Celebrate the Laity

Being a devotee is wonderful, and it took me a really long time to learn that!

Cıbear-ḟoraoıs Sneaċta

Nobody gets paid to be Pagan.

Think about it.

People get paid to teach, to lecture, to write, to make videos, to sell crafted items, to run workshops or courses, but nobody is being paid to be a Pagan. People don’t get paid to be religious. You believe what you believe, you pray, you hold your rituals, you perform cultus, but nobody pays you for those things. Being religious is not a full-time job. It’s a massive part of someone’s life that can (and in my opinion, should) intersect with every part of someone’s life, but you need to spend time on those other things in life for your religion to impact, intersect with, inform, support.

If someone is a Muslim taxi driver, they’re not just a Muslim. They’re also a taxi driver. If someone is a Catholic grandma, they’re not just a Catholic. They’re also a grandma.

Paganism, in…

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Hearth cult musings: Hel and company

Heathenry and Lokeanism

After ten years of worshiping Odin, a different deity is coming to the fore. Hela has really caught my attention. I tried focusing on both of them for three months: I wrote rites and rosary prayers for each deity, but consistently found I was being drawn closer and closer to Hel and her associations: ancestor veneration, bones, shadow work, her monstrous kin, and Loki.

Odin encouraged me to follow this new direction, so I did. I wrote multiple free verse poems (some of which got published). I wrote and fine-tuned a monthly hearth cult rite for her and the ancestors. I started a Tumblr (again!) to connect to other devotees. I talked about her a lot on Discord servers.

I had some pretty intense experiences with her at the end of March, so I decided to make April an intentional fallow time. I am going to try really hard not to read spiritual texts. I am going to attempt to take breaks from polytheist Discord servers. I am also going to try to rest more, since I will have a brief window between the end of my winter semester and my summer semester.

Odin and Loki are still around, but in different ways. Hel takes up a lot of my time, energy, and bandwidth right now, but I like it that way! It feels nice to focus on a deity, rather than be distracted by multiple.

Hellenic polytheism

Hel’s energy is weighty and dark–or it is so far, anyway, that might change in the spring/summer–so, I thought bringing in some brighter, happier gods might help. I have long found Ancient Greece to be endlessly fascinating, so I am going to borrow my little brother’s copy of Sarah Kate Istra Winter’s Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored and read that… after my fallow period!

As I walked home from my internship/work today, I mused that it would be nice to worship Apollo, Dionysus, Athena, and, possibly, Hephaestus. I’ve known these deities a long time, and often worshiped them at my friend’s monthly cultus to the Theoi.

OTOH, I just spent more than an hour on theoi.com looking up hero cults and obscure deities, so we’ll see who I end up worshiping, haha!

At some point, I’ll have to write about my past studies with Ancient Greece…

Hearth Cult

I think that if I choose three Norse deities, and three Hellenic deities to worship, I think that could work very well. In my explorations of ritualized hearth cult, I found listing out ALL of Hel’s family in my prayers to be rather labourious. If I limit the number of deities, I think that could go more smoothly. I could, for example, only invoke Hel’s family at my yearly Hel’s blot at Samhain. Or I could do that at the autumn Equinox, if I would prefer to focus Samhain on Hel and the ancestors.

I’ll also need to determine what Hellenic holidays to add to the calendar. My yearly calendar has already been hammered out (by Mjolnir, haha!), so I think I would try to pick small or easy holy days to include.

I’d also like to include more intentional stillness and quiet time before holy rites. I will start small, with 15 minutes of meditation, spiritual reading, or rest. Ideally, I’d like to have quiet time for longer and longer periods until I have an hour of calm before the rite. This timing will vary depending on how big the rite is. If it’s a high holy day, I’d prefer a longer period of contemplation. If it’s a smaller moment of cultus, the quiet time can be shorter.

This practice was inspired by a mixture of Christian Ember Days and the Jewish Sabbath.

