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Here is the first entry to the Agon for Morpheus. This Agon runs through Feb. 15.
Shape shifter and God of Dreams.
Here I am,
falling in the dusky depths
of my restless mind,
Please draw near.
As my body leans back
in my small and modest, (but comfy) bed
I call You in the dark.
Come close, winged God.
Draw near, God of Dreams.
Please dwell for a while in my mind.
Catch me in Your arms tonight
and take me to that secret place
that You know oh so well,
where the Gods reside
in glimmering robes
in sumptuous palaces
under bright starry nights;
that place filled
with the sweetest perfumes
I have ever sensed
and the memories
of a million million lives
that the Gods remember bit by bit,
tear by tear, joy by joy;
that secret place
hidden in plain view
known to few mortals
familiar to all Gods
where I can find my Beloved.
Help me find Him.
there is no end to the lengths I’d go
to find Him.
I’d climb any mountain
barefoot in the freezing snow.
I’d fall through any stream.
I’d suffer extreme cold,
tearing hunger and thirst,
pain like no other.
I’d walk through a fiery burning fire,
slowly, in my knees,
and I’d do that
again and again and again
Just to find Him,
just to see Him for a split second
I’d tear myself to pieces.
He is my Sweet Lord, my Beloved.
Help me find Him, God of Dreams.
Because I know You can help me find Him.
Because You know what He means for me.
Oh please help me find Him
In sacred sleep, devout and pure,
Secured in Your arms.
Please guide me there
by Vanessa M.
So due to the press of academic work (this past semester was hell), I stopped running agones for awhile. Recently, however, I received some important aid from Morpheus, God of dreams and in return promised Him an agon. To that end, from now until Feb. 15, there will be a Morpheus agon running here.
It is open to artwork, prayers, poems, even essays about this God. There will be prizes (I’ll post about that later) and everyone who enters will receive a Morpheus card.
I”ll also be posting the winner of the Anteros Agon this week.
Anyone interested, send submissions to me at krasskova at gmail.com. 🙂
a lovely prayer for those in the healing arts out there. For those more familiar with Norse names of our Gods, Mona is Mani, Sol is Sunna, Niht is Nott and Folde is Jord. 🙂
Oh, look upon these herbs collected.
Children plucked from Folde’s fertile womb
May they share your benefits
Oh Goddess rich in vegetation
And to Mōna and to Niht I do call
Dressed in nightfall’s mantle
You who kiss all things with your dew
Dripping to Earth from the horse’s bit
Nourishing all until Sōl reclaims the heavens
Share with me your power
Share it with seed and with sprout
And with all green things
May they prove potent
And drive out sickness and wound
Or applied upon the body
May we be whole and may we be well
So I was recently reading “Amazing Grace” by Kathleen Norris and while overall I found the book rather simplistic and at times naive, every so often I found a gem. One such was a brief discussion (p. 72) on something she terms “idolatry of the self.” I was struck by this passage because I think it nails so much about current threads in Paganism. We bring the poison of our over-culture with us, after all, even as we convert and it can be a damned difficult thing to root out. Here’s the passage that gripped me so:
“The profound skepticism of our age, the mistrust of all that has been handed to us by our grandfathers and grandmothers as tradition, has led to a curious failure of imagination, manifested in language that is thoroughly comfortable, and satisfyingly unchallenging. A hymn whose name I have forgotten cheerfully asks God to “make our goals your own.” A so-called prayer of confession confesses nothing but whines to God “that we have hindered your will and way for us by keeping portions of our lives apart from your influence.” to my ear, such language reflects an idolatry of ourselves, that is, the notion that the measure of what we can understand, what is readily comprehensible and acceptable to us, is also the measure of God. It leads too many clerics to simply trounce on mystery …”.
While she is referring to her own Christian experience, I think that the same trend is found in large part in contemporary Paganism and even Polytheism. We work so hard to make ourselves the limits of our Gods. Our comfort becomes the highest good, and we doggedly flee anything that challenges our fiercely held comfort zones. It’s not religion many of us are seeking but self-validation. Mystery challenges all of that.
