His Holy Presence Is Known

At my local Buddhist meeting this evening, we had toso. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to an extended period of chanting nam myoho renge kyo (NMYRK). If you’ve never heard the chant, here’s a youtube on what it sounds like:

While we were chanting, one of our members kept glancing back toward the corner where I was sitting, and finally they stopped and said, “what is that voice I keep hearing?”

Loki.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve sensed Him (and other spirits) around during chanting, and He’s very reverent during our meetings, but this is the first time that someone else has been able to hear Him.

Hate is not a Heathen Value

On April 13, 2014, a white supremacist perpetuated a hate crime on a Jewish Community Center. Some mass media outlets have attempted to identify the shooter as a Heathen, but I’d like to take a moment to reiterate that his values (or rather, his lack thereof) are not shared by Heathenry or Northern Tradition Paganism at large. The Troth has already issued a statement on using the Northern Tradition as a justification for hate crimes and bigotry.  And there are Heathens who feel that words are not enough, and have organized a fundraiser to help the families affected by the shooting.

Y’all know that I don’t primarily identify as a Heathen, and there are some reasons for that. One is that I don’t consider my practice reconstructionist in nature, and that’s a large one, but truth be told, the problematic issue of hate groups claiming Heathen identity is also part of why I back away from most Heathen groups. The Troth is the ONLY  Heathen org that I’ve ever joined because it has explicit, defined mission statements that are committed to racial diversity, “Membership in the Troth is open to all who seek to know and honor the Gods, ancestors, and values of the pre-Christian Germanic traditions, regardless of gender, race, nationality, or sexual orientation.

Now, that’s not to say that even the Troth has what I would consider an ideal mix of race; Paganism and Heathenry both suffer from racial diversity issues, which stem from more than just numbers or percentages of racial or ethnic groups. Maybe a frank discussion on how to desegregate and diversify is something we can take from this tragedy. I would welcome such a dialogue, because the more diverse Paganism and Heathenry become, the fewer racist assholes will try to misappropriate our faith. I’ve seen the type of racists who like to show their true colors when they think everyone’s white and they can speak freely.  And if you’re reading, and you’re one of those assholes?

You get the fuck off my blog. You’re not welcome here.

Buddhist things, and the Lotus Sutra – Chapter 16

I’ve been studying Nichiren Buddhism for some time, and at His request, I received Gohonzon during my week AFK – my guest was the person who introduced me to the practice and flew 3500 miles to be there for the ceremony.  Since I’ve started studying Buddhism in more depth, I’ve come to realize that Loki has said some things to me that are Buddhist as fuck, and I haven’t written about them here because I’m much newer to Buddhism than Paganism; maybe at some point I’ll share when I feel like i can field more questions rather than passing them on to someone else.  I have been tremendously tickled to find evidence of lay nuns in among Nichiren Daishonen‘s disciples. I have more thinky thoughts on my experiences of Loki as a Buddha (and for my purposes, a Buddha is a wise teacher, and there are many of those, both of the fleshy and disembodied variety), but for now I’ll leave y’all with Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra, which is good fodder for thought on the long fallow period between monotheism’s domination of western religion and the resurgence of polytheistic and Pagan traditions today.

