Happy Autumnal Equinox!

shutterstock_1964352591October is almost here. chilly weather, crisp leaves, halloween, and then the Hunt Season through Yule. yay . It’s the best time of year. 🙂 

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Holiday Shopping Thoughts

I’m making this post because of something similar I saw going around facebook. It makes good sense to me and is something I can thoroughly support. 

With the winter — gift-giving—holidays coming, why not consider doing the bulk of your shopping from co-religionists who own small businesses? We should be supporting craftspeople and artists within our communities. Hell, if i had my way, i’d only shop at polytheistic vendors, stores, and the like. In as much as possible, let’s keep our money in the community. 

My shop is here. Other artists and craftspeople, please post links to your shops and pages in the comments section. Winter is coming. LOL

Labas

to all my Lithuanian readers. I’ve noticed lately that I’ve had quite a few readers from Lithuania. 🙂 Welcome.  

1429068-Tr.._castle

Submission to Persephone’s Agon

For Persephone
by Alexeigynaix

Persephone,
You dance in the meadows
in golden summer light,
so light on Your feet
You never crush a wildflower,
though the meadow blooms profusely
in the nymph’s joy that You are there
to dance beside her.

Persephone,
You dance in the halls
in silver winter light,
a partnered dance, sedate,
gowned in garnet, crowned in gold,
and the still air weighs less heavily
in Your husband’s joy that You are there
to dance with Him.

Daughter of Demeter,
You walk among the orchards
while butterflies and bees
flit from bloom to bloom,
flower-crowned, arms bare,
while apples, peaches ripen
and nectar turns to honey
and Your mother walks with You.

Queen of Haides,
You walk among the asphodel
while new guests in Your realm
disembark the river ferry,
treading lightly on the pallid blooms,
while Lethe burbles quietly
and still Lake Memory reflects
and Your husband walks with You.

Don’t forget…

I’m running a sale on art, paintings, and prayer cards at my etsy shop through September 30. Just enter the code AUTUMN upon check out and receive 10% off. 

I’ve just added the new Mundilfari card and several signed book/card bundles, including a full set of Walking the Worlds issues to date. 

Also the Persephone Agon is ongoing through 9pm EST Sept. 30. If you’ve been thinking about submitting a piece, now’s your chance. There are prizes. 🙂 

Working Through the Fallow Times

(I posted this a couple of years ago and stumbled across it again recently. I’m posting here for reflection. It seems particularly timely since i’ve been getting a lot of emails from folks wondering what to do in dark or confusing spiritual times). 

Working through the Fallow Times with a Ladder of Monks

I’m taking a class this semester in medieval studies that explores the spiritual senses through the corpus of early Christian literature. Some of it is fascinating, some of it is vexing, but so far it’s not been boring and I”m learning a lot. One thing I didn’t expect was to encounter a text, with which I was heretofore completely unfamiliar, that gave me language and guidance in traveling through one’s dark night of the soul, those fallow times where the presence of one’s Gods can seem absent or so very far away.

I think this is as close to universal to the mystical experience as anything gets. The terminology I use is heavily influenced by John of the Cross because when I first went through it, that was what I had to help me understand and survive the experience, but I’ve talked to countless polytheists, (many mystics, some not,) and almost without exception, they understood when I mentioned this. There was always a tension, averted eyes filled with remembrance of their own spiritual deserts, nods of understanding, and grief, sometimes confusion and pain flickering over their features. We are so ill-prepared when this happens. We have communities where no one wants to talk about their experiences especially the ones that might brand them a mystic (working class suspicion of and hostility toward mysticism runs deep in Heathenry at least), where there is often a deep hostility toward anything not mediated by texts, and where there simply aren’t enough trained, competent clergy, clergy who have nurtured and sustained for themselves the type of devotional relationship upon which such a fallow period is predicated. We’re getting there, but with our restorations under a hundred years old, we still have a way to go and its times like this where that shows. (Though to be honest, these days i’m not sure one would find much more useful help and guidance even in Christianity…). We scramble for what we can get in terms of human guidance and all too often are blindsided and crushed when the fallow times come upon us.

