Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Revamping and reviving this blog   Leave a comment

Header for upcoming blog move

Good news: This blog is finally in the process of being re-designed and prepared for re-launch on a self-hosted WordPress installation with a new domain name that I own. Last year I had announced that I was moving my blogging “home” to Medium, but the results of that were decidedly mixed. Medium is a good platform for essays, articles, and journalism; it’s a good forum for interacting with other writers and people who love to read. But for a blog like this one, it hasn’t served the purposes I was hoping it would. And the current version of this blog is still stuck with the clunky, outdated design it had when I originally launched it in 2011 – back in the days when responsive design was in its infancy. It badly needs a facelift! So that’s what I’m working on now.

If all goes well with this self-hosting move to new domains for both of my blogs (this one and Rethinking the Job Culture, which is also hopelessly outdated), perhaps somewhere down the road I will have the opportunity to start and host a web discussion forum for polytheist/Heathen/Pagan monasticism. Time will tell.

If you’re a subscriber, you won’t even miss anything when the transition happens, as I’ll be using the JetPack plugin to migrate all my subscribers over to the new location seamlessly. I’m also planning to integrate all my previous public Patreon posts into the new blog as well, so that everything I publish can be found through either my main landing page or on my blogs. (My Patreon supporters will still get to see newly released work first, though, and will continue to receive other rewards such as priority scheduling for booking visits to the Hermitage.)

I look forward to sharing more writing with you soon. In the meantime, you can keep up with my latest work and news on my Patreon page for the Hermitage. The most exciting news is that I am going on a two-week pilgrimage to Sweden in November, to attend a legendary 30th anniversary Cold Meat Industry dark ambient concert and to set foot on the lands of my Swedish ancestors for the first time. I’ll also be attending Alvablot with the Swedish Heathen group Samfundet Forn Sed Sverige. Soooo excited!


Posted 2017/09/03 by The Black Stone Hermitage in Writing

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What Is Sacred Endarkenment?   5 comments

“I think the sacred is more readily available to us in the dark.”

~ Martin Lowenthal, Getting Enlightened in the Dark

“…some people say we should never, ever leave the light.  We should endeavor to be “light workers” who fill every shadow with light and eliminate all darkness.  […]  If the light’s on all the time, how do we get any sleep?  Do we ever get to close our eyes?  […]

“Pagans understand that as much as we crave enlightenment…just that much do we also require endarkenment.  The New Age just doesn’t seem to have caught on yet.  We pagans can help others see that without the darkness we cannot recognize the light.  We need literal shadows – and psychological and metaphysical ones – to tell us what’s out there.”

~ Barbara Ardinger, Pagan Every Day: Finding the Extraordinary in Our Ordinary Lives

Crypt of Sacred Endarkenment

I was raised in a middle-class white family, on a steady diet of New Age books filled with lofty prose about enlightenment, spiritual growth, doing-what-you-love, positive thinking, and my least favorites of all, “love and light” and “driving out the darkness.”

As I got older and developed my critical thinking faculties, I often thought: Something’s missing in all this white-light transcend-and-rise-above talk.  Why is spirituality so often associated with upward movement, and driving out the darkness?  Is there something wrong with descent?  Would it be so wrong to welcome darkness, or even invite it in?

In many spiritual writings, and in the cultural milieu of my upbringing, darkness is most often associated with evil, suffering, violence, negativity, and death.  Rarely is it portrayed as something positive or nourishing, let alone holy and appropriate for religious worship.

So what was I to do, then, when I found the goth-industrial music scene and discovered that I felt much more spiritual while dressed in black, dancing to dark electronic music, than I ever had in any church or New Age gathering?

What was I to do when I realized I had been initiated by ingestion of magic mushroom, to a soundtrack of Lustmord and Skinny Puppy, while staring into the endless black depths of the void?

What was I to do when I had an embodied mystical experience of a dark deity that was every bit as terrifying and unsettling as it was fulfilling?

And what was I to do when I started reading books about native peoples’ sovereignty struggles in the Americas, and realized that I was born and raised on stolen land, in a country founded on settler colonialism and genocide that continues to this day?

