Monthly Archives: June 2016
Sneak Peak of WTW issue 4
Check out the link below for a sneak peak of the Table of contents of Issue 4 of Walking the Worlds. It’s an awesome issue, folks. 🙂
Volume 2 | Number 2 | Summer 2016 : Philosophy and Polytheism The God of Queer Theory: A Dionysian Exegesis by Neve Antheus Polytheism and the Euthyphro by Edward P. Butler Romans, Gods, Politics, …
See the full TOC here: Issues
if everything is political, nothing is
the only issue that should be considered when choosing representations of your Deities is A) does it reflect the experiences you’ve had with Them and perhaps B) does it reflect traditional iconography (or rather, it shouldn’t violate any taboos). One certainly shouldn’t give a flying fuck about what other people think or feel and how pathetic are these SJWs that they need to be represented in everything including the iconography of other people’s Gods. it just highlights how incapable they are of prioritizing the Gods.
Polytheism has always been International
So Rhyd must be trying to raise donations on his patreon account. I’d just been thinking, it’s time for him to start another controversy—his donations are down—and lo and behold a friend sent me this today.(1)
Rhyd thinks he discovered Europe. How colonial of him.
Sweetie, polytheists have been networking with our European cousins for thirty plus years. Glad you could finally join the game. Just because we think you happen to be full of shit, doesn’t mean we’re isolationist.(2)
Heathenry and Asatru have (for longer than I’ve been Heathen so we’re talking well over thirty years) communicated with and networked with groups in Iceland, Scandinavia, and Germany. I have worked with Asatru Ring Frankfurt and my Northern Tradition colleague Raven Kaldera has lectured and traveled all over continental Europe. Hell, his NT series sells as well in Russia as it does here in the states (and that’s saying something). I and other Heathens have lectured all over Europe, my last in London a couple of years ago. The PLC—remember that? It’s what gave Rhyd and Co. the idea for MGW—was an international event. We had a rather large delegation from Greece. My Friends of Mani is international and so is my husband’s tradition. Most polytheists I know have ties in some way, shape, or form to our European co-religionists. To us, that’s just the way polytheism works. We live in the age of the internet, the age of air travel. We communicate and inspire each other. This should not surprise anyone. I’m just surprised Rhyd is only now figuring this out but I guess like everything else, we polytheists got there first. Sorry, dude.
- You can track these things. Check it out here. His patreon is down -4.44% from last month. You can’t make this shit up.
- Though I do note that Rhyd didn’t allow comments on his blog–how isolationist of him. tsk tsk
New Stuff at My Etsy Shop and Card Fundraising
I’m running a sale on my paintings on my Etsy shop. i’ve marked them all down by at least $100 and in some cases more. I’ll keep it that way for the next month so if you’ve been eyeing one, now’s your chance.
By the end of the day I shall also have uploaded all of the new prayer cards.
Speaking of which, the following cards still need funding:
Asteria (Hekate’s mother)
Logi (god of hungry flame)
Andvari (duergar god of craft and money)
I’m sure I have more outstanding too but those are the ones I’m fixated on now LOL (I just had eight cards printed. Even I can’t keep track sometimes!). If you are interested in donating to any of these cards, please contact me at krasskova @ gmail.com. In return, you receive a setting of lights, six prayer cards of your choice, and credit on the back of the card. I’ll also throw in a surprise gift when I mail you your cards.
Andvari especially was very much beloved by my adopted Mom and He has been gaining quite a bit of cultus over the past decade. I’d like to see Him honored with His own card. Anything sold at Etsy this month is likewise going toward the cards.
WTW an Update on issue 4
I am awaiting my proof of issue 4 of Walking the Worlds. I expect it to arrive this week and barring any issues, I will begin shipping issue 4 to all subscribers shortly thereafter. Contributors will also be paid at that time.
I’m about a week late this time, but this issue deals with philosophy and we decided to take an extra week to proof and reproof the articles since many of them are quite complex. It’s an awesome issue, folks. Y’all can see the table of contents here.
Mommy, Is That a Boy or a Girl?
So, I get this question sometimes, like today, as my husband and I were leaving our local diner. A little kid waiting in line with its (I didn’t notice if it was a boy or girl, ironically) mother to use the toilet asked the mom about my gender just as I exited out the back door. I just laughed – I’m never offended by the question when it comes from a child. They’re working out their world and it’s not the first time that I’ve been asked by a child in the 4-8 age range where I fall on the gender spectrum. I almost went back in to have a conversation with the kid, but it is hot and I really wanted to go home. Maybe I should have gone back in because on the way home I started thinking about the incident.
