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A Tale of Two Necklaces
by Lupa
©


Sometimes the best rites of passage are the ones that aren’t planned. Some pagans assume that these rites are things that are stationed along our path at certain intervals, marked by formal ceremonies and celebrations, and ushering in new stages of life to much fanfare. Life has a way of initiating us all on its own, though, and the more we consciously evolve, the more opportunities it hands us.

In the summer of 1997, between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I visited Seattle, Washington for the very first time. I have family up there, and they took me in for a week to show me around the area. It was the first trip I’d ever been on by myself, and the first time I’d ever been to the Pacific Northwest. It was also a life-changing experience.

I’d recently gotten interested in esoteric subjects, though I’d kept it mostly hush-hush. They continued a lifelong fascination with Nature and the spirit that I suspected lay within it. I was also a very creative and artistic person (and still am, at least in my opinion). Coming toSeattle was like finding a little spot of Paradise. Here I was, getting to be relatively independent in a new territory, and I was surrounded by the things I liked. I found a busy, Earth-and-art-friendly city that was full of green spaces, a thriving public market that featured everything from flying fish to crafty vendors, and a wolf sanctuary a little over an hour away. What wasn’t there to love?

Needless to say, I fell hard for Seattle. And I came home with a few souvenirs, the most prized of which was a necklace that I picked up at the Frontier Gallery at theSeattle Center (right in the shadow of the Needle!). The pendant was a small piece of fossilized mammoth ivory scrimshaw. The artist had taken a very sharp craft blade and painstakingly carved a wolf’s face and a full moon on it, then rubbed India ink into the carving to make a lovely design. That necklace, to me, symbolized everything that was perfect about Seattle—using fossilized ivory instead of new, created by a local artisan, and featuring my primary totem, Wolf.

I rarely took that necklace off over the next decade. When I had my student I.D. picture taken the following fall, it hung around my neck, and it was featured in several driver license photos. It became my favorite necklace, and the one that symbolized my connection to Wolf the most. 

Calling Me Home 

Fast-forward to the summer of 2005. I had the opportunity to move wherever I wanted within the United States—and guess where I decided to go? The city that had stolen my heart years ago, and called to me every time I had thought about uprooting myself and moving elsewhere. At the time I lived in Pittsburgh, PA, all the way across the country. I was still wearing that necklace, and in fact I was wearing it 24-7 except when I showered. After I made the decision to move the following March, when my lease was up, it became a symbol of a hopeful future. And I could feel the pull of the city that much more because of it.

Nine months and one fiance-slash-travelling-companion later, I headed across the country in a 17 foot truck towing my car behind it. Was I scared? Who wouldn’t be? But I was excited, too. I enjoyed feeling the energies of the various places we went through—we likedNew Mexico so much we just about stopped there for good. But Seattle continued its call, and so on up the coast we went. I knew once we hit Northern California and got into the mountains that I was heading home.

When we arrived the city was sort of how I remembered it, though I hadn’t remembered there being quite so much traffic! Still, after a couple of months staying with very understanding family, we arranged jobs and a place of our own, and got settled into rediscovering the city that I’d been called to. I knew there was a reason for me to be here—and now was the time to find out what that was. 

And Reality Bites 

Did I mention there was traffic?Seattle is a huge city, and it and the surrounding area contain well over 500,000 people and counting stuck in a narrow strip of land between the Cascades and Puget Sound, spilling across the Sound onto the peninsula. There are only three major highways going north-south, and less than half a dozen going east-west—and
they’re not meant for half a million people!

This was the crux of one of our major issues of living here. Because there was so much traffic, it took us over an hour to get out of the city proper into anything resembling wild areas. Taylor, whom I wed in July of 2006, and I are both rural people at heart. We like the people we meet in the cities, but we need the woods and fields to be truly happy. WhileSeattle has tons of parks, they’re packed with people. The traffic made commuting tough, too—at one point I spent over three hours a day, five days a week, on a bus. We didn’t get to see as much of our friends up there as we wanted, either. And that was just one problem.