It was in an essay by Michael Ventura, many years later, that I first encountered the word endarkenment.  He used this neologism in an unflattering way, as so many other writers have, but I loved it immediately nonetheless.  To my mind, it suggested something beautiful, positive, sacred, and quintessentially earthy and grounded.  A few obsessive web searches later, I found and voraciously devoured feminist writings about it – the most memorable of which was by Molly Remer, who writes evocatively about her conviction that the idea of the dark is “in need of re-visioning” – and it became clear to me that I’d been on a mystic’s path of sacred endarkenment as far back as I could remember.  Finally I’d found a broadly applicable word that conveyed something of the deeper essence of my callings to creative and religious practice, as well as my aesthetic, musical tastes, and emotional experience.

So what is sacred endarkenment?

One of my earliest attempts to define it was esoteric: “a clearing and strengthening of inner vision, and grounding it in the earth through an alchemical reckoning with the sacred dark.”  This, however, is only a start.  There are many other equally appropriate definitions, and dimensions that only become apparent with time and relevant experience.

Eventually I started keeping a list of concepts and practices I associate with sacred endarkenment.  Here are a few:

deep listening
lamentation and funereal dance
grief rituals
stillness and silence
darkroom retreats
regenerative, healthy solitude
ecologically responsible ways of handling death and decay
handling “dark” emotions with integrity
refusing to center whiteness, and resisting white supremacy
supporting indigenous peoples’ sovereignty
decolonizing time (and spiritual practice in general)
honoring chthonic and wrathful deities, and powers of the underworlds
valuing restfulness, hibernation, and “doing nothing”
trusting inner guidance
receptivity and surrender
“slow culture”

I’d love to hear from others on similar paths.  Do you perceive any of your practices as forms of sacred endarkenment?  If so, what does that mean to you?

For me, as a contemplative polytheist, mystic, and nun-in-training who has been in service to Skaði (and other Beings often considered “dark”) for many years, sacred endarkenment is the theme that underlies my mission and practice at The Black Stone Hermitage, where I live and work.  The Hermitage is my personal living space; it’s also a concept that I am developing and extending to others through hospitality service offerings. When the right permanent space is found, I hope the Hermitage will become a subterranean retreat and house of worship that will outlive me, and continue on to serve future polytheists – especially those interested in building a monastic practice around pre-Christian Norse and Germanic religious and folk traditions – through creating space for leisure and sacred endarkenment.

This monastic mission of service is literal as well as metaphorical.  Through my Black Tent Temple project, I design and create customized endarkened tent-like meditative spaces by combining black and purple textiles, themed playlists of dark ambient music, and subdued lighting.  They can be adapted to serve many needs; previous uses have included shrine rooms for dark goddesses, and an ecological grief circle for animists.  At the Many Gods West conference this year, I will be creating a Black Tent Temple space for polytheists.  Priestess Gerrie Ordaz has also built a Black Tent Temple at the Oasis event held by Earth Traditions, a Pagan church in Chicago.

Other kinds of dark physical spaces designed for purposes of rest, restoration, healing, and contemplation include those built by the darkroom retreat movement and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, many of which have rooms built specifically for the purpose of dark retreats – lengthy solitary retreats designed for advanced practitioners, in a space completely absent of all light.

Retreating into the dark can also provide space for incubation.  In his remarkable book In The Dark Places of Wisdom, Peter Kinglsey writes beautifully about receptive practices of incubation in ancient Greece: lying down to rest in a special enclosed place – often a den, or a dark cave – and either falling asleep and dreaming, or entering a state described as neither sleep nor waking.  In this way, people received prophecies, messages from the gods, healing, and visions.  The key was to do absolutely nothing – to exert no effort, no struggle, no interference with the process.  That was how the healing would come: through surrender.

One day, I believe, we will have polytheist and Pagan monasteries with similar incubation spaces.

