To Pan the Deliverer

Hail magnificent Pan,
half beast and half man,
drive this pestilence back
with your dancing cloven hooves,
you who sport in the hills,
and carefully watch over our flocks
except during those couple afternoon hours
when you’re napping
or rolling around in a dark, damp cave
with some bosomy Nymph
or apple-bottomed country lad.
Any who have disturbed your slumber
or crossed your path when you’re out hunting by moonlight,
know how terrifying and merciless you can be
O son of Hermes and the most excellent weaver Penelope,
you who won the glory of your name
when you marched with Bakchos beyond Bactria
and slaughtered all his foes on the battlefield,
O Hornéd Deliverer, wielder of the net and crook,
with eyes of fire and a laugh that chills,
bring deliverance to us in our time of dire need
and we shall gaily remember you always.

Dann sind wir Helden

Today is the dies mortis or anniversary of David Bowie’s death, so I figured I’d share this piece I wrote shortly after his passing. While due divination was performed to confirm that he was okay accepting hero cultus within the Starry Bull tradition and he’s shown up for a number of folks subsequently, a lot of the issues raised are still pertinent and worth considering.

It’s been an interesting couple of days, watching the world mourn the incomparable David Bowie. People die all the time – it’s what we do – but rarely are so many affected so deeply by the passing. Bowie was different though. “He was one of us.” Over and over again this sentiment has been expressed, by people from vastly different backgrounds and ideologies – and in every instance it’s true. His work, spanning decades and exploring every facet of what it is to be human and more, transcended boundaries and was infinitely relatable. Constantly reinventing himself and not just keeping up with the changing times and tastes but often anticipating and even shaping them, he influenced countless fellow artists who in turn influenced countless others. For many, his music was the soundtrack of our lives. Having been with us for so long and in so many ways, it’s hard to imagine the world without him.

And yet here we are.

To many Pagans and Polytheists this isn’t the end but rather the beginning. The man David Bowie may be no more, but the memory, the image, and something else endures beyond the grave and our traditions have ways of honoring that, of making space for him to continue to touch our lives, and more. He is now a spirit, one of the mighty dead and may, in time, become something even greater. There is talk of making him a saint, an hero, even a demigod.

I understand and deeply appreciate this sentiment. To me Bowie was so much more than just an immensely talented artist (though that would be reason enough to pay him cultus within my tradition.) There were times I could see my God and members of my God’s retinue reflected through him, and I know others have had similar experiences with their own divinities. And that’s why we need to proceed carefully.

These titles mean something, and carry with them certain obligations. Obligations on our end, and on the recipient’s. These forms of cultus are not something to rush into. Death is a process which both the deceased and those left behind must go through. Our rites exist to help us navigate that alien terrain.

Now, I’m not here to tell you how to conduct your worship. If you’re not a member of the Starry Bull tradition I could honestly care less what you believe or do in front of your shrine. But as part of the process I encourage everyone to think deeply and carefully about these matters. After all, this is a pretty unique situation we find ourselves in since, appearances aside, Bowie was not actually one of us.

If you know anything about him, you know that he was a deeply private man who worked hard to keep his family and personal affairs out of the limelight despite being an immensely popular performer from the 1960s on. Many of his close friends and professional colleagues, in fact, had no idea that he had been battling cancer for 18 months until they, along with the rest of us, learned that he had finally succumbed to his illness. That is an astounding feat in this age of the panopticon! What he shared with us was immense – but it was an artificial construction, and we should not presume a greater degree of intimacy than actually existed. You didn’t know David Bowie, however close you may have felt to him. You knew Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, Jareth the Goblin King, the Grand Old Man of Rock ‘n’ Roll, etc. etc.

David Bowie, the man, had religious beliefs and along with the boundaries he drew around his personal life these should be respected. More to the point, those beliefs could have a profound effect on his posthumous fate and status. As with the multitude of stage personae he crafted, Bowie’s religious and philosophical beliefs went through numerous metamorphoses over the decades. He explored Catholicism, Neopaganism, Occultism (of the Nazi variety and otherwise), Agnosticism, and other faiths but often came back to Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism which he studied under Lama Chime Rinpoche and the crazy-wisdom master Chögyam Trungpa.

