Using Fiction to Explain your Faith?

fiction

(Photo credit: franlhughes)

I’ve been toying around the idea of using the medium of short stories (mostly e-books) to tell the story of my eclectic pagan path, as I think it’d be the most engaging and entertaining way to teach people about what I believe in.

Has anyone else ever done this before and have you had much success with this? The one thing that really concerns me though is trying to get the reader to look beyond the fictional story to see the inspiration behind it, the goddess that I worship, the nature spirits that I’ve talked to, etc. etc.

Anyone has thoughts on this?

What is the relationship of the Celtic gods and the sidhe (aos si)/annwn?

Prince Arthur and the Fairy Queen.

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From reading the mythological cycle of Ireland the Deities were forced out by the Sons of Mil and from folklore they enter the sidhe. The sidhe/annwn over time becomes the home of the fairies and others like the fairies with less connection made to the gods. I am interested in how others view the this connection between the sidhe is the location of the Celtic deities.

Review: I am Healer, Story Teller, and Warrior Priest: Learning from Arianrhod

English: Book covers of Illustreret norsk Lite...

Books (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The book I am Healer, Story Teller, and Warrior Priest: Learning from Arianrhod is a short book. This book focuses on the lessons of one specific Goddess within the Celtic pantheons. This book covers many different lessons for personal and spiritual development. The overall concept and goal behind the entire book is to gain a better sense of Self and the relationship to the divine.

The author divided the book up into 4 different sections. Each section of the book had a specific set of lessons in them. The first section of the book is basically an introduction section. Here you are given a starting point for the journey of the book. This is the only section of the book that is made up of one chapter.

The second section of the book is about myths and legends. This section of the book provides two key mythological tales from Celtic lore. The section here then discusses and provides and overview of those two mythic tales and the various lessons in them. Here we learn about some important deities in Celtic spirituality but also learn quite a bit about the relationships between the different divine groups within the Celtic pantheons.

Differences between Celtic Traditionalism and Celtic Reconstructionalism?

Celtic triangle

Celtic triangle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am trying to narrow down a path to follow but there are so many different Celtic traditions that look and seem very similar to one another so its been quite difficult.

The traditions that interest me in particular is druidism, celtic shamanism and the faery faith. However, before I rule out traditionalism and reconstructionalism I felt I needed to better understand the terms from those that have practiced or heard of them.

Pagan Beliefs in the Netherlands

English: This is a map of the modern Germanani...

This is a map of the modern Germananic peoples of Europe.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a starting point for sorting out thoughts on deity, ritual, and personal associations, I’m trying to trace back at least a little bit of ancestral stuff. Most of my family is Dutch (albeit, at this point, very thoroughly Americanized – depending on the branch you go by, I’m somewhere between fourth and sixth-generation American), so…trying to figure out stuff there. Three questions.

1) From my (fragmentary) research, it seems that Dutch culture and history are rather Germanic; are there major sorts of differences I should be aware of, especially with regards to worship/ritual constructions?

2) My historical timelining is similarly spotty, but if I’ve got the dates even remotely right, it seems like the formation of the Netherlands as a political entity came after the widespread dissemination of Christianity through Europe. How much, if anything, was left of the local spiritual beliefs at that time?

3) I’m getting a bit of a nudge about specific deities, land and sea, in a bit of an ongoing…wrestling match? Neighbors (perhaps brothers?) squabbling over the property line, things of that nature. Does this correspond to a known set of deities, or am I wandering in UPG-land here?

Questions about Asatru

detail of an image stone with Thor, Odin and Freyr

detail of an image stone with Thor, Odin and Freyr (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little backstory to hopefully explain my situation: I grew up in a Protestant Christian family and while I remain attracted to the idea of a God full of love, I am no longer certain that the Judeo-Christian God is like that. I just am not sure.

I am a graduate student of history. While I am not working with Anglo-Saxon or Norse history in particular I have nonetheless been drawn to it for quite some time (admittedly, the Bernard Cornwell books would probably do that to anybody). Nonetheless, in my research for my thesis I came across the idea of reconstructed religions of the past – notably Asatru. I started reading about it and something about it just drew me to it. After stumbling across “Anglo-Saxon Paganism for Beginners” by Swain Wodening I immediately purchased it on my Kindle (as buying a hard copy would surely create drama at home) and found it all very intriguing. I am interested in perhaps participating in a folk religion that is tied to me specifically, but is nonetheless inclusive and does not attempt to consign other gods or faiths to dust as does the Judeo-Christian faiths. Furthermore, the idea of being devoted to a particular God or Goddess is attractive to me. I am interested in hearing anybody’s experiences with Asatru.

1) I have been reading a fair bit of these forums. It seems to me that a whole lot of people have had what seems to be direct conversations (” “) with Gods and Goddesses from various pantheons. I’m wondering how you start that type of conversation, and what exactly is it like?

