A polytheanimist Thracian perspective on creating, rebuilding, and embodying ancestral religions as living traditions in the 21st century. Religion as life, life as spirit, spirit as being.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Anomalous Thracian

Anomalous Thracian

A temple priest, shaman, and spirit-worker in the Thracian tradition, Anomalous Thracian lives in a van in the Northeast United States, with a crazed raven from Africa. He teaches foundational spiritual principles and results-oriented mysticism, with a focus on anchoring ancient nomadic wisdoms and values in contemporary reality. A Thracian mystic reconstructionist, he leads an initiatory tradition and facilitates rituals, traditional rites of passage, various methods of divination and temple functions appropriate to the needs of the community. In all of his doings, he attempts to honor the ancestors, the gods, and his living relations in this world and the rest of them, while focusing also on further understanding and addressing contemporary issues of race, gender, and sexuality.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

PantheaCon 2014 began a little over two weeks ago, and ended a little under two weeks ago, and I am still not finished writing all of my post-PantheaCon-reflections and remarks, primarily because I have hit the ground running on my return to the Northeast (as I have yet another major move lined up in the next few days). That said, as I did last year, I will share my personal account of the conference here. What follows are collections of my reflections and meanderings through the long weekend in San Jose, edited for deployment here at Witches and Pagans.

I arrived in California from Boston's Logan International a few days in advance, and my pre-con activities included some time in the chair at one of my California tattoo artist's shop, getting some devotional work done, and generally socializing with awesome people between Berkeley and San Francisco, who I've missed the company of since my move.

The conference itself rolled into place rather quickly, and Friday morning was a mad-rush of assembling stuff for the conference at the home of two dear friends, with ritual items and mundane items and food items and tons of liquor items (and some fresh meaty offerings to be fed lovingly to the wilderness en route) piled in around us in the vehicle. It was certainly one of those "there is not enough coffee in all the world for today" sort of days, which I resolved promptly by consuming dangerous levels of caffeine and then an even more amazing amount of liquor, which served to suitably assist my feeling arrived and grounded. I began my day with a fresh bottle of Barbancourt 8-year, flasked for easy carry, and found my way into the company of a dear friend until the chaos of bag-stowing and room-finding needed to be addressed.

...
Last modified on
2
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Thank you so much for your sharing. I was at Pantheacon as well, and found myself led to things I had not planned and blocked fro

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Dissonant Comfort

Dissonant Comfort

A Disparity of Value and the Virtue of Discord

Recently there has been a lot of discussion in pagan and polytheist writing and blogging of what one's religious "Work" should look like, where charity fits into things, and what "Mystery" is. These articles, blogs, and chattery entries included some rather interesting "challenges" leveled on various prominent Polytheists (who barked back appropriately..!), some important descriptions of what is and isn't Mystery, and so forth. As in most of the conflicts that arise in these discussions and in these various internet platforms, I find this one to be as useful and important as it is annoying and at times jaw-droppingly idiotic. As my interests at present are not in joining somebody else's battle -- the sides I would ally with have themselves reasonably well covered, I think -- nor casting a light of shame or condescension at those who I think are missing a great big point, I'm not going to link to the aforementioned discourses. Instead, I am going to use the overall conversation as a spring-board to kick into an examination of a thing that I think is at the crux of both sides of the issue. It is my belief that these conflicts, which I view as essential and also affirming of our collective religious developments attaining a certain structural integrity, demonstrate the central importance of the theme of comfort, and perceptions of comfort, versus its absence or apparent adversary -- discomfort -- and the places that they do or do not, should or should not, can and cannot sit in one's religious, spiritual, devotional, and social avenues.

...
Last modified on
5
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    All I can say in response to your final paragraph is: Hail Paneris!
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Good stuff. Thanks
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Anomalous Thracian, I have officially owned my discomfort. Yet I still enjoyed your blog post, LOL. Spot on, from someone who p

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Stop Talking to Yourself

The Importance of Listening and Responding

As a polytheist spirit-worker who engages full-time in mystic, ritual, and devotional Work, I spend a lot of time talking to gods, spirits, dead people, and living humans -- all very real and external from myself. Communication is a pretty key point in all of this Work.

