Posts tagged ‘ancestors’

Topics in Polytheism: Race/Ethnicity

Topics in Polytheism #7 Race/Ethnicity

First view: Neither ethnicity nor “race” are important in polytheism, because religion is a matter of spirit and practice and toleration

Second view: “Race” is not so much a social construct as a reality, and therefore necessary in polytheism. Ethnicity is less important and reliable, because it can change or overlap.

Balanced view: “Race” is a rather useless word, but ethnicity is an indispensable concept in polytheism that needs to be redefined* in today’s troubled, modernized and global world.

To begin with not all forms of polytheism are based around a specific culture or ethnic group.  There are newer polytheist religions like the Otherfaith and the Fellowship of the Phoenix which have their own pantheons.

One can also be a polytheist within many different religions and philosophies that include different theologies such as: Wicca, Thelema, Discordianism, Unitarian Universalism, ADF Druidry, Revival Druidry, Core Shamanism, the women’s spirituality/Goddess movement and theistic Satanism/Luciferianism. In addition to of course, un-interrupted polytheisms-  indigenous Asian, African, North & South American religions/spiritual traditions. The so-called “polytheist movement” or “polytheist community” doesn’t always reflect this, making it seem as though all polytheists in the “Western” cultural sphere are reconstructionists, revivalists or traditionalists of some type. We need to be careful to say what we really mean when we say polytheist, who are we including or excluding? I find conversations with polytheists from other culturally focused traditions very illuminating, but I also enjoy conversations with polytheistic Wiccans, Druids, Thelemites etc. Of course many of us have multiple affiliations and spiritual/cultural identities. That’s one of the great things about polytheism, after all! 

For those of us drawn to culturally based religions I would tend between the first view and the third view. Rather than ethnic ancestry however, I would define it more by cultural upbringing since many of us are far removed from the cultures of our ethnic ancestors, if indeed we even know who they are. Certain people (typically some folkish Heathens) are prone to claim Heathenry or Asatru as pan-European and the label “Celtic” is often defined so loosely that anything vaguely resembling nature spirituality regardless of cultural or historic origin gets lumped in. I know many people who have made a serious effort to connect with traditions that they have ancestral connections to, or believe they have connections to with not much success, while instead stumbling across a connection to cultural tradition that they are not related to. Some of these people were later able to more easily connect with their roots after exploring another, non-ancestral tradition either temporarily or in addition to their ancestral tradition. Many people also honor their own ancestors within their adopted tradition- indeed it is often a requirement of their tradition!

The ancestry doesn’t matter at all stance goes too far. I’ve seen some polytheists become so concerned about racism and nationalism that they discouraged even mentioning or honoring ancestors as part of their practice. In particular I recall a Heathen group in Austria that had that policy– they didn’t honor ancestors in their rituals. That is going way too far. Veneration of ancestors and the dead is key component of any traditional cultural polytheism, and I also think it’s important in other forms of polytheism, simply because we’re all human, we don’t live a long time, and remembering our past and where we come from either by familial or adoptive descent or other kinds of lineage is key part in knowing who we are. In fact, I believe that instinct is the most basic ingredient of religious reverence, we can see it in our Neanderthal cousins, as well as intelligent species such as elephants. Another Pagan, NeoWayland has a unique take that some might find more approachable. Here’s another post I’ve written about different types of ancestors.

 

July 19, 2018 at 8:03 am 2 comments

Things Other White People Tell Me

They tell me, if I work in solidarity with people of color, and try to educate myself to unlearn the racism I have been taught, that I must be motivated by white guilt.

They tell me if I criticize what other white people say, that I must hate myself- my skin, my “culture”, “heritage”, “people”. They don’t specify what they mean by those things. Apparently I share their culture, am one of their people, just based on my skin color…

They tell me that immigrants are coming to destroy “our” way of life, religion, culture, take “our” jobs. They forget all the same things were said about their ancestors.

They tell me Black, brown, Asian people are more homophobic and sexist- it’s just “their culture” what do you expect. While most of the laws made to oppress queer people and women are made by white (purportedly straight) men. Clearly we need to invade those other countries so we can civilize them and bring them feminism, or atheism, or capitalism or Christianity. Because that would be progress.

