In one of the most disgustingly offensive acts that I have seen of late, a group of atheists, agnostics, and humanists, a student group in WI created a "god graveyard."
It's just one more attempt to marginalize devotion. It's disgusting. It's offensive on every possible level and frankly there's a part of me that would rather see the organizers in a graveyard than see this. Our traditions have had to put up with enough mockery, harassment, desecration, and destruction from monotheism. Furthermore, it's bad enough that those of us honoring our Gods have to also combat horse shit like this from other Pagans (non theistic pagans, humanist pagans, you know, the ones who don't give a flying fuck for the Gods) but that a university would permit a student group to do this, is sickening beyond belief. I wouldn't support this if it were only targeting the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim God(s) and y'all know how I feel about monotheism.
Now, a Heathen group is planning a ritual of prayers and offerings to the Gods that have been identified as being listed on the tombstones in the graveyard. House Sankofa will be doing the same on Dec. 14 as part of our Yule ritual.
Sannion listed some places you can read about what’s going on:
The Gods we're able to identify so far:
Czernobog & Bielobog
Shalim again (possibly intended to be His brother Shahar)
Royal Uncle Cao
You know what, fuckers? All of these Deities have active worshippers today. All of Them. Their cultus are alive and well and getting stronger every single day. As Sannion said in his post to which I link above, it's going to be interested to see where Pagans come down on this issue. Give that we've already seen a fracture in the "community' between those who venerate the Gods and those who venerate only their own humanity, I think this could very well be a watershed in the defining of our community boundaries.
As for me, I stand with those who venerate the Gods and very much against those who would tear Their cultus down. May misfortune rain down on their heads seven times seventy.
"No one sings as purely as those in deepest hell; what we take for the song of angels is their song."
Tomorrow is Veterans Day and this particular day has immense personal import for me. My dad was career military and served in both WWII and Korea. My grandfather was in WWII and i have great uncles who served in WWI. Some of my first ancestors in the States were Hessian mercenaries who came over to fight in the Revolutionary war and I also carry in my veins the blood of Saxon warriors who took their stand against Charlemagne, may he be damned, in order to protect their traditions. I'm well aware, to the marrow of my soul, of the debt we owe our military dead. We all have them, somewhere in our lines, and I like to think that the grit and sense of duty that motivated them to fight for their homes, families, countries, and people flows through our ancestral hamingja down to us as well. I sense them quite often around me, the military dead in my line and those military dead that I honor who may or may not be directly related as well. I maintain a special part of my ancestor shrine solely for them and occasionally I make pilgrimages to battlefields and hold rituals and do what I can to honor them too. One thing that I've found they very much appreciate, in terms of offerings, is the acquisition of trench art.
This wasn't what i intended to write about for Veteran's Day and I may yet write something else before tomorrow ends. Still, someone today expressed great surprise that I, who carry warrior medicine, am also a poet, painter, photographer, glassblower, and cook. This is not the first time that I've had this happen. I remember when I was working with a Theod, jaws dropped open when it was discovered I could cook and cook well. The idea that someone claiming warrior medicine could also have the power, potential, skill, and desire to create something of beauty, or something nourishing seemed shocking. It apparently causes serious cognitive disconnect for some. Yet, warriors have always had a keen appreciation of beauty.
How could they not? Even in the midst of hell, one needs reminders of what one is fighting for; one needs reminders that nourish the eyes and the soul. One needs reminders that the brutality and horror in which one is currently wading are not the only things in the world, that there was a world, a precious beautiful world before whatever war one is fighting, a world to which one hopes to return. Warriors need those reminders of the fragility and sacredness of life, of their own humanity, of those they love, and those things that sustain. (All those humanities we're so hell bent on culling from our educational system? They nourish our humanity. They connect us to some of the best parts of being human: our capacity for occasional, shocking greatness, for creative genius, for distilling love, honor, loyalty, joy, pain, weariness, defeat, salvation into concrete talismans of remembrance, i.e. art, music, sculpture, etc. We cut them from our educational systems at our peril).
I think that our hunger for beauty and our ability to find or create it in the most adverse of circumstances is one of the defining sensibilities of being human. Warriors, soldiers are men and women making hard choices and doing what is necessary often with horrific personal consequences. This doesn't' make them less human; i believe it makes them all the more aware of how human they are, and all the more aware of how sometimes that must be thrust aside for survival, raw, brutal survival. Warriors have always sought out and found ways to create beauty in the midst of trauma. Samurai were expected to be well educated in the courtly arts and many a Japanese warrior was also an artist or poet. Archilochus, the Greek poet, wrote of being both a devotee of the Gods of war and of the Muses. There was no conflict: both were necessary for becoming a whole human being; and men damned to the trenches in WWI and WWII took the implements of destruction and horror: shells, mortars, and assorted metal refuse of war and made things of occasionally astonishing beauty. Collectors and antiquarians call this latter type of art 'trench art,' because it was made by men in the trenches.
