Hail Sigyn

This is a brief post of something I wanted to share for folks who haven’t seen it.

This is a paper by Riccardo Ginevra, a doctor of historical linguistics, called Old Norse Sígyn (*sei̯ku̯-n̥-i̯éh2- ‘she of the pouring’), Vedic °sécanī- ‘pouring’, Celtic Sēquana and PIE *sei̯ku̯- ‘pour’*. Traditionally Sigyn’s name has been suggested to be something like “victory girlfriend”. But this paper interprets her name probably more accurately as “she who pours”, in reference to her strongest myth story. I like this because I tend to think of Norse deity names as more “titles” than true names.

But more than the content, I wanted to share the concept with readers. People think that the most common historical interpretations of Norse history (or almost any history, for that matter) are “facts”. They aren’t. They are suggested interpretations from experts. This is particularly true about a lot of Norse stuff. I’m saying this to show how we need to take a very large grain of salt when we are “reconstructing” Norse religion. This is particularly true about Gods we know less about, but it holds for even big ones like Odin. A lot of people like to state their personal historical interpretations as “fact”, but even if they’re well-studied, it’s simply a false assertion to make. There are levels of certainty.

I’m reminded, for example, about the kerfluffle of Loki and whether he was worshiped — some people take the lore literally (a mistake) and believe he is a devilish figure; but it is more complex than that. We don’t have name-place evidence of a cult like we do with Freyja or Skaði, but we have later evidence of how he was treated post-Christianity as a tricky but not-evil spirit that could be called on, much in the way Odin was. How should we interpret that? Obviously, I’m on the pro-Loki side, but I’m no more an expert than the majority of Heathens, and the experts, frankly, say “we don’t know“.

If you want to know more about how we’ve developed our body of historical information, this paper is a good example. If it seems flimsy to you — whelp, better get used to it, because it’s all we got. This is why a true revival necessarily encompasses new inventions and creativity in worship.

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Announcement: Black Stone Abbey

I haven’t been blogging much, but have a very special project ‘reveal’: the launch of the new Polytheist Monastic forum, and the joint founding of a new order!

🙟

Co-founders & colleagues Danica Swanson and Roger Finney (WeepingCrow) are pleased to announce our decision to formalize our contemplative religious Order as of 21 April 2019 under the auspices of Black Stone Abbey.

Black Stone Abbey (formerly known as The Black Stone Hermitage) is a live/work studio space consecrated into service of the Ásynjur (goddesses) and other Holy Powers of Yggdrasil. While the studio space in Portland, OR will not be the Abbey’s long-term home, it serves us well as an incubation space for our fledgling Order of polytheist-animist monastics inspired by pre-Christian Norse religious and folk traditions. Once the right long-term space is found, the next phase of the Order’s work will commence.

Our service work includes:

* liturgical development
* creating space for contemplative practices
* incubation retreats
* religious outreach (both online and offline)

Our Order centers around the concept of “sacred endarkenment.” We structure our practice according to our (paradoxical) monastic Rule: “Follow the Ways of Non-Contrivance.” Each monastic accepts responsibility to determine how to shape their own practice according to the Rule, and constructs their own liturgy for one or more of the Holy Powers according to their callings.

As our first major outreach offering, we present POLYTHEISTMONASTIC.COM, a new community-owned-and-operated web discussion forum supporting the development of sustainable polytheist- and animist-centered monastic infrastructure, fellowship, and distinct organized traditions worldwide.

We’re fortunate to have two respected writers as moderators: Janet Munin (editor of Queen of the Great Below: An Anthology in Honor of Ereshkigal) and Lorna Smithers (author of several books including Enchanting the Shadowlands).

Also in the works is an as-yet-untitled book-length anthology on polytheistic monasticism edited by Janet Munin. Danica is serving as an editorial consultant for the anthology. Interested parties can find the call for submissions on the forum.

This year we’ll begin planning our vows and developing a web presence for the Abbey. Feel free to sign up to keep up to date with our Order through the Abbey’s free newsletter, which will launch later this year.

