Independent store recs

Heather Freysdottir:

I was going to do a roundup of Pagan artisans to consider for your holiday shopping season, and Nono beat me to it. So here, for your consideration, Pagan artisan shops, and I have some more on my sidebar menu links.

Originally posted on The Serpent's Labyrinth:

Here is a short list of Etsy and StoreEnvy sellers who I encourage my readers to purchase from this holiday season, in addition to myself.

FiberWytch – Not just because Beth is a personal friend of mine, but I have ordered a couple cords from her (a sovereignity cord and a cord specifically commissioned for [D’s title]) and am very, very pleased with the quality, especially with the potency of the cord for [D’s title], and will be commissioning more cords from her in the future.  Beth has a lot of different cords available, and also has prayer beads and candles at her shop also, as well as e-books, and she does divinations.  (I will also vouch for Beth as a diviner.)  Beth will also eventually be branching out into soapmaking (really looking forward to that) and other witchy goodness.

The Blind Needle – I have a pair of…

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12 things white people can do now because Ferguson

Heather Freysdottir:

For those of us who are heartsick today, and who need something concrete to focus on, here are some suggestions on how to help with racism.

Originally posted on Quartz:

As we all know by now, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenage boy, was gunned down by the police while walking to his grandmother’s house in the middle of the afternoon. For the past few days my Facebook newsfeed has been full of stories about the incidents unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri.

But then I realized something.

For the first couple of days, almost all of the status updates expressing anger and grief about yet another extrajudicial killing of an unarmed black boy, the news articles about the militarized police altercations with community members and the horrifying pictures of his dead body on the city concrete were posted by people of color. Outpourings of rage and demands for justice were voiced by black people, Latinos, Asian Americans, Arab American Muslims. But posts by white people were few at first and those that I saw were posted mostly by my white activist or…

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Ferguson, and why we can’t turn a blind eye anymore

Actual unedited footage from Ferguson, MO. The clip should start at 8:20, if not, fast forward to it, if you want to see how American citizens are being treated. Why do our police look like an invading force?

Now, I know that this is a religious blog, and I don’t get political often, but this really shouldn’t even be political. This is just wrong. I’m a mother. I have an almost-adult son – he’ll be 18 in a couple months. When he decides to go for a walk, I don’t fear that someone will mistake a packet of skittles for a gun in his pocket, chase him when the police tell him not to do that, wrestle him, and then shoot him. I don’t worry that my child will spend the last moments of his life in terror. I don’t have to worry that if he raises his arms in surrender, that his surrender will be ignored. I should be thankful for this, and I am, but…

Thanksgiving Day is later this week, here in the United States. Ostensibly this holiday is about being thankful for living in the land of liberty; it’s becoming more and more about eating a lot and buying Secular Winter Holiday presents. That could be its own rant, but not today. How can we entertain the notion that we should be grateful to live in a land of liberty when US citizens are being subjected to tear gas? Tanks? How can we truly be free when I don’t have to worry about my son, and another mother will always have to worry that her son will be demonized and shot in the street, left for dead.

How can we consider ourselves free when the media just plays up property damage and ignores the collective wounds of a community? How long will we turn a blind eye on shock, horror, grief, and justified rage?

No justice for Trayvon Martin.

No justice for Michael Brown.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Today, I pray to the Disir to give succor to the grieving. Today, I pray to my God, Loki, Change-bringer, Worldbreaker, You Who knows too well what the loss of a child feels like, for we are all mad and need to go sane.

Sovereignty and Mysteries

Gerth spake:
40. Barri there is, | which we both know well,
A forest fair and still;
And nine nights hence | to the son of Njorth
Will Gerth there grant delight.”

Then Skirnir rode home. Freyr stood without, and spoke to him, and asked for tidings:

41. “Tell me, Skimir, | ere thou take off the saddle,
Or farest forward a step:
What hast thou done | in the giants’ dwelling
To make glad thee or me?”

Skirnir spoke:
42. “Barri there is, | which we both know well,
A forest fair and still;
And nine nights hence | to the son of Njorth
Will Gerth there grant delight.”

Freyr spake:
43. “Long is one night, | longer are two;
How then shall I bear three?
Often to me | has a month seemed less
Than now half a night of desire.” (source: sacred texts)

The courtship of Freyr and Gerda is an unusual tale, especially compared to our modern love stories – or perhaps not, given that bodice rippers still sell, but that’s a topic for another day. It’s got elements including visionary experiences, incantations, and a lot of moral ambiguity – did Freyr sanction Skirnir’s behavior? It’s debatable, and much like the identity Gullveig/Heith, interpretations vary.

