More on Dionysus, wine, Sufism

•08/13/2020 • Leave a Comment

Looking more into the Sufi/Dionysos connection.

The Orphic tradition that I’m learning teaches that wine is the Aithir of Zefs (Zeus) and also the blood of Dionysos. 

This piece talks a little about the connection between Sufism, wine, and Dionysus.

Wikipedia’s entry on the Dionysian Mysteries

“Assuming the Dionysus cult arrived in Greece with the importation of wine, it probably first emerged about 6000 BC in one of two places—the Zagros Mountains and borderlands of Mesopotamia and Persia (with a rich wine culture via Asia Minor), or from wild vines on the mountain slopes of Libya and other regions in North Africa. The latter provided wine to ancient Egypt wine from about 2500 BC, and was home to ecstatic rites involving animal possession—notably the goat and panther men of the Aissaoua Sufi cult of Morocco (although this cult may have been influenced by the Dionysian one).”

It’s a tenuous connection, for sure. 

Here is an album of an Aissaoua Sufi ritual:

Stain your prayer rugs with wine…

•08/05/2020 • Leave a Comment

At our most recent session, my instructor in Orphismos read me some Sufi poetry about wine. 

Wine is, of course, an important spiritual symbol in both Sufism and in this tradition of Orphismos. In his website, Kallimakhos refers to wine as a symbol for the aithir of Zefs (Zeus) that Dionysos gives

The connection with Sufism resonates strongly with me. I’ve had an interest in it going back at least 20 years. I think my first introduction was either a reference in Robert Anton Wilson’s “Cosmic Trigger” or the liner notes of Loreena McKennitt’s “The Mask and Mirror” album

This spurred me on to pick up books on the subject by Idries Shah (who was a friend and associate of Gerald Gardner, creator of Wicca). Of course, right around the time I was beginning to learn about Sufism, 9/11 happened and there was a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment which I wanted nothing to do with. 

For a time, I fancied myself a Pagan version of a Sufi with my Beloved being the Goddess. I showed up to a Pagan gathering wearing a white dashiki and carrying a jug of Carlo Rossi Paisano wine. I wrote bad Sufi devotional poetry. In retrospect, I was a clown and a mockery. 

As I was also studying and practicing chaos magic at the time, I got into the work of Hakim Bey/Peter Lamborn Wilson. Wilson’s loosely self-organized ‘group’ of occultist libertine Sufis, the Moorish Orthodox Church, appealed greatly to me and I considered myself among them for a time. At least, until I found out how serious Bey was about being a pedophile. This was something I wrote at the time:

https://moorishorthodox.wordpress.com/serpent/ 

I cringe inwardly when I read it…

(For the record, though I was a Thelemite and a chaos magician at the time, I am no longer. I denounce Crowley’s influence as much as I do Bey’s.)

But I enjoyed Bey/Wilson’s writing on Islam. He had studied Sufism in Iran under Henri Corbin and Nasr before the Ayatollah’s Islamic Revolution. His works focused on things like the Assassins, Sufism, hashish smoking and other extreme or heretical forms or expressions of Islam. (Like his interest in child-raping, I later found out.) Perhaps it was orientalist of me but as the country was turning against Islam, I was becoming intrigued by it. Or at least my romanticized conception of it.

An ex-girlfriend bought me a Muslim prayer rug which I hung in my apartment for years. I read Rumi, Hafez, Fakruddin Iraqi, Ibn Arabi, and ‘Attar. I’m not sure I understood it fully, nor do I understand it now to be honest. But I figured if I kept reading books on the subject, I would get it. 

I had no belief in the Qu’ran or the prophethood of Muhammad. I was a hipster Sufi. Like many in Moorish Orthodoxy, I was more interested in sex and drugs than in actual religion. How could I give up my ego when it was the thing that mattered most to me?  

Things changed for me when I had to face my own mortality. As I’ve written about before, I was deathly ill in 2010. This caused me to seriously rethink my priorities, my orientations, and my life.

