Monthly Archives: February 2019
I was reading a book recently that talked extensively about a Jewish prayer drawn from the book of proverbs. It’s a praise poem that husbands are meant to say to their wives every Friday night meal. It begins with the words “woman of valor” and i was quite struck by that. I have, in my own devotions, used that term for Sigyn for many years.
Sigyn: Woman of Valor
A woman of valor,
who can find?
Her value is greater
than any duergar-made jewel. She enriches
Her husband’s hall.
She is the sanctuary of his heart.
She strengthens and supports him all his days.
With her at his side,
he shall lack in nothing.
She is the guardian of their hearth. Her hands are industrious,
Her heart is willing.
She fills her home with delight.
She does not tarry in idleness,
but nourishes all who are within her care. She is diligent at the spindle,
and keeps the keys of her husband’s hall. She maintains a fruitful, frithful home and her heart is ever strong.
Those under her care have nothing to fear. She sets her hands to the distaff,
she holds the spindle in her palms.
She clothes and feeds her household
and their pantry is never bare.
She is courageous,
Strength and honor are her clothing, She meets the future with courage. Her lips bestow wisdom,
and Her tongue is ever kind. Constancy is Her brightest jewel.
Her children praise Her.
Her husband adores Her.
She surpasses all women in honor. Her piety is Her shield.
Her sweetness of heart Her strength.
All temporal beauty fades,
but the mighty heart
of a valorous woman is forever.
Let Her home be full of abundance, She adorned with every blessing.
Always, Her works will praise Her.
(by G. Krasskova; reposted from an older blog)
She is a Goddess,
and Her name means grace,
righteous balance, and devotion.
She knows all the ways
In which to right our world.
She knows and proffers them to us
With holy hands.
She is harmony,
The resounding melody
Of all the spheres
Dancing in perfect rhythm.
She is ratio and perfection.
She is the royal road
Open to us all.
She has no need of armor or spear,
Sword or terrifying mace,
Though Her blessings fall
On every right-minded man
And woman too
Going forth to do their duty.
She has only to reveal Herself,
To enter a place, a heart, a home
And it is transformed
Into a victorious field
Where enemies of the Gods
May no longer dwell.
Hail to You, Pietas,
A Beauty found only in You,
By which we are raised up.
(by G. Krasskova)
They just put out a stamp to honor WWI veterans. I think this is so cool. I have a cousin who died in WWI — went over with Pershing’s Expeditionary force and never came home. When I honor my military dead, the WWI vets have a very special place in my venerations. Needless to say, i was really happy to see this stamp at my local post:
Then, they also released a stamp honoring first responders, which I just think is very very cool.
Anyway, these are small things but for someone who sends a lot of cards and letters, I think this is really great.
When you are contacting someone for religious advice, for advice on how to do polytheism well, for advice about your Gods, resources, or anything else for that matter, regardless of what bona fides that person has or says that they have online, you need to consider the nature of what you’re told, and where that advice will ultimately take you.
If the person you contact is suggesting things that would draw you away from the Gods, that would cause you to prioritize other things, that would cause you to avoid the development of spiritual virtues, that would limit your devotion, or even that would pull you away from venerating a particular Deity for any reason whatsoever, think twice.
Just because someone claims to be an expert doesn’t mean they are. Look to the results of what you’re being told. Will it make you a better devotee of your Gods, a better human being, more devout? Will it cultivate piety? Will it help you approach your Gods more mindfully, more cleanly? Or are you being given advice to ignore those things, to take the easy way out, to do what feels good to you – regardless of whether it is useful in your devotion and development or not? Will it enhance your understanding and practice of your tradition, or not?
I think that we are meant to be people of worth before our Gods. We are meant to develop within ourselves the habits and character that will allow us to honor Them rightly and well. I very strongly believe the Gods want us to be healthy human beings, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and insofar as is possible (because bodies suck lol) physically and the key to that is centering oneself in the ancient contracts of honoring our Gods, our ancestors, and the land. I believe it is through our devotion that we become fully realized human beings and honoring our Gods fervently is good and right and true. I believe that the problems that arise are often due to a disjunction between proper devotion, a worldview steeped in piety, and the degradation and emptiness of our modern, anti-theistic world.
Nothing, not politics, opinions, personal differences and divides should impact the answer to the only question that matters: will what you’re being told increase your capacity to love the Gods even more? Will it make you better in your devotion or not? You don’t have to like the person who is giving you advice – this is not about us after all. It’s about building our traditions and getting better at honoring the Gods and if someone’s advice helps me do that, I will heed it. Personalities and politics are pointless in the face of that. So, consider your priorities and maybe allow for the remarkable thought that your Gods may not share them.
I’ve had push back from Heathens and other polytheists for using a term that is specific to Greek polytheism but miasma as a word exists in English and it is a perfectly serviceable word to express a concept of spiritual pollution that is common to nearly all polytheisms. If Heathenry did not have a concept of pollution and cleansing, it would be quite unusual amongst the family of Indo-European religious traditions to which it belongs. We know the Norse and Germanic tribes had clear ideas of the holy and where there is a sense of the holy there is likewise a sense of pollution as a matter of course. Norse words pertaining to holiness and pollution include Helgan (f): sanctity, Helga (v): to appropriate land by performing sacred rites, to hallow to a deity, to proclaim the sanctity of a meeting, saurr (m): mud, dirt, excrement (defilement?), saurga (v): to dirty, defile, pollute, saurgan (f): pollution, defilement, saur-lifi (n): lewdness, fornication, lechery. Its opposite is Hreinlifi, which means chastity. Hreinn is the opposite of saurr. It means clean, bright, clear, pure, sincere (as a noun the same word means reindeer, interestingly enough). Hrein-hjartaðr (a) means pure of heart, Hrein-látr (a): clean, chaste, Hrein-leikr (m): cleanliness, chastity, hrein-liga (adv) cleanly, with purity. We also have Hreinsa (v): to make clean, to cleanse, to purge, to clear and hreinsan (f): cleansing. Then there is the word vé, which means “holy place,” (shrine) and which is such a powerful and important concept that the three creator Gods (Odin, Hoenir, and Loður) may also be called Odin, Vili, and Vé. So when Heathens complain that this is not relevant to Heathen practice, I strongly suggest they think again. It’s not just in the lore, but in the very language our ancestors spoke. (Thank you D. Loptson for your help in hunting up these etymologies).
(Excerpted from my chapbook on miasma: With Clean Minds and Clean Hands)
Great and Gracious Goddess,
this is my prayer to You today.
I come to You with humble heart
and in devotion.
Teach me to honor myself,
so that I may go into relationships clean.
Teach me to love, without fear of commitment
those to whom I have chosen to commit,
to cultivate steadfastness, respect, fidelity,
to honor my boundaries
and the boundaries of those around me.
Teach me to be vulnerable
both in strength and submission
that I may never misuse my heart and my needs
in those relationships, I cherish.
Teach me to tease through the complications
in ways that bring value to my relationships, my home,
my commitments, that love may grow and be shared
in ways that honor You and all parties involved.
For when we truly honor ourselves and respect who we are,
and what those things mean to us,
that is when we can more fully love those around us,
respect them, appreciate them
and thus, better fulfill
our commitments to the Powers.
Help us, oh Goddess, for when we do not know ourselves
we run the risk of being subsumed into the needs of others,
and in so doing forgetting ourselves, our sacred work,
our obligations to Gods, family, community, and our own souls.
Bless us, Oh Goddess, with the wisdom of growth,
even when we struggle.
Hail to You, Goddess of boundaries,
for honoring boundaries is the first step
to cultivating a deep and abiding love.
Hail, Pudicitia, called Patricia, called Plebeia,
honored by high and low alike. Hail.
(by T. Vitta and G. Krasskova)
He Who battles alongside His friends
maintains the strength of Asgard,
using His gifts to challenge the giants,
using His body to subvert Svaðilfari’s Master.
He pours treasure down upon His allies,
He rains wrath down upon His foes.
His victory lies in the longest game,
and of all the Gods, not even He
knows its end.
Bright as fire, slippery as a fish,
drenched in the well-bright, whispered warnings,
this God comes. He challenges everything,
laughing around a bonfire encompassing even
His own destruction.
He knows that with chaos
to turn the final battle on its end,
to grab victory out of the maws of the wolf,
a celebration of blood and steel,
and those who think He lacks courage
know not what His courage has cost.
Hail to You, Loki, friend of Thor,
Who works Your wiles in Odin’s shadow
so the Old Man may shine all the more.
Hail to the fighter Whose wit is a wound
deadlier than poison in the heart of Their enemies.
May we always honor You, oh God Who finds the loops
in every loophole. Show us too how to be slippery
and hard to catch in the maze of things that would bind us
away from our Gods, stifle our devotion, and burden our hearts
(by G. Krasskova)
Raven Kaldera has a new article “Six Ways of Being Pagan” up, drawn from Dale Cannon’s “Six Ways of Being Religious.” The author proofed Raven’s article and gave permission for it to be written and as well very kindly made a PDF copy of his own work free — all of which you can find at the link above.
I’m less enthusiastic with this type of taxonomy than Raven is. I don’t find a great deal of use in parsing out the various manners of being religious in a way that excuses one from the most fundamental: devotion. We’re polytheists, after all (I don’t think Raven quite grasps the difference between that and Pagans in general in his book, a very frustrating thing) and devotion and veneration are not optional. Nor do I find much good in drawing lines between the various practices as in an integrated and holistic devotional life, one often bleeds right into another. Still, I think there is useful material here so take it for what you will. I’m quoted throughout, with permission. I do think that knowing what options there are for coming to the Gods, coming into devotional work can be really really useful, and knowing that no one particular strand of that web is off limits, owned by a particular tradition for instance (we can all pray, we can all do ritual, etc.) can be very freeing. People need materials that will help them especially in the first brave, fumbling steps toward devotion.
On the down side, there’s way too much Starhawk and Yvonne Aburrow recommended, which is unfortunate as they are hardly people positively focused toward polytheism. There have certainly been more competent, more actually clean, polytheistic works on ritual for instance in the last 30 years than Starhawk’s (though for the time they were written, hers were brilliant and groundbreaking); also, as noted above, I feel Raven may not fully or adequately grasp the split between neo-Pagans and Polytheists and all the theology behind that split and that is more and more somewhat problematic with this work. It’s always important when trying to build bridges that you act with absolute integrity toward your own tradition and Gods first and foremost. Some things shouldn’t be elided. Traditions are demanding things and In the push to insure our traditions outlive us, there are compromises we should be very, very wary of making.
That all being said, go. read. hopefully you will find something of value and use there. Raven does have a unique gift in making this type of thing comprehensible and more importantly approachable and that is important.
Day 1: for Pietas
In the morning, before the sun rises,
while the moon still illuminates the sky,
gently inspiring with His beauty,
You rise to tend Your day.
Before the frenetic rush and riot
of family, work, and all Your daily tasks
vie for Your attention,
You seek out the comfort of the moon,
moments of serenity in which to order Your tasks;
and in that ordering, in the sanctuary of heart and mind,
You finger each sacred obligation, each connection,
each covenanted commitment like the precious jewels they are,
and You remember, calling to mind their value, their importance,
and all the reasons You hold them true.
May we too do the same, oh Goddess,
may we restore and renew in the fastness of our beings,
all the sacred covenants to which we are bound.
May we remind ourselves again and again,
why we do this, and the love we bear
for our Gods and dead.
Hail to You, Pietas, may Your name
ever be spoken in reverence.
Day 1: for Pudicitia
You rise by moonlight, bright and shining,
cover Your head and seek the grace of offerings.
The resources of the home are at Your disposal.
You garb Yourself in respect, modesty, and self-control.
You are mindful of Your position and the obligations therein.
The incense You offer carries Your prayers to the Heavens,
for even the Holy Ones pray for a continuation of goodly order.
The wise wife follows Your example,
inspires the women in her home in piety,
honors her man with her integrity.
She is an adornment to Her home,
wealth beyond measure.
Goodness and bounty flow from her hands.
She restores and holds true to her commitments.
Bless us oh Goddess of chastity,
with the grace of mindfulness,
that we may honor You and the Holy Ones
in all we do.
(by G. Krasskova)