Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 25, 2016

A Bit of Stress Relief…

Things in my life haven’t been exactly peachy lately…and while that can sometimes make for some interesting bouts of creativity, channeling what is crappy into what is interesting, it can also just create a lot of frustration and annoyance, too.

So, over the last few months, I’ve had to find ways of relieving my stress, and sometimes a good laugh is a nice way to do that. (Sometimes, also, watching the last episode of season 6 of Game of Thrones is also strangely satisfying…!?!) But over the past few weeks, I’ve also rediscovered someone that has rarely failed to make me laugh: George Carlin. His tendency to make lists, and his interest in the meanings of words and phrases, are both quintessentially Irish pastimes and preoccupations, and sometimes listening to his comedy routines is like hearing Middle Irish prose read aloud, which is very interesting.

No, he’s not remotely politically correct, though his heart is (and always has been) in the right place; part of comedy, which he discusses in several other places, is exaggeration…and though I don’t agree with all of what he says, and some of his statements even offend me under certain lights, my ability to contextualize, take things with a grain of salt, and also to understand that not everyone else has a duty to never say anything that will potentially offend, upset, or fail to agree with what I think is a fact of existence, and one that it is good to remind oneself of…so as I watch some of his things, I not only get to laugh, but I also get to remember that not everything I hear about being something I agree with is a good lesson to learn, and re-learn, and re-emphasize throughout life, so that when it happens with a friend or associate of mine, I can better deal with it. Or, at least I think so.

And, if that one is too much for you, how about this rather-too-accurate assessment of education, to which I can attest a great deal of truth based on my own experiences thus far…

Or, finally, the great comedian’s take on eschatology.

Enjoy–or don’t–as you may prefer. 😉

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 24, 2016

I Hate It When This Happens…

Many of you may have heard that last night, there was a shooting at Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. That’s not far from where I live, and as far as I know (I haven’t heard back from one friend yet, but I’m hoping it’s just because he’s a bit dippy and hasn’t responded), everyone I know is safe and unharmed.

I had a weird feeling afterwards, though…Earlier in the day, during one of my classes, I mentioned how our staff and faculty were given a mandatory safety and security session last week in which the entire topic was pretty much what lock-down procedure would be if there was an active shooter on campus, and how the new head of security pretty much told us that we need to be in “fight-or-flight” mode at all times now and always on the lookout for suspicious persons and behavior, etc. (Never mind that this is no way to live or to learn, especially since cortisol from elevated stress levels inhibits memory and clear cognition, increases paranoia, and so forth…) While I certainly know that nowhere is “safe” or “off-the-table” for incidents these days, nonetheless, telling us that our job is to do those things rather than to educate students…well, anyway…

So, my weird feeling after that occurred last night was that the perpetrator would either flee to Oak Harbor and/or be caught in my town, and might even be from here. I was right on all three…he was apprehended several hours ago less than 1/3 of a mile from where I live and am typing this now.

In the last few years, my area of Washington (north of Seattle) has made national news when a bridge collapsed, when there was a shooting at the high school in Marysville…and now this. I wish that something good would happen in this area that makes the news…it’s a beautiful place, and I’m happy to live here, and would go elsewhere only very reluctantly.

Well, I hope you will pray with me for those slain and their families, and likewise for the protection and blessing of the people in law enforcement who have handled this current situation very admirably (which, sadly, isn’t the case in way too many other places in the U.S. at present).

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 23, 2016

Celebrate Bisexuality Day 2016

Today rounds out the observances listed on my Calendar for the month of September. While the teaching quarter at one of my colleges (the main one) is one week finished now (and only eleven to go!), and things are getting relatively involved, with the first assignments coming in over the next few days, plus other offline work continuing and intensifying as well, I do hope to have a few more posts done before the end of the month, both here and elsewhere…we shall see how it goes.

But, for the moment, let’s pause and look at the concept of bisexuality in the overall range of queer identities, and where it applies in both my own life and in my overall theological views.

As some of you know, my M.A. thesis in religious studies was not on any “heavily” academic topic, but instead was of a praxis-theology-based matter, namely bisexual theology (which didn’t exist at that point within queer theology…and sadly still doesn’t really in any definite or noticeable fashion, within the Christian context nor any other of which I’m aware). That experience did, however, give me a great deal of experience in not only becoming familiar with, but also being critical (in the intellectual sense, rather than simply in the detracting sense) of the arguments out there which advanced one viewpoint (usually that of gay or lesbian triumphalism) while overshadowing and even attempting to erase other viewpoints (generally bisexuality).

We see this very commonly in polytheism and polytheist-friendly queer spiritual groups. We tend of think of Zeus and Ganymede, Poseidon and His various male lovers (Pelops, Nerites), and the homoerotic relationships of Herakles, Apollon, Dionysos, and Hermes–amongst many others–as “gay” rather than as being what they are descriptively, i.e. bisexuality. None of these Deities forsook relationships with women, and some were even said to have been married to various Goddesses, deified mortals, and other sorts of female beings along with Their homoerotic relationships.

And what about the great virgin Goddess, Artemis? Well, as much as she liked Kallisto, and Britomartis/Diktynna, and various other nymphs or mortal women, she also had favor–which sounds equally non-sexual (or at least ambiguously sexual) with a variety of males, including Hippolytus and Orion…and even Antinous. She might have been rather asexual, but appears to have been romantically bisexual as well. The same is true of so many so-called “lesbians” of the past, including the archetypal Lesbian, Sappho of Lesbos, who in the ancient world gave her name to the concept of “lesbianism” as it was known then and as it is known now, despite her being actually and demonstrably (from her own surviving poetic compositions, anyway) bisexual in her affections. Not unlike many lesbians, at least historically as well as currently, this is true for her…I’ve sometimes jokingly called such individuals “hasbians,” but that hasn’t taken off either. (It’s doing worse than metagender, in fact!)

And for historical males who have been said to be gay but were actually bisexual? Crikey, where do we begin? Alexander the Great, Trajan, Hadrian, Elagabulus (despite his problems in the current context), Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, and a variety of others were more accurately bisexual than “gay,” no matter how much some modern gay triumphalists want to say these (or some other) individuals were “really gay,” or (that lovely phrase of ideologically revisionist historical fantasizing) “would have been gay if they had been able to in their society.” But, there have always been people who were exclusive in their sexual attractions and experience, and though it is rarer in the premodern periods than now, it has happened, so it is entirely possible that any of these individuals could have been “proper gay” (or, in a nice British phrase, “well gay”!) if they had really wanted to be.

While we can’t say anything certain about Antinous historically, we can say that mythically, based on attested traditions, He would have been considered more bisexual (which, in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, would have been “straight” in certain senses!) than strictly “gay” (with the caveat in mind that none of these identities really existed as we define them in the past anyway). The Oxyrhynchus Papyri hymn fragment from the late third century C.E. identifies Selene as the divine agent Who was involved in Antinous’ deification in order to make Him Her bridegroom. But, in more recent years, divination has revealed a fun little thing quite unexpectedly that I have taken as a significant and legitimate theological phenomenon: Antinous is also in some sort of long-term relationship, and even divine marriage, with Melinoë, which some of you may have seen in my recent poetry or fiction.

I utterly refuse to make any argument for any sexual orientation or gender identity being “better” or “best” or “more evolved” (yes, alas, those exact words get used an awful lot of the time in apologetic as well as triumphalist statements within various queer communities, and has done for more than a century now), up to and including my own metagender status (and its pansexual correlate), even though this has been something advanced not only by bisexuals in contrast to strictly gay or lesbian viewpoints, and likewise in some spiritual circles which suggest such individuals are “more spiritually advanced/evolved” and so forth (due to longer reincarnations and being “old souls,” etc.) than those who are monosexual. Call me old fashioned (and I’d take it as a compliment!), but I don’t think that the atrocities of saying one thing, one state, one sort of person is “better” or “higher” than another is a good thing in any context, even when it favors me as being such, but especially when it is a kind of overcompensatory measure when a part of one’s identity has been degraded or oppressed, etc. “Just as good as,” definitely; “better than,” fuck no.

So, bisexuality is just another identity which is as great as any other, has as much right to exist as any other, has as much cause to be celebrated as any other, and technically, has a much greater precedent for being theologically significant in polytheism and polytheist contexts and considerations than any other of the various queer identities. And in the latter statement, I think that’s the newest and most original thing I can say about this topic, and have said about this subject, in a very long time. (Which is lovely, because I wasn’t sure where this was going beyond some of what I say on this day almost every year…!?!)

