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. 😉

A November miscellany: the All Gods event

My All Gods event/impromptu goodbye party went well, and as with all things new, it had a bunch of rough spots. I’m very excited to help with the Bay Area Hellenic Community’s version at PantheaCon this year, because this is a concept that I really believe in–me, Cara, the human; not Cara the priestess or Cara the political gadabout. It just really makes me happy to see different deities being represented by those who love them. The more the merrier, in my opinion. Come together, don’t pull apart. Our strength is in numbers. The real magic occurs in the interaction with other people. Together we can create more than any of us could envision or pull off on our own. (Fill in your own cliché here.) It’s all true, IMHO.

(I never understood Solitaries, honestly. Even when I was Wiccan, I didn’t understand it. If you’re geographically isolated, I understand that; that’s a reasonable concern, and as someone who became pagan in the Midwest in the mid-90s, I feel your pain. Maybe that’s why I’ve stuck with Heathenry so long; we’re ALL about community. Hate us or love us, we’re all in the community together. A horn shared is much better than one drunk alone. /end rant)

But anyway, back to the All Gods. I’d been doing Interfaith stuff and Hellenic stuff along with my Heathenry for a year or so, and just felt a really strong push to create an event where many gods could be worshiped together with other people who wouldn’t normally get a chance to worship together. My grand vision, now that I think back on it, was kind of modeled on the Brethren Court pirates’ meeting from Pirates of the Caribbean, except with less killing. In other words, people representing different trads and different Gods, all coming together to honor their Gods in the way they chose with the rest of us either respectfully joining in or waiting respectfully for the chance to honor our own Gods. (Have I mentioned that I’m an INFP? Idealism FTW.) And to a certain extent, the event did turn out that way–the Brethren Court minus the killing, but likely as much of the drinking. Many Gods were hailed, off-color jokes told, food eaten, connections made. But (as far as I know) we did not release any Goddess from her human form. Maybe we’ll aim for that next round. Still, I think the Gods were happy to a) be honored in front of people other than their usual worshipers, and b) be honored at all.

What we did, and suggestions for next time:

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Things I’d rather do than pack

Let me vent here a bit about moving. Moving is talking up a lot of my time, energy, and bandwidth. It’s also making me fit experiences, events, and conversations into an even shorter timeframe than before–which honestly is a feat in of itself, as I was scheduled down to the hour at some points over the last year. And I have a lot of spiritual and religious things I’d like to be posting about and processing through. So, here’s a list of blogging things I’d rather be doing instead of packing:

–talking about polytheism and the new polytheist.com (Polytheist.com: Honoring Many Gods) website (if you haven’t been, I highly recommend it). Because polytheism is a happening thing right now, and, well, talking about the Gods as actual entities and not archetypes or conglomerations of deities! That can only be a good thing, IMHO.

–Writing, finding, and posting more poetry, music, and art about Freya and her kin

–continuing Galina Krasskova’s Devotional Polytheist Meme. It’s been three or four months, and I’m only up to question #3. I can guarantee you, this was not the plan.

–working more with my Gods, and then talking about it. Right now a lot of them are the equivalent of On Hold. Some more patiently than others.

–Writing my daily Love Notes. Also, been kind of hit or miss recently.

A lot of this stuff has been put on hold as I tie up loose ends in my relationship building and connections-making between the various groups, people, and Gods I’ve been working with this past year. Which is quite a few of loose ends, especially as this move is kind of sudden, and I do a lot of my version of interfaith work in person, one-to-one. (Ironic because I’m an introvert and would rather be at home veging, but it seems that this is the method which works best. And it’s more rewarding when I do it in person.) So… my calendar is more full than it had been, and this right after I did a big paring down of my activities. So much for that.

Sigh. Well, at least once i move I should have a lot of time to catch up on reading, devotional work, and blogging. And boy howdy, am I looking forward to it. Somebody please remind me of that when it’s the middle of winter when it’s 10 below out and I’m stuck in the Midwest far from all of my NorCal communities.

 

 

Cutbacks

So, the overwhelming busy-ness has finally caught up with me and I’ve cried “uncle!”. I’ve cut down –temporarily, in some cases– on a lot of the things that I had been helping to lead/organize/manage. This won’t actually affect this blog too much, though, as it’s one of the things I’m keeping. The only real change I’ll make here is that I’m going to worry less about making it an all-Heathen resource, and instead just focus on the Love Notes and Freya-related topics. Likely no one will notice any change at all 🙂 Except perhaps less whining about how busy I am.