October 2015 update–Public stuff *all day* up in this joint

It’s been a month of all public things, all of the time. This is what happens when I put my head down and just keep doing what’s put in front of me to do.

Started the month with a Patheos post that unexpectedly went viral. Who knew that an article about the pros and cons of dedicating to a deity would be so popular? I honestly don’t think I said much that was completely new or novel. (Would that it were also one of my better written ones. C’est la vie.)

I followed this with my first public Heathen ritual in the area, Winternights. Winternights went well, even though the boyfriend was only able to attend the last round of the sumbel. It was a great small crowd with plenty of food and a lot of people trying out a heathen ritual for the first time.

Then I did my second Patheos column of the month, on ancestor veneration. (Which as not nearly as popular. Maybe people are just ancestor-ed out by now; I totally understand.)

Then I finally fixed the settings on my email from The Troth and was able to do an intro post there, and got some great suggestions and connections for my area. Heathens! Near me! Woot!

And I found out that not only did my Facets of Freya panel get accepted for PCon 2016, I’m also going to be in another Vanic-based ritual run by EmberVoices. And Jason, editor of the Pagan column at Patheos, wants me to be part of a Patheos authors panel at Convocation 2016 (which I’ve never even attended).

And then Sunday night I got an email from the organizer of our CUUPs group that a local reporter wanted to interview some of us for an article for the local paper. One thing led to another, and somehow I (or my altar stuff) ended up being in all of the pics. Good-sized article. For my hometown newspaper. Where many of my very Lutheran relatives live.

I hadn’t realized when this all started that newspapers need to use my given name and not my pagan name.

So now I’m outed to anyone who actually reads our local newspaper (which, considering the age of my relatives in town, will be all of my relatives.) So while part of me is like, woot! I’m in the paper!, the other part of me is like, Well, no more broom closet for you….  At least my very Christian grandfather is dead. I can deal with “religious disappointment face” from anyone but him. 😩 At this point he is a beloved ancestor and I don’t think he cares much one way or the other what I get up to, religion-wise, as long as I remember him. Funny how things work out. When I left home to go to college 20 years ago, I never dreamed I be back here now, staying with my parents, and appearing face-first in an article on local pagans. It boggles the mind.

I’ve been handed so many opportunities since I moved–as if given to me on a silver platter. So much less stressful than if I had tried to orchestrate it all.

A year and a half ago I couldn’t imagine actually blogging for a real blog. Or starting my own Heathen group. Or leading Heathen events solo. Or organizing a ritual for PCon. Or being willing to be interviewed by the media for anything pagan that also included my given name. Or moving back home and dating a Hellboy. 😉 (I couldn’t imagine moving back to my hometown, period.) But here I am.

In program, we say that we need to change our reaction to what the Gods give us from “No, but…” to “Yes, thanks.” i.e., be open to what’s given to us and not have a hissy fit trying to force what we think should be happening instead. At this point, all I’m doing ischecking my fear-based reactions and just saying “yes” and trying not to have any expectations of what will happen afterwards. I’m completely serious when I say that I have no idea what will happen next. And that’s okay. I just hope whatever happens nexts involves more contact with my Gods/ancestor/landwights, my boyfriend, my friends and my growing community out here, and my family.

So far, so good?

A Community of Gods Surround Me

I’ve been feeling a bit driftless since Freya left. Feeling like I don’t have an anchor, or protection, or even some of my place in this world, because if I’m not a Freyaswoman, then what am I? (Melodramatic, I know.) And I’ve been offered a huge amount of help, from Gods and humans. Through my guy, I have half of Jotunheim, and a no-nonsense take on things. Through my connection with Odin (such as it is) I have Asgard, and a lot of Gods and Goddesses there willing to step in and help out regardless of what Odin says or doesn’t say. (Even ones I have never worked with, such as Tyr.) And Vanaheim… well, I’m thoroughly rooted and enmeshed with the Vanir; couldn’t leave now if I tried. And now the Irish deities are showing up–Medb and Frigga, plotting. (I blame this on all of my Morrigan peoples.) And I have a ton of friends and strangers coming out of the woodwork to share their own experiences with this kind of loss.

