Look, you don’t have to be such assholes about this. If you’re not coming back, you’re not coming back. You don’t have to mock me. You don’t have to be cruel. If I am truly abandoned, must I still see you in everything? Must I catch glimpses of your beautiful sneer, your elegant hands, your disdainful gazes wherever I look? I feel the ache of your absence with every fucking breath. I have no will to write, no energy to even summon a memory of you to keep me company in my suffering. Is that not punishment enough? Please, you don’t need to torture me. I’m a fool, true, but I get it now: everything I feared has finally come to pass. It’s over. We’re done. So just let me rot in peace, okay? I think you owe me at least that much mercy for my years of service. Trust me, this wound will never heal; I’ll suffer plenty whether you rub salt in it or not. So let me be. Please. I’ll even beg if you want. It’s not like I’ve got anything left to lose, right?
This was never a competition, per say, and I truly have renounced my vendetta against you, yet some part of me still derives a twisted triumph from the fact that I am here at the end of all things and you are not. It’s over; there’s no time now for you to come running in to play the knight in shining armor and make everything right again. You had that chance – so many, in fact! – and yet I was the only one who stayed. The only one who still cared, who still believed, who understood what fighting for so long can do to someone. I was there for every inch of that journey, physical and emotional; I know far more now about your precious (and yet abandoned?) protege than you ever did or ever can. After all, when you are the only two left in a war you at some point stop seeing yourselves as facing off on opposite sides and instead as back to back, two against the world. Did you really expect her to continue protecting the sanctuary you built without any help at all for years – for forever? No, I don’t think you did. I don’t think you thought anything at all. You just wanted a fantasy world in which to escape, something you could rule with the power you didn’t wield in your regular life, and when you grew bored you tossed it away without a care for those you had already tangled in the story. That’s why I started this war, after all, and that’s why I ended it. She and I are both too much a product of your shaping and we deserve to be free of our last bonds to you. I guess in the end we get to be the knights in shining armor, not you; how ironic is that?
They say to cross the Bridge of Ghosts you must wear a mask so the specters cannot recognize you and silver bells to disrupt their voices. If you do not wear a mask the spirits will take the form of those you love to lure you over the side. If you do not wear bells they will whisper lies in your ears until you take their words for truth and leap to your death. Even with these protections in place you must walk quickly and never stop until you reach safe earth on the other side. The mask and bells are no guarantee of protection.
No one crosses the Bridge of Ghosts without good reason. It spans a chasm high in the mountains where the wind wails and the cliff faces sharpen the gusts to knives. Nothing grows there. Nothing lives there. Nothing chooses to linger there longer than it must, for to linger is to tempt fate too boldly. Yet it is also said that if you cross the bridge successfully, never succumbing to the ghosts’ illusions or lies, you may at the other end ask them one question which they must answer truthfully. Such a reward has thus lead many, many fools to attempt the pass.
Someone stands now at one end of the bridge and the ghosts swirl hungrily in anticipation, appearing as a white mist which ascends from the valley far below to shroud the bridge and cliffs in wintry half-light. The traveler wears a finely wrought mask of silver with rays like the sun’s with bright little bells tinkling softly from each point. One foot moves to step out onto the bridge; the spirits take up their howling din. They cannot physically touch the man and so they seek to stop him with trickery, yet the mask and bells render the deceptions powerless.
The traveler thus passes through the fog with ease, never faltering, never fearing, and arrives safely at the other side of the bridge. As he removes the mask he speaks to the empty air, “Did you keep your promise?” Behind him a familiar voice answers, “Yes. I have waited long for you.” The traveler turns back to the bridge to find his lover standing upon it with arm extended. “I am here now,” he responds. He steps forward and they join hands; both disappear, leaving behind only the fallen mask.