If you are at all conversant with these traditions you understand why I bring this up, and it’s not just to recommend that we show deference toward his beliefs, laudable as that may be. Simply put, Bowie the man may no longer exist, here or in other realms, in a way that isn’t necessarily true of most dead people. The goal of Tibetan Buddhism, even more pronouncedly than in other forms of Buddhism, is complete liberation by the radical annihilation of ego-consciousness, a process hastened through elaborate ceremonies performed at the time of death. Now, it’s possible that Bowie will become a bodhisattva and choose to forgo nirvana so he can hang around and help other sentient beings attain bodhicitta-enlightenment; it’s equally possible that those ceremonies were not performed, either because as reports claim he was only surrounded by immediate family at the time of his passage or Bowie may no longer have been a practicing Buddhist, in which case he’s got the long road to walk ahead of him that we all do.

And this is not just so much theoretical speculation; if we are going to worship him we need to know, as much as we can, that there’s something there to be worshiped, what the nature of that something is, and what the appropriate form of worship is for that type of being. Which will take some time.

Whatever Bowie is becoming, it’s a process. You don’t just close your eyes and then open them on the other side a fully transfigured and elevated spirit. In ancient Greek religion, and Bacchic Orphism in particular, death was seen as a journey through another land with numerous obstacles and trials to overcome – paralleling in many respects what we find within Tibetan Buddhism. As the soul undertook this quest, the family it had left behind went through their own transitional phase, mirroring the process through the funerary and later mortuary rites they performed. These rites not only helped the family work out their grief, but assisted the soul in their underworld journey – indeed, without these rites there was a chance the soul could get trapped between the worlds and become a restless, vengeful spirit. These rites began with the washing and preparation of the body, either for burial or cremation. Offerings and libations were made, the family accompanied the body in procession to its tomb, more offerings were made – including the cutting of hair and shedding of blood – and then a period of seclusion and mourning began. During this time the family, especially those who had tended the body, were in a state of miasma or ritual impurity, which precluded them from conducting any public business or visiting shrines and temples. The loss of their loved one had created a gap through which the underworld powers could reach and claim more members of the family, by madness, disease and other calamities. It also forced them to focus on their loss and dredge up all of the pain and grief it caused. When this liminal period – ranging anywhere from days to weeks – was complete the family would perform purificatory rites and make more offerings to the deceased. For the next year or so, members of the family would be in a state of mourning, often wearing special clothing or amulets to reflect this, and performing a series of periodic rites, including feasting at the graveside and monthly libations.

Hero cultus followed a similar model – and may in fact have grown out of these domestic rites, except that the dead belonged not just to a particular family but the entire community. There was also a difference in status and power. While the dead could, in special circumstances – especially if proper rites had not been carried out – make their continued presence known through dreams, healing or sending illness, an increase or decrease of luck, fertility, wealth, etc. as well as violent physical manifestations this was a prerequisite for heroes, and very often what caused cultus to be established for them. Heroes were not, as we often think of them today, paragons of virtue to be emulated but powerful forces requiring placation and appeasement through offerings, rites, dances, athletic and artistic competitions, etc. Once they had been recognized and fully integrated into the community through these activities they would act on behalf of the populace, bringing protection and numerous other blessings to those who honored them. Often the hero’s sphere of influence extended only to the area surrounding the shrine where their mortal remains were kept and a number of ancient Greek poleis or city-states fought wars over possession of these relics. Some heroes, however, most notably Herakles, the Dioskouroi and Achilles transcended this limitation and worked wonders on behalf of numerous farflung Greek communities. Indeed these figures often straddled the blurry but resolute boundary between the Gods and the dead. Some attained full apotheosis or divinization while others received dual honors, as both a God and a hero. Later, during the Hellenistic and Roman period, many rulers received divine honors and cultus, sometimes while alive but most often posthumously. Additionally there were people who acted as mortal incarnations of the Gods. They were either born half-man and half-God, often claiming descent from a divine progenitor or else they became possessed by a deity who simply never left until their demise, at which point the person was either completely absorbed by the God, became the recipient of hero-cultus or underwent apotheosis and was regarded as a divinity in their own right. Dionysos and Aphrodite are the ones we find most often involved in this, though there were also New Hermeses, Herakleses and Zeuses.

