Practical Polytheism

•11/19/2019 • Leave a Comment

This is an excellent series on polytheism called Practical Polytheism written by Bret Devereaux. It mostly focuses on Roman and Hellenic polytheism but occasionally deals with other polytheisms.

Part I: Knowledge

Part II: Practice 

Part III: Polling the Gods

Part IV: Little Gods and Big People.

 

Diet, Attitude, and Orientation

•11/15/2019 • Leave a Comment

Last post dealt a lot with culture and I would like to continue that a bit in a discussion on daily life and how it relates to my polytheism. The first sections are about food and are only my beliefs. I do not wish to tell other people what is healthiest for them. I don’t know what’s healthy for them.

The latter two sections are my advice for life as a polytheist. Maybe it applies to you, maybe it doesn’t. It’s an ideal that I personally try to live up to. Of course, as always, I could be wrong.

 

 

  • Plants are sacred

 

 

I believe it is important to honor the things that nourish us. Nature provides complex food that nourishes us in ways that we do not yet even understand. Food made in factories full of additives, emulsifiers, and preservatives are not as healthy as that which comes from soil and plants. 

 

Though the ultimate origin of many of these processed foods is as a plant, we alter them in order to promote shelf-life and stability. When done in traditional ways such as fermentation and pickling, this can be healthy. With other ways, it can be unhealthy.

 

I believe that a diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and other plant-based food is ideal. So-called “whole foods”. I believe Michael Pollan puts it best when he wrote “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.

 

 As in my last post where I placed an emphasis on “local” things, I also think it’s best to eat what comes from where you are. Of course, that implies that we (as a society) should start growing things locally again.

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  • Animals are sacred

 

 

I am personally a vegetarian. I do not wish to tell you that you should be a vegetarian as everyone has their own health needs. But I do think that the way we handle animals raised for milk, eggs, and dairy in this society is reprehensible. Factory farms, in my opinion, are torture and unethical to the animals and horrible for our environment.

 

I am not opposed to hunting for the purpose of food, particularly when it is done in a way that honors the animal. I am opposed to hunting for sport.

 

I worship a goddess (Brighid) that is especially associated with dairy. However, I am unsure that the dairy in our society taken from tortured cows is worthy of giving as an offering to Her. Raw milk from respected and loved cows? Absolutely. Even pasteurized milk from loved cows is acceptable. In India, a place which views cows to be sacred, there is a tradition of “cruelty-free” milk. I would love to see this become more prevalent in Western society. 

 

If you are a meat-eater, I’m not here to put you down or judge you. Again, people have different dietary needs. I think that we can all work together, though, to promote ethical treatment of animals. Torturing animals for our nourishment dishonors Nature.

 

 

  • Health and Exercise

 

 

Go outside, if you’re able to.

Cultivate a sense of awe and wonder in the natural world.

Learn your local plants and trees. Learn about the local fauna.

Walk out in the woods or in the desert or on the shore. Meditate on the almost infinite sea. Whatever you have near you.

Try to get out to a place where you can really see the stars.

Watch the sun rise. Watch the sun set. Follow the cycles of the moon and/or the stars.

Get out of yourself, your perspective and problems, the media, and the world created by other people. There is a bigger world out there. Connect to it.

 

This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your smartphone, tablet, or laptop any more than it means you should give up reading books because they’re written by people. Just limit it to what is healthiest to you.

 

 

  • Daily Life

 

 

Our society is oriented around the ego. This can prevent a person from knowing the gods. Do what you can to overcome that. It won’t be permanent. The ego will always come back. But try to make it a daily practice through prayer, offerings, and taking your mind away from your Self.

 

Abolishing the Self entirely is an unrealistic goal but try to orient your thoughts and actions toward your particular god or gods. Serve your gods, not your ego. 

 

When you do focus upon your ego, use that attention to make yourself into the best person that you can be. You will never be perfect. That’s not realistic. But according to the values and ethics of your polytheism, there will always be room for improvement. To me, that means being more hospitable. That means being compassionate and kinder, extending Brighid’s flame of hospitality to others. Even when it takes me past my comfort level. 

 

Let your life become a life of prayer and offerings. Purify yourself. If you don’t know what to pray, simply repeat the name of your god or gods while thinking of Them. Give what you have. Even if it’s just water and a candle. A little bit of what you eat is fine. If you have more, give more.

 

Give to the ancestors and Nature spirits, however your polytheistic religion interprets these. 

 

A Screed On Society and Culture

•11/06/2019 • 1 Comment

One area that I’d really like to see the Left do better with is culture.

I think it’s great in affirming inclusivity. Everyone should have equal access to society. I’m an egalitarian at heart and I believe in this. Your race, gender, sex, orientation, creed, ability/disability, whatever, should not bar you from being able to participate in society.

However, the Left has a bad reputation (in particular, atheistic Communism) for destroying culture, order, religion, and everything else in order to ensure equality.