At that time, the World Honored One [Shakyamuni Buddha], … spoke verses, saying,

From the time I attained Buddhahood,
The eons that have passed
Are limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads
Of kotis of asamkhyeyas in number.
I always speak the Dharma to teach and transform
Countless millions of living beings,
So they enter the Buddha Way.
And throughout these limitless eons,
In order to save living beings,
I expediently manifest Nirvana.
But in truth I do not pass into quiescence.
I remain here, always speaking the Dharma.
I always stay right here,
And using the power of spiritual penetrations,
I cause inverted living beings,
Although near me, not to see me.
The multitudes see me as passing into quiescence.
They extensively make offerings to my sharira.
All cherish ardent longing for me,
And their hearts look up to me in thirst.
Living beings, then faithful and subdued,
Straightforward, with compliant minds,
Single-mindedly wish to see the Buddha,
Caring not for their very lives.
At that time I and the Sangha assembly
All appear together on Magic Vulture Mountain,
Where I say to living beings
That I am always here and never cease to be.
But using the power of expedient devices
I manifest “ceasing” and “not ceasing” to be.
For living beings in other lands,
Reverent, faithful, and aspiring,
I speak the Unsurpassed Dharma.
But you who do not hear this
Think that I have passed into quiescence.
I see living beings
Sunk in misery, and yet
I refrain from manifesting for them
In order to cause them to look up in thirst,
Then, when their minds are filled with longing,
I emerge and speak the Dharma.
With such powerful spiritual penetrations,
Throughout asamkhyeyas of eons,
I remain always on Magic Vulture Mountain
And also dwell in other places.
When beings see the eon ending
And ravaged by the great fire,
My land is peaceful and secure,
Always filled with gods and humans,
Gardens and groves, halls and pavilions,
And various precious adornments.
There are jeweled trees with many flowers and fruits
Where living beings roam in delight.
The gods play celestial drums,
Always making various kinds of music,
And mandarava flowers
Are scattered on the Buddha and the great assembly.
My Pure Land is not destroyed,
But the multitudes see it being burned entirely.
Worried, terrified, and miserable,
Such ones are everywhere.
All these beings with offenses,
Because of their evil karmic causes and conditions,
Pass through asamkhyeyas of eons,
Without hearing the name of the Triple Jewel.
All who have cultivated merit and virtue,
Who are compliant, agreeable, and honest
They all see me
Here, speaking the Dharma.
Sometimes for this assembly,
I speak of the Buddha’s life span as limitless.
To those who see the Buddha only after long intervals,
I speak of the Buddha as being difficult to meet.
The power of my wisdom
The unlimited illumination of my wisdom
Is such that my life span is one of countless eons
Attained through long cultivation and work.
Those of you with wisdom,
Should not have doubts about this.
Cut them off entirely and forever,
For the Buddha’s words are real, not false.
They are like the clever expedients of the physician
Who, to cure his insane children,
Is actually alive, yet says he is dead,
And none can say that he speaks falsely.
I, too, am like a father to the world,
Saving all from suffering and woe.
But to living beings, inverted as they are,
I speak of cessation, although I actually remain.
Otherwise, because they often see me,
They would grow arrogant and lax.
Unruly and attached to the five desires,
They would tumble into the evil paths.
I am ever aware of living beings
Those who practice the Way and those who do not.
I speak various Dharmas for their sakes
To save them in an appropriate manner.
I am always thinking,
“How can I cause living beings
To enter the Unsurpassed Way
And to quickly perfect the body of a Buddha?”
via Lotus Sutra – Chapter 16.

Cardinal Grand Cross stuff

As some of you probably know, we are in the midst of a Cardinal Grand Cross. I will confess that I am not much into the horoscope in the daily paper; I think that it’s too general to be of much use, but I find that understanding the larger patterns of astrology can be helpful in understanding my reactions to events as well as others’  behavior.

“So how can you handle the exceptionally turbulent energy ahead?  First, breathe.  Breathe again. Take a few more deep breaths?!?  Self-care is super important.  Keep working on grounding yourself amidst all the passionate fire, air and water energy.  The only earth in the sky right now is Pluto so it can be mighty hard to ground yourself~ you will have to focus to do it.  Remember the energy is TRANSITS.  It is TRANSITORY! The transits pass away in about two weeks.  This baby is going to be mighty potent and you need to take care of yourself.

