Hunters’ Moon: A Night to Pour Out Offerings to Mani

Tonight was a good night to honor Mani. It’s been a whole evening of ritual and offerings, divination, and prayer. Mani was present through it all and half way through I realized it was the Hunter’s moon, the traditional name (or one of them) for the full moon in October. It was a very good night to honor Him.

I’ve seen Mani once, been gifted with the vision, of Him in a berserker’s frenzy. It wasn’t like what I experience as Odin’s when I’m overtaken by that state. No, it was a dancing whirlwind of blades and lethal violence, all elegance and sinuous splendor. He was wielding scimitars and He was beautiful, His rage sheathed in a calm as pure as ice. His face was a marble mask and in his eyes burned black fire.

Sometimes I see Him lounging in an alabaster throne, one leg slung over its arm, hair a fall of silk just begging to be touched. The svartalfar call Him Lord of the Camellias and It is here that I see why. His beauty swallows up the heart and fills the belly with longing. It is such a casual thing and yet wherever He passes, His loveliness leaves that place transformed.

Sometimes too I see Him wreathed in rings and beads, adornments in his hair watching over the world, fingers clicking rhythms, counting rhymes, whispering secrets to Unn in the oceans below. He keeps the song of all the worlds in harmony and He knows every complicated counterpoint. He is Master of His craft and His joy in this working a great and holy thing.

Mostly He is just Mani and that is everything. I set out offerings (tonight it was whipped cream flavored vodka, something He has liked in the past) but it never seems like enough. I want to give Him so much more and yet He asks for nothing, receiving our adoration with a delighted laugh and a smile that sometimes makes me cry with longing. If He walked upon the earth, I would follow behind him, and wherever He tread, there I would lay my cheek and count myself blessed indeed.

Hail Mani in Your splendor.
Hail Mani in the abode of night.

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A Daily Meditation

Grounded and centered, having offered to the Gods my morning prayers, and having lit incense to the ancestors I sit comfortably and consider the following meditation.

I reach up with my consciousness, through endless boughs of an enormous Tree, and its leaves whisper with secrets. I am one of those secrets being whispered and sung up the gnarled knots of that ancient Tree. It exhales me up beyond the worlds.

We exist within the breath of a God. We ride that breath into being. We exhale that breath back into the mouth of the All Father at the moment of our death. We are tied to everything through His breath and it pulses around us, the steady hand of the storm. I breathe it in down into my crown. I am alive. I am Odin sitting atop Hliðkjalf and I wear the crown of sovereignty. Nothing can separate me from this God. He has knit Himself into my soul.

It is Mani to Whom I reach as I move to my third eye. He is an ancient God and all manner of folly He has seen and dismissed. He forgets nothing and yet He is luminous. I pray that my mind and my heart may be luminous too, that I may rest in the House of the Moon, and may my Sight be always true.

My throat is filled with Loki’s fire. It burns away deceit. It cleanses and renders and because of it I speak true. His is the crucible in which I am ever refined. He hones my courage.

My heart is Sigyn’s hall. She protects and tenderly nourishes all that falls within Her care. She keeps my heart steadfast and the gentle flame of devotion burning within it. I look to Her that my soul might be constant. In such things, She does not yield.

In my gut, the seat of my will, I think on Thor. Mighty Thor with His chariot and gleaming hammer, He fights off pollution. He girds the world against dissolution. He will never be overcome. With Him at my back, I know that I will always be able to align my will with the divine order. Thor will keep me clean, the Holiness He bears will keep me focused.

In my sex lies Freya’s gift, roaring, liquid heat connecting me to life and primal desire. She is Mistress of Sesrumnir and Her blessings are holy. She teaches us to find joy in living. I strive to remember this.

At my root, lie the mysteries of Frigga’s hall. She grounds me in piety and respect, reverence, and power. She is the All-Mother and Her touch makes everything sacred. She roots me deep in the purest iteration of myself and throuh Her all magic flows.

Beneath my feet breathe the bones of the dead. Thousands of generations of ancestors having passed through Hela’s hallowed halls. They walk with me and when necessary lift me up. There is no place I can go where they are not and in times of danger they are an honor guard. With each step I thank them. With each step I am grateful.

In my hands, I feel the echo worlds. In my right hand I hold fire, in my left hand I hold ice. There is the holy chasm in between. All of creation is within me and I see the moment the Gods willed the worlds into being. I stand with Them then, again and again. I am willed into being too with each and every prayer. I am sustained and my prayers fall like nourishing water from the well of memory upon the Tree. It is sustained too. It is enough.

