I’ve had a realization lately, y’all. Honestly, it’s a little embarrassing that it took me this long to get there. But here we are; better late than never.
So, what is this realization?
It’s impossible to separate Wandering Jotun from politics, and that’s not a bad thing.
So how did I possibly convince myself that politics had no place here? Like, wow, self. That’s some impressive denial.
I have the ability to step away and hide from political conversations, thanks to being a white, cishet-passing person--and I’m fully aware of that being a manifestation of my personal privilege that so many others don’t have.
I’ve been wrestling with this intense guilt and shame of using (maybe even abusing) that privilege over the last several months. As I’ve watched from the sidelines as social injustice runs rampant through my country, I’ve struggled with wanting to speak out but also wanting to keep this “safe space” where I just provide support without drama or politics.
Yeah, okay, that was ridiculously naïve and silly, and I’ll be the first to admit it.
This realization that Wandering Jotun is inherently political, because society politicizes the very existence of marginalized people has been a fire under my feet and a hammer to my chest. It’s made me want to get back on the horse, to speak out, to do something to provide the support and community that inspired this entire project. And it’s also activated intense anxiety that I haven’t done enough, shame that I hid inside my own privilege, and outright fear of going down this path while the world grows more and more dangerous for marginalized communities.
So. What now?
Now, I think, I work toward embracing the fact that this is my resistance, my way to fight the injustice, and that it’s also a place where my political views have to co-exist with creating. I have to find my own personal balance between caring for my mental health and being out here as a creative activist.
I don’t have any answers. I don’t know what’s coming down the pike (but I have a feeling it’s going to be pretty shitty).
But I do know that I can’t hide any more. So, here I am. In all my messy, depressed, anxious, liberal-as-fuck glory. If we can call it glory.
P.s. Don't forget to grab a copy of the Apocalypse Survival Kit before the price goes up on October 20th!
Who’s ready for another round of Nonir rambles about spiritual stuff? I hope it’s you, because that’s what today’s post is. Whomp whomp.
Those you (all two of you) who have been following me over various platforms for a while probably have heard me whine about fallow times and struggling to connect.
Well, now that I’m finally getting my head back on straight, let’s talk about the importance of rest in a spiritual practice.
First of all, not being able to connect with your deities/spirits/higher self/whatever can be a pain. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It sucks, especially if that relationship has been helping with your mental health in any way.
But having downtime is so important to growth--spiritual or otherwise.
The best thing you can do when you find yourself out of touch or struggling spiritually is to relax.
Don’t force things. Don’t take on a gazillion courses or try to shove your way into the astral if you’re used to traveling. Try not to get upset or frustrated with yourself. Try not to get resentful or angry with the spirits or gods you work with for not being there. (Odds are they are there, just in the background, waiting for you to finish resting and healing.)
Letting yourself relax and accept the fallow times can help:
So the next time you find yourself in a time that feels kind of spiritually empty, just take a few deep breaths, remind yourself that it will pass, and relax.
Has someone ever told you that they love you unconditionally, but you can tell they don’t actually mean it? Say, a parent who disapproves of your sexuality or gender presentation. You can never be sure if they’ll scold you, ignore you, or worse if you’re truly yourself. Kind of undermines the entire concept of “unconditional,” doesn’t it?
I get it. I mean, we’re all human. We all have limits and sometimes we don’t even know what those are until we hit them.
But it also hurts when someone says they love you no matter what but doesn’t (or even if you’re not sure whether or not they do). It hurts a lot. Trust me. I’ve been there.
It keeps you on edge, makes you wary. You start hiding the parts of yourself that you’re not sure are approved. It’s exhausting, especially if you’re like me: recovering from past emotional abuse, people-pleasing like woah, and already constantly walking on eggshells.
But, holy crap, it’s amazing what knowing that you are totally and fully loved can do.
We all need someone to have our backs, to be there no matter what. And sometimes it’s hard if not impossible to find that person on this plane. That’s okay.
I’m not saying that everyone should have the same relationship with their spirit companions, if you even go down the spirit work path.
