Anthesteria

We held our Anthesteria Bacchanalia at the wine shop here on the island. We had a great turn out of about 20 people (considering how small the space is and how small our island community is, it was fairly impressive). People brought lots of food and flowers, including one elderly man who wore flowers in his beard. We had funk music playing and the vibe was great. My co-priest and his husband made me a thyrsus, and co-priest’s mom made everyone in the grove flower wreaths for their hair. Had a lovely weekend with the Paramour in the cabin he rented, very romantic and inspiring. I could write sonnets about that man’s beauty. Here are a few photos of the festivities.

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Anthesteria n’ Stuff

Tomorrow we kick off Anthesteria. My Paramour also arrives with a case of sake and is staying the weekend in a cabin here on the island, so between his presence and the Festival of Flowers at the wine shop this Saturday, this should be quite the debauched bender. I plan on being drunk and in congress for as much of the weekend as I am physically capable of squeezing out of my middle aged body.

But first off, I have much more G related obligations to WMFH today. It’s International Night at the college and we have to sing songs about drinking and cuckoos. Of course, these are cuckoos that are killed and come back to life each Spring… clever boy, WMFH, well played.

Long story short, I won’t be around much the next few days… at least not if I can help it.

Pagan Blog Project Week 6- Cernunnos

Unlike many Pagan women, there isn’t a lot of “Goddess” in my worship. I have my altar to the Matrons that I have combined with Hestia, Hera, and Hecate, and I have my statue of our gal Freya, but in general I have always been drawn to the male forces in nature. They are so much more wild, primal, and have this element of lust in all its forms that I feel in my bones. When I have had any kind of spiritual discourse, it has always been with a masculine deity. When I am out in the forest, I don’t feel that gentle, embracing earth energy of growth others speak of, I feel the manic pulsing throb of nature. The wind is a purring predatory whisper, calling me with its bloodsong. My world has always been more about a volatile, passionate engagement. I love the sea, and storms, and thunder and lightning.

Although my practice is not Celtic, Cernunnos is a concept I can relate to. I say concept because there really isn’t an firmly established historical god called Cernunnos, the name is used as a catch all for the pan-Celtic reoccurring figure of the Horned God (if I remember correctly, there is only a single attestation to the name “cernunnos”, but many artistic renderings of various horned god figures across Celtic Europe and parts of Anatolia. I should probably double check this, but I am tired and spent all day trying to wrap my head around German negations, modal music, and how French wine influenced art and music, so for the sake of argument let’s pretend I am 100% certain). While the ADF emphasizes viewing the gods as entities rather than archetypes, in some cases I think the power is in the archetype when a specific entity isn’t described. The very nature of Cernunnos is something mutable and experienced differently by different people, possibly owing to his being a medley of different deities. Some portray him as a gentle steward of the animals, others as the untamed king if the wild, others view him as a Pan like figure, some see him as Oberon. I don’t see how the any of these are mutually exclusive. Nature is both mothering and merciless by turns, any god of the natural world would have to include many aspects. Similar gods demonstrate similar dichotomies. Dionysus is a god of growth, wine, and of ecstasy, but has been show in myth and literature to be able wield his powers in very dark and destructive ways.

I have seen Pagans jump down each others throats about how a god is represented or described. One of the few things that Christianity gets right (on a philosophical level, not so much in practice) is the idea that one can not know the mind of god. That Pagans feel they can saddens me. Cernunnos is a deity as complex as nature itself. If to me he feels like sleeping in a pile of wolves and to others he feels like a gentle spring breeze, what is the difference? We are dealing with knowledge that is both revealed (knowledge learned by divine experience or revelation) and rational (knowledge gained by scholarship and history). When we reconstruct the practices of the past from the fragments we have, we have to retain an open mind and face the fact that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.

Frankie Says….

My great Pagan spiritual awakening happened at a Frankie Goes to Hollywood concert at the age of 14.

Yes, I really just said that.