Whatever sexual orientation you are, may you be just and happy within it, may you never seek to lord it over others or denigrate those who are different, and may you have as much safe and consensual fun as possible with it in your dealings with others!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 21, 2016

Eleusis 2016

From Musaeus (I)

Muses Heavenly, help me sing the praises
of Kaukon, son of Kelainos,
grandson of earth-born Phylos,
worthy heir to bring the Mysteries
of the Goddesses of Eleusis
to Messenia, to initiate Messene
and Polykaon and hallow the grove
of Apollon Karneios for use
in honoring the Great Gods
and the Great Goddesses:
Earth Mother Holy,
the Pure Daughter,
and the maiden offspring
of Perses and Asteria–
She who was born after Zeus
turned Asteria over to Perses
after He had enjoyed Her–
Who among the Samothracians
receives honors among Goddesses
as equally as at Eleusis.

Arcadia’s children were they
who honored the Goddesses thus,
and it was in those mountains
that Poseidon and Demeter met,
as Okeanos and Gaia coming
together in Lykaon’s land.
Offspring had they in Hagne
whom the Arcadians call Despoina,
the Athenians Kore,
the Eleusinians Persephone,
and in Triptolemus, entrusted
by the Holy Earth Mother
with Her secrets and Her Mysteries,
as they had been granted to Kaukon.
He has been held in reserve
upon his dragon-drawn chariot
to ride forth again in time
when the heavens are turned.
With a boar is Apollon honored,
and with rams Hermes receives his due.

When the Holy Earth Mother
was upon the isle of Samothrace
and found joy in Iasion’s embrace
it was then that the Great Gods
came to be known amongst mortals
as They were placed in the stars:
Her son on one side,
Her lover on the other.
And in the Attic lands
before the coming of Athena–
She Who from Zeus’ skull sprang
when Palaimon split it in twain–
the daughter of Metis awaits
the call to lead out the armies
of the Great Goddesses
when the foster-son of Demeter
reaches his maturity in fire,
Demophoön the lamented Hero
and those of the last generation
descended from Tartaros and Nyx.

Okeanos and Aethra together
share a dance of stars,
His seed sent forth into Her
so that it might form
into Eos, Helios, and Selene
(my pure and holy mother)
and the Seven Pleiades
and the Five Hyades–sisters of
the lamented slain hunter Hyas–
who became the nurses
of Dionysos, flame-born
and thrice-generated,
when the Titans had torn Him
and His heart went to Athena,
but His phallus came
to the plains of Samothrace
where the Great Gods
sent it in the dragon-drawn car
to Apollon Karneios’ grove
in Hekate’s star-born care.

O sing, then, Titanic Muses
of the children of the Goddesses
who have kept the Mysteries pure
and dwell in splendor with Them:
Plouton abounding in riches
and Euboleus the wise in counsel.
A time will come when the dead
have been disturbed from their rest,
when scores of dolphins will gather
to honor Apollon and Palaimon
and their mother Mise,
and when all the children
of Holy Earth and Surging Ocean
will call on Eleusis as easily
as they will upon Andania’s grove,
when the Great Gods will dance
and the Great Goddesses will sing
upon waves of crashing earth
and a thousand falling stars
that will ring like drums–

and all the Muses’ arts shall be
the substance of their strength.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 19, 2016

Let Those Who Have Ears Hear

Today is both the Dies Natalis of Antoninus Pius in 86 CE, and also the syncretism festival of Antinous and Eunostos. Today was the first teaching day of the Fall quarter (which went fairly well), and there’s only one day of the season of Summer, proper, left. I had an eye doctor appointment this morning in which I had to get an injection in my left eye, and it has left a kind of “hole” in my vision, which I hope clears up over the next few days, but that’s something new that has never happened before. And, in my second medical marijuana experiment last night, I didn’t get better results for falling asleep or staying asleep, but I was granted an interesting quasi-dream/quasi-not-dream vision of how Mother Marijuana (that’s what I’m calling her until I know otherwise) helps to relieve one’s pain, which was quite cool…and it does seem to be doing a bit in that regard, which is great. I might continue to use it on weekends, as I was pretty dizzy today in the morning (as well as later), and suspect it might have been from that.

I wish I had some devotional material to share with you today for the day’s honorands, but instead I have a longer reflection piece–which I hope isn’t too polemical or political (given this and my attempt to do it this month), but may stray into that arena slightly. Oh well…so, without further ado, here it is.

Many things which are carry-overs from the hegemonic creedal monotheistic religions of the world have infected modern paganism and polytheism over the years. It takes a while to notice some of them and to begin to revise one’s thinking and to adjust to a situation in which such ideas, structures, or assumptions are no longer in operation and are not appropriate. Some are able to do so with relative ease, others take a while longer…and it’s an ongoing thing, and one that very few people are “done” with as an overall process at this stage. It is very difficult to overcome deep structures of language and social organization upon conversion to another religion, and polytheism is no exception, especially when the wider culture actively stands against some of the most basic premises of this religious mindset, as is the case with the modern U.S. (and many other “Western” countries). Sometimes, in the places we least thought, such ideas yet lurk and are ready to pounce if they are not found. But in any case…

There are many such pernicious ideas that have run rampant amongst mainstream pagans as well as polytheists over the last few years (and longer), which have sometimes been identified and checked, but also sometimes not. Unfortunately, fault lines within these movements have often been established along the contours upon which side (though often there are more than two) of the debate one finds oneself, which is often lamentable. Of the various examples of this, I think there is one idea in particular that is the worst of all, at least from my current viewpoint. (Ask me again in two years and I might have a different answer…)

No, it isn’t the ways in which some lore-hounds have used whatever the recognized (often academically-interpreted) mythologies and narratives of their chosen culture as a kind of “bible” in the same way that many Protestants do, i.e. “if it ain’t in there, it ain’t right!” That is a problem and an annoyance, but not the worst possible thing.

No, it isn’t that some people want to worship Jesus, Mary, or various other angels and saints, or even Iao Sabaoth (the Hebrew God–who is not the same as the Christian God or Allah, FYI!), as pagans or polytheists. Yes, Christo-Paganism is a thing, and a fine thing for those who wish to participate in it. Yes, syncretism is a thing, and a thing without which a great deal of what is known from Norse and Irish (amongst other) cultures would not now be available to us. And, it should not be any kind of existential, theological, or any sort of threat at all that these divine beings–however they are understood (as Hero/ines, spirits, egregores, deified abstracts, or whatever)–might be worshipped in addition to and alongside other Deities and divine beings. Any polytheism that is robust should not be threatened in the slightest by the addition of further divine beings and persons, it should be enriched by such.

No, it isn’t “fundamentalism,” which has become a buzz-word that has been used to brand anyone that one might not like with the most unflattering characteristics of the evangelical Christian movements, and to project these assumed characteristics on whomever the target-of-the-day within paganism or polytheism happens to be. What is often meant by this is that the people involved take their religion seriously, take the Deities and other divine beings seriously, and understand that social movements, politics, and other concerns–while they always touch religious subjects (for nothing is outside of the realm of religion to influence)–are not religion-in-themselves. This is a classic case of projection most of the time, and when the parties projected onto are in fact not remotely doing things that smack of Christian fundamentalism, with the exception of “taking the tenets of their chosen religion seriously,” then the question becomes why people are spending their minutes and their pixels focusing upon these polytheists or pagans when there are actual fundamentalists in a variety of other religions who are in positions to do great personal, environmental, and cultural damage (amongst other forms of harm) to others on a wide scale. Shooting at easy targets to have a high from being righteous rather than actually doing something to impact the wider world might make someone feel good on the internet, but does it really do anything useful for anyone other than that person? Probably not…and thus, I don’t think this is the worst problem inherited from creedal hegemonic monotheism, and using the accusation of “fundamentalism” is not a hobby that anyone should indulge, I don’t think, in a polytheist or pagan context.

Is it the attempted institutionalization of certain types of paganism and polytheism? Their increased organization? The fact that some clergy feel they should be compensated for their work? That various forms of infrastructure are desired and sought by a number of people, and they want to work toward creating or building or sustaining them for the future? Nope. (And all of those mainstream pagans who are pagan because they are against all of the structures of religion that they grew up with, no matter what those structures might be in the future with better management and less objectionable content just need to get over their allergies to such matters…I’d hope they might grow out of such views, like some people do with allergies after their teenage years, but given that some of these sentiments are most often and strongly expressed by some in the older generations of non-lineaged modern pagan traditions, I don’t know if that is a realistic hope any longer.)

