Category Archives: Heathenry
Mani’s agon is officially closed, but I had a bit of a cold over the weekend and was therefore late posting the final two entries. Here they are below. I”ll be announcing the winner in a day or so.
The Agon for April is open, for one’s patron Deity. So feel free to submit for any Deity you love and honor. I’ll post about prizes in a few days — i’m still catching up!
Under Your Gaze
by C. Greene
Under Your silver light the hounds bay.
Under Your sad eyes small feet fly.
Under Your wrathful glance monsters pass, bearing the children away.
Under Your guiding hand hunters run with the glint of moon dogs in their eyes.
May the great hounds of Your wain run with us.
In Your name may we triumph.
Under Your gaze may the children be freed.
In honor of Mani and his human hounds in Child Abduction Response Teams everywhere, whether they know who aids them or not.
A portable shrine to Mani
by Vanessa M.
Musing on the Moon, and the Moon-God of the North
by Grant E. Hodel
Mani, the Northman’s Moon,
What do your bright eyes see, as you travel across the sky every night?
Do you bear witness to mankind’s inhumanity?
Do you view each and every anonymous act of kindness?
Well, You know the answer to that question at least.
I hear that your cultus is making a comeback in these modern nights.
It does my young body and old soul good to hear such glorious news.
And what, pray tell me, did they have to rebuild your worship with, Moon-God?
An etymological connection between the names of Your pages and an English folk-poem
here, genealogical information preserved in Lore there.
If the tales are true, then that was enough to fuel the connection between Yourself and the modern day seidr, shamans, spirit workers,
and simple forlk who follow the old ways.
That so few could restore anything at all from so little is proof of Your power,
God of the Northman’s Moon.
They and Mani
by C. Greene
They say you hide your light behind the herds of sky sheep because you are fickle.
They say the wolf must stalk you through the night to keep you to your course.
They say many things, without asking why the pearl of the sky should cry.
They do not see all that you see in the darkness of the world and wyrd.
They do not count the cost of wayward moon beams that reveal prey to two-legged predators.
They do not know the price of darkness, that the forgotten children might slip by unseen.
They do not see the tears for those whose wyrd you can not make less pained in tender years.
So they do not understand the sadness in your songs, even in the love chants you cast to the sea.
Not too long ago, a reader contacted me with the following:
I have a friend who honors Odin and was part of a group where it came up about the story of the rape of Rindr. This friend of mine merely mentioned that the story existed and that gods aren’t all about sweetness and light and to love Them is to understand that.
This friend was then shamed in every way. She was called brosatru; she was called pro rape and pro rape culture – and her intelligence and knowledge were insulted in the process. She was told even mentioning this was unacceptable and that clearly, she has no real connection to Odin whatsoever. As you can probably imagine, she was disgusted, deeply hurt and ended up leaving the group and understandably, is quite shaken by the whole affair.
I was just hoping on your insight with how to best respond to such people in a way that might actually get them to stop and think, or is it better to just stay as far away as possible?
Well, I think getting our communities to actually think is a greater task than even the Gods can manage. As Schiller said, “Gegen Dummheit Kämpfen die Götter selbst vorgebens.”(1) Moreover, our communities will look for any excuse to drag our Gods down to the worst human level.
That being said, I think that on a human level, the issue of rape is so brutal and horrifying that it’s difficult to sit with such an act being ascribed to our Gods. It’s difficult to get into the headspace where we can look further. It’s crucial, however, that we DO look beyond our immediate sense of betrayal and disgust.
There are several issues at hand here, the first being how exactly are we meant to interpret the stories of our Gods that have come down to us? Are we meant to take them literally, allegorically, philosophically, or some other way? Should we consider cultural factors, language, and the shifting meaning of words? (2) Do we assume our Gods are unchanging, as static as characters in a story, or do we – as the ancient philosophers did – look for hidden meanings in these tales? Do we see the tales as mystery plays in which our Gods perform specific parts to impart something of Their Mystery, or some other way of equal significance?
I look at the story of Rindr and Odin as showing us something quite innate and important to Odin’s character: He is ruthless and will do anything necessary to achieve His goals. In this case, the goal involved turning the tide of Ragnarok. Odin is as brutal and demanding of Himself most of all and it is exactly that level of brutality depicted in the story of Rindr to which He exposes Himself to as well.
