Blog Archives

Reblog from A Forest Door: Homeland

This is a beautiful and powerful example of animism in action. For those of us who are polytheists, this relationship with the land is the third support of the theological scaffolding in which we work: Gods, ancestors, land. It’s a little stunning to see it so powerfully in action here, as Dver notes.

Land is powerful. It’s not just that it is alive, full of spirits large and small, but that we are formed from it. The minerals found in the dirt, in the food we eat, the water we drink, moreover, in the food our mothers and fathers ate form our very bones. We carry our ancestral soils within us. At the end of our lives, it’s the earth that receives our bodies, that takes the Likr, our physical bodies (which in the Northern tradition are part of our souls, the part that we slough off each time we die, giving back to the earth in return for all that we have received. It is our payment for life, and a tangible connection between Midgard and Helheim). The spirits of the land welcome and cradle the bodies or ashes of our dead. The spirits of the land engage with us all the time whether we’re aware of it or not. They’re all around us, and can guide us in living sustainably in our world. It is right and proper to honor them.

So, when I see a place as devastated as Chernobyl and see that elderly women returned, because it was *their land,* it moves me tremendously and encourages me to consider and better my own relationship with the spirits of the world I inhabit.

Anyway, take a look at Dver’s piece and see where it takes you.

Nasa Intern Attacked with Vicious Hinduphobia

Read the article here. I’m disgusted by the comments she’s receiving: people who should know better dismissing her devotion as primitive and bitching at Nasa for including her photo with the other interns. How degenerate does one have to be to attack a person’s devotion? This young woman is A) interning at NASA so unless you also work for NASA STFU and B) is a wonderful example of devotion that I hope inspires many other young men and women to move into academia or the sciences while maintaining their faith and C) she’s in her OWN HOME. This is her workspace in her own home.

If one follows this on twitter, comments (particularly those from Ashock Swain, which were especially gross) include calling this young woman “right wing” and her Gods “right wing” too because hey, devotion isn’t fashionable to the left? or whatever — the logic isn’t strong there. She’s asked if she can’t do anything without her Gods. Um…why should one? It is a joy and a fucking PRIVILEGE to honor the Gods. And Nasa is badgered to replace the image. If this were a Christian woman, a Jewish woman, a Muslim woman, an Atheist would this be happening? I seriously doubt it.

I chose one article out of many to post here, but just type in “Hindu Intern Nasa” and there is plenty about this online. Or check out the Hindu Student Union link that I just posted at my twitter @GalinaKrasskova.

I hope Nasa stands up and supports this intern and shame on those who are shitting on her devotion.

Edit: the correct twitter is @hinduoncampus.

Protection and Prayer

Each month I send out a newsletter to my subscribers. In that newsletter, I usually give sneak peaks at new prayer cards, updates on my work, recipes, reviews, and occasionally special prayers. (Y’all can subscribe at the link provided here). 

In last week’s newsletter, I included the following prayer and I decided to share it here for everyone, because I think prayer is important, and this particular type of prayer incredibly helpful. 

 We are living in some very troubled times, and above all else, we’re living in spiritually troubled times. Evil exists and as people devoted to our Gods, we are called upon to stand against it. What that means is that we co-create. We stand with our Gods in maintaining right order and alignment in our world, in the cosmic architecture the Gods have created. How we do that may vary – some of you are parents committed to raising devout children, some have intense prayer practices, some love the Gods and carry that into everything you do – and everything we do can be infused with that consciousness whether you’re a mechanic or artist, homemaker, teacher or doctor, or anything else. 

Each of us has the power to transform our world for the better and whatever we may be doing day to day, a key component of that is prayer. It has the potential to change the world. It also nourishes us and keeps us from being beaten down and crushed by the vitriol and hate, by the pollution and poison, by the misery and sheer wickedness that all too often seems to shape the modern world. I want to share a prayer that we use in my House and home to maintain balance, to restore harmony, to help (along with other prayers and cleansings) banish pollution. This prayer was written by H. Jeremiah Lewis (Sannion). 

We have an entire panoply of prayers that we do to consciously align ourselves with that sacred architectural order. This is the first in that assembly and one that anyone, layperson or specialist, may do. I share it with you now because Heimdallr is a God of purification and consecration, a God Whose presence drives back pollution and evil in a very special way. He will restore harmony to a person, place, or thing that has experienced spiritual attack or disorder. I urge you to use this prayer as needed (though please don’t share it without attribution) and call upon Heimdallr and our other Gods regularly for blessings, for care, and for protection. 