They ask why study other languages, because English is clearly the best one, immigrants all need to learn English. They forget how long their German or other ancestors kept speaking their languages. They forget some of my ancestors stopped speaking their native language, being force-taught “superior English” before even coming to this country.

They tell me that “white genocide” is apparently a problem I should be worried about, forgetting that some of my ancestors survived genocide- whether they were considered “white” or not at the time.

They worry about me riding the bus and walking in certain neighborhoods, in spite of the fact that a white cis (non-trans) woman is less likely to be attacked than a woman or man of color.

They want to keep out Syrian and other Muslim refugees to protect white women like me. That’s why the Klan was formed, why countless Black men were hung. To protect white women. I am more likely to be abused or attacked by white men- simply due to who is in my social circle, and who I tend to date. If that happens, though I suppose their concern for me will disappear, how was I dressed, did I have a proper escort.

I am also told that I need protection from the trans women who need to use the bathroom. In spite of the fact that I’ve experienced far more bullying from other white cis girls, because I wasn’t feminine enough, my teenage autistic awkwardness sticking out. I learned that there were many ways to be a woman from trans women, from women of color, from non-binary and genderqueer folks. The same people making these bathroom laws also oppose anti-bullying laws. Who are they actually protecting?

February 29, 2016 at 2:27 am Leave a comment

Culture-Based Religions

Culture-based religions are often otherwise called ethnic, tribal or indigenous religions- all those terms have more limited connotations, hence why I came up with a more general one.  The label of “folk religion” is also sometimes thrown in with these by anthropologists, though that is a little different, so I’ll treat that separately. Individuals or groups who practice culture-based religions may or may not identify with the word Pagan, especially if they belong to a (more or less) continuous living tradition.

A culture-based religion can be contrasted with a universalist religion– which typically has a prophet, or series of prophets and claims to have a moral code & message for all of humanity- such as  Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Bahai’ism. Strictly speaking, we can’t really divide all religions perfectly into either category- for one, universalist religions are of course, influenced by the cultures from which they originate, though they tend to adapt themselves- and often syncretize (combine) with culture-based religions. For example, Shinto in Japan is quite seamlessly syncretized with Buddhism, so much so that Japanese people often don’t label themselves as being Buddhist or Shinto(ist). They just *do* Buddhist and Shinto-related practices.

That there is the clincher. The religion is an inseparable part of the culture- to the point where if there is a word for the religion, it’s often one invented in response to foreign missionaries- frequently with a meaning like “The Kami Way” (in the case of Shinto) or Old Custom (Forn Sidr- Danish) “traditions of our people” and so forth. Just as the word people call themselves in their own language simply means “People”, “People of the Mountain/River” etc.

To join a culture-based religion, one typically needs to be ritually adopted into the culture, if possible, or otherwise immerse themselves as they can into the culture. I have seen some people divide culture-based religions into “closed” and “open” traditions- and while that does help people understand that they can’t join anything they want to, I believe it’s an oversimplification. We’re not talking about joining or converting to any specific religion at this point, we are merely exploring and learning.

When newcomers enter the Pagan community, they often ask for suggestions on which tradition or pantheon they might start out with exploring. In the United States, Canada, Australia and other multicultural colonized countries, people are often told “Start with the traditions of your ancestors”. After a lot of observing of other folks journeys as well as my own, I actually recommend against that advice. Why? Because culture is more important than ancestry. Honoring ones’ ancestral roots is certainly an important part of many traditions, it’s not that I’m discouraging. But we are often very disconnected from the cultures of our ancestors. If it is our calling we can certainly make the effort to re-connect. But to begin with- I would look again at those questions I asked in my previous post- what aspects of culture were you raised with? What other cultures are you familiar with?