It wasn’t until I moved to Boston that I was able to actually engage with Sufism. There’s a House of Sufism here, a branch of the Nimatullahi Sufis. I went once or twice and found it slightly dull but I also knew by then that I was not a real Muslim so that it was not for me.

Yet, something in me yearned for that connection to the Divine. I think my sense of self was in the way. I was too caught up in my own bullshit to ever really progress along the path. 

I hope that is no longer the case. 

Anyway, that was a very long digression to say how much the reference to wine in Sufism and Orphismos resonates with me and why. I long to be “on the path’. I know now how much of my problem is my ego and I wish to overcome it. I am still a clown, of course. Even unintentionally. But I am at least aware now of my clowniness. 

May I someday drink of the Bacchic wine of Zeus!

Orphism II

•07/28/2020 • Leave a Comment

It’s taken me years to reach this point. If it’s the point I hope to be at.

As a Pagan, I starved for something larger than myself. I eventually realized that my ego was the problem keeping me away from knowing the gods. But the Paganisms I followed had no method for overcoming the ego. I studied Hinduism and the Hindus had solutions but I needed a guru to help me navigate through Hinduism, Hindu customs, worship. There’s only so much you can learn online. Still I gave generous offerings and worship to the gods. I did pujas and japa nearly every day. I listened to bhajans and kirtans on my way to and from work. 

But something in me felt that it was too culturally different. Yes, we had Hindu temples in America but they were mostly Indian cultural centers in addition to being for worship. No one tells you what to do. No one holds your hand, which is what I needed. 

You just follow other people and hope not to offend others. I only felt comfortable in one Hindu temple, a Kali temple. Because it was open to all. Even then, I did not know much of what I was doing. I wanted a guru. In the sense of a teacher and guide. The right guru. I did not find one.

I tried Catholicism, which was the culture I was born into, but I knew I didn’t believe in their god. I did not worship their Jesus. But it was a culture I didn’t have to worry about appropriating. I prayed rosaries and novenas to Mary and some saints. My family was Catholic. Perhaps it was more for my ancestors than me. But I loved how Catholicism was still an active source of devotion for many others. I loved the prayer and devotion. I loved that there were two Catholic television stations here. Catholic radio. Every day, there was a saint to focus on. Everywhere you went, there were chapels to pray in. I loved that sort of accessibility to something greater than one’s self. I longed for something like that but for polytheism. For my type of polytheism. 

Orphism keeps the polytheism I already believed in. The gods are many. It keeps the Hellenic gods that I grew up loving from the myths. But the gods are good. There is a focus on overcoming ego, on becoming a better person. There are offerings given, but they are always accepted.  As a headblind polytheist who only got messages from the gods via diviners, this comforts me. I do not have to worry if my offering was accepted or not.

And yet I hesitate because I do not want this to be yet another thing I fully commit myself to for months and then walk away from, distracted, like the infant Zagreus with the Toys.

My instruction is in a tradition that is, in part, secret. I will not discuss anything I am trusted to keep secret and sacred. I have kept my oaths as an OTO initiate and what little training I have received in Gardnerian Wicca. Once I am taught, I will be silent and will not write of anything entrusted to me.

That said, I am obsessed with this tradition and have been exhaustively researching its labyrinthine website reading and re-reading, looking for more information. 

What I can say, based on what is publicly available, is that, at first impression, it seems like some sort of halfway point between Hellenic Polytheism and Early Christianity. 

We are born in a state of ‘sin’ (sort of), out of the ashes of the Titans. Yet, there is that of the Divine within us. We have a savior figure (Dionysus). I do not know full details on worship but from the website it seems that a portion of offerings given are kept as some sort of partaking of sacrament. There’s an emphasis on compassion, eros, and developing virtue. There is an emphasis on the Olympians, in particular Zeus.

We are born again and again until we, through our actions are released. Ektheosis. Becoming a god from being a human being.“Deification of the Soul” is mentioned a bit in the site but I’m unclear on how that comes about short of developing “arete”, that is…virtue.

I know there are elements of the Zodiac, Natural Law, and Hellenic philosophy (esp. Socrates and Plato) in it. 

