Vanatru: Clearing Up Some Misconceptions

I’ve been meaning to get to this post for a long time. I’ve already touched on this in other posts, but I think it’s time to devote an entire post to setting the record straight regarding some odd things that are going around about Vanatru and Vanatruar.

Please note: I can really only speak for myself and my own experiences. Please keep this in mind as you read this.

Misconception #1: In order to be Vanatru, you must only honour those deities considered Vanir (usually Freyr, Freyja, and Njord) all the time.

While some may choose to exclusively honour deities they consider to be Vanir (whether by birth or marriage) this isn’t a requirement. You may primarily honour one of them, or you may simply have one of them as a fulltrui (although, people in this last group don’t usually identify as Vanatru).

Misconception #2: Vanatru is just another name for Norse Wicca.

This one should be obvious to anyone with working brain cells, but let’s touch on it anyways. I can’t speak for others, but yours truly is not Wiccan, in either the British Traditional or Eclectic sense, here is a brief list of points detailing why:

  • I am a polytheist, not a duotheist/ditheist/bitheist
  • I don’t cast circles
  • I was never initiated into a coven
  • I don’t use an athame, a chalice, a wand, or a pentacle in my rites
  • The concept of polarity is irrelevant to me
  • I don’t follow the Threefold Law or the Wiccan Rede
  • I honour a moon god and a sun goddess
  • While I might offer cakes and ale to my deities, it isn’t a regular part of my rituals

That’s just a short list, I could spend time exhaustively picking apart that argument, but you get the idea.

That is not to say that there aren’t Norse Wiccans out there, but to lump all of Vanatru under the heading of Wicca is just sloppy research.

Misconception #3: All Vanatruar are liberal hippie vegetarians who sleep around/are just doing this to get laid.

Let’s see, yours truly is:

  • Politically liberal
  • Not particularly hippie-like
  • An Omnivore (with occasional lapses into carnivore status)
  • A virgin, single, and with no current prospects, and probably not interested in you anyways

In my experience, Vanatru does tend to attract more liberal folks who have, shall we say, a more relaxed attitude towards sexuality. However, vegetarianism is not a requirement to be Vanatru, and I think someone has confused a more relaxed attitude towards sexuality with nymphomania. Seriously, if I wanted to get laid, I can think of way easier ways to do it than adopting a religion. One cannot help but detect a bit of insecurity on the part of those who so readily lob this one at Vanatruar. It may be that there are people desperate enough to adopt a religion in order to cruise (or worse, abuse others) but it makes about as much sense as me assuming that all Asatruar are chest-thumping dick-swinging lorehumpers, and they’re not (they’re called Asshattru).

Related: Vanatru is associated with child abuse.

Really, everyone? Really?

Misconception #4: Heathens worship ALL the gods! How can Vanatruar work with an incomplete pantheon?

You know, I’ve always found this one kind of funny, because, outside of the fact that adherents tend to be racists, no one really seems to have a problem with Odinism, or with people who are dedicated to one deity or another. In fact, most Heathens can’t even agree on which entities are deities, these include:

Loki

Sunna

Mani

No, seriously, someone once tried to tell me that Sunna and Mani weren’t deities, they merely represented the gravitational pull of the Earth and the orbital path of the Earth around the sun, or were “poetic metaphors” or something.

My point is, many Heathens do acknowledge ‘the Aesir and Vanir’ in general in their rites, but honestly, when’s the last time you heard of a “mainstream” kindred doing a blot to the Alcis? Or to a host of goddesses whose names (and perhaps some vague associations) still survive?

The thing is that no one honours all the deities all of the time. You might only have one or two that you feel a particular kinship with, your kindred might celebrate particular deities at particular times of the year, or you might place more emphasis on your ancestors than the deities.

I think somewhere along the line someone was under the impression that someone who exclusively honours X group doesn’t believe in Y group, or thinks that Y group is evil, or something. And yes, I know of at least one person who likes to treat Odin and co. as if they’re all cosmic bullies who abuse the poor, innocent Vanir.

As for me, no, I don’t personally honour Odin, Tyr, or Thor, but that doesn’t mean that I think they’re evil or that they don’t exist, I just don’t honour them.

They have plenty of followers who love them dearly, I am not one of them.

That’s it.

