Walking the Worlds Issue 3 : deadline approaches

•September 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Dver:

A reminder for all you writers out there…. especially if you haven’t submitted to this journal before, please consider it!

Originally posted on Gangleri's Grove:

Hey folks,

For those of you who are thinking about submitting an article for issue three “Magic and Religion,” this is just a friendly reminder that the deadline is fast approaching.

All submissions are due October 1. You can email them to krasskova at gmail.com. Go here to read our submission guidelines.

wtw

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Where the gods are found

•August 31, 2015 • 14 Comments

Just came across this post about Local Cultus. The author, like myself, is happy to see more emphasis being put on local cultus in modern polytheism, but dismayed at the way it is sometimes being discussed. They quote an example which was someone’s attempt to align the various Greek gods with the Boston area, and discuss where they think this person went wrong.

“I’m honestly disappointed in how people are handling these ideas. People are misassigning concepts to deities who just don’t handle such functions. It’s one thing to see examples of slow development toward functions that aren’t the norm elsewhere, but people don’t want development over centuries. They want everything now, even when they often lack a firm grasp of the basics.”

This is, indeed, one of the roots of many problems in modern polytheism – people being unwilling to wait and let things naturally evolve. My biggest concern here isn’t the specific examples of mis-assignment (though they do exist, and are indicative of a serious lack of understanding in some cases). It is the fact that these folks are sitting around trying to artificially assign gods to places and things as if it’s just a game, or at best an intellectual exercise. Once again, they are treating the gods as characters, rather than actual living entities. They are guessing about what a god would like rather than finding out what a god actually likes. Which means, ultimately, they are eschewing any attempt at direct experience of the gods in favor of armchair theorizing.

Real, workable, relevant local cultus evolves organically (and yes, even slowly!) over time in response to one’s environment. Sure, some things might be obvious – if you live near the ocean, you’ll probably find Poseidon there. But you might also find another, unexpected god there. And you might have an experience of Poseidon more strongly somewhere else. Maybe, in fact, you’ll have so many experiences with Him in that other place that you realize He must really be present there, and you start worshipping Poseidon of That Place as a special aspect of the god. That is how it happens.

When I came to Eugene, one of the first places I felt Dionysos was at the base of the butte that rises at the edge of downtown. Yeah, there was a lot of ivy growing there – but that is true of many places around here. And yeah, it could almost qualify as a “mountain” and therefore a location of the traditional Dionysian worship of oreibasia – but that would be even more true of the butte on the other end of town which is much higher. If I were just picking and choosing locations for Dionysos based on a list of His common epithets and associations, I would probably pick the nearby vineyards, or even the bars downtown. But those are only the places where He might be found, not the places I actually have found Him. It’s a crucial difference for a living religion.

I will also note that in practice, historically, not every “major” god would be equally represented in a given area – because some were simply more present there than others. You wouldn’t find all the Olympian gods in equal force throughout a city – you might find, instead, that Athene was the most commonly worshipped there under several different locational epithets, followed by, say, Artemis and Hephaistos, and that you had to go to the nearest mountain before you found a major sanctuary for Zeus. That doesn’t mean Zeus – or any god without a temple or major cult presence – wasn’t worshipped by anyone there, it just means that He hadn’t (to anyone’s knowledge) claimed any part of the city as His special place. Just because there was, for instance, an oak grove there doesn’t mean it would automatically be favored by the god due to His oak association. It’s so much more complex than that in reality.

I hope we can, as polytheists, do better than this. I hope we can go beyond games of free association and treat the gods as real and our religion as a serious undertaking. And I hope we can be patient enough to let something deep and beautifully complicated grow, something that is based on experience rather than theoretical ideas, something that might even last the test of time.

 

Hermes in the Cemetery #8

•August 28, 2015 • 2 Comments

Here it is, the last cemetery visit for Hermes. (I will be doing something different to honor Him for the remaining four months of the year.) For this, I travelled slightly outside of Eugene proper, to an unincorporated area between our city and the next. I was surprised to find a quite old (for these parts) cemetery in this place, since it is otherwise an industrial area between the highway and a bunch of warehouses. I doubt the cemetery gets many visitors (two people were leaving as I arrived, but otherwise I had it to myself). Yet it has some fairly recognizable local names. It is called Laurel Grove – according to The Internet, it is named after madrona trees (which are one of the many types of trees casually called “laurel” which aren’t actually Laurel nobilis), but I only saw a very few madronas on the periphery. Maybe like so many Oak Streets and Elm Streets, the trees that gave it its name were actually cleared for it.

