God of the Month: Vortumnus (Vertumnus)

Little marrow type pumpkin and flower.

Little marrow type pumpkin and yellow flower.

Called The Changer, Vortumnus can be considered the God of Seasonal Change. He causes the plants to swell into vegetables. He turns the grapes purple and ripen the cherries. His influence becomes obvious in August, when the signs of autumn begin to show. At this time, the vegetables are ready to be picked. In the change from winter to spring, the focus is on Liber and Libera, who fertilize the plants. (Vortumnus does bring the warmth of spring.)

Vortunmus is the Protector of Gardens. His wife, Pomona, is the Goddess of Fruit and Fruit Trees. Together, They watch over the fruits and vegetables that we eat. During the Vortumnalia (August 13), I give thanks to Vortunmus for the produce from my grocery store, especially for the heirloom tomatoes.

Salve Vortumnus!
The Changer
The Turner
Your touch causes
The cucumber to ripen
The cherry to be sweet
You bring the changes of each season.
We feel You in the Autumn
But You are always there
The breath of warmth of Spring
The chill of Winter
Turning, turning the seasons one by one.
Salve Vortumnus!

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Polytheism and Spiritual Pollution

Mention “miasma,” “pollution,” or “purity” in regards to Polytheism, and many Pagans will take umbrage with these terms. One reason is that Christianity has redefined these Polytheistic terms to match its theology. Since many Pagans are converts from Christianity, they will often think of these concepts in those terms. However, “miasma,” “pollution,” and “purity” had different meanings in Polytheism.

Paganism does have its version of “pollution” and “purity.” Pagans discuss “positive” and “negative” energies. People will cleanse themselves and their spaces routinely to clear out negative energy. For example, crystals are often cleansed before using them. Also, before rituals, many Pagans will smudge themselves to purify themselves and to clean out the ritual space.

Miasma and spiritual pollution are different from both negative energy and Christian sin. Negative energy powers destruction, sickness, and other such things. It can be removed by laughter or positive thinking. Sin is removed by baptism and confession. Miasma, which is specific to Greek Polytheism, is a “spiritual pollution that prevails over all, it is not an ‘evil thing.’” Continuing in his essay, Markos Gage says “Miasma is therefore something we incur in life, everyday life.” (Note 1)

In Roman Polytheism, castus (the adjective) means being morally pure, pious, or ritually pure. Piety (pietas) is maintaining the right relations between people, their Gods, their families, and their communities. Castitas (the noun) is the purity of the ritual and the participants. (Note 2) That means everyone must be physically and mentally cleansed before conducting a ritual. Before a ritual, people perform ablutions by washing their hands and asking that the water purify them.

An error conducted in a ritual is a spiritual pollutant. It negates the ritual and risks the anger of the Gods. It is not that a God will smite someone, but is to maintain the Pax Deorum, the Peace of the Gods. Religious negligence leads to divine disharmony and the turning away of the Gods. This leads to the loss of protection for the family, community, and the individual.

The closest thing that Roman Polytheism has to Christian sin is nefas. This can be defined as anything which is contrary to divine law. Nefas is a failure to fulfill a religious duty. Nefas is a willful act of religious violation.

Polytheists regard the world to be neutral, which differs from Christian theology. St. Augustine stated that the world is both corrupt and corrupting. Therefore, humanity lives in a Fallen World. To Polytheists, the world is both clean and dirty. Kenaz Filan explains, “The world is a clean flowing stream, and miasma the sewage dumped into the water. We clean the stream by filtering that sewage or by redirecting it…to where it can be properly contained.” (Note 3)

Why focus on purity and pollution? When a person prays, divine, or perform any other sacred act, they are engaging with the Holy Powers. There is a doctrine in U.S. law called, “Clean Hands” (also called “Dirty Hands”). (Note 4) The plaintiff cannot have the judge participate in an illegal act. One example is a drug dealer cannot sue to have his stolen drugs be returned. Another is suing the hit man you hired to kill someone for failure to do their job. As Judge Judy says on her TV show, “the courts will not help anyone with dirty hands.” I believe that in our relations with the Gods, we can think of purity and pollution in those terms.

Notes:
Note 1. Markos Gage, “Answers About Miasma,” from “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands,” Galina Krasskova, ed. P. 51. Markos Gage is a devotee of Dionysius and an artist.

Note 2. The Romans have a Goddess – Lua – who protects all things purified by rituals and for rituals.

Note 3. Kenez Filan, “Miasma” from “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands,” Galina Krasskova, ed. P. 69. Kenez Filan is the author of several books including “Drawing Down the Spirits (with Raven Kaldera)”. He is an initiated Houngan Si Pwen.

Note 4. Clean hands: “Under the clean hands doctrine, a person who has acted wrongly, either morally or legally – that is, who has ‘unclean hands’ – will not be helped by a court when complaining about the actions of someone else.” From The ‘Lectric Law Library, http://www.lectlaw.com/def/c202.htm

Works Used:
Galina Krasskova, “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands”
L. Vitellius Triarius, “Religio Romana Handbook.”

God of the Month: Ashnan of Babylon

agriculture barley field beautiful close up

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Hailed as the “Good Bread of the Whole World,” Ashnan is depicted with grain sprouting from her shoulders. This is because the Sumerians called this Goddess, “The Growing Grain, the Life of Sumer.” Since She is the Goddess of Barley, Ashnan was invoked in treaties by the Mesopotamians. If anyone broke a pact, Ashnan would withhold her abundance, and they would starve.

The Babylonian calendar was divided into two seasons – summer and winter. Winter, which began at the autumn equinox, was the time of the barley sowing (the Akiti-sununum). Summer, which began at the spring equinox, was the time of the barley harvest (the Akiti-sekinku). Ashnan was honored at both festivals, as it was Her who sustained the people.

In the “Debate Between Sheep and Grain (note),” Ashnan and her sister Lahar, the Goddess of Sheep, were created by the Annunaki (the Great Gods) to feed Them. Later the two Goddesses get drunk and argue over who is more important. Enlil, the Holder of the Tablets of Destiny, and Enki, God of Water and Wisdom, intervene. They tell the two Goddesses that Both need to stand together as sisters. Enki ends the argument with, “From sunrise to sunset, may the name of Grain be praised. People should submit to the Yoke of Grain. Whoever has silver, whoever has jewels, whoever has cattle, whoever has sheep shall take a seat at the gate of whoever has grain, and pass his time there.”

Note: The Sumerians wrote debates (disputations) as a part of their theology to explain the relations between the Gods and humans. Seven are known – Bird and Fish, Copper and Silver, Millstone and Gulgul-stone, Hoe and Plough, Date Palm and Tamarisk (Tree and Reed), Winter and Summer, and Sheep and Grain.

Lady of Abundance
Goddess of Barley
The Hardy Grain of Bread and Beer
The Growing Grain, the Life of Humans
Gift of the Great Gods
Baskets of You Build the Cities
Baskets of You Build the Nations
You feed Humanity and the Gods

Hardy Grain
Lady of Abundance
We Praise You
Ashnan
The Good Bread of the World

Gods of Babylon of the Month: March/April

nbmarduknabu

The beginning of the Babylonian year starts at the Spring Equinox. During Nisannu (Mar/Apr) of the Babylonian Calendar), the new moon after the equinox, the Akitu, the New Year Festival is held for twelve days. It starts with purifications and then the Enuma Elish (the Babylonian Creation Epic) is read. This myth begins with the original creation of the world by Tiamat, the God of Chaos, and Apsu, the God of Waters. Later Enlil, a God from the succeeding generation becomes the “Father of the Gods.” Eventually, He cedes his powers to Anu, from yet a newer generation of Gods, who seeks to overthrow the original Gods. After Apsu is killed, Tiamat wages war on the newer Gods. In desperation, Enlil goes to Marduk, the principal deity of Babylon, for help. On the condition that He is made the Ruler of the Gods, Marduk agrees. After killing Tiamat, Marduk remakes the world from her body.

During the Akitu, Marduk disappears. While his and Nabu’s temples are being cleansed, the people search for Him. At this time, they carry the statues of the other Gods to Marduk’s temple. Meanwhile, Nabu, the Scribe of the Gods and Marduk’s Minister, searches for and then frees Marduk from the Underworld. Then in his temple, the priests re-enthroned Marduk as the Ruler of the Gods. Afterwards, they do divination for the coming year. The festival ends with celebrations and the return of the Gods to their shrines.

Meanwhile to begin the growing season, the King would enact a sacred marriage with the temple priestess of Ishtar (Inanna). Their mating is to reaffirm the marriage of Ishtar, the Goddess of Fertility, with her husband, Tammuz (Dumuzi). These marriage rites ensure that the King is accepted as one of the Gods, and blessed by Ishtar, who also blesses the crops.

For Sumerians, the month is called Barazagar (Mar/Apr), the month of first offerings. The Akiti-Sekinku, the festival of harvesting barley, which starts at the full moon. For them, the month’s name – The Goddess of Barley Ashnan is honored as the “good bread of the whole world.”
Note: The Babylonians had a lunar calendar, and added months beyond the 12-month year. They kept their year keyed to the equinoxes. Between 1750 – 1500 BCE, they standardized their calendar – the Standard Mesopotamian Calendar to unify their empire.

Babylonian New Year’s Festival

God of the Month: Marduk of Babylon

God of the Month: Nabu, Babylonian Patron of Writing

Tiamat

God of the Month: Inanna (Ishtar)

Soul Retrieval and Polytheists

adult black coat conceptual

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As a Roman Polytheist, I discovered the durability of my multiple souls (Note 1) when I had my traumatic brain injury. When one soul becomes damaged as what did happen to me, it grows back. A soul will regenerate slowly. In my case, it took three years. My major concern during this time was to prevent anything else from coming in. Therefore, I made offerings to my Juno (female Genius) to watch over me. Also, I wore a bulla (a Roman talisman) to ensure my safety from the “evil eye.”

After my accident, several Core Shamans offered to help me. They wanted to do a shamanic retrieval to