Oski’s Day

Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day. In parts of Germany and Switzerland, children would receive small gifts, and certain sweet foods would be shared. There are smells and tastes that I associate with this day alone – something I was reminded of this morning at work when a coworker walked in with gifts of coquito for her advisor. That too is something typically made only for Christmas and she said the smell of the cinnamon when making the drink conjures the holiday spirit like nothing else. I get that. St. Nicholas day is like that for me.

My mom always called it Oski’s Day and keeping the same custom would honor Odin as the Gift-Giver (Oski) on this day. She’d make leckerli (sort of a Swiss gingerbread), we’d have dates, candied walnuts, and mandarin oranges and we’d burn beeswax candles in offering to the God. That combination of scents brings me back powerfully to all the winter holidays we shared, because while Dec. 20 is traditionally the start of Yule, for us it started on the 6thwith this small exchange of gifts.

For those wanting a taste of this holiday, here is a traditional recipe for Basler Leckerli.

Odin is a God of so many things, awesome in the oldest sense of the word, terrible but He is also the winter king Who fills our homes with abundance, Who comes sharing wealth, warmth, and joy. He bestows sweetness. In the midst of the dark and the cold, He is fire burning.

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(image by Righon)

 

 

 

 

30% Off My Books at Lulu – CyberMonday

Edward Butler comes to the rescue (I’d have missed this deal otherwise).

Today many of the books I’ve published through Lulu can be purchased for 30% off sale, this includes a large number of my devotionals.

Just head over to LULU and use PROMOCODE: CYBERMONDAY30

Deal only good for today (December 2, 2019).

 

 

NEW BOOK: Modern Guide to Heathenry Releases Today!

 

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At long last A Modern Guide to Heathenry: Lore, Celebrations & Mysteries of the Northern Tradition officially releases today from my publisher Red Wheel / Weiser Books in the US & Canada (sorry UK readers, you’ll have to wait until January).
The book takes what I created in Exploring the Northern Tradition: A Guide to the Gods, Lore, Rites, and Celebrations from the Norse, German, and Anglo-Saxon Traditions (2005) as a foundation and significantly expands upon it with more than 70,000 words of new material especially on devotional work, honoring the ancestors, and theological exegesis. It’s basically twice the word heft of its predecessor!

What the Back Copy Says:

An accessible yet in-depth guide to this increasingly popular pre-Christian religious tradition of Northern Europe

Heathenry, is one of the fastest growing polytheistic religious movements in the United States today. This book explores the cosmology, values, ethics, and rituals practiced by modern heathens.

In A Modern Guide to Heathenry readers will have the opportunity to explore the sacred stories of the various heathen gods like Odin, Frigga, Freya, and Thor and will be granted a look into the devotional practices of modern votaries. Blóts, the most common devotional rites, are examined in rich detail with examples given for personal use. Additionally, readers are introduced to the concept of wyrd, or fate, so integral to the heathen worldview.

Unlike many books on heathenry, this one is not denomination-specific, nor does it seek to overwhelm the reader with unfamiliar Anglo-Saxon or Norse terminology. For Pagans who wish to learn more about the Norse deities or those who are new to heathenry or who are simply interested in learning about this unique religion, A Modern Guide to Heathenry is the perfect introduction. Those who wish to deepen their own devotional practice will find this book helpful in their own work as well.

 

US & CANADA ORDER LINKS

UK PRE-ORDER LINKS

 

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A Helpful Holiday Shopping Guide

In addition to my etsy shop, which has over three hundred prayer cards for our Gods and Goddesses, and my own books at amazon.com, I’ve found a number of other clever gifts, mostly on etsy, that I’d like to bring to folks’ attention. (If you have a shop that you’d like me to include, please feel free to post in the comments).

I am in no way associated with any of the following shops. They’re items or shops that I’ve found and really liked the past couple of weeks while doing a bit of Yule shopping of my own, so I pass them on.

  1. Mjolnir Cookie Cutters from Bakerlogy. These are awesome. This shop also has Valknot, rune charms, and vegvisir cookie cutters. These are so clever, that I couldn’t resist them. If you like to bake, these are great.

mjolnir cookie cutter

  1. Artist SJ Chilton has a lovely collection of small, plaster statues…quite unique, for many of the Norse Gods and Goddesses. I particularly love the Odin but also the fact that this shop has statues of Ran and Nott too – one doesn’t often see these particular Goddesses represented.

Chilton Odin

  1. I adore this image of linocut image of Hermes. It’s inexpensive and quite compelling. The artist has a selection of linocut prints that may be of interest to Polytheists and Pagans. It’s worth checking out.

linocut hermes

  1. RareEarthWoodworks offers a fantastic selection of travel shrines and portable icons. I found this site one night while going down the insomnia rabbit hole and was really impresse with the quality of the shrines and the variety available. I particularly liked the Apothecary case for Asklepius and the Loki shrine. Check them out.

loki box

  1. Averidesigns has jewelry, both rings and pendants with images of the Greek and Roman Gods. I bought an Apollo piece from the shop and was very, very pleased with the quality. You can check them out here.