It’s not that they are bad, or they don’t exist, they’re just out of focus (or not in focus, as the case may be). The Vanir aren’t just trotted out for Freyfaxi so that your kindred can give tacit acknowledgement to “the fertility deities that make everyone very uncomfortable” before shoving them aside and bringing out the MANLY AESIR WARLORDS, FUCK YEAH! They are relevant the whole year round.

Oh wait, are you pissed because I’m essentially doing the exact opposite of what you’re doing?

Here’s a tip: deal.

Anyways, those are probably the most common ones, here are some other things I’d like to clear up.

The relationship between Vanatru and Waincraft

Waincraft began as the personal gnosis of a few Vanatruar who have since cut ties with Vanatru specifically and with Heathenry in general. While material that comes out of the Waincraft movement might be interesting to Vanatruar (and while I do have a Waincraft category on my blog), the two paths are separate, related, but separate.

The relationship between Vanatru and “Celtic” traditions (including Druidry, CR, and related faiths)

Again, some Vanatruar have taken to adopting the label “Vanacelt” to describe themselves, or are interested in looking at the commonalities between Norse and Celtic tribes. However, this is, like many things to do with Vanatru, not a requirement (although there is nothing wrong with being multi-trad). For those of you who are interested in comparative religions, it might be worth looking at this subject in more detail, but again, not a requirement.

Again, these are just the big ones. If you’ve seen any I haven’t mentioned, tell me so in the comments.

This Exists: Scarlet Blade

[The following discusses a game that is definitely NSFW. I won’t post any screenshots here, but for the love of gods, don’t Google it at work.]

This afternoon, I played a bit of Scarlet Blade, an adult’s-only sci fi MMORPG from Aeria Games, because every so often I get the urge to do some mindless grinding alongside other people who are also doing mindless grinding.

Let’s see, how do I sum up this game in one sentence? In Scarlet Blade, you play as sexy just-barely-clothed cyborg warrior women on a quest to save the world….or something. Actually, technically you play as the Commander of one of these cyborg warrior women (known as Arkana) but in practice you’ll basically be staring at your Arkana’s naked ass the whole game anyways. It’s interesting that the game was originally called Queens Blade, but they had to change it for release here due to the Queen’s Blade anime–which is basically more of the same thing.

Yeah, that’s where the adults-only thing comes in. Basically, you have a choice of three kinds of outfits: the skimpy outfit, the very skimpy outfit, and the very outlandish skimpy outfit.

I could go on and on about how sexist this game is, but the thing is, this game is just so ridiculously over the top about it that I can’t find it in me to be offended by it. It’s a game for boys men who can’t seem to get over the fact that “LOLZ wimmins have teh BOOBIES!” I’m all for having more “adult-oriented” content in games, including nudity, but the thing is that the industry doesn’t yet know how to do it without being juvenile about it (and, really, will we ever be able to have nudity in a game where someone doesn’t complain about how stupid it is?). The problem isn’t sex and nudity itself, but the way its presented.

But I’m sure you already know that. This is me preaching to the choir.

And there’s something kind of subversive about the fact that I, a lesbian, am traipsing through the game world with my Whipper (yep, just what it sounds like) class Arkana Melusine being very appreciative of straight men playing as warrior women in clothes that only meet the bare minimum requirements to be classified as clothing. Now who is being objectified, boys?

Also, I keep imagining a male equivalent of this game with male avatars who run around in nothing but jock straps, like if someone decided to turn Wraeththu into an MMORPG.

I’d play a Wraeththu MMORPG.

So, other than the nudity, there’s an actual story to read through, but TBH, once everyone gets tired of all the boobage, Scarlet Blade is going to go where all the other MMORPGs that aren’t WoW go: off the radar.

Anyways, the game is free-to-play, so if you’re really curious (and your computer can handle it) there’s no harm in giving it a look, but really, all you need to know is BOOBIES!

Adventures in the Age of Decadence

It’s time for another “Adventures in…” post, where I play a bit of a game and post screenshots of my playthrough. It’s like a “Let’s Play!” only I tend to forget to take lots of screenshots.

Today, I am trying the Age of Decadence public beta. I don’t know anything about this game except that it’s an old school CRPG, the kind that were reeeeeeeally popular in the 90s.

So, let’s boot it up.

The title screen looks like this:

AoD Title

The title music is cool, really melancholy.