Another option was for the individual to become a daimon, a type of spirit that inhabited the space between mortals and the Gods and included everything from ghosts to nymphs to abstract and often undifferentiated powers to foreign and unknown divinities. These beings were often more powerful than humans but less powerful than the major Greek gods themselves, and though long-lived lacked their distinguishing characteristic of immortality. Daimones could either be beneficent or malevolent, but there was always something uncanny and dangerous about them. Their shrines, when they had them, were places of oracular consultation, dream incubation and healing and they were particularly drawn to ecstatic, orgiastic rites and bloody sacrifices in which they received the entire victim as opposed to the Olympians who got the smoke of burnt bones and entrails while their worshipers consumed the meat in a communal feast.

While it’s possible that, from the Hellenic perspective, David Bowie could become any of these types of being – or even a combination of them – there is also another way this could play out. Rather than paying cultus to the man himself one could venerate one or even a variety of the personae he created and embodied over the course of his lengthy career, along the lines of a tulpa or egregore. As Harlequin and Pierrot – figures that fascinated Bowie and which he often portrayed on film and stage – show, the line between fiction and reality is not always an ironclad one, especially when empowered by belief and magic. If the last couple days have shown us anything, it is that millions of people over decades have been feeding these creations a tremendous amount of attention and emotion, which I suspect will enable them to make that perilous existential leap. This, I also suspect, will occur – if it has not already – independent of whatever fate awaits the man who came into this world as David Robert Jones in 1947.

Other religions have both similar and very different methods of engaging with their respected dead, which I won’t go into here as I have no interest in speaking on behalf of any tradition but my own. However I would encourage folks to, again, seriously consider the options available to them, what the implications of those options are, and the appropriate methods of worship that follow from that. Don’t rush into anything – not only is Bowie in the midst of his journey West and thus may not be in any condition to receive or respond to cultus, but if you’re serious about this you need to develop the proper structures and rituals, which are not only consistent with your own tradition but are pleasing and appropriate to him. Do not claim a status or title for him until you have determined that this reflects what he has become and that he is willing to receive and fulfill. After all, what good is it to claim him as a saint or an hero if he is indifferent to your prayers and offerings? Now, if he shows up in a dream or sends healing, inspiration, mantic revelations or other material blessings your way, or you get confirmation through divination or a trusted religious specialist, magician, shaman, spirit-worker or the equivalent in your tradition then by all means move forward in establishing cultus for him!

Does that mean that you should do nothing until then? Absolutely not! Make offerings, say prayers on his behalf to ease and assist him in his journey, reflect on how he has touched your life, enjoy his music and movies, share your thoughts and experiences with others who are currently grieving and do what you can to help them through it, make fearless and fabulous art and live your life in such a way that he would have been proud to call you friend had he known you. All of this is fine regardless of what comes later, and should be appropriate within any religious paradigm.

“Ich bin dann König.” – Bowie

Gods of the day

Next week I’ll be writing hymns for the Gods of the day, with a couple tweaks.


The Satyrs



Hymn to Thor

For Teka Lynn

To Thor

Hail Thor who fights fiercely
in defense of Ásgarðr’s walls,
master of Mjölnir with which you
stir the dark clouds until
there is a torrential downpour
and your hammer makes a calamitous boom
whenever it strikes the earth
like a fiery bolt falling from heaven.
You, Atli-Thor, even make the frightening Jötnar
and vile Trollkind quake as your thunderous step
announces that you are drawing near.
O Harðhugaðr, son of Óðinn who rides
in the storm with his Furious Host,
and Jörð who delights in crowns of flowers
and the kiss of Sunna upon her honey-gold shoulder;
from the sweet union of these two you sprang,
Vingþórr, you who preserve the World-Tree
and hallow wherever people gather
in your most holy name – Einriði, Véþormr
and Véurr or however else it pleases you
to be known, Thor whose ready laugh
is room-rattling and infectious.
Thor who is an expert archer,
and even better with a sword.
Thor who would do anything
to protect your dear daughter Þrúðr,
and though they are mighty and wrathful
as a pair of wolves in harsh winter,
you, Thor, worry too about your boys Magni
and Móði, though you’ll never admit it to them.
Hail Thor who purifies with fire,
consecrated salt, the Thurisaz Rune
and the sign of your hammer
made over the person, place or thing.
Thor, I pray, O friend of man, please hear me,
and stand at my side as I face down
the threats and obstacles that inevitably come
into a mortal life, Hlórriði.