Eastern mysticism

I’ve been keeping up a regular daily meditation practice since Yule 2021. My little brother brought me into his weekly group meditation sessions and now I have a teacher. I’ve found a free app to use called Insight Timer. There’s tons of guided meditations on there.

So all this to say that my interest in Eastern religions is renewed. My brother bought me the LeGuin translation of the Tao Te Ching for Christmas–an excellent gift because I love the author and can now compare her translation to the David Hinton translation that I have. I recently picked up Benebell Wen’s The Tao of Craft and it is waiting on my night-table.

I’d love to resume investigating local Buddhist temples. I trained for eight months at a Pure Land Buddhist temple here in my city, but eventually left, as my career took me away from that path. I’d like to visit other temples to find a ‘home’. My brother wants to attend with me, so that will be a nice brotherly adventure…

Hela’s Arrival

So this year, I jokingly called my July schedule The Month of Hell.

Hela noticed.

Then, in August, spurred by I-am-not-sure-what, I did a rite to Her at an outdoor shrine at a pagan camp. I introduced two friends to Her at the same time; one of whom felt very compelled to get to know Her better afterward.

At Samhain, I held my usual Hela rite, but invited my brother and his girlfriend. So, they too met Hela.

I started including Her in my monthly hearth cult. I made Hela a Spotify playlist. I found a Hel subreddit.

I started to realize I was doing a lot for Her–more than usual. Then, I got a tarot reading (that was originally for Odin) that offered me a chance to do some deep ancestor worship with Hela.

Thursday, I got an extra reading, specifically for Hela and the ancestors because I wanted to be sure I was interpreting the situation correctly. (Thanks, L, for that!)

In the live virtual reading, Hela, in her usual tough manner, encouraged me to just freaking start already and do the cultus of incorporating ancestors and doing slow, manageable research [in tandem with grad studies].

This feel right. Having Her here feels good. I think my ancestors are happy too.

What is my religion?

Try and explain or describe your religion/tradition/praxis without using negation or comparison, in your own words. –from this post

I follow the Norse gods and goddesses throughout a year of sacred holidays. I believe in the gifting cycle between myself, the ancestors, deities, land wights, and house wights. I try and uphold sacred hospitality and frith in my daily actions.

As of late, I have been drawing closer to the jotun or giants. So, I believe in celebrating the dark, the monstrous, and the unseen. Loki is my hearthfire.

The Wild Hunt guides my year. It begins in October and ends in April. I propitiate to Odin, Sleipnir, and the Hunt at the beginning and end of the Hunt. In the spring and summer, the Vanir come forth to bring sunshine, fertility, and merriment (if you think I might be a Canadian who blots to give thanks for spring fever, you are right!). In autumn, Hela and her kin sit with the dead, and honour them. The winter brings both cold and a certain coziness, as I rest from the busier seasons.

The Hunt ends with rites to Odin. For two or three years now, I honour his Hanging in April, at the end of the Hunt. I have yet to figure out how His sacrifice specifically fits into the wheel of my year, but I’ll get there.

The New Normal: Keep On Keeping On ⁊ The Normal Now: How I’m Doing

I want to write a post defining my religion! This is such a cool exercise.

Cıbear-ḟoraoıs Sneaċta

Definition of “fallow

There is an inevitable lull after people first get into polytheism. I’m not the first person to talk about it. The excitement of a new religion, new communities, diving into research and exploring praxis wanes and you sink into your new normal. You just keep on keeping on.

But I think that’s the point.

There is no destination, it’s a journey. Like a romantic relationship.

I think this is an overlooked thing that people ought to consider when daydreaming about a world of polytheism being normalised and widely accepted.
Let’s say everyone who dreams of groves and temples, purpose-built shrines and so on got their wishes granted. What then?

I think a significant number of people in wider pagandom would not be, and are not, content just worshipping. They want another breakthrough, they want another milestone to gauge success by (whatever “success” means here)…

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Monthly Hearth Rites

Finding more heathen community online has really helped me organize my hearth practice. I’m becoming much more organized than I used to be: I type up my rites, for one thing. I’ve also got a template for a monthly hearth cult and have modified it to suit my needs.

