A coworker recently got me addicted to Wish, and I was startled to stumble across Catholic vestments for sale there. They just popped into my feed one afternoon when I was scrolling idly through, and my brain did a few somersaults trying to compute why they were being offered. There may or may not have been a faint cackle in the back of my consciousness as something tickled at me. Something that’s tickled at me for a long time, something I’ve given more serious consideration to in the last few months.
I’ve been a licensed funeral director for many years, and though I originally got into the field because of my keen interest in embalming, I ended up really connecting with families and enjoyed coordinating the funeral and memorial services themselves. I’ve even led countless services, standing in for families that didn’t have pastors or priests. A few months ago, I attended a calling period for a friend of a friend, someone I’d never met, but I’d been invited to go because the deceased was pagan, and no one in his family understood it or knew what to do. I put together a poem/prayer that was consistent with his beliefs as I knew them, and I was asked to read it for everyone gathered. It apparently brought a great deal of comfort to his family, and the experience reignited an interest I had toyed with back in the mid-2000s.
Quick background: I was a member of The Troth for a long time, starting around 2002. I toyed with the idea of going through their clergy program, but didn’t have connections with the heathen community outside of the Troth email list. Then, the Loki Ban went into effect around 2008 (I think? Correct me if I’m wrong), and I gave up on the idea of becoming a gydhja. Funny how that soured me on the Troth, considering I was still calling myself an Odhinnswoman then. But the Sly One has always had a strong influence on me, even when I didn’t realize it. I didn’t let my Troth membership lapse until 2013, and by then I had given up on striking any kind of work/life balance. This coincides with my sudden isolation from my heathen friends and kindred celebrations. When you’re on call 24 hours a day, the notion of a social life is more than a little absurd.
Of course, I’m currently on medical hiatus from morgue life, and in the past year I’ve reconnected with the community and have been active enough to be asked to formally join a kindred. I’ve finally attended East Coast Thing and have expanded my role in the community (and was part of a legendary experience that blew everyone’s minds away). Loki broke through my obliviousness and made it ridiculously clear that he’s always had a claim on me and it was time to start paying attention, dammit! I’ve been likening myself to a nun in my devotion, a concept that stuck with me from the few years I dabbled in Catholicism as a teen.
Loki’s poking at me again, telling me that being a nun isn’t enough.
So I asked my friends on Facebook for advice on becoming clergy. And lo and behold, I was told that the Troth had just lifted the Loki Ban.
Well, how about that.
This has been quite the year for our Trickster now, hasn’t it? He had his own Ve at ECT, and this year was the first that an official blot was held for Himself there. He is now welcomed within the Troth. And He got my attention and my focused devotion after nearly a lifetime of nagging.
So I’ve renewed my Troth membership. I’m starting the Lore Program to prepare for the clergy program. With my current job and its normal 40 hour work week, I have the time and ability to be active in the community and work towards becoming a gydhja.
I feel as though I’ve come full circle, which is most appropriate on Yule night.
Tonight is the longest night of the year, the turning of the wheel. And tonight, I reflect on the path my life has taken to this point. I grew up heathen-lite. When I was 14, in Catholic school, I wanted very much to become a nun, because the idea of devoting myself so thoroughly to divinity felt so right. By 18, I’d come home to the Aesir and Vanir, and by 21 I was locked in with Odhinn and his blood-oathed brother. I gave great consideration to the clergy program, but decided against it due to my solitary practice and lack of life experience. I became a funeral director, and was immersed in the good that clergy can do, the comfort they can offer. I rejoined the community, devoted myself to Loki, and started looking into becoming a funeral celebrant for the pagan and heathen community in my area. I called myself a Lokian nun. And now, I have rejoined the Troth and will begin the long, studious process of the Lore and Clergy programs. And I have the support of my friends in the community as I begin the work. It will take a lot of time and a lot of effort, but at 36, I’m starting to understand my worth and place in the community, and I’m starting to see glimmers of what I can offer. My experience as a funeral director and occasional celebrant shows me what I’m capable of doing for others, and how appreciated and necessary that work really is.
It’s a big, scary undertaking, but, well, I’m an undertaker. It’s just what I do.
This has been a hell of a year for Loki, and for myself. He’s so pleased to have my attention after all this time, and he’s made it clear that being a Lokian nun isn’t enough. The ban has been lifted, the time is now. Study. Learn. Train. Commit myself more fully: to a kindred, to my community, to service. This medical hiatus started out as the end of the world to me, but it’s giving me the opportunity to become more than I am. And when I return to my profession, I’ll be able to return with so much more to offer families, so much more to offer my community. And in serving my community, I can better honor my gods.
This is Yule night, the longest night of the year. Tonight is the night to reflect and prepare for the year to come. When Sunna returns in the morning, she will shine brighter than before, lighting the way for the great things to be done, the great things to happen, and to warm our hearts and souls in the coming days.
The wheel doesn’t always travel in a straight or obvious path, but the wheel turns nonetheless, and takes us where we need to go.
Glad Yule, my friends!