Re-Enchanting the World

John Beckett just wrote a really nice essay on re-enchanting the world over at Patheos. What I think I like the most about it, is that he gives really simple, clear-cut steps for just about anyone (regardless of level of practice, length of practice, religion, etc.) to do just that. It’s definitely worth a read.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, re-enchantment. Or to be more accurate, I’ve been contemplating the causes of our dis-enchantment because I think it’s the thing that, perhaps more than anything else, creates stumbling blocks for us devotionally, and for our restorations. After all what is restoration at its core but restoring the sacred to the world? Our hearts and minds and souls may be in the right place but that doesn’t mean that even within our own selves this isn’t an uphill climb: we do not know how to move in the world as though it is filled and redolent with the holy. We no longer know how to gaze at something sacred and profound and see Mystery. We do not know, deep in our bones, how to cherish devotion or belief without it turning to poison (fundamentalism) in our hearts. Ever since I returned from my ancestor pilgrimage, I’ve really been pondering why that is. What happened and when?

I don’t have the most eloquent of words to really describe what I’m trying to get at here but I’m going to spill this out here on my blog and let it stand for now. Maybe I’ll come back to this again later, when I’ve sorted it out a bit more in my own mind.

When I went to the four ossuaries this summer I saw evidence of a type of powerful devotion, of religious fervor and continuity, and yes, Mystery that I had never thought to experience before. It made me realize that there was a time not too long ago when people still grasped the necessity of devotion, when it had not yet been pathologized or dismissed to the realm of the ridiculous or déclassé. When I visited these places I had proof right in front of me that our world had not always been so spiritually barren as it is today. More even than the ongoing contact with the dead, it was this that gripped and moved me throughout my pilgrimage and as much blessing and joy as I had at encountering places so profound, I also came away with a deep, abiding grief for what we have lost.

So much so that I almost think the spasm of mechanization, the addiction to “progress,” that came in the wake of the scientific revolution, our deification of the so called “Age of Reason” stripped from us something essential to our souls: a sense of the sacredness of the world. In some ways, I think the spiritual devastation that this has caused, a devastation each and every one of us deals with every day as the Weltanschauung of our time, is even worse than the initial destruction of our polytheistic traditions that preceded it.

I fought that realization when it first came to me. I really had to sit with it for a long while and I’m not entirely comfortable committing it to print here but….it was one thing to have our traditions destroyed. That was horrific, however, there was still the unhampered ability to engage with the sacred and that was valued and nurtured even if in severely restricted form. To see the sacred, to reverence it wasn’t yet viewed as something stupid and backward, so long as the object of one’s reverence was in accord with the new monotheism (or hidden enough under layers of syncretization that it seemed to be). Some spark of the sacred still survived and could be fanned into flame. You had a revolution of mystics in the 12-14th centuries that proved that.

I’ve said before that I think the Protestant Reformation was the beginning of the end. Whatever ideals it began with, it ended up being an attack on the beauty of the sacred and Mystery itself and while there was a momentary Renaissance in the Catholic Church during the Counter-Reformation (that’s when you see the majority of ossuaries becoming real centers of devotional praxis for instance), the hostility toward mysticism and mystery had already gained too much of a foothold in our world to be ignored. By the late 17th century people were tired of religious wars. Instead of looking at monotheisim as the problem, devotion and religion slowly began to be pathologized in favor of the perceived hope, security, and safety of science or of a Christianity stripped of ritual and Mystery. “Progress” became the only god worth venerating and we forgot how to value the sacred. We forgot the protocols of engagement. We forgot and not just with the Gods. We forgot the sacred in life, death, and everything in between too. The result has been that collectively our souls have become shallow and hard and it’s a very, very difficult thing to come back from, especially when most of us have known nothing else.

So go and read John Beckett’s article and see what other suggestions you can add to his list. Then go out and do them because we need to make as many pinpricks and keyholes and windows and doors for the sacred to flow back into our world as possible, for the survival not just of our traditions, but our world as well.