It was 1985, and Frankie was ALL THE RAGE, the Justin Bieber of the 80s, only even more gay and with better hair. I was a Teenage Fag Hag, so Frankie was huge part of my world. I was in Catholic school, and for reasons I can’t recall, I ended up with plans to go to the concert with a group of girls I was not particularly friends with (many of the kids came from well-to-do families up in the hills of the town where I grew up. I lived down by the docks and was almost feral. Draw your own conclusions). We made plans to spend the day before at a local waterpark, spend the night at one girl’s house watching horror movies, then get up early the next day and get in line for festival seating so we would be close to the stage. The concert was in early June, and as happens to so many Northwesterners delirious with sun intoxication at the first fading of Winter’s gloom, we all ended up severely sunburned at the waterpark. We sat out in the heat the entire day, no food or water, sleep deprived and burnt. By the time the doors opened at 8pm our physical exhaustion had robbed us of our senses.

We stood just feet from the stage, packed tightly with thousands of tense, hormonal teenage girls, waiting for the show to begin. As the stage fog started to roll out and the band of androgynes launched into the first of many homo-sado-erotic tinged songs, the crowd of girls began to shriek with a unified banshee wail of the naive, pubescent sexual frustration of the human female. The audience began to rock and surge, unstoppable and terrifying. Our bodies collided and and jostled, rubbing my sunburned skin raw. One misstep could send you to the floor to be trampled to pulp. The entire event became a strange ecstatic dance of primal sexual energy and survival. At one point, one of the band members tossed a towel into the audience. I was one of the girls who caught it, and a ferocious tug-of-war began. Every girl within arms reach seized hold of the towel, and we began to tear at it like dogs. The towel disintegrated into shreds in seconds. I remember letting loose with a guttural howl as I yanked and clawed trying to retain my corner of the towel, only to lose my grip when I almost dislocated a finger. I became very aware of presence in the concert hall, something huge and driving, something that our energies had created and in turn had created us. I was overflowing with wants and drives, things I couldn’t define, things I couldn’t understand, things that terrified and enthralled me. I wanted to sexually devour something, incorporate it into the core of my being. It was as if I was filled with an undeniable urge to have someone or something inside me, and I didn’t care which route it took to get there, and the absolute frustration of not being able to ever fully satisfy that urge with any physical means was literally driving me mad.

I don’t remember much else about that night, but it haunted me for years. I was in my late teens when I first learned of Dionysus and the maenadic rites. The full emotional memory of this event came flooding back to me like water breaking over a dam. Like many peak experiences, the full spectrum of the occurrence is impossible to depict in any meaningful way. When I try to describe this moment to people, it comes out sounding absurd. Much like when I try to describe my near-death experience (which we will get to later). To tell people I saw a golden light and a choir of heavenly voices sounds so trite and simplistic, but the moment itself was beyond words, beyond description, and beyond anything I could possibly communicate using any human apparatus. The fact that Frankie Goes to Hollywood lead me to my spiritual path is the best explanation I have to offer you. Suffice it to say, I still can’t hear the song “Relax” without getting a creepy Kubrick-esque smile on my face.

Amusing side note: At Yule, I proceeded to get quite drunk, something I actually do rarely and haven’t done in a very long time (my husband had never seen me drunk before, that’s how long it has been). My co-priest informed me that he likes Maenad Sigrun, “she’s like opera: you, only bigger and more dangerous” (I’m paraphrasing, since all I can remember from that moment is leaning against the kitchen counter and luridly leering at my ex in a rather predatory fashion).