We’d also like to express our gratitude to the membership of the Facebook Pagan and Polytheist Monasticism discussion group and LANMIPP – a Network of Monastic Polytheist Pagans (Loosely Affiliated Network of Monastically Inclined Polytheist Pagans) for their ongoing support.

Lore Isn’t Literal

The thing I’m mad about today is how gods-damned literal Heathens all seem to be.

Why do you think our ancestors were so stupid?

Do you really believe that our ancestors — in complete contrast to other ancient peoples — didn’t understand metaphor? For hundreds and thousands of years prior to the Viking-era which most Heathen concepts are being reconstructed from, philosophers of multiple cultures examined their myths by reading between the lines. Did the Northern Europeans lack the capacity for abstract thought, compared to the Greeks, the Egyptians, the early Hindus?

The “lore” is not, and never was, meant to be taken literally. Sure, some of them can have practical lessons and mundane application. But the mundane interpretations are not all there is.

The Gods exist to the benefit, protection, and advancement of our souls. The mundane bit is only a small piece of that.

I believe that our legends have a greater “layer” of teaching than “Thor causes thunder and kills badguys”. There are spiritual lessons to be had about the nature of humans and the universe. We are dumbing the Gods down with a nonsensical and a-historic conservatism that fears philosophical questioning.

There’s nothing wrong for an individual who just wants to rely on the Gods for practical, mundane reasons — that probably would have been the default position for most humans in every religion ever. Most people don’t want to think about philosophy because they’re busy with life. But this fact doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways, equally as important and valid, to interpret the nature of the Gods and their tales.

Call it “mysticism” if you want, but I will continue to assert that this literal-mindedness that plagues Heathenry is not only a problem, but historically unlikely. I want historical accuracy in our research, I don’t want to lie about history, but there are certain conjectures about ancient behavior which are simply logical, and which I feel are being left out.

There is more to our belief than “if I grow a beard and act manly I’ll be rewarded”.

I find this is one of the primary points of contention I have with most Heathens and many other polytheists.

(This post inspired by something I stumbled across today which said a particular deity controls an aspect of weather. Eeesh.)

Naming Heathenry

I haven’t been reading as many blogs as usual due simply to mundane business (and my rather extreme avoidance of the internet), but I want to call attention a “phenomenon” which stuck out.

Two separate bloggers, which I’ll actually link this time, called for Heathens to consider re-naming themselves, in order to show distinctness from some of the major Heathen organisations. One is Robert Sass on his blog, related to discussions he brought up on his Facebook group, “Saxon Heathenry” (which I also recommend you take a look at). The other is on Axe and Plough.

I want to point out I’m not arguing with the positions of either of these writers, nor am I “calling them out” or criticizing them here. Actually, I am inclined to agree with both of their positions, at least in the case of what constitutes Heathen function. There is a huge amount of what is, well, lying which makes of the body of Heathen belief and practice right now. A lot of the common themes you see in Asatru and Heathen practice are taken by rote by newer Heathens, without awareness of its contemporary historical development. They don’t realize that some specific, modern people got together and made this shit up, basing it on some historical mostly-Norse data with various levels of accuracy, and incorporating their own ideas of what should and should not be done. A lot is being glossed over, and therefore sold and interpreted as “historical fact” when it is either more nuanced or completely inaccurate. That’s without even looking at the political foibles of Heathen groups, or their historical origins.

So I get the desire to clarify oneself. It is basically all I do on this blog, obviously. It’s frustrating to see a group of people make claims which cover you, and be like “no, we’re not all like that!” I think it was Sass who said recently, the two biggest problems in Heathenry are the racism and the historical inaccuracy, and I completely agree (though I frequently disagree with him on other things, as a note).

But I am concerned, in ways I can’t properly describe, at this desire for fracturing and separation. This is different than setting up a group of affiliated people who are like-minded. It feels like the same old reactionary “labeling” of everything which we are so fond of in our current Western culture. It feels like “US Protestant Heathenry” (similar discussions have come up within US Buddhism as well). Whether or not you’re from the US, you may want to take a look into the history of religion here, because we developed in a very fascinating way — the short of it here is, people got the opportunity to “shop” religions, something which today is considered normal and healthy. But this has created a sense where, if something doesn’t perfectly 100% match your own preexisting notions, you simply leave and find a new religion, or start on of our own.