For myself- I was raised by college-educated liberal parents, multiple generations removed from my mixed British Isles ancestry- so fairly conventional mainline Protestant American culture, with its various holidays (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Independence Day) I was always interested in learning the origins of holiday customs, and read up on all of them, as well as any fairy tales and mythology books I could get my paws on. I came to identify more with my Irish heritage, and have been studying the language, history and culture, Druidry and Celtic Reconstructionism. However, I have to admit that this has been a somewhat artificial process- all a choice on my part. I wasn’t raised with much in the way of Irish culture, other than with an awareness of being Irish, some knowledge of history of the Potato Famine, “No Irish Need Apply” signs and so forth. Lately, I’ve been pondering more about how to incorporate my mixed cultural influences- I don’t mean so much by ancestry, but more by environment. I talk with Druids from across the pond, in Britain and there are various things that strike me about our cultural differences- a lot them simply being- who the heck would I be, even as a “white” culturally Protestant American, without influences of Eastern European Jewish, African-American and many other cultures? I don’t belong to any those cultures, but I carry pieces of them with me.

What is culture? It’s all the stuff you take for granted. This is the way we do things of course! Any other way would be weird or rude or just “not feel right”! Most of it is less visible than all the things we point to when we’re trying to be multicultural (holidays, food, music).

May 16, 2015 at 8:36 am 6 comments

Umoja- Unity

The first of the Nguzo Saba (7 Principles) of Kwanzaa is Umoja, Unity. The central black candle on the kinara is lit, representing all Black people around the world.  Umoja is about finding commonality and empathy among the diverse cultures and peoples of Africa and the African/Black Diaspora.

The Umoja, unity cup is used to pour libations as offerings to the ancestors. Now that is certainly a tradition I recognize- it is common not only in traditional African cultures, but in European and Asian spiritual traditions as well. I would recommend find a cup or chalice that is of good quality, that is either neutral looking or has African decorative motifs. Using a family heirloom that can serve as a vessel would also be suitable. For the libations, use water or fruit juice. If your ancestry is only African simply by virtue of being human, honor historic or more recently deceased people of African descent, and another suggestion is you can honor Mitochondrial Eve, a woman who lived in or near Ethiopia about 200,000 years ago that biologists say all current humans are descended from.

Here in the Twin Cities, we have many immigrants from Ethiopia, Somalia, Liberia, Ghana and other lands, people from Jamaica, Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean as well as folks whose families came to this continent longer ago than some of my ancestors did. Since their connection to Africa is rather distant, and it’s hard to tell which nations they are descended from (though modern DNA tests make that somewhat easier) many prefer to call themselves Black or Black American rather than African-American.

My father, a former NAACP activist, fastidiously uses the label African-American, but after attending a mostly African-American high school, it seems like an out-of-place white liberal affectation than an authentic identity. Immigrants from various lands identify with the country they are from- often even more so the nation (tribe) since the borders drawn up by colonial European powers completely disregarded cultural territories. So with this cultural gap in experience between the long-time American-dwelling descendants of slaves and more recent refugees and seekers of economic opportunity- do they have anything more in common than any other group of native-born and non-native-born Americans? I can’t really say, since I belong to neither group.

But part of my interest in Kwanzaa is due to also being a member of a diasporan people- the Irish and the Scottish, or the Celtic peoples more broadly. Though I have not yet traveled back to the Isles, I suspect my experience will be in some respects similar to the lady in the article above writing of her travels to Kenya- a feeling of home-coming, yet feeling like that sense of belonging should be there more than it actually is. I know Europeans and people of many other lands often roll their eyes at visiting Americans and Canadians who proudly recite a list of fractions of ethnic ancestry that they claim- a quarter Greek, an eighth Norwegian, another quarter Scottish. They don’t care- we’re just Americans! Upon hearing that we crumple, wondering what we can claim as our own. Whether kidnapped and sold as slaves, dumped as the unwanted poor and colonized bastards of Europe, indentured servant, sharecropper or factory worker alike, now we awkwardly apologize for our presence come each Columbus Day or stubbornly insist on a  fable of melting pots and rugged individualism.

I think when a diasporan and a native son or daughter can both find humility in themselves and admit that their experiences and perceptions of their culture are not the only valid ones, and that they are open to other ways of seeing, hearing, tasting, worshiping, singing and dancing, then we will find Umoja.

