Ancestors Tea

Ancestors.jpg

A tea blend win today! I didn’t have to adjust anything at all when I first blended it, it was simply perfect from the get go!

This cup of tea is like a delicious, simple but hearty breakfast. Black tea with oats, butterscotch chips and cinnamon. Here, the butterscotch chips blend with the oat and cinnamon and create an interesting and delicious maple/brown sugar flavour. This will definitely be one of my morning teas!

You can enjoy this in the morning with your Ancestors, or simply enjoy it on its own, or just offer it up to Them.

Each back comes with enough loose leaf tea to make 20 cups at 1 tsp per cup of water.

Go on, have a look at my Ancestors tea, or check out more magical teas here!

Stay tuned… I just picked up some Belgian dark chocolate, and have some diabolical plans to make you, and me, happy in the mouth!!

The Pagan Experience – Deity & the Divine

For the third prompt of The Pagan Experience, I made the realization that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned much about Who I work with. I usually say something vague, but imply that there is Someone/multiple Someones I have contact with, but not much in naming names.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I love being out on the trails and in the woods. If you didn’t know that, well now you do! So yes, this very much means I work with land spirits, spirits in the winds and waters. I’m very much an animist, and a lot of inspiration comes to me from the places I love to frequent, where there are barely any humans, and the wild things are wild. I do also love my garden, and there’s lots of inspiration and lessons to be learned there for true and certain, but the wood is where my heart lies. Especially if the woods are very close to a beach…

I also honour my ancestors on a very regular basis. They have leant much support during my not so sunshine and rainbows period (read below).

So as for the Gods, I think part of the reason I hadn’t usually shared with many people, including on this blog, Who I had worked with is for quite a long time until a few years ago, I always fancied the Greek pantheon, even called on Aphrodite and Pan most oft in whatever magick I was doing, or occasional ritual. Though I had an interest in Them, I’m not sure the feeling was mutual, perhaps they appreciated my honouring Them from very afar, I cannot know. So up until a few years ago, things were less polytheistic, and leant more towards all Gods are one sort of thing. The God and the Goddess archetypes, and Their many faces. With this distant sort of relationship, I guess I was just getting myself worked up that it wasn’t worthy enough? It suited me just fine all on my own, but in sharing, if ever it changed (which it did), I wouldn’t want to be seen as flakey or, whatever word better suits this situation that I can’t currently think of.

It’s really quite an interesting cognitive dissonance on my part because I’m very much a proponent of the constant learning as you go along (we’re never done with learning). This means that things will always be changing. It didn’t necessarily mean that I was or was not going to be working with Aphrodite and Pan for the rest of my life, but I think maybe I knew even then that They weren’t really the Ones for me. Along with the change aspect of learning is the fact that just like human people, I know some Gods, some Spirits would come and go. Each with Their own lessons in the contact and relationship, however long or brief.

So this was a little over two years ago. Then Odin showed up. That’s when I realized that it was natural for me to honour a few Someones Who inspired me, but now there was actual interaction with Someone. Thing is, I had never really been interested in Norse mythology or their Gods, it was much too hard and “not pretty” to my younger self who was very much into the prettiness, the decadence of the Greeks. I will admit, Skyrim probably honeyed the way for me into the Scandinavian cultures and Gods. I have since come to love the Norse culture, especially since after Odin popped in, women’s issues became very important to me. It wasn’t that He spurred this lady stuff on, it was a culmination of everything that was going on for me at the time. With that in mind, Scandinavian cultures being what they are and were even a long time ago when the Vikings were doing their thing, how free their women were, well, there were a lot of lessons in simply the study of the culture and mindset as well as the Gods for me.
A lot of it has allowed me to really strive to live the way I want to, more so in being firmly rooted in who I am as a person, and how I interact with other humans. In not apologizing for not wanting to fit into a teeny little culturally/socially appropriate box. In not apologizing for saying no (something it seems women are thought not supposed to do).

But back on track! Along with Odin, came Frija. She hasn’t been, and is still not very prominent, or at the forefront of it, but more like Someone to aspire to (a lot of contemplation over Herself being so very secure in every role She plays), and Someone Who has let me know is there, even if She’s not very close by. She’s been a gentle but tremendous support for me.

That all being said, as I look back over the past two years, Odin and Frija seem to have layed stepping stones for me. Brought me through the gate leading to Who I’m supposed to be working with; they’ve eased me into familiarizing myself with Their stories, Their values, etc. Well, hang on a moment, I can’t say that this time was easy, I dealt with a lot of depression then, things were very dark at the time for several reasons I shall keep to myself. Needless to say, Odin sort of ferried me through a mostly awful year and a bit. He was a rock for me. And I am incredibly grateful for His role in all of it.

And to end it with Who is currently coming around, well, it’s Baldr. It seems kind of fitting that Odin has brought me to Him, He is a psychopomp, and have I not been brought to One Who has died? Dead, and yet not dead and all that.
I suppose this relationship is something that I will likely be sharing more of in the future, as long as He approves. The only thing is that there doesn’t seem to be many of His devotees, well, at least online. I realize this is a sad thing in terms of seeking a bit of community, but a good thing that my experiences can be truly my own with Him, not tainted with doubt because my interactions don’t look like others’.

So there it is. It’s all laid out for you, dear gentle reader. If you had only kind of guessed at what my spirit interaction looked like, now you know from my own mouth. Well, my own fingers. It’s a good time for the Gods, and spirits of all kinds, methinks.

Hail to the Wights of Land, Sea, and Sky!
Hail to the Ancestors!
Hail to Aphrodite and Pan!
Hail to Odin and Frija!
Hail to Baldr!

Happy and Tired

It has been a busy month, and this past week and the next has been/will be pretty busy still. It has been really nice to have the Holidays with the family again!! We’ve already chatted about going to the East Coast to spend some time next Yule (well, Christmas for them) with my grandparents since they haven’t had their grandkids for the Holidays in three years (due to some selfish planning on my uncle in law’s part). Ah well, what’s family and the Holidays if there isn’t any family drama? Though I have to say this year has been pretty quiet on the drama front. Very happily quiet!

It’s also been nice to be able to get gifts for people again (because shipping is expensive!), and by getting, I mean making, since I still have one more thing to knit for our last Holiday meal and gifting next weekend. Just a toque, nothing major. And yet even with all the Yule knitting over after that, it seems like I have another 5 or 6 knitting things to do come January. I have already decided that next year’s knits will be started waaaaaaaaaaay early, like maybe even after I’m done the next few things I’m knitting. I wanted to give gifts to more people this year, but there was just not enough time in two months for it. Ah well, I have learned the lesson.

And now for the magickal part of my life, which is actually pretty much the entirety of my life 😉 , the Yule season has been quite lovely. Each day I light the candles and incense at night, some for my Ancestors, some for my Gods, and some for the things I want more of to harvest this coming cycle. I had planned to do a lot more journeying each day to spend much needed time with my Gods, however, sleep has been eluding me enough along with the Holiday craziness wearing me out that I haven’t had enough energy to go off. I just fall asleep. Rest is quite important to keep your focus (I just read an article that people who only get around 6 hours a day have the cognitive and reactionary function of someone who’s blood alcohol level is 1.0), but I’ve been reassured there will be plenty of opportunity and time after the Yule season has ended. Tonight may possibly work out, but we shall see.

I am excited for what’s to come, the learning to be had in the coming year, the relationships to be deepened, and all the things that will be growing. I hope you all are enjoying lovely Holidays, whatever they may be and however long they last.

Much love and blessings. Happy Yule and Solstice tidings.

Immersive Polytheism & Revivalism

The Household Gods - John William Waterhouse

The Household Gods – John William Waterhouse

After the past while of reading and watching things concerning these wonderful terms, I’d like to talk about some of the thoughts I’ve had about them. I’d really like to thank Camilla over at Foxglove & Firmitas for prompting all the wonderful discussion over the following terms she’s brought to light.

