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More about that Polytheist Devotional Meme

Well, folks,

Firstly, happy spring. Winter is slowly starting to loosen its grip--I know it may not feel like it for those of us in the east but soon, very soon we'll be complaining about the warm weather. I for one, can't wait.

In the meantime, I've been working through more of my devotional meme. I would like to share the next few questions with you. Feel free to post links to your own blogs in the comments section, if you too are tackling these.

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  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    I am so behind on emails and this was one that I wanted to read. Interesting, what you triggered this morning was remembering thi
1-10 of a Devotional Polytheist Meme

 

Over the past couple of weeks I've been slowly working my way through my Devotional Polytheist post. I wanted to share my answers to the first ten questions. If any of you are also participating in this meme, please feel free to share the links to your blogs in the comments. I would love to read how everyone approaches these issues and concepts. 

 

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  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Gallina, this is extraordinary, and such a gift. I sit here right now with the aftermath of three hours on a root canal, and this
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Actually, thank you. reading your comment was immensely inspiring to me. there is something that happens when we enter into the de
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I had the notion that I would bang these out once a day . . . HA! These are deep questions, and not so easy to answer. A friend

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More Devotional Q&A

 

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, folks, with lots of ritual work to be done as we move into fall. While we always honor our ancestors at the beginning of our rituals, autumn tends to be a a time when we focus even more strongly on our dead and that means a lot more rituals. I love it, but boy have I been busy!  Autumn really is, for me, the best season. It's so vibrant and finally after an entire summer of positively aching for fall, i've started smelling the teasing promise of crispness in the air, the faint sense of crisping decay as the leaves ever so slightly show the first signs of their inevitable decay. I love it. Of course, I also love that questions on ritual and praxis keep rolling in. I've gotten quite a bit of good feedback on this series and I'm enjoying it greatly. Y'all have been sending in some really thoughtful questions and I find crafting my answers makes me look at my own practice in new ways too. I thank you, my readers for that gift. For today's Q&A, I have a series of questions on how to handle offerings from reader Lenore. 

 

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  • Natasha Kostich
    Natasha Kostich says #
    Good questions! I also want to add that the more you do altar work the more confident you become. As time goes on, you will trust
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Rather than being inane, Lenore's questions are probably among the first anyone has! As I read your answers, I found myself addin
More on Honoring Mani: a Question Revisited

 

Having spent the better part of last weekend doing intense devotional work with and to Mani, I didn't want to let too much time passed before I returned to my 'honoring Mani' series. As with my devotional 101 series, I encourage readers to email me your questions about the Norse moon God. I'll do my best to answer them. Last week, Sparrow asked me a question that i covered in my last Mani post, but I wanted to revisit it again here expanding my earlier answer, because I've been thinking about it and it was a good question: 

"How can a person connect to Mani? I presume moon gazing and performing full moon rituals are good ways to get to know Him."

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  • Liza
    Liza says #
    I love Mani. When I was a small child, my grandmother babysat me once (and only once to my knowledge). It was one of those fall

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Devotion 101: More Q&A

 

Today's post is a continuation of my 'devotion 101' series. I am collecting questions from my readers about devotion and polytheism and one by one, week by week, I will answer them here. Today's question comes from Gary who asks: 

 

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  • Liza
    Liza says #
    Thanks, I am glad my night time ramblings made sense. And Gary, when I reread my comment (that nicely double posted, and I can't
  • Liza
    Liza says #
    I don't quite understand Taoist beliefs, even with what is shared, but I want to weigh in here too, because I think, for me,there
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    This is beautiful Liza and thank you. I think it actually answers the question better than I did. Devotion can be a deeply emotion
'He is Frenzy": my new book on Odin is out

My newest book on Odin: "He is Frenzy," a collection of everything (to the best of my ability) that I've written about Odin thus far, is now available. 

folks may order it directly through amazon.com

This book includes the complete texts of "Whisperings of Woden," and the English version of "Walking Toward Yggdrasil" as well as everything that I've written on the Old Man since then.  

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Honoring Mani Part 2: More Q&A

So since I will be honoring Mani this weekend, it seemed good impetus and good timing for posting part two of my Q&A for Him. I've gotten lots of questions from my readers and as with the questions I receive on devotion and polytheism, I'll be answering them weekly in the order in which I receive them (more or less. I copied them all into a file so it's really more like the order in which I slapped them into a Word doc!). 

Today, Rede Seeker asks: "Can you give more insight to Mani's relationship with Unn, the Tide-Maiden? I feel their relationship as a dance - Her surge and ebb, His wax and wane. They fit together like the Yin-Yang icon."

I'll preface my response by noting upfront that everything I'm about to say is my own personal UPG, or unverified personal gnosis…except that it has been verified independently by many others who honor both Unn and Mani. We call that PCPG: peer confirmed personal gnosis. I personally detest both terms -- all religious experience is at its heart personal gnosis and the public expressions of those religions form in those spaces where the majority of peoples' experiences overlap. Still, for those who all but piss themselves when someone starts talking from the authority of experience instead of the authority of lore, I disclaim: UPG warning, folks. There. Now I shall begin. 

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  • Tannim Wolfkin
    Tannim Wolfkin says #
    I have just started working with Mani and there is one question that is burning in my mind right now. In many cultures there is a

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Devotional Q&A #1

 

Last week, I promised my readers that if you sent me questions about devotional work or polytheism I would answer them to the best of my ability. Well, you haven't disappointed and I have at least a dozen or so questions (maybe more---I haven't actually counted) sitting in my inbox. They're' all good questions and thought-provoking so over the next few weeks I am going to take them one by one in the order in which they were received and answer them here (or maybe on my other blog depending on my mood). 

Today, my first question comes from V.M. who asks:

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House Sankofa is a mixed House. I think from what I've already shared about our House that it's pretty clear what that might mean, but to be fair I'll explain. In the founding of the House, our goal was to create a sanctuary, a welcoming devotional space where all the Gods and ancestors were welcome, and where They would each be venerated and honored according to the customs and protocols They preferred. To date, we have very strong Norse, African, and Mediterranean lines. What that means in actual practice is that slowly but surely we're all growing fluent and, i hope, fluid in moving from one religious language and set of protocols to another. I am purposely avoiding the use of the word 'eclectic.' It's come to have such a pejorative sense in the various Pagan communities that I do not think it furthers dialogue and, as we've already established in previous debates, words and their meanings are important. Rather, let's call this polytheism as our ancestors would have done it. 

Were I living several centuries before Christianity was a blip on the timeline of religious history, I would have naturally been polytheistic. I would have lived in a society, a community, a culture that was also polytheistic. It would have been the default setting for how we all viewed, engaged with, and processed our world. I would have honored my ancestors in whatever way was customary in my native culture; I would have honored my ancestral Gods, the Gods of my forefathers and foremothers.  I would also very likely have honored other Gods, possibly foreign ones, whose cultus were popular in my city. Were I to visit neighboring tribes, villages, or cities, it is not inconceivable that I would participate in foreign religious rites as well, honoring the Gods of the land in which i lived and moved. Then of course, there were whatever mystery cultus I may have initiated into. All in all, my personal practices and devotions may very well have been a diverse patchwork based on a number of factors. Ancient polytheisms were, in many ways, defined by their diversity. 

Now I don't mean that they lacked protocol and even some measure of exclusivity. Certainly one would not honor say Sekhmet in a temple of Vesta. There were civic and cultural constructs and protocols that were respectfully maintained within the individual temples. Preserving the cultus of that country's Gods was essential to preserving the country. Within the bounds of one's own personal practice, however, there was fluidity and a remarkable blending of practices. Polytheism meant and means 'many Gods' and that's exactly what people had. 

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  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    Great article!
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    I would definitely like that.
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    I hope one day to do Communalia with House Sankofa on behalf of the Ekklesía Antínoou.

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Devotion 101

In response to this post here: http://thehouseofvines.com/2013/08/08/polytheism-without-borders/, and as a result of several recent conversations that I've been having with various folks, I've decided that once a week (provided I get enough questions), I"ll be posting a 'Devotion 101' series. What does this mean? 

Well, I will answer questions, no matter how simple they may be, on devotion: how to do it, why we do it, how to get started. Readers can ask me "am i doing X right?" or "how can I honor Deity X better' and I'll do my best to answer. So long as I get questions from people, I'll keep this series running, maybe not every week (my academic term is starting soon after all) but as close to it as possible. 

It's become glaringly apparent recently that people are hungry for basic knowledge. One of the things that a good priest, a good spiritworker can be is a resource for this type of thing. So ask away. Post your questions here or send to krasskova at gmail.com and I'll do my best to answer them. 

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  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Why would i dillydally? A question --particularly one on devotion--deserves a clear, concise answer. I've always equated dillydall
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    thanks for acknowledging my comment/question - i appreciate the simplicity and straightforward reply. there is no dillydallying wi
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    I will answer this and all questions in forthcoming blogs here. I'll admit though, I find your question rather confusing. I tru

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All About Mani: the Norse Moon God

I love the Norse Moon God. There isn't very much information on Him in the surviving lore, and yet slowly but surely over the past decade His cultus has been restoring and rebuilding itself. This is a joy to see and it's an equal joy to be a part of such growing devotion. I've found He is a very hard God not to love. His Presence evokes longing and brings with it aching beauty twinned with the hint of ancient power. He touches the heart like no other Deity, and it often seems He moves with an exquisitely calculated sensuality throughout our world. Mani is mystery and in like fashion evokes the hunger for mystery. 

We don't actually have very much concrete information on Him. He's the God of the moon and guides the moon across the night sky, always chased by the wolf Hati. His sisters are Sunna and Sinthgunt and He is of the House of Mundilfari, the Time Turner. He is sometimes said to travel with two children, a boy Hjuki and and girl Bil whom He rescued from neglectful parents. He is the nephew of Nott, or Night. That's what we know from lore. From direct experience of Him, not just by me, but by many of His devotees, we know that He is fascinated by humanity and the process of embodiment. He watches over abused children and notes every tear, every wound, every scar. He is a special protector of those affected by emotional pain and mental illness, and once, He was very fierce. 

It might seem odd, for folks coming from a Wiccan background, to approach the moon Deity as a God, rather than a Goddess but the Norse are not the only Indo-European cultures to have this particular division of divine power. You find the same in the indigenous religions of Lithuania, Sumer, Japan, and ancient Kemet to name but a few.  For this reason, and also because there's been so little written about Him, prior to my sabbatical, I asked folks to email me their questions about this magnificent Deity. It's one thing for me to wax poetic about Mani, which I can happily do, but i was interested in what my readers wanted to know about Him and you all did not disappoint. I received some really good questions and I'm going to do my best to answer them here. 

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  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    Hail Máni! Thank you for this series. I'm really looking forward to it.

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Warrior Medicine

 

There is a desperation in how I fight the Filter now. I am aware of that. There didn't used to be. There was grit, determination, focus, but not vicious desperation. Over the past few months it changed, something in me changed and quite recently someone asked me what that was. It's simple really. My ancestors threw me into the direct experience of the sundering of our traditions. I stood in the flow of it and shared their experience and emotions. Then at the same time that was happening, the blogosphere erupted into a volcanic debate between polytheists and non-theistic pagans. why was this so significant to me personally? Why did it impact the place from which I fight the Filter? Because it showed me how bad off we truly are. It showed me the lay of the land and how deeply the damage went. It showed me how far we were from any coherent foundational roots. Until this past May and June, I had truly thought that more people were in ongoing devotional relationship with their Gods and dead, that more people were doing the work. My eyes have been opened.  I see well now why the Havamal warns that no man is happy who is over-wise. 

This epiphany hit me hard, harder than I care to admit. I came very close to seeing the restoration of our ancestral traditions as hopeless. So I did what I try always to do when I am in such a painful and demoralizing place: i took it to my ancestors, my Gods, and the Orisha. You see, it was becoming difficult for me to think of even the idea of 'community' with anything but contempt. Community? Really? I kept thinking "It's people like we have in our "community" who are the reason our traditions were destroyed in the first place and obviously not much has changed." Such bitter anger is not good for the work. It may be justified. It may be understandable but it prevents coherent strategizing and makes it hard to keep one's work clean, and it's so important that the Work be clean. Not to mention, it's difficult not to alienate allies and friends when one is in such bad headspace. So I stepped back and put it before my ancestors and Powers. 

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  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    Loved this article and I honor and appreciate the work you do, Ashe!
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    Hi Galina just want to say i really and deeply appreciate your posts - i may not be where your at personally but nevertheless i'm
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Good to see you back. I had a small lesson today to cause me to realize the small daily devotions I make in the morning are more

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Another Ancestor Q&A

...When honoring the dead makes your skin crawl

 

"Every man is a quotion from all his ancestors." ----Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    I agree. There are Ancestors who are willing to help you with the toxic ones. I had to go back a few generations to find Them. Onc

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Devotional Forms: Storytelling

 

While debate rages on in other corners of the web about what kinds of Gods we do or don’t believe in, I have been thinking about the way that we worship whatever/whomever we hold dear, sacred, and holy. I decided a series of posts that tackle this question from a deeply personal point of view would be useful to me, and perhaps to a few readers as well. I have also been thinking about shadows, storytelling, and ceremonies-so it seemed natural that I would start there.

Read More

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  • Naya Aerodiode
    Naya Aerodiode says #
    To tell a story is to take one on a journey through another realm, places of infinite possibility, to bring back the treasures of
  • Miss Bri Saussy
    Miss Bri Saussy says #
    Beautifully said Naya!
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    What a fascinating topic. As a writer, I love to engage in storytelling with pen and ink, but although I've sung and spoken in fro

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A Day in the Life

 

Sannion has written a delightful post at http://thehouseofvines.com/2013/06/09/what-does-a-sannion-do/ about an average day in his devotional life. I know that I always find it interesting to know what my colleagues and friends do for their Gods, and how they both order and balance the demands of devotion but until reading this, it hadn't occurred to me to write anything about my own average devotional day (though I have occasionally been asked what I do).  Well, I"m going to do that now, stealing an idea from Sannion (whom I hope will not mind too much!). There is of course, one caveat to all of this (as Sannion also points out in his post): what i write here is what I do. It may not be what those of you reading are called to do. The thing here is to ask yourselves how you can deepen and better *your* practices. If this helps, then I'm glad. If not, let me know what you're doing devotionally--it might inspire me and others reading this. 

Now, i'm essentially pretty lazy. So this is what I do on a general day, not a day where I have special ritual obligations, House rituals, oracle work, client appointments, or where i may have to go to school, etc. This is just a basic run of the mill day. I generally get up around eight am. Sometimes I have morning appointments so it might be later or a bit earlier. I greet the Gods, the Orisha, the house spirits and my ancestors. groggily. I bath and dress (and what i wear is dependent on what my ritual, Deity, and client obligations might be throughout the day) and head downstairs for coffee. I make my breakfast and also offerings to the ancestors. 

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  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    I read Sannion's and enjoyed it very much. I am so glad you added to it. It's good to know and hear how others "walk their talk" d
We Don't Need No Stinkin' Theories

(or The Fundamentals of Polytheism: Principle #1)

Today i was reading a good article by John Halstead summing up various perspectives in the recent heroes vs. superheroes community wide debate. Now I don't agree with much of Halstead's theories mind you, and completely disagree in every possible way with the very idea of "Jungian Neo-Paganism",  but he's a thoughtful and engaged writer and I respect his willingness and ability to delve *critically* into an idea or controversy, which he did in this article. I was particularly taken with his idea that behind much of the polytheistic response here  is resistance to the de-sacralizing of our traditions and that is absolutely correct. We are fighting to keep the Gods and the numinous, the Powers, and mystery in contemporary traditions of the sacred and it's an uphill battle. 

As I was discussing this on Facebook,  noting that as a result of this debate, I intended to write a series of articles on what I think are the fundamentals of polytheism, Teo Bishop asked me if I would be expanding on the 'nature of real-ness' of the Gods in my upcoming articles, if I would be positing a theory, what he (and I believe Halstead also) termed a theory of the ontological nature of the Gods.'. 

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  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Thank you, Tess, very well said. It can be a difficult transition even after years in the craft. As they say: This shit just go
  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    I think what's needed is a paradigm shift more so than any theory right now. And I think that sometimes a person can mistake belie
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    It was worth reading all the comments just for this.

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Questions on Devotion

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to start writing about the basics, the real fundamentals of devotion, spiritual engagement, and polytheism as I see it, live it, and teach it. I've often lamented that I see way too many people coming to me lacking the basic foundation, a foundation that were we living in a polytheistic society, were we living in a community where our indigenous traditions were intact never having been sundered by monotheism, would have been taught by osmosis. We'd have learned by doing. We'd have learned by living in a community where our parents, our grandparents, our leaders, our friends, our neighbors all modeled these ideas and approaches. It would have been reinforced by the community in a way that simply doesn't happen today.

I've often complained about this to colleagues, but it wasn't until a few days ago that my partner said "why don't you write a series on the basics of devotional work as a way of providing something of that foundation. Gods know people have enough questions." Well, I know a good idea when I hear it, hence this post. 

So send me your questions on devotion, on living polytheism, on honoring the Gods, even on my own practices and I will do my best to answer them based on my own approach, my understanding of polytheism as a theologian, an active polytheist, and a historian, and as a priest and shaman. I'm going to break it down as I see it, to some very base-line concepts that someone in the dubious march of modernity we've lost, forgotten, or decided to ignore. 

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  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    Have you thought about covering the differences between shrines and altars?
  • Trine
    Trine says #
    I'd be really interested in a piece on that - from the p.o.v. of several traditions too, if there is a difference.
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Okay, here is a silly/serious question: how important do you think it is to pepper our everyday speech with references to the Gods
General Deity Questions, Fandom Gone Wrong, and "Pray, Forrest, Pray!"

 

Well, the school term is finally, officially over, I've submitted my last essay exam, and now I am free and clear as a bird, almost. I'm at least free and clear enough that I can catch up on some of the Odin and/or Deity questions that have accrued while i've been battling through finals the last two weeks. As I know i've noted before, I'm really enjoying the questions that are coming in. I think these are conversations we need to be having. Moreover, I"m forced to really engage with my own practice, and think and analyze what I do and how i approach my practice much more consciously and I think that's a good thing. Nothing in devotion should ever become so rote that we forget why we're doing it!

 

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  • Danielle Aubenque
    Danielle Aubenque says #
    Thank you for clearly articulating a struggle I have had for years. It gives me hope that I am not alone in my feelings toward the
  • Ainslie
    Ainslie says #
    I suspect Paganism is being used as "Atheism lite" by many people who really need to become Atheists.
  • Tim Schneider
    Tim Schneider says #
    For me this is pretty simple. It is about having standards, not being elitist or mean. It is about demanding respect for the God
Yet Another Round of Odin Questions

 

People seem to be enjoying the Odin questions that I"ve been answering here. I'm happy to keep this Q&A series going as long as folks have questions. Many of these things, while I've thought about them and internalized them, I've never actually broken down and analyzed for anyone else, so this is making me look at my experience and my practices and the way i interact with the Gods in new ways too and that's useful to praxis. 

On that note, Liza asks: 

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  • Liza
    Liza says #
    Thank you for answering my questions here. I think that sometimes these are the things that people just don't talk about in genera
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Christine, I am glad this article was able to help. I know that when I went through my first fallow period with Odin it was withou
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Galina, thank you so much for this post. I am six months into the fallow period after last summer which was the period of intimat

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Questions on Piety from a Reader

In my previous post, I promised that if people wanted to ask me questions about my practice or about the way I express piety in my devotional life, I would be more than happy to answer them. Liza broke the ice and asked the following three questions, which I found very insightful, so I decided to tease them out into their own separate post. 

 

Liza: For the newbie, young's, seeker without a physical community to lead them, how do you suggest they start? (Though I suspect I know this answer in part, I think it bears repeating)

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  • Liza
    Liza says #
    Thank you, BTW, for thinking out these questions to give answers. I've had a busy week, and I am now only catching up on reading a
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Trine, thank you for your question. I just answered it in my most recent post. Go and take a look. These are good questions, fol
  • Trine
    Trine says #
    Thanks for opening up for questions - this one has been on my mind for a while. Maybe there's no answer to it (and maybe it's too

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