Is it the organization of theology, and even the admission that there is such a thing as “theology” of which it is important for polytheists, pagans, and others to take heed? No, not even close. (And anyone who thinks this is the case probably needs to have their overall intellectual capacities re-evaluated.)

Is it that some people have personal relationships with Deities in, it is assumed, the same way that some Christians say they have personal relationships with Jesus? Is being too fervent in devotion the problem? Is it even that some Deities have relationships with Their devotees that involve the concepts of soteriology–of “salvation” and “being saved”–and even of both personal/soul-level as well as cosmic-level eschatologies? Not a chance–that’s a long-standing thing that has existed in the ancient Greek cultures (amongst many others) for millennia, and certainly long before anyone ever heard of some dude from Nazareth.

Then, could it be investing authority in priests and other clergy and other trained and lineaged persons? The only people for whom such a matter would be a problem are hard-core Proestants, and their eclectic Wiccan and other forms of mainstream pagan heirs (whether they recognize themselves as such or not), who don’t think there should be any intermediaries between them and any/all divine beings, and are not amenable to any kind of hierarchy, or who don’t recognize any possibility that someone might know a bit more or have easier access to certain spiritual information or resources as a good thing, or even actually exists. Whether or not it’s good is something to take up with powers greater than myself; but the fact is, this is a condition which does exist in an objective sense: not everyone knows everything that everyone else does (and “everything” also includes acquaintance with various divine beings!), and as a result not everyone is equal in every spiritual situation or context. Perhaps on a basic existential level, we all have a common level of respect that we are due as sentient beings; but beyond that, our differences do matter, and matter intensely where certain religious situations are concerned. Not everyone can be a sacrificial priest, a diviner, a ritual leader, an initiator into certain Mysteries, an exegete, or a devotee of any and every Deity that comes along at a high level on the first try, amongst a giant variety of other possibilities, for reasons up to and including people’s varying talents and lacks thereof, adequate or inadequate training, or the presence or absence of certain forms of spiritual experience with particular Deities…and many other reasons besides. So, no, this isn’t any kind of major problem, I don’t think, for anyone that thinks for more than a few seconds about it.

Then, could it be that there are “rules” involved? Ethical standards? Moral guidelines? Suggestions for what a good life is and by what good behavior is constituted? Some people in the past few years have tried to argue that paganism, at least, “has no rules” and anyone who tries to make them for it is being a bit “too Christian” (with that label meaning “morally authoritarian and/or prescriptive”). That lack of rules and standards, objectively, where many forms of mainstream paganism are concerned, may very well be the case–which is one of many reasons I try not to have too much to do with the mainstream pagan communities any longer. But, having rules and expectations of behavior, and minimum requirements for participation in certain events or for membership in certain groups is not a Christian holdover; it’s human nature and the nature of organized social life amongst humans–whether religious or otherwise–ever since humans began working together as a species. It’s older than religion, folks, so if it is a holdover, it’s one that is far older and more primal and important than that to which Christianity could ever aspire.

Then, could it be any concepts of Deities that might in any way have relations to what Christians and Muslims are required to believe of their Deities? I don’t think so; no, for the most part, our Deities are not all of the “omni-” categories that are ascribed to “true-and-only divinity” in hegemonic creedal monotheist contexts, and yet They can have some of those characteristics under certain circumstances, as I’ve written about here two months ago.

So, then, of all of these matters–and many more which I’m sure could be named and which might have been matters of contention at particular times over the past few decades (and if you have further ones I’m missing, feel free to mention them in the comments below!)–what is the one that is the most pernicious, in P.S.V.L.’s perceptions, at the moment?

I would argue that the biggest thing that polytheists (and, I’d suggest, mainstream pagans as well, but I have no standing to do so) should try not to copy from creedal hegemonic monotheism is the following notion, which has been a cornerstone of both Christianity and Islam ever since each of them had political hegemony: namely, the notion that “error has no rights.” Read that again, and really understand it: the notion that error has no rights is a pernicious idea in creedal hegemonic monotheistic religions and the cultures they spawn which is absolutely against every fiber of a polytheist mindset and its expected (and generally observed) pluralism, tolerance, and appreciation for diversity and variety. It is something which–despite all of its many flaws and its many failures–the American democratic system and especially the First Amendment of the Constitution (which provides six specific rights: the establishment clause/not having a government-mandated religion; the free exercise of religion; freedom of speech [and expression]; freedom of the press; freedom of assembly [and, I think, freedom of association is included in this]; and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances) articulates exceptionally well. The First Amendment should be something that every American citizen knows thoroughly, as our most important, sacrosanct, and sovereign rights as citizens are enshrined in it, and while it has been chipped away in various ways and on various occasions (often for rather nefarious reasons), often when such cases come up in the Supreme Court, they are decided in favor of upholding those rights rather than abridging them.

If you don’t like something, you should be able to say so, and should be able to debate and discuss and deliberate over it in public or in private; and, whether we like it or not, people also have the ability to demean and derogate and disrespect others in speech and writing as well, as long as it is not libelous. Where such activities of the latter sort can occur is something which can be regulated–one doesn’t have to put up with it on one’s blog comments, or in one’s house or place of work, or other such contexts. While I always hope interactions and discussions can avoid such tactics, it doesn’t always work, and I am not always able to abide by that ideal myself, which I freely admit. But, people are still free to act in that way, no matter how much we may not like nor approve of them doing so. As long as it remains in the realm of legality, and does not become either cyber- or actual stalking, libel, or other such things, people can and will do it…it doesn’t take much poking about the internet to see this is something that occurs all over the place with such frequency it is often sickening to take in, but there it is.

There are all sorts of people and things and activities that I don’t particularly like, and that all things considered I wish didn’t happen: racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, general ignorance, religious discrimination, classism, corporate domination of increasingly more areas of human endeavor, and the list goes on…but, guess what? It’s a free country, and the people who do those things and espouse those viewpoints have just as much right to do so as I do to espouse my own, and to oppose theirs. (As much as I like Warren Ellis’ words–“You are not entitled to your opinion; you are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to ignorance”–sadly, entitlement to ignorance is one of the most cherished of privileges that many Americans have, and they’re proud to declare it loudly.) I know some people absolutely hate what I write and what I say simply because I’m the one saying it, and they’re free to think that. I try not to think that of other people if and when possible, though I certainly avoid reading things by people for whom I don’t have a great deal of affection. When I write something, I don’t write with all of my potential critics in mind, or else I’d never say a word at all. If the criticism becomes known to me, I can consider it or discard it as appropriate; but if I never know about it, then I don’t really care about it.

All of this to say: I think part of being a mature citizen in this society (again, with all of its flaws unflinchingly acknowledged) is learning to be comfortable with the fact that not everyone acts as one might prefer they do, nor is everyone going to think well of oneself either. As Adam Phillips said very memorably to me in 1997, when I asked about how the lived experience of those who don’t always play by the roles which they’re expected to can best occur, his statement was that one must “allow others the freedom to hate oneself.” It’s been one of the most useful lessons I’ve ever learned in my life, I think. We always hope for better, certainly, but one literally cannot please everyone, nor should one even attempt to try.

Unfortunately, over the last year, more and more people who might have unpopular (or even “wrong”) ideas have been not only criticized, but have been silenced, shunned, or prevented from engaging in their work in a variety of contexts within mainstream paganism, and occasionally even in polytheism. While event runners can certainly say “Not here,” and no one has any inherent right for their contributions to be included in any larger collaborative event, the idea that someone might have done something which someone else didn’t like then gets used to exclude someone or some group from an event…there, that’s where things have gone over the line. Having been the recipient of threats of this several years back (which, luckily, came to nothing), I’m especially worried when it happens to other people, and I’ve seen it happen to many over the last year.

The idea underlying such viewpoints, I think, is that one I mentioned above: error has no rights. If you’re what I decide or deem is “wrong,” then suddenly you are no longer a human being. You don’t deserve to be respected, you don’t deserve to be heard, and any arguments you make are automatically not logical, not sane, and are frankly NOT ALLOWED. Not only should you be mocked mercilessly and turned away from all civilized persons and their doings, but your livelihood and your relationships and your every aspect of life should be undermined…because you’re wrong, and you need to understand how wrong all of us think you are by having your very existence questioned and your rights ignored until you are no longer wrong.