But I am saying that sometimes spirituality can provide that foundation of love that we need to thrive.
Obviously, it’s not for everyone, and it will take different forms for different people. Your mileage may vary.
For me at least, I don’t know what I’d do without my spirit companions. For the first time in my life, I’ve learned what unconditional love really feels like. And there’s no way I’m going back.
P.S. Don't forget to preorder a copy of the Brain Beasties Oracle to help cultivate some unconditional self-love, too!
Ready for more ideas on how to use the Brain Beasties Oracle? Check out last week’s ideas and get ready to dive in.
As a reminder: it’s important to remember about oracle decks (and, in my opinion, all divination techniques) is that we can’t tell the future. They’re used to help with introspection and discovering hidden parts of ourselves, and sometimes for communicating with spirits. Though the Brain Beastie deck was definitely designed for the goal of self-knowledge and self-improvement.
So this week, I want to give you some ideas on using the deck in the more well-known format of card spreads. Yes, you can use oracle cards in spreads just like you can use tarot. This deck may not be the best for all types of card spreads, but you can definitely get creative!
Three spreads I particularly like for the Brain Beasties deck:
And, of course, you can totally make up your own spreads to suit your needs. Autostraddle, of all places, has a great post on how to create your own tarot spreads, which applies to oracle cards, too.
Do you have any favorite oracle card spreads? Share them in the comments!
P.s. Brain Beastie Oracle Deck preorders are open right now! Just click here to order your deck. <3
As promised in last week’s explanation of the Brain Beasties Oracle, today’s post is some ideas about how to use the deck (don’t forget preorders are open now!).
One thing that’s important to remember about oracle decks (and, in my opinion, all divination techniques) is that we can’t tell the future. They’re used to help with introspection and discovering hidden parts of ourselves, and sometimes for communicating with spirits. Though the Brain Beastie deck was definitely designed for the goal of self-knowledge and self-improvement.
So, without further ado:
These are just a few ideas to get you started. I’ve got a few more suggestions headed your way next week, too!
But I can’t claim all the credit for the idea. It came from a lot of digging and loads of other inspiration. So I wanted to just give a quick shout-out to the folks who (whether they knew it or not) helped inspire me to make this thing a reality.
Olivia from Leafing Out Gardening (and my co-writer for the Aces High, Jokers Wild series) originally gave me the idea to make an oracle deck late last year. She has some of her own decks based on the language of flowers and the Ogham that are incredible, if you’re the collecting type.
The Little Brain Wolf comics by Sam Davies of Stutterhug and the beautiful illustrations from The Latest Kate were also big influences. I find that giving shapes and names to emotions and internal patterns can really help us identify them and figure out ways to change or improve. Both Stutterhug and the Latest Kate are really good at that--so I kind of stole the idea for my Brain Beasties deck.
And drop by the Wandering Jotun shop on Valentine’s Day to treat yourself to the preorders of the deck. After all, no one said Valentine’s Day can’t also be about self-love.
Raise your hand if you’re a perfectionist.
[Imagine my hand waving high in the air]
Perfectionism is one of the things I’ve been struggling with for as long as I can remember. I’ve had countless therapy sessions that devolved into “fuck, that’s my perfectionism again!” It’s held me back from doing a lot and contributes more than I’d like to admit to my imposter syndrome and general anxiety.
But my therapist had me try something recently that’s really helped--and I want to share it with you.
(Keep in mind that I’m not a mental health professional myself, and your mileage may vary. I just found it particularly useful for me. This exercise is also included in the Punch Your Bad Brains in the Face free ebook!)
Here it is:
And that’s it! Rinse and repeat as necessary. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt Smaug start to lift his head and was able to start soothing him ASAP, which helped me avoid a shame spiral.
So now you know how I’m dealing with my perfectionism--how are you dealing with yours? Tell me in the comments!
We’ve all heard that representation is important in media. I would bet you’ve come across that Whoopi Goldburg quote about seeing Nichelle Nichols on TV for the first time (I’ve put it in here, just in case).