I click “New Game” and I get this screen:

difficulty selection

Sorry, that’s a bit small. Basically, it’s informing me that the game will be hard, and is giving me the option of choosing how I want to create my character. Choosing “Normal” will take me through character creation as usual, while “Awesome” will give me a preset character that’s already well-equipped for combat situations.

Fuck you, Awesome mode, I’m going with Normal and taking it LIKE A BOSS!

(I have a feeling I’m going to regret it.)

Selecting “Normal” takes me to the character creation screen:

character creation

It looks like there are six main stats: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Perception, Intelligence, and Charisma, which all pretty much do what you expect them to do. Although, Perception is used to gauge the effectiveness of ranged weapons and Intelligence isn’t related to magic (it’s checked in dialogue and is only raised by completing quests), Charisma affects your reputation with the various factions and is also checked in dialogue. Carrying capacity is governed by Strength.

You have a bunch of classes (called backgrounds) to choose from: Assassin, Thief, Praetor, Loremaster, Grifter, Drifter, Mercenary, or Merchant. Assassins and Thieves appear to be Dexterity-based class, Grifters and Merchants focus on Intelligence and Charisma. The Loremaster seems to favour Perception and Intelligence, the Drifter has no particular specialty (all base stats start at 4, all skills at 2o), the Mercenary is strong in Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, and the the Praetor has average stats with a value of 7 on all stats except Constitution and Perception (the highest base stat I see is 9).

BTW, the “Age of Decadence” is, I’m assuming, referring to the Roman Empire, an interesting setting for an RPG.

I’m biased towards intelligent, charismatic characters, so I’m going to choose to play as a Praetor. (I’m going to regret this.) For my skills, I’ve put points into Etiquette, Persuasion, Lore, Sword, and one point in Disguise, because why the fuck not?

Looking at the factions tab, I can see that my points allocation has already affected my standing with the various factions. They are as follows:

House Aurelian: -2

House Crassus: 0

House Daratan: 5

Boatmen of Styx: 2

Commercium: 2

Imperial Guard: 0

The Forty Thieves: 2

Lastly, I’ve changed her name from Juno to Flavia, because I can.

Here is my completed character sheet:

character sheet finished

Behold my sucktastic stats!

Anyways, let’s get to the actual game, shall we?

……………………………………

…………………………………..

…………………………………..

…………………………………..

Well, that was a whole lot of nothing….

Seriously, I just spend the last half hour wandering around trying to find a quest to do. Lord Such-and-such tells me to find Dellar, but Dellar doesn’t give me anything to do! I did help some refugees and a girl who was being accosted by the guards (apparently my telling him to “fuck off” was enough to get him to stop bothering her.

Apparently if I have a high enough Dexterity, I can climb up on roofs and such, I WANT IN ON THESE ROOFTOP SHENANIGANS!

I move so fucking slowly, where the fuck is the run button?

Seriously, WTF is with the starting area? It doesn’t explain ANYTHING to me. I know people complain about hand-holding but a simple “here is someone who will give you a quest” would help. For fuck’s sake, the beginning area is one of the most important parts of any game. I know it’s in beta but for the love of gods, Icewind Dale didn’t treat me like this!

And I didn’t even get the chance to be slaughtered in combat….

I’m going to go play more Inquisitor now, the game’s combat sucks but at least it knows how to hook people in.

Oh, wait, I just found out that if you choose an Assassin character, you get thrown into a fight right away. I’ll be right back….

Okay so, combat is turn-based. I started off the battle with no ammo in my crossbow because I chose not to go shopping before going after my mark (bad idea) and then I realized (too late) that I could switch out my weapons for sharp pointy ones on the fly.

And then I was killed, by a fucking guard.

And the game makes fun of me for it.

Fuck you, game, I don’t need you. I’m going to go play a game that isn’t sadistic.

Review: The Once Unknown Familiar: Shamanic Paths to Unleash Your Animal Powers

I don’t usually make a habit of perusing recommended reading lists in the back of books, but after reading Lupa’s New Paths to Animal Totems: Three Alternative Approaches to Creating Your Own Totemism, I found myself hungry for more books on working with non-human animals in a spiritual context, and this book was at the top of the list.

