Sunnasfolk, Silverhof, Hammarheim, etc.
I had been trying to find a local festival or a group that put on public rituals since I had arrived in the Las Vegas area in 1995. The closest heathen festival I could find was the Thing in Arizona, which I went to once. I still wanted something local. If I couldn't find a local festival or other public ritual in which to participate, then I was ready to try a kindred again, despite my disastrous first experience with kindred membership, because I had been informally involved with enough different groups to know that the unsafe one I happened to join was the exception, not the rule, and because after that experience I would know what to watch out for to make sure I would be safe. I tried to find a ritual group to join, and could not find one. I held sort of half heathen, half American style holiday celebrations in my old apartment, but as it was almost exclusively my non-heathen friends who attended, it wasn't completely what I was looking for. I eventually gave up on that and resumed looking for a festival to attend or group to join, but didn't find either in my local area until after I moved from a more urban part of the Vegas valley to a more suburban part at the end of 2001.
After moving from my apartment to our house, I thought, "Now that I have a real house and feel a permanent tie to the land, you know what, I'm going to do it myself."
I have been a gythia of Freya continuously since my dedication to her in 1989. Sometimes I am also the gythia of a kindred. I was gythia of Sunnasfolk, and now I am gythia of the group of heathens who celebrate at my home, which does not yet have a name.
This article explains the multiple definitions of godhi and gythia:
One of the first things I did when I moved from my old apartment to our house was to plant a pine tree that I had grown from seed, which had been living in a pot on my balcony. As gythia of Sunnasfolk, that was my sacred tree which supplied the aspergers used in blot. It's a big tree now, and now it supplies the aspergers for the rituals for my current group.
As with my American style holiday celebrations, most of the people who came to Sunnasfolk holidays were my friends and family who were not necessarily heathen, such as Etta the One Crone Band. She played the accordion and had automated drums, and provided German folk music for waltzing and other traditional dances for the party and feast time after ritual. She's a distant relative I discovered after moving to Henderson. There were actual heathens, too, but they were younger people who all dropped out over the years, mostly because of moving away from the area. College students graduated and moved. College age non-students joined the military and were deployed. Young brides had babies and apparently dropped off the face of the Earth. Sunnasfolk ended when all the other heathen members went away. That was over a decade ago now.
After Sunnasfolk Kindred, I belonged to Silverhof Kindred. Its leader, Eric Hammers, moved away and gave me my carved bone Thorshammar, and I assumed leadership of the group and tried to keep it going, but without Eric, the other members drifted away. After that, I found that several old members of Silverhof were members of Hammarheim, which had a core group of heathens but also a large group of non-heathen re-enactors and was focused on Renfaire and re-enactment events. I was not really that interested in belonging to a Renfaire guild, even though I enjoy the local faire and go every year, I didn't particularly want to spend all my weekends doing faire related things, and had neither the time nor the money to devote to that. I still wanted to be part of a local ritual group, though, so I participated in some of their Renfaire activities, in addition to their holiday celebrations. (The King credits me with saving him one night when he fell into a firepit.) Then Hammarheim sort of spun off into several other groups, all quite large, all with core groups of heathens and larger groups of non-heathens, all centered on our local Renfaire. I've participated in some holiday and other activities with one of them (the one headed by Hammarheim's old King) and visit the others at faire every year. In addition, I have celebrated both heathen and Wiccan holiday rituals at, or sponsored by, local store Well of the Moon, which closed last year.
The photo accompanying this post is me about to go parade with Hammarheim at my local Renfaire, in Viking costume, balancing my sword on my shoulder. I would have liked to post a group photo from one of the 3 kindreds I've belonged to, but not everyone is as totally out as me. (I know straw hats aren't very Viking; this is the Mojave Desert, and it's really hot in the sun. That's my Missouri farmer hat that I bought at PSG after wearing out the hat I brought with me.)
I participate in Pagan Pride Day-- my longed-for public ritual festival at last, even though heathenry is kind of a side event there and both the rituals and the workshops are dominated by Wicca and Wiccanate paganism. I've given talks on Asatru at PPD and one year sang in a band there. In 2014 I was an active member of the local PPD planning committee and led the drum circle.
