Personal Gnosis on Bylgja UPG
Sunday 22 august 2010
On this day… I was feeling very aware of my own mortality, how I might die in the river during one of these trips. That’s because today, I was not going to the quiet waters I knew. I only had two Mermaids left to meet, Bara of the Big Wave, and Bylgja of the Breakers, and those slow waters wouldn’t do for Them. I needed to go to the Rapids, knowing if I went into that water, I would die.
I wrote a testament on my computer, leaving the file in the middle of my desktop so it would be easily found, saying how I wished to be honored at my funeral, how my belongings should be distributed. I cried for myself, my family, my friends. Death was on my mind I suppose, having just led Montreal’s Memorial Rite for Isaac Bonewits’s death on Wednesday that week. He was a great man, a funny guy, and one who had immensely enriched my life during my time in ADF, A Druid Fellowship. The community thought it appropriate to honor him with an ADF style ritual, and so they had asked me for that. It went well, with reverence as well as humor, just like he had wanted.
Eventually, I was ready to go to the river. But… I forgot to bring my lancet for the blood offering.
As I approached the St-Lawrence Parc des Rapides on foot, I sang Sequana’s song. I crossed the bridge onto the quasi-island, asking for permission to have a sea undine come teach me, and to please be allowed to return to land safely. I felt Her nod in assent. Good.
The place was beautiful, with tiny islands before me, and standing waves to the left and right of me. I sang Blodughadda’s song, and soon saw my visitor. On the one hand, She looked much like the other mermaids I’d seen, brown haired, pleasant face… but I was pretty sure I hadn’t met her. I introduced myself, bid Her welcome, and asked if we had met before. She said no. That left only Bara and Bylgja, and She was far too skinny to be Bara. She confirmed She was Bylgja, as did my intuition. What was different is that She didn’t stay still like most of the other others did. She swam back and forth constantly before me. And when I looked at Her really well, I saw something other than the pleasant normal face I’d seen most of the time with the Sisters. Her mouth seemed to be staying open, in an O shape. I stared some more and saw needle sharp teeth. Really, it was like a gaping fish mouth. It was only halfway through our conversation I realized what kind of fish it reminded me of: Piranhas. Her mouth stayed wide open as She kept talking.
“Won’t you come into the water, little spirit worker?” She asked playfully.
Hah, I had worried about being carried away by the currents (these were very very strong currents, impossible to swim in), but I had a good answer to that, having seen the signs for the park. It was forbidden to swim or put your feet in the water. I told Her the laws of the land forbid me putting my feet in the water, but I could put my hand, which I did.
“Oh, come on… not even one foot in the water?” I relented and agreed to put one foot in the water.
“Are you not breaking the rules by doing that?” She asked.
“It says I can’t put my feet in the water, and I’m not. It’s just one foot.” I grinned, and She smiled.
I grimaced in embarrassment and said, “I’ve forgotten my offering kit. All I have is a knife, and that would make it very difficult and painful for me to give you blood. I do have a nectarine though. Would you like it?” She nodded. “Can I throw it to you?”
“Yes.” She caught it, and devoured it. I mean DEVOURED it! And seemed to like it too!
“Ummm… soooo… could I… make Your blood offering… the next time I come? Could I owe you that?”
“Mmm… yes… you would owe me…” She sounded playful, but it seemed like it would be best to pay off the debt quickly. She added: “But… can you not give me at least a taste, as a voucher? So I know your blood?”
“Uhhh… I can try…okay.”
I hesitantly opened the knife, and tried to find a good spot to use. I REALLY don’t like doing this. I picked the crook of my thumb, near the index, and it took me a while to get up the courage for a slice. Even so, I had to do it a few times, until the capillaries bled a tiny amount. What can I say, I’m a wimp, and I don’t like cuts. I massaged a tiny amount of redness to the surface, and washed it in the water. That smarted.
“Mmmm… just a taste… but yes,… it will do. We have a contract now, you and I. Nine drops, next time.” Not paying Her next time sounded like it would be very bad, in spite of her pleasant tone. I could see the toothy wide open fish mouth, or the pleasant human face, depending how I looked.
“So what do you want, little spirit worker?”
“I’d like permission to use your song… and if you’re so inclined, I’d like to learn the ways of water from you.”
“Mmmm… more debt… yes… you can use the song… once you’ve paid for it.”
I considered the lessons I’d had from the other Undines, and wondered how much debt I had with Them. “Say… can You tell me whether the 9 drops I gave to your sisters covered the debts of Their lessons, or if I owe Them more?”
I’d read a blog that talked of the dangers of asking too much of the gods, and foolishly getting into so much spiritual debt that it would be almost impossible to pay Them back in one lifetime. It got me thinking, and so I was a bit concerned.