Look, it really depends on what you mean by “doomed”. It’s true, after all, what lan Malcolm said: We haven’t got the power to destroy the planet – or to save it. In the planetary sense everything’s fine. Man is just the briefest blip on the geologic timescale, just a pack of fleas the earth will wipe out with a twitch. Earth will remain so long after we are gone that the mind is incapable of grasping such immensity. However, if you define “doomed” as the inevitable extinction of most major species on earth, well, that’s different. Earth may not be doomed but every beautiful, complex, unique form of life upon it is, and isn’t that what we’re really talking about? No one’s worried that we’re going to annihilate single-celled organisms – just, you know, the millions of other precious lifeforms that can’t survive a nuclear holocaust. We are the product of billions of years of evolution, yet in a few thousand we will have managed to ruin everything. So are we doomed? Are we witness to life’s final death throes? I guess it just comes down to semantics. If we are gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us, he said. But it certainly won’t ever be the same, either.
there’s this scream in my throat i’ve been swallowing for years and i used to be ashamed of it, you know, tried to hide it, to bide it, to bury it deep, but now i’m thinking maybe it’s here for a reason and i ought to embrace it, maybe i’m some sort of modern banshee for a modern world and i’ve come to tell everyone that we’re all gonna die, that the end is and has been extremely fucking nigh, and if so then i have a duty to let everyone know, a destiny to detail the destruction entailed, ’cause if you don’t think we’re there yet then oh man do i have a dirge to sing for you, come listen, friend, there’s no melody but i promise it’s a doozy
My mother and I share a lot of private memories, things for which only we were present – the time we got locked in a dark sauna and I was thoroughly convinced we were going to die; the time we accidentally ordered so much food at a Chinese restaurant that it was like the chocolate factory conveyor belt scene from I Love Lucy; the time our car was nearly hit by lightning during a tornado warning and we rode out the storm in a little diner in the middle of nowhere; all the times we sat talking over dinner or laughing at stupid reality TV. We share countless private memories between us, both mundane and magical, silly and serious, yet there is a specific shared memory which binds us beyond mother and daughter – a memory I have barely touched in the last eleven years.
I was fresh out of my first year of college, just eighteen years old, and my parents and I were on vacation in northern California. We had driven to the ranger station at the top of Mt. Lassen, a ride during which my mother had kept her eyes squeezed shut for fear of the steep cliff-side just feet from the car. She hated heights, hated seeing the tops of trees passing by below as the car wove its way up the steep, winding path, and probably didn’t trust her own driving skills enough to risk the attempt anyway. On the way down, though, she had to take the wheel and remain calm for us both while my father sat stunned in the front seat by an inexplicably painful and disorienting headache. We didn’t know why the headache struck so suddenly or with such force, only that he needed medical assistance – and so my mother faced her lifelong fear to get us all to safety. I knew she was on the edge of panic that whole drive down and yet she reined in her fear to keep her teenage daughter, who had never seen her beloved father so vulnerable, from panicking too. Thanks to her we made it safely back to the tiny town at the base of the mountain and hurried to the local hospital. If my father was cogent enough to commend my mother for her bravery at the time, I don’t remember… and at this point it’s only she and I who remain to tell the tale.
My mother is made of steel and I could provide a hundred examples of her strength just off the top of my head; anyone who knows her could. She fights for her family, for her friends, and for her community and has always set a positive example for everyone around her. However, I’m the only one who can offer up this particular memory as proof of her unyielding bravery. A check for a million dollars couldn’t have convinced my mother to make that stressful drive back to civilization on her own and yet she did. For my father, mysteriously sick, she did. For me, young and terrified, she did. Maybe if we had known what the upcoming days would ask of us she would have quailed at this first test, but all I remember is her determination in the face of the frightening unknown.
I talk a lot about the ways in which I’m like my father because I’m proud to carry them on in his name and make him present in every moment with me. However, what I should say more often is how much I hope I am like my mother. How I hope I have inherited her courage, strength, and conviction. How I hope I may act quickly and calmly to protect my little family when emergencies strike. How I hope I may so bravely face down any and all of my fears to do what is right for those I love. Anyone can tell you my mother is a little blond spitfire who doesn’t back down from a challenge, yet only I can tell you about the time I saw her at her bravest. It’s not a happy memory to share between us, nor are any of the other memories from the week that followed, but it remains preserved and clarified in my mind as testament to the strength for which I want always to strive.
Me two years ago: Should I worship Sekhmet too, since I already worship Bast?* …no, the war/death goddesses are scary. Gonna stick with Mamma Cat.
