Patreon Topic 12: Sacred Kingship and Heathenry

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

Note: Until now I have referred to folks by their level of Patreon support. For some of Patreon patrons I will now refer to them by a name I have permission to use. This makes it easier to organize and find posts. Thank you to all my supporters on Patreon and to all of my readers!

From StreakingFate comes this question:

“For a topic idea, have you covered sacred kingship yet? Historically in Heathenry, how it is seen present day in Heathenry if it is, or both.”

Before I begin to tackle this question it is important to talk about what we mean by Heathenry. There are a lot of cultural wells from which we can drink. Norse Heathenry is one, Anglo-Saxon another, Frankish another, and so on. Then there are folks that mix their paths eclectically or syncretically, neither of which are wrong, but they tend to be different approachs. Myself, I am primarily a Heathen whose sources lie in Icelandic, Norse, and Germanic sources with a smattering of Anglo-Saxon. My approach to the question of “Is Frigg and Freyja a single Goddess or separate Goddesses?” is to treat Them as separate, with Frigg an Aesir and Freyja a Vanir. This may seem like an odd point of departure, but this matters in terms of how we understand the Gods, and how we understand the impact of lore, including myth and archaeology, on our various religions.

Since I am not writing from a primarily Anglo-Saxon, Frankish, etc perspective, there are a lot of potential answers to this question. I cannot tell you what the Anglo-Saxon Heathen answer is to this question because that is not my primary framework any more than the Frankish Heathen is.

I have not covered sacred kingship much on this blog. It simply does not enter much into my understanding of my place with the Gods, Ancestors, or vaettir. I am a goði, a spiritual specialist who is both a chieftain and a priest so far as how we in Mímisbrunnr Kindred use the term.

Let us dig into what is meant by sacred kingship. The Encyclopedia Britannic has a great overview of the concept of sacred kingship, though by no means is it the most detailed or probably accurate overview specific to a given culture. In its article, the Encyclopedia lists three basic forms of a sacred kingship:

(1) the possessor of supernatural power, (2) the divine or semidivine king, and (3) the agent of the sacred.

I do not serve a sacred kingship role as it is often seen in the Fisher King archetype, and only small Heathen, eg Theodish, or Northern Tradition kingdoms, eg The Kingdom of Asphodel, as I have read and understood, hold to such ideas.

Now, if we depart from kingship and dig into sacral status, then this is something most Heathens believe in. However, it is quick to spot that in modern Heathenry that sacral status is not beholden to only a few. If anything differs greatly from historical Heathenry, it is that the goði is not the main arbiter of a community either in terms of how the community runs that they are head of, or that they have inherently more spiritual power than others who live in the community they head. Everyone has access to power through engaging in specific work, eg seið work, spirit work, working with óðr, and so on. A given person may or may not be ‘wired’ for the work, but that does not mean that you have to be born into a certain bloodline to access these spiritual techniques or engage with spiritual power effectively.

Another signficant departure, due in no small part to how diasporic the Heathen communities have become from their historical roots in America and over time from the ancient Heathen cultures we take inspiration and root in, we do not have the kind of passed-on roles that we might have if they had survived until today. Perhaps, had ancient Heathen cultures not been converted, seiðkona and seiðmaðr would have kept up their work they would have passed on the experiences and understanding they had. Had the ancient Heathen cultures not converted, perhaps spiritual techniques like the varðlokkur noted on but not, unfortunately, written out, in the Saga of Erik the Red may have survied until today. We cannot predict how these roles would have come down to us. We can look at the functions they served in the communities they were part of, look at how our own communities are organized, and whether they are still useful to us, or, even more important, if this is even something our Gods are asking to take up and if we are willing to.

From my observation sacred kingship is largely seen as something belonging to the past. This is hardly surprising given America’s history, let alone 1/3 of Americans rent their home, and many Americans who do own land do not own more than than an acre, let alone land in enough acres to justify any kind of kingdom.

Were there sacred kings in Norse or Icelandic culture? Not in the sense of a divine figure akin to a pharaoh of Kemet, no. Not god-kings. Were kings and chieftains seen as particularly spiritually powerful or potent? Yes. So the 1st and 3rd definitions in the Encyclopedia article were certainly part of ancient Norse culture. What about the 2nd? The Ynglings, Ingvaones, Skilfingar, and the Fairhairs were said to be able to trace their ancestry to Freyr, the caste system to Heimdall or Odin (depending on whether you believe Rig is the former or latter), and Frosti was said to be the legendary founder of Skjalf’s line.

