Tag: polytheist

The annoyance of literalism

IF there is one thing that profoundly annoys me, it’s when I hear things like “X god did this thing so I despise them” or when someone reads something like the Poetic Edda or one of the Sagas and sees the character of a god described and thinks “that’s literally them”. It gets even more obnoxious when that literalism is compounded by a very christian moralistic outlook. It’s this kind of reasoning that makes people say “Odin=Good, Loki=Evil” as if the two were Yahweh and Satan. That is not the case.

For those who are wondering what in the world I’m talking about when I say Mythic Literalism, I’m talking about a particular mode of thought. It often pops up in American Christianity, and it’s a way of viewing biblical texts as literal truths about the nature of god, and the actions said god undertook. Now there are plenty of criticisms within Christian thought that handle mythic literalism, and how it handles when dealing with the nature of the christian Yahweh-Christ. My focus ain’t on that. My focus is when a contentious view designed for a monotheist religious outlook is attempted to be forced onto a polytheist collection of stories and gods. It’s akin to trying to force a square plug into a round hole.

Hellenic polytheists fight this kind of thinking all the time, seeing as the myths of Hellenic gods and heroes are some of the more common stories of ancient religious belief we have available to a lay audience. The problem they encounter, and that polytheists have to frequently remind folks of, is that myth was never designed to be taken literally.

Myths range anywhere from historical sagas to cultural explanations to possible revisionism to straight up theological fiction. Often these stories would be related to some aspect of the gods, but through the lense of examining human society and how divinity related to said society. Humans were the real focus, not the gods. For example, there was a festival in Greece honoring the Muses where stories and plays would be made up about the gods to be performed. The good ones would stick around and be performed regularly because they were popular. That’s where many of the versions of Greek myths that we know come from. Poets and playwrights and political authors were no theologians, though they had context of the polytheism of the day because religious culture wasn’t divorced from everyday living like how it typically is in 2020’s USA. In fact, philosophers would often decry these poets and playwrights for their stories because they misconstrue ideas about society with things divined from the gods themselves. (funny how the more things change, the more things stay the same)

That brings us to talking about the Eddas. To keep this from turning into a small textbook on the nature of Eddic lore, the biases of Snorri, the timeframe in which he’s writing, and the audience which would be reading Snorri’s works in compilation and writing in the style he is trying to preserve I’ll keep it brief. The Poetic Edda is a collection of older heathen stories from across the Scandinavian areas of the Germanic world. Given what I’ve already said about the nature of myth being tools for teaching about societal functions and how those related to various aspects of the gods, you can quickly see how Snorri was in over his head with his compilation. Here he was, a christian monk writing long after the conversion of large parts of the germanic world, trying to make sense of these old stories of the formerly pagan society. There is a whole lot of context he didn’t have. So he trimmed them up, streamlined them, and used his own christian understanding to make it make sense to his christian audience. In doing so, it fundamentally changes the very nature of said myths, and introduces an implied moralistic literalism that didn’t exist in pre-christian heathenry.

We have stories about Loki’s trickery, because cunning and the unpredictability of change were attributed to Loki. We have stories of the warband and it’s ties with Odin, because death and conflict and the passions in both battle madness and poetry were seen as tied to Odin. We have Baldur passing away in different stories because darkness slays light, and light arises from darkness, these are aspects of Baldurs godliness. These aren’t moralistic stories meant to show a god of evil and a god of good, there are teaching you about what you can expect if you do certain actions in society. Insult the host of your stay, and you’ll expect to have your ass kicked. Transgress against another, and there is a price you must pay. Be wary of the oaths you swear because you can’t take back what is said. Flyting is all well and good, but know where your boundaries are. Never make a promise too good that you don’t want to keep it when the other guy comes to collect. Change happens, and when it does it can make way for something better than you had before. Hospitality can make old foes into trusted allies. These are the roots of the stories in the Eddas.

In short, always look closer at you’re reading. Always ask questions. And always seek to learn more about the context of when a saga was written, and what version you have in your hands. And never assume a god is good or bad because of what one person might have read or seen. We cannot know all ends and all perspectives, so never let your gaze be hard or else you lose sight of what’s important.

Wassail.

The Triple Goddess, in a modern sense.

The Triple Goddess, Also known as the phases of womanhood. 

