Ancestors in the blood

A Good ancestor song:

I’m in a show in Rhinebeck, NY

I have two pieces in a show…

Krasskova Creations

I have two pieces in the current show at Betsy Jacaruso’s gallery in Rhinebeck, NY: Still life with pears, which can be seen in the flyer below, and a more abstract piece:

attic vase eternal return

Attic Vase, Eternal Return ^

Catching the light 2017 posterBoth are watercolors. Both are for sale. 🙂

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Lithuania on my Mind

I was reading a book recently titled “Baltic Lenin,” which explored in a loose narrative-type travel-log format the changes in the Baltic since the fall of the Soviet Union. It was an interesting book and reading it made me remember my own trip to Lithuania when I was in high school. My Russian class went on an exchange for a month to Vilnius, Lithuania, which was then part of the CCCP. I was particularly delighted by this since I’m half Lithuanian. I stayed with an absolutely lovely family and got to meet some of my relatives too. (I wish I hadn’t fallen out of touch with the family that hosted me, but once I graduated high school and made an attempt at a professional ballet career, the stress of that profession and of fighting the injuries that would eventually cause me to retire in my early twenties caused me to neglect a lot of things. I wonder sometimes if any of them embraced Romuva when the religion was acknowledged after independence). When I was there, the country was already agitating for its freedom and a couple of years later, emerged as a free and independent nation which it remains today.

I wasn’t smart enough at the time to keep a travel journal. What the hell did I know? I was a teenager and more concerned about the month of ballet practice I was missing than connecting with my ancestors. What follows are really bare bones impressions thirty plus years after the fact.

Firstly, I learned about Gediminas, fourteenth-century grand duke of Lithuania, champion of Paganism who protected his people from the scourge of Christianity and who lived and died a polytheist. This is a token, currently hanging at my ancestor shrine, that I bought on that visit.

I think, best I can translate, that the phrase translates as “Brothers, restore the castle of Gediminas.” Gediminas had a vision of an iron wolf that predicted the powerful city (Vilnius) that he would go on to found. It has remained a potent symbol.

I remember visiting Trakai Castle, once a major strategic fortress.

Trakai

And we went to the Curonian Spit, a 100 km stretch of sand dunes abutting the Baltic Sea. It’s not too far from Vilnius and is now a UNESCO heritage site. I was sixteen or seventeen in the photo below.

on the baltic sands

Finally there was amber and traditional embroidery and connecting with my dead.

Lithuanian doll

I want to visit Vilnius again. There was so much I didn’t know when I was there as a teen. I’d like to visit the shrine to Mary of the Gates of Dawn. (I actually honor Her as a syncretic version of Ausrine). I don’t know why we didn’t visit when I was there as a teen, save that the city was still under Soviet occupation and perhaps it wasn’t permitted.

dawn_1

Because I find it oddly moving, I’d also like to visit the Hill of Crosses. I don’t know what the holy sites of Romuva are—to me the whole country is sacred ground because it is the soil that holds the bones of my ancestors – but I would very much like to make offerings one day properly.

hill of crsoses

That is all. I’ll end with this prayer-poem to my Lithuanian ancestors.

ištvermė

It’s a hard people that birthed me
hard and unyielding
like weathered stone
 hungry flame,
the bones of the dead,
hard like the yoke
of occupation
and the necessary brutality
of  resistance.

It’s hard soil
that holds them,
concealing bones
of an ancient nation,
lands devastated
by generations
and horrors
only the stones themselves
might recount.
and they are silent. 

It’s a hard God that took me up
and He made me hard in His loving.
There’s  a hard war to be fought.
and I’ll take point.
My ancestors nod grimly
when I say this.
They know
all the different permutations
of grit.
Just try to break them.
They never yield–
never forgot their ceremonies either.
They know from whence
their power comes.

My people,
children of fire
born under a blazing northern sun
know the secret of endurance.
We keep our power hidden
we keep our borders close
we guard what must be guarded.
these things come down in the blood
like hard edged steel.
Then like steel we rise.

(from “Honoring the Ancestors” available below).

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Ode to Maia

Here is the next submission to the Maia agon, courtesy of Deo Mercurio, who emailed me with this link today.

Deo Mercurio

Seven are the daughters of Pleione,
whose stars bedazzle the winter sky—
      most beautiful of all the seven
      is Maia, daughter of Atlas.
She it is who rejoices in May flowers’ bloom,
the lengthening days, and the growing warmth.
      She makes the heart to quicken
      as desire swells in mortals’ souls—
and not in mortals’ alone, but you too,
thundering father Jove, could not resist her.

