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31 Days of Devotion – day 3 for Mani

  1. What are some Symbols and icons of this deity

Oh this one is fun! Of course with Mani being the moon God any and all images of the moon are His, in any of its phases. I also associate hour glasses with Him – He is the Son of the God of time after all—and abacuses and beads. Everyone whom I’ve ever spoken with who honors Him regularly notes this affinity for beads. Some of us think He keeps time on them, hence why His shrine is draped in beads and jangly scarves and such. Because He is the son of the God of time, and partially responsible for keeping cosmic cycles moving properly, I tend to associate time keeping devices, calendars and the like with Him, but first and foremost, moon images, or man in the moon images.

moon

31 days of devotion – day 2

  1. How did you become first aware of this deity?

I met Mani totally by accident. I’d been Heathen for at least fifteen years and had never given Mani any thought at all. One day a colleague asked me if I could “horse” Him, carry Him via possession for a ritual.(1) My colleague could not, but ongoing divination had shown that Mani wished to visit in this way. Divine possession is a powerful thing. It is when the Deity allows a bit of Him or Herself to fill up a human being, so that They can speak and act wearing the coat of human skin. It’s a mystery and a wonder and for many the only time they’ll ever come face to face with their Gods. Not everyone can carry a Deity – I think it takes a special talent which you either have or don’t(2)– but for those who can it is powerful service. No one can horse every Deity, no matter how skilled and experienced they are though. In many traditions one only ever carries one’s patron God or Goddess. While that is not the case with the Northern Tradition, I had no idea if I could do this for Mani so I said I’d see and the request sent me off on several months of prayer and devotion to Him. I started engaging with our moon God, building a relationship, seeking Him out, getting a sense of Him. Long before I ever had the chance to finally sit down to do divination to see if I could carry Him, I found that I’d assembled a complete set of regalia, totally without meaning to do so.(3) When I realized this, I just laughed, did the div., got the ok, and agreed to carry Him for the ritual. That ritual was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Carrying Mani was like carrying no other Deity. He was fascinated by the entire process of embodiment and there was a long period of co-consciousness, wherein He delighted in experiencing me experiencing Him, experiencing me. He was also very, very gentle on the horse i.e. me. He left me in good condition, which is not always the case. By the end of that day with Him, I had the biggest god-crush possible on the Norse moon God. I set up a shrine almost immediately and have been venerating Him regularly ever since.

It’s been really really nice to see His cultus slowly blossoming over the intervening decade (it’s at least been a decade by now). More and more people are coming to honor Him and many to love Him dearly.

Here is a picture of my Mani shrine today.

mani at night

(at least the main shrine. there is more beneath this shelf but it didn’t fit in the shot).

Notes

  1. the term horsing comes from Afro-Caribbean practice, the idea being that one is ridden by a Deity in much the same way a horse is ridden by a rider. I have also seen descriptions of possession (often by Apollo) in ancient Greek and Roman sources that, ironically, utilize exactly the same terminology.
  2. Which is not to say a God can’t rewire a person to carry Them. They can and do but this generally happens within initiatory, lineaged traditions after specific prep.
  3. If one is going a formal ritual wherein one will be possessed by a God, it’s often helpful to have regalia to change into right before that occurs. It marks one out as ‘god-space’ and then taking it off becomes an important shift back into mundane ‘self’ headspace.

31 Days of Devotion: Day 1

 

  1. Write a Basic Introduction to Your Deity.

I’ve decided to write about the moon god Mani for this 31 day series. I’m going to keep this fairly brief and to the point since over the month, I’ll have the chance to flesh out more information about Him.

We don’t really know much about Mani. We know that He’s the moon God, the personification of the moon and that He’s mentioned in both Eddas (in the Voluspa, the Vafthrudnismal, the Grimnismal, the Alvismal, and the Gylfaginning). He’s the son of the God of time Mundilfari and the Brother of the Sun goddess Sunna (or Sol) and the Goddess Sinthgunt (who is Herself mentioned in the second Merseburg charm as the sister of Sol). He has a fascination with humanity, so much so that he adopted two neglected children, Bil and Hjuki, taking them up into the heavens with him. Mani governs the rhythms of the moon itself, driving it through the sky and hot on His heels follows the wolf Hati, who at Ragnarok may in fact destroy Him.

We don’t know Who His mother is and we don’t, at least from lore, know if He has any romantic relationships. Many modern devotees have come to the conclusion that He is close to the sea Goddess Unn, one of the daughters of Ran and Aegir. He is likewise developing a cultic following today, one that has been growing over the past decade.

