Gratitude, “Some God” and Mother Rot

The way I see it, there are two kinds of event:

There are things you do yourself.

And there is everything else.

Even when it comes to things that must happen because of cause and effect, the details of those happenings are often heavily influenced by chance. Very little – even simple physical interactions like lifting and dropping – in people’s day to day lives happens in the vacuum chamber of repeatable experiment. There are winds and weather, moods and health levels, imperfections and complications, other people and other things that push most situations outside the level of rational predictability.

And that realm of happenings is the realm of omen and the hands of gods.

Before I admitted to animism and polytheism as the two front wheels of my worldview, I “practiced gratitude”.

I found a quarter on the street? I said thank you. I had an easy day at work? I said thank you. All of my friends happened to be free for the thing I was planning on short notice? I said thank you. Whenever the dice rolled in my favor. I was doing this as a self help exercise. What was important to me was not a relationship with maxwell’s daemon but an attitude that improved my life: to consider good things happening nice surprises rather than to consider good things my due and difficulties the proof of a hostile universe.

It turned out that regardless of my intentions, I was putting myself in a good relationship with the more-than-human world that lives around me.

I usually find a sudden topic change to the Pillars of Western Literature a baseless appeal to the authority of tradition, but bear with me here: In the Iliad, Homer continually depicts his heros interacting with “some god”. “Some god” grants this or that warrior menos (a Heathen would say megin or ásmegin) a welling-up of power that renewed his fight. “Some god” or “some spirit” inspires especially good or bad ideas, sudden recognition or unexpected ignorance. Often the narrative voice recognizes which god does what to whom, but the individuals themselves may not know. Very rarely does that god reveal themselves.

There is “some god” I interact with. I call her Mother Rot. Her image is a girl in a dress with a skeleton face, holding two candles, which like all deity-images is a poor approximation. It is enshrined outside, but she isn’t exactly a land spirit. She isn’t exactly a death spirit, she isn’t exactly a fertility spirit. I came to understand her while contemplating the limits of heterosexual sex as a useful metaphor for vegetable fertility. (protip: it is often totally useless as a metaphor for nonhuman fertility, and props up heterosexuality as “normal” in human culture to boot.)

Mother Rot is … asexual desire. The desire to consume that animates all life. The desire to bring the Other wholly into the self, or to be wholly devoured. The desire to be fueled, the desire to become more, to fruit and flower and transform and move through. She is best represented in mushroom caps, in flyblown meat, in the chichi of ancient ginkgo trees, in mossy bones, in the reproductive act that goes on between the seed of a honey locust and the hind gut of a ranch horse. She is turbulent and all-consuming and terribly strange desire, and at the same time she is powerfully solitary and cryptic virginity.

I answer questions at a resource for new pagans (Pagan101, on Tumblr) and many of the questions are “identification” questions. “I see these symbols, I sense these communications, I have these dreams, who is this god?”

So who is Mother Rot? Is she a particularly generative face of Hela? Sometimes that seems right. Hela shies away from no part of the transformation of body to earth. Is she a particularly cthonic face of Freyja? Sometimes that seems right. Freyja filled the Vanir warriors so full of terrible vitality that their corpses on the field “kicked the ground”.  Could she be a goddess undescribed but named? Could she be Artemis, or Itzpapalotl, or a new deity?

It’s funny because so many parts of my practice are all up in my head, and research-based and carefully thought out, but I just couldn’t care less. It seems like my relationship with this being – some being – is going well. They mesh with my ritual framework and accept my offerings. I am satisfied filling a gap in my symbolic universe. It is nice to look ahead in time and see just infinite understanding out there to come to, infinite mysteries to untangle, piece by piece.  I see the mysteries of this goddess literally everywhere I look right now. Her name is literally the least interesting part of Her, right after her anthropomorphized face.

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3 thoughts on “Gratitude, “Some God” and Mother Rot

  1. I absolutely love the Pagan 101 blog, so much so that I added it to my blogroll. I have some fairly young, new to Paganism readers (I’ve had 13 year olds email me O.o) and I very much appreciate the resource.

    • Iðasfóstri says:

      I am glad! I sometimes worry that I am setting myself up as an Authority in a way I don’t merit, but I feel like I am on rung 2, lending a hand to people getting on rung 1. I had those problems really recently.

      • Yeah,but in many ways that is more helpful, in that 1. you remember what it felt like and 2. teaching helps you learn better yourself. It’s a win-win for all. 😀

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