This is a long one, guys, so grab a cup of tea and get cozy 🙂

 

Revivalism

This is something that really clicked with me, and allowed me to stop fretting about choosing the either/or of Reconstructionism and Eclecticism. I gather that this is probably something that many people battle with because in Paganism, as much as we are influenced by the past, we live now, and our Ancestors had been disconnected from their Gods and religious practices for far too long. Not even mentioning the factions that like to break off and say their way is “best”. Yes, best for whoever chooses that path.

There is no unbroken line of authentic pre-Christian faiths and religions of the past, much that our Ancestors knew is lost. Much of what has been preserved has been so from a non-practitioner’s point of view, or even after the conversions had taken place.
We don’t know with 100% surety how people practiced or regarded their religions.

Let’s say that perhaps the conversions didn’t happen, that the people were able to continue practicing the religions of their Ancestors, do you think our practice today would look exactly the same? With all of this technology, with all of this science, with all of this access to information? I don’t think it would, which is why Reconstructionism doesn’t work for me.

I think that we wouldn’t be having to put in so much work at this point in building community, discovering the reality of the Gods and Spirits, and (especially coming from a Christian background), working through a lot of doubt. I think it would be just natural, and who knows where we could be if we had had all of this time to continue evolving practice, evolving the way people interact with all of Them?

Alas, we do not live in that world in our universe. Our ties have been cut, and there are remnants to give us clues. Now it’s up to us to pick up those ties, and start weaving with them again in the now and for the future.

I also think that even if we had been able to practice our ancestors’ faiths all this time, the Gods would not want or expect the same things as They did 2000 years ago, nor would They really be exactly the same personality as They were. They are living, They also evolve, and though I don’t believe They experience time linearly as we do, They are all They will become, They just have not revealed that to us yet because we are probably not ready for it. Everything in its time.

This also works itself into my idea that for each evolution of humankind’s culture, and general ease of simply living and surviving (in terms of being well nourished, free of disease, life-expectancy, and at peace with surrounding countries/city-states), the Gods change Their faces to be best understood by the people of whatever time they happen to live in. This doesn’t mean that Their other faces are irrelevant, but in a more general sense, more people will come to the Gods when Their personality that is currently being experienced by the masses appeals to the current attitudes, philosophies, and culture of the time.

As an example, human sacrifices aren’t necessarily what They want right now in the 21st century, seeing as there is not a huge amount of us in active relationships with Them (whatever that may look like). This requirement would simply be illogical for Them, as They need those of us who interact with Them to help others come to Them. There is also still a lot of work to be done in our world for polytheism (and all things that are not part of the monotheism-or-else culture) to be accepted, not treated as taboo, as sin, as evil, as other, so that those who are called to these paths can feel comfortable that they will not be discriminated against.

When we get to the point where everyone is free to choose, and we see masses returning to the roots of their Ancestors’ religion, who knows what the Gods will want from us then.

 

Until Camilla spoke about identifying as a Revivalist, unfortunately there was a bit of a back and forth argument happening in my head. As much as I know and really believe there is never an either/or to anything, sometimes my brain just doesn’t want to heed that idea. Let’s call that the unfortunate side effect of living in a culture highly influenced by Abrahamic faiths where even if something doesn’t involve any hint of religion, there is always only a right/wrong answer.

So for a while, though the internal struggle wasn’t overly terrible or causing me much turmoil, it was still there.

 

“Do I go whole hog and try to reconstruct?”

“No, Mia, just because They’ve connected with you, doesn’t mean that the culture They were worshiped within in history necessarily needs to be recreated here at this point in time. Besides, there isn’t enough information to do that completely.”

“But what if They don’t like anything I’m doing for Them? What if I offend Them?!”

“You can just ask Them, Mia. You know very well you can. They are not some distant God who can never be contacted by the likes of you. They chose you for a reason, and if They were not interested in helping and working with you, They wouldn’t have come in the first place.”

“Oh.”
Yep. When you work with the Gods and Spirits, They’ll let you know what They don’t like, what They do, and there are plenty of tools to use to divine what They do want. It’s not all about the interactions when you Journey, if that is what you can do.
So getting to extinguish this little nagging fire was nice for me. Another “coming home” moment.

 

So at the end of the day, for me, revivalism works as a term to describe who I am spiritually and how I practice. It is about finding out what you can about how our Ancestors practiced their religion, the way they viewed the Gods, but also realizing that we live in a very different world. That we have very different lives of abundance (at least here in North America) compared to our Ancestors. We also are not constantly fighting for our lives against other people who would take our land from us or whatever else they could want.
Why would the Gods show the same faces which appeals more to people of the past than to those who live now?

It also works for me because of the fact that the term “Revivalism” communicates that I am creating a living religion for myself and my future children. I am reviving my Ancestors’ religion, but allowing it to fit better with who I am and how I live my life today in the 21st century. The Gods and Spirits will show me what They want as proper protocol as They see fit to.

 

Disarblot - August Malmström

Disarblot – August Malmström

Immersive Polytheist

This is the other term which I absolutely adore, and reflects my practice more than any other combination of words out there at this point.

Every minute of my day, everything that I do, however mundane it may seem on the outside, I am constantly meditating on my Gods and Ancestors, sometimes interacting with Them, pondering over Their lessons, how They affect my life. There really is not much that is not coloured by thoughts of Them.

When I am cleaning the house, I connect with my Ancestors who for so long performed the same duties in the household. When I am in the garden, I connect with those who tended their own land, toiling much harder than I currently need to for food. I also think on the Gods Whose domains are concerned with what I am doing. When I watch a television show, or a movie, I see lessons or elements of certain Gods’ stories. When I interact with my family and friends, I think on the hospitality of my Ancestors, and how They along with my Gods would want me to behave towards others.

I often make it a point to offer up whatever song I am singing around the house or in the garden to Whomever comes to mind for it, Whoever moves me in that moment.

There is nothing that the Gods and Spirits don’t touch in my life.

 

But let’s look at the grander idea of Immersive Polytheism, which also works with the Revivalism, because, well, aren’t we trying to revive the religions of our Ancestors?

I absolutely agree with Camilla in her latest vlog about wanting to immerse her child in Polytheism. This is, in fact, where she came up with the term. And I think, how wonderful will it be in the future to see my kids, and their kids, and perhaps their kids raised completely immersed in their spirituality as they are each called to it? I’m not saying that my descendants have to be Polytheists of any particular cultural background, or anything else for that matter. But I would like to see them be able to come to their own conclusions and not struggle with themselves over how to do things. It would be second nature, and they would know to simply ask the Gods and Ancestors and Spirits what They would all like instead of self-doubting and feeling not of worth.

Now I feel I have been lucky in that I knew for a while before I knew about Paganism and officially called myself Pagan at 13 that I was not Christian like my family and lots of my friends. I was really lucky in that I had no problem with this fact. It was not something that I struggled with in the slightest except for one blip early on of wanting to please a friend who was very Christian (not that they were adamant about me changing my heathen ways).

So for nearly the entirety of my Pagan life, I have been able to be immersed in my spirituality. Moreso in the past few years since there’s been quite a bit of initiation and transformation going on in my life.

But I do realize there are still too many people coming to Paganism/Polytheism having been raised in another religion, which means things just simply do not come naturally to them. This is especially true if they have problems with their previous religion, because the tools which were given in a previous religion can be tools that would work for them, but there can be the need for the complete rejection of it all. So people come without any tools, already with plenty of the self-doubt that our culture likes to propagate within each of us, and that makes for some difficult times in discovering how to do this ourselves without the constant worry of doing it right according to other people.

 

So as you can probably gather, I am definitely going to be teaching my kids to ask Them what They want when my children are unsure. It’s kind of basic relationship tending, communication is key. I also will be teaching them some common practices, but will emphasize that whatever moves them intuitively to do something they feel will be well received is also very important and so very valuable.

My practice/beliefs will not look exactly like yours, but if we both serve and please the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits, who are we to judge each other?

And as we Polytheists/Pagans become more and more widely accepted and sought out as time moves forward, we will grow and learn how to tend to our communities in whatever ways we are called to. Keep in mind in order to keep us all moving forward, we need to be open for discussion, we need to share our insights, hard as that can be sometimes. We need to not attack each other, because aren’t we all working towards the same kind of future?

Again, my practice/beliefs won’t look like yours, nor does they need to. How can we be taken more seriously if we are constantly infighting over semantics? Over whose spiritual penis is bigger than whose?

As much as it is about immersing our own selves in our practices and religions, it is also about helping others who would do the same. Community immersion. And this requires that we have people who are called to perform certain roles for fellow Polytheists to begin learning and figuring out how to do that. We absolutely need a Polytheistic ministry to help those who are dealing with hard stuff, as well as provide local leadership. We need to come together and decide how this needs to work.

 

Words Count

Why even have these labels? Aren’t labels bad? Don’t they box us in?

As much as I am usually against labeling and tiny boxes, these labels are seeming so far to be much more inclusive than others. Sometimes this comes down to the exact meaning and origin of words, and sometimes this comes down to the people who shape the way something comes to mean in the greater community.

Immersive Revivalist Polytheist encompasses anyone from any particular tradition. It doesn’t matter Who you worship, or how you perform your rituals.

Words drive so much of how we learn today, on our computers, on our phones, on our e-readers, books, everything. There’s much more reading than there is actual physical talking and sharing of information. The written word can be more clear as we can spend more time ensuring we are using the correct words and the correct tones. This isn’t to say that it is better than speaking and sharing aurally, each have their merits, but it is how we generally seek, learn, and work today.

So we have these words people can search for on the internet, and as more people continue to use these terms and normalize the lingo, the information becomes easier to access. The community grows and the ideas and real world implications grow. Those who are new to it or even new to Paganism/Polytheism can find it, and expand their own understanding of the different paths one may take, whether or not they apply it to themselves.

 

Words are how we communicate, and that means our interactions with the community at large. When we have the information needed to easily be circulated (and hopefully continuously improved upon as we learn more), we can create basic rites easily recognized all around the world. This doesn’t negate our own personal festivals, rites, and observances we create for ourselves, no, but it allows us all to be connected to each other no matter the background we come from.

If that means we all know handfasting/parting, funerary, birth, and life milestone rituals from a few different traditions (Celtic, Northern, Roman, Greek, Egyptian, African, etc), then you can count me in. I want to be able to support fellow Polytheists, and be part of a larger community which can pull together to begin the changes that desperately need to happen in the world concerning the general view of religions that are “other” compared to what is the current cultural norm.

We shouldn’t be fracturing ourselves just because I don’t worship Who you worship, or because my tradition and practices look different than yours. Again, open discussion, and a willingness to hear others out without becoming offended is very much needed. We need our words, we need some labels so that in the future, they don’t have to be so necessary, where everyone is comfortable just being who they are and doing what they do because we relaid the groundwork down.

 

Where to Find the Discussions

As of August 11, 2014

Camilla‘s Posts
Intro To Revivalism

Why I Don’t Call Myself a Devotional Polytheist

Asklepieion: My Big Dream
She discusses a dream for a community building project.

Some Thoughts on Immersive Polytheism

 

Beth‘s Posts
VR to Camilla Laurentine – Revivalism and Immersive Polytheism

The Gods as Individuals

Immersive Polytheism: A Few More Thoughts

 

Jolene‘s Posts
Immersive Polytheist Revivalism – A VR to Camilla Laurentine

 

Columbine‘s Posts
Discussion of Immersive Polytheism and Other Fun Things

 

Silence‘s Posts
Response to Camilla Laurentine – Terminology

Characteristics of Devotion

 

Cora‘s Posts
Open Forum Discussion
Where people got together to discuss how our current practices in community (also involving the discussion on Immersive Revivalist Polytheism) in dealing with one another can be destructive.

Thoughts on Community

PBP – Journeying & Validation

Peggy's Cove - Miaerowyn © 2014

Peggy’s Cove – Miaerowyn © 2014

Lately a lot of what’s been on my mind has been the peculiar need for validation, especially when it comes to the experience of communicating with Gods and Spirits of all sorts. As an aside, communicating can take any form, it’s not all about just words or visions.