Given the practical and political obstacles before it, I am unsure any beyond a few small groups are going to pick up the notion of sacred kingship.

Patreon Song/Poem/Prayer 11 -A Song for Grandmother Mugwort

If you want to submit a request for a prayer, poem, or song to be written to you privately or to be posted on this blog or my Patreon for a God, Ancestor, or spirit, sign up for the Ansuz and above level here on my Patreon. This prayer was requested by Maleck Odinsson.

Amma Una, Amma Una, Amma Una

Eldest of Herbs, Eldest of Plants, Eldest of Green Power

Amma Una, Amma Una, Amma Una

Cleansing, Empowering, Offering

Amma Una, Amma Una, Amma Una

Protecting, Healing, Knowing

Amma Una, Amma Una, Amma Una

Poison-killer, Blister-killer, Spirit-killer

Amma Una, Amma Una, Amma Una

Spirit Blesser, Spirit Empowerer, Spirit Enlivener

Amma Una, Amma Una, Amma Una

Gipt fá gipt, gipt fá gipt, gipt fá gipt

Amma Una, Amma Una, Amma Una

Þökk fyrir, Þökk fyrir, Þökk fyrir Amma Una

Patreon Topic 11: Venerating Linked Gods

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From my 3rd Raiðo patron comes this topic idea:

“Perhaps you could talk about venerating Deities Who are closely linked jointly, and how that can be different from worshiping a single Deity. I am a Freysman, but increasingly called by Nerthus, and I am starting to feel pulled towards venerating them jointly as Mother and Son–and how that feels like a Mystery unto itself, quite different from the Mysteries proper to a single Deity.”

In my experience and talking with other polytheists this seems to be a feature of Heathenry and sometimes Kemeticism. Generally speaking when you start worship one God They might introduce you to Their Family, and how we come to know our Gods can be keys to a Mystery or group of Mysteries as surely as beginning to know Them.

My relationships with all the Heathen Gods have filtered through Óðinn, and much of the worship and Work I have done is filtered through my relationship with Him in some way. I have seen other Heathens who came to Norse Heathenry and the Heathen Gods through Loki and it is a whole different experience than my own. It also depends on which particular heiti a God, Goddess, or other Being approaches us through. My experience of Óðinn as Rúnatýr is very different from Óðinn as Óðinn.

Worship of Óðinn alone was very focused when I first began as a Heathen. I would make offerings about once every other or every third day, and would do about 5-20 minutes of meditation on Him a day, or, if I was particularly busy, would carve out time on the offering days and dedicate more time to Him in addition to my usual prayers and offerings. I was also intensely studying the Runes, so all told I would spend upwards of an hour to two hours in prayer, offering, contemplation, meditation, and spiritual work.

When He began having me reach out to His Family, first to Loki and Frigg, then to Thor and other Aesir, it took some time to get the placement of Who to pray to first right. There were definitely Gods that bristled at the notion of being ‘next to’ each other in prayer, and others that did not particularly care. Loki eventually brought me to His Family, and incorporating Them in prayers also had to be done. I found as more Gods came into my worship and that I did Work with and for, the less time I had for the kind of intense focus as often as I did for Óðinn alone. This was not necessarily a bad thing, though. I actually needed the breathing room and was pretty bad at holding those boundaries with Him initially, something He was teaching and working on with me through this.

A Mystery that Óðinn brought me into quite early was understanding His relationship with Loki as Blood Brother. From then on I knew that not only was making offerings to Óðinn and not Loki wrong, it was something I could not do. Now, this is not to say that each and every offering I give to Óðinn is Loki’s as well, or vice versa. Each have Their own preferences of offerings as I and others have come to understand, eg Óðinn prefers whiskey whereas Loki like Fireball or ‘spicy’ drinks, and both enjoy mead and other wines. However, when it is more general offerings and prayers, such as night prayers at our Gods’ vé, They are both worshiped, prayed to, and water is offered to both of Them.

Exploring the Mystery of Their connection has deepened my relationship with both Gods, and I find that connection a beautiful and multifaceted one. Consider, too, that since we are looking at the Gods through the lens of mythic time that each event has, will, is going to, and is happening. Loki and Óðinn are slaying Ymir as recounted in the Vóluspá, and sitting across from one another in Ægir’s hall as recounted in the Lokasenna. Just thinking on and exploring Their Blood Brother connection through this understanding is powerful alone.

The Mysteries Óðinn brought me into that are His alone, such as bringing me into working with the Runevaettir, are not better or worse, just different from those of other Gods. The relationships that I have with other Gods unfolded differently when They passed through His hands vs another. This interrelationship also adds to the relationship as I experience it with Him, eg understanding Óðinn through His relationship with Frigg and vice versa.