December 30, 2014 at 12:07 am Leave a comment

Thomas Morton Day

So here’s my proposed Pagan “spin” on Thanksgiving- honor Thomas Morton, the renegade Puritan got fed up with all the rules of Plymouth colony and started his own- Merrymount, who made buddies with the Indians and erected a Maypole, and recited poetry about (or to!) Roman and Greek gods. I’m sure none of ya learned about him in grade school! Now in high school you may have read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story about these events. Somehow I got thru high school without reading much in the way of “The Canon” be it American or European. Obviously May Day is an even better time!

As with the Romantic Pan-worshippers, it’s a little hard to tell if Thomas was truly a pagan revivalist, or simply engaging in pagan cultural references for shock value. He was a liberal Christian, though heretical by Puritan standards (not that took much!) Still I think he is a worthy spiritual ancestor for American Pagans, and perhaps English ones as well. He was an advocate for indentured servants’ rights (or rather their freedom!) and argued that the Indians were indeed human beings, not savages as the Puritans viewed them. Morton was sent back to London for his heresies. He wrote New English Canaan, a book about his experiences in the colonies. The name “Canaan” makes me wonder if he also saw America as a “promised land” like the Puritans, or perhaps was he identifying with the polytheistic people of Canaan who were conquered by the Hebrews?

Ways to Celebrate-

*Raise a toast to Thomas Morton, his followers and Indian friends (he mentions enjoying Irish whiskey & scotch!)

*Read the poem and song (just wish we had the tune)

*Honor Gods/Spirits mentioned in the poem- Amphitrite, Neptune/Poseidon,  Triton, Cupid/Eros, Asclepius, Proteus (Dionysus- not directly mentioned, but these folks loved to drink!)

“A happy footnote to the history of Merry Mount/Merrymount (Morton spelled it both ways) is that the community at Mt. Wollaston (later renamed Braintree, then Quincy) continued to be associated with rebels and freethinkers for many years after Morton was forced out. In 1636, Anne Hutchinson and her husband William settled there upon arriving from England. (Anne was an “Antinomian” who asserted that God could speak directly to the individual through inspiration, and not through the Bible alone as the Puritans insisted.) Goody Cole, the Witch of Hampton, first settled there at the same time as the Hutchinsons. Later, John Hancock was born there, and the great-grandfather of John Quincy Adams owned the Mt. Wollaston farm in the early 1700s.”- from the Pagan Pilgrim article, below.

The Pagan Pilgrim: Thomas Morton of Merrymount

Making Sense of the Merrymount Debacle

November 26, 2014 at 11:56 pm 1 comment

Transgender Rite of Ancestor Elevation

Reposted from here– Some people have been having trouble reading with the background, (not sure if there are any accessibility probs for people using screenreaders?) Not sure if I am participating (guess I better make up my mind quick though!) Regardless, I do plan on going to a Transgender Remembrance Day event on the 20th, I’m sure there are probably some at the area’s rainbow flag waving churches.

“This is a ritual to honor the transgender dead.

Ancestor elevation, in the words of polytheist scholar and ancestor worker Galina Krasskova, “is a sacred practice that is done to help the soul of a dead family member who was troubled or angry or depressed in life, perhaps doing harmful things to themselves or others, perhaps never able to live a happy life due to their own inner demons…. In doing an elevation for a particular ancestor, we are engaging in ancestral healing, in cleansing a tiny bit of mess, blockage, pain, strain, hurt from that particular line.” [1, p. 50]  We have adapted her suggested ancestor elevation ritual format to elevate our transgender ancestors, those who came with us and before us, those who survived struggles and violence and hardships, as well as those who didn’t survive them. There is incredible pain and rage in the ranks of the transgender dead – we the living can understand it all too well. We seek to help relieve the suffering that persists after death, and to offer back to those who gave so much so that we could simply exist today. We elevate our ancestors out of the miasma that clings to them. We hope to bring them healing and peace.