Since it’s Orphic, the Orphic Hymns play a significant part in ritual. From the site, it seems holding a “Hestia Candle” during ritual is part of it, symbolic of the torch carried during the Mysteries. I have not been told how to worship. All I have been told is literally what’s on the website. I’m still doing my regular Hellenic worship.

All in all, I’m finding possibility here. I want to develop virtue. I want to overcome my ego but in a way that already affirms the polytheistic truth that I already know in my heart.

This specific tradition of Orphism seems like the right way for me.

Orphism I

•07/13/2020 • 3 Comments

I first started reading into Orphism some years back when learning about the Starry Bull Tradition. 

Recently, I’ve been revisiting it through the website Hellenic Gods 

 ( http://www.hellenicgods.org/) and will be pursuing this path.

So, what is Orphism?

It’s a collection of teachings that is claimed originates from the famed poet/musician, Orpheus. It was a mystical tradition. Unlike a lot of Hellenism, its focus is on the soul and what happens after you die.

The main teaching is this: Zeus seduced Persephone. She gave birth to Zagreus. Zeus declared Zagreus to be the next ruler of Gods and Humanity. The Titans got jealous and conspired with Hera to kill the infant. They distracted the infant Zagreus with toys then murdered, roasted, and ate Zagreus. Zeus finds out about this as they are eating his child and slays the Titans with thunderbolts. 

The heart is saved and later (through the traditional myths with Semele) becomes Dionysus.

There’s a sort of ‘original sin’ mentality involved as from the ashes of the Titans come humanity. However, mixed in with that is Dionysus who is the Savior. 

Through worship, meditation, moral behavior (including vegetarianism), and initiation, a person can become ‘saved’ so that when they die, they do not get reincarnated or go to the regular section of the Underworld. Instead, they say certain pass-phrases and drink from the Waters of Memory and become gods. Being ‘saved’ by Dionysus.

It reads to me almost like a sort of proto-Christianity. It makes me wonder how much early Christianity borrowed from it. Indeed, much of early Christianity was influenced already by Greek philosophy and Neo-Platonism. Perhaps Orphism was an influence as well.

Weirdly enough, that’s sort of its appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a polytheist and have been. But I *like* the idea of a path which stresses morality. My problem with Christianity was always that I didn’t believe that Jesus was the only Son of God. I liked his moral teachings even if I disagreed with his God. Orphism, in my opinion…seems like a sort of place where Hellenism meets with traditional Christianities (Orthodoxy and Catholicism). That’s only my particular read on it. It is absolutely NOT Christianity. It is a form of Hellenism. You worship the gods, not One god. 

I want to be a better and more moral person. It’s something that appealed to me in both Hinduism and Catholicism. But I’m neither a Hindu nor a Catholic. I’m a polytheist. As such, this strain of Orphism very much intrigues me.

Now the particular group I’m pursuing has its idiosyncrasies. For example, witchcraft, divination, magic, and the occult and such are prohibited. I’m just fine with that. I don’t do these things anyway and I prefer being in groups where there isn’t a lot (or any) of that. (Except divination, which I’m OK with but don’t do personally.)

Basically, I want a focus on religion. The worship of the gods, devotion, prayer, offerings, etc. Granted, I can have that without joining a group or even becoming Orphic. I can be Hellenic and be pious. However, as someone headblind to the presence of the gods, I do not receive messages or feedback. This may sound insane to some people, but I want to be told what to do and how to do it by someone who knows more than I do. I don’t want it to be my decision because that increases my own ego and ego, I believe, is at least in part something that separates me from knowing the gods.

It may not be the right fit but it’s something I want to try and to understand.

On Accessibility in Modern Polytheisms

•06/30/2020 • 4 Comments

Frequently, I’ve been seeing online descriptions of modern polytheistic religions, especially recon polytheisms, as “the religion with homework” or a similar description marking the religion as requiring a great deal of research and/or other reading.

This is a necessary step in reconstructing ancient polytheisms. In order to know what the ancients did, how they did it, and/or why, we must turn to well-researched books on ancient history. 