I discovered trench art completely by accident. A friend of mine who used to own his own antique store gifted me with a small box. It was made out of a large shell casing and the soldier-artist had carefully inscribed a little lion and the words 'Labor Ipse Voluptas" (work itself is a pleasure) on the top. It was made during WWI. My military dead immediately took to it and it ended up on their altar. I started to get pushed to find more of this type of art and so over the past couple of years, I've acquired a small collection, all of which sits on my shrine to the military dead as an offering to them and what they endured.
I want to share some images of those pieces with you today, of simple things of quiet beauty made by men in the midst of hell.
This is the small box, my first piece of trench art, that I describe above. half the lid is hinged so it opens and closes easily.
The larger ring pictured here was made in France during WWI out of a shell casing.
These vases, both made during WWI, in France. One has ivy running around it, the other poppies. Both are made from very large shell casings--they're about a foot and a half tall.
I am particularly taken by the small things that soldiers made, like these cufflinks made out of small shell casings, and this pill box, made out of a shell casing and a coin. It's a little larger than a nickel.
Finally, here are two pictures of another box, also made out of a shell casing. This is about the size of my fist and is finely detailed. This is what many soldiers did in their "down" time and many's the sweetheart who received rings or trinkets from her beloved at the front.
I believe these things served as a reminder of exactly what these men were fighting for: everything they loved at home. All too many of them never came back. May they have the grace of being remembered and hailed, not only tomorrow on Veterans Day, but always.
(the first photo at the beginning of this post is one that I took of the WWI memorial in Rhinebeck, NY. Please do not use without permission).
War Is Kind
Stephen Crane (1899)
Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind,
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them.
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom--
A field where a thousand corpses lie.
Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbles in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.
Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind!
Sannion is going to be offering an online class all about Dionysos and getting started in developing a devotional practice to Him. I'm so excited about this that I signed up and I've been honoring Dionysos for years!
The course starts in January. Check it out here
. I cannot recommend this highly enough. After November, tuition for the class will be $150, but right now, if you register this month, you can get a discount and it will only cost $100.
I have three spots left for my Ancestor Work 101 course.
Duration: eight weeks, starting Dec. 4
Please pass this one...while I"ll be offering the course again, I probably won't run it till the spring.
Contact me at krasskova at gmail.com if interested
A couple of quick and dirty shots of the altar for today's ritual in progress.
House Sankofa is honoring Odin and the military dead...it's our Veterans Day ritual today (on sat. instead of Veterans Day proper so more people can attend).
I'll post pics of the finished altar eventually...these were just quickly shot, in bad light as I was setting up.
IT's a good time to honor your military dead, folks. Check out an article I wrote here
about that and check out this
article about a totally badass female WWII resistance fighter. I'll be pouring out an offering to this woman's spirit today!
Take a moment to honor the deceased military men and women in your own families. We all come, in some way or another, from warriors. As with our other ancestors, so long as we draw breath, there is a debt.
DULCE ET DECORUM EST
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
8 October 1917 - March, 1918
(a shot of one corner of a 60+ work show, "Motion/emotion" opening at Spire Studios in Beacon on Nov. 16).
So i'm a couple days behind with the 30 Day Devotional Project. Well, I never said it'd be 30 *consecutive* days. LOL
I"ll get to them over the next couple of days and maybe even catch up to myself. heh.
In the meantime, I've been busy putting the finishing touches on several paintings that are now part of my first gallery show, the aforementioned "Motion/Emotion" exhibit at Spire Studies. If you're in the NY area, stop by and check it out. All the pieces are for sale and there are four artists, including myself, who have contributed pieces. It's a gorgeous show.
Here are a few photos of the pieces in situ. The first is my own 'Remembering the Maafa." this is acrylic on paper.
Below is a lovely pollock-esque piece by artist M. Glass. I haven't seen the completed catalog copy for the show yet, so unfortunately I do not know what she titled this, but it's only one of the stunning abstracts by this artist in the show.
I love, love, love this pen and ink by V. Donovan. Again, not sure yet what the title is, but I'm sure looking forward to finding out. I find her work very evocative.
Below is my piece, a multi-media collage titled "Yggdrasil." This one has actually already sold. I didn't care for it at first, but it did grow on me eventually. lol
Below is my own pen and ink "Blue Poppies." I almost titled this one "Homage to Lascaux"...
I wish i could have gotten closer, but I wasn't able to get a clear shot here. In order, there's my "Storm Tossed Sea" (acrylic), V. Donovan's piece (don't yet know the title), and my "Dionysos" (acrylic). I'll post a few shots from the opening next week when I get around to it. enjoy folks, and as i said, if you're in the area, feel free to stop by.