Check it out here.
Pete Helms has written a very thoughtful article on Ares and the proper response to rapists and child molesters. This has completely changed how I view Ares. I'd never had any issues there, but had never felt particularly drawn to Him but after reading this, I want to go make offerings.
Check it out here.
So I was talking about perfume with some Facebook friends today. I had mentioned that I was shopping for one of the Holy Powers, and one of the things that I'm buying for Her is perfume. In my case, I was shopping for Oshun, but perfume makes a lovely offering to Aphrodite, Venus, Psyke, Sigyn, Freya, Bast, and other Goddesses Who "work in the pink building," as I like to say (meant respectfully, this is a bit of shorthand that I and some of my colleagues came up with to refer to the Holy Powers, quite often Female, who govern such blessings of human life as love, sexuality, attraction, eroticism, joy, beauty, pleasure, wealth, and abundance). Lately my House has been celebrating and honoring quite a number of Deities Who approve of this type of offering.
The conversation on Facebook, however, got me thinking of all the different ways that I use scent as a working tool. It's an important part of my personal technology for devotional work, spirit work, and transitioning the spaces between the two and my humanity. Scent is very important for me.
Firstly, I seem to be extremely sensitive to scent, keyed into it. Having a migraine condition, smell is one of my strongest triggers (second only to noise), but it's also one of the ways that energy translates to me. When I'm divining for someone, I often get information kinesthetically, by way of taste and more often smell. I"ll often say 'that doesn't smell right" and i mean it. For me, the divinatory and empathic information i'm picking up from a person is coming via scent. Scent is a palpable thing to me. I've found myself growing incredibly unsettled after newcomers have left my home and it was only recently that I realized it was largely because they carry unfamiliar scents, and I can track them. I gather a lot of information via scent. (Yes, I'm the girlfriend that steals her partner's shirts *all the time* and solely for the comfort of the scent). I once read that scent is the part of our sensorium that is most strongly and primally connected to our memory. I absolutely believe this.
It wasn't until quite recently actually that I sat and took stock of how I use this affinity for scent in my Work. It's actually become part of my personal technology, as I noted above. It's part of my working kit in ways that surprise me to really parse out. This first came to my awareness of how vital this is for me, after a recent ritual where I "horsed" Mani.(1) The horsing was long and while very successful, such things take their toll on the human involved. It's exhausting and can often leave one wrung out, feeling ill, headachy, and out of sorts with one's physical body. Sometimes a good hot shower, change of clothes, some food, and a nap will do the trick to getting one back to rights but I wasn't at home and the stress of the possession combined with the dislocation made it difficult for me to come back to balance. I found myself longing for my customary scents. It was then that I realized how often I used particular scents to ground, to root myself in the sensuality - the here and now physicality-- of my humanity, to connect back to Midgard. Conversely, I also realized I use them to loose myself from Midgard consciousness, particularly when I do oracular work.
I'll start with that example actually. When i am preparing to do oracular work for Odin, I have a whole process I undergo. I bath and work with His nine sacred herbs, sing my spirit song, pray, and after the bath one of the first things I do prior to dressing is to use a particular perfume. This is one that i set aside solely for this work. It's not a common scent, nor is it one that I particularly like for daily wear. It's unusual and not lush at all (I tend to prefer lush florals for daily wear). I douse myself with it prior to dressing for oracular work. It's a tiny part of my prep process, but the moment that scent hits my nostrils, I start slipping into the proper headspace for oracular work. I have consciously conditioned myself this way, to make that transition easier.
This reminds me of another story of how potent scent can be. When I began my studies, it was with a Fellowship of Isis Iseum in NYC. Almost every ritual began by smudging with sage. I don't use sage in my House rituals and I haven't used it ritually in years (I prefer to use Mugwort or some other herb noted in the Anglo Saxon medicinal and magical manuals) but to this day, the moment i catch a whiff of sage, I slip immediately into ritual headspace (or I start to. i'm aware enough of this tendency that I can choose whether or not to allow myself to transition).
Likewise, when I finish carrying a Deity, one of the first things I want to do is go away from whatever group of people are present and bathe. This removes the Deity's 'scent' from me, at least enough that it's no longer pulling me away from human consciousness quite so much. Immediately after, just as I like to put on my most comfortable clothing, I also like to douse (and boy do i mean douse) myself with a favorite scent (usually coco mademoiselle by Chanel, sometimes Floris' White Rose perfume). This is *me* and a path back to myself and my natural scent.
Likewise, when I am preparing for a ritual, regardless of what that ritual might entail, along with bathing and dressing well, I also put on nice perfume. This is all the more an important part of my prep work when I'm honoring one of the "Ladies of the Pink Building", Holy Powers of love, physicality, sensuality, sex, abundance, beauty, pleasure, and wealth. I am not much for make-up--ironically the scent of it is quite often strong enough, no matter what the brand, that it can trigger terrible headaches. (2) I wear very little when I must wear it at all and for rituals usually none at all. I do however wear scent and I suppose the difference is that I am able to choose very carefully the perfumes that I use, making very certain they are not ones that cause headaches.
