Category Archives: Vanatru

Politics and Polytheism

This is your occasional reminder that this isn’t just a review dumping ground (although I will have more reviews for you later).

The latest debate raging in the polytheist community is in response to a post on Gods & Radicals entitled “Confronting the New Right”. I recommend giving it a read. I also recommend giving the post “Gods of a Radical” both because of the lovely Prayer to the Goddess of the City and the content of the post proper.

I’m currently inactive in the Pagan blogosphere apart from tumblr, so what I know of the kerfluffle is restricted to what tumblrs I’ve followed have reblogged, and what I’m seeing worries me. I’m seeing a lot of “How DARE he call us fascists!” and “Keep your politics out of my polytheism!” I see folks claiming that polytheists should not be political, because it’s “putting humans before the gods” or somesuch thing.

My polytheism is political.

To claim to be apolitical, to me, is to claim a privileged position, a position that has the luxury of not thinking about how one’s views impact others. I’m also reminded of the old feminist slogan “The personal is political,” and what is more personal than religion? Politics is also not just a human endeavor, deities get involved with politics all the time, whether politicking among themselves, choosing the next monarch, or supporting their favourite country or city. I find myself agreeing with the author of “Gods of a Radical”, Christopher Scott Thompson, when he says:

“But if your god’s lore implies something to you and you choose to ignore it, you can hardly say you’re ‘putting the gods first.’ The lore of my gods implies certain values, I take those values seriously, and I guide my life by them.”

How can I claim to honour Freyja if I don’t give a shit about sex workers, or access to abortion, or such a highly politicized topic as women’s rights? How can I claim to honor the Vanir, who came to live with the Aesir, and not give a shit about immigration? How can I claim to honor deities associated with the land and not give a shit about the environment? All of these issues are political issues, of concern, I believe, to both humans and deities. Heck, my very existence is politicized, I’ll politicize whatever I want.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying everyone needs to go out and march for a cause. I’m not equipped for that sort of activism, but for me personally, it’s impossible to separate my politics from my polytheism, and I suspect that some of the folks who are screaming the loudest about being apolitical are the ones who are happy to support political causes they agree with.

One final note, if you are more concerned about being called a fascist than you are about combating extreme right-wing views in your movement, you’re doing something wrong.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for “Reviews: The Deluge”.

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On the Recent Vanatru Drama

If you follow me on tumblr or if you make the rounds of Pagan blogs on WordPress, you’ll know about the recent drama that’s touched the Vanatru community recently. For those of you who haven’t heard anything, tumblr user Da’at Ass has recently alleged that Sebastian Lokason (who you might know as Nornoriel, author of Visions of Vanaheim) abused him and those closest to him, and has been doing the same to others for about a decade.

As Lokason is such a prolific writer and prominent voice for Vanatru, these allegations concerned me. Full disclosure: Da’at actually contacted me about a week before the post went live. Prior to that, I’d heard mutterings, which, although they were a cause for concern, I put them in the back of my mind because I figured it was a private matter and didn’t want to bring it up until the parties involved were ready to talk about it. Shortly before Lokason left tumblr, I was beginning to distance myself from him, not just because of the allegations, but because I didn’t see my Vanatru going in the same direction that his was going.

I would encourage you to please read the links above as well as Lokason’s response to the post that started it all. Please also read this post where he talks about his UPG. i am not going to link to the post where he leaks chat logs of private conversations between himself and Tif and Da’at, but you can read those too if you like.

I have been asked where I stand on this issue and which side I am on. My answer is that I am on my own side, but here is a more complex answer. I am willing to admit:

  1. That I do not know all the facts
  2. That I was not there
  3. That I cannot verify any claims that were made about astral entities, or indeed, instances of mundane abuse
  4. That perhaps there were times that both sides were assholes, because everyone is an asshole at some point

However, I have tried to read as much as I can about this whole kerfluffle, and have come to the conclusion that I can’t really support someone who has threatened to dox folks in exchange for silence, hasn’t been up front with regards to claiming to be the Queen of Vanaheim (which in my view may represent a conflict of interest), and apparently, judging by the list of people who have come forward, has a history of repeating the same patterns with others. This isn’t about being queer, or being trans, or even having “weird” UPG or being a godspouse, this is about abuse and the shitty behaviour that followed the original post on the subject.

I want to stress, again, that these are allegations. The only people who really know what happened are the people involved in the incidents. I would encourage everyone to read as much as they can and make their own decisions.

I wasn’t originally going to post here because I’m sure most of you have already heard about it, and to be honest, I’m already sick of it and ready to move on. This is not what I want people to think of when they talk about Vanatru. This is not what I think Vanatru is about. This is not what my deities are about.

I’m expecting to probably get some hate for this as I know I’ve been named as an “instigator”. I would like to say, for the record, that I try not to be transphobic, and have not once (that I recall) referred to Lokason with the wrong pronouns (although I was still calling him “Nono” until recently). I am also queer and pro-godspouse. In fact, one of my first posts on this blog was a repost of a member of the Cauldron’s advice to someone who wanted to be a godpouse of Loki’s and was jealous of someone else’s experiences. I have never been against godspouses, or spirit-spouses, and I’ve regularly stood up for people who were being bashed for having “odd” beliefs. (Although I will admit that in my early days of being on tumblr and this blog that I said some unkind things about otherkin.) I’ve also read the debunkings and various “testamonials” from friends and followers of his on WordPress, and I’ve found them to be unconvincing. Once again, however, I would encourage everyone (especially my fellow Vanatruar) to read everything on the subject and decide where your support belongs.

Review: The Way of the Hedge Witch: Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home

This book was recommended by a fellow Vanatruar, Cena Nico quite some time ago, but I was never really interested in it until now. I’ve been feeling very domestic lately, and since my mother’s passing in January, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen making things that I never had a chance to make and trying new foods. I’m actually typing this from my new computer room. I still have a bit of work to do cleaning it up, but right now I have enough space to work at the computer.

The Way of the Hedge Witch is focused on making the domestic (particularly the kitchen) sacred. The title may be a little misleading, as it doesn’t focus on hedge witchery in the sense of journeying between worlds, but the care of the home and hearth (in this respect, the book could have been called “Way of the Hearth Witch” and avoided any confusion). The book covers topics like working with the spiritual hearth, hearth deities and spirits, magic in the kitchen, hearth deities and spirits, and spells, rituals, and recipes (which includes oil and incense recipes as well as recipes for stews and baked goods).

Since this is a book about home-based spirituality, it’s no surprise that the book focuses on simple rituals and practicality. It’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t disparage modern technology and insist that everything be done by hand. Murphy-Hiscock recommends blessing the appliances you commonly use and even lists correspondences for common kitchen tools. It’s also refreshing to read a chapter on food that doesn’t preach to you about how so much of the food we eat is killing us and we all need to switch to a paleo diet or the popular diet du jour.  I also like that the language used in the book is religiously neutral, for the most part, and the author encourages you to adapt the rituals to fit your own spiritual framework. The material in this book could easily be adapted to suit the needs of Vanatruar or Heathens.

If you’re looking for information about using a cauldron in your practice in particular, you might want to give this book a look. I’ve never really considered using a cauldron as part of my practice due to not being allowed to burn incense or candles in the house, but because of this book I’ve thought about picking one up if only to serve as a reminder of the significance of the hearth (and the hearth was very significant to the Norse). Most of the material in the book assumes you have a cast iron cauldron, but the author gives correspondences for other cauldron materials as well, including brass, copper, and aluminum cauldrons.

If I had a complaint about the book, it would be that most of the material is focused on the cauldron and the hearth as the center of praxis in the home. There’s not much on the rest of the house, which strikes me as odd for a book about home-based rituals. It’s worth noting that this book started as a book on cauldrons and their use in magic specifically, so it’s understandable that it would be limited in scope. There’s also an assumption that the reader will share what they are doing with their family, which is obviously difficult to impossible for closeted readers. I would also take the chapter on deities and spirits with a grain of salt as their descriptions in this book are at best a brief glimpse of complex beings.

This is a short book and a good resource for those of you who are looking to integrate spirituality into mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning or for integrating the use of a cauldron into your practice in particular. I found it was pleasantly devoid of preachy writing when it came to the use of magical tools and in the chapter on food. It’s not a definitive guide to domestic spirituality and magic, but it’s a good starting point.

Disconnected

There are times when I feel very disconnected from my religious communities: from the Pagan community (if it can even be called that) and certainly from the Heathen community. I’ve always been the sort of person to go off and do my own thing, but eventually, I’ve discovered, I’ll want to connect with other people and talk about religion, and I’ll do that and for a time I’ll be content with that.

But then, inevitably, I’ll start feeling like I don’t belong in some spaces. I don’t feel comfortable in heavily Wiccanate Pagan spaces because I don’t identify with that tradition, I don’t feel comfortable in Heathen spaces because so much of what I do doesn’t look like what they do, even though we honor the same deities, and I don’t feel comfortable in devotional polytheist spaces because I feel like that term has been co-opted by the sort of folks who really don’t give a shit about people but who simultaneously complain when people don’t give them the time of day, and as someone who honours “people” deities, I like to think they’d like me to give a shit about people.