I’ve taken to sanctifying my altar space with a tiny Mjolnir keychain. (If I am doing a Jotun rite, I ask Jormundgandr to sanctify the space, using a little snake ring I have to circle the altar). I’ve also invoked Heimdall (or other entities) as a guardian deity to allow safe passage for prayers and offerings. I’ve been invoking Loki more explicitly as a hearth deity in the same way you might invoke Hestia, a Hellenic hearth goddess, at the start (and end) of a rite.

The monthly hearth cult rite I have invokes Loki, Hela, Freya, and Odin. Yep, I am slowly adding Hela as a main deity now. I’m debating adding Freyr too. The rite also thanks the ancestors, the land wights, and the house wights.

It feels appropriate in my ninth year of being a Norse heathen and polytheist, that my practice undergoes some great revolutions, such as an organizing rehaul. (nine being a sacred number in Heathenry)

Heathenry online & Samhain plans

It’s been a month so it felt like time I posted here again.

The whole Luciferian exploration I mentioned in my last post went kaput. Satanism seems like an angry reaction against Christianity and I just don’t hate that religion enough to position my whole religious praxis in revolt against Christianity. Lucifer was an interesting god to explore and learn about though. I’m hoping he has no hard feelings about my decision to recommit to Heathenry.

I’ve joined Reddit for the paganism there, specifically the subreddit r/heathenry and their Discord server Skíðblaðnir (or, Skid, as it is lovingly called). It’s fascinating to look at the reconstructionist work that folks are doing! They even got me researching household wights! I’ve spent ten years of my heathenry in mysticism and doxa (aka UPG), so it’s really interesting to try looking more into the reconstructionist viewpoint.

I’ll admit, I don’t have a lot of time and energy to actually do that though. I want to, and I am trying to read LeCouteux’s work on household spirits, but… I am also in the middle of grad school, so by the time I am done reading academic articles for the day, all I want is a romance novel or a chill video game. Maybe I’ll try reading it again after grad school. I gotta start making a list of books to read once I graduate haha.

I did, at least, write a few rituals including a fire-keeping hearth deity (Loki), sanctifying deities (Thor or Jormundgandr, depending on who I was libating to), and guardians (Heimdall). It’s cool to try adding more structures to my rites. It’s something new.

My brother, his girlfriend, and I are planning a Samhain rite to Hela and the ancestors. Afterwards, I will guide them both through their very first sumbel! I’m making the sumbel a very open rite, so that my brother can invoke Hellenic deities and his gf can invoke her Wiccan deities. I want everybody to feel included. It’s gonna be great.

A fun aside: my dad has gotten into incense lately, which is great because as a witchy pagan, I have collected way too much incense. So he’s helping me get rid of it, slowly but surely.

Do you have plans for Samhain?

Rune study 2021-2022

I just read The Runic Book of Days by Kelley Harrell. I’m going to use its framework to study the runes for a year.

Image description: pictured is the first page of my new rune journal. In black stamps, it says “Rune Journal 2021”. A fox is stamped above the title. A hand-carved FEHU is stamped below.

The start point is the summer solstice, which doesn’t *really* fit my personal spiritual schedule, but I’m going to roll with it for the sake of following the text. I figure if, after a year, I’d like to continue these studies, I can adapt it to my own framework.

I’ve had some very positive rune visions lately that feel auspicious. I’ve noted them in my ongoing “Rune dreams” google doc so that I can observe my rune dreams and visions over the course of the year. I wish I had thought of this sooner–it’s so useful!

Some joyous news: I’ll be camping at a pagan campground next weekend! I hope to do a small 3-person group rite for Hela, as well as greet the Norse deities at their ve. I plan to bring lots of alcohol for offerings… and so me and my friends can have a horn to lift too!