lunacy to those who DO live it.
Okay, it’s usually lunacy to those who live it. The universe is a weird, fucked up place regardless of who you are and what you believe. It just gets weirder when unseen energies start to meddle in your affairs. Regardless of your faith or lack thereof, it’s pretty hard to ignore the impossible when it happens.
This is my story of The Impossible, and it’s a testament to the influence of the gods I honor.
East Coast Thing 2018. I’d been beside myself with excitement because after nearly 18 years of longing, I finally got to attend. I knew from friends that big, profound things happened there; it’s hard not to feel stronger connections when you’re in the middle of the woods with 200 heathens and dozens of Ves set up for the gods. The energy is palpable, the sense of community is extraordinary – you feel a part of a close-knit family from the moment you arrive. I was thrilled to be there, but I was not at all prepared for the enormity of the events that would transpire.
I’ve already spoken of the 3 hour long Loki blot I held with one of my absolute closest friends (a friend so dear I call him my Shadow Spouse) and the revelations and commitments that followed. It was an experience that deeply impressed itself on me, brought me a new kind of peace I’d never before known, and it was intense enough to have shaken me up a bit. “Yup,” Shadow Spouse said when I told him about it later. “Welcome to ECT.” I thought that was the Big Profound Experience of the weekend. It was certainly a life changer.
Little did I know that bigger things were to come. And that the gathered community would bear witness and feel the power of the gods deep within their bones.
Some quick context: I’m a military brat, and I grew up overseas. My father wasn’t particularly fatherly. I grew up terrified of him, and it’s a fear I still have to fight to this day. When my mother and I left him, it was a pretty big, pretty traumatizing deal that impacted more people than just us. But that was some 20-odd years ago, and my mother and I have done well for ourselves (including the addition of my stepfather to our lives, a man so wonderful that HE is my dad). As I’ve said before, chaos has always been present in my life, but it gives us the chance to rebuild and make something better for ourselves.
Immediately following the Main Ritual held on the last night of ECT, another wonderful friend (the actual spouse of my Shadow Spouse, my doppelganger of sorts, a remarkable lady who I had the privilege of being mistaken for that weekend by folks who didn’t know me) told me to join her at the Odhinn Ve for a small ceremony. There were, if memory serves, 197 people in attendance at the Main Ritual; 9 of us convened in the Ve Stead. I wasn’t going to speak, not originally, but I heard the words of others and felt compelled to join in. The Old Man was present, his energy strong, and I sensed him smirking at me. What I would say would be my final testimony as an Odhinnswoman: he was urging me to be with his blood-oathed brother. So I spoke. I spoke of the impact he’d had on my life, the things he’d inspired me to do, the path he’d prodded me down up until that point. And at that point, the path diverged, and I found my Fox Brother waiting, ready to take my hand and sweep me into his arms for a thrilling dance.
That alone was immense. It was a bittersweet moment, but I was grateful to have had that chance to speak of my time with Odhinn, to have witnesses for the impact he’d had on my life.
And then it happened. One of the witnesses present fell into step with me as we made our way back to the singing and music and dancing at the main fire. She was also a military brat who’d grown up overseas, and we excitedly chattered on about shared experiences and places we’d been. We learned we’d both lived at the same base at overlapping times, and that her father was in the same division as mine. “How crazy!” we said. “What are the odds?!”
Something compelled her to call her father, to learn if he’d known mine. I was nervous, but also astoundingly curious.
Her father did know mine. Her father, it turns out, was the man who saved my life and my mother’s life all those years ago.
Once the gravity of the conversation hit us, she and I looked at one another and said, “Vodka. We need vodka. What the fuck.”
We sat near the fire, shared a horn, and spoke with incredulity about what had just happened. How could that have just happened? Two women, living in different parts of the country who 27 years ago happened to live at the same small base in Europe, united in a crowd of 200 in the dark and drunken frenzy of a firelight ceremony. I sat there and shared a drink with the daughter of the man who’d saved my life when I was a child. I’d spoken with him on the phone, I’d thanked him for what he had done, told him that my mother and I had never forgotten him, we’d always been grateful.
The universe is a vast, impossible mess of lunacy and wonder. The odds of this chance meeting were infinitely stacked against us. Twenty-seven years, two continents, thousands of miles, to meet at a gathering of 200 in the woods where the gods danced with us. It was all distilled to a bone marrow-quivering moment in which I got to thank my hero and have a drink with his daughter. We got to raise a horn in his honor, let our friends and community bear witness to the moment, to hail the gods, to marvel at their influence in all of our lives, to laugh at how Not Subtle they are.
I spoke with her before writing this, for her approval to share this publicly; it’s her story as much as it is mine, after all. She said, after reading the draft, “It was also my first time there, by the way, and I wasn’t even really going to go. It’s not my region, so I didn’t even really belong there. That’s just an extra element that makes it a bit weird.”
She’d traveled cross country to attend, but even though she’s not an East Coaster, I’d argue that she absolutely belonged there. Family is family regardless of the homestead, and many people have told me that ECT is a family reunion. The truth of that statement is absolute: not only did I get to enjoy the company of friends I’ve cherished for years, I got to make new friends, expand my circle, and I gained a new sister in the process. Though we’ve since retreated back to our respective parts of the country, we have stayed in touch, and I couldn’t be luckier. It’s a privilege and an honor to count her among my friends, my community, and my family. How could it not be? The gods themselves drew us together, made sure we met, goaded us into the conversation we had. That is faith, that is acknowledging greater forces in our lives, and that is the gift that faith can give.
Faith is a funny thing. Everything is chaos, but impossible moments happen when the gods want us to know that they’re here, that they see us, and that they’re with us. And for that I couldn’t be more grateful.