And now, I mourn

Four days, I will fast, wear rags, and maintain minimal human contact.

One of my cats has died.

On Monday, I shall resume bathing and clean the apartment, as is tradition.


Solstice / Boeotian New Year Shopping Guide!

So, in response to The Wild Hunt’s Yule/Solstice Shopping Guide, I figured I’d make up one of my own for Polytheists! If you can think of anything I should add, leave a comment or send me a message via the Contact form. I’m giving preferential treatment to COMMUNITY ARTISTS, WRITERS, AND CRAFTSPERSONS! Mainstreamed, Llewellyn stuff and big-studio films get enough exposure, so here we go!

Non-Fiction Books:

Did you know that Sannion put out some new books, this year? Heart of the Labyrinth and Thunderstruck With Wine, both promise to be great for the Dionysian in your life, and if you haven’t, already, check out his other books, too!

Sanngetall Press has plenty of excellent works to choose from, including this year’s On Divination, Honouring the Ancestors, and Devotional Polytheism.

For those more academic and theology-minded, I’d also recommend Edward Butler’s Essays on the Metaphysics of Polytheism in Proclus , which was out this April. Also check out Essays on a Polytheistic Philosophy of Religion, which was out this May.

…and, of course, PSVL’s Red Lotus Library is full of great options, as well, including Ephesia Grammata: Ancient History and Modern Practice from earlier this year.

Of course, if pissing off the pagan mainstream and polytheist tea-baggers is high on the priorities of you and your loved ones, Rhyd Wildermuth’s Your Face Is a Forest is out!

And hey! It’s been a while since I pitched the New Boeotian calendar! (also: to anyone who may have noticed —I finally fixed the byline on the PDF)

Fiction Books:

So, someone in the comments suggested to me Jolene Poseidonae’s story subscription! For only $5/month, you can gift yourself or a loved one with original fiction that goes straight to a polytheist who indicates needing it for medical bills. $5/month for an original 4000-word story (or chapter of a longer story) —that’s less than some people spend on the same amount of Kindle porn.

There’s also WildTaleWort from writer Sylvia Victor Linsteadt (recommended in the same comment); another story subscription, this one via snail-mail post.

Art, devotional and ritual items, nick-knacks, and neat shit:

Sarah Kate Istra Winter is having a Yule Sale up at her Goblinesquerie shop, and her Carnival Talk Etsy shop features not only her latest book, but also lots of postcards and prints of vintage carnival photos, suitable for all manner of purposes.

If Heathen stuff is more your thing, Beth Wodanis has lots of yarns, beadworks, and even candles up at her FiberWitch shop! Most things look Heathen-themed, but a couple Hellenic-appropriate items are there, too. She’s even got a 25% off coupon (YULE2014)!

Galina Krasskova also has dozens of prayer cards up, including Heathen, Graeco-Roman, Egyptian, and other deities.

This is something that’s been around for a while, too, but for those who were unaware, Cauldron Farm has Pagan Prayer Beads and more great stuff at Mengloth’s Market.

And hey! Did you know both Wendy Rule and Sopor Aeternus had new albums this year? Rule’s Black Snake is, as always, quite excellent, and Sopor Aeternus’ Mitternacht is another stellar offering of creepy goodness.

Polyphanes/The Digital Ambler has some beautiful woodwork and beadwork with a Hermetic bend, in addition to some valuable PDF ebooks.

DocBrite/Billy Martin/the writer formerly known as Poppy Z Brite may not need the pitch from me, but he’s got lots of gorgeous ritual, art, and curiosity items up at PZBART.

For absinthe, tea, and Greek coffee rituals, you really can’t do better than the skull-shaped sugar lumps from DemBones.

And Bohemiart has long been a favourite of mine, using mixed media to create haunting images appropriate for shrines, altars, and decor.

Emily Balivet also has hundreds of art nouveau styled prints and original pieces inspired by mythology and goddesses.

Creatures From El is a shop of Guelph, Ontario-based sculptor, Ellen Jewett, and features only original, mixed-media pieces of fantastical creatures.

If you know people into fairy stuff, check out the Fairy Doors at Nothing But Wood –some function as outlet covers, but most have indoor/outdoor installation in mind (put one up in your child’s room so that the fairies can have easier access when they misbehave!)