How did Jove effect his tryst with modest Maia,
dwelling in her cave in wind-swept Arcady?
      Let none divulge what passed therein;
      let none undo her wise discretion.
But all may know and celebrate her offspring,
glorious child of Maia, swift-footed messenger,
      clever in his charming words,
      subtle in his wily deeds—
for you, august Mercury, were born on Mount Cyllene,
born to gentle Maia, bedecked with flowers.

She it was first took you in her…

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Deadline Extended

The deadline for issue 6 of Walking the Worlds journal has been extended to June 1. The topic is divination. Check out the site for submission guidelines and if you have any articles or essays, please consider submitting. 

wtw

Whistling Dixie While the Country Burns

So having a discussion today with someone who is very much in support of NOLA taking down any monuments of the Confederacy (according to this guy, that’s not ‘destruction’). I’m very much against removing any historical monuments. I don’t think visible erasure of our history is a way of dealing with that history or of healing its wounds and I’m sick of seeing people accommodating this PC agenda. I question what’s next: desecrating the dead by removing their monuments? oh wait, that’s already happened in Confederate cemeteries. 

Now I am no fan of the Confederacy. the history of slavery and human trafficking in this country makes my stomach lurch when I sit and think about it. it’s one of the most shameful periods of our history BUT it’s our history and I don’t think anything good ever came of denying one’s own history. We don’t learn by white washing and pretending things never happened, and we don’t learn by desecrating monuments to the dead.

I would be all for setting up monuments commemorating emancipation, the triumph of the Union, free black communities (NOLA had a thriving free black community since at least the eighteenth century) in the same locales but to erase history well, that leaves us with a generation that doesn’t know where it came from and so can be very easily led to where someone else thinks it should go. I’m never against adding more memorials. It’s the taking away that bothers me.

Someone asked me in one of these discussions whether we shouldn’t prioritize the needs of the living over the dead and I said absolutely not. The dead should and will always take precedence with me. A culture and a people’s worth is determined by how they tend their dead and here’s the thing, if you’re tending your dead rightly and well (which includes holding them accountable for the shit that they did), it will transform how you engage with the living. But in no world should the dead, our ancestors, take second place. Being a functioning human means being in right relationship with the ancestors, the Gods, and the land spirits and that impacts every other living interaction. We don’t achieve that by pandering to a group of PC fanatics who have no long term vision and preach only to sentiment and emotion.

If these monuments are being used by white supremacists to advance their agenda (real white supremacists, not people who refuse to feel guilty for being white), then address that, but don’t think it’s addressed by pretending that history never happened. If you don’t remember your history, you’re guaranteed to repeat it. We’re seeing that in the daily news. These monuments serve as much for warning as they do commemoration.

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Visiting Paternal Ancestors’ Graves

So, my ancestors were pretty pissed off with me a few weeks ago, my paternal ancestors that is. You see, I was raised close to my maternal side of the family. We only visited my dad’s family once a year if that and only when I was very small (after his parents died, we didn’t make the trek every year). I’ve struggled for years to develop a close relationship with that side of my dead. Whereas I am quite close to specific individuals on that side of my ancestral line, as a whole we struggle to communicate and connect. This is especially so of the very old ones, the protectors of the lineage. They had wanted me to visit what graves were available to me (my grand parents, aunt and uncle, and some cousins are buried in Albany about two hours away from me) but up until now I hadn’t. I had, however, visited the graves of maternal dead in MD and PA, easily four or five hours away several times. This did not sit well with my Lithuanian dead. They’re very high protocol (which pisses me off to no end, I cannot tell you, though they’re right to be so) and this was not proper protocol. So Easter Sunday I highed my ass off to Our Lady of Angels cemetery in Albany to make offerings and visit with my dead.

The trip itself was pretty uneventful. It’s a pretty straight shot from my home. I bought flowers the day before but made that offering at my ancestor shrine. The flowers were just so pretty as they were and the bouquet huge I thought it best to leave them at the shrine. I brought fresh water and other offerings for the cemetery. Usually when I go to a cemetery, I can make an offering and quick prayer to the cemetery spirit or to my ancestors and almost immediately find the grave that I’m looking for. That was not the case this time. I asked my ancestors for help and they said “get out and walk.” Did I mention they were pissed? I walked around for an hour, found the grave of a couple of cousins, eventually found my aunt and uncle. I asked the wind God Kari for guidance and unusual birds kept flying in a particular direction. I followed them but coiuld not find my grandparents’ grave. I did find a couple of cousins who died in WWI and II.

Finally, pissed off – because it was clear they were fucking with me – I called on Hermes and begged for His help. Essentially, I went over their heads. Immediately he told me to stop the car (I’d gotten back in to drive to various parts of the cemetery) and get out and walk in a particular direction. I did this and after a yard or so He told me to look down and right there was my grandparents’ grave. (Hail to You, Hermes, and thank You!). Thing is, I’d walked past it and looked at it at least three times before that (it was only a couple of graves over from one of my cousins). My dead were keeping me from seeing it, testing me, seeing if I would stay the course and find them. Fuckers.