The “you” and the “I” in the majority of that last paragraph is a theoretical “you” and “I,” because the actual “I” who is P.S.V.L. certainly does not think along those lines, and would never do anything of that sort. I can and do disagree with many people on many issues, large and small, but I am not about to assume that I’m allowed to indoctrinate others into the “right” way of thinking that I have determined for everyone. If they ask me for advice or guidance, then we might work something out, or if they are taking a class with me, then there are parameters of such relationships that are presumed in such an arrangement; but, that’s very different than setting out to right all of what one sees as wrong in the world by enforcing a single idea, or even a small number of approved viewpoints, on all people, and that universal agreement and approbation is expected and demanded as a consequence. That isn’t a form of thought that is healthy, secure, or remotely mature, and I think most psychologists, sociologists, and others would agree such is the case. People in certain religions–like the hegemonic creedal monotheistic ones–of course think that is their right, but because “they’re right,” and no one else is, they thus have that right in a tautological fashion…and one should beware of few things as timidly as tautologies.

[This entire situation seems especially strange in some forms of modern mainstream paganism, since it has been repeatedly emphasized and re-emphasized over the past few years that “no one makes the rules” for paganism, and there are no rules for it…other than the ones that say some people can be drummed out of it if their views don’t match those of the majority, even if the people concerned only keep to themselves and aren’t seeking to harm or influence people outside of their own group or to do anything to the larger movement. But, again, I don’t have any investment in that group as a whole or in part, so this is just an observation on how quickly such non-rule rules fall apart relatively easily and quickly. I’ve seen several statements and hashtags and such that are to the effect of “Not In My Paganism!” That may be very well for one’s own paganism, but what about someone else’s? If this kind of argument is used to deprive others of the pagan label if they self-select it, then it seems at odds with what the very essence of paganism has set itself up as over the last few years, i.e. something that can mean anything one wants it to so long as it is a self-selected and self-applied label.]

The Christians and the Muslims have a more direct way of dealing with this kind of thing, especially in situations where they did or do have the political establishment in a given culture or location on their side as well: they killed such people. Heretics, schismatics, free-thinkers, or anyone who didn’t espouse the party line was “free” to have their continued right to existence removed at the pleasure of those who decided what was right or wrong for everyone. Error had no rights, and the right to live is one such right which those who were in error forfeited for their errors.

Does that sound fucking disgusting and crazy to anyone else? Does that sound like something that is useful to anyone other than those who are pushing one and only one viewpoint–theirs–as what should be acceptable, accessible to others, and even “the norm”? Does that sound like something laudable that mainstream pagans or polytheists should decide “Yes, indeed, I want this because it’s THE BEST” and we should therefore emulate it and begin enacting it in our own contexts on a much greater and more pervasive scale? If your answer is “yes” to that latter question, please stop reading this blog and never look at it again.

Even with the greatest intentions for trying to remove injustice and inequity from the world and reducing its impact on others, this sort of situation takes it just a bit too far, I think. As someone who is as liberal-as-fuck, in the original sense of not only liberated (and hopefully liberating in what I do in the world) but also generous (in terms of the allowances I presuppose all others have to do as they might wish), it goes against every fiber of my being to suggest that someone else should not be able to do what they want, publicly or privately, as long as it is legal (and preferably it is also consensual–so, anyone who verbally abuses others who have not agreed to be verbally abused by them is doing something that I don’t really think is a good thing, for example), simply because I don’t approve of it or agree with it. I am not a monist, and don’t think it’s “all one” and thus such difference are irrelevant; and I certainly am someone who will speak against certain viewpoints that I find to be unfair or unjust, and will even do more than that under certain circumstances. But, as long as the people and institutions who think those things aren’t able to prevent my access to a restroom, or to impede me from obtaining my basic civil rights, access to a livelihood and healthcare and so forth, they can preach and so on as much as they like. If they had their way, they’d prefer I be silenced or even killed in many cases, and have said so; but I’m someone who tries not to return bad for bad, personally. If they come banging at my door with torches and pitchforks, they’ll get a fight; but if it’s just talk, let them talk.

Things far less dangerous than that kind of talk are not being accepted by some folks these days, and the people holding those “wrong” viewpoints are being disrespected in ways that indicate those who are treating them thus consider them to have no rights because of their error. This isn’t good polytheism, it’s bad hegemonic creedal monotheism. Let’s not do that, shall we?

There’s something else that is related to this, I think, that has often become confused in many of the matters in question. Let’s say a particular group has certain requirements, restrictions, or other factors that allow some people to participate in them but prevent others from doing so. Maybe a group is gender-restricted, or age-restricted, or even race-restricted. Now, I am not in favor of any of those things as restrictions for membership in a group, but if the people in those groups really want to construct them as such, they can have a field day with it for all I care. I might speak against them, or question why they would feel the need to create such restrictions, but they’re still free to do that. I might decide not to attend an event they are putting on (even if it did allow me to enter, which it probably wouldn’t), or to buy the books that their members or leaders write, or to take classes from them; and even if I weren’t specifically excluded from joining for one of the reasons they indicate, I still wouldn’t join them because of their exclusivity and discriminatory practices. But, they still have a right to exist. I won’t protest their events, or try to get their venues to not rent to them, or try to shut down the group or do harm to those within it just because I think they’re wrong. Lots of people are “wrong” but aren’t directly hurting anyone (even if they are hurting their own members’ abilities to relate to others or think critically in many cases…but, people also decide to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, and those can do the same, but they’re also legal!). If they’re not inciting lynch mobs, assaulting others, or carrying out comprehensive strategies to disenfranchise and oppress others actively, let them think whatever small-minded nonsense they want.

If a group, an activity, a tradition, or a teacher has requirements of their students that I don’t agree with, it isn’t any of my business, and I don’t have to take a class from them or join them, etc. But likewise, they have the right to construct their activities as they see fit, and to impose whatever requirements they might prefer on those who self-select to be a part of those groups, those teachings, and so forth. You might disagree, and thus might find that you never want to associate with that person or that group, and that’s fine. But, don’t assume others will, or may not willingly assent to such limitations or requirements if it suits their own purposes to do so. Just because someone doesn’t like something doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t ever exist.

As polytheists, we know what happens to Deities and other divine beings who are rejected, and what They can become…and it doesn’t take too many encounters with Set or Loki to realize how very bad an idea it might be to wholesale condemn someone or something one doesn’t particularly like.

I am reminded in this of a lesson I learned early, in the first few weeks of my senior year of high school. During my senior year, I was on the senior class cabinet because the president was a friend of mine who respected my thoughtful opinions (even though I wasn’t one of the “popular crowd” and so forth), and I was also the editor of our high school yearbook, so it was important to have the inside line from me on certain matters pertaining to the privileges of the senior class in the annual. We had our first senior class meeting that year, probably in September of 1993, and I was given the podium to make a few announcements. One of the things I announced was that we would be selling page sponsorships in the senior class pictures section to pay for the color pages we had therein, and thus I distributed a form detailing how to do that. There were a few questions on whether one could sponsor more than one page, if one could specify which page one wanted to sponsor, if more than one parent or person could sponsor one page, and so forth…the usual logistical questions. Then, one semi-professional shit-stirrer decided that he’d just throw a fit over the whole thing, stood up and began a rant saying “If I took this bullshit home to my parents, they’d laugh in my face to think that they should pay to sponsor pages in our yearbook!” He then went on for a few more minutes along those lines, and a few people were getting annoyed with it, and at last I said into the microphone, “Look, if they don’t want to sponsor a page, they don’t have to–problem solved.” I got a standing ovation from my class (the first one I ever had!), and it amazed me not just that I was being applauded for saying that–though it was more that I had irrefutably shut up someone that many people found annoying who was complaining for no reason–but that I had to point out that this was an opt-in matter and not in any way a requirement, and thus no one absolutely had to do it, or was being made to feel bad or excluded for not doing it (or would necessarily be better off for having done it!).

I think the entire notion of “If you don’t like something, and you don’t have to do it, then there shouldn’t be a problem” is a rather simple one, and an easy one to actualize in one’s life in order to save one’s blood pressure, a great deal of worry, and a lot of hassle. However, as the years are going on, I’m finding more and more that this simple notion is one that far too many people, especially on the internet in this imprecise and impersonal form of communication (if it can indeed be called that!), is entirely unknown, or perhaps more simply unheeded. We could all probably be accomplishing a great deal more if we spent less time critiquing things we don’t like, and especially expending our efforts to make sure that those who hold viewpoints to which we object are no longer able to exist because we don’t like their views, and more actually doing what we think would be useful, and offering alternatives to those things we don’t like that are worthy and exemplary of what we think is a better viewpoint and a better approach.

