One of the things I did for Ostara was to plant trees in honor of my ancestors, specifically my adopted mom, my bio mom, and my mother-in-law. I went here and had a grove of 25 trees planted for each of them. This is pretty cool and it’s definitely something I know my adopted mom at least would have loved. There are multiple options too; one doesn’t have to purchase 25 at a go.
I looked up a couple of other organizations that run projects like this and found American Forests, and the Arbor Day Foundation. It seemed appropriate both for these particular ancestors, and as a way to honor and keep Ostara and I rather liked the symbolism of trees and ancestors.
Things like the clip I just posted fill me with a terribly painful wistfulness and longing. I think about the polytheisms we’re building, especially my own Heathenry and that is what I want to see. Let the Christians and others stand there shaking in terror as we enact our sacred rites. Let there be sacrifices made on our holy tides in every village and town and city across the world. Let there not be a single corner of our towns free of the iron-sharp scent of sacrifice, the aroma of incense, the sound of chanting and drumming and music. Let the cries of the faithful in adoration of the Gods drown out every impiety. Let us expiate the sins of our ancestors in abandoning our traditions by bringing those traditions back with a vengeance.
I’m sitting here on Ostara at the gallery I co-own, watching customers browse through prints and pottery, paintings, when cards and I should be standing with a community thousands strong facilitating or participating in the gift of a bull to Freyr, to Ostara, to Nerthus, to Erda Herself. I want to pour out offerings, libations, and enact a thousand sacrifices for my Gods until we right the wrongs done (sometimes by us) to our traditions. I want the red of sacrifice to be so deeply inscribed in my skin that it never comes off. I want my very bones to be colored crimson, the marrow of my body rich with fiery ochre.
Where are our processions?
Where are our priests?
Where are our people willing to gather in praise of the Gods?
I want to see farmers raising animals specifically for sacrifice, tending them, pampering them so that when the time comes we can give our Gods the best. I want to see us, hundreds of thousands if not millions strong willing and hungry to give our Gods our best. I want a world saturated with the sacred, every stone every shadow, every passing, indwelling spirit.
Let us burn hecatombs for Zeus.
Let us butcher stables for Odin.
Let all the Gods have Their due.
Heathens, Hellenics, practitioners of cultus deorum, Kemeticism, and every other polytheism under the sun: let our rites grow so large and so fervent that they shake the foundations of the world until that which does not serve the Gods crumbles to frightened dust.
Where there need not be sacrifice let there be chanting and dancing, and the ecstasy only the Gods can bring. I would see our world consumed in it and reborn anew. There is nothing else that matters. There is no greater endeavor, no greater challenge, and no greater joy.
That’s where I am this Ostara, longing for what could be, in agony for what should be. Remembering what once was.
My husband and I were having a conversation about a couple of the pieces that I wrote yesterday on my blog at a local diner this morning when I noticed his gaze was fixed on the family in the booth across from ours and he was grinning. It took me a moment to notice what had caught his attention but when I did we both burst out laughing. The couple had given their toddler a butt-plug shaped toy to play with. I’m sure (pretty sure: our town has had a large influx of hipsters) that it wasn’t, and I’m equally sure that only a small percentage of the customers in the diner would have looked at that and had their minds go the places ours did. Which, as my clickbait title suggests, led to an insight about the ongoing debates within our communities – though not really John himself. He’s just a metaphor, a symbol expressing a certain set of ideas to which I’m opposed.
And I’m opposed to them because polytheist isn’t just a word for me; it’s a culture built on shared experiences of the Gods. I wrote about that here yesterday.
That shared experience is what makes things like humor possible and I think it just makes more sense for people to gravitate towards others with similar values and worldview and culture. These are not insignificant things. That is in part what helps to create a cohesive tradition. It’s not the only thing, but it is an important one. This of course begs the question of what is the shared experience of polytheism. I would hope that it is the experience of the Gods as Gods. That’s the thing that brings us all together despite our individual traditions and positions within the polytheist rubric. It’s the baseline that impacts everything else, every decision, and certainly our way of being in the world. I’ve seen John talk about having experiences with what we would call Gods but, in his own words, interpreting them differently. Ok. That’s a crucial difference. He’s having experiences but lacks the relational framework of a polytheistic understanding and perspective. He is not a polytheist, and that’s ok. Someone outside of the tradition can if they wish, become a good ally (of course part of being an ally isn’t trying to guide or define the development of the tradition, but that’s a different post).