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  1. Paul Borda just came out with a lovely Hel statue. I’ve liked most of his Norse themed statues (except his Loki – I just don’t see Loki bearded lol). He has some jewelry at his shop too that Heathens may like. Check out the Hel statue here.

hel statue

  1. For those with a devotion to the Goddess Frigga, this shop offers a gorgeous silver pendant. It’s thick and heavy and nicely solid. It’s a powerful piece. The artist has pendants for several other Deities available too.

Frigga pendant

  1. Here are some knitted socks from Norway. When I was a child, I hated getting clothing as a gift for the holidays, now, socks totally rock.

socks

  1. There’s also this gorgeous scarf, showing scenes from the life of Dionysos that can be found here. It’s pretty, elegant, and very well made. I figure it can serve either as a scarf or a shrine cloth. Y’all know how these things go. Lol.

dionysos scarf

  1. Finally, there’s this absolutely stunning set of runes. They are just gorgeous, come in their own hand carved box, and can be worn as pendants or used in divination.

rune box

Let me know what treasures y’all find as you’re preparing for the holidays. I love this time of year and in my home, the gift giving as already started. 😉

QOTD

The most tragic thing for a nation is to have no memory.

                            –Peng Wang, artist

(We were watching a documentary today on China’s one child policy and one of the people interviewed said this, a sentiment with which I quite concur. It occurred to me this is alwayswhat communism did as soon as it came to power: destroyed your thinkers, intellectuals, artists – your keepers of collective memory. They did so for the same reason that Daesh destroys polytheistic temples and religious items: so that for the generation that follows there will be no clue that things were ever different than what the party says it is and has been. It’s obscene, and this is what way too many in our communities and in our country today want to embrace. Maybe read a little history and reconsider).

Increase Your Book Hoard 📙+📚 = 😍

I love books. I am an avid bibliophile with a serious literary habit. As such, I just love the tradition in Iceland called the Jolabokaflod (Yule Book Flood) where people buy books for themselves, and as gifts.

The tradition originated during World War II when foreign imports were restricted, but paper was cheap. Iceland’s population was not large enough to support a year-round publishing industry. In Iceland one of 10 Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime, and one of the hallmark signs that the yule season is approaching is when the Icelandic Bokatidindi (a catalogue of all the new books) is delivered for free to each Icelandic residence. So the frenzy begins!

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You can shop the range of my books from new releasing titles or past titles by popping over here to amazon: http://amzn.to/2zscWsf  💖

 

R.I.P. Ochani Lele (Stuart Myers), beloved child of Obatala

It is with deep sadness that I woke today to find that my friend and mentor Ochani Lele had died. He has had a rough couple of years and six weeks ago, he took a bad fall in his home and was {mis-}diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff. When the pain did not cease, he returned, several times to the doctor and finally demanded tests, which his doctor did five weeks later. It turned out that he had a broken neck but during the course of treatment, doctors discovered he also had stage four cancer. He was immediately moved to hospice where he passed away yesterday (November 27) at 7:30 in the morning. He was with his dear friend, Flavia, a child of Yemaya, who is now taking care of final expenses.

Stuart impacted so many people, both within Lukumi and without. He was generous to a fault with his time, constantly offered classes and wrote books trying to help those who wanted to learn how to honor the Orisha better, to live their lives more fully, to develop as pious, devout human beings. His work as a diviner was extraordinary and above all else, he was a gifted and good man. He will be missed, and the world is a poorer place without him here.

May the Orisha receive him and may he eat honey out of their hands.

For those wishing to donate to his final expenses, you may do so here. My house has given what we can.

Ochani lele

 

Hitting the Nail on the Head Perfectly

In our previous discussion, Neptunesdolphins hit the nail on the head perfectly, so perfectly, that I am pulling her comment out to highlight it here: 

“Sigh, once more modernity and Monotheism strikes again. I know lots of Pentacostals and Catholics who take exception. How else are you slain in the Holy Spirit or see the Mother Mary, unless you engage with God?

Problem is that living in monotheistic culture is that all Gods are false except for the “One True God.” If the Gods and other Divines are treated as fiction, then engaging with fictional characters is considered mental illness. Unless it is pop culture Deities.

The other is that monotheistic thinking flattens the world into human, and only human. Since there is a singularity of life, people cannot imagine engaging with a plurality of Beings. It is beyond their imaginings.

The other thing about tumblr which highlights problems in Paganism – the Deities are smaller than people. People are the Deity. There is no Other, there is only them and themselves.

