Strong Roots and Wide Branches: A Polytheist Class with River Devora

Last summer, I had the chance to help a good friend and local pagan community leader, River Devora, build out a course on the fundamentals of polytheism. She had seen a need in the Bay Area’s community for a place for polytheists from many traditions to share experiences and techniques to build interfaith dialogue and further refine our individual spiritual practices. I was honored to be asked to help review the curriculum, as I definitely saw the need for it and kinda wished we had had something like this back when I first became pagan. I added in a lot of my insights from my 12 step program, my recent interfaith work, my years of being a schoolteacher, and as my personal experiences as a dedicant of Freya and a member of the Heathen tradition for the last 15 years.

At PantheaCon this year, River, and Anomalous Thracian (both of Polytheist.com) presented some of the concepts that the classes will cover and the reasons behind wanting to create a class like this. The class will meet monthly and will cover one topic each month (or two months, depending on the amount of discussion a given topic involves), and the topics range from concepts such as ancestor veneration; divination; what it means to be a priest in a given tradition; how different traditions handle life changes such as birth and death; and the different types of relationships that we have with our deities. Due to the enormous interest in the class already (and also because I and a few others, such as the Thracian, are not be able to attend in person) River has decided to open it so students can participate online as well.

River, Rynn Fox of the Wild Hunt and Coru Cathubodua, and likely other drop-in experts on various topics, will be leading the classes. If you’re interested in attending one or all of the classes, you can find out more info on River’s Patreon page here and on the Strong Roots and Wide Branches Facebook Group. The first class is called “Intro to Living Polytheism” and will lay the foundations of the class as well as be a meet and greet for all of the people involved. I’m very excited to participate in the discussions and to see how the class progresses! We’ve already gotten a lot of feedback from various deities and powers that be that They are just as excited about this as we are; in my opinion it will help lead a bunch of people to a polytheist path and help us have stronger foundations to continue to grow our traditions to honor our Gods.

PantheaCon Check-in: Friday

So it’s been a busy week getting here, and now I’m at Con, so I figured I should bite the bullet and check in. What I’d like to have right now is have another, say, 10 hours of of doing nothing but processing various emotional and spiritual stuff that has come up, but that’s not in the cards, apparently. But I guess being out of the CA pagan community for three months and then expecting myself to take staying with spiritworker friends and then hitting PCon in stride is, well, expecting a tad much. Bah and bother.

Anyway, check-in:

  • Freyr has a new song: “Suddenly Sutble-Freyr… is standing on my head. Subtle teabagging me….. and waving his dick around…” Brought to you by team River Devora (a devotee of Freyr, among others) and myself.
  • I spent the night before Con, not mingling with various polytheists as I had planned, but finishing up the Love Notes I had started in IL. I had a new batch of people participating in this round of Love Note making, and it was a ton of fun. So many art supplies and bad jokes! Again, brought to you by team Devora/Freyasdaughter.
  • Love Notes are looking to be even more on point this year than last. Three out of the last five have received the “OMG! This is so dead on! How did you/She know?” reaction. We also have considerably fewer Love Notes this year than last, so if you want to get one, you need to get it ASAP as many will be reserved for the Freya ritual on Sunday.
  • Today included trips via car, BART, Caltrain, and again car. So much travel! I no longer have a car at my disposal which makes me exceedingly twitchy; I like to be self-reliant. Which is a vivid reminder of the fact that I am a visitor this year and not a local. Sigh.
  • Tonight’s wanderings included:

–learning more about the Matronae;
–helping to set up the Pandemos (Greek) Hospitality Suite;
–a quick dash around the vendor room searching for my roommate (interrupted occasionally by the checking out the various amber booths);
–hugging a bunch of my peeps and meeting new ones–I think I’ve seen almost everyone at this point;
–encouraging, rather than participating in the Furious Revels due to a bad fall at Caltrain. The Revels went quite well–loud, energetic, and relatively short, with many enthusiastic horned and masked participants);
–libating to half of the Greek pantheon;
–discussing with a youngish Hindu man the similarities and differences between Hinduism and American modern paganism;
–offering my “help” to my Greek co-conspirator, Thenea Pantera, make the Greek suite even more approachable, despite the fact that she had already done an amazing job organizing the food and decorations to make a festive suite and being the point person for it (sorry Nea!)
–completely unpacking (it drives me crazy to live out of a suitcase);
–interrupting Hermes’ kids plans to take over the world;
–bonding and drinking with even more lovely, interesting ladies (and a few guys, as well);
–hearing and sharing Zeus, Odin, Freya, Freyr, and Morrigan stories;
….and doing this.

