In trying to put together a Yule Advent Calendar (and mentally block out all the commercial BS!) , I’m looking around at other folks’ practices. Beth like me, enjoys adapting medieval holidays to her own purposes.
Being a god-wife of Odin, she has strong opinions about how Yule should be celebrated!
Beth starts her Yule season with Michaelmas (Sept 29) which she re-names Valfather’s Day, as St. Michael is identified with Woden. Michael is identified with Lugh in Gaelic tradition, and there are some Scottish traditions associated with it, so I will keep it as a Gaelic holiday. I also wouldn’t *think* of starting the Yule season til after Thanksgiving- heck, I insist on waiting til December. American capitalism would have the Christmas season start right after Labor Day!
Then of course there’s Winternights/Samhain,
then Martinmas & Einherjar (Veteran’s Day) on November 11th- Dver has a nice post about her celebration of Martinmas as well. Mariah the semi-pacifist who feels awkward on Vet’s Day likes this idea!
Part 4: December Madness- way more holidays! I’ve always wanted to do St. Lucia’s Day! Who cares if I’m not Swedish!
Old Norse Yule Celebration- Myth & Ritual- very interesting website was recommended by my rune teacher, Kari Tauring. Whoa! Lotta info there! Yule was actually the name of the time between the Winter Solstice and the Jolablot- Winter Sacrifice on Jan. 12th.
Yule Series- Medieval traditions from Dec. 26-Jan 6th (1st 4 days).
Orkneyjar- Yule traditions from the Orkney Isles (Scottish-Norse blend) If I remember correctly, my friend Robert said he was interested in Orkney traditions.
Next I will paste these dates together and we all get to decide which ones we want to celebrate!
Earlier in my post on different categories of ancestors, I mentioned the idea of honoring tutelary spirits and gods of the countries, cities or tribes that one’s ancestors are from, especially if you don’t know much about them or don’t otherwise feel that connected to their culture. Tutelary means guardian- and national personifications in particular tend to be feminine, hence the title of the post.
Ruadhan, a Hellenic Polytheist of British & Irish descent, does this by honoring Britannia & Hibernia, the Roman national personifications of Britain and Ireland. Though they have been adopted by the natives and Hibernia is also various called Eriu, Kathleen ni Houlihan etc. He even wrote a myth explaining their origins.
In another post he notes: “One thing that I regret not posting about this year is my ritual and prayer for my re-envisioning of Shrove Tuesday as Pancake Feast of Britannia and St. Patrick’s Day as Bacon & Cabbage Feast of Hibernia.” I’m always interested in seeing creative polytheist alternatives to St. Patrick’s Day- or for that matter interesting spiritual takes on any secular holiday.
Here’s a list of national personifications from Wikipedia. Oftentimes in Europe, or European colonies they have a name of a Roman province (as above) and are inspired by Athena/Minerva. Some of them are more suitable for honoring than others- especially if they have more character and mythos surrounding them, and are not just symbols. Some of them are more identified with war, nationalism and imperialism. I pretty much just see Uncle Sam as a rather sinister symbol of the U.S. government. Lady Liberty, or Libertas to use her Roman name is honored by American Pagans of many traditions. Columbia, an older national personification has also seen a revival, but there is more controversy surrounding her due to her name and associations with Manifest Destiny. I shall write more of her another time.
There is also often a representation of the ordinary citizen, and one could choose to honor them symbolically for one’s unknown peasant ancestors. I think an even better option is to honor a prominent labor organizer, or other national hero. Cities often have statues of founders or more symbolic characters. I live not far from the Minnesota State Capitol, which is like many capitols adorned with various Greco-Roman style statues. Natural features, such as rivers and mountains have their own spirits. For my own ancestors, as I already mentioned there’s Hibernia & Britannia- there are some who claim that the goddess Brigantia is an earlier antecedent.
