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.