Category Archives: Celtic Things
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.
My fellow readers, please consider signing this petition. It was started by the Lukumi elder who pioneered protecting our right to sacrifice: Oba Pichardo, whose 1993 case against the city of Hialeah won Supreme Court Recognition of religions’ right to ritual sacrifice.
This right is NOT guaranteed. Even though we have SCOTUS precedent, it can still be chipped away at, just as animal rights groups are continually trying to do. There is a recent case working its way through the VA court system now and if the state wins, it is not unlikely that other states will use this to effectively remove religious exemption to animal slaughter. We often think that we can skate by in this country, that no one will ever interfere with our religious freedoms, and many of us refer when challenged to that 1993 case but *nothing* is set in stone and those that would shatter our religions again know this.
If you care at all for one of our holiest of rights, if you care at all for the freedom to practice your religion unimpeded (even if your religion does NOT involve sacrifice), please consider signing.
EDIT: this card is now fully sponsored.
The Morrigan card is finished and will be available shortly (I will send it to the printer Monday). It is not yet fully sponsored. If you’d like to donate toward this card, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com or paypal directly to firstname.lastname@example.org (please note your name, email, and that this is for the morrigan card). sponsors get six free cards and are credited on the back of the card.
This artwork is by Grace Palmer.
I have commissioned a card for the Morrigan. If anyone would like to donate to the card (I need to raise $400. I’ll cover printing myself), please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com or paypal directly to email@example.com. Please include your email and note that it’s for the Morrigan.
Those who donate will A) receive credit on the card; B) receive a setting of lights; C) and six cards of their choice.
Please consider helping
Not honoring Her as a war goddess is just as bad as only honoring Her as one, particularly when it comes from some overly feminized inability to accept Her battle aspects.
The Gods are glorious and that includes when They come as warrior Gods. For some of us, most especially when They come so, without softness, without sentiment, with nothing to elide the raw, shattering experience of Their presence.
It is not just the Morrigan with Whom this is an issue. I began my work as a priest of Sekhmet and I have seen hippy and new age desire to turn Her into a gentle mother Goddess for decades and it turns the stomach. She is power, terror, and a Goddess of war. That doesn’t change because we might like to ignore it. To understand and fully venerate a Deity means venerating all that Deity is, not just those aspects we might find most comfortable.
I belong to Odin. He is also a God of war, but funny, you never seem to see this discomfort with male Deities, only with Goddesses. You never see this denial of Their brutality and battle aspects or attempts to re-contextualize or explain away, not anywhere to the degree that one does with Goddesses. I think that says more about our assed upedness than it does about the nature of our Gods. and sadly, such attempts at divine erasure almost always seem to come from women (not always, but it seems, most often). As a woman, that angers me greatly. We should be better than that, but sometimes I doubt we are.
(edit: the question was raised on several blogs what are we saying about ourselves when we give something like a bullet as an offering. I think my colleague Kenaz Filan said it best: “What message are you sending Her by giving Her bullets? The message that you honor Her and respect Her functions as sacred? Which should be the message behind any offering.” I couldn’t put it better.)
I don’t talk about the Morrigan much but I have honored Her in personal devotions since the very early nineties. She is one of those Deities that I respect tremendously and while I am not in Her service, it is a deep pleasure to pay Her homage when the occasion permits and I do maintain a small shrine to Her in my home.
I recently read a bit of grumbling on Facebook because apparently someone made the comment in a discussion or post (I’m not sure which) that bullets make good offerings to this Goddess, the Battle Raven, a Goddess of (among other things) war. I was surprised that this would raise any eyebrows at all but apparently it did and thus I am moved to write this here.
Of course bullets, gunpowder, knives, blades, weapons of every sort make excellent offerings to Her and I’ve given them all over the past twenty five years that I’ve honored Her. She is a battle goddess. Why would the accoutrements of battle not be pleasing to Her? Just because someone may have personal issues with guns, bullets, blades and the like doesn’t mean that our Deities of war do. These things symbolize part of Their spheres of influence and power. I could say much more about those in our communities who want to erase certain aspects of our Gods’ natures because of their own personal feelings but I won’t.
Instead, I think I’ll be gifting the Morrigan with some jewelry, all made out of shell casings, and maybe a bit of ammo as well later on this weekend. She is a Goddess of sovereignty, a Goddess of justice, but She is also, indisputably, a Goddess of war, of the battlefield, and of fate. It is integral to Her nature and I, for one, and grateful for it.
(one caveat to the above: I’d also tell anyone asking to ask for themselves if a particular offering is what a Deity wants *from them*. Divine, meditate, pray. I come from a military family and have a particular relationship to warriorship, and I deal extensively with the military dead. I also deal almost exclusively with the Morrigan as a battle Goddess. For someone, say, who venerates Her more often as a Goddess of sovereignty, well, She may want other offerings. So I would put that out there as a caveat.)
Heather Awen (of the Safe Canary Nest) is sponsoring an online shrine to the Brythonic Goddess Rhiannon.
She is seeking prayers, poetry, rituals, artwork, and writings about personal experiences with this Goddess.
All will be credited in any way the author/artist prefers. If you have anything you’d like to donate, please send it to sorchalefay at gmail.com. Thank you!
A reminder to all my readers: I’m offering the three Manannan cards for free through May 1, 2015. I will ship overseas. All three cards are by artist Grace Palmer and are designed to work as a triptych.
If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact me at krasskova at gmail.com.
by Jennifer Lawrence
Within the jade-green depths of the sea,
mighty Manannan waits.
The sea is cold with his fury,
each slashing wave a knife made of northern ice.
The white foam of each swell rises,
ready to crash down on the heads of those
who have chosen to steal from Him.
How might their retribution come?
Not hard to say:
Boats overturning in choppy swells,
Vicious winds ready to lacerate and batter,
Fragarach coming to take their heads.
Woe to the unbelievers, the bigots, the cruel,
Who think their right to mock the pious
Outweigh the power of a god.
There is no safety for them on the bellows,
Not even out past the ninth wave itself.
The Son of the Sea does not suffer himself
To be mocked, to be thieved from, to be disdained.
When will they know their doom?
Not hard to say:
When they set foot on ferry to travel and it goes down;
When they see Him coming toward their ship on Wavesweeper,
When the ocean itself opens to swallow them whole.
There are gods and goddesses in this Emerald Land
Older and more true than your intruder,
More ancient and powerful than the one from the desert
Who was not born here, did not live here,
Does not know this land or its people, does not belong here.
Let that god and its followers go back to their desert
And leave this Emerald Isle to their gods.
You call the Son of the Sea a false god, and prove
You do not know the meaning of either word:
Not ‘false’, because He has always been true to us, there for us,
And not ‘god’, because in showing your impiety to our gods,
You demonstrate that you know no respect for any god,
Seeing them all only as foes of what you believe, or
Something to threaten others with, who do not believe as you do.
What is your fate:
Not hard to say:
In the end, doomed to die like all mortal men, forgotten, alone, abandoned;
In the end, scorned by even those who claim the same god you do;
In the end, fools, thieves, unworthy of the name of Man—
Which isle, ironically, bears the name of Him whom you insulted.
Tomorrow ends my February for Manannan project. 🙂 I want to thank everyone who has submitted prayers, rituals, and other material this past month. Since I don’t really have a devotional relationship with Him, it helped a lot!
Please note that I will be offering the three Manannan cards by Grace Palmer for free through Beltane (may 1). Just contact me at krasskova at gmail.com.
Otherwise, stay tuned till tomorrow, and may He ever and always be hailed.