2) In the same vein, after reading much about Odin in both the above-mentioned book and Paxson’s “Essential Asatru” (as well as posts on this site) it strikes me that Odin seems to be a very scary figure – or one who you should not approach lightly. This is disappointing as I was originally drawn to him because he would seem to be an excellent patron for scholars and those who deeply value learning. I was wondering if anyone could expound further on Odin.

3) This is slightly embarrassing considering I do not even consider myself necessarily an Asatruar yet (just kind of probing and interested) but last night I prayed to Odin. It was short and it was respectful and it lacked an altar or a sacrifice but I did ask him to show himself to me somehow “tonight or soon.” Tangentially, how does everyone feel about silent or “quiet” prayer? My living situation pretty much demands that if I were to become an Asatruar having an altar would be impossible.

Overall, I am wondering if Asatru or some variation of it is right for me. I’m certainly open to other ideas if anybody has them and am eager to learn about other Pagan faiths. Thanks for any feedback!

Reconstructionism and Living Cultures

Various neopagan religious symbols (from left ...

Various neopagan religious symbols (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been having some thoughts on the label “reconstructionist”, its general usefulness as an approach, and how it intersects with living cultures, cultures of origin, and cultures in diaspora. I’m attempting coherency on the subject now because of two different things- reading Naomi’s post here on cultural misappropriation and differences, and Veggie talking about a podcast in chat, in which Tamara Siuda said “reconstructionism is a dead end because we cannot replicate how people lived then when we are living now.” (I don’t have the link for that podcast, maybe someone could share it here?)

I almost always describe myself as a syncretic eclectic with a strong interest/preference in history and historical sources, but not actually a reconstructionist. I also, on my blog, list my culture of origin in with the three ancient cultures I draw from, because that lens of origin is a thing and I think it needs to be paid attention to. In Naomi’s post, she talks about how reconstructionism is heavily a North American thing, and how North American Celtic pagans are divorced from the modern Celtic cultures. It’s brought up a few questions for me.

– Are there any cultures that pagans reconstruct (or attempt to reconstruct) that do not have any modern legacy? I think people would probably jump on Kemeticism, but Egypt does have a distinct culture, and Coptic Christianity and Egyptian Islam are different than Christianity and Islam elsewhere; and as mentioned by Nykti and Veggie in chat, there are folk traditions that persist today that really ping off older practices and beliefs.

– Can one realistically and faithfully reconstruct an ancient culture if there’s a modern living culture, and one is not part of said modern living culture? Where does reconstructing while living in diaspora, or having no cultural connection whatsoever, cross the line into appropriation?

– Why do reconstructionist pagans seem (to me, at least) to very rarely publicly acknowledge and discuss their culture of origin and its influences on their reconstructionism?

– If you are a recon, why do you use the label? What do you feel is different about your approach from other culturally-focused religious approaches? (Like, say, calling oneself a revivalist, or a cultural polytheist, etc.)

Is a Curse Ever Justified?

Hex sign abundance

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking recently about the idea of a curse and how a some people seem to think it is wrong or that it is dangerous because it could blow back at you, essentially it is like a loaded gun only a lot harder to aim. But is there ever a situation where using one would be justified? For example I set up some sort of big major ritual to pop someone’s aorta, let’s say a Nero, Hitler, Stalin, or any of the Kims; would that justified? Or would I be headed toward the Darkside? Any thoughts opinions?

disclaimer: This discussion is strictly a theoretical ethics debate

The ‘Godphone’ Concept

Red phone

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where did the godphone concept come from? Why is it becoming so prevalent, in eclectic Wiccan-influenced Paganism especially? I keep seeing people saying “I don’t have a godphone” or “I want to develop my godphone”. I find it absolutely fascinating from a sociological and theological standpoint, as I’ve not encountered anything similar to this concept in other religions or spiritual paths. My personal opinion is that it’s a useless metaphor, because hearing or experiencing deities is probably a skill that can be developed. But whether not it can, the metaphor seems very limiting, to me, in that there seems to be a mythos emerging that is leading to a kind of priesthood/laity split, between those who believe they can never communicate with the gods, and those who communicate with the gods and are thus being represented as having a ‘direct line’ to them.

Make any sense?

Conflicting Altar Issue

photograph of a cosmetic jar topped with a lio...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am new to Paganism and I would like an altar within my house now I have moved to my own place .However, I keep striking a problem as what I believe my patron goddess to be is Bast (Egyptian) and the goddesses and path that I mainly work with now is the Celtic Pagan traditions as my heritage is Scottish.

I know Bast would not like to share an altar spot with Rhiannon and nor would I expect her to, so I’m struggling with how to respect her properly and create a Celtic Fae earth altar as well..any ideas please on how I can do this respectfully cause shes given me a lot of gifts in the past that I still use and want to do her justice.