How do You Judge Unverified Personal Gnosis?

English: Copperplate image depicting "Oth...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When dealing with Unverified Personal Gnosis(stuff about Pagan things that can’t be found in the lore) how do you go about sorting it out as “most likely in your head” and

“this might reflect external reality” when it is not super obvious.

Here is my situation. After about 15 years of silence Freyja is talking to me again. The message is simple and pretty clear. The short short version goes like this.

“I’m here. You don’t need to set up an altar. Wearing a Thor’s hammer would be a nice gesture. If you need spiritual strength when you are tempted with unethical things(especially in the arena of romantic loyalty), call on me and I’ll help you out without lien or obligation.”

I see this as “grey area” because while it isn’t obviously wrong Freyja as presented in the Eddas never seemed particularly interested in helping people keep their romantic commitments pure. Also, as I have read here the Germanic deities don’t seem to be interested in helping as much as wanting followers who don’t need that type of help at all. On the other hand the virtues in question are very much in line with keeping one’s word which IS very much in line with the virtues that the Germanic deities overall seem to hold dear.

‘Valid’ Experiences?

And by that I mean, the experiences we have and share (or learn not to share). I was thinking about this when reading the thread by Ejay ‘Anyone having feelings of immanent change? ‘ in the Faith in everyday life’ section.

I responded because lately myself and a number of people I know (which takes it out of just my own personal experiences) have had a similar ‘feeling’ and also, having odd experiences out of the reasonable expectations of everyday events.

Now it’s true it could mean absolutely nothing or, as I mentioned in my response, it could be picking up on someone somewhere in the world where such a change is most certainly about to happen ( a village in Syria, Ebola creeping across some African countries and etc.). Who knows?

Yet the ‘feeling’ is strong and can be very disturbing.Trying to find it’s ‘source’ becomes important.

Now some people suggested that it was just a personal aberration of feeling , perhaps related to anxiety and to find some distraction. That put me in mind of Shrike from ‘Miss Lonelyhearts’ who always suggested answering even the most heinous of life questions with ” Have you considered Art?”.

And for sure, if someone has some ‘feeling’ of something impending, the mundane answer is probably the most sensible.

But the most sensible answers are the ones that I , at least, go through first. I’m skeptical, non-deistic and not given to the vapours. I kind of forsaw what answers if any would be made to such a post but because I and some (very) different friends and associates have been experiencing the same thing,I responded. Out of curiosity. Out of a carking worry. Out of wondering if anyone could suggest what or how such a ‘feeling’ could arise.

And one poster made very good suggestions but more importantly, did not dismiss the feelings I (and people around me) and the O.P. have been experiencing out of hand.

Which led me to wonder how people ‘parse’ the experiences of others.

I have seen many posts of people who have experienced something which they may feel is related to one or more deities and very rarely do people respond with the suggestion that it is nothing more than personal mistranslation of mundane events. Or suggest the person may just be anxious about something and in need of a hobby.

No, people tend to take such things most seriously and (more importantly) strive to find possible answers or ways of addressing the situation and identifying the precipitating event. To be fair this does not always happen, something people seem genuinely disturbed and appear to be using attribution rather than self examination and people *do* suggest this. But more often than not the experience is taken seriously, examined and explored.

Which leads me to the H.C.E. : the hierarchy of credible experiences. Is there one?

What makes people take some unexplained phenomenon or feelings seriously and slot others into the simple artifacts or life or that someone is just imagining something?

I will say that the experiences I and others have been going through were enough to make me ask if there was an explanation.And in fairness, the answer , except from one person, was no, there is no explanation so forget it: your ‘feelings’ do not constitute a ‘creditable experience’.

The only effect that has is to make one stop asking and sharing their personal experiences with others. Which is fine. But unsatisfactory somehow and not a little discouraging. Especially when one is worried.

Anyone Having Feelings of Immanent Change?

I don’t know how to even post this without sounding like a lunatic.

