Monthly Archives: February 2020
I work with a group of lovely Orthodox Christians and Catholics (and the occasional Protestant) all of whom are going to be miserable through Easter LOL. Seriously though, I have a ton of work-friends who are fasting, praying, and making other preparations throughout Lent, which began this past Wednesday for Latin Christians and will begin on March 2 for Eastern Orthodox. (See here for an article on why this dating difference exists). Fasting and other practices are a way for Christians to prepare for the central mystery of their faith, the death and resurrection of their God. It’s an important time for them and I’ve been hearing quite a bit of conversation about preparations over the past couple of weeks (for those interested, a friend just shared this article from the Orthodox perspective, and this one from the Catholic). All of that has me thinking about how little ascetic work I do anymore.
When I was first taken up by Odin, I connected most strongly to Him through ascetic practices (not ordeal work, that came at least a decade later), particularly fasting and prayer. I found that fasting opened me up and cleaned me out spiritually in a way that nothing else had up to that point been effective in doing. Because food is such a social thing in our culture, it also kept my devotion to my Gods foremost in my mind throughout the day providing me with opportunities, each time I felt discomfort from fasting and each time I had to think about what to eat or not eat or to pass on some social dining engagement to reaffirm my devotion to Odin and to my other Gods. I miss that. Over the past decade, I’ve really fallen out of the habit of any significant type of ascetic work.
Before I go farther, I should note that while I would often fast on nothing but water for Odin, that is not what Christians do for their God, at least not your average Christian over Lent. Also, that type of zero-food fast is not recommended for many people for health reasons – talk to your health care provider before jumping in to something that extreme. There are many different ways to fast and Lenten fasts usually involve eschewing milk, meat, and eggs, and (I think) wine in Orthodox communities (any of my Orthodox readers seeing this, please feel free to correct me if I have this wrong) and usually something of the person’s choice in Catholicism, though I think traditional Catholics will give up meat through Lent (again, Catholic readers, correct me if I’m wrong. I study ancient Christianity academically, but seriously, I stop at the tenth century lol). Either way, the important thing is that throughout all religious traditions that I can think of at the moment, there are multiple ways to fast. One doesn’t need to go without food. For health reasons now, I rarely do a zero-food fast. I’ve written more about ways of fasting here and of course during the time one fasts, that practice is paired with an increase in prayer.
Christians engage in Lenten practices, as a Protestant friend told me yesterday, to prepare to receive their God on Easter Sunday. That is what made me think deeply about how I prepare myself for our Gods. What am I doing or not doing in my life to make devotion to Odin easier, to make my religious life flow more smoothly? What am I doing to transmute my soul, to elevate myself in a way that opens the door to clear, clean experience of the holy? Unfortunately, of late, my answer has been: not much.
That’s why I’ve decided to both give up a few things this Lent (through the Orthodox Easter—I might as well suffer in solidarity with my friends lol) and use it as an opportunity to deepen my prayer practice. I’ve really been recalcitrant about praying enough lately and it makes my soul feel dirty when I can’t do the least effort to remain right with my Gods.
So, I’ll be tagging along with 40 days of mindful fasting. I’m hoping it will jump start my own engagement again and at an even deeper level than I remember.
Hail to the God of the gallows,
Terrible and unrelenting.
Hail to the Wyrd-riven Wonder-worker,
Who leaves ecstasy in His wake.
Hail to the Bale-eyed Beguiler,
with His whispered charms
and savage conjurings.
Hail to the Lord of Asgard,
Architect of the Worlds
Who breathed us into Being,
Eternally let us praise Him.
All copies of Winter 2019 Walking the Worlds have been ordered for subscribers as of today. You should all be receiving them within two weeks.
“If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.”
-MALCOLM X, TV interview, Mar. 1964
An excellent post by Tetradactyl counter the current ancestor work = racist bullshit making the rounds again. Preach it, brother.
So apparently there is an opinion piece going around saying that White people shouldn’t be trying to reclaim their ancestral traditions because White people colonized and imperialized and took away other peoples’ cultural traditions.
That is indeed true that all that happened. But I believe a key component of the situation is being left out: from whom did they learn these behaviors? Nature abhors a vacuum so clearly this all came from somewhere.
First, let me clarify what “this” is: people of all colors have been taking everyone’s stuff for as long as there have been people so that’s not the issue. The issue is in the damage. The cultural damage done. As in, did the people still get to practice their culture for the most part? If we take the Romans for example, we can say that they did a clean job of taking people over. When the Romans…
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Hail to Freydis, who knew how to deal with those who abandoned their Gods and traditional ways and tried to foist that poison on others.
I was watching a documentary this afternoon that suggested the Christianization of Norway and its dependencies pushed worshipers of the Old Gods to Greenland and later Vínland. Looking for verification of this led me down a rather interesting rabbit hole.
The Icelander Leif Eríksson is credited with naming the Norse settlement Vínland nearly five hundred years before the Italian Cristoforo Colombo is said to have discovered the New World (and unlike the better-known explorer and colonizer Leif actually set foot on the North American continent.)
According to Adam of Bremen’s Descriptio insularum Aquilonis published in 1075 e.v.:
In that ocean there is an island which is called Winland, for the reason that grapevines grow there by themselves, producing the best wine.
This etymology is repeated in the 13th-century Grœnlendinga saga, after relating the miraculous discovery of wheat and vínber (“wine-berries” either grapes or currants which could be fermented into…
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This is an excellent article. Not only can those of us coming from European ancestries reclaim our ancestral roots, we must. I think it is crucial, holy work. To say that because one is [insert skin color here] that one should not honor one’s dead, work to peel back the layers (good and bad) and reclaim pre-Christian traditions is frankly, bullshit. It’s hateful, it’s destructive, and it’s prolonging the very systematic types of abuses such nay sayers think they’re trying to stop.
We are called as polytheists to honor our dead, to take up the obligation of cleaning up our ancestral debts, to heal those of our ancestors who are damaged, and to recognize that we are the culmination of our ancestral lines walking, with everything that entails. We are called to speak for the dead. We are not separate from these people and they call out to us to right the wrongs that tore them away from their tribal consciousness, that destroyed their traditions, that corrupted and damaged the way they and their descendants engaged with the world and with others in it.
Yes, we have to reclaim and those who say that there’s nothing to reclaim are speaking from a place of emptiness, of nothingness, of base ignorance. We have to reclaim, restore, and nourish because we owe it to our dead to step up and to stay the course despite the nonsense to which the post above was responding.
my latest bit of poetry…drawn from my notes and readings in one of my classes…
Half a Cento
I am the vestige of the dead.
Do not offend them.
Things that feast on death
are so beautiful.
Their longing breaks us.
Blood or bones or gunpowder –
Of what am I made?
Am I a fire-white ghost?
Tangled, pitiless, pure?
Or am I a haint,
riven in blue
fed on sorrow,
a veteran of many wars?
I am writing my own myth,
holding in my hands
a purgatory of virtual kinlessless
Do not condemn me.
The soil in which I work is deep
but full of stones,
and the etymologies of my life
picked over by ravenous memory.
Longing has destroyed me.
This myth that I write,
stained with the ink of my soul,
burnt at the edges and artery-red,
is the only way
out of this labyrinth
and its endless corridors of dispossession.
The calculus of my heart is razor sharp.
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When this topic came up in the genealogy challenge, I immediately thought of my maternal third great grandmother Rachel Bobo. She was born in 1824 and died 1908 having spent her entire life (as far as I can tell) in Hardy County, West Virginia. She married a farmer, William Seymour Baldwin (1823-1864) in 1839 and they had a passel of children including my great great grandfather Isaac Hamilton Baldwin.
(yes, the birth date is off on the photo – welcome to genealogy)
The first time I saw her last name, I was amused so of course, I had to research it even further. It’s a French name that can also be spelled Beaubeau, Baubeau, or Bobeau – keeping in mind that there was no standardization with the spelling of names until well into the early 20thcentury). Turns out, Rachel is descended from Gabriel Bobo, an Huguenot immigrant to VA c. 1681. Originally from St. Sauvant, he was fleeing religious persecution in Catholic France. The Edict of Nantes, issued in 1598 had given Huguenots the right to practice their faith free of persecution but this was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685 leading to government sanctioned persecution, pressure to convert to Catholicism, imprisonment, and violence. Many Huguenots fled to Britain and Denmark (and some, eventually to the American Colonies). I was surprised to learn that they had a reputation for being fine craftsmen of various sorts, though I can’t tell if that was also the case with Rachel’s family. I do know she was tough and you can see it in her face too. My impression from her photo and the stories that I have of her is that this is a woman possessed of grit.
Rachel’s Grandfather, Leonard Ludwick fought in the Revolutionary war and I’m amused by the names she chose to give some of her children: Andrew Jackson Baldwin, Isaac Hamilton Baldwin, etc. Obviously, this was a generation proud to be part of the new America. It doesn’t seem like she or her husband were literate but they sure made certain that their children were. Her son Isaac, my second great grandfather was a mechanic, and his daughter was, at least for part of her life, an opera singer. One can see an upward educational trend.
It may seem strange to write about Rachel on a week focused on “prosperity,” but she and her husband worked hard and it’s clear that they did so in order to give their children something better than they themselves had. I wonder what the word “prosperity” meant to her and I very much wonder what I can learn from how she lived her life and her values.
Recently, I had an acquaintance of over ten years express some very disturbing misunderstandings about the nature of our traditions. His comprehension of Heathenry was misinformed, frightened, and wrong on nearly all counts. This made me think that if someone I knew for ten years could have such poor information, then perhaps some of my [non-Heathen] readers might too and that’s neither productive nor good.
So, now’s your chance to ask any question you want about Polytheism in general and Heathenry specifically (you’re welcome to ask about the comitatus tradition in which I particularly work, a tradition that incorporates Roman practice too).
Post your questions here, or email me at krasskova at gmail.com and I will do my best to answer them.
It really saddened me that in over a decade of hanging out (though never in a ritual capacity), my acquaintance was so misinformed. So ask away and I’ll do my best.
This is a hard one because each time I learn something new about my ancestral lines, I get excited. Each discovery is my favorite one. That being said, I think the thing that I’ve been focusing on recently the most, that just tickles me pink, lol, is something I’ve mentioned before; namely, that my 11thgreat grandfather is Jakob Boehme, seventeenth century theologian, mystic philosopher, and gadfly to the establishment.
Given that I myself am a theologian, I like knowing that I’m carrying on a family tradition: pushing the boundaries within my religious community. Boehme is not the only clergy person or theologian in my maternal line, but he’s the one that I found the most surprising.
For more info on him, see the wiki article here.
For you, my readers, for those of you who’ve done genealogical work as part of your ancestor practice, what has been your favorite discovery?