The format of the ritual is as follows: for nine consecutive days, beginning on November 12 and concluding on the Trans Day of Remembrance, participants will set out a candle and a glass of clean drinking water on an ancestor altar, and then read a series of prayers offered to the dead. That, plus the physical raising of the altar itself to counterpoint the spiritual raising of our ancestors, is the basic framework within which we will be working.

In subsequent posts, we will discuss the altar itself, a more specific step-by-step ritual format, and the prayers that we will be using. Follow this blog for updates as the date of the rite approaches.
Thank you for joining us in honoring our beloved transgender dead. ”

[1] Krasskova, Galina. Honoring the Ancestors: A Basic Guide. Sanngetall Press, 2014.

November 13, 2014 at 4:03 am 1 comment

Ancestor Calendar

Here’s a list of dates for honoring ancestors year round- it’s started out very U.S. based, but is a work in progress. It is quite open and adaptable to people of any religion (or none) Starting after Samhain- it’s the Celtic New Year (or Witch’s New Year) Important Note: As you explore history, please make sure to sort out who is dead and who is still living! Some of the Mighty Dead honored below have spouses or friends who are living, and they too can be honored with a toast, but offerings and ancestor shrines should only hold images and symbols of the dead. If you honor people of other cultures and religions, please be sure to check what customs and traditions are appropriate and respectful.

11th November- Remembrance Day (U.K., British Commonwealth) in honor of service members who died in World War I (Personally I think civilian casualties should also be honored) This is also Veteran’s Day in the U.S. is to honor still living service members. Still, even in the U.S. this would be a day for remembering World War I. Called Einerjar in Asatru, Martinmas or St. Martin’s Day

12th November- Beginning of Transgender Rite of Ancestor Elevation

20th November– Transgender Day of Remembrance (International)  Day to remember transgender people who were murdered- or took their own lives due to the pressures of a society that did not understand them. It was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. Find local events here

4th Thursday of November- Thomas Morton Day– a Pagan take on Thanksgiving (U.S.) in honor of a man who rebelled against the strict laws of the Puritans, founded his own colony & erected a Maypole!

3rd Monday in January- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (also called Human Rights Day in Idaho, and Civil Rights Day in Arizona) A day to honor civil rights activists in general, MLK was awesome but many others do not get enough credit: Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, Malcolm X,  Rosa Parks has her own day on Feb. 4th

27th January-  Holocaust Remembrance Day (International) This is the most broadly observed, here is a list of other Holocaust Memorial Days in different countries, notably Yom HaShoah in Israel & the Jewish diaspora

4th February- Rosa Parks Day, could also be a day to honor contributions of women to the civil rights movement, and Black/African Diasporan women in general.

15th February Susan B. Anthony Day (U.S.) Hmm, this may also be a good alternative to Valentine’s Day! My birthday is the day after!

3rd Monday in February– George Washington’s birthday/President’s Day (properly the 22nd) As I discussed in another post, I do not honor presidents or First Ladies who were involved in slavery (owning or trading) or Indian genocide. However, I know many other Americans will continue to do so, often with justifications that “he was a product of his time” and “our country wouldn’t be what it is without so and so”. As an alternative, I propose that we honor the slaves of these presidents, more research has been uncovered about them, we know some of their names, and after all, so many things that made this country what it is, are owed to human beings who were owned and unpaid for their work. It’s about time we gave them some credit!

1st March- Day of Mourning (International)- for people with disabilities killed (or died due to neglect or abuse) by their caregivers. A time to read the names of individuals who were killed, recognize their humanity and educate the public about how these murders are often depicted in the media.

8th March- International Women’s Day- I think this is meant more as a day to promote issues of concern to women around the world rather than women of the past, but I added it to give an international option. This is another day with hidden socialist origins!

31st March- Cesar Chavez Day (California & other states) – he was a migrant farm worker who became a labor organizer and a great hero to Chicanos/Mexican-Americans. There’s a movement to make it a national holiday– Pres. Obama is in support. You could also add any other Mexican or Mexican-Americans that you find admirable.