Second, focus on what you CAN do.  Use the Venus and Neptune in Pisces energy to connect in a loving way.  Contact your loved ones who are having a tough time and encourage them to stick it out and stay around. Contact folks who are ill or hanging on physically by a thread or two as eclipses tend to increase the death toll ~ people seem to check out in larger numbers when the eclipse pulse of energy rolls across earth ~ their work is finished and they are free to go. Combine an eclipse with a Cardinal Cross and there will be LOTS of exits. Contact the former addicts or alcoholics in your world and encourage them to double down on their sobriety techniques. Focus on what is positive self-care for YOUR SELF too.  When I sat down, exhausted, to write the column last week, I just looked at my computer and the word document holding the aspects waiting for me to write about them.  I said to myself “Anne, you need to take care of yourself.  Go to bed!” I did. Positive self-care for yourself!” — Anne Ortelee, Weekly Weather for April 7, 2014

I don’t know all the things about astrology, so please don’t ask me to explain all of this in any detail, but I can link you to some resources that go into it in more depth than I can do for y’all. The main thing that I hope y’all get out of this post is that people are gonna be losing their damn minds this month, so unplug, decompress, and practice lots and lots of self-care.

The Cardinal Grand Cross of 2014

I UV | Cardinal Grand Cross + Eclipses April 2014.

CARDINAL GRAND CROSS

Loki the Horned God

Some meta thoughts on Loki’s depiction, spurred by an interesting convo on my FB about Loki being likened to a Satanic figure in the Norse pantheon, and me mulling over how this is actually a backhanded compliment. I could rant on how Lu/Satan is unjustly vilified, but that’s a rant that is probably better handled by an actual Luciferian. I am not an expert on Him, but the vilification of horned depictions of Gods is relevant to my interests.

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Horned!Loki on the Kirkby Stone. The town of Kirkby Stephen was once part of the Danelaw, and the stone is dated to 850 AD. So…we have an actual depiction of Loki with horns, from ye olde days.

But what does that mean? Well, horned deities are a Big Deal, and are seen in multiple ancient traditions. A little scholarship on them, from the book Horns of Honor:

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The screenshot is from Google Books, if you’d like to look around in it. So horns were a common symbol of the Divine Masculine, and a representation of the God’s power, strength, and fertility. If you’d like more scholastic corroboration on the horn as a symbol of nobility and leadership, consider this image:

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Image source is from Lady with a Mead Cup by Michael J. Enright. The book discusses drinking rituals and kingship at great length. It’s primary concern is human kingship, but the obvious inference is that the reason a human king would use horns to associate himself with the power of the horned god, and then after Christian conversion, the horned animal from which its power and virility is derived. But it’s still a signifier of nobility.  I love the fact that a depiction of Loki with horns is usually ignored when people are discussing whether or not He’s a “real god.” It’s a whole ‘nother “hmm” that even this depiction of Him bound has the horns intact, and I’d argue that this suggests that even bound, Loki has not lost His kinship or divinity, contrary to arguments bandied about by Nokeans. But now, let us consider Loki’s most popular modern-day depiction:

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It’s fascinating to me that Marvel went out of their way to put Loki’s horned headdress into the films. Loki wears His horns far more often than Thor or Odin are depicted with their own mantles. One could make the argument that it’s supposed to be a visual subtext for His malice, but I’d make the argument for Loki’s nobility and potential for redemption because the helm is featured prominently in Thorthe Avengers, and is noticeably missing in the Dark World, where He is jailed and essentially stripped of his royalty until the end of the film. I will be curious to see whether it reappears in His next cinematic appearance, because if the helm signifies His ability to be redeemed, perhaps He has redeemed Himself, but since the end of the film is ambiguous as to why Loki’s on the throne (is it permanent? if so, WTF happened to Odin??), we don’t really know whether this is redemption or murder, which seems very appropriate for the character as depicted in the Marvel Universe. Considering what a BFD Kingship is to Marvel!Loki, the fact that He frequently sports horns on screen is an interesting bit of visual subtext indeed.

This has been your meta on How Ancient Pagan Symbols Affect Our Brains Meets Pop Culture Paganism. YMMV, disclaimer blah blah the fun of meta theory is that different people see different things in the same text etc.

xposted to my Tumblr.