Monthly Archives: May 2016
I’ve updated my Etsy Site today.
I added some happy skeleton stickers (with an image drawn from a medieval manuscript — I really love these ^_^), gift certificates for divination sessions, and a couple of new prayer cards.
I”m also still running a special on my recent poetry chapbook. See here for more info.
I’m fundraising for 2 cards:
The Lithuanian Moon God Menulis ($50 needed)
The early Greek Phanes (Eros) ($250 needed).
i”m particularly interested in seeing the last one funded, since i’ve had several requests for it.
If you’re willing to donate toward these cards, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com (or paypal directly to email@example.com but be sure to include your email and the card toward which you’re donating).
Every person who donates will receive six cards and a setting of lights. If you fully fund a card, you’ll receive this and a year’s subscription to Walking the Worlds. Please help, folks.
Here is the next prayer card (I’ll be sending it to the printer tomorrow): the Lithuanian Goddess Saule, Goddess of the Sun. The image is by Basil Blake.
Tomorrow on Memorial Day, I’ll be making offerings for my warriors, my military dead at that special section of my ancestor shrine that I have set aside to honor those who served in war. Technically, Memorial Day honors those who died during their service in the US military, and so my focus will be those who died whilst serving in a war (I honor more than just US military dead at my ancestor shrine).
Our local cemetery committee is working with the local boy scout troop to see that little American flags are placed at the grave of every veteran in each of our local cemeteries and in the next town over, a large lawn at the main intersection of town has been decorated with hundreds of white crosses to honor those fallen. People could email the names of their military dead to coordinators who would then have a marker placed for that person for free. I did not do it because all of my recent military dead survived the wars in which they fought.
I sometimes wonder though how we should count, what we should count as “died in battle.” What about those soldiers who come home suffering PTSD? How much of themselves did they leave on the fields in which they fought? What about soldiers who commit suicide later, or die of injuries sustained in battle? Can we count them too? When you bring the horror of war home with you, when you’ve never really left the battlefield, or when the battlefield follows you home, what then?
My father fought in WWII and Korea, came home, worked at Aberdeen Proving ground until he retired decades later. Before his death in 2005 he returned to the trenches of WWII, reliving his active duty (to the terror of his nurses).
I think our soldiers are a unique and elite “club.” They’re bound together by blood and terror and sometimes they bring that terror home. Neither my father nor my uncle (who served in Vietnam) would ever speak about their military service. I don’t think they wanted what they had seen and experienced to find a way into our minds, to traumatize us as it had them. It was only with other soldiers that they could relax and I’ve seen this camaraderie and support amongst living military too, sometimes as soon as they meet. There is an understanding there.
One of the things that I always try to do, both on Veterans Day and Memorial Day (in addition to my offerings at my ancestor shrine and copious prayers for the dead) is to donate to a charity that supports our living veterans. This year I decided on Paralyzed Veterans of America and the VFW. They do a lot of good work for our returning vets. The latter also helps to remember and memorialize our military dead. These are good things, necessary things.
I’m going to end with a quote from a requiem for the dead. Remember them.
“Carry the dead with us. Carry the dead. Never not carry them,
never not act in their name.
Carry the dead in our dreams, all the great deeds; carry the dead in our days,
all the great deeds.
Morning, morning. Let there be their light.
What they would want, what they would ask of us, carry them with us,
never not bring them along.
Never for nothing their brutal departures. Never let justice go lonely.
Ever the heart, ever the spirit, ever the longing. . Earth is not past,
not a ghost, not lost to us.
Ever the believing.
(“Credo Coda,” Michael Dennis Browne)
Here is the newest prayer card: Epona by Grace Palmer. I will shortly be fundraising for Helios so if anyone is interested in donating toward his card, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com. thanks!
It’s been a really rough week and I’m not in the mood to mince words today with this piece. This weekend is set aside in our calendar to remember and hopefully honor those who died while in active service to our country.
Today I skimmed an article at Patheos, one that essentially suggested that while this is a day to honor those that have died while serving in the military during our numerous wars, we should also take Memorial Day to honor civilians (and pretty much anyone and everyone else) who have died or suffered as a result of those wars as well. Apparently our service men and women aren’t deserving of respect on their own.