Clearly neither I nor almost any other Heathen can complain about this too much, as we are nearly all “converts”. However, I think this is part of a much larger trend in our individualistic society: the complete lack of sense of responsibility for anybody but yourself.

Axe and Plough mentions “concentric circles of responsibility”, and I feel it aptly applies. My first responsibility is, of course, to my family (one main reason I don’t literally live in a cave yet), and then to my “IRL” group of Heathens to which I am attached. There is no name for this group, no official Uniform, it is just self-evident, the neural network of persons who are “linked” to me. (Folks who are not me often seem to prefer an “official” affiliation, each to their own.) But then, at least in terms of Heathenry goes, there is a larger community to which I am also within a “responsibility circle” — and that is all Heathens. 

Note that I say all. I don’t say “the Heathens who happen to be like-minded”. That isn’t how community responsibility works. This is a major flaw in our society which is being reflected and repeated within Heathenry. We honestly believe if we don’t like someone, if they have different views, they are “other”. This is a lie. It’s a lie being used to manipulate us. While yes, we have concentric circles of responsibility, and therefore a greater personal responsibility to our closer “tribes”, that does not erase our responsibility to larger circles: as Heathens, as cities, as Americas, as humans.

One of my largest criticisms of groups like the AFA are completely hypocritical when they claim to prioritize “kin and kith”. It is clear that the moment one of their “kin” doesn’t wear the AFA uniform, they are no longer considered kin. This is not how kinship works, it is not how our ancestors worked, and it is not how we as Heathens should work. You don’t get to sever the ties of kinship (even “spiritual kinship” such as being Heathens) just because you don’t like someone.

This is my problem with this labeling and relabeling; I think it is a way to shirk the difficult responsibility we have to people we find unlikable. I’m not saying “welcome racists” nor “claim ahistorical data as truth” or anything of the sort; I’m saying that it is our responsibility to address those issues specifically because those issues are a part of our community, not because they are external problems warping us. The easy road is to claim that anybody who is a problem is actually not really one of us. But that road is a lie.

I don’t like the Troth or the AFA. I don’t like most of the groups I follow on Facebook, various offshoots of European paganism. I don’t like the Lokeans or the Northern Tradition folks. I don’t like Odinists. I don’t like “wiccatru” and I don’t like hard reconstructionists. I basically don’t like anybody, and very rarely find individuals I agree with 80% of the time, let alone 100%. Too fucking bad for me.

I agree with Robert Sass that the pushing of historical inaccuracies is crippling us (even though I don’t share his position that eclecticism is problematic or even a-historical). I agree with Axe and Plough that “unrealistic weight” is being placed on being “part of the group” to the detriment of personal (and familial) development. I am one of those “disenfranchised” people spoken of in that post who, when I look at Heathen groups, often feels like I maybe should give up my religion, since I don’t see myself reflected there. (Why don’t I leave? Because this isn’t a fucking hobby, nor a consumerist identity-grab.) Combining these two positions, I feel it is completely ahistorical foolishness to say that our ancestors simply stopped worshiping the gods if their “group” didn’t happen to be around. I am single and have no children, and so my “hearth” is essentially myself; such is the way American lives play out.

I’m sure whenever I get around to codifying my personal “tradition” that I will give it a name, but I hope I can find a way to avoid the pitfalls that have trapped some organizations, and which I hope others with whom I share some views, like Sass or Axe and Plough, will also find a way around. I support their efforts. Whether I like it or not, I am within the circle of “Heathen”, and I have a responsibility to that circle of frith, honesty, and justice. I want people to stop being shitty racist liars because it’s better for them as well as for me. It is better for our community.

While I don’t like all this labeling, I do feel some hopefulness in a larger trend, towards a better restructuring of what it means to be Heathen, one that is based in both honesty about our historical past (both ancestrally and recently as modern Heathens), and one that functions in today’s practical reality instead of mimicking romanticized false ideas of tribalism and Viking aesthetic.

I look forward to reading future works.

 

 

A Blessed Mabon

As I theoretically celebrate Wheel holidays, I want to extend greetings to everyone, as well as give a minor update.