1st May- Labor Day in many countries around the world- in the U.S. because we’re scared of its socialist associations, we observe it in September. A great day to honor labor organizers, reformers and other rabble-rousers, as well as regular workers, both living and dead.

2nd Sunday in May- Mother’s Day (U.S.) A day to honor mothers, biological or adoptive, living and dead, and other female relatives and ancestresses. Interestingly, an early effort to establish Mother’s Day in the U.S. was connected with women’s peace groups that united mothers who had lost sons on both sides of the Civil War.  Mother’s Days around the world listed here.

22nd May- Harvey Milk Day (California, other states) in honor of Harvey Milk, a leader of the gay rights movement, and others- Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society, Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Del Martin and other founders & activists in the Daughters of Bilitis, an early lesbian organization

4th Mon in May- Memorial Day (U.S.) – originally  for the Civil War, this now includes all war dead. At one time it was just for Union dead, and so there is a Confederate Memorial Day in some Southern states in January. Traditional beginning of summer, celebrated with picnics, barbecues- why not invite the Dead along? It used to be a tradition to have picnics in cemeteries.

3rd Sunday in June- Father’s Day (U.S.) A day to honor fathers, biological or adoptive, living and dead, and other male relatives and ancestors. Dates around the world here.

27th June- Helen Keller Day– in both her honor and that of other disability rights activists

26th August- Equality Day (U.S.) celebrating when women won the right to vote in the U.S. in 1920– a time to honor suffrage activists and later feminists.

1st Mon in September- (Capitalist) Labor Day (U.S.) Another day to honor workers and labor organizers, both living and dead.  Traditional end of summer, celebrated with more picnics and barbecues.

Sunday after Labor Day Grandparents Day (U.S.) A day to honor grandparents and great-grandparents, biological or adoptive, living and dead. In fact the founders of the holiday encourage youth to “adopt” grandparents. Dates around the world here.

25th October Paul & Sheila Wellstone Day– this is not official, even in Minnesota, but many progressives here and across the land will remember the terrible day a plane crashed carrying Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia and staffers Tom Lapic, Mary McEvoy, and Will McLaughlin. To me this is of great personal importance as after finding out while in college, I decided to be a political science major and dedicate my life to political activism. There’s a great organization which I linked to above, Wellstone Action, which teaches community organizing using Paul’s campaign techniques.

November 8, 2014 at 8:14 am 2 comments

Call for Submissions- More Book Projects

Columbia: A Devotional for the Spirits of America– 

Call for submissions for Columbia: A Devotional for the Spirits of America, edited by Literata. Submissions open 1 May 2014 and close 1 February 2015, with a projected release date of May 2015. Submissions may include, but are not limited to, scholarly articles, poetry, short fiction, retellings or original translations of stories and texts, artwork, and rituals related to the goddess Columbia and her aspects, as well the many American spirits of place.
 
This goddess goes by many names: Columbia, Libertas, America, and more. She is the American spirit, both a personification of the country and the goddess of the land itself. She has myriad aspects and has been represented in varying ways over the years; each of us may see her differently depending on how we experience America, from the details of the dirt beneath our feet to the high-flying ideals we hold dear. How have you encountered Columbia? How have you worked with her, and what does she mean to you? Do you see Columbia, Libertas and America as aspects of a single different, or as different Deities? Do you see ancient antecedents for Columbia in such goddesses as Athena, Minerva, Roma, and others? How does Columbia relate to other national spirits such as Britannia and Marianne? What are some of the most memorable or unusual or transformative pieces of artwork — especially in public spaces — depicting Columbia that you have encountered? 
 
Devotional for Njord– ed. Nornoriel Lokason

“Of all of the devotionals on the market for different gods and goddesses of the Northern tradition, I have yet to see one specifically dedicated exclusively to Njord, the sea god of the Vanir… a god particularly close to my heart, who has long been dear to me.  His serenity and his wisdom, his generosity, kindness, and gentle humor, have blessed my life over the years.  He has given me and my family gifts of cleansing, renewal, and hope this past year at the Oregon coast, where his presence is powerful; in gratitude, I am stepping up to the plate to put out a devotional book in his honor, a gift of praise, and a way for others to know him and love him.