Bad things kept happening. The car got broken into, and almost all my CDs were stolen. We ended up taking our car to a mechanic who ended up (we suspect, anyway) sabotaging the vehicle to get more business—less than 70,000 miles, and the car ended up in the shop three times in less than two weeks. While Taylor had a steady contract, I kept getting ditched because the contracts I ended up in were terminated early (though I at least got good references out of the situation).

By the following winter, looking towards 2007, I was seriously beginning to wonder just why I’d come out here. I was miserable, depressed, and wishing I could be in a better situation.Taylor hated the city—he tried to like it, but the love I’d found in this metropolis just wasn’t in him. We began discussing our options. 

Through the Ordeal, and Out the Other End 

I never did give up on Seattle entirely, though. I hadn’t found what I’d felt compelled to find here, and I knew there was something that I couldn’t leave the city without. Call it instinct, call it intuition—heck, call it imagination for all I care. There are few things that I’ve felt so strongly as the idea that there was something here for me that I’d been called to find.

As 2007 began, Taylor and I did a ritual on New Year’s Eve at midnight to divine our options for the year. I saw a lot of work and development ahead of me, though things looked positive if I put in the effort. So amid my depression I began digging into my life, internally and externally, to clean out the excess baggage. I tore through layers of negative conditioning and behavior patterns, and I evaluated my mundane situation—job, resume, home life, hobbies, etc. I spent months figuring out what was causing me stress, and how best to deal with these things.

It wasn’t a particularly fun experience. I ran up against some nasty tangles in my mind that I thought I’d never sort out, and I spent entirely too much time being a rather unpleasant person to be around as I sorted through all this baggage. I’ll spare you the details, but needless to say I came out of the winter of 2006-7 sore.

But it was more than worth it. I learned a lot about myself, and I got a lot of unnecessary stuff out of my life. I rid myself of bad habits, and became aware of issues I hadn’t realized before. As spring arrived, slowly but surely, I began to recover both physically and otherwise. The main turning point was after Daylight Savings Time ended and I was able to enjoy more sunlight; my mood improved exponentially. Along with it I saw a lot of other positive changes in my life, and I knew that the ordeal was just about through.

And at the heart of it all was Seattle, with the necklace pulling me deeper into it even as part of me yearned to flee. The city had provided me with just the right experiences to teach me the lessons I needed to learn. Of course, you could just chalk it up to chance and coincidence. But that wouldn’t be in line with the mythos I’m creating, would it? And who’s to say that “chances” aren’t at least partly orchestrated by the Powers That Be—including the Genius Locii of a city? I find it much more spiritually fulfilling to believe that it wasn’t just coincidence, and the result is that I feel a lot more positive about my experience. 

The Changing of the Guard 

Even after this learning experience, though, I still hadn’t felt like I’d found what I’d come here for. It was important, to be sure, that I went through all that. But the feeling of need persisted. As spring continued on in its warmth,Taylor and I made the decision to relocate to Portland,Oregon, a smaller city that still had a lot of the same things we liked about Seattle, only in smaller doses. And three hours away, too—not such a bad distance for visiting.

As the time for relocation grew closer, I felt some anxiety. Once again we were moving without jobs in hand, and weren’t quite sure what we were getting ourselves into. But the move felt right, and once again we trusted our intuition. Sure enough, just as I’d start really worrying, we’d get a sign that maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all—we found out that the other half of the duplex that some of our friends lived in just happened to be going up for rent right before we were scheduled to move down. Then I got a job interview and a few more leads. Things were looking good for our adventure slightly southward.

One of the last things I did in preparation was to bus around the downtownSeattle area to enjoy some of my favorite places once more. After hitting up Pike Place market, I continued to theSeattle Center. I stopped in the Frontier Gallery for a peek at their scrimshaw, just as I had almost a decade ago. I’d been there a few months before to inquire about my necklace. The ink had faded almost entirely away, and all I could see were the wolf’s eyes, ears and nose, and a faint outline of the moon. Could they perhaps fix it for me, renew the design?

