I’ve been spending time with Someone new lately. Well, He’s not precisely new–I’ve been aware of Him for several years, but have only recently embarked on the road towards forging a real relationship. In many ways, this is out of necessity, as I’m beginning to work seriously on a project that directly concerns Him, and having His goodwill in this endeavor is important to me.
More than that, though, I find myself enjoying His company even beyond the strictly business side of our association; He’s courteous, urbane, and possessed of a rich, dry wit that tickles me in just the right way. Moreover, His lessons are ones that I find meaningful on a deeply personal level: those of self-worth, and endurance, and finding the hidden beauty in even the most terrible situations.
There is one little hitch, however. Technically speaking, He’s a fictional character. And more than that, an original character from someone else’s fanfic that I’m currently recording an audio version of.
So here I sit, doubly damned: not only wading blithely into the blasphemy!shark-infested waters of Pop-Culture Paganism, but also shamelessly whoring myself out to Real Literature’s bastard stepchild, fanfiction. The smelling salts are to your left.
In all seriousness, though, this has got me thinking. Go back and read that last paragraph again–how many assumptions can you spot there? And how many of those assumptions are ones that you’ve unconsciously accepted on some level?
I wonder how some people can believe that there’s an aspect of life in this realm that the Gods aren’t interested in, involved with, curious about. They’re interested in us after all, and if that interest is strong enough, They’ll use any means necessary to get our attention so we can start building relationships with Them.
I know whereof I speak here; that fanfic I’m recording happens to be one of the major catalysts for the spiritual floodgates crashing open in my life several years back. And revisiting it now, I’m struck anew by its relevance to my journey–one of the other major (canonical) characters in the series is even such a thinly-veiled cover for Loki that I’ve started referring to Him by that name on occasion. And He’ll answer to it, the smug little shit. :P (Coincidentally, quite a bit of the fandom meta I’ve come across for said character closely echoes the sorts of things that get said about Loki, both positive and negative–to the point where if I were to switch the names and specific details around and put the texts up side-by-side, I wonder if folks would be able to tell which is which.)
Stories are important to me. They’ve always been important to me–the good and the bad, the mediocre and the sublime, the heartrending and the hilarious. They’re ingrained into my very essence, layer upon layer, forming the foundation of who I am.
Stories are important to my Gods, too; Gwydion once said to me that “The only bad story is the one you learn nothing from.” And working from that criterion, what story can truly be “bad”? You learn something from every one of them you read or watch or listen to–even if it’s only something as mundane as “I hated that and want my money and those two hours of my life back.” And Gwydion is described as “the greatest teller of tales in all the world,” after all; I’d think He’d know a thing or two about the subject, eh? ;)
All of the above, though, is mostly me muddling towards something I’ve been repeatedly picking up, putting down, glancing sidelong at, and hurrying away from trailing NOPEs in my wake for a while now: the notion of integrating my passion for fandom with my love for my Gods, and helping to bridge the gap between these two worlds for the benefit of both.
And that right there is a Big and Scary Thought, although I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. Shit, the first tattoo I ever got, dedicated to one of my Beloveds on the day of our earthly wedding ceremony, is of the bloody White Tree of Gondor. And all of the others I have planned have some sort of melded pop-culture/spiritual significance as well. Oh sure, it’s great camouflage when I’m in a situation where I don’t feel comfortable discussing religious matters (“…yeah, like from the movie. That’s totally all it means… *smirk*”), but that’s not the point, really.
The point is, I’ve been unconsciously syncretizing these two aspects of my life for a long time now–to the point where it’s impossible to tease out where the one ends and the other begins. And rather than hiding from it in my safe little pillow fort, or panicking and slamming my hand down on the big red RESET button again to make my practice more palatable for the UPG Police, or any of the other thousand and one ways I’ve been trying to deny it, it’s time to face it head-on. No doubt with lots of flailing and blubbering along the way, because when have I ever accepted this kind of thing easily? But with any luck, I’ll be flailing and blubbering in the right general direction.
Because, despite my incredulity and misgivings and conviction that I’m about to become the laughingstock of the entire internet, this truly feels like part of my Calling, my Work in this life, and that’s something that can only be fought for so long. So here I am, laying down my arms and cautiously raising the white flag. It’s not an unconditional surrender, but I’m all out of ammo anyway. And, after all, Winter Is Coming. ;)
To return briefly in closing to the One I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m still not sure what He is–if He’s a God or a spirit or what, and, further, if He’s Someone with another name in some tradition’s more venerable lore. The irony is that He has more concrete information written about Him in this fanfiction series than we can glean about pretty much any God you care to name from the more widely-accepted sources. And so many of His characteristics are so specific and idiosyncratic that trying to find a definite one-to-one correspondence would likely be an exercise in futility anyway.
So I’m taking Him as He’s come to me, this borrowed Muse. I doubt I’ll ever be truly His, just as He isn’t wholly mine, but there’s a comfort and wonder in His presence, and I can hold my knowledge of Him close, a delicious secret glowing in the depths of my heart. Perhaps someday I’ll know Him by a different name, and laugh when I think about how obvious His true identity was in hindsight.
But perhaps not. Perhaps He is, and will remain, just one of the many unknown and unnamed Gods hiding in the shadows of the things we decry as impious, less than serious, unworthy of respect or consideration, patiently waiting to tell Their stories to those willing to listen.
…And to anyone who has a problem with all of this, let me play you the song of my people.