Pagan Paths

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Paths Blogs

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

Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 3 of Helsen's series.

We'll just skip over the stupid memes and the monkey poo flinging and get the substance of a Helsen's post.  He implies that I am exceptional in in that I need to be "forced to care" about something that I don't feel a connection to.  But I think this is the nature of modern humanity.  Genocide, war, rape, racism, sexism, environmental desecration, etc. etc. -- all of these are evidence that we human beings need to be forced to treat others well, unless we first feel a connection to them.  (In fact, the sheer nastiness of Helsen's post is also evidence of this.)

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  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    "the stupid memes and the mud slinging" "the sheer nastiness of Helsen's post" ""I am a special little snowflake and how dare you

Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 2 of Helsen's series.

Helsen argues that the gods are “objective, discrete, and separate beings”.  I’ve explained in Part 1 and in my original post about "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism", why the “separate and distinct” language is problematic.  More recently, I’ve written about how we confuse the question of the objective existence of the gods and the question of their subjective meaning — as if something must objectively exist for it to have subjective meaning. If you want to read more on those issues, follow the links above.  

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Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 1 of Helsen's series.

Helsen begins by describing the two "camps" within Paganism: the archetypalists and the hard polytheists:

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Jerusalem Angel Sightings and the Dome of The Rock Mosque

August, 1992, I was orientating myself around “Jerusalem of fire”, UNTSO headquarters, the Old City of Jerusalem, Gilo–my neighborhood, and my spacious, well-appointed cottage. The cottage, a condominium-type dwelling, overlooked a wadi and the Old City of Jerusalem. “Jerusalem of fire” as my Reiki clients often called it, attracted many moths to its bright flame. Being the wife of a UN military officer, I soon determined that I was here to observe the sights, sounds, and smells of the Holy Land, and at the suggestion of my first client in the Old City of Jerusalem, to write a book about my experiences in Israel. That’s when I began to keep a detailed journal.

My cat, Pumpkin Peace, a black and white mix (Jewish and Arab, I always said) was with us. She was a feral, undomesticated cat that I had found beside a garbage bin in Nahariya the previous year, and had adopted. She often jumped into my lap as I sat at the computer to write my stories. She was my 'familiar', had taken on part of my soul.

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Pop Culture Home Fortification

Into every life a little rain must fall, but I’d really rather not have it fall on the inside of my house.

After months of abnormally dry weather, the Pacific Northwest finally got some much needed rain to soothe our parched soil and lay the terrible wildfires to rest.  While I am tremendously glad the rains have finally returned and the weather has cooled off, I am less happy that my house has decided it no longer remembers that water should stay on the outside of it.  Oh yes, the other day I came home to an unwelcome drip on the inside of my office window.  For some people this type of situation is an excuses to get out the old home improvement tools and get to work.  I am not that type of a person; sadly, neither is my husband.  We are not “handy.”  We can configure a router or draft a contract, but sadly we are totally lost when it comes to home repair. 

In my perfect world some kindly elves or a wandering contractor would hear my distress and immediately materialize out of the ether to fix my house free of charge.  Sadly, that’s just not the way things work.  It’s going to be a little while before we can get someone out here to look at the leak. *sigh* In the meantime I figured I’d give my house a little extra energetic love with a fortification spell and, being me, I gave it a pop culture twist. 

Pop Culture House Fortification Spell

Light a gold or green candle and say the following:

I work this night to protect and fortify my house.
I call upon the might and fortitude
one hundred television carpenters and contractors.
I call upon the energy and enthusiasm of home improvement networks:
Home and Garden and DIY channels.
I call upon the expertise and expert execution of
Bob Villa and Norm Abrams.
Be with me this night.
Let your energy flow through my house
stopping leaks, arresting decay, holding things together.
Let my house hold fast until I can get your physical brethren
to come and conduct repairs.
My house will weather the storm.
The wind will huff and will puff
but won’t blow my house down.
My house will see the rains come and go undamaged.
This old house will stand tall and proud.
So be it.

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Fireverse Part 2: When I Challenged Loki to a Duel

Why? Because apparently I possess the common sense the gods gave a honey badger.
I had just run for office for the second time. I was exhausted and disillusioned. I had seen how the political sausage was made and felt that the system was rigged. I read an essay on Popehat, “Burn the [expletive deleted] System to the Ground,” and agreed wholeheartedly. That opened me to Loki in his aspect as Breaker of Worlds. I didn’t realize that until much later, though.

In November 2013, I went to see Thor: The Dark World. I enjoyed it, but I left the theater thinking, “I could write a much more authentic story about the heathen gods than that!” That opened me to Loki, too, and to Odin, though I didn’t realize that until later, either.

“Yes, you could,” purred that voice. Loki appeared in my mind as a fictional character, talking and making story. I didn’t think it was really him, though. For one thing, I was used to hearing fictional characters talking in my head; it’s how I’ve been writing fiction for decades. Like many other authors, when I get an idea for a story and the characters start talking to each other, it always feels like the characters are banging on the inside of my head trying to get out. For another thing, he didn’t look like I remembered him. I had met Loki as a child, in a dream, without knowing who he was, but by the time he showed up again, I had identified the Lord of the Monsters as Loki (see my previous post Lord of the Monsters for that story.) Now he was coming around my mind cosplaying as Marvel-Loki. It took me a while to realize, “Duh, shapeshifter.” Of course he can look like anyone or anything he wants.