Sadly, the answer was no. I’d worn that piece of ivory for so long that it was fairly soaked in my skin oils. It would have to be entirely sanded down and recarved from scratch. Neither I nor the necklace wanted that—even the lady who owned the shop said that it was full of my energy.

I was undecided as to whether to replace the necklace, or just do what I could to care for it. I tried putting some clearcoat on it to preserve what was left of the ink, but it just didn’t feel right. Still, I continued to wear the necklace, including on the day I walked into the shop, just to take a peek.

As I approached the glass cases where the scrimshaw was kept, I scanned the pieces for wolves. I saw bears and lynx, owls and roses—and wolves. One in particular caught my eye, a ruddy wolf peeking out from a field of dark green. The price tag was a bit steeper than I had expected, but the work was lovely, and quite worth it. Still, I decided to wait. I could always come back up and visit from Portland, right? And if that one wasn’t there, there’d be others.

I walked away that day, but the image of that particular piece stuck in my head. A couple of weeks later, I talked to Taylor about it. Rather, I simply stated, “I want to go to that shop and replace my necklace before we leave Seattle”.  He wisely didn’t fight me about it!

Instead, today we went back to the gallery amid other errands. It took a bit of searching, and enlistingTaylor’s help, but we found that wolf again, hiding in the green—hiding so well, in fact, that we almost didn’t find him.

The purchase was made, and I walked out to the patch of green grass right outside the shop. I made myself comfortable, and called on the spirit ofSeattle.  I thanked it for its time, and it assured me that I was welcome back any time I liked—there’s always be a place for me.

Then I took off the old necklace, and I thanked it for its companionship and protection over the years, and for helping me to get back to the place I’d fallen in love with. It felt tired, and old—ten years is a long time in wolf years. As I unclipped it and placed it in the box the new necklace had come in, I could almost hear a sigh of relief and relaxation as a decade of intense magic came to a close. Time to let that old wolf retire in style on my altar.

Then I turned to the new wolf necklace, sitting in my lap. “Are you quite sure you want to do this?” I asked. “After all, you see what the past decade did to HIM”. I think if that new wolf could have leapt out of my hands and around my neck he would have, and I felt a definite sense of “Yes” as I fastened it and let the pendant dangle against my chest.

And right at that moment I knew—I’d found exactly what I’d come here for.

No, it wasn’t just the necklace. If  I’d wanted a necklace I could have bought one online. It was the rite of passage that drew me. The experiences I’d had between the move toSeattle, and the moment I put on the new necklace, had brought me through a formative point in my life. There were good things and not so good things, but they had all come out for the best in the end. And as I changed necklaces, so I closed that stage of my life, and opened myself to the next. I walked away from Seattle Center fully confident in the future, and no longer doubting the decisions I’d made.

 As I type this tonight, the new necklace wraps around my neck, warm and comforting against my skin. I still haven’t gotten quite used to it, and I’m still not quite used to the idea that in just a couple of weeks we’ll be en route to our new home. But it’s proof to me of what I’ve been through, and why I work magic and allow it in my life. Sure, you could argue that these were just a bunch of unconnected events. But the meaning that I have invested in them gives me strength, and that has what has helped me to actually learn and grow from them. I have paid close attention to what’s happened, and I have become a better person because of it; not perfect, perhaps, but I’m still working on that.

To Taylor, to Wolf, and to Seattle—thank you for this rite of passage, and thank you for seeing me through.
Here’s to another great decade. 

Lupa is a twenty-something pagan and experimental magician living in Seattle . Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin (March ’07) and Kink Magic: Sex Magic Beyond Vanilla (with Taylor, November ’07). Her website is http://www.thegreenwolf.com .