Monthly Archives: September 2017

Last Call…

The Persephone Agon ends tonight at 9pm EST. If you have anything to submit for Her, you still have a few hours to go. 

October’s  Agon is for the Goddess Nehelenia. Everyone who submits will receive the prayer card of their choice (so when you send me your submissions, be sure to include your mailing addy and let me know which card you want). 

The winner will receive the following: 

  1. I will donate $25 to your favorite animal charity (Dogs are particularly sacred to this Goddess. Please note: I will not donate to PETA. That is my hard line. They’re assholes), or to a charity that works for the health of our oceans.
  2. The winner will also receive a set of the Vanic prayer cards and, when it is completed, Nehellenia’s prayer card. 
  3. The winner will also receive a copy of my book “Honoring the Ancestors,” signed and, if desired personalized.

For those who might be curious, i’m in the process of creating a prayer card for Nehellania based on this image: 

892001d4526e9091de1e5c78b4ff016e--nehelenia-celtic

Here is my attempt with colored pencils. It’s not even half done yet. I don’t work much with colored pencils but I figured I’d try my hand. Nehellania is so interesting. She brings together so many intersecting traditions. She was worshipped by both the Germanic, Celtic, and Romans and most of Her surviving inscriptions are in Latin. Anyway, She does not get enough love. 

nehalenia

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Kin

KIN from KIN on Vimeo.

 

Source: Kin

Brief Updates

Firstly, the Persephone Agon ends in two days at 9pm. If you’ve got an image or prayer or poem for Her that you’d like to submit, now is the time to do so. You can send your submissions to me at krasskova at gmail.com. 

The Agon for October will be for the Goddess Nehalennia. There will be prizes, which I will post about on October 1 or thereabouts and everyone who enters may receive the prayer card of their choice. 

Which brings me to my next point: check out the latest prayer card. This is by Grace Palmer and is a card for Weyland the Smith. It’ll be available next week. If you’d like to contribute to it’s cost, you can receive a half dozen of these cards, a setting of lights for yourself, and notice on the back of the card. Please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com. 

wayland smith painting 2x4

and Govannon by Basil Blake:

Gofannan final

And…that is all for now. 

Sponsor an Oracle card!

Lykeia is creating an Apollon centric oracle card deck and is asking for sponsors. She’s got a list here of the cards still needing sponsors (i went off list of course and asked to sponsor Apollon Alexikakos, Apollon Who averts evil) and she was kind enough to comply). Check it out…this will be an amazing project once it’s finished and you can be part of it. 🙂

Beloved in Light

I am trying to work more on the oracle of Apollon cards but really need willing sponsors to help with costs for making them. Each card costs me at least 60.00 to make. So if you want contribute to cards please do. Below is a list of cards I am planning. Just email me at daphne.kyrene@gmail.com to let me know which card you want to donate to and I will send you payment details. Full donation of 60.00 gives you the option of havibg the original painting. This list may expand.

Sibyl (fully sponsored)

Pythia

Thyae

Thyrae (bee nymphs)

Delphyne

Cassandra

Kyrene

Hyakinthos

Apollon Patroos

Apollon Boedromios

Apollon Marshaller of the host

Apollon Paian

Daphne

The Twins (Apollon and Artemis)

Apollon Lykeios

Apollon Musagetes

Bakkhik Apollon

Thyiades

Pan

Apollon Karneios

Apollon Pythios

Apollon Smintheus

Apollon Prostaterios

Noumenios

Asklepios

Aristaios

Apollon Delphinios

Apollon of the locusts

Castilla

Leto

Asteria

Apollon Hyperboreios…

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The Mirror of the Gods

This was the companion piece to an article I shared here. They’re older pieces, originally written a couple of years ago, but they’re relevant to some of the client work I’ve been doing lately so I’m sharing them again. 

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Last week in my medieval studies class, we were reading Bonaventure’s “Journey of the Soul into God.” It’s one of the first places where I’ve seen mysticism unhesitatingly defined as direct experience with a God, so it immediately piqued my interest because of that. We spent a very enjoyable class discussing the text itself, specifically its structure. It seems on the surface like such an arid philosophical treatise but reading through it, it’s written stylistically as anything but. Bonaventure uses various rhetorical strategies to evoke enthusiasm and experience in his readers, and lush language, sensual motifs that make this a rich and rewarding read, even for a polytheist.