Did I find it useful? No. Would I have found it useful ten years ago? Most likely. Did I find it interesting as a “curiosity”, a book I would read just because I was curious, or for the “historical value”, expecting that I probably wouldn’t get anything out of it? Yes.

Does that mean it’s worth your time? I would say no, definitely not.

The Once Unknown Familiar is a book about working with animal powers on an inner level (so, more psychological/archetypal than as literal spirits) that, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing (says the hard polytheist). The exercises in the book are geared towards finding what the author calls “The Familiar Self” our “animal natures”.

Or, if you want to get snarky about it, this is a book about finding one’s fylgia for eclectic Wiccans.

The one thing I can’t help but find hilarious about this book (besides the obligatory chapter wherein bad history is treated as fact) is the fact that, for all the author goes on about this being a book that focuses on “Northern European” cultures, there’s still the same old tired Wiccanesque dualism that says the sun is male/masculine and the moon is female/feminine, because no Northern cultures EVER had a male moon and a female sun.

Oh wait….

Then again, this is a book aimed at Witches (most likely of the eclectic variety) so the gender essentialism isn’t surprising, nor all the talk of Native American woo, because everyone knows Native peoples are so much more super speshul than us spiritually bankrupt white people, right?

There’s even a section where he talks about using your familiar self to help diagnose and treat illnesses, because if you trust anyone with your health, it should be the person who tells me “this one book told me I can use my invisible animal friend to help you out!” gods forbid I actually seek the help of a qualified medical professional.  (P.S. One of the questions is “Is the patient’s illness due to “soul loss”? How the fuck are they supposed to know what that even is? At LEAST he didn’t try to give instructions on how to fix that issue.)

So is there anything worthwhile in this book? I suppose the journal questions are okay, but they’re nothing you can’t find in better books. The “herbal blends” for different animals are a neat idea, too bad he doesn’t give us any information as to where they came from (and, TBH, wouldn’t it be better to just make your own blends, from plants that you personally associate with the animal?) and the “animal powers list” wherein each animal is given a paragraph of text describing the personality of someone with that Familiar self, which includes such gems as “Unicorns prefer the company of women”, Bat people are “highly sexual in their personal dealings” or Wolf people have “a tendency towards gluttony” (and all dinosaurs are lumped under the “Dinosaur” familiar self, and there’s no Snake personality even though Cobra is on another list).

I guess….the book’s good for a few chuckles? At the very least, I might have found it very useful five years ago when I was in my “generic Wiccanesque Paganism” phase, but not now.

In sum, this book isn’t very useful, it will sit on my shelf with my other “occult” books as a curiosity, nothing more, nothing less. There are much, much, MUCH better books out there than this book. There’s nothing you can find in this book that wasn’t covered in better books or are things that you can do yourself, using your own associations.

Academia

So, I just updated my reading list, and I’ve noticed that, apart from Elves, Wights, and Trolls, I don’t really have any books that are more academic/scholarly in focus. The reason for this is not because I have something against academia (I do have two degrees from accredited institutions), or that I don’t think that academic materials are useful.

It’s just that if push comes to shove, I prefer more practical material.

You see, I could give you some interesting scholarly material on the Vanir (with the caveat that while I might find these articles interesting, your mileage may definitely vary) and I could tell you to go read the Eddas and the sagas and X number of articles on the Vanir.

The things that these texts and articles will be able to teach you are good and useful things, but you know what they probably won’t teach you? Praxis. This is why even the most hardcore of hardcore reconstructionists eventually finds themselves in the position where they need to recommend a (gasp!) practical book that actually teaches you how to do a blot.

You might recall that I’ve quoted professional academics on this blog before that have said the same thing, but in case you’ve missed those posts, here it is again:

Academic articles and monographs aren’t meant to be “how-to” guides for practicing a religion. They are meant to argue a particular position. They are written by academics, for academics.

That is why it always strikes me as kind of funny when I see Heathens talking about academic texts like they’re the  equivalent of Holy Writ and arguing endlessly over the definition of, say, seidr, and whether such-and-such is seidr or spae, and whether drums are appropriate tools, because scholar X says that they are, but scholar Y disagrees.

Neither scholar X nor scholar Y are interested in reconstructing a tradition, they’re interested in arguing. Fish swim, birds fly, the Earth goes around the Sun, academics argue, day in and day out. I’ve never been up against a peer review board, but from what I hear, it’s like wading into a shark tank with bloody chunks of meat strapped to one’s ankles.