If you are feeling shaky and uncertain and scared, you’re not alone. Don’t give in though, because I firmly believe that there is evil that will feed on these things, amp them up, in an attempt to drive a wedge between us and all that’s holy. The thing is, whatever evil is out there can only do this if we give it the opening. Prayer helps us prevent that. Prayer is our guard, our armor, the weapon in our hand, and our guide. So I urge you all to pray regularly and know that our Gods are there and They are bigger and more powerful than anything that might attempt to stand against Them. There is no need to ever fear. 

To Heimdallr 

Heimdallr who hears all, hear my prayer
from the turrets of Himinbjörg where 
shimmering Bifröst meets the sky
and leads to numerous other realms
like a second mighty World Tree.

You see all that transpires 
in these far-off places, scanning 
the horizon for signs of Ragnarök’s arrival
when you will sound Gjallarhorn 
and rouse the Gods to battle
against that which would threaten 
the divine order established by the three brothers 
from the remnants of their Giant ancestor 
long, long ago. 

You hold in your mind an image 
of how things should be, 
and act to bring things into alignment 
with their ideal pattern, 
creating order and harmony, 
hale and concord 
where there was chaos, violent 
disagreement, defect and disease. 

I beseech you, Heimdallr, drive out
these negative influences and anything else
that might cause me to stray 
from my destined path of devotion to the Holy Powers,
and restore what is missing or damaged within me 
so that I might better fulfill the will of my Gods and Spirits.

This I ask, Heimdallr, you who traveled about in secret, 
propagating the lines of humanity, 
and all their distinct crafts and customs, 
and so know what it is for us to strive
and through great focus and direction of will
attain our particular glory.   

Hail to you, most radiant God,
strong and stubborn as a ram on his mountain,
whether it pleases you to be called Heimdallr,
Rig, Hallinskiði, Gullintanni, Vindhlér 
or any of the many other names you have adopted
during your travels with Loki, Þórr and the Alföðr;
may your praises always be upon my lips 
and your shrine piled with plentiful offerings. 

(prayer by H. Jeremiah Lewis)

Our Household Shrine to Ask and Embla

I promised that after the Solstice, I’d share a picture of our household shrine to Ask and Embla. Here it is. It’s small — we have numerous household shrines and we’re running out of room!–but potent. We started seriously paying cultus to them during this past year’s Sunwait and realized what a powerful thing it was, and how it added a foundation to our practice hitherto lacking. I had initially thought to put their shrine with the rest of our ancestors, but that didn’t seem right. They are the first and thus special. So, they have their own place as you see. It will grow as our understanding of and devotion to them also grows.

Ask and Embla shrine. Photo by G. Krasskova

QOTD

The worst thing you can do in your spiritual life or practices is seek peer acceptance or approval from others. Your service must have the Gods at the center and must always come back to the Gods. You don’t need approval from human beings. You need approval from the Gods.

–Ptahmassu Nofra-U’aa

On Pollution and Miasma in Heathenry

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Every so often this topic rears its head again, because you know, it goes against our modern sensibilities that our religion should be occasionally inconvenient. I’ve heard people opining that “miasma” and “pollution” are Greek terms and have no purchase in Heathenry, a pathetic piece of sophistry that ignores the concept in favor of pedantically parsing terms. These are usually the same people who feel that offering so much as a teaspoon of water is so inconvenient as to be oppressive (cue hand to brow and vaporous gasping) and triggering. I could say more on that, but I’ll digress. What I will emphasize is that pollution and purification are absolutely terms of play in Old Norse.

There are numerous terms that might be translated as ‘purification,’ ‘pollution,’ or ‘miasma’ in Old Norse. This is because like most traditions, our ancestors had a sense of what was correct and safe in holy places. Any time you have a sense of sacred space (which we know just from the Sagas that the Norse had), the corollary is – whether written or not—a sense of what constitutes proper behavior within those sacred areas. This implies not only an understanding of spiritual pollution but also of the contagion of the holy. So, I’m going to get right to the point. Pollution and miasma were far, far from alien concepts to pre-Christian Heathens and the language itself bears this out.

