Finding Veles

I’ve ‘adopted’ another god into my personal practice. Surprisingly, to me at least, this god is not part of the Norse pantheon. You can’t help who calls you. Veles, of Slavic mythology, is the god I was talking about in my post Identifying a God – it took me months to identify him, and now that I finally have, things are falling into place.

I’ve always felt…different in and around forests. Specifically, dense, old, dark forests, with tall trees and thick canopies and plenty of moss and detritus covering the ground. Other people never seemed to feel the same way I did in forests. For years, I thought this feeling was just another example of Sehnsucht – my Ache – that feeling of spiritual displacement from a spiritual home or physical location where perhaps I’d never been. It only occurred to me a few months ago that that feeling could actually be the presence of a god.

Unfortunately, there are a shit-ton of forest gods around the world, so this search was not going to be easy.

All I knew was that this god was associated with dark, old forests, decay, and dirt. This wasn’t a hunter’s god, or a particularly friendly god; this was a wild god.

The search took months. It was full of panicked googled, a long list of potential gods it could be, and even a table of possible gods and applicable attributes that I filled in.

One night, I’d tried to put the search from my mind. I went to the movies with my partner. Before we went in to the theatre, something occurred to me: I’d completely overlooked the Slavic pantheon, which had never been on my radar before.

In a frenzy (this whole search was full of frenzy), I opened the Wikipedia page, and when I saw Veles’ name, a feeling overcame me like the wool had been pulled from my eyes. (Wool reference…very appropriate.)

I still wasn’t sure it was him. Weeks followed, of me going back and forth, doing more and more research. Veles isn’t primarily known as a forest god.

In the weeks (months?) that followed, I kept coming back to him. Eventually I did some divination. Some thinking. Turns out it was him the whole time.

I’m not accustomed to having deities from more than one pantheon, but I am forging ahead with this relationship. Veles is so different from the Norse deities I’ve known.

 

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Rainbow Heathenry: Is a Left-Wing, Multicultural Asatru Possible?

GODS & RADICALS

For those who raise the bowl in offering and veneration of the Old Gods, there is a glimmer of their connection to the past. Much of the Yule Celebration is based around this key concept for those who identify with Asatru, the revival of the traditional Norse pagan religion. It is the attendance to and memory of ancestors, the veneration of them just as the Gods, both of which can be traced back in a familial lineage. As Thor, Freya, and Odin are mentioned, faces around the table can envision what those names meant to their family deep in the past. The power of thunder. The perseverance in battle. The strength of conviction.

Yet it is not those elements that most of those with quick glances see when they notice a small silver Mojinir around a believer’s neck. Today Asatru is one of the most divided areas of the new…

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Identifying a Deity

Recently I had to identify a deity who I kept sensing (and have been sensing for years, though I didn’t realise it). It wasn’t easy. I thought I’d set out my process for anyone else who might need it.

  1. First of all, is it a deity, or is it a local or regional spirit? This might differ based on your worldview, but essentially, spirits or regional deities might only manifest in specific locales or regions. For example, Arduinna is a goddess of the Ardennes forest. For some, however, she might be a deity of forests in general. Consider your own worldview. This will help you later in your search when you’re trying to narrow it down.
  2. Looking for clues. What specific things give you the sensation of this entity? What gives you the vibe/feeling? For me, it was forests; specifically, a feeling of darkness, richness of soil and moisture, and decay. The more specific you can be with these ‘clues’, the better. Try and get to the core of what gives you the sensation. Clues could be certain animals (for example, rabbits or bears), geographical locations (e.g. beaches, mountains), colours, seasons, or more abstract things, like “creativity”, “companionship”, or “romantic love”.
  3. Divination. Many people will want to try divination at this stage. If you can tap into the sensations you get from the entity, do divination at the same time. If not, just focus on the clues you’ve identified. Use whatever method you’re most comfortable with. I used runes. Try asking the deity for some symbols or associations of theirs. If you’re feeling lucky, you could ask for their name. Otherwise, you could ask them to send you some signs or dreams.
  4. The search. Time to search the world’s knowledge. Come up with search terms using the clue you identified. I used “forest deities” and “tree gods” to begin with. Again, the more terms you can come up with, the better. If you have a feeling what culture the deity is from, this can be a useful search term to add, although be careful not to narrow your search too early – you might overlook some important information. Use different terms in different combinations. Go beyond the first page of Google results. Don’t be afraid to use Google Scholar. If you have access to a good library, it’s worth checking out old-fashioned encyclopedias or other more scholarly books. They have good, solid info that the Neopagan web doesn’t. Write down any deity names or other information that ring true to you. Pass over anything that doesn’t ring true, but keep in mind that you might have to revisit it later in case your search doesn’t turn up anything.

At this stage, you might have pinpointed who it is. You might have a name – hooray! If not, start again, and branch out, think outside the box a little. Follow steps 2-4 again. I had to do this four or five times. When I thought I had it, I did some divination to confirm – success!

However…you might have done all your research and done your divination and still not have a name. You might have found an unknown or ‘forgotten’ deity, whose name was lost to history but who still remains. In that case, it’s up to you to find out more about them.

2016: I

I can never be enough.
Break my bones.
Scatter them among the trees.
Pry out my teeth.
Strew them among the rotting leaves.
Rip my skin,
Tear my eyes,
Place them in the rivers and lakes.
Steal my breath and cast it into the mist.
It will never be enough.
I will never be close enough to this earth, to this feeling.
I came from Earth and sure enough I will return to her
But I will never be close enough.

Fk the Haters: Question Everything

There’s a lot of advice out there on what to do in your spiritual practice. Some of it’s good, most of it’s bad. People throw around a lot of rules about what it is to be a real Heathen, or a real witch, or whatever else. Often these people will be self-proclaimed authorities of some sort.

Ignore all of that. Think for yourself.

What’s the point of your path? Why are you here, delving into different aspects of life and spirituality? Why are you pursuing what you’re pursuing? It’s for you, isn’t it? It’s not for anyone else. Your growth isn’t for anyone else. Your path is for you. And you have an obligation to remain true to yourself, because that’s the only way you’ll find your truth. Your path is there to serve you and you alone.

I’ll boil this down to three points:

  1. Don’t listen to people who tell you what you have to do to be a [good] Heathen. Follow your heart. People will tell you shit like “You have to be dedicated to your community to be Heathen”, or “you have to honour your ancestors”, or “you have to honour your ancestors”. Ignore this shithouse ‘advice’.
  2. Question things before you incorporate them into your practice. Question whether sources/facts are, in fact, true. Question things already in your practice to make sure they still work for you. It can be tempting, starting out, to lap up every piece of information you can find, uncritically. But you should be critical.
    (2a. Question whether you give a shit if your sources are good or true.)
  3. People will try to shit on you. This doesn’t matter.

Don’t let anyone discourage you from following the path you’ve been called to. If people tell you that you’ve crossed a line, listen to them openly and honestly. You might have crossed the line without knowing it. Be culturally sensitive and respectful, and keep an open mind.

Mostly, question everything. And keep questioning it.

You know what? Question this post, too.

 

It is hard to come to terms with the fact that we cannot be human without consuming. We consume meat, and vegetables, and we consume oxygen. We occupy space. We clear land to build houses for ourselves and grow food to eat. Beyond this, we buy our clothes and belongings with money that has come through cycles of countless others consuming.

It’s impossible not to consume in some way.

This is just being human.

It’s harsh, and cruel, but it’s the price of having a physical form.