I think the point that I am trying to make is that you can read all you want. Read a lot, read good books, read bad books (bad books can teach you things too) read widely and read deeply.

But recognize that there are things that academic books can’t teach you, Hel, even the practical books have their limits.

Now, of course, it is possible to combine an academic understanding of a subject and more practical material. Despite what I’ve been saying, this isn’t an either/or thing. I mentioned the awesome Elves, Wights and Trolls, which manages to pull this off awesomely (seriously, go and get this book if you haven’t already, do it now!)

However, there is a world of difference between:

1) Reading an academic account of a ritual

2) Reading a “how-to” guide to doing that ritual in a more practical book

3) Actually doing that ritual

Or, to put it another way, I knew the bare bones basics of Sikhism before I went with my classmates to visit a gurudwara. I knew the significance of the five K’s and the martial aspects of the faith (including the tradition of martyrdom). I also knew something of the tradition’s development, and how it is one of the few traditions that actually incorporates writings from other traditions (Islam and Hinduism, IIRC) into its sacred text. I also knew that said text was treated with the kind of deference you would usually reserve for a living guru.

None of this prepared me for the service I attended, during which I ended up with my ass in the air while trying to do a traditional matha tek (bowing so that your forehead touches the ground, a mark of respect), you technically aren’t supposed to turn your back to the Guru Granth Sahib because you can’t find the friend you were sitting next to either, but everyone seemed willing to forgive a lapse in protocol. My learning also didn’t prepare me for receiving prasad (which is roughly the Sikh equivalent of the Eucharist, only it’s open to everyone and tastes better) or taking part in langar (the communal meal after the fact).

But even then, I still didn’t get as much out of it as I would have if I was a Sikh, because there’s another layer to it if you’re a religious insider, because you understand what things mean on a deeper level (plus you most likely understand Punjabi, so there’s that).

Or, to use yet another example, I’ve read a lot of things on Hinduism, everything from primary sources (in translation) to “here is a step by step guide on how to do puja“, and you know what? I could probably put together something that resembles a puja, but I’d still be missing out on a whole lot that I just can’t get from reading a book.

As Pagans/Heathens/polytheists, we have the added disadvantage of not having the opportunity to talk to people who actually practiced our religions in pre-Christian cultures, when they were living faiths, because our more recent ancestors went and killed them all.

So in the end, what do we have? Books. Piles and piles of books, and we don’t even have books written by the people themselves. We have their things, of course, but do you know how hard it is to interpret a thing?

Is this a goddess, a woman, a representation of some sort of spirit being, a teaching aid, a sex toy, a piece of art, or a very interesting lumpy rock?

Is this Odin in a dress, Frigga, or a priest/ess? BTW, I should mention that even though we DO have writing that supports the “Odin-in-a-dress” thing, I’ve seen people argue most insistently that this absolutely can’t be Odin, because ODIN IS TOO MANLY FOR DRESSES! HURR DURR!” /vikingdudebro

Aww, look! Someone is insecure, that’s so cute!

Actually, no, it’s stupid and sexist.

So, yeah, this is why stuff is useful but not, you don’t need to major in archaeology to know that.

So, tl;dr version….

1) Books are good.

2) Books are very good.

3) Academic books are very useful.

4) Practical books are useful too

5) Books that can combine the two are very, very useful

6) None of these things are a substitute for doing actual work

7) Stuff–it’s open to interpretation!

8) No, asshole, you’re not my “better”, so I’m not listening to you. I don’t make a habit of listening to assholes, crap tends to come out of them.

(Sorry, I had to add that last one in due to recent events.)

Feeling Pressured

Dear Friend,

I know that you probably just want to help me, and I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re not trying to intentionally manipulate me.

But please, stop, right now.

I had a dream and I came to you for help, and for that I’m grateful, but I don’t appreciate your making the assumption that because I had a few odd dreams means that I want my relationships with my deities to go in a certain direction. Sometimes I just need to talk things out with people, sometimes I need advice from people with more experience, what I don’t need is someone pressuring me to do something I’m not ready (or willing) to do.

And I don’t know how to say this to you in a nice way, which is why I’m writing it here. This is the space I have where I don’t need to be nice, or watch my mouth, or hold back.