That said, I think there’s a sort of elitism in this. Historically speaking, the vast majority of people that practiced polytheistic religions in ancient times were illiterate. 

As our religions grow and develop, do we have an obligation to take that research and turn them into workable religions that a layperson can understand? I believe so. 

For an example, look at Wicca. One of the many reasons why it is so popular is that the majority of books on the subject are dumbed down for the masses. It’s accessible. Someone like a Scott Cunningham or Silver RavenWolf took the basic teachings of Wicca and distilled them (though some may argue ‘watered them down’) into something that was mass marketable. As a result, Wicca has grown and become very popular.  

Of course, there is certainly room for technical and complex philosophical or historical discussions. We should continue to have them. 

There are many people out there who cannot understand philosophy or technical discussions. There are many people who hear “archaeology” and think the religion is not for them. 

While there should always be room for the academic types, I want our religions to be accessible to all. How can we make our polytheisms more accessible to the layperson? 

We need all sorts of people in our religions. While our emphasis should not be on proselytization. We should also find ways to make our religions simple and comprehensible to those without a college education.

The Occult Belongs On The Fringe

•06/24/2020 • 4 Comments

Immanent_Metalepsis wrote in a recent Twitter thread: 

 

“It is becoming clear to me that the “new polytheists” are part of a sociological-historical phenomenon reasonably distinct from occult revival (Renaissance or Victorian hermetism), völkisch romanticism (ariosophy, theodism) or neopaganism (wicca, thelema).

There is a rupture between the “new polytheists” with these movements on both a ritual and theological-philosophical level.

In the ritual case there is a strongly devotional posture, which understands the Deity as a divine person, and consequently we have a theology that refuses to carry out a kind of metaphysical undermining of that divine personality. 

There is also another way of dealing with one’s religious identity. The “new polytheists” tend to prefer to dialogue with native, African or Eastern non-Christian traditions than with the Western esoteric tradition.  

I also see the absence of several tropes that are usually present in the other movements mentioned. There are no “lost civilizations”, apocalyptic prophecies, romanticized past or future, mysterious lineages and all sorts of fantastic narratives.

The “supernatural” of the new polytheists is the devotional experience with the Deity.”

 

As someone who has been writing about devotion in polytheism for a while, this resonated with me greatly. Particularly as someone who practiced and studied Shakta Hinduism.. 

Our new polytheisms should define themselves away from occultism and magic, except where these things are a part of ancient polytheisms. (For example, Kemeticism or Greco-Egyptian neoplatonism.)

It’s not that I don’t want them to exist but rather that occultism belongs at the fringe, at the edge of acceptable behavior, rather than the norm. I think this does both a service to conventional god-oriented polytheisms where the focus is mostly on giving offerings and performing worship as well as the more occult-influenced branches of our religion as it adds a transgressive element to what they do. (Which, in turn, enhances the experience.) Witches have more power when they are considered dangerous and not just your loopy Aunt Moonbeam who burns sage, plays with crystals, and has a wombyn’s moon drum circle once a month.

It’s not that witchcraft does not belong at all, full stop, in modern polytheism. My issue is more that witchcraft (in particular, the ahistorical Wicca and its derivations) have become the norm with those of us looking to practice an actual religion that is focused upon the gods, not the self, focused upon offerings, devotion, morality, and piety…is left out to the fringe and sometimes even viewed as aberrant. 

I want to see a place for our religions to flourish as religions in this time and this place.

Connection

•06/19/2020 • Leave a Comment

There is a lot going on right now.

We are still in the midst of a pandemic yet, in many places, people are being pressured to return to work or get things back to normal.

There are massive protests around the country supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Police departments throughout the US and governments throughout the world are seeing people rise up in anger against oppression and violence. There has been the destruction of monuments and statues representing slavery, the Confederacy, and other forms of white supremacy.

I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t struggled through some of this. Especially having to work in the middle of the pandemic. Though my industry (hospitality) has suffered immensely through the COVID-19 shutdowns, my job has (thankfully) been stable.

