Dealing with Deities – tainted love?

A few days ago on 29 October I ordered a book called “Dealing with Deities: Practical Polytheistic Theologies“.  On Saturday 4th November the package arrived and I opened it up with a certain amount of excitement only to see something that appeared to be very different…

DSC_0300 A book called tainted love apparently.  So as you might expect I start to prepare the complaint.  I was tired so I didn’t do much that evening and tried to sort it the following morning.  The first time I tried to complete the complaint form I was using my kindle and the photos I had taken wouldn’t upload to the complaint form.  So a bit later I got out my laptop and completed the form on that.  At that stage though I thought I’d better just check the inside of the book in case that looked damaged in some way.  Imagine my surprise when the first page I saw inside the cover said “Dealing with Deities”.  As I looked further the contents of the book seemed to be exactly what I had ordered!

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!”

How many times have I heard that saying?  How many times have I used it? Although that thought has only just occurred to me as I write this. what came to my mind yesterday as I saw the inside of the book was that someone had played a trick on me.  My first thoughts went to Loki because in my experiences he has a talent for playing with electronic equipment.  And the book arrived on a Saturday which is the day I devote to him.

Next thoughts were the juxtaposition of the words “Tainted Love” with “Dealing with Deities”.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  Initially I laughed.

Today though I’m thinking about the word “tainted” and how that means something that has been corrupted or fouled in some way. It occurs to me that the love we have when dealing with deities is often corrupted by our own wants and desires.  And then there’s the fact that those of us that are polytheists are also reconnecting links that long past ancestors shattered for various reasons.  Our efforts to make those connections again are tainted by what has happened in the past of our societies.  Some of these things we can do something about, we can do our best to love our deities without clouding maters with wants and desires.  I don’t mean we never ask for help but if we do so we do with respect and never taking such help for granted.  There’s not a great deal we can do about taints left from the actions of previous generations long gone into the mists of time.  We can acknowledge them.  We can do our best as we re-forge broken connections but the scars will be there for a long time. And if we do our best then hopefully over time as we and those to come build on what we do now those connections will become stronger and clearer.

And sometimes after we first see a “taint” we find that it actually helps us develop something new and wonderful.

 

 

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Musings on divination

Like many others I’ve dabbled with divination on and off over my years as a Pagan but although I learnt a few things, nothing ever seemed to quite connect.  Recently I’ve been working on my divination skills again and I believe I know why earlier efforts never really felt quite right.  It wasn’t the tools, I use the same rune stones now that I made about twenty years ago now I think, it was my approach.

When I first started to learn about divination it was as a tool to tap into my unconscious mind or into some form of a collective consciousness of the world.  I could get some benefit from this but it wasn’t an approach that really felt right and I never really knew why until recently.  Now I have come to understand divination as a method of communication between myself and my gods and I have found that to be a profound change.

No longer am I doing the equivalent of shouting into the wilderness and hoping someone will hear me, respond and provide useful advice.  Now I am doing the spiritual equivalent of making a phone call to a particular being.  I might not get a reply but if I do I have a much better chance of someone listening and replying.  Given the deities I am devoted to that may not always mean a sensible reply, they too have a sense of humour, but the chances are much improved.

At the moment there are two tools I am working on improving my skills with and both are ones I have had for quite a while.  One is the set of runes I mentioned above that I made many years ago and the other is a set of the Druid Animal Oracle Cards that I’ve also had for several years but not quite as long as the runes I made.  I’ve always loved the artwork on the Druid Animal Oracle cards but used to get more distracted by the details.

I have a number of small yew wood slices now and I intend to use pyrography to create a set of Ogham disks.  I have Ogham staves and cards which I do occasionally use but I like the idea of a handmade set of disks to work with and maybe making them will help me learn the various symbols that I don’t know yet.  If I manage all that, then I may start to use Ogham as a divination tool as well but that’s a bit in the future yet.

When I work with my runes I ask Loki for guidance with them.  I’m aware that He might not be considered the usual deity to approach for runic divination but this works for me.  I think some people often forget, or perhaps don’t even know, that Loki is skilled in the use of words. That is something that shines through in the various tales that we have about Him.  To me, and I’m probably not alone in this, that skill with words implies a skill with runes too.

When I work with the Druid Animal Oracle I have begun to ask Maponos for guidance.  If that seems like an odd choice to you then I will simply point out that the Romans linked Maponos with Apollo and Apollo is well known for His Oracles among other attributes so it is a strong possibility that Maponos too had his oracular side.