Since Heathen Field Guide is talking about his here, and mentioned that he was having difficulty finding appropriate ON terms, I thought I would repost the ones that I have collected (and much thanks to D. Loptson for helping to compile this list). Most of the terms are laid out in footnote one of my book on miasma: “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands.”

I’ve had push back from Heathens and other polytheists for using a term that is specific to Greek polytheism but miasma as a word exists in English and it is a perfectly serviceable word to express a concept of spiritual pollution that is common to nearly all polytheisms. If Heathenry did not have a concept of pollution and cleansing, it would be quite unusual amongst the family of Indo-European religious traditions to which it belongs. We know the Norse and Germanic tribes had clear ideas of the holy and where there is a sense of the holy there is likewise a sense of pollution as a matter of course. Norse words pertaining to holiness and pollution include Helgan (f): sanctity, Helga (v): to appropriate land by performing sacred rites, to hallow to a deity, to proclaim the sanctity of a meeting, saurr (m): mud, dirt, excrement (defilement?), saurga (v): to dirty, defile, pollute, saurgan (f): pollution, defilement, saur-lifi (n): lewdness, fornication, lechery. Its opposite is Hreinlifi, which means chastity. Hreinn is the opposite of saurr. It means clean, bright, clear, pure, sincere (as a noun the same word means reindeer, interestingly enough). Hrein-hjartaðr (a) means pure of heart, Hrein-látr (a): clean, chaste, Hrein-leikr (m): cleanliness, chastity, hrein-liga (adv) cleanly, with purity. We also have Hreinsa (v): to make clean, to cleanse, to purge, to clear and hreinsan (f): cleansing. Then there is the word , which means “holy place,” (shrine) and which is such a powerful and important concept that the three creator Gods (Odin, Hoenir, and Loður) may also be called Odin, Vili, and Vé. So when Heathens complain that this is not relevant to Heathen practice, I strongly suggest they think again. It’s not just in the lore, but in the very language our ancestors spoke.

footnote 1 from With Clean Minds and Clean Hands: Miasma – What it is and How to Treat it

 I’ll add a final note. When we talk about pollution in this sense, it’s not a commentary on anyone’s worth. It is not equivalent to “sin.” Even with miasma, in most cases it’s a matter of certain situations having natural consequences and that’s neutral. For instance, I may go to the cemetery to put flowers on my grandmother’s grave. It is, within our traditions a moral good to care for the dead and visit graves. It also puts me in a state of miasma because of the contact with the dead. The solution is to do a cleansing when I return home before I engage with any other sacred thing. Easy enough to manage. This is all about being aware that Gods and spirits are real and that engaging with them affects us in ways we may not be able to see, but ways that nonetheless matter. Likewise, in relation to the Holy Powers, our actions matter too and we should, if we are rightly ordered in our minds, hearts, and spirits, want to be spiritually and energetically clean when we approach Them, or just in general, particularly since miasma and spiritual pollution can attract more pollution, up to and including illness and calamity depending on how much accumulates. It can also block our spiritual discernment. So do a fucking cleansing once in awhile you filthy animals. And don’t forget to wash behind your ears.

Lectio Divina – April 10: Voluspa stanzas 6-7

Whenever I pick up our House prayer book, my personal devotional florilegia, or a copy of the Eddas to read for devotional purposes, several things run through my mind at once, almost as soon as my hand touches the book. Foremost is that I often feel like I’m slacking when it comes to cultivating my own devotional world. Devotion can be the easiest and most natural thing in one’s life and at the same time it can be hard, hard work. Sometimes it’s frustrating and confusing – not because of the devotion part of it, but because of my own faltering, fumbling awkwardness with the process. So many questions come up:

  • How do we properly pray? How do I pray? Am I just phoning it in? How do I make sure that I remain engaged?
  • What the hell is contemplation and how am I supposed to do it?  
  • How do we read? What and how do we read and how does this bring us to our Gods? 
  • What is devotion and how can I go more deeply into it? 

I used to take all these things for granted but as I teach students and apprentices within our tradition, as I reevaluate my own spiritual work, as I engage with clients who come to me with all sorts of questions about their devotional lives, I realize that nothing here should ever be taken for granted. I also realize I had really, really good devotional models within my family. It’s only been the past couple of years that I’ve truly come to understand how precious a gift (and maybe even a grace) that has been. Of course, the downside to all that is that I tend to be very action oriented: “what do You need me to do, oh my Gods” which often leaves me feeling in retrospect as though I got the work part down but somehow am giving perilously short shrift to the devotional/contemplative (they’re not always the same, mind you) part of things. The more frenetic my life becomes, especially with school, the more I find myself examining these lacuna and wanting to ground myself more securely in solid veneration of the Holy Powers. 

