More Ruminations on UPG Shaming

“Now, I will admit that despite my disgust for the UPG police, I myself don’t always “buy” all of the doxa I encounter online from other people “newbies” or otherwise.  And you know what? There’s no need for me to do so; no one needs my validation or acceptance of their personal doxa, anymore than I need their acceptance of mine. The difference is that I am not on public forums snarking about other people’s doxa, making scathing remarks about them in my posts, or in general being a dick. I believe people have the right to discuss their experiences and perceptions without being ridiculed, if they so choose, and I have the right to either engage them in discussion about it–if I’m interested, and they’re open to that–or ignore their post and go my merry way, back to the very long to-do list waiting for me. What I don’t have the right to do is shame other people publicly about their spiritual life or practice–and no one else has that right, either.”

via More plum mead! and some ruminations on UPG shaming and my spiritual practice | Wytch of the North.

Reblogging this because it needs to be said.

I am still unpacking my new home, and I will have more to write on this later, I’m sure, but for now I’ll say that one of the major reasons that I have held back on some of the fiction that Loki wants written is because I knew there would be enough overlap between me and Heith that people would see it, and because I wasn’t prepared to share that part of myself with people – putting aside UPG shaming, I am actually a pretty private person; I am outgoing and friendly but I keep important things to my friends and family. Anyway, I’m glad that these posts are stimulating thought about UPG, why we have certain recurring themes in our spiritual lives, and what we can learn from them.

Silence Maestas, author of On the Heartroad, has penned a guest post that we’re doing to split up because it’s over 3K, but it discusses apotheosis type UPG from a different angle that I hope people will find as fascinating as I did when I read it.

Forbidden UPG | Wytch of the North

I’m thoroughly disgusted by the notion of personal doxa as popularity contest, as a game where your friends come up with an idea and you salute it, but anyone else’s experience can be discounted out of hand. Since then, I have played UPG chicken with one woman ( a Thor’s wife) who had been Told she was Sif but was afraid to talk about it with anyone. (After talking about it with me, she abruptly disappeared from my radar, never to be seen again; maybe she backpedaled too.) I’ve also seen some of my friends do what I did and tie themselves up in arcane knots just so they could talk about something really important to them on a public level, because they knew damned well what the response would be if they just came out and called a spade a spade and talked about it openly. And while it is anyone’s right to set boundaries around what they choose to reveal and what they keep private, people shouldn’t have to feel that they need to do a complicated dance (I’ll call this the UPG Jig, I think–the counterpart to UPG Chicken) in order to talk about their experiences and doxa.

I’m a little perplexed, anyway, as to why this brand of doxa should be a problem for anyone. It seems to be the new Otherkin, in terms of both its growing frequency and the horror with which even the most magically and shamanically inclined react to it. Are people so insecure in their own doxa/UPG/whathaveyou that this sort of discussion threatens their entire faith structure, or their relationship with their gods? Does it seem disrespectful to the gods to them, in some way? And if the latter, how, exactly?  Is it materially worse to say “I have some of the essence of a (lore named) goddess in me” than it is to say “I’m married to a god”? Why is the latter acceptable (at least within certain circles), while the former throws people into a tizzy?

I don’t have the answer, but if, as Heather noted, she has been approached by about twenty people with some version of this doxa, regarding different gods (I know a handful myself, but nowhere near this many), then it is something that needs to be dealt with, in a way other than sending hate mail and snarking at people on public forums. (Suppose for a moment: no matter how unlikely you think it may be, what if that person whose name you’re so eager to drag through the mud really is a reflection of a goddess in some way? What do you imagine that goddess might think of that?)

I think, as with most negative reactions, fear has to be at the heart of this, so why are people afraid? We aren’t going to be setting up a cult, aren’t going to force you to drink the Kool-aid, and probably won’t (due to distance separating us) even organize a bake sale or show up at your local moot wearing matching tee shirts. And I promise, I promise, that I won’t show up at your house in the middle of the night and drink all of your mead. (Unless Odin makes me.)

