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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. 

They began by reminding me that no one said this work would be easy. This was presented with some humor and it did at least get me to smile. No, if it were easy it wouldn't need to actually be done. We knew this was going to be difficult and grueling work from the get-go. 

Secondly, they showed me all the ways our world is fragmented, all the ways that we all suffer because of it, all the ways that 'religion' has been used to condemn and destroy our humanity. Is it any wonder the idea of a "God" or "Gods" is unwelcome to some, why the lure of putting humanity in Their place is so strong? Look what's been done in the name of "God" both individually and globally. Look at how the Filter has worked that. Then look at how we've been conditioned to want our spirituality served up to us neat, in bite size easily digestible portions. Nothing in our society prepares us for it to be difficult, wrenching or even to require ongoing *work*. It does too, just like the cultivation of anything else, the cultivation of a strong spiritual life, a strong connection to the ancestors and Holy Powers takes ongoing care, attention, and work. It can be *hard*. Moreover, nothing in monotheism prepares us for the type of devotional partnership and reciprocity the Gods and ancestors offer. There's one hell of a learning curve. 

Finally, I carry warrior medicine. This is my wyrd. This is my ashe. This is my work. It is part and parcel of a warrior to defend and work for the betterment of a community without ever actually being a full part of that community, or enjoying its benefits. i can admit to a bit of struggle with the unfairness of this. But we're the ones who do what no one else wants to, who take the blows and hold the line, and then mask ourselves as much as possible so the medicine we carry doesn't freak those we love out when we come back into the community enclosure. We're outliers even when we're in the midst of community celebration. The "village" is not a place in which we find shelter. It's a place that our work ensures exists as a shelter for others. 

I'm not altruistic. I"ll be the first to admit this pisses me off and frankly on a personal level I wouldn't bother with any of the work I do but, here's the second part of that warrior wiring. It doesn't matter how I feel about my work. It doesn't even matter how I feel about building our communities, all that matters is that this is the job I have been given. I will do this even when I'm really not feeling the community love, because I love the Gods and my ancestors and moreover because it is my job. it is my duty. I can act out of duty when my emotions are a tangled mess. Do I love the community: um. no. really. no. But I love what the community has the potential to be. 

One other thing was shown to me and it had me in tears before my altars. Every single person is crucial in this work. Not everyone carries warrior medicine, and not everyone can do devotional work as a warrior would but we can all do devotion. It is going to take a concerted effort from both sides of the equation: living and ancestral to shift the balance of our world. Building a tradition isn't a warrior's job. We clear the space so the seeds can be re-planted. We hold that space so the seeds have time to grow. Tending, watering, pruning….those things require gentle hands, loving hands, committed hands; warrior hands too but not only warrior hands and not primarily. Every single person has a part to play there and it begins with individual devotion. It begins with one person pouring out an offering to their ancestors. It begins with one person connecting to their Gods. One by one and consistently. That restoration isn't going to happen with any metaphysical fireworks. It's going to happen quietly in the secret fastness of our hearts, one by one.  There are no small acts. Gandhi said once that "almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it." He was, I staunchly believe, right. 

 I'm back from sabbatical now and over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing several of the articles that I wrote while i was away, including a multi-part series on the Norse Moon God Mani. The focus as always, renewed and refreshed, will be devotion to the Gods and ancestors and an ongoing discussion of poly-theology: building polytheisms that value and focus on just that and how to do that well. Happy Lammas, folks. Happy harvest and let us welcome the slow turning of that seasonal tide.

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 Galina Krasskova is a Heathen priest, author, and Northern Tradition shaman. She holds a Masters degree in Religious Studies and is currently working toward a PhD in Classics. Galina is the author of several books including “Essays in Modern Heathenry” and “Skalded Apples: A Devotional Anthology to Idunna and Bragi.”
(Photo by Hudson Valley photographer Mary Ann Glass.)

Comments

  • Ashley Moore
    Ashley Moore Monday, 29 July 2013

    i couldn't agree with your quote from ghandi more. glad to hear such a new found awareness is driving you towards a stronger approach to your work.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Tuesday, 30 July 2013

    Welcome back. There's much to do.

  • Liza
    Liza Wednesday, 31 July 2013

    I think it is important to build relationships, connects, and supports here, as well as Elsewhere. Not all humans are warriors, and not all Non- warriors need to be shielded from that face behind the mask. It's dirty work It's needed work.

    I know I do not have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, or the breath and depth of the problem... I know that what I do seems insignificant in a large context, but I know I love my ancestors, and I believe we heal a lot in our lives, and those around us, when we heal Them.

    Even if the greater "community" doesn't see the value (yet) it just means you need to look at the community smaller first-before we see neighborhoods, countries, or paths of faith, look at households, and those who have a similar call already started. Start building there-which you are, I believe.

  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger Wednesday, 31 July 2013

    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 important than I may consciously realize. As it was payday and I have to pay bills and figure out what is left and how to manage it, I was dismayed when my financial software crashed. Inadvertently I got enmeshed in removing the program etc to get it working and used up all my morning time except for shower time. I do not think I have missed an offering on a weekday morning since the practice started about a year ago. I felt like a piece of me was missing, made my apologies, and started working on balancing myself before the commute and work day dominated. In the shower I spoke to Hermes, and reminded myself that the offering is symbolic of what I really offer which is myself. I in turn was led to understand that the one who derives the most benefit from the daily offering is me. The practices that I do are the foundation for my life

  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. Wednesday, 31 July 2013

    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 glad your here for you truly make me ponder and muse my own devotion which is the Taoist way and their Immortals and also the Kami way (Shinto), - all this while being Roman Catholic. yes, they all fit together for me!

    Thank you-

  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat Thursday, 01 August 2013

    Loved this article and I honor and appreciate the work you do, Ashe!

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