To Hebe

Hail to you Hebe, O maiden daughter
of Zeus who puts on the form of eagles,
Lord of the heights of snow-capped Mount Olympos
and his beloved wife, cow-eyed Hera,
the fierce, mighty and independent Goddess
of marriage and other womanly things.
You are cupbearer at the banquets
of the Blessed Immortals, O Hebe,
ensuring a tranquil and convivial atmosphere
throughout the festivities.
You also watch over the fine youth of our fine city,
and make sure that they are healthy, fit and happy
as they wind their way towards adulthood like the vines
that bring you so much pleasure,
free of the pain, pride and perversion
so prevalent in other cities
that do not know your sacred rites.
Though once you loved and were promised to another,
you make Herakles who rose from the pyre God of Ordeals
unspeakably happy by maintaining a well-ordered domicile,
and fulfilling his boundless appetites,
though you were not sure at first that this union
ordained against the wishes of your mother
by your loud-thundering father
would work – but it did.
Surprise of surprises, that brawny, hairy man
knew well how to treat his women,
so that each felt herself to be a Lady
whose worth was beyond calculation.
He helped out with the chores,
he brought home lots of meat from the hunt,
and thanks to Omphale he was an expert
at weaving and spinning, and really kinky in bed,
which Deïaneira was never down with.
So hail to you Hebe who wears the ivy crown
and carries the thyrsos in the nocturnal revels of Lyaios,
and may you continue to find joy and fulfillment
as the lawful mate of Herakles the lion-hearted,
brother and eternal friend of Bakcheios
who roughly took Dίa before setting off
to conquer India, a numerous and doughty nation
much-loved by Hera the Queen.
Somehow they made up during the war,
which made your heart jubilant
for nothing is more hateful to you, Hebe, than quarrels –
especially quarrels among family members,
who should love one another as those two now do
with understanding, forgiveness, mutual goals and charity.
(Or at least a Charity, who loves the milk of the poppy,
red-capped mushrooms and smoke of the star-flower.)

Informal readers poll, yo!

Oh, forgot to add…

I’ll make the final decision once proper divination has been done, but until then I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see how you, the readers, felt: should I include hymns for the Skythian, Slavic and Baltic Gods (or at the least the ones pertinent to the Starry Bear tradition) in my Polytheist Hymnal along with pieces for members of the Egyptian, Ancient Near Eastern, Greek, Roman, Germanic and Scandinavian pantheons? Or is that too much, and I should just save them for some future volume? Perhaps you think I should expand it even further. and if so whom would you like to see? (Request not commission, don’t worry.)

final bout of begging

And that’s almost it for the commissions, with just hymns to al-Lāt, Asklepios’ family and a trilogy for Hekate remaining to be written. Of course after that I’ve still got something like 44 divinities to do, several of whom are getting multiple pieces – but if you’d like to sponsor something Paypal me $20 per hymn. You can also just request something, though it’s probably going to the back of the line, there’s no guarantee I’ll even get to it, and you won’t be credited when I do. But hey, it’s worth a shot, innit?