In any case, what this means is that I pretty much go back to doing my own thing.

I think what needs to happen is that I need to recognize that I do my own thing, and that is okay, and that engaging with other people doesn’t mean I have to have beliefs that match up with theirs. It sounds like such a simple thing to do, and yet, in my experience, it doesn’t often go that way.

Visions of Vanaheim 2nd Edition Out Now!

This is just a quick note to let you know that the second edition of Visions of Vanaheim by Nornoriel Lokason (who previously wrote as Svartesol) is out now.

Paperback: CreateSpace, Amazon.com

Ebook: direct from the author’s etsy shop.

The first edition of Visions of Vanaheim is probably the most comprehensive book on Vanatru. The second edition includes information on the tribes, culture, and history of Vanaheim (something that was mostly absent from the first edition). If you have any interest in Vanatru, I would encourage you to get this book. It’s info on Vanatru from the perspective of one of the forefathers of the movement.

 

Fire Jewel is Out!

Fire Jewel: A Devotional for Freyja is now officially for sale on Lulu! It comes in three lovely formats!

 

Click here to buy the Paperback

 

Click here to by the ebook version (PDF)

 

Click here to buy the ebook version (ePub)

 

Link to Asphodel Press’ devotionals page

 

Synopsis, from the Lulu page:

 

“Freyja, the ancient Norse Goddess of love, fertility, and sorcery is one of the most popular deities of modern Norse religious traditions, and yet there is a dearth of devotional material dedicated to her. This collection of writings hopes to remedy that problem. Here you will find poems, prayers, rituals, songs, and more in praise of the goddess in her various aspects. To some, she is a goddess of love, others speak of her as sorceress and seidr-worker, some see her as the goddess who mourns for her absent husband, others as a mighty warrior, still others as her father’s daughter shining upon the sea. She is all of these things, and more. She is the Goddess who wears Brisingamen, the Fire Jewel, the most beautiful necklace in the world – and knows that she is worthy of its gift.”

 

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here!

 

I’m so happy that I’ve set a 15% discount on the paperback version if you buy direct from Lulu. The discount will be in effect until Monday, February 3rd.

P.S. To my contributors (you know who you are), DO NOT TOUCH THOSE LINKS! Free copies for you!

The Thirteen Houses Project: Jasmine

[Once a month for the next twelve months, I will be doing a post on the 13th of each month based on one of the Thirteen Houses of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers from Kushiel’s Legacy.]

The seventh House was going to be Heliotrope, but then I realized that Valentine’s Day is coming next month, and so I thought I’d save discussing Heliotrope until then.

This month’s house is Jasmine. The motto of Jasmine House is “For pleasure’s sake,” and the House canon is sensuality. They, naturally, hold that Naamah slept with the King of Persis for pleasure. The House cultivates a very “exotic” image, and its adepts are said to have Bhodistani [Indian] blood in their adepts’ lineage. (D’Angelines have a bit of a bad habit of being Orientalist.)

That aside, pleasure and sensuality are both very much the province of the Vanir (not that non-Vanic deities don’t include it in their purview). As beings who are so closely tied to the well-being of the land and material prosperity, it seems natural to associate them with sensual pleasure, which may or may not be sexual, although it often is where the Vanir are concerned. I’ve also heard it said among Vanatruar that the Vanir are definitely deities of “the good life”: good food, good company, good sex, good things all around.  In fact, one of the best pieces of advice I was given when I was worried that the Vanir weren’t interested in me was to bake bread, sing, and just generally enjoy life, if they wanted something, they would let me know, and I think that’s pretty good advice, especially since, in my experience, the Vanir tend to be pretty relaxed (this doesn’t mean that they can’t be absolutely ferocious or that someone else won’t experience them in that way, just that I experience them as pretty chill deities).

Personally, I find this approach to pleasure, with deities who accept (and in some ways embody) the “good” in life to be a refreshing change from a tradition that labels many pleasures (especially sexual ones) “sins”, especially if you are a woman (although, yes, men are also expected to curtail their desires).

Alao, you know, you don’t need to experience sensory overload to get the most out of pleasurable feelings, sometimes simple pleasures are best, like this delicious lemon tea I’m drinking.

Image: “Night Jasmine flowers (at night)” by SergioTorresC (via Wikipedia)

Fire Jewel is Coming….

Fire Jewel is almost ready to be made available for purchase. You’ll just have to hold on a little longer so the proof copies can be checked.

I know it’s been a long time coming, peeps, but it’s ALMOST here! Just be patient and I’ll have a link for you.

The price will be $16 USD + S&H and will be available via Lulu in case you need a head start on saving those pennies.