I reach above me with my right hand drawing power up from the dead and from the living earth and down from the most secret powers of the heavens and it is right and good and I touch my brow and chant:

Til ykkar, Oðinn og Regin,

I touch my belly and intone: rikið.

I touch my right shoulder and intone: krafturinn
My left shoulder: dyrðin

I cross my arms over my heart: nú og að eilífu

I bow my head in reverence: Amen.

And it is done.

Krasskova World Tree copy.jpg

(my photo: “the World Tree”. Do not use without permission).

Our Household’s Threshold Prayer

My friend Edward posted a link to a Hellenic threshold prayer on twitter so I figured I’d share the one I do most days before leaving the home.

Thresholds are problematic areas. They’re almost open space, transitional space and that means that they are areas prone most especially to miasma. More than that, as you cross your threshold, you’re leaving the protected space of your house and moving out into a world. All of this makes them remarkably difficult to spiritually shield. My shrine to Hermes is right inside the door, almost touching the threshold (divination showed that He was insistent it go there) and right next to that is the shrine to Loki and Sigyn (again, div showed They wanted it there). The last thing I do before leaving my home is make offerings at each of these shrines. Hermes’ shrine includes a small section to Cardea, Janus, Forculus, and Limentius.

I pray to You, Hermes, Giver of Good things,
ever the Traveler, always our Guide,
please protect me as I leave this house.
Guard my comings and my goings,
and keep me safe.
May I reach my destinations safely
without incident or accident
and return safely home as well.
Please watch over me, Hermes,
I pray.

I ask Cardea, Gracious Goddess,
to guard me as I cross this threshold.
Please keep away misfortune and malice,
keep away sickness and death,
and with your brothers Forculus and LImentius,
bring me home safely again.

Hail to You, Hermes, best Beloved,
and hail to You, Cardea.

Hermes dec 31 2017

I say this after making a small offering (usually a glass of water or incense) and right before I head out for my day. I’d love to see what types of threshold prayers you, my Readers use.
Happy Saturday, folks.

Morning Contemplation

I had to wake an hour earlier today than is my norm. I’m rushing around, getting ready to head into what I like to term my “hell day” at school (a day where I am in classes or meetings from 11am until 7:45pm without a break) and thanking the Gods for the fact that coffee exists but I wanted to take a moment to write this. From the time I’ve been awake I’ve been thinking about the Gods and how to carry a sense of Them with me throughout the day.

I want to feel Mani around me today, to feel connected to Him from dawn to dusk. I want to feel Him at my throat, and surrounding me, His luminescent presence flowing around and through me. I opened my day with mumbled prayers (not a morning person!) to Him and I have continued to hold Him foremost in my mind as I get ready. The adornments and scent that I choose to wear today are both things that remind me of Him, the first a brooch from His shrine, a ritual piece (though no one else would know it in my working world) imbued with His presence. I made offerings, pinned the brooch to my throat and rushed out.

As we drove to work (I’m now sitting in my department waiting for my first meeting), part of my mind was always on Mani. In my heart where He has crept, He is a palpable force. In the quiet sanctuary of my mind, which He has shaped, He is a far-reaching power. In the world without, He is there, soft misty trace of His passing in the sky above, softening the razor sharp bite of its noise because how can I see or hear any of that when He is there?

I pray for His blessing today and His protection. It is already looking like a day full of physical pain and aggravation. Still, I will try to let Him guide me, to reach out again and again throughout my day readjusting myself to the loveliness that I sense when He is near. I will touch His grace and elegance wondering at it and that moment of contemplative contact will change me, center me, realign me in some small way with His presence.

When I have a moment between meetings and classes, I will go out and pour out a simple offering to Him, probably water but maybe tea since I keep a nice black tea in my box here. I will drink Him in within the secret fastness of my heart as much as He will permit, and pray that whatever battles I may face throughout the day, the ecstatic utterance of His name and the glorious Presence it evokes will ever surround my soul with its illumination.

Hail Mani of the thirteen turnings,
Mani Who governs the cycles of the world,
Mani of the honey-golden countenance,
ManI elder to creation,
Many, beautiful and ancient,
Please hear my prayer.

I love you, oh Sweetest of Gods,
remote though You may ever be,
and for all You have given us,
I am grateful.