My interest is less in Bonaventure’s Christianity, than in the rather Pythagorean worldview he espouses at one point in his narrative. He’s working from Augustine’s ‘de Musica,’ which in turn draws heavily on Aristotle’s “Poetics.” (So really, if a Christian can be inspired by a polytheist text, than that rubric can surely work in reverse!). By this point in the text (2.10), he’s already been writing about his God as a divine Artificer in ways that echo elements of Plato’s “Timaeus.” After expounding for a bit on how every sensation is an experience of God, and that part of the structure of knowing is taking delight in the presence of God, not as a rarified experience but as something open and available to everyone, he starts talking about numbers.

Now, I’m not a maths person. Having dyscalculia, I struggled all my school life to acquire basic math skills and while I can handle measurements for cooking, balance a checkbook, and understand compound interest, that’s about as far as it goes with respect to my math functionality. So when I first got to this discussion of numbers, I groaned inwardly and prepared to skim it as quickly as possible. Then I actually read what Bonaventure was saying though, and especially after our class discussion, I was floored. It opened up a way of connecting to my Gods that I’d never, ever considered (or if i had ever considered it, I’d assumed it was forever closed to me because of my poor math skills).

Basically, Bonaventure posits that the harmony, balance, proportion, ratio, and math of the universe, the cosmic order and structure itself is both a means to know “God” but also that the entire cosmic order, the deep structure of all that is exists in the mind of God. Think about that for a moment. The unfolding, interlocking order of creation exists in the minds of Gods, in the shared consciousness of the Divine Assembly, or in the mind of the God or Gods who functions as the architect of the universe. We exist not separate and apart from our Gods, but held within Them. I do not quite know how to express how profound I found this. I’m still pondering it, chewing on it. I have a deep emotional response to this idea of numbers as a vestige, a trace we can follow to our Gods.

It’s a complete shift in consciousness to look at not just the natural world, but it’s order, structure — the science of the thing—as a reflection of the Gods. I think one of the most traumatic things that monotheism accomplished was setting us apart not only from the nature world, our world full of Gods as the philosopher Thales put it, but separating us from any sense of connection to the Gods. There’s such a tremendous disconnect inherent in the monotheistic worldview with its emphasis on separation, sin, and salvation. I think the Christian mystics or mystic-influenced writers like Bonaventure tried to counter this but sadly stood in the minority.

I talked to my friend Edward Butler about this philosophy of numbers, as it were, (because I am in no way a philosopher and often need advice in navigating the more philosophical concepts) and he told me that this idea that we are *in* the Gods, that there is nothing outside of Them is a core Platonic concept and the fact that “the cosmos can be grasped through mathematics is considered by Platonists to be one of the prime expressions” (if you’ll pardon the pun), “of the divine presence throughout the cosmos, and mathematics is equal to philosophy as a mode of cognizing the operations of the Gods, which is to say, cognizing everything, since Being Itself is the Gods’ work.” (2)

Isn’t that just astounding? Go outside and look at the light filtering through the leaves of trees and the Gods are there. The patterns of snowflakes reflect Divine cognition and care, (it’s snowing where I live right now and recognizing this makes it more endurable lol). The way things grow, the organic structure of everything all reflects the Gods directly. The cycle of seasons, that it’s cold in winter, hot in summer, that bacteria is able to effect decay and that decay nourishes the soil and brings it to greater fruitfulness is all a reflection of the Divine. The big bang and stars and black holes and chemistry and all the ways in which science works is all infused with the laughing cognition of our Gods, delighting in Their artistry.

Think about what it means that science: biology, physics, the natural sciences, math, all of it is a reflection of the minds of our Gods. When we then explore those things we are glimpsing our Gods. And because we are talking about concepts that are based on harmony, ratio, and proportion we can include art in that category too. Why is art and music and dance and sculpture and writing sacred? These things reflect the glory of the Gods. They flow from the minds of our Gods into our world renewing and transforming it again.

I want to quote Edward again more fully, because the purity of these structures, the unfiltered purity of math as an expression of the Gods is significant (and I don’t want to muddy the waters with my own inaccurate accounting):

“The mathematics that mathematicians still do, just like the philosophy that philosophers still do—actually more so, because mathematicians have not gotten distracted—is a way of grasping what the Gods are doing, even if it doesn’t talk about the Gods explicitly. In a sense, if we can only recognize the Gods where They are explicitly spoken of, we show that we no longer understand or believe that Being comes from Them.

