Monthly Archives: December 2015
My New Year’s resolution is (in part) to be better at setting aside four or five hours each day to study: Latin in the morning, then Greek and in the evening one of two other languages I need.
Today I started the day with Cicero. I never knew reading him could be so entertaining until I read his speeches against Catline (it’s like the Roman version of the “Inquirer” lol. there’s very little proof offered in his court speech but a lot of ad hominem attacks. It’s hilariously entertaining). Now i’m reading several of his letters to his wife and daughter, written while he was in exile in the 50s. They’re tender, moving, and filled with his worry about her health. It’s a totally different impression and insight into this Roman orator. Quite lovely.
To all the Latin students out there who might stumble across this: it does get easier and better. one day there will be this moment where your gut doesn’t twist in fear when presented with a latin translation and you’ll have a sudden sense of “i got this. i can do this. No problem.” it make take a couple of years, but it does happen and one day you’ll be able to pick up a Latin letter, or a history, or poem and it will make sense. Maybe you’ll have to look up a word or two, but the syntax and grammar will untangle itself with an ease you never thought possible. Persevere!
There is so much joy in a couple of these dancers, singing and dancing and praying to their Gods. I saw these guys when I was in Prague…it was delightful, absolutely joyous.
Why aren’t we doing this for our Gods on a regular basis?
So here is my ethical question for the day, a variation on one that I often have my students ponder and gnaw upon.
You have a deeply held ethical, emotional, political, etc.etc. (pick your poison) position/belief. It’s a core focus for your engagement with others, something that defines you and that you deeply cherish.
You have a powerful theophany with a Deity you adore more than all Others. That Deity directs you, in no uncertain terms, to take a position exactly opposite the one you hold, to give up your dearly held belief, to turn your world on its head, or, perhaps, to move to exactly the opposite side of the spectrum.
Like a good polytheist, you consult diviners, oracles and it is a true theophany. You pray and meditate desperately. Perhaps this theophany happens more than once. No matter what your diviners do, no negotiation is possible. You are being asked to change.
What do you do?
(i’ve been in this position twice with two Deities and after a few shaky nights and a lot of cursing and crying i did what They wanted. it was at the time devastating but i got over it and in the end things worked out much better than if I’d balked but not everyone is going to do that. I’ve seen people, colleagues I care about, in the same position who flat out refused. (the results of which are for them to tell not me).
So what do you do and how do you know to do it? People have been asking me privately a lot of questions lately about HOW to do devotion well, how I do devotion well. well, here it is. Dealing with things like this. I was talking about this, and some of the ethical questions I often chew on myself, with a friend this morning who said: you should post that. So here it is.)
Those who neglect philosophy and spend their time on ordinary pursuits are like the Suitors who desired Penelope but slept with her maids.
I want to see the top ten list of Pagans furthering devotional practice and piety. social justice work while important is *not* in fact a substitute for religious devotion and/or ritual. I’ve seen three or four great lists about change agents and activist pagans…what about the devout ones?
Had a sit down with a Christian priest and his wife over the weekend and apparently this is an issue in the interfaith community and in much of Christianity: this elision of devotion, contemplation, and ritual in favor of social activism. Apples and oranges. We need both, but they’re not synonymous. It’s another case of bringing religion down to the lowest common denominator: taking the Gods out and putting in on human footing (for the record, I think social activism is what we should be doing as engaged human beings). Part of me was glad to see it’s not just polytheism and paganism that’s mixed up on this score and part of me was dismayed.
Today a colleague posted a quote by the Dalai Lama that went something along the lines of “The purpose of religion is about controlling yourself, not other people.” um, no. While I understand that this was very likely said to encourage religious respect and discourage intolerance, in point of fact the purpose of religion at least to a polytheist is NOT to control yourself. (why do you need religion to do that? have you no character? ancient polytheists when they struggled here had philosophy). The purpose of religion is to venerate the Gods, to pay Them homage, to engage in right relationship with Them. it’s a language and protocol to do that properly. I thought “even the Dalai Lama?” how sad.
I blame this partly on the myth of progress being seen as synonymous with lack of devotion and consequently with devotion being viewed as useless and/or superstition. I could write a whole book on this and again, while it’s rather comforting to know that mainstream religions are going through this fight too, it’s also very, very sad. the poison of modernity.
(By modernity, I do not mean technology. I mean a modernity defined by this victorian myth of progress, by a hierarchy of religions, by the consequences of colonization, by the scientific revolution (and the protestant reformation before that). I could draw a straight line if I had to. Part of what I study tangentially academically is the rise and fall of cult of saints, relics, ossuaries and the like and that’s led me to read quite a bit about the counter reformation and there was a huge shift in the 1800s where this idea of being “modern” came to symbolize all that was good and just in the world. Now how one defined modern…well, in part it had to do with getting rid of religious superstition and by superstition read anything that dealt with mysticism or devotion. we have been fucked from the moment we abandoned our ancestral polytheisms).
