tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Anime - Chibi Kenshin)
Tonight, I watched "Religulous", a documentary on religion by Bill Maher. Well, I watched it again. I first watched it a few years ago, as a DVD rental when I was still living with Charles. Of course, he watched it as well, and agreed with many of the points.

Now, I identify as a pagan (to facilitate discourse; I'm more accurately a Norse-style Saxon Heathen, with just a touch of interest in herb lore, divination, candle magic, and British Isles witchcraft), and Charles is a devout Christian.

I can appreciate wanting to find something in which to believe. Especially as one ages, the threat and doom of death grows ever larger and more real, and we as a society have conditioned ourselves to fear death as if it's this horrible monster, come to rob you of everything that makes you unique.

In my opinion, that couldn't be further from the truth. Even if you believe that death is truly the end of all things, and that there's nothing after, you're forgetting one particularly important detail: what you are doing on this planet while you are alive. No matter if you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a Wiccan, an atheist, an agnostic, a Buddhist, a Taoist, or a Jedi (I understand many of these begin to get into philosophies instead of religions, but I'm being very inclusive on purpose), the choices you make while you are living on this rock orbiting our insignificant main sequence star are what remain of you long after you are gone, no matter what you do otherwise. Your choices, even one as simple as speaking politely to everyone you have a chance to talk to when you leave your home, will have ripple effects that will spread far beyond your close group. The person who receives the benefit of your good decisions is just as likely to spread that good mood, as would one receives your discontent and anger.

So, back to the subject of religion. What is it about it that causes rational beings to go off the deep end? If someone heard some aspect of a religion in the context of mythology, would they still be so sure that it's literally true? Why are religious people so quick to violence when their faith is challenged?

...and here is where I dozed off, and lost my train of thought.

*sigh* I guess it's bedtime.
tek2way: Art - Handful of Stars (Art - Handful of Stars)
Last night, I watched "Mirror, Mirror", the 2012 movie about Snow White that starred Julia Roberts. During the ending credits, I was immediately taken by the song "I Believe in Love", sung by Snow White's actress, Lily Collins.

I hopped on iTunes, downloaded it to my iPhone, and began to loop it. For nearly an hour, from around 3-430 or so, I danced willy-nilly around my apartment. I am grateful for the ground floor unit for that reason. I felt almost trance-like when I was singing along with the chorus in my head: "I believe, I believe, I believe..." Twelve times before it said "in love". Listening to that song, fresh from watching the movie with an actress whose costuming and appearance are so closely connected to what I want to find in a soulmate, I almost felt like I was chanting an affirmation to Freyja that I had not given up on finding that love.

This feeling was so strong, that I actually lit my candles and turned off my artificial lights, and continued to dance, flail, spin, lip sync, sway, and step in time to the song. I looped it so many times, I literally lost count. I had poured an offering of Innis & Gunn beer as an offering to Heimdall, to watch over the mother of a friend. Partway through the dancing, I got the mental nudge/urge to share my Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider with Freyja. Grabbing a margarita goblet, I filled it up and placed it on my Freyja altar. I then gave myself up completely to the music and moment for almost an hour.

I finally began to wind down, and snuffed the candles on my Freyja altar (in my living room), and retreated to my bedroom, where my main altar was still lit. After a few more repetitions, I snuffed those candles and went to sleep.

I had no moments of startling clarity or insight. I just felt like I was supposed to be up and dancing/moving, and I felt like I was supposed to share the cider with Her. Does that make my experience less sincere or valid? Was I assuming it was Freyja, when it might have been some other deity? I often get hung up on questions like this. I have a problem with worrying that my path is "proper" or "valid" or even "real".

After talking to Kendra last week, I feel much better about my path not being quite a perfect fit for the name I use for it: Asatru/Heathen. Yet, when I have these moments that don't seem to appear in any kind of documented lore, I worry that I'm "doing it wrong."

If I am not "doing it wrong" (and I honestly am willing to accept that I'm not, even as I have to adjust my mind to that belief), then what did last night mean? It was such a surreal experience. I went to bed physically worn out and content mentally, yet I never really got the sensation that I truly grasped what it was I was supposed to. I felt some kind of close connection, but my own self-doubt and fears and skepticism kept me from identifying it more closely.