Why?

Well, because it’s a Mystery. Multiple tales about the Gods exist so that we can see different facets of Them. I’m going to take a moment to quote from the linked entry by Thenea, which discusses initiations as a form of Mystery.

“You can become intimate with a deity without ever encountering another person at all. You become vastly more intimate with your deity, however, when you explore other aspects and manifestations of them, learn new mythologies about them, or new interpretations of the mythologies you already know. Initiations, done correctly, can help you do do precisely that.”

A lot of the Sacred Fiction that’s coming out now is exploring Mysteries, whether it explicitly says so or not. Examples include Nororiel Lokason’s Voices of Vanaheim, Beth Wodandis’s Water from the Well, Raven Kaldera’s books on spirit work; these are all full of modern tales that are really modern Mysteries.

The real key to these Mysteries is to understand that it’s not a UPG dick measuring contest – it’s about “huh, I never looked at X story that way.” There is not a single, One Twu Story about Who Gullveig is, or how Freyr and Gerda’s courtship went. Loki is bound, Loki is Free, Loki was bound, Loki was freed, Loki was never bound to begin with.

And I’d also say that it’s not limited to religion – earlier this week, I was on a road trip with Aika-san, and this song came on the radio:

“What do you think this song means?” she asked me. “I’m not sure Hozier’s Pagan, but I think inadvertent Pagan might have happened here.”

And what popped into my head was the Mystery of Freyr and Gerda’s relationship – both Their courtship and His Sovereign, sacrificial role. The Lady of the Labyrinth discusses this in an academic context. I’m a storyteller, so fiction is my Mystery medium, but both yield insight, if you’re open to it. “Offer me that deathless death/good god, let me give you my life,” sounds like apotheosis to me – the kind of passion and devotion that leads to transformation and beyond. Freyr is definitely a God of that nature; I know this not just from His interactions with Gerda (and other Beloveds) but from His acceptance of my relationship with Loki – and when I say “acceptance” I really mean that He understands. He knows what it’s like to consumed by love, of the notion that if this love consumes me right down to the bones, it is a good death, and that it shouldn’t be any other way. That is my Father’s gift.

Ultimately, to me, love in the real Mystery – all its difference faces, forms, and expressions.

Apotheosis and Divinity

I loathe the reblog box if I want to say anything about an entry at length because there’s no markup allowed, but I’d like to direct your attention to “Apotheosis: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About How Humans Become Greek Deities But Were Afraid To Ask,” by Thenea.


 

“Being 0% – 87% deity can leave a person with no actual divine status. Having no divine ancestry does not disqualify a mortal from apotheosis. Divine ancestry is not a consideration unless a person is born 100% divine with no ambiguous ancestry.

So, if you are going to say that a deity is to a human like a human is to an animal, or if you are going to argue that we can never be equal to the gods, because that would be similar to being equal to a volcano, you are going to have to explain away one basic fact: humans interbreed with deities, and that doesn’t necessarily make them gods. Or, they can cross over that line without any divine blood at all. If you aren’t following me, let’s get some help from Miriam Webster.

spe·cies

noun \ˈspē-(ˌ)shēz, -(ˌ)sēz\

biology : a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants : a group of related animals or plants that is smaller than a genus

So, actually, Greek mythology is telling us that gods and humans are a single species. Oh, wait, I read something like that somewhere else. Hang on.

“Or if you will, I will sum you up another tale well and skilfully — and do you lay it up in your heart, — how the gods and mortal men sprang from one source.” — Works and Days, Hesiod, lines 106-108

And indeed, if gods and humans were so fundamentally different from us as some people would like to suppose, apotheosis, which is a thing that happens in many mythologies, would be impossible.”


This is incredibly important to me, because it sounds very much like what Loki says about the relationship between Gods and humans, which is essentially that we are made of the same stuff. I know some people reading this might think that this somehow lessens the greatness of the Gods, but that isn’t the point: the point is that human beings are amazing in their own right.

 

 

Another Girl’s Paradise

I live in Paradise. Or at least, some people’s version of Paradise. I’m also a long-time Tori Amos fan, as I’m sure some of you gentle readers have already divined by the amount of her work on my blog. I love her for many reasons, among them that she’s unapologetic about her spirituality, her beauty, and her sexuality. And like me, she is also a rape survivor. In many ways, that in particular fascinates me because she seems less hindered by her assault than I am in terms of being willing or able to express desire. I had a lover ask me once what I wanted, and I was at a loss to express anything in particular, in no small part because asking for it seems Dangerous with a capital D.