Apparently I’m what some call “intuitive” and to make a long story short, I backed away from this years ago. It made me so uncomfortable that I’ve spent years building up layers, like an onion, to bury it.

Now, at 49, my life has felt flat, so I’ve been working on peeling back some of these layers.

Three days ago, I have felt more “uncomfortable” than ever. There’s something coming and I don’t know whether it’s just in my own life or whether it’s something pandemic. I’m too close to it. I haven’t worked with this feeling to learn how to interpret it, so I just don’t know.. It’s just very strong.

I’m not talking about slow cultural change. This feels imminent. Huge change.

But what I don’t know and can’t tell is whether this involves all of us or just me. This is such an “in your face” feeling, that I’m having a very hard time stepping back to gain perspective.

And there is my question. Is anyone else feeling anything like this? If not, then I will assume that it’s my own world that is about to change.

Radical interpretations of Norse Mythology

I was just discussing Paidric Colum’s Norse Gods and Heroes for a university class, and my professor had an interesting reading of the text. Though I didn’t see these elements when I read it, he made a pretty compelling argument that Colum (an Irish nationalist and radical) was subtly telling the myths in such a way as to present the Aesir as representing an immoral hierarchy which should be overturned. I wasn’t unfamiliar with these kinds of readings of Norse myth, though I didn’t necessarily see Colum’s presentation as supporting it at first.

I want to know what people here think about these more radical readings of hierarchies and power dynamics in Norse myth. Events that particularly interest me include:

The fact that the Aesir seem to have fired the first shots in the Aesir/Jotun war.

The fact that the Aesir seem to have fired the first shots in the Aesir/Vanir war.

The Aesir have no intention of dealing with other races fairly, as evidenced by the building of the wall.

The only way they really interact with the Jotuns is by killing their men and stealing their women.

The binding of Loki’s children seems preemptive and unfair.

Essentially, what I want to know is why I should side with the Aesir when they seem to be the equivalent of pretty much any imperial, conquering force that harms indigenous people to establish their own “order”? What makes them different from the British in Ireland or the Europeans in the Americas?

Does Anyone Else Have Issues with Tribalism?

For those of you who don’t know what the term means, “tribalism” refers to the current within Neo-paganism that claims that in order to understand gods and practice religion properly the “culture” (often invented by the founder) must be adopted to some degree.

First issue: being able to pick one’s culture, invent it, and adopt a new ethnic identity. This is another manifestation of white privilege, as I learned from reading “Dealing with Race, Ethnicity, and Whiteness in constructing the Ethnic Folkway of Germanic Heathenry” by Jennifer Snook From page 14: “Because whites are unconstrained by the politics and visibility of race, they are free to choose from multicultural symbols and practices.” With great privilege comes the greater responsibility of not using it.

Second issue: European culture (artificial or not) being presented as universal. Well, to be blunt, only a white person could come up with something so color and culture blind. Not to mention the fact it completely ignores the history of imperialism and how problematic westernization has been for non-European cultures.

Third issue: though the CR and Gaol Naofa FAQs discuss the evils of cultural appropriation, the authors don’t seem to realize that assuming someone else’s culture, and even ethnic identity (including extinct ones) when one has not been born to it or chosen to become a citizen of the country where it’s native, is the most egregious form of c.a. that I can imagine.

Fourth issue: But-its-my-cultural-heritage! People. Maybe if you’re an immigrant, or your family is, and you were raised in an immigrant community-you have some right to a European cultural heritage. But coming from the perspective of a person whose grandparents got off the boat at a one-muddy-path village called Jamestown, and I’ll be blunt again, one’s “European cultural heritage” ended when your ancestors decided to emigrate. We need to start calling it what it is-national heritage, because it belongs to the people who live in the country where the stuff happened. Faint if you must.

