A Faerie Haven: Living in Myth, Being Magic

For some people, magic isn't something they do, it is what they are. This blog focuses less on theory and more on lyrical mysticism, applied spellcrafting, experiential awareness of Divinity, and related topics. A haven for you who long to become your myth and live your poem. Faerie tales do come true.

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Trapped by Lore

Traditional lore can inform, gently point to mysteries, and outright open gateways. But, nowadays, in the Pagan community, rigid interpretation of lore often becomes a stranglehold on magical and spiritual practices.

 

I’ve spent years learning lore, meditating on it so it can inform shamanic lessons I give, and creating ritual based in lore. So I’d be the first to insist that, sometimes, lore provides definitive, irrefutable facts. However, common sense is needed.  

 

My mother taught me to think for myself. It was one of the greatest gifts a parent can give. 

 

 Furthermore, growing up in a shamanic family tradition (specifically, Italian witchcraft), I got a sense from how mom lived her life that traditional shamanism is far more fluid than usually represented. Yet I see many magical practitioners trapped by lore, which is one way their personal paths and viewpoints are squelched. 

 

An example: one of my students was utterly devoted to Hecate. He was told by another of his teachers that he was incorrect to honor Hecate as Mother Goddess since She is the Crone of the underworld. My student felt crushed. He knew from personal interaction with Hecate that She is an utterly loving mother, and he loved Her dearly as such. Yet a teacher whom he respected was telling him his whole relationship with a deity was wrong. 

 

That teacher probably had the best intentions but nonetheless was unwittingly trapped by lore and unintentionally trying to do the same to the student. Had the teacher actually spoken to Hecate, She would’ve revealed Her motherly traits. But the teacher let lore take precedence over the student’s personal revelation. 

 

Furthermore, had she known more lore, she would have realized that, though one culture’s lore of Hecate says She is  the Crone Goddess of the underworld, another culture’s lore shows Her as the Mother. If memory serves me correctly, Hecate was known in Thrace as Mother, but then She traveled to a place where people did not have actual sleeves on their clothing. The sleeves on Hecate’s image were considered bizarre. Hence, it was decided She Herself was bizarre and, as such, must be an underworld goddess. (Please correct me if my history is wrong here.)

 

The sort of invalidation my student met squelches people’s spiritual explorations and hurts their hearts. The teacher used lore to invalidate someone’s belief system and actual interaction with a deity—a deeply beautiful, meaningful, and pivotal personal revelation. How awful!

 

Lore is often simply one person’s experience or the experience in one group/culture. A single experience should not be taken as a rigid overview of the matter at hand, a definitive sense of all that ever was and ever will be, of all that is possible for anyone anywhere. The traditional Italian magic I grew up with is not the same as that of some other Italian shamanic family traditions.

 

Another example: there is Italian lore about threatening the Gods, telling Them that, if They don’t give you such and such, you will revenge yourself upon Them. I can assure you: when you try to bully a God, there’s no telling what the backlash is going to be. I learned this from personal experience, in my younger days as a priestess, and all it took was one such incident to realize I should never threaten a deity again. I told my Gods that, if They wanted me to continue to priestess for Them, They had better give me such and such. 

 

They gave me what I asked for, and They gave it to me in a way that devastated my life. It took years to recover. The false sense of something being okay to do just because it’s lore is too prevalent. I got trapped by lore! When viewing lore, I try to use common sense, look to my own experiences, and think things through. But instead, feeling desperate about needing change in my life, I let myself get trapped.

 

Lore is filled with starlight, sunlight, moonlight, illuminating the mystical path. I want to dance along that road joyfully, rather than turning my back on it by using lore to create dogma. So mote it be.

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Francesca De Grandis aka Outlaw Bunny is the bestselling author of "Be a Goddess!" Founder of The Third Road, a Faerie Shamanism tradition that she teaches through both text and oral tradition, De Grandis says, "I'm a trickster working for benevolent chaos Gods, so I don't play mean tricks." Bard, painter, mystical innovator, and busy elf who works part-time for Santa Claus, she blogs here and on her own sites, www.stardrenched.com and www.outlawbunny.com

Comments

  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer Tuesday, 20 March 2018

    I feel you on this. I have a (tentative, I'm still very new and learning) relationship with Death as an entity, usually presenting himself (he's gender-neutral, but I relate best in binary terms apparently, so for me he's "male" in terms of pronouns) in his aspect as Grim Reaper. Not as an agent of ending, of destroying, of taking away, of nothing but (mortal) death and decay, but as one of transition, of change, of guidance even. He's actually a very reassuring presence for me.

