Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In my last post, I promised to describe a ritual which my family does about the Jungian Shadow.  We've done this ritual in the past at the summer solstice, but it can be done at any time.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Better World

As a Polytheist priest often engaged in very public discussions of piety, devotion, submission to our gods and the importance of worshipful relations and all that... I often get misunderstood as somehow being unconcerned with the world around me. (Although anyone who would think this clearly hasn't read anything I've ever written, since I'm pretty prolifically obsessed with social justice, mental health, communication, and world events.)

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    A -- we are aware of the problem and investigating a fix. It's a mysterious glitch and our initial efforts did not solve the probl
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    There are major glitches in the site for some reason. Huge chunks of this this article keeping getting "cut" from the page. I have
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    Thank you! The raven and I are staying warm, with animal skins and fire and whiskey.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Anomalous Thracian, As usual, a great post! I share the sentiment and admire the eloquence. May the Gods everlasting keep you an
  • Anomalous Thracian
    Anomalous Thracian says #
    Some of us are bridge-builders, while others are boat-builders or sailors, and others still are flying airplanes. We don't need to
B is for Bestla (The Pagan Experience week 4)

Not so long ago, at the height of December’s retail busy season—which also happened to be the height of Wild Hunt season—I had a dream. Okay, let’s call it what it was: a nightmare. In it, I was asleep in our bedroom and thought I heard Jo talking in her sleep from her own bed. Then I realized it was actually my mother—who used to talk in her sleep a fair amount and who has been dead for twenty years (although that detail didn’t occur to me in the dream). I called out something about trying to sleep, but she kept talking.

And then I realized that it wasn’t my mother speaking at all; the voice was harder, unfamiliar, while still female. I realized she was telling a story, in a somewhat sing-song voice, a horrible story that I was certain I didn’t want to hear the end of. (No, I don’t remember what the story was—although in retrospect, I have my suspicions, of which I won’t speak.) As she neared the end of it, she rose from her bed and approached mine, not asleep at all. I wanted to move or scream but was utterly paralyzed. I tried to call for help—from Odin, from the Hunt—but no help appeared. The woman—a farm wife in dress and apron–smiled down at me with her hard face and glittering, hard eyes, smiling into my eyes as she spoke the final words of the story. And then she reached into my mouth and down my throat and into my chest—just rammed her entire hand and arm in.

I awoke. I rose and went to my shrine, lit a candle, not wanting to go back to sleep. I’m not sure I slept any more that night at all. I had an ache in the general area of my heart chakra for the next several days.

Only the next day did I being to realize who the dream-woman had been. The clues were simple: 1) she had been menacing, but had not actually harmed me (although she had done something—something that was Allowed, apparently; 2) neither Odin nor the Hunt had volunteered any help; thus, no matter how scary she had been, she didn’t actually intend any harm to me; 3) the warding Odin has placed on me and our house—which is quite thorough—did not keep her away, and 4) in the dream, I had at first identified her with my mother, then realized that was almost correct, but not quite. I struggled with what my intuition was telling me for hours before sheepishly asking Odin if I was right. He confirmed that I was.

My dream visitor was none other than my mother-in-law, the Queen Mother of Asgard: Bestla. And the next night when I saw Her in the Hunt, She flashed Her dream disguise at me briefly before transforming back into Her usual glamorous self, and winked.

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  • Miles Gerhardson
    Miles Gerhardson says #
    Interesting...

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_11-25-10catnecklacegrove059-2.jpgMost of the Vanatruar I know, myself included, are not reconstructionists - each of us seems to have our own idiosyncratic way of relating to the Powers, much like bio-regions differ from region to region, the Vanic path will vary from person to person.  I do not believe that reconstructionism is superior, nor do I believe that modernism is superior: in Vanatru, there is no one true way of doing things, we recognize that diversity is organic and natural, responding to the needs of different situations and relationships. With that caveat...

One of the questions I am often asked is "where do I start? how do I begin?"  If you are new to Vanatru, you may feel overwhelmed by the very do-it-yourself approach found among much of Vanatruar.  Sometimes people need a point in some direction, even if they choose later on to do things differently.  In my book Visions of Vanaheim (paperback | PDF), I look at some older practices connected with the Vanic cultus - such as the wain processions of Frey and Nerthus - and how one might adapt these practices for the modern day.  One of the rites of the elder Heathen that we know about is a ritual called blót.  This word means "blood" (ETA: see clarification in comments re: the meaning of the word)

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  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    The Old Norse word blót does not mean "blood". That is the ON word blóð. Blót means "worship, in particular pagan worship involvin
  • Nornoriel Lokason
    Nornoriel Lokason says #
    Thank you for clarifying! Do you know if they're cognates, by any chance? (Asking out of linguistic curiosity.)
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    Doesn't seem to be, although it's a common enough folk etymology. Old Norse blót derives ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bhlā
  • Nornoriel Lokason
    Nornoriel Lokason says #
    Thank you!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Home Fire

Home. We don't really know how we feel about it. We may reject the place that raised us and seek to escape its troubling pull. Or we may long for an idealized home and set out to find it. But home is something you can neither escape nor find in its perfection. Rather, “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” (Robert Frost) We can't avoid the imperfection inherent in living with those we haven't chosen. And even those we choose can disappoint us, and we them.

 

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    So, tell us - HOW did you get to be such "a repository of (not so) useless bits of information on ancient religion, spiritual prac
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    I do have a rather futile Masters in English from a very long time ago, but anything I know about the rest is a result of being fa
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Now that is funny! And I know exactly what you mean. Sorry about the double entry before; it looked like the first one hadn't "
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Really nice, as usual. How did you get to be such "a repository of (not so) useless bits of information on ancient religion"? Did

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
I love Nevada!

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, in 1995 I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. I finally came home to the desert. Flying into Las Vegas, I passed through a layer of dark emotion, like a cloud over the city, which was being blown away by the wind. As I descended I saw that the negative emotions of the whole valley were being collected by a giant black pyramid and projected out from the city on a bright beam of light. On the valley floor, the city does not press on my mind like other big cities do. The pyramid bleeds off all the excess psychic energy, leaving the valley as clear as farmland. The Vegas valley is a spiritually comfortable place for me.

I opened an independent bookstore, The Science Fiction Store, which is no longer in business. A couple came to place merchandise in my store. A very pregnant woman held the door for her husband while he rolled in. When I shook her hand, I knew she was going to be my best friend. She still is. The little being who was inside her is now a stage manager. (Those who have been reading my life story on this blog and are wondering how I went from planning a career in intelligence to opening a bookstore, the short answer: the fall of the Soviet Union.) I sometimes get strong psychic impressions from touching things or people, including when I shake hands. That is a side effect of learning to read runes, because I trained myself to pick up impressions from my rune set by touching the individual stones.

Trying to make extra money, I briefly worked as a phone psychic. I did rune readings, and developed some charts that I later published in Idunna Magazine that made the readings easier to perform. Sometimes the callers were budding psychics, telepaths, and empaths who had no training, no access to advice, and nowhere else to turn. They were getting the same kinds of headaches and disorientation I got when I had tried to thin my shields to get my telepathy back when I was a teenager. I taught them how to shield. That was as much as I could do in the half hour before the calls self-terminated. I had to stop doing the phone readings because reading for people I couldn’t see, hundreds or thousands of miles away, exhausted my powers. They took a long time to recharge.

A local woman planned to lead tours to haunted spots and the UFO viewing at Area 51. I went with her on her scouting trip for the tours, and visited the haunted hotel in Goldfield. 

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

     “The haunted hotel looked like it could have been the set for a Western.  Everything was in simple, worn woods, except for red velvet carpeting and patterned velvet wallpaper.  The hotel’s manager took us up to the ghost room.  Renee knew I was sensitive psychically, and asked me if I could feel the ghost.

     I shook my head while I set up my tripod to take a shot of the ghost room.  “I don’t sense anything, but then I wouldn’t really expect to, with all these other people here.  There’s a half a dozen of us in this room.  The psychic emanations of the living are a hundred times more powerful than a spirit’s, unless it’s a naturally powerful spirit which was never human in the first place.  I would need to be alone here to detect anything.”

I love Nevada, but one thing I missed about living in California was having large pagan and heathen festivals within driving distance that I could go to just by buying a ticket. I heard a rumor that there was a heathen group in the area, but I didn't meet anyone who was in one. I was not really looking very hard, though. After the experience in which I learned the lessons I wrote about in the Good Knowledge, Bad Teacher posts, I did not really want to join another kindred, I just wanted to go to public ritual as a member of the public. I sometimes wished that I could just look up a conveniently located public ritual place in the phone book to go to, just like my Christian relatives could look up a convenient church in the phone book when they came to town. Instead, I started keeping the holidays as a solitary, or if the holiday I wanted to celebrate was an American holiday like Yule celebrated by non-heathens as well, I might have a holiday dinner party with my closest friends regardless of religious affiliation. I was not yet calling that American Celebration, as I titled it in my latest book, but that was the origin of it.

About the image that accompanies this post: This is a sunprint I made titled Las Vegas Skyline with UFO. The original is in the permanent collection of the Hammargren Home of Nevada History, a private museum.

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Ariadne was just a girl and other urban legends of antiquity

We like to think of the gods as having always existed, time out of mind. In one sense they are timeless, of course, but in another sense they are closely linked to the cultures and societies of specific eras. It’s important to know when each deity ‘showed up’ and in what culture they did so, in order to understand which versions of the myths are the original ones and which are later alterations.

That’s right, later cultures came along and changed the earlier versions of myths, in most cases because they were taking over a society and wanted to downplay or even demonize its deities in favor of their own. You may be familiar with the way the writers of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) depicted Asherah, Ba’al and other Middle Eastern deities as evil demons. You may also have heard about the ways the medieval Christian church condemned the European Pagan gods as evil spirits in the cases where they couldn’t manage to transform them into local saints. Well, these kinds of propaganda weren’t invented by the Judeo-Christian world; they’ve been going on as long as there have been people and pantheons.

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