It’s odd too because I don’t think a text is necessary. Ours prior to Christianity, was an oral tradition. One learned by experience, by growing up in pious households, seeing the community engaging in rituals and seasonal festivals, and being surrounded by examples of this living tradition. Our ancestors had stories yes, but they didn’t depend on the written word, nor did we ever have anything like “scripture.” Still, we today live in a world that privileges the written word perhaps excessively. I once had a fellow theology student ask me about our “scriptures” and when I said we don’t have anything like your bible, he was floored. He kept asking, “but how do you teach your children your religion?” um…we live it. But I get what he was saying. We depend far more in proper inter-generational transmission of the tradition, directly and via devotional, ritual, and venerative experience. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Still, I like my books and there is value in being able to extract insight from a text. I think so long as we remember that our Eddas and other parts of the lore are not “scripture” as monotheistic traditions would comprehend, but maps to the holy (and maps with gaping holes, tatters, and graffiti sometimes too!), we’ll be ok. So, enough of my blather. Let’s get into the stanzas that I chose for today. 

The Voluspa contains part of our creation narrative and I think that creation narratives are particularly important for any religious tradition. They contain all the themes and patterns that we will see repeated again and again throughout our cosmology and in this way provide key insights into how our tradition views the world. Here are the passages, first in English and then Old Norse. 

6. Then sought the gods | their assembly-seats,
The holy ones, | and council held;
Names then gave they | to noon and twilight,
Morning they named, | and the waning moon,
Night and evening, | the years to number.

7. At Ithavoll met | the mighty gods,
Shrines and temples | they timbered high;
Forges they set, and | they smithed ore,
Tongs they wrought, | and tools they fashioned.


6. Þá gengu regin öll á rökstóla,
ginnheilug goð, ok um þat gættusk;
nátt ok niðjum nöfn um gáfu,
morgin hétu ok miðjan dag,
undorn ok aptan, árum at telja.

7. Hittusk æsir á Iðavelli,
þeir er hörg ok hof hátimbruðu,
afla lögðu, auð smíðuðu,
tangir skópu ok tól görðu.


Immediately in the Old Norse the words Regin and Ginnheilug goð jump out at me. I usually translate Regin as “holy Powers,” but it may also be rendered as “the Rulers,” “the Gods” and may even refer to Their decrees. This word turns up in the lore at various points always referring in some way to the Gods, thus we have regin-braut – the way of the Gods, regin-dórmr – the judgement of the Gods, regin-kuðr/kunnr – descended from the Gods, and regin-þing – holy thing-place to name but a few of its iterations. Because it is so associated with judgement and holy decretals, it reads as a much more formal term for the collective Gods and when I see it, I perk up and pay special attention. It brings me back to the story of the creation of the worlds, and the ways in which the Gods set everything in its proper place, balance, and order. 

Goð, obviously also a word for Gods, is nearly always collective and inclusive of both Gods and Goddesses. It turns up in compound words having to do with things and people belonging to the Gods and its cognate góð carries the moral force of ‘good,’ or ‘worthy’ such as góðr maðr (good man). One can be goð-borinn, descended from the Gods, goð-málugr, knowledgeable in the lore of the Gods, or goð-árr, messenger of the Gods, for instance (1). 

The most significant term there, however, is Ginnheilug: most sacred. Combinations with the prefix ginn—almost always imply great holiness or sanctity. Sometimes Regin will occur as Gin-regin, which I would translate as „the most holy Gods.“ It is not one-hundred-percent clear if this is related to Ginnungagap, the great and yawning void from which all creation came into being with the collision of the Niflheim and Muspelheim, but theologically I would (and do) certainly draw this parallel (2). It is the most holy chasm from which this process of creation began; and They are the most-holy Gods Who oversaw this process. All of this runs through my mind and is the background against which I read this text (or at least against which I was reading the text when I wrote this!). 

