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for NZ

My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, NZ. To be brutally murdered in one’s place of worship, in the midst of prayer, in a space that should be a haven and sanctuary is particularly evil. I have seen many today denigrating the idea of prayer as a response, but there is healing power in prayer and in bringing our shock and pain to our Gods and I very much encourage you, my readers, to hold the victims and their families in prayer, that their ancestors may welcome the former and comfort the latter. May they have peace. May the families and their local community have healing.

Sadly, the self described “Eco-fascist” who committed these heinous acts used language in some of his online posts that reference Valhalla, leading many to wonder if he is connected in some way to the Heathen community. If he is (and there is no definite proof), then it is in the shallowest of ways. No God spurred these actions nor is something like this in any way supported by Heathen groups. I think it safe to say, as I do here, that as a religious body, across denominations, we condemn this type of mindless brutality. We love our traditions, our Gods, and our people but that does not translate and should not translate into actively attacking others. Let us nourish our traditions and build them up in healthy ways. Terrorism has no place in that.

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Happy International Women’s Day

frigga

Day 3 – For the Mistress of Fensalir

Mistress of Fensalir, You bind the home together,
weaving blessings amongst those who dwell within.
You wield hospitality as a unifying force,
gracious and indomitable in Your power.
You are beloved of the God,
Who brings the warband to Your hall,
and it is Your fierce protection,
that sustains them.
Unmatched in oracular skill,
You see crises before they manifest,
and in Your wisdom, avert them.
Weaver of hope and courage,
endurance and fierce grace,
You knit these attributes into the hearts
of every woman under Your care;
and to every woman You are a sanctuary.
You work Your will
through a retinue of Mighty Goddesses,
Who journey forth across the Worlds.
Care and keeping, healing, and frith-making force
imbue Your Hall, and it is through You and You alone,
the sovereignty of Asgard is maintained.
Spinner of clouds and the threads of wyrd,
Teach us to rise above the shortsighted mundanity
of our world, to emulate You in ordering
the sometimes shaky scaffolding of our lives.
May Your blessings fall, oh Goddess,
on all women Who seek You out,
and on all those Who love them.

(by G. Krasskova)

In Gratitude to Hermes

Thank you, Hermes,
Oh, Giver of Good things.
Before my prayer was even fully uttered,
You answered it.
What a sweet and unexpected gift,
a grace and an utter delight!
I rest safe in the knowledge
that You, clever and generous God,
most gracious, most loving,
protect and provide.
Before the shape of my need
has even been formed in my heart,
You have spied it out.
You have showered me
with unexpected blessings,
large and small.
I am grateful, Oh my God,
so immensely grateful,
and ever will I honor You.
Hail Hermes, ever my Champion.(1)

(by G. Krasskova)

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1. One of His by names is Promakhos – champion.

Daily Prayer Day2: for Loki

He Who battles alongside His friends
maintains the strength of Asgard,
using His gifts to challenge the giants,
using His body to subvert Svaðilfari’s Master.
He pours treasure down upon His allies,
He rains wrath down upon His foes.
His victory lies in the longest game,
and of all the Gods, not even He
knows its end.
Bright as fire, slippery as a fish,
drenched in the well-bright, whispered warnings,
this God comes. He challenges everything,
laughing around a bonfire encompassing even
His own destruction.
He knows that with chaos
comes opportunity,
to turn the final battle on its end,
to grab victory out of the maws of the wolf,
a celebration of blood and steel,
and those who think He lacks courage
know not what His courage has cost.
Hail to You, Loki, friend of Thor,
Who works Your wiles in Odin’s shadow
so the Old Man may shine all the more.
Hail to the fighter Whose wit is a wound
deadlier than poison in the heart of Their enemies.
May we always honor You, oh God Who finds the loops
in every loophole. Show us too how to be slippery
and hard to catch in the maze of things that would bind us
away from our Gods, stifle our devotion, and burden our hearts
with pollution.

(by G. Krasskova)

Day 1: For Frigga

To the Keeper of the House

 In the morning before Her household wakes
She sits in silence, taking counsel from the dead.
She reads the passage of stars, patterns in the wind,
listens to the voices of the fire dancing in the hearth.
She is wise this Lady, Maintainer of Her Home,
a fierce Defender with blade and spear,
an Equally fierce manager at wheel and loom.
There is no equal to Her quiet force,
and it is She Who orders Asgard,
ensuring its bounties flow.
Before Sunna streaks across the sky,
relieving Her brother to His daily work,
the Queen of Asgard, whispers with the Moon,
and Mani tells Her of things He has seen far and wide.
There is no secret hidden from Her keen eyes,
no power She does not understand,
though She holds Her knowledge secure in Her breast,
shared only with a trusted sister, perhaps,
and never with the man Who shares Her bed.

(by G. Krasskova)

A few prayers I wrote last weekend

These are more formal prayers written while listening to a lecture in Plotinus, Augustine, and Platonic Beauty.

For my Castrati

May the beauty of your voices
Lift me up to my Gods.
May it strip away all pollution
And may all the fractured pieces of me
Resolve in the harmony of the sound
You, my beloved spirits, sing,
A song irrespective of time and memory.
May they resolve in the glory of Being
Summoned by your god-born voices.
May I be held to the lips
And in the mouth of my Gods,
Gnawed upon and rendered
The beauty of bone
And a soul stripped bare
Transformed by the fullness of sound
And glory.

 

Prayer I

Teach me oh my Gods
To know my place before You.
Let not my human hubris and need,
My venal sufferings and hungers
Turn me from You.
Lift me up and purify my soul.
Let nothing else remain.
Let my life bea prayer,
An invocation and hymn of praise
To You, oh Glorious Ones,
Without Whom nothing would be.
Fill my senses with Your beauty.
Lift me up, I pray.
Keep my feet on the road of piety,
Oh most merciful Ones.
Corral my irreverent heart
And drown me in you
Until I am made of nothing else.

 

Prayer II

You are beautiful, oh my Gods
And it nourishes my soul.
May I know my place before You I pray.
Illluminate my mind
That I might know the rightness
Of honoring You.
Render my heart,
That only adoration of You remain.
Like an arrow, barbed and sharp,
Pierce me, open me to Your bite.
Infect my blood, make feverish my brain
And little by little drawn me to You.

 

Prayer III

I wander paths very far from my Gods.
I subsist on pollution
And move amongst the blind,
Yet always You are there.
I seek You with each step.
I serve You on each meandering road.
Hunger and longing tie me to You,
And You are the fulfillment of every desire.
I flee You to find You.
I serve You in dark places,
Illumined by Your fiery light.
You have set my feet on this path
And I shall find You at its end.
There is nowhere I can go
Where You are not.
Open me, Oh my Gods.
Let me never forget –
I am hunting my way to you,
But You have found me and claimed me
Long ago.

 

by G. Krasskova

Loving the Gods When We Really Don’t Want To

It’s easy to love the Gods when things are going well in our lives. It’s not so easy when every day is a struggle. It’s not so easy when mired in depression or pain or when one’s life is shattering. It’s when we need the Gods the most that it’s the hardest to reach out to Them. It’s so hard then not to become like churlish children, blaming Them, spewing vitriol at Them, pushing Them away in a myriad of ways. I think They understand when we do this (and no matter how devoted we are, I think we all do this sooner or later). I don’t think They blame us for our humanity but I have, in my own moments where I clutched at whatever shards of grace were allowed me, had glimpses of how deeply They ache for us when we suffer. Loki told me once that the Gods number every tear and I believe that to this day, though it’s damned hard to remember when all you want to do is smash your shrines and screech to the heavens, “why?”. (No, this is not a reflection on my own personal life, though there have been times; rather it’s something that hit me strongly when I was watching the tail end of a random tv show that dealt with pain and finding faith despite it). One would think loving the Gods would make things all better – and I think it does, but it doesn’t remove challenges and obstacles and the pain of living, of navigating a sad and twisted world. We are shaped by that world after all and we are human. There is fragility and magnificence, cruelty and kindness in that state of being. It’s up to us what we choose to nourish. One of the most courageous things we can do is choose, consciously choose (and it is a choice) to nourish devotion in the midst of crises.

One of the biggest graces that we’re given though is that the Gods will wait for us. As much pain as I think we cause Them, They are there even when we deny or try to push Them away. I think one of the most important things we can do for ourselves spiritually is not allow jealousy or bitterness or pain or anything else twist our devotional relationships with Them out of true. I pray about this all the time. I pray for lay people and specialists, for those struggling and those momentarily secure in their purpose. Prayer is a powerful, potent tool in this struggle and I think one of the things it does is remind and restore us in relationship to our Gods. It opens us up to Their grace. That’s no small things. The times we want to pray the least are the times we desperately need to reach out. It should be our go-to when things become difficult. (I learned this recently the hard way from Sigyn). This is why it’s so important to develop good devotional habits when things are going well, consistencies that we hold to as a matter of course, a base line that can sustain us when our world falls apart because no matter how devout we are, we move in a fractured world, a mortal world, an imperfect world and those earthquakes will come. How we choose to respond can bring us so much deeper into devotion and faith, can provide us with the most potent of all lifelines or…we can mire ourselves in our own sense of isolation. The Gods don’t do that, we in our pain do it to ourselves. Those times that hurt the most are opportunities to renew ourselves in the presence of our Gods and when we commit to that, we can indeed endure.

 

On Prayer

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been seeing a growing noise on Facebook and other social media platforms that is staunchly anti-prayer. Generally, this occurs most strongly after some horror or disaster wherein people will post “my prayers are with you.” Immediately the social justice crowd pushes back, questioning both the relevance and efficacy of this sentiment. Let’s be honest; most people post such platitudes because they are moved, they care, but are (or feel) otherwise helpless to impact the situation. It is an expression of care, goodwill, and perhaps even solidarity. Take that for what it’s worth; I personally, don’t see anything wrong with it. I see a great wrong with dismissing prayer, however, and of course, those dismissals never stop with the aforementioned social situations but ever and always leech into our communities, which already struggle with understanding, prioritizing, or practicing devotion well (It’s not, after all, as though we are surrounded in our everyday lives and communities with good devotional models. I think we all struggle with this at times one way or another).

To dismiss prayer as a powerful and effective practice is to cripple our devotional lives and our relationship with our Gods. Over the years, I’ve seen many Pagans and even Polytheists dismiss prayer as something Christian. Well, it’s not. The earliest recorded prayers date from Sumer, written to the God Nanna and the Goddess Inanna. We have surviving prayers from Greece, Rome, Egypt, to name but a few polytheistic cultures. Polytheists prayed. It’s one of the fundamentals of practical religion.

Why are we so eager to render ourselves mute before our Gods?

To hold someone in prayer does not mean that one does nothing else. If there is more that one is able to do on a practical level, then it goes without saying that one should do that. I’m reminded of the Benedictine motto: ora et labora (pray and work). It’s not an either/or situation.

Furthermore, having a consistent prayer practice to the Gods and ancestors is one of the best ways to maintain devotional clarity, to keep the lines of communication open, to strengthen those devotional relationships, and to grow in faith, devotion, and grace. Cultivating hostility or contempt toward what is in fact one of the most powerful tools we have in maintaining our spiritual worlds is short sighted and frankly stupid. To pray is to open a line of ongoing communication with our Gods. It is to approach Them as petitioners, it is to give thanks, it is to express our love and adoration and a thousand other things. It provides Them with an opportunity to act in our lives and in our world. It provides us with an opportunity to accept, again and again, Their grace.

What we are instead tasked with is learning how to pray effectively. While set, formulaic prayers can be enormously powerful, it’s not enough to just say any words. Proper prayer is a matter of preparing our minds and hearts. Our hearts need to be receptive to our Gods. Our minds need to be committed and focused on this process. It’s one of the key devotional disciplines that no one seems to talk about anymore.

Ironically, as we pray, we learn how to pray and to do so more effectively. It is not in the capacity of any human being to compel the Gods. But we can reach out to Them, we can ask, and most of all we can trust that we have been heard. Prayer is powerful in part because it allows us to stand in perfect, active alignment with our Holy Powers. The more we do that consciously, the more we are changed and perhaps even elevated by the process.

Because it allows us to stand consciously in that alignment, it is a potent protection against all that is inimical to our Gods and Their ways. It reminds us, purifies us, re-aligns us again and again into our devotion. Every time we pray, we recommit ourselves to our traditions and our Gods and to living in ways that cultivate piety.

Remove purification, sacrifice, devotion, and prayer and what do you have? Certainly, not a religion.

On Prayer

I was thinking about prayer last night and I had a couple of epiphanies. I’m in the middle of a rather intense ancestral elevation. This is a healing rite that takes nine days of regular prayers, offerings, and a very special, temporary ancestor shrine for a specific ancestor. It can be exhausting and there is a strict protocol (at least as an ancestor worker. I’m required to follow an ever-tightening noose of protocols and I’ve found it tends to be the same for anyone who works seriously, professionally with the dead). I generally balk and I’m very resistant to the protocols. Someone tells me ‘you must do this,’ and my general response is ‘fuck you’ and then the protocols grate and I get rather pissy about the whole thing. Needless to say, accommodating myself to those protocols has been an uphill battle. I think something changed for me though with that last night.

I had prepped everything, had gone through the opening protocols and prayers and I realized that once I pushed past that initial resistance, it wasn’t too bad. The energy of the thing carried me along pretty well. It’s more than that though. As I was sitting on the floor praying (the shrine for an elevation is laid on the floor purposely), I started chanting the Oration of Aristides in Greek, praying to Dionysos to help untangle the ancestral damage that I was hoping to address with this elevation. For about twenty minutes I changed the oration while silently praying to Dionysos and I felt something within myself shift and settle. I, who am so resistant to set prayer, found it difficult to stop saying the Oration and I realized something that I should have known all along. It hit me like an explosion in the brain. Submitting to the regular discipline of prayer is like pouring water into parched earth. It nourishes in a very crucial, foundational way. It’s important.

I think there’s something about regular prayers, including set prayers, that gentle the spirit, tame it, and bring it to the point of receptivity to the Gods. It hallows us inside and out, clears away the dreck and opens the way for Their Presence like nothing else. I think prayer may be most necessary when we are most resistant.

I get reminded of this again and again in my own practice, this time by Dionysos. Prayer is such a precious gift that we’ve been given. It is what builds and sustains not just the lines of communication to the Holy Powers, but our own hearts and minds in those relationships. It keeps us clean and ready and attentive. It works necessary spiritual muscles (and it’s something you can do even if you have nothing else to offer. In fact, I think it should be the long term, consistent ground on which offerings lie).

It’s important to take that time, to make that time to sit down with our Gods and pray. I don’t mean simply talking to Them, though that can be part of it too at its base. My mother once said that if the only prayer you ever say is ‘thank you,’ then that is enough.  But more than conversation, which too often in our pop culture influenced world reduces the Gods to our level in our minds, (and sometimes that’s necessary I suppose), there are prayers of adoration and respect, of gratitude and acknowledgement that raise us up and make our souls fertile ground for devotion to flourish. Like anything else, it’s important to take the time, even when we don’t want to do so. It’s especially important then.

Submission to Loki Agon

To Loki
by Amanda Forrester

My head is on fire.
I can see it all –
The threads of destiny, of wyrd, coming together,
I see the ghastly fate of my sons,
I feel the bindings tying me to the boulder
I see the red, weeping eyes of my loyal wife
Holding the bowl above me.
And I see all the worlds consumed in fire and ice
When I (at last!) make my escape.

My head is on fire.
I can feel the venom even now.
Still, I do not try to avoid that future, but do what must be done.
And so a dart of mistletoe seals my fate
As surely as it did Balder’s.

My head is on fire.
I saw it all, knew it’s coming,
But also that it must be done.
I told my blood-brother so.

My lips were sewn shut not because I lie,
But because I tell the truth,
(at least, when it matters)
And even the Gods cannot bear to hear it.