Mystery is not about comfort. I think many of us talk blithely about “mystery traditions” without ever realizing what that truly entails. It’s a fancy word for experiences of the sacred that have the potential to tear one’s life to shreds. Mystery renders. It distills. It is an atomic explosion, Rumi’s knife in the dark. It is not the experience of a Deity in the bright, clarifying light of day, but rather the terror in the night that throws us down into the piss and shit of our own ugliness, that then rips us open and leaves us arched and bleeding on the dark empty floor of our souls. Then all of that is stripped away too, and we are brought into the heart of the Powers and spat forth again in dizzying ecstasy, mad dervishes whirling forth vomiting up color and poetry and song into a world rich only in its emptiness.
It always seems to come as a surprise when the focus of the spiritual experience is not on us. I think this is *the* point of tension within contemporary Pagan and Polytheist religions. Is it about us, our feelings, our morality, our wants or is it about something greater than we, something ancient, elder, and Holy? We whine to the Gods to reinforce the boundaries of the narrow worlds we’ve created for ourselves and condemn those Gods when They do anything but. We are self-absorbed children resentfully, petulantly working through mommy and daddy issues and wondering why our traditions aren’t’ sustainable at all. But then we shouldn’t wonder when we reject tradition in favor of feel-good exceptionalism and the illusion that we are courting ancient Mysteries. But when Mystery comes calling we piss ourselves trying to escape it.
This isn’t just a Pagan or Polytheist problem. I think it is the influence of modernity on all aspects of devotion. We have a culture in equal parts hungry for and disdainful of mystery. Norris noted in her book something that I’ve seen other Christian authors comment upon as well: the attempted erasure of mystery within Catholicism and other forms of Christianity. In many respects it was the protestant agenda. It certainly does make all aspects of religion accessible to everyone when Mystery is removed, accessible to everyone and truly meaningful to none.
In my opinion, a huge part of the problem is the ingrained arrogant belief that we are “evolved,” and superior to our ancestors. We want what we want on our terms, without any inconvenience rather than with the raw integrity and humility of actual engagement. Instead of looking at what our ancestors were doing right when polytheism was the world, we claim superiority and hold fast to the imprint of two thousand years of monotheism on our spiritual psyches. Throw in a little bit of contemporary self-absorption and one wonders why we bother at all. Polytheistic religions do not offer instant salvation. They offer a chance to right the breach of ancient contracts, to restore and renew and transform our world, to regain right relationship with Powers we can only begin to imagine. That is terrifyingly hard work, challenging work, rewarding work. It is work that reminds us that we are not at the center of it all, but merely one part of the problem and hopefully one part of its solution. It is work that reminds us there is indeed a hierarchy out there and it is good and natural. It’s work that begins with the first prayer uttered and the first offering made and ends in reverence for Mystery, Mysteries to which we may never be given entry; and in between is an awareness of our own pollution.
I don’t have any solutions to this. I only know that our traditions are worth fighting for, they are worth plumbing the depths of our cultural and spiritual pollution and fighting our way back to the right relationship our people once had with their Powers. It’s worth the attempt. It’s worth seeing clearly the abyss of emptiness that our culture terms ‘normal,’ and primes us to want with all our being. It’s worth rejecting that and seeking instead a path of integrity. The Gods are worth the fight. They are worth confronting ourselves for. They are worth fighting step by painful and wrenching step to be worthy of what Mysteries They bestow. Somewhere along the way, for the promise of salvation, for the lure of ‘progress’ we sacrificed ourselves and the wisdom and sacred rites of our ancestors. It’s worth the long hard battle to get them back. Perhaps that is what faith is: a long term belief that restoration is possible. In the end I have faith. I have faith that, though it may take generations, we can restore all that was lost. When it seems the most hopeless, I have faith because the ancestors are at our backs and the Gods above and below are there, waiting only for us to cross the chasm of our own self-absorption and fear. I have faith that we can do this uphill though the battle may seem. I have faith that when we fall at last into Mystery, should our Gods grant that it be so, we will have the courage to throw ourselves forward and carry those Mysteries back to transform the world and faith is stubborn, stubborn thing. Sometimes, it is enough.
(originally posted in 2014)
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
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.
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.