My relationship with Frigg developed out of my relationship with Óðinn. I had a mix of formal and informal relationship starting with Óðinn, but with Her much of my relationship has been quite formal, especially when I worship Them together as the Chieftains of Asgarð. My address to Them is quite similar, usually something to the effect of “Hail, Chieftains of Asgarð, I make this offering of mead to You!” and many of the offerings are the same, eg water, mead, beer, wine, and the like. Worshiping Them together is different from worshiping Them apart. I tend to use more personal appelations and heiti with Óðinn, while I tend towards more formal address even in personal worship with Frigg. Maybe that will change over time, and maybe not.

Developing a relationship with a given God or Goddess depends on what avenues we come to Them through, how we engage in relationship with Them, and how we are introduced to any other Gods that They associate with or are associated with can differ person to person. This also comes into play in how we develop relationships with Gods linked to one another, whether by familial or other ties. When we relate to our Gods through another, as in the case here with my Patreon patron’s relationship with Mother/Son regarding Nerthus and Frey, it can be an invitation to a Mystery because of how the relationships with these Gods is being framed, or in this case, possibly reframed. That does not necessarily mean the old relationship and ways of relating with Frey are gone. It may be, or it may be affected in powerful ways as this new way of relating to Him through His Mother and vice versa comes forward. It is difficult to say anything for certain when we are talking about individual or even communal avenues of relationships of worshiping and relating to our Gods. Time and experience will tell. I am deeply curious to see how it goes for you!

 

A Prayer of Praise to Holy Healers

Hail Mengloth, Jotun Goddess whose hands heal and wisdom preserves health of body, mind, and soul!

Who knows the ways to knit flesh and bone

Who knows the ways to bring vitality and vigor

Who teaches those who listen in the holy arts of healing!

Whose work staunches the blood of wounds

Who guards the lines of the heart so all is kept free from infection

Whose skillful hands knit the skin and flesh that every wound may become a scar

Whose wisdom of herbs and medicine makes every illness become renewed vigor

Thank You for blessing the doctors, nurses, techs, and healers with wisdom, skill, care, and prudence!

Hail Mengloth!  Ves ðu heil!

 

Hail O Eir, Aesir Goddess of the healing hands!

O Wise Goddess who teaches the eager to learn how to heal!

O Battle Medic whose hands have tended the flesh from the bite of wood, bone, bronze, iron, steel, and powder!

O Careful One who brings the healing teams together in purpose!

Thank You! You have blessed the doctors, the nurses, the techs, the healers with care, caution, wisdom and skillful work!

Hail Eir! Ves ðu heil!

 

Io Asklepios, Divine Physician!

Io to the Son of Apollon and Koronis!

Io Kheiron’s Son!

O Wielder of the Serpent-Staff

Whose hands have healed holy and mortal flesh alike

Whose lessons have instructed the countless lines of doctors, nurses, techs, and all those who heal

Whose work has saved the lives of countless people

Whose wisdom has been preserved that the work and art of healing has continued

At Whose side stands Telesphorus that health and recovery are one in healing

Thank You for blessing the doctors, nurses, techs, and staff with knowledge, skill, care, and wisdom!

Io Asklepios! Khairete!

 

O Imhotep, Divine Physician

Whose words and works have blessed the world

In whose hands and heart Thoth worked good blessings

In whose mind and heart was brilliance and its blessings shared with every doctor and physician, every surgeon and assistant

O Wise Teacher, thank You, for Your lessons and writings that taught all who followed and read of You how to heal!

O Divine Physician, thank You, for your skill has blessed the harmed and sick with health and vigor!

O Divine Surgeon, thank You, for Your skill has delivered life from death!

O Supreme Magician, thank you, for Your Words and Works yet give wisdom, yet give insight, yet strive out sickness, and yet heal!

Em Hotep, Dua, Dua Neter en-ek O Imhotep!

The Jaguar and the Owl

I have been a co-host on The Jaguar and the Owl for the last year, but it did not occur to me that I had not been providing updates about it to my blog.

Introducing The Jaguar and the Owl:

This is a show and podcast about shamanism in it’s living form. We will explore it’s history, but also what it is like to be a shaman here and now. The challenges you will face, the advice and techniques that I and others use. Join me around the virtual sacred fire as I and other shaman talk about what the Spirits ask us to talk about. Are you the one the message is meant for?

We are on every other Tuesday on Para-x.com’s Live Broadcast at 8pm.  Our next broadcast is tomorrow, 9/29/2014 at 8pm.