Hymn to Nephthys the Reveler

For Elizabeth

To Nephthys the Reveler

Hail Nephthys, dutiful daughter of Geb
and starry Nut, you who have known
greater grief than your fellows,
O mistress of the house of Seth who longs
for his return from the desert where he hunts
wild beasts and shirks his responsibilities,
foremost among those who mourn
with Isis for the Green One,
Osiris, king of those below,
whom they will never see again,
mother whose alabaster arms are empty
with only the memory of the happy,
dog-headed boy you once nursed at your breast
to fill them with, Anubis who was reared
by your sister as a playmate for Horus the prince.
But, O Nephthys, you are also companion
in the revels of Petempamenti, who delights
in the drum, the sistrum and the shrill
shriek of Min’s pipes played by his shaggy servants
and the spirits who inhabit trees and lakes.
Lord of the mask is he, and God of the sacred beverage
made from the fruit of the vine
after it has been stomped thoroughly
and left to ferment in large amphorae underground.
He alone of the divine host of Upper and Lower Egypt
has the power to help you forget your sorrows for a few hours
and even put a smile on your beautiful face,
O Nephthys, whom only the initiates of his mysteries
have heard the laughter of. So remember us,
dear Goddess, as we remember you in our gay songs.

To Hekate the Bricoleur

Hail terrible Hekate fond of solitary ways
angry one heralded by roaring beasts
sepulchral Persian hidden in the night
earthy attendant light-giving protector of dogs
three-formed guardian at the gate
lady of the house nurturer of children tender of bulls
who treads the earth with golden sandals and draped in saffron
kind-hearted savioress Hekate hail!

To Hekate of the Black Sea

I call to you Hekate who was worshiped
with wild nocturnal rites on the shores of the Black Sea
by mixed populations of Greeks, Colchians, Persians
and even the horse-loving Skythians. It was here
that your priestess Medeia, whom you esteemed
as if she was your very own daughter, through your tutelage
learned all of the properties of plants and stones,
how to weave magical charms and cast spells,
the sacrifices that placate ghosts, purifications
and unbindings, mystery-rites and infernal evocations
which she passed on to Orpheus the Thracian bard,
whom she loved but could not marry. It was here, too,
that you experienced love and bore to Hermes the Guide of Souls
a fine child who reflected its parents in each of its heads,
and was given your mingled names to be known by.
And here also you watched the devastation of your beloved cities
which once had built temples, kept festivals, minted coins,
and every home maintained shrines in your honor
as wave after wave of nomadic populations from the central Asian steppes
crashed against their walls and overcame them.
Now it is happening again, as marauders rampage across Ukraine
leaving rubble and fire and scattered corpses in their wake.
Worse still, O Hekate Mistress of the Gallows,
the Muscovite horde are ripping children
from the arms of their mothers and stealing them from orphanages
so that they can carry them back to their snowy homeland
where they will be given a new name, a new language, and new customs
and made to forget the old and everything that once nourished them.
O grave Goddess with deep roots in the land of the Black Sea,
watch over and protect these children, I pray; go with them into exile
and guide them safely home with the light of your torches,
and do unending grievous harm to anyone who would hurt these innocents,
or in any way be involved in this atrocity,
from the soldier to the clerk to the false parents
who would take in what does not belong to them.
Return blood to blood and flesh to flesh, O merciful and wrathful One
who dwells at the crossroads, and help all Ukrainians be restored
to the moist soil that birthed them, and let them not lose hope along the way.

Hymn to Asklepios

For Johanna

To Asklepios

I call to you Asklepios,
black-robed God of healers
who holds a coiling serpent
in one hand, and on the other
is perched a raven with night-dark wings,
potent symbols of your power and dominion,
and also your divine parentage.
Asklepios who visits the dreams
of the sick and despairing
and reveals life-saving cures
and clues to the mystery of who we are,
Asklepios who places inspiration
in the mind of the therapist
so that their words can untangle
the threads of trauma that hold
their patients fast,
Asklepios who unseen guides the hand
of the surgeon, the dentist and the root-cutter
preparing pills, philters and fumigations
for the restoration of mind and body
from assorted plants and fungi
just as the ancestors once did,
Asklepios who burns up pollution,
and causes the daimones who feed on
those afflicted with illness, pain and insanity
to flee in terror before your might and righteous wrath,
please, O Great One of Epidauros, be with those
who praise your beautiful name, and offer plentiful
sacrifices on your altar, and hold your image dear
in their hearts, and obey all your prescriptions,
and Asklepios please bring swift relief
and an end to soul-gnawing suffering,
and I promise you will always be honored.