-The concept of the triple goddess in the contemporary sense is a creation of the late 19th and early 20th century occult and literary world. Ronald Hutton, a scholar of neopaganism, argues that the concept of the triple moon goddess as Maiden, Mother, and Crone, each facet corresponding to a phase of the moon, is a modern creation of Robert Graves, drawing on the work of 19th and 20th century scholars such as especially Jane Harrison; and also Margaret Murray, James Frazer, the other members of the “myth and ritual” school of Cambridge Ritualists, and the occultist and writer Aleister Crowley . The idea of the triple goddess as maiden, mother, and crone and having an attachment to the phases of the moon comes from Graves book The White Goddess. Graves described The White Goddess as “a historical grammar of the language of poetic myth.” The book draws from the mythology and poetry of Wales and Ireland especially, as well as that of most of Western Europe and the ancient Middle East. Relying on arguments from etymology and the use of forensic techniques to uncover what he calls ‘iconotropic’ redaction of original myths, Graves argues for the worship of a single goddess under many names. Or so Graves frames his techniques to arrive at his conclusion.

-The reason why Graves came up with this idea was to argue that the male-dominant monotheistic god of Judaism and its successors were the cause of the White Goddess’s downfall, and thus the source of much of the modern world’s woe. He describes Woman as occupying a higher echelon than mere poet, that of the Muse Herself. He adds “This is not to say that a woman should refrain from writing poems; only, that she should write as a woman, not as an honorary man.” He seems particularly bothered by the spectre of women’s writing reflecting male-dominated poetic conventions. Largely, this idea that Graves thought of, this White goddess as root of all religion, was the matriarchal religion theory of it’s day. To Graves credit though he says his work is that poetry and not something based in history, something that critics of his White Goddess theory are quick to point out.

-This mythos caught on with the neo-pagan movement largely due to the Witch-cult theory of Margaret Murray, with proponents using Graves’s work, along with other works of dubious authenticity in the fields of archeology, classics, and literature to back their argument of an ancient goddess religion. This symbolism gathered more prevalence when the goddess worship movement took a life of its own, invigorated by second-wave feminism in the 60’s, and thus it became cemented in the cultural mindset of the neo-pagan community as a whole.

-While many Neopagans are not Wiccan, and within Neopaganism the practices and theology vary widely, many Wiccans and other neopagans worship the “Triple Goddess” of maiden, mother, and crone, a practice going back to mid-twentieth-century England and possibly older (though how much older is up for debate). In their view, sexuality, pregnancy, breastfeeding — and other female reproductive processes — are ways that women may embody the Goddess, making the physical body sacred. The Maiden is usually represented by white or silver to reflect her purity; the mother red to show the blood of giving birth; and the crone black or dark purple to show she is the evening of her life. Wiccan traditions often work with the Goddess in her triple form but may sometimes look at a particular goddess as Maiden, Mother and Crone

-The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, youth and youthful enthusiasm, represented by the waxing moon; It is best to picture a young woman who is often unattached romantically. She is the wild and free spirit of the world. She is new life and new beginnings, physical strength, youthful enthusiasm, waxing moon. While virginity is often attributed to the aspect of the maiden, it’s not a necessity. To be represented as maiden can also mean a woman in her prime, sexually free and seeking but remaining unattached. 

-The Mother represents ripeness, fertility, sexuality, fulfilment, stability, power and life represented by the full moon; This is a woman who has very much com into herself. She has learned who she is and rules her home or lands or life in most regards, if not all. Here the sexual nature remains, but it has become focused, attached. It has become not just pleasure but also creating life and bringing about the birth of the next succeeding generation.

-The Crone represents wisdom, repose, death, and endings represented by the waning moon. Some people mark the time of being a Crone as the time when a woman can no longer have children. Being a Crone is being at that stage of femininity when the end of life is far closer than the beginning, and now one allows the new generation to take their place while still giving the last reflections of the life lived before joining the otherworld in death.

-Historically there have been tri-faced, or tri-form goddesses. However, their triple forms were often due to other aspects of their worship and godly spheres of influence. Hekate, for example, is a traditionally tri-faced goddess. Her tri-faced quality is in part to her role as goddess of the crossroads. She has three faces to watch each part of the crossroad, its comings and goings. Her inclusion into the Graves triple goddess model has little to substantiate it, as Hekate is depicted as fresh faced and maiden-like while also being a goddess who governs death, crossings, and witchcraft. In the Graves model these qualities are said to be that of the Crone stage, and Hekate is no crone, though she may take a crone’s disguise to walk unseen amongst mortal men.