Secondly, your friend is correct: our Gods are not always sweetness and light. They will not always adhere to our sense of situational ethics. They are quite often not ‘nice’ and if we are devout, we deal with that. I am often asked if I “trust” Odin and my answer is this: I trust Odin to be Odin. To expect anything less or more of a Deity is to elevate our human frailty above the Gods. The stories that we have, however imperfect their transmission may be (and with the Eddas it is quite problematic), exist in part to give us insight into the nature of our Gods. What can we learn from Them about the stories in which They take part? Now some may say “well, we learn that Odin is a bastard.” Yep. And why is that? What is His function, His timai, His sphere of influence within our cosmology? Why is He willing to be so incredibly brutal? What is at stake. That’s the real question: what is at stake if He wavers? We know from the stories we have, that the stakes are incredibly high: the order of the cosmos and all creation that the Gods have wrought, its sustainability and ongoing existence. For that, yes, He will violate any boundary and count it an easy price to pay. Those who don’t understand that, don’t understand Him.
I would take that a bit further: Divine politics are not for us. I also think it is a spiritual fallacy to project modern ideals and values onto these stories, which reflect the time in which they were written or received. Odin generally surrounds Himself with powerful women: Frigga, Freya, He consults the Seeress in the Voluspa, He speaks highly of the wisdom and knowledge of Gunnlod, those who work His will are the Valkyries, and in our modern world, He certainly has a penchant for claiming women as His own in one form or another. I would go so far as to say Odin likes women quite specifically and respects them. (3) He even put Himself in a female role more than once to learn seidhr. I don’t think that gender, sexuality or anything else is particularly important to Him if by ignoring it He can gain power and knowledge. This story however, has greater cosmological (and even eschatological) significance.
When I see the story of Odin and Rindr, I see two Holy Powers re-enacting the moment of cosmic creation. Contained within Them and Their antagonism is an echo of the tension of Muspelheim and Niflheim, a reordering of the worlds, and through Their very antagonism, They tap into and re-center Themselves in that moment when Being and Matter were created. The violence inherent in that story is a necessary part of that engagement. By this continual re-enactment of that moment, the fabric of Being is reset, at least a little, and our Gods given greater purchase. The antagonism that we see in the story of Odin and Rindr echoes throughout our cosmological structures. From the moment Muspelheim and Niflheim grind together in production of Being, the Northern world is structured around opposing forces and the productivity that comes from Their engagement.(4) In this, Rindr becomes an equal player, and in fact a powerful contributor to the restoration of the worlds. She can only hold that position, vis a vis the cosmological model above, by embracing continued resistance to Him.
It is right and proper to condemn rape in all its forms in our world. When we are talking about our Gods, however, I likewise think it’s important to understand that there’s more going on than the obvious.
In the end, I would urge your friend to cultivate her relationships with her Gods, and seek out those who are likewise devotionally minded. I have never found the overarching Heathen community to be much use in developing devotion or nourishing spirituality. In fact, I find they tend to do exactly the opposite. Like all things miasmic and polluted, they’re best engaged with in small doses. Bathe afterwards.
- “Against stupidity even the Gods struggle in vain.”
- In the story of the ‘rape’ of Persephone by Hades, for instance, (which inevitably comes up in discussions of Gods and rape) was not technically rape. Hades behaved quite properly according to Greek custom. He went to Zeus, received Persephone’s Father’s permission to marry and then went to collect His bride. There was no rape either linguistically or culturally (Zeus maybe should have informed Demeter that He’d arranged a marriage for Their daughter but that’s a whole other can of worms). The word in Latin usually translated as ‘rape’ is ‘raptus,’ which likewise doesn’t mean sexual violation. It means to seize or carry off, strive for, hasten, but also to be carried away with passion. Later Christian mystics used it at times to describe the direct experience of their God. So, one could interpret the story of Hades and Persephone as Hades contracting a proper and lawful marriage with Her and then hastening to take Her to His home. She becomes Queen of the Underworld and later stories show Her as a powerful and occasionally implacable figure. To assume victimization here is to elide both Her agency and power.
