Saturday, January 28, 2006

Germanic And Celtic Religious Lore And Practices

Germanic And Celtic Religious Lore And Practices Cover I referred to virtually identical warrior paradises in the scene which opened this article, but the overlap between Celtic and Germanic lore goes far beyond this.

Bogs throughout Northern Europe received sacrifices from Celt and German alike. Weapons and armor captured in battle, food and beakers, miscellaneous items - all were deposited in lakes and marshes in the same way, to the point that we can't even tell which finds are German and which are Celtic.

When the Druids sacrificed to the Gods, the blood from an animal was sprinkled with a sprig of greenery on the assembled people, so the divine energy inherent in blood could be directly transferred to them. In historical Asatru, our forebears did exactly the same thing in the course of a sacrifice or blot.. (Today, modern practitioners of both religions use mead or other fermented fluid in this role.)

Across the length and breadth of our European homeland, our ancestors honored the Gods in the open air, because we thought it inappropriate to shut them up into limiting, lessening structures like the Christian churches. Similarly, in the earliest days, our Representations of the Gods and Goddesses were simple indeed - often carved from pieces of wood to which Nature had already given the basic shape, awaiting only a few refinements from human hands.

These customs accurately describe Celts as well as Germans.

Tribesmen of both groups used intoxicating drink in religious ritual. Often this was mead, but it could be ale as well. And, while we're considering altered states of consciousness, let's remember the fit or frenzy of the Odin-gripped warriors, the berserkers. In old Ireland, essentially the same warrior's madness bore the name of "{\i ferg} ".

Readers of the Norse stories will remember how Sigurd the Volsung killed the dragon Fafnir and roasted its heart. When he burned his finger, he stuck it in his mouth and found that he could understand the speech of birds. The Irish hero Fergus gained the same gift when he singed his finger while cooking a salmon over a fire.


When we look at the cosmology of the Teutons and that of the Celts, we can't help but see the likeness. Both have the giant tree, the center of the cosmos and indeed the framework in which all the worlds are found: to Asafolk, it's Yggdrasil; the Celts call it Bile .

The other key component of the universe in ancient Germania was the Well of Wyrd, containing the deeds that make up the past. Drinking from its waters gives wisdom, and Odin gave up one of his eyes for the privilege. As it turns out, the Celts have an almost identical well; hazel nuts fall into it where they are eaten by the Salmon of Wisdom.

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Edward Carpenter - Pagan And Christian Creeds Their Origin And Meaning
Jone Salomonsen - Enchanted Feminism The Reclaiming Witches Of San Francisco
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Aleister Crowley - Magick In Theory And Practice

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Book Of Pagan Prayer

A Book Of Pagan Prayer Cover

Book: A Book Of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith

Pagan Prayers and MoreBilling itself as the one and only collection of prayers for Pagans of any tradition, Ceisiwr Serith's A Book of pagan Prayer includes prayers to Celtic, Egyptian, Zoroastrian and other deities. It is organized thematically, making it convenient to use if one is seeking prayers for specific occasions, seasons, times of day, meals or milestones.

In this book, the reader is taken on a tour of not only the forms of prayer, but the reasons behind them. Numerous examples are given, giving the reader the option to use those that appeal to them straight out of the book, or to write their own based upon the forms demonstrated. In a market deluged with fluffy "How To's", this book is a delightful breath of fresh air. Rather than rehashing the same tired information over again, Mr. Serith focuses on helping the reader either begin or strengthen their relationship with the divine, regardless of which deity or deities the reader feels drawn to. Groundbreaking, and an easy and enjoyable read to boot.

No matter what manner of Pagan you are, you will be pleased by this little book. Its handy size, tasteful dark green cover and easy-to-read typeface makes it a pleasure to hold and read. When you get through admiring the outside of the book, there are many treasures inside. There is a thorough discussion on the topic of prayer, why we pray, who we pray to, and how to compose a good prayer. Even if you think there is nothing new that can be said about the subject of prayer, you will think differently when you read this book. A Book of Pagan Prayer also contains a wealth of prayers suitable for many different occasions and events, beautifully and thoughtfully written. The best thing about the book, however, is that it will inspire you to compose some prayers of your own, and use them in your own worship and rituals. Dare I call this book an instant classic? I think I dare! You will enjoy the author's intelligent and gentle style throughout the prayer book. Spontaneous prayer is admirable, but a well-composed written prayer has goodness too, as this small book will teach you. Get two, so you will have one to give away.

Buy Ceisiwr Serith's book: A Book Of Pagan Prayer

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Monday, January 9, 2006

Pagan Deity Appropriation

Pagan Deity Appropriation Cover I have been having this discussion for weeks now and have reached no definitive answer, nor have any two people actually agreed on a position. What is the core of the discussion? Appropriation of deity.

In the neopagan community, it is generally acceptable for people to choose/be chosen by any deity from any religion, regardless of actual tradition practiced. My personal opinion is that this is inappropriate. Now, with careful research and acceptance of socio-cultural mores from the deity's country of origin (if that term can even be used) and with addition of proper religion-specific ritual I can deal with it. However, I have a problem when someone worships Kwan-Yin, Bast, Osiris, and the Morrighan on one altar. I realize that this, along with most of my opinions lately, will likely make me very unpopular with the pagan community, but I just can't stop associating "appropriation" with "theft."

Why do I feel this way? After all, I've said many times that I believe that deity is inherent in all things and that God is all one in the same. However, when I go into a church, I find myself apologizing to Jesus for invading His sacred House. Why is this? If I consider deity to be inherent, then why would I apologize to deity? Yes, deity is, in my mind, inherent in all things. As I'm typing on my computer, I'm feeling the wind from outside, I'm feeling the wooden chair I'm sitting in, my heart is beating, my roommate is laughing, I can smell the chocolate her friends just finished eating. All of that is, to me, sacred. Deity is in all things, whether it's something tangible like a chair or the wind, or something intangible like joy, it is all sacred. However, this sacracity is channeled by faith into various forms. Just as I cannot fully equate joy and sadness (though they are both sacred) I cannot equate Kali with Jesus (though they are both deity and have much less in common than do joy and sadness).

Being in the House of the Christian God makes me uncomfortable, because that space was created by people for Him and for thier worship of Him. I cannot partake of this worship because my idea of deity does not conform to the Christian idea. This is the same way I cannot attend a Hindu ritual and expect to participate because of the same reason. Furthermore, if I were to attend a Hindu ritual, I would be a great deal more out of place because I can never fully understand and embrace the social mores surrounding Hindu faith. I cannot truely worship Ganesha because I cannot fully understand the songs sung to him, I cannot understand the aspects of the caste surrounding him, and I will always be an outside, regardless of the amount of study I undertake. If I were to start worshiping Lakshmi, I would expect Ganesha to feel fairly insulted, since I'm completely ignoring his place in Hinduism and only embracing one Hindu deity, without paying proper and respectful attention to the others.

Take Kwan-Yin for example. I know several friends of mine who have lovely statues of her on thier altars. However, when I tell them that she evolved from the male bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Compassion), they are genuinely surprised. How can one truly worship a channel of deity when one has no idea of the wide-ranging aspects and history of that deity?

Lately, Kali has been calling me, and I've been resisting with every ounce of my being. I do not feel justified in "adapting" her to my worship. Choice of religion is a very Protestant American idea, and Kali does not fit in that worldview. India Hindus do not "choose" to be Hindu. They are born into it. Brazilian Catholics do not "choose" to be Catholic, that is just what you are. However, in this country, choice of religion is as simple as breathing. Of course a person is not limited by birth into a particular religion! Given all of this, I cannot ever allow myself to take Kali as my patron goddess because I will never fully understand her and everything that surrounds her.

I took this problem to one of my friends and she suggested that I "create" a goddess for myself that has Kali's attributes and happens to be named Kali as a compromise. I did not tell her outright that I thought her idea was ridiculous, but I think my long pause of silence indicated the same. Kali is a sacred word in the Hindu faith. Kali is a word that means a particular goddess that has a history and has songs and prayers and complex rituals. She is not just an amalgam of ideas with an arbitrary word attatched. I might as well worship a giant earwig and name it Georges as a "compromise" for Kali, for all the good that idea does me. Kali is that word attatched to all of that "baggage" and that is a particular channel of deity.

None of this is to say that I do not "condone" other people's choices of worship. Who or what a person worships is really none of my business, and I have no business telling any person that he or she is wrong. However, I cannot stand by the general idea that choosing a deity is like choosing what pants to wear in the morning. Deity is deity, yes, but Kali is not Jesus. The earth is sacred, just as is sorrow, but sorrow is not elation. Yes, they are both sacred, but they're not the same thing. I cannot "choose" to be joyful when I am sobbing at a funeral any more than I can equate Kwan-Yin with Loki.

I apologize if my ideas insult anyone's worship, for that is certainly not my intent. However, if someone is new to the pagan community and has read one or two books that said Artemis is "pretty awesome!" encourage them to think about what it REALLY entails to actually worship her.