Were I teaching this text, the first question I would ask my students (and this is likewise what I myself zero in on for contemplation) is „what did the Gods do first?“ What was the first collective priority after the three Brothers created the scaffolding and architecture of the worlds? First having come together in counsel, They ordered day and night, the course of the planets, and by extension the seasons. This is all temporal. Materiality has already happened when the two primal worlds ground together, but here we have temporal and one may assume spatial ordering. They gave materiality structure, partitioned it out into a healthy and harmonious rhythm. They created seasons and put planets in rotation. Day and night are the most important divisions for us as human beings, particularly when our lives were – like so many of our ancestors—predominantly agricultural. This division of time was meant as a guide and to nourish us: when do we work? When do we rest? When do we plant? When do we harvest? How does the world work? Moreover, such binary division (day/night, light/dark) reflects the productive exchange of opposites embedded in Niflheim and Muspelheim – ice and fire. 

I also think this emphasizes how cosmologically important the House of Mundilfari is. Farmers would have looked to the sun and the moon, and the Gods thereof to ensure their wellbeing. It‘s easy for those of us living more urban lifestyles to forget how crucial Mani and Sunna‘s blessings would have been for our ancestors. They literally insured continued sustenance and life.  Plus, one could gaze up into the sky and see a symbol of Their presence.  

So after celestial cycles were established, the next thing the Gods did was build temples – for Themselves or for each Other the text does not say. We know though that Freya has the epithet of blotgyðja for the Gods, and there is precedent in other IE traditions for Gods recognizing and participating in each Other’s divine process. Even in what remains of our sacred stories, what has been filtered down to us through Christian voices and hands, we have a sharing of attributes: Thor borrows Brisingamen, Loki borrows Freya’s falcon cloak, and so forth. When this is done licitly it adds power to the Gods in question (3). So the Gods acknowledged the divinity of each other and by extension we can assume, Their individual spheres of influence and power. 

After this, the third thing They do is to create art. Craft is sacred, it’s a conduit for the holy. Here, smithcraft is particularly mentioned and in many IE cultures including the Norse, smiths were considered magical figures, magicians, shamans, and such. This is because they wielded the elemental powers of creation, especially fire, and drew from the earth that which was later transformed into objects of beauty. Beauty and art empower the worlds and in good Platonic fashion lift us up to the Gods, in awareness, in understanding, and in devotional longing. 

This is a process that didn’t just happen once. In setting up the temporal division of night and day, we are opened up to the possibility of change. You can’t have change unless you have time. So each new day is a reification anew of that initial creation. Each day we can remake and restore ourselves within that holy architecture. At this point in my reading, I would most likely take stock of what I have done throughout the day (or if I’m reading in the morning, what I wish to do), always keeping the Gods in mind – how am I affecting that ongoing reification in my world?—and then I”d make offerings and prayers. 

I’m going to stop at this point. I still have a few things to do for the semester’s end, but if there’s a particular passage from the Eddas that you’d like me to discuss, shoot me a comment and let me know. 
 


Notes:

1.	See “A Glossary to the Poetic Edda” translated from Hans Kuhn’s Kurzes Wörterbuch by Students at the University of Victoria, 1987.
2.	You’ll notice that unlike the previous Lectio Divina article that I posted, this time I did not employ any significant level of philological engagement. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t and it depends what first strikes me in a reading. It’s different every time I meet a text anew.
3.	When it is done illicitly it’s more complicated. I’m thinking specifically of Freyr sneaking into Odin’s high seat and spying Gerda…it ended well but it was…complicated. 

Guest Post: Makosh vs Moist Mother Earth

Traditional Ukrainian embroidery, T. Vitta’s personal collection. Photo by G. Krasskova. Do not use without permission.

While our House does not practice Rodnovery (1), given that two of us have strong Slavic backgrounds (the author of today’s piece actually having been born and raised in the Ukraine), it was perhaps inevitable that the occasional Slavic Deity would creep into individual devotional practices (2). For instance, our guest writer today, T. Vitta, has a deep devotion to Moist Mother Earth and when a mutual friend asked about the relationship between this ancient Power and the Goddess Mokosh, it provided an opportunity for T.V. to explore her understanding of these two Deities. I found her words inspiring and asked permission to share them here. She agreed with the caveat that this reflects her understanding and practice. One should always note that there is the possibility for distinctive regional cultus to develop in many different ways (and such most certainly happened as a matter of course in the pre-Christian world), and as part of that, syncretism may also happen. This is always a given point of understanding undergirding her approach. There is obviously a deep working relationship between these two Deities, at the very least, and she acknowledges that this can take forms for other devotees of which she herself is heretofore unaware. 