For most of us, delving into this aspect of ourselves—and talking about it publicly, for those of us who feel moved to do so—is part of our own journey of self-discovery, part of the unfolding of our spiritual selves, and part of the continuing development of our relationships with our respective gods. And no matter what our particular Work is, that has to be at the base of it. Knowing Gunnlod, and knowing that part of Her exists inside me, has helped me understand sides of myself that I never even knew existed, and it has been foundational to going deeper in my relationship with Odin and my own personal Work. Is that really such a bad thing?

– Beth Lynch

I’ve mulled over whether or not I should talk about why I think Loki uses “Heidr” with me and not Gullveig – most of what I post about is done because it will help someone, somewhere have context for their own experiences, even if they’re not exactly like mine. For now, I’m keeping it to myself, but  long-term, what I really want is for people to feel free enough to pick at their own gnosis and decide what it means to them without being made to feel like they’re self-aggrandizing, crazy, or being shamed. The comments on the post are interesting to read as well, have a look, y’all.

via Forbidden UPG | Wytch of the North.

Call for submissions: a devotional to Njord

Heather Freysdottir:

Signal boosting, because Njord deserves more love.

Originally posted on The Serpent's Labyrinth:

Of all of the devotionals on the market for different gods and goddesses of the Northern tradition, I have yet to see one specifically dedicated exclusively to Njord, the sea god of the Vanir… a god particularly close to my heart, who has long been dear to me.  His serenity and his wisdom, his generosity, kindness, and gentle humor, have blessed my life over the years.  He has given me and my family gifts of cleansing, renewal, and hope this past year at the Oregon coast, where his presence is powerful; in gratitude, I am stepping up to the plate to put out a devotional book in his honor, a gift of praise, and a way for others to know him and love him.

For this book I am soliciting prayers, poetry, essays on Njord (especially personal experiences with him), and rituals for Njord.  You may make more than one…

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A prayer for those being oppressed in Ferguson, Missouri

Heather Freysdottir:

I can’t add much to this other than READ IT ALL.

Originally posted on Rebalancing Acts:

Hail Loki, Scarlipped God and Revealer of Harsh Truths,
I ask You to intervene in the media coverage of Ferguson, Missouri.
May those who misrepresent events in order to maintain cruel, unjust dominance be silenced.
May their lies be shown for what they are.
May all those speaking truths, especially the “unpleasant” truths that the oppressors most want silenced, be heard and known to be speaking the truth, and
May those truths lead to a better world.

Hail Loki, Father, Mother, Hero of the Lokka Tattur.
I ask You to intervene in Ferguson, Missouri, to protect the children there.
May those would would make them outcasts, who would bind them, harm them, kill them, be blocked and defeated.
May the children escape unscathed from all malevolent giants who would pursue them,
May their families remain intact, and may those who have already suffered terrible losses find support in their grief.

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UPG, apotheosis, and what does community work mean, anyway?

Today’s post is going to be brought to you by the letters F as in frithful, G as in Gullveig, and H as in Heiðr. And maybe also by UPG chicken, which is the unspoken game people play when they want to discuss gnosis that is personally important to them, but don’t want to be seen as crazy, egotistical, or whatever other slur the UPG police are using.

I’ve stated publicly before that since I left my former mortal spouse, Loki has been telling me that I’m His goddess. And He used the word “Lokadis,” which is one of my tats for Him. And at some point, He began to drop hints. Lots of hearts. Hearts on fire. Spears. And then one day, He pointed to two (that’s right, two) of my tattoos for Him that have hearts on fire.

wpid-IMG_20121017_180307.jpgI’ve been given housewarmings gifts of artwork of hearts on fire, by local people who are not Lokean and have no idea what it means in regards to Him either, telling me, “I just think you should have this.”

He: So why do you think you have these tattoos?
Me: Cause You ate Gullveig’s heart.
He: Do you know any other Lokeans who wear that symbol for Me?
Me: No, I don’t.
He: *smiles*
Me: …
He: …
Me: AW HEL NO.
He: *eyebrow* Why not?