I’m blessed. I just wish it didn’t have to hurt so much to make me realize that. That is what I’ve been trying to avoid, now that I’m older and more experienced. (We make plans, and the Gods laugh.) And I know that I will get Her back at some point. But maybe when She does come back, it’ll be because I’ve finally learned to work with the community of gods already surrounding me.

Njord: “You kept them all out.”
Me: “You mean, She kept them all out?”
Njord: “No, the two of you together kept everyone else out.”

Sigh. Yeah, maybe that’s why She had to go. As my guy says, you can’t create community with just one bright shiny. Everyone needs to be involved in order for it to work.

“Asatru is not a vehicle for romanticized machismo”; #WeStandWithIceland

Yesterday an article from Iceland Magazine made the rounds on FB. Apparently the ÁsatrĂșarfĂ©lag, Iceland’s Asatru association, has been receiving hate mail from conservative Asatruar outside of Iceland. Hate mail, from conservative Asatruar outside of Iceland. Just the fact that any Heathen group anywhere–much less the Icelandic Asatru group that succeed in getting Asatru officially accepted as a religion and who is building the new Heathen temple in Reykjavik–would be receiving hate mail from conservative Asatruar because of their stance on gay marriage pisses me off and skeeves me out more than I can even begin to express. The sheer amount of ass-hattery and WTFery and just plain idiotic cutting-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face inherent in this exceeds my ability to even articulate it.

However, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, the high priest of The ÁsatrĂșarfĂ©lag, handled it with aplomb. As the article, “The Icelandic Pagan Association receives hate mail from reactionary pagans abroad”, states:

Hilmar adds that he and other members of the congregation are not interested in using the ancient religion of ÁsatrĂș as a vehicle for romanticized machismo, as well as rejecting any tendencies to inject the practice of ÁsatrĂș with conservative Christian morality:

“We know these texts; we have lived with these texts for a thousand years. We are not coating them in some Viking or warrior romanticism. And we are not obsessing over some books on morality, dating back to the year 70AD, as many of these foreign practitioners of ÁsatrĂș do, considering that book a source on how the ancient religion should be practiced.”

Heilsa to that! Well said, Hilmarsson!

However, Hilmarsson is now worried that these non-Iclandic Asatruar are going to come to the temple’s opening ceremony “to ‘correct’ what those groups see as the incorrect tolerance of Icelanders,” and because of this, they are considering limiting the access of all non-Icelandic heathens to the new temple. While I can understand this reaction, it really saddens me and makes me even more pissed at the racist Asatruar who are causing this problem to begin with.

Luckily, Esteban Sevilla, leader of the Irminsul Kindred in Costa Rica, has come up with a great response. His group penned the following letter in support of Hilmarsson and the Icelandic Asatruar.

Open Letter to ÁsatrĂșarfĂ©lagiĂ° and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson:

All the way from Costa Rica, we stand with you and your right to marry LGBT couples. What you have done is admirable and an example to follow, you have stood against racism and homophobia, you believe anyone can practice ĂĄsatrĂș regardless of their ethnicity or sexuality. To me this deserves an applause and I explicitly request others to send you support in your mission.

Please don’t let the words of hate get through you. I remember there was a saying, “if you have enemies is because you stood for something in your life”, unfortunately this is something common, when you do the right thing people will often retaliate or backlash at you. Hatred is a disease permeated into modern society, but it is dying, and the retaliations we get to see from this evil disease are their death throes.

Take any measures you see necessary to protect yourselves, people will understand them I am sure, but also understand that usually these people will not fight outside their computer. Heitharvega Saga says “Boldly do men talk from a distance”, knowing these people who have threatened to drown us in mud or killing us, won’t go beyond a simple blabbering.