Mokosh and Moist Mother Earth

By T. Vitta

Moist Mother Earth is much much older than Makosh (3). She is ever present, in Russian fairy tales, embedded in Russian language so strongly. She is a matter of course a part of Russian swears, Russian promises, and an inescapable part of Russian speech.  I sometimes listen to my parents and their friends, but more often Russian movies and Russian documentaries and smile at how expressions are littered with Her, in ways that tell you plainly who She is – very often without people giving full credence to what they are saying. 

If there has ever been a human bodily representation of Her, I have never seen one or found one, not in writings and not in archaeological findings. I don’t believe She has ever taken human form, not from what I have seen, read, or experienced (but I can only speak from my point of view and my experience.)  I just don’t think She ever had a need to do so.  She is the Land, the living spirit of the Slavic lands.  She is the progenitor of health, wealth of the land, fertility, death and the afterlife.  She nourishes when those of Her land are ill, She picks up those who are tired and hurt, and when people of Her land are near death, She collects them, She is the One in whose arms we fall for the last time.  She is so ingrained into the very make-up of the Slavic people, Her names are still embedded in the language.  Today, I hear Her invoked more when people are dying or are dead, probably because people live in cities.  You can’t separate Her from the language, it’s a part of it.  Last year I did a translation of an old Russian fairytale for one of Galina’s publications, and at her encouragement I made a very detailed footnote on Her (4).  One of the oddities about the US to me is how people here, compared to those I grew up with, don’t have this attachment to the land whatsoever (5).  All the nationalistic songs in Russia and Ukraine, the very way that the people there fight wars, fight for their land – it all goes back to Her.  When you read all those old stories you see it staring you in the face – heroes who are far away from home saying how their aching bones need to go back to their land, to feel Moist Mother Earth under their feet, how when they fall on the field of battle, they lay themselves on the Moist Mother Earth, asking for Her peace, for Her to embrace them at the moment of their death.  What has been amazing is that this past year, when faced with illness or lack of vitality, I instinctively prayed to Her for strength and healing, and She heard me, immediately coming to my rescue time after time.  I think it’s the bloodline, She recognized the bloodline and reached out to Her people.  I suspect that there is an unbreakable contract between the Slavs and Moist Mother Earth, and that this contract is so strong and they still uphold it, still ask for Her help, and She still comes to us all.  She is the seeded field.  She is the health of the soil.  She is who gives us power and gives us the right to the land.  She is the fertility of our land.  She feeds us with Her strength when we are weak and sick.  Her cold embrace takes us in when we must transition.  

Makosh on the other hand is a weaving Goddess.  She is the Goddess of the hearth, the Goddess of fate, Goddess of the “women’s” crafts.  In the days these deities were prayed to, things were strictly gendered between the two sexes, and She is pretty much as close as you can come to a Goddess of female mysteries, if you forgive the expression.  I think this is why people conflate them – they are both Goddesses that bring plentifulness.  The thing is, it’s a very different kind of plentifulness.  Makosh, being the Goddess of Fate and Hearth, brings good luck into the home, helps the bread rise, and weaves the futures of all men (humans, I mean by that).  Moist Mother Earth is the fertility of the earth itself, life coursing and pumping itself through the earth to all the animals and plants.  Close – but not the same.  Moist Mother Earth does not distinguish us from every other living creature living on Her.  Makosh – I suspect those who are Hers will learn to weave, learn to spin, learn to work magic into their cooking and learn the magic of the crafts that were considered traditionally female.  If you pray for- let’s say pregnancy,– you would pray to Moist Mother Earth for fertility.  You could pray to Makosh – but because She will weave fate to bring you a child, because She will bring joy into the home.  

I just googled “Moist Mother Earth” in Russian and the 4th link on google says “ensemble, Jesus the Savior and Moist Mother Earth”…  People don’t even think about it there, it just is (6).