But, I also realize that in spending this much time writing about this, I could probably have spent the time better on one of my many devotional projects. Oh well…

I am writing this, though, to ask those who have ideas along the lines of “error has no rights” to reconsider that viewpoint, and how damaging it is, and how it has been one of the most destructive and negative consequences of a hegemonic creedal monotheistic viewpoint. Perhaps we don’t need to be “tolerant of intolerance” (I’d say we don’t!), nor do we need to be entirely permissive and relativistic in our approach to religious and other matters; but, as soon as I think my disapproval of another’s views gives me some right to undermine any of their rights–first and foremost their right to exist, but others as well–then I know I am falling into an egregious error, and one that should be easily avoided, critiqued, and rejected for the bullshit that it has always been.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 18, 2016

How Dian Cécht and Airmed Changed My Summer…!?!

This post has been sitting about my drafts folder waiting to be written for just over two months now. But, the beginnings of it go further back than that (though not by much)…

While it might be a challenge for many people–even amongst polytheists, and even CR-specific ones–to mention any Irish Deities beyond Lug, The Dagda, and Núada (for the Gods) and The Morrígan, Danu (if, in fact, She existed at all), and the Brigits (if, indeed, the person in question realizes the latter is a group rather than a singular Deity synonymous with a Christian saint), they may not be able to name too many…but, chances are, many have at least heard of Airmed even more than they’d have heard of Her father, Dian Cécht. And yet, both are important for a variety of reasons.

And, both–each in Their own ways–have had an impact on my summer, which “officially” ends today since I begin teaching tomorrow (though I’ve had a lot of faculty meetings and other activities already this week). Let me tell you a bit how.

diancecht

It has often disappointed me how there is sometimes a variance in how myths and what they may or may not reveal about particular Deities sometimes gets too much attention, and sometimes not enough, and then (modern) cultus follows suit. Lots gets laid at Loki’s feet in terms of many things that are considered “negative” in the extant narratives, and yet that doesn’t stop many modern Heathens from worshipping Him without too much trouble (except for the ones who have utterly refused to honor Him in any of their rituals, but let’s not get into that, shall we?). Zeus is pretty rape-happy in all of the extant myths, and yet very few people today question whether or not He deserves cultus, and would strongly object if anyone suggested other than that He does. However, in some vocal parts of CR, Dian Cécht gets excoriated for one of the few surviving myths related to Him, namely the part of Cath Maige Tuired in which, after He gives Núada His eponymous silver arm/hand (the word is the same in Old Irish), Dian Cécht’s son Míach does His father one better and restores Núada’s hand/arm entirely with herbs and magic, which then gets Míach killed by His father (which I’ve previously touched on here). Rather than being renowned for His master healing and physician abilities, Dian Cécht gets labelled a child-murderer (we don’t really know what age Míach would have approximated at His death), and this despite the fact that Míach is said to be back and still healing folks later in the tale of Cath Maige Tuired.

[Then again, I have noticed a strange variety of literalism that seems to be alive and well amongst some CRs, quite contrary to what one might have imagined would be the case…but, that’s another matter entirely.]

Personally, as a disabled person who relies upon medical devices to live and thrive (and not just my insulin pump; the electronic blood glucose meter is something no modern diabetic of any sort can do without!), I’ve always thought of Dian Cécht as a God of cybernetics, bionics, and other such things that are almost more in the realm of science fiction, and yet are becoming more and more science facts these days. Asklepios is a great healer, don’t get me wrong; but, if I’m having insulin pump problems, it’s Dian Cécht I’m going to go to first.

The insulin pump I’d had since late 2009 was starting to have some problems as of 2014–it would burn through batteries, which were supposed to last six weeks, in less than a week on some occasions. When I’d replace the batteries, there would be this heart-stopping pause before the digital readout would come back on, and sometimes it wouldn’t, and I’d either have to shake it, reposition the battery, or just try an entirely new battery. This occurred on a few occasions that weren’t convenient nor pleasant to try and get a replacement, too. (Luckily, the newer pumps take a single AAA battery, but they can be very particular about what brand they’ll tolerate, sadly; but, this is a vast improvement over the one I had in ’09 that took three odd-sized watch batteries that had to be specially ordered, which my insulin pumps previously back to 1992 had also taken.) The newer pumps, furthermore, had the option of a continuous blood glucose monitoring system, and that sounded really appealing as well.

So, a few years ago, once i got insurance, I was finally seeing an endocrinologist who I had hoped might give the go-ahead to get a new pump…and, the doctor in question wouldn’t, and in fact suggested against the continuous glucose monitoring system for various reasons that weren’t very good, honestly. So, I stuck with my other pump, and just hoped and prayed that it wouldn’t completely die on me one of these days. Then, I got an e-mail from my pump provider, in coordination with my insurance plan, saying that I qualified for consulting (for free, it turned out!) with them, and so I set that up. They went over what the new pump and glucose monitoring system would be like, and said I qualified for it, and told me how much it would cost. It was somewhat hefty (especially given that I wasn’t working this summer), but a much better deal than it would have been if I didn’t have insurance at all. And, to make a longer story shorter, in the end, I only had to pay about $140 for the whole thing, as opposed to the c. $1100 that I was told I’d have to cover that the insurance wouldn’t (which is better again than the $6,000+ it would cost without it), so that was fantastic…and I’m still not sure how that has occurred. I’ve not had to pay co-pays on prescriptions for the last few months, either, which has been great, too…

In early August, after having the new pump and glucose monitoring system for a month, my blood sugars had improved dramatically. The adjustment to the new system was not entirely smooth, and it still hasn’t been (on which, more below!), and I’ve had quite a few nights of disturbed sleep because of it, since now it lets me know if my blood sugar is getting too high or low, but also it requires calibration every few hours, and sometimes if I haven’t done that before going to bed, it then wakes me up at some random time during the night. And, of course, there are the usual things that an insulin pump might wake me up over during the night, i.e. running out of insulin, but also add to that the glucose sensor expiring, or the pump getting too far from the glucose sensor and not getting a signal from it, about which it can sometimes be rather finicky…so, a lot of added bother and responsibility, in certain ways, but in others, it has already had a marked improvement on my health, and I hope it will continue in that direction for many years to come. Hopefully, the next step for improvements in this technology will be to have the whole thing in a single unit with a single insertion site rather than two…but, this is vastly greater than what was possible more than twenty years ago when I first started on the insulin pump…long before I’d heard of Dian Cécht.

Thus, my summer and my health have been improved in various ways by new cybernetics, and for the existence of such technologies, as well as their availability to me, I thank Dian Cécht for it very much indeed! 🙂

And now, Airmed…

The above image of Airmed is by Grace Palmer, and is available on a prayer card from Galina Krasskova here. The prayer on the back is by me, and it reads as follows:

Airmed

Praise to Airmed, daughter of Dian Cécht—
sister of Cú, Cían, Cethen, and Edabar,
Míach, Cíach, Ormíach, and Ochttriuil,
and Etan and Oirmed, her own fair sisters,
a black, a white, and a red rose together
amongst the red thorns of Dian Cécht’s brood.

With your father and siblings, Airmed,
you stand around the Tiprait Sláine
chanting spells and charms of healing
that warriors might rise from its waters
fully healed even if the great death
had come upon them in battle.

Help me, heal me, come to my aid, Airmed,
and assist me in discerning what herbs
are best for healing amongst the many
made from Míach’s fallen body,
and I will praise you and hail you again
for the gifts you have given me and all who hurt!

Ad-rae buaidh ocus bendachta, a hAirmid!
Win victory and blessings, Airmed!

*****

Something I’ve always found interesting about the offspring of Dian Cécht is that there’s so damn many of Them! Few enough have heard of Airmed and Míach, fewer still of Cú, Cethen, and Cían (and since the latter is Lug’s father, it’s all the more’s the pity), but the rest? Other than one or two folks I know personally (and even then, only Ochttriuil might get mentioned), the rest of these kids are unknown. But, if one looks at Asklepios, He was said to have quite a few kids as well (even discounting Glykon!). I wonder what this says about medical Deities…and from what little I understand of it, Eir and Her retinue are pretty extensive in Norse myth as well…!?!

In any case, Airmed comes into what follows, as I’m sure you’ve guessed.

In addition to the technological improvements to my health situation, I’ve also attempted some other means, and I’ve just come form the first experiment in the latter…which I’ve had planned for more than two years (I literally bought something to wear for this occasion in 2014!), started the paperwork on back in January or February, obtained in June, but did not attempt until last night…and as this is an experimental process, I’m going to try again tonight, now that I know what some of the effects are, and we’ll see if we can get somewhat better results under different circumstances.

If you haven’t figured out what I’m discussing here, it’s medical marijuana.

