Gifts of Skaði: Strength and Independence

I love January.  It is my second favourite month (October is the first).  I feel Skaði’s presence very keenly at this time of year, and this year there seems to be a crisp freshness in the air around me that I cherish as a welcome manifestation of Her influence in my life.  2011 was “a kind of twisting journey” (as my dear friend Dver so aptly put it) for me, but now I feel like a cycle has finally been completed.  It’s time to leave behind some of my old emotional baggage, lighten my load, and take on a whole new set of assignments under Her tutelage.  I want to deepen my connection to Her and make my devotion to Her more visible in my work.

And, after a series of disappointments in 2011 – especially in terms of dating mismatches – my heart is bruised and I am weary.  I somehow found the courage to take risks even after the profound betrayal of a few years back, yet once again I’ve been wounded by life’s slings and arrows.  I find myself in need of a healthy infusion of Her legendary strength and independence.  Skaði helped me through my divorce, which was easily the most painful experience of my life.  She accepted my bone-deep anguish and my rage for vengeance, and I learned that I could survive.  Now, apparently, it’s time for me to learn more lessons in being on my own and making the best of it.

The story of Skaði’s marriage to Njörðr and the parting of Their ways bears several parallels to my own life.  One of the lessons I have taken from Skaði’s story in this respect is that Skaði’s taste for living amongst the wolves in cold mountainous lands is a fundamental aspect of Her that simply cannot be denied.  She must have freedom to live as best suits Her wild nature, and this cannot be changed for the sake of a relationship.

In this, as in many other ways, I take after Her.  (Not necessarily literally, however.  I do love mountains, but urban life suits me very well.  It is Her determination to be true to Her real Self even in the face of loss and hardship that inspires me the most).

My dating life is…pretty much nonexistent.  Dating as a feminist, radical, animist, queer-identified Pagan who needs a lot of solitude and is devoted enough to the dark divine to call herself a monastic is tough, even in the best of circumstances.  And I’ve had no reciprocal interest at all ever since I started documenting the Black Stone Hermitage vision.  I’ve had some attractions, and in each case I mustered up the courage to “put myself out there” and make the object of my affection aware of my feelings toward them.  This has not at all been an easy thing to do, especially given that my heart is so fragile and easily bruised and I must defy a lifetime of gender-role conditioning to do this.  But in every case, the other’s interest in me was strictly platonic.  And this pattern troubles me and raises questions in my mind.

For awhile I entertained the possibility that I might be giving off some kind of Ice Queen vibe – after all, I am devoted to Skaði, so it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to think I might be embodying some aspect of coldness, whether consciously or not – but then I realised that I am making new friends and deepening old friendships without much trouble, so my dating woes aren’t likely to be the result of a general coldness on my part.  (One of my friends insists that I add this: “On the contrary.  You are profoundly warm-hearted, justice-minded, kind, and passionate.  These, too, are aspects of Skaði’s nature that you embody.  Keep that in mind.  You are an exceptional person; you need to hold out for an exceptional mate.”)

In any case, if my dating failures are any indication, it appears that I will not have a helpmate and intimate companion anytime in the near future.  So be it.  But the pattern of these mismatches where the other’s interest doesn’t match mine, and I get turned down time and again?  I’ve had more than enough of those.  Could we please just stop with the unrequited crushes already?  I think I’ve learned plenty about how to handle rejection gracefully without destroying friendships.  And besides, I survived a devastating divorce.  Aren’t I a bit overdue for some fulfillment and joy in the romance department?

A recent guest suggested to me, while looking around the tiny studio apartment that is my Hermitage, that I don’t appear to have room in my life for a partner.  It got me thinking: is that actually true, or is it just a projection of some sort on my guest’s part?

Well, for one thing, I do have a beautiful and extraordinarily comfortable king size bed.  I may not have room to have a mortal lover actually take up residence with me, but I certainly have a space to, uh, entertain them.  And I do hope to move into a ground-floor small house or eco-village apartment unit someday, so while this place works very well for now, I probably will not stay here forever.  I am – and have always been – open to making changes in my living situation for the sake of being closer to loved ones.  But I don’t think it would be wise to maintain a larger space on the off chance that I’ll eventually meet a mortal partner to fill it, even if that were possible for me financially (and it most definitely isn’t).

But I wonder…might there be some connection between the “official” recognition of the Black Stone Hermitage and the lack of reciprocal romantic interest in me ever since?  Why do I keep getting these painful unrequited crushes?  Am I spiritually marked in some way that indicates me to be unavailable for a relationship with a mortal partner?

That’s a tougher question.  It would make a certain kind of sense if that were the case, given that I am a sort of monastic-in-training who needs a lot of solitude to do her best Work.  Nonetheless, however, some hermits can (and do) have life partners, and not all of them share a living space.  And as much as I cherish my solitude, I do have a strong desire for this.  Furthermore, I have long felt that the gods provided me with certain gifts and inclinations that I am supposed to apply toward developing a healthy and lasting intimate love relationship with another human being.

What to make of all this?

Last week, while I was writing about something unrelated, this bit of guidance came to me unprompted, through the voice of my Serpent Muse:

“You will have a lover.  Hang in there and go after what fulfills you professionally.  You will find a lover when you are fully ready, and when it is Time.”

Apparently, then, what is called for at this time is patience and attention to other matters.  This approach would make a great deal of sense even if I knew I’d remain single for life and would never again have a mortal partner, and it is in fact where I am concentrating my energies now anyway.

Note to self, for future reference: it is not just a job or a source of income you are to pursue here.  It is professional fulfillment.  Do not lose sight of this.  Like Skaði, you must honour your wild nature and make your way in the world.  This is an aspect of you that cannot – and should not – be changed, whether or not you have a mate.

Skaði, please lend me Your strength and guidance as I set out in search of professional fulfillment on my own.

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