surrender

This entry came about from me asking Loki about some recurrent UPG/symbology that’s been ongoing for a few months now. Some of it involves Traditional Witchcraft symbology.

So what is up with the ALL the Horned God stuff?

What do you think is up with it?

Please don’t be sarcastic. I’m curious. What does it mean? You can be the Devil, but you’re not only the Devil, and the Devil isn’t only You. I guess it’s like all UPG, what does knowing this tell me about You? Or about me? You have this feralness about You in that aspect. It almost scares me.

Almost? Should I try harder? He smiled. I don’t want to scare you. Fear is not the point. WE are the point.

But what about us? (kisses tingling on my lips)

I sat down in meditation so that I could go deeper; and when I did, He sat at my feet and listened to me flail. The particulars are probably not important to y’all Gentle Readers, but the upshot of it went a lot like this:

Me: What does XUPG mean in terms of mythic time and what about Xthing that keeps popping up on and offline? Is this a Thing that I need to pay more attention to? What am I supposed to be learning from that facet of You? Or of Me? Wut? I wanna stop flailing at it and avoiding writing the Thing that I’ve been NOPE’ing at, any protips? IS THERE A MAP PLZ? (okay, I didn’t actually say that, but I think ‘map, please?’ is the upshot of the line of questions I had floating around in my head. Don’t ask me why I thought there would be a map with Loki, but I digress…) Questions, questions, questions.

Loki: …

Me: ?

And then He did devotional activities…to me. No, that’s not a euphemism. And in trying to describe it, I’m running into a lack of human words for things, because it wasn’t about words, or even actions, it was about emotions. It was very reverent – He was reverent of me, and it shut me right up, because what do you even say to a God who’s willing to prostrate Himself at your feet? “I love You,” is inadequate.

It was very raw; He was probably as vulnerable as I’ve ever seen Him. I wasn’t expecting an “am I on the right track?” question to turn into “I venerate You,” from Him. I’ve seen Loki sit in meditation and asked Him before what He worshiped or meditated on, and His reply was, “Humans,” but I didn’t expect this to mean me, personally. I filed that under ‘huh, humanity? Interesting,’ and went about my business. But that is exactly how it went, and there was even a point where I held Him in the way that He held me when my father died.

It was very humbling, and I know that some reading would go, “HOW??” but there is a power in that kind of surrender, that openness, that even though ostensibly He was the One bowing, I was the one who felt awe and wonder. It wasn’t a mortal and finite I love you; it was all-encompassing, and what it really showed me is that when you do surrender to a Deity out of love, and nothing but, that it’s not a gesture of self-abasement: it is nothing but love itself.

The Lore vs. UPG – A False Dichotomy, by John Beckett

“…no amount of reading and study was enough to exorcise the tentacles of fundamentalism from my soul. That took first-hand experience of the Gods.

…The information that comes from our direct experience of the Gods, ancestors, and spirits is often called UPG – Unverified Personal Gnosis. When done right, labeling such information as UPG acknowledges the uncertainty of religious experience. What we experience is undeniably real, but our interpretations of those experiences are subject to error. We cannot expect our subjective experiences to be authoritative for others who didn’t share the experience.

However, if a God is moving in the world, others are likely to have similar experiences and come to similar conclusions – the new information becomes shared personal gnosis. If enough people share the gnosis and if it proves meaningful and helpful, eventually it becomes verified gnosis and becomes an addition to the lore.

That’s fine in theory, but in practice UPG is often dismissed out of hand, particularly if it varies from the lore in any way.

Privileging lore and dismissing experience is the direct result of living in a Protestant-dominated culture.”

via The Lore vs. UPG – A False Dichotomy.

I’m aware that many of my readers probably already have a grip on this subject for themselves and their own practices, but John Beckett’s article raises issues that are worth discussing.

The First Confession of Isobel Gowdie

ISOBEL GOWDIE, appearing penitent for her heinous sins of Witchcraft, and that she had been overlong in that service, without any compulsion proceeded in her CONFESSIONS in the following manner, to wit:

‘How did you meet the Devil?

‘As I was going between the farmsteads of Drumdewin and the Heads I met the Devil, and there made a sort of covenant with him – I promised to meet him during the night here in the Kirk [church] of Aulderne, which I did.’

‘What happened?’

‘The first thing I did that night was deny my baptism. Then I put one of my hands on the crown of my head and the other to the sole of my foot and renounced all between my two hands to the Devil. He was in the reader’s desk with a black book in his hand. Margaret Brodie from Aulderne held me up to the Devil to be baptised by him. And he marked me in the shoulder and sucked out my blood from the mark and spat it into his hand, and, sprinkling it on my head, said, “I baptise thee Janet, in my own name!”’

‘And then?’

‘After a while we all left.’