I can never quite tell if I’m “ignoring spiritual matters” or actually “attending to necessary mundane things for my health and sanity”. Is the separation of mundane and spirit a modern falsehood? Many many years ago (gosh, over a decade) I started trying to find ways to “live” as a pagan — that is, to incorporate my beliefs and practices into my daily life instead of only thinking about it in terms of Moons and Suns. Some of this was practical stuff of “kitchen witchery”, but a lot was a psychological re-framing of religion and spirituality. It worked to some extent…but as I’ve talked about, I’m not sure what benefit this has brought. (I might just be blind to it…I hope.)

Anyway, after getting very excited that things seemed to be clearing up, all the “woo” evaporated in my life again. Things are still on the (slow, grinding) forward movement, so I am trying to view this as “what I need right now in my life”. Clearly the Gods want me to focus on this stuff — I just wish They were a little more ‘present’ during these times.

It is also frustrating that any time I want to set aside time to focus on inward matters I am slapped in the face with the external. I’m tired of saying “some day”. I don’t deal well with delayed reward. But hopefully all these long-term plans come to fruition.

Of course I’ve talked about this a lot on the blog. I don’t know what to do with this issue any more. I have tried sustained daily practice to connect to the Spirits, but results are limited, and I just end up more confused. I don’t have a Priestess or anyone else to go to for advice. So, what can I do? Right now I can set up a little candle for Mabon, thank Them for Their invisible work, and hope for the best.

(I can say that staying far away from community drama has been good for my mental state and I strongly recommend it to all.)

🙟

Just a random note, my younger brother expressed interest in Gaelic polytheism and Druidry, so I sent him some info. The Gaelic area is something I don’t know much about, but I hope he follows up on that. (For some reason it didn’t occur to me until exactly this moment to send him some Brighidine groups…oops.) If I discover any of the blogs I read are in his locale I might be sending him your way.

🙟

Over the next 6 months, I am going to be extremely busy with school-related writing projects on top of regular coursework. Scholarship season begins now, as well as my transfer applications. I’m also editing some older essays to publish as undergrad articles. There’s also an internship in the mix, hopefully.

Point is I’ll probably lapse into a quiet period again, unless something major happens. Next Spring all that writing work will be done, and I’m hoping to work on some personal projects, including this blog and a tarot book manuscript, before they get back-burner’d by the next coursework load.

May your Gods and Spirits bless you over the next season(s).

Loki’s voice from the Runes (and frustrated screaming from elsewhere)

OH WOW. I fucked up. Or at least that was my reaction last night.

The last couple days I’ve been reading lots of blog material from polytheists and heathens. I don’t remember what started that trip (hello 50 tabs) but it was a change of pace from a previous stint of Hindu philosophy stemming from a history class last term.  I always fear being a “spiritual tourist”, which is a serious problem in the West stemming from a variety of issues, but I also feel that intelligent philosophers see value in everything (plus it’s related to my major, of course). But anyway.

Yesterday I came across an old post from a prolific polytheist blogger which encourages people to tell their story. I was reminded of why I started this blog, which was a similar reason to what they described: so few of us “confess” to the ups and downs of devotional practice that we are rather marginalized in the pagan world (well, one of the reasons for it).* I am always embarrassed to share the messy stuff, especially in regards to my emotional well-being, because I’m painfully aware of the fact it’s used as an excuse to delegitimize pagan opinions. (And any individual’s opinions, really.) But, if we don’t talk about it, out loud and visible, it perpetuates the problem. So yes, this is one of those posts.

(*Though eclectic ‘hard’ polytheists are often rejected as New Age Woo and mentally unstable, we’re simultaneously somehow held up as being “more real” than a variety of other types of pagans, by dint of being more mystical/spirit-worky. Both of these are aspects of being “othered”. You can see the same thing happen in the Norse tales themselves, of course, where outsides are both reviled as perverse and treated with awe for their mysterious powers. Humans have been the same for a long time. Oh, humans. When will we grow up.)