I’ve considered getting approved for this for a long time, and due to various circumstances over the last few years from a practical perspective, it didn’t seem possible at certain points (and, in certain ways, some of those persist to the present). Given how bad my eyes have become, it had been suggested as a good potential therapy in that regard. Also, I do have miscellaneous pain issues from a variety of things, not to mention very bad insomnia. So, why not give it a shot?

There was also something else that I had not exactly reckoned with as much as I assumed I might need to: the very fact that up until now, I had some pretty major psychological blocks on even attempting marijuana for any reason whatsoever. I was one of those kids from the 1980s and 1990s who grew up in a “Just Say No!” environment, and while I never formally went through the D.A.R.E. program or anything, I had older and younger siblings who did; but, like many in that generation, I also sat through school assemblies, class visits, and even church youth group sessions involving recovered drug addicts who all told us the same things, up to and including that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” When I got to undergraduate college, one of the things I bonded over with one of my good friends that first year is that both of us were totally “clean” as far as never having drank alcohol, used drugs, or smoked, which put us in a minority amongst our classmates. It didn’t take long for my friend to fall off the wagon, and fall quite hard at various points (which I’m glad I wasn’t there to witness), but in the meantime, I still didn’t. It quite frankly pissed me off how often we’d be having a rather interesting conversation about spiritual matters, and my friend would have to say “Okay, I just need a quick break,” and then would smoke a bowl in order to be able to continue our conversation. It’s also been funny, though, that because I’m “weird,” and I wear sunglasses at almost all times when in public (and in the past, I’ve had ones that are lavender-colored, for example), it has been assumed that I’m a pretty hard partier who has a constant hangover or is stoned, etc. (I’ve never been certain whether that’s a compliment or not…?!?) As you may recall, in my second interview with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove on The New Thinking Allowed, I couldn’t even come up with the word “psychedelic” in our discussion very quickly or easily, because these things have simply not been a part of my own experiences, and in fact I’ve quite honestly felt myself “better” than others for not having had to “resort to” them in order to have the experiences that I have. (If I want to start seeing things, the easiest way to do it is only drink fruit juice and water for a few hours, and then just wait a while…!) All of my visions and altered states of consciousness have come through means that don’t involve putting some substance that I didn’t neurochemically synthesize internally myself into myself; sure, I’ve had a few hallucinations in my youth that came about because i was being overmedicated on certain prescription drugs, but that may not have been “all” that was happening, either…

In any case, despite many very bad experiences I’ve had over the years with people who are stoned being irresponsible, putting me in danger, and actually threatening my life in certain circumstances, I’ve grown more comfortable with other people doing whatever they like in this regard, and even being fine with them doing it around me. (That was my approach in college as well…until I got so sick of people being stupid with it.) But to actually try it myself? I thought it would be relatively simple, after I made my decision to try it and got the proper encouragement from various medical, family, and friendly advisors that it was something I should take very seriously…but it wasn’t.

I’ve had the approval for medical marijuana since late June, and got my first ingestibles then as well. I went to Vegas and they were waiting for me when I got back. I put them in my Shrine–first in the possession of Sabazios (on which, more in a moment)–and planned to wear the thing I bought in 2014 and have a ritual for my first usage of the substance. Based on another episode of The New Thinking Allowed in which Dr. Mishlove interviews Barbara Harris Whitfield on the spiritual uses of medical marijuana…

…I really thought that I had the right idea about all of this, and that in time, I’d have a ritual in which great attention to set and setting would make for a very pleasant experience of introduction to this plant substance. (Little did I remember that I had said in my interview, when I had not been able to come up with the word “psychedelic,” that if a ritual is good enough, one doesn’t need the drugs!)

In the weeks that followed the placing of the new substance in the Shrine with Sabazios, I had a few interesting dreams. The first one was of my safe and useful usage of the substance; while many of you might wonder at that statement, my own experience with a lot of substances (including many “safe” prescription drugs) has been that they impact me in ways that are unusual, and so the only thing I have often been able to count on is that it’s not going to be easy or straight-forward how a new substance will affect me. So, getting the dream confirmation was a good first step. On that same night that I had the dream, Heathen Chinese was visiting me, and was staying in the Shrine, and in the morning after I had the dream (I had not said anything about it to him), he pointed out to me that the prayer card (with the image shown above) with Airmed on it had moved forward in the Shrine of its own accord/without any outside manipulation…!?! While such a thing can happen with a prayer card probably easier than anything else–it leans against the back wall of a cabinet, but is sitting on a blanket, but could still thus move in a bit of a breeze or anything else–that seemed rather noteworthy to me. Given that Airmed is one of the Deities in Ireland most associated with herbal healing, it made sense that “de herb” (as Bob Marley memorably said so many times) might also fall within Her jurisdiction, despite it not being native to Ireland. I then transferred the substance from Sabazios’ keeping into Airmed’s, and then waited for the right time to do my ritual.

I had talked with several friends long before this about potentially doing such a ritual, and had asked them to join me so that they could supervise me and make sure that nothing bad or wrong was happening as a result of my use of the substance. However, two of those friends moved elsewhere in December, and the other has been very hard to get a hold of for many months now. I had a few other people offer to sit with me, but no one wanted to be involved in a ritualized action of the sort I was proposing…so, it was going to happen on my own, or not at all. I wanted to make sure nothing major would be happening the next day, so that I wouldn’t have to wake up and not know what the effects or after-effects might be. And, I kept doing divination to see if a given occasion was a good one or not.

After months of delays and “no, not now” indications, or just things becoming too inconvenient or events-filled to fit in the full amount of ritual, I finally got the “Fuck Yeah!” go-ahead for this last night, and then prepared accordingly…and yet, not as much as I would have preferred, or as much as I had planned earlier. After an extended iteration of my daily practices, and offerings to all of the Deities thus far involved (though They weren’t the only ones, ultimately!), and having moved in my Lucius Marius Vitalis image and a few other new things (including a spider!), I set the Shrine up for a dream incubation ritual. This was rather exhausting, for some reason–though I was very tired when I had set out to do it in the first place. Once all seemed in order to begin, I then opened the stapled-shut bag containing the substance (in capsule form). The sealed plastic bag inside of that was extremely hard to get open…it took me more than five minutes, and I began to wonder if there wasn’t some sign that I should perhaps not be doing this involved there. Once I got that open, then each individual capsule was also sealed in a small plastic packet, and that took more doing to open…! Crikey…

As I was about to take the capsule, I was looking right at my Indian Deities shrine, and then remembered, “Hey, Shiva is a huge pothead!” So, I said a quick set of Ganesha mantras, and likewise to Shiva, offered Them some food and received my prasad, and then ingested the substance.

If all of those people back in college needed to get stoned in order to have certain discussions with me, that should have been a sign to me that whatever mind-expanding potentials of this substance might be are probably already redundant in my case. Based on such an observational prediction, I’d have to concur…as I didn’t have anything particularly mind-expanding as a result.

I did notice some odd paranoid moments…but I have those myself without any drugs, so was quite easily reminded that this might not be anything real.

My eyes adjusted to the near-total darkness relatively quickly, with some distortions initially. I eventually found the light of the moon through the drape (or what I thought was the moon…it could have been a streetlight, I didn’t check–!?!), and wasn’t too worried about things…other than being simultaneously too hot and too cold, i.e. too hot to have the blankets up over my head, but too cold to even have one arm out of them. And, at the best of times, it’s hard for me to sleep on an air mattress in the Shrine (harder still, in evert way, to sleep on the floor in there!), and to get comfortable, but it seemed especially difficult last night, especially with the glucose sensor (which is inserted further over toward my side than the insulin pump, which means sleeping on my side is harder now than it used to be…alas, since that is how I sleep the best). It took me forever to fall asleep, and I didn’t’ sleep very soundly for very long…I might have been able to do more, but then my insulin pump woke me up because it got too far from the glucose sensor and had lost the signal, which was a huge startle under the circumstances. (I wonder if that wasn’t just Dian Cécht saying “But isn’t technology grand altogether, and so much better than this herbs crap?”) I have had some bad leg and foot pains the last few days, which have made it hard to sleep, but this did seem to help somewhat with that.

Sadly, no major dreams I can recall at this stage.

But, my overall evaluation is that the ritual was actually more effective in “doing something,” and all of the ritual preparation for the last few years, was more effective than the substance itself. In certain ways, I feel this is a failure, since ingesting the substance didn’t seem to do a whole lot apart from helping with some of my pain and discomfort…it seems that it won’t be much of an aid in falling asleep or staying asleep, but perhaps not. One other thing seemed a bit strange, which I’ll have to see if it is a repeating effect, and about which I may (or may not!) report again at some later date. I didn’t feel any hangover or other weird effects after getting up (though a bit dizzy on occasion…but that also happens to me on a relatively regular basis), so I know I can try this again without too much worry. And try again I shall tonight, in my own room under conditions that are overall better for my ability to sleep, and we’ll see how that goes.