Fifth issue: the surviving Indo-European pagan religions (all Indo-Iranian [the Dharma of Sanatana, Buddha, Jaina, and non-racialist Mazdayasna]) do not require converts to adopt aspects of an Indo-Iranian ethnic group. The only thing they require to practice the religion is……….brace for it……………practicing the religion. Shocking, I know. No folk customs? No ethnic clothing/sports/cuisine/music/dances/art? No nothing? How do you live?! Some of you may exclaim. By grounding my religion in my own culture and family traditions. Which directly leads to-

Sixth issue: the CR and Gaol Naofa FAQs also talk about “westerners” (a.k.a. P.o.W.? [people of whiteness]) being rootless (read: ethnicless read: pretty sure they’re talkin’ ’bout white people now) and not being raised in a culture. How is that even physically possible? Are we alien pod people? Needless to say, this kind of attitude leads to the kinds of cultural appropriation they protest.

Seventh issue: The Usonan Person’s Burden. Sometimes the chatter about preserving European folk customs, when coming from my fellow Usonans, sounds paternalistic, like we need to preserve European ethnic groups from their own cultural evolution-which is none of our business, I might add.

A recent thread on how illogical folkism is reminded me that tribalism, considered the midpoint between the folkists and the complete universalism of Indo-Iranian religions, is also a little illogical. Especially when coming from U.S. citizens. Has anyone else noticed these issues? Is it possible for Neo-paganism to grow beyond them?

Which Came First, the Universe or the Gods?

I would love nothing more than to hear what you believe on the matter. I personally believe that the Goddesses/Gods are a product of the Universe rather than the thought that the universe was created by a God/Goddess or Gods/Goddesses. I feel that if one can find an understanding of a Deity’s relation the the cosmos, it is only a stones throw from being able to understand our roll in the cosmos as well as our progression through time and space both physically and spiritually.

Please let me know what you think!

The Ethics of Offerings

In this post, in the ‘Honoring Land Spirits’ thread, Ferelia talked about avoiding offerings of food, drink or items, as these involve (unneccessary?) consumption of the produce of the earth.

I’m very keen to ensure that any offerings I give are ethical. I look at the processes of producing and shipping food etc., from as many perspectives as possible (from human rights to animal rights to environmental conservation), and this affects what I purchase (or grow or find) as offerings.

But offerings themselves, as an expression of hospitality, are central to my religion. In an ADF context, we give offerings in a spirit of hospitality and reciprocity: “I give so that you may give”. My Gaelic polytheism is similarly based around giving offerings. If the gods are real – and I believe that they are – then they deserve hospitality.

This is often based on sharing my food with them, but I also have a bottle of whisky on hand most of the time that’s mainly for them – I may have a taste, but the gods get the bulk of it. I will sometimes use found items – carefully – or buy things that are just for the gods, and that I wouldn’t have been consuming otherwise.

So, in response to what Ferelia was saying: do you think giving physical offerings of this kind is important? Do you think it can be done ethically? Is it an expression of ethics itself, and if so, how does that reflect on what you give to the gods?

Honoring Land Spirits

I’ve lived in this town for several years now and I’m curious about the spirits of the land that may be here. I’d like to make a respectful offering to them but I have some questions. (I’ve been reading other threads but I keep coming up with questions and I don’t want to derail people’s discussions.)

A) Who are they? How can I find out? Do I just make an offering and hope they accept it and never know who they may be? First Nations people lived here in the past. Would their land spirits still be here, or would they have followed the people when they left? Is it acceptable for someone not Native to make offerings to beings that may be Native?

Or would they be spirits of the spiritual beliefs that I am leaning towards and starting to learn about? Or would they just be beings of the land that grew organically in this place?

2) What kind of offerings are appropriate?

C) Do I say some sort of prayer? Meditate? Just say out loud what I’m doing?

I don’t want to do something wrong and offend a being. I tend to be horribly socially awkward as it is, I don’t need to add land spirits to my list of beings I can’t interact with without causing upset.