Even though this isn't an article, but an essay, I figure "better safe than sorry": In the light of a recent comment regarding copyright infringement, I would like to assert that all of the material in this article are my own unless they are appropriately cited. To use the standard book/movie resolution: Any resemblence this article has to any others of its ilk is purely coincidental and does not reflect on the authors of those articles or the quality of thier production.

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Germanic And Celtic Gods And Goddesses

Germanic And Celtic Gods And Goddesses Cover The Celtic Lugh and our own Odin are much the same. Odin is father of the Gods, keeps two ravens, carries a magic spear, and has one eye. Lugh is first in the Celtic family of Gods, is linked with ravens, carries the Spear of Victory, and closes one eye when he performs fantastic deeds on the battlefield.

The Nordic Thor, whose name means "Thunderer", prizes his mighty hammer. He rides about the heavens, laughing in his red beard, in a wagon pulled by Supernatural goats. Taranis of the Celts, whose name also means "Thunderer", drives a chariot behind sacred bulls. He wields the thunderbolt, whose name in the old Gaelic tongue derives from the same Indo-European root as the name of Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Taranis, too, is pictured as having a flowing red mane.

Tyr, as our tales tell, lost his hand binding Fenris the wolf. He used to be the Sky God, scholars say, until Odin took his place. The Celtic Nuada lost his arm in battle against the Fomorians, and so Lugh - the Celtic equivalent of Odin - became leader of the Gods.

In the domain of fertility and plenty, our own Frey rules supreme among Asafolk. One of his favorite beasts is the horse, which just happens to also be sacred to Dagda, "the good God", who is Frey's Celtic equivalent.

Other divine beings...

Giants? The Celts Have Them just as Asafolk do; they're called the Fomorians, and the Celtic Gods battle mightily against them. Moreover, the role they play is pretty much the same - representing the forces of inertia and entropy in the cosmos.

Valkyries find their reflection in the Morrigan, fierce Goddesses of the battlefield who grant victory, spin the fates of war, and serve the heroes in the afterlife. This twin aspect - fiends of blood and death on the one hand, enticing lovers on the other - is found in both cultures. Similarly, both Celtic and Germanic sagas tell of supernatural women warriors who instruct and initiate the chosen heroes. Brynhild teaches Sigurd hidden magical lore, and the female chieftain Scathach ("Shadow") takes the Irish Cu Chulain under her care and makes him the warrior he is destined to become. It is probably no accident that Sigurdand Cu Chulain are descended from Odin and Lugh, respectively.

Consider the "lesser" beings, the ones that seldom figure in myth and poetry, but who make the life of the common man and woman more bearable. The land spirits, for example, are alike in both cultures. Elf lore, and the connections of these wights to the ancestors, was recognizably the same to the ancient Teuton and his or her Celtic contemporaries

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Tuesday, January 3, 2006


Havamal Cover

Book: Havamal by Wh Auden

Havamal ("Sayings of the high one") is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, is largely gnomic, presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom.

The verses are attributed to Odin, much like the biblical Book of wisdom is attributed to Solomon. The implicit attribution to Odin facilitated the accretion of various mythological material also dealing with Odin.

For the most part composed in the metre Ljodahattr, a metre associated with wisdom verse, Havamal is both practical and metaphysical in content. Following the gnomic "Havamal proper" follows the Runatal, an account of how Odin won the runes, and the Ljodatal, a list of magic chants or spells.

The only surviving source for Havamal is the 13th century Codex Regius. The part dealing with ethical conduct (the Gesta?attr) was traditionally identified as the oldest portion of the poem by scholarship in the 19th and early 20th century. Bellows (1936) identifies as the core of the poem a "collection of proverbs and wise counsels" which dates to "a very early time", but which, by the nature of oral tradition, never had a fixed form or extent. Von See (1981) identifies direct influence of the Disticha Catonis on the Gesta?attr, suggesting that also this part is a product of the high medieval period and casting doubt on the "unadulterated Germanic character" of the poem claimed by earlier commentators.

To the gnomic core of the poem, other fragments and poems dealing with wisdom and proverbs accreted over time. A discussion of authorship or date for the individual parts would be futile, since almost every line or stanza could have been added, altered or removed at will at any time before the poem was written down in the 13th century. Individual verses or stanzas nevertheless certainly date to as early as the 10th, or even the 9th century. Thus, the line deyr fe, deyja fraendr ("cattle die, kinsmen die") found in verses 76 and 77 of the Gestapattr can be shown to date to the 10th century, as it also occurs in the Hakonarmal by Eyvindr skaldaspillir.

Download Wh Auden's eBook: Havamal

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Wh Auden - Havamal