I also read post elsewhere on being approached by one of the less common aspects of Loki than are often addressed by, and their UPG was quite similar to mine. Always an interesting and validating phenomenon, of course. I get a serious, quiet, inscrutable side of Him, not a jovial nor blunt-taskmaster version. This blogger felt this His Destroyer of Worlds side, which has interesting implications. (I’ll probably talk more about this later.)

It occurred to me at some point that my imagination has rotted. This is, well, kind of a traumatic revelation, even though it sounds like not so big a deal. No wonder I don’t have any ideas any more. My creativity has been beaten down by life for so long that it’s broken and limping. I haven’t read a fiction book in probably two years. I don’t watch TV so there’s no element there. I haven’t written anything creative or fictional in years as well. I used to be constantly in my head, imagining story after story. But I felt that “other people” were telling me it was an immature coping mechanism….so I started resisting it. I am far worse off for that. What I didn’t realize is there’s a difference between trying to mature mentally versus killing an aspect of yourself that others, especially “normies”, don’t like because they don’t like being inconvenienced by the world not conforming to their understanding of it.

Fuck other people, by the way. I’ve reached new levels of “not give a damn” recently. I’m tied of other people telling me how to live — and I’m tired of subconsciously bending to them. No more.

Anyway, I have been struggling for quite a while now to have good visualization , to write meaningful rituals, to work on my devotional art and poetry, and so on. Some of it is busyness + stress + depression, but a big reason is I’ve eliminated the positive emotional skill of dealing with negative emotions via creativity.

It’s also worth noting that last week I had an absolutely awful Tarot reading. I’m still unsure on the details of parts of it, but the general theme was that I was doing something very wrong. It was really upsetting, partly because I didn’t know what the problem even was, but I’ve been so busy with the mundane (packing/unpacking, doctor visits, prep for next term) that I put it aside to address later.

-ᛒ-

Birch has the greenest leaves of any shrub;
Loki was fortunate in his deceit.

…….So that’s the place my brain was at when something I read pushed me to do some divination. Oddly I was told to use Runes, which are not my main one, so someone wanted something in particular. I thought it would be quick, but it was not. While pondering how to word my question, I was struck how I consider the Runes to be Odin’s domain, but that I never quite “clicked” with the All-Seer. This seems really, uh, odd, given my interests and basic personality, and while it’s certainly possible Odin isn’t interested it’s also clear I have some blocks. (One obvious one is authority figures, but there’s surely others.) For me, Odin and Loki are two sides of a coin in many ways, and my perennial outsider-status obviously should link me with Loki, what of Odin and his mystic, wandering, seeking ways? It occurred to me that perhaps Odin kept his distance because Loki had already called dibs on me. (I hear they’re having a big of a “devotee count contest”.) So I asked.

I don’t have a set spread for Runes, but a list of simple ones I’ve picked up from various sources over the years. I did a 4-rune “relationship” spread I learned from a website (uhhhh link?) which of course I use for supernatural relationships. It is (1) the situation or base of the issue, (2) and (3) are the forces/emotions at play, but I tend to view them as confirmation of the Spirit or Deity, and the current obstacle or direction, and (4) the conclusion or outcome if I tackle the issue. (I never share my divination results here, though I always mean to, so here’s some finally.)

I pulled ᚷ (gebo), ᚦ (thurs reversed), ᚾ (nyd reversed), and ᛋ (sowilo). Gebo is sensible, as I am asking about my bonds to and responsibilities towards the Gods, and theirs to mine. I interpreted thurs reversed as indeed confirming Loki. (Remember I see Him in a dark aspect.) Nyd is not a fun rune to get; there is a lot of painful change here, hard work, and poverty of all kinds. There’s kind of an implication here that resisting wyrd is a cause of problems; that the resistance is caused due to fear, confusion, and emotional deprivation. (In the situation I’m reading for, you may surmise I was disturbed by this.) However, interestingly, my conclusion is blessed sol, persistence and honor. I interpreted this reading as there needing to be something done for Loki that involved a lot of emotional work on my part (and maybe physical work), but is clearly worth the effort. I’m not sure if it really answers my question on Odin, but since He tends to be ambiguous I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.