Had the child never seen a woman with short hair? I once asked a friend if I really read that “masculine” and that friend said ‘you’re clipped, to the point, and assertive. In this culture, yes.” And we both agreed that was utterly pathetic because really, what is it teaching women but to be soft, pliant, indecisive, and stupid? I should mention that I purposely tend to reign in my body language when I’m out and about – if I don’t curb it, if I just allow myself to walk and move naturally, I find that women often become frightened. I move with strength and purpose (and find myself incredibly annoyed by those who don’t. figure out what you’re doing and where you’re going and do it or get the fuck out of the way). It really brings home the message of weakness and compliance that young girls are taught in this country. My friend went on to say, “you want to know what most people expect of women look at fox news.” I almost barfed. I am too fucking intelligent to behave that way. Sorry, folks, just can’t dumb myself down enough. How unfeminine of me, I know. *sarcasm*
Another friend of mine came over after breakfast – he is doing a bit of a repair job for me at my house—and when I told him what happened he made an offhand comment that he wondered if I’d start seeing more of this questioning as people get crazier and crazier over bathrooms and gender. I told him I already have. While no one has yet approached or harassed me, I’ve been given the definite stink eye by a couple of older gentlemen when I used the ladies room at a local art exhibit. I find myself more aware of those around me when I’m going to the toilet (and I have OAB – I go to the toilet a lot so I have quite a bit of time to contemplate the bathroom insanity in this country). It’s not lost on me that not only are those bathroom laws transphobic, but they also force feminization on women, a very particular 1950s brand presentation. It’s utter bullshit. (And let me tell you, the first person to accost me for using the ladies room is going to get the crudest, grossest, rudest response I can muster – and they’d better hope I’m not menstruating at the time—such bigotry deserves no less and I can be amazingly crude when the situation calls for it).
I have been accosted in the past because people have assumed I was gay. The most egregious occasion occurred in Europe. I was walking arm in arm with my mother. We both have short hair and apparently that’s all that’s needed for a certain type of small-minded bigot to make assumptions. We were nearly attacked. I stood my ground against the three attackers while my mother went to get the police and fortunately they backed down but it was very close and I never again went out with her without keeping one eye peeled for potential violence. That changed the way that I look at all of this.
These bathroom laws are about forcing a specific gender compliance, nothing more. It’s not only trans folk who are being harassed, but there have also been cases of women with short hair (longer than mine, I might add), and cancer patients having been harassed too. This is about forcing men and women to dress and comport themselves in a certain way, a way that the fundamentalist Christian right finds appropriate. Well, fuck them. THEY are the problem, not trans people who need to pee.
We have radical Islamic terrorists shooting up gay clubs, imams preaching that to kill LGBTQ people is the “compassionate choice” (I wish I could find the podcast where I learned about this…it happened at a mosque 45 mins outside of Orlando), we have Republicans making laws ostensibly to protect the children…unless those children are gay or trans or bi (or poor, or African-American, or, or, or…). We’re no longer the ‘land of the free and home of the brave,” instead we’re the land of ignorant, small-minded, frightened bigots and we should be better than that. Maybe we should grow up as a country and stop using “the children” as an excuse for our bigotry. In the meantime, this heterosexual cis-gendered woman stands gladly with the LGBTQ community.
How to make the Bakchai even more tragic: ask where’s Echion
When I was teaching the Bacchae last term, Sannion and I had a long conversation on the role of Echion in shaping the character and behavior of Pentheus and the tragedy behind Echion’s absence in the play. It completely changed my view of Pentheus and not only made him a far more sympathetic character, but added a level of brutal tragedy that I hadn’t heretofore considered. Sannion discusses some of that in this post. Check it out at the link below.
The People We Travel With…
I tell my students to avoid tumblr. I tell those who come to me to learn about the gods or for initiation and/or spiritual training to avoid people who don’t take their Gods seriously. I tell them to take care with whom they spend their time. I tell them to take care with what they pollute their eyes and hearts and minds. This is important. We inevitably become like that with which we associate. The choice of course, whether or not to take my advice is always left with the student, but I lay out my case early on.
Pollution is an actual thing and I don’t think that there’s enough discussion of it in our communities. As human beings, we are affected by those things with which we associate, by what we watch, by the character and conversation of our friends. If a person is serious about developing good devotional habits (and good devotional character), then early on, one learns to avoid those situations that diminish our spiritual worth.
Instead, it’s important to learn to cultivate the people, hobbies, habits, and things that encourage and nourish right relationship with the Gods. If you’re surrounding yourself by people steeped in piety, it will rub off! You’ll be influenced to likewise treat the Gods with respect. You’ll observe good habits and absorb them almost by osmosis. When everyone around you is modeling right behavior it’s a thousand times easier to cultivate that in yourself. The opposite is also true. Peer pressure, as it were, can work both ways.
Now I’m not trying to rain on anybody’s parade. If you like a particular pop culture TV show, for instance, go ahead and watch it, but be aware of the message it sends. Understand that you’re doing yourself no favors. You’ll have to take extra care to ensure that you don’t unconsciously (subliminally?) start copying the behavior and attitudes you’re seeing. That’s the problem with so much of this. It’s not that any person or thing is bad in and of itself (usually), but that we pick up unconscious messages from what we’re around. We imitate and often do so unthinkingly. We do things on auto-pilot, unmindfully and it’s mindfulness that is called for here. We cannot afford to assume that the structures of our lives automatically support devotion. Generally they don’t and very little in our immediate environments do.
I’ll admit that I find this sobering. It has, however, made me very selective about how I spend my time. We each have a great deal of power over our spiritual lives. We have the power to carefully choose that which will nourish our relationship with our Holy Powers or to choose that which does not. We can choose our companions. We can choose our associations, our hobbies, how much and what we allow in. We should choose—even if one takes away the spiritual imperative, we should always be selective about those influences that enter our personal orbits. I always encourage my students to ask: “What attitudes does this thing or person encourage? What is its/their message? Is this making me better as a human being? How does this further my spiritual goals? What does this contribute to my overall life? My character? What is it telling me about devotion? What does it cultivate in psyche and soul?”
It takes a great deal of personal integrity to do this work. It takes a great deal of personal integrity and commitment and yes, courage to resist the pressure to confirm and to water down our devotions to the silliest common denominator imaginable. We are charged, I very firmly believe, with being better.
Before our traditions were destroyed, we’d have all grown up in polytheistic households and communities. We’d have had ample opportunity to see right behavior modeled and we’d have been surrounded by numerous people and factors that would likewise reinforce it. We’d have had plenty of people to go to if we had questions and plenty of good models not just for how to do devotion well but how to become mature, engaged, mindful human beings. We don’t live in that world. Unfortunately, most of us are not surrounded by a community or family that models and reinforces right behavior. We have to learn to do it for ourselves.
So if you find yourself suddenly become flippant about the Gods when you generally know better, look around and see what might be influencing you. Take stock of your company and surroundings. Likewise, if you find yourself needing to cut jokes about the sacred, when normally you would quietly go about the business of devotion, as yourself why? Take a good, long look at the people with whom you’re surrounding yourself. Take a good long estimate of the media influences in which you are willingly steeped and ask yourself if it’s doing your devotion any good. Ask yourself if it’s beneficial or worth it. Then make your choice.
That’s what all solid devotion comes down to: learning to make the right choices, the most beneficial ones day after day, and that is something within all our reach.
Thoughts on Initiation
Tomorrow is the anniversary of my ordination, something that in many traditions is a day to be celebrated and marked. I don’t generally do so with mine, save by making special offerings to my Gods, but it’s got me thinking: not about the ordination but about the process that, for me, preceded it: initiation. That’s one of those things that a lot of us talk about, but no one ever seems to really explain. Part of that is because it can’t be explained really—oh, I could give you a run down of every single part of the ritual, but doing so would just be discussing the scaffolding; it would do nothing to explain the transformation that initiation can and should bring.
First, I want to note as strongly as possible that A) initiation does not necessarily lead to ordination. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with that. I’ve undergone many initiations at the hands of my Gods and Their people and that the very first one was a predecessor to ordination was simply a reflection of the way that tradition was structured. It is not necessarily the norm; and B). initiation isn’t a matter of one and done. One can undergo more than one type of initiation. It all depends on the tradition, the Gods, and the individual.
This is not a new concept. Polytheisms have always had their mystery cultus and have always, as far as I can tell, had rites of initiation. Sometimes these were ceremonies marking life transitions, such as moving from childhood to adulthood. That is not the type of initiatory ritual that I am talking about here. No, when I talk about initiation, I’m not talking about anything that binds or marks one’s place in the continuum of generational human experiences. I’m talking about those things that bring us, sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes awe struck and weeping into communion with our Gods, those rites that change forever our world both inner and out. There is no going back from an initiation of this sort. It is a type of death, rebirth, and transformation and the person who exits the ritual space at the end of such a rite is not at all the same person who entered it.
Pretty words and I’m sure that some of you reading this think that I’m speaking metaphorically. I’m not. Initiation can fuck you up. A true initiation is not a pretty ritual after which you can go on your way feeling good about yourself. This is a terrifying rite that can strip you bear, open you up, and throw you face down before your Gods. It can open up fractures in your emotional matrix and your psyche, dredging up scars and issues and pain that you may have thought long ago put to rest. It can create internal chaos because it is the Gods effecting a change spiritually, energetically, emotionally, psychologically. It can bring taboos and obligations. It can damage you physically – not because of anything those shepherding the initiate through whatever the rite may entail do, but because of the internal process itself, and the energies in play.
Of course it may also fill you with ecstasy and joy, transform you in such a way that you are in closer, ongoing communion with your Gods, transform your afterlife, mark you as being one of the cultus of a particular God energetically and many other things and usually it is a glorious and joyful transformative experience. Sometimes though, it’s not and there’s no way to tell. I sometimes think the Gods must consider the initiate much as a master jeweler considers a rough stone. How to polish, how to facet? How much pressure to apply and at what angle? It’s such a delicate procedure and only the Gods have a hope of making such a thing work. This is why it’s so very important that They be at the beginning, center, and end of it all. An initiation isn’t something to seek out for one’s own purposes. It should be at the behest of one’s Gods. Divination should be done – thorough and extensive—to make certain that it is the right time (the Gods fix the time), and that the initiate is ready. Divination –thorough and extensive—should be done to figure out what offerings need to be made, what the rite should consist of (even in traditions where there is a strict process, this should still be done. There is always the possibility of the Gods wanting something special), how it should unfold, if there are any taboos or obligations to be kept before, during, or after, and so many more things. Most of all: is this initiate ready for this initiation into this tradition done by these elders? This is all the more important as we are restoring our traditions. Unlike religions like Lukumi or Ifa, our initiatory rites have largely been lost. We don’t have the inter-generational structure. We are restoring it now slowly but surely but so much of that is a matter of finding one’s way, inching nervously forward, and it must be admitted, making terrible mistakes. Initiation is not a place where mistakes can afford to be made. It is dangerous enough all on its own.
This is why it’s so crucial to have competent and trusted elders, and a community that can support and guide the initiate not only before, not only through but after the initiation and by after I mean for weeks, months, and possibly years.
I’m going to tell you a story of an initiation gone bad. I’m going to gloss over many parts of this story because parts of it are not mine to tell. Yes, I have changed personal details. I saw a young man undergo an initiation. I was witness to it. The initiation was done perfectly. The elder in question did everything right. The initiate in question was well-prepared and very devout. The witnesses, including myself were experienced, well-prepared, and devout. All the divination, from several diviners, gave clear and strong go ahead. When the ceremony, lasting several days, was done, there was joy, the overwhelming joy of such a process. There were blessings. Everything looked perfect. I brought my concerns to the elder and was told that perhaps I was over-reacting. That surely I was misreading. I celebrated with the rest and then over the next year watched this young man ,a good friend of mine, destroy his life.
Remember I said sometimes initiation brings up past wounds so that the initiate can address them and move forward into healing, stronger and healthier? Well that was what was happening. He began to spiral down into a very bad psychological place: hoarding, self-harm, cutting off ties to all friends, ceased working on getting clear of a damaging family relationship, became extremely paranoid, lashed out at everyone in the religion, began to encourage others to back away from devotion and throw themselves into mundane life, began to have outbursts of rage, and worse. I believe my friend gave himself over to the Filter rather than continue his spiritual work—work that would have required facing so much pain. He has been lost to us, though still he lives and more than that I cannot say. It is a painful subject…and this is an initiation where everything was done right.
I myself underwent an initiation that was necessary, but done in such a way that I was left partially crippled by pain for months. It was only when the scars to my energetic body, and the blockages were cleared by an elder that I began to heal. I do not mean that my spiritual life was impinged, I mean I would wake up screaming in pain so severe that my husband on more than one occasion nearly took me to the ER. I was lucky. I was able to heal from this damage and the issues that caused it were not mine, but rather a matter, as I found out later, of the one doing the initiation lacking the requisite qualifications. The transfer of energy—in part what an initiation is—could not happen cleanly. The initiation was legitimate, but damn near killed me.
I want to emphasize for those of you who may be wondering that in the above examples neither ritual involved any measure of what we term ordeal work. Both were done within the structure of the respective traditions. In the first case, well, sometimes initiation is a crap shoot and sometimes there is a terrible attrition rate. In the second, a corner was cut that shouldn’t have been and the price was pure agony and ongoing damage. I want to note again: no one laid a hand on me (save to touch my head in blessing). There was no ordeal. There was simply the initiation ritual and the transfer of power. These are horror stories and they’re not the norm. Most initiations leave the initiate feeling liberated and transformed and filled with wonder and joy and a new sense of connection to their Gods. But…even the best of them can go wrong and there’s often no way to tell until well after the ritual how the initiate is going to cope with the changes spiritually wrought. It’s not a game. They’re not words or pretty rites. This can fuck a person up in this life, and it can change the nature of the initiate’s afterlife too. An initiate becomes a carrier of a tradition. (One initiates generally not just to a Deity but within a particular tradition, after all). The changes wrought are often those which allow the initiate to become a container of the Mysteries of their God. It’s a powerful process.
No one, by the way, is owed initiation. That’s also something that I want to put out on the table. These things have real world consequences. I, for instance, am forbidden to initiate into the Mysteries of Dionysos. I love Him dearly. I’ve worked for years helping to build His cultus. I have nearly a decade of ongoing venerative practice to Him and I maintain a household shrine to Him. Hell, I even married a Dionysian! Still, extensive divination showed that I cannot receive His mysteries via initiation. I can honor Him – He is delighted for me to do so. He has helped me and I have had powerful devotional experiences with Him. This is one of the Gods that I deeply love but I will never become a bearer of His mysteries. I cannot, no matter how much I may want to do so. Why? Because undergoing Dionysian initiation can both change where you will go in the afterlife (part of the deal Dionysos made with Hades to liberate His people from the Hades’ control when they’re dead) and change one so that one is wired specifically for Dionysian energies. I belong to Odin. Where I go when I’m dead, the energies I’m wired to carry and receive when alive are His. It is specifically because I am Odin’s and patterned for this God that I cannot receive the mysteries of Dionysos. It doesn’t matter that sometimes I feel left out when Dionysos’ folk gather. It doesn’t matter that I may love Him dearly. It wouldn’t matter if I wanted initiation. I can’t have it and trying to force the act not only would be a deeply impious act, but also a damned stupid and dangerous one. There are consequences for the things we do and the Gods we carry.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have and to respect our competent elders. They carry the weight of their Gods’ tradition on their backs. They are guardians of that tradition just as we become when we take up certain burdens. They are the ones who help navigate these waters. It’s also why it’s so absolutely crucial to have supportive and cohesive community. The community is the container for all of this. When a community gathers to welcome a new initiate back into human/mundane space after that person has been transformed via initiation that is a tremendously holy and sacred act. That is what roots both the initiate and the energies of the rite and the tradition in the here and now. The community is the rootbase of the great tree of whatever tradition they are carrying. They are necessary and it’s the interplay of elders, community, Gods, initiate that gives everyone the best chance for initiations to occur safely and well. We need our initiations. We need all the various levels of interaction with our Gods, all the various rungs on the sacred ladder of our traditions and cultus.
I understand the enthusiasm of wanting to honor the Gods this way and go deeper into devotion but it’s important to follow the necessary protocol. There is a right way to do these things and a right time.
I want to give a shout out to the Sisterspinster Shop. I recently had the opportunity to try several of her flower essences and they are absolutely amazing. I was particularly taken by her “Devotion” essence. It’s a rather fiery essence as its description on the site shows and it is absolutely wonderful. I think I rather poo-pooed flower essences until trying these, but when I took this one, on a whim, before going out to pray, I found that it softened my hardness of heart, stilled some of the chaos inside, and helped me focus. It positioned me ever so subtly in a much more receptive headspace than I expected. I highly recommend it as an aid.
While I haven’t tried it yet, I also have it on good faith that the Flora essence opens one to a sense of Her presence in a tremendously powerful way. I only wish she’d do a Dionysos and an Odin! 🙂