Notes (added by GK): 

  1. Slavic Polytheism, from the word Rodina or motherland. 
  2. In my case, it’s more the occasional Baltic Deity. I have no particular devotion to either of the Goddesses discussed today, save simple respect. 
  3. I have also seen this name spelled Mokosh. We are translating a divine name of a Holy Power honored throughout Slavic lands at one point so there will be linguistic differences in pronunciation and spelling, not to mention all of this is being transliterated into English. If you see it spelled differently elsewhere, relax. 
  4. See Issue 12 of Walking the Worlds, The Bewitched Queen, translated by T. Vitta. The footnote (footnote 7) reads as follows: 

“The expression “moist earth” has a special significance in Slavic language and Slavic culture.  This is a diminutive of the full expression “Moist Mother Earth”, often heard when heroes are expressing their love for the land in which they were born.  It is an intimate prayer to the soil of their land itself.  This is because the language itself has been permanently marked by 1,000s of years of prayer to Moist Mother Earth and is now inseparable from the language and its people, a practice long before Christianity came to the Slavic lands.  She is the progenitor of health, wealth, fertility, and death and afterlife alike.  Moist Mother Earth is the original primordial Goddess the Slavic people prayed to when they seeded the earth and watched the crops grow, when they were suffering and in pain, and when they were far away from the very soil of their homeland.  This expression stayed in the language, an ancient prayer recalling the connection between the land and its people.  Even in cursory sentences like this it is evoked to remind the reader of the fertility of the land, and how we all eventually and rightfully are put into it to take up our journeys after we die.  

This expression is evoked especially in the older written texts such as fairytales when people lived closer to the land, survived and died via the land.  It appears both when the character talks about the fertility of the earth, such as in the above passage, but also in how it is the inevitable place we all must go to when we die.  This appears in such expressions as “he laid his head on the moist earth” that often appear in fairytales to note the hero as close to death.  While this is a tragic point in the tale, a time when the hero is dying, this is also a powerful reminder of our ties to the land.  Moist Mother Earth is not the enemy that forcibly takes you, rather She is ever loving and loyal and takes you in when life is too much to bear.  Dying and coming into her is like coming home.  This is a particular connection between the Slavic people and the Slavic land, a promise, a covenant that the people know so instinctively that long after Christianization erased all memory of the prayers to a deity, they still pray to Her and She still knows them.  She hears their prayers, and She comforts and protects and eventually takes you in. “ 

5. Since taking a course last year in the History of Jerusalem, I have often pondered the lack of connection to a specific land that I see in modern polytheists and pagans. Is it because our sacred sites were destroyed so thoroughly? Is it because at least in America, we are working in diasporic traditions? Is it something in the attitudes of modernity? I don’t know but I wonder what we have lost by this. 

6. Tatyana told me after she sent me this that there are numerous examples of Moist Mother Earth being syncretized with the Virgin Mary. 

Every Elder is a World

Our elders are the backbone of our traditions. Without elders, there is no tradition and certainly no clean, sustainable transmission of our traditions. There’s a trend now, largely from the Pagan left (no surprise there) to dismiss, erase, eradicate the contributions of our traditions’ elders, all the while reaping the benefits of the learning, traditions, and Mysteries those elders carry. People who spent and spend their lives pouring themselves out for their Gods are being excoriated and slowly pushed out of their traditions by those with little learning, less sense, and no humility at all. It’s really rather disgusting. It’s not surprising – I’ve seen the attitude before—but it is disgusting. 

It also betrays a deeply flawed understanding of what tradition and lineage are and why they’re important. It speaks to modern discomfort with hierarchy and authority. It speaks to the quality of person modern Paganisms way too often draw, but it also speaks to a dearth of competent elders in some cases. An elder, however, can be “troublesome” without being wrong. A good elder knows better than to allow him or herself to move with the wind. Rather an elder stands strong and committed to service to the Holy Powers and Their traditions. 

Should we have elders, prophets, diviners, etc.? Well that’s really up to the Gods isn’t it? And the Gods have, from time immemorial resounded with a clear and present YES. (This is particularly true in the case of prophets – the community has zero part to play in making a prophet. That is something the Gods alone do). 

I am grateful to the elders in my world, living and dead. I am grateful for the doors they’ve opened, for their struggles, their hard work, their sacrifices. 

20% Off Sale About to End

I am running a 20% OFF sale on all art, books, bookmarks, and prayer cards in my etsy shop Wyrd Curiosities through January 31, 2021. Use this code to redeem: TGI2021 (or click the link). There’s more than 300 prayer cards available for our Gods and Goddesses across a range of polytheistic traditions: Norse, Germanic, Celtic, Gaulic, Welsh, Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and so much more.