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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 1500+ Sky Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

 

How do you join yourself to a people?

In the dream, I am leaving home, going to fight in Ukraine. In dedication, I carve a piece of flesh from my right calf, about the length and volume of a finger.

I vow to Tue, old Sky Father, lord of battles, to make this people my people, and this fight my fight.

I take the all-seeing Sun, guarantor of agreements, to be my witness.

 

***

In waking life, of course, I do nothing of the sort. Instead, from the safety of another continent—from the middle of the continent, no less—I sit and write, torn in spirit, shaken by a war in which I have no part.

 

***

In the Old North, war was a religious affair.

Before a campaign, a departing army would first gather for the hosting-sacrifice. Sprinkled—literally, blessed—with the blood of the sacrificial victim, they would bind themselves with a hold-oath to fight as one, laying aside all other feuds and grievances for the duration.

 

***

I once lost a friend to victimhood.

He had embraced victimhood as an identity. There were no oppressed in whom he could not see himself. “I wonder which oppressed group Tom has decided to identify with this week,” a mutual friend once commented archly.

In the end, weary of being cast as eternal oppressor to his eternal victim, I walked away from the friendship.

In sorrow, I walked away.

 

***

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Dear Michael,

I realize that the chances of your ever seeing this are slim. I'm writing because there's something important that I forgot to tell you.

First, I want you to know that in more than 40 years of priesthood, with many namings, handfastings, and arvals—funerals—under my cincture, I have never before felt so honored and so humbled as when you asked for my blessing before you leave for Ukraine to fight. Never. Michael, my thanks.

Fight well, Michael, and the blessings of our people's gods strengthen you, and keep you safe.

I want you to know that every day between now and when next we see one another, I will be praying for your protection and safe return, every day. Here at Temple of the Moon, when I make the twice-daily offerings, I will remember you by name, and pray and offer on your behalf. Every day I will do this; I give you my solemn word.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Heroyam slava!
  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    Slava Ukraini!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Upcoming Ukrainian Ridnoveri Holidays

If you've recently initiated contact with the Slavic gods and are wondering what to do next, here are some upcoming holidays you might want to research and explore. These are Ridnoveri holidays, which is a modern Ukrainian pagan path. Other Slavic peoples have some of the same holidays and some different ones. There are cultural and linguistic differences between the various Slavic peoples and their varieties of paganism but their gods are recognizably named the same names and most pagans consider the various versions of a same name god to be the same god, just like with the heathen Germanic and Scandinavian gods. That is, all versions of Mokosh are Mokosh, just like all versions of Odin are Odin, even if spelled slightly differently (Wotan, Odhinn, Mr. Wednesday, etc.)

The Slavic gods are busy right now so if you are going to pursue your new relationships, just honor them, don't ask for anything unless you're Ukrainian yourself.

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 White House warns Russian invasion of Ukraine may be imminent

 

Gods, it's like watching a rape that I'm powerless to stop. I can't bring myself to look away, but the very act of looking seems in itself unclean, an act of complicity.

I feel like a war voyeur.

Putin's invasion of Ukraine has become a hideous kind of live entertainment as we watch it play out in real-time. Somehow my obsessive interest in what's happening seems to me prurient, ghoulish even. Something Nascar-ish is happening here: you don't really want wrecks, but the potential smell of blood has its own allure. In candor, the wrecks are the draw.

Well, war is interesting: a terrible truth, but a truth nonetheless. I think of the Iliad, the Mahabharata, the Táin, those culturally-foundational war epics. War is reality of the most extreme sort.

From the safety of somewhere else, I watch the suffering of others with fascinated horror. Try as I might, I feel myself in a state of perpetual uncleanness. How do I dare make offerings, do the sacred and necessary work, in such a state of mental impurity?

Yet the sacred work must still be done: without it, the world would fail. Better an imperfect offering than no offering at all. I turn off the radio, take a deep breath, wash my hands, and do my best to clear my mind as I enter the temple to make the morning offering.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Yeah, yeah: robins, daffodils, blue skies.

Let us consider those other signs of Spring.

 

Potholes.

That metallic shriek from under your car is probably the sound of your axle breaking. Spring's freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle wreaks havoc on the streets, which in turn wreak havoc on your undercarriage, not to mention your dental work.

Freezing Rain.

And you thought snow was bad? Ha! Talk about misery, danger? Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Glacial Lakes.