Our most recent podcast is here, where we interviewed Galina Krasskova and talked on Ancestors and leadership in the communities we share.

 

 

The link to the Jaguar and the Owl WordPress is here, where you can download and share the archived episodes of the show.

The link to the iTunes podcast archives for the show are here.

Limits of Language: Hooks and Fish

I am a hard polytheist and animist.  The Gods are real, individual beings.  The world is populated by spirits.  My Ancestors are as close as my blood relatives, reaching into the World itself, into Yggdrasil, the Elements and raw power of the Void, into the Gap Itself, if I look back far enough.  Many Gods are imminent, and some transcendent.  Some are local Gods, some with names and some with names we do not know, and more with names we may never speak.  The Gods can be our friends, our family, our lovers, distant acquaintances, terse partners, employers, and/or master/mistress, among roles and ways of being I am sure I have missed.  So can a great many spirits.  As for the spirits, They are part and parcel of everything around us.  We might call some spirits Gods , and some Gods might be called spirits, depending on how we view Them, and Their place in the world, universe, etc.  We may not even have terribly solid boundaries where one God ends and another begins, or on the other hand, may have very defined ones between Goddesses.

We all exist within the fabric of Wyrd, within Ma’at from the most infinitesimal piece of sand to the Gods, to the Universe Itself (which, in some religions is a God/dess/Being).

Is this monist?

Perhaps, at its core, I suppose it is.  The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines Monist as:

a : a view that there is only one kind of ultimate substance and b : the view that reality is one unitary organic whole with no independent parts.

I much prefer the b definition.  This idea is not that we are somehow one mass, blob, etc., but that we are threads of a great tapestry, and each of us is but a thread.  That while being individual, we are not independent.  That we are organically whole, together.

Really, though, what am I capturing by saying things this way?

Language is tricky.  When it comes to describing the Gods, spirits, and Ancestors, They are much like a fish wriggling in your hands: even as you take out the hook from a well-fought catch, it struggles to go back in the water where you must find it yet again¹.  In many ways language is insufficient, even in the hands of a poet, a writer, a lyricist, or a bard, to describe in full or even in part what it is to experience the Gods.  Language is the hook that gives us one fish, and it may fill us awhile with good food, but while that hook is bare it is an unused tool, and there are far more times where the fish fights us off or fools us that it has been hooked, when it merely eats the bait and swims off.  Language alone, whether written on a page, sung in front of a crowd, or whispered before an altar will not sustain.  It is the fish, not the hook, that provides the nourishment.  After all, sometimes we lose the hook, and sometimes the whole line, and sometimes the whole damned pole!

I still feel as I did in August with A Useful Teacup.  Boundaries are useful and necessary.  A hook is not a fish, after all, and no matter how many hooks one eats they will not provide nourishment.  Yet I find that monism is not wholly opposed to polytheism, but rather, it is part and parcel of it.

Monism within polytheism is nothing new, nor is animism.  Recognizing we are all part of an interdependent whole does not deny our Gods, our spirits, or our Ancestors, but puts us into our proper place within the Worlds.  The Worlds hang on Yggdrasil, and Yggdrasil came from the Gap.  All at first came from Atum who came from Nun.  We all come from a source, and it is often represented by, referred to, and is the Void, Darkness, Nothing, etc.  If anything, monism within polytheism is a challenge for us to live more in tune with the Worlds around us.  If we are all interdependent, are we doing our part in Wyrd, in Ma’at?

Bringing this idea into the current discussion on Paganism, I do not want to find another boat when so many will do.  I may not board the good ship Reconstructionist but I count myself as a hard polytheist and animist, a Northern Tradition Pagan, a Heathen, and a worshiper of many Gods beyond the Norse and German.  So, I am also very eclectic.  Yet, I look at it this way: salmon has sure been good to me in filling my belly, and so has tilapia and tuna.  I fish in many waters, but with the proper pole and bait for each.  The fish still come.  Sometimes I come back with nothing, and sometimes I come back with a fish story, and an accompanying fish.

Boundaries are still useful and necessary; it is hard going trying to salmon fish with a leaky boat.  Likewise, it is impossible to fish without risking getting wet.

 

 

¹Small wonder that Loki is associated with a salmon: a hardy fish that is hard to catch and a powerful swimmer who often outsmarts or outright beats the fisherman.  As with language, the understanding of Loki is evolving inside and outside of academic circles.  He is one God among many who are being discovered, thought about, and reexamined, and yet, consistently escapes consensus.