Today's Watery Wednesday focuses on community news for Pagans, Heathens, polytheists, pantheists and all our allies! North Carolina Pagans in the spotlight; Pagan interfaith progress; a new book on devotional polytheism; real vs "fake" names on Facebook.
It's October, the season when mainstream culture focuses on Paganism. This week, the Tarheel state seems to be in the focus. Kelley Harrell describes contemporary Witchcraft in this piece at a Raleigh website. The Asheville Citizen-Times highlights an unique program that includes Witches (like H Byron Ballard) in a program that shares various religions in a once-a-year program to local high school students.
This is my second fall in Oregon, and only the second "real" fall I've had in eight years. Last year, after I first moved here, the sight of the leaves changing color and falling to the ground made me cry. I knew I'd missed the big dramatic seasonal changes of New England, but didn't realize how much. Not experiencing "real" seasonal changes during my almost-seven years in SoCal (beyond rainy and really hot) really messed with my head, and contributed to my general sense of feeling out of place there. In a way, my life reflected that - I was stuck, and like much of the flora that is naturally suited for New England or the Pacific Northwest but not SoCal, I wasn't thriving there. I was perpetually dry, burned to a crisp.
When I moved here, it wasn't just that the beauty of fall foliage nourished my soul. I really like rain. (Which is good, because we have an abundance of that up here.) But even above and beyond that... it was like an internal clock that had stopped ticking, started ticking again.
I have known, over the years, some folks who identify as Vanatru where the only real distinction between them and Asatruar (or other cultural-specific branches of heathenry) is that they focus on the Vanir gods, and usually the most well-known - Frey, Freya, Njord, maybe Nerthus... but their practice otherwise looks like standard heathenry, doing blót ritual.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. This is actually how I got my start in Vanatru, back in 2004, and this was the way I did things for a number of years... and I still blót, on occasion.
As mentioned in my post Who are the Vanir?, the Vanir are more than the Big Name Deities, such as Frey, Freya, Njord, and Nerthus. Vanaheim is an entire realm, full of people, the overwhelming majority of whom were never named by lore. This doesn’t mean they’re unimportant, as we will revisit in a moment. I also understand the Vanir to be elves (corroborated by others), and in private conversations I prefer referring to them as elves (or Eshnahai, which is their own name for their people, “Vanir” is an outlander’s term), though they are not the same entities as the Ljossalfar and Dokkalfar (who are related, but ultimately their own people).
Byggvir and Beyla. Byggvir possibly means “barley”, and Beyla means “bee”. Whether these two names translate exactly or not, They are a couple who travel with Frey, and are in charge of taking care of his household and are servants of his. Gnosis says that Byggvir is Bull tribe Vanir, and Beyla of the Bee tribe.
The Vanir are one of three groups of gods in the Germanic pantheon (the others being Aesir and Jotnar/Rokkr), originating from the world of Vanaheim, and commonly holding domain over nature, fertility, and magic.