Exploring My Wandering Uterus

Off and on since I returned from my nine-month stay in Sweden, I’ve been working on writing about pilgrimage. By its nature, writing about pilgrimage is writing about the spiritual — there is no way to get around that, and yet the idea of pilgrimage as related to pagan practice seems relatively…ignored, to put it bluntly. I wrote often about some of the experiences I had while traveling, including  a reflection on the similiarities between a pagan goddess and the Virgin Mary and the experience of attending mass in Sweden, but these only scrape the surface of my experiences in the course of pilgrimage. Because Sweden itself was a pilgrimage for me, and because another, smaller pilgrimage took place during that stay, not to mention because I am a writer and identify deeply with my spiritual practice, it seemed obvious that I would eventually write about those and experiences and what they meant and still mean to me.

Gamla Uppsala panorama
Gamla Uppsala, Sweden, where ancient kings and queens lie buried in mounds adjacent to a church originally built in the 13th century. The mounds stand as testament to the paganism the church did its best to stamp out.

However, as some of you might know, I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a pagan writer. Most of my writing is not pagan in nature, despite the fact that most of my published writing is. So it should come as so surprise when I ran across a call for submissions for an upcoming anthology titled My Wandering Uterus, a collection of stories about traveling as a woman, I just about pooped myself in excitement.

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The experience of pilgrimage may be spiritual in nature, but that doesn’t make it all a spiritually compelling experience — especially when you go about it as foolishly as I did! Practically living on trains, buying only economy tickets to save money, sleeping in the seat or on benches at the station…I don’t know that I would call it harrowing, but I would certainly call it exhausting, not to mention dangerous. The call for My Wandering Uterus gave me an excellent opportunity to reflect on these more immediate, grounded aspects of the spiritual journey of pilgrimage and I was thoroughly delighted to take the opportunity.

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Almost there…

Luckily, I only encountered one situation that ended up carrying any level of true danger (so long as you don’t count walking the winding country road from Seascale to Gosforth, with no shoulder let alone sidewalk and drivers unaccustomed to seeing pedestrians along that stretch). This was also the primary situation in which I found myself acutely aware of my gender, or at least more so than usual. The story I wrote for My Wandering Uterus focuses on this event — an encounter in a train station and an unexpected kinship with fellow travelers.

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Thoroughly exhausted, I finally arrived at my pilgrimage destination in Gosforth, in the UK: a pillar erected in a church yard depicting deities of the old Norse religion, topped with a Christian emblem, a unique artifact of an era in which my pagan and Christian ancestors lived side by side.

The collection should be out any day now, with last-minute proofs happening as I write. Until then, other contributors have began to write about how they came to write for My Wandering Uterus as well, including G. Clark HelleryJessica Marie Baumgartner, and Lisa Wagoner. We can’t wait until the day comes, and we hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed being a part of it!

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