Not Fleeing But Seeking; Also, Ending Up Where?

(Tongue-In-Cheek Warning: This is about the Pagan/Polytheist split thing.  If you’re sick of hearing about it, keep moving).

This post by John Halstead was interesting (and it’s not just because I get so tired of hearing Heathens accuse each other of being Christian).  I think there is something to what he is saying.

I’ve often been confused by Pagans who share memes and sentiments amounting to things like “all religions are bad” and “people who believe in God/s are stupid”.  I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it for a while now, and frankly, this article does put some of it in perspective.  The idea that a lot of Pagans are moving away from the –theism portion of their previous faiths may go a long way towards explaining not only that, but the insistence that Paganism is not “religion” but “spirituality”, the oft-repeated statements of “Nature is my temple” (it’s one of my temples, too, but that’s a bit beside the point here), the wincing that one sees when one suggests the Gods are other than elaborate metaphor, that everything should be made up as we go along… if you’re a regular reader of mine, you know I don’t really agree with those sentiments, but I can understand where they may be coming from if people are coming to Pagan paths as a rejection.

I don’t think that it’s accurate for every self-titled Pagan though; it’s certainly not for me.  What drove me away from the faith that I was mostly raised in was a combination of things: being told that some members of my family’s lives could be forfeit if they didn’t accept the same faith (this was especially painful with my grandmother, who was a good woman), or that they would be condemned to an eternity of agony for disagreeing, the fact that someone who is as queer as I am had no place in the faith and the best I could hope for was a life of self-flagellating repression, and countless other things.  Mind you, I recognize that there  are many of that faith that argue that those things are not doctrine or correct.

What drew me towards Paganism was a love of the mystical and magical and a love of the Gods who I had loved as a child.  I’ve told the story a thousand times: when I was a kid I found a copy of the Choose Your Own Adventure book “The Trumpet of Terror”, which is set in ancient Scandanavia and you, the main character, belongs to a family touched by Odin, and you’re called on to aid in a touchy matter involving none other than Gullveig.  The names of the Gods and powers in that book ignited my blood, sang in my bones, captured my imagination and would not let go.  Likewise, when my mother bought a huge map of the solar system for me I asked her what the planets were named after and got an education on the Roman Gods.  Thereafter I tried to set up altars and worship without really knowing how.  I followed my mother into her new faith when I was a still wee one, but I never lost my appreciation of the faith and Gods that felt natural to me, despite trying to accept the idea that they were all demons trying to deceive us.

Leaving behind the old faith was hard, but not because I believed in its absolute correctness, more because of old habits and fears.  While I was walking into Paganism (specifically Wicca at the time) for years I felt a series of sensations like fishhooks attached to wires being pulled out of my spine, sometimes as bunches, sometimes one at a time, and reckoned it the connections to the God I once worshiped being pulled free, or me pulling free of them as I strove towards the path that made more sense to me.

I am not sure which Goddess it was that replied when I called to “The Goddess” or “The Lady” though I have some guesses (I never felt to comfortable with The God, frankly, and not because the God of my former faith was “male” – despite the pronouns used it was made clear to me at an early age that that they were neither male nor female, so I never thought of them as such).  I wasn’t running from religion, nor was I running from the idea of One God – I was fine with that as a Wiccan, all was the Goddess, and I thought of the various deities as Her many faces.  It was neither the mono- nor the -theism that took me away from my old faith nor the lack of one or the other that drew me to the new one.

When I started being Pagan, I started finding a lot of prejudices and what I considered harmful beliefs, but they didn’t drive me away from Paganism (although, to be honest, they had me on the run from Heathenry specifically for a good long while)  I decided to stay and make a difference by being myself and being Pagan (as I’ve decided to with Heathenry).  I stayed because the beliefs by and large resonated with me and because the practical aspects of that belief and my working within it have been beneficial.  I stayed because if I didn’t, my voice wouldn’t be contributing to it and changing it.

Which brings me back around to the article above.  Should Polytheism and Paganism split apart (if that’s even entirely possible)?  Should Polytheists remain a part of the larger Pagan movement and continue to add our voices to it?  I know there are plenty of folks on both side of that question who would be happier if we didn’t.  A voice within me says that that’s not in my hands, but I know better.  It’s in my hands, it’s in John’s hands, it’s in the hands of everyone in the larger movement that we’re attached to.  We all collectively are the “movement”.  This Pagan movement consists of people, and most of them aren’t loud mouths like myself and other bloggers and authors, they’re folks living it and not acting as mouthpieces for their egos, their Gods, or their causes.  Ultimately that’s what all that recent talk about Pagan laity has been about on some level, right?  The folks who just want to live their paths and faiths?

There are folks like me, who are Polytheists and still identify as Pagan – I straddle both identities, and I have to say I’m stretching in places that I’m not used to stretching as a result of this debate.  Part of me thinks that Polytheists would be better off moving away from Paganism, but the fact is there are lots of Wiccans and Eclectic Pagans who are still Polytheists.  They still believe in many Gods, that they are separate entities, and that they exist outside of our heads (though there are surely parts of them that live within us, too).

Is the question of identity more about Reconstruction and Recon-derived practices?  There may something to that – a lot of Heathens don’t want to be associated with Paganism because they associate modern Paganism with folks with no interest in reconnecting to the faiths of the past.  That is surely not applicable in all cases, or even most for all I know.  A lot of Wiccans still believe that they are connecting to an ancient faith-way and for all I know they very well could be, scholarship aside.  Who am I to say whether or not some ancient prehistoric Mother Goddess or Goddesses are whispering in the receptive ears of modern folk?  That aside, reconstruction that begins with scholarship is different from totally channeled spirituality in a number of ways, despite the fact that all lore was once UPG.

