Monthly Archives: December 2018
An Old Poem: Godspouse
I recently found this piece of poetry that I wrote several years ago. It’s a good way to start the new year.
To be wed to a God
It is a mauling,
a joyous evisceration.
It is the agony of knowing
that human flesh is weak:
one can never be fully filled
completely with one’s God.
We claw our way forward anyway,
addicts aching for our next fix;
and the merest breath of His presence
strengthens us, makes us whole,
sates that terrible hunger for a time.
But only for a time.
We are all virgins here,
no matter from whence we come.
There is no experience like that of being claimed,
no penetration quite so deep,
as being taken up by the Gallows God;
taken, from the inside out, and outside in.
But I don’t think anyone claimed by Him was ever innocent.
He devoured that before we even knew it was there and found it sweet.
How does one wed a God, you ask?
Vows are whispered in urgency and need,
hunger, desire, and the agony of separation.
“I will love You and serve You always,
in each and every way You ask.
I will be whatever it is You need me to be
all for the barest taste of You;”
and then You delight and pour Yourself into me.
I lose my place in the restrictive fabric of being for a time.
The joy is too great.
If only if were that simple.
Here’s how it went:
I brought a dowry of courage and raw, ruthless pain,
of hunger, and an uncompromising will to serve.
I brought passion and promise,
and a thousand possibilities
all marked and tumbled with a warrior’s pride.
I brought stubborn commitment
and a terrified love.
It was enough.
My courting gifts were many, too many to easily count.
I did not know how lavish my Bridegroom had been
until seeing His paltry gifts to another.
It awes and frightens me even now.
We pay in service for every gift. That is wyrd and
He was generous, this God who loves the storm,
and hungers always to devour knowledge.
I did what any besotted bride would do:
I opened my arms in welcome,
to His hunger for devouring me too.
Love like this is the slim sweet shaft of a blade
pressed deeply between the ribs in the dark.
Love like this is the iron jawed maw of a hunter’s snare
From which the predator has no escape.
Love like this gnaws belly to bone,
Shredding the heart like ravaged meat on the butcher’s slab.
You might think this is a terrible thing.
It is not.
It is beauty beyond comprehension
but the cage of my words
is too frail and weak a thing
to contain the reality of this intoxication,
to capture the richness of my ensnarement,
to convey the holiness of this bliss.
I must use those words that strip away the trite,
that penetrate beyond our human shallowness;
even if those words are ugly and harsh.
He is like that too sometimes: obliteration.
If this is madness, then I shall be mad.
If it is delusion I shall count myself lucky to be so deluded.
Maybe instead I shall laugh, and dance and whirl and spit–
because my body is not strong enough
to contain the depth of the joy my Husband brings.
And because those who would demand I ‘come to my senses’
have not had their senses kissed by the cold fire of this God.
and then let me tell you how it is.
I am His bride and His whore,
His servant and His valkyrie,
the meat He grinds between His teeth,
the wine with which he salts His palate.
I am whatever He needs me to be.
I’ll kiss that knife that slides into my heart gleefully,
cavort and caper wantonly
in whatever way brings Him satisfaction.
My joy at being His bride is as vast and great
as the Gap from which His ancestors sprung.
If that be called madness, that is a small enough price to pay
to take within me His storm.
By Galina Krasskova
Bring Back the Glory Box!
Right now, I bet some of you are asking yourselves, “what the hell is a glory box.” (the rest of you, get your minds out of the gutter. LOL). It’s an Australian term for a dowry chest or a trousseau. I grew up calling them ‘hope chests’ but I really, really like the term “glory box” the best. I had one and someone was asking me about it over the holidays so I decided to write this article.
Traditionally, a dowry chest (or glory box ^^) was a large, occasionally ornate chest in which a young girl collected items in preparation for her marriage. It could be a sign of wealth and status, though even the poorest in many places tended to have simpler ones. It belonged to the woman, and contained items to help her start her new household. In Germany, sometimes a cupboard was used instead of a chest. I’m absolutely in favor of this custom.