To Hermóðr

Hail to you Hermóðr, valorous son of Óðinn
the Chooser, whose heart has been tested in battle,
whose bond is trusted throughout the nine worlds,
and whose iron will never can be turned from its goal.
O swift-footed Hermóðr, messenger of the Gods
and friend to all but the oathbreaker, your proud father
gifted you with your gold-gleaming helm and unpierceable
chainmail when you killed your first monster,
a Troll who would attack road-weary travelers
when they tried to cross its bridge.
And that was but one of many times
you have acted for the betterment of humanity.
You, O silver-tongued Hermóðr, were taught
clever riddles and beautiful song by Bragi,
Iðunn’s husband, your boyhood companion.
With words you wove a net for the capture of Loki,
slippery as a salmon and himself supremely skilled at flyting.
And you, O Sleipnir-riding Hermóðr, won the undying esteem
of Frigga when you, alone of the Gods, were able
to shake off the shock and grief at Baldr’s death
and find your voice to answer her request for someone
to undertake the long and dangerous journey
to Hel’s kingdom and bargain with her dread sovereign
for the release of the much-mourned one.
Though you were not able to ransom him,
still you gained all of her love and all of her favor for trying.
So hail to you, O potent Hermóðr who begot
a famous line of kings, may your kindness and heroism
never be forgot by those who revere
and have remained true to the Old Gods!

Hymn to Mithras

To Mithras

Hail to you Mithras born of stone and flame,
who transforms the sacrificial blood of the bull
into flowers and grain, friend of the raven,
companion of the roaring lion,
one who makes a banquet for the Sun,
and knows all the lore of the stars
and the science of initiation rites.
Mithras, strength of the soldier, guarantor of the oath and treaty,
protector of brides and venerable fathers,
you who are always attended by Cautes who bears the torch
and Cautopates who wields the caduceus.
Mithras you stand firm against the wicked and unjust,
and seek always to right what is wrong and unbalanced –
and you teach us to do likewise, and how to find
the strength to fight within.


Hymn to Khnum

For G. Krasskova

To Khnum

Hail to you Khnum, Great Lord to whom
Elephantine and Esna are dear, Mighty Ram
who fills the Nile with your potency
so that the river will spread fertility throughout
the whole of the Two Lands during the inundation,
Father of the fathers, Min of the Nubians, One who
crafted the form of the Sun, Crocodile from whom
the Scorpion is sprung, Protector of the King, God that
the people cry to for deliverance, virile husband of
Satis, Neith, Heqet, Menhit, Meskhenet and Nebtuwi,
ever busy at your wheel shaping clay into strong
and perfect bodies for our beloved children
whom you place in their mother’s bellies
and watch over, guiding them through
the gestation process until it is time
for the Birthing Goddesses to take over
and bring them forth into the light of the Sun.
Thank you Khnum, for of all the labor carried out
by the Blessed Immortals, this is among
the most important for humankind.

Hymn to Herakles

For Stephen

To Herakles

Remember with song the far-famed
son of Zeus of the blue-black locks
and Alkmene whose lovely shoulder
was white as the moon, glory of Hera
who delights in gold is his name, he who
shed the red blood of many a monster
during his travels through Europe, Asia
and the African lands. Pillars at one end,
and a wall at the other did Herakles leave behind
to remind men that he, a living God,
had walked among them performing wonders
never to be forgot. As many of these as he did
he begot even more sons and daughters,
and they in time became heroes and kings
and revealers of sacred mysteries
like their lion-hearted progenitor.
One could argue until every last cow
of Geryon has come home about which
of his works was most deserving of preservation
down through the ages in fables, paintings, statuary
and stage productions at his brother’s festivals –
was it when he strangled the many-headed Hydra
or bedded the fifty daughters of Thespius in a single night,
that time he and Dionysos charged into the fray
on the backs of braying asses, turning the white-foamed tide
in the war between the gleaming Gods
and their ferocious, red-haired Giant foes,
or perhaps when he sailed to the Black Sea
with Jason and Orpheus in search of the Golden Fleece –
but that is fruitless labor indeed, and it would be better by far
to just praise Herakles, and lift high a horn of wine in his honor.