This is good because it’s provided me with a regular income but unfortunate in that as things are opening up around here, I am at greater risk to exposure. Given my various health conditions, coming down with COVID-19 would likely be a death sentence for me.

But, be that as it may…my main concern right now is with connection. Connection to friends, to family, to the gods, but..also crucially..to Nature. I feel as though this was an entirely lost Spring season for me. I didn’t go outside very much due to the pandemic.

During the week, I work 10 hour days, so going out is difficult. Especially as I’m sleeping most of the day. On weekends, my partner and I have gone out for walks around the neighborhood but (other than food shopping) we’ve been loath to go too much further. It’s the city, after all. We have no car. We rely on walking and public transportation.

Public transportation can be risky. Though I take it back and forth to work, there are still many people not taking the pandemic seriously and are either not wearing a mask over their face and nose…or wearing it incorrectly.

In the past, I have celebrated the end of Winter and advent of Spring by heading to Nature. Parks. Hiking or walking trails. Or even just exploring cities and local towns. There are charming New Englandy cities along the water with historic buildings and cool little shops.

I have not been able to do any of that since I’m without a car and renting a vehicle (as I have been doing) is risky. Not to mention, most of the little cafes, restaurants or shops that I would go to are closed. The hiking trails and parks are full of people.

When the weather’s hot, I love taking a ferry out over the water…to Salem, to Hull, to Hingham, to P-town. Anywhere. I just love being out over the water. That’s not an option. The ferries have all been shut down.

As such, I’ve been feeling disconnected. Granted, I work the overnights. So I don’t generally get to spend a lot of time outside anyway. I take Vitamin D in order to prevent deficiencies. But I’m afraid Vitamin D doesn’t cure the longing in my soul for being around Nature. Or to ramble.

I love having a car for a day and just driving with the windows down, playing some music that I love. Exploring.

So how have I been connecting?

  • I redid my shrine. There are no icons or images of the gods. Just an offering bowl, an oil lamp, a khernips bowl, and an incense censer. I’ve been offering once a week.
  • I’ve been listening to programming that reminds me of Nature. Fair Folk Podcast by Danica Boyce is one that I’ve been enjoying especially lately. She writes about folk traditions of Europe (especially music/vocal) but she is not “folkish”.
  • I’ve been trying to find time to sit upon my porch. We moved at the beginning of the year. Our new place has a porch facing the backyard. We got some furniture for it and we’re trying to go out and enjoy it when we can.
  • Like many during the shelter-in-place, I’ve been embracing sourdough culture. I used to be a bit of a fermentation geek before. I’ve started back up with sourdough and making sauerkraut. Making your own bread from sourdough is a form of interacting with Nature. Fermentation, after all, is a form of husbandry of bacteria.
  • Trying to limit my online time over the weekend so that I don’t spend my entire weekend in front of a screen. (I do that enough at work.)
  • When I am watching something, I like uplifting programming. I’m fond of animated shows. The Netflix version of She-Ra, Steven Universe. These are hopeful and empowering. I also like Japanese anime like Miyazaki for their emphasis on Nature, food, and beautiful animation. Hilda is another children’s show on Netflix that I really enjoy. She’s a little British girl living in a fantasy world much like our own but with different wildlife. Also, there are trolls, giants, little people, house spirits, and all sorts of beings from Scandinavian folklore that she encounters.

Summer is here. The solstice is this weekend.

May your gods, ancestors, and spirits bless you. And may you be generous towards them!

 

Black Lives Matter

•06/04/2020 • Leave a Comment

In light of the recent political events in the USA, I feel it necessary to affirm my stance on this.

This past weekend, the police went crazy on mostly non-violent protesters. We saw dozens of videos of police attacking media, attacking protesters, and causing mayhem.

All of this was due to an initially peaceful movement to get police to stop murdering black people.

While it’s horrible that some small mom-and-pop businesses were destroyed, the murdering of black people by police HAS GOT TO STOP.

For all of those complaining that protesters got destructive, let me remind you that it took many years of peaceful protests to no avail before this happened. When Kaepernick took a knee to protest police murdering black people, people complained and he ended up losing his career.

Nothing that has been done by protesters justifies the excessive violence over the weekend, the quasi-martial law imposed upon some cities, or the violence that has gone on for years.

Do not blame “Antifa” or “anarchists” or “Soros” (lol!). Blame the acts of the individual police officers that brought us to this point and the police organizations around the country that failed to hold murderous violent offenders working for their organizations responsible for their crimes.

This isn’t a conspiracy. People were not paid to protest. People are fucking angry that black people keep being murdered.

Oh, it’s always happened…but we have it on video now.

If you care more about the property damage than about the taking of lives, you might want to rethink your prejudices.

I will no longer consider those in my community to be allies or friends if they continue to side with the police after all that has gone on. If you think the police represent law and order to you still..ask yourself how black people feel. And why they have long been suspicious of the same police officers we have viewed as neighbors or helpers.

I would sincerely like for all cops not to be bastards but I’m afraid the institution is broken. Police forces have turned into paramilitary forces with riot gear and military-grade heavy ammunition.

Something more has to be done to reform policing throughout the country.

May the gods promote Justice and protect those who cannot depend upon the police for safety and protection.

R.M. McGrath

-sacredblasphemies-

Spiritual Lack of Direction

•05/30/2020 • 1 Comment

After I ended things amicably with my Marian devotions, I have felt a desire to explore Hellenism again.

 

A little bit of background:

 

As a kid, I had D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and loved it. Then “Heroes and Monsters of Greek Myth” by Evslin, Evslin, and Hoopes.

As a teen, I borrowed “Greek Mythology for Everyone” by Donald Richardson (also known as “Great Zeus and all His Children”) from my high school library. It was long before the Internet, so I couldn’t find a copy. I, um, liberated it from the library.

I loved these books. Devoured them. When I first heard of Modern Neo-Paganism, there was no Hellenismos or anything Greek-related. It was 1993 and there was only stuff on Wicca for the most part. So I studied that. The closest there was to Hellenism was reading about the different groups in “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler which featured Feraferia which was influenced by Hellenic ideas of Kore-worship.

Once the polytheist movement came about about 10-15 years ago, I got into Hellenism. Had a devotional relationship with Aphrodite who was a sort of mother figure to me. After several months of worship, things ended amicably.

I didn’t stay in Hellenism. I explored other things.

One year, at PantheaCon…I wandered into a hospitality suite hosted by a Hellenic group. I don’t recall which one. I told the priestess that AFAIK there was no Hellenic community in my area. The priestess there charged me with building Hellenic community. I didn’t listen as she sort of did it without my consent and I felt uncomfortable with that. Additionally, I’m no authority on Hellenism and don’t feel comfortable organizing anything IRL. Just private worship.

So I stopped doing Hellenism for a while until I felt a goddess for whom I’d had no experience with pulling me a bit in Her direction: Hekate. 

 

As always, I’m uncomfortable with dropping a religion (even if things ended amicably) and just picking up another. Is this my own ego? Is this different deities pulling me in different directions? Is it just internal restlessness and/or lack of attention/discipline? I cannot say. Without any sort of external structure or discipline or authority, I flounder. (Painful as it is for someone marginally anarchist to admit.) 

 

Do I just go and buy a full set of statues of the Olympian Gods along with others like Hekate and Kybele that mean something to me, set up a shrine with the gods and a bowl of khernips, knowing that I may end up worshiping passionately for 2-3…maybe even 6-9 months, only to eventually move on to something else when I do not get any response? So then, what? I practice Hinduism again? Or folk Catholicism? Or Brighidine worship? Or GaelPol?

 

It’s not easy for me to admit this. I know that imposter syndrome is common among many but I wrestle with this aspect of my faith. It makes me feel like a bad polytheist. 

 

In Catholicism, there’s a thing called “spiritual direction” where there is someone trained in that religion who helps you in your worship and prayer. I have a friend who is a Catholic spiritual director. She leads retreats and programs in Ignatian spirituality (based on The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius). 

