Friday, April 26, 2013

Finding the Gods

It's fair to say that many, and maybe most, polytheists have one or two deities they consider their special patrons. These are gods who we believe have sought us out, or responded well to our seeking them, to whom we give frequent devotions and offerings, and from whom we expect more regular attention and favor than the other gods we may honor now and then.

Before any of that happened to me, when I was new to polytheism and still trying it on, I approached the gods of the British Isles, especially Ireland. I can't actually trace any of my family tree back to Europe, but based on family names, England and Ireland are good guesses. But I did not feel any particular interest from those gods at the time.

A little while later – just last year, really – I began to intuit that Odin/Woden was trying to get my attention. I had felt his presence at CedarLight's Yule ritual in 2011, and then I began to notice crows or ravens (I'm still not sure I can tell the difference). I am sure crows and/or ravens are always around, but it's the noticing of them that makes them omens.

Anyway, after a period of hesitation (Woden is not necessarily a comforting presence), I began to make offerings to him. Some months down the road now, I can call him a patron, although I still one whom I prefer to interact with only occasionally. I get the impression that this suits him just fine.

More recently, another god has come into my consciousness – Hermes, the Hellenic messenger of the gods, fleet-footed and quick-witted. That began with a book coming to my attention, “The Gods of Reason” by Timothy Jay Alexander, which turned my attention in general to the hearth cultures I'd never given a second look to before, Greek and Roman. The more I read and contemplated, the more the Greeks began to appeal. I started making offerings to Hermes because I had a specific request that he seemed to be the right one for, but I quickly found myself liking his energy and presence. Now I'm giving him a brief morning devotional and incense almost daily, just because I want him to be welcome and stick around.

As I near the end of Dedicant Program, I find that the year and a half of study it has entailed – much required, some on my own – has really changed my outlook. At the beginning, I was approaching the gods tentatively and with very little understanding of what was going on and without even any confidence that polytheism made any sense. Now it just seems to be a given.

I find that the Celtic deities still do hold some appeal, especially as I spend more time with my grovies who are more immersed in that culture than I am. And I would like to expand my interactions with the gods of Olympus as well. Among the gods and the hearth cultures, even when confining myself to ADF's Indo-European focus, I find elements that appeal to reason and logic (the Greeks with their history of rich philosophy, in particular) and elements that appeal to primal energies and earthiness. It's a good mix.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Taking the Omens

As a part of my personal practice, I draw a weekly trio of Tarot cards during my daily devotions asking the Kindred (and specifically Frigge) for guidance.

I have been asking the same questions each week since I began this at Yule:

  • What is needed from me by the Kindred (and especially Frigge) this week?
  • What help can Frigge offer me to to help me accomplish this?
  • What else do I need to know about this?
This week's reading has been coming into focus for me over the past few days, and I'm trying to take it to heart as good advice after several weeks of slightly tense interactions both online and off, and a realization that I am procrastinating about things I value highly in favor of non-productive effort in  the service of things that are far less meaningful.

I used the Legacy of  the Divine Tarot for this reading.  These are the notes I took about this Omen Taking:

 What is needed from me by the Kindred (and especially Frigge) this week?
4 of Swords

You need to get more sleep - give your words a rest.  You don't need to explain everything.  Give yourself a rest also from the onslaught of words coming at you. You don't need to have everything explained.

Resist sharp-tongued answers - it is hurting you as much as any else and indicates that you need some downtime for healing and recuperation.

An overall lack of rest and chronic stress is leading to short temperedness.  Just take a break and let things die down.

There is a lot of this going around and spiritual recovery will happen through silence and pausing for peace, not by continuing to engage verbally.

What help can Frigge offer me to to help me accomplish this?
3 of Wands 

 Remember those  things you are truly passionate about?  Get ready, because they are about to manifest for you - if you're ready to receive them and plan to put your energy there.

Keep your eye on what you really desire because that is what will be blessed and brought to fruition.

Whatever effort you make will be magnified in its results - this is both a blessing and a warning.

Don't waste attention on conflict that doesn't matter - good things are on the horizon and worthwhile goals require your energy if they are to become more than passing whims.

What else do I need to know about this?
Ace of Wands
The things  that aren't happening aren't because of a lack of desire or energy - it is a lack of focus.  The energy is there! Just direct it appropriately.

You have more forceful power than you know - use it wisely.  But you do not have so much that you can afford to scatter it and waste it, so guard it jealously, and don't let it dissipate in pointless pursuits.

The question to ask is: Is this inspiring me?  Is this energizing me, or sapping my will to get things done?

The key to everything you want to happen is - get started. Seize the day!


In just two more days, Michael and I are going to our first Trillium Spring Gathering
We will be heading to a hotel nights to sleep (while my mobility has vastly improved from 3 months ago when I was in a wheelchair, I'm nowhere near ready for ground sleeping - nor do I think I ever will be), but otherwise, I am very excited to experience a Druid gathering larger than our Grove's - and it still makes me excited to go to the Grove regularly.  Much of what I am excited about is the forced opportunity to disconnect from the electronics for a few days - to have my conversations face to face, or to sit quietly and just listen.

To get away from the meme machine and the 24/7 news "we have no news but lets keep talking until we get some" news cycle.

To get away from daily responsibilities that are sometimes far too much about red-tape level responsibility and sometimes far too little about satisfaction of experience.

Since I drew this, I've been making a conscious effort (not always successful) to step back silently, to close a website rather than hit refresh, to turn off the news - or better, the TV - but Trillium this week will truly be my 4 of Swords recuperation, and a change to realign my sights to those things I want to bring into the world and hook into passion as a motivator.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How Not to Do Journalism

When I start to get comfortable as a pagan, when I start to feel that it would be easy to just be fully open about it – “out” to my Christian relatives, “out” to my somewhat conservative and image-conscious employer, “out” to everyone – I run across something like this, and it reminds me why I need be cautious about openness.

It's an article about the arrest of Dan Halloran, a Republican New York state senator and a Theodish heathen, on bribery charges. But the article – admittedly from a publication that specializes in snark, Gawker – is less interested in the ethics of public service and more interested in making fun of his religion. The Village Voice also wrote a piece for no reason other than to remind people that one of the state lawmakers arrested in the sting is a wacky pagan who hosted blots and sumbles.

Can you imagine the Voice writing an article to remind people that an arrested politician is a Baptist deacon or the cantor at his synagogue? Me neither.

Granted, people make fun of other people's religion all the time. Anything that seems meaningful and sacred to some is going to look like nonsense to others, and even the majority religions have their cadres of critics. But paganism seems to still be seen as “fringe” enough that it's ok to publish articles that have no goal other than ridicule – not even factually substantive ridicule, just gratuitous potshots.

A thoughtful journalist who was willing to take Halloran's faith seriously could write a nice, informative article about how bribery and use of office for personal gain conflict with Heathen principles. But it's easier to mock him for worshiping the gods and playing "games that, to the outside eye, looked like something from Dungeons & Dragons or a Renaissance fair," and that also relieves the so-called journalist of having to do any real research or self-education.

(The Wild Hunt has another perspective on this, well worth a few minutes to read. Click here. Wild Hunt also had an earlier piece with a sharp analysis of an earlier Village Voice article on Halloran. Go here for that one.)