It is unfortunate that heathenry experiences these attacks from zealots and bigots, but we’ve always known that usually this comes from the most dogmatic and ignorant people, people who don’t understand the tradition and use it for their personal agenda.

Once again, we stand with you, we support you, keep your stance and protect your own.

Follow the hashtag #WeStandWithIceland

Follow the event on Facebook

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Signs,

Esteban Sevilla and the Irminsul Kindred.

Hail Esteban Sevilla and the Irminsul Kindred!

Hail Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and The ÁsatrĂșarfĂ©lag Association!

Hail to all Heathens everywhere who do not discriminate against others based on sex, gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, or for any other reason!

MAY YOUR ANCESTORS AND YOUR NAME BE HONORED BY THE STRENGTH OF YOUR WORDS AND DEEDS THIS DAY!

An Old-Fashioned Blot for Freya

Despite the countless pages of modern Heathen rituals I have seen (and participated in) over the years, and despite the fact that I instigated and headed the extensive five-Freya-priestess “Facets of Freya” ritual, Heathen ritual was never meant to be a big, choreographed affair. Heathen rituals, as such, were usually done at home, for the inhabitants’ ancestors, local nature spirits, and occasionally the Gods (depending on the family). Luckily, old-fashioned Heathen ritual does, in fact, lend itself well to my preferred style of ritual.

When I am in charge of a ritual, almost all of it comes from the heart and off script, if I can at all manage it. My main goals in most ritual are to interact with people one-on-one and share with them the love I have for my Gods. It’s not fancy, but it works; and all is usually good. However, this means I don’t have a lot of ritual written down, ready to hand out when needed. Also, this sometimes means my rituals are shorter than planned, or I miss including an epithet or myth or really cool turn of phrase that I’d thought of. So, when a friend came to me asking for ideas for a blot for Freya, I decided it was finally time sit sit down and write Her one.

The format is pretty basic and can be used for any deity, and you can add in more info or pare down the flowery bits as needed:

Outline:

  1. Set space
  2. Welcome attendees
  3. Explain purpose of event
  4. Talk about Freya/Tell one of her myths/Wax poetic about Her
  5. Fill a horn with fruity alcoholic beverage and toast her
  6. Pass the horn around to group
  7. Hail her one last time, emptying the remaining liquid out for the landspirits

Here’s my version, for Freya.

Continue reading

A-hailing we will go

A quick post about this now so I don’t forget to do so later.

I was blessed to spend a lovely, low-key night after Beltane with a good friend and fellow priestess, Ms. River Devora. We ended up, as many nights do when two or more priestesses are gathered together, shopping with the Gods (this evening, Njord and Freya in particular). My “version” of Freya loves Her raspberries (strawberries are too sweet), dark chocolate, and strong, sweet coffee. We also grabbed a large bottle of organic, small-batch apricot ale (not the usual Pyramid apricot ale, which is also very yummy) which Njord strongly insisted on having (he tends to like new and interesting alcohols, as well as most beers and gins) and we picked up some Dogfish pale ale for the hell of it.  As it turns out, we drank all of the ale, which almost never happens (a very rare occurrence among Heathens, I know :p ).

How did two relatively non-drinkers go through  so much beer? By hailing, of course! This is how we did it:

1. Make thick, sweet coffee for Freya and assorted household deities

2. Set it out for Her, with raspberries and dark chocolate for all.

3. Pop open a couple of beers, with no particular goal in mind.

4. Decide that it’s been way too long since we had an official pass-the horn-until–all-the-alcohol-is-gone blot, and get started.