If polytheists are to create appropriate spaces for this kind of incubation in our religious practices, we must make room for doing nothing.  We need true leisure – an abundance of unhurried, unstructured, and uninterrupted time.

This points to a structural constraint facing the modern polytheist revival: as things now stand, few of us have sufficient leisure time to cultivate such a practice.  Time management skills, while useful in some cases, can only take us so far in a world where most of us must spend the bulk of our time earning a living.  Even our best attempts to slow down – worthwhile though they may be – won’t be sufficient to develop a religious culture that honors leisure in a world that economically and socially penalizes those who don’t keep up, and in which women and marginalized folks are saddled with a disproportionate and never-ending burden of unpaid, unreciprocated emotional labor.

Sacred endarkenment practice, then, may bring us into social justice activism – recognizing and properly valuing emotional labor, supporting the movement for unconditional basic income, and resisting the ways our time is colonized and conscripted into the service of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

Trusting embodied emotional intelligence is another way we can practice sacred endarkenment.  Cultural, economic, and social pressures often leave us few options but to layer a false veneer of pleasantries and “positivity” over our authentic emotional experience, so as not to drag others down.  Many of us habitually hold ourselves at a certain distance from what we call dark emotional states — pain, suffering, conflict, grief, despair, sorrow, anger.  Yet sometimes there is bittersweet, hidden medicine to be found in dark emotional processes when they are faced and addressed skillfully and with kind hearts.  This is the medicine of sacred endarkenment.  Those who create and hold space for it are doing valuable emotional labor, and opening paths to genuine joy.

We practice sacred endarkenment when we look deeply into darkness and acknowledge its worth, instead of turning away.  Annihilating forces, after all, are just as essential to life as generative ones, as alchemists know.

There is nothing inherently negative about darkness.  Darkness has been discredited – and associated with evil and doom – by oppressive forces that benefit when noses are kept to the grindstone and “dark” emotions are suppressed.  Why?

Because within the sacred dark lies deep wisdom, regenerative power, and liberation.

Negativity is not inherent in darkness itself.  It is in suppressing or avoiding it that we run into trouble.  Excessive focus on “the light” or “positivity” is a form of spiritual bypassing that can lead us away from inner power.  Sacred endarkenment practice can lead us toward it.

Crucially, inner power is the only power that can’t be taken away, because it relies on nothing external.

Sometimes, what wants to speak or manifest through us seems frightening or overwhelming.  When we find the courage to give it room to speak and listen for the deeper wisdom and true voice within it, we learn that beautiful parts of ourselves – and beautiful Beings of many kinds – often wear dark masks.

There is powerful medicine to be found in dark places that emerges only under conditions of receptivity, unhurried time, and sustained attention…and it shows itself only on its own terms.  We will only find this medicine if we can move beyond our collective avoidance of the dark.  When we create and hold space for restorative, restful, and regenerative darkness, we will be in a position to receive its wisdom.

From darkness we are born, and to darkness we shall return – and this is a blessing.

This is the practice of sacred endarkenment.



[This piece was originally published at  If you enjoyed this piece and you’re on Patreon and/or Medium, please follow the Hermitage there.  My newly released work is always announced on Patreon first.  If you have a Patreon account, you can use the follow button to receive all of my public posts in your feed, and you can comment on them even if you are NOT a patron.]

The Hermitage will soon be on the new Pagan Bloggers portal   Leave a comment

The Hermitage at Pagan Bloggers dot com

I’m pleased to announce that I’m one of the authors who will be writing on the new Pagan-owned-and-operated portal.  I’ll be releasing at least one new article every month.  My writings will focus on sacred endarkenment, polytheist monasticism, sacred dance, and dark ambient music.  (No surprise there, eh?)

The site launches on March 21 – just a couple of weeks away!

So you’ll soon be able to follow my writings for the Hermitage at, on my Patreon, and on Medium.  Patrons – even at the $1/month level – will always be notified first whenever I release new work, or when I have announcements to make about the Hermitage.