About ganglerisgrove

Free-range tribalist Heathen, Galina Krasskova, has been a priest of Odin and Loki since the early nineties. Originally ordained in the Fellowship of Isis in 1995, Ms. Krasskova also attended the oldest interfaith seminary in the U.S.- the New Seminary where she was ordained in 2000 and where she later worked as Dean of Second Year Students for the Academic year of 2011-2012. She has even given the opening prayer at the United Nations Conference “Women and Indigeny”. Beyond this, she took vows as a Heathen gythia in 1996 and again in 2004, She is the head of Comitatus pilae cruentae and a member of the Starry Bull tradition. She has been a member of numerous groups through the years including the American Academy of Religion. She has also served previously as a state government contracted expert on the Asatru faith, and been a regular contributor to various print and online publications geared towards modern pagans and polytheists, and for a time had her own radio program: Wyrd Ways Radio Live. Ms. Krasskova holds diplomas from The New Seminary (2000), a B.A. in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Religious Studies from Empire State College (2007), and an M.A. in Religious Studies from New York University (2009). She has completed extensive graduate coursework in Classics (2010-2016) and is pursuing a Masters in Medieval Studies at Fordham University (expected graduation 2019) with the intention of eventually doing a PhD in theology. She has also been teaching University classes in Greek and Latin. As part of her academic career Ms. Krasskova has written a number of academic articles, and also presented at various academic conferences including Harvard University, Claremont University, Fordham University, Ohio State University, Western Michigan University, Villanova University, and the City University of New York. An experienced diviner and ordeal master, her primary interest is in devotional work and the reconstruction of Northern Tradition shamanism. Her very first book, The Whisperings of Woden was the landmark first devotional text to be written in modern Heathenry. Ms. Krasskova has a variety of published books available running the gamut from introductory texts on the Northern Tradition, as well as books on shamanism, runes, prayer, and devotional practices. She is also the managing editor of “Walking the Worlds,” a peer-reviewed academic style journal focusing on contemporary polytheism and spirit work and the first journal of polytheology. While very busy with teaching and school, she does also occasionally lecture around the country on topics of interest to contemporary Heathenry and polytheisms. A passionate supporter of the arts Ms. Krasskova enjoys going to the opera, theater, and ballet. Her affection for the arts began early as she discovered dance, which she pursued professionally becoming a ballet dancer: first with a regional company in Maryland, then in New York City. After suffering career ending injuries, she would find new forms of expression in the visual arts. For a few years Ms. Krasskova co-owned an art gallery in the Hudson River Valley of New York, and over a course of numerous years she has studied a multitude of art mediums: glassblowing, watercolor, acrylic, photography and more! She is now an avid collage artist, acrylic painter and watercolorist and has even enjoyed placement in international artist-in-residencies programs in New York, New Mexico, and Poland. Her work has been exhibited globally from New York to Paris. She has taken her passion for the arts and polytheistic devotion, to create the Prayer Card Project. Since so much religious iconography has been destroyed, or defaced in the course of human history, she is actively making new religious prayers and iconography available to the various modern polytheistic communities to support those who are building their religious communities, building their devotional practices, and hungering for art that represents their religious faith. All while also supporting the artists within these burgeoning communities.

Posted on September 4, 2015, in theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I really enjoyed both your and John Beckett’s post. I find I notice the difference between an enchanted and a disenchanted view of the world when I talk to my children. I was comforting my 5 year old once during a thunderstorm, and I told her that Thor was up in the sky throwing around His hammer, and the noise was nothing to worry about. She said to me: “but He’s not like really REALLY up there, right?”. I explained to her that I didn’t think it mattered – in some way, He was connected with that sound and the flash of light, and instead of being scared when I saw it, I would think of Him. And she took this completely in stride. She instinctively understood the concept of an idea that was true on a mythic level.

    Now obviously I’m not saying we should all think like children, and not all children think this way, but it’s a nice reminder for me. If a sense of enchantment is something that can be lost, then it’s something that can be regained.

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  2. This is something very important to me as I also suffer from this affliction… Having trouble seeing the sacred in the world, experiencing it’s mysteries, and ultimately of connecting to my Gods. It makes feel inferior as a polytheist, as if I’m doing something wrong… I want to do these things, be able to see the divine in the world, and see it in a re-enchanted way, but so far I’ve not been able to do that save for some very few instances.

    I’ll go read that post by John Beckett now, hoping I’ll find something I can do to help me do this.


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