I’m a generation away from arranged marriage and technically, have an arranged marriage myself (I would not be against this custom at all provided the couple had the final say so on whether or not to marry. No one should be forced and I wasn’t nor were my Lithuanian grandparents.). Now I had already set up a household for many years by the time I married and I have to say, having a glory box was a godsend. I did not have to scramble to get a running house together. Obviously, I favor this not only for marriage but for a single woman setting up a household too. By the time I bought my home, I had linens, blankets, pots, pans, kitchen knives, silverware, a tea set, and two sets of dishware–you name it, most of it neatly tucked away for safekeeping while I lived in an apartment. If I had a daughter, I would absolutely get her started early putting together a trousseau and should we ever have functional polytheistic, tribal communities, I hope this custom is one that is carried over (suck it, modernists. I also support dowry and bride price – gifts from bride’s family to the groom and groom’s family to the bride). It is eminently practical. I remember when I visited Lithuanian as a teenager and met one of my cousins. Her family already had her entire wedding ensemble and a goodly portion of what she’d need to start a home tucked away for her, even though she wasn’t currently seeing anyone. It’s practical.
Of course, with the glory box, goes a knowledge of household skills: cooking, maintaining a home, sewing, basic first aid, finance and budgeting and I very much think this ought to be taught both at home and in school for both boys and girls. These are essential skills. I wish that along with Civics and Government ( and I personally think we ought to have to pass both before we’re allowed to vote just like one has to pass Drivers Ed before being allowed to drive), Home-Ec and Shop ought to be required for everyone and the former ought to include budgeting and basic finance. It’s a horrible thing to go out into the world with absolutely no idea of how to function as a competent human being. You can have all the stuff in the world but if you don’t know how to function and care for yourself and those you love, the stuff isn’t really worth much. (I can cook and handle finance and first aid like a boss but never learned to sew, something I deeply regret. I can embroider quite well and do basic repairs, quilt a little by hand, but that’s about it. I also wish I’d had more training on how to handle basic repairs around the home).
So, my friend was asking me what typically went into a trousseau. In the medieval and renaissance periods, it could involve the woman’s entire wardrobe but I don’t see the point of that today. I think it should be and remain practical (though during the renaissance, that WAS practical!). Now this isn’t meant to be compiled all at once and some things one will want to wait until closer to the point where the woman sets up a home to acquire (like a medicine kit – I’m a firm believer that one should have more than basic first aid skills as an adult) but many of these things can be acquired and tucked away from the time a girl is small. Traditionally, a young girl made many of the linens and such herself and if one can, I think that’s great. I’m a firm believer in teaching children young, giving them chores, and helping them to acquire life skills. I have very little patience with modern child rearing methods, but that’s an article for another time.
What goes into a trousseau? – this was the question my friend was most curious about so I’ll tell you what went into mine (and again, this was acquired over more than a decade. This isn’t an ‘all at once’ purchase!).
- Quilts and blankets, comforters, comforter covers
- Table cloths (I inherited some lovely ones), dish towels, bed linens, towels (I think I had two sets, though I ended up hating the color of one set—one’s tastes do change)
- Two pillows (I had four)
- Household medical kit (this I purchased as I moved to my house and I update it regularly)
- Full tool kit (I’ve continued to add to mine)
- Basic dishes (I had one regular set and was gifted with a fancy set)
- Silverware (I’d get this close to the time one is set to move either out on one’s own or into the marital home. Tastes and styles change. I inherited a set.)
- A couple of cooking pots of varying sizes
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing spoons, spatula, whisker, a good set of mixing bowls
- A good-sized cast iron pan
- Bread pans (this is all assuming one knows how to cook. I really do think both boys and girls should by the time they leave home).
- Basic set of glasses and cups
- Crock pot
- casserole dish — i inherited a couple.
- I had a rice cooker gifted to me when I moved into my home and I have to say: OMG this thing is amazing. Get one. Lol
- Tea set (teapot, sugar and cream bowls, tray, now I’d include an electric kettle. These things are awesome)
- A good apron
- Salt and pepper shakers, a butter dish
- A good sewing kit (I’ve continued to add to mine as I learn new skills, use up the threads, etc.)
- Any heirloom jewelry (this was a traditional part of a trousseau. I had a few pieces when I set up my home)
- A good recipe book or box containing family recipes and enough to get you started cooking for yourself and your family (when my brother married, his wife wanted to be a housewife but hadn’t had much experience cooking. I took index cards, hand wrote all my favorite recipes and filled up a recipe box for her. That was one of my wedding gifts).
- Hand mixer
- A good set of kitchen knives (at least a butcher knife and a paring knife. I mostly use my butcher knife for everything – I took some cooking classes when younger and that’s what the chef suggested and it works for me—but it’s nice to have a utility knife, a paring knife, a bread knife, etc. too. I’ve not included weapons here, because frankly, I think every householder should know how to defend him/herself and should have at least a hunting knife and a shotgun in the home as a matter of course).
- Money. If one is encouraged to tuck away part of one’s allowance, holiday monies from the time one is young, and a tiny part of one’s salary as a teen and adult, this takes care of itself. A money market account or CD, as well as a bit of cash tucked away in the chest itself (always good to have a bit of cash on hand, but not too much: money should be put to work for a person. Keeping too much at home means it’s not earning interest) is an incredibly useful part of a glory box. It becomes an emergency fund. Tuck it away and forget about it. This, by the way, is why I think most weddings are insane. Why on earth spend thousands of dollars on a one-day ceremony when that money could be put in a CD and the married couple start their lives solvent? Wedding/engagement rings and honey moons are awesome – it’s the only parts of the wedding nonsense I’d keep, but a wedding dress that costs upwards of five thousand dollars, expensive reception, crazy ceremony…it’s financial lunacy. (Of course, I also favor a marriage contract as part of the marriage negotiations…). I think part of a good trousseau is a savings account and a bit of cash carefully tucked away, money that belongs to the woman only – as an emergency fund, as padding, as a nest egg, as whatever it needs to be used for. It gives one options. I wish I’d been better at doing this as a young person. This is one it took me awhile and no small degree of pain to learn.
The first three items, if one is handy with a needle can be made by the girl herself. I didn’t have those skills (I can make pillow cases, pillows granted, basic nine-patch quilts. I could probably do an afghan if I had to – I don’t enjoy crochet. At the time I moved into my home though, I didn’t have those skills, only basic embroidery). I always think home-made items are best. I don’t think quality in commercial items is necessarily what it used to be and I’d much rather have something hand-made than commercially bought. It shows both skill and industry.
Also, obviously not all of this fit into a hope chest. The larger items were kept in boxes in my closet. I still considered them part of the trousseau though. I suppose these days, wedding showers are supposed to provide some of this stuff, but really, why not prepare to be a competent, functional adult ahead of time? (And no, mine was never as fancy as the chests pictured here — i wish!. It was a large Lane Cedar Chest).
There, that’s my fluff post for the day. I’m off to do some academic crap and also to prepare for a day of rituals on New Year’s Eve. Have a good holiday, folks. I wish you all well.
I did a thing :)
This semester I participated in the Medieval Music group run by Fordham’s Medieval Studies and Music departments. I’d never sung in a group before (as a female tenor, it’s complicated) but did this as an act of devotion for the castrati, whom I honor as part of my spiritual ancestor house. I think it went well, we all had a good time, and performed to a full house on Nov. 29. Here’s an article I wrote with pics.
Check out the latest prayer card
This one will be available in my shop later tonight. It’s a beautiful rendition of the Egyptian Goddess Ma’at, the Goddess of Truth. The art is by Grace Palmer. I love how the feather just glows.
The Beantown Bailout
Last week I had a FB discussion with a former Heathen, who has since left Heathenry to become agnostic. We were arguing over the death of that missionary who tried to pollute the Sentinalese. I considered his death well deserved and my interlocutor disagreed. I had assumed that I was arguing with a co-religionist but it was almost immediately apparent that our worldviews were drastically different and finally it came out that he was agnostic. He had left Heathenry because the community was mean (whine whine), and there were white supremacists, and blah blah SJW talk blah. Dealing with Heathens of all different approaches and opinions apparently proved too much of a challenge to his “progressive” values. Ok fine. Bye and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I wish you well. But I also said that our disagreement, in light of this, made perfect sense. At which point, he first starts trying to explain why he’s become agnostic (I do not care. In fact, I could not possibly care less why you chose to abandon your Gods and I certainly don’t want to hear your life story unless you’re paying me to provide pastoral counseling and probably not even then) (1) and when that wasn’t well received, opined “don’t you think my path is as valid as yours?” um, no, I don’t.
Firstly, it’s a mistake to fetishize community. Yes, we all want it. Yes, it’s important. It is not, however, equal to the Gods. Religion is all about being in right relationship with the Gods. That a community is not, should not impact the faith of the individual. That’s a hard thing, I know that but I don’t think anyone should belong to a particular religion solely because of the community. People are fallible and it’s inevitable that at times they will disappoint, sometimes deeply. One’s faith should not rest on the infallibility of any human creation. One’s faith should instead rest on experience of the Gods and ancestors, devotion to Them, and a commitment to veneration.
Secondly, why on earth would I consider an agnostic (or atheist, or anything else, including other religious positions) point of view as valid as that of polytheism? From the perspective of devotion, it’s simply not. One either believes in one’s tradition and Gods and values those things as the highest good or one doesn’t. If one does, then that is obviously the healthiest and best position one might hold; and while I may not condemn someone for making a different choice, neither do I have space for them in my emotional or spiritual world (and we’re not even talking potential miasma). From the perspective of faith, all religions and choices are not actually equal and what’s more, they don’t have to be. We are not, after all, attempting to build one overarching religion. Everyone does not have to agree. I think we’ve all been brain washed by a society that elevates “tolerance” over everything, including moral courage. I prefer “respect.” I respect your right to follow a different tradition. I will even fight for your right to do so. I do not, however, have any need of your company and I may think you are very misguided, foolish, and possibly deluded in my heart of hearts.
Finally, as a person of faith – at least on my good days ;)—I don’t see the point of allowing those who do not share my worldview to take up cognitive space. I’d rather expend my rather limited energies on building up a devout community, on engaging with co-religionists, and on doing what I can to honor my Gods and ancestors. I remain astounded that someone would think that I would consider any other faith or lack thereof to be equal to polytheism. Our traditions are not interchangeable after all. Our Gods actually matter.
- Inevitably those who have chosen lack of devotion and impiety insist on explaining themselves, but this is usually merely a means of gaining our support and approbation. There’s really no reason to care. I’m not in the business of proselytizing. Nor am I in the business of encouraging atheists and agnostics to proselytize in my presence. I kind of side with the Sentinalese on this one.
I would like to thank all of you, my readers, who chose November to shop at my etsy store. 100% of my proceeds have been donated to Paralyzed Veterans of America. Last year, we made, iirc, $611 and change, which was also donated to PVA. This year, thanks to you, that amount doubled and I was able to donate $1300. Hail the military dead and let us honor those veterans living.
“Between “orthodoxy” and “orthopraxy”, I privilege neither, but rather affirmation of the Gods Themselves. This is not reducible to “orthodoxy”, because there can be multiple doxai concerning Them, nor to “orthopraxy”, because practices can and do change.”
–Edward Butler, Phd
You know it’s going to be a good day when that day starts off with an intense discussion with a theology colleague about child vs. adult baptism. Hah.
Anyway…today is Krampusnacht (and happy birthday, Ian!) but also the eve of St. Nicholas Day. In Switzerland, in my mom’s time at least, children would set out their shoes and tomorrow would receive small gifts. The house would be decorated with beeswax candles and traditional sweets like Lebkuechen, dates, mandarine oranges, and nuts would be shared. There’s a particular smell all of this creates in a home, one of comfort and joyful anticipation.
For the better part of twenty years, my mom and I have celebrated Dec. 6 as Oski’s Day. Oski is a particular heiti for Odin, one that hearkens to His generosity as gift giver. It’s a gentle prequel to the beginning of Yule, a chance for a little festivity, and a nice way of honoring Odin as we move toward one of our holiest times of year.
So in case I don’t have time to post tomorrow, happy Oski’s Day, everyone.