And of course, Laurelei Black’s Blade & Broom Botanica has many beautiful, hand-crafted ritual items, e-books, and more!

I almost forgot Alley valkyrie’s Practical Rabbit shop –she’s got screen-printed thingers of all sorts: T-shirts, patches, flags, altar cloths, and even onesies for the babies!

And lastly, in addition to my art and Hellenic alphabet divination tiles, you can pick up some of the literally HUNDREDS of my badges (see the Religion and Magic section!) I’ve also got a coupon code in both shops (HAPPYNEWYEAR — 15% off $10 or more at Nocturnal Spirits, or 12% off %1.50 or more at OddModOut).

Clothing, Jewellery, & Accessories:

Vis-a-Vis Jewellery have dozens of goegeous moulded (reproduction) coin and cameo-styled jewellery in Greco-Roman, art nouveau, and other polytheist and pagan-friendly styles.

Liselotte Erikson at A Changeling’s Closet has many gorgeous headdresses to choose from (and a lot of watercolour prints, too –but the headdresses are my favourite!)

The Black Cat Closet has oodles of vintage clothes and jewellery for those with a dark and/or pagan/witchy aesthetic.

For your fairy-minded friends, check out the selection of wings from Fairy Trade, and the tutus and other cute accessories from Sisters of the Moon.

For the non-vegans on your gift list, Contrived to Charm has absolutely stunning tooled leather belts, bags, tarot pouches, and more.

Dreaded Jenocide has dozens of cute ear spirals, horns, and chokers, all handmade!

And to go with the Carnival Talk book and prints, check out these printed tights from Carousel Ink!

And I can’t leave out RavenEve jewellery –she’s been at this for about (at least?) twenty years, and is based in the Detroit area. She’s best known for hand jewellery and headdresses, including finger armour, “slave” bracelets, and diadems in art nouveau, art deco, and baroque styles, using a mix of vintage and new materials.

GLUCKS has lots of beautiful, pagan and Heathen bronze pendants.

Ugly Shyla is best known for her creepy art dolls (often based on dead children), but has recently been making jewellery with designs inspired by her long-held reverence for death, and her own New Orleans voodoo practises and interest in LaVey’s philosophies.

Oh! And I almost forgot: You know those faux-fur animal hats that were trendy last year? Do you know who started them? Etsy seller Cassandra Kettler at her shop Womp-A-Wear! Everyone else is a copycat. She’s part of the Burning Man community (and pagan, too, if I’m not mistaken) and has been making these at home for years. She does adult and child sizes, and can do custom sizes and add all sorts of embellishments (including side pockets and charms –and not to mention other accessories to go with your animal spirit hat, like boot covers and belts) that you can’t find on the cheap and crappy imitations at the mall.

One of my friends on FaceBook just invited me to like her shop, Elenari: Wands – Runes – Jewellery! She’s got gorgeous stuff, she loves spiral designs, it seems, and I’m putting it here cos she’s currently got more jewellery up than ritual stuff.

Remember, if there’s anything that I’m missing, or that you think I should have, leave a comment or send a message, and I’ll add it and a brief description to the above links! Feel free to spread this around to your own blogs or share it with your friends!

A story about the power of sacrifice

So, Wyrd Ways Radio just cut off for the fortnight, and there was a special treat on tonight’s show, if you missed it, live: I called in! I called in at about quarter before the end (in part cos i decided to take a day off from volunteering at WCBN, mainly from being tired, and I was sorting buttons, which, by the way, you should buy some from the Religion & Magic section, so i can buy a link on The Wild Hunt).

One of the things that Sannion and Galina brought up this fortnight was how secularised Protestantism has lousied up so much of Pagan culture, and that people will often (and I’ve seen many say as much, as well) practically wince at the idea of actually sacrificing to the gods in their personal practises. I called in to relate a story that my friend Jeff at PJ’s Used Records shared with me and one of the other customers this last Monday:

When Alexander was a child learning from the tutor at the palace, at one moment, he was being taught the proper method of sacrifice to the gods. His teacher showed several other boys, with Alexander at the end of the line (with the intent that Alexander would learn from the mistakes of others). The tutor and all other boys took a pinch of frankincense, a pinch of myrrh, and a pinch of storax, and sprinkled each into the sacrificial fire. When Alexander came up, he took huge handfuls of the frankincense, myrrh, and storax. The teacher was horrified, but held his tongue, but apparently still showed on his face.

Many years later, after several conquests, Alexander sent to that teacher huge cartfulls of frankincense, myrrh, and storax, and a note about how giving freely to the gods will mean the gods will freely give back.

This isn’t exactly as i gave it on Wyrd Ways, and it’s not exactly as Jeff gave it to me, but the important parts are all there and the lesson stays the same: When we give, not what seems appropriate to our sensibilities, but what we genuinely can, and give that freely and without reservation, the gods will give back.

The distinctly modern notion that ritual sacrifices are somehow “wasteful” is, indeed, a scurge on the pagan community and one of the distinctions I point to between the differences between the pagan and polytheist communities. While true that we carry with us a lot more cultural baggage into the religions we’ve converted to than we may realise, it’s only by shedding certain things, one at a time, that we truly open up our lives to the gods we honour.

One cannot be stingy with the gods. It’s not about giving beyond our means, it’s about giving freely of what we can; if all we can give at a time is a tablespoon or two of water, cos we’re just that impoverished, then we should give that, and give it freely. No-one has ever said that we should bankrupt ourselves for the gods in hopes of a greater return, but if we have it in our budgets to give more, then we should give proportionately to what we have, and give it freely.

Hellenist New York Metro Museum of Art Meet!

I probably can’t make it (if I’m lucky, I’ll be settling in that week, if I’m not so lucky, Nigel and I will be on a friend’s couch), but Kayleigh is arranging a meet-up for Hellenists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC in 6 September! If that’s a good time for you, maybe you should go for me. 🙂 (I will take post cars at my P.O. Box!)

Since I can’t make it to this one, if everything goes well with the housing situation, I will vow to arrange a meet-up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at the Island Park temple/Greek revival park shelter in 2015. I’m not decided on a date, yet, but it’s Apollon’s city in Michigan, and the park is nearby the hospital, so the date I pick will have such relevance. (Though I warn you, it’s possible I’ll need assistance in renting the park shelter –but if I don’t, all the better, right?)



Some comments from last year’s Miasma post

(I know Sannion recently linked to the previous post, but just in case you don’t read comments on principle [I’d understand if you did not –blog comments can be a hotbed of idiocy, as a general rule], I figured I’d post this exchange.)

Conor O’Bryan Warren on 15 April 2013 at 2:12 pm said:

I like this post. though I don’t share a similar stance. I was, however, under the impression that purification rituals developed as a physical cleanliness thing, then came to take on ‘deeper’ connotations I don’t mind being wrong of course.

Ruadhán J McElroy on 15 April 2013 at 3:45 pm said:

Well, the thing about the idea that the miasma concept evolved from bodily cleanliness, and only later took on deeper meaning, well, it seems to make sense for some things, but not for others. One clear anomaly in that theory is the virtual non-issue of menstruation in ancient Hellas —only later did the ancient understanding of menstruation, medically, really get to form, but you’d think that if it was *ever* considered a “pollutant”, then the ancient medical hypothesis of what menstruation actually is would be shaped by older notions, and that the idea of it as a “spiritual pollutant” would prevail –but it doesn’t. Even playing Devil’s Advocate and assuming that there was a time that it was considered a “dirty” presence in the Hellenic temples –well, it’s pretty damned weird that nothing survives of this. And I don’t mean “practically nothing”, which is basically shorthand for “one or two super-obscure fragments at most survive” —I mean nothing of the sort. Considering how widespread the idea of a woman’s cycle as being “dirty” was in the Mediterranean —even “Hellenised” Rome found this idea hard to shake from their own culture— it’s absolutely remarkably unusual that Hellenes have absolutely no taboos against it at all, not even at a time when it was less-understood than it became were there Hellenic menstruation taboos. It was just one of those “women’s mysteries”, and it seemed the men would assume women knew best how to deal with it.