A hymn to Sekhmet

For Galina Krasskova

To Sekhmet the Protector

Hail to you Sekhmet, Fierce One
who can swat away the Seven Arrows
with a contemptuous wave of your hand,
Sekhmet the Mighty One who hunts down
malignant, vagrant Spirits who afflict us by day and by night,
Sekhmet the Unrivaled One who spits at the Evil Eye
rendering it as impotent as the enemies of the Two Lands,
and tears to pieces the Apophis serpent who would bar the way
of her father Re Upon the Horizon. Sekhmet the Thrice-Greatest
I hail, who is served by exorcists and surgeons, both of whom
cut away what is diseased, polluted and corrupt.
Hail to you Lady of the red beer who delights in the fine offerings
we bring before you, hail and watch over us, O Ever Vigilant One!

Hymn to Isa

For redeseker

To Isa

Hail to you Isa, indomitable Dame
among that family of Spirits which Óðinn
brought through with a terrible scream
when he hung on the lonely, wind-swept tree
for nine long days and nine even longer nights.
You can withstand every blow and every scheming attack
flung your way, nor can anything in all Miðgarðr
cause you to budge unless you will it.
And that is another of your lessons,
for though all may seem still and quiet as a tomb
when winter reigns, there is still sound in the distance
and movement beneath the surface
which those with senses keen enough may perceive.
You are a merciless teacher who gives no room for error,
so that it is said that your touch can cause instant frostbite
but your heart is much colder still, and yet you are not this way
out of idle cruelty, but rather through necessity
– for when the dreaded Fimbulwinter covers the earth
and those ravening wolves drag the Sun and Moon
down from their place in the heavens, then only those
who have been hardened by a steady diet of suffering,
and had their wills sharpened like a spear that has sent
uncounted hosts swiftly to the abode of gloomy Hela,
they and they alone shall survive to witness the return
of shining Baldr, the dear son of queenly Frigga.

Hymn to Máni the Sweller

For Sparrow

To Máni the Sweller

I hail Máni, Mundilferi’s brilliant son and the brother
of flame-haired Sunna, who together were placed
in the heavens by the kindly Æsir
that men might have a means for the telling of time;
the Sun who oversees the everyday business of life
and the seasons which chase each other round the year
like four hungry wolves, and the Moon
which determines the best times
for planting and harvesting, births and slaughters,
when to celebrate the festivals of the Vanir,
assists in unspeakable sorcerous workings,
and serves as witness to the pledges of lovers.
Once Máni did more than that, helping
to bring together the star-crossed pair,
the mad Bear King Óðr and Freyja who won
by precious labor the indescribably beautiful
Brísingamen. But back then she was the mistress
of Óðinn whose spear never misses its mark,
and he kept her in a bower which no man,
no God and no Dwarf could ever reach
or hope to breach if they did, for he wove
powerful magic into its defenses.
And what was Óðr at that time?
A no account fosterling of Njörðr’s
whose true name and history
were unknown to all,
including himself.
But what was known is that
he was a dear companion of Máni
and the Moon God is good to his friends.
So he picked Óðr up, shrunk him down
to the size of a speck of dust in a moonbeam,
and slipped unnoticed through a window
in the high tower which none other could enter,
and then made Óðr swell large again
like fruit on the vine so that he and Freyja
could properly enjoy their beautiful reunion.
I will save the rest of the tale for another time
since it is known by one and all,
and practically every skáld of any worth
has composed verse on the theme
as if it was part of the matter of Troy,
but I will end by saying
that Óðr and his girl never forgot
this boon done them by Máni
and until the final day will not cease
singing his praises;
nor should we.

My new list

My to-do list is getting a little large and unwieldy (and I haven’t even decided if I’m including the Baltic and Slavic divinities which I technically should since they’re part of the Starry Bear tradition.) So I put together a smaller, more select one. The first batch were arrived at via divination, the second are requests and commissions, and the third were my choice. I’m then going to use divination to decide the order in which I write – barring sudden, random inspiration in which case that God or Hero will get bumped to the top of the list. Once I’ve finished composing for this group I’ll come up with another and so on and so forth until I’m finished.

The author, totally not engaging in writing avoidance behavior


Asklepios’ family

David Bowie