As time goes on I don’t know where I belong.  My times at Brushwood went from free-wheeling, firedance-happy Eclectic Pagan to Polytheist ADF gatherings and Heathen Woo-Woo Bootcamp.  I spent less time at the bonfire and more time at the Runestead, less time partying and more time worshipping, practicing, and studying. I found more fulfillment in that than I had in just smoking pot, drinking, and dancing around a bonfire.  It wasn’t what everyone was there for, even among the Pagans who attended.  I was still welcome at the fire and the public rituals; no one treated me as a weirdo for being who I was.  In other words, despite being a practicing Polytheist, the other Pagans didn’t try and make me feel unwelcome.

I don’t know the answer.  I do know that many of us aren’t running away, but running towards, not fleeing, but seeking.  Regular readers will know that I’m fascinated with identity and the borders of it and its composition.  This particular discussion is important to me, and it may be important to many of you as well.  How we approach this will shape generations to come; even if our names and specific words are forgotten, the ripples we set in motion will continue to build and change the face of things.  While I do believe that honoring the Gods is important for a variety of different reasons, I also think that our social and cultural movements are important too.  Would it benefit both Recon-based Polytheism and modern Paganism for there to be a definite split in our movements?  Would it harm either?  What will we be leaving for generations to come?  We all sense the rumblings and have felt and seen these divisions, and it’s up to us to encourage or discourage them as we see fit.  What do you think?

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Modern Ancestors

Those who I know who walk these paths and ones parallel will receive appropriate treatment.  Fellow Pagans and Polytheists who I have a connection to or respect will have their names recited at rites, offerings poured to them, blessings given to them, aid asked for from them.  They will be introduced to those I meet, and their words relayed, whenever possible and with care and context.  They will be fed and celebrated and remembered, prayed for and reached out to.  Death will not separate us from them.

I have seen the Dead empowered, and it is a wondeful thing.  I don’t know if I will formalize this with an oath, and I don’t know if we can or should create a roll of the dead from among our communities, but this is a commitment I want to make.  If we want our traditions to continue and have meaning, we have to offer their roots.

I will consider making it or similar words an oath, based on the Lady’s guidance and that of the Ancestors.  All of us should be honored after death in a way that strengthens our spirits and helps us find the guidance to the realms we belong in.

Invocation to Freyja, Lady of Passion and Power

Hail to Freyja,

Lady of Passion, Lady of Power.

(pause)

Hail to Freyja, cat-chariot riding!

Hail to Freyja, in passion abiding!

Hail to Freyja, in red-gold lust screaming!

Hail to Freyja, in deep seidh-trance dreaming!

Hail to Freyja, on falcon wings flying!

Hail to Freyja, on Dwarven bed sighing!

Hail to Mardoll, in brightness and beauty!

Hail Blotgydja, in Her sacred duty!

Hail to Freyja, in passion and power!

Hail to Freyja, bright Vanaheim’s flower!

(pause)

Hail, Freyja, Vanadis, and be welcome!

My Pantheacon Submission Got Accepted!

I’ll be running an event at Pantheacon called, “Many Tribes, Many Practices“.  This will be my first time at Pantheacon, and my first time running an event for a gathering of Heathens that I don’t (mostly) already know!  I’m terrified and excited!

The descripton:

Different tribes have different practices and beliefs. While the Heathen community may be tied together by our fascination with Northern European history, culture and mythology, there are deep rifts within our community that only seem to grow with time. In this moderated open discussion we will explore how we may establish peaceful dialogue between the different tribes that make up the Heathen community. People of Color and LGBT persons are encouraged to attend.

I hope to see you there! (If this is applicable to you or you’re interested, of course!)

Other things I’m excited about:

Patricia Lafayllve’s A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Ritual and Seidhr: A History

Ember Cooke’s Four Thrones in Vanaheim

Max Dashu’s Seidstaffs of the Volvur: Excavating Norse Womens’ Ways

Diana Paxson’s: God of the Rainbow Bridge: Encountering Heimdall

Gender Diverse Pagans: Inclusivity or Hospitality (So excited about this one)

Cara Freyasdaughter’s Facets of Freya Ritual (Of course!)

Golden Gate Kindred’s: Lokasenna

Silence Maestas’s: Advancing Devotional Practice

… am I going to have time to breathe?  Am I going to be able to stand up afterwards?  This is only about half of the events I’m excited about, folks.  It should be affordable, too!  I’m really looking forward to it!

Announcement and Request for Submissions!

I am working on a compilation of queer and trans people regarding experiences with Freyja in regards to their sexuality and/or gender identities (Current working title: Freyja Over the Rainbow – I’m taking suggestions for that too).  There is a lot of emphasis on the Lady with regards to heterosexuality and cisgender perspectives, and I know from both personal experience and many, many discussions that I’ve had that I’m not the only one that the Lady has encouraged in exploration and sovereignty over their own sexuality and gender.

The submissions may be of any length, need to be professionally written (I can do minor editing to clean up any spelling or grammatical errors, but I will confirm with you before publishing), and have no requirements of knowledge of Lore or particular background.  The only requirements are that they be genuine and come from the heart.

So please, reblog or signal boost if you can.  Also, please contribute to what may be an empowering and affirming project for many queer and trans folks!  Email me at laine delaney 919 at gmail if you want to discuss privately or have a submission that you’d like to send in!  I’m currently looking at a six month deadline of May 19th, 2016!

Fear of Freyja

Due to recent experiences of mine and other people that I know I’ve been thinking about this. I posted this to my Tumblr and the Facebook group for Freyja devotees (Virtual Sessrumnir).  Let me know your thoughts if you know the Lady (or maybe if you don’t and there’s a reason for that).  Also, as a special tip to Freyjasfolk, check out the amazing devotional necklace for Freyja, named Rose Warrior, that Seb Lokason has made. Get it quick, and if you really like me get it for me, my birthday is coming up 😉

After I was drawn into Her embrace more directly this year and while I was still bright-eyed and bedazzled, I had a series of experiences that felt like the Lady showing me aspects of Herself that I wasn’t so comfortable with. Lady of the Slain, a Goddess of Death, a Goddess who values tears regardless of their reason (though She may weep alongside you), a Goddess of passion and all that entails, even the bloody and terrifying.