This isn’t really something I can just shrug and go “oh well, agree to disagree” on, cos the menstruation anomaly isn’t the only one that exists within the history of religious miasma. The “first hygenic, later spiritual” hypothesis seems to just stink of this atheistic ideal within modern Western Classical Studies that aims to paint pre-Christian Hellenic religion as this sort of proto-Jungian borderline atheism. In some taboos, the “first hygenic…” hypothesis seems to make sense, but from early on, there were a lot of anomalous quirks to miasma. Furthermore, for the most part, miasma simply didn’t extend to household worship –or it was at least treated far less rigorously by the ancients (unless you were Hesiod —but Hesiod’s got subscriptions 😉 ). I know the ancient Hellenes liked to preen and loved their baths, but with kids getting sniffles left and right, one’s own parents and grandparents dying, often in the house, and one and one’s Missus fucking like rabbits sufficiently far from the hearth, in order to maintain a steady population of Hellenelings, it’d be a wonder that people could leave the house at all, much less sit to eat a meal, if they were religiously bound to washing themselves before every meal, or passing the shrine to the household gods. Hell, it’s a wonder even Hesiod didn’t die by scrubbing himself raw, if miasma was a widespread major household taboo. If it was “first hygenic”, then why was household [observation of miasma] so lax [when Hellenes were incredibly religious]? Surely people noticed that they got sick from their family members more often than others, even in Hesiod’s day. If it was “first hygenic”, then why a complete absence of menstrual taboos? If it was “first hygenic”, then why parade dead people through the streets, potentially infecting the whole neighbourhood?

The reality is that “spiritual miasma” actually far predates “miasma” as an all-purpose word for “poison air disease theory”, as the word was repurposed in the 19th Century for the “poison air” hypothesis of how diseases spread. The link with the word “miasma” and physical pollution, as best as I can tell, is far newer than miasma as spiritual pollutant.

(ETA on 27 July 2014)
Hey, did you know that I’m STILL raising funds for my upcoming move back to the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. Want to know how the town got the name Ypsilanti? I think I’ll do my next post on that…. Trust me, it’ll make my practises double-plus Hellenic.

I’m also giving away Heathen goddess prayer cards.

Responses to Readers

So, it seems that the WordPress software is really lousy at telling me I have messages coming in on my contact form –which you’d think would be something that would’ve been built into that feature from the get-go, but oh well, here we are. The last I checked these was 4 October 2013, apparently, so here’s one that I really ought to have addressed much sooner after the person sent me the message:

Hi I am a young man, very interested in magic, mysticism, spirituality and working with divine beings. I have currently been attempting to work with the hindu form of cupid known as Kama, I have been doing many mantras and quite a few practices for about a little less than two years now, to be honest I am not really seeing results this I believe is due to the fact that one must practice chastity or abstain from sex when performing Yoga practices (I am terrible at this part, lol). However, what I am looking for is beauty, and powers in love, the ability to infatuate so to speak, therefore I find myself having quite and affinity to cupid and venus and a strong desire to find methods or worshipping and communicating with them myself. I dont really have any money to offer you, and to be honest I don’t want you to communicate with them for me, I would like the knowledge and the method of worshiping anything you can give me would be of great help, thank you.

Hello there. I’m a polytheist, a pluralist, and while I do have a respect for magic, I really hope that you’re saying “work with” in the sense that one “works withs” one’s co-workers, rather than in the sense that one “works with” clay or paints. While I’m clearly in no position to make people change how they believe, if you’re coming to my blog, asking for my advice or assistance, I’m going to give it from a position of my own beliefs, and I believe that it is impious to “work with” a deity in the same way one “works with” a camera or a screwdriver or any other tool or medium.

Next up, I certainly know about Kama, but I also do not believe that He is simply a “Hindu form of” Cupid or Eros –likewise, I do not believe that Eros or Cupid are one-in-the-same. I therefore don’t believe my relationship with one of these deities automatically gives me insight into how any of the others operate –it would be like writing a book report on Dracula by watching the film The Lost Boys, both are about vampires, both offer themes of seduction and feature characters who hunt down vampires, but ultimately these are two different stories.

As for what you seek, I don’t know how I can help you with that, but my advice is that, if you feel drawn to worshipping Cupid and Venus, seek the traditional ways They were worshipped by the Romans. Give offerings that are traditional and that contemporary worshippers give, and give them freely as you pray and ask the deities for Their blessings in those areas.

While I am under the impression that there are similarities between Hellenic and Italic worship, I would not risk stating they are the same. Unfortunately, the only Roman polytheists I’m aware of is the group Nova Roma; they have a website which has a lot of information on it, and their section on Roman religion would be a great place to start.