That’s why I was blown away last week when I read Guigo II’s “Ladder of Monks.” I resisted reading it and put it off till the last moment but it’s a book that I think personally I shall continue to treasure for a long time. It’s written by a 12th Century Cistercian Abbot as a letter to his friend and spiritual brother Gervase. In it, with charming simplicity and humility, he lays out his process for engaging in what Christians call “lectio divina,” a type of engaged, close reading of spiritual texts that has the potential to lead to direct experience with God. While I’m still suspicious of any mysticism mediated by a text — I’ve seen what passes in Heathenry where reification and sometimes outright fetishization of the texts often supplants devotion to the Gods (perhaps in some misguided habitual desire for a “Scripture”?)— I was quite struck by the useful beauty of his four steps: reading, meditation, prayer, and finally contemplation (which in this text is more or less used as a synonym for direct experience with one’s God, i.e. mystical experience). The text is also replete with lush metaphors of wine and inebriation, wherein spiritual experiences are likened to the sweetness of the grape. He talks of the taste of God, speaking to the senses as mystics do, and of longing. Most importantly of all, he provides a cogent, carefully considered reasoning for those times when God withdraws His presence and I thought of every mystic and every god spouse that I have ever known when I read this:

“There is a common saying that too much familiarity breeds contempt. And so He withdraws Himself, so that He is not despised for being too attentive, so that when He is absent, He may be desired the more, that being desired He may be sought more eagerly, that having been sought for He may at last be found with greater thankfulness.” (p. 77).

I read that and remembered when Odin cut me off from His presence. It was not punishment. Everyone else around me could still sense Him and I was able to work, but I myself was denied the sweetness and grace of His presence, something that I had rested in, partaken of, relied on pretty much constantly for years. For the better part of a year I was bereft. I think it’s the thing every Odin’s woman fears most: that she will no longer be useful to Him, loved by Him, present in Him. Divination after divination gave no relief, in fact I was told that this was very much something I had to go through, that I had to learn to trust that He was there, even when I could not sense Him, that one can rely too much on one’s senses and forget about one’s duty, that it’s easy to do as He wills when one has the “reward” or incentive of that Presence, but not so easy to do with grace what is asked when one’s spiritual life seems a barren wasteland, that it was easy to become complacent. It was absolutely the worst period of my life, even up to and including my mother’s death — they pretty much stand side by side in terms of anguish. In retrospect though, I wouldn’t change it. I grew in my devotion to Him, and ultimately in my connection to and adoration for Him in ways that never would have been possible had I relied solely on the connection as I knew it. It forced me to seek Him out, to find Him again.

In class discussion, I mentioned that I was particularly taken by how relevant this book is as a spiritual texts for those of all traditions today. One of the professors asked me to elaborate. At first I hesitated (and as someone else chimed in, hoped he would forget his question lol. I didn’t want to have to talk about my non-academic life) but he pressed the question and I explained that I work within my religion to teach people devotional practices, a religion that is not a religion of the book, that has many converts from Protestant traditions that have an inculcated expectation of Scripture, and that it’s a mess. I also explained that I taught for a year at a seminary and in both cases I’d seen the same thing: people would go through an experience of isolation from their Gods. They would go into a dark night of the soul and not understand. Many would break and leave their tradition, wounded, or struggle for years thinking they had done something wrong or were not “worthy” of their tradition. (I’ve encountered all these responses and more). I pointed out that Guigo’s text first and foremost positions this type of experience as perfectly normal to spiritual life. In no way (unlike what I have occasionally seen in our communities) is the person pathologized or blamed for the experience. It’s not only positioned as normal, but clear advice, both earlier and later in the text is given for getting through it. It’s here that lectio divina shines, and here I think even those of us who are not working in textually based traditions (traditions that have a ‘holy book’) can find merit. This is what our lore can be used for! When one is going through a period where one’s Gods are absent, reading sacred texts, studying the stories of one’s God, praying makes one’s God present in one’s heart and memory. The absence is filled by longing.

