My newest post is up at Patheos (actually it went up on Friday, but it was a holiday weekend.) A Prayer of Thanks of Njord and His Children
So, I started out putting together my handout on the runes, and ended up listening to an hour-long recent interview with Freya Aswynn on a British talk radio podcast. (It turns out she is still really on the ball, though not as actively involved in Heathen things as she had been for, oh, the last 30 years. Also, Freya Aswynn = the first modern Heathen devotional polytheist, eh?) All of which I only did because I was waiting for the WoW client to install on my Windows laptop, but hey–Odin moves in mysterious ways. Such is life of a Heathen on teh Interwebs.
The TL; DR version: Freya could not care less what your biological body does or does not have, or how you do or do not present yourself to the world. She does not care. Do you love and accept yourself? Are you being true to yourself? Yes? That’s all the matters. Welcome to working with a Goddess of Love, Beauty, and Self-Respect.
The long version:
I’m finally reading Erick duPree’s recent article on Patheos called “I Won’t Shame My Elders: Love is Still the Law”. In it, he describes his horror at seeing transphobia in one of the beloved elders in his tradition and his struggles to work through the issue. The article has been a fascinating read, at least for me, because he is coming from such a different tradition than I am. He has very different understandings and expectations of his tradition and his elders than I do from mine.
He talks a lot about matriarchy, and he is very good about not trying to step on the toes of the groups that he wants to defend (trans people; women; people of color); he realizes it’s not necessarily his place to do so, and he leaves it to a few female friends to take up the battle that he would love to be fighting. It’s all very cool to hear about because let me tell you, that’s not the kind of thing you hear in Heathen circles. Not that we don’t have strong women–we do (see below)–or that gender issues aren’t a problem (they are)–but that’s just not the kind of verbiage or dialogue that gets thrown around at a Heathen ritual. So it’s kind of nice to hear gender inequality issues take center stage every once in a while 🙂
Since I started focusing more on interfaith a few years ago, it became clear to me that Wicca has the Gender Issues and Heathenry has the Race Issues. That’s simplifying things, obviously, but I think that’s been pretty consistent over the years across groups. I never really understood why Wicca had gender issues–I mean, they are worshipping a Goddess, so patriarchy’s already been dumped on its head; why would whether someone is gay or bi or trans matter one way or the other? But clearly it’s still a hot issue in the Wiccan community.
As Erick says: “As a queer identifying man, it’s not complete without my transgender sisters and brothers. How can it be any other way, I consider myself Goddess. We are all Goddess! That is part of the ever expanding understanding of matriarchy. All are welcome, We All Come From The Goddess. People who don’t believe in that Modern Goddess cosmology, don’t have to play in my sandbox. That’s ok. That’s the beauty of Paganism.”
He says of his elder that she has “said that she doesn’t fully understand the transition process, but has always stood on the side of love. Love is the law. ”
You know what, Erick? I play in a completely different sandbox. I have completely different elders. But I’m right there with you.
“Love is the Law.” Yep. Welcome to life with my Goddess. That’s how She rolls, too.
Every once in a while someone will ask me why I don’t talk much about women’s issues, or gender inequality, or what have you, since I am dedicated to a Goddess and all. It always catches me off-guard; I have to stop and think, don’t I? What part of what I do isn’t about empowerment?
Heathenry–or at least, the vast majority of Heathenry that I’ve experienced–is full of strong goddesses, and even stronger women. To me, the “strong, independent” part is implied when I say that I am a proud Heathen woman. (We even have Valkyries, for crying out loud. And female warriors. And higher gender equality overall than pretty much any other part of the world, back in the day.) While we do have sweet, loving, and kind Goddesses, I would never call any of them weak.
On top of that, I work for Freya. Freya is a Goddess of wealth, magic, fallen warriors, love, and beauty. She gets half of those slain in battle. (Some would argue that She chooses Her half before Odin does.) Either way, in this area She has equal standing with the king of the Aesir Gods. It may just be the 21st century woman in me, but to me, that all reads POWER. Power—no matter what era you’re living in, really. And everything I do in Her name is meant, in one way or another, to empower those around me.
She teaches us how to love ourselves, claim our personal power, and use it; and then She sends us out to help others love themselves and find their own power. That’s Her secret plan to undermine gender inequality. To me, that is feminism in action. And I’m proud to be a part of it.
(This is all not to say that Heathenry doesn’t have gender or sexuality issues; it does. We have a certain segment who think that this is a chest-poundingly manly warrior religion only for Brotru, or think that Me-Tarzan-You-Jane is the only way that humans fit together. Somehow they missed the powerful female figures embedded into our Lore, both the mythology and the sagas, or the multiple examples of cross-dressing or gender-swapping. But maybe that’s why there’s such a high percentage of Freyaspeople running around… someone has to relieve the Brotruar of this idiocy. As I see this more often in the newbie Heathens, I consider it as a useful part of their basic Heathen education.)