Entrance

Entrance

The road in

The main path in

"Mummey"

“Mummey”

These look like they must have once had something on top of the columns, I wonder what

These look like they must have once had something on top of the columns, I wonder what.

It's a lovely little hill, but the noisy highway is very close

It’s a lovely little hill, but the noisy highway is very close.

This dog came trotting along at one point, no owner in sight. And there are no houses nearby. Considering the connections between dogs and the dead/death deities, it made me a bit nervous.

This dog came trotting along at one point, no owner in sight. And there are no houses nearby. Considering the connections between dogs (especially black dogs) and the dead/death deities, it made me a bit nervous.

Another view

Another view

Love these Woodsmen of the World type markers that look like trees, with tools carved on them.

Love these Woodsmen of the World type markers that look like trees, with tools carved on them.

This was something I can't remember seeing before. It looked like a giant stone casket - was it a marker, or is the body actually in there, above ground? Note the faint cross on the top.

This was something I can’t remember seeing before. It looked like a giant stone casket – was it a marker, or is the body actually in there, above ground? Note the faint cross on the top.

This is one of Eugene's founders, and yes his name was actually Charnel, short for Charnelton. We have a street and park named after him. I decided to leave my final herm here.

This is one of Eugene’s founders, and yes his name was actually Charnel (perfect for the cemetery!), short for Charnelton. We have a street and park named after him. I decided to leave my final herm here.

And look at his wife's name - Sadie Hawk!

And look at his wife – Sadie Hawk! What a great sounding name. Looks like she died just before the famous dance debuted that almost bears her name.

My final herm of this project. These four stones are from the Hermes altar built by the Bakcheion group at the conference a few weeks ago - I saved them for this occasion.

My final herm of this project. These four stones are from the Hermes altar built by the Bakcheion group at the conference a few weeks ago – I saved them for this occasion.

Last of the Bone Forest

•August 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I mentioned awhile back that I had stopped making bone jewelry, primarily because I no longer felt comfortable with the sources of beads. Either they are semi-precious stones with dubious mining origins, or they are made of synthetic, non-biodegradable materials and usually come from China (here’s another good article from Lupa about the ecological problems with art supplies). The environmental – and human – cost was just too much to justify anymore.

However, I still had some beading supplies left over, and it was certainly better to put them to use than to get rid of them. So I recently went through these, and my remaining bones, and made what will likely be the last pieces of The Bone Forest Collection.

boneforest

Visit my shop Goblinesquerie for these and other jewelry, plus incense, art, and other good stuff!

Eco-friendly ritual supplies

•August 24, 2015 • 1 Comment

Just happened upon this article by Lupa about how to make conscientious choices regarding your ritual supplies. This is something I address, briefly, toward the end of Komos (in that case, how to put on satisfying festivals when you are on a tight budget, without resorting to buying cheap crap from China that has a much higher environmental and human-suffering pricetag). She gives a number of good ideas, and further explains the ramifications of buying junk. Worth a read, and some consideration of your own practices.

Interview on The Wild Hunt

•August 19, 2015 • 6 Comments

Check out the interview I did with Terence Ward for The Wild Hunt blog, about my new book Komos:

Hellenics Get a New Advanced How-To Book

Orphic Hymn for Dionysos

•August 12, 2015 • 3 Comments

So part of our Filled with Frenzy ritual at Many Gods West was a series of devotional prayers before the shrine. I decided to do the Orphic Hymn #30 for Dionysos, in ancient Greek (which I had fortunately already memorized nine years ago for a Pantheacon ritual and still had knocking around in my brain). But then I got a strong feeling it should be sung, not simply recited. We know that the ancient hymns were sung originally, although we don’t really know how they sounded, if there were set melodies, etc. I basically just played with this until it found its own rhythm and notes – not quite a static melody, and not quite formless either, it seemed to fit.

Someone asked if I would be recording this. We did not make any recordings of the ritual (that’s against our entire approach) but I decided it might be interesting to others to hear what this sounds like, so I recorded myself singing it. Warning: the quality is that of my laptop’s built-in microphone, so not great. Also, I make no pretenses at perfect ancient Greek pronunciation, or having a good voice. This was an offering to my god, not a performance. It had more power during the ritual itself, obviously, but this might still be useful as a record and perhaps inspire others to do the same.

 
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