As a Goddess of death, she’s helped me to deal with my fear of speaking to the dead and honoring the Ancestors. As a Goddess of conflict she’s taught me to be proud of the battles that I fight every day. As a Goddess of passion, she’s taught me to fan the flames of my own passions and not reject them, even if they make me uncomfortable (though I suspect I’m a work in progress there – it’s those things that get me in the most arguments with Her).

So many people just see the brightness, and how can you not? She’s the desire of the Nine Worlds and bears the brightest jewel. She is Power and Passion and Beauty and Strength and Magic (and cats, of course, always cats). So bedazzled are folks by her most obvious aspects that they often fail to see what some might call her darker side. I don’t like that kind of false binary distinction, so I simply consider those parts of her the aspects that I am less comfortable with because of the cultures that I was raised in.

They are there nevertheless, and She would not be as powerful and complex and admirable a Goddess were She without them. They are part and parcel of the whole of Her, discomfiting and frightening though they may be even (or perhaps especially) to those who love Her.

So I’ll ask you: what are the aspects of Freyja that make you uncomfortable? What things does she embody that make you step back or shy away? What parts make you nervous? (They won’t all be the same aspects; for instance I know people who are very uncomfortable with Her uncompromising sexuality, and anti-capitalists that are put off by her role as a Goddess of wealth and gold). Has She ever frightened you? Has She forced you to face and deal with those parts of Her? If so, how did you react and what did you learn from the experience?

Apologies

My post from the other day struck a lot of chords for people.  Some people responded well and identified with it.  Some folks disagreed with it vehemently.  Some folks (and there were a few of them) called me out on the hypocrisy of writing a post talking poorly of a person I didn’t know because of me calling out bully culture and shame culture in the first place.  They were right, of course.

I’m sorry that I let old scars get in the way of better judgement.  I’m sorry that I used my voice to harm someone who didn’t deserve it.  You can disagree with someone’s ideas without speaking ill of them, and you can stand up for yourself without knocking other people down, and I’ve failed on both counts tonight.

I’m posting here his response to me, for my readers to see.  I don’t agree with a lot of it, but that doesn’t mean that I should have spoken ill of this person.  The only point that I want to address here for the record is that I have not referred the the Troth as racist – I said that I was conflicted about joining because it is an organization that does a lot of good, but while it has an anti-racist stance they do nothing to disavow Folkishness, and my readers know my opinion of that.  (I’m also including Isa’s invitation to Nebraska Heathens United below as well; check them out it you’re interested).

Here in it’s entirety is Naf’s response to me:

Let me counter, paragraph by paragraph, your rant and attack upon me without credible evidence or logic. If you do not share this, relax, I will share it on my own sites with the original and a link to your blog post here.
Paragraph One: I am by far the least xenophobic, paranoid outsider you will ever meet, if you ever meet me. My reasons for feeling uncomfortable there had nothing to do with being around Pagans – some of my best and closest friends were there with me at their own tent, and joined me often to talk. I met a lady who practiced Romanov and we discussed Slavic and Baltic variations of reconstructionism. In general, Galina Krasskova is disliked because she presents ideas not found in the lore, and injects her own unconfirmed gnosis and bias into Heathenry. One of my closest friends feels drawn to some of the ideas presented in her books, but is immediately turned off by her ramblings and other ideas. Raven Kaldera and his ‘Northern Tradition Paganism’ is, in my opinion, as Heathen as ‘50 Shades of Grey’ is BDSM. Reconstructionist Heathens – my only issue with them is outsiders mistake them for us, and us for them. Otherwise, no real issue on who they choose to honor. The issue is, they are not Heathen by definition, have not been, nor will they ever be with their ideas and practices. It is collaborated personal gnosis based on ideas from Heathenry, and nothing more. They are not the first to do this and, I am certain, not the last.
For the first 10 years of my Heathenry, I was stuck on following the CPG (collaborated personal gnosis) of another person and the group he created. Of course, you would only know this if you had the right copy of the specific book, with a certain essay, that was printed for only a limited time. To his credit, he doesn’t claim he, or his group, is Heathen, but rather he “exists on the outside nurturing its growth.” I can respect him still, even though, spiritually, he left me confused and frustrated before I discovered what Heathenry is really about (clue: it is not in a book or online but you will find it my conclusion).
Paragraph 2: I have shared horns with Heathens, Wiccans, Druids, Native Americans, Buddhist, Christians, Jews – should I go on? That is fine if you wish to go Rokkatru, I have a close friend who help us start our organization who finds comfort in the Jotuns. Though for their own reasons, still doesn’t follow Raven and Galina’s ideas beyond that!
Paragraph 3:We have no hate for you. There is no trademark on the gods, as much as some of my fellow Heathens seem to want to think there is. I believe the unreasoning fear, distrust and paranoia is coming from your end.
Paragraph 4: Never heard of the site. Aside from new research and exchange of ideas, I do not much look too deeply at Heathen things online, as Heathenry doesn’t exist there. Some of my Wiccan friends feel the same about their religion. I also argue that we are not a true ‘shame culture,’ as the context of that term was written to describe the difference between Japanese and American culture after World War 2 (source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chrysanthemum_and_the_Sword). The application of Japanese Shame Culture without the application of Japanese Etiquette is is completely counterproductive to the idea. If you had read my whole article, you would understand I know quite a bit about Japanese culture as well. We are more of a “reputation and worth” culture. Something I push every now and then, as I will not take shame from anyone outside my kin, and I know my actions and words reflect upon them as well. We are currently within the Heathen world, seeing the results of a bad reputation leading to a possible outcome (in many ways a perfect example of Wyrd and Orlog).
“Fuck your bully culture.”
Online, Heathenry appears to have a bully culture for sure. However, if you find my words to be ‘aggressive’ and that of a bully, then I am sorry to say you have no means of comprehending the real world. My talk was based on facts – nothing more. I believe, in reality, you are doing what you say you do not care for.
Paragraph 5: Did not feel out of place at all, I felt welcomed and had a good time. It was the rage of the keyboard vikings I didn’t want to deal with, as well as my personal emphasis on doing things right and my own conduct as a diplomat for my worldview, extended tribe and Kindred. Under normal circumstances, I care little for the vitriol of some random 0’s and 1’s projecting through a light emitting diode, but sadly the mob mentality seems to get a hold of people, and, as a favorite author and podcaster is titling his new book, we have become ‘Civilized to Death’. Not sure what the other items you are trying to imply mean. In actuality, I defend UPG constantly. We all have it, regardless of how staunch of a reconstructionist you are. It isn’t just spiritual practices that makes UPG, but life experiences in general. We are a culmination of our deeds, and the trials and tribulations we go through in life. However, as to the rest of your feelings, that is your UPG; you can have it. It is not rooted in the Lore. Struluson is at best a * when it comes to the sources, as he was not Heathen himself at the time he wrote the Eddas and attempted to tie them to Homer’s Odyssey.
“Maybe I’ll just have to be all right with that. Maybe I’m okay with being a bad Heathen.”
The only bad Heathens, to my mind, are those who use the gods and symbols of our ancestors to promote hate and violence. Otherwise, the concept of good and bad are not inherent in my opinion of the Heathen worldview.
Paragraph 7 and 8 – Your sarcasm was nearly missed, until I reached the 8th – the reason I do attempt to avoid using sarcasm when writing online, as subtext and context is often missed. In person, I sound and act a lot different. Context is clear. Wit is witnessable, and laughs can be shared. As far as a holy text, you are correct; we don’t have a holy text. We have a source of information based on academic research, cultural observation, and attempts to preserve stories written of the gods and folk heros. These works collectively make up the lore, and are where we get our information on how our ancestors interacted, how they viewed our gods in their specific way, in their specific land. That is what we are trying to reconstruct – the lens through which our ancestors looked upon the world. The sun will always rise in the east, and the sun will always set in the west. The lore is the lore, and only through extensive research and review does it change. However with that statement, I too at times, am tired of seeing the same book slapped up someone’s head as if it was scripture, and witnessed how some in the Heathen worldview have not given up their need for some sort of scripture to cite.
Paragraph 9 – Again, you show no comprehension for the words I wrote; I am starting to believe you will not understand these. I was not there to convert. I was not there feeling out of place at all. I was actually requested to speak of Heathenry by hosts and have many times for other groups, such as the Order of the Red Grail. I think I went over that already and I would rather not beat a dead horse until it is a grease stain and tufts of fur (that is what is called a joke, as it is an exaggeration on a common American Idiom). I am fine with Pagans and Heathens being together – my point was to show there is so much variation to Heathenry that to stuff us into an already large umbrella is inappropriate at best and confusing at worst. Though we are very similar, we deal with the same issues more often than not (our reactions are often different it seems). Therefore, instead of it being JUST Paganism and JUST Heathenry, the two work together and should be referred to as Paganism and Heathenry, as again, American culture loves to drop everything to categories. My hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, must be very lucky to have several Heathens and Pagans who understand this, appreciate our unique differences and get along. I wish this could be the case everywhere; sadly, it is often not.
Paragraph 10 – I am not Folkish, but I know those who are. They are not racist at all. Just prefer to keep things ‘Nordic’. There does seem to be various levels of this attitude and at a certain point, like any idea, goes too far and enters into the realm of racism. However, if you prefer to keep things Folkish for yourself, that is fine. For me, the Gods and ancestors have been neglected so long, any worship, honoring or praising they receive would be welcomed by anyone. Otherwise, the rest of your words there seem to come off as a tangent I cannot make sense of. I believe you are referring my fiance – a love you will never understand – who is often my jest to counter what others say of Heathens being racists. I have defended this view the whole time I worked in a prison, where the FBI listed us a security threat group, and, though amended later by Heathens, it was up to various departments to update their training. Being in the second notch of the bible belt (that is a metaphor), they conveniently forget to update this. My miscegenation makes me the #1 target of the radical Wotansvolk types. If you do not know what the above word means, here is a wikipedia for you:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscegenation
Paragraph 11 – Again you seem to be going on a tangent that does not make sense, and I cannot tell if it is sarcasm as I cannot hear your actual voice and the inflection of your words. This is why only data is appropriate to exchange while online, at least typed. We do have audio and video, I suppose, but what good is that for documentation? We only maintain average of 8% to 15% of what we see and hear on video or audio. I know this, as I have been trained in my careers to teach other people skills, knowledges and methods to save their own lives, keep themselves safe, and protect themselves.
Paragraph 12 – Again you make assumptions that truly show zero comprehension of my words. I am sounding like a broken record. The only real approach I advocate to the Heathen worldview is the reconstructionist world view while online. We all have our own UPG, or Woo-woo, but the sources of information and facts should remain verifiable. That way, any deviation can be recognized as what is: not from the Lore. Our local regional group encourages everyone to share their experiences and their opinions. However, to do so online is very tacky. It is like filming yourself having sex – you will find it great, you partner will find it great, others will may like it too, but many may find it disturbing or gross.
Paragraph 13 – I honestly got nothing.
Paragraph 14 – Possibly, possibly not; my words still stand. I may think I should have covered this more or that more, or gone into this subject. Otherwise, I doubt it.
“Hail Loki! (Sorry, Lady, I had to).”
“Loki then enters the hall of Ægir after trading insults and threats with Eldir. A hush falls. Loki calls upon the rules of hospitality, demanding a seat and ale. Bragi then responds that he is unwelcome. Loki demands fulfillment of an ancient oath sworn with Odin that they should drink together. Odin asked his son Vidar to make a space for Loki.” Lokasenna – Stanza 10
So, Hail Óðinn!

You have given a perfect example of why a verifiable source is required for Heathenry to grow from (think: seed), and also why many Heathens have utter disregard and contempt for Pagans, Wiccans and Norse Pagans. I do not know if you are Heathen, and, honestly, I do not care. You are not in my tribe; you are not of the people I see in my daily life; you are not from my area; you are not a contributor to the worldview. You’re just some person with a spot on the freckled ass of the world wide web™. You took nothing from my article but what you wished to take for your own vitriol towards a person standing up and trying to build a bridge between two different groups of people who have been lumped into the same category together and fight like cats and dogs. I am a bit taken aback, as the backlash of my statements is coming from the Pagan side and not the Heathen side, which tends to be more of a tough crowd to please, and even the vicarious have nothing much to say other than “I would have said this instead”. If you wish to have an actual dialog, my tribe and group have a site – you can contact me there; you can add me on Facebook. I have added many others who have strongly disagreed with me and have had many exchanges of ideas. My tribe has Heathens, Norse Pagans, and people who stand over the line between the two, and I know the vicious hardliner Heathens elsewhere would scoff at our inclusion of them. YetI have Frith with them, and they of me. I have learned and grown more in my worldview with other Heathens, and, yes, Wiccans and Pagans have helped tremendously too. I have helped them, as well – I would raise a shield to their back and ward off the entire world if I had to, and, later, raise a horn of mead to honor them and boast their deeds. I would hope you would have those who would do the same for you. If you come into a room and tell me you’re the godspouse of Loki and have an open relationship with Skadi, I will not laugh at you, but I will not defend you either. You will just isolate yourself without any worth to give weight to your words. You will also make me, and other Heathens, look like fools and I cannot abide by that other than to say, you are not one of us. Hence, the reconstruction method is the seed from which all Heathenry grows, and is the best way to understand our ancestral ways and why they did what they did.
To ladyimbrium she witnessed nothing, as she was not there.
To caelesti I am sorry you saw that, I agree many of the groups seem to forget our ancestors said little to nothing of those we identify as LBGT, or of ‘other tribes’ as race is a construct of modernization.
“He expresses a hatred for members of Northern Tradition Paganism, claims that reconstruction method is the only proper way to Heathen, and makes some pretty big claims about folks. “
I do not hate them, they are just not Heathen. Period. Just as a house cat is not a species of canine but are also considered domesticated. Reconstruction method is the only way to define and solidify Heathenry and protect it from exploitation of radical groups. Some of their ideas expressed can be harmful to vulnerable adults as well. The young lady with their book said she wanted to learn more of Heathenry, and had those books, so I politely corrected the misinterpretation.
“I’m part of a growing body of people who are getting tired of having people tell us that we’re bad Heathens or not Heathens at all for disagreeing with their interpretations of Lore and material or having different social values. You can dislike us all you want to, but we’re not going away. Germanic culture and worship was not uniform, and Heathenry isn’t either.”
If you follow Northern Tradition Paganism, then by your own admission, you are not Heathen. That is ok. We Heathens enjoy arguing the lore and sources. Sometimes it goes too far and, lately, it has a bit. Your last line there is the most correct and accurate statement I have seen you write, and it is why we at Nebraska Heathens United work on regional version of Heathenry based on the seasons and agriculture of our area, much like our ancestors did. The way Thor is viewed here is much different than in California, Sweden, Norway, etc. Make your own voice in NTP stronger and distinct from Heathenry and other Pagans, but not so loud you drown out all others who are not of a like mind.
“I do admit that I have problems assuming goodwill in some cases, and I may have done so here. My words were harsh and vitriolic. It comes of years of being told that I’m not Heathen enough for one reason or another by people who claim to have the cornerstone on this identity. The only person who I’m apologizing here to is Molly, but I did discuss this and share it with her ahead of time, and she encouraged me to post it despite my own misgivings.”
I am working very, very, very hard on being diplomatic and polite with others – something the Keyboard vikings have forgotten. They seem to think snark = smart, and end up sounding and looking like nerds making fun of dorks. Now, I may have had some bite in my reply to you, but you did attack my character, so I felt it was my place to defend myself.
“In a lot of cases a person’s words online do not well reflect how they behave in person, but not having met him in person all I have to go on is what he’s said in the article, and I’m not going to apologize for my genuine reaction to it.”
Which is preciously why I do not care for blogs or blogging on this topic, but I do enjoy a well-written and well-cited essay. I am new to this whole “writing a blog on this subject.” I do not plan on doing it often and, as you can tell by just a reply, I do not think I would be good at the daily grind of making sure I had content to share, as it takes a lot of time to make sure my words are chosen well and my message is clear.
I saw elsewhere you calling the Troth ‘racist’ but I no longer see it posted, or do not care enough to look much deeper. If you truly feel that just because some members of the Troth have Grith with those of the AFA or other groups, I am sorry you do not understand the point of community, dialogue and making the temporary peace to ‘agree to disagree’.
Good luck to you, and your Northern Tradition Paganism. Perhaps, once taken on by level-headed, reasonable folks, it will be taken more seriously.

And Isa’s message:

I’m really glad this all got straightened out. Neff may be an ass but he’s our own unique ass.

My name is Isa. I’m a cofounder of NHU and oathed to Hel herself. I wanted to invite everyone here to come check out Nebraska Heathens United FB page. In order to judge something we must know the thing we are staring down. Frith starts here, in these conversations.

It may not be much, but our door is open to the wider Heathen community. Including you Ladyimbrium cause I heart you and you are awesome.

So Maybe I’m Just a Really Bad Heathen

(Originally, it was just apologies to Molly.  Now it’s apologies to Naf too, my words were ill-used and harmful.)

(Apologies to Molly).

Yeah, I am.  I admit it.

All of those things I’ve talked about before, all of the objections that I have to the way that mainstream Heathenry is presented, all of those stand.  They’ve been reinforced by the attitude I read in a recent article on how to present Heathenry at a Pagan Pride day.  The author came off as paranoid and xenophobic, a deliberate outsider in a place where he didn’t identify with anyone or feel comfortable.  It became clear over the course of the article that he had come to try and guide poor, lost Heathens away from the vile, lie-spewing spawn of Loki that populate Norse Paganism.  Like a good shepherd, he became enraged at the dangerous wolf lurking among the sheep (in the form of someone who had bought books by a Northern Tradition author, who are all apparently *despised* by right-thinking Heathens everywhere, which reminds me, I need to get published).

I realized that I was reading the words of a man who would likely not share a horn with me, or if he did it would be under glaring brows and by setting aside deep-seated hatred.  Things like this make me want to make devil horns and claim to be Rokkatru and worship thurses just to watch people have strokes; the reason that I don’t is because I still kind of feel that thurses are scary and bad (I’ve explained how I feel about that before; if hospitality demands I’ll pour to them but I’ll keep my distance in general), I’m not remotely Rokkatru (unless pouring for Loki when you pour for Odhinn counts), and devil horns would only be ironic and pointless (and bad for my arthritis).

It hurts, you know?  It hurts to know that people who love the same Gods or wave the same banner seethe with hatred when they think of you.  That if they couldn’t convince you to follow their one true Heathenry they’d spit on you and nidh you.  It hurts to see such unreasoning fear, distrust, and paranoia.

Jesus Christ, this must be what being a progressive Christian must feel like.

Right now I can hear the chorus of Utgard.net-Trolls cackling about me and how it’s right, how I should be ashamed because Heathenry is a culture of shame, where it’s each person’s job to join in on the dogpile of reminding unpopular folks why they suck.  How every misspoken word and every misunderstood concept and every disagreement of interpretation requires a good, solid flyting because that’s how the Norse did it.

Fuck your bully culture.

Maybe it makes me a bad Heathen to think that hospitality includes anyone who wanders into your space rather than just the ones who make offering (but not to Gods, never to Gods) at the High Holy Temple of Sturluson.  Maybe it makes me a bad Heathen to think that someone who walks around, constantly wary and distrusting of others is a paranoid asshole.  Maybe it makes me a bad Heathen to think that someone who goes to a festival full of people he seems to have a deep-rooted discomfort with and a distinct sense of alienation from shouldn’t be surprised when he doesn’t get all the people all upons converting to Proper Heathenry.  I’m quite sure that it makes me a bad Heathen to have UPG at all, much less share it on the Internet where other people might be able to learn that you can talk to Gods and sometimes they talk back (blasphemy!)  Maybe it makes me a bad Heathen to be all the things that I’ve done: speaking out against oppression, bigotry, and racism, seeking genuine spiritual experiences, having non-white Ancestors, praying to eeeebil furrin’ Gods…  Maybe it does.

Maybe I’ll just have to be all right with that.  Maybe I’m okay with being a bad Heathen.

I’m not going to stop being Heathen – that’s not where I am in life and maybe it never will be.  I know who and what I am.  I’m not going to stop being any of the other things that encourage Proper Heathen Rage-Walrus Mustache Shaking, because those are part of who I am too.

It’s not that I don’t understand the “Heathen mindset”.  A lot of the core important parts of it (as described by many) are important to me.  I just don’t agree with the ones that I don’t agree with, which also makes me a bad Heathen, because the most important rule of Heathenry is absolute, unquestioning obedience to other people when they tell you how to think, how to feel and how to live your life.  No Norseman ever deviated from the strict rules of Viking culture, which were uniform in all Germanic lands and never changed with time or circumstance.  That’s why Heathenry is such a successful modern religion – we have an absolute path where everyone knows their place, follows the rules (set down exclusively by men) exactly, and live in perfect harmony with each other except when they have to rise up to strike each other down because of a slight of honor.

Wait, that’s not Heathenry, that’s the Qun.  Or maybe Klingons?  No, Klingons don’t even believe that everyone should live by their Perfect Ancient Holy Texts Exactly.  Heathens don’t even have holy texts, they have poetry recorded by people who didn’t even worship their Gods.

Now that that’s out of my system…

I can tell that the man who wrote that article had good intentions.  I’ve heard about hell but not about Hel’s road being paved with those (her road is paved with everything, though).  I don’t understand why people who don’t consider themselves Pagan (and there are plenty of Heathens who do) would want to come to a Pagan festival to proselytize.  If I saw someone giving a lecture on Christianity and how it’s not a part of the Pagan faiths but here’s why it’s awesome and better than your faiths at a Pagan festival I’d back slowly away and talk to someone with authority about it later (or maybe just savagely blog about it and complain to friends).  It seems out of place, odd, and intrusive, just as it seemed uncomfortable to the fellow in question to be there.  I know that he’s trying to guide people to what he believes to be a better faith, and a better way of life, but wouldn’t it make sense to have someone who didn’t have a hate on for people who believe differently from himself be the one presenting?  Honestly, can’t you understand why that would hurt or drive folks away?

Though to his credit, I suppose if he wants to draw people in, there’s no better way than publicly performing the mental gymnastics required to describe Folkishness as not being racist.  It shows a remarkable amount of intellectual and moral flexibility.  It’s also comforting to know that racists are incapable of being sexually attracted to people of color.  I used to be worried that Antebellum landowners might have been racist, but they are proven otherwise by the trysts and (far more common) rapes of their slaves.  Pfew, what was that war about again?

He’s right about maturing into a Heathen worldview.  I certainly look back with some embarassment on the years after the first time I met someone like this and they scared me into running screaming from Heathenry.  I should have been all upons (sorry, it’s been a thing lately, I need to get it out of my system) and being my ergi/argr, wooheaded self and helped some Heathenry grow in a different direction.  I should have staked my garth, called my kin, cared for them and loved them and protected them.