There’s also a possibility that the Pagan & Polytheist Monasticism discussion group, which has been on Facebook since its inception in September 2016, will be moving its headquarters over to a web forum that will be hosted on the new Pagan Bloggers site.  The prospect of that appeals to me for several reasons:

1. The forum would be Pagan-owned and operated, not owned by Facebook.

2. Non-participants could read it, and thereby discover that Pagan & Polytheist monasticism is A Thing.  (That’s how I discovered it, after all!  I found the Order of the Horae Pagan Monasticism FAQ back in 2006-ish, and the Maetreum of Cybele site around that time as well, and that got me wondering if there might be a place in a Pagan monastery for me one day.)

3. Even older discussion threads would be easily readable for newcomers. On Facebook, new folks have to scroll back a long way to read the early discussions, and few people bother to do this, so a lot of valuable material is being overlooked.

4. It would permit the group to organize photos and files in ways that suit us, rather than remain constrained by Facebook’s methods of organization and file storage.

(I’m particularly frustrated about the way photos are handled on Facebook. We have so many beautiful shrine photos in the group, but they’re rarely seen because they’re hidden away behind a nondescript tab in the sidebar, and when someone adds a new photo to an album, it does not even show up in members’ feeds unless someone comments on it.  But if they don’t even see it, they don’t know it’s there to comment on!)

I won’t have details for awhile, as I need to discuss it with the other admins after the Pagan Bloggers launch.  But if you’re one of the folks who has been interested in joining or following the monasticism discussion group outside of Facebook, keep an eye out, for you may soon get your wish.

Reflections on the Many Gods West 2016 Conference   Leave a comment

MGW Program 1Well, I had stated that I’d be cross-posting here and on Medium for awhile, but now that I’ve written and published a full new blog post over there, I realize that I simply can’t justify spending the time and effort necessary to duplicate a post so that folks in both places will see it.  Medium is SO much easier for me.  It’s mobile-friendly too, whereas this WordPress blog would need to be redesigned to be more readable on mobile devices, and I simply have too much on my plate to tackle a project like that right now.  So, dear readers, Medium is where all of my posts will appear from here on.  Please follow the Hermitage there!

My new Reflections on the Many Gods West 2016 conference post can be found HERE.



Posted 2016/08/10 by The Black Stone Hermitage in Writing

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The Hermitage is Now on Medium!   Leave a comment

BSH blog announcement image 2

I’m happy to announce that the Hermitage can now be found over on Medium.  I’m pleased with the new layout.  Please go give it a look!  Feedback is welcome.

It was Medium’s recent announcement of some simple but powerful custom design options for publications that finally convinced me to migrate both of my blogs over there.  Well, that and the fact that traffic to this blog has dropped like a rock this year, while Medium is attracting lots of readers for good reason.

Recently I was lamenting the fact that both of my WordPress blogs look so dated and are not really readable on mobile devices, and was wondering when I’d manage to scare up the time to sit down and redesign them according to responsive design principles.  Medium to the rescue!

Most of my blog entries have now been migrated over to Medium, including the writings on my Shrine of Skaði dance project site.  I made some minor edits to adapt them to the new format.

This blog – which is just over five years old now – will remain online indefinitely.  For now, I expect I will be posting both here and on Medium.  When my new Patreon campaign for the Hermitage launches in October, I will start focusing more of my effort on Patreon and Medium.

If you’re on Medium, please follow The Black Stone Hermitage there so you will receive all my new posts. If you like the entries I’ve already posted, would you kindly take time to click the little heart at the bottom to recommend them to others?  It helps them get seen by new readers, and lets me know that people are reading and enjoying them.  Thank you so much!

Posted 2016/07/23 by The Black Stone Hermitage in The Hermitage, Writing

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Patreon launch for Rethinking the Job Culture   Leave a comment

scriptorium-monk-at-work-1142x1071Recently I wrote about the need for me to find ways to stay job-free so I can do my Work.  Since I am now functioning under what is essentially a divine mandate to write books and lay the groundwork for the future home of the Hermitage, and since job-hunting and my house cleaning business have been consuming most of my writing time for years now, something’s got to change in my life if I am going to carry out Their wishes.