For Scotland, there’s Caledonia, Scotia (originally applied to Ireland!) and Jock Tamson (their equivalent of John Bull) I am part German, though I have not been able to trace that part of my ancestry. Germania is the national personification, she doesn’t seem to have much mythos surrounding her. There’s also Berolina (Berlin), Hammonia (Hamburg) and Bavaria (once a country, now a region)
Frau Holle is said to be the mother of the Deitsch people and that is who I’d be most inclined to honor for the Germans- though my ancestors were not Deitsch, they immigrated later on I believe, but I like the Deitsch-American folk traditions.
Cute pic of various national personifications (tried to post here but it was too wide!)
Slate article “Do other countries have their own Uncle Sams?”
Leslie Feinberg, transgender/butch lesbian, multi-issue activist, died a few days ago in Syracuse, NY with hir partner/spouse of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt beside hir. (Leslie identified as non-binary and preferred the pronouns hir and ze) Ze was very much a pioneer, writing the novel Stone Butch Blues in 1993 about hir journey of gender identity exploration. This was back when gay and lesbian issues were barely on the map, politically, let alone trans/genderqueer/non-binary identities!
Leslie saw all oppressions as interconnected, and sincerely fought on many different fronts- a member of the Worker’s World Party- “remember me as a revolutionary communist” were hir last words. Disability rights, the peace movement, anti-racist action along with trans, lesbian, gay and bisexual rights. The gay and lesbian movement all too often has forgotten its radical roots and clung to a white middle-class capitalist agenda, while neglecting to include transgender and bisexual issues. Leslie always knew that the world was far more complex than that- let’s celebrate her legacy and as Mother Jones once said “Mourn the Dead and Fight Like Hell for the Living!”
Transgender Warrior- Leslie’s personal website
Atlantic- Why We Still Need Leslie Feinberg
Worker’s World- Leslie Feinberg- a communist who revolutionized transgender rights by Minnie Bruce Pratt
I read Galina Krasskova’s latest post on Polytheist.com about Resacralizing Our World. As with anything she writes, there’s a lot to take in and think about. I don’t always agree with her, but she does challenge us to think critically about our beliefs and practices. This is probably one of the reasons people have such a strong reaction to her views! Danger! Heathen woman with opinions! Anyhow- this was not really the main topic of her post, but it came up, and I’ve seen her and others discuss it before, the idea than American culture has a dominant Protestant worldview, which frequently gets in the way of spiritual development for polytheists. So I asked her- how does this different from a Catholic worldview?
Do Pagans from Catholic backgrounds have different spiritual approaches than those from Protestant, Jewish or secular backgrounds? I’ve known Pagans who came from the same religious upbringing to develop very different paths, in terms of cultural focus, theology, type of practice etc.
I guess growing up, I just saw Catholicism as being another type of Christianity (which I guess is very Protestant of me- it was “a church” not “The Church”) I grew up in a time when the idea of a Catholic President was once controversial was rather inconceivable, and Jewish people, while not always truly understood, were definitely white*. I was baffled by Catholic feminists and pro-GLBT activist that dutifully kept going to mass. They couldn’t do anything to reform it after all- they could keep writing letters to bishops, patiently waiting and praying for their minds to change, but unlike the Methodist church, they couldn’t vote to send delegates to national conference to make decisions about stuff. Why didn’t they just join the Episcopalians? Indeed some of them do. But it wouldn’t be “The Church”, now would it?
Protestantism also includes a hugely diverse range of sects and denominations. I believe the Protestant worldview she is discussing is a more hard-nosed Biblical sort. The theology of continuous revelation that we find in Unitarian Universalism, our congregationalist cousins, the United Church of Christ (God is Still Speaking) and the Society of Friends is very different. To have a meaningful discussion, we really need to specify *which* Protestant worldview. I plugged it into Google, and mostly have found discussion of “sola scriptura” a la Martin Luther.
Perhaps the best person to ask would be a Catholic, or a former Catholic?
Here’s an Orthodox Christian view contrasted with Protestantism (now Orthodox, that’s even more unfamilar!)
*though Jewish people can be of any ethnic background, I’m referring to pale-skinned Jews who *weren’t* considered “white” in earlier generations.