I have a lot of kin among Heathens, I’ve been discovering.  I have a lot of people who don’t fit the racist, close-minded, reactionary mold this fellow presents as the One True Heathenry.  We have our communities, our own Inner Yards.  I belong to groups for transgender and other queer Heathens online and maybe will someday in person.  I belong to communities of Heathens unashamed (imagine, a Heathen not ashamed of themselves for doing what they believe is right) to discuss their UPG amongst themselves.  I belong to groups of Heathens, both online and in real life, who worship Gods and actually listen when they speak back instead of talking over them.

That’s not just one Inner-Yard.  That’s an encampment, a town, a neighborhood.  It used to be a ghetto of Heathen Hights but it’s been expanding and gentrifying.  Thank the Gods.

Or maybe he’s right about maturing into a Heathen mindset in the way he thinks he is and look back on this ten years later thinking about what a sad, deluded person I was.  I’m really not going to bet on it, though.

Hail Loki! (Sorry, Lady, I had to).

What Are We Really Afraid Of?

“Three rules I try to live by:

Always assume the best of other people.

Always plan for the worst in any situation.

Always keep your spirituality untamed.” – Morgan Daimler

The Nokean Bingo and Godspouse Bingo and similar conversations (as well as things going on in my own spiritual life) have had the wheels in my brain a-turning.  People all around me in the flesh as well as online are having personal experiences with their deities and spirits (something that Real Heathens say Never Ever Happens Except To Heroes Which No One Today Is Because Not Enough Swords and Slaughter or something like that).  People I know are awakening to all sorts of things as we open our minds both through study and technique, crack our skulls and barriers against things that we’re told aren’t possible and real, and (perhaps most significantly) have experiences that we’ve never asked for thrust upon us.

Reading about and witnessing how people react to Godspousery (I’m using this as a specific and pertinent example; apply broadly to other spiritual experiences that people who have’t had them label as fads or psychoses) I’ve come to witness a familiar pattern.  It often starts with a small voice inside someone saying “I thought I was the only one.”.  It is often followed by euphoria at feeling a connection to other people that you find that share similar experiences (which is followed by confusion and sometimes disillusionment when you realize that outside of your common experiences you’re probably very different from the folks that you encounter).

It continues with people who haven’t had the same experiences insulting you and trying to invalidate you (whether or not you needed validation).  It comes ripe full of blatant misogyny if you’re a woman, or reactive misogyny if you’re a man (you’re whipped by a Goddess?) and probably something similar for nonbinary folks.

People who have shared a similar experience will often stand up for each other and shake their fists at the accusers.  Sometimes they will turn on each other: having received qualifications for validation from respected outside sources, they feel it necessary to police others to help them maintain their own identity and credentials.

People are afraid of talking about it.  It’s either because they still think that they are the only one, or they don’t want to be associated with “those” people.  Even when those people are people just like them.

I suspect  you’ve heard some of this from me recently.  The question that is bedeviling me is “What are we really afraid of?”

Are we afraid that our experiences aren’t real?  In Clive Barker’s epic Imajica novels, one of the greatest curses that can be leveled by one magician to another is “May everything be as it seems.” (I wish I had the book handy to share the eloquent explanation given as to why, but I don’t have a copy with me).  The short of it is; because if everything were always as it seemed the world would be mud and your lives dust, meaningless, pointless, empty.  If we’re afraid that all of these voices are just in our heads, and all that we are is a bunch of chemicals artfully pushing around other bunches of chemicals (I agree that that is part of what we are, though I disagree with it being the whole) then we have nothing to fear, because we have no way to change that.  If all we are is nothing and all that is comes to nothing, then embrace the richness of your experiences.  Sure, make sure that they have some value and positive effect on your life, but if they don’t, simply ignore them.  After all, if they aren’t real they’ll fade like mist in the morning sun.  If you are misleading people, then what?   Humanity will end without truly affecting anything, either through planetary trauma, self-harm, or whatever end the physicists by and large agree on nowadays.  No harm, no foul, right?

Most of us know that that isn’t the case, though.

Are we afraid of being hurt?  Of being insulted?  These are real fears.  Words tear at our sense of self, they flay our egos.  Despite what Stephen Fry and every other bully on the planet thinks, there are words than can hurt any human being.  If I knew you well enough I could find words that would make you doubt yourself, that would make you harm yourself, that would make you weep and feel empty, that could remove your ability to keep trying.  I was raised in a family that used words as weapons and know that no matter your armor, there are holes and flaws.  I can be a cold, sharp, jagged, hurtful bitch when I need to be and anyone who knows me well has seen that side of me (though few who know me well have had to be on the receiving end).

Those insults come from people who either aren’t sure themselves, and thus need to put you in your place, or who are sure. and you can tell those from how they argue themselves in circles trying to disprove something that they can’t even experience.  They come to get you to stop saying things that tear at their own egos. To them, saying that a God loves you in a special way is saying that a God talks to you (which they know could never happen because you’re not them… I mean, a hero) or that that God doesn’t love them.  These assumptions hurt their self-images, and as I learned from Laverne Cox, “Hurt people hurt people.”  The places where they strike from indicate where their weaknesses are, for knowing or not you’ve landed a blow against them.

Are we afraid of being seen like other people that we may have an unknowing prejudice against?  I know that I am.  I’ve had some experiences recently that tread close to the ground of Godspousery.  My first reaction was, “I can’t be a Godspouse… I can’t be one of THOSE people.”  Then I thought about it and realized that some of the people I identify as Godspouses are people that I respect and admire.  I’d love to be like them in some ways.  I was reacting to the ridicule hurled at them by folks so insecure in their own beliefs that they can’t handle someone else claiming an experience that they have not had.