FISTCRAFT! (wait, what?)

You’ve heard of witchcraft, you may have heard of bitchcraft, and you might even play a little minecraft, or starcraft, or warcraft. But….GET READY FOR THE NEW SENSATION SWEEPING THE NATION!

FISTCRAFT!

Life getting you down?

FISTCRAFT!

Not getting that raise you wanted at work?

FISTCRAFT!

Drunken neighbors getting on your nerves?

FISTCRAFT!

Run into a neonazi at your local park?

FISTCRAFT!

Need a little pick me up in your love life?

FISTCRAFT (with consent!)

Simply ball your fingers up into a comfortable fist, wrap said fist in athletic tape, leather, barbed wire, roofing tar, thumbtacks, rock candy, live snakes, cherry flavored lubricant, an angry badger, or whatever additive you feel appropriate to your situation, scream BOO YA MOTHAFUCKA, and aggressively apply said fist into the soft, meaty center of the problems you need to address. Repeat as often as needed until the problem is solved!

FISTCRAFT, for those not in the mood to fuck around.

Epithets of Hermes

Greek Name|Transliteration|Latin Spelling|Translation|

  • Ἑρμης Επιμηλιος – Hermês Epimêlios – Hermes Epimelius – Hermes Keeper of the Flocks
  • Ἑρμης Κριοφορος – Hermês Kriophoros – Hermes Criophorus – Hermes Ram Bearer
  • Ἑρμης Αγοραιος – Hermês Agoraios – Hermes Agoraeus – Hermes Of the Market Place
  • Ἑρμης Δολιος – Hermês Dolios – Hermes Dolius – Hermes Of Crafts, Of Wiles
  • Ἑρμης Τρικεφαλος – Hermês Trikephalos – Hermes Tricephalus – Hermes Three-Headed (Of Road-Intersections)
  • Ἑρμης Εναγωνιος – Hermês Enagônios – Hermes Enagonius – Hermes Of the Games
  • Ἑρμης Προμαχος – Hermês Promakhos – Hermes Promachus – Hermes Champion
  • Ἑρμης Ἑρμηνευτης – Hermês Hermêneutês –Hermes Hermeneutes – Hermes Interpretor, Translator
  • Ἑρμης Προπυλαιος – Hermês Propylaios – Hermes Propylaeus – Hermes Of the Gateway
  • Ἑρμης Προναος – Hermês Pronaos – Hermes Pronaus – Hermes Of the Fore-Temple
  • Ἑρμης Διακτορος – Hermês Diaktoros – Hermes Diactorus – Hermes Guide, Minister, Messenger
  • Ἑρμης Αθανατος Δαικτορος – Hermês Athanatos Diaktoros –Hermes Athanatus Diactorus – Hermes Immortal Guide
  • Ἑρμης Ανγελος Αθανατων – Hermês Angelos Athanatôn –Hermes Angelus Athanaton – Hermes Messenger of the Gods
  • Ἑρμης Ανγελος Μακαρων – Hermês Angelos Makarôn –Hermes Angelus Macaron – Hermes Messenger of the Blessed Ones
  • Ἑρμης Χρυσορραπις – Hermês Khrysorrhapis –Hermes Chrysorrhapis – Hermes Of the Golden Wand
  • Ἑρμης Φηλητης – Hermês Phêlêtês – Hermes Pheletes – Hermes Thief, Robber, Rustler
  • Ἑρμης Αρχοσ Φηλητεων – Hermês Arkhos Phêlêteôn –Hermes Archus Pheleteon – Hermes Leader of Robbers and Thieves
  • Ἑρμης Κλεπσιφρων – Hermês Klepsiphrôn – Hermes Clepsiphron – Hermes Deceiver, Dissembler
  • Ἑρμης Μηχανιωτης – Hermês Mêkhaniôtês –Hermes Mechaniotes – Hermes Trickster, Contriver
  • Ἑρμης Ποικιλομητης – Hermês Poikilomêtês –Hermes Poecilometes – Hermes Full of Various Wiles
  • Ἑρμης Πολυτροπος – Hermês Polytropos – Hermes Polytropus – Hermes Wily, Shifting, Many-Turning
  • Ἑρμης Πονεομενος – Hermês Poneomenos –Hermes Poneomenus – Hermes Busy One
  • Ἑρμης Βουφονος – Hermês Bouphonos – Hermes Buphonus – Hermes Slayer of Oxen
  • Ἑρμης Οιοπολος – Hermês Oiopolos – Hermes Oeopolus – Hermes Sheep-Tending, Shepherd
  • Ἑρμης Δαις Ἑταιρος – Hermês Dais Hetairos – Hermes Daïs Hetaerus – Hermes Comrade of the Feast
  • Ἑρμης Χαρμοπηρων – Hermês Kharmophrôn –Hermes Charmophron – Hermes Glad-Hearted, Heart-Delighting
  • Ἑρμης Εριουνης – Hermês Eriounês – Hermes Eriounes – Hermes Luck-Bringing, Ready-Helper
  • Ἑρμης Ευσκοπος – Hermês Euskopos – Hermes Euscopus – Hermes Keen-Sighted, Watchful
  • Ἑρμης Δωτορ Εαων – Hermês Dôtor Eaôn – Hermes Dotor Eaon – Hermes Giver of Good Things
  • Ἑρμης Χαριδωτης – Hermês Kharidôtês – Hermes Charidotes – Hermes Giver of Joy
  • Ἑρμης Ακακητα – Hermês Akakêta – Hermes Acaceta – Hermes Guileless, Gracious
  • Ἑρμης Κυδιμος – Hermês Kydimos – Hermes Cydimus – Hermes Glorious
  • Ἑρμης Ερικυδης – Hermês Erikydês – Hermes Ericydes – Hermes Famous, Glorious, Splendid
  • Ἑρμης Αγλαος – Hermês Aglaos – Hermes Aglaus – Hermes Splendid, Bright, Glorious
  • Ἑρμης Κρατυς – Hermês Kratus – Hermes Cratus – Hermes Strong, Mighty
  • Ἑρμης Κρατερος – Hermês Krateros – Hermes Craterus – Hermes Strong, Mighty
  • Ἑρμης Μαστηριος – Hermês Mastêrios – Hermes Masterius – Hermes Of Searchers
  • Ἑρμης Πομπαιος – Hermês Pompaios – Hermes Pompaeus – Hermes The Guide

