Pagan Blog Project Week 2

A is for Archetype

Archetypes are a huge part of my world view and self-perception. The categories for this blog are all various archetypes I inhabit, depending on my mood and the company I keep. My husband loves the Valkyrie, my ex loved the Maenad, my best friend seems to prefer the Mystic, his husband (my co-priest) gets the Priestess, and so on. I view my friends and acquaintances through the gauze of their own archetypes; the Poet, the Scholar, the Warrior, the Storyteller, the Hero. For me, the archetype is not just a symbolic construct. It is the scaffolding of the soul, the manifestation of the god or goddess within us all. You do not become an archetype because you seek it out, it is already within you, waiting for actualization. If you feel the Artist within you, fantasize about creating art, that is an archetype waiting to be born. Whether you chose to activate that archetype is entirely up to you.

While I do not view the gods as being limited to archetypes, I do view them as being archetypes. Pagans and polytheists are in a fairly unique position, in that we are able to chose our gods rather than being told who our god is and forced to conform to that particular archetype. Even if you are raised within a certain tradition (which we are fortunate enough to actually see happening more and more these days), there are choices within that tradition as to which god you are personally affiliated with. If you are Hellenic, you have at least a dozen different fundamental gods covering a wide spectrum of human experience to chose from. Even in a more sparsely populated pantheon like the Germanic, you have gods that are complex an multifaceted. Odin is the Warrior, the Mystic, the Father, and many, many more. If you have the good fortune to be Hindu or Vedic you have thousands upon thousands of deities at your fingertips. Even Catholicism, with its over 10,000 saints, has found a place for the consecration of the archetype, only nstead of Brighid they venerate St. Brigit as the Poet and Mother of Lost Children. Whether this tendency on our part to combine the sacred and the archetype is something we foist on the divine or emanates from it is not something I am in the position to postulate. Clearly, I favor the latter, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing a Pagan blog now, would I?

Yule 2012: Pre-Game Show

Today is the big ritual! We set up the table yesterday, which was an all-day undertaking. Ryan did an AMAZING job, everybody pitched in and created something that is going to be so magical tonight!

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.

Sigrun Pallene- An Introduction

There is always that moment when you start a blog where the cursor flashes ominously from the little white rectangle… ENTER USER NAME… ENTER USER NAME… and you stare vacantly, waiting for a spark of inspiration that will summarize your identity, in 4-20 characters to give a clear picture of who you are and why you have decided to share your thoughts with anyone who wanders by.

Choosing mine was daunting, but eventually the names came to me:

Sigrun: Valkyrie who cursed her brother to wander the woods and live off carrion for the rest of his days after he killed her lover.

Pallene: “A Princess of Pallene (in Thrake, North of Greece) whose father had her wrestle those who sought her hand in marriage. All were defeated and slain until Dionysos came along and won the contest.” – theoi.com

These two mythical women seemed to encompass many aspects of who I am and why I am here. As a Pagan woman, I often find people expect me to be oriented to the Earth Mother. Many a conversation has turned sour for me when I inform other Pagan women that not only am I child-free by choice, I actually rather intensely dislike children and find childbearing rather… unseemly. I have actually be told before that my distaste for reproduction means I can’t possibly be a “real” Pagan, because, of course, all “real” Pagan women are enthralled with the idea of squeezing a fleshy bowling ball out of their blood-smeared nether regions.

Apparently, the tyranny of obligatory fecundity is not just the province of the Abrahamic religions.

I was not born to breed. It simply isn’t in my personal make up. Those of you who are parents and enjoy raising children, more power to you, you have more fortitude and grit than I can muster. I would think the world would commend a woman for choosing to remain childless when she knows her maternal instinct is AWOL, but sadly most people react as if you have told them you kick puppies for a hobby.

I was raised to be a warrior by a mother who probably would have been happier if she had been able to be one herself. She taught me to fight, to swing a bat, how to intimidate a man who threatens you, how to take stock of your surroundings and find the weapons and tools you might need in case of trouble. She taught me to voice my opinion, to fight my own battles, and to suck it up when things went wrong. When most people’s mothers read them “The Pokey Little Puppy” and “Goodnight, Moon” before bed, this is what my mother read me:

Invictus
by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

I shit you not, gentle reader.

Needless to say, moving into adulthood created some serious “alpha female” moments in our single-parent household, and I left home as early and often as possible. Nowadays, my relationship with my mother is relatively healthy, but we have both changed and matured, and it was a long road to get here.

My dad is a very gentle and funny guy. He taught me to love nature, to respect it but not fear it, that a little science is every girl’s best friend.

Both my parents insisted I be able to read before kindergarten. I still can’t thank them enough for that.

As I grew, I had several spiritual revelations that have lead me down the path I am currently on. I will go into those in depth later, but for now it is enough to say that my whole life I have been one of “those” women. The woman who is too loud, too vulgar, too rough, and too pushy. The woman who doesn’t know that men hate it when you beat them at games, that you shouldn’t prattle on about Xhosa healing ceremonies or televised eye surgery when on a date, that guys hate it when you use big words they don’t know. The woman who is too blatant in her sexuality, too immodest in her dress, too casual in her relationships with men. The woman to whom people constantly say things like “Geez, tell us how you REALLY feel!” or “Stop yelling ‘vagina’! You’ll upset the neighbors!”. I have tried to fit in, to make myself more demure and “classy”. I often think that somewhere inside me is an inner Audrey Hepburn, but the big mean fat girl ate her… so here I am.

I am currently a dedicant for the ADF and a practicing priestess for a small grove here on the tiny island in the Northwest I call home. I am married to a Bad Ass Motherfucker, who was the only man I deemed could survive being married to me. He is my rock and my hero, even if he wishes I would stop yelling ‘vagina’ and scaring the neighbors. This blog is called ‘Ravens and Ivy’ because I identify with the ferocity of the Germanic Valkyries and the ecstatic abandon of the Greek Maenads. I consider myself a sort of Pan-Germanic semi-reconstructionist, which if it seems like a ridiculously over the top description, it is. I started this blog because I needed a place to talk about my spiritual journey with a certain level of anonymity and candor. If you read this, great, if not, oh well.

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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