Toward that end, I’m excited to announce that I’ve just launched a Patreon account under D. JoAnne Swanson – the pen name I use for my other main project, Rethinking the Job Culture.  I’ve set it up entirely on a gift model.  Great news, too: I am in communication with a publisher who is interested in On The Leisure Track, my half-finished book manuscript for that project.  It’s a personal narrative about decolonizing time, the process of unlearning the internalized capitalist work ethic, and learning to embrace gift culture.  With your support, I will be able to finish writing it, and then continue on with my work on Endarkenment: The Esoteric in Dark Ambient Music and Culture after I’ve delivered the first finished manuscript to the publisher.

The revised and improved version of my essay “Is Nothing Sacred? On ‘Doing Nothing’ and Leisure as Resistance,” which is a condensed version of one of the chapters from On The Leisure Track, is also in the works.  And that’s just a start!  Patrons will have access to all writings I release before they are available to the public.

If you’re interested in my writing, I encourage you to give the page a read whether or not you follow my other project, and whether or not you’re interested in becoming a patron.  It features some musings about the role of play and leisure in my work, plus links to many of my recent published writings, and a video of me speaking in my typical nerdy style about the work I do.

I’ve also included links to a few of the people whose work has inspired mine, such as Francis Weller (author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief), Charles Eisenstein (author of Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible), Matt Cardin (author of A Course in Demonic Creativity), and Alley Valkyrie, whose brilliant piece “Poverty, Worth, and the Hovering Ghost of Calvin” is a must-read.

Signal boosts for this post would be greatly appreciated, as there isn’t a good mechanism for discovering creators directly through the Patreon platform yet.  The only way folks will find out about my Patreon page is through my own efforts, and the efforts of those who follow my work.  Thank you so much!

Staying Job-Free, So I Can Work: Toward Community Supported Hermitage   9 comments

Wilhelm List, "The Offering"

Wilhelm List, “The Offering”

For three years now, I’ve been working as a self-employed house cleaner to support the financial needs of the Hermitage. There are many things I enjoy about the work: I can set my own hours, listen to music on headphones while I work, and get some exercise while working, for starters. And since I run my solo business without a car (I travel back and forth to clients’ homes on public transit, hauling my supplies in a wheeled backpack) and use only eco-friendly cleaning supplies such as white vinegar and baking soda, it’s also well aligned with my simple-living values. I never have to sit in rush-hour traffic, and I can read or enjoy music while someone else handles the driving, which I greatly appreciate. I don’t perceive being car-free as a sacrifice; for me it is a pleasure. Good thing, too, because after my divorce, what was once voluntary simplicity has become INvoluntary simplicity, as I couldn’t afford to drive now even if I wanted to. I’m very fortunate to live in a city where it’s possible to run a house cleaning business without a car.

I’ve certainly enjoyed house cleaning a lot more than any office job I’ve ever had, particularly because it greatly reduces the amount of uncompensated emotional labor I’m expected to perform, and because I have great clients who appreciate what I do and are all connected to the arts and esoteric communities. This work has also allowed me to avoid the synthetic fragrances and animal dander that are allergy and asthma triggers for me. This, too, is a boon, since fragrances are difficult to avoid in office jobs, and I am increasingly noticing that employees are allowed to bring dogs to their offices.

In many ways house cleaning seems to be an appropriate job for an anchoress-in-training on a monastic path of service. I have never had any doubt that I am serving the gods and spirits just as much through scrubbing toilets as I am by building shrines for Them. It’s very hard work physically and I always come home exhausted, and running a business consumes a great deal of my time…but it still suits me better than a full-time office job, and on good days it even becomes a sort of meditative practice through which writing ideas come to me unbidden, mid-scrub. (I love those days!)

