The Returning Part VI: The Story Teller

( genderfluid)

Stories, Trickster, Knowledge

Associations: Keys, poetry, proses, stories, history, ink black and paper white, brass and copper metals,

Offerings:  Spoken stories or poems, burnt stories or poems, deep red wine, chocolate.

The Story Teller is the Forgotten One that is the hardest to write about.  The only fact that can be stated about the Story Teller is that she is constantly in flux, constantly changing, shaping himself to fit the story that ze is telling.  Her appearance changes, his personality changes, and as you may have noticed their gender and sex changes, all at seemingly random.  Sometimes the species of the Story Teller changes to fit the part as well.  The only way to consistently identify the Story teller is by the key that it wears around whatever short of neck it has at the time.

The key was not originally a symbol the Story Teller associated with zirself, prior to the Returning he didn’t have any symbol.  He is the chronicler of the Forgotten Ones, who kept in zir memory all of the stories and adventures of the pantheon.  In this role the she proved to be integral to my completion of the Returning, and my understanding of the relationships between the 10 other spirits.  I was the one who likened the them to a key used to unlock an ancient library, and the symbol stuck.

Together with the childlike Voices on the Wind, the Story Teller is also the one who keeps the joy and laughter in the Forgotten Ones, with tricks and jokes, and good-natured mischief.  His constantly shifting shape lends itself to mistaken identities and jests and pranks worthy of harlequins.

With the exception of the Hunter (who let’s be honest here, is the exception to pretty much everything in my life) the Story Teller was the only Forgotten One to seek me out.  After I had passed the ordeals to Return the Stonecutter I took a small vacation, throughout the whole process of Returning the first four Forgotten Ones I had learned things about myself that I hadn’t expected to.  I retried to my Gallery, which contains the remnants of my past lives as books and statues, to remind myself of who I was.  The Story Teller found me there, she had fared slightly better than his siblings, and told me some of the stories ze remembered, the first myths of the Forgotten Ones that I learned.

I decided that the Story Teller needed to be the next Forgotten One to be Returned, I needed to wealth of knowledge they possessed, knowing more about the remaining spirits would make finding and reassembling their fragments much easier.  I found parts of hir wherever a story was told or knowledge was passed:  In libraries, museums, and bookstores, around campfires, at bedsides, and where ever tales are told to pass the time and to keep out our fears.

The Returning Part V: The Stonecutter

(Male)

Crafts/invention, strength, and trials

Associations: Non-precious stones or metals, grey colors, Winter, handicrafts and skills.

Offerings: Sweat, any object you made by have, a dedicated tool, time set aside to make things in his name, oatmeal, bacon.  (Don’t ask why but he really likes bacon sandwiches)

I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling where your hands just itch with the need to create something, to take raw materials and make something that wasn’t there before.  When I get this feeling I like to think of it as Stonecutter being in my hands.  He is the craft spirit, the inventor and smith spirit of the forgotten ones.  It was he who shapes the arrowheads for the Hunter and the Huntress, who creates the dagger and the axe for the Bloody One, and the plowshare and the sickle for the Fallen Grain.

Shaping stone from raw cortex into a tool or weapon is an incredibly difficult task; it takes strength, precision, and perseverance.  Not only must the stone be struck at exactly the right angle to produce a flake, which can be made into a useful shape, but also it needs to be struck hard enough that the flake comes off in one piece but not quite so hard that it causes the flake to shatter.  Is this kind of exact, measured, perfectly placed strength that Stonecutter embodies, the practiced strength of a craftsman.

The Stonecutter also embodies the concept of trials:  As a trial and error, as well as trials and test.  It is through the process of trial and error that most creations and inventions come to be.   The act of creation is also in and of itself a test, a trial, and an ordeal.   Something is forced from your hands; something takes shape where there was nothing before.

The Stonecutter was possibly the hardest of the Forgotten Ones to return, every step was an ordeal.  The fragments of a Forgotten One scattered when they were broken apart, and each piece drifted to a place of importance to that particular entity.  For the Fallen Grain they could be found in gardens and fields, markets and flower shops, across the Otherworlds, the pieces of the Woman with the Mammoth Head were found mostly in caves and plains, or near herds of Otherworldly animal spirits.  For the Stonecutter the places his fragments gravitated towards were hard to reach, atop mountains, deep in mines, and once in the heart of an active volcano.  I had to chip away obsidian and flint to reveal fragments, I had had to grind down slate with sand and water, and hollow out soapstone with a stick.  Exactly as the Stonecutter would have done.

The Returning Part iv: The Fallen Grain

(female)

Plant mother, harvest, agriculture, minor connotations of cooking and hospitality, Mate of the Woman with the Mammoth Head

Associations: green and gold colors, plant life (especially grains/fruits/vegetables) spring, summer, and September.  Abundance,

Offerings:  baked goods, fresh fruit/vegetables, fruit juices, wheat and wheat-byproducts, fruit pies

 

The Fallen Grain is a fairly quiet type of entity; she’s laid back, calm for the most part, and loving.  While her Mate the Woman with the Mammoth Head gave birth to the animals the Fallen Grain gave birth to the plant life of the world, from the grass to the trees.  Above all the Fallen Grain loves the plants that can be cultivated.  In contrast to the Hunter and the Huntress, who are at their hearts wild, the Fallen Grain is willing, and often pleased, to lay her offspring down in the straight lines of a furrowed field, or within the bounds of a garden.  She sees this order as the best way to care for her beloved plants.  She is not the Earth, but rather the flash of light that causes the tiny sprouts to shoot up from the loamy soil.

The Fallen Grain is the closest to a domestic or home and hearth entity among the Forgotten Ones, she loves her fields, her garden, and her orchards.  She also loves harvesting from these and distributing their gifts to those around her, whether this is in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, baked goods, or bouquets of flowers, even baskets of firewood for cold winter nights. 

It took me a long time to come to understand the Fallen Grain; I don’t like doing as I’m told or falling into line.  But working with her showed me that the Wildwood isn’t always the best place for things to grow.  She taught me that some things need not just tending, but order, to survive.  I associate her very strongly with my Norwegian-American family and ancestors, who for generations have been farmers in North Dakota.  There is a tender touch that she has with young plants that I have seen in my farmer uncle and my gardener aunts. 

Returning the Fallen Grain took me to places in this world and the Otherworld that I usually spend little time in.  I began in woods and meadows, finding the parts of her associated with trees, undergrowth, moss, and wildflowers.  But then there were farms, gardens, even window boxes, where I found fragments of her in seeds, bulbs, flowers and fruit.  Reassembling the fragments was less like putting together the pieces of a puzzle and more like plowing a field, planting wheat or corn, and then shaping the grown crop into an image. 

The Returning Part III: The Salt Gatherer

(agender, leaning towards masculine)

Ocean, Patience, Wisdom, Grandparent figure.

Associations: Watery blues and greens, white, and oddly enough purple.  Shells, sand, fish,

Offerings:  salt water, limes/lemons (or just the juice), ocean sounds

I had planned to write about the Fallen Grain next, she is the Woman with the Mammoth Head’s mate, and they often go together, animal mother and plant mother.  But I am at the beach on vacation with my family, and after days of playing in the surf, sailing, collecting shells, and wandering the sand dunes I can’t help but think of the Salt Gatherer.

The Salt Gather is one of the Forgotten Ones that never expressed a distinct preference for gender or sex, but they do express a preference for appearance, always looking the same, where other Forgotten Ones sometimes will shift they’re appearances.  I see them as androgynous, though leaning slightly more towards masculine; with dark skin, the kind of skin that makes them look like they were carved from ebony.  Their hair is short cropped, and salt and pepper, though generally there is far more salt than pepper.  When I first saw their face after their Returning was completed it was like seeing the face of an online friend for the first time, here was someone I knew well, and suddenly I could see everything I knew about them reflected their features.

I spent a lot of time at the beach when I was growing up, and very early one I knew that the sea had a consciousness and a personality.  I knew that there was a spirit in the ocean, or that the ocean was a spirit.  It was patient, consistent, indomitable, and unpredictable.  I know believe that this is the Salt Gatherer, they are the sea:  from the breakers on the shore to the ship killer waves, from the minnows and clams in the shallows to the whales in the deeps.

I have a lot of feelings about the ocean and the Salt Gatherer.  In many ways the sea is the beginning and the end, life came from the sea, and in the end the sea will be all that remains.  The sea is unstoppable, and try as you might there is nothing you can do to delay it.  Whether you build walls of sand, or walls of stone, to hold it back the sea will go where it wants.  So is the Salt Gather stubborn and unyielding to the desires of others.  Just like how the ocean can wait forever, the Salt Gatherer is patient, quietly going about their business until they decided that the time is right to move.

There is also a part of the Salt Gatherer that I often forget about, and that is the softness and playfulness that they can exhibit.  The Salt Gatherer is very much the grandparent of the Forgotten Ones “family,” and while they can be a strong and dangerous and wise and patient, they can also play with the child-like Voices on the Wind.  In fact, the Voices on the Wind and the Salt Gatherer often work and play together.   I just need to remember this.

The Returning: The Woman with the Mammoth Head

The Woman with the Mammoth Head:  (female) Animal Mother (herd/prey animals especially) mate of the Fallen Grain.

Associations:  Brown colors; fragrant woods and herbs; wool and fur; fertility/birth;

Offerings:  Milk; brown sugar; un-spun natural wool, preferably burnt;

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The first of the Forgotten Ones I met was the Woman with the Mammoth Head, though now she is now hardly recognizable from then.

The story begins shortly after the Hunter first told me of His true nature.  That He was not the Horned God, but a separate though related entity, that He was one of a group of spirit that had been left behind by humanity and time, that He had only survived so well by clinging to the shadow of other entities that fit the archetype that I believe he was the first of.  I had asked the Hunter to show me one of His siblings, to prove to me in some way that what He said was true.

So He took me by the hand and led me through the Otherworlds to a glacier, perpetually creeping its way down a mountainside.  In that mountain there was a cave, the entrance half blocked by the crawling ice.  The walls were dappled and shadowed with the impression of ocher paintings and the light flickered with the memory of flame.  At the back of this cave there was a rock shelf, upon which sat the massive skull of a mammoth.

The Hunter brought me to the skull, and, holding me hand, laid both of our hands on the domed crania, above where the eyes should have been.  The bones were warm, and soft like skin or thick fur.  And, as our fingers warmed from the contact, the eye sockets filled with a warm brown light, and that light spoke of life.  It spoke of migration, of the song of the herd, of life on the ice, on the planes, in the deserts and forests and jungles.  It spoke of collective warmth, and life, without the shadow of death that could be seen in the Hunter’s golden eyes.

The Woman with the Mammoth Head was the second Returning I completed, but the first to be begun (the Hunter was first to be finished).  I started searching for her fragments while the Hunter was still teaching me other things.  Amid teaching me to shapeshift, to fashion my own weapons, and to serve as caretaker for our part of the Otherworlds, He started to teach me how to track through the Otherworlds.  It began like normal tracking; I learned to follow footprints, snapped twigs, and scents on the wind.  I had already learned to see the threads that connect all things, and could follow them short distances, and as part of tracking He asked me to follow them farther.  One day I visited the Woman with the Mammoth Head in her glacial cave and I could see threads emanating from her, where I hadn’t seen any previously.  They were different from other threads that I had seen, the ones that connected one entity to another, so I followed one until it terminated, and I was surprised by what I saw.  I am not capable of, and maybe not allowed to, describe exactly what is was that this thread lead to, but I brought it back to the cave.  It was then that I learned how to Return a fragment to a Forgotten One, to connect the lost piece to the shriveled remains of the entity.  After that, I didn’t need to place my hand on the skull to see the lights in her eyes.