One of the most important implications of the role of number, Platonically speaking, has to do with the priority in procession of number over other concepts. In essence, this means that there is an intelligible grasp of reality that is more primordial than conceptual reduction. This has many implications for the polytheist, but one of the first is that the “numerical difference” of the Gods is preserved from being reduced to their conceptual commonalities (chief of which is, of course, that of being-Gods). Number, especially for the Greeks, is figure, configuration. So it’s about the possible kinds of relation of individuals to one another—which is grounded in the relations Gods have with one another, which establishes the space for our experience as well—and the possible kinds of configuration inside each individual, which has its ground in the way Gods relate to Their own powers.

The purity of mathematics, the fact that we can go so far with it without drawing on anything else, testifies in itself that it is a particularly divine science, because it resembles in this sense what the Gods can do in virtue of not needing to seek anything outside Their own nature. The importance of mathematics to Platonism is one of the most well-attested things about it. Plato’s Academy supposedly had a sign above it that said “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter.” Platonism and Pythagoreanism are virtually indistinguishable intellectual movements in antiquity.”(2)

Aside from the fact that I would never have been allowed in with my poor mathematics skills, one of the things that leapt out to me immediately in my conversation with Edward is this: if we only recognize the Gods when we speak specifically of “Gods,” we’re missing something. Our understanding is lacking. Our conception of being and becoming is lacking. If we have to actually name the Gods to recognize Their order and work, then there is a problem with our perception. The way we look at the world is flawed. The Gods are not something outside of our world. They are not apart from it or us, and those structures and systems of math and science, philosophy and the arts are pathways by which we can reach Them. (3)

Also, so much of what we must do as polytheists today is reclaim fields like philosophy and the sciences from monotheistic damage. I may write about this in later posts, but I think there is an unconscious attitude that’s filtered into polytheism, that attitude of modernity that devotion is not rational (or practical). I’ve seen it manifest in a hostility toward devotion at worst and even in some of the best cases, as a self-consciousness and even shame. It is as though an equation has been set up in which to honor our Gods rightly we must hand over the reins of rational thought, science, philosophy, etc. to others (opposed in many cases not just to polytheism but to devotion and religion in general). It’s time to repair and heal our faulty world view and take these disciplines back. These are not areas that we should ever cede.

I cannot begin to express how deeply Bonaventure’s passages on numbers as a reflection of the Gods affected me. There was a moment in class where I felt as though a veil had been ripped off my eyes and I could see with crystalline clarity the order and structure of things, of everything and the way it led to the Gods. I did not cry in class but oh I wanted to, with the sheer beauty and enormity of what was being revealed. This too is restoration.

When I teach devotional work, time and time again i’m confronted by people who simply don’t know how to get started. They struggle and falter and often grow disheartened. How different might that process be when I can say “look around you. Look at the order of everything. It is a reflection of the Gods.” or even more fully to say that we are not external to the Gods, but as part of that cosmic order, we rest in and flow from the minds of our Gods, working together, creating together, that everything external to our beings is a reflection of the Gods. The Gods are right there, all around us. The very workings of our minds, our ability to recognize and comprehend was a gift carefully structured by Them, that leads back to Them. We are infused with Their grace simply by Being. Start there. Meditate on that. Let that awareness unfold and carry you into the labyrinth of devotion.

What this means, at least what I think this means, is that we are never actually cut off from our Gods. We cannot be by the mere rubric of Being. We may have to re-learn awareness of this. We may have to unclutter and deprogram our minds but the cognition of the Gods is unfolding all around us and through us and in us. We are it, connected to it, through the organization of our cells, through the firing of our synapses, through our own experience of Being. Perhaps realizing this, realizing that disconnection is simply not actually possible, will make those first faltering steps of devotion a little less difficult, and perhaps it will sustain when fallow times happen. Perhaps it will infuse this entire process — of devotion, of restoration, of everything—with joy, because there is such tremendous joy in that pristine, unfolding order. That, most of all, is what brought me to tears: the sense of joy and delight which the Gods take in the act of creating. I tasted it for a moment, in that glimpse of structure and equations, and that moment was enough.

Notes

1. Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God; The Tree of Life; The Life of St. Francis.” Translated by Ewert Cousins. Paulist Press, 1978. (The Classics of Western Spirituality Series).

2. Email correspondence with Edward Butler on March 1, 2015.  

3. All the more why I insist that it is a false dichotomy when people equate “putting the Holy Powers (Gods, ancestors, spirits) first as neglecting one’s family, community, and kin. It’s precisely the opposite. It enhances and flows through everything and demands greater engagement not just with the Holy, but with everyone and everything in one’s world.