So I made my offerings, and promised to go back in June. By the time I got home and hit my ancestor shrine I could already feel the difference, a positive one, and was immediately gifted with several cemetery songs. (Our tradition is big on songs). The visit helped smooth out things with that line and since I’ve had one of them step forward to help specifically with communication, which is a blessing.

I’ve always found joy in engaging with the Gods…sometimes it sucks, sometimes there is  great pain, but there is also, usually joy. That’s not ancestor work for me. There’s no joy in dealing with the dead for me. There is duty and satisfaction. I find the protocols they demand irritating and often have to fight with myself to do them, even though I know I should. I often resent having them demand things. I serve the Gods not human beings, and my father’s line is very rigid – they are hard people, from a hard land, and that stubborn grit enabled them to survive. It rubs me the wrong way though, when someone who was once human expects obedience that I will ever only give to the Gods. So we wrangle. But at the same time, as much as we fight, I know they have my back and that is an awesome feeling. We can bitch and fight and cuss and moan but when the chips are down, my dead have my back and I’m fiercely proud that they were the last people in Europe to abandon their ancestral traditions (the Lithuanians didn’t abandon their polytheism until the late fifteenth century). Everything else we’ll work out eventually. Half of ancestor work is learning how to communicate, not just learning how to communicate with our dead, but our dead learning how to communicate with us. It takes time. It’s messy, but it’s worth it.

Now some pictures.

aviza

This was the first grave I found. I believe Tapila is the sister of my grandfather.

fullsizerender.jpg

Then here is one of the cousins (I can’t tell exactly how we’re related …once you start getting into cousins x times removed I find it confusing lol). I’d have made offerings to them anyway because they’re military dead, but I was pleased to find them (after making a desperate prayer to Loki….Loki, Kari, and Hermes really had my back that day).

wagner.jpg

Here is my aunt and uncle. I never got along with Julia in life for a number of reasons but after death her husband (who was one of the first ancestors I started venerating) helped bring us into accord and now she is one of my strongest of Disir. I have a photo of her as a young woman and she was quite lovely, a dead ringer for Marlene Dietrich.

Dabravalskas

And finally, finally here is the grave of my grand parents. Halle-fucking-lujah.

Next time I will bring flowers to the cemetery. Sometimes cemeteries are quiet but this one had a lot of chatty dead. I told my dead that if I’d been able to choose their grave stones, it wouldn’t be any of these nice, simple, conservative monuments. No, if I’d been able to choose, you’d be able to see that sucker from space. LOL.  

Second Submission to Maia’s Agon

“To Maia, Mother of the Messenger”
Alexeigynaix

Pleione’s eldest daughter,
begotten by He Who Holds the Sky,
hail to You, O Maia.
Eldest Pleiad sister,
Whom Your sisters emulate,
hail to You, O Maia.
Mother to Luck-bringer,
nurse to Kallisto’s son,
hail to You, O Maia.
Guide to sailors,
guide to farmers,
hail to You, O Maia.
Lady of mountains,
Lady of caves,
hail to You, O Maia.

I beg Your aid, O Maia,
that I may be
a more dutiful child to my parents
as You are to Yours,
a more loving sibling to my siblings
as You are to Yours,
and should the Gods will it come to pass
that I have children,
a wise parent to my children
as You are to Yours.
Hail to You, O Maia.

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Be sure to check out my other sites:

Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy

My academia.edu page

My amazon author page.

Walking the Worlds Journal

My art blog at Krasskova Creations

My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.

And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.

Smutty Saturday: A Real Chatterbox (OBSCENE CONTENT)

because Latin is awesome. 🙂 That is all.

SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

Martial, 7.18

“Though you have a face about which no woman could complain, and no stray mark mars your body, you still wonder why it is that scarcely a fucker can be found who desires you, or asks you for your favor again? Galla, you have a fault which is not altogether trifling. Whenever I came to you and we were moved about with mingling groins, you were silent – but your vagina wasn’t. Oh, would that the gods would make you speak and it stay silent! I am offended by your vagina’s loquacity. I would rather give you a good sodomizing. Symmachus came up with this useful notion, and the thing prompts laughter at the same time. Who can laugh at the little pops of a garrulous pussy? When it makes it sound, whose penis does not fall with his desire? At least say something, and say something against…

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Happy Birthday, Mutti

Today is my late mother’s birthday, my adopted mom. Every year I get her flowers, sometimes cake (she’d never had a birthday cake until I baked one for her one year when she was still alive). I clean her shrine and put out new candles. 

Every year I miss her more. 

Happy birthday, my miracle mother, ich habe dich unendlich gern, auf Zeit und Ewigkeit.