I hate to admit it, but I don’t think I made it to even one main schedule event (aside from the Furious Revels). Also, eating: I need to do it better.

Up tomorrow: acting as the Zeus priestess for a Zeus/Hera tutelary ritual; attending Coru Cathubodua’s Morrigan devotional ritual; attending Pandemos’ Dionysus ritual; and hopefully being able to make it to various other lectures, panels, and rituals. Sunday will be all Norse, with me leading a Myth Embodiment, an Freya Blot, and the Facets of Freya ritual (which is really turning out to be an amazing collaborative experience).

It’s all still a bit surreal, though; my experience in the Midwest with a sleepy, snowy, comparatively slow-paced atmosphere has, I guess, reduced my tolerance for All Gods And Interfaith Work All The Time. Or maybe it’s just that I’m different and I’m trying to fit back into familiar roles. It’s just too late at night and I’m too tired to analyze it, really. So, off to bed.

Not THAT Kind of Priest: or why I don’t proselytize for the Morrigan

Great piece on being a Morrigan priest, by Brennos.

I often go back and forth about how/if/why I should proselytize for Freya. She has no movies or books or art that has made Her famous–She’s never mentioned in the Thor movies, for example–and the general public, by and large, have never heard of Her. But as Her priestess, I know that She has the ability to heal and make whole on a lot of levels a lot of people who need it–myself included. But how will people even know to reach out to her if they’ve never heard about Her (or Heathenry, or paganism, for that matter)? It’s a conundrum, particularly as I agree with all of his points about proselytization, and have made them myself on several occasions. Granted, Freya, too, though eminently approachable, is by no means “safe”; but then, isn’t the love, healing, ecstasy, and transformation that She has to offer worth it? For better or worse, that’s not my call to make.

Strixian Woods

Putrification - Valerie Herron http://www.valerieherron.com/ Putrification – Valerie Herron
http://www.valerieherron.com/

What causes a particular god or goddess to surge in popularity and how does that affect the community that is already in relationship with that deity?   In many cases of this phenomena the media has a role to play in popularizing the deity, and the public interest in said deity spikes after a particular movie, television show, or book appears on the market. In some cases the particular deity has an aspect that resonates with people because of the political or physical atmosphere that the individual exists in. Sometimes, there is a rare occurrence where it appears that the deity themselves are actively recruiting devotees into their worship. In the case of the Morrigan all of these factors seem to be in play to one degree or another. There have been a number of appearances of the Morrigan in popular media, all of them…

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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.

“Incantation for Justice”, by Sara Amis et al.

This–this-is what all of the “open-door/we support you” statements and policies should say, in my opinion. This is what should underlie the thoroughly clear, concise, and logical wording that goes into those statements. Spoken in the language I understand best, poetry and prayer, this is what it should sound like. (You can find the original post here.)

The place of the witch is beside the downtrodden.
Power used to harm the innocent is falsely borne.
Power used to punish out of reason betrays the law.
Blood on the ground cries out for justice;
When will it be heard?
Like the women of the isles keening,
Bare knees on the ground, long hair streaming,
Like the bards who spoke the glam dicenn,
We too cry out for justice;
By whom will we be heard?
For those whose sight is dimmed and twisted,
A sword of truth to cut the veil from their eyes,
The Hag’s healing knife to scrape away the scales,
A bright light as the noonday sun,
So they may see clearly.
For those who sleep uneasy,
Fearing the call in the dead of night,
Fearing the knock at the door
Wondering if their anguished cries are seen and heard,
We see you. We hear you.
We raise our voices with you and our hands in power, in defiance, in blessing.
May your children go forth in safety and return home whole.
May your deeds be seen with the eye of compassion.
May all that you and your ancestors have given,
Prosperity, knowledge, art, music, magic,
Return to you in abundance.
May luck and peace be yours,
May you find justice, and comfort in your grieving.
So mote it be.

Random priestessing

So I finally put some tentacles out to connect with some of the pagans in the area. The most prolific of which was a priestess who hooked me up with a very active local ADF grove, whose leader appears to be very organized, as I heard back from him right away. I have plans to meet them all in person next week. (Druids! In my hometown! Who knew? 😀 ) In return I agreed to be a test reader for her current polyamorous werewolf romance novel. Which I enjoyed quite a bit–it was very well done, actually–and likely I’ll be test reading some of her other work in the future. Lo, the hard life of working for a love goddess and doing interfaith work. 😉