Category Archives: Land and Spirits

The Land of Two Rivers, and Beyond

Blood and rain.  Fish and rivers, and the sea.  Bobcats and javelinas.   Nereids and hamadryads.  Mesquite wood and fire ants.  Feral cats and grackles.  Sunshine and sea winds.  Peaches and figs, and cicadas. Dead soldiers and Spanish missions.  Sand dollars and jellyfish.  Live oaks and palm trees.  Foxes and road runners, and rattlesnakes.

These are the jewels of my path, local to South Texas.  This is my home, and these are my allies.

My path is a local one, where I concentrate on the needs of the lives lived around me.  When I offer to the sea, it is on behalf of the humans here who know not the price for the bounty they take.  It is to give thanks, and to celebrate the creatures and spirits who dwell here, those who make it possible for us to make a living here.

When I raise my arms to the Theoi it is in acknowledgment of the great tapestry They have woven around me; to celebrate Them and to honor Them, and to remind myself of all They hold dear.  This place is alive.  I am alive.  And we are paired to live our lives together.

When I pour wine and blood onto the Earth, it is so the grain and corn will thrive.  When I go to pick cotton out of its rugged husk, it is to feel what my ancestors felt, and to leave bits of myself in the field so they are not alone, and not forgotten.  When I pick flowers for offerings, it is to remind myself of the beautiful things which were plucked, in their ripeness and in their prime, all for the sake of a world gone by.

Those times that I stood upon the widow’s walk of the white mansion, it was to tell the spirits of my people, “I see you.  I remember you.  The masters are gone, and I am here.”

And when I give milk, now even the milk of my own body, it is to assure the Land that I will nourish it, as it nourishes me and mine.  Because I am the Land.  I am the Rivers.  I am the Sea and the Wind.

When I leave seed for the grackles, I know they are my brothers.  When I leave meat for the night creatures, I know they are my sisters.  When I fill the hummingbird feeders, and see the shrimp plants bloom, I know that my family is welcomed.  We are the spirits of the Land, and we rely on one another.

When I wade in the salt water, I know that I am purified.  And when I call to the Gods, I know that They are listening.  Poseidon.  Amphitrite.  Apollon.  Ares.  Zeus.  And Others still.  They hear me.  They know me.  They favor me and mine.

And when I take my children to greet Them upon the sparkling sea water, I feel Their many blessings, and Their encouragement, as surely as I feel the wind blow.  As long as we do our part to honor the Gods, the spirits, the Land, the Rivers, the Sea and the Wind, They will do Their part to keep us safe and fed.  Together, we are the reciprocal bond.  We are kharis.  We are life.  We are this world.

We are the Land of Two Rivers, and beyond.

The Allies

Originally written and published October 20, 2013.  Reposting because the Land told me to.  Howdy, Pagan Cowboy.


Pagan Cowboy, who are you?
I’ve been dreaming of you, you know.
Why are you hiding?
This land was made for you, me, and all the others.
For this is the Land of Allies.

Pagan Cowboy, you are needed.
Friendship is a stern Mother.
You know it’s true.
Yet, must we be diplomatic.
For we are the children of the Allies.

Pagan Cowboy, don’t forget your pact with the Land.
Working, and driving the herds.
A deep-rooted life, and all you ever dreamed.
But, the expectation of Friendship stands, so…
Stop hiding, Pagan Cowboy, and join your Allies.

Water, II

glacier

Ocean, lake, aquifer, spring

Cloud, swamp, tundra, stream

Bog, pond, hail, sea

Rain, glacier, tributary

dew drop

Rivers cutting through the land

Dew drops forming on desert sands

Fog rolling down the hills

Bayou conceals what often kills

bayou

Water gives and Water takes

Water does not discriminate

Though out of Water life began

One well-placed comet could be its end

comet

[Images are not mine]

When a God Tells You Something…

…Or, Little Syncretism Things…

Some of you may know that I have a budding relationship with Odin.  When He appeared in my life the first few times it did nothing but scare the crap out of me.  That has lessened, thankfully, and now I can concentrate on what I’m supposed to be learning from Him.  There are circumstances that He wants addressed, but other than that He has yet to suggest anything that I wasn’t already involved in, or anything that I didn’t already know needed fixing.  He and I have a pretty easy-going relationship, partly due to Zeus and Apollon keeping a watchful eye on my interactions with Him, and partly due to Him being incredibly understanding of my situation.

There are several things I work with Him on, but the most important thing He tries to teach me is how to be Sovereign; what that looks like in my life and with the spirits under my care, and what I need to do in order to project that Sovereignty without stepping on Apollon’s toes, and also how not to let Apollon walk all over me in the marriage.