 

I often wish there was such a thing in polytheistic religions. I feel as if I could use it. When I ask the gods, I get no response.

Polytheist Playlist Project

•05/19/2020 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been working on and off on this project. It started off when I was actively worshipping Gaelic deities and wanted to create playlists devoted purely to specific Gaelic gods. (Brighid, Manannan, An Morrighan).

I’ve since been working on it a little more. Instead of specific deities, I’ve been working on playlists of just pantheons. (Hellenic Polytheism, Heathenry, Gaelic Polytheism)

I find this is useful if only because some deities do not have an entire playlist of songs but only 1-3 usable songs. I tried making a playlist just for An Dagda a few months back and found that there really weren’t enough songs for him. Or Lugh. But the few songs I had fit perfectly in a GaelPol playlist.

I’m also including songs about the holidays. For example, the GaelPol playlist will have songs about Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh, and Samhain.

 

Now I say “usable” because I have certain criteria.

I’m working on a whole list of classification of polytheist songs which may or may not ever see the light of day. But for the purposes of the playlist project, the songs involved must be the following:

About the deity itself and not just thematically associated with Them. For example, for Aphrodite, the song HAS to mention Aphrodite or be undeniably about Her. Not just vaguely about love or desire. There are plenty of devotional polytheist playlists where the devotee takes regular music that reminds them of their particular deity. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just not what this project is aiming to do.

The song must be theologically appropriate and not involve modern Neo-Pagan interpretations such as Wicca. I had to omit a few songs about deities on my earlier playlists because there were songs about Brighid that referred to Her as “Maiden/Mother/Crone”. Same with The Morrigan. Yes, these are triple goddesses. But “Maiden/Mother/Crone” is a modern Wiccan invention that comes from Robert Graves. Anything having to do with pentagrams or spiral dances tying Bealtaine to maypoles is out.  Anything to do with circle-casting or calling the quarters was out.

The best materials are ancient hymns (which we see from reproductions of ancient Hellenic music). A lower tier would be modern songs using ancient theological ideas. For example, Daemonia Nymphe’s “Hymn to Bacchus” is straight up a musical version of the Orphic Hymn of Bacchus. Likewise, Layne Redmond’s “The Call” is a litany of epithets in Greek of Aphrodite. These are modern creations but firmly based in the ancient Hellenic religion. Ideal for modern day Hellenic polytheism.

Another example of songs like this are “Brighid’s Kiss” by La Lugh which includes a rendition of the traditional Irish song “Gabhaim Molta Brighde” with a modern litany of some of Her attributes. The Moors’ song “Blessing and Descent of Goddess Bridget” is another excellent example of this.

A lesser-tier might be Dead Can Dance’s recent album “Dionysus” which is surely inspired by the god and His worship but not based on any ancient liturgy.

I am less knowledgeable about Heathen music, having never been a Heathen. I have added entire albums by groups like Wardruna. Sequentia’s “Edda”, Sowulo’s “Grima”.

I’ve added albums by Kulgrinda to “Romuva/Lithuanian polytheism” but am also way out of my depth there. I know the Kalevala is, in part a relatively modern construction but I’ve also added versions of it to a “Finnish polytheism” playlist.

Many of these are in languages I do not speak and I’m wholly unfamiliar with the deities. I just like to create resources for other polytheists.  Even if they are religions I am unfamiliar with, it is work for the gods.

I remember being a young Pagan in the early 90s. I wish there had been such a thing as this. As it was, I was lucky to find a Lady Isadora, Gypsy, or MotherTongue cassette tape. That was about as Pagan as it got. Oh, and once my college roommate brought home a CD of Ancient Greek music that I borrowed. De Organopoulos, I think?

But through the Internet, we have entire libraries of recorded music at our fingertips… Let’s do something for the polytheists that come after us.

When will I make these public? Not sure yet. When I feel they’re ready. I’m working on both Spotify and Google Play Music. GPM is the one I have a subscription to. Though Spotify is much more common. I like GPM because I can upload my personal collection to these. (Which is helpful for more obscure albums that are not on these services.)