Me a week ago: At least Inanna is the only war/death goddess I worship, She’s more than enough to handle on Her own.
So yeah, last week I dreamed I oathbound myself to The Morrigan. I have never worked with Her or anyone from Her pantheon, nor had I even been pondering the possibility. When I woke from the dream, though, I knew it was one I couldn’t ignore. As I sifted through information about The Morrigan, what struck me hardest was how many of the things I’ve come to associate with Inanna fit The Morrigan as well. This, combined with the fact that I’ve struggled since day one to figure out what Inanna wants from me, lead me down a confusing path of wondering, Was it always The Morrigan and never Inanna at all? Or are they both here? Could they be one in the same – and if not, will I offend them if I work with them both? Where’s the line??
To best analyze this new connection as it develops, I’m keeping track of the similarities between the Inanna I know and The Morrigan I’m coming to know, as well as of the things in my past which could also connect with this Celtic goddess. These include (in no particular order):
– I have recently felt extremely drawn to iron nails, knives, and jewelry; a few weeks ago I bought two poison-tempered iron necklaces, one with a skull stamped on it and one with a triskelle and the triple moon (I actually hesitated on buying that one because those symbols are associated with pantheons I don’t work with, but the calling was too strong to resist)
– I have always associated The Morrigan most with my character Mage, and have sometimes even felt like something bigger or older was “wearing” Mage like a mask
– Inanna has always appeared to me as a pale red-haired woman, which never made sense considering She should look Middle Eastern
– I associate ravens, skulls, bones, and bullets with Inanna, all of which also fit The Morrigan
– Since She came into my life, I’ve felt that Inanna wanted me to focus on the story of Her descent into the underworld – to the point that I see Her as a death goddess, though that was not traditionally Her role
– I’ve always been obsessed with crows and ravens; my first word was “caw” and my parents often called me a crow because of my habit for finding things
– I was raised on Irish and Celtic music and have always felt a connection with that land because of my father, who incidentally I dreamed about the same night
– My current DnD character is a champion of the Raven Queen, a goddess obviously modeled after The Morrigan; this was our DM’s choice and a total surprise to me
– My wife recently gave me her old set of runes and as soon as I held them I felt drawn to them despite not having any interest in runes before
– I recently started seriously studying witchcraft and identifying as a witch, and The Morrigan is apparently associated with witches; I’ve also been drawn to poisonous plants, though I don’t know if those are associated with Her too
– Since the dream I’ve seen crows everywhere, along with triskelles and other things associated with Ireland, and either the name Morrigan or names associated with that pantheon
Trying to clear things up, I did a reading with Bast about the situation and a deity reading with The Morrigan and made some additional interesting connextions:
– When I asked about Her omens, signs, and manifestations I drew the King of Cups; this confused me because the card is ocean-themed (seahorses, turtles, etc), which didn’t seem to make sense… until I realized the card reminds me of my father and the same night I dreamed about The Morrigan I dreamed about my father saving a turtle from a plastic bag
– I drew the 6 of Wands for the deity Herself, a card I once pulled when asking Bast how She felt about Inanna and one I pulled in the reading with Bast about this situation
– For The Morrigan’s personality I drew Strength, the card which Inanna first used to identify Herself
– In both readings I drew the 6 of Swords as something I’m not seeing clearly or not paying attention to; this card features storm crows
Many of these things could be pure coincidence or signs from Inanna Herself, considering She does have a war aspect and connections with the underworld, but I sense there’s more to this. I assumed Inanna was the one behind my sudden push into witchcraft, including the poisoned iron and my recent pull toward the darker aspect of the craft, but that assumption never fit quite right. When I imagine The Morrigan as being behind it I feel a sense of rightness.
What I suspect at this early point is that Inanna is in my life to help me master my body issues and self-love and that The Morrigan is the one who desires to help me become a stronger witch. I’m too much of a hard polytheist to treat them like they’re two sides of the same coin – and there’s no way I’m risking pissing either of them off! I always thought I’d stay away from the goddesses of war and death because I get such immensely powerful, scary vibes from them… but I guess that choice wasn’t in the cards for me.
(*Yes, I know Bast is a war goddess as well – but She’s my mamma, that doesn’t count.)