- While He does caution in the Havamal that women are inconstant, His very next stanza talks about the equal failures of men. As an aside, in Skaldskaparmal, Freyr’s retainer Skirnir lays some pretty heavy and vile curses on Gerda to compel Her to marry Freyr and I rarely see Heathens getting upset about that. Skirnir was acting on Freyr’s behalf therefore anything He did in that capacity can and should be laid at the feet of the Golden God. (For a very thought-provoking piece on just this story, I recommend Margaret Clunies Ross “Prolonged Echoes.” Odense University Press, 1994).
- One could look at Váli then, as re-enacting the moment Odin and His brothers slaughtered Their primal ancestor Ymir. He is stepping into Their role, birthed as was Ymir of opposing forces, it is a child of opposing forces that will journey forth to reset the worlds once again during Ragnarok. As such, His parentage had to encompass that antagonism. He had to carry within Himself the twin and violent forces of the original creation to rework and restore that original cosmic balance again.
The Left Eye
by Dr. Emily K.
A lovely eye complete with lid
Rolled in Niflheim’s frosty gems
Blinks time by in days and weeks
And winks at mortal stratagems
Mani we hail, who travels heaven
To visit sisters sun and stars
Mani we hail, the watchful dancer
Whose gaze the deathless gate unbars
Both submissions are by Vanessa
Mani’s Playlist on Spotify:
1) Blue Moon, Frank Sinatra (my american grandfather loved Frank Sinatra)
2) Barcarolle, Offenbach (reminds me of His Melancholy)
3) A window to the past, Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (reminds me of His Compassion)
4) Clair De Lune, Debussy (reminds me of His Gentleness)
5) Recognizer, London Music Works (He can be Fierce too)
6) Adagio for Tron, Gautier (His Sweetness)
7) Moon, Bjork (the lyrics!)
8) Holdrejtek (Moon Shrine), The moon and the night spirit (in Hungarian, because of my ancestors)
9) Meditation, Massenet (He Likes this one, reminds me of His Passing through the night Sky)
10) Child of the Moon, The Rolling Stones (the lyrics!)
11) Alfonsina y el mar Zamba de mi esperanza, Andrés Calamaro, in Spanish (two Argentinian zambas, one about a poetess that drowned in the sea and another zamba about hope)
12) Luna Tucumana, Atahualpa Yupanqui, in Spanish (beautiful argentinian zamba-folk music dedicated to the Moon, Luna in Spanish)
13) Lisa, Cerati, in Spanish (Argentinian rock, about a girl that lives in the sea and is in love with the Moon)
14) Rhapsody on theme of Paganini n43, Rachmaninoff, Garrett (He Trully really Likes this one, if I had to pick just one song for Him, I definitly would pick this one)
15) Fly me to the Moon, Frank Sinatra (dedicated to my adored grandfather again)
16) Morning sun reprise, Robbie Williams (“Who am I to rate the morning sun?”)
17) Satellite of Love, Morrissey (I find it to be a very powerful ending, and well… Satellite of Love…says it all)
Prayer for Mani
Oh Sweet and Gentle Mani,
Lord of the Moon,
Teach me to be kind and humble as You
Reflecting on other’s light,
Softly giving quiet guidance in the world’s night.
Teach me to value and radiate
The noble virtues of my ancestors past.
Teach me to fully see, hear and accept
Myself and others for what we truly are-
Without judgments, but through compassion and love.
Teach me to give generously
What I have received.
Teach me to be grateful, brave and diligent
In embracing the changing tides of my wyrd
Even when times may be difficult for me
And pain may be all I perceive.
Help me discern and do what’s right to do
Be it hard or easy Help me do what I have to
With a calm determination, perseverance and an absolute faith
On prevailing in the end.
Give me the grace of thinking in myself
Each day less and less.
Whenever my ego or my pain or my stupidity blind me
Remind me Mani of my humanity
And my proper place before the Holy,
Before the worlds and before my kin.
“As Living Nectar”
You are not Soma
but You are soma
sweet nectar of compassion,
You are comfort,
the only One
who will absorb into His own orbit
(though slight-fragile-delicate Yourself)
there is never hesitation–
to guard us
to guide us
to illuminate the way
but I know Your secret:
You are the strength of night
how could anything
Eons and Eons Ago
Sometimes when Mani watches,
Children playing on Midgard,
He remembers a time,
Eons and eons ago,
When He and His siblings,
He stood at Ymir’s head,
While Sunna stood at Ymir’s feet.