I’m still running the fundraiser for the Hades card. So far, I’ve had donations of $150 (thank you, Ellen, Alix, Frances,and Sparrow). I still need to raise $245. If anyone is interested in donating, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com.
Let’s give Hades a little love. ^_^
Issue 3 of Walking the Worlds, “Magic and Religion” is now available. All contributor copies and subscription copies have been sent out as of yesterday. (If you need to renew your subscription, you can do that easily here.
The next issue will be on ‘Polytheism and Philosophy.” The deadline is May 1, 2016. If this is a topic about which you think you have something to say, please consider submitting an article or essay. The polytheist world birthed major philosophical movements, and polytheism itself developed hand in hand with philosophies designed to teach one how to live as a decent human being. Many of the philosophers still studied today like Plato, Socrates, Proclus were devout polytheists (a fact often elided from philosophy classes and classical discourse). As polytheists, philosophy is our birthright. Check the above website for submission guidelines and think about adding your voice to Walking the Worlds.
Meanwhile, check out the Table of Contents from Issue 3:
“The Irish Drui as Magicians Rather than Gaulish] Druids” by P.S.V.L.
“Hoenir’s Hlautvidr” by Dagulf Loptson (check out Loptson’s new book here)
“Pazuzu: Exorcist and “Good Demon”” by Tamara Siuda
“Navigating the Cosmos: Traveling Through Time” by Virginia Carper
“Odinn as Shaman” by K.C. Hulsman
“The Art and Power of Evocation” by Sophie Reicher
“Serbian Magico-Religious Folk Beliefs Surrounding the Start of Winter and the Saint of Wolves” by Anna Applegate
“Toward a Magical Enlightenment: Notes on Bruno’s Magic” by Edward P. Butler
“Magical Practices of the Modern Northern Tradition Pagan” by Raven Kaldera
“Pancrates/Panchrates of Heliopolis: Portrait of a Poet/Priest/Magician in Second-Century CE Graeco-Roman Egypt” by P.S.V.L.
“A Polytheist Look at Magic” by Sarenth Odinsson
“The Magic of Words” by Cat Treadwell
(apologies to any contributor whose website I didn’t include. I tried to get them all, but I’m missing a couple. I”m happy to edit if you send me your site).
This. every fucking bit of this.
Ever experienced being told that you’re crazy because one of your relatives is? Or having your family name associated with that crazy relative’s craziness as if one relative’s actions represented the collective character of the family?
What about being profiled as a mugger, a lazy worker, or a parasitic immigrant because you’re the same colour or eye shape as that mugger, lazy worker, or parasitic immigrant from the other side of town?
That’s how it feels when anti-theists throw around the word ‘religion’ when they mean a specific religion (often, Christianity or Islam) or a specific strain of religion within that specific religion (like Evangelical Protestants or Wahhabists).
Easier to do, but not smarter. It’s truly offensive, too.
Religion is such an old, vast, and diverse thing to ever compress into one definition or characteristic. This isn’t an ideal — this is thousands of years of actual history. Which is…
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To all my friends in the UK: wow. Y’all really do not skimp on punches (of the drinkable variety) and wassails that pack a wallop. Tonight I had friends over and made a wassail recipe that came with a small recipe book I recently received from Fortnum and Mason (it came as a gift along with a ton of tea I recently ordered). It’s supposedly a traditional English recipe. It was so strong I was tipsy just from the fumes while cooking it! LOL.
I altered the recipe a bit (in favor of more booze, largely because I wasn’t up to doing conversions from milliliters to cups) and since I’ve had several requests tonight, I decided to share it with you here.
two large bottles of dry English cider.
200ML dark rum (I bought a big bottle of dark rum and put it all in because fuck it, rum).
half a cup of sugar (100 grams). I doubled this.
one bar of dark chocolate. I put in two bars of ghirardelli semi-sweet.
2 vanilla pods split
1 Tablespoon of pink peppercorns
4 star anise
2 sticks of cinnamon – I used three.
2 teaspoons of cardamom pods
2 teaspoons of cloves
1 orange and 1 lemon zest expressed.
Serves ten people.
- Put the cider and the spices (in a mulling ball) and cinnamon sticks in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Once it comes to a boil, add the sugar, rum, vanilla, zests and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and break up the chocolate. whisk it in until it’s melted and thick and dark.
Happy Yule, everyone.
So my friend Raven sent me this link. Check it out. I love seeing this, seeing someone doing for the Gods, and seeing the burblings of yet another polytheism being restored. Makes me happy to see. 🙂
Here is the link: