Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_milky-way-and-haystack-rock.jpgI’ve felt a lot closer to Star Mother since moving to Oregon in 2013.  I've really felt closer to the Vanir in general since moving out here, but right now I will talk about connecting with Star Mother.

When I first moved to Portland I took a lot of walks at night to calm down (as my move had been under less than ideal circumstances and I had a lot to deal with in a very short amount of time, I was pretty stressed) and it became a meditative exercise.  When I moved to a semi-rural area in January of this year, there was a lot less light pollution and I could see the stars more clearly in the sky (though enough light pollution that I couldn’t see beyond a few handfuls); this past Imbolc, I went for a ride out to a more remote location, and for the first time in my life I saw the Milky Way, and the sky dotted with what seemed like millions of stars.  It was a sight that moved me to tears, and I couldn’t speak except to say, in Eshnesk (the language of the Eshnahai, or Vanic elves) Alekteya, Naiandu Adami.  (lit. “Blessings, Star Mother.”)  There was joy, but also what I can only describe as holy terror.  It was so beautiful, the sky seemed endless, and I felt very, very small.  I could feel the presence of Something much bigger than myself, and in her embrace, I felt like a child again.  As powerless as I felt, so tiny - a tiny pale dot on a tiny blue dot in the vastness of space - I felt held, at the same time.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The other day a member of my coven offered to lead an upcoming ritual.  I was extremely pleased by this development. Though my wife and I often function as the "High Priestess" and "High Priest" of our group we didn't start this endeavor with the idea that we would run every ritual.  It's nice to just sit back sometimes and participate instead of having to stand forward and "lead."  

I know that our group is kind of set up in a such a way that it often looks like I'm in charge. My wife and I started our coven, we selected our initial circle-mates, and I organized our week to week gatherings.  As time went on we adopted a formal ritual structure, which I wrote.  

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_771px-Life_and_Death_Intermingled.jpg(an excerpt from my book, Visions of Vanaheim)

Star Mother is, in personal gnosis corroborated by several spirit-workers (as well as directly from Vanic elves), the progenitor of the Vanir and Creatrix of the Multiverse, and (with the Serpent Twins) the closest thing the Vanir have to a god that they will revere, in the sense of ancestor worship.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mariah
    Mariah says #
    Beautiful- it's rather similar to the Feri tradition's creation myth-http://www.feritradition.org/grimoire/deities/star_goddess.ht
  • Nornoriel Lokason
    Nornoriel Lokason says #
    Yes, yes it is. There are some notable differences in the Eshnahai cosmology v. the Feri cosmology, from there on, but that is so

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

This essay was originally published at Neo-Paganism.com.

edw-hellas-29The Collective Unconscious

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Great Quake of '89

My senior year of college at the University of California at Santa Cruz was the Loma Prieta earthquake.  It was not a spiritual experience, but it greatly affected the course of my life, caused me to invest magic in my truck, and led to a significant event in my life as a heathen. This year is the 25th anniversary of this event.

Quotes from my memoir:

     “Most of my memories are fuzzy about the time and date on which they took place, but there is one I can date to the minute:  October 17, 1989, 5:04pm.”

 “…the plate glass sliding doors in the living room rippled like water…”

It was the great quake of ’89, its epicenter in Santa Cruz County. I have a detailed description of what happened in my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts. After a week of sleeping outdoors because the buildings were not certified safe, I thought:

      “If I had dad’s truck with me, I could sleep in it.  No freezing soccer fields.  No worries about rain.  I could have all the supplies I needed right in there, ready for me any time I wanted them.” 

      “…The only coherent thought I had all afternoon was, “This is not going to happen to me again.  I am not going to depend on anything or anyone outside myself.  I can’t depend on the water always turning on and being fit to drink.  I can’t depend on the buses always running and the stores always being open.  I was depending on the government.  Now I’m going to depend on myself.  Alone.”

When I returned to Santa Cruz from the family home in Sonoma, I was driving the truck. The same one I still drive, which my mom had named The Warhoop Wagon while it was still my dad’s: an ’84 Chevy Silverado. Longbed. Two-tone brown and cream paint job like a palomino. Camper shell on the back. Freshly stocked with supplies from survivalist catalogs. Not just a vehicle: a place I could live in.

      “Before we left I walked around the truck, simultaneously conducting a safety check and casting a spell of protection.  I imbued the truck with energy to journey safely and to prevent harm to myself and others on the road.  To my inner eye it glowed with the armor of my directed will, but beneath that was its own personality, a protectiveness like the best qualities of its previous owner.  Driving my truck—my father’s truck—was a holy act of inheritance of ability.”

Over the years, I have reinforced and enhanced the safe-journey magic and the truck's own personality grew stronger. Its formal name is still the one my mother gave it, but I more often think of it as My Faithful Truck. It's hard to explain to non-pagans why I won't give it up; I usually just tell them it's lucky.

The first place I drove it was to a pagan ritual in the middle of rubble-strewn San Francisco, in the hard-hit Marina district which was still blackened and choked from gas main fires: the Spiral Dance. I brought my mom with me, and that was how I came out as pagan.

Back at college, I found myself in a spiritual battle for which I did not feel at all prepared. That is another story, coming in the next post.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Spiraling into the center - A Samhain Ritual

 

I normally write about daily rituals and devotional practices, the kind we all do or all can do if we are so called to. Today, however, I'm going to focus on one of the largest, longest running public rituals I know of or have ever had the pleasure to participate in - Reclaiming's 35th Annual Spiral Dance.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Yes indeed. And that, I think, is the thing to do. Remember them. Sing their names and carry on the work they began.
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    We have lost so many Mighty Dead this past year. May they return to us. May we honor them by carrying their work forward.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Berserker Trance

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, when I was studying at the University of Kalinin (now Tver), USSR, I experienced the berserker trance during a street fight, although I had not yet begun studying the martial art of Bersarkrgangr. This was one of the events in my life that qualified me to study it. 

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

It was broad daylight, and I and another American were walking to the post office. Tale of the tape: I was 5'3" and weighed about 117 lbs. My opponent, whom I only saw briefly before going into a berserker trance but whom I will never forget, was about 5'10" and about 170 lbs. 

A quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts:

     “The crowd pressed in on all sides, so I had no warning alarms go off in my mind when a man came very close.  He grabbed me by the left breast.

     Light.

     A flash of light, and nothing else.  No sound, no sensation.  Bright white light.

     I was inside the post office.  I was standing in the lobby, busy people flowing all around me.  I stood staring at a police officer sitting on his stool.”   

I still have a total blank where any memory of what I did would be, but I guessed that I had run away. I may or may not have punched or kicked him or did any other martial arts moves, but I had to have run off because I was out of breath and a block away when I came to awareness again, with a wave of berserker fury crashing over me. It bothered me that I had run. I had this self image as this badass kung fu fighter, and the berserker in me ran away.

I only considered reporting the incident to the policeman for about a second. This was a Soviet militiaman, there to guard the post office in the midst of the anarchy of what was obvious even then was about to be the fall of the Soviet Union.  This was a city where the black market traded openly in the daytime and street gangs ruled the night, zipping along on their motorcycles with AK-47s they had bought from corrupt soldiers who were trading them for food because the army’s pay was worthless in the middle of a currency collapse. I had already witnessed numerous assaults on the street and knew that street crime might as well be the weather for all the attention it was going to receive. Plus, I was an American, and was not someone they would automatically protect. So I just went about my business.

Later, this was one of the life experiences that the teacher of the martial art of the berserkers considered one of my qualifications to learn Bersarkrgangr. Bersarkrgangr was a traditional martial art of the heathen culture, and still is, although it has undoubtedly changed over time. Learning it was one of the major experiences of my life, and this street incident was one of the things that led to my learning it, so although I started having flashbacks to the childhood sexual abuse after that incident, on the whole I actually have to say it was a positive turning point, although it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time. From the perspective of 25 years later, I look back and think, four things happened after my dedication to Freya that felt very dark when I was going through them, but which I see now shaped me into the person she wanted me to be.

The first person I ever really talked about this incident with was the Bersarkrgangr teacher, several years later. I expressed my embarrassment at having run away, but he relieved my guilt about that. He said, "Erin, you won that fight. When I was in Vietnam, I sometimes went on scouting missions. We weren't supposed to engage the enemy, just go out, look, and report back. If they came too close, I hid. (He told a story about climbing a tree and pretending to be a bird while the enemy passed beneath him.) It's not cowardice. It's completing the mission. You weren't there to fight anybody. Your mission was to go mail a package at the post office. You used only the amount of force necessary to disengage, escaped unscathed, retreated, and accomplished your mission. That's what warriors do." 

I've written a paper about Bersarkrgangr, which is available free here: https://www.academia.edu/8013139/Bersarkrgangr_The_Viking_Martial_Art

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