And, yes, I get it, you just wanted to warn me that I might in fact be dealing with a manipulative spirit instead of a deity, that’s a good thing, but you know what? Don’t lecture me about shielding and grounding or any of those (useful) woo things, especially when I keep trying to tell you that I’ve never had cause to use them before. It’s like you’re handing me a loaded gun when I have absolutely no need for it on the off chance that I might be mugged someday in the far future.

I mean, honestly, the most “dangerous” thing I’ve done spiritually is go “OHAI MANI, WOULD YOU LIKE SOME MARSHMALLOWS?!” Seriously, if anything wanted the energy from my offerings, they would probably starve, the rest of my energy is being siphoned by my mom on a daily basis. I don’t do much by way of ritual things, TBH, I don’t have the space or the privacy. I have this blog and my writing, that’s it.

I have a brain and a gut (which I trust), and I intend to use them.

Right now, I’m just trying to figure things out, that’s all. Again, I’m inclined to think you have the best of intentions, but I just don’t need things being pushed on me right now, especially when keep telling you no, no, and no. Do you understand what no means? It means NO!

Sincerely,

Me

Fun With Search Engines!

So, to offset all the serious posts and butthurt, here are some selections from the “Search Engine Terms” box in the “Site Stats” section on my dashboard, which tells me what terms people have searched that have eventually led them to this blog, now with my snarky commentary.

From yesterday, we have:

“in what book does dante have sex with the demon in working for the devil”

Post they most likely found: Badass Decay in the Dante Valentine Series

My answer: Dante has sex with Japhrimel in the first book (Working for the Devil), which is how she becomes a hedaira in the first place, and then they have sex a bunch of other times, and then somehow Dante turns into the weepiest weepy protagonist ever, and then a crap ending happens.

From an unspecified time, we have:

“incest kinki stuff”

Post they most likely found: One of the early ones I did on “divine incest” my review of Fifty Shades, or any time I reference either teh kink or incest in one of my posts

Er….no comment….

“controlling a spirit animal”

Post they most likely found: Likely one of the times I’ve discussed animal totems/power animals, etc. etc.

I definitely would not recommend trying to control a spirit animal. They are generally friendly and willing to help you if you ask politely, and that’s just asking for trouble, IMHO.

“norse pagans aren’t warm and friendly”

Post they most likely found: I have no idea.

I hope this blog has changed your mind. 🙂

“would you try anything mentioned in fifty shades of grey”

Post they most likely found: My review of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Unlikely, because Christian Grey is an abusive fuckwit and a horrible excuse for a Dom, as for kinky things in general, there are some things I would like to try, but I’m not in a hurry to try them.

“cloves in with your tarot deck”

Post they most likely found: One of the posts where I reference my Mythical Goddess Tarot deck.

You see, my Mythical Goddess had a very strong “industrial” smell when I bought it, so I stuck some cloves in the box with the cards, now it smells very nice. It’s a good trick to use if you buy a deck that reeks (just make sure you like the smell of cloves first).

“christian grey doesn’t give aftercare”

Post they most likely found: My review of Fifty Shades of Grey.

He doesn’t.

If I see any others, I’ll let you know.

Closet-Shaming

[Trigger warning: homophobia, transphobia]

Around every Coming-Out Day (whether as LGBT+, Pagan, or otherwise) you get posts from people urging closeted folks to come out and live publicly as LGBT+/Pagan/[insert other here], which is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. The more people who are “out”, the more visible a group becomes, and the harder it is for society to ignore them.

That said, closet-shaming, don’t do it.

I think the people who (inadvertently or no) try to pressure folks to come out want the same kind of thing I do: greater visibility, a show of solidarity with other like folks, and also, it can be stressful living in the closet, coming out of the closet takes a weight off the chest and lets you breathe. The choice to come out is a powerful act.

And the only person who is equipped to make that choice is the person in that closet.

I have two families, an adoptive family and a biological family, and I’m kind of out as a lesbian but closeted as a Pagan with one and completely closeted with the other. I came out to my mom whenever the last coming out day was, just a casual thing “Mom, do you know that I’m a lesbian?”

My mom’s response: “I don’t understand how you can be a lesbian if you haven’t tried boys yet.”