...
Last modified on
6
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Sharon Knight
    Sharon Knight says #
    My, what a poetic soul you are!
  • Laura P
    Laura P says #
    Thank you for this. Communication is the crux of any relationship be it internal or external with humans and with the Gods and the

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Razing the Temple

Razing the Temple

It is a damn good time to be a polytheist.

Fair readers, since I last left you (way back in June -- sorry*!) things have changed dramatically for my life, my practice, and the sacred creatures I share both with. I have relocated from the S.F. Bay Area in California to the Northeast, in a move that had me selling off vehicles, loading my library (some 4,000 lbs of books) into freight containers, and driving a little over three-thousand miles with a fellow priest in a Dodge Ram Van packed with active shrines, icons, ten sacred Temple serpents, and an African raven.

...
Last modified on
8
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Soli
    Soli says #
    I am working on emerging back into the virtual community so I will add words here. If there is anything I can do to assist in your
  • Natasha Kostich
    Natasha Kostich says #
    Thank you for all the Work you do! May your new temple and life be blessed by the Gods and Ancestors!!!
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Anomalous Thracian, May your new temple be filled with devotion and piety, and may the Goddesses and Gods bless your endeavors.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Gods of Consequence

In the various debates that have been coming up of late, about the further differentiation of polytheism from other paganisms (especially humanist paganism, “self-centered” paganism, super-hero-worshiping-archetypalism, and so forth), I have noticed something. Obviously both sides of the various “lines” being “drawn” are having trouble coming together in agreement around a great many things, and both sides feel very misunderstood by the other. (That's what disagreement frequently leads to...) However, in all of my talks with polytheist colleagues, theologians, and co-religionists, none of “us” seem to be confused by *what* the archetypal-and-superhero-folks are saying about their beliefs or practices. We may be dumbstruck by some of their statements – generally when they are comparing their thought-forms to our gods in direct and offensive to us ways – but overall I don't sense a disconnect of understanding in that particular direction. (Agreement is another matter entirely...)

However, I have sensed a tremendous disconnect in understanding, and a great and wild mischaracterization, in the other direction. Polytheists are being called fundamentalists, are being called ontologically cowardly, are being called extreme to the point of instability, are being called delusional, and so on. All because we engage with our gods as beings great and powerful and worthy of holy veneration *outside of our own unconscious*; beings that are wholly and fully separate from us, who were no more born “inside” us (or “for” us) than that tree over there, or the air that I am breathing. They are not manufactured to suit our needs (like the apple-juice I am about to add whiskey to) nor are They engineered or tailored to “fit” us. There is no monism, and certainly no atheism, in polytheism.

...
Last modified on
19
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Nicole Youngman
    Nicole Youngman says #
    But...but...hard polytheist folks, why on earth do you CARE what we think? I'm utterly, totally serious here. I don't get it. If t
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    Nicole, there are various reasons why we care about ideas that we find to be both dangerous and offense (and in my case, the "dang
  • Liza
    Liza says #
    ^^This^^ I can not like this enough. I am not going to reiterate everything you said, but I will add as a "no name" and "home gro

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

My Gods Are Not Archetypes

(or “How to decay all meaning in language and religion and life altogether”)

Normally I try not to write from a focused, “targeted” place or perspective, and instead take a generalized and broad-stroke approach. (In other words I prefer to drop napalm on a whole region, rather than knife a single person in the skull, in order to not offend any one single person's delicate feelings more than anyone else's. That's how we do in Democratic California, or so I'm told...) However, today is an exception... kind of. I'm going to share a specific exchange (name removed for the respect of that person's privacy) from a Facebook encounter just a short while ago, not to attack the author (or knife her single belief in the skull) but instead to open up a bigger, napalm-esque issue. Here goes:

...
Last modified on
9
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    "Seriously, people. 'I don't think that word means what you think it means...'" Inconceivable! Seriously, though... I agree that
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    Yes, this. All of this! This is what I've been trying to communicate (albeit in a pre-caffeinated rant, at least above) and which
  • Roninwolfr
    Roninwolfr says #
    Cat-in-the-box, you say? that reminds me of the religious parable commonly known as Schrodinger's Cat. Basically in an unknown uni

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

My Gods Are Not Characters

My religion is not fan-fiction. For some reason this is actually a thing that people are confused by.

There's been some interesting talks about gods, heroes, and superheroes in the blog-o-sphere in the last week or two. This has brought up several topics that I have long been outspoken on in private discussions and dialoging with the colleagues, friends, and family that I engage with ritually, devotionally, and theologically. I have offended a few close to me with my views (though this was not my intention) and I have been misunderstood by some, agreed with by others, and had others merely roll their eyes because they didn't see the issues I was addressing as being as “big” as I was making them out to be. I am going to use the current rise of these topics to jump in – even if a little late to the show, as I've been caught up in other things for what seems like ages and ages – and share my views, because I do find these topics to be very important. The recently discussed worship of fictional super-heroes in either “hero cultus” style or as actual deities is one that I find alarming – both from a theological/devotional perspective and perhaps also a mental-health one. I'm going to be open about that part of my view right in the beginning: I have concerns that the worship of *fictional* characters is a dangerous avenue of engagement for its inherent and fundamental blurring of lines between credible reality (even spiritual, mystic, and transcendent reality!) and intentional fiction.

...
Last modified on
6
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    Not unlike poetry and fiction themselves, theology is a hotbed of metaphor creation, and your last example there is a prime illust
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    But now my cat is looking at me suspiciously...
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    If your cat is not looking at you suspiciously, then it has obviously not been paying attention since you've owned it!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

On the Backs of the Gods, Part IV:

On the "Living" of Theology:

...
Last modified on
2

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

On the Backs of the Gods, Part III

Musings on the Necessities of Spirit:

Religion as Life, Life as Spirit, Spirit as Being

As the debates of Pagan and Polytheistic definitions and theologies continue to rage, with increased discourse on Fundamentalism (which I'll weigh in on later), I can't help but reflect with some amount of amusement -- or cynicism -- how ridiculously privileged some of us must sound. So many of us dabble in intellectual and pseudo-intellectual debate, raging and flame-warring with one another across the internet -- wonder of wonders that it is -- from places of relative luxury, "free" from the burdens of worldly concern. Free from necessity.

...
Last modified on
5

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

On the Backs of the Gods, Part II


In my continuing response to a recent and ongoing trend of discussions revolving around the aim of defining and exploring Pagan and/or Polytheistic theologies, I wanted to talk a little bit about what a theology is, what the theological process is, and what a theologian is. To begin...

 

...
Last modified on
4

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

On the Backs of the Gods, Part I

Recently there have been some interesting discussions happening in the Pagan blog-sphere around the topic of Pagan theologies. One author addressed admirably the importance of including our gods as one of the central factors of Paganism, especially polytheistic Paganism, while another spoke to warnings of fundamentalism in our developing theologies. Another important voice in our online communities distanced themselves from the term "Pagan", and gave a thoughtful explanation as to why. The responses to all of these, and more, have been a mixed batch: many are responding with heightened encouragement and confirmation, while others have responded less positively. Some have even gone on to call one of these authors a "Nazi Fundamentalist" on another blogger's comments section.

Now, despicable and wrong-headed accusations of fascism not-with-standing -- and I don't want to make light of those accusations or the hurt that they can cause when slung so ignorantly -- there is a very significant piece in all of this that I feel needs to be pointed out, if it hasn't already been somewhere else.

...
Last modified on
5
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Janneke Brouwers
    Janneke Brouwers says #
    This is brilliant, and true and hopeful. I have always been surprised at how many people seem to struggle with disagreement in on-

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

Today I stood in line at the DMV -- as arduous an experience here in in the S.F. Peninsula as it is anywhere else in the country, I'd bet -- to collect the new license plates for my 1978 Cadillac. I had opted while ordering them some months back to both get a set of custom "vanity" plates and donate to a worthwhile charity (so that my license fees went to a good cause). I chose the "Honoring Veterans" license plate because it gave all of the money made in the registration to the state Veteran's Affairs office, which is definitely something that I can stand behind. I chose the name of one of my Thracian gods for the plate, and waited the twelve weeks for them to arrive at the DMV. I was excited for my new plates, as my car -- a retired service-vehicle with over a quarter of a century of time spent in the small fleet of a local funeral company -- is a consecrated Ancestor Shrine on Wheels (with a 425 V8 engine and classic white-wall tires) and I always get excited when I get to give a new item, fitting, or shrine-piece to an active altar or sacred space.

 

...
Last modified on
5
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Janneke Brouwers
    Janneke Brouwers says #
    I am all for respect but ... I do not respect soldiers any more than I do teachers or nurses. I respect all who work for the publi
  • John Lucas
    John Lucas says #
    While I understand your view, I think you are getting a little too bogged down by details. I think it's missing the point to worry
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    Thank you for your comment, for reading, and most importantly for your service! Most vets that I know do not ask for it, and that'

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

             (This is a column I meant to post about eight days ago, when all the other great ancestor-related readings were being proliferated.. but I suppose this is my “fashionably late” addition to the season.)

             A lot of my time as a spirit-worker and teacher involves helping people to come to a better relationship with their blessed dead – ancestors of both blood and “other-than-blood relation” – and in general addressing many of the issues that arise in the typical 21st century American “spiritual seeker” around such things. My own religious and spiritual work is deeply entrenched in “theism”, but I tend not to default to deity work with most people whom I am seeing as either clients or students. The reasons for this are various, but the main element is that in my tradition, one must prepare oneself before approaching the gods. Many of these preparations should have been undergone in our developing years – e.g. as children and teens going through a process of enculturation and initiation-based rites of passage – but as most of us in America did not grow up with the benefit of a traditional polytheistic or animist upbringing, we need to return to these basic principles as adults. This process, in my experience and observation, can involve years of developing foundational platforms of spiritual and personal/emotional essentials.

...
Last modified on
1

In late September, I received a long-awaited parcel in the mail: my copy of Georgi Mishev’s debut book, Thracian Magic, put out last month by Avalonia Books, translated very diligently to English from its original Bulgarian by Ekaterina Ilieva. Both Georgi and Ekaterina are involved in a Thracian ritual group in Bulgaria called “Threskeia”, through which they lead Thracian-inspired rituals and religious rites on the sacred sites of the Balkan mountains. I first became aware of the publication some time ago, and within the last year succeeded in contacting the author and translator online, and have enjoyed a small bit of dialog with them back and forth over the months. I was excited for the release of the book for a number of reasons, and was thrilled at its arrival.

The main thing to know about this book is this: there is nothing else like it available anywhere, in English or Bulgarian languages. Mishev is closely connected with the leading scholars of the interdisciplinary academic field of Thracology (being the study of Thracians and Thracian culture through archeology and literature) in Sofia and abroad, and this is reflected deeply in his writing. His work draws heavily from their important studies, and in many ways honors their decades of hard scholarly work by bringing these traditions and myths to renewed vigor and life. The book’s introduction is written by celebrated scholar Valeria Fol, widow of the late and immeasurably influential Alexander Fol (who pioneered the study of Thracians in his country and beyond throughout the second half of the 20th century). As anyone in the English-speaking world who has pursued Thracian studies in their own language can attest, resources available to us are exceedingly limited, frequently hard to obtain, and invariably written for the academic world.

...
Last modified on
2
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Can you give a sense of how much of the material might be applicable to other Indo-European cultures? In the sense that, although
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    Hi Joseph, sorry I didn't see your comment until now. I would say that the material in the book is very Balkan-oriented. However,

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

            I am twenty-two hours returned from a trip to Portland, OR where I spent three or four days hanging out with werewolves at the debut “year zero” run of a brand-new convention called Howl Con which is put on by some Pacific Northwest con-vets who generally put together an awesome event which was entirely worth making the time for. I will be returning next year to present once again on Wolf Steppes: Walking with werewolves in Thracian, Scythian and Eurasian Myth, probably also returning to (and expanding on) Werewolves and/as Rites of Passage with my medievalist colleague (who literally holds a Ph.D in werewolf studies!) and whatever else I can cook up in the mean time and con the con into giving me a timeslot for.

            But I digress; next year is a year away, so let me shift the focus to the weekend that has just happened, for those of you who were not able to attend. I was initially going to this as a purely social escape and vacation (my first since December!) from my work here in the Temple, which is full-time and demanding. I was subsequently invited by the organizer to present a panel or two. (“Invited” may be an overstatement: he simply assumed I would be, and asked what it would be on. So I did.) I arranged for capable caretaking support for my animal charges and companions – the Temple serpents, the crazed African raven, and the addle-minded felines – and kicked off for Portland just in time to catch the first rains of the city’s season.

...
Last modified on
0

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It has been an unexpectedly full month, and so I am behind in my writing. I had intended to have this posted two weeks ago, with a second coming up right around now, but life got a hold of my day-planner and fed it to some horses...

When I left off in my last entry, I promised to share a little bit about the Thracians. As a Thracian Polytheist, I am frequently asked “Huh?” or “Who?”, when introducing my religious practices, beliefs and foundations. Here I’ll share just a little bit to help any not yet “in the know” understand who these influential ancestors were. The writing and addressing of this is somewhat conflictual for me, personally, for at least some reasons entirely my own, which I will address in my next column. For now, though…

...
Last modified on
3

I was raised with the understanding that religion is, at its core, a thing that exists in order to facilitate relation between a person and something other than that person. This relation manifests in a myriad set of expressions and forms, from the most obvious and essential of relating to the divine powers, to the (perhaps equally important!) social side of relating to your corporeal community, and a thousand shades of grey between these two polarities. Religion that does not promote, facilitate and structure a person's relation to something which is both bigger than and at least in some way separate from themselves is, by my definitions, not religion at all.

My father, a Protestant Christian preacher, taught me – drawing upon the philosophies of his grandfather, also a preacher – of a "trinity" of religious relational foundations which was altogether a different thing than the usual "trinity" spoken of in Christianity. He taught me about the equal importance of relation with the divine (or invisible) world, relation with the human (social, communal) world, and relation with the natural (physical, visible, non-human) world. This, which in so many ways served as the first three swings of the machete through the heavy brush obscuring the paths of my own polytheistic religious calling, was my first encounter with truly ancestral wisdom.

The inherent requisites of this three-fold paradigm are clear: for relation to the gods, relation to humanity, and relation to the natural world, one must accept that all three of these are real. "Belief" (orthodoxy) is of less importance than practical acknowledgment (orthopraxy,) whether through full submission or reluctant choice to not contest or challenge these things. Belief can certainly be helpful (or even preferable) in many cases, but one does not need to believe in al-Girtas to be in relation with them! A second essential and perhaps more subtle requisite postulation is the suggestion that these three-tiered worlds can indeed relate back to you.

...
Last modified on
1
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Robert Scott
    Robert Scott says #
    I appreciate your impressions and comments applicable to recon, thank you.
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    Very nice post!!!! And I second Rebecca's notion. Also, just in case you were unaware because it comes from a small publisher in
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    Hi Rose! Thank you for your comments and support. I am familiar with the book and have a pre-order placed; the author is the co-fo

Additional information