For this book I am soliciting prayers, poetry, essays on Njord (especially personal experiences with him), and rituals for Njord.  You may make more than one submission – please feel free to submit as much material as you like. This book – The Giving God: a devotional for Njord – will be going out via Ravens Hall Press (Nicanthiel Hrafnhild’s imprint, which released Visions of Vanaheim and will be taking the other three books in my Vanaheim series), with an estimated release date of July/August 2015.  The deadline for submissions is May 1st, 2015.”

Beloved Dead Devotional ed. Camilla Laurentina

Submissions open August 7th, 2014 and close February 28th, 2015.

The intention of this devotional is to build a source book of modern meditations, hymns, prayers, and other resources for death workers working in our greater community. All Pagan and Polytheist traditions are welcome and encouraged to submit to this project.

Submissions should fall into one of three categories: Vigil of the Dying, For the Recently Deceased, and Funerary Tools. They may include, but are not limited to meditations, poems, hymns, prayers, original retellings of myths, rituals, and scholarly articles with a focus on historical practices within one’s tradition. Artwork is also welcome and encouraged with a preference for pieces that are easily reproduced in black and white.

Click each link for more info! 

August 28, 2014 at 6:15 am 1 comment

Favorite “M” Pagan Blog Project Posts

Catching up on some major backlog!

Holidays

Midsummer’s Light– Magickal Pen- lovely poem and reflection on the Solstice!

Deities/Spirits

Mara & Modesty– Book of Mirrors- one of things I enjoy about PBP is all the different perspectives- this person worships Mara, a goddess from the Skyrim video game universe. This may seem silly but if you read it, you can see the sincerity and devotion she feels. (Note: there’s also a Latvian goddess by that name, not sure if there’s a connection..)

Mother Nature– Blue Crow- comparative myth & commentary about earth mother figures- I liked this comment: “Note to all you people who called our earth Gaia: that’s the Greek pantheon. Why pick one name out of the air and use it to name our living world, yet give no consideration to the rest of the Greek deities?  You aren’t Greek, you aren’t in ancient times, you don’t follow those gods and goddesses, so why? New agers, pfft! It’s all very well having a varied path, finding pieces of many threads to weave your own path but come on! If you’re going to make things up, why not call Her Sheila or another name lol?  Or how about just Mum?”

Meretseger– Fluid Morality writes about a lesser known Egyptian cobra goddess

Multiple Gods with the Same Focus– Kylara’s Musings

Morning Glory Zell: America’s Priestess– Book of the Eucalypt- a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman!

Male Familiars in Disney Films– Hedged Paths- I suppose it’s debate-able how “pagan” this really is, but the Disney geek in me couldn’t resist!

Sacred Objects, Symbols etc.

Masks– Kylara’s Musings- nice little essay on the uses and meanings of masks, Broom with a View also writes about masks.

Moldavite– Super-Duper Space Witch- interesting info about a stone I’ve never heard of!

Traditions

What is a Mystery Religion? the Broom Closet explains

Masonry/Co-Masonry– Set-jataset Masonry actually reminds me a lot of UUism, though with more mysticism and ritual. So if you’re a UU looking for a mystery tradition, that’s one way to go. “On a personal level, members are encouraged to raise their personal value without dogma and as a whole, members are encouraged to unite together to converse about theosophy and spirituality whilst respecting each other’s personal differences.” Also founders of this particular order were involved in French women’s suffrage!

Practices

Moontime– In Librarius Venefica- While I’ve never been especially interested personally in the spiritual aspects of menstruation, I’m all for finding more positive ways of viewing/experiencing it!

Morning Ritual– Book of the Eucalypt I always find it interesting to see regional variations on the directions.

Mandrake & Bear– Love by the Moon- poetic writing about experiences with Mandrake ointment

Minimalism– Serpent’s Labyrinth- after painful experiences of losing many of his spiritual items, Nornoriel learns to make do with very little.

