I had a wonderful pod-cast interview go live today. One June 4th I was interviewed by Weiser Books Radio Hour about my current and forthcoming work. It was one of the most enjoyable interviews I”ve had the pleasure of doing too. The host, Mike Conlon really did his homework.
I haven’t listened to the finished version, but we were chatting away for about an hour. Interested readers can listen to the whole thing here.
I’m really enjoying this format. These are slim, pocket sized volumes with a series of prayers that one can do daily. They’re not heavy works of theology, but small booklets for those wanting to engage in a prayer practice for specific Deities. I love how portable they are and how flexible the practice can be. I’m definitely going to be writing more of these.
While folks are waiting for “Honoring the Mothers,” which should be available soon, check out the other novena books currently available:
To Rejuvenate and Nourish: Nine Days of Prayer to Asklepios, God of Healing.
In Praise of Hermes: Nine Days of Devotion to the God of Travellers, Mischief, and More.
By Scalpel and Herb, Blood and Healing Hands: A Novena to the Healing Goddess Eir
Sacramentum: A Devotional to Dionysos (this one isn’t a novena book per se, but it’s the same size as the novena books and contains articles and prayers).
I ‘ve been focusing on the Greek Gods, but I intend to do several for the Norse too, so stay tuned.
I just finished writing “Honoring the Mothers: Novenas to the Mothers of Our Gods and Heroes.” I’m sending it to be formatted and edited tonight so it should be available in a couple of weeks. I can’t quite believe it’s finished.
This book includes novenas to Semele, Mother of Dionysos; Maia, Mother of Hermes; Leto, Mother of Artemis and Apollo; Thetis, Mother of Achilles; Metis, Mother of Athena; Leda, Mother of Helen and the Dioskouroi; Alcmene, Mother of Herakles; Danae, Mother of Perseus; Penelope, Mother of Pan; and Pasiphae, Mother of the Minotaur.
Once these are available, I’m going to have ten copies to sell here, signed, personalized, and with a prayer card of your choice. If you would like to reserve one, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com. they’re going to be $10 plus $2 shipping and handling.
Novena books still in progress include Freya, Sigyn, and I’m seriously considering ones for Athena and Apollo.
So I’m working on a paper about St. Jerome and his anxieties over his love of Pagan literature and thinking about my final paper for my Asceticism and Monasticism class, which has been focusing on the desert fathers and as I’m outlining, I’m thinking about how to lay out clearly the complexity of the Pagan and Polytheistic world that preceded and overlapped early Christianity. Certainly until Christianity did its damndest to obliterate it, the Pagan world was synonymous with education, learning, and civilization. This created serious tension for early Christians (a tension with which I have zero sympathy I might add) as they attempted to define, develop, and refine a cohesive group identity.
I was talking to a couple of my theology colleagues at school last week and we were chatting about our paper topics and they were teasing me (I’m obviously the only polytheist in the class, and these two knew that so we were throwing good natured zingers back and forth) about being a polytheist who studies theology and I said something to the effect that we’re taking it back. That actually brought them up short and one said “but you never had it…Pagans didn’t have theology.” I’ve been pondering that (erroneous) statement ever since because it’s not an uncommon attitude in academia.
Firstly, by Pagan, we’re talking Polytheists and those who practiced their various ancestral religions and mystery cultus in the ancient world coincidentally with the growth of Christianity, so we’re talking, c. 3rd and 4th centuries. It is true that scholasticism and the academic discipline that we term ‘theology’ didn’t develop until the medieval period (with the rise of the university) but that does not mean that the Polytheistic world lacked theological inquiry.
I think a couple of things went on in the Pagan world. Firstly, many of the questions that today would fall under ‘theology’ were instead addressed by the various philosophical schools.(1) Beyond that, there were lived mystery cultus. There was an experiential component to the hammering out of theological inquiry that went hand in hand with philosophical exegesis. (2) To say that Pagans didn’t have theology is to imply that they asked no questions about the origins of their world, about the Gods, about the nature of the holy, and a thousand other questions that today would fall under that category and we simply know that this is not true. They did ask these questions and we have enough surviving material to prove it.(3)
To assume that Polytheists didn’t make these inquiries is to dismiss their religions as less than monotheism. It’s to say that they did not care about their traditions, or that there was something lacking in those traditions that precluded deep thought – all assumptions we know to be patently false. I don’ t think that my colleagues meant to imply these things at all, but the paradigm in which they’re working is based on precisely that implication.
