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Last year a young man approached me at a sabbat and told me he was "of my line."  Huh?  I didn't know I had a line.  Then he told me he'd recently been initiated and one of his initiators was an initiate of one of my initiates.  My initiate had been a student of mine (and of others) for some years before any oaths were sworn. 

This incident brings up lots of questions, especially since it arises from a tradition (Reclaiming) that requires no initiation in order for people to participate as fully and completely, prominently and authoritatively (teaching, public priest/essing, et al.) as they choose.  An obvious concern in this scenario is accountability -- to students, to community, to tradition.  Another is whether, or how, one can assume a shared knowledge and capability.  Those are questions for another rumination; for now, let's stick with lines and lineage.

What do we mean by lineage?  Why is it important to us?  Or to those of us who may think it is important?  Or to anyone?

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  • Evylyn Rose
    Evylyn Rose says #
    Just wanted to share a quick, friendly message that the URL for the Ordains linked to in this article has changed and can now be f
  • Ro Reyburn
    Ro Reyburn says #
    I guess that I have to opt for a [i]functional[i] , for lack of a better word, definition. Lineage, to me, is the line of connec
  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    Most teachers offer the answers, the wise ones simply ask the right questions. And you are asking the right questions. I think th

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_sixth-article-800px-Walhall_by_Emil_Doepler.jpg

Better alive (than lifeless be):
to the quick fall aye the cattle;
the hearth burned for the happy heir –
outdoors a dead man lay.

May the halt ride a horse, and the handless be herdsman,
the deaf man may doughtily fight,
a blind man is better than a burned one, ay:
of what gain is a good man dead?

– “Havamal” 70 & 71

These words warrant our reflection. They articulate, baldy and unambiguously, the high worth placed on human life among the Norse Heathens – for these sentiments are attributed to Odin himself.

...
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  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Henry, I'd like to republish this at HumanisticPaganism.com next month if you are amendable. Let me know. Thanks, John Halstead
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I've often found myself frustrated with some Heathens who refuse to take the heart of that line in the Havamal to heart. Rather th

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I'm revisiting the practice of xenia today. Xenia, as I wrote in my initiatory post about it, is the ancient Hellenic practice of ritual hospitality. A quote:

"Hospitality in ancient Hellenic was a complicated ritual within both the host and the guest has certain roles to fill and tasks to perform. Especially when someone unknown to the host came to the door, the ritual held great value. This ritual practice of hospitality was called 'xenia' (ξενία) and is described a lot in mythology. This, because any unknown traveler at the door could be a Theos in disguise or they could even be watched over by a Theos who would pass judgement on the host."

Today, I'm expanding upon my previous post about ritual hospitality with some tips about modern interpretation of the ancient practice. Society has changed, after all, and those wishing to actively practice xenia will find themselves in situations where they will want to assume the best in strangers, but who must safeguard themselves against abuse of all kinds.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

When I was a kid I remember that whenever a new person entered our lives, especially whenever one of us children brought a new friend home, my mother would ask, "Who are your people?"  This used to really bug me.  She did it in a challenging, even accusatory, way, like you had to prove yourself worthy of her attention or of being in her child's life before she'd accept you.

Now that so many years have past, and my mother is gone, I'm revising my attitude towards her question.  Who are my people?  Who are your people?  Who are our people?  

...
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  • Tom Terrific
    Tom Terrific says #
    I like your observations. I’ve thought a lot about spiritual community, because I’ve so longed for it and yet never found it. Gro
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Wow, Tom! Thanks for your observation. I hadn't thought of this in quite this way. I'd considered undue affluence and its effec

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Meditations on Hávamál 1-4

Hávamál offers us a glimpse of a past that had already become somewhat nostalgic when a single hand transcribed the poem around 1270 CE.  As David A. H. Evans writes in the Viking Society for Northern Research’s edition of the verses, this second poem of the Elder Edda “is deservedly one of the most celebrated works to have survived from the early Norse world.” It’s full of gnomic advice that continues to be of interest—and application—to us in the modern world. Old Norse text via the Heimskringla Project.

1.    
Gáttir allar,
áðr gangi fram,
um skoðask skyli,
um skyggnast skyli,
því at óvíst er at vita,
hvar óvinir
sitja á fleti fyrir.

2.
Gefendr heilir!
Gestr er inn kominn,
hvar skal sitja sjá?
Mjök er bráðr,
sá er á bröndum skal
síns of freista frama.

3.
Elds er þörf,
þeims inn er kominn
ok á kné kalinn;
matar ok váða
er manni þörf,
þeim er hefr um fjall farit.

4.
Vatns er þörf,
þeim er til verðar kemr,
þerru ok þjóðlaðar,
góðs of æðis,
ef sér geta mætti,
orðs ok endrþögu.

...
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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    This is what I needed today. Blessings on your dear head, Laity.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    You are most kind, my friend.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I am in debt. Even when I do not count my study loans, I'm chronically--but not deeply-- in the red on my bank account. I don't have credit card loans, however, and I don't owe money or goods to anyone. I have had a tough year, but it's slowly getting better. Although I work, next to getting an education, my income does not cover all my costs. I am extremely lucky, though: I have a working partner who will gladly jump in and cover costs until my education is done and I can get an actual job that pays the bills.

I don't like being in debt. It's against the spirit of Hellenismos--or at least the two were antagonistic in ancient Hellas. Debts were paid off at the Deipnon--the end of the month--and those who could not pay them became serfs to their creditors. It was one of the main ways a citizen could become a slave.

It sounds a bit harsh, becoming a slave because of a missed payment. Yet, is modern life any different? Am I not tied to all people, companies and foundations who pull money from my bank account on a regular basis? Will not strong men and/or women show up on my doorstep if I can not afford to pay my bills and take items I own to pay off the debt? If all else fails, won't the government take my freedom? Aren't all of us a little enslaved to a economy which requires monthly contributions for protection, huge debts for housing and education, and for an ever-increasing number of people; financial support from their government simply to eat and have a roof to sleep under?

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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Give a pledge, and ruin is near. It's as true today as when it was first written, but our complex economic system makes it seem o
  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    It's not even a fine line between the 'freedom' I was talking about, and the 'enslavement' you were, Terence.
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    My phrase "to the contrary" was likely a bit hasty. As you said, Peter, people think freedom from debt is unnatural now; we have
  • Mea English
    Mea English says #
    i am placed in the debt free column also. i don't make much money but i have never owed anyone anything. which means i have no cre
  • Wendy L. Callahan
    Wendy L. Callahan says #
    Excellent post, especially as we approach the time of year when people worry about spending money on "stuff". We are mostly debt-

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.


At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.

As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.

(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)

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