So, those were my experiences with this matter thus far. I kind of feel a bit of a let-down, as at least something really odd (but good!) would have been a nice payoff for all of my worry all of these years. Another part of me does kind of feel superior still, though: now that I’ve tried this amazing experience and found that whatever mental states it is supposed to unlock were already well accessible to me, I guess it somewhat confirms that I should trust myself about these things much more than I have tended to, especially in the face of all of those who make such experiences sound as if one *can’t possibly understand* them unless one has done it, too (as I was told so many times when I was in college, and occasionally afterwards as well) as a justification for why one should try such things. Well, now I’ve tried it (though being empirically minded, I can’t say that I’m an expert and will need more data to make an informed and fully useful pronouncement), and with any luck, what physical possibilities I noticed will continue in the future, but I am not very optimistic about any entheogenic effects.

Nonetheless, I still thank Airmed for Her healing herbs, and Dian Cécht for His healing technologies! 🙂

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 16, 2016

Scenic Helsinki

I’ve had a few dreams in the last couple of days that have been prescient in one way or another, and yet other thoughts that could almost qualify as precognition in certain other (but perhaps obvious) ways…

One such, in a dream last night (I think–it could have been earlier today) involved pointing out sites in Helsinki from a high rooftop or some other overlook. As I took a few such photos, and others, while there a few weeks ago, and likewise said to a good friend that I’d post them somewhere, I decided to take the initiative and do that here tonight.

Other things are in the works offline…if all goes really well, I’ll have a post about one of them tomorrow night. Some has to do with spiders; other bits have to do with writing; and still others have to do with rituals that I won’t be describing in any detail until tomorrow when they are done. But I hope those of you who will be in a position to view the penumbral eclipse tonight will be able to see it, and might sing a hymn or two to Antinous and to all of your other favorite moon Deities (e.g. Máni, Men, Selene, Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto, etc.!) as well!

Now, without further ado, here are the photos I took!

3MegaCam

This is one of the more well-known buildings in Helsinki, the so-called “Big Church,” which is their Lutheran cathedral. When it was pointed out to me and identified (the two venues of our conference were within a few blocks of it, though it isn’t visible from the city center where I was staying), I commented that many American Lutherans I know would have a heart attack just seeing a building that ornate. 😉

3MegaCam

And here’s another view of it from a further distance, from the balcony of the new university library, on which more below.

3MegaCam

But, from that previous photo, if one looks toward the left just slightly, one can see the spire of a nearby Russian orthodox church–Finland is right next to Russia, after all, and was a Grand Duchy of Russia at one point, so that heritage is also present in the city.

3MegaCam

And several blocks in the other direction, closer to the seaside, is the actual orthodox cathedral.

3MegaCam

As you can see from the previous photo, there is a lot of maritime activity in Helsinki, and the whole portside and some of its buildings reminded me of what New York in the late 1800s must have looked like. One of the ships near to where I was taking photos was this one–I can’t tell if you can see it or not, but the name of the ship was “Diana”! So, it felt as if a certain beloved Roman Goddess was saying hello amidst all of that Orthodox and Protestant architecture…!?!

3MegaCam

“Education in this country is join’ down the toilet.” No, in Helsinki–while not as good as it used to be–that certainly isn’t true, and one of my colleagues there has had continuous employment as a Celticist for more than a decade, mostly in research positions…but, independent of that, this is a view upwards in the foyer of the new university library at the University of Helsinki, which was about a block away from where I stayed. While the effect is rather interesting from this angle, you’ll see in the next photo why the toilet reference was made…maybe…?!?

3MegaCam

On one of the upper floors, where the balcony was where some of the above photos were taken, this is the view into the hole and downwards…which, at least to me, suggested a toilet, because what else is this elliptical shape outlined in white? Yes, I have a very simple mind, which gets me ribbed a bit amongst such august colleagues as I had on this occasion, though they all thought it was funny as well…a ring of truth accompanied my statement, which is appropriate enough given that toilets also develop rings of various sorts.

I was not able, after this, to go into the newly-restored national library, as much as I wanted to, because I would have had to leave the Bag of Bags in an unlocked locker in order to do so, and as that violated one of the gessi of the Book of Books contained therein (and I neither had a Mystes to look after it, a dedicated temple space to set it in, the place I was residing that night to leave it in if I was only going a short distance, or Mama Lupa to guard it, that wasn’t happening), I did not go in, but was told that in certain ways, the architecture of the new library echoed that of the old. So, I’ll have to take others’ word for it!

When we took our dinner cruise around the archipelago near/that is part of Helsinki, it was also quite scenic, but the conversation was so good, as was the food (other than the pickled herring), I didn’t get any photos during the several hours we were on that, sadly. If I ever go to Helsinki again, there are some things I’d definitely like to see, but wasn’t able to fit it all in on this trip, and really only got nearly half of the photos above because I couldn’t sleep one day and was up much earlier than I needed to be, and so explored the blocks nearby our conference venue. And, for the most part these days (and since about 2004 or so), I’ve taken very few photos when I’m on a trip, not only because I don’t have a great camera available much of the time, but also because I began to notice that I would focus on getting photos rather than being present in the moment in whatever place I happened to be. So, cutting down on the photos helped the latter a great deal, but might disappoint those who weren’t along on the trips with me, alas. Oh well.

So, there’s some of Helsinki for you!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 13, 2016

P.S.V.L.: 0; Snakes: 1

Today sucked–in fact, the only thing that made it not entirely unbearable, other than the presence of one colleague with whom I wrote snide comments on pieces of paper during two of the four useless things I had to sit through, was that I saw a garter snake cross the pavement into one of the planters. (Or, it may have been some other kind of snake…black with perhaps a white stripe down the middle, it looked like, but I don’t see well and it moved pretty fast.)

Always interesting to encounter a snake in the wild, even if “the wild” Is somewhere as cultivated and artificial as our hodgepodge college campus…though given how uncivilized the treatment we receive by our admins is and how much they were emphasizing a “survival mindset” in relation to all matters of security today, it may as well be the fuckin’ jungle and all of us Cro magnons with broken spear heads rather than an institution of higher learning.

It makes me want to just delve more deeply into something else–the Serpent Path, maybe.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 10, 2016

Following a Spider’s Thread…

A great cluster of things–almost a web, if you will–have happened over the last twenty-four hours which I think are rather noteworthy…but it’s hard to know where to begin.

For those of you who are arachnophobes, I am giving you ample warning to look away now, and probably stop reading this post. For those of you who are Sannion arachnophiles, prepare to feast your eyes on some beauties and get the lube and the tissues handy you dirty ol’ fuckers.
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So, let’s start with a photo, shall we? The following is a mature male Pamphobeteus antinous spider, a very beautiful but dangerous and ferocious spider whose natural range is quite interesting.

pamphobeteus-antinous-male

I’ve seen one of these also called a “Bolivian blue-legged bird-eater” spider. The species name Pamphobeteus antinous was coined by R. I. Pocock in 1903, first published in an article called “On some genera and species of South-American Aviculariidae” in that year’s Annals and Magazine of Natural History Volume 7.11, pp. 81-115. R. I. Pocock sounds very interesting, and from what Wikipedia says about him, it doesn’t sound like he was married to anything but his job (!?!), so who knows if he named this spider after what was a common code-word during his lifetime for queer folks…it is an interesting thought, in any case.

The Pamphobeteus antinous‘ natural range is in Bolivia and Peru, which is very interesting…

For a few years, I’ve been looking for any signs of a Central or South American spider Deity of some sort, to perhaps see if syncretism with such a Deity and Antinous via this scientific matter might be possible. I have been unsuccessful…until last night. Generally, what I was finding apart from that when searching for spider Deities is one of the following:

Anansi from West Africa (and the Caribbean African diaspora): He’s a God (i.e. male), and appealing for all sorts of reasons, but not in the right geographic or cultural range for this South American spider.

Grandmother Spider from the Hopi, Navajo, and other Southwestern U.S. indigenous peoples: She’s a creator Goddess usually, so the wrong gender (I know of no syncretisms of Antinous that are with other genders), the wrong geographic area, and the wrong general divine characteristics…but still an interesting Goddess, certainly!

Iktomi from the Lakota people: He is a spider and trickster figure and culture hero…who, again, is interesting, but in the wrong geographic area.