I am a Leftist but emphatically not an atheist, Communist, or Marxist.

There is a lot of talk on the Right on how the Left is destroying culture in the US. I don’t believe this is necessarily so. I don’t believe that Christians being expected not to treat LGBTIQ people like shit is a destruction of culture. There’s nothing inherent about Christianity, even the most conservative interpretations, that says you must treat queer folks as pariahs. That’s a political choice.

I feel like our diversity is our strength. It is not the Left that is causing us to lose culture. If anything, it is our society itself. We often don’t cook our own meals. Food is culture. We sit and listen to radio, watch TV, or read websites, which insulates us from our neighbors. This is a form of separating ourselves from culture. And I’m guilty of it as well.

I share the critiques of modernism that many people on the far right have. I agree with Radical Traditionalists on many issues, just disagree strongly on the emphasis on ethnic homogeneity and on traditional gender roles. (Also, many of them are super racist…which I just have no tolerance for.)

I feel that radio, television, and the Internet have worked to destroy local culture. On the one hand, the Internet has been a savior for people like me who didn’t fit in locally and found my tribe, so to speak, online. I found other intersex people. I found Pagans. I found polytheists, and much more online. But this has come at a cost to society to a certain extent.

There’s often talk from some areas in the country (particularly anywhere not on the coasts) that they don’t see people like themselves represented on TV or movies. I absolutely agree. But now that everyone has a camera on their smartphone and has the ability to upload video….why don’t we have more local content? I think every area should have their own TV equipment and should create local content to help create culture.

Where I live in Boston is fairly overrepresented in popular culture, with plenty of movies and TV shows depicting life here. But other people have never experienced that.

We desperately need more local culture, everywhere.

Another issue that contributed to massive erosion of local cultures has been the ability to easily escape your home. 150 years ago, most people rarely left where they lived. Perhaps they were able to travel by train to some extent. But now many people view their homes as only a place to reside in between shifts. There’s very little of a sense of community. Democracy cannot work, in my opinion, without community.

People no longer believe in town meetings, in community meetings and government, local issues, but only vote for the big elections. President. Governor. Senators, Representatives. And again, I’m guilty of this as well. But it’s wrong.

Now I think cars and trucks have been a godssend to some, but it’s also led to the erosion of once vital downtowns. What if you mostly had to work in the town that you lived in? What if we couldn’t get clothes from China but HAD to buy locally? What if there was no way large chains like Walmart could function?

We’ve built entire sections of our country on the access of cars, so much that many places are simply not walkable. You need to have a car in order to find work, to go to the store.

I think it’s vital that people who need it have access to vehicles, such as the disabled or elderly who simply cannot walk.

Living in a city, we have public transportation…and I gave up my car in order to live here. What if everywhere was walkable? What if we didn’t live our lives around our jobs?

People no longer spend their winters around the hearth telling stories. We salt the fuck our streets to prevent ice which seeps into the water table. Why? So we can go to work? Is that really worth it if the work is non-essential?

I don’t have solutions. These are just thoughts. I feel like our modern society is sick and diseased. Some people want to blame it all on gay people or minorities or feminism (i.e., the equality of women). I strongly disagree with these.

We can have feminism and families. We can have gay people and families. We can have many ethnicities and still have families and cultures. But what we have is something unholy and unhealthy and it’s making us feel…not-whole.

It’s not because of democracy or the lack of monarchs. It’s not due to to a lack of nationalism. Think smaller. Much smaller. It’s the lack of community. It’s the placing of productivity and money over values. As a Leftist, I’m inclined to blame capitalism. But it’s not just capitalism. It’s industrialism. It’s globalism. It’s also a lack of values in the personal and community context.

You don’t need ethnic homogeneity if you have shared values.

 

 

#PPP-Brighid

•11/04/2019 • Leave a Comment

On this, an evening where I am flametending, I felt it appropriate to publish the final of the playlists I’ve been working on: Brighid.

This is the one I started working on first and it’s to the deity that I am closest with.

Google Play Music:

https://play.google.com/music/playlist/AMaBXynEx3iwPIm1EvVRpZzYHcWFYeF-iSuovk4Sbmq3iBmJz49FaiGOOoJ_oxBWPi1sFtjnz5ms7FQFR_3JSr55-Ft0OnfjZQ%3D%3D

Spotify:

 

Here’s a Google Play Music list of all of the songs that I chose these from. As always, if you find songs that you prefer, please feel to make your own playlist that brings you closer to Her.

There are slight differences between the GPM version and the Spotify version, namely due to one song that I was using from my personal collection. Spotify doesn’t let you upload your own.

I’m happy that I was able to find songs involving all three Gaelic languages: Gaeilge (Irish), Gaidhlig (Scottish), and Gaelg (Manx).

Enjoy! And may Brighid bless you…

The Future of Samhain

•10/31/2019 • Leave a Comment

As I get ready to celebrate my first ancestor-focused celebration of Samhain, it makes me desire to see this become a cultural movement in our society, both within and without a polytheistic context.