Yes, the snow is melting, but—the ground being still frozen—there's nowhere for the meltwater to go. So it pools.

Better leave some extra time to get wherever you're going. Once you factor in the time needed for portage, you may just be doubling your trip.

Refreeze.

By day, a glacial lake; by night, a skating rink.

Better practice your falling skills, mate. Believe me, you're going to need them.

Mud.

Once the ground actually does begin to thaw, it softens. Welcome to Quagmire Season!

Among other reasons, Putin's 40-mile road-jam is stalled north of Kyiv because it has to stay on the road. It's rásputitsa season in Ukraine, the mud-time, which means that you might as well stay at home. Once a tank sinks into the mud, you'll never get it out again.

Mat' sira Zemlya, Moist Mother Earth, fights back.

Flotsam and Jetsam.

The receding high tide of Winter leaves behind it six month's worth of accumulated detritus: beer cans, syringes, potato chip bags. The occasional gritty quarter is the best you can hope for.

The Dog Shit Miasma.

A plague on irresponsible dog-walkers. Nothing says early Spring in a Northern city quite like that whiff of canine waste that hits you every time you step out the front door: six months' worth, all thawing at once. Hoo-ha.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

My son, the Church is always on the side of the powerful.”

(Werner Herzog, Aguirre: Wrath of God)

 

If I were patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, right now I would be threatening Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin with excommunication.

But of course, I'm not patriarch of anything: I'm just a gay warlock from Paganistan.

(Gods, who is this guy? Who could possibly take someone like that seriously?)

Check out ROC Patriarch Kirill's flaccid response to Putin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

He's sorry that people are suffering. He hopes that civilian casualties can be avoided. He prays for peace in Ukraine.

Note what he doesn't say: That the war is wrong. That the war is unchristian. That the war needs to end.

Let me tell you the back story.

For the last 300 years, ecclesiastical affairs in Ukraine have been lorded over by the Russian Orthodox Church. Three years ago, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted autocephaly (essentially, jurisdictional independence) by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Orthodox not-quite-pope; to date, thousands of churches in Ukraine have transferred their allegiance (and property) from the Moscow to the Kyiv patriarchates.

Needless to say, the ROC was pretty unhappy with this state of affairs. In a nutshell, Kirill backs Putin's rape of Ukraine because he sees it as a way of getting back the property and power that he regards as rightfully his own. Essentially, he's Putin in a golden omofór.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Putin voodoo doll seeking donations on Kickstarter | Euromaidan Press

 Some Thoughts on Image Magic

 

I don't know any Ukrainian witches personally, but of two things we can be absolutely certain.

First, that there are witches in Ukraine. There are witches everywhere.

Second, that they're making very good use of all those little Putin dolls.

 

Here in the US we tend to speak of magical images as “Voodoo dolls,” but of course the Craft has its own traditional terminology for this very venerable magical technology. In the language of Witchcraft, we generally speak of mommets and poppets.

(Quick: Name a famous 60s Witches-and-Warlocks singing group.)

Though the terms sound similar, and (these days, at least) tend to be used synonymously, they have very different origins.

A poppet is a magical image, a puppet a plaything, but the historical relationship between the two is obvious. Both are diminutives, from the Norman French word poupette, a small child or doll (cp. modern French poupée, “doll”), ultimately (via “Vulgar” Latin) from the Latin pupa, “girl, doll.”

Interestingly—pins notwithstanding—witches (especially British ones) sometimes use “poppet” as a term of affection for a small child. Witches are strange people.

Mommet, on the other hand, has a rather more sinister history. Interestingly, the word derives from Muhammad, the name of the Muslim uber-prophet.

Islamophobia is nothing new in the West. (Considering the nasty history of Islam, and the endemic sibling-rivalry of the two big Abrahamic imperialist superpowers down the centuries, that's hardly surprising.) Medieval Christians and Muslims were wont to diss each other as pagans (remember paynim?), and to characterize one another as idolaters. So a mommet (or maumet) is an idol, an image, a false god. Maumetry meant “idolatry”.

Of course, these days witches mostly don't use mommets for worship.

If we had to make a distinction between mommets and poppets, one might suggest—counter-intuitively, one might think—that poppets are female magical images, mommets male ones.

As I'm sure I don't need to tell you, the Craft has its own warped sense of humor.

 

In Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad, arch-witch Nanny Ogg meets up with Mrs. Gogol, the Voodoo lady. An interesting dialogue ensues.

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