Journeying has become a big part of my own practice, even though I know I’ve barely scratched the surface. At first, like anything, I was unsure of what I was experiencing, if it was just the sock puppets I have created in my own mind when it came to encountering entities. As time goes by, I recognize more easily when I am playing with those mental sock puppets, and when I am actually communicating with an entity. I recognize as well when I am creating something that I ‘see’, and when I am actually encountering a landscape and entity that is a genuine communication.

Discerning between the two can be very difficult, and I admit sometimes to over-thinking it and disbelieving that it was ‘real’. However, I have been Told that whether it is ‘real’ or is not ‘real’ doesn’t really matter, as long as it nourishes me in the way that I seek. I stick to that idea, because just meandering around in my own inner landscape is beneficial, I do self work in there, and that’s a wonderful thing. A lot of the time, it is relaxing, and inspiring, it recharges my batteries. But when Something outside of myself presents something to me, it nourishes in another way, not greater or lesser than doing my own inner work. It is simply a communication from Someone that spurs me towards something They wish me to pursue, with the added benefit of confirming my path and rendering me in awe.

From the past few posts I’ve written, you can see I’m not one for relying on others and their opinions much. I do find myself sometimes very much in need some sort of validation (just like everyone) of if the things I am doing are right, or if the things I am experiencing are real. As far as experiences go, no one else can tell me that they are real. I have learned not to put stock into ‘realness’, but to place it in the value I find, the lessons, the knowledge, the wisdom, the comfort, and even the discomfort. Nothing else matters, and the more I continue to hone my skills, the more I know I will get from it, as I hope to find focus in what I need to be giving in return for the wonder and fulfillment that is having relationships, or even just brief moments of contact with Them. I understand seeking advice and validation from other humans, however, no other human can verify that where your path is leading you is correct in any which way, or that Who you might end up meeting and interacting with is ‘real’ or correct to their vision of said Being.

To elaborate on the Who bit, in terms of the Gods, especially ones who are known for donning many masks, another human who interacts with the same God cannot possibly tell you that the mask you see isn’t valid. I would question someone who seems to just want to say “well my God communication penis is bigger than yours,” and generally just wants to show off about how much more magical and pagan and witchy and amazing they are, otherwise, I believe the Gods appear to us as we need Them to be. The way in which Odin has come to me is not in a way I have ever seen depicted anywhere, and yet, I know it is Him. He has even appeared in a few different guises, yet in each one, He is Odin.

While I am so lucky and happy to be able to communicate now (I think Odin had a hand in opening my head up), it wasn’t always so. I’ve been on this path for 14 years now, and have only in the last year been able to connect. I know if things were different and I was still unable, my faith and belief in Deities and Spirits would be there yet. It’s a comforting thought that shows me my spirituality does not rely on any one other than myself, and that seems right to me as each individual person’s experience of spirituality is quite different from the next.

So seek out the techniques and the advice on how to perform them, as many of them are ancient and have worked for thousands of years; seek community with those who are on similar paths, but know that at the end of the day, we are experiencing different things from one person to the next.

PBP – It’s Been Four Years

I got a little popup on my blog’s dashboard today that said it has been four years since I started this blog. Wow. I’ve looked back through my posts a couple times over the years, to see where I’ve been and where I am now… I can see the transitions between the research loop that can happen when really starting out, I remember the books I was reading back then (struggling to get out of the 101, yet also reading some essential books that I’d never read before). I see where I began to focus my attentions, where I’ve been Guided.
I also see where I’ve lost interest in what others are doing and saying at the moment, instead being more interested in what’s happening for me, my Gods and Spirits. It seems that sentiment also ripples out into my everyday life that isn’t much concerned with the spiritual. I wouldn’t have it any other way because I do the things that I want without a thought of what countless other people think (who ultimately have no idea what would work for me, what nourishes my spirituality).

These past four years have seen much change in the way I practice, believe, and have focused most of my life around my spirituality. I have been fortunate in the past two years to have experienced some less pleasant things that have helped me to also keep one foot here and one foot Elsewhere. As much as being depressed and floundering for over a year sucked, it was incredibly transformative, and I have begun to see where my road could be leading for future endeavours.

I thank my Gods and Spirits for sticking with me through it, and helping to show me things along the way so that when I look back at it now, I see the grander picture, where it was all leading me towards.