However, over the past few years I’ve come to realize that I need to figure out another, more sustainable way to pay the bills, because I am physically unable to clean houses for the number of hours I’d need to work to make ends meet for the Hermitage over the long term. In 2014 I started studying web development through a respected online code school, with the intention of finding an entry-level job in the field in Portland. I worked my butt off and completed the course of study in 2015, and for many months I’ve attended hiring fairs, networking events, and done all kinds of job-hunting the conventional way, as well as through my own social network. But I have not been hired…and furthermore, this month it’s finally become clear to me that I may, in fact, never again be hired for a conventional job. Being female and over 40, along with having something that amounts to an invisible disability (allergies to animal dander and perfumes) and a work history dominated by freelance writing and house cleaning, is certainly not working in my favor.

Looking back, I realize that I’ve spent the bulk of the past eight years – the entire time since my divorce – either studying for or applying for paid jobs that never materialized, while doing various kinds of unpaid volunteer work that I hoped might lead to paid work (none ever did), and also running my house cleaning business. All of that “hope labor” consumed a great deal of my time – time that I would have much rather spent on writing, and on expanding and deepening my community service offerings at the Hermitage. I have a lengthy list of projects assigned to me by Those I serve, and I have an ever-growing list of people in my local community who appreciate what I do and want me to do more of it. The work I do at the Hermitage was even called “Portland’s best kept secret” after a recent ritual for which I provided a customized dark ambient playlist; I’ll be providing another one for a ritual in January.

Over the course of the next few years I would like to:

* Finish writing two non-fiction books – one on leisure as resistance and unlearning the internalized capitalist work ethic (the first chapter can be read in full), and another on the esoteric in dark ambient music and culture

* Write, edit, and proofread many articles, including the next in my series on underrated dark ambient albums for I Die: You Die

* Continue with the Black Tent Temple Project, providing spaces of incubation, withdrawal, and endarkenment to grieving people and others in need

* Continue and expand my Chthonic Cathedral project, providing customized dark ambient music playlists for rituals, yoga classes, meditation groups, social gatherings, and events

* Expand Drinking the Tears of the Earth, my grief ritual dance project

* Continue with Shrine of Skaði, my devotional dance project

* Continue serving the polytheist community and the gods and spirits through building shrines and other work at Many Gods West

* Continue learning and practicing geomancy, in preparation for offering readings for the community

* Continue studying Swedish, in preparation for a future pilgrimage to Sweden

* Maintain the Hermitage as an “official” Crone Island outpost: a space where beleaguered crones can go for tea service and a respite from uncompensated emotional labor (for more info, see this MetaFilter thread to which I contributed; I recommend reading the whole thing, but if you’re short on time, there’s a great summary available too!)

* Continue the search for an appropriate place – with a basement or other subterranean space, of course – to relocate the Hermitage for the long term. (Community land trust? Some kind of co-op? Religious non-profit? Time will tell…)

* Work with a great tea consultant (yes, the Hermitage has an official tea consultant – David Galli, who is otherwise known as Head Cheerleader of the Portland Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance) to improve the tea offerings and service at the Hermitage

* Go through my archives of over 30 years of finished but unpublished writing – journals, correspondence, essays, short fiction – and edit the best of these pieces, so they can be published

* Design and build new websites for the Hermitage and Rethinking the Job Culture

…and that’s on top of my regular schedule of prayer, meditation, and offerings.

A few weeks ago, just after the most recent job fair I attended failed to result in a job offer for me, AND I was simultaneously served with a notice from the DHS that as a self-employed ABAWD (able-bodied adult without dependents) under 50, my SNAP benefits would be cut off  if I failed to comply with new, cumbersome requirements that will consume even more of my time, AND I was given notice that I would lose the Hermitage and be forced to leave Portland if I couldn’t pay more rent in March…

…I woke up with the strongest and most unmistakable message I’ve ever received from Those I serve.

It felt so urgent that I scrambled out of bed to get it written down before I had even had my tea. The minute I finished writing it, I got chills.

Here it is, just as I transcribed it:

You must resist the conscription of your time into the service of capital.

You must resist the colonization of your time.

You must resist getting a full-time job so you can do your WORK.

You have books to write. You are the only person that can deliver them. You must trust that the world needs to read these books just as much as you need to write them.