My newest post is up: My Heathenry–What It Is, and What It Is Not
It’s at least in part a reaction to the transbashing that was happening in the general pagan community earlier this week, and then the news of yet another white supremacist trying to commit a hate crime in the name of “Asatru”. So much *headdesk* this week–on top of a two-week long sinus infection, makes Cara a very grump blogger indeed.
If you’re missing my Love Notes from Freya, Laine at Pagan Church Lady has taken them over. Here’s a great example of words of love from our Lady.
You are worthy. You flail, you wander, you worry. You look to me for approval, and I say: you are worthy. You weep and tear and sob, and I say: you are worthy. You wonder if you will ever be enough, and you can never not be. You are worthy. Worthy of love, worthy of jewels, worthy of warmth, of sex, of comfort, and sumptuous sensuality and sacred seidh. Worthy of all I give. Don’t forget it daughter. You are worthy. Open your heart to receive me, and never doubt that you are worthy of my gifts, worthy of me. -Freyja/Gefn
(Grabbing the rare opportunity to do some personal blogging.)
–One of the best things about having a Hela-dedicated boyfriend is that he is very tolerant of my whims. For example, while we were perusing the post-Halloween sale the other day, I found a random Nerf Thor’s Hammer. I carried it around with me through the store and occasionally smote him with it, yelling “Jotun!” While neither he nor Loki were amused, he tolerated it. I did get a lot of eye rolls, though. (I thought it was hilarious. Yay Heathen humor!)
–Speaking of my guy, he’s started a #30DaysofHela project on his blog, here.
–I”f you build it, they will come.” It’s been almost a year since I landed here, but now I finally have Heathens coming out of the woodwork. Here’s hoping they decide to stay and help form a local Heathen community.
–I had a nice short chat with my Lady this evening at a local park. I usually stop and sit by the river, but tonight I felt drawn to go into the extensive rose garden, which, like the rest of the park, is open 24/7. I don’t know why I was surprised to find Her there–it is a very popular location, with thousands of beautiful rose bushes of all different varieties, surrounding a picturesque wedding location–but there She was. She was in full Garden mode, a side to Her that I hadn’t seen previously but which makes perfect sense. (I get the feeling that the Midwest is really not Her natural habitat, not the way that it is Thor’s, for example. It kind of feels like She’s “just visiting”, or only loosely anchored here. I have no problems finding Her in California, though.)
Look for me in the roses.
Look for me in the thorn
and the prick;
In blood spilt and tears wept.
Look for me in the dark desires
seething in your soul
Which will never see the light of day.
Look for me in the garden.
I also asked Her about Her and Freyr’s obsession with pork, and She answered that pigs/boars were the most fertile and fruitful of animals, hence the connection. (She didn’t mention the tastiness factor, but I think that was assumed.)
–PantheaCon: The Facets of Freya ritual has been accepted again for next year’s Con. We’ll be late Saturday night, opposite a host of other sex- or death- related rituals and workshops, unfortunately. We’ll likely have a slight shake up in the specific Facets being presented and in the people in the ritual. Also, on one of the other nights at Con, I’ll be in EmberVoices’ Thrones of Vanaheim ritual, part TBD. I’m not yet sure how similar/different the Thrones ritual is going to be from the Facets ritual, aside from focusing on the four main Vanir instead of just Freya, but Freyr’s been heavy on my mind lately and I’ve been wanting to participate in a ritual for Him.
–SPOILER ALERT: I finally read the first Rick Riordan book in his Magnus Chase (Norse Mythology) series. I like it! He portrays the Norse gods with less superficiality than he did the Greeks. Granted, the age of the title character is much older than Percy was when the first Percy Jackson series started. And OMG was I excited when I found out who Magnus’ deific father was!!! Not a hard choice, I tell you. 😉 Given Riordan’s general dislike of the popular jock/warrior types, though, I guess it’s not too surprising. Also, he portrayed Freya in a much more positive light than he did Aphrodite (which honestly, I had been a tad worried about). And Loki is his complex, fabulous self throughout the whole book, doing classic Loki things. (Though how Riordan could ever have passed up a chance to utilize Loki to his fullest extent, I’ll never know–it’s like Loki was tailor-made for Riordan’s writing style. I guess this isn’t too surprising given that Riordan has stated that his original love was Norse mythology, not Greek mythology, and that he’s been wanting to write a Norse series for years.) My only real complaints so far are that this series is only set up to be a trilogy, like his Egypt series, and he’s sticking to his usual hero-plus-two-sidekicks vs a righteous-yet-misguided-compatriot formula. I’d have liked to have seen him use a larger central group with more deities represented. Ah, well. And the family connection to the Greek books via Annabeth Chase was really unnecessary and seems a bit forced. Every single thing that Riordan writes does not need to be tied so closely to the Percy Jackson universe. Also, Ratatosk will forevermore be known as The Squirrel, 🙂 It’s eerie, in many places Riordan describes a given god or other entity using pretty much exactly the same words as I would: for example, Ratatosk is “that shit-talking squirrel”, whom Riordan uses to great effect.