Replying to yet another great article by Shauna Aura Knight about sexual ethics in Pagan communities: Sexual Initiation, Consent & Rape
Speaking as an ex-cult member myself- I am going to say that I am against sexual initiations (or sex between teachers/clergy and students/laity) period. There was enough authoritarian manipulation from the leader of my group without sex being involved- I shudder to think about what would have happened if it did. Sometimes attraction does happen between students & teachers/clergy (of similar/appropriate ages!) but they need to be responsible adults and hold off on pursuing sex or romance until they are no longer in that power structure. In Minnesota (my state) law therapists and former clients are allowed to date/have sex after a few years of ending their professional relationship, if I am not mistaken. I think we should have a similar ethical standard among our communities, even if we probably couldn’t make it a law. I’m not sure about sex in ritual in general- it should be approached carefully, done for specific reasons (not “just because”) I really think we have swung too far to the anything goes hippie moral relativism and there’s huge range between that and insisting everyone is either strictly monogamously partnered or a Vestal virgin. It’s due to that mentality that we convince ourselves we need to be “tolerant” of people like the Frosts.
I am both a Druid & a Heathen, and while both are fairly broad umbrellas that include many viewpoints, neither cluster of traditions really has much of an emphasis on sex in ritual or magic. Some Heathens & Druids may choose to practice sex magic, especially in relation to ecstatic trance or spirit-work, but on the whole both Druids & Heathens are not really focused on heterosexual polarity or the “God & Goddess as a cosmic battery” in the way Wicca sometimes is. I’d also like to add, that on the whole polytheistic cultures of the past tended to be more sexually conservative than we are now, simply due to lack of reliable contraception, and the high risks of childbirth and infant mortality. Likewise, situational male homosexual behavior often occurred especially among young unmarried men because of the tight control over young women and separation of the sexes*. Mystery cults that focused on ecstasy- whether sexual, drug-induced etc. were sometimes repressed by the dominant social hierarchy for being disruptive to the social order. Witchcraft & Wicca are modern forms of mystery cults/religions, and likewise there are mystery cults and liminal or social/spiritual outsider associated practices within modern polytheistic religions or exist as traditions/religions unto themselves. But on the whole, both Druidry and Heathenry tend to focus more on the practices of the “ordinary” layperson.
(*Note: I am especially thinking about Greek, Roman and Near Eastern cultures here)
So I’ve caught up with letters U, V and W on the Pagan Blog Project. I went over there to add the link for Wandervogels post and saw that they didn’t have any prompts for the letter X. There is also an error that says it’s the second week working with it (Nov. 21st) when it’s the first week. I’m mining the archives for ideas with links to posts. So here are some ideas- if you have any more, add in the comments. To make it easier, I will included words that start with “ex”. And of course if you’re writing in another language, words started with X will turn into other letters. Still counts, in my opinion.
Xenia- hospitality in Greek
Xenophobia/xenophilia- fear of the foreign/love of the foreign- how do these themes pop up in your spiritual path, your community, and how does it relate to your values?
Xena (& Hercules) Inspiring or mostly just annoying?
X-rated as in censorship- of religious or sexual content
X- Chi, the Greek letter
X- the Roman numeral for 10, write about the significance of the number, or a group of 10
X- Gebo, the rune (that’s the shape of the letter, but obviously a different sound!)
X-ing something out, negation, negativity, lack of something
Xeriscaping- landscaping & gardening in a way that reduces or eliminates the need for irrigation to conserve water
Xartus- Proto-Indo-European word roughly meaning “cosmic order” more or less equivalent to the Hindu rta, Norse wyrd (Leithin Cluan/Naomi had a great post on it last year)
Xochiquetzal- Aztec goddess
Xoana- Hellenic wooden statues
Excellence- the ADF motto is “Why not excellence?” for a pop culture spin, you could talk about Bill & Ted’s “Be Excellent to One Another”
Exes Write about your ex-partner, friend, spiritual teacher/clergyperson, religion in a spiritual context.
Extraordinary, Extreme, Exploring/exploration, Existentialism