Are we afraid of being right?  I think we are.  I think we’re terrified of that.  I think that we’re afraid that the experiences that we’ve had are real because we’ve been raised to believe that they aren’t and we don’t have any guidebooks or manuals to help us with them (yet … I predict Llewellyn 2017 will be the Year of the Godspouse or something… or not, it might be too Polytheist or something even for them).  I think a lot of people are afraid that what they have going on is real and that they’ll have no way to prove it, and no way to *gasp* make money off of it (because when you get down to it, that is still the way the majority of people in our society gauge the worth of any sort of practice, knowledge or experience).  I think we’re afraid of screwing it up and having angry whatevers messing with us.  I think were afraid of being right but being unable to stop society from throwing us into straightjackets and padded rooms (or refusing us employment and help and treating us to old school exile/shunning) for something that they can’t see and thus don’t care about.

What do you have to lose?  I’m not saying that you have nothing to lose, but is what you might lose worth keeping things bottled up?  Is it worth feeling like you’re living a lie?  Is it worth that terrible weight upon your chest and the heart-rending anxiety?

It isn’t.  Trust me, it isn’t.  As someone who has kept a secret from everyone that she knew for close to thirty-five years for many of the reasons provided above, it isn’t worth it.  It’s important to pick your battles, surely, but it’s worth it.

You know what I’ve seen from people who speak up and live their truth (when they’re ready)?  I’ve seen them lose friends and relatives, jobs and livelihood, careers and children.  You know what else I’ve seen?  I’ve seen them gain respect from those who value honesty.  I’ve seen people who were their friends before becoming allies as well, and I’ve seen people who weren’t their friends before flock to them because of their inspirational example.  I’ve seen them being stronger, happier, and more honest.  I’ve seen them become better people.

So what is my advice for when Odhinn pops the question and wants you to share it with others?  For when you’ve had a journey to Vanaheim that gave you great insight into what most might consider minor mythological figure?  For when some kind of crazy woo happens to you and you don’t know if you should share it or not?

Consider it.  Consider who you’re presenting it too, but more importantly, consider your words.  Don’t overthink it, though, just be careful to say what you honestly mean.  Prepare yourself.  Also, consider Morgan’s rules and my corollaries:

Corollary to Morgan’s first rule: People will surprise you more often than not; you *will* be surprised by who will take it well and embrace you.  They will inevitably get it wrong and misunderstand, so be prepared to find other ways of explaining it and correct them with a will, but know that more often than not it comes from a position of ignorance, not malice.

Corollary to Morgan’s second rule: Try and have a support network.  At best, find real-life people who will be supportive; this can be hard, though, because coming out to them can be more difficult than folks online.  Find folks online.  You’re not alone.  I don’t care if you’ve discovered you’re the spawn of a Pleidian Dolphin Princess, trust me, you are not alone.

Corollary to Morgan’s third rule: Don’t pussyfoot around it when it comes to dealing with yourself.  Qualify it all you want to.  Take care and be as skeptical as you like with your own experiences, but when you know something is going on don’t lie to yourself about it.  Embrace your spirituality, live it, let it ring in your bones, set your heart aflame, and pour from your mouth like molten gold.  Holding it back will stunt you, and you don’t need a bonsai spirit, you need to grow and have your spirit be like a swaying willow, a mighty oak, a Yggdrasil-like yew.  You will only regret it if you try to tame your spirituality.

Lest anyone think that I’m speaking against spiritual discipline or discernment, let me correct you: discipline is needed for healthy growth, and discernment is needed for protection both internal and external.  Your tree won’t grow unless it’s put in a healthy place and kept safe from the prying teeth of the hungry harts until it’s big enough to handle it.

If you need to keep it quiet while it grows, then do so.  There will almost certainly come a time, though, when it will need to burst forth from its former confines and keeping it it hidden will only weaken and sicken it.  Seeing another person be confident and public or at least up front about their spirituality will help yours to grow; be sure to return the favor if you can afford to.  If you do, all of these trees that we’re growing will some day be the best kind of forest: full of wildlife, unrestrained, untamed, beautiful, powerful, dangerous, terrible, sublime, and a cradle of new life.

As I said earlier, I’m not a Godspouse, but if I’m going to be honest about it it’s only by a matter of degree.  I haven’t discussed it publicly because it involves experiences that I’m working hard to process and find the right words for.  If that’s a title that my circumstance and spirituality end up putting me into I will proudly claim it and happily discuss it – with people who genuinely want to discuss it or are dealing with it themselves (as opposed to Utgart.net-Trolls).  I am a seeress and have been wandering between worlds and talking to beings that aren’t visible to the eye (usually) all of my life, and the only reason I haven’t shared more of what I’ve seen is context and need.  You’d better believe that if there’s a good reason I will be up front about it.

You are not alone.  You are not crazy.  You should not be ashamed to live your truth, whether you do so quietly or with loudspeakers and a parade.  The more of us who do, the more the voices of the insecure fools that lash out at us will be drowned out, if not by our voices then by the thunder and the earthquake of our many feet.

What do you really have to be afraid of?

Gullinbursti Is My Co-Pilot

So, we wanted a boar for the blot for Freyfaxi on Saturday, so Jim the Odinsman and I went to the craft store and found a boy pig.  (We couldn’t find a nice, tusky boar).  We brought it home, and Jim carefully painted him and added copper streaks and we put him on the dashboard of the car while we drove to go a blotting.  Speaking of which, between the alcohol and the food and the overwhelming presence of multiple divinities, I ended up feeling pretty… blotted.  Yes.  I went there.

Anyway, here’s the Gullinbursti riding on the dashboard of the car.  I wish I could get Jim a little Sleipnir to take his place (the golden-bristled one is coming with me 😉 ).

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It just occurred to me that “Gullinbursti” has the same number of syllables as “Plastic Jesus” and thus would fit really well in that Plastic Jesus song.

IMG_20150801_161023

“Gullinburst, Gullinbursti, riding on the dashboard of my car,

Through all the trial and tribulations, we will travel every nation,

with my Gullinbursti I’ll go far.”

Sorry folks.  I had to.