And I’m not the only One aware of this problem – recently, Loki specifically asked me to tell Him what I wanted. Again, I don’t know. I’m always happy to try things, but I don’t ask or initiate, because I’ve been shamed into not wanting to express any sort of desire. Again, asking for it is, well, asking for it. Given the fact that I write romance, I’m sure that sound strange, but in essence, it’s Not Me enough to be Another Girl’s Paradise, and I can enjoy it, express myself.

I thought about putting the studio version of this song but Tori Amos is really meant to be enjoyed live. AGP is an older song by her, and it has been on many a Hidden Loki character playlist – sometimes His, sometimes a heroine, because it’s got a back and forth that reminds me of our relationship.

how could i resist? you are desire

when it all is said, said and done
who can love you and still be standing?

Loki leaves His mark, and He always has. “I love all of you. Not just the bits you think are acceptable to show to company. I know what’s in your closet.” (for reference, we were referring to that one closet where you have all the crap that you don’t know where it goes so it goes in there, in nothing that resembles any kind of order. That closet.) “I’m here to help you unpack it.”

“My closet’s a mess.”

“I know. I like messes. But seriously, Sweetheart, what do you want? You’re allowed to want things.”

And that’s a foreign concept to me. In fact, I’d say that’s not just me, but many women. We’re so primped and primed for the male gaze that we fake orgasms, dread lines appearing on our faces, grey hairs – things that make men “rugged” or “distinguished” make us “old” and “haggard” – please go reference any fucking commentary on Hilary Clinton’s appearance if you need an example. Because culturally speaking, our job is to be young, impressionable, and fuckable. Or, as Virginia Woolf once said, “Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of a man at twice its natural size.” A mature woman who has her own ideas and assertions is no looking glass; she is her own person. Actually, if you want to know a secret: even young women have their own ideas and assertions about life; the only difference between an older and younger woman is that the older one has had more experience in realizing that it is not the end of the world as we know it if she ventures an unpopular opinion.

Also, let me pause here and tell you that if you’re here to mansplain why these double standards are okay, that this blog is comment moderated and that your mansplaining will be deleted without a single fuck given. /moderator

Speaking of unpopular opinions, I am over the practice of slut shaming anyone who talks about godsex. Sex happens; sometimes people want to discuss it. Don’t like it? Don’t read it. People get all worried about looking crazy (way to go ableism) but you know what? This really isn’t a path for the sane. If sanity and mainstream normality are high on your personal priorities, prolonged contact with the numinous may not be for you, because it will change your mental map of the world. This is not limited to Loki or Lokeans; any deity is going to alter your comfort zone. That doesn’t necessarily mean privation, but it is change. Like me learning how to express desire.

And Loki’s other point about the expression of desire is that He doesn’t mean for it to be limited to speech; acting on desire is an expression of it just as much as speaking is.

you have come to discover what you want

“What do you want?”
I don’t know.
what i want is not to want what isn’t mine
but i am desire

“No, that’s not what you want. What you need is to want what you already have. Want the gifts that you are already given.”

when it all is said, said and done
who can love you and still be standing?
there’s Mary calling up a storm
can i take from you and not keep taking?
naked as day Gemma follows him
does it all come down to the thing
one girl fears in the night
is another girl’s paradise?

So I do indeed live in Paradise; not another girl’s, but my own, if only I can learn to appreciate it.

Regarding Personal Myth Cycles, or: when your understanding of what is, is out there.

Heather Freysdottir:

Reblogging for the thinky thoughts in the original post and also for many excellent comments below.

Originally posted on Strip Me Back To The Bone:

So, by now, I can only imagine that readers of my blog know where I fall on the whole treating ‘the Lore’ as scripture topic. For those who have missed it: my understanding (and more importantly for this writing) of ‘the Lore’ – everything from the myths that have made it down to our times to the historical information we have regarding how a god or spirit was worshiped and what their cultus looked like – is that ‘the Lore’ is nothing but historical UPG with the weight of tradition behind it. Yes, even the big things like the Eleusinian Mysteries that attracted oh so many people in the ancient world. (I suppose this would become something like PCPG rather than UPG at this point, but you get my meaning, I hope.) I use “unverified’ in an empirical sense, in this understanding – at no point, in what survives, did…

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