Then you’ve got the obvious ones from Greek myth like Arachne, connected to Athena and Minerva (and I’ve written before about Minerva Capta and spiders in a piece of fiction here), and Sannion will tell you about Ariadne’s spider connections, and those of Erigone and others as well…

Then, you’ve got the Egyptian Neith, too…

And then you’ve got Lolth, Queen of the Demonweb Pits…

lloth-demon-queen-of-spiders

…and while it looks like they do have a life-size statue of her now, they haven’t built her a temple yet, so I think we’re safe and the world has not become more Dungeons & Dragons-like when I wasn’t looking. Which is too bad, because I could really use a gay paladin right about now, or a chaotic good half-elf ranger who isn’t too particular about things…!?!

So, none of these were quite “right” for the Pamphobeteus antinous‘ home range.

And then I found out about this, discovered in 2008:

A 3,000-year-old temple featuring an image of a spider god may hold clues to little-known cultures in ancient Peru.

People of the Cupisnique culture, which thrived from roughly 1500 to 1000 B.C., built the temple in the Lambayeque valley on Peru’s north coast.

The spider is also carved with lines radiating from its neck, creating a web-like appearance.

The web symbolizes hunting nets, a sign of human progress and prosperity, Ignacio Alva said. Traps set with nets caught more prey than spear hunting, he added.

The importance of spiders owed partly to their connection with life-giving rain, he said.

“They were associated with divination of rainfall because spiders come out before rain,” said Burger, an archaeologist at Yale University who was not involved with the Lambayeque excavation.

The spider deity was also associated with textiles, hunting, war, and power, Burger added. “There is an image of spider deities holding nets filled with decapitated human heads, so there was an analogy with successful warriors and claims of power.”

moche-spider

The Chavin culture, the Moche culture, and the Nazca lines in Peru also attest to the importance of spiders in their mythology. The Moche spider figure might be a major Deity that scholars have nicknamed “the Decapitator.” I’ve also found an Inca story of Wakon (also known as Kon) trying to trick the children of Pachamama, and being told by a spider to imitate the voice of Pachamama to lure them, only to then be tricked by the spider and Wakon falling into a chasm.

[Unfortunately, none of this was in the Peru exhibit I saw in Seattle in 2014, though that was still a very enriching exhibit to have visited, and I’m glad I did! It may have laid the foundation for what followed here in this last day…!]

So, jumping back to the “Spider God” temple that was discovered in ’08: we’ve got divination, hunting, fertility, and rains (which is where the inundation of the Nile actually comes from–the monsoon rains that hit parts of Africa and then find their way down to the Nile cause it yearly)…and all of this attributed to an ancient Spider God in a recently discovered temple in the range where a beautiful spider named after Antinous is found…

Coincidence? Perhaps; unfortunately, I don’t believe in them.

Which takes me to today.

(Or: commence the Lokery-Pokery.)

So, last night, after I found this out, and gave myself a crash course in Quechua (a modern indigenous language of Peru that was spoken by the Incas, and is likely ancestral to the languages spoken by the Moche, and the others earlier than them) in order to find out a name that this Spider God could be known by rather than just “Spider God” or “Decapitator,” I was writing some devotional poetry. One of the poems I wrote before I went to bed was for Loki. I have not written a poem specifically for Loki for a few years now (remember this?), and while I always remember a certain something which occurred around then when it comes to Loki, I didn’t put together the connections with that event and this one…and thus, something rather unpleasant occurred.

I only slept for a few hours this morning after I finished writing, but one of the dreams I had–in fact, it might have been the only one I had–ended up being very unpleasant in the end of it. In involved me being attacked by someone who had a dog, and though I also had a dog (or it might have been a dog form of Mama Lupa–she’s appeared as a young girl and a few other things in dreams), she didn’t really want to help me against this larger and more ferocious dog. Luckily, the dog didn’t hurt me, nor I it, but the person leading it around was a real asshole, and started threatening me with a knife. Somehow, I got the knife away from him, and then was cutting him, and he was bleeding and not fighting back, and kept insisting that he’d finish some poem or song before I could silence him, and I had to not only slit his throat above and below his voice box, but then finally had to cut that in half as well before I could make him stop speaking…and even then, by the time I got through it, the poem had finished. Then, a few minutes later, that person–though slightly changed from having been dead–re-appeared all sewn back together. This was very unpleasant, and while not quite as unpleasant as the time four years ago when I was writing something for Loki and then had a very bad dream, nonetheless, it was in the same ballpark…

I’m not saying Loki is responsible (unless He is), but the fact that I was disturbed by the dreams suggests a few things to me that I need to do the next time I might be writing for Loki, not to keep him at bay, but to keep my own fears and worries and such at bay and keep myself safe before I go to sleep. (Maybe.)

Funny thing was, I was then at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America this morning for an unusual set of circumstances. The details of that aren’t as interesting as the fact that out by the Inari shrine, as I was standing there under the trees talking to someone, a spider came down and perched itself on the brim of my hat and then lowered itself down. I didn’t notice it, but one of the others there did, and removed it (with some difficulty due to the sticky web thread!), and it didn’t cause a freak-out for me, nor was the spider killed. Spiders getting killed at the Shinto Shrine is a thing that has occurred before (when I went for misogi early in the morning, somewhat like today’s situation, in September of ’08…but I wasn’t the one who killed the spider!); and that this took place by the Inari shrine, where there are all sorts of statues of foxes all over the place…

…then made sense, because later in the day, I was reading a book by Galina Krasskova and found out that Loki is associated not only with spiders, but also with foxes…!?!

So, a whole slew of Deities, influences, common symbolism, and other connections in one grand web all came together today, it seems. Antinous happens to be at the center of it, but that doesn’t mean that each of Them isn’t the center of Their own webs as well (which is kind of what The Serpent Path is all about…but then that brings in snakes rather than spiders, which while also interesting, goes a whole different way ultimately!).

To paraphrase what Sannion often says: circles, folks, fucking circles. 😉

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 9, 2016

Two “Bad”s and a “Good”

Lots going on at present…both with me, and in the world. I don’t have enough time to write a lengthy original piece today, so instead I’ll do a rather brief round-up of things happening in the wider world that I think should be noted here, with appropriate links.

First: a well-known member of the trans community has died–The Lady Chablis, a.k.a. Brenda Dale Knox, who was a fixture of the drag scene in Georgia and South Carolina. She was born on March 11, 1957 and died yesterday, September 8, 2016 of what appears to be yet-undisclosed natural causes. Some of you may remember her from the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which–in my opinion–is only worth seeing because of her; she was in the book also as herself (though it is a work of fiction, from what I understand), and was able to play herself in the film, too, which is a wonderful and rare thing, especially for a trans woman of color starring in a film that has several big-name actors in it (and something that Hollywood still hasn’t taken the hint on more often than not in recent history). In the film, she most memorably used a phrase that was also the title of her autobiography: Hiding My Candy. It’s sad that her fabulous light has gone out and away from us all, but I suspect Sancta status is in her future, with the help of Panpsyche and Antinous. Ignis Corporis Infirmat; Ignis see Animae Perstat!

Second (though by no means less important, but given in this order because you’re more likely to have heard of it before now via some other outlets): the atrocities in North Dakota against the Standing Rock Sioux people and their sacred sites, their sacred lands, and their sovereign rights as indigenous people in this country continue. This article, from last weekend, details many of the matters that are at stake, with plenty of photos (and many thanks to Thenea for providing a link to it in a post recently). Other polytheists have also made some useful commentary on the matter, including in Finnchuill’s post on the subject–and the latter is also noteworthy because rather than just a useless call to “stand up” and feel as if one is helping in a self-indulgent and self-congratulatory fashion, Finnchuill gives specific links on how one can tangibly help the situation, including this one and another; and further searching will turn up more as well, I’m sure.

[I honestly wish I could do more than just passing on the word, but since I am borrowing money for rent, bills (though not all of them–the student loan companies can go fuck themselves for the moment until I have a paycheck again), and food at the moment thanks to the government failing me in not approving my unemployment yet…and I’ve been applying weekly since July with the same result–“We’ll get to your case in 3-5 weeks or longer.” Thanks.]

And third–getting to the “good” at last!–it appears that Aruba has approved same-sex civil unions, which isn’t “marriage” yet, but is a step in the right direction…so, that’s great!

Now, much work must occur, so there I leave you all for the moment, and hope that the balance of positive things in your lives outweighs those which are negative at present, which I could not manage in this post, but hopefully at which you’ll have better luck than I! 😉

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