Saturday, June 15, 2013

Today, I want to talk about the gods.  I’m not going to comment on how anyone else thinks of the gods, because that’s not my business.  I’m only going to talk about my own polytheology.


To my eyes, the gods are real.  I’m a person, you the reader are a person, and they are likewise persons.  I’m influenced by Buddhism in that I believe there is an imminent and eternal Sacred behind all beings and all creation.  I like to equate this imminent and eternal Sacred, which I follow Mircea Eliade in calling the Numen, with the ocean. 


The Numen is an ocean and in it we are fish.  We swim through the Numen and it flows through us.  Without it we would die.  However, the Numen doesn’t have consciousness on its own, and it would be both pointless and ignorant to pray to it or expect it to have any emotions towards us.  Water doesn’t care for every tiny minnow or even every mighty giant squid.


The ocean/sea life metaphor has its limits there.  Smaller sea creatures don’t pray to the squids or the sharks.  However, just as sea life is comprised of mostly water, life in Midgard is comprised mostly of the Numen.  This is, at its simplest, what we mean or should mean when we say, “All life is sacred.”


For me, the gods are beings which are characterized by being more intensely concentrated of the Numen.  They are individuals with likes and dislikes, emotions and actions, and abilities.  No two are alike.  For instance, the Roman Apollo is syncretized to the Greek Apollo, but he’s still not the same.   The Romans could call Thracian Taranis Jupiter all they liked; it doesn’t make those gods the same person.


Since the gods are people, we can relate to them.   Since they aren’t alike in substance to a human being, we have to have different relationships with them.   We meet, we find we get along, and we maintain our relationships.  The important difference enters into how the gods are transcendent in a way we humans aren’t, with powers we can’t touch, so we need to be “in tune” with them in order to understand the back-and-forth between them and us.  I can’t draw any generalizations or put forth any ground rules because, as I’ve written already, they’re individuals.


It should be remembered that not all gods will like you, just as not all human people will like you.  This is their prerogative, and shouldn’t be taken personally.  If you appeal to one deity and he/she tells you to get lost, unless you are an absolute unlikable bastard there’ll be one out there who thinks you’re keen and who will be happy to make your acquaintance.  I struggled along with God the Father for decades before finally accepting that he wasn’t the one for me.


I tend to deal more with land and nature spirits than gods, and recently confirmed that I need to pay a lot more attention to my ancestors.  Blessed be. * Like the gods, they have preferences and dislikes.  Along with the nature spirits can come gods of place.  In the past month I’ve been struck by how powerfully Kokopelli strides through the southwest.  He’s always lived there and he gets lots of attention and energy from admiration lavished on the petroglyphs that depict him and from suburban gardeners putting iron cut-outs of him by the sidewalk up to their front door.  He’s the Lord of Fertility there, and since we are planning our raised-bed gardens, we need to be on good terms with him. 


Archetypes may be applied to gods, but they aren’t gods, and gods are not personifications of archetypes.  Gaia, Rhea, Demeter and Cybele are all great Magnae Matres,  but they aren’t “faces” of the archetype of Great Mother Goddess.  The Virgin Mary and Anahita are virgin mothers, but they are not the Eternal Virgin. 


The overwhelming reason I’m not Wiccan is because of their theology.  “All gods are one God, all goddesses one Goddess does not fly with me.  Not my polytheology.


I’ll let Allison Lonsdale explain it all to you.  Her CD, "Live at Lestat's" is full of science, spirituality and god-talk.





*I say “blessed be” when “Hail!” doesn’t work, and where I would previously have said, “Amen”.  It’s not heathen,  but since I “viked” it from the Wiccans, I claim it as spoils.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Last weekend was Trothmoot 2014.  It was only four hours away from San Diego, in Tehachapi Mountain Park.  Sven wasn’t interested in going, and left for the hacienda instead.  Dreya and I packed our seabag and dufflebag respectively (same item, different names) and headed north.

We got lost on the way, of course, but turned around before driving off into the Mojave.  We made the sloooooow climb up into fresh pine woods 6,000 feet up. 
I’ve commented elsewhere on the site.  It was on the side of the mountain, so there was a lot of walking up and down to do.  The showers and mess hall were down, halfway up were the cabins and ALL the way up were the vés. 

Our cabin, which was a bunch of Army beds, was only our kindred, so that was nice.  No surprises when it came to roommates.  Dreya has a knee injury, so she spent a lot of the weekend relaxing and reading, and there are a lot worse settings for that.

I arrived on guard against New Age nonsense.  There was some, but it was old New Age, like Viktor Ryberg stuff.  I’ll admit it, I think galdrstadr (aka Runic Yoga) is just plain dumb.  The runes are the runes, yoga is yoga, don’t cross the streams. 

Dreya and I came up Friday, so I got to my first workshop after lunch.  It was a lecture on Braucherei from Rob Schreiwer.  Braucherei is the Pennsylvania Deitsch form of magic, and the de-Christianized form of it is Urglaawe, which is what Rob practices and teaches. Braucherei has been in the USA since about 1680, and since 1680 it has preserved runes and rune usage, herb lore, and a figure named Dame Holle.  Holle is very similar, possibly cognate with, the German Frau Holda, and on Saturday afternoon we had a Holle blot that was very moving.  I was particularly happy to find out that one of Holle’s totemic animals is the Bear, since I’m married to Sven, who is a bear.

Next was Finding Freyr, which is a ritual I’d attended at Pantheacon and really liked, but I didn’t go again.  What was different this time was that they’d brought an enormous Freyr cart, with an image of the god in it, riding along with a pregnant lady.  The lady has a devotion to Freyr, so regardless of the actual circumstances of conception, FREYR HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT. 

I socialized a bit and then sang a song at the Skaldic Competition.  I didn’t win, but people seemed to like it and sang the chorus with me.  It was a parody of the song “Dynamite” and I wrote it about Odin.  I’ll post it later.
After dark was the spae ritual.  I remain skeptical about the seidhr practiced by the seeresses, but I did ask a series of questions directed towards one of my ancestors.  I now think I may have contacted the wrong one, (there were a series of them with the same name) but nonetheless, I was taken aback by my ancestors and pretty emotional afterwards.

I am very annoyed to say I fell asleep and missed both Loki blots/parties up at the vés.  SO annoyed.  The Saturday night one I’m sure Loki had something to do with it because apparently the other Loki fans and I were up at the hill, which was dark, at the same time and we didn’t see each other.  No idea how that happened.

Oh yes, the vés.  Freyr had the largest, since his cart had to be parked in it.  There was a nice, kind of abstract statue of him carved out of a log.  On either side of him were bowls of condoms, and he had plenty of the usual offerings, of art, jewelry and drinks.
The Frigga vé had a large sculpted egret in front, which pleased me because I often see egrets and now when I see one I will also think of her.  Inside was a chest, drop spindles and wool, and a blue and white interior.
The Odin vé was a small tent with a cushion and plaid blanket for sitting in front of his small, handmade statue.  It was dark and a little scary which of course is how the Old Man likes it.

The Thor vé was fun.  I contributed my Thor statue and my two small straw goats that usually live in my office.  There was also a crocheted Thor doll, and I can’t remember who made it, but she could make a fortune on them.   Other items in the vé included a helmet, axe, and a keychain in the form of a lightning bolt that made thunder noises.
Finally, there was the Loki vé.  This was the vé that got the most love.  The centerpiece of the altar was the Paul Borda enthroned Loki statue, with a copy of the Snaptun  forge cover below.  There was a big bowl of party favours, and the kids rapidly found them and ran around blowing out the curls of paper.  Someone put a pink flamingo in front of the vé and it was decorated by coloured paper streamers, a green shag rug, a pot of paper flames and a banner that said in runes, LOKI SAVES.
The Freya vé was sad.  It had few items in it and it was tiny and messy. 
Another high point of Trothmoot was the divination workshop.  Originally there had been two workshops on divination scheduled for the same time.  This was deemed rather silly, so they combined them.  The workshop was three parts: what we know about Norse divination; modern forms of divination and using the runes in the modern era. 
I had a specific question, and it was suitable for an answer based on divination.  About a month or so ago, I woke up and my heavy silver Mjollnir, that I’ve been wearing since just before I went to Afghanistan, fell off its chain and to the floor at my feet.  The chain didn’t break or open; it was still clasped about my neck.  At first I thought maybe I’d been “let go” and I should pursue another religious path, but after the spae ritual, I had been rethinking that.  My new working theory was that perhaps I was to focus my spirituality on the ancestors and land spirits.  My instincts were correct; the runes confirmed my theory.  So that alone was worth the cost of the weekend.

Dreya and I took off before breakfast on Sunday, and we saw a doe walk across the road and up the slope on the other side, into the trees.  It was a beautiful coda to the weekend, but I was still very glad to be down near sea level and on our way back to San Diego.