Epithets of Zeus

Agoraios – of the Marketplace
Aigiokhos – 
Aegis-Bearer
Aliterios – 
Cleansing from Sin
Basileus – 
King
Boulaios – 
of Counsel
Eleutherios – 
Liberator
Epidotes – 
Bountiful
Erigdoupos –
 Loud-Thundering
Euboulos – 
Good Counsellor
Eunemos – 
of Calm Winds
Gamelios – 
of Marriage
Hellenios – 
of the Greeks
Heraios – 
of Hera
Herkeios – 
Guardian of the Fence
Hersos – 
Divine Child
Hiksios – 
Protector of Suppliants
Horkos – 
of Oaths
Hupatos – 
Most High
Hypsistos – 
Heavenly
Kappotas – 
the Downpourer
Kataibates – 
Descender, as lightning
Katakhthonios – 
Subterranean
Kathatsios – 
the Purifying
Keraunos – 
Thunderbolt

A heathen hearth

The one-eyed god wears horns, because he is a wild god, a living god of the untamed places. He is fury and passion, prophecy and wisdom. Kingmaker, and Kingbreaker.

The goddess of the hearth is a weaver and a sorceress, weaving fates of men and women. And when she walks the earth she carries a sharp blade to cut the heads off her foes for she is mistress of battle and fury like her husband. And together, and it is always them together, they lead the hunt

The god of thunder wields a hammer, for he is a god of craftsmen and farmers. He keeps safe the working man, brings the warming rains to restore the fields, and hallows the homes of men. He is also the bane of ruinous powers, slayer of thurses, demons, and all wild and unclean. Because that hammer is not just a workmen’s tool.

And his friend, his uncle, the god of trickery is a god of change. A god of fire. Like fire, it can burn things away, leaving us bereft of that which we have. But like fire, he pulls out the deadwood and burns the trash that doesn’t serve us. 

When apart they are mighty, the great gods who shape the world. When together? There is no limit to what can be done. The entire fate of worlds has been changed in the blinking of an eye, and fortune itself rewritten when men and women reach out to them.