“Pagan Holidays: Winternights / Halloween/Samhain – Part 2” – Odin’s Eye

Happy Woden’s (Odin’s) Day.    

Discussion:

I am going to talk about modern Halloween and why it is now my favorite holiday.  Mostly it is because for a long time I was told as a Christian that it was satanic or full of witchcraft.  It is a Wiccan holiday in its original form but also pretty basically pagan as well.  Much fo what we see is hold over symbols from a bygone age that survive in large part because it is a fun holiday.

In the United States, the retail business has realized something – it is the second most money grossing holiday of the year.  Literally, second only to Christmas now.  Easter has fallen to third and Valentine’s fourth. It has become more than a holiday for kids trick or treating.   Adults here have very adult Halloween parties without the kids.  I mean you are dressed up as something else and often people cannot tell who you are if you do it right.  Add alcohol, candy, and sensuality and you get the modern American US Halloween.

Most 0f the pagan roots of this holiday are lost and that is probably, on the one hand, Ok and on the other hand. something for those of us that like to dig deeper is missing.

Oh, yeah I am using the pin-up girls again for this one. This time though vintage classic ones that I love.  It’s not very politically correct, but 1) it’s Halloween and 2) I don’t give a fuck what the language-thought nazis say.

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Time to Look Through the Eye:

“To see the truth, change one eye for another”

Faith:

I am going to deal with the more Wiccan holiday of Samhain in this one that is now modern Halloween.  This is actually the biggest festival of the Wiccan calendar and thus most celebrated.  It’s opposite number and Spring festival is Beltane.  You might say these two festivals bookend Summer and Winter.  A festival of the dead, spirits and thus full of the familiar phrase – trick or treat. This reflects their appeasement of those prankster spirits and thus have them pass over your place.  The Jack-o-Lanterns and many other customs reflect this.

I don’t believe in the supernatural but I find the whole holiday interesting because it is such a quilt work of different pagan traditions that it is fun to guess where which tradition came from and how it came to be.  I have faith this is a fun and interesting holiday.

Meditation:

Like  Beltaine, I feel that this holiday reflects the very human need to blow off steam.  We can’t be good all the time and sometimes you just need to go and be a little naughty and mischevious.  Beltane is perfect for this and Halloween even more so. My meditations on human nature simply lead me to think that people need to stop being so good for a couple days a year and Halloween is one of those days.

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Theology:

Growing up this was Satan’s holiday. We didn’t participate or were told not to.  my father this was bullshit, Chrisitan though he was.  He was the one that told me that there is a great deal of difference between what something was and what it is.  He felt what Halloween is now was more about having a good time and in some respect connecting with your neighbors.

Of course, the average Wiccan doesn’t believe in or worship Satan any more than they do the Chrisitan god.  But people have a way of trying to make you inferior for a stupid reason like they don’t do holidays like this while you do; so you are morally less than them.  Got sick of this shitty theology long before I left Christianity.

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Spirituality:

I do find the idea of appeasing the spirits to be an interesting spiritual concept in paganism. The one area of Norse mythology that is rich but extremely complicated so I don’t address it is the whole issue of earth spirits, elves, and dark elves.  It would be a fascinating study and probably relates to Winternights and Halloween a lot. I just look at it with awe as to how complicated it seems.

For myself, the connection with the past, the spending time with people as a community celebrating something is enough.  It is these connections and having fun with them that denote my ‘spirituality’.

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Conclusion:

Why do I like this holiday so much?  Because of all the holidays in the US calendar, it has nothing to do with God, Christianity, Patriotism, or anything like them.  It remains truly pagan despite Christianity making November 1st All Saints Day.  Halloween gives November 1st the middle finger and that just makes me smile.

I also like the grey side to Halloween – the naughty side to it.  It gives new meaning to the words – ‘trick or treats?’ and that is very Ok with me. Just remember sometimes the answer to that question is – yes.

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I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

“Divine Masculine and Feminine” – Freya’s Chambers – Male-Female Balance

Happy Frigg And Freya’s Day

Disclaimer:  The topics covered in Freya’s Chambers include serious discussions of sex, sexuality and related issues.  If it isn’t your thing; you can move along, otherwise enjoy and feel free to discuss.

I am fairly new to this and perhaps this is a topic for Odin’s Eye but the sex role and sexually infuse magical concepts are very much what Freya’s Chambers is meant to address.  The pagan concept of the divine masculine and feminine hits pretty much every form of paganism in some form or another.  There are some that focus on one or the other, but usually, they have both.  The idea of masculine and feminine not just being genders but spiritual forces are quite common.

In most mythological pantheons there is a duality of gender when it comes to the simple fact that most gods and goddesses are paired.  There are a husband and a wife and often there is an understanding of the feminine and masculine roles in the divine realms that are conveyed in those pairings.  One of the most common is that rain, thunder, and lightning is often a masculine god, like Thor or Zeus.  The feminine is earth, harvest and giving life, like Sif and Hera. When I was in seminary one of the pairings and mythologies we looked at basically held that the earth was the womb and that rain was semen.

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In this idea, there is the notion that certain forces of life are masculine based and others are feminine.   That some forces in life contain masculine energy and others feminine.  Also with this is the idea that these two forces need to be kept in balance as much as possible. That when things get out of balance things can go horribly wrong to being just off and not working.

In our modern world, the issues of gender identity, gender roles, etc. seem to defy these views in some respects. Gender identity has become a bugaboo because according to someone can simply choose one’s gender by a decision.  Gender Roles are often questioned and rightly so because in many cases in society one sex’s roles are often put as superior to another.

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In ancient paganism and mythologies, there is little gender-neutral or gender fluid.  Odin is a man, Frigg a woman.  That doesn’t mean that Odin doesn’t do some things that even in Viking society would be considered feminine – like his ability to use divination magic which is a role that was almost exclusively female. But Freya embraces the masculine when she dons her armor and flies with the valkyrie.  That said, for the most part, Odin and Freya stick with their sex when it comes to what they express spiritually and their role in society.

It should be said that those that believe in the divine masculine and feminine try to remove the negative stereotypes:   Men are aggressive and women passive is a common spiritual theme but that doesn’t mean men are strong and women weak.  Aggressiveness and passivity each have their own strengths and weaknesses so each is required to complement and harmonize with the other.  They need each other.

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My personal view is presented in the simple idea of male-female balance:

  1. I think self-fulfillment is found first in accepting all you are including if you are male or female. Trying to be something you are not is self-defeating and indicates self-hatred which is not helpful.  So no, I don’t think being gender-neutral or fluid is a good thing or even based in reality.  The genders are not evil but evil can result if they are not balanced. A good way for them to become unbalanced is to deny their existence or ignore them.
  2. It stands to reason that if spirituality exists men and women would have a spirituality that is different from one another.  If we are different physically, emotionally, mentally based on our gender. Then it only stands to reason that we would also be spiritually different based on it as well.
  3. I believe that men are strongly masculine but need a touch of the feminine and visa versa.  I think the yin and yang symbols are the best representation of this and the need for balance.  The dot of the opposite color in each keeps us from the more negative qualities of our gender.

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I personally have had to adjust a few understandings to come to these conclusions.  One of the great failures of the Abrahamic religions is their failure to lose the patriarchal notion that man is the head of the woman.  That masculine dominates feminine is a central theme to all of them. In the end, this leads to women being everything from property to submissive servants to men.  I am pretty much sure this a great ploy to keep dominance now.  Religion is used to justify men controlling the destiny of women which I would no consider unbalanced and thus doomed to fail. No matter how pleasantly this is put, it is ultimately about the domination of masculine over the feminine.

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In my personal life this is challenging in my marriage as my wife still, through long experience, habit, and practice, seeks my authority over her. The problem is I don’t look at it this way and tell her to make up her own mind a lot. This can be frustrating for both of us. I am looking for an equal partner who makes decisions together with me now.  She still looks for me to make those decisions alone and she just goes along with them.  I was never a domineering Christian husband, but the teachings of the church in multiple contexts over the decades have created this version of masculinity and femininity that I no longer hold, but she does.  This represents a great difference in our values and does cause strain in our marriage.

Away from marriage, I have accepted my masculine spiritual side as pretty strong.  I also like the feminine and I am attracted to it. I need it as I do not generate a lot of feminine energy within myself.  This could lead to a lot of imbalance, but that is why I probably get along better with the women in my life than men. Their influence keeps me balanced.

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This is my initial view at present.  I may change it with time as I meditate on it more and refine it.  I do know that this belief in balance is what caused me to gravitate to Asatru rather than Wicca.  I found most, not all, practitioners of Wicca to be very ‘The Goddess’ oriented like masculine forces were bad or inferior.  Men were only a consort to the feminine, not presented as equal.  If patriarchy is bad; I am going to say matriarchy is equally so.  Neither is balanced.

Asatru doesn’t do this but reminds people of the need for both men and women and that both are important. Both the masculine and feminine are equally valued and have their role in society, life, family and sexuality. Neither is a social construct, but spiritual forces created by men and women being men and women. We may be different, but we are both needed and partf o that is to recognize the need for balance between the male and female.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

 

“Freya’s Chambers: Introduction and Opening Thoughts” – Freya’s Chambers

Happy Mani’s Day

Disclaimer:  The topics covered in Freya’s Chambers include serious discussions of sex, sexuality and related issues.  If it isn’t your thing; you can move along, otherwise enjoy and feel free to discuss.

Opening Remarks: 

In today’s modern world, sexuality is a difficult topic, to say the least.  The issue of gender and identity ignites more heat than light and I am not sure that today I am going to help with that.  That’s not the point for me in this post anyway, but more to get a grasp on my own thoughts on the subject by introducing a running discussion. I also want to introduce to you a new topic area which, in keeping with the Norse theme of the blog, I have titled simply “Freya’s Chambers”. Freya is the Norse goddess of war, love, sex, and fertility. It will have its own page and will appear periodically whenever the yen strikes me to write on subjects relating to sexuality in pagan thought.

I need also to point out at the beginning that these are my thoughts on the subject and don’t necessarily represent all pagans, deists or humanists.  In fact, that is part of my motivation for writing on these topics is to sort pagan sexuality out a little because viewpoints on these topics are varied.  The main issue though is that for most pagans, sexuality and spirituality are linked because sexuality is a part of life and living and thus part of the universe that is sacred. Sexuality is as much a spiritual reality as a physical and cultural one. Sacred Sex is a part of the spiritual viewpoint of pagans.

I also have to note that my deism and humanism kick in here as well as the fact I don’t dismiss the findings of biology, psychology or science in general when it comes to talking about gender, sex or sexuality.  I try very much to realize that we do have some scientific findings on the subject that presents both facts and truth in these areas.  I also realize that there is much that is not understood, and this dwells in the realm of spirituality and theory and these also factor in for discussion.

One final note, I was very well known as a Chrisitan blogger who wrote extensively on what the Bible says about sex, nudity, sexuality, and gender.  I have to warn you that my departure from Christianity has changed a lot of my viewpoints.  I have no appeal to authority anymore when it regards these topics.  Mostly I rely on my reason and experience on the deist/humanist side and my intuition and wisdom for the pagan side.  Some might comment at this time that it looks like I am trying to archive male-female balance in my viewpoint.  I am not sure about that but one thing is for sure, that you will see a massive viewpoint shift in these topics compared to what I used to write as a Christian.

So what will be some of the topics in Freya’s Chambers?  Well, sex and sexuality are broad topics to be sure, but below is a shortlist and a little discussion of where I am currently on some topics as examples.  This is not an exhaustive list of course, but I think it will give you a good idea of what you might encounter when you see the suffix heading “Freya’s Chambers”.

Sexual Identity: 

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I am going to say that if I take science into account, this whole discussion of gender identity for me kind of crystalizes into a few indisputable facts: 1) If you have a penis you are male, 2) If you have a vagina you are a female and 3) males and females are different.  Even pagans have ingrained in there viewpoint the idea of feminine and masculine spiritual forces.  It is part of the mythologies, part of the spiritual viewpoint.

For me, it is also a question of acceptance of self.  You don’t find spiritual peace by trying to be something you are not. Part of achieving spiritual peace is embracing who are and part of that is accepting that you are a man or a woman. There are exceptions to this dichotomy, even genetics tells us that, but such exceptions are rare and not the statistical norm.  The vast majority of us are male or female and that is not just physical but also sociological and psychological

Note this is about identity for me, not orientation.  Personally whether or nor someone’s sexual orientation is a choice or ingrained in who they are is irrelevant to me.  It matters little to me as a deistic humanist pagan, and as a libertarian, who someone has sex with as long as it is mutually consensual. Their business, not mine. I trust that each person can make those choices for themselves, and I am not qualified in any way to judge them right or wrong in their choice.

Nudity and Nudism:

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Leaving Christianity has allowed me to basically discard the whole tightrope walk of trying to look at nudity and where you fall into sin. Sin is gone in my thinking, so nudity is now looked at as purely as rational and pagan issues.  Things are actually quite free and open now for me on this topic.  Most pagans don’t have a view of nudity as wrong, just sometimes culturally unacceptable by others and in certain contexts. The human body is a beautiful thing and the naked human form should not automatically be seen as sexualized.

Don’t get me wrong there is a sexual side to nudity. To say that seeing a naked human being does not arouse sexual attraction at times is simply to deny reality. But just because a man or woman is naked; it does not follow that they are asking for sex.  Some people learn to distinguish between sexual intent and nudity and some people don’t.  For me the two can be together, but not necessarily.  It really comes down to context. Just because a person is naked, it does not mean that I can look past respecting them as a human being.  I should see their humanity first, then other things and only if it is clear those other things are presented to me.

For me, being an at-home nudist, I have discovered freedom I accepting myself to be very powerful.  I have to also admit, that I sometimes feel far more comfortable in my skin than in clothes. There is also the dual call in my heart, my inner wolves of need and want howling if you will, to shed my clothes both outside and with others. If my self-discovery has grown this much simply at home, I wonder what else could be discovered in other contexts. It is something I wrestle with because of past religious indoctrination and current relationships.

Masculine-Feminine Balance:

There is a reason I am not Wiccan and it was my perception very early on, even as a Christian, that Wiccans are imbalanced as far as gender. There is much emphasis on The Goddess and little else that is masculine.  Hell, their male practitioners argue whether they should be called witches or warlocks.  I just find Wicca to be very feminine and strongly so.  It is why Asatru is my choice because it is much more balanced.

Achieving balance for myself mostly involves making sure I embrace the strength of being a man within my self and the strength of the feminine around me. I get most of the later from the women in my life whose influence can not be understated.  I am very masculine with all that goes with it.  To have feminine perspectives in my life to balance that out is appreciated at all times.

Equality: 

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The whole ‘God the head of man, man the head of woman’ Christian viewpoint I have discarded like the patriarchal trash it is.  Talk about men writing a book to justify their male dominance over women, and you will not get a better example than the Bible.  I am egalitarian in my orientation and that means I will point out equality in both directions.  However, you also better be able to demonstrate the inequality is real with things like research.  That said, the genders have different strengths in and of themselves, but I don’t feel that one gender should have cultural, legal or social advantages over the other because of them.

For instance, on the one hand, women can rightly say that their roles in society are often forced on them.  There have definitely been some issues as far as to pay, opportunity and the like. On the flip side, the fact that men get longer sentences for the same crime and dower laws still exist requiring a man to take care of his ex after they split, but no such condition exists the other way, is also not equality.  In the United States where I live it has only been recently been challenged that men can be drafted for war but not women.

Going back to nudity above, I side with the ladies in saying if a man can take off his shirt and go bare-chested in certain public places, so should a woman.  On the flip side, the laws are less harsh when it comes to sexual misconduct when a woman exposes her genitals than a man in some states.  My point is that the whole social, cultural and legal world has these inequalities and I fight for their removal but it goes both ways.  It might be summed up in the simple example we need to move from saying: “it is not right to hit or rape a woman” to “it is not right to hit or rape another person”.

Gender Roles:

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Inequalities aside, genetics, science and such tell me that males and females not only are different right from birth, but they also tend to gravitate to different roles in society naturally. Some of these tests have been interesting as girls would dress up the trucks in dresses and boys would turn the dolls they were given to play with into action figures.  I don’t think we can escape the fact that in society women and men embrace certain roles naturally and some roles are just not possible by one gender or the other. We need to be equals as far as legal and societal rights; but in the end, some things just come naturally to one gender or the other.

I take on the feminists on this issue a lot where, for instance, they complain that there are not a lot of women CEOs.  I point out to them there doesn’t seem to be a lot of women coal miners or sewer workers either. It gets comically interesting when it is revealed that what a feminist considers equality doesn’t involve jobs that are dangerous or dirty most of the time. It is pretty clear that men gravitate toward the dangerous and dirty while women like secure and clean.  It is also clear that on dates, the man is still expected to pay for things, etc.  I think feminists reveal a lot of hypocrisy on this one and even women can see it, which is why many women refuse to identify themselves as feminists.

Sex:

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If you ask me the one thing that keeps me believing in the spiritual side of life above all others – it’s sex. Sorry, there is more to sex, at least to me, than just fucking.  Perhaps my perspective has been limited by the fact I have only made love physically to only one woman in my life, or perhaps it is why I feel that way.  One thing I do know that more is exchanged between us when we make love than bodily fluids.

I will talk about sex from time to time in a spiritual context. In this, you might also see the idea of sexual attraction as well. Under this topic, you might find other things like the effect technology has had on sex, etc.  I have had a few experiences of a sexual nature outside sexual intercourse with more than one woman along these lines, so there are notes that could be made.

Conclusion and Final Word: 

Throughout you will see me make note of changes from what I thought before as a Christian and now what I think that I am using more of a deistic humanist pagan mindset. I probably will never speak this broadly again and will take one topic at a time from now on. Mostly today I was pretty much shooting from the hip.  New posts in this topic suffix will probably be deeper in thought.  Mostly though there is a lot of changing things in my mindset that I am trying to crystallize and the best way for me to do that is to put them on digital paper.

Welcome to Freya’s Chambers.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!