M is Not for Muggle, Experiential Pagan and Kitchen Witch Musings both write on this. Honestly I’ve used that term jokingly, and I’ve seen other folks do so as well, but I haven’t really seen people seriously use it. Technically I am a Muggle, not being a magic-user! Now, I could see using it for non-Harry Potter fans…

Motivation– Fluid Morality

August 1, 2014 at 10:01 pm 1 comment

No, Thanks: Gods/Heroes I Avoid

One important thing to realize about polytheism is- you don’t have to worship all the Gods of a particular pantheon- or Heroes or Ancestors. Or even certain Nature Spirits- certainly I’ve already given the mosquito enough blood sacrifices! This has been hard for me, because there certain deities that are regarded as So Important and popular that I felt there must be something wrong with me and my attitude. I think we are all drawn to different gods for different reasons, and we need to respect that, and its also important to revisit those reasons now and again, our relationships with gods as with humans change, begin and end and wax and wane.

The Morrigan– the Irish goddess or complex of goddesses of battle and sovereignty. She’s super-popular, I am always seeing people discussing their powerful relationship with Her, the strength she inspires in them. I’m not surprised that she’s popular- people are looking for a strong female role model and woman warrior, and they find it in her, from mere artistic inspiration, psychological archetype, to intense devotion as a priest/ess. She is also one of the most well-attested goddesses in Irish literature who plays a major role in the myths. But reading myths about the Morrigan does not inspire worship or devotion in me. This is a powerful being who revels in the death & destruction of war. Why on Earth would I want to worship that?  I finally felt better about this after reading John Machate’s post about why he does not worship Her. John in a long-time Celtic Recon, and follows a warrior/Fenian path, and a U.S. Air Force veteran.  He’s no fluff bunny, and he has actually experienced war- which is exactly he’s not among Her worshipers.

Zeus– I’ve long had an interest in Greek mythology and religion (since I was a child- guess how I started down this path!)  But Mr. Must Fertilize All Beautiful Women (with or without consent) has been an impediment to exploring that interest further. I decided to anyway, figuring maybe I was too stuck on modern biases but I think it’s understandable for feminists or gender egalitarians (whatever) to have a hang-up on Zeus, and a lot of other Greek gods. I feel like Hellenic polytheists tend to be way to dismissive of these concerns, and assume that anyone who has them is just Z Budapest with their head filled with Edith Hamilton. I’ve been realizing however that I am really a Northern European creature, not a Mediterranean one- and by that I don’t necessarily mean ancestry- that’s part of it, but it’s mostly I get this Not My Tribe feeling from Greek and Italian culture- whether ancient or modern. It’s interesting, and I enjoy learning about it, and maybe participating in a ritual when I have the opportunity, and it’s possible the Theoi still do have a place in my life, but it will be in a different cultural context. Perhaps kind of the reverse of what the blogger at Golden Trail (name of human?) is doing with his Romanized cult of Ingvi-Freyr.

I like Sunweaver’s take on Zeus here.

Founding Fathers/Presidents who were Slave-Owners/Indian massacre-ists etc. 

I’ve talked in the past about honoring Founding Fathers (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson et al.) as Ancestors of Place, as part of an American Hero/Ancestor cultus. I think we need to acknowledge and be honest about our history, however painful and uncomfortable that maybe.  Honoring historical people does mean realizing that they were people and so were imperfect, a product of their time and sometimes made bad decisions. This is the usual justification for why will still honor leaders who were slave-owners, who ordered the murder and conquest of Indians, and various other Definitely Not OK things. I think we can do better. We can acknowledge that yes, this people Did Important Stuff, but there are other people that led better moral examples that Did Important Stuff too. People we often forget about, who don’t have buildings and holidays named after them or their faces on dollar bills. The Ekklesia Antinou- a community devoted to Antinous, the deified lover of Emperor Hadrian- has a good model of honoring Sancti- which is too complex for me to re-explain- so go read what the good Doctor has to say about it!  Galina Krasskova also has a great list of Pagan & Heathen Heroes & Martyrs– both ancient and contemporary.

Who are your heroes and ancestors? (by blood or spirit)

July 12, 2014 at 9:08 am 2 comments


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