Everybody sing along,
are you motherfuckers ready
for the new shit?
Stand up and admit,
tomorrow’s never coming.
This is the new shit.
Stand up and admit.
Do we get it? No.
Do we want it? Yeah.
That’s right, folks. It’s time for the latest installment of cool shit Sannion’s seen and boy do I have some good shit for you.
First up is this reminder by Pete Helms that religion is inherently conservative:
Now, for starters, I’ll come out and say it: I’m religious. I’m not spiritual, I don’t get the tinglies in the presence of the ineffable, and I certainly don’t get into the idea that religion is something “someone just made up, man.” Religion is inherently conservative. That is to say that religion is systematic (follows rules or guidelines[aka traditions]), resists rapid and unnecessary change, and establishes or provides a cohesive and continuous narrative for a group of people. So what does this all mean? Well, let’s break it down, bit by bit.
Lots to ponder there.
Likewise, Dver expertly shows why one should never stop their devotions:
Over and over again, I see the same pattern being described on the blogs of various pagans – something bad (or even something good!) happens in their lives, and they let go of most or all of their spiritual practices. They lose a job, get married, fall sick, or just get busy, and the first things to suffer are their devotional relationships and religious obligations. They even see this happening, but often as not they excuse it (rather than trying to fight it) – after all, who could blame them if these big life changes kept them distracted?
Speaking of devotions, Seastruck discusses baking for the gods:
This is going to sound terribly silly but one of the things I enjoy doing the most as devotional act is baking. I started back to when my practice was way more wicca-influenced and I liked the idea of having something I had prepared specifically for the esbat ritual meals handy. I discovered I could flavor the cakes and cookies to suit the seasonal shifts (flower cookies for Spring Equinox!) and for a while I even was really, really into gearing my cooking habits toward tuning in the nearest festivals. I enjoyed the poetry of giving meaning and symbolism to a simple thing like a lunch. I even liked baking my bread to flavor it with festival-related spices/ingredients (and whatever odd thing I could think of). While that habit faded over time, it left me with a certain appreciation for tuning baking/cooking toward the energies and symbols of specific entities. Even today, I consider it one of the simplest and less expensive ways to keep your intent focused toward connecting with a specific entity.
While Soliwo talks about bioregionalism and the sacredness of blueberries:
Blueberry picking as a marker of the changing seasons also seems to have historical roots. Finding ‘blueberries’ in the index of Kondratiev’s The Apple Branch (2003), I read: “The wild foods traditionally gather on this day [Lúghnasadh] were blueberries (or other berries of the genus Vaccinium); so closely associated, throughout the Celtic world, was this activity with the feast that in some places it gave its common name (in parts of Ireland the day was called Domnhach na bhFraochóga, Blueberry Sunday). The blueberries seemed to be very important in the pre-industrial era, since they were picked in a time when summer reserves would be running low. They would herald the coming of the harvest bounty yet to come, and at the same time offer the means of celebration in a time of relative scarcity.
And of things plucked, the fairest is no doubt Persephone as this study of the themes of fertility and rebirth within the Eleusinian mysteries shows:
The rites of Demeter and Persephone speak to the experiences of life that remain through all time the most mysterious – birth, sexuality, death – and also to the greatest mystery of all, enduring love. In these ceremonies, women and men expressed joy in the beauty and abundance of nature, especially the bountiful harvest in personal love, sexuality and procreation; and in the rebirth of the humail spirit, even through suffering and death. Cicero wrote of these rites: “We have been given a reason not only to live in joy, but also to die with better hope. ”
A poignant expression of this is Melitta’s Hell Hath No Fury:
Chloe was barely able to make herself walk: day after day, the same weight hung over her like the sword of Damocles, and while each day saw the urgency of her search fade, it also saw a deepening of the wound. The autumnal hymns of the rustling leaves did nothing to console her, only reminded her of an absence she couldn’t recover from. Her lonely arms gathered the cloak around her, protecting her against the chill of the air.
My daughter is gone.
Click here if you want to see something that’s more awesome than a monkey wearing a tuxedo made out of bacon riding a cyborg unicorn with a lightsaber for the horn on the tip of a space shuttle closing in on Mars, while ingulfed in flames.
And here if you’d like to learn about the penchant of many Roman emperors for necromancy.
Speaking of things that won’t stay in the grave, I’m sure you’re all aware of the drama that’s rampaging through the pagan community. Won’t be highlighting much of that here, but I did want to share this great piece on labels by Anne:
Those of us who are actual bears – catch a scent like you wouldn’t believe. This time – it’s the stench of drama.
Labels. Pointless, if you ask me.
In the Otherworlds, it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself one of five titles (Celtic Druid Witch Shaman Magician, for example), you are you. You actually will get farther by honest politeness and honest naming – than anything else.
Hi, I’m Anne. I’m a blacksmith and leather-worker. I tend to think too much.
Many spirits have perked their ears with this. Just sayin’.
I don’t think a title does anyone justice. You are who you are – and for me, the more honest you are about this – the more I’ll like you in the end. So many people want that mask, that illusion around them when they fail to see their own mysteries of just being who they are.
Here is Carlos Parada’s study of the goddess Lyssa or Mania:
Madness is represented as a primeval being whose existence began long before there were men on earth. They did not invent her but she invented the madman, a most common character who fully owes the turmoil of his soul to her. As “a demon” she is less distinct than a god and obeys the designs of more powerful deities, being rather the actual manifestation of their will. When such demons or gods act upon a man, he is no longer his own self but stands beside himself with cleft mind, or “out of his mind”. And when they leave him, he may exclaim in amazement “What have I done?”
Here is Helio Pires discussing the raven as a bird of Mercury/Hermes:
Traditionally, the raven is a bird of omens and a guide of souls. Due to its colour and because it can feed on decaying flesh, it’s an animal with an otherworldly aura that implies death, the ability to move between worlds, to bring things from the other side or to take them took it. In this, there’s also an implication of knowledge, for in its liminal freedom to move from one realm to another, the raven can see and hear a multitude of things, some of which are outside the normal human experience. The connection with Mercury is obvious: He’s a psychopomp, a messenger of the Gods, and while Apollo is undoubtedly an oracular deity, it’s also true that Hermes was taught cruder forms of divination by his Delphic brother. As such, He is not without the ability to look into the future and, in any case, by moving freely between worlds and being a conveyer of information, He has access to otherwordly knowledge and the ability to pass it on. It’s not by accident that He’s a god of hermeneutics.
Very much in the spirit of that deity P. Sufenas Virius Lupus shares some brilliant insights on belief within a pagan and polytheist context:
The way that “belief in God” is usually phrased in Latin is in the accusative case (Credo in unum Deum), and thus it is much more like the arrow-and-target situation I described above. In the phrase “In the gods, I believe,” one can understand “in” as “within,” which gives a far more appropriate nuance. That is to say: it is only within the gods (and within one’s experience of the gods’ reality) that one can believe at all—believe not only in the reality of the gods, but in anything and everything that exists.
Erik talks about what it means to actually belong:
Do you see a common thread there? I have jobs to do, actual responsibilities, in all the places I belong: at church and at the dojo – and certainly in my family! In fact, I have a theory – that having responsibilities is one of the markers of truly belonging somewhere. If I spent significant time with a group and nobody ever asked me to contribute in a meaningful way, or really expected much of me, then I would question whether I actually belonged there or was just a glorified visitor.
Elizabeth talks about the realities of polytheism:
Polytheism is not Pokemon, and you don’t have to catch them all. We might owe our gods respect, but we don’t necessarily owe all of Them love. It’s better to honor a few gods in a heartfelt way than worship a lot of Them in a half-assed manner.
And it just gets better from there.
ginandjack offers advice for those getting started with Dionysos:
Do what feels right. There are many paths to the Gods, and no one should tell you how to do things so long as you are respectful in your endeavors. My relationship and worship of Big D began at a very tumultuous time in my life. And I dived head long into Him. Not everyone is meant to do that. Had I had the chance, I would not take it back, but would have been more diligent in my research early on. There is a wealth of knowledge about Him, and I may well never get to it all. And as great as that knowledge is, there is nothing that compares to KNOWING HIM. Find the balance that works for you, don’t shirk research on Hellenism, the big twelve, His cultus, entheogens, asc’s, etc
Amanda gets baubastic (that’s a word, right?):
How cool is Baubo? In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter it is recounted that Demeter is wandering the earth in anguish over the loss of her daughter. She eventually starts loitering outside of Eleusis, where she will eventually inspire life-altering mysteries that will change the face of the ancient (and our modern!) world. But in the meantime, she’s just kind of being sad and angry and very helpless, until Baubo/Iambe makes her laugh and then she kind of perks up a little. I’ve read accounts of Baubo being nothing more than a walking vagina. Or maybe she’s a nursemaid who lifts her skirts. Either way, it’s the act of raunchy old lady humor that finally wakes Demeter up from her slump (kind of. She’s still sad even after she gets a good laugh at Baubo’s vagina humor.)
Yvonne begins a series on dual-faith practice:
It seems that, whenever a religion encounters another religion, a need is felt to make some form of accommodation with the truth claims of the other religion, sometimes by denying them, sometimes by recasting them in the language of one’s own tradition, and sometimes by assigning the other religion’s holy figure a position in one’s own tradition; for example, Hindus regarding Jesus as a ‘supremely religious soul’ (Woodburne, 1927). The outcome of this process depends on the willingness of the faith communities to co-exist. At the level of the individual, religious belief is always more ‘messy’ than a cursory examination of the creeds and teachings of the religion would lead one to think
Here’s a stunning poem by lokisdattir:
The poison-maker lowers draughts into bubbling blue,
inky black like the dead men’s coves in Styx’s sea,
his hair coils like Dionysos in locks braided with secrets
I have in my hands a string of bloody teeth.
And a gorgeous meditation by Ruadhán on beauty:
Similarly, the Pagan community dabs some patchouli oil on their ordinary lives, and proclaims it unconventional and different, whilst doing precious little to actually create something beautiful in themselves, their surroundings, their very lives that will invite the Divine, in all Its forms into their lives. Without beauty, the Gods of the Pleasures are unwelcomed.
Galina waxes poetic about the Heathen moon god Mani:
Truly, He’s difficult not to love. Mani is a deeply alluring God, as the moon is alluring with all of its magic and secrets. He is possessed of a certain sweetness, gentle, and as a friend of mine said recently, a God Who transforms through fierce compassion. (Thank you, L. for this apt description!). It’s a particular joy to love one’s Gods, to have a bond not only of obligation but of love, devotion, and affection. It’s a good thing, a grace and one that Mani is particularly deft in evoking. He is a god that fills the hearts of His devotees with joy. It is a joy to praise Him, a delight to pour out offerings and in the whirlwind that devotional work can sometimes be, that is as it should be.
And also has a survey up about prayer cards.
Kiya discusses honoring ancestors and other beloved dead:
First of all, and right up front: I do not only honor bloodkin on my ancestor shrine. My community is larger than that. I do honor not only to the elderly neighbors who adopted me as a bonus grandchild, but to important thinkers and friends – and people who were important to my parents as well, for that is part of my heritage. I have tokens of relationships that have ended, pictures of pets, and so on. All of these are part of the great what-came-before, the pool of life-energy that made me, not merely as a living body, but as the person that I am.
Here’s a cool image and discussion of Aegir, the Norse god of the sea.
And here are some cats that look like pinup girls.
Have you heard of Australia’s cool aboriginal superhero Condoman?
They’re thinking of making a movie out of Rob Liefeld’s Godyssey in which Jesus and the Olympian gods go at each other Dragon Ball Z style. Can’t wait to see what the Hellenic blogosphere will have to say about that one when it drops.
Jill Peters discusses the sworn virgins of Albania with a series of touching photographs:
A perfectly ordinary girl, perhaps with aspirations of marriage and becoming a mother is asked by her family to take a vow of celibacy and foreswear sexual relations for life. She is not being encouraged to join a convent. She is taking on the responsibility and honor of protecting her home, her family and socially becoming a man. In the solidly patriarchal and tribal areas plagued by blood feuds and honor killings of Albania’s rural mountain villages many such women who have “become” men act as the heads of their households. For sacrificing their innate natures, they are afforded considerable masculine privileges. Skirts and blouses are traded for trousers and button downs, long hair cropped to a manly stubble. They smoke, work and swagger about town with the other men. They are referred to as “he” and “uncle.” Their absolute transition is accepted, posited and taken without question by the people among whom they live. They are called Sworn Virgins of Albania, or ‘burneshas.” There are only a handful left
Be sure to consult Sarduríur’s Academic Sources Guide for the Unversed:
Historical research is a major part of many Polytheist communities. Whether a Revivalist or Reconstructionist, to a lesser or greater degree, we all turn to the written word of History at one point or another. History is the backbone of all we know and understand about ourselves as literate, self-aware creatures. However, many Polytheists have not had formal University training in the professional field of History to any extent. Quite a number of Polytheists, both seasoned practitioners and “newbies” alike, feel lost in the stacks — whether they care to admit it or not — and don’t know where or how to begin to sift through the thousands of publications on any given subject.
Monte Plaisance reminds us of what it takes to be a teacher:
Teaching religion, mysticism, or spirituality to others is something that takes years of practice and it requires a degree of selflessness and a willingness to give more than you take – qualities that are not existent in everyone. One of my favorite quotes from a movie is from the movie Gladiator, when Emperor Marcus Aurelius offers Maximus the honor of being protector of Rome upon his death. The aging Emperor looks to Maximus and asks, “Will you accept this honor which I offer?” Maximus lowers his head and says, “With all my heart, no.” The Emperor smiles and says, “That is why it MUST be you!” Marcus Aurelius knew that Maximus was the perfect leader for the simple reason that Maximus had no ambition to rule.
I’ve got some more though I’ll save them for next time as this post is getting pretty long; however, before you go be sure to watch this amazing short film that is so like a couple dreams I’ve had that it ain’t even funny: