So I live in a very artistic town. It’s a step away from being an artists’ colony and if you randomly kicked someone on main street, chances are you’d be kicking an artist (why you’d want to randomly kick some poor dude on main street, I don’t know lol. Better to buy his art).
Because of this, there’s some really interesting graffiti throughout the town. One is a huge mural of a Native American spirit, the guardian spirit, perhaps one of the Goddesses of the Wappingers who once had sovereignty in this part of the land, and it shows the river, and markers in the town, and modern residents all flowing out of her benevolence.
One is a faceless man with an awesome hat, funky fish and snakes twined into patterns marking a local distillery.
Those are licit, done with permission of the owners and/or town, but there are others; a little dog in white paint behind the pharmacy, a dancing ghost-girl on the bricks of an alley way, an entire mural of children playing and ghosts and trees and fire on the side of our health food store that just appeared almost overnight when the lot next door was rendered empty. We like these things in my town and personally I think they’re very cool.
There are also more contested expressions of art: yarn bombing, which I think is a hoot in hell and love to see but which likewise gets some old-timers up in arms both online and off (the level of pissed off I’ve seen over yarn bombing is truly amazing); and occasionally odd art installations cropping up in the nooks and crannies of the town’s architecture. I love it all. My favorite is probably a bit of graffiti on a rock by one of the hiking trails on the way to the next town. It says “I love you to the Moon and back” with a picture of the full moon. That just screams Mani to me.
So where am I going with all of this and what the fuck is ‘God-bombing?’ Well, nothing nefarious. Y’all have heard of “glamour bombing?” It’s the same thing but with images for our Gods. It’s land art and public art installations (you can apply for permits locally and make this all above board) and temporary graffiti I absolutely am not encouraging anyone to break the law. There are a lot of ways we can bring our Gods out of hiding without doing that.
- chalk graffiti – it washes off.
- Pinning up posters and images (instead of graffiti)
- Public shrines – I’m already running the public shrine project—start making this a real thing in the woods, in parks, on empty lots, everywhere you can. Understand that they will probably eventually be taken down or yield to the elements. A certain non-attachment is necessary here, but the synergy of doing this type of temporary shrine as an act of devotion is powerful.
- Ask permission of storeowners to paint outside. If you’re an artist, some will permit you to do a piece on the side of their buildings (at least in my town).
- For the Gods of harvest, flowers, bounty, and land: seed bomb.
- Public re-enactments and skald-on-the-street style telling of stories
- Hit the local poetry slams with prayer-poems for the Gods
- Do you have any statues of Gods in your town? (We have one of Hebe randomly set up in a local cul-de-sac. It was part of a watering trough for horses and after the world transformed over to cars instead, the trough part went away and locals set up just the statue). Start tending it and leaving offerings. Reclaim it as sacred.
- Join your local cemetery committee (usually split equally between Protestants and Catholics) and do good work, all the while being completely open about being a polytheist. Talk openly about honoring the dead.
- Write an article for your most local paper on one of our holidays.
- Run for local school board or other local office
- Get a permit and hold a local procession and celebration on a festival day
Make it as establishment and anti-establishment as the Gods, ancestors, and land spirits call.
Sarenth Odinsson offered some interesting ideas when I talked to him about this recently:
“Something I did when I lived on campus and attended Eastern Michigan University: was there were statues all over the place. There was a tradition of leaving pennies for the statue of a ballet dancer, and I made regular visits with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s statue, occasionally leaving him offerings. Leaving flowers in local graveyards, tending local statues, cleaning up parks and leaving offerings are other ways of doing things too.
Maybe make creches, or start something akin to what we have here: local fairy doors. Literally made for the faeries sold out of local shops and placed near the entrance but not in walkways. Folks leave offerings, often money, that even the local homeless know better than to pick up. We could do something similar, like Hermes, Odin, and similar charms which would fit in alongside other art installations and not be out of place alongside charms against the evil eye.”
I’m sure there are a ton of things that we could do that I haven’t thought of here. I’d love to hear your suggestions. Everywhere I look in almost every American town Christian churches dominate the visual landscape of the town. That’s fine – they’re entitled to their sacred spaces but so are we so let’s get out there and make some. Let’s put the radical in radical polytheist. 🙂
(Photo credit: Susan Dilger / TaosEdge It was taken in a very old cemetery in Taos. Used with permission.)
I love the idea of making a shrine to the land vaettir out of all found objects and that is just what Emile has done here. Go. Read. I particularly like that this was preceded by considerable amount of time spent cleaning up the natural habitat. Emile brings up a really good point for those of us making offerings and such outside: it’s important that they not contribute to the abuse of the environment. I think it’s something even the best meaning of us can forget at times. Good job, Emile!! and thank you for contacting me to share your work. 🙂
here are two pics of the shrine:
Today I received the first submission to the Public Polytheistic Shrine Project. ^__^ T.P. Ward sent me images of this shrine, made in thanks to Hermes, Artemis, and Poseidon. Thank you, T.P.
This was created in a public park near his home.
Folks, if you are interested in joining this project (and i hope at least some of you are!), see the guidelines here.
Roughly a decade ago, maybe longer, my friend Krei S. started the “public altar project.” With this project she encouraged Pagans, Heathens, and Polytheists of all stripes to create shrines – temporary, ephemeral, often with found objects – in public places for the Gods. This project ran for a few years and then, due to a number of circumstances, fell by the way side. I had participated in it three times, first with a shrine to Holda erected in Berlin, then one that I did with my adopted mom to Ran, Aegir, and Their Nine Daughters erected on the beach at Big Sur, and finally a shrine to Eir at the base of a tree in a NYC park. I hadn’t thought about the project in years, until last week while on my artist’s residency.
During the residency, each artist had to give a brief presentation on his or her background, interests, and art. One woman, in addition to her painting, textile art, and mail art (she’s the one who introduced me to this art form too!) also occasionally creates create “land art.” I’m fascinated by the idea of creating this type of art. As she described her work, and showed us photos, I realized that the public altar project was, in fact, a type of land art. My interest in it was immediately rekindled.
I am intrigued by the idea of combining devotion and art, and of honoring the Gods through the creation of art. I also think that creating this type of artwork, of dropping this type of creative devotion into the world, to be absorbed and dispersed is an act of magic. I like the idea of seeding the mundane world both with elements of devotion but also with art. We need the medicine of more beauty in our world. I immediately contacted Krei and got her permission to reboot the altar project.
So, this is going to be one of my ongoing projects and I encourage anyone reading this to participate. (I’m going to start a separate page for it, and if you send me a brief account and photos, I’ll post your public shrine here). Here are the guidelines:
- The shrine must be created outdoors.
- It is impermanent. One creates it, prays and makes offerings, and leaves, knowing the shrine will be disbursed into nature, or that people will take the objects there (I always look at it this way: those that need the objects, will get them. They go where they must).
- If you are making your shrine on the beach, or in nature, please use bio-degradable materials. Part of the process of crafting one of these shrines is doing so in a way that does not harm the environment in which it is crafted.
- If you can, try to use found objects and materials as part of your shrine.
- Take photos and submit a brief write up detailing Who the shrine is for, the materials out of which it is constructed, and your experience of the process of constructing it.
I’ve always found this type of work to have several different levels of engagement: there is the devotee and the Gods, the artist with the materials and the environment, but also the artist and devotee with passers by as well. I also found it a very potent type of offering. There was a unique synergy in the whole process and it was completely unlike any other shrine work that I’ve done.
So, I encourage folks to take part. Let’s get this project off the ground and pepper our world with devotion. If you do create a public shrine, images and accounts may be sent to Krasskova at gmail.com. I’ll get that page, and also one for my devotional mail art challenge up over the next couple of weeks (thanks to those who’ve already sent me mail art, btw. I’m working on your return pieces). May our Gods ever be hailed. Let’s make some art for Them!