So important is scent that in one of the traditions into which I've initiated, that for the days of the initiatory process, I was not permitted to bath or wear perfume: it was too important that the Powers learn my personal scent. It's an expression and extension of our energy, our emotional state, our being: who we are, and where we are in this process of becoming. All of that is translated into the fabric of one's scent. (3)
For me, there is a comfort in the familiar scents of those I care about, of the places I frequent, of the perfumes i wear. These things mark my world, encircle it, define it. My ritual preparations generally aren't complete until I've prepared myself (via bathing and particularly by putting on perfume). It's what my adopted mom would have called one of the 'grace-notes of Midgard," the beauty of human living. Spiritually, as an elder pointed out today, perfume represents the ineffable. It represents the soul (so much so that in some languages, the word for perfume is cognate to the word for 'soul' or 'spirit'), and the beauty and power of all that is unseen. For me, the comfort scent brings. the information i'm able to retrieve form it, and the ways in which i've learned to weave it into my work as well as my life stand as a constant reminder that self-care is part of the work too, that there is nothing wrong or un-spiritual about tending to the self, and giving oneself a taste of pleasure and beauty.
We were given our sensoriums for a reason. We're incarnate for a reason. Honoring that is part of the work, part of a healthy spirituality. The breath and blessings of the Powers flow everywhere, into every aspect of our lives. There is nothing separate from that. I think that in overcoming the early monotheistic conditioning that would rend a split between the spiritual and the physical is one of the most difficult tasks we face. We are an incredibly body-negative society. In part, it's done by engaging the sensorium, by indulging it occasionally (in healthy ways), by allowing oneself to experience the pleasure of being alive. Pleasure is a gift from the very Powers we venerate, and it's one to be celebrated in ways large and small.
I won't belabor that point. Suffice it to say that scent is a vital touchstone and i've learned the hard way to keep my favorite scents in my kit. Moreover, I've lately started giving vials of my favorite scents as ritual gifts. Just like cooking for the Holy Powers is its own unique joy, so is this type of offering.(4) It's really nice to give a gift to one of the Holy Powers that is specifically representative (just as food is of nourishment on all levels) of all the beauty, pleasure, and joy They give us. They are generous with Their gifts, so generous and I think that many of us are conditioned to close our eyes to those grace-notes of Midgard that are so precious, to dismiss them as unimportant or shallow. They're not. They're glorious.
1. horsing is a term used in Afro-Caribbean religions for the process of Deity possession. The idea is that the "horse" or devotee carries the Deity's consciousness and the Deity "rides" the person like a rider upon a horse.
2. For this reason, while I do wear perfume to work, I keep it light. I do not douse myself liberally when I have to go into school (I teach) because I never know who amongst my co workers or students might be allergic or highly sensitive to odors. Now at home, or in a group of friends whom I know will not mind, I indulge the hell out of my affinity for certain perfumes.
3. While I've never studied aromatherapy, I have used certain scents to change my mood for the better, and I'll use them in diffusers to create a pleasant ambiance in my home. sometimes if I know i'm going into a stressful environment, I'll carry a handkerchief doused with florida water, or some other cleansing, uplifting scent with me, so that I can keep it near my nose. I have an equal sensitivity to color, something that's been growing stronger as I study painting and photography. These are things that have an effect on my mood and that means they're useful tools for me before, during, and after my work.
4. Opinions vary on this, but I tend not to use perfume I give as an offering to one of the HOly Powers. I keep it on HIs or Her shrine and use it to spritz the air after changing the shrine, or to anoint the statue. Now I have come to personally associate certain scents with certain Deities (for instance rose with Sigyn) and I will often wear those scents when going into ritual for those particular Deities , but as you can see, this is a very subjective thing.
(Photo by Mary Ann Glass).
I am currently working on an article about Mani for my next Witches and Pagans column. I love our moon God and find Him extraordinary and a delight to honor. I wish that there were more people celebrating Him and I wish that there were more written about Him! :)
So I figured I would do with Mani what I did with Odin a month or two ago: open things up to questions from my readers.
I love Mani dearly and I've honored Him for years and years. I maintain a shrine and an altar to Him, venerate Him in House rituals several times a year, will soon oracle for Him, and carry Him via possession at least once a year. I've written a devotional for Him and really, really want to do another in the near future. Over the past few years I've had the pleasure of seeing His cultus expand as more and more people fall in love with the Moon.
So, post your questions here or send them to me at krasskova at gmail.com (or tamyris at earthlink.net though gmail is somewhat more reliable) and I will happily answer them either in this article that I'm working on now, or in upcoming posts.
I'll answer them to the best of my ability from both available scholarship and my personal experience and if i don't know the answer, i'll say so and try to suggest where you might go to find what you need.