‘Where did you next meet the Devil?’

‘Next time I met him was in the New Wards of Inshoch.’ [an old ruined ‘castle’ or keep near the farm where she lived with her husband.]

‘And what happened at that meeting?’

‘He had sex with me.’

‘How did the Devil appear to you?’

‘He was a big, dark, hairy man, very cold – I found his come as cold within me as spring well-water. Sometimes he had boots and sometimes shoes on his feet – but his feet were always forked and cloven. Sometimes he would be with us as a deer or a roe.’

The First Confession of Isobel Gowdie.

An idea about divine relationships

Originally posted on Magick From Scratch:

This post will be brief. I am thinking of the various ways that I have heard practitioners describe their relationships to God, Goddess, Gods, or sacred figures across trads. I notice that there are two basic axises… at least as far as I can tell.

One spectrum runs from Self to Distant Other, with Other somewhere in the middle. On one end of that spectrum, you have people who see deity as shaping their identity in some way. They want to emulate that deity, live up to their ideals, dress in their sacred symbols, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, you have practitioners who see deities as abstract forces of nature.

The other spectrum runs from Independence to Servitude, with Dependency of some kind in the middle. On the one end of the spectrum, you have witches who relate to deities like the postman, those who relate to deity…

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What It Means to Place the Gods First

Heather Freysdottir:

Sarenth’s thoughts on what it means to place the Gods first:

““The Gods come first” that does not mean that family disappears as a priority.

As head of my little Heathen household, what it means when I say “The Gods come first” is that They are the first consideration when decisions are made, when efforts are undertaken, and around whom the placement of our lives is made. Do we ask the Gods every time we do something small, like “Oh Odin, what shall I eat today?” No. What it means is that when we do sit down to eat, we pray to the Gods, Ancestors, spirits, the beings we are consuming (both animal and plant) and on behalf of all of those who brought the food to us. It means that we recognize our hamingja as a family is tied into right relationship with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits and how we treat Them, as much as how we treat one another. The idea that Gebo extends not only to the Gods, but to one another is one that suffuses our lives.”

Originally posted on Sarenth Odinsson's Blog:

Having read Galina Krasskova’s recent piece at Polytheist.com, I have to say, when people like her or myself say “The Gods come first” that does not mean that family disappears as a priority.

As head of my little Heathen household, what it means when I say “The Gods come first” is that They are the first consideration when decisions are made, when efforts are undertaken, and around whom the placement of our lives is made.  Do we ask the Gods every time we do something small, like “Oh Odin, what shall I eat today?”  No.  What it means is that when we do sit down to eat, we pray to the Gods, Ancestors, spirits, the beings we are consuming (both animal and plant) and on behalf of all of those who brought the food to us.  It means that we recognize our hamingja as a family is tied into…

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A Rant Against Lazy Writing

Originally posted on Strip Me Back To The Bone:

Before I really dive into this, I have to admit to a few things.

The first is, in the reading of Bringing Race to the Table (review forthcoming) there have been a number of stories that have really ripped my eyes open and have broken my heart. One that has sunk in real, real deep was Reluctant Spider talking about searching for images of “Goddess” and finding page after page after page of white goddess images. (The whole book has hit me, hit me good and hard, and I’ll be writing about that soon). Reluctant Spider sharing this story went a bit beyond my interest as a person who wants to not be an asshole, who wants instead to be the sort of ally that is wanted, and hits me hard in the storyteller-vein. More than any article on systemic racism or institutionalized racism or the prevalence of white privilege…

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Joy is Sacred

Joy is sacred, He said, and I didn’t understand. Isn’t all of this serious stuff? Shouldn’t I be in awe and terror of You?

Do you respect Me? Do you take Me seriously when I need you do that?

Yes. I’d ignore You at my own peril.

I don’t want fear or cowering or stoicism or even peril. I want your joy.

Aren’t I supposed to be dignified or some such shit?

What makes you think that joy is undignified? Joy is openness. Joy is being present. I desire your presence.

But people are afraid of You. Hel, I’ve been afraid of You.

I dunno why, sweetheart. I’ve been nothing but nice to you.

I didn’t know You were nice then.

Bullshit.

Fine. YOU are unnervingly open, how about that?

That’s really your problem with you.

And that gives You joy?

Your problems with yourself?

No, your unnerving openness.

Joy is a choice. Joy is being ‘unnervingly open’ and it’s being vulnerable to the ephemeral. Joy is fleeting, except when it’s not. It’s the acceptance of change. It’s the understanding that even if it’s temporary, it’s worth experiencing. Ultimately, it comes down to this: you can accept and enjoy this moment as it unfolds, or you can anticipate and dread its ending. But know this: your joy is sacred. It is presence without pretense, shame, or fear. Little else impresses Me.