Godsday, April 12, 2015: River Devora’s Polytheism class, and connecting with UU pagans

Today was another Godsday. I haven’t really had one since moving back to the Midwest, as I have not been out there that long, and, compared to what I had in the Bay Area, I’m still in the initial phases of building ties with the local pagan community. So it’s to be expected. But today was an honest-to-Gods Godsday. It’s nice to be back in a place where I can have these kind of days again.

So, what is a Godsday?

What I mean when I use the term “Godsday” is to indicate a day in which I’ve had two or more major spiritual events, often in a row. This usually involves a lot of one-on-one work; trance or (light trance) possession; clear and repetitive omens or symbols or divinations of one kind or another, putting on a ritual; planning a ritual, and/or general networking. Come to think of it, a “Godsday” almost never means “blogging”, not matter what I write that day or the behind-the-scenes work that made it happen. The blogging work that I do here is dedicated to Freya, and is a form of service work for my communities (particularly the Love notes), so I’m not sure why I don’t consider it part of a Godsday… In any event, it just means that there was a variety of spirit-based things that I did or showed up for and participated in. Today, that meant a trip to my local UU church for my first Pagan Discussion event and attending the second session of River Devora’s Polytheism Class online.

The UU Pagan Discussion this moth was two-part: first, in discussing the benefits of becoming an official CUUPS group, and discussing “symbols”. I’m very interested to see how this CUUPS thing works, as I’m new to the UU community as a whole. It sounds like a great opportunity for community building between pagans of various ilks and building public awareness and support of paganism as a whole.  As for the “symbols” discussion, since I come from a background in anthropology, folk studies, and comparative religion, plus 20 years of being a pagan, I was pretty sure I had discussed “symbols” to death, but I went because hey, meeting new pagans is always a good thing. It turned out to be interesting hearing how other people in the group defined and used symbols, and it got me thinking: what symbols do I use? Up to that point, being a polytheist and in general talking spiritual things on a more concrete level, I wasn’t sure that I actually used symbols, as such, anymore. But clearly I do; I mean, my blog is called “The Gold Thread” but it’s about Freya, not needlework 🙂

I have to admit my use of symbols has always been pretty idiosyncratic. When I was Wiccan (for about four years or so), I wore a pentacle, like every other pagan I knew; and when I was a newbie Heathen I wore a Thor’s Hammer like everyone else, but that all stopped pretty quickly. My main symbols became gold leaves and amber. Even before I became pagan, I had worn gold-dipped leaves as my main piece of jewelry. It resonates with my love nature and trees in particular, and it was a cheap way to get “gold” jewelry to wear. Once I became Heathen and started working with Freya and found out about Her connection with gold and the Vanir’s vibe as “earthy” deities, I naturally started associating her with my gold leaves. I always felt that they represented my relationship with Her much better than a Thor’s Hammer did. Though the second kindred I was in was dedicated to Thor, I never did much with Him or felt particularly drawn to Him, so it didn’t feel right that I would wear his main symbol to represent my personal spiritual beliefs (and a Valkunt was completely out of the question). Amber is much loved by Heathens of all stripes, and modern UPG has Her tears turning into amber as they touch the sea the way they turn to gold when they touch the land. So: golden leaves (and, later, all things gold-colored) and amber are my main two symbols for Her.

My second event today was River’s Polytheism class. I’m going to devote an entire post just to this class soon, because I strongly believe that a lot of the topics and questions that she is bringing up are things that we polytheists need to really dig into and suss out if we are to become a sustainable movement in the larger Pagan community. “Devotional polytheism”, as such, is relatively new, and as most of us are working with Gods from “dead cultures” and are having to reconstruct (or, in many cases, recreate almost from scratch) many of our religious practices and theologies, I feel that we have a lot to learn from each other, and we have much to gain from building a polytheist community.

Today’s topic in the polytheism class was “daily practices”: what we do only a daily (or weekly, or monthly, or yearly )basis; why we do what we do; and from where do we draw our ideas for our practices. (We had other more in-depth questions; I’m just paraphrasing here.) One of the things that really came up for me in the course of our discussions was reflecting on whether my current practice is satisfying–both to me, to the Gods, and to the community I serve. Probably like many pagans, I often feel that I’m not doing “enough”. Certainly, though I had worried that I wouldn’t have enough material for a blog about Freya (how much is there to write about one goddess, honestly?), the longer I do it, the more topics and experiences I wish I had the time to reflect on and write up. Even after the move, I still often feel like the White Rabbit; always running behind on my obligations and responsibilities, never quite catching up. So it was with no small amount of tredpidation when, during the class, we took a few moments to just sit with ourselves and our spirits and ask, How am I really doing? Not how do I fear that I am doing, but how, in the eyes of the Gods, am I actually doing in holding up my end of this devotional polytheist bargain?

And you know what? From what I can tell, the Gods are actually very satisfied with my work. Satisfied! I received no complaints from the Norse gods, though the Greeks, somewhat understandably, gave me the “You never call, you never write” spiel. But even that was quite a bit milder than I had expected. And I got some direct feedback from a woman who had received one of my Love Notes from Freya at last year’s Con; the Note she had received had meant a lot to her and had given her some much needed hope and support in the tough year that had followed. In my mind, this is what priestess work should do: honor the Gods, and help the folk. At least my version of priestessing, anyway. During the course of the class today we also touched on what it means to be a priest/ess in one’s tradition, the varieties of priest/ess work, and whether or not one even needed to be clergy in order to have a satisfying practice and relationship with the Gods.

Like I said, I have a lot to say about the class in general and today’s topic in particular, but I’ll save that for a later post. Suffice it to say that I’m really happy that even though I’ve moved out of my community, I still get to be a part of this class. For me, the time and money (a small donation) that I’ve spent has already paid for itself in expanding my understanding of what it means to be a polytheist. It has given me ideas for concrete ideas and inspiration for deepening my practice–which, honestly, I don’t often get from attending the average pagan seasonal ritual. It’s like I’m participating in a “Polytheism 201” (or even 301) class, instead of the usual “Polytheism 101” stuff which makes up the majority of the things I find in paganism. It’s a happy thing 🙂

Anyway, another satisfying Godsday come and gone. I’m glad to be back in the swing of things.

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