One of the articles I’m reading in research for my paper kept putting ‘pagan’ and ‘pagans’ in quotes, and I almost had to trash the article this annoyed me so much. I had to sit and think about what the writer was saying about the extant religions that Christianity was so hellbent on replacing. Was he denying that they were legitimate religions? Was he questioning the uniformity of any one Paganism? Was he just objecting to a term applied to people by their enemies? I don’t know because he didn’t footnote his reasoning. What I do know is that whatever that reasoning might be, it diminishes the polytheistic identity that existed, however varied it may have been, prior to Christian obliteration and it misses the point that the final generations who led a protracted resistance to Christianization did adopt “pagan” as an identifier, whether it was imposed on them or not.(4) These things matter. Just like capitalizing the first letter of pronouns relating to our Gods matters. It sends a powerful psychological message and levels the playing field.
One of my professors was confused when I spoke about the diversity of the divine inherent in polytheism and I realized that he’d never considered what it meant to be polytheistic. It was a word, an idea, a placeholder until Christianity could happen for him, not a reality. These are the unspoken paradigms with which we’ve been taught to approach our world. No wonder this restoration is so hard. Our very ability to think has been crippled.
So now I’m going back to outlining my paper. Jerome goes on quite a bit ‘What has Cicero to do with the apostles? What has Vergil to do with Christ?” Nothing and I can think of no better reason to read them. Go read some Homer, Virgil, Cicero…it’s a good tonic to so much of the crap.
1. The influence of Hellenism and Neo-Platonism on early Christian theologians cannot be overestimated. Early Christian thinkers like Origen, particularly in the East, were deeply influenced by Hellenistic culture and philosophy to the point of integrating some of these ideas into their own writings.
2. Keep in mind that even that shining star of Christian theology and scholasticism, Thomas Aquinas, based much of his work on reworkings of Aristotle.
3. Plato’s Euthyphro for instance hammers at the idea of the holy, what is the holy and what makes something holy.
4. I shouldn’t be surprised since the article was trying to make the case that religious violence against temples and shrines wasn’t that bad.
So Sannion just finished a fantastic book on divination — I think it’s probably the most important book he’s written. I’m chomping at the bit for it to be generally available (I got to read the file before he sent it over for formatting and I was blown away). Of course I’ll post about it here when it is available, but I want to share a system that I stole and adapted from his book.
Of course he stole it first from my people. LOL. He adapted this from Anglo-Saxon sources for use in a more Bacchic-Orphic practice, and I took it back and re-adapted it for a Mani-centric practice. This is what happens when you let a Southern Italian Orpheotelest loose in your library. Anyway, here it is (my version) for those who might be interested.
The Mirror of the Moon
When the moon is new on a Sunday, that signifies three things will happen during the month: rain, wind and calm. It also signifies barrenness of cattle and old men’s sicknesses – but health and fitness among the young men. Make offerings to the Mothers.
If it is new on a Monday, that signifies sorrow for those who are born and young men’s heads will ache in that month. Make offerings to Heimdall.
If it is new on a Tuesday, that signifies joy for all men, and grief for the young. Make offerings to Narvi and Vali.
If it is new on a Wednesday, that signifies that peaceful men will dwell among loyal friends. An end to ancient feuds and generational enmity. Make offerings to Mani.
If it is new on a Thursday, that signifies the health of kings through potent drugs. Make offerings to Odin.
If it is new on a Friday, there will be good hunting that month. Make offerings to Frey.
If it is new on a Saturday that signifies strife, and bloodshed, and whoever begins it with the south wind will have the victory. Make offerings to the Nine Daughters of Ran and Aegir.
It’s weird offering to Mani on Wed. and Odin on Thurs. — those aren’t the usual days but I did divination while adapting this and these are the Powers that stepped forward. The placement of the moon signifies the overall influences moving through the month. The diviner extrapolates from the information given. The offerings can be done as a matter of course when this is consulted or in order to better the outcome for the month.
I want to share a little bit about my current project. In addition to the Freya devotional (which will eventually get done. I’m using a slightly different format from the other three novena booklets and it’s a bit more labor intensive), I’m also working on a novena book to the “Mothers.” This idea actually came to me in a dream and I woke up thinking “oh shit, I need to do this.” So it’s my current obsession right now.
I”m doing a novena book that offers ten novenas (each one has a description of the Goddess, a reading, and a prayer that can be pondered and offered for nine days) for the Mothers within the Greek tradition (and Roman). I’m very specific about Whom I’m including and most of them are nymphs or humans loved by Gods who later became elevated. There are a few exceptions though there are a few that I was pushed to include and I specifically excluded some (like Rhea and Ariadne) because I felt that Their primary position is dependent on other things, They are known for other things, and are *bigger* in a way.
So here are the holy Powers included in this novena book (in no particular order here):
- Semele (Mother of Dionysos)
- Maia (Mother of Hermes, foster mother of Arcus)
- Leto (Mother of Apollon and Artemis)
- Leda (Mother of Helen and the Dioskurai)
- Metis (Mother of Athena)
- Thetis (Mother of Achilles)
- Penelopeia (Mother of Pan)
- Danae (Mother of Perseus)
- Pasiphae (Mother of the Minotaur)
- Alcmene (Mother of Herakles)
The section on Semele is completely finished, the section on Maia lacks a prayer, and most of the others have readings selected. I suspect to have this finished by at least November’s end. I’m sort of alternating between this one and Freya’s.
If anyone would like to contribute a prayer to any of these goddesses (other than Semele — that section is finished, though I wouldn’t be averse to including another prayer so if that’s Who you were thinking of writing for, go for it. ), I would be most delighted to include it and would give the contributor a copy of the finished devotional in return. I always like to first reach out to people who have pre-existing devotional relationships with Deities about Whom I’m writing. It seems only polite and a thing that best serves the Deity. Contact me at krasskova at gmail.com if you are interested in contributing.
As an aside, I think Maia is awesomely cool and I think I’m going to do a prayer card for Her. 🙂
EDIT: Deadline for all submissions is Nov. 15.
There is an unexpected elegance to this devotional that I found quite moving. I don’t have a devotional practice to Poseidon, but I am always excited when a new devotional comes out. There’s a fierce satisfaction in seeing the cultus of our Gods growing, in seeing art and prayers, books, devotionals and other markers of cultus coming into being. Because of that, when I saw this book had been published, I jumped at the chance to purchase a copy, nor was I disappointed.
Firstly, I love the organization of the book. I’ve edited devotional anthologies and figuring out the most effective structure and organization is always one of the most difficult parts of the process. This book, if one will pardon the pun, flows very smoothly and I really, really like the way it seems to be focused around various praise names of Poseidon. That alone taught me something new about this God right away.
I also particularly appreciated the final piece, which was a selection of special dates and holy tides at which it is particularly appropriate to honor Poseidon – feast days if you will. This is always one of the most vexing things for me: I’m not used to working on a lunar ritual calendar (common in Greek polytheism) and becoming accustomed has taken some doing. This simple list of suggestions was immensely helpful.
Aside from that, a happily extensive suggestion list for offerings, and the introduction, the book is comprised of prayers to this God. They are lovely. Throughout the book, the author tries to answer the question “Who is Poseidon?” and he does through that exploration of Poseidon’s praise names. The prayers are quite poetic, possessing and almost architectural elegance, and they show an understanding of the culture and literature of ancient Greece. One has a sense of continuity therefore, in reading these prayers, a sense of affinity and connection to all those who, for generations honored this God, as so many do today as well. There is a measured grace to this devotional and the author’s devotion and respect for Poseidon infuse every page.
I highly recommend this to anyone interested in venerating Poseidon. It is a worthy offering and a beautiful read. 5/5 stars.
The book is available here.
I have several upcoming novena booklets in progress. I’m really enjoying this format and I love the portability of them. The next one is for Freya.
Once again, I’m stumped for a title and once again I’m turning to you, my readers, for help. From now through September 21 please email me your suggestions for a title to krasskova at gmail.com. Everyone who suggests a title will receive the Freya prayer card of their choice. (If you already have the Freya cards, you can choose any other prayer card instead). The ‘winner’ will receive that and a copy of the novena booklet when it is ready.
One september 21, i’ll take all the suggestions to Her shrine. I’ll do divination to allow Her to choose the title and I’ll announce it the following day.
Please please please help! 🙂
I have two things of note to share and one upcoming project.
Firstly, the Eir novena booklet is done and has been passed on for formatting and design. It should be available in perhaps two weeks. I’ll keep you posted.
Secondly, the Hermes devotional that I have long been working on is also finished. It has, however, gone through a number of changes. Instead of a 31 day devotional, I have turned it also into a novena book (I’m really quite taken with this format). Because of that, I was not able to use the bulk of the prayers that people contributed. My apologies and please know you will each get a copy of the finished devotional. My decision had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the prayers contributed — all of which were wonderful– and everything to do with my decision to do a novena book instead of a book of hours. I want to thank everyone who contributed and with permission, I’ll hold onto those prayers for a future project, perhaps a collection of prayers for the Gods. (Of course, feel free to post and use elsewhere in the meantime).
Finally, I’m going to be working on a novena booklet to Freya. Stay tuned. That is all for now.
Here is a sneak peak at the Semele prayer card image. This is not the best image — i need to get a better photo in better light which I”ll do this weekend– but you can see what the card will look like.