Leading interfaith webjournal Patheos has just published an e-book titled "The Future of Religion" and one of my pieces has been included. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Future-Religion-Traditions-ebook/dp/B00852HZHG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338845115&sr=8-1
This is an interesting article on Roman Polytheism, addressing the question of whether or not women can serve as pontifexes (yes) in the contemporary restoration of the religion, a question I've had for quite awhile. I encourage folks to check it out:
is an excellent article by my colleague Dver and I encourage folks to take a look at it. She brings up many salient points about being a Godspouse, things that need to be clearly said.
I don't write often about this, no more than I would share intimate details of a human marital relationship (and in my service to the Gods I am required to share so much about my work. it's nice to have one part of my life at least fairly private) but I’ve been a spouse of Odin since 1998. That relationship, however, was preceded by more than a decade of brutal internal work, breaking down, and developing the type of devotional life and relationships that best taught me how to be useful to my Gods. Only then, and after a "courtship" did Odin claim me as wife. That was hardly the end of our relationship either, but the beginning of something that was far deeper, far more intense, and that came with far greater responsibilities and far greater personal challenges.
It concerns me when I look at the Pagan and Heathen demographic and see this type of relationship (being a Godspouse) becoming a 'fad'. It worries me. I see people claiming it (when the God may or may not reciprocate), using it to give themselves position and authority (that they have not earned), expecting that it will absolve them from any work spiritual or otherwise (ROFLM I WISH; it actually increases it), and looking at it as the pinnacle of their devotional world (it's a grace, a blessing, but things usually don't begin there and should *never* end there). I’ve also seen people use it or attempt to use it to avoid getting themselves together as functional human beings. I’ve seen people claim godspousery without any idea of the ways in which this relationship can and will impact every single aspect of one’s life-irrevocably (My being wed to Odin impacts where I live, the field in which I work, and most of all whether or not I may have a human partner in my life, not to mention the impact it has on the way my emotional life is structured. None of these are small things). I have seen people devoted to the same God as I eaten up with envy and jealousy because they were not godspouses. In some cases, they could have been, but for one reason or other were unable to accept the radical and terrifying vulnerability that comes (as a colleague of mine once put it) when a God holds your soul in His teeth. Others, so envious of this particular type of relationship neglected or tarnished their own spiritual obligations and gifts. They may have amazing, much needed, and magnificent gifts given them by their Gods yet all that lays neglected because they are not this one thing. No one can be everything. No one can do another’s spiritual work or walk another’s wyrd. We have our own portion to shoulder and upon which we may feast.
There's no cachet on being a Godspouse. It does not make us better or more "holy" or more important in any way. It is one manifestation of the types of devotional relationships that one may have with one’s Gods. I don’t (nor do I know any Godspouse who does) put those relationships in a hierarchy (and those that know me know I’m all about hierarchy, so this is saying something!). They are all—every possible type of relationship with the Gods—things to be nourished. My colleague John Drury pointed out to me recently that given the fact that talking to the Gods is a radical act in our post-Protestant Reformation, post scientific revolution, post modern world, it’s all too easy to fetishize what being a Godspouse means. I think that some are attracted to this out of prurient interest (what DO they do at night?) and others because it is unusual. Still others are attracted because they are so hungry on some level for authentic spiritual engagement. Mother Teresa said, in one of her visits to the US that the United States was one of the most impoverished lands she knew (and I’m paraphrasing here), that so many people here were starving for spiritual connection. I think that’s true and I also think that some people think that spiritual connection means automatically stepping into something like being a godspouse. They’re not taught by anything in our culture that no, spiritual connection means starting small, starting with the daily devotion, starting with reordering of one’s life and one’s priorities to include and validate the hunger for connection. It starts with prayer and offerings, with meditation and study. It starts with deciding that this is going to be part of one’s life. It doesn’t start with a wedding to a God. Others, experiencing the numinous presence for the first time are carried away with the heart-opening that often follows…a far more understandable occurrence. It can be painfully easy to fall in love with a God, after all.
Moreover our world is so terribly damaged, so terribly out of balance. It’s going to take everyone shouldering their portion, working with their own graces and gifts to put it right. Being a godspouse is a grace, yes. But it’s not a solution, or rather not the only solution to the problems of our world today. It’s one part of a tapestry, one thread. I’m not going to go on and on about this. Dver has written much better on the subject than I. I shall however, offer this final bit of advice, the best I know to give to someone asking about all of this and what type of relationship they might one day have with their Gods: nourish the relationship you have now, but be open to what it can become: ALL that it can become. Don’t settle, ever, for some preconceived notion of what it should be that includes the idea of being a godspouse.
The Solstice issue of "Eternal Haunted Summer" is now available. I have an extensive article on honoring Scathach there and also the editor published a review of my children's book. Check it out: http://eternalhauntedsummer.com/issues/summer-solstice-2011/
Here's an absolutely brilliant article on consent and energy work that, imo, everyone should read:
I have two articles in the recently released volume 1 of the online magazine "Huginn," one on Loki and on on performativity in Heathenry.
Both articles may be found here: http://huginnjournal.com/
I have a new article profiled at Patheos on Thanksgiving. Folks can read it here:
I also have a weekly column there called 'Highway to Hel" that can be found here: