Frozen Toes, Unstuck Heels

A low fire sitting on a pile of ashes. A charred curlique from a wood carving sits in the forefront. Two screws that held the original carving together are visible just behind.

Sometimes discipline means giving up.

I was lucky that when I officially broke things off with a partner of nine years that the pubmoot was only a few hours later, meaning I had a healthy distraction.

Every moot has a discussion topic, and November’s was discipline. Specifically, what that meant for us.

Most people had the definitions one would expect. Stick to committments. Follow through on promises. Do things you would rather not do, so you get to benefit from the desired outcome.

And that last definition of discipline is exactly why I argued that giving up qualifies. I was making commitments and staying with them long after it became obvious that they wouldn’t pay off, in the vain hope that enough commitment would finally get me the results I wanted.

Never mind that, even if I got what I wanted in the form of cohabitation, the accumulated and unresolved frustrations would have seeped in. The marriage I dreamed about would have only locked me in with those frustrations.

When adherence to the letter runs counter to the spirit, the disciplined thing to do is catch yourself, recognize the dead end and change course.

The time wasn’t wasted because I left. It was wasted because I stayed.

Ewicher Yeeger Sege of 2018 is when I started to realize that the relationship I was clinging to had no future, and even if it did I no longer wanted it.

Three weeks later, I finally made the phone call. We agreed, amicably, that it was sad but a relief.

And I wandered, dazed, from a bedroom that seemed suddenly too cluttered and too empty, to a car, to a pub, to the warm arms of friends.

In the story of Ewicher Yeeger (which you can read here), the Deitsch settlers cleared out trees to open up farmland, only to find out that the soil wasn’t going to suit that purpose. Drought further ruined their prospects of growing food and dried out the soil. When rain finally came, it washed the seeds away. The process of clearing the land of vegetation drove out wildlife that they otherwise could have hunted for survival. And then winter came early, cutting off the chance to flee somewhere else and then, potentially, do it all over again.

Recognizing that they were at the end of their rope, they resorted to making offerings of what little they still had left in the hopes of avoiding starvation.

Ewicher Yeeger brought the Hunt through, with all its noise and fury, and the settlers came out in the morning to a valley full of deer and rabbit–meat and fur that would get them through the winter. A little bit of mercy, and a chance to approach the next growing season more responsibly.

I didn’t put it all together until June, when Rob and I took the scenic route to my house after another pub moot. He mentioned that he suspected Ewicher Yeeger had a role in my reaching out to my local Heathen community about 18 months prior. I had always compared my entry into the scene to falling down the well, and I also figured it was mostly Loki who did that nudging, plus my own stubbornness.

But, Rob explained, I’d been living in my own Allemaengel up until very recently. I had spent most of my life feeling deprived or trapped in some way in my interpersonal relationships. It was once I decided I was willing to risk change, not certain I would get the desired result, that game was driven in and the valley became livable. I gained access to a community that actively welcomed me, supported me and recognized what I had to offer.

I had lost a lot by virtue of simply going through life and constantly smashing bad choices up against bad luck, hoping I’d get sparks.

But that rapidly shifted once I was ready to give up a little more, giving up smarter rather than giving up harder. Resisting change didn’t work. Letting life happen to me didn’t work. But the temporary pain of offering hay and cloth, or a difficult conversation and the loss of a lover, or walking a mile down a road with no shoulder in the cold and dark because there were places to be and people to meet, were all rewarded handsomely.

As another friend of the kindred pointed out, Ewicher Yeeger is a god of second chances, but only when you’re ready to admit there’s a problem. Only when you’re ready to do something different. Those who dig in their heels, escalate their commitment, and sink more resources into a lost cause without being open to changing course aren’t able to benefit from what he can offer them.

He is a death deity in a very literal sense, but as his myth shows he has a lifegiving aspect, and folk tradition in practice suggests this is how he’s best known. And death doesn’t have to be literal. In practice, in modern-day paganism, it’s almost never literal anyway. What I’ve understood as my experience with him is about metaphorical death–life transitions, painful change, and shifts in perspective. Letting something end so something else can start.

Perhaps a god of people ready to start living.

Link Round-Up