Scenes played in my head. I saw chemtrails create the Fimbulwinter, and the Well of Worlds on fire because it was full of fracking fluid, and Sif lying dead in her temple, poisoned by her own worshippers who accidentally sacrificed unlabeled GMO grain. I saw myself die in a zombie apocalypse with a Smith & Wesson Shield in my hand – weeks before I actually was given one for Yule – the dead rising because the Rainbow Bridge was out. I heard Heimdall say it broke under the weight of dead cats and dogs.

“Look, there is dialogue, there are scenes, write.” His horns of flame tickled the inside of my skull, giving me a headache.

I told him, “Shut up in there or I’ll write a scene in which you get bitten by the Midgard Serpent.”

His eyes twinkled and he laughed at me, and—well, I wrote the scene. It is now in the book.

He was delighted. “You wrote something!”

Yes, I did, I wrote something. You win. Score one for Loki.

So, when I realized, “Holy *^(&^ it’s really Loki!” what did I do? I challenged him to a formal duel, using traditional Old Norse fighting words. I wrote a horrible little fanfic story in which the very worst thing that could ever happen to anyone happens – what I thought was the worst thing that had ever happened to me, that is. I wasn’t even aware that was what I was doing. It only became glaringly obvious in hindsight. At the time, I thought I was insulting him.

“Ha, ha! Look! You wrote more things about meeeeeee!”

He reacted as if I amused him, but months later, I realized that when I tried to insult him, what I was really doing was revealing my deepest unhealed trauma. Being a god, he saw right through me, and saw what I could not see myself. He resolved to help me heal it through writing, though I didn’t realize that at the time either.

I also realize now that reacting as if he was amused was the “laugh so you won’t cry or scream” phenomenon that I’ve seen so often before, particularly in myself. He deflected me with humor, and I didn’t realize just how very seriously he was taking my unconscious cry for help until much later. I also didn’t realize until much later that often the being who showed up to inspire my writing insisting that I call him Loki was really Odin, although I had a sneaking suspicion of it for months before it became really obvious.

Every night I dreamed of Ragnarok. Dreams in the twelve nights of Yule are supposed to be prophetic. I saw Thor’s head on a pike. Loki boiled tea from the flowers left at the graves of the dead, and held a tea dance. It was absurd and terrifying.

Finally I had my outline done and I started writing. The pressure eased. Dialogue poured out my fingers, into the keyboard, and when I saw it on the screen, I thought, “I just wrote WHAT about WHO?” I was afraid what I had written might offend Thor. When I went outside I expected a lightning bolt between the shoulder blades. I was mortally afraid to walk beneath the sky, until I raised a cup of coffee to the Thunderer and asked for a sign of approval if he wanted me to keep writing this story this way, and an out-of-season rainstorm arrived, a blessing from Thor.

On Yule 2013, I laid two fires, a bonfire for the ceremony and a barbecue fire for cooking the feast for after the ceremony. I lit both fires. The bonfire shed fire all around it and required much work to contain, and when I set the leaf-design iron lid aside to toss burning branches back into the fire, I burned my foot on the lid. I stood in the cold bucket of water. It was time to concede. It was time to admit that I could not win a duel against a god. Like the cup of coffee I had offered to Thor, I had to make some small gesture toward Loki. So I threw my hair-combings into the barbecue.

At once the fire popped and spat and threw off a great light in acceptance of my sacrifice. Not the fire I threw it into, but the great Yule bonfire, which suddenly stopped trying to get out of its metal confines and started burning merrily and throwing off a great white-yellow pyramid of herbal smoke straight up into the air. The rest of the ceremony went off perfectly, and the cooking did too.

That was when my head cracked open and I started hearing the rest of the gods, too. They inspired my writing. Loki’s laughter echoed down trunk of the World-Tree and shook dry rot from its heart. His voice moistened the dark between the stars, shivered through all the worlds and waited for me every night as I closed my eyes. I no longer heard it in dreams, but now, in that half awake, half asleep state as I drifted off to sleep. As I slipped into the state of consciousness called hypnogogia, I saw Loki standing in my room, and a large snake slithered into my bed. Nervously, I told Loki his snake was getting too close, but he laughed and told me it wasn’t his snake.

“That is my blood brother, Bolverkr, the mead of poetry in his mouth, here to help you birth a new world.”

Image credit: "Loke by C. E. Doepler" by Carl Emil Doepler (1824-1905) - Wägner, Wilhelm. 1882. Nordisch-germanische Götter und Helden. Otto Spamer, Leipzig & Berlin. Page 255.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    From reading "Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes" by Chris Knowles I would say that many of the best c
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Yes, it would be really cool if they let Sjofn and Lofn loose in the MCU. Maybe Marvel-Thor would finally get together with Sif!

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Shake your tree!

One of the issues we face when working with modern Paganism based in ancient Minoan spirituality is a practical one: we can’t read what the Minoans wrote. Their two writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphs and Linear A, are still undeciphered. That leaves us with lots and lots of images from frescoes, pottery, seal stones and seal rings. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but figuring out exactly which thousand words are the right ones can be a problem.

Lately I’ve been working on some art projects that involve enlarging photos of some of the Minoan seal rings, and I’ve had occasion to examine the artwork closely. Most of the time this has been an enlightening process, but I have run across one bit that bothered me a lot. You see, there’s a particular ritual scene that’s repeated over and over on the seal rings. The archaeologists have interpreted it as a ‘tree shaking ceremony’ but they can’t manage to explain what it might actually mean. As I was examining a closeup of the seal ring from Tholos Tomb A at Archanes (the main blog image above) it occurred to me that the branch-type object the male figure is shaking might not actually be a tree. I had a look at a few other seal rings that include similar ‘tree shaking’ rituals and I think these images may be something far more specific to the Minoan goddess than trees.

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