Thanks for reading. I am trying something new with this post: I'm posting it to Facebook under my "Pagan Friendly" filter, so those who know me there can view it too, if they wish. I'm not fishing for answers. I just feel that I should be sharing this, and I hate Facebook notes.
tek2way: Spirituality - Thor's Hammer (Spirituality - Thor's Hammer)
As I said last night, I am reading Travels Through Middle-Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan, by Alaric Albertsson. Tonight, I tackled the Weofod chapter. A weofod is basically a Saxon pagan's altar.

The author wisely indicated when he was going off personal gnosis, which I appreciated. That said, the description of a Saxon altar was a little "this is how it should be done, or you're doing it wrong." Oh, that's not to say that I threw the chapter out as worthless, but I question when he suggests that setting up the altar just so is necessary to show proper respect to the deities.

Even still, I did pick up some things that I could improve in my own practice.* First, I like his way of explaining a gift. Oh, I'm not saying that I had no clue or misunderstood how they worked, but I appreciated having the definition reinforced in my mind. I was mildly leery of his assertion that you shouldn't ask for something if you haven't been giving gifts, because that -- in my mind -- ties right into bribery or gifting with expectations of getting something in return, which he says is not the point. I agree it's not the point, and I do agree that it's bad form to go asking for more, more, more, without trying to maintain some kind of balance, but to say that your gods will not listen simply because you haven't given them a libation of mead or ale is harsh and misleading.

It made me think about what I do for my own practice, both now and before. Another point of his was that a weofod should be located in a central part of the home, unless it was strictly necessary for it to not be. He likened keeping a primary altar in a bedroom as sneaking a friend in and out of one's house. Speaking as someone who has his altar in his bedroom for the purpose of keeping his spirituality his own business, I take issue at the suggestion that I honor my gods less because they are in my room. Indeed, the knowledge that my altar is in the room in which I sleep actually makes me feel closer to my gods. I'm also far more honest in my bedroom, even when I live alone, than I am in a central location like a living room. All that said, I still may eventually move my altar back into the living room, but it will be because I feel that it's better out there, than because it's "the way it's supposed to be done if you respect your gods".

I questioned his suggestion that I should pick one -- and only one -- god to work with at first. He compared it to getting to know someone at a neighborhood barbecue versus visiting one neighbor at a time. I actually *do* like this comparison, and he made a point with me. However, as a polytheist (though "softer" than some of my friends), I find the idea of choosing one god to be odd. Of course, I have been very actively on this path, more or less, for three solid years now, so I'm hardly a wet-behind-the-ears baby pagan**.

Regardless, perhaps there is something with focusing on one god for a bit, to get to know them. This ties into his beliefs regarding how often to worship, and how to worship. He suggests that the altar should be somewhere that we are reminded frequently throughout the day about it. That is actually one thing I do like about having it in my living room. As for altar tools and items to have on the weofod, I understand that this is something of a "101" book, and some guiding is necessary. Also, I appreciated having an "outline" of things to consider. Oddly, my altar fits his criteria already, with the exception of my hammer (which is ABSOLUTELY appropriate, even if he failed to mention it). My candle images are my "weoh", or god images. Things like the Thor's Hammer bookmark, the raven and wolf miniatures, and the piece of amber are all associated with the gods on my altar/weofod, and are appropriate as a result. I have an offering bowl, though I rarely use it as such. I am far more likely to set a glass specifically on my altar to hold a god's libation, than use the generic bowl. I have it "just in case", but I have no compulsion to find a use for it often. (I'd likely use it -- and have used it -- for a food offering, but I rarely choose to offer food because of its nature to draw pests, and because if I throw too much food on the ground outside when I gift it, I might just get in trouble with my apartments.)

Now, I absolutely liked his point that there's no reason I couldn't have a deity-specific weofod. Obviously, my mind drifted directly to Freyja as the one for whom I'd like to do this. I would prefer to maintain some representation on my main altar for her, but this could perhaps be a nice use for my Idunna/Freyja statue (centerpiece to a goddess-specific altar).

Before spending time at the altar meditating or otherwise attempting to contact your deity, he suggested that you lay claim to the immediate area. His way of doing so is tied into the Norse method of house-claiming, in that you carry fire around the perimeter (though only the area instead of the property), and ask Thor (Thunor) to "ward this sacred space." I do like my hammer rite, frankly. :) Swing a big hammer, call on Thor at each cardinal point, and knowing that I'm protected by the Thunder God while I do what needs doing.