Representation is important.
I see the GLBTQ character and automatically assuming the creator is going to make them a stereotype, or kill them off--and I’m pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t happen. I see the Pagan and know the story’s going to involve blood sacrifice and really extreme, bizarre Satanism.
I see the nerd and know they’ll either get a makeover to be the pretty, popular kid, or be the butt of every joke until they have the random, obscure knowledge the save the day. I see the neurodivergent character and know there’ll be some ‘snapping point’ eventually where they go on a murderous rampage or the people around them just can’t deal any more.
Media is very, very slowly catching up and beginning to include more representation. But it’s still exhausting seeing yourself on screen or on the page as a stereotype. And, sometimes, we can start to internalize those messages that that’s who we are.
But we aren’t. We’re living, breathing people--not stereotypes and clichés.
Every time I do a panel or workshop about writing minority characters, someone inevitably asks if I have examples of writing them well. I struggle to come up with some, every time. There’s a few standbys I always go to that make me in particular feel seen (listed below), but the list is...depressingly small.
That’s why I write my own stories, both fanfic and original.
I write stories that feature diverse casts as people, going through the same fantasy and scifi adventures straight white cis folks get to go on. It’s cathartic, terrifying, rough, and wonderful. But I hope that, someday, they can at least help someone feel seen the way I want to be seen.
Because we all deserve to be seen, represented, and respected. It shouldn’t be that hard.
My examples of good minority writing:
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had imposter syndrome! So, that’s like, all of us. Sweet.
Most of the time, we talk about imposter syndrome is the context of creating or working. That feeling that you’re just making shit up and don’t know anything and sooner or later everyone’s going to figure out that you’re only here because of a mistake. It’s a really awful, shameful feeling.
But imposter syndrome doesn’t only hit us at work. It can also crop up in unexpected places, like our spiritual lives.
I find this to be particularly true for those who do any sort of magic, or psychic/spirit work, but it can hit anyone at any time. Because our brains suck, let’s be real. If I’m honest, spiritual imposter syndrome is one of the things I struggle with the most.
So what might spiritual imposter syndrome look like?
Basically, it’s that nagging worry that you don’t quite fit, aren’t quite right, are making things up, or are just faking things for attention. Not to get all psychological up in here, but a lot of these feelings can stem from the shame of being different (or being “too normal,” depending on the circumstances). Especially on a pagan path in an Abrahamic-leaning world, where intimate connections with astral beings aren’t really A Thing.
But here’s the good news.
You aren’t alone and you aren’t an imposter.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that most people who struggle with spiritual imposter syndrome tend to be on the right track, for lack of a better term. Sure, we might not be 100% on top of things all the time. But we generally have a better grasp on our experiences, beliefs, and discernment than we think we do.
So go forth and tell that imposter syndrome to fuck right off. You’re better than that.
Pop culture has a really complex relationship with mental health.
Honestly, I think that’s one of the things that’s beautiful about fan works: we have the ability to create our own representation, and make sure it’s what we want to see.
Just being able to create or consume media that accurately portrays things like mental health issues can be incredibly healing. Representation matters.
But even media that doesn’t have representation can be important in mental health. When I was at my lowest a few years ago, I latched onto a video game and it literally became my lifeline. Making it through the day to go home and play was the only reason I kept going. It got me through that time and, in a roundabout way that involved some Pop Culture Paganism shenanigans, was the thing that finally pushed me to get the help I needed.
Pop culture strikes at the very core of us in ways we can’t expect. It can go way beyond just escapism. And sometimes that means books, TV shows, video games, music, whatever, are way more important to someone than you could ever guess.
So don’t be ashamed if you cling to your favorite show to get you through the day. Do what you’ve got to do to make sure you’re healthy and taking care of yourself mentally and physically--even if people might be confused about why you love something so much.
Is there a piece of media that’s helped you with your mental health? Share it in the comments!
Nonir is a queer pagan nerd and writes about various things in those realms.