Nine years ago, I relocated to California. Some months ago, I came back to the regions of my birth and upbringing. There was no great plan in this, beyond the acknowledgement that it was time: I had known for some years that I would be returning to the Northeast “soon”, and that I would know when the time had arrived. And it did. And I did. And here I am.
In leaving California I burned my Temple to ash in a multi-day ritual of fasting and sacrifice and labor, loaded the shrine fixtures, ritual tools and stockpiles of supplies — and just under five-thousand pounds of boxed books — into shipping containers and sent them on their way. I loaded my sacred relics, shrines, icons and vessels — as well as a dozen Temple serpents and an African raven — into a big purple Dodge Ram Van, and set out for many thousands of miles of driving. Along for the ride was a good friend, ally and kinsman — who also happens to be a sword-swinging priest of the Morrigan and founding member of the Coru Cathubodua — and a host of spirits who kept us on our toes, guarded and guided as we made the (at times quite sleepy) crawl across the continent.
I arrived first in Eastern Connecticut, where I was to stay in offered housing through the coldest of the Winter, and over a period of weeks fell quickly into a cycle of profound and engaging rituals across a span of hundreds of miles and a half dozen states. I did work for clients and community, I did work and service for my gods (and the gods of others!) and I forged new, deep alliances with fellow priests, religionists and spirit-workers along the way. New family was found and relations kindled, as I spent some time underground in deeply personal transformative rites. And then I came back to Connecticut and found the situation there changed suddenly, and a new plan and direction required. Shaken from ritual ordeal, I called in favors from beloved and reliable allies, got my sacred serpentine family safely relocated, and once more hit the road, this time with no clear destination in mind.
And so began what has been dubbed my “Thracian Exodus”. I have no “home base”. I have no Temple. My serpents are housed in a warm subterranean space with ample heat and locks on the doors, and I visit them frequently for care and handling. My raven son — who will turn three this April — rides with me in my van, which has been dubbed the “Thracian Mystery Machine” (but is formally known as Orphnivanos), as we caravan across this land. We were in Western Massachusetts for the first frost of the year, and the Hudson Valley of New York for the first snow of our year (my first in nine years, my raven’s first ever!), and then on up into a Denny’s parking lot in Northern New Hampshire for Hobbit-themed honeyed breakfast items and free Wi-Fi. Hospitality has been warmly offered throughout the areas we travel through, and the hydraulic bed of my van (clad in a few dozen sheep-skins and warm blankets) has been put to good use.
Being without a proper home is not a challenge for me, beyond the absence of a warm shower, even in this cold. Traveling comes easy to me, as I am a son of the wind; but I am also a Temple priest, and absent my Temple, I have an alarming, flighty sense of loss. Some days this is a dull ache, a loneliness of place, as I find within myself the continued impulse to tend fires, shrines and sanctuaries no longer of this world. Other days it is a staggering blow that leaves me reeling, flailing for purchase as I find only moving anchors unhooked from the earth. On those days I keep my heavy boots on, tied tight, and remind myself that there is yet stone and cave beneath foot, and it was the Will of my gods that Their Temple burn, that I could rebuild it elsewhere and elsewhen.
Unsurprising I have more contact with others, socially and professionally, now than I did some months ago in California. The life of a Temple priest is one that does not provide much space for socializing; my “days off” were few and far between (if indeed they existed at all) and my devotions were long, regular, and deeply demanding of all that I had to offer.
Being back amongst the world is… interesting.
It carries challenges. But I am fond of challenges, and interesting challenges most of all.
I do not know where I will be tomorrow, or the day after that; within the next few days I must venture back to my serpents and provide them with warm meals and tender affection. I will then use that time as an opportunity to check in on some family, chop firewood for their hearth.
After that I will spend an evening with sacred flame and offering at the central sites of my religious cultus, wherethrough my gods tore themselves into this world so many years ago, to pluck me up from the oak forests of youth and bloody me against the rocks of faith and devotion.
There are no calendars on this journey, no markers or halfway points. There are people. There are roads. There are cold ales and warm stouts and hot coffees and there is good, soulful discourse.
I do not know where I am going, but I am working hard on learning exactly where I am, at each step, as I learn new ways of looking at the blessings in this world, and from all of the others.