Music Monday

Since I am taking Music Appreciation this quarter, and I haven’t addressed the subject here before, I am here to tell you I freakin’ love music. I am one of those nerds who has (or rather USED TO have, until my hard drive crashed, I am still rebuilding. *sniff*) a music collection that would be the envy any reputable DJ out there. Granted, my tastes are odd and eclectic (I collect Hawaiian music, sound effects, and sea shanties on vinyl), but I love Funk and Punk and Rock and Folk and Classical and World and Country and Electronic and you name it. Except Hip Hop and the majority of what passes for Top 40 these days. That shit makes me cringe, the lone exception being Outkast’s “Hey Ya”, which is the single greatest pop song of the last 20 years. But, as usual, I digress…

When I say that music is the second most sacred thing a person can do, I mean it. Music, whether you are performing it or listening to it, is the closest thing to ecstasy I can think of. I distrust anyone who doesn’t like music, or worse yet, is apathetic about it. I don’t understand people who’s only contact with music is when they flip on the car radio to whatever station the billboards tell them is the one to listen to. My husband doesn’t listen to music, and it boggles my mind. He likes music, but he never actively seeks it out. In the car we fight over my music and his NPR. I have just resigned myself to headphones, which is fine because I prefer the solitude when I am listening anyway.

I was rather amused at the patchwork of genres of this last week’s “Top 20” most played on my iTunes:

This Weeks Top 20
Ecce Mundi Gaudium – Mediaeval Baebes
Prospero’s Magic – Michael Nyman
The Drum – Slapp Happy
Lover, You Should’ve Come Over – Jeff Buckley
Coyote – Joni Mitchell
Kick out the Jams – MC5
The Ship Song – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
FAURE: Requiem, Op. 48: Sanctus – Gabriel Faure
Another Nail In My Heart – Squeeze
Institutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here – She & Him
Cadillac – T. Rex
Hungry Wolf – X
Suo Gan – Ambrosian Boys Choir
Save Me – k.d. lang
Infected – The The
Sea Talk – Zola Jesus
Come to Daddy – Aphex Twin
Third Uncle – Brian Eno
Straight To You – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Nobody writes the soundtrack to an epically doomed love affair like Nick Cave.

Gabriel Faure’s Requiem is a recent discovery of mine. I had heard some of his choral music before and enjoyed it, but his Requiem is like butterfly kisses from an angel, and I mean that in a good way. It manages to be soft and embracing, yet somehow detached at the same time. The Sanctus and Pie Jesu are particularly lovely.

And as far as Squeeze is concerned, even today I would still volunteer to be the tomato in a Difford & Tilbrook sandwich. Genius turns me on. Musical genius even more so. Being adorable and British doesn’t hurt their cause either.

Today’s musical discovery is Genya Ravan. I have heard some of her music before, but didn’t have a name to go with it until now. Bitch has the Funk in a huge way, she’s my new rock chick hero. I love really good, nasty Funk and Soul. It’s like Gospel music for fucking, the most ideal Dionysian soundtrack in my book. When it’s done right, it makes you want to throw the object of your affections against a wall and undress them with your teeth.

On Being an Eclectic Reconstructionist

My co-priest and I are planning Yule. We are both working through our ADF dedicant path with the intention of joining the clergy program afterward. He is a Hellenist and I am Heathen, for lack of a clearer term. Even though we both consider ourselves to be Reconstructionists, we also both consider ourselves to be Eclectic. This might seem like a contradiction to many, and while I can’t speak for my co-priest on the subject, I can at least make an attempt to define this for myself.

First off, some background. I am what many would call Heathen. In other words, I follow what most consider the Norse religion, only the variation I have been called to is actually more Continental Germanic and Anglo-Saxon. The catch is, the majority of information we have about what we consider to be the Germanic gods is filtered through post-Christian Scandinavian texts (the other catch being the modern age filters it through Neo-Nazi websites and the SCA). So, in short, in order to follow my path with any level of coherency, I can’t just be Anglo-Saxon or Germanic, I need to fall back on the Norse literature to fill in the gaps. I actually don’t care to use the term “Heathen” to describe myself, since I don’t think that communicates a clear picture as to what I am about, but it is a workable shortcut for now.