I appreciated his suggested turns of phrase for something like offering a libation to a deity. While he did emphasize that from the heart trumps pretty turn of phrase, I like the examples, because -- dammit -- I can turn a phrase if I put my mind to it.

He closes the chapter with what to expect when at your weofod, as well as how frequently to worship there. (He gets a little snarky here with the "or is this just a hobby?" comments, but I understand he means well.)

Out of everything that I picked up from this chapter, this is the part that made me think the most. You see, often all I do is light my candles and bask in the glow of my gods. I occasionally will leave libations for them. Rarely do I sit and meditate or spend time directly at the altar. While there isn't anything inherently wrong with what I've done, I had the distinct impression that my worship style was undisciplined, almost sloppy. I'm not saying that I should start spending an hour a day in front of it, offering libations and full ceremony, but I could definitely tighten up how I worship. I will think on specifics later, but what stands out immediately is spending time at my altar. Since Friday is associated with Frigga/Freyja, I could start spending time when I wake on Friday at my altar (since I'm usually off).

Interestingly, I was baptised Catholic back when I was about 5 years old. Scott Sumers suggested, half in jest and half seriously, that my affectation for candles as a means of worship stems from then. I think he may just have something of a point. It certainly may explain my desire for a set of prayer beads. :)

Well, it's ridiculously late, and I have work in the morning, so I better bring this to a close. As always, thoughts/comments are welcome, with the caveat that I prefer discourse to being told something. :)

* - Let's face it. I'm a Heathen (again). The doubts and fears that I mistook for atheism were just that: doubts and fears. I had to work past them, and either incorporate them or expunge them, in order to continue to grow spiritually. Now, whether I am a Saxon Heathen, a Germanic Heathen, or a Norse Heathen is still technically up for debate, though my British Isles heritage (from both sides of my family) indicates a distinct blood connection to Saxon Heathenry. Regardless, my choices are my choices.

** - That fact notwithstanding, I still absolutely have more to learn, and I am encouraged by this fact.

P.S. I was jotting down some thoughts elsewhere, when this part came to me. I am including it here, because it's relevant, but I am not asking for any interpretation. Thoughts on it are fine, as always, but I think this was one of those "shutting up and letting the gods speak" moments:

"I have made peace within myself regarding my spiritual path. My gods have welcomed me back, though I think it ranges from "relieved, with open arms" to "willing to listen, though not quite as close as before...yet". Freyja has accepted me back, and likely never went anywhere. Thor had my back no matter what, though I'm sure he's happier that I wear his hammer again. Odin will require some sweet-talking. He is not pleased, but neither is he angry, I feel. Freyr, as always, is aligned with his sister. Frigga feels like a mother, angry at what I did, understanding that I needed to do it, and grateful I have returned. Heimdall stands silently, watching as he always does, though I sense a hint of a smile turning up the corners of his mouth. Long has he watched me, and long will he yet continue to do so."
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)
I really should already be in bed, but the gods (and my own sense of order) demanded that I clean my place first. Since I'm still up, I thought I'd share a couple of interesting thoughts regarding my (lack of) path.

As I mentioned before, I had a moment where I made a completely new altar while I was on vacation, and it felt right. I still have it up, and am pleased with it. However, something has changed in the month since I put it back up. I have moved the Celtic deity candles off of it. You see, having them there didn't feel "wrong", per se, but I felt like I was missing a point somewhere. One day, I was looking at my altar, and I was struck by the realization that the Celtic deities are tied to me by blood. That is, they are in my mother's heritage, and so they are in mine.

However, the Norse deities speak more loudly to me (metaphorically speaking, of course -- something about them feels more "right"). While I think both can lay a claim to me by heritage (maternal side is Scottish, Irish, German; paternal side is English, at the very least), I think my active decision to worship the Norse brought them to prominence.

Yes, I said "worship". While I am hedging my bets and refusing to classify what I am doing, I can at least say that I am not an atheist. In fact, my hypothesis about being one because of a fear of worshipping the wrong gods or doing it wrong, is probably pretty accurate, but I have more soul-searching to do before I say that is the case for sure. I do know that the idea of paying homage to the Norse deities brings me a feeling of happiness, even without any tangible results. Regardless of why I worship, or what deity I choose to worship, I gather a distinct sense of calm and peace from my choices, so I have chosen to not question it, at least until science can prove otherwise. (I remain a proud scientific skeptic. No, they aren't contradictory. If science disproves something my path believes, then I will alter my path accordingly. Questioning why is vital to our existence on this planet, and I don't intend to give that up for even a second.)