I’ve wrestled with this for some time, and I’ve come to accept it, for various reasons, some of which I’ll discuss later.

UPG-trust

Yes, I applied my own UPG flowchart to it.

Over time, I’ve come to understand at least some of why He says I’m Heiðr – and also why it’s Heiðr and not Gullveig that He references. (Hint: it’s not just because Heiðr, Heather, Heidi, heathen, and heath are all semantically related). But this post is not actually a Who the Fuck am I? post, because recently I ran into someone else who played UPG chicken with me, and they brought up Gullveig. We compared notes enough for them to ask me, “Is it possible to be Gullveig, kind of?”

And I had to make faces at Loki and go “I don’t EVEN KNOW THEIR REAL NAME” to which He said, “Oh tell THEM that, and ASK THEM FOR IT.”

So I had to suck it up and talk about Heiðr/me. But after we chatted more about the Gullveig thing, we collectively realized that it’s because this person’s w/Work is much more like Gullveig’s than Heiðr, and I don’t want to get more into it than that, because people have privacy needs.

But it’s really fascinating to see how They’re picking people from different walks of life and how that fits into the bigger picture of what the Gods need and want done. But one of the things that perplexed the person was that they don’t do any really spooky fu stuff, and I mean none in the traditional sense of what people think of as “community work,” and so they wondered if their connection with Loki was legit if their work wasn’t spiritual in nature or otherwise devoted to Heathenry or NT Paganism.

Let me say this, and I am trying to say this in the most polite, frithful way that I can: some perfectly legitimate Godspouses/Beloveds/Consorts don’t do any spiritwork, aside from their relationship with their Beloved. In fact, the only thing that those persons can chat about with other Lokeans might well be their personal, intimate relationship with their Beloved. The fact that it isn’t easily apparent to someone on the Internet does not meant that the person does not serve the community in one respect or another. If I could namecheck the person (and I will not unless they give me permission to do so), their Great Work might well impact the whole damn world. If someone’s Work is say, environmental research, perhaps instead of thinking that said spouse doesn’t serve “the community” – which is a statement akin to “won’t someone think of the children!!11!!!” in the sense that usually when it comes out of someone’s mouth, they’re not really thinking of the children at all, but I digress –  maybe we should be considering that the Powers’ perspective of “the community” is the whole damn world. The hypothetical TMI godspouse might be young, but they may be gaining experience that will help their Work or otherwise build a firm foundation in their relationship with Deity that isn’t visible to an outsider. I’m just saying that once upon a time, I was a silly young thing, and it didn’t make me a bad person; it takes time to grow into a role. Jamming Godspouses/Consorts/etc into proscribed roles isn’t helpful; it’s teaching people that they are only worthy and worthwhile if they’re useful (at best) and often comes off as slut-shaming (at worst). Freyja is side-eyeing the slut-shaming, y’all.

And this bee is really in my bonnet because when I was talking to the person about what might happen to them if they accepted a relationship with Loki, I said, “well They use the skills that you have,” and their relief was a palpable thing.

This strikes me as incredibly fucked up, not on their part, but because the trope of Godspouses as Community Workers has been pushed so heavily and in such a way that they wondered what good they could and should be doing.

It needs to be said: Godspouses, consorts, and spiritworkers do not exist to serve the community. No, really, we don’t. We exist for ourselves. Many of us enjoy helping our Beloveds’ communities in one fashion or another, but if someone can’t do community work, that doesn’t negate their inherent human worth and dignity. Some of us don’t do a lot of human side work. Not everyone is happy go lucky and extroverted. The “Godspouse as Community Worker” trope is damaging to interpersonal relationships, emotional stability, mental health, and personal relationships with the Powers.