    I've tried to find information on Death as a deity to see if anyone else shares this or a similar view, and the only thing I can seem to come up with is La Santisma Muerte. She represents many of the same things, but she also represents and deals in other things, and her path just isn't one that calls me. "My" Death is a different entity. The fact that he is, and that he's real, and he really is as I see him even if no one else does, is something I've had to come to on my own, and I'm sure if I tried to discuss him with most people, they'd try to tell me I'm wrong. Their view is right for them, but this is what's been revealed to me, for me.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Tuesday, 20 March 2018

    Dragon Dancer, thank you so much for your comment. And, though you don’t need me to tell you that what you’re doing is right, I do want to yaysay you on the difference between your description of the Death with Whom you have a relationship and La Santisma Muerte. I do not see La Santisma Muerte as the same being you described as “your” Death. I love that you followed your heart and realized that They’re not the same entities! It’s great to meet you!

  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer Tuesday, 20 March 2018

    Yep, definitely not the same, though they have a lot of overlap. And thank you! Great to meet you too!

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 22 March 2018

    On pages 90-91 of "The Candle and the Crossroads" by Orion Foxwood the author says: "The next and very famous of the traditional spirits is what my teachers called Daddy Death. Known as Papa Guede in the deep south of America, he is the grim reaper in other traditions. He is the spirit of death, and in many ways, the cross-roads spirit for the life-death intersection. In all graveyard work, he is the spirit that opens or closes the way to reaching those persons who have moved from the world of form to the world of formlessness. He has access to all the wisdom of the ancestors and the graveyard."

    Does this sound more like what you have experienced?

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Thursday, 22 March 2018

    Anthony, thank you so much for adding to the conversation. It’ll be interesting to see what Dragon Dancer has to say to you.

    Speaking for myself only, it doesn’t sound like the same deity. I know the God of Whom you speak. Of course, maybe Dragon Dancer will feel differently. We all have such different perceptions, based on our own unique experiences.

    Dragon Dancer, I have been thinking a lot about your comments and thought you might enjoy the following. The concept of death as a bringer of change and transformation is traditional. I always find it interesting when I or someone else comes to a realization through their own experiences and then discovers the realization is actually a traditional interpretation. So I thought you might find it interesting in the case of you and Death.

    Anthony, thanks again!

  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer Monday, 26 March 2018

    GEEZ I thought I'd replied to these comments before. Sorry for the delay!

    You know, I wasn't sure either at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it's possible, if not even likely. It's something I'll have to explore more.

    Good to know! Though I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I've long been drawn to Death (the concept) and images of the Grim Reaper, but it wasn't until I started exploring the tarot in recent years that I began to understand WHY I've always seen Him more positively than I grew up thinking I "should". In the tarot, of course, the thirteenth card (something else I've always been drawn to with a positive impression, the number 13) is a card of end-but-also-beginning, of change and transformation.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Monday, 26 March 2018

    Yes, I understand what you’re saying about the Tarot. I’ve read Tarot professionally for decades, so that’s a lot a lot of time with the Tarot, so I really understand what you’re saying.

    I love how much you really honor the authenticity of “your” Death. I also find it lovely that you’re drawn to meeting Death at the crossroads at times of transitions and at other times. I’m sure your Death will meet you at the crossroads, if you so desire. Many different Death gods will meet us at the crossroads. I bet it’s going to be so wonderful when you meet yours there, if you want to do that!

    Blessed be, Francesca

  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer Monday, 26 March 2018

    GEEZ I thought I'd replied to these comments before. Sorry for the delay!

    Oh, nice! Yeah, I might have to look into him. I don't see him as a "father" figure personally, but then I don't see Time as a "father" either nor the earth as "mother" (per se), though my not relating to those aspects doesn't mean those aspects don't exist. Similarly, I've never related to ancestor work, but then I'm an Air Force brat who grew up moving every few years with only my parents and brother as constants in my life, so that aspect of "my" deity may still be a valid one if not one I'm drawn to. Actually . . . maybe that /is/ something I should consider exploring with him, since I do so thoroughly lack that kind of grounding. (I have no interest in or understanding of the ancestor-push of Samhain, either, despite my love for the holiday.)

    The "cross-roads spirit for the life-death intersection" hits spot-on, of course.

  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert Wednesday, 21 March 2018

    What you said in this well written piece is right on in my book. Thank you for putting it so well. There are many masks worn by those who dance to the melodies of the ancient wisdom, it is more fun to explore than to set rigid identities and rules. Blessed Be those who simply watch and participate rather than trying to teach their beliefs, those who wish to learn rather than know. Bright blessings to you, Tasha

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Wednesday, 21 March 2018

    Tasha, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you relate to what I’m saying. Bright blessings back at you!

  • Judith Shaw
    Judith Shaw Tuesday, 27 March 2018

    Very well put. Dogma is the death of spirituality. Our spiritual practices seem to be best served if we remain open to growth and change.

  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis Tuesday, 27 March 2018

    Judith, thanks so much! I *really* appreciate your support re my essay.

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