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Strip Me Back To The Bone

So, I made a thing.

What are my goals with this new site?

Celebrating diversity in contemporary polytheism with a strong emphasis on building up. I want to honor our differences without having to use divisive language. I want there to be a visible, vocal alternative to the would-be gatekeepers. If the polytheist movement is to be a thing, I want it to be a diverse thing.  Mostly: I want those finding their way to polytheism, and those who are maybe not new to polytheism but new to interacting with other polytheists online to see that not all polytheists online are eager to tell them what they’re doing wrong.

I’m planning on purchasing a domain once I have the money for it, and I really want this to be about us, and not about me. It’s been suggested that questions get fielded, to keep conversation going, and my mind turns…

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Upcoming changes to this blog: what are your thoughts, fellow polytheists?

Correction: It may come across as if ONLY people who apply to my definition, which I state is personal and mine only, can come to this blog. Not at all! What I meant was: if you identify as a polytheist and/or hold a religious worldview in which the Gods are understood in a polytheist context, where the existence of the Gods is literal and They are understood as Beings of autonomy and high agency, you are invited to take a look and share your thoughts. In the end I do want to help hold space for polytheist discussion and help promote healthy discussions!

If you’re a polytheist (in my personal definition, someone who understands to be separate and distinct Entities with free will and autonomy over Themselves/high agency), and you’re sick of all of the arguing that lately has muted polytheist conversation, and you’re of a mind to change for the better, I ask that you please read this and give it some thought. Reblog and share if you think it’s useful! Thank you!

 

Towards Polytheist Theoilogies

This blog has been dormant for a few months – with everything going on, I’ve been unable to properly attend to the topics I’ve wanted to talk about to my satisfaction. Part of this has been due to my exhaustion of behavior on the interwebs where attempts to talk about polytheist practice/belief/devotion/etc have become “flame wars” where the center of conversation quickly becomes fighting between dissenting parties.

Frankly, I’m sick of it. I want to see discussion again. I want to see discourse. I want to see the Faces of the Powers in everyone’s rich and unique practice, flavors of thought, in everyone’s way of being. I want there to be a polytheist space again where things can flower. I want to lessen reactive discussion, where a wonderful topic is drowned by a war in the comments section. I want for intra-community dialogue, sharing, constructive criticism to happen. I want to…

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31 Days of Devotion to Týr, Day 3: What are some symbols and icons of this Deity?

What are some symbols and icons of this deity?

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The rune Tiwaz (Source)

Tiwaz: The rune Tiwaz is perhaps the most well-known symbol connected to Týr, considering that the word tiwaz directly refers to Týr Himself. Tiwaz reflects and espouses the qualities of righteousness, justice, and sacrifice of the individual for the greater whole. The upward quality of the arrow symbolizes the rightward path to the heavens and to victory; it also refers to the North Star / Polaris (which Týr is connected to) that guides travelers rightly and safely to their destination. In its aspect of Polaris, Tiwaz symbolizes the cosmic law/order and the importance of the moral compass in determining the right way to engage with the world – and so also represents the harmony and orderliness of balance that is necessary for right-living to happen successfully. It is the rune of warriors, of legislators and judges, of oaths, and of courage. It is the symbol of self-disciplined warrior, whereas Odin espouses more of the beserker-warrior whose power lies in complete loss of control.

Spear: It is very possible that Týr was the original All-Father, and that He ruled next to Odin before Odin usurped His place as the All-Father. However, many aspects between Odin and Týr are very similar, and the symbol of the spear is shared between these two gods. As a deity of war, it is apt for any and all weaponry to be related somehow to Týr, but the spear in particular is related to Týr’s personality due to its shared quality with Tiwaz as an embodiment of right direction, right movement, and straight path to the target.

Sword and Shield: Again, as a god of war and warriors, weaponry is symbolic of this wonderful God; the sword and shield are representative of carrying out one’s duties and responsibilities in an orderly fashion while maintaining a perfect balance (sword for offense, shield for defense).

Hand / Glove: The most well-known sacred myth of Týr is when He betrayed the God Fenrir and lost His right hand in order to secure the Binding of Fenrir. The loss of His right hand became a symbol of the hero, of the price of self-sacrifice to preserve the greater community, of the courage needed to make difficult decisions, and the reality that maintaining law isn’t always a black-and-white issue that can be dealt with simply. It is said that Týr keeps His right hand under His cloak.

The North Star: I find this symbol the most interesting precisely because it’s one that’s not really discussed or pointed out. As Sky God, God of Righteousness/Right-Way, and Holder of Cosmic Law, Týr is the deity of all right-relationship and of setting the example for heading in the right direction. I’m still developing an understanding of the role of the North Star in connection to Týr and what the North Star means, as I was surprised to find it connected to Týr!

31 Days of Devotion to Týr, Day 2: How did you become first aware of this Deity?

How did you become first aware of this Deity?

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Fenriswolf by SceithAilm, Deviantart

I suppose that this question has a two part answer. The first part would be how I became first aware of Týr generally and the second part would be how I became first aware of Týr in my life/personal practice.

Identifying how one is first aware of a God generally might seem like a moot point, but it is surprisingly perhaps one of the most important things that any devotee can overlook. The way in which someone first becomes aware of a God partially creates the framework (and associations) that one has before they may even meet the God in person. (This can be a good thing or a bad thing, of course). For me, I first became aware of Týr through posts online from a Asatru group I follow on Facebook. For every day of the week, this group writers a prayer of praise along with a description of the Deity and an accompanying photo. Group members also post individually, and many of them very much like (and hail) Týr. I noticed immediately that Týr is very codified in tradition, in the sense that frequently the only part of Him that is praised (the Warrior) becomes the only way in which people think about Him. So when I first became aware of Týr’s existence, I was aware of Him in His qualities are the Warrior, the Upholder of Law and Justice, and most strongly The Wolf Binder who became the true Hero when He sacrificed His hand to Fenrir.

But, see, although that Týr is the Týr that I work with, that is also not the Týr that I work with. The funny thing about Gods is that They can be both and neither at the same time; that Týr can be Warrior, and yet not be, and yet Be.

I became first aware of Týr in my life in March of this year; I wrote about that here, but for the sake of this Devotions series, I’ll write it out. I had just recently starting working with Frigg, who was the first Goddess I was working with (besides Queen Maeve, but that’s a different story altogether). This was a big deal for me because, between June of 2014 and September/October of 2015, I worked with one God only: Cernunnos. This was also a big deal for me because I have had a lot of trouble connecting to Goddesses, which frustrated me deeply (along with other personal issues but, again, different story!). Working with another pantheon entirely was strange yet wonderful, and I found myself quickly understanding the ways of the Norse and appreciating Frigg’s movements in my life.

But where Frigg stepped in quietly and with compassion, Týr stormed in. I remember I had found a beautiful piece of artwork on Týr and, being the Taurus that I am, I was examining the detail of the musculature used for the representation of Týr’s body. All of a sudden I heard and felt a ‘boom’ before me, as if the wood floor before me was creaking and aching under a great weight. When I looked up all I could see was this giant of a Man, with long scarlet-orange hair and the brightest silver eyes I had ever seen. He had this radiance and power about Him that just didn’t allow me to take my eyes off of Him, as if some cosmic law had decreed that once a gaze rested upon Týr then it could never waver. I remember asking Him what He wanted from me, and His answer had me land flat on my ass. Almost quite literally, too. You, He had said. I remembered that vividly, and it was an answer that deeply implied a specifically sexual claiming that I immediately honed on. In other words, Týr is not a God of mystery; truth is not mysterious when spoken clearly.

Being a good polytheist, I divined. Repeatedly. Over and over. In the meantime I tried to explain away His words as some consequence of my recent breakup, any sexual frustration, or just my natural Taurean self. I tried to hide it or to re-frame it or to find any other answer that made sense – or, rather, even if the answer made less sense, to be a different answer. Sex is Gods is not a far-away concept for me, but at the same time, between my care to divine accurately and my understanding that communities are often merciless with people who claim to have sexual relationships with the Gods, I wanted to make sure that I received the answer He desired for me to have.

Well, Týr is a god of truth so I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t want the answer to be ‘yes’ because I was frightened. I didn’t want the answer to be ‘yes’ because the Týr that I was perceiving was not the Týr that others perceived – and in that cruelty and ignorance that was why I was frightened. I was divining with a presupposed result, and yet every single answer was ‘yes, that is what He said and wants.’ In seeing other diviners, I also received that answer. And there came a point where something happened between us where I realized that I was boxing Him in and not allowing Him to do exactly what He wanted to do with me: to be Himself with me. The Týr that I know and work with is very much the Great Warrior and the Hero… but when He is with me, He is Himself. He drops His armor and weapons at the door and He comes and lays with me. He lets me kiss the stump of the Hand He has lost and He is quick to tell me when He feels another God is not upholding Their responsibilities. He is a brilliant God, with humor and grace and many, many surprises. The fact that I once tried to turn that away because I was frightened is a regret that I will carry until I die.

I remember, when I first met Him, that I blabbered on about how He couldn’t make a home with me, because I had no idea how to give it. I had no idea what He saw in me, had no idea what He meant when He told me He could give me what I wanted. I had no idea, even when something deep inside of me yearned at me to take what He was giving and to offer what He wanted in return. I was caught up in so many excuses and rulemaking and ‘Gods don’t do this‘ that His next words stopped me cold.

Why do you question My judgment? Do you think I am not capable of joy, tenderness, desire? Do you think that you are not worthy? For all of your talk of passible gods, fair devotion, Relationship, you are very quick to tell me Who I am and what I am allowed to do and feel.

It’s true: if the Gods want you, They will find you and have you. They will engage with you in the way They see fit, and that Relationship is something to be respected. And lately, when I look at myself in the mirror, I smile and say to myself, No wonder He picked you. Aren’t you just gloriousFor someone that has long battled years of abuse, self-esteem issues, compulsive lying, and struggling to understand myself, recognizing one’s beauty, grace, power, and righteousness in truth is a truly significant and serious thing.


Hail, Týr – 

for when You stepped into my House, You bowed – 

and I was surprised – 

and I did not then understand that it was because

I had been wearing peasant’s clothes for so long

that I had forgotten that I had always been a Queen.

 

It’s about more than just showing up

Important!!

Gangleri's Grove

There has been quite a bit of discussion about miasma of late. I’ve seen discussion threads and articles and posts cropping up all over the place. Unfortunately it seems that many of the people writing on the topic lack the faintest idea of what miasma actually is.

The idea of miasma and spiritual pollution is absolutely crucial to our practices. It’s important therefore not to stretch the meaning to fit some political agenda, not to misidentify and mis-equate one thing with another, and not to transfer monotheistic ideas of sin and shame onto these pre-Christian religious terms. It’s important to understand precisely what we’re talking about, why it’s so important, and how best to put it into practice. So let’s start with what miasma actually is.

Miasma is spiritual pollution. I’ve written on it before here,and here and here. Likewise I wrote about the Roman idea…

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31 Days of Devotion to Týr, Day 1: Basic Introduction to Deity

Basic Introduction of Deity

Many of you who subscribe to my blog are aware that I am spoused to Cernunnos – so perhaps some of you (like me!) are a bit surprised that I’m going to be dedicating this month of devotion to Týr . After all, I’ve only begun to work with Him since March of this year and, well, it’s pretty fair to say that the way in which I engage with Týr is not a way that others, to my knowledge, do so with Him. (For context, read this post here). In fact, everything about the ways that I have developed a relationship with Týr screams out for me to not make this public. What do you mean, He sleeps with you? What do you mean, He is ‘Himself’ with you? You must be out of your fucking mind.

But, see, that’s exactly why I want to devote this entire month to Týr. Strangely enough, Týr and Cernunnos have something very much in common: They are both highly popular and well-known Gods who are truly known by few. It is my observation that, in the Asatru community, He enjoys a powerful traditional following as a true Hero: a great and selfless warrior who leads by example, a god whose sacrifices are always for the greater good, a god whose loyalties and strengths are unsurpassed. He is passionately praised as the epitome and culmination of honor, duty, courage, and right action. There is very little (read: arguably, nothing) that deviates from this presentation, which is strongly backed by the lore. The community, I feel, has codified Týr . One knows Him as the Warrior – no less but, at the same time, no more. And my experiences with Týr have allowed me to understand that even I subscribed to this codification so, naturally, when He appeared in the way He did, behaved in the way He did, and asked what He did on me, I fell back on my ass and didn’t get up until I performed enough divinations to make Frigga sigh in frustration.

For me, that is reason enough to devote a month to Him. Because I have learned from my mistake, and because I have welcomed the way in which He has decided to share Himself with me, I have begun to understand Him SO much more. It is something I am very much still in the process of, but I do want to be able to write and remind others that our Gods, while They are what They say They are, are always more than what They say They are. Theophany is always ongoing and the Gods are great mysteries; and valid experiences, to me, are not standards that other experiences have to be measured against. Týr is much, much more than just a God of certain attributes; there is a complexity, a brilliance, an agony and a fire that I am only just beginning to see. And I would love to share that because, well, I really do feel like very, very few people give Týr a chance.

However, I don’t want to make this too long, as I would love to be able to flesh everything out in the entire month (and not just write an entire month’s worth on a single post!).

Týr is the Norse God of war, battles and combat, justice, law and righteousness, and oaths, faithful to the Aesir. However, the justice that is dealt by Týr is not a justice that always ends in peace. Unlike Heimdall, who seeks to resolve situations in a way where enemies become reconciled and both parties are at peace, Týr is a God who very much understands that justice does not always lead to happiness; fairness, honesty, and righteousness often comes with bloodshed, crushing, and problems within a community. There is a damn good reason why Týr is said to be a God who does not reconcile situations – He resolves them, yes, but not in ways where everyone leaves smiling or everyone is on good terms with each other. After all, we’re talking about the God who broke His own oath and, knowing He was betraying His friend Fenrir, lost His hand in order to protect the greater community. Justice comes at a price, and setting the balance fairly does not always mean that either end will come out unscathed – or that the balancer of the scales will be particularly well-liked.

Although He is considered to be a relatively minor God in the Norse pantheon, there are many indications that He is perhaps one of the oldest and most powerful Gods – in fact, worship of Týr predates the organization of the Norse Pantheon as we understand it. There is evidence suggesting that Týr was worshipped as a sky God and did, in fact, enjoy the position of principal God, or leader of the Gods. If this is true, then that means that Týr Himself is much, much older than thought to be – older even than Odin – and was in fact the original All-Father, Father and Ruler of Gods and Men. However, I do believe that at one point Germanic tribes had two head Gods, one who was involved in magic and one that was involved in social justice and law; but in later developments, Odin became the one All-Father and Týr was ‘demoted’ in a sense.

In the Eddas there is little mention of Týr Himself, but it is very, very clear that Týr’s judgement, loyalty, bravery, devotion to the Aesir is surpassed by none. In His strength He is considered second only to Thor, which indicates that Týr is pretty damn strong, to say the least. His important to the Germanic peoples was enough that He was gifted a day of the week in His honor (Tuesday).

His parentage is largely disputed. In the Prose Edda, one of His kennings is ‘Son of Odin.’ However, in the Eddic poem Hymiskviða, it is the giant Hymir whom Týr states as His father. The disputes over His parentage may be due to Týr’s history of having been worshipped well before He was (likely) assimilated into the Norse pantheon, but then demoted to a lesser status as Odin then took His place as Head of the Aesir. 

This will be a very interesting devotional, as I am writing about a God I am still developing a relationship with and still trying to grasp. I know that I will enjoy this, and I hope that my writings will be able to properly express my admiration of this wonderful God who deserves much, much better than being boxed in and hailed as Warrior and Wolf-Binder only.