Oh that last bit wasn’t in the article but it was implied and really, I get so tired of this. Those writing and agreeing with this are the same people who hit the roof whenever anyone turns Black Lives Matter into All Lives Matter but they can’t seem to grasp the essential hypocrisy of their position. I have no objection to having a day to honor those who have suffered as a result of war. War is a terrible thing. We should remember those who suffered; maybe if we did, we’d be less enthusiastic in sending our sons and daughters off to die BUT to suggest it as something superseding the one day a year set aside to honor our military dead (Veteran’s Day is, in the US, for those who served in war, but did not necessarily die during that service) is a slap in the face to those who laid down their lives for our freedoms.
Civilizations are built on the backs of warriors. It may be an ugly truth. It may be something that our politically correct social justice weasels today don’t like to acknowledge but it is, however reality. When we refuse to honor them, we spit in the face of every one of our ancestors who ever had to take up arms to defend their homes, families, countries, and kin.
All day today, I’ve been reading articles like this and this and this, stories about garbage vandalizing veterans’ memorials. We have a word in Heathenry for such people: nithling. Walking human stains.
My fellow readers, please consider signing this petition. It was started by the Lukumi elder who pioneered protecting our right to sacrifice: Oba Pichardo, whose 1993 case against the city of Hialeah won Supreme Court Recognition of religions’ right to ritual sacrifice.
This right is NOT guaranteed. Even though we have SCOTUS precedent, it can still be chipped away at, just as animal rights groups are continually trying to do. There is a recent case working its way through the VA court system now and if the state wins, it is not unlikely that other states will use this to effectively remove religious exemption to animal slaughter. We often think that we can skate by in this country, that no one will ever interfere with our religious freedoms, and many of us refer when challenged to that 1993 case but *nothing* is set in stone and those that would shatter our religions again know this.
If you care at all for one of our holiest of rights, if you care at all for the freedom to practice your religion unimpeded (even if your religion does NOT involve sacrifice), please consider signing.
In the fall, several people contacted me about doing another round of online classes. At the time, I couldn’t do it. My academic teaching load was just too heavy (very writing intensive, and hence, grading intensive) for me to add anything more to my schedule but now that school is out for the summer, I’ve decided to offer a couple of classes.
These classes will be interactive: we will meet one day a week for an hour and a half via interactive video-conference for six weeks. There will also be an email list where we can communicate and discuss the material throughout the week.
Upcoming classes are as follows:
Class: Homer’s Iliad
Date and Time: Class begins Friday June 17 from 7pm-8:30pm and meets each Friday for six weeks (June 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22)
Class: Euripides’ Bacchae
Date and Time: Class begins Thursday June 16 from 7pm -8:30pm and meets each Thursday for six weeks (June 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21).
There are seven spots still available in the “Iliad” class and six spots in “Bacchae.”
Future classes will include Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, Vergil’s Aeneid, Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses with a little Catullus thrown in for good measure.
Each course will offer an intensive introduction to the mythic tales – our sacred stories in many respects – of ancient Greece and Rome as presented in epic poetry and, in the case of Euripides, tragedy. We’ll focus on ideas of heroism and fate, how the cosmology is reflected in each of these works, and what these works show us about the cultures in which they were written. We’ll talk about hero cultus, ancestor cultus in the ancient world, syncretism, miasma, and the development of ritual and how we can engage with these stories to deepen our understanding and engagement with the Gods in our practice today. We’ll focus on violent transformation: through war, through initiation, through the workings of Gods and Fate and explore what these stories can teach us about our traditions and our faith today.
These were essential, foundational stories for ancient Greek and Roman polytheists (and for many of our own ancestors up until about 1950! Every school child would have learned them). They defined their community’s identity and understanding of the world. They helped our ancestors better comprehend how the Gods could act in our world. These stories were their own language, a lens that shaped everything and through which people learned to face the dangers, fears, and exigencies of their own life and fate.
I’ve taught for six years as a teaching assistant and then senior teaching fellow in the Classics department at Fordham U. I’ve spent the last year exploring these works with my academic classes and I’m delighted to be able to offer them to our communities too.
If you’re interested in taking either of these classes that I’m offering now, please contact me at Krasskova at gmail.com.
So once again the subject of offerings and sacrifice has come up on a discussion thread; specifically, the comment was made that food offerings shouldn’t be wasted, that if something is given in offering or if a sacrifice is made, unless human beings get to eat it, it’s going to waste.