5. Hail as many deities as we could remember, starting with the household’s deities, and moving on to: all of the Vanir; the Aesir; svartalfs; light alfs; personal spirits and wights; ancestors (both dead and living–so bad, I know!). Tangent into Muppet songs; tangent back to the Norse and Germanic Gods; name all of Frigga’s 12 handmaidens (we got 10 out of twelve, not bad for two people who don’t work much with Her); and finally bust out both Eddas and secondary source material to fill in anybody we missed (eight books in total). Tell and explain some myths and explanations of various Gods to the relative newbie in the room (who was working on some herbal magic stuff), and wax philosophical about Heathenry and old Norse culture as a whole. Rinse and repeat.

All in all, a quiet but very satisfying belated Beltane well celebrated, as only Heathens would do it 🙂

PantheaCon Schedule, 2105

PantheaCon, an International pan-Pagan convention held in San Jose,  is coming up quickly. Here are the events I’m leading and/or participating in this year:

Friday, Feb. 15th:

I’ll likely be joining in River Devora‘s “Furious Revels” at 5pm. It’s a fun parade that, among other things, helps to cleanse the hotel space.

Saturday, Feb. 14th:

4:30-6:30 Devotional to Hera and Zeus (tutorial-style ritual)–Pandemos/Greek Hospitality Suite–I’m leading this event with Thenea Pantera (Magick from Scratch). (I’ll be a priestess of Zeus! This should be fascinating.)

9:00-10:30PM Dionysus Hestios ritual–San Martin/San Simeon. Put on by Pandemos, our Hellenic group in the Bay Area.

(There’s also a small possibility I’ll be helping ward Coru Cathubodua’s Morrigan ritual–“The Morrigan Speaks: Arise to Battle”–Saturday night, depending on whether they need more warders. We’ll see if they need me or not.)

Sunday, Feb. 15th:

11:00 AM Myth Embodiment, “The Lay of Thrym (aka That One Time When Thor Was a Drag Queen)”– Heathen Hospitality Suite, 2nd floor. I’m running this event

1:00 PM Blot for Freya–Heathen Hospitality Suite. I’m running this event.

11:00 PM “Facets of Freya Devotional Ritual”–San Juan/San Carlos (facing the parking lot). I’m leading this ritual along with a group of Freyaswomen that we’ve named Freyja’s Aett (including EmberVoices) I’ll be posting more about this one later on.

Keeping in mind that in the fourteen years I’ve attended PCon, only once have I ever made it to even most all of the events I’d hoped to attend. And knowing that some events will be canceled or moved; some will not live up to my expectations; some I won’t make because I’ll get pulled off to help somebody out at the last minute; and some I’ll just be too fricking tired to attend. That said, here are some of the events I’d like to attend:

Coru’s Morrigan ritual; Shauna Aura Knight’s “Designing Intensive Rituals”; Discordian.com’s “Lady Gaga Clothing Swap” (long story); Hrafn Skjoldr Kindred’s Blot; Rhyd Wildermuth and Alley Valkyrie‘s “Radical Gods” panel; T. Thorn Coyle (and many others)’s panel on “Nurturing Young Pagan Leaders”; “Warding and Ritual Safety” panel; Jeffrey Arbaugh’s “Archetypes of the Masculine”… which is unfortunately at the same time as the Coru event, sigh (Arbaugh is the presenter from whom I picked up the Myth Embodiment activity); Angela Carlson’s “Modern Heathenry” discussion panel (which, considering it’s at 9AM, is unlikely); Freyja’s Gift’s “A Different Kind of Seidh”; Soli Johnson’s “Juggling the Gods”; Silence Maestas‘ “Exploring Devotional Rituals”; and River’s “Essentials of Polytheism”. And hopefully one of the Pagans in Recovery events.

Things That Make Me Cry, part 1

Pretty much any flashmob. Here’s a classical one; I forget the name of the song, but as I’ve sang in church choirs for over 12 years, I knew all of the lyrics. Who cares about religion? Music is beauty. Community is beauty. Both together are overwhelming, and make me cry.

[edited: It’s Beethoven’s 5th. Not sure who wrote the modern English lyrics. At least the ones I was singing in my head. In the video, it sounds like they’re singing in Spanish (unsurprisingly).]