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

An Example of Heathen Piety

I was thinking about the ‘Lay of Hyndla’ today. There’s a beautiful, haunting passage where Freya talks about the piety of Her servant Ottar, whom She has transformed into the boar, Hildsvini — apologies to Old Norse readers. I’m typing this directly into WordPress and can’t figure out how to do the accent marks.  In Stanza 10, She tells Hyndla about Ottar, indicating why, perhaps, She is willing to help him on his quest. She’s arguing with Hyndla, who is basically a Goddess of genealogy,(1) so that the latter will recite Ottar’s ancestry, enabling the hero to tap into his ancestral blessings. It really shows how important it is to have proper relationships with the Gods and ancestors, and that if you have one, They’ll help with the other. 

10. “For me a shrine | of stones he made,–
And now to glass | the rock has grown;–
Oft with the blood | of beasts was it red;
In the goddesses ever | did Ottar trust.

In other words, Ottar made so many sacrifices, and committed those sacrifices to immolation on Her altar, that the heat of the fires turned the stones to glass. Note that it’s his piety that wins Freya over, not some great heroic deed. May we take him as an example of good, religious behavior.(2)

Notes:

  1. Not everyone in the Northern Tradition views Hyndla as a Goddess, but my particular tradition does.
  2. * sarcasm* I guess that makes Ottar one of the original members of the Piety Posse.

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

I’d title this but it’s all apparently subjective…

So I want to relay a little anecdote. Tonight I was sitting in a theology class discussing Trinitarian theology, its development, and Origen’s contributions to that development. We read part of a trial transcript between a heretical bishop and Origen where the latter had been called in as an expert prosecutor (it’s part of the Turin papyrus). They go back and forth and the section we were studying ended with an affirmation (made by two devout third century Christians) that there were two Gods in Christianity (it took them awhile to develop the vocabulary to adequately articulate the complex relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and obviously the two-god language did not last past 325).  It was a rather lively dialogue (trial transcript) and the class had an equally lively discussion about it. One of the students, new to the program, seemed quite flabbergasted and finally burst out with “But it doesn’t matter! They were arguing over things that have no right or wrong answer!” Before I could jump in, the professor gently told her that to them there was indeed a right answer: the orthodox one.

This is the thing: to a devout person working within a tradition, there is a right and a wrong way to do things. There is a right and wrong way to approach the Holy and this is important to figure out because a devout person wants to do right by his or her Gods. It’s not enough to guess or half ass it. For these early Christians, for instance, figuring out their creedal statement was the first step for them in knowing how to properly pray, how to approach their God, how to be in right relationship with their idea of the Holy. There was nothing subjective about it. All the bishops at Nicaea didn’t sit around singing kumbaya. Blood was spilled over this and Santa Claus had to knock some bitches out. (1)

Seriously though, blood was spilled. There was none of the intellectual and spiritual apathy that we see today, the type of “whatever feels good to you is ok” theology. There was a passionate community determined to figure out how do their religion right. It wasn’t just the ecclesiastical elites either. It wasn’t just your bishops and theologians and priests; your bath attendants, barbers, shepherds, and schoolchildren were arguing over it. Even the Pagans and Jews at the time recognized the import of this type of theological engagement in this new religious atmosphere. Being pious meant something and dictated a level of engagement that we should envy.

Our whole world is divided on whether football players should kneel or stand but no one can give a shit about whether our Gods exist, what Their nature is, and how to serve Them correctly or even if one should do devotional work. It’s pathetic and our traditions and Gods deserve better.

Especially since we, unlike Christians, have the means to suss out what our Gods want from us. We have not just prayer and contemplation, but divination. We are regaining oracles. We have nascent traditions with structures and elders and teachers. We have the incredible, incandescent grace of theophany. (We also have Odin, Who can smack a bitch better than St. Nicholas ever could. LOL). What’s sad is that early Christianity had these tools as well but got rid of them over time slowly one by one. (This was one of the reasons that Tertullian eventually defected to Montanists – they still had prophets, female prophets no less).(2)

So when someone says that there aren’t any right answers to these questions, it speaks to me of the poison of modernity, and the spiritually rootless rot of cultural and moral relativism. This isn’t something that does honor to our Gods, our ancestors, our traditions, or ourselves which we’d know, if we weren’t so blinded by the minutiae of daily existence and by an overculture that tells us devotion isn’t worth pursuing, that nothing matters unless it can be quantified (and commodified, and then sold at your local WalMart), and that boundaries and standards are elitist and exclusionary and hurt people’s “feelings”.