The hallmark of modern Paganism is the constant need to define and label what we are. Many of us end up as hyphenates in an attempt to describe something that isn’t clearly delineated in the first place. The thing that many of us forget, Reconstructionists in particular, is that these things weren’t clearly defined for our ancestors either. Think about ancient Europe. Centuries of invasions, plagues, and migration meant that the religions themselves were in constant flux. Neighboring gods were added, spirits of one landscape metamorphosed into the spirits of another as people changed environments, invading governments adopted local deities and then changed them to suit their needs. And lest we forget the ultimate four-letter word: Christianity. We can do our best to restore the ancient traditions as accurately as possible, but ultimately even our ancestors didn’t have the luxury of practicing a “pure” version of their own religion. As a Heathen, ancestry is important to my world view. Heathens tend to put a lot of importance on bloodlines and genetics (and, yes, this gets a bit “problematic” at times). As an American, I am not of one national or ethnic origin. My predominate ancestry is Anglo-Norman English and French Breton, but I am also Irish, Hungarian, German, and Native American. Both sides of my family have been on this continent for over 11 generations (and longer in the case of my Passamaquoddy and Anasaguntacook ancestors.) The nature of my very being is eclectic. For me to try and select a spiritual path based on my ancestry would demand not only an Indo-European melange, it would have to include the indigenous beliefs of a completely different continent. Likewise, if I were to choose a spiritual path based on the deities I have had significant metaphysical encounters with, that too would lead to a path as winding and syncretic as anything could be. I am an American™. That in and of itself not only allows for syncretism, it mandates it.

To rattle your spear and accuse someone of being inauthentic as a Reconstructionist because they do not follow the dogma WE invented (because YES, any and all modern Reconstructionist practices are complete inventions and adaptations, no matter how based in historical fact they are) is as obnoxious as the hipster band snob who desperately looks for one-upmanship by siting every obscure Clownstep DJ he can think of and smugly sneering at you for not sharing his passionless accumulation of trivial knowledge. The proclivity for one-upmanship is a huge divider in our community, the tendency towards judging others even more so. The Reconstructionist hate the Wiccans, the Wiccans hate the Chaotes, the Chaotes hate everyone… and so it goes. Hell, we even debate if someone is “allowed” to call themselves Pagan. Are New Agers pagan? Satanists? Unitarians? Who are we to say?

So, where do I get off calling myself a Reconstructionist? I consider myself a Reconstructionist because I consider it my duty to contribute as much as I can to the scholarship and dissemination of the traditions, art, history, culture, language, and values of my Northern European ancestors in as historically accurate way as possible. I want my knowledge of the past to inform, rather than define, my beliefs. I do not consider my reverence for Dionysus to be at odds with my Heathen roots any more than I consider the addition of the Vanir to the Norse pantheon to be somehow “sacrilegious”. To be a Reconstructionist in the 21st century means evolution and flexibility. The world is a much smaller place and the gods are mingling at that great cocktail party in the sky.

When We Were Trees

The Transpersonal Experience in Indo-European Mythology, Folklore, and Music

Northern Heim, Southern Clime

On Maenads and Valkyries

Introspective Maenad

Thoughts of an Unlikely Dionysian

Pixiecraft: Adventures of Magick and Devotion

The Life of a Practicing Pagan and Traditional Witch

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

The House of Vines

where words grow like leaves

The Flaming Thyrsos

Memoirs of a Hekatean Wino

Syncretic Mystic

Exactly correct. You inhabit two worlds. So far, I see nothing strange.

Root Craft

Making magic in the dirt.

Eternal Bacchus

Dionysos from the end of antiquity to the present

eklogai

polytheist extractions

Black Witch

Life from a Black Pagan's Perspective

Aspis of Ares

A Devotional Exploration of Ares, the God of War

4 of Wands

A celebration of me and my interests. Unapologetically.

Down the Withywindle

All paths lead that way, down to Withywindle.

Ozark Pagan Mamma

Folk Magic, Druidism, Heathenry, & Pagan Parenting

beingaleaf

learning, growing, reaching, being :-)

The Druid in the Swamp

Druidic Musings from the Texas Gulf Coast

The Druid's Cosmos

An ADF Druid's trials, tribulations, musings, and victories

A Forest Door

Spirit-Work & Devotional Polytheism

The Wild Hunt

On Maenads and Valkyries

Pagan Reveries

"Everything is full of gods." - Thales

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