I want ancestor reverence and Day of the Dead altars to become a thing in our culture. (Though without culturally appropriating Mexican culture, if at all possible.)

I want to see this be a time where kids can dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat and people can get into spooky shit, but also…we focus on those who have loved us and have passed.

Without seeing a return to Catholicism, I want All Saints Day (where we remember and honor those people who served the gods…or even who inspired us in some way) and All Souls Day (where we honor our ancestors and loved ones)…to be a regular yearly celebration.

I would prefer to have the focus on this than on factory-made costumes and decorations and mass-market candy made with chocolate collected by slave labor.

Make Samhain holy again!

It can still be spooky and weird and creepy. But bring the sacredness back to it! Offer something to your departed loved ones. Look at old family albums. Take some time to remember them.

Everyone has loved someone who has since passed. Give them some water. Speak to them from your heart. Create cultus.

PPP-The Morrigan

•10/31/2019 • Leave a Comment

Just in time for Samhain…

The next playlist in the Polytheist Playlist Project:

The Morrigan

Spotify:

 

 

Google Play Music:

https://play.google.com/music/playlist/AMaBXynU1rbBQA0_-ludJhzdspvKxrnVFczoe2DCo4GizcRFhWPrNYnZNMWw6dXTjz0V4bZqghcpn7ljADZs5QbRRTWxkH5LDg%3D%3D

 

There’s a difference between the two.

Google Play Music allows you to upload your own music library, so I was able to use tracks from Morpheus Ravenna’s “Poetry of the Morrigan” album which I highly recommend.

In fact, that in and of itself could be a devotional album. (Go buy it! It’s a great companion to Morpheus’ excellent book “The Book of the Great Queen”.)

So I was able to use tracks from that for this project.

This is the Google Play Music version of all of the tracks I was working with. Please feel free to go through them and create your own playlist or just find what you like.

https://play.google.com/music/playlist/AMaBXynjSst1qQvrJhBbNbi0N__Y7R8dWSvyIFNSGxfDx3U3MK-MKy13MDojHSaqofsV06pfN8CDzxlQNRyM7UEsix3jGhAlDw%3D%3D

 

As with the Manannan playlist, I chose tracks that I felt helped to bring me closer to the deity in question. The songs had to be written about the specific deity or deities. So I did not use songs just about ravens or crows or sovereignty or battle. These are specifically about the deities known as The Morrigan.

 

It’s my sincere wish that you and yours have a sacred Samhain!

Next playlist will be Brighid!

Day of the Dead

•10/29/2019 • Leave a Comment

As of this weekend, I have set up my first Day of the Dead/Samhain/All Souls’ Day ancestor altar.

I do this, because in my religion, this should be a time of year where we think of our Beloved Dead. Whether they’re family, friends, someone who influenced us or inspired us.

However, I would be absolutely disingenuous to say that this is not and has not been influenced by the very popular Mexican tradition of Dia de Muertos.

While it is a theory that Samhain had something to do with ancestors and the dead among the ancient Gaels, we do not have any evidence on this in the lore or elsewhere.

We know Samhain was a major holiday. It is said that the separation between this world and the Otherworld is at its thinnest at this time. It is a common belief among modern Pagans and polytheists that this allows for the dead (as well as any other spirits) to visit this world.

What does Mexico and Ireland have in common that these very distant countries celebrate their Day of the Dead at the same time of year? Catholicism.

Both countries (and many other Catholic majority countries) celebrate All Souls’ Day.

That said, there are no longer strong ancestor reverence/worship activities in Ireland outside of maybe visiting the graves of loved ones. There are in Mexico. They’re getting popular among white Americans as well.

Particularly since the popular Pixar film “Coco” a few years ago (which is so good!), there’s been a creeping of sugar skull, La Catrina, and Dia de Muertos imagery into American popular culture around Halloween time.

I’m not Mexican, can I still celebrate it?

I believe so, provided that my celebration does not mostly riff off of Mexican tradition. Because it comes from Catholicism (as well as indigenous Mexican peoples but their ancestor festival was moved to the end of October/beginning of November for the Catholic celebration), and while I am no longer Catholic, Catholicism *is* my culture.

There is, or was, a celebration of All Saints and/or All Souls Day in both my Irish and Southern Italian ancestors.

As such, I feel I am not stepping on any boundaries celebrating my ancestors at this time of year provided it isn’t culturally appropriative of Mexican cultural celebrations.

As much as I loved Halloween as a kid, I enjoy bringing a more adult-oriented solemnity to a holiday that’s been pretty much overrun by commercialized costumes and candy. I can still give out candy to kids that are trick-or-treating and then, afterwards, give candy and offerings to my beloved ancestors.

Part of our responsibility as the first generations of new polytheistic religions is to create traditions to pass down. Ancestor reverence, to me, should be a key part of our religions.

It reminds us where we came from….and where we someday will be ourselves.