Years ago, oh, maybe two decades now, I had an experience with a Holy Power that I’m pretty sure most of my Christian friends would call Jesus. It was cool, very cleansing, and my Gods were likewise very present. (I was dealing with a very wounded Christian client at the time – sometimes one must approach one’s client’s Gods). When that was done, I got on with the business of honoring my Gods. I told this to a Christian friend once and she simply could not wrap her mind around it. To her, it was a ‘born again’ experience but I was still a polytheist and still had and wanted nothing to do with the cultus of Christ. She could not comprehend. For me, the answer was easy: at best this is one of many Gods and not mine. What’s the big deal? For her, it was a mind blowing and paradigm challening thing. I lacked her framework of interpretation. Since I had zero desire to come into her religious world and space, in the end it didn’t matter but had I been trying to position myself as a member of her church, there would have been – and should have been—problems. My approach would have been corrosive and corrupting to their tradition.
That’s why I fight so hard to hold the line. Because when that’s compromised, meaning becomes diluted and confused. It’s not that I think people like John don’t have a right to exist, or to do their atheist thing (however incomprehensible that may be to me) – it’s not because they’re horrible people. Look, I don’t know John Halstead the man, only the character he plays on the internet through his various blogs. Nor has it been my intention with the majority of my writing to attack him personally. I want very much to attack and gnaw on his ideas and words. Ideas spread and have corrosive power. That being said, we really should hold ourselves to the standard of arguing ideas not people (and I fell short of that standard yesterday with one of my posts, for which I apologize. I got swept up in the argument and severely missed the mark).
Maybe in the time of our polytheistic ancestors, a tradition could grow and thrive by itself. It was a different time and a very different world. It was a world where everything in the dominant culture was also polytheistic. In our world, everything in our dominant culture is diametrically opposed to polytheism, either openly or, as some of my Hindu friends have experienced, more insidiously. There is nothing that supports the traditions we’re attempting to build. If we’re not dealing with a Christian influenced culture, we have humanism and atheism held up as normal and progressive. For them, maybe they are, but not for us, and opening the door to those things as polytheists is a problem. Those things have and deserve their own spaces. Likewise, we deserve ours. Each tradition needs uncontested space in which to grow and develop without external interference.
In the meantime, folks, please don’t give butt plugs to your children. Eostre is right around the corner, give them some chocolate eggs instead. 😉
31 Adorations to Hreðe
I adore You, Victorious One.
I adore You, Famous One.
I adore You, Goddess of the lion winds of March.
I adore You, Herald of Spring.
I adore You, Untamed.
I adore You, Proud.
I adore You, never forgotten.
I adore You, friend of Eostre.
I adore You, Who will not be bound.
I adore You, Who can never be captured.
I adore You, friend of the winds.
I adore You, Racer.
I adore You, Dancer.
I adore You, Laughing Whirlwind.
I adore You, Fierce One.
I adore You, Irresistible One.
I adore You, Warrior
I adore You, Friend of children.
I adore You, Friend of farmers.
I adore You, Who steals away the chill of the land.
I adore You, Who delights in wild places.
I adore You, Patron of those born in the sign of Aries.
I adore You, Who opens the way.
I adore You, Far-sighted One.
I adore You, Implacable One.
I adore You, Never Still.
I adore You, Goddess of gaiety.
I adore You, Goddess of raw, chilly places.
I adore You, Who delights in Her solitude.
I adore You, Who delights in freedom.
I adore You, Who delights in the seasons
and never-ending inevitability of change.
Hail to You, Hreðe. Hail Goddess of the whirlwind. Hail Goddess of March, Who prepares the way for Ostara’s blessings.
I always get a bit wistful around our holy tides. I mean, we have our small groups and our individual venerations and that is awesome and absolutely crucial, and we have our online communities (and even when we fight at least it shows there are enough of us to be having these debates and that’s good), but I want so much more for our polytheisms. I don’t want us to have to sneak time away from jobs that wouldn’t acknowledge that it’s a holy time for us. I don’t want any polytheist or any pagan for that matter to feel they are the only one in their town or state. I want celebration and veneration to be joyful things that bring the community together, despite any differences we might have (because really, ancient people argued vociferously too). I wish we could have huge, mind-blowing public processions and rituals and sacrifices and performances (some Gods were traditionally honored with songs or plays or dancing), and a thousand other things.
I would like to live in a time and place, hopefully in the future, where our town will have its parts that are bedecked in celebration of our sacred times. I’d love to head home after a long day’s work and stop at a roadside shrine to make offerings to one of our Deities, and find the shrine thronged with people. I want to see our world colored with the joyful parts of veneration: shrines festooned with flowers, the scent of incense carried around corners, the shrine of Hermes outside a shop, well tended by the shopkeeper, or a shrine to Saga inside a library, overflowing with small offerings made by patrons, and all the many other ways that polytheisms are lived on a large scale. I dream of a polytheism that is big enough and unified enough to redefine our world .
It sounds like a dream, but it was the world once: shrines everywhere, active temples, objects of devotion and animals for sacrifice easily bought and priests available with skill and training to facilitate rites, diviners, oracles, dancing processions, chanting hymns, incense and devotion bound up in every paving stone. I don’t think our ancestors took that for granted, but I also don’t think they realized how quickly it could significantly change and change when it came (in the third and fourth centuries) happened almost before anyone realized what was going down. That is an intensely painful thing for me to contemplate. I tap right into it, see it, feel it – the joys of being an ancestor worker. It hurts terribly; but, and this is a big but that I often forget: it could change again. What we’re building is possible. We may need to sweep out some space here and there (and maybe in ourselves most of all for it to happen) but our polytheistic traditions can develop into something huge. Look at Lithuania. Under the communist regime, religion of any kind was, if not banned, then certainly actively campaigned against. Now, however, within a generation of Lithuania’s independence (and in large part through the resistance and pioneering work of Jonas Trinkunas) Romuva, Lithuanian polytheism, is a recognized and thriving tradition, in the land of its birth. It is growing and knowledge of it is growing. That is an inspiration.
Ostara is in part about renewal and restoration. So I want to share this dream. I want to see all our polytheisms flourish: Heathenry, Kemeticism, Hellenismos, Cultus Deorum, Canaanite polytheism, Romuva, Hinduism, and every single one that I didn’t mention here specifically (there are a lot of them!). I don’t know all the steps to get to that goal. I just know it’s possible. I have the image clear as fire imprinted on my mind by my ancestors a long time ago: what it was, what it should be in cohesion, what it can be in our world now. Well, maybe not now, but soon. I would move heaven and earth to see it happen.
I’m tired of dealing with the various factions. I don’t want to do that anymore. We have a holy tide coming up in a couple of days and I’d much rather talk about that. Ostara, also called Eostre, is right around the corner.
I have always liked this festival. Maybe because I was born at the end of March there’s a building momentum in the air that really comes to a head for me around the spring equinox. For a longtime though, I had trouble really connecting to this particular festival, after all, I’m not a farmer; I don’t garden and I’d always had it presented to me as an agricultural holiday (and in part, it is, so if you can connect to its currents that way, awesome). It wasn’t until I started focusing on the Gods commonly honored at this time, that things clicked for me. (I play around sometimes with doing a book about Eostre, and a book each about the other holy tides but then I sort of run away from that idea lol).
I usually spread out my rituals over three days. That way I don’t feel as though I’m rushing anything. I honor Eostre of course, also Hrethe, a Goddess I very much associate with March, and Mani and Sunna. The equinox after all is a celestial event — day and night equally balanced– so it’s always felt right to me to include Them.
It’s a little weird to be settling down to prep for this holiday when we’re expecting a blizzard in my area on Sunday (despite the fact the daffodils in my yard are in full bloom). Anyway, I’ll be posting more about these Gods and this holiday over the next couple of days. For now, here is a prayer for Eostre:
28 Adorations to Eostre
I adore You, Goddess of spring.
I adore You, Goddess of the wet and fertile field.
I adore You, Ever-brightening Dawn.
I adore You, Who hides Your mysteries in liminal places.
I adore You, Rebirth.
I adore You, Renewal.
I adore You, aching tug of awakening hungers.
I adore You, Goddess of adolescence.
I adore You, Goddess of bursting bloom.
I adore You, Goddess of the new season.
I adore You, Goddess of New Growth.
I adore You, Who awakens the womb of the earth.
I adore You, Who brings fertility.
I adore You, laughing dawnlight.
I adore You, who looses the hare.
I adore You, Who quickens the belly.
I adore you. Who fills the egg with life.
I adore You, Holder of all potentiality.
I adore You, Who opens the passage from winter to summer.
I adore You, Whose gentle caress causes winter to yield its sway.
I adore You, Who sweeps away the cold with a kiss of light.
I adore You, Alluring One.
I adore You, Who delights in the rising cock.
I adore You, Who delights in the wet cunt.
I adore You, Goddess of playful delight.
I adore You, friend of Mani.
I adore You, friend of Sunna.
I adore You, Eostre.
May You be hailed at this time, as cold turns to warmth, darkness to light, winter to summer, fallow land to fertile growth. Hail, Eostre.