At any rate, I decided to move my Celtic deity candles to a new location, and make them part of my ancestor's altar. For the time being, that is back on the fireplace mantle as it was before, but I want to find a better permanent place. This feels very good, though, almost like I have figured at least one thing out.

Also, I have had a golden statue of what appears to be Idunna since May Day last year. I felt such an urge to get it last year that it was almost a moral imperative. Ricky even talked to Champagne about getting it after her tent was closed for the night. Last year, I said, "oh, that's not Idunna. It's Freyja," and I made it the centerpiece of my altar. Earlier this year, even when I was looking to put my altar back together, I said, "Oh, I was being silly. That couldn't be anyone but Idunna."

However, while doing some random research online, I discovered that Wagner blended the two goddesses together in his Ring Cycle. That is, while it's clearly Idunna, there is precedent for identifying it as Freyja instead of, or in addition to, Idunna. That settled in my mind in such a way that I would almost swear I "heard" a voice saying, "see? you weren't being silly."

Finally, I've begun reading Travels Through Middle-Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan, on Brian's suggestion, when he heard my description of my mental idyllic pagan experience (which is thus far, only in my head). While I still prefer the Scandinavian names to the Saxon names for the deities, this almost feels like a better fit. I'm Heathen, but I still acknowledge from where my heritage comes. Another interesting thing, at least to my mind? I flipped through to the list of deities it gave: Sunne, Mona, Eostre, Tiw, Woden, Frigge, Thunor, Hama, Freo, Ing Freo. Put another way: Sun, Moon, Ostara, Tyr, Odin, Frigga, Thor, Heimdall, Freyja, Freyr. From Odin onward, every one of those gods were ones I named specificially for my New Year's Eve ritual back in 2011-12, when I made a list of oaths. Meanwhile, Tyr was the first god I was drawn to. Fascinating coincidence, if coincidence it is. Sometimes, a duck is a duck, but this has me wondering, at least a little.

At any rate, I was working on this far longer than I expected to be doing so. I hope it clears up some questions, if you had them. I have far more I need to address in this and my other blogs, but this begged attention first. :)

Good night, all, and may you wake wiser, happier, and more alive than today...
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Music - Symphony X)
So, I decided to check on my profile, and see exactly how many posts I have done on this thing in the last 9.5 years. 1898. Pretty much 2000 entries. Some have been filtered. Some were just quiz results. At least one was just an advertisement trying to unload some of my Stuff I'd collected over the years.

Still, I find it interesting that the post with which I begin my LJ journey anew is 1899. You see, when I moved into my apartment last year, I did a landtaking for it, before I moved any significant possessions inside. At the end of the landtaking, I made an offering to the landvaettir. One of the sacrifices I made was an OLD silver dollar I had acquired. The year on that silver dollar? 1899.

Oh, sure, one could easily argue that I'm looking too hard for a connection. I disagree, though, because I'm not strictly saying that this is absolutely a connection. Rather, I believe that it is fascinating and could be a connection, but I'm not sold on it.

Work today was about normal for me now: at times, seemingly stressful, but nothing that happened was really bad enough to make me say it was a bad day. Heck, I could honestly say that it was a pretty good day. My decision a few weeks ago to begin keeping a pocket notepad on-hand has proved to be priceless. I'm forgetting a whole lot less than I did once. It also has the side effect of making it look like I'm truly ready for anything (which, honestly, I guess is true).

I came home, and promptly opened my bedroom window. I stuck my box fan in it, and reveled in the delightful air that began coming in. Even now, I'm in heaven. I so love the way it feels being blown into my room, I've considered sleeping on the floor, so that I can be closer to the air.

Well, I guess I'm going to cut this post short (?!), because I'm nodding off. I work 8-5 tomorrow, and then I'm off till 1pm on Friday. I'm thinking about going to the Flying Saucer tomorrow evening, to get my dirty little hands on a St. Patrick's Day 2012 glass.


tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)

July 2017


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