IMG_0232

The Colmar Treasure at the Cloisters

For those of you near NYC, the Cloisters Museum is currently having a lovely exhibit of books and jewelry from the 14th Century Jewish community in Colmar, France. It’s all on loan from the Musée de Cluny, Paris and while a small exhibit, definitely worth seeing. I went to a preview a couple of weeks ago (I received a Fellowship in Jewish studies this semester and it was one of the events recommended for us) and I’ll be going at least one more time this semester. (For those of you who, like me, are mobility challenged, please note that the Cloisters is really rough. While there IS an internal elevator, it’s accessible only with the aid of the staff and there are four flights of stone stairs to get to the ticket desk. Good luck). 

I was particularly taken by the intimate nature of so many of the pieces. Most of it is women’s jewelry and if i recall correctly what the curator told us during our tour, the ring size at least points to it all belonging to the same woman, or at least the same family. Material culture is so incredibly fascinating. I took quite a few photos while I was there. The piece that impressed me the most was a wedding ring. It was used only for the actual ceremony in medieval Judaism. The every day ring would have been of solid silver or gold (I was told it was to protect the woman from being taken in by unscrupulous fiances: solid metal is easy to measure so you know precisely what you have). Look at the incredible filigree work:

colmar wedding ring

Then there was this piece, a brooch about the size of a silver dollar. It really highlighted how there was so much cross-cultural contamination (in good ways) between the Jewish community in Colmar and the surrounding Christian majority. The styles in clothing, jewels, and so much more reflected that cross-pollination. 

colmar brooch

And finally there was this MSS that shows three skeletons. Y’all know how I like ossuaries and bone chapels so this immediately appealed to me. They look like they’re having a good time. LOL.

colmar death mss

That’s just a taste of the exhibit — there were too many people there for me to take a lot of photos but if you’re interested, check out the website above. That is all.

Patreon closing

Folks, I’m going to be closing my patreon at the end of the month. I’m just too busy with grad school to keep up with posting there and it’s not fair to those supporters who follow me there. Those who are interested in still supporting my work, please feel free to contact me privately. I am grateful to everyone who has subscribed at patreon, over the couple of years it’s been running.

Arawn prayer?

EDIT: please disregard this post. Someone stepped forward and graciously volunteered to write the prayer. 🙂

 

Hey folks,

I have a prayer card that was just finished but not yet printed for the Celtic God of the Underworld, Arawn.

I’m looking for a devotee to write a prayer for the card. If anyone is interested, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com. I’ll give you a dozen cards and of course credit on the back in exchange.

thanks, folks.

The Real Allure of Monotheism LOL

You know where I have the most guilt as a polytheist? It’s silly but I don’t like leaving any of my household Gods out when I’m making offerings. If I have a box of cookies and I want to give a few in offering to Sigyn, for instance, I often feel really bad if I don’t also offer to Hermes, and then I think of Mani and then…and then…and so it goes and then I have no cookies left. (I’ve learned to reign this in significantly over the years, but the tendency, the worry is still there).

If I am cleaning and tending for one shrine, making new offerings, etc., I feel bad if I don’t do ALL of the shrines (which is impossible in a single day). Now mind you, I don’t think the Gods care. They are so very much bigger than we can ever conceive of – our cognition is simply not capable of truly grasping the entirety of a God’s being. It’s not like I feel as though I shall be smote (how the hell does one conjugate this verb??!)  if I miss a Deity…at best, I suspect it probably gently amuses Them. It’s not like there’s any sin or wicked act going on here either, Lol. I just don’t like leaving any Being that I love out.

This can be rather funny. My household prays nightly together and often before doing so, I’ll be moved to make an offering to a particular Deity to Whom I then plan to pray. Then it becomes complicated, because I’ll think, “well, T. is praying to Freya tonight – I don’t want Her to be without an offering, and Sannion is praying to Dionysos so I want to make that offering, but then I haven’t made an offering at THIS shrine in a bit…and oh look, that offering bowl is empty.” and it can get out of hand. I’ve been known to joke when it does that here, right here is the real pull of monotheism: having only one Deity to tend! Lol.