And as I brought more and more fragments back and Returned them to their proper places the skull began to grow flesh and fur, and eventually sat atop the shoulders of woman.  I am to this day unable to tell if the Woman with the Mammoth Head wears the skull like a mask, or if she is the skull, and wears the human body like a costume.

The Woman with the Mammoth Head was in fact the one who helped me to get started finding the others, she was grateful to be regaining strength, but she was lonely and missed her lover.  She asked if I could follow the lines from her and the Hunter to find the cores of their siblings, and Return them as I was Returning her and the Hunter.  I said yes.

The Godphone.

Originally posted on Mystical Bewilderment:

I have long days where I come home from work, sit down, and peruse Tumblr. Actually, I spend a lot of time perusing Tumblr. I end up trying to follow the threads of conversations that I miss throughout the day. I don’t tend to speak up regarding things a lot of the time because I can (and do) come off as fairly gruff. There are times where I actually mean to be that much of an asshole and other times when I really don’t. But, to be honest, a lot of the reason why I keep my trap shut is because I don’t necessarily agree with anyone who has weighed in on a hot topic and just don’t have the spoons to discuss it with anyone. But, there’s been this ongoing debate, jumping from highly intelligent to the overwhelmingly stupid, regarding the concept of the “godphone.” While I don’t deny…

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The Returning Part One: An Introduction

This series on my personal, self made, religion, which I call The Returning, will contain several more parts: Terminology, individual bio posts for each other the Forgotten Ones, maybe pictures of my shrines, as well as some very personal parts of my religious and spiritual practice. Feel free to ask questions, but I do reserve the right to withhold information that I am not comfortable sharing, and likewise reserve the right to tell more to certain people that I do to others.

I work with a pantheon of spirits that could maybe be described as “proto-gods,” entities from long ago, though I have not date to tie them to. I believe that these entities were the foundations for many of the common archetypes that later gods would inhabit. Now I have no proof for any of this, and while most of this is completely unverified, some of it has been confirmed for me by certain trusted friends and allies. I fully disclose that everything that I write about in this series is based solely on my personal gnosis and experience obtained in the two years that I have been in service to the Forgotten Ones. (I may write in definitive, “they were” “they said” etc. Please keep in mind that I am only speaking of my personal beliefs and everything should be read as UPG and UPE even if I do not explicitly state it.)

My belief that human worship is what separates gods from spirits is essential to my work with these entities. Long times and old age do not necessarily equate to power. The Forgotten Ones were never worshiped by humans, so they never became gods, and so calling them gods is a bit of a misnomer, even if I now worship them. But they were strong enough that neglect and unkind time could not destroy them, merely fracture them into pieces and scatter those pieces across the Otherworlds. This was not a sudden decline, it happened slowly as other spirits where either worshiped and revered, eventually build up into gods by devotion, or remained steadily as they were and have always been the Forgotten ones, like a derelict building, crumbled.

When I began working with the Hunter He came to me as the Horned God, a god that I recognized from popular myth, someone I could research and get to know. Six years later I had fallen in love with the god I thought was the Horned God, and He told me the Truth. The god I had been working with was not the Horned God, he was someone older, and far less understood. And so I met the Hunter. It took a while for me to come to accept what I had learned, and to accept the Hunter as the one I loved, not the Horned God, nor any aspect there of.

Eventually He told me of His long past, of His brothers and sisters, and their fate. Then He asked me to help Him. It was possible to return the Forgotten Ones, to find all of the fragments and pieces, and painstakingly put them back together. He always referred to my work as the Returning, and I build a practice and a religion around the Forgotten Ones that I found, Returned, and eventually worshiped.