Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lymie Madness

So today I went to see the doctor. Over the past few months, I've had breathing problems, a rash and aches and pains. I've been treated for asthma, given antibiotics for the rash which was judged to be a skin infection and none of it got better - really.

And I wouldn't have gone back either, were it not for the rash actually spreading. It started on my hipbone,an angry-looking purple/red circle and then turned into an angry-looking purple/red circle with a red borderline circle around it that widened and widened until it had made it's way to my spine. Between the purple/red circle and the red borderline is now more or less skin-coloured.

The doctor took one look at it and asked if I'd been bitten by a tick at any point. I told him it was highly possible with all the camping and walking through woodlands I've done. I even knew the term that described that rash - erythema migrans. Most doctors diagnose on that alone but my doctor sent me for a blood test to test for Lyme disease.

Now the thing with Lyme disease is that hallucinations and hearing voices can be a part of it. As well as wondering if I've got it, I'm also wondering how long I've had it, how many of my experiences can be put down to it and how I could distinguish in the future between genuine experiences and Lymie madness.

It's been an interesting day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I chant, I call them out
Disir, vættir, family long gone
I hold my staff close
Tap out the beat
I reach out and pull

This has happened to me for years. I've 'pulled' consciously and subconsciously. Once my father sat me down and told me that those with the gift are like beacons of light in a world of darkness to the dead. A very benign explanation and for years I believed it but now I don't. Now I know the truth - we bring them to us.

The cold comes, the dog leaves
I stop the beat
A tear on my cheek, he sits next to me
And I feel it, 'Well done!'

Another time, another reality - dream reality. We're walking in a place back home. Vast moorland, rugged, brown, green and purple. A great gap lies cleaved into the earth. A place known to locals as 'Devil's Ditch'. Archaeologists call it an 'earthwork'. In the distance I hear screaming of a long dead woman. Locals had known her for a witch.

'Don't you want to go there?' he asks.

I shake my head no. Only crazy people go to Old Rachel's at night. He asks why I'm afraid, what it is that I fear and I tell him that I fear the madness that comes from seeing too much. But I know deep down I'll never be 'middle-wise' again.

The barrier's broken, there's no going back
I've graduated to the next class

And I feel fine.

Then what was pulled, must be pushed back
What was woken must be laid to rest
The room warms, the dog returns
I feel blessed

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Bloody Inheritance

I come from a place where there is still a high incidence of domestic violence. It's more even-handed in that the wives fight back but it's still a part of everyday life for too many women.

Men that don't beat their wives are proud of that fact, they should be, but it's sad that it's seen as an achievement in my area when it should be ordinary life. It's still a really real concern of parents when their daughters marry. I remember the only time my parents seemed to be proud of my ability to fight and gobbiness was during a conversation with a neighbour who had remarked about how I'd 'never allow herself to be beaten by a husband'. I was though, once, by a man that I had been seeing. I would never have been stupid enough to have married him if it had ever come to that. He was much larger than me, 6'4" but I gave it everything I had to fight him off and held my own until help arrived. The next day I took a hockey stick to his head. I very nearly did too, until the boss talked me down. I grew up being told never to marry a man from a certain nearby town because they're all wife-beaters there.

I've heard the sounds of a neighbour and his wife going hell for leather at each other late at night, the sounds of her screaming, wondering if you should call the police when you know for a fact that she'd be fighting him too and it was probably a pretty even fight. I've helped friends patch themselves up after being beaten by boyfriends and husbands. But then I travelled, met a wonderful man and forgot all that exists.

Until tonight when talking to an old school friend. She's recently had a broken finger. It was broken so badly that she had to have surgery on it and wear a metal frame. She'd just said it was a fight when drunk, which led me to believe that it was just the average out and about kind of fight that are common in my home region but no.

Tonight she told me that her fiance did it after she hit him in the face with a metal bar. I think she did this because he cheated on her and yet she is still marrying him.

It's been a nasty reminder. I'm worried for her, for them. Why are they marrying?

I'd forgotten how common this kind of thing is back home.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bread Men and Songs

Yesterday I baked some bread.

It's really not easy to knead dough when you have arthritis in your hands but I did it anyway. A small sacrifice to add to our small sacrifice of a bread man. Where I come from, there are certain places where people leave flowers and other offerings like home-made bread. Certain trees, certain stones and certain watery places. With other trees, it's common to tie ribbons to the branches either as a wish or an offering.

And so I've started to make my bread men offerings here. Last night, before I went to bed, I gave the first bread man to the Nisse and sang him a song of offering under my breath as I did so. Then I sang to the ancestors honoured at our shrine. This evening I walked the dog with me to the lake. This lake and surrounding woodlands have many vættir in spite of how new and man-made the place is. I wonder if it's because there are no church bells here that they congregate. From what I've seen, they don't seem to like the bells. I've been coming to this place for about a year now, making my offerings, singing my songs of enticement to the vættir and working for acceptance for myself and my husband in this land. Tonight was no different. Tonight I stood on the banks of a lake that looked iced over in the dark and I called to the wights in German before giving my offering. Another bread man, tucked into the base of a tree.

On my way walking around to the other side of the lake I sang once more to the wights. When I sing, it's never a song that I plan but it just seems to work anyway. A tune or a rhythm will enter my head and words will form at my lips and before I know it, I'm singing to the place or the spirits. Sometimes it sounds like a song and other times it sounds like a joik but it works.

There is magic in bread and music, on the most basic level they're about creation. Bread must have seemed almost magical to our ancestors and when you think about it, it is pretty interesting how bread is made. I once read that one of the Grimm brothers wrote a piece about the various types of German breads and how they had all originated and how they linked to folklore and religious belief. I'd like to read that some day. As for music...did you know that scientists found while doing brain scans that more of the human brain is occupied while listening to music than in any other activity? Music can move us, it can make us angry, happy, tearful, lustful, contemplative, depressed and many more emotions. Music can be spiritual, it can lift us up from our mundane world and just give us that taste of something greater.

Bread men and songs. Simple magic.