PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.
My path has taken a few sharp turns over the years, but I like to think of it as switchbacks on the same path up the same mountain. If I couldn't handle the turn, I'd be off my path.
In the Fireverse series of posts, I’ll be telling the story of how my relationships with the gods changed because of writing the unpublished, overgrown novel Some Say Fire. The book is a healing journey, and writing it opened me to receiving inspiration from the gods and to connecting with my own subconscious. The book is about the length of Lord of the Rings and took me about a year and a half to write. In writing it, I spent many hours thinking about the gods, retelling their stories, and being mentally open to receive their messages. There is more than I can put in a series of blog posts, even a rather long series. I’ll tell the most significant gnosis, and the most important events.
Here on the Gnosis Diary blog, I’ve been telling the story of my personal journey on my heathen path more or less in chronological order, and now we’ve caught up to where I was when I started writing it. I wanted to write Gnosis Diary because I have gnosis to share, messages given to me for humankind in the form of a novel that is at times horrifying, which some other heathens to whom I’ve shown it have found offensive, and which may be unpublishable. How can I share what I’ve learned if the book is never published, or if it’s published and never reaches a mass audience? How can I be sure people will realize which parts are actual gnosis and which are just part of the story?
Here on Gnosis Diary, I can pick out the parts of Some Say Fire that are genuine gnosis, and not only relate what flowed out when I was writing, but also interpret it outside the context of the story and tell what I think the message means. I already did that with the early post on this blog where I quoted part of a scene inspired by Sif and interpreted it as a message to humanity to stop using GMO Roundup Ready grains that poison the land. Hardly anyone liked that post, so I felt I had not gotten my message out enough, and that I needed to do something else to help the earth, and that was what led me to participate in the editing of A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.
I also already relayed a message to humanity to please stop misusing the Rainbow Bridge, and that it is not a destination but the way to Asgard, and if one intends to go somewhere else, to please direct one's companions to where one expects to go, and if one wishes to direct one's animal companions to the Northern gods, to send them to the gods associated with them, such as cats to Freya and dogs to Nehellenia or Zisa. I concluded with a list of animal associations with the Norse gods. No one much liked that message, either, but people did like the list, so I expanded it and worked it into the new, expanded version of Asatru For Beginners that I'm working on.
When I write fiction or poetry, I often hear lines of dialogue or lines of poetry in my head. That’s quite common among writers. Over the decades that I’ve been writing, I have sometimes felt that what I wrote was inspired by Odin. For example, I wrote the poem Skadhi: Water Cycle by hearing it in a dream, waking up, and copying it down verbatim. Like a lot of other writers do, I’ve often heard fictional characters talking to each other in my head. So when I set out to write Some Say Fire, at first I didn’t realize that sometimes I wasn’t just hearing characters with the names of the gods talking, sometimes I was hearing the actual gods. I had never heard them speak before. Some people possess a “godphone,” but I’ve never been one of them. I didn’t even realize it when they started talking directly to me rather than each other. I just thought that meant there was a character that represents me in my book, so I put in a human protagonist. I didn’t realize it was really them until they started doing real things, and then it terrified me, because of some of the things I had written about them by then. In the 25 years between when I became Priestess of Freya and when I started writing Some Say Fire, I had never heard the gods speak to me. Writing this book cracked open my mind to them so that I could hear them. I usually don’t experience automatic writing, either, but I did sometimes while writing this book. I put my fingers on the keyboard and things flowed out.
I call the universe of Some Say Fire the Fireverse. It differs from our own world in some ways. Many of the things in the book are meant to show how messed up that universe is, so as to show why the Fireverse needs to end and be restarted so a better world can come about, which is the goal of the heroes of the novel. Some of the gods are different in the Fireverse, too. For example, Fireverse-Odin is as different from Asa-Odin as Marvelverse-Odin is. Nonetheless, writing the book became both a healing journey and a vehicle for receiving gnosis. I’ll be writing about those things in this series of posts.
Image credit: Francisco Farias Jr. via Public Domain Pictures
Today is the 28th. This date has personal significance for me, which will be explained in a later post. This is the date on which I honor the northern trinity each month, so it's an excellent day on which to begin the Fireverse blog series. Odin and his brothers are separate gods with distinctly different personalities, and yet they also appear in fused forms and borrow each other's powers and appear as each other. In honoring them, I have learned to embrace mystery over taxonomy. I'm learning to be comfortable with paradox. Today, I hail the tripartite god by all of his names: High, Just-as-High, and Third, Odhinn, Vili, and Ve, Wotan, Wili, and We, Odhinn, Honir, and Lodhur, Odin, Honir, and Loki, and by all his other names aspects and all possible combinations thereof. On this day I say: Hail the ninefold Odin!
Every so often, the devotional polytheistic community comes up with a new way to try to distinguish gods from archetypes. In the past, terms like "real", "literal", or "separate" have been emphasized. Now it's "agents". The gods have agency while archetypes do not -- so the argument goes.
One of the most visible exponents of this idea has been Morpheus Ravenna. Morpheus has written two essays -- here and here -- about this issue, and more recently delivered the keynote speech at the Many Gods West polytheist conference: "Deep Polytheism: On the Agency and Sovereignty of the Gods" (which I urge you to read in its entirety). Morpheus argues that "if your Gods are real to you, treat Them like beings with agency." Agency, she says, is "the capacity of an entity to act ... something like will." This, she says, is what makes gods distinct from archetypes. And, on this point, I have to disagree with her....
This is the third in a series of posts in which I discuss four terms that polytheists use to distinguish gods from archetypes: "real", "literal", "separate", and "agents". In this post, I want to address the position the the polytheistic gods are separate from us in a way that archetypes are not....
You could say idolatry is in my blood.
I was raised Catholic, which included attending Catholic school from kindergarten through freshman year of high school, and mass every week (plus the high holy days). Which meant I spent a lot of time studying the art and architecture of the churches we attended – my grandparents' church in South Philadelphia, the incredibly ornate from floor to ceiling St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi (the first Italian parish in the US) to our home base St. Charles Borromeo in South Jersey which was very mid-century modern, clean yet with very colorful, large stained glass windows.
Growing up in an environment where Catholicism was the majority, I wasn't exactly prepared at age when we moved to South Carolina (3% Catholic at the time), and discovered that Protestants considered Catholics idol-worshipers and not “true Christians.”
I have heard hard polytheists come up with all sorts of words to distinguish their gods from Jungian archetypes. The gods, they say, are "real", "literal", "individual", "distinct", and "separate"; they are "persons", "beings", "entities", or "agents". The archetypes, it is implied, are none of these things....
The Wiccan Wheel of the Year is a wonderful thing. The eight evenly-spaced sabbats provide a balanced, coherent view of the seasonal cycles over the course of a year. The Quarters and Cross-Quarters are a great way for modern pagans to connect with nature and to become more in tune with the shifts and changes of the natural world, particularly in temperate climates. But the Wheel of the Year is a recent invention, compiled from a wide variety of sources. Ancient cultures didn’t follow the Wheel, or at least, not all of it.
For instance, my Celtic reconstructionist friends tell me that their historical sources mention only the Cross-Quarters sabbats: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh, often called Fire Festivals in their tradition. Hilda Ellis Davidson’s work on the ancient traditions of northern Europe suggests that some cultures celebrated the solstices but not necessarily the equinoxes, and harvest festivals fell whenever the crops were ready and not on a particular calendar date. The ancient Roman sacred calendar contained more festival dates than you can shake a stick at. So what about the ancient Minoans?...