And of course, Progressivism as it is practiced is a religion. What is happening in Paganism is that everything is being homogenized by Progressivism. So we have the preoccupation with who is a Nazi and who should be thrown out for impolitic thoughts. Monotheism in action – thought crimes and the flattening of thought.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I would also emphasize that the attitude expressed on the tumblr page I was discussing yesterday is not limited to Polytheisms. I know plenty of devout Catholics, Orthodox, etc. who have run up against it too. Thing is, their traditions’ structures are able to support and deflect this nonsense far better than ours. We have people taking it in wholesale and building a hollow practice around it and wondering why they’re getting nowhere. 

 

Sigh – “If you have any engagement with the Gods you’re mentally ill.” WHAT?????

I’m afraid I’m going to be very blunt here, because in thirty years of teaching and serving as clergy, I have never seen such utter garbage spreading like wildfire throughout our respective communities as I do now, not even when I first became Heathen (and believe me, the level of bullshit in the Heathen community at that time was a thousand times worse than it is now – and that’s saying something). Part of the problem is the pseudo-progressive contingent on tumblr, and part of it just the sad lack of adequate education in North America today. It’s sometimes hard to see where one begins and one ends.(1)

When someone tells you that actual engagement with the Gods is wrong, that being able to sense or hear Them is mental illness—even one single moment of theophany, that one cannot be claimed by a Deity, called as a priest, function as an oracle, that being a godspouse is mental illness, not only are they completely willfully, and egregiously ignorant of the history of their religion, but they are speaking impiety and attempting to do violence to the pious. They are butchering the religion to fit their own misguided ignorance and attempting to damage those actually building up their traditions. The best advice I can give when encountering such filth online is this: Avoid the impious. Ignore them. Also, consider their motives (2).

Inevitably these people will say “we’re all of equal importance”. Well, no, actually we’re not. Equality is a myth they tell themselves to excuse their own mediocrity before the Gods. We are all unique in our devotional relationships. If, by equality, one means that we are all valued and loved by our Gods then yes that is true; but if by equality one means that we are all exactly the same and that no one has any deeper devotional relationship or more talent in a particular area of religious specialty, then that is nonsense and should be ignored (3). Moreover, it smacks of Protestantism, where demonstrated virtue is a sign of being “elect.” The corollary of course, is that if one doesn’t have a vocation or any of the signs of being “elect” then it means one is of less importance to their God. Well, we’re not Protestant and it’s time we stopped behaving like half-assed Calvinists. Our polytheistic ancestors honored and respected their specialists: those called by the Gods, mystics, clergy, shamans, diviners, oracles, spiritworkers – technicians of the sacred known by different names in different traditions. Why is basic piety so damned hard for us?

We need to strongly resist the push of people more concerned about virtue signaling and politics than venerating the Gods when they attempt to excise from our religions the natural life of devotion. Basically, if it’s on tumblr, it’s probably inaccurate, wrong, and possibly impious. Always, always consider the source. Consider what they contribute. Go to your Gods, go to prayer, and don’t be afraid to tell such people to take a running leap off the nearest cliff (4).

 

Notes:

  1. Religion is not the place for politics. It is about honoring the Gods. Religion is a set of proper protocols for engaging appropriately with the Gods and ancestors. Be as political as you want, but don’t mistake your civic impulse for religious cultus. Social and political engagement is what we do as adult human beings. We shouldn’t need our Gods and religion to make such engagement licit.
  2. It’s not surprising that these things would be condemned, after all, if we’re actually engaging with Gods and ancestors, if we have the benefit of good priests, competent oracles, if we honor our mystics and godspouses then we’re less likely to listen to their political bullshit when they attempt to bring that garbage into our sacred spaces.
  3. There is a lovely anecdote in St Therese of Lisieux’s “Story of a Soul,” that was told to her by her sister Pauline. As a small child she asked her sister if God loved saints more than regular people. The sister took a thimble and a wine glass and filled them both to overflowing and asked the child, “Which is more full?” The answer: they were both full to utmost capacity and so it is with the love of one’s God as well.
  4. This does not, of course, absolve us from developing spiritual discernment, from questioning ourselves, from doing the work, including the work of therapy if need be. Piety, however, is not mental illness nor is being called (κλῆσις)to a vocation.

Ochani Lele 🕯️

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I just found out today, that Ochani Lele, a noted santero, diviner, and author is in hospice having been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I don’t know how long he has, but it does not look good. This man has lived his life devoted to the Orisha. He has taught, exhausted himself in mentoring, and helped countless people, not just those who honor the Orisha, but people like me too, who came to him for assistance or training. He literally saved my life with his counsel a few years ago, and helped me to hone and improve my divination skills too, which benefits my Gods and spirits and you. He is a treasure. Every elder is a treasure, a library, a living repository of the wisdom and power of their tradition.

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GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/1tjq31xtao

We are charged with honoring our elders and we are charged with burying our dead. I have given what my household can afford at this time and now I go to petition my ancestors that they may pour blessings upon him.