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Paths Blogs

Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
New Faces for Old Gods

 

What does it mean for old gods and their worshippers when the old gods are given new faces and personas in pop culture media?  The recent upswing in portrayals of old mythic figures in pop culture (think of the Marvel movies, comic books like The Wicked and the Divine, TV shows like Supernatual, books like The Gospel of Loki, etc.) has put modern practitioners, especially polytheistic pop culture practitioners like me, in a bit of a quandary.  What do you do when you’ve been working with a deity for years and suddenly a character with their name, but a whole new mythology and personality, becomes a pop culture sensation?  If you’re introduced to a mythic figure via a bit of pop culture can you work with the old god with the same name?  It can be more than a little confusing.  In this article I’ll try and clarify a few points and, hopefully, soothe a few ruffled feathers.  

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_osiris.jpgWe traveled up the Nile to visit some of ancient Egypt’s primary cult centers in the last post.  Since that time, the star Sopdet (Sirius) has begun to show herself at the horizon just before dawn.  This tells us that Isis has been weeping for her murdered husband Osiris, and soon her tears will cause the annual Nile flood.

With the inundation comes the end of Shemu, the dry season.  As the flood waters recede we find ourselves in the season of Akhet.  We can see the fields full of rich black silt left behind by the flooding river; the farmers sow seed now, knowing crops will flourish as they grow in the fertile black ground.

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August 6: Festival for Thoth, the very great, in the whole country

The start of the Egyptian year was the First month of the Inundation (named Dhwty) and was a time of great celebration, coinciding with the rising of the Nile. “You shall follow Thoth, on that beautiful day of the start of Inundation.”
During this month there were three festivals for Thoth, held on the 4th, 19th and 21st. Entries from various calendars give the following descriptions of these feast days. 4th day - a “Festival of Thoth”. 19th day - a “Festival for Thoth, the very great, in the whole country”. [...] 21st day - a festival to “celebrate ‘the triumph of Thoth’ in the presence of Re”. [...]
Bomhard suggests that the first day of the new year, which coincided with the rising of Sirius, was the 19th July.
This would give the festivals in Dhwty the following modern dates; the 4th as the 22nd of July, the 19th and 21st as the 6th and 8th of August and the 26th as the 13th of August.  (Quoted from: -- Lesley Jackson "Thoth, the history of Ancient-Egyptian God of Wisdom)

For this festival day, I'd like to share some of my devotional poetry...

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Latria: They want your soul [pt.II]

When at 15 and decided that I need to join a religion, if I had not chosen to join the most mainstream branch of Christianity in Russia, if I had not read this famous protestant prayer too - “Jesus, be my Lord and Savior”… I would not be what I am today. I would be a totally different person.
I remember these moments of “accepting Jesus” very well.
I have read this prayer twice; I valued this experience as something indeed important and I remember very well my thoughts and feelings.
Yes, I read the prayer of my own free will-- but did I want it with the whole of my heart? Did I have trust in Jesus-the-personal-savior 100%?
Fortunately (or not very fortunately) I remember my religious experiences and adventures very brightly, just as in Dumbledore’s magical pensieve.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Giving Birth on a Blue Moon

As I write this entry, the moon is on the verge of peeking through the branches of the Eucalyptus tree just to the east of my apartment. I love looking at the full moon rising through the branches of that tree: the tines of Cernunnos caressing Diana.

Of course, being witches, we all know why tonight is special. We've been waiting almost three years for a blue moon! Two full moons in one month--think of all the magic we can do!

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Handling Henothism

In this post-Enlightenment world of science and rationality, we’re used to being able to label things cleanly and clearly, to separate them into distinct levels and groups and individual pigeonholes. And we tend to become uncomfortable when we can’t do that with any given subject. But the mindset in the ancient world wasn’t always so clear-cut. Both/and thinking was common, as opposed to the either/or thinking that dominates modern society. Sometimes it’s helpful to be able to hold several different ideas in your head at the same time, to accept the complexity of a situation as a positive rather than a negative. That’s the case with the ancient Minoan pantheon, thanks to the fact that the Minoans were henotheistic rather than cleanly polytheistic.

So what on earth does henotheism mean? It’s not a word you hear very often, even among the kinds of Pagans who like to get into academic discussions. The term was coined by the German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling in the late 18th or early 19th century as a criticism of the versions of monotheism that included both a supreme deity and lesser forms of divinity such as saints or lower gods. His idea was that ‘pure’ monotheism, the kind that denies the existence of the divine except for the single focal deity, is superior to other types of religious belief. He criticized the Vedic religions (Hindu and its variants) for professing that all the lower gods emanated from The One (Atman) and were reflections of that original unity.

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Substituting As Gythia At a Baby Blessing

Hoarfrost sparkled on the dark ground, reflecting harsh nearby ballfield lights that did not illuminate the tree-dotted lawn of the park. It was winter 2009. Local heathens of the Las Vegas area gathered to welcome a new baby, who was wrapped in a large fur blanket against the winter cold. The kindred sponsoring the event consisted of a core group of heathens among a larger a group of non-heathens in a Renaissance Faire guild, so, some of the people gathered there wore modern dress, some were in Renfaire or re-enactor garb, and some wore a mix of both.

The kindred’s godhi, or priest, was going to perform a baby blessing and naming ceremony. The godhi was having a bad time with a chronic health issue right then, and did not feel up to calling power, so he asked me to perform the blessing.

I was there as a community member, so I did not have any of my ritual stuff with me. I looked around for things I could use, and saw that there was a bottle of mead for toasting (sumbel) and blessing (blot.) The baby’s family’s sword was firmly stuck point first in the ground. I could work with that. That would be the conduit for the ancestor honor transfer. The ancestors were under the earth, and the sword was part in the earth and part above it. In heathenry, there are many different traditions about where the dead go and what they become after death, since heathenry draws on a vast time period and many different, although related, cultures. In many of the ancient cultures, there was no clear line between the grave mound and the elf mound, and that idea survives in the modern saying that the dead have gone to stay with the elves. An early story about the interior of a grave mound showed the dead fighting each other in endless war, very much like the Viking age depiction of Valhalla. So, the direction of the ancestors is down, in the earth.

I mentally tallied what was and was not essential among the things that were not there. I could do without a blotbolli (blessing bowl.) I would pour the mead from the horn directly onto the asperger. I had to have an asperger, a tool with which to sprinkle the blessing liquid on the baby. Many dark shapes of pine trees stood out against the stars. I would cut a pine branch, except that I did not have my ritual knife with me either. Years ago, when I had been asked to make a rune stick for a friend, I had pulled on an oak branch and a stick had snapped off in my hand, cleanly as if cut. I resolved to repeat this feat tonight.

I went to a pine tree, and caressed its needles. I spoke to it, and asked it for the use of its branch for the holy ritual. The branch snapped off in my hand.

We gathered together for the ritual. In an Asatru baby blessing, the mother has already given form to the child, body from body, and now it is time for the father to give to the child. I directed the baby’s father to place one hand on the hilt of his family sword, which was firmly stuck in the earth, and one hand on the baby. I narrated, “You are the link between your ancestors and your child. The might and main and the honor of the ancestors is coming up from the earth, through the sword, through you, and into your child.”

All those gathered there toasted the child with mead in the sumbel ritual. I asked the parents what they named their child. I poured mead over the asperger and blessed the child by his name in the names of the gods, the ancestors, and all wights (spirit beings) of good will. As we did not have a blotbolli to pour out to the land wight, I poured the rest of the bottle to the land wight. I returned the pine branch to the land. The ritual was done.

Image: graphic by Karen Arnold. via publicdomainpictures.net

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