The newest prayer card is this gorgeous image of Hestia by G. Palmer. It will be available in my shop next week.
And courtesy of P.S.V.L. and artist Grace Ibor:
Then we have Nergal by Lykeia
and Hekate by W. McMillan.
Pazuzu by B. Kring.
and finally, by request, a card for our past religious specialists: shamans, spirit workers, diviners, seers, orpheotelestai, vitkar, etc. The artwork here is mine.
These are all currently available.
Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a quiet but distinct push back against devotional work, firstly in the idea that one can be claimed by Gods, and secondly to various aspects of the Gods’ sacred stories. In both cases, human ideas of consent are reified over and above any spiritual reality (and often in direct opposition to generations of historical accounts) and in both cases, one’s devotional realities are filtered through contemporary politically correct rubrics.
The first, I’ll dismiss as sour grapes from someone unwilling to do the often heart wrenching hard work of engaging with the Gods and entering into the type of relationship where one can be claimed. Yes, sometimes that happens non-consensually. No, that doesn’t fit nicely into our modern ideas of how relationships should work. Get over it. This happens and since the Gods aren’t actually people in the way that human beings are, since when we deal with the Gods we’re dealing with Powers far above us in understanding and awareness, it’s rather foolish to project our own mores and values onto Them expecting Them to comply. It’s somewhat like stepping up to a raging fire, putting one’s hand out into the heat and asking it not to burn.(1)
In the end, we always have choices. Even when one is claimed non-consensually there are choices: to accept and enter into the relationship gracefully and well, or to fight it, to refuse it. There is working as hard as one can to grow devotionally, and there is doing the bare minimum and grudgingly. There are also consequences either way and that’s the part most people don’t talk about. Sure, if one is lawful prey for a God one can refuse the claim but there are consequences to that. (2) More often, rather than non-consensual claiming, there is the slow (or sometimes not so slow) build-up of a devotional relationship that winds its way into one’s heart and mind and soul in such a way that breaking it is unthinkable. In the end, we shouldn’t have to be driven to do what is right. We should want to, we should ache to, we should seek it out and attempt to do better, to be better in relation to our Gods. But if one wants to whine and bitch and moan about those relationships that have an element of non-consent, as though we were talking about human beings, be my guest. It profits nothing. We are not and will never be the highest Beings on the cosmological food chain and the sooner we realize that, the better. To equate a Deity-human dynamic to your dysfunctional dynamic with your ex is a false equivalency, misleading and ultimately incredibly dishonest. (3)
The second is a bit more insidious and troubling. Someone sent me a piece today wherein the author was complaining that some of us see Sigyn as a child bride (because that’s the way She has chosen to reveal Herself. It does not negate that She is also a woman, a mother, a powerful Force, etc.). I’ve seen similar rants about Persephone and Hades, or Apollo and Daphne.
We can refuse to allow the Gods to express Themselves to us how They wish. We can refuse to hear or accept Their stories but it only harms us. It only cuts us off from Their Mysteries. The Gods aren’t there to be our cosmic babysitters, to feed us pabulum, and pat us on the head, reinforce our ideas, and give us trophies for participating when we’ve accomplished nothing. If They are showing us or conveying to us in some way, a story about Themselves, then there are reasons why. It’s not up to us to be comfortable with Their stories, but to strive to understand them, to find and explore the mysteries within them. They are incredible gifts from the Gods.
I’ll close with a quote from Sannion on this whole matter:
“Why do these people even pretend they’re worshiping the Gods when they can’t look unflinchingly at their stories. No one is saying Dionysos getting torn up and eaten by his Titan guardians was a good thing. It was the most horrible thing possible. But it happened, and it gives a way into a deeper understanding of our Gods to contemplate it and the emotions it rouses in us. Further, no one is suggesting “Hey, let’s go butcher some children and have a barbecue.” So why do they have such a problem acknowledging that a traumatic thing happened to Sigyn? (4) The more interesting part of the story is how she grew into steadfast and loyal love with her spouse, as it is with Haides and Persephone – who was merely Kore, the Girl, before her abduction. There’s a mystery in there – it is dark and terrible, powerful and beautiful. And by discarding it to score PC points (do they think that will somehow make it have not happened?) they close themselves off to it, and deprive themselves the chance to learn by engaging more deeply, even critically, with the sacred stories that have come down to us.”
I think in the end it comes down to a certain subsection of the community caring more about scoring those PC points than acting with any integrity toward their Gods (or those that love Them). People like this are poisoning the well because once these ideas, insidious as they are, are loosed they cannot be recalled and we’ll be fighting them for generations. I suspect that is the point: hostility toward devotion and those who practice it and crippling the restoration of our traditions in ways large and small until it is stripped of any integrity, meaning or piety just like our detractors.