As I’m sure you can guess, Apollon isn’t always pleased with the subject matter, but this education stems from an agreement between the two Kings, Zeus and Odin, and as much as He might not like it, He still has to abide by it, and so do I.  So, I listen and I watch, and I try to apply what I’ve heard and seen.

Now, as Hunt season has already begun (early, so I’ve heard) I’m in the position of being truly involved in my Court’s activities.  The Waiting Ones (which is the name they’ve called themselves since before I was finally given to them) are a host of dead fighting men and women, most of them previously human, some not so much, or at all.  After having spent so long just waiting for me to be born for them, they now get to act upon their extreme boredom.

Sometimes that means chasing terrified wildlife, sometimes it means giving me nightmares, and still other times it means merging with another long established Hunt during the darkening days of the year.  This is where Odin comes in again, though perhaps not in the way one might first expect.

I was told a story by Him, about two young Goddesses who once fled Their Homeland for reasons I am not at liberty to mention here.  They came to a place entwined with another Pantheon, and over the course of many, many years, were accepted into that Pantheon via personal human experience and established myth.  When looking back upon this, I’ve seen traces, though I claim it as nothing more than my personal doxa, even if I have spoken with the Goddesses in question about it, and even if They have vouched for the authenticity of Odin’s tale.

In the story, it was told that these Goddesses did not travel alone, but with a host of Their own– a Hunt, if you will, that remains loyal to Them to this day. It is this Hunt that my Court runs with during the darkening days, and their time with Them is soon to begin.

The Autumnal Equinox is, depending upon what calendar one uses, either tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.  According to my calendar, it’ll be the day after.  As most Hellenic Polytheists I know of will perhaps be celebrating Persephone’s decent, I will be honoring Leto, and the riding of Her Hunt across the lands.

Of course, many also celebrate Apollon’s departure to Hyperborea on the Equinox, and this makes sense and is incorporated into my doxa, as Apollon and Artemis both will be riding in Their Mother’s Hunt, for at least the time between the Equinox and the end of Aegletia (the Treasury of Apollon’s October festival).  So, there is certainly a departure at the Equinox, but Apollon hasn’t gone completely from the world yet.  He remains on the outskirts of civilization, in our peripheral vision.

[And before anyone dares to tell me that this is “wrong”, please remember that Gods do not have to be in only one place at a single point in time.  If that is your reason for rejecting my doxa, fine, but don’t think to explain to a bride of Apollon, who regularly interacts with other brides of Apollon, that her God (or any God) can not be in more than one place at a time. Save your breath.]

So, Leto, the fair-haired and veiled Consort of Zeus, seems to have a lot more going on than the motherly demure that She is so often characterized by in what writings on Her that survive, which of course gives us very little information on how peoples of the past actually viewed Her.  In this, I rely on my doxa and on interactions with Her via dreams and symbolism.

When I see Leto, I do not see one who is tied down by conventional motherhood, though a large portion of our understanding of Her come from Her role as Mother of Artemis and Apollon.  I see a Goddess of liminality, of twilight, flanked by wolves, who takes no shit and doles out justice of the finest quality.  Leto suffers no insult lightly, either to Herself or to Her Children, and when She rides out on the darkening days, She does so unveiled, hair streaming behind her in awful glory.  This is the Goddess whom Niobe insulted– the Goddess whose honor was defended by Artemis and Apollon, and these traits are but a few inherited from Her, by Them.

When I look at Leto, I see a Whole Goddess, Someone who has a past, a history, a life that began long before the birth of Her Children, and in that I find common ground for the growth of our relationship, as well as for personal growth.  There is much I have (and have yet) to learn from Her in regard to keeping my own identity intact after becoming a mother.  In this culture, motherhood is so easily dismissed, yet it is also lauded as the highest pedestal a woman can be seated upon, to the detriment of society.

Leto, who is quiet, who is veiled, is the same Leto who does not flinch in the presence of Hera, or any Other.  She is the same Leto who throws off her veil to ride vigorously through the wilderness, and the same Leto who, for reasons of Her own, fled Her birthplace along with Her Sister and Their host to stake Her claim to the varied lands in ancient Hellas.  And She was well respected throughout.

So, as the days darken, my spirits will wander off to follow Her, as they have done in years past, while I will remain here preparing to receive Apollon and His Mother and Sister for the Aegletia.  And then They will leave to carry out Their various concerns for the Winter months.

It’s fascinating how so many of these revelations were brought about by a God with whom I never imagined I’d have anything to do with, directly.  It’s fascinating how Zeus arranged this.  And it’s fascinating how right it all feels… for me.