The books will open your route to a more permanent home for The Black Stone Hermitage.

The books are Beings. They had a long gestation period. Now they are almost ready to be birthed.

You will soon be in labor.

Prepare yourself.

Wow. Loud and clear, wouldn’t you say?

…and now, all of a sudden, many good things are in the works, after years of struggling and barely scraping by. I suspect that Someone flipped the switch the moment I gave up job hunting the “normal” way and accepted that, despite my skills and advanced education, my age, sex, and health needs are strikes against me in the job market, and I may be forever unemployable…so I am therefore going to have to figure out some other way to manage my financial life and open the way for the Hermitage to expand its offerings. And besides, apparently They want me to be writing books, among other things. But writers earn very little money. So I’ve got to figure out how to support myself and the Hermitage without a conventional full-time job, so that I can do my Work.

Enter the multiple streams of income plan.

I’ve now got a promising lead for a short-term paid web gig, I will soon be launching a Patreon account to support my writing, I’ve got a respected publisher interested in my half-finished book manuscript for my Rethinking the Job Culture project, I’m planning to offer my proofreading services to paying clients, and – after I petitioned Skaði to find me a way to stay in Portland if She wanted me to continue serving Her through the work I do here – it’s looking like I will be sharing the Hermitage with a roommate in February, someone who is a fellow writer and polytheist (!!) whose living style sounds very compatible with mine.

So if all continues to go well, and things work out with the roommate situation (I have a pretty good feeling about it), I may be able to stay in Portland and continue to live in the Hermitage after all. I still have some big financial challenges to confront in 2016: punitive self-employment taxes due in April, dental and orthodontic work I need but can’t yet afford, and the possibility that Many Gods West will be out of reach for me this year financially unless Those I serve intervene to make it possible. (Skaði did so last year when I built a shrine room for Her at MGW; this year I’ve been planning to build a Black Tent Temple space at MGW, and I even have two other polytheists interested in co-facilitating the project, but I haven’t yet received any clear guidance from Those I serve about it. We will see what happens in the coming months, however. I trust that if They want me at MGW, They will make it possible somehow.) And once I have a more steady income, I plan to start an IDA to help me save for a down payment on a house for the Hermitage.

Funny how much better my life seems to flow when I stop resisting the tide. As a friend has said, when the gods don’t want you to be doing something, They WILL win eventually, no matter what They have to put you through to get Their point across. It’s a lesson I keep learning, again and again, in different ways.

Then, yesterday, through a series of beautiful synchronicities associated with taking up active work on my Rethinking the Job Culture project again, I found a podcast featuring an interview with Ethan Hughes, a man who lives on an experimental homestead in Missouri that is operated completely according to permaculture and gift principles.

It’s very rare for me to listen to podcasts, as I much prefer to take in information via the written word, but somehow I knew I had to listen to this one. The hour was well spent, and the wealth of inspiration I’ve taken from it will fuel my writing for years to come.

Back in the days when I was married and my ex and I bought rural land in BC, Canada (and later near Eugene, OR) to start an intentional community, we were aiming for something similar to what these folks are doing, albeit in a more technologically connected way. This podcast helped me understand, at a much deeper level, why we failed in our attempt. (I don’t talk about those years of my life much, because it’s difficult for me…but in my files I have some writings about them; perhaps someday I will edit and release those writings.)

This is truly a beautiful interview – one of the best I’ve ever heard – and it brought me to tears several times.

If I ever marry again – and I should add that I’ve turned my romantic life completely over to the gods and spirits I serve, for better or for worse – I want it to be to someone who thinks very much like Ethan Hughes.

So, with a giant leap of faith and a deepened level of trust in the gods to provide for my needs, I am now taking my first big steps toward making Community Supported Hermitage a reality.

Coming soon: my Patreon account launch, a new essay on my Rethinking the Job Culture blog, an expansion of my Pinterest boards to reflect more of my artistic vision for the Hermitage, and – if all goes well, and I find sufficient patronage for my writing – more frequent updates on both of my blogs, and regular progress on my book manuscripts.