Mallory Speaks

The following poem is under a cut for two reasons: I wanted to explain a bit of context, and there are some trigger warnings associated with its content that my readers should know about.

The spirit Mallory is a being associated with the Otherfaith, a modern polytheistic religion featuring new gods and new spirits. Though I don’t have extra time or spoons in my life right now for devotional practices – perhaps evidenced by my lack of regular updates to this blog recently – I have been helping my friend Aine get the Otherfaith wiki fleshed out. I’m a librarian-in-training and score pretty highly on verbal/linguistic intelligence tests; both of these mean that I love organizing information and making it accessible for myself and others. While I don’t have space right now for prayers and offerings, I do have space for writing wiki pages, analyzing myths, and picking Aine’s brain about all the random minutia involved with the Otherfaith.

I’ve enjoyed getting involved even tangentially because there’s a sense of play and relaxation in understanding the Otherfaith gods that I don’t easily get with other “established” pantheons. At some point I’d like to write about my tangled relationship with The Lore, my gods, and the Pagan/polytheist communities at large. The Otherfaith – being small and new – doesn’t have the same hangups I’ve found with other expressions of my Paganism. Now, one potential downside for myself is that since the Otherfaith is so new, that the direct experience of interacting with gods and spirits seems to be of utmost importance. Despite stylizing myself as a devotional polytheist, I’ve written before on my own troubles hearing/sensing/whatever the gods, including my own Beloved. (Is it because of how I’m wired? Is it because I’m hung up on the idea of “not having a good godphone”? Who knows!)

For me, learning about the Otherfaith has meant reading the myths, curating Pinterest boards for the gods, and playing with mythological fanfiction in my head. Approaching the Otherfaith like a new fandom has done wonders both for my anxiety about “getting it right” and for incorporating these new divine characters into my headspace. I’ve had a few flashes of these deities over the past few weeks: the Dierne, god of pleasure, manifesting as I ate a particularly decadent dessert, and the Clarene, protector of the West and associated with (among other things) medical equipment, who along with Loki kept me calm during my wisdom teeth extraction yesterday. Perhaps this was in recognition of me learning Their myths and thus reaching out to Them; perhaps it’s only in my wishful-thinking head; perhaps that distinction doesn’t matter.

My first contribution to the Otherfaith is a poem for the spirit Mallory. Mallory is an inherently solitary spirit, though I do not think she’d consider herself lonely. She was rejected by her mother Lyra at birth and is connected to the river/goddess Ophelia, known for her melancholy and grief-stricken nature. Mallory’s touch turns all things to death, decay, or rust, and because of this the other beings in the West (the homeland of the Otherfaith) violently reject her. Because of her inherently destructive nature, she’s known as “the calamity of the West” and bides her time in the waters of the Ophelia.

Something that struck me about this spirit’s myths – found here and here – is that Mallory is described as being totally sure of herself. She does not question her own nature, nor does she apologize for it. She does not attempt to be anything other than who she is, exactly. And while her nature is destructive, it is others’ unwillingness to accept Mallory that cause conflict. Death and decay and rot are completely normal parts of life. They are part of the life cycle and without them the world would be overrun with boundless, unchecked growth. Mallory is entropy and rust, the natural breakdown of our bodies after death, the decay that must happen if life is to continue. Things cannot continue as they are now. This is something we must accept with grace and dignity if we are to live life authentically and unafraid. Otherwise we are deluding ourselves and others, and delusion is, at best, a warped mirror through which we view life – and at worst, an excuse to bludgeon reality and those that get in our way for not adhering to our own whim and fancy.

In lieu of all that, I offer the following poem for Mallory. There are trigger warnings for imagery around violence and decay including entomophoba (fear of insects), mysophobia (germs), thanatophobia (dying), necrophobia (dead things), and hemophobia (blood). A lot of these things at one point or another viscerally bother me, so writing this poem was an exercise in confronting that which is discomforting and hard to embrace. Feedback is very, very appreciated! You might also be interested in my Pinterest page for Mallory or her page on the Otherfaith wiki.


mallory speaks

i am not the slime and the rot and the detritus

crumbling between your fingers, seeping into

your skin


i am not the oil slick on cool-dark waters

lapping against bare thighs, setting your

world ablaze


i am not the cry of the eagle at night, caught

unsuspecting in the traps of fae and men to

be devoured


i am not the maggots curled against a hunk of

festering meat, nuzzling rotten chunks like a

mother’s breast


i am not the flesh-eating bacterium, more than

willing to make a home in the curve of your

supple skin


i am not the oxidization of otherwise pure iron

flaking off bits of bloody rust, giving tetanus a

sacred home


i am not the sallow defeat of leaves in autumn

crackling beneath the weight of hope and slowly

fading chlorophyll


i am not the dance of the wind and the rain

offering nothing but erosion in exchange for

one kiss


i am not the paper-thin shreds of memory

clinging to old news like yellowed pages and

waterlogged ink


i am not the worm at the heart of the tower

consuming mindlessly until my own tail tickles

my throat


i am not the bloody handprint in the back hallway

whispering the truth of God’s house; you have

been warned


i am not the conflagration of stars

hurtling from heaven in search of

a fairytale


i am not murky water in your lungs

rising to the surface of your body in

abject surrender


i am not the rod nor the branch forcibly

combining and writhing and snapping again

and again




i am none of these things and yet

how great is my power over you


i am none of these things and yet

how great was the violence against me


i am none of these things and yet

you shudder and wince at my touch


i am none of these things and yet

i will bring this world to ruin


2 thoughts on “Mallory Speaks

  1. Pingback: [Monday] Assorted Links | of the Other People

  2. Pingback: Reading & Re-reading: Mallory | Between Ocean and Hills

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