I’m not sure if this is all a matter of scrupulosity or not. For those who may not know, this is a term I first ran into reading Therese of Lisieux though I believe it dates back a couple of centuries before her (she lived in the very late 19thc.). She uses it to describe excessive fixation on unrealistic expressions of devotion – I’ve heard it described as spiritual OCD. Usually it goes hand in hand with fear that you are in some way offending your God constantly. That’s certainly not where I’m coming from with any of this, though I keep an eye on it because scrupulosity can be incredibly detrimental to one’s devotional and spiritual life (just as other types of OCD may be to one’s life in general). We shouldn’t need the constant reassurance from our Gods, after all, a desire that goes hand in hand with scrupulosity. I almost think scrupulosity is lack of trust in one’s Gods, a deep insecurity and fear, lack of a healthy sense of self too. Regardless, it’s damaging on many levels. So, I do consider this occasionally wondering if I’m headed in that direction but for me, it really just comes down to not wanting anyone (even when I’m referring to a Deity) to feel left out. Of course, this makes no sense with a Deity but there you go. I often feel weirdly protective of some of Them.

I just woke up a little while ago and I’m about to go and make the morning offerings at the Lararium (the ancestor shrine gets tended in the evenings, but the household Lararium in the morning) so this was on my mind as I looked at the shrine and just laughed, put some coffee on, and went to get the incense.

Salvation???

In one of my classes we’ve been talking about soteriology and someone asked me what polytheists did for salvation. The question brought me up short. Leaving aside the question of what precisely was meant by ‘salvation,’ in this context, I had to step back and think about how we order our metaphysics and where precisely we place them, because the question of salvation is a metaphysical one. That being said, where we position this thing called ‘metaphysics’ (and, I suspect, ethics too for that matter) differs greatly from the monotheistic perspective. We’re just so inculcated with the latter when the subject of metaphysics arises that I don’t think many of us think about how our own traditions may differ. They do, though, and in ways that I consider significant.

In answering my fellow student, I parsed it out as follows: it falls into a three-fold equation with philosophy providing the space for the development of the human being, how to exist in society (and hopefully make that society better), and to some degree ethics, (though Neoplatonists skew the equation a bit: there are elements of mystery cultusthere at certain points, at least I think so),  religion provides protocols for engaging with the Holy, and then soteriological questions and metaphysics are handled by various mystery cultus (which may or may not involve savior Deities — Dionysos for instance comes immediately to mind with Bacchic rites).

All of this means that when someone asks what polytheists do about ‘salvation,’ the only accurate answer that I can think of at the moment is, “depends on the polytheist” and “depends on what you mean by salvation.”

We have dozens, maybe thousands of myths that A) teach us something about the individual Gods and Their natures and B) teach us important lessons about how to be better humans and in some cases C) teach us how to be better humans in relation to our Gods. We also have many theories about what is going to happen to us after we die but to live solely to secure one’s place in the afterlife is, to my mind, missing the point. I know what our religions teach about the afterlife and I know what I personally believe about it (I think there are options depending on the Gods we venerate). I don’t think there is some petrified, unchanging “paradise.”  To live solely for the “prize” of salvation is to ignore the lessons our very corporeality has to teach. We shouldn’t need the implicit threat of absence of salvation to make us decent human beings. I’m not saying that there aren’t polytheistic soteriologies – there absolutely are, but I can’t help but wonder if they don’t function just…differently than say Christianity.  

When I venerate Odin or Mani or Apollo or Hermes, or Sigyn or any of the Deities that form part of my spiritual cadre, I do so first and foremost because I both love Them dearly and secondly because I am so grateful for all the palpable blessings They’ve poured into my hands.  I also believe that as a polytheist, this is right action, it is what I should be doing as a responsible adult. I hope that after death I will be reunited with my ancestors and brought into my Gods – to Them and ever in service—but even were that not to happen, it would not change one iota of how I conduct myself here and now. Perhaps it is a stoic thing: we cannot control what happens after we die, nor truly know but we can absolutely control what we do and how we behave while alive and it is that, those choices, that I believe I shall have to answer for to my Gods and my dead when I pass on. Nor do I think that is a bad thing. It is how we grow. It is how we learn and I do not believe that our Gods are uninterested in our soul’s evolution.

 So, there is some theology for y’all today. I am still feeling my way along these topical lines. I love being forced to think about these things. It’s easy for me to go throughout my day without ever having to consider the metaphysics of our polytheisms – I just want to love Them and pour out offerings. I think it’s important for our theological growth as traditions that we do consider these things, argue about them, discuss them, and keep doing that over and over again though. I would, therefore, welcome my readers’ thoughts as I now wrap up and head to class.

Apollo at st regis

^a cool mural of Apollo that I saw yesterday.

Let their light guide you

Today is the feast day of the Bacchic martyrs. How can we best remember them? What does their example teach us about holding to our convictions and becoming better polytheists and better human beings?

The House of Vines

The Martyrs are the Stars of Ariadne’s Crown. 

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