There are a couple of things that can be sussed out from the knowledge we have. He is old, very old, perhaps older than any of the other Gods. He has seen the entire history of humanity stumble and bumble past and somehow still has a certain interest in our goings on and He is powerful: He and His sister keep the cosmic cycles ordered properly.

Those of us who regularly honor Him have found Him to be rather sweet and He is usually (though not always) pictured as a pale, slender man with long black hair. There is an online shrine to Him here.

 

A Day for Reflection

I was perusing a couple of sites to see if anything of significance happened in WWI or WWII military history today – because I’ve been feeling very aware of my military dead of late—and in my various meanderings through history sites, I came across a reference that on July 25 in 326 C.E. Emperor Constantine formally and publicly refused to perform proper sacrifices to the Pagan Gods and in fact outlawed them. (1) In doing so, he struck at the heart of Roman polytheism and set the stage for the eventual destruction and dismantling of our sacred ways.

It is a day for mourning yes, but also a day for deep reflection. I don’t think the Pagans of Constantine’s time realize what was going on until it was too late (and it is likely sacrifices continued privately) but suddenly time was running out and Rome was on a collision course with monotheistic take over. It really points up how dangerous it is to mix politics and religion too, or to rely on the insight of one man, even a leader who was none too sacral and was far more interested in bolstering his own power and political position than in rightful service to the Gods. Rome as a power was beginning her slow, ugly decline and it must have been a confusing, exciting, and at times terrifying time in which to live. I think it must have been very challenging to know how to move forward in devotion. The idea that one day—a day not too far in the future no less—such devotion might be against the law, temples destroyed or repurposed, and all the generations old adorations to their Gods suddenly fallen silent. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the devout polytheists who lived through that transition and what it was like after.

Our polytheistic traditions are sacred things, a gift, a sacred trust given into our hands to nourish and protect, and ultimately to pass into the hands of the next generation. I think days like this call us to be mindful of that obligation in our hearts and minds and spirits. To remember that we carry the weight of ancestral obligation, the tears and horror of thousands upon thousands of our polytheistic dead who watched their devotional worlds be torn to shreds, knowing it was far too late (even with the momentarily light that was Julian) to stop it. We can right that wrong. Every time we work at our shrines, or pray, or pour out offerings we are, in some small wyrd way restoring and righting the desecration done. I think it’s important to let that inspire us in this work because it is hard sometimes, challenging, alienating, frustrating but also joyous and satisfying. It’s important to remember that they are in their way handing off the tattered ends of these traditions to us and we can run with that, together, and make those traditions flourish once more.

As I was thinking about this, I can across this site. I don’t know why it came up in my feed and I don’t know the author of the site but I really like this idea and I think I’d like to encourage everyone to do this for August: thirty one days of devotion to one of your Gods. Here are the questions:

1. WriteaA basic introduction of the deity
2. How did you become first aware of this deity?
3. what are some Symbols and icons of this deity
4 .Share a favorite myth or myths of this deity
5. Who are Members of the family – genealogical connections of this Deity.
6. What are some Other related deities and entities associated with this deity
7. Discuss this Deity’s Names and epithets
8 Discuss Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)
9. what are some Common mistakes about this deity
10 .what are common Offerings – historical and UPG
11 Talk about Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity
12. What are some Places associated with this deity and their worship
13. What modern cultural issues — if any—are closest to this deity’s heart? (this is a question that i”m not overly thrilled with. It presupposes that the Gods give a rat’s ass about our “cultural issues” but maybe some of Them do and if They don’t, we can talk about that too, always with the caveat that it is insofar as we as individual devotees have sussed out).
14. Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
15. Are there Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
16. How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?
17, How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
18 How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG) (again, a question about which I could not possibly care less, but I suspect the answers might be interesting).
19. What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire?
20. What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?
21. Share any Art that reminds you of this deity
22. Share any Music that makes you think of this deity
23. Share A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with
24 Share Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity
25 Share A time when this deity has helped you
26 Share A time when this deity has refused to help (i really like this question).
27. How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
28. what are the Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered
29. What is Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
30. do you have Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
31 Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?

I’ve done something similar to this for Odin a long time ago, so I’m not yet sure what Deity I’ll talk about come August 1, but I’m thinking about it and very much looking forward to seeing what you, my readers, come up with. (and to the owner of the luxettenebris site: thank you!).

That is all. Let us maintain our devotions staunchly and steadfastly and remember the example of those ancestors who desperately tried too late to do the same.

Notes:

  1. See here and here and here.