*deflates a little*

So, to say my a-mom is a bit confused on that front is an understatement, but one thing she definitely wouldn’t understand is my Paganism. She can’t wrap her head around the idea that anyone would embrace Pagan religions as a serious religion. No, she doesn’t give me the whole “devil worship” thing, she just thinks it’s “crap”.

Apart from lack of space, this is why I can’t set up any altars, because she will a) not stop touching them, and b) well, it’s all just “crap” to her, my feelings on the matter don’t matter.

But bio-family, bio-family is worse.

I’m not coming out as Pagan to them for the same reasons I don’t come out to my a-family, because they wouldn’t understand (even though my bio-mom is pretty irreligious). They know that I am uncomfortable discussing religious matters around them, and that’s that.

But there’s no fucking way I’m coming out to them as a lesbian, not now, not ever.

If you’ve been following my account of stupid things my biofamily has said since I’ve known them, you will know that they are quite blatantly racist and homophobic. In case you haven’t, here’s a recap [once again, this gets triggery]:

Stepdad wants a haircut, and the only hairdresser available is a trans woman, he freaks out, yelling that he doesn’t want a “faggot” cutting his hair.

While on vacation in Romania, stepdad and biomom notice a gay couple kissing. Disgusted, biomom says to me “I thought [stepdad] was going to go over there and slap them.”

You see, they have never heard of this thing called “none of your fucking business”.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to come out to the kind of people who would talk of assaulting others because of PDA, to say nothing of the awful homophobic and transphobic language they employ.

The thing is, I have it easy compared to some people. Nobody’s thrown me out of the house for coming out, some kids aren’t as lucky to have parents who are merely confuzzled by one’s sexual orientation (and don’t get me started on the kinky stuff).

In a perfect world, no one would have to live in any closets, , but this isn’t a perfect world, and as much as the closet is stifling, some of us need our closets. It’s not a matter of living in denial, it’s a matter of personal safety, of not losing a job, or custody of children, or any of the other shit various closeted people have to deal with.

I will come out on my own time, and on my own terms. Until then, you can just SHUT THE FUCK UP and SHOVE YOUR CLOSET-SHAMING UP YOUR ASS AND PLUG IT, AND IT CAN STAY THERE UNTIL YOU REALIZE THAT IT’S NOT NICE TO SHAME PEOPLE!

Seriously, you may think you’re helping, but you’re not, pressuring someone to do something they aren’t ready to do isn’t a very nice thing to do, even if you do think it’s for their own good.

So don’t do it, and if you see someone else trying to shame someone into coming out of their closet, for the love of everything, call them out on their crap.

Please and thank you.

Enter Dionysus, Carrying a Thyrsus

It all started with a dream that Freyja hijacked, which led to a kind friend doing a bit of Seeing for me, not that I don’t trust this friend, but I decided to take an offer for a second opinion from someone who, funnily enough, felt like she was being nudged to do this for me. Since she was asking Hekate, I figured that, in addition to asking about what Freyja wanted from me, I might as well ask Her about Dionysus and Aphrodite, because I’ve always felt drawn to them, and I was kind of curious about a dream I had a few months ago (yeah, I know, I should ask for these things closer to the date of my dreams) where Semele’s son was chatting up Njord.

This is the message I received, in full:

Hekate and Dionysos look upon you with favour, Aphrodite does not. There’s a crook in the road – you cannot yet see it, but it is where your ancestors dwell. One of them interested Dionysos and Dionysos was refused. Yet He sees in you the triumph of many battles and seeks to help you to overcome them. If you accept Him in your heart, He will give you the mystery that melts away every sorrow.

Yet your paths lies still with Freya the warlike seducer, who seeks to entice you in Her divine bed. It’s Hers the sword that hides in a smile and if you take Her hand, absolving yourself of mortal guilt, many gifts She will pass in your arms. Smile, child, there’s a sorrow that debilitates and one that uplifts. You are to embrace the second one soon.

I asked for some clarification because if anyone can understand cryptic oracles from Greek deities, it’s the person who did the work for me in the first place. In her expert opinion, she believes the “mystery that melts away every sorrow” refers to the epithets “Mieilikios” (“Easy-to-be-Appeased”, “Gracious”, “Merciful”)  and “Lusios” (“Loosener”, “Liberator”). The rest of the message is pretty straightforward, particularly the absolving oneself of mortal guilt line, no comment on the bedding part. As for my ancestors, I don’t know a whole lot about either my biological or adoptive ancestors, other than that my a-family is full of farmers, and for all I know my bio-family is too.

