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Ravens in the Mead-Hall or How I Spent My Weekend

I just returned from a conference at Villanova this past weekend. The Patristics, Medieval, and Renaissance (PMR) conference is one of the leading theology conferences held every year just outside of Philadelphia. It’s really my favorite conference, the one I really, really try to do every year. It’s a lovely group of people and I always learn so much when I attend. This year the panels were so good (they pretty much always are) and I feel I have new things to gnaw upon, so much productive feedback to integrate into my work, and so many new books to track down and read. I can’t wait for next year (and for me to say that about any conference is miraculous. I might enjoy them but they generally wear me out. This one, well, I was sorry when it ended).

This year I chaired a panel and presented a paper. Usually I work in Patristics. My ongoing area of interest is developing a cultural poetics of the eunuch, looking at early Christian sources and the way ideas of the self and the holy were mediated through the figure of the eunuch. Because this conference covers more than just late antiquity, however, I was able to present a side project, one that is rapidly becoming a major secondary area of interest for me. I first gave an iteration of this paper, titled “Ravens in the Mead-hall: Rewriting Faith in the Wake of Charlemagne and the Saxon Wars” at last year’s Kalamazoo Medieval Conference and in between then and now, I’ve tweaked it considerably. This paper discusses Charlemagne’s war against the Saxons and their consequent forced conversion through the lens of post-colonial theory. It utilizes the Heliand, the 9thcentury Saxon translation of the Gospels as a lens through which to explore the re-positioning of the Saxons as a subaltern people, and the ways in which their indigenous religious traditions remained vividly relevant within the framework of Christianity. It gets a little darker than this implies, discussing things like forced child oblation, genocide, and the erasure of indigenous religious cultures too (and these darker threads are things I intend to continue exploring with this line of research). It was remarkably well received.

This is partly my way of holding space as a polytheist for our ancestors. Yes, it is useful to go to professional conferences. It’s a chance to explore these side topics, to get valuable feedback, in an atmosphere that – at least in this case – is fairly relaxed and congenial. Yes, I really want to look more closely at the ways post-colonial theory can be applied to Charlemagne’s atrocities. The more I learn about forced child oblation, forced exile, forced conversion and all the various ways the Franks impeded on and erased Saxon religious culture, the more I’m convinced that it’s here specifically that structures were first put in place that came to be used throughout the conquest of the New World, six hundred years later. Before all of that, however, I am holding space for the dead.

This is important. This is part of our history as contemporary polytheists. This is the story of our traditions, what happened to them, and why we are in the position we’re in today of having to reclaim, rebuild, and restore. If we do not understand what happened and where we came from, then we will never truly appreciate the importance of that restoration, of holding staunchly to our traditions, of cultivating piety and respect and reverence for our dead.

Why do I do this? Let me give one small example: during the Q&A, one of the attendees, a senior scholar who herself later presented a fascinating paper on a piece of Arthurian lit., said to me very earnestly, “I think it’s important to remember that the Franks had good intentions.” When I picked my jaw up off the floor I responded, “I’m sure that makes all the difference to the five thousand plus Saxons butchered at Verden.”

 I’m sure that makes all the difference in the world to the men, women, and children who fought to maintain religious and cultural independence and instead ended up exiled, impoverished, with their children forcibly interred in monastic “schools” where they were Christianized and denied a Saxon identity religious or otherwise. Are you fucking kidding me? That is like saying Hitler had good intentions too. Who the fuck says that? Yet here we are in 2019 and I’ve an intelligent, educated scholar in all earnestness urging me to remember: the Christians had good intentions.  That’s why I do this, because that attitude is everywhere in academia. It isn’t genocide if it occurred before the 19thcentury and was blessed by the cross.

Of course, not everyone thinks that way and most of the scholars that I work directly with would be equally appalled by such a thoughtless comment, a comment that erases the religious and cultural genocide of a people. Still, there are enough who do not question the narrative of the goodness of conversion, of Christian expansion, who do not realize that such expansion came with a heavy price, writ in blood, who do not realize it was forcibly done against the will of numerous peoples, or who do not care, that it is important to hold the line openly and at times vociferously. The evidence is there for those scholars who care to look. It is my obligation to do so. The intentions of those who destroyed our traditions really don’t matter. The results speak for themselves.

For those interested in reading my article in full, it will be coming out in the next issue of Walking the Worlds.

Book Review from WTW

In the last issue of WTW, we debuted a section on book reviews. I included one on Jennifer Snook’s new book on contemporary Heathenry that I would like to share with you all here now. Interested readers may download the review here

We are currently accepting articles and book reviews for the next issue of WTW. The nominal subject is prayer, but we’re taking pieces on other topics too. If you’re interested in submitting something, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com. Deadline for this issue is Dec. 1.

WTW Updates

Consider advertising in the next issue of Walking the Worlds. Our advertising guidelines may be found here. If you have a magazine, or a shop or offer relevant services, consider an add. we have a nice variety of price points and the journey receives international distribution.

We’re also looking for contributions for our upcoming Summer 2016 issue. The theme for this one will be Divination. We’re looking for essays, academic articles, and book reviews (See the archive for Bryn Mawr book reviews for the type of review we’re looking for). 

Deadline for issue 6 is June 1, 2017. Inquiries and/or submissions should be sent to me at krasskova at gmail.com. 

CFS WTW Issue 5

Now that issue 4 has been put to rest (I sent out copies today to subscribers), it’s time to start thinking about issue 5. 

The topic for Issue 5 will be Ecstatic Practices and we’re looking for essays and articles dealing with traditional and perhaps not so traditional ecstatic practices, ways of achieving an altered state throughout the vast array of our polytheisms. For example: Is your God or Goddess specifically associated with such practices? How can these practices be used to open up to the Gods? How do we integrate them into our modern lives? What are our ancient role models? 

If you are interested in submitting a piece, please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com. The deadline for submissions is October 1. More information may be found here

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Deadline for Issue 4 is almost here

Just a couple more weeks until the deadline for submissions to Walking the Worlds issue 4. If you’re working on an article or essay, you still have a bit of time to finish up. See our website for more details. 

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Walking the Worlds Deadline Approaches

The deadline for submissions to Issue 4 of Walking the Worlds is only a month away. If you’re thinking about submitting an essay or article, or you have one in the works, it’s all due May 1.

The topic for this issue is “Polytheism and Philosophy” and the submission guidelines may be found at the link above. It’s already shaping up to be a great issue, folks.

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Walking the Worlds Issue 3 is Available

Issue 3 of Walking the Worlds, “Magic and Religion” is now available. All contributor copies and subscription copies have been sent out as of yesterday. (If you need to renew your subscription, you can do that easily here.

The next issue will be on ‘Polytheism and Philosophy.” The deadline is May 1, 2016. If this is a topic about which you think you have something to say, please consider submitting an article or essay. The polytheist world birthed major philosophical movements, and polytheism itself developed hand in hand with philosophies designed to teach one how to live as a decent human being. Many of the philosophers still studied today like Plato, Socrates, Proclus were devout polytheists (a fact often elided from philosophy classes and classical discourse). As polytheists, philosophy is our birthright. Check the above website for submission guidelines and think about adding your voice to Walking the Worlds. 

Meanwhile, check out the Table of Contents from Issue 3:

“The Irish Drui as Magicians Rather than Gaulish] Druids” by P.S.V.L.

“Hoenir’s Hlautvidr” by Dagulf Loptson (check out Loptson’s new book here)

“Pazuzu: Exorcist and “Good Demon”” by Tamara Siuda

“Navigating the Cosmos: Traveling Through Time” by Virginia Carper

“Odinn as Shaman” by K.C. Hulsman

“The Art and Power of Evocation” by Sophie Reicher

“Serbian Magico-Religious Folk Beliefs Surrounding the Start of Winter and the Saint of Wolves” by Anna Applegate

“Toward a Magical Enlightenment: Notes on Bruno’s Magic” by Edward P. Butler

“Magical Practices of the Modern Northern Tradition Pagan” by Raven Kaldera

“Pancrates/Panchrates of Heliopolis: Portrait of a Poet/Priest/Magician in Second-Century CE Graeco-Roman Egypt” by P.S.V.L.

“A Polytheist Look at Magic” by Sarenth Odinsson

“The Magic of Words” by Cat Treadwell

(apologies to any contributor whose website I didn’t include. I tried to get them all, but I’m missing a couple. I”m happy to edit if you send me your site). 

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Walking the Worlds Journal Update

wtwIssue 3 is a hair’s breadth away from going to print. As I was writing my editor’s intro tonight, I had the pleasure of browsing again through some of the contributions and I have to say, we have a friggin’ amazing issue. 

Our contributors for this issue include Tamara Siuda, Edward Butler, PSVL, K.C.Hulsman, Raven Kaldera, S. Reicher, Cat Treadwell, Sarenth Odinsson, Anna Applegate, Dagulf Loptson, Virginia Carper and the artwork of Mary Ann Glass. I won’t tell you what they each wrote on, you’ll have to buy a copy and see for yourself. ^__-

Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this one! Be sure to check your subscription and renew here if it ended with Issue 2. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, consider subscribing. You can order just one issue. I’m really proud to be associated with such a top-notch journal, that consistently puts out thoughtful, provoking, and relevant articles of interest across the broad spectrum of contemporary polytheisms today. 

Issue 3 Open for Submissions

Issue #3 of Walking the Worlds is now accepting submissions. The focus of this issue is “Magic and Religion.” Please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com if you are interested in submitting articles or essays. Full submission guidelines can be found here. Deadline is November 1.

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Walking the Worlds Sneak Peak – issue 2

For those who are curious, we’ve post the table of contents for issue 2 as a sneak peak. Check it out here.

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