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Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
When The Gods Are Silent
Article ID: 14542
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,921
Times Read: 5,155
RSS Views: 10,863
Author: Devon, The Maid Of Epona
Posted: May 22nd. 2011
Times Viewed: 5,155
It has been some time since I posted an article here on Witchvox. I have been silent for a long while. I have been quiet because for a long time there has been nothing to say. The messages from Epona had stopped and I had no idea how to take that. I prayed and talked to Her and received silence. What on earth could that mean? Was She mad at me? Had I done something wrong? People wrote to me asking for information on Her and I had no idea what to tell them. Was I still a daughter of Epona? If I wasn’t, then what was I doing giving advice to them? What kind of hypocrite did that make me?
Okay, maybe some back-story is needed. Several years ago, like many other people in this economy, I lost my job. I ended up being unemployed for nine months. Do you have any idea how hard it is to feed all my critters on a teacher’s pay? Hubby found out just how much I contributed to the household’s finances when it suddenly wasn’t there anymore. I thought it would be easy to get another job. HAH! I ended up working in fast food because hey, a small paycheck is better than no paycheck.
Then a job at a small animal hospital fell into my lap. After all the employment disappointments I had had the past year, I thought this job wouldn’t last long either, especially since I wasn’t the kennel person cleaning up the messes like I was used to. This time I was a vet tech in training. Suddenly I had to learn how to take blood and run tests and do the intravenous fluid thing, and put a catheter into a vein and look for parasites under microscopes and ex-rays and learn doctor speak. Basically all that important medical stuff. And this place actually kept me. Somehow, I wasn’t expecting that.
While trying to learn the new job, I also developed a problem with my right leg. It caused incredible pain when I was doing anything but sitting. Even riding a horse bareback at a walk up and down the driveway was excruciating. So, no riding. Several visits to several doctors and we finally discovered that my leg pain was associated with my spine. Regular visits to the chiropractor have alleviated most of the pain but it really made a dent in my saddle time.
You mean I couldn’t ride as much anymore? Or I could only ride gaited horses? Haflingers are not gaited and I had no interest in investing in a new breed of horse or selling the one I had. But what could I do with my guys if I couldn’t ride them? As you can see this last development gave me the most trouble. I had no idea what to do with the horse I had. And my conscience was saying some very unkind, hurtful things to me. I had expected age to reduce my riding time but not this soon and this much. I mean come on; I’m only in my early forties!
Yes, Epona must be mad at me!
Meanwhile, my articles on Epona on Witchvox were generating a slow buzz. Other pagans from all over the world were contacting me with questions. I had no idea so many were interested in Her. Some I answered. Others I felt too guilty to reply to because well, Epona was silent. What did I have to say? Nothing.
Then I started to add to my menagerie. This time, the pet of choice had no legs and was scaly and reptilian. I started attending reptile shows and coming home with snakes.
Hmmm. Snakes? Yeah, that’s right. I’m one of those crazy people who like to share her life with cold-blooded creatures! I first came home with a sand boa, a short, fat, colorful snake that is very good at being invisible in its tank. Then a corn snake followed, then another corn, then a milk snake until finally I had more snakes in the house than horses in my barn. Some part of my conscious was standing in the background with raised eyebrows saying, “So…what’s with all the snakes?”
I didn’t have a good answer.
I didn’t know where I stood with Epona. But things sure felt rocky!
But then I think one of Epona’s daughters saved me.
It started innocently enough. I met her on Witchvox because of my articles and we started to correspond. I was writing a fictional novel at the time and I let her read it. Then she mentioned that she was going to a pagan conference near me and that there was a class on a historical figure I had mentioned in my book. So I decided to attend for one day, for one class, for research of course. I hadn’t been to anything spiritual like that for a couple of years. We met, enjoyed the class together and spent most of the night chatting like schoolgirls about this and that. The next day we attended several more classes and she told me there would be a “conjure dance” that evening. I had never been to a conjure dance, had no idea what one was. But I felt safe at the conference; surrounded by magical people I used to hang around with. It was a good place and I felt I belonged. There were even a few people who followed Epona there. I was polite but distant to them. I still had no idea where I stood with the goddess.
Then the conjure dance started. It was Voudoun in nature. I was curious about Voudoun, still am but I know next to nothing about it. Of course, everyone there was a great dancer. I can’t dance! I can write, I can draw, I can drum but dancing is not one of my talents! But I wanted to dance so badly. The music had such magic to it, I had to move somehow. So I decided that the only way I could dance was to close my eyes.
So I closed my eyes and swayed to the music. And part of me went away. And something brushed me gently.
I opened my eyes and one of the guards was standing next to me. He asked if I was all right. I wasn’t sure. But I felt very clear-headed, if somewhat shaky. (My body was angry with me for trying to dance!) . I asked if I had been “ridden” by a spirit. And he said one word to me.
What was that?
He repeated it as if I hadn’t heard. I explained that I didn’t know Voudoun; just who or what was a damballa?
“The serpent god of the heavens.” Then he added, “You were dancing like a snake.”
I immediately began to laugh. The irony was so funny. I told him that I had eight pet snakes at home. Of course! DUH! It all made perfect sense now.
The next morning I did my horse chores like I always do. I mixed up the hot beet pulp and the grain for my three golden boys. And while I listened to them munch contentedly at their breakfast, I had an epiphany.
Epona was not mad at me. She was merely weaning me.
Mares, when left to their own devices, wean their children very differently. Some mares are evil and will pin their ears or lunge savagely at their babies when they try to nurse until their babies finally give up and never go near mom again because she’s always mad. Other mares are very patient and kind. When their gangly, big, youngster goes to nurse, they simply pick up their head and walk away.
Epona did not hate me. She was not punishing me. She was weaning me and gently too. More foals were destined to come. She needed her milk to feed them. I was no longer a baby frisking at Her side. I was a yearling who needed to leave and go exploring. I needed to make my own way in the world away from Her. She would always be my Mother, my foundation. I could always run with the sacred herd. But the milk bar was closed to me now. I would never again nurse at Her side. I was too old for that now.
Eventually all yearlings leave their mother mares to find a herd of their own.
Epona was not mad at me. My faith was the same but it was changing, turning blue, ready to slough off the old skin in preparation for the new shiny skin underneath. Snakes are symbols of transformation. Her silence reflected this upcoming spiritual mutation.
It is time for me to explore and investigate the world around me. I can still run with the sacred herd anytime I choose. They are my family and they will always be there for me.
I am still a daughter of Epona.
But now I have Momma’s blessing to go to and dance with the snakes.
-- Devon, the Maid of Epona
Devon, The Maid Of Epona
Location: New Park, Pennsylvania
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