Part of me really wants to just go “bitch, please, this argument has happened already and it’s not rocket science. Catch up, please.” but since that’s not necessarily conducive to understanding and discussion, allow me to parse this out again.
Making offerings is an essential part of the devotional process and at the apex of all offering rites, ritual sacrifice is the holiest and most profound type of offering that one can give.
To say that offerings are wasted if they’re not then given to people is remarkably self-centered of us. How can they be wasted when they are being given to Gods and spirits? If you actually believe in the Gods, then giving to Them is not wasteful. That’s the catch there. Offerings set on a shrine are not being left out to rot; they’re being given to specific Deities or spirits. Sacrifices made and left at a shrine are not being left to go to waste, they are being given again, to Gods and spirits. That we cannot see or corporeally engage with our Gods does not make Them any less real.
What actually happens to an offering or sacrifice may vary: it depends to what God or spirit it’s being given. Whether or not the sacrifice is later consumed will depend on the Deity, the tradition, and most importantly, the divination done before and after the sacrifice. (1) Likewise, what happens to an offering will depend on the same factors. This is part of an ongoing conversation with our Holy Powers, the Great Ones and the least we can do is not be parsimonious twats about the whole thing. If nothing else, this process reinforces the reality that we are not the biggest, most important Beings in the universe. It teaches humility, reverence, and in the best cases imbues us with an overwhelming sense of awe that we can stand in right relationship with our Gods with all that entails.
Our right to sacrifice is not a given. It is under constant threat, not just from Christian evangelicals and other monotheistic extremists but from secular humanists/non-theists and most of all from animal rights groups that will go to any lengths to see the practice banned. They’ve been successful too, helped by a social justice agenda that values any culture and religion except that which would prioritize the Gods.
This past year has seen sacrifice banned in at least two places (Denmark and Nepal’s Gadhimai festival) and there have been multiple threats to its practice that weren’t so successful (ARM is constantly agitating against the ATR, there was a legal challenge in Brooklyn last October against the Orthodox Jewish community and their new year sacrifice, to name but two). Our legal right to sacrifice to our Gods rests on a 1994 case that went all the way to the Supreme Court: Ernesto Pichardo and the Church of Babaluaye vs. the City of Hialeah. As we’ve seen with another Supreme court victory, Roe v. Wade, even a precedent setting decision by the Supreme Court can be diminished and chipped away at little by little…or even overturned.
I would like to think that if (when) our right to practice our religions unimpeded is ever challenged, that our polytheistic communities would band together and stand together fiercely protecting our ancestral traditions, challenging and fighting any restrictions…even if one’s own cultus does not require sacrifice (after all, we should never compromise in honoring our Gods and if it’s sacrifice today, what practice will be on the chopping block tomorrow?). I would like to think that if our ATR colleagues were to see their right to sacrifice threatened again that we would stand together, unified, to support them as well.
Sadly, I know that isn’t the case. We have too many people who just don’t care and too few people able (willing?) to look ahead. We need to be looking ahead. These are perilous times and whether we like it or not, we are minority religions. I want every Polytheist and Pagan out there to be able to honor their Gods without having to hide their practices, break the law, or feel ashamed. We should be able to celebrate without having to watch for informants, busy-bodies, and bigots. We should not have to curtail our religious practices because our neighbors may not understand, as one recent article suggested. We should, in fact, blatantly and boldly refuse to do so. After all, it should be more important to please the Gods than the asshole down the street.(2)
So I watch and do my best to stay vigilant. I pay attention to articles involving animal rights, to people arrested for animal slaughter (religious or not, it’s easy enough for something to be spun in a way that brings disaster to us), to international efforts overseas to ban slaughter. I write at several venues to try to raise awareness, and I refuse to support organizations (like PETA) that would take my religious rites away. I would like to see us more organized, more able to fight, and fend off attacks on our religions but looking at the community today, we’ve a long way to go.
- I’m very carefully separating out offerings that do not require animal sacrifice (offering) from those that do (sacrifice).
- It helps to research local zoning laws and have the information at your fingertips. I also suggest screening your property. I have a screened enclosure where I will perform sacrifices, and a huge back porch that can be screened if need requires. I do not in any way suggest performing sacrifice where your neighbors can gawk. This is a sacred thing, not some for profane eyes to observe.