Birthing a tradition

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One of the reasons I’m feeling an urgent push to trace out the rough boundaries of the Starry Bear proto-tradition is because I’ve noticed a shift over the last five or so years towards a greater prevalence of syncretic and dual-pantheon polytheisms. I don’t know how well this is being accepted within mainstream groups and forums, but the number of folks talking openly about it is nice to see, especially since they don’t seem to be getting the sort of flak I did when I came out as having a Greco-Egyptian practice back in 20- mumble mumble. (Fuck, I’m old.)

With that groundswell and rumors circulating about the Starry Bear I’ve started getting a bunch of folks writing me with questions about how to do Ásatrú and Hellenismós together. And, fuck, man – I don’t know. I haven’t been part of the latter community since I got more than hospitable with the Netjeru and I was never an Ásatrúar. (Or Theod, or Uni, or Northern Trad Shaman, etc.) I’ve had encounters with Heathen deities going back to my high school days, most of my partners have maintained some level of cultus for Óðinn, I’ve participated in various Northern European derived rituals from different denominations, and my wife and I currently run a blended polytheist household. On top of that as I trace Dionysos’ backstory as Óðr I’ve begun deepening my veneration of Loki, Óðinn, Freyja, Freyr, Thor, Sigyn, Máni, Perun and Baba Yaga out of respect to the relationships they appear to have with my God. 

But that isn’t really what these good folks are asking about, nor does it truly reflect the Starry Bear as I’ve envisioned it. I think this is some of the necessary work that has to be done before the current will open itself, but what comes through will likely end up looking vastly different, so I can’t properly speak to that either.

This puts me in a rather uncomfortable position – and yet this kind of thing cannot be rushed. Traditions must grow in their own time and ways and if it takes another five years before I’m ready to bring folks in, so be it.

The last couple posts give you a sense of what I mean by focusing on lower level religiosity than most contemporary Heathen groups. It’s these folk-derived beliefs and practices I want to mine rather than just focusing on the Gods and Ancestors the way they do, if they even do. (I’ve heard tales of atheist goðar and vǫlur, of all things.) I figure we can fill in each other’s gaps, assuming they have any interest in working with us, but mostly I see us as being as distinct from mainstream Heathenry as Starry Bull is from conventional Hellenismós. 

6 thoughts on “Birthing a tradition

  1. Spiritually nomadic hermit that I am, I’ll be watching with interest from the outside whichever direction this goes.

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    1. I had a bunch of suggestions, which I may turn into an article – but reflecting on the matter I think the most important thing that folks can do is pray.

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      1. Lower level of religiosity? I have never heard of that before. I think you do need to build from the ground up. Romans knew that – start with the Numen and move up. I think the focus on Gods and Ancestors comes from Christian religious teachings embedded in people’s brains.

        I saw an episode of “Bogeymen,” which discussed the folk spirits of Belize. The people discussed how if they didn’t make offerings or ask permission of the jungle spirits, their saws and implements would break. They said that Christianity took their identity i.e. their folk or polytheistic religion. They were working to get it back. So you are not alone in this starting a proto-tradition based on folk beliefs.

        As for double hearths, I have been thinking about that. (probably write a blog on it). I have a Roman/Babylonian hearth now. Strange as Norse and Greek double hearths, I suppose. I think that in my experience, that the two groups of Gods want to work together and have much to offer the other.

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        1. Good thoughts on the rest, though I particularly wanted to address the bit about (Greco-)Roman and Babylonian interactions. Strange as it may seem 1) it’s something I’m hearing more about (I can think of at least 3 or 4 contemporary polytheists who engage in such practices) and 2) there’s ample precedent. I mean, first you’ve got the Seleukid empire (not to mention previous Greek and Babylonian interactions, primarily but by no means limited to merchants and mercenaries) which promoted the cults of both groups of deities, used a blended calendar and often made dual-language pronouncements – a process continued under the Romans. Not only is there a decent body of literature to draw on, such as the works of Berossos and the Neoplatonists, but you’ve also got important archaelogical sites like Dura-Europos. So yeah, that could totally be a thing.

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