Some things are more important than we are. Some things have import beyond the minutia of our lives. I think as people of devotion and faith we’re called to elevate ourselves in relation to our Gods and our traditions. Building our traditions and honoring our Gods is not an intellectual exercise. People are dying for it. People are dying in devotion to our Gods – not in the US, but that doesn’t make it any less of a tragedy. I wonder how many of us here would be willing to hold fast under threat to life, or would we shrug and say “it doesn’t really  matter,” abandon our Gods and traditions, and pay lip service to another because “there’s no right or wrong answer”?(3)

Notes:

  1. there’s an anecdotal story that St. Nicholas hauled off and punched the heretic Arius at this counsel.
  2. one group of early Christians was even dedicated to Hermes and they interpreted Jesus as a form of Hermes and as the Revealer of Knowledge. (Hippolytus goes on about them. They claim descent from Orpheus). Then there were the Carpocratians who even made offerings to other Gods than Jesus. Imagine if one of these polytheistic forms of Christianity had won out, how different our world would be.
  3. Christianity won in part because they were willing to bleed for their faith, to die for it. Good or bad, their obsession with the ‘red crown’ of martyrdom became a defining facet of the dominant form of the religion that passed into the medieval period.

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Submissions to Persephone’s Agon

To Persephone at Eleusis
by P.S.V.L

O You Who was once the Maiden,
Who now and forever is Mistress of the Dead:
when will You call Your banqueters
to stand forth in Your field
and ready their arms for what is to come?

O You Who are the fair hand in Hades,
the gentle Mistress like a drop of honey in darkness:
what will be the occasion that comes
when Your fosterbrothers, Demophoön and Triptolemos,
are at the heads of Your indomitable army?

O You Who is the Daughter of Demeter,
Granddaughter of Rhea, Great-Granddaughter of Gaia:
when will the Children of great Gaia and starry Ouranos
and the Offspring of Gaia and Nyx
gather their forces to await Iakkhos’ order?

O You Who is the Daughter of Zeus,
and fair wife of wolf-capped Hades:
will it be a child of white-capped Poseidon
that kindles the flame that Your initiates
will pass through, as they were once lead to it?

O Great Persephone, Whose honeyed Daughter
Melinoë, and a brood too great to number,
have mercy upon those the soil has already covered,
shower Your blessings upon those who carry Your torches,
and upon we who pray to You, grant us peace and victory!

 

 Persephone
by C. Valentor

Dark Lady of the shrouded Underworld
Cerberus ever present at Your side
The passing seasons by Your power unfurl
In birth and death the rhythms do abide.

Demeter’s daughter, gone with Hades lure
Who took You down into His grand abyss
Abandonment of all that once was pure
Yet foggy worlds reveal a newfound bliss.

Once innocent, seduced into the realm
Now Goddess, so benevolent and wise
The Shadow Queen of transitory helm
You welcome mortal souls as old flesh dies.

From seeds of pomegranate bargains born
To lessen winter’s cold eternity
The Lady of the Equinox transforms
As seasons split the year’s equality.

When once again in spring You do return
To paint the landscapes pink with bloom and flower
We celebrate our steadfast lessons learned
And bow before Your omnipresent power.

Sweet Goddess of the changing atmosphere
We hail You as both light and darkness fall
Embracing all with gratitude sincere
Until we heed Your Underworld’s call.

 

Prayer to Persephone
by A Bayless

Arise, O gracious Persephone, Queen of the Underworld!
Husband to the All-Receiving Lord, your kingdom is vast.
You keep a garden for those whom you have spoken on their behalf to the Judges of the Dead that they may no life even in death.
You were once the weaver of the world when your age and name were the same but then a great trauma befell you: a trauma that led to the birth of the Great Hunter Zagreus.
But this pain still lingers.
It consigns all to death.
But thankfully Dionysos and His soothing ways have healed you of your grief.
Through you both, humanity will know true life.
O Persephone, you who speak on behalf of the children of Earth and Starry Heaven, may you be appeased and may we be granted access to your gardens!
Io Persephone!

a note

Let it be known right up front: i will approve no comments from so called Pagan monotheists who seek to reduce all our Gods to one god and who also seek to let monotheism off the hook for the devastation it causes. Go wade in the pollution you generate elsewhere. 

(Or take a basic math class: 1+1+1 is not 1).

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

shutterstock_1964352591October is almost here. chilly weather, crisp leaves, halloween, and then the Hunt Season through Yule. yay . It’s the best time of year. 🙂