 

As a coda to this post, because I’m sure someone reading it will be curious about why I bothered to talk about what I consider to be a pretty damn personal piece of doxa. I did it because it helped me figure out what Loki needs from me, and what I actually want to do for my own personal development. (Hint: it’s not starting a cult. We are not putting on matching shoes and t-shirts, shaving our heads, etc in my name, mmmkay?) I’ve had an awful lot of people come to me privately with similar doxa in regards to themselves and some other Deity, and so I’ve hit that point on the Godphone flowchart where this gnosis may be of use to someone other than me. For my own personal mileage, I don’t think any Deity can be contained entirely, or even mostly, in any given human body. If Loki is throwing Heiðr at me as something other than a title, I’m not all of Her, even if a great deal of me comes from Her in some fashion, a lot more of Her exists compared to human-me. It’s helpful to me in understanding my relationship with Loki, in knowing myself in all my parts, and knowing it does not negate my human experience. Perhaps I’ll write more about my experiences with this gnosis when I have more time and spoons, perhaps, if I think it’s of use to others.

Worth

Heather Freysdottir:

As someone who has a chronic disability, ALL OF THIS. A quote for y’all:

“Just being poor, having disabilities and illnesses, having challenges and hardships and tragedy in your life, is not because you displease the gods, and not because you fail at magic. The world is hard. It is harder if you experience intersectionality – being on the receiving end of racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc, wherein you have societal disadvantages coming out the gate. Magic will only work within the limitations of your circumstances – it won’t cure your disabilities, it won’t make society suddenly stop discriminating against $MINORITY. And the Powers can only do so much for us, much as they might want to help us. The Powers can’t exactly magically fix systematic oppression (fighting it is our job). The Powers can’t cure everything. And as I said above, the gods themselves know tragedy and pain. Would you dare accuse them of “doing it wrong” and “not being powerful” and “failing at magic” because they have experienced hardship in their lives? Then don’t do it to human-bodied people.”

Being god-touched doesn’t magically make my lung disorder go away, y’all, and I am quite aware that one day, it (or one of its side effects, because what I have predisposes me to secondary and tertiary infection) will kill me. I still have PTSD. My relationship with Loki helps me deal with having these conditions, but their presence doesn’t indicate a lack of fucks to give on His part, or a lack of devotion on mine (or anyone else who works with Him and has a disability).

In some ways I am really sick of hearing mental illness separated and singled out – isn’t your brain in your head? Isn’t that part of your body? I know that people often cite that mental illness affects personality, but if you think on that a moment, let me tell you that my lung disorder affects my personality, who I socialize with, etc. My lungs are often far more a factor on how, where, and who I spend time with than my PTSD, and who you’re friends with certainly influences your personality too.

Just some food for thought.

Originally posted on The Serpent's Labyrinth:

My latest post on Staff of Asclepius at Patheos, entitled Worth, is up.

View original

About me updated

Mostly to add a more recent pic of me. And some humor.

me_summer_selfie
Things you should know about me:

  1. I’m a Lokean godspouse; I’m by no means the only one. He has various (and awesome) husbands and wives and I’m honored to be part of His community. I’d also add that spouse is not the only devotional relationship that you can have with Loki; there are parent/child, friend, master/mentor, friend with benefits, and sibling devotional relationships, etc. I’ve been with Loki a great deal longer than I’ve been Lokean, and He is my Muse of Fire.
  2. I am NOT a reconstructionist. I am a Revivalist/Immersion Polytheist, and I am concerned with creating a vibrant, loving, positive living tradition.
  3. I practice Nichiren Buddhism in addition to Paganism/Polytheism.
  4. I don’t argue with people on the Internet.
  5. I’m a mother, and I do a lot of Work with my Disir (the Heathen Tribal Mothers who protect family lines); however, I DO NOT believe a woman’s worth is measured by her reproductive status.
  6. I have a couple advanced degrees in ed and communication sciences, with a heavy emphasis on linguistics and phonology. I served as a teacher before my immune disorder kicked in. I miss the children; I don’t miss the politics of public service.
  7. I’ve worked professionally as a writer, editor, and publisher, for both small presses and large scientific journals. I am also an acquisitions editor for Burning Heart Press.
  8. I am the host of Raven About Metaphysics, a podcast dedicated to occult topics, Paganism, and Polytheism. It’s sponsored by the Raven Faerie, a metaphysical shop in Central Florida.
  9. I have an autoimmune disorder, like many spiritworkers.
  10. I don’t use the word “shaman” because Loki doesn’t, however, I am a big believer in using whatever terminology the Gods tell you to use. It’s not my place to correct Them.
  11. I’m engaged in Sacred Queenship, which is tied to both Loki and to my Disir, many of Whom are royal, and blood kin to me.
  12. This does not make me better than you; it makes me beholden to serve Them, and this is done mainly by modeling feminine sovereignty, and asserting that one may be feminine and Still Know a Few Things. Again, this has nothing to do with reproductive status per se; one of the elders I love and cherish best has never had children herself. A woman’s worth does not begin or end with her ability to reproduce, or with her ability to incite sexual desire in others.
  13. Not every spousal relationship looks like mine. I don’t disclaimer the crap out of my writing because as an editor, I find the terms “I think” and “I feel” or “your mileage may vary” to be weak writing. OF COURSE the opinion given is mine; I’m the one writing it, and I’m not putting in crap that I used to smite out of other people’s writing. Use what you can of my experiences, discard what isn’t useful to you; rest assured I won’t be offended if your mileage does vary because IT’S SUPPOSED TO VARY.
  14. I’ve been told that I sound authoritative when I write, and that’s probably because that’s what I’ve been trained to do. Pedagogy is part of my professional degrees, certifications, and experience. HOWEVER, I would like anyone reading to understand that my personal philosophy of education is that my word is not law, my word is a starting point for anyone who learns from me. If you gentle readers reach conclusions based on your experiences, I have done my work correctly, regardless of whether or not your conclusions match mine.
  15. Per Loki’s wishes, I am primarily focused on my writing at this time. If you need a reading, I may be able to help you, or I may direct you to another spiritworker. If you’re interested in having a reading in-person, contact the Raven Faerie for my hours and availability. I will also be conducting seidhr sessions periodically, and they will be announced about a week in advance.
  16. I do not take “Does X Deity want a relationship with me?” readings anymore. I’ve decided that over the course of my Wild Ride with Himself that Team Norse does not court subtly; if He or She wants you, you’ll figure it out quickly.
  17. I do not engage in free pastoral counseling, particularly if it involves a lot of TMI about an individual’s relationship with Loki. I am a public wife, but that does not mean that I need to have all the gory details of your relationship with Himself. Stop now if  that’s all you want to do… and consider your thoughts before seeking my counsel. My paypal addy is lokisbruid AT gmail DOT com if you’re interested, and I’m available.
  18. I’ve been Pagan for 14 years. It’s entailed investigating a number of paths, from Wicca to ceremonial magick, to agnosticy paganism. Initially heathenry’s conservative elements put me off of identifying as heathen. I’m part of an online interfaith study group because Loki appears to have no f*cks to give about pantheon boundaries, titles, labels, or other such shenanigans.
  19. I’m also a Lokean nun, but I’d like to reiterate that not all godspouses engage in monasticism. I’m new to this path, and so I don’t have a monastic FAQ, and if you want more information on pagan monasticism, I would encourage you to visit Elizabeth Vongvisith’s blog, Twilight and Fire. I’ve found her writing about her own experiences to be very helpful in understanding mine, even if my practice isn’t identical to hers. The other monastic I admire greatly is Sister Joan Chittister, whose love for her God and her burning desire for social justice inspires me in my own practice. I’m not a Christopagan, but I still find her ideas valuable. Going back to the UU for a moment, social justice shouldn’t be the sole province of monotheists; all people of faiths should care about it and represent those values in their community.
  20. Sometimes I’m slow to answer email. If I’m sick, I take time to recover.
  21. Also, I’m still not a reconstructionist.
  22. Other questions and comments can be directed to lokisbruid AT gmail DOT com. Be advised that I’m a southern swamp witch and I prefer manners and civil discourse.

FAQ updated 8/4/2014.

ETA: All seriousness aside, everyone who has ever lurked my blog and then met me IRL has had this experience:

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