“Mmmm… you have paid for their lessons… except Unn of course. She has given you more, and you owe her more.”
Pheww! I could live with that. I like Unn, and I’d be happy to make more offerings, though I wasn’t sure what, since I couldn’t do more blood, at least until I’d given to all 9 sisters.
“So please, teach me what You think I need to learn”.
She looked at me, and stopped swimming for a bit:
“You feel that pain in your hand? That is your payment. That is how you know you have bought something that will stay yours. People avoid pain, but they do not realize that pain just means they have paid for something to be lawfully theirs. When you feel pain, you should realize you have gained something, and be grateful. Nothing is free, at least nothing that has value. If you did not pay, then it is just passing through, and you will have to give it up. What you pay for is yours though. And payment always requires pain.”
I rubbed my stinging hand, as She continued, “The passing joys, they are not yours to keep. They come, they go, and you have to let them go. They are not yours. That is my sister’s (Himinglava’s) doing, not mine. What you pay for, you get to keep. If it did not hurt, if you did not sweat for it, then it is not yours. And the more you pay for it, the more value it will have. If you make it needlessly difficult… you are increasing its value. You can choose to do that” She smiled.
“You mean, like performing austerities?” I thought of the story of a demon king in Hindu mythology, who had stood motionless on a mountain for a hundred years, to gain power. “Yes, exactly. If you make it harder, if you work for it more, then it has more value.”
This reminded me of my attempts at various ancient crafts. I got a lot more out of sacred fire when I lit it with flint and steel than a lighter. And hand spun wool has so many magical advantages over bought wool. The personal effort really paid off, in value and usefulness for spiritual matters, as well as in learning a skill. “I see you understand,” She said.
I pondered this. Yes, there really is a connection between performing austerities and obsession. You have to be pretty single minded to perform them. I wouldn’t have thought of the connection on my own though.
She seemed done with the the topic, so I asked: “Do you have others you talk to, like Unn talks to the Moon?”
She continued swimming back and forth before me. “I talk to the sky-horses… all those who swim the sky. But the sea horses are mine,” She added possessively.
I asked: “What more can you tell me about what you do, and these sea-horses?”
“Look at the waves and the foam crests. Are they not so pretty? Do you see the foam seahorses? They can carry you, when you travel the seas in the Nine Worlds. For a price, of course. Just a drop.” Okay… so She was in charge of the Rent-A-Seahorse services. That could be useful. Hmmm… horses…
“I am honored by Your sharing with me. But I wonder… do You have anything You teach about horsing, letting a spirit ride a human body.”
“I do. But it will cost you more. And I cannot tell you the price before you agree to the debt.”
“Is it a reasonable price, one I can pay reasonably?”
“Yes, it is.”
I mulled it over a while… more spiritual debt… but I could really use the help with horsing. “Okay, I agree to pay Your price, and to take on that debt.”
She grinned: “I can make you one of my horses… and rent you…” She smiled, and stared at me with a funny looks in Her eyes, head cocked.
I felt myself starting to melt, like I was turning to water and foam… and taking on the shape of a foam sea-horse, head bowed.
“There’s a good horse,” She said,” such a pretty horse… to carry your rider…” I felt almost like I was being petted. It felt nice.“I can help you melt away, become as a sea-horse of the foam, and let the rider in more easily. But someone will have to pay my price.”
I enjoyed the horse shape sensations for a while, and when I had returned more to normal, I asked. “What is the price I am to pay for this knowledge?”
“Mmmm… why, to rent yourself out, three times. Someone will have to pay my fee of course.”
Okay, that was reasonable. And there was no apparent time limit. My payment was making use of Her help, which I could live with. It just meant whoever rode me would have to agree to pay Her, or at least have Her help if I paid.
The lesson ended soon after, and we parted.
I went back the following Saturday to the Rapids with my girlfriend, to hang out, and pay the debt of 9 drops to Bylgja. We spent our time there spinning wool, and a man approached with his two sons, asking about what we were doing. For some reason, he started talking about the Archangel Michael. I have no clue if it's meaningful, but it was odd enough to write down. Perhaps it will make sense at some later point when I read this again.
Hail Bylgja, Mermaid of the Breakers, Obsession and Austerities!
July 9th, 2011
Nearly a year later, I realized I needed something to call Her to pay that debt, and Raven’s song wasn’t useful for that. As I thought about it, I went into trance, looking for that contract inside me. I found the seed of a rhyme inside me to call on the sea-horse aspect, and fulfill our bargain. Here is what I wrote:
“A pretty horse out in the field has strayed into the sea
It will not stride, it will not drown until the company
Has been returned to where it came and paid the Lady’s fee.
Foamy brine, melt in time tame for all to see.”
I found myself sort of stuck in that state, and wrote this to help end it:“Shake your mane, ride away, you know where to be.”