I really like Sannion’s idea of engaging critically with our myths. We don’t have to say x happening is a good thing, but it happened and our Gods hold space for it in Their corpus of sacred stories. So what does that mean for us? I’ve seen devotees work through their own grief and trauma in their life by finding these images, models of strong persistence in the face of horrible adversity. I’ve seen devotees find incredible heart healing by seeing the love between Loki and Sigyn, particularly after what many of us have been told is Her horrible childhood. There are so many ways, ritually, through meditation and prayer, and other ways to engage with these stories but just throwing them out because we’re offended completely cuts that option off, but doesn’t change the reality of the Gods.
This brings up the question of what really is the center of our religion? Is it the Gods and what They choose to reveal, Their veneration, Their love, Their mysteries; or is us, our culture, politics, ideology, and foolishness? Are our traditions there to make us feel good, to reinforce the current social justice theme du jour, or are they something bigger than that, more far reaching, eternal and sacred? What does it mean to have Gods willing to embody these stories, Gods who can suffer and persevere in that suffering and what does that tell us about how we can face our own obstacles? This is a dialogue that we’re having with our ancestors and with our Gods and those who object to the unfolding of this sacred corpus essentially want to stop that because it makes them uncomfortable. So we have choices to make going forward because this is very much an attempt to diminish devotion and to render our traditions as shallow as those that expect the Gods to always make them comfortable.
- Not to mention, if you’re complaining about one of these relationships but aren’t yourself in one, and yet the people who are in that type of devotional relationship are typically fine with it…what does that say about your need to create a problem where there isn’t one?
- Those in such compelling relationships are often religious specialists, not your typical devout laity.
- In nearly every case where I’ve seen this – certainly in the most recent examples—the people complaining don’t have this type of relationship and are complaining about those that do. It’s not the people in the devotional relationships complaining, but those outside of such a dynamic. Imagine if the same people were to go on a tear about their married gay neighbors….
- To be fair, the complaints were not about her traumatic childhood, but that Loki fell in love with her when she was a young teenager. Well, so what? Typical age of marriage was quite young in the cultures through which these Gods first revealed Themselves. You see this with the Kore-Haides story. There was no rape there. By the mores and customs of the day, it was a legal marriage. Haides got permission from Kore’s father. That was all that was required for a legal marriage (granted, Zeus might have wanted to involve Demeter in the process but that too is an important part of the story). To project our own modern ideas of relationship politics onto these sacred stories is to do ourselves and our Gods a terrible disservice.
Prayer to Hathor
By V. Morelli
Hail to You, Hathor,
Bringer of sweetness,
Nourisher of Gods,
Nourisher of Men.
Through Your blessings,
the Nile rises and floods,
nourishing the land.
Through Your favor,
the world is rejuvenated each day.
You protect all women,
and bestow Your blessings
upon those who treat them well.
You bring renewal,
to the land, to the heart,
and to all our hopes.
The sun and the moon rejoice in You.
Life flows from Your hands.
Mighty Cow, Holy Mother,
Your Power transcends the boundaries
of life and death.
Golden and glorious,
You protect the path of Ra.
Lady of the Sycamore,
Your blessings balance all things.
Help us to restore balance to our world.
Help us to open our hearts to Your blessings,
to never push You away.
May Your praises ever be on our lips,
and offerings ready in our hands.
Hail to You, Hathor,
Hey folks, I’m now putting out a monthly newsletter. The first went out last week and each one will include sneak peaks of new prayer cards well before I post them here, snippets of my work, things of interest that I’ve found that I think y’all might like, and recipes and stories and prayers and poems and such that i won’t post here. If you’re interested (I won’t spam you, I promise!), go to the ‘follow me’ page and sign up. The next one will be out the first week of January.
The winner of the Dionysos Agon is Wynn Dark. Congratulations! And a big thank you to everyone who contributed. If you haven’t contacted me yet about your prayer card, please do email me soon and I’ll get that out.
I promised I would post about prizes for the two December Agones.
For Odin, the winner will receive a copy of my book ‘He is Frenzy”, the Odin prayer card of his or her choice,” and I will donate $25 to a military charity of the winner’s choice.
For Hathor, the winner will receive a large pack of my handmade blessing incense, specifically for Hathor, and I will donate $25 to the charity of choice.
People have been asking me if I’m going to be doing the monthly Agon in 2018 and I don’t yet know. I will post here when I decide.
Once a year, usually around Yule, I like to get my Lithuanian ancestors one of their traditional treats: Lithuanian Tree Cake (Sakotis). I have no idea how to make this in my oven, so I usually purchase from this shop, and they’ve been consistently wonderful to deal with for the purchase. The cake is a traditional wedding cake, but it’s also served at special occasions, particularly religious holidays. It seems appropriate to give them for Yule.
For those who are wondering, it tastes a little bit like Pizzelles (Anise cookies).
So, my order came today and I was contemplating waiting till Dec. 6 (Oski’s Day) to give it to them, but I can never hold off on gift giving to living or dead, so they got their sweet today. On the sixth, I have a bunch of treats (lebkuchen, pfeffernuesse, chocolate cognac balls, marzipan cake, etc.) for my German and Swiss line. Anyway, here’s a picture of a small part of my ancestor shrine with the cake.
An Offering to Odin
by H. Rawlings
The one who whispers
With bold tenderness into a woman’s heart
Who finds you laid bare
Skin and bones
And applies the healing balm
Knowledge and fury
Breath and calm
The Resounding One
Open yourself to his breath
Let yourself be restored
by Ryan M.
Bloody staves and candlelight,
the questioner being questioned.
A divine and cosmic discourse.
A path weaved through the Wyrd.
Answers appear through the smoke, some beget more questions.
Comprehension is the problem of the inquirer,
Truth cares not if it is understood.
The Wise One takes another sip of mead,
knowledge of all is seldom a comfort.
He mastered this game long ago,
and I wonder if He misses the mystery of it.
Either way we drink together,
for the Truth is seldom easy to swallow without assistance.
For years, I’ve been telling people that the Gods love them deeply, love us deeply, and I very much believe that’s true. I think the Gods do cherish us each and want the best for us, that They as our creators have a vested interest in our welfare. I know we can have deeply rewarding, personal, devotional relationships with Them. They love us. They love us but…it’s not like human love. It took me until tonight to really grasp that. Years of having the Gods tear my world apart, having Them bring blessings and pain in equal measure and the cognitive disconnect of knowing that They love us to the core of our beings, but still carrying deep in my heart what is often pure anguish in service to Them and I finally understand it, at least a little bit more. Their love is not like human love and that is an awesome and terrible thing.
Human love presupposes – at least insofar as I understand it – that one cares not just for the wellbeing and welfare of one’s beloved, but for their feelings too. There is an individual intimacy, a give and take on a small level that nourishes that love and allows it to grow and thrive. It’s often about the minutiae of caring for each other’s human hearts.
That isn’t how it works with Gods. Even the minutiae of the devotional relationship are not small things. We love as humans love and the Gods love as They love and They are not human. They care for us deeply but They don’t just see us now, They don’t just see us separate from our wyrd and Their agendas and obligations and in the grand scheme of things – and with Gods it’s always the grand scheme of things – it’s that overarching agenda that takes precedence. Some things need to happen, some things need to get done and if that hurts us, while they number our tears and while They care (and I think when They can will do what They can to mitigate the pain), those things still need to happen. There is a deep cruelty in Their love, but it is not purposeful, but rather it is a byproduct of Their nature and the obligations, the vast obligations that They hold.
In the “Iliad,” it is woven into fate that Zeus must allow his most beloved son Sarpedon to die. He is anguished over this and tries everything He can to convince Himself that He can stop it. In truth, He has the power to stop it. He could absolutely protect Sarpedon and guarantee him glory and honor. There’s a catch though, (and I think it’s Athena Who points this out): if Zeus does this, He will have violated the order that He himself established, the cosmic order of the Gods and all creation. If He, the architect of that order were to do so, it would come crashing down and there would be chaos and any other Being would likewise be free to violate it at will. It would be devastating on a level far beyond the death of one beloved child. Zeus makes the decision to allow Sarpedon to meet his fate, to die, even though it causes Him agony. Necessary order is maintained and the dissolution of the worlds prevented. Had He just been a father, He could have done whatever was necessary to protect His son; but He wasn’t. He was also a God, Lord of Olympus and that carries with it weight and obligation that cannot be put down no matter the personal cost.
It is a thing to remember when loving the Gods (and I very much believe it is right and proper to love Them): They do not love as we love. They love like the storm, like fire, like the raging flood and we are small in comparison and can so easily be swept away, and even more easily we can be hurt if we expect Their love to be contained like that of humans.
I hate Them sometimes, for all They take, and all They ask, but I love Them too and I just have to make sure that it’s the latter emotion I nourish, not the former. The Gods can take and excuse our moments (looong moments sometimes) of pique but making it a lifestyle choice is something that can close us off from Their blessings forever. They love us, but They are Gods and sometimes the weight of what They are, and the necessities make for complications.
The Dionysos Agon will be closing at 9pm EST tonight. I will post the winner this weekend.
December will feature two Agons: one to Odin (there will be prizes, I’ll post about that likewise this weekend), and, because it came up in divination, one to Hathor (there will also be prizes).
If you have prayers, poems, essays, or artwork for these Deities, and would like to enter the agon, please send your contributions to me at krasskova at gmail.com. Please include your mailing address so i can send you a prayer card in thanks. The December Agon will end Dec. 31, 9pm ESt.