I think Loki has been trying to get my attention by taking on other guises recently. I need to get better about my discernment there. So I switched to Tarot to get more details on my spiritual growth path. I’m not going to lay this one out here, but let’s just say — it was bad. It confirmed the block on my “hearing”; I’m cowing to the dogmatic, and the outcome is the Chariot Reversed. Loki came up again, and apparently He has indeed initiated something. I am stuck, the Great Work incomplete, my beloved Hermit is currently reversed. Bad. I was given the advice of bearing the weight of responsibility but not taking on more than I can handle, and to focus on my intuition and emotional security.

To find out what Loki is trying to get me to do, I laid a second Tarot spread, another more complex relationship reading. (Tarot is arguably my strongest skill, and this is one of those reading that was eerily accurate.) Short version: it confirmed my side of the ‘relationship’. and that I certainly feel my poor health has lead to my willpower degrading. What was shocking was Loki’s feelings and opinions towards me: the Three of Swords (reversed) and the Devil. Woaaah. He’s upset, to say the least. I’m surprised/emotional about it, I’ll be honest. The Three represents sorrow, heartbreak, and rejection: it’s being let down, deserted, hurt. Reversed, there is the implication of forgiveness, but the idea that I have Hurt him so deeply is, uh, well, I’m reeling. Apparently I had forgotten how deeply the Gods do feel for us. He recognizes I am trapped, despairing, caught up in mundane and avoiding the spiritual, but also blind to or hiding from the truth.

This shit is serious. Errors have been made somewhere. I am missing some big puzzle piece either because it is hidden in darkness or I’m avoiding it. Presumably it’s an answer to the issue in my post back in May (gosh, has it been that long?). Loki did indeed come to ask me for something, and when I was unable to discern what it was, I did not have the dedication or determination to continue. I acknowledge this failure and will act to correct it.

Interestingly, this reading gave one piece of advice: the Ace of Pentacles. While this is a card implying practicality and the tangible, it also implies nature, perseverance, as well as faith and trust.

I asked Loki for one last piece of advice on what direction to proceed in to repair our relationship. I pulled ᛇ (iwaz), the Yew. This is read differently to different people: on the one hand, it’s endurance, defense, purpose. On the other hand there is its connection to death, mystery, and vision. There are some….interesting interpretations here. I mean, it’s obvious I’m supposed to re-dedicate myself, as it were. But this rune is the symbol of Yggdrasill, the needle-ash, associated with Odin, and has “shamanic” implications. Among other things. Certain hermits were noted to carry Yew staves in Britain, I hear. The Icelandic rune poem mentions Loki’s father, Farbauti, as the arrow launched from a Yew bow. Recall that Loki’s parents might represent the act of lighting striking pine tinder to create the wildfire…..What if the needles of Nal are not pine needles, but those of the Yew? Pause to note that Laufey was already on my radar this week (she’s also my phone wallpaper right now!), and toxic plants are always in my circle. Hmm.

IMG_2058An image of the coniferous yew branch, up close, with red berries. I loved these trees as a child playing in my grandparents’ yard.

So yeah, as usual, there’s no conclusion to this post. I have some ideas of what I must “do”, but I need to tread carefully lest my ideas turn into a neurotic need to control everything. If anyone has “Loki advice” to pass on that seems relevant to this particular issue, please do let me know (or if you’re up for a divination trade perhaps). With all the packing/unpacking I’ve decided to rebuild my main shrine/altar area, because the cabinet I obtained originally to be a butsudan-type shrine isn’t doing it for me. I was considering painting some images to hang. I guess I know who to start with.

Oh, and I obtained a couple new fiction books. I need to wake my brain up.

Also “coincidentally”, July is normally Loki’s dedication month for a lot of folks; I consider him more a January fellow personally, but it’s fine. I’m going to try to get a few posts out for it. After all, I have this blog about the Gods and then I never seem to talk about the Gods. Let’s remedy that.

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Quick Edit: WordPress apparently isn’t notifying me in the navigation bar when I get comments. Just FYI.

 

Step Back

Every time I think of pressing “publish” on a post, I hesitate. By the Gods and my Ancestors, I will publish this one.

Image: screencap of wordpress backend with 60 drafts in progress.For folks who don’t use WordPress, those are my drafts of blog posts.

There are a lot of posts in the last week or so concerning self-identity, and a (re-)embracing of the personal path. I certainly relate to these, absolutely. For the last year or so, I’ve seen a lot of writers (and certainly myself) all getting wrapped up in “how do I practice the right way”  and by “right” I mean “visually right for other people’s approval”. I’m over it. There’s nothing I hate more than the insidiousness of performing for other people’s comfort.

But the fact is, my basic needs are not met right now. I’m talking physical life mundane needs, as well as those of the mental health variety.

I am unhappy to say that this issue means that stuff like concocting elaborate rituals and writing philosophical essays is not just “extra”, it’s starting to be a detriment. Or at least an expression of un-health. I have a pressing, manic need to Do All The things in search of the Grand Unification Theory of Everything, including the reading of every anthropological work ever written, despite the fact that my concentration and cognitive ability are currently in the shitter. It is time to hit “eject”. (Do things even eject in technology any more?)

So I’m going to step away from basically everything “extra” in my spiritual practice for a while, and go back to the “healthy” core parts: daily meditation with the spirits and honors at the altar. I’m doing everything I can for the mundane side of things, so right now, for my soul-side, I just need to sit within the Gods’ presence and feel that connection and nothing more.

🙟

I am going to leave you with this inspirational story I’ve been meaning to share with everyone. It was written by Sivananda Saraswati, a Hindu spiritual teacher and founder of the Divine Life Society. It features the worship of Lord Shiva, but I think it is applicable to polytheists in general. Source.

Puran Chand’s Guru had initiated him into the Narayana Mantra and given him a small Murti (idol) of Lord Narayana for worship. Puran was regular in his worship and did not omit repetition of the sacred Mantra, but there was no sign of the idol blessing him; so he went to his Guru and asked him the reason. The Guru smiled at Puran and said, “Well son, take this idol of Lord Siva. I shall initiate you into the Siva Mantra. Worship Lord Siva with faith and devotion. He is considered as Bhole Nath and is easily propitiable; He will bless you soon.”

The next six months saw Puran Chand immersed in Japa and worship of Lord Siva. The idol of Lord Narayana was placed on a dusty shelf in the puja room. After many months, Puran Chand once more went to his Guru and complained that his worship of Siva had brought him no result. He begged him to give him the Murti (idol of god) and Mantra of a Devata (idol of goddess) that would bless him.

The Guru smiled again; the time for enlightenment had come, yet he felt the disciple would learn from experience. So he said, “Good son, in this Yuga, Mother Kali is Pratyaksha Devata. Worship this image of Her and repeat the Navarna Mantra and you will obtain Her Grace.” This time, Puran Chand had no misgivings whatsoever; he had full faith.

Kali worship commenced; Siva joined company with Narayana on the shelf. With devotion, Puran was waving incense before the image of Mother Kali when the fumes rose up and reached the shelf where the other two idols were kept. Puran was enraged. What right had Siva to inhale the incense intended for Mother Kali? He had refused to be propitiated when he had tirelessly worshipped Him; it was Mother Kali whom he now worshipped. In great anger he took down the image of Siva in his hands and began to insert cotton wool in His nose to stop Him from inhaling the incense. Before he could accomplish his task, however, the idol disappeared and before him stood the Lord, smiling in all His mercy and compassion. Speechless with wonder and amazement, Puran prostrated himself before the Lord who told him to ask for any boon as He was immensely pleased with his devotion.

Puran answered, “My Lord, I am much perplexed. You did not deign to bless me when I devoutly worshipped You and repeated the Panchakshara Mantra for six months. But You suddenly chose to reveal yourself to me when I had discarded Your image and given up Your worship. What is this mystery, O Lord?”

The Lord answered, “My child, there is no mystery to be explained; how could I reveal Myself when you treated Me as a mere image, as a mere piece of metal worshipped or thrown away according to your whim? Today you treated My image as a living presence when you wanted to plug the nostrils with cotton wool; thus you revealed that you recognized My living presence in the idol and I could no longer withhold Myself from you.”

Speechless and enlightened, Puran bowed once more and was immersed in His Love. He could ask for no greater boon, for in His love he found fulfillment.