They threw the moon and sun back and forth,
To one another,
Two glowing globes racing across the sky.
While They did this,
Sinthgunt danced on Ymir’s belly,
Whirling around and around,
Singing her strange little charms.
Ymir smiled in His deep, deep sleep.
Mundilfari said in his voice as soft as sand running in an hour glass:
“Oh, my children! My beautiful children! How I love you so!
Look at how Our Ancestor smiles. You make Him so happy.
Blessed are those who love their Ancestor,
And to those who bring Him joy.”
Those were such happy times,
Before Mundilfari made an unbreakable deal,
With a young warrior called Odin,
And then disappeared through the mists of time,
Never to be seen again.
Before Odin and His Brothers hacked Ymir to death,
To create the Nine Worlds.
Odin with His two ice blue eyes,
And wild long blonde hair.
Odin seemed harmless enough back then…
Mani sadly sighs when He remembers,
That sweet childhood memory,
Eons and eons ago.
Thinking on Odin today and ordeal and all the many places He’s had me walk in my life. There is a place in service to one’s Gods where everything else is stripped away. We’re not male or female or anything else, not black, not white, not skin, not bone, nothing but fire in the mouth of our God. It’s there that secrets open, Mysteries, there initiation happens. Make me fire in the mouth of my God, that is the prayer for the mystai, for those who seek to tear open their scars, so that their souls may be dragged out shrieking through that gash. And it happens. It happens through ordeal, it happens through so many other ways. This world is loud, it’s cacophony blinds the senses to the soul’s cry and blinds us to our Gods and sometimes it takes the press of pain and surrender, humility and ecstasy to mute that noise and raise us up to deepest communion with our Gods. Sometimes scars are too hard, a will too bent, to fierce, too raw…pain is the only one who can guide us through the barren lands to the place where immolation dwells. There are some places that cannot be reached by walking paths of light. Some require the terrible nourishment of darkness.
I met Odin when I hung for Him. It wasn’t about the pain. Pain is irrelevant. It’s a byproduct, nothing more. It’s the horse some of us ride to get across thresholds unapproachable by any other way. It’s never, ever about the pain. If this happens without pain all the better. But for some of us pain is our teacher, guru, and guide. Whether we will or no (but I so willed) he drags us across the gaping gaps that lead to those places our Gods dance in ecstasy, to those places where They rage and shriek and spit power weaving worlds. If you want it easy follow a God who left His place of pain. Odin is always there. Pain brings the humility one needs to be taken up by His ecstasy. Such a clever word that. It does not in any way imply the shattering ripeness, the furious violence, the orgasmic delight of His presence when it fills ever synapse, every atom, every molecule. We burn away in it happily. Let there be nothing between me and this God I love. Nothing not even myself. I am a living sacrament to Him and I was reminded today of what it means to bear His marks on every inch of my flesh. It is His calling card, a reminder to me that even His kindness comes with fury, and to others that what comes through my flesh is terrible danger. Human no more, I am marking time until I am no more, taken up fire on His tongue to be spat out in service. Unmake me, Oh my God, that You may restore again Your worlds.
I walk halls hallowed to another and I wait and twist and turn in an agony of suspense and for what? I have forgotten to Whom I belong. There is only one truth that matters, only one, One for Whom I should writhe and that is Odin and I will go where He will have me go, and do what He will have me do and I do not care for anything else. The meanderings of my still too human heart are nothing in comparison to His presence shrieking through my synapses whispering, laughing, reminding me of paths we tread long ago together. There is nothing but what He would have me do and where He would have me go. Step out of the way.
Pain teaches humility in the face of the Holy. May you eat of it, you who would mock holy things. May you be rung out in your human skins with it, who mock the Gods and Their works. May you learn. I do not care. They have reality for me, only those who likewise burn. I have no time for shadows. May you burn up in the light. May you be nourished by the darkness.
In Her bowl is collected
the bile of a thousand angry Deities
the poison of a thousand fiery serpents
the tears of ten thousand lamenting women
the love of a heart a thousand strong
the devotion of souls ten thousand standing
the sighs of wind and caves a hundred thousand years old
The heaviest of burdens
in hands gentle and dainty
but battle-hardened with care for her task
repeated for millennia
Let us honor Her
and the One She also honors
by Her holding of the bowl
collecting love and sorrows mingled together