Immersion and the Revival…

…Show, Don’t Tell…

Every writer knows this little bit of crucial advice.  It’s how we manage to convey the innermost thoughts and feelings of our characters without using pages and pages of arbitrary scene description.  In this context, we take the reader along with the protagonist, on the journey and into the action as it is happening, not as an afterthought.  It helps the reader to suspend their disbelief if they feel like they are a part of the story, experiencing situations while in their midst.

In a way, this could also be applied to religious activities.  This is why video and audio contributions from Polytheist authors and bloggers become so popular. People want and need to see how things are accomplished, even if they later decide not to practice in the ways observed.  You see, without dedicated land and buildings set aside for the worship of the Gods, we are not readily exposed to the many rich traditions of our pasts.

It is true, we have many academic works that we may infer conclusions from, and even scholarly religious works written by Polytheists, for Polytheists, and however grateful we may be for this tradition of scrutiny applied to the roots of our faiths, following the dictates of any written work is limiting.  At some point, hopefully, we begin to apply our own intuition to what we’ve learned from the many tomes.

This is the point when we being to show ourselves the true commitment we have, or do not have, for our faiths.  If nothing more, practice, offering and simple focus upon the Gods serve to keep us within the fold of our religious traditions, while simultaneously challenging us to make them work, for us.

As opposed to a strict orthopraxy, some may find that building new structure upon the foundation of accepted rites and ritual forms will better suit them in these modern times.  I am one of those individuals.  My Land is alive and my religion is alive, so why should I be fated to, ever-so-slowly, reconstruct the body of past practices for a location that was completely unknown to the ancient Hellenes?

The answer is I shouldn’t, and I won’t.  Instead, I choose to immerse myself in what is now, in the present time.

Some weeks ago, a few of my spiritual Sisters and I were having a chat about names and labels within the various Polytheistic communities, when one of us was finally able to pin down a couple of terms that seem to work for a few of us.  One is Revivalism, which speaks to the natural growth within Polytheistic faiths.

Revivalism (seen here in the Roman variety), in my view, is a growth of the spirit which inspired past practices and lore.  As opposed to keeping the old ways and stories like we might keep a crutch, the old ways inform how we respond to the very real demands of the Land and its spirits, as well as the Gods, and helps us to devise new but accepted protocols with which to deal with these demands.

I know that many of the things my local spirits ask for may not have been conceivable in the ancient past.  Personally, this is why Immersion (the second term to be discussed) plays such an important role in my spiritual practice.  In order to become immersed within one’s own local framework, one must be willing to listen, and to be shown what is acceptable to the spirits one works with.

Immersion is the beginning of the path toward a true Revival, thus Camilla has coined the term Immersion (or, Immersive) Polytheism to refer to this first step, as practiced by those of us who claim the term.

I have talked about this before, though I had no proper name for it then, in my post here.  Immersion is seeing from a different perspective.  It is seeing, acknowledging, and aligning oneself to this world, as it is, while still maintaining deep ties to the subtle worlds surrounding us.  It is allowing those subtle worlds to influence our everyday lives, and the ways we interact with our own world.  If witchcraft were the topic instead of Polytheism, I might say that Immersion were equal to living the craft, in each moment of every day.

In this context, living the craft, or practice rather, could mean any number of things to any number of practitioners.  Our individuality will shine here as our souls become entwined with those of the Land, and the Gods supporting us.  It is important that we accept what is happening.  To deny the subtle changes in our awareness will lead to stifled spiritual practices, and a lot of unhappiness on our parts, and the parts of those we claim to serve.

After we have become immersed in the life of our local community of spirits and Gods, the natural step forward would be to record what works, discard what doesn’t, listen, and to watch for what the spirits show us.  We are all in this together, and we are all participating in varying amounts of show and tell.  This is normal, however, I think that generally we’ve probably done enough telling for the next few hundred years.  The future will be built by those who are able to show others their life’s work, and not only tell about it in writing.  [Yes, I am one of those people who needs to write less and do more.]

There are so many ways to do this.  One could organize rituals for the locals (spirit and/or human), or simply record one’s own rituals for a viewing audience later.  One could participate in radio/internet broadcasts discussing important elements of their tradition and practices.

Showing is of course very easily done via the written word, and there are some wonderful anthologies available that give us glimpses into the world and work of others.  I am not discounting the power of the written word, but why remain shackled by it when there exist alternatives that some, as individuals, might find more appealing and inspirational to their own practice?  Immersion is also embracing modern technology and modern techniques for the advancement of Polytheism.

Once we are in tune with the life all around us, which is participating in this existence along side us, we may begin to find the elusive structure many of us are seeking.  We have to build it, though, and that starts within (with help from our a/Allies), as we commit to showing ourselves, and each other, what we’re able to accomplish in this world, as well as the Others.