Recently, I've been leading my own kindred again as a gythia of a group for modernist heathens who aren't interested in being part of a Renfaire guild, going largely with my American Celebration style in addition to blots and sumbels. Also, recently I've been attending local Asatru pubmoots, and may someday attend one of the rituals from that group. I've also attending rituals at the Temple of Sekhmet in Cactus Springs, although those are Egyptian-flavored Wiccan rituals rather than heathen ones. I was also a member, and sometimes the conductor, of the SageWomen Drum Circle, and later led the Unity Center Drum Circle. Also, during my book tour in 2010, I attended Pagan Spirit Gathering and participated in public rituals there. And in 2013, I attended PantheaCon and participated in rituals and led a public sumbel there.
So, in the 15 years I've lived in Henderson, I've formally belonged to 3 different kindreds, 2 of which I founded, and the other one I briefly ended up leading as it was winding down after its founder left. In those 15 years, I've also participated in rituals with 2 other kindreds, and in public rituals with both a nonprofit group and a for-profit store which has recently closed when its owner left the state. That's 7 different ritual groups and 1 permanent temple (not counting drum circles or out of state festivals. Also not counting the Dances of Universal Peace, almost forgot them. Mom and I used to attend with our next door neighbors. And not counting powwow dancing either, obviously, since that's a totally different tradition.) Groups come and go, but family, friends, and the gods remain. The land and the landwight remain. Both the local heathen and pagan community and the wider community on the net remain as well. The community is people, not institutions.
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Sunnasfolk, Silverhof, Hammarheim, etc.
Thresholds—doorsteps—are sacred. Neither inside nor out, both inside and out, the threshold is, like all other betwixt-and-between places (and times), a major locus of sanctity in any building.
In Old Craft lore, the Horned, preeminently god of the In-Between, is said to be seated on every threshold. Every passage through that doorway is (or at least has the potential to be) thereby a rite, an encounter with a god.
For this reason, they say, it's best not to tread directly onto a threshold; one should step over it instead. (It's old woodsman's lore never to step on anything you can step over.)
This is really a pretty subversive idea. Every building contains within its very fabric a place inherently sacred to Old Hornie: your house, the supermarket, the mall. Every building makes a place for Him. So there's a place sacred to the god of the witches in every synagogue, church, and mosque on the planet. Now that is subversive.
Happy Mother's Day! Start the day with a moment for yourself, a moment of luscious abundance. Connect inside, to the Mother of All Creation: Your Womb. As you go there, consciously come from a place of connection. You will slowly start that amazing sacred sweet energy of womb starting to fill the space. Sweet, yet infinitely powerful. She crumbles walls, she dissolves differences, and - her greatest power: she creates new life.
Not only as babies. As a woman who hasn'rt physically born chlidren, I do have a very fruitful womb. In so many sacred ceremonies I have alloweed her energy to come without, holding a sacred space for new life to be born....
When I came home today I was in a hurry to wash off the smells of the Berkeley Pagan Festival. They were all over me, on my skin, my clothes, and especially in my hair. Incense and grass, sunscreen and lotions, overly scented deodorants, and the smells of so many people. Not that I mind, on the contrary, they are memories of embraces and kisses and good times shared and some of them I instinctively link to certain friends. But my overly active olfactory faculties told me it was high time to shower or else there would be headaches.
We're all born pagan.
Anything else, you have to be made into.
The end that those who look to the end of days see is their own.
But we were here before, we've never gone away, and after, we'll still be here.
Dealing with Obnoxious Zealots
Practical ways to deal with and diffuse religious attacks.
As Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans we are often pressured by people of other “faiths” regarding our beliefs. We are chastised, discredited, and even demonized simply because we practice a different spirituality/religion.
I have experienced plenty of these encounters, originating from complete strangers to co-workers. I have a couple of occasions I will share. I will also share with you ways you can counter and all together avoid these taunting events.
BUT First… I would like to say something to those out there who feel they are justified in badgering someone over their individual beliefs....
Faith is a fact of life for many. But the plurality of voices and ideas is one for all of us. How then do you reconcile your deepest held convictions when they run contrary to those of others? Today's stories take a look at the many ways people of different beliefs come together... or not.