I think too many people never experience their Gods directly, the overwhelming fullness, inebriation Guigo might say, of Presence, and mistake study of lore, or sacred texts AS experienced when in fact it’s only a jumping off point. I think over a thousand years of religions of the book have patterned us to settle for the text alone (far easier to determine orthodoxy and consolidate ecclesiastical power when experience can be limited by a text). It’s good to see a text that reaches above all of that, that points the way for a progressive and potent usage of the written word, one that doesn’t mediate or block direct experience but leads the way to it, and sustains through the dark times.

Source:

“Ladder of Monks and Twelve Meditations” by Guigo II, translated by Edmund Colledge and James Walsh (1979), NY, NY published by Cistercian Publications through Doubleday and Co.

*************

Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Enough

I sit in class and listen to my professor
a kind, erudite, and educated man
call my gods ‘stupid’.

To the south a man lays down his life
when Christians demand he desecrate his shrines.

I sit in classes and argue with seminarians
who tell me polytheists never had theology

And in Syria a girl is raped and stoned
Because her brother discovered she was pious
but not to Allah.

How much theology does one need?

I listen to you shame our philosophers
by damning them to atheism,
by denying the piety embedded in their every word.

And your cousins in the desert
Destroy polytheistic tribes,
Selling their women to slavery.

I pick up the pieces in those of your flock
Who have found no solace beneath your shepherd’s rod.
I dry their tears, salve their wounds and lead them back,
to a better way, the way their ancestors knew
before you came. I clean up the infection.

It is enough to make me wish to burn down your world.
It is enough to make me yearn for the edifices of your certainty
To be savaged to dust.

Enough.

Your faith is a butchery.
Your religion is a lie.
(If you could count, you’d know this).

MY people invented theology.
Our sacred tales and the weavings of poets
Inspired by Gods and muses alike
Laid the foundations for the world
That you later stole.

We saw no need to tear down your shrines.
We saw no need to anathematize your God.
But we should have.
Rome should have been more diligent
And then maybe we would have been spared
The plague that you and your children have become.

The Pagans in Lyon knew the truth.
So did the Saxons generations later.
We see you clearly for what you are.
One day, we will see you turn to ash
And we’ll salt the earth in your passing.

Enough.

 

 

(by G. Krasskova)

A Candomble priest martyred for Jesus

So i have heard from one of my Brazilian colleagues that a Candomble priest, who refused to desecrate his shrines has been murdered by Christians. Álisson (pictured below) stood fast in devotion to the Orixa and was butchered in the name of Jesus. We should remember his example when we face our own challenges in life, and to living as devout polytheists. This man was willing to die for devotion to his Powers. We should approach our own spiritual obstacles with that kind of courage and fortitude rather than fence-sitting with respect to our Gods. We should also remember this glimpse of the true face of monotheism. 

Alisson candomble martyr

One can always expect a monotheist to behave according to type

So while radical muslims are attempting to destroy Europe, let’s not forget the evangelical Christian threat a little closer to home

For those who aren’t up to translating, apparently there have been several cases in Brazil of evangelical Christian drug traffickers … yes, you read that rightly…forcing devout Candomble practitioners to desecrate and destroy their shrines and temples, in the name of Jesus of course.

A monotheist is a monotheist wherever you go. 

Submission to Persephone’s Agon

Prayer to Persephone
by Claire M.

Hail Persephone, Queen of the Underworld,
you who are Holy and knowing.
I call upon you in honour and reverence
and ask that you be present in my life.

I call to Kore Karpophoros;
bringer of spring flowers, mistress of seasons
whose return brings light to the world.
Help me find my path and have the courage to walk it.

I call to Persephone Khthonia;
infernal Queen of the great below.
Bringer of death, destroyer of light,
help me discover my power and have the strength to wield it.

I call to Persephone Megala Thea,
Queen of the sacred way.
Help me grow closer to you and understand your mysteries.
With grace and ease, so mote it be.

*************

Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.