At the moment I feel my skills are improving and I have begun to offer readings to others as further practice.  I feel more confident about using divination now that I am approaching my gods when I do this and I trust in their guidance.

 

Changes to my altar

In the last couple of weeks there have been changes to my altar.

Meet the Smith, for Gofannon.

The Smith
The Smith

Today arrived a wonderful, amazing gift.  A traditionally made Zuni Coyote fetish crafted by Aaron and Thelma Sheche. I am deeply honoured to have been entrusted with this fetish. It’s actually two coyotes carved from the same stone bundles with an arrow head and pieces of turquoise.

Coyotes fetish
Zuni Coyote Fetish

Both the Smith and the Zuni fetish are now on my altar, shown below.

Altar 6 September 2017

Messages from Gods

Like forgotten yet eternal dreams.
Broke in bits before her, the lady lacks her necklace.
Like the sweet-apple reddening high on the branch.
Better far that my body should suffer outrage than my soul.
Oh, each of us discovered life’s burden, and we call that time a fable, remembering ourselves as we would a stranger.

These are words for me from a divination two weeks ago where I basically asked if I was doing ok with my devotions.  The overall interpretation I was given was I’m doing ok but there’s room for improvement.  Isn’t there always?

In April I had a three card tarot reading done for me with the following overall message:

These may seem vague, as Minor Arcana cards, but I love the combination of elements here. It seems to tell of an emotional time, perhaps with ups and downs on several levels, but also with a sense of determination, goals achieved and a clear path opening up through it all. Keep hold of that determination, hun, you’re going the right way and have good friends at your side!

I had another reading in January of this year but that one was face to face and I can’t remember a great deal from it.

I’m also working on improving my own divination skills.  At the moment that involves working with runes and practicing readings mainly on myself.

And then there is what happened to me on Saturday as I sat before my altar praying and listening.  I slipped into a trance and began to journey, something I haven’t done in quite a while.  Loki appeared beside me and we walked and talked in the Otherworld I know.  I’ve been asking, thinking and wondering why Loki is still interested in me, half expecting Him to move on and not return.  One part of my journey and conversation had a very powerful effect on me.

Loki asked me if I wanted Him in my life. At first I sidestepped replying clearly by saying “If you want to be”.  That wasn’t good enough though. He asked me again:

“Do you want me?”

And this time I simply said yes.  His reply was that He would remain with me then.  I asked if it was that simple. “Yes.”  We talked further, other things that I’ll not mention here but that helped clarify aspects of our growing relationship. I also gained insights into aspects of other deity relationships.

——————————

This year I have already asked for reassurance that I’m doing the right things, going in the right direction more times than almost any other year in my life. I’ve been unsure why I feel the presence of certain deities, why still other deities have come into my life.

Each time though I have been given reassurance that I’m doing the right things, going in the right directions.  Most of those reassurances have been open to some aspect of interpretation. This time, with Loki, I’ve had something amazingly direct, amazingly simple.

And that simple question echos on in other voices – Do you want me in your life?

Sometimes devotion is as simple as answering that question.

For Loki

I’ve written in an earlier post how Loki came into my life and I’ve also written a little about how my patterns of devotion have been changing.  Saturday has become the day I devote time and thought to Loki.  Last Saturday I received an email that led to me writing something for Loki.  This Saturday I feel I should post what I wrote on my own blog.  The photo is of the candle burning on my altar for Loki as I write this post.

Words from my heart

Loki, you came unlooked for, unasked for into my life.
Bound one, your challenge forced me to face my bindings.
Shifter of forms, you lead me to change.
I honor You!

Burning one, you scare me still!
I don’t know what you see in me,
Why I interest you,
But I know you come calling.

Calling in the darkness
Shining in the silence
Mystery and Mischief

I honor You! I praise you!
I’ve even come to love you.
You, the disreputable friend!

The one that speaks truths no-one else will face
The one bringing joy in the madness
The one whose pain we turn away from
The one who forces us to see
The one who scares us in the night
The one who holds us when we cry
The one who gives us the blade with which to cut our bindings
If…

If we have the courage to turn and take it
If we choose to try.

Uninvited, unexpected, uncomfortable,
Yet welcomed, honored, praised and loved!

 

Patterns of Devotion

I have written in the past about my deepening devotional practices. Today I wish to share with you how my devotions have changed.

I used to honour my ancestors at the dark moon, Maponos on Sundays and, Brigantia, Epona Rigantona and An Cailleach around the full moon.

Then I joined a flame tending cill with Clann Bhride and began flame tending in honour of Brigantia every twenty days.

I can’t even remember exactly when after that point that other things began to change but at some stage I began to honour Epona Rigantona each week on a Friday. I chose a Friday because Epona is my beloved and Fridays in the past have been linked to deities of love (see Wikipedia Names of the days of the week if you are interested).

It felt good to be honouring Epona each Friday so I decided to start honoring An Cailleach on a Saturday. I was now honouring different deities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday plus every twenty days flame tending in honour of Brigantia.

Then Loki came into my life.

I used to consider myself to be solely a Brythonic Polytheist.

Then Loki came into my life!

That bit bears repeating.  Loki brought change with Him.  I wasn’t looking for Sleipnir’s Dam and I didn’t expect or invite Her (at least not to start with) but for some reason best known to the Bound One, He decided to bring Her changes to me.

One of those changes was that I started to include Loki in my weekly devotions.  At first I tried slotting Him in on Thursdays but that didn’t feel right. So I switched to Saturdays, prompted in part by something I had read that suggested Saturdays had been linked to Loki in the past.  I can’t remember exactly what that was now but I switched days and it felt much better.

But it didn’t feel right honouring An Cailleach on the same day so after a bit of thought I decided to move honouring Her to Mondays.  There are aspects in some of the lore which I believe indicate ties to the moon for An Cailleach so this seemed to fit well.

For a couple of moons I tried to keep the lunar links I had made as well but that became a bit confusing as I ended up trying to honour two different deities on one day.  For me that became confusing and I felt I wasn’t doing justice to my devotions to either deity when the days linked into full moon cycles.  I decided drop the full moon devotions in favour of the weekly ones for a moon or two to see how it felt and I’ve kept that change.

So now I honour different deities on four days of the week and another every twenty days. I’m also no longer solely honouring Brythonic deities.  At first I thought maybe Loki would be in my life for a set purpose and then maybe wander off but at the moment it feel much more like the Sky-treader is here to stay.  The current pattern feels good with one exception and that’s the ancestors.

In dropping the full moon devotions I found I began to lose touch with the lunar cycle and the pattern of honouring my ancestors at the dark moon began to slip as well.  I still have my ancestral shrine area and still think of varying ancestors at different times but the more ritualised devotions have fallen away.  I’m still not sure if I need to start on a weekly basis for honouring my ancestors or try and restore the dark moon practice.  I think maybe moving to a weekly based practice would work out best, if so I have my choice of Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday currently free of other devotions. Maybe Wednesday as that day has links to deities of communication.

My journey with devotional practices has not been a swift one but one that has gradually altered to a more frequent family of devotional practices.  And I know that I am still changing and that my practices will also continue to change.

Musings about Brigantia and Loki

I’ve written elsewhere about being a flame tender with Clann Bhride which means every twenty days I light a flame and look after it for twenty four hours as a devotional act.  During my last flame tending I found myself thinking about both Brigantia and Loki both of whom have fire symbology.

Brigantia and Her sister-self Brighid have many links to fire but it seems to me that the link is to a tamed and channeled fire.  The fires of the smith, of crafting tools and artworks; the fires of inspiration burning in our minds transforming imagery and emotion into words and pictures others can see; the fires of justice wielded with fierce discipline to forge a fairer community; the fires of the healer used to brew, to warm, to comfort; the long ago fires of a home hearth bringing warmth and security to our human homes.  She is not the fire itself but the one that wields, channels and tames the fire and in turn teaches us ways to use fire.

Loki is not one that uses fire, instead he is a fire.  He does not teach how to channel the heat, how to use the energy to craft and create.  He transforms. He changes. That doesn’t mean that he can’t direct and wield fire, he can because he knows what he is and so he can choose what to burn, what to transform, whether to be a single glowing ember that waits or a burst of flame that burns.

They are beings of different cultures, Loki and Brigantia, and yet I feel that there can be harmony between them, probably not always, but enough.

Neither being can be constrained into just one aspect of their identities and I’m in no way intending to give the impression that I wish to do that. This is just what musings have come to mind at this time where fire and flame symbologies are concerned.

Where I am concerned I feel they have in some way joined forces.  I need to change but I have a fear of loosing control, I fear the untamed burning and yet I know I need to be pushed forward.