So, the question is, what do I do with this information? At the moment, seek a second opinion, don’t jump to conclusions. There’s so much in this message that rings true, but right now I feel like a debutante who has lost my chaperone and there’s a handsome stranger asking me for a dance, and I don’t know what to do except tell my friends and hope for some good advice.

Until then, DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS!

Review: The Heart of Faerie Oracle

I’m mad at you, Internet.

I’m mad at you because everywhere I looked, reviews for this deck always chose the creepiest or the most colourless cards to show off, and because of that, I deemed the art “too creepy” for my tastes and avoided this deck.

And I’m mad at you, because this deck is easily the most responsive oracle I own.

Ask a bunch of ATers (even those who aren’t into non-tarot oracle decks) what their favourite, most reliable oracle deck is, and I guarantee you a good chunk of that sample will mention Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Oracle. The Heart of Faerie Oracle, a joint effort between Brian and Wendy Froud, is in the same vein as the earlier deck (it even has some of the same cards), but focuses more on relationships.

Now, I know what you’re thinking “So is this basically The Faeries’ Oracle: Love and Romance Edition? Is this like Doreen Virtue and her Legion of Angel Decks to Inject Fluff into Every Facet of Human Existence?”

And the answer is no, no no no, not even close.

You see, the Heart of Faerie Oracle is more about relationships in general, not just romantic relationships (although there are cards that address that sort of thing), how we relate to others, and, of course, to Faerie itself (interpret ‘Faerie’ however you like, whether as a general sense of “enchantment” or in the sense of this deck being a gateway to the faery realm–just don’t eat the food).

So, before I get really gushy, some more technical details. The deck has 68 cards (sized 3″ x 5″), 65 cards are “named” cards, and 3 have images but no titles. Don’t worry, your deck isn’t defective. The set also includes a sturdy hardcover book, which is probably why the deck was so expensive initially (I bought mine for $10, though). The backs have a winged heart design and are fully reversible (even though the authors recommend not using reversed cards with this deck). Besides one card draws, suggestions for three card draws and one unique spread (which uses four or seven cards, depending on your need) are included. The colour scheme, to my eyes, seems strangely subdued, looks of browns, whites, and dark blues, it’s definitely not a deck that I would consider eye-popping (unlike, say, my Mythical Goddess, which has really bright, vibrant colours). There is a lot of colour in the deck if you give it a look through, but it’s not colour that particularly jumps out at me, or maybe I’m just used to looking at images that are saturated by pretty colours.

The cards are divided into seven categories: The Faerie Queens, The Queens’ Consorts, The Archetypes, The Sprites, The Ladies, The Tricksters, and The Journey. The Queens represent powerful forces and “feminine” energy, the Consorts being their “masculine” counterparts, whereas the Ladies deal with more personal issues and the Tricksters are….tricky, Sprites are generally positive, playful, joyful energies, Archetypes are “ancient energies of Faery” and the Journey cards take us not only on a journey through Faerie, but through life stages.

For some reason, I keep finding myself drawing the cards in pairs. I have no idea why this is, but it seems like each card I’ve drawn so far seems to overlap with its “partner” nicely.

I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago I was just like “So, what should I do now?” Knowing full well that I had a week “off” (A.K.A. when my mom’s not in the house to write). The cards I drew were the Smith (Creation/Bond/Promises) and the Queen of Hearth and Home (Courtesy/Hospitality/Welcome) which I interpreted quite literally to mean “You’re going to have a nice quiet home for a week, stop saying you’re going to write and WRITE!”

From this I have determined that this oracle does not fuck around.

Okay, I do have one quibble, and that’s that the descriptions can get a little fluffy at times, but there are definitely cards that are a bit more cautionary (the super creepy Prince of Shadows might as well be named the “don’t get into a relationship with this person, ever” card, as well as one that basically means that everything is going wrong). The cards certainly aren’t as fluffy as, say The Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle or anything Doreen Virtue puts out, but the deck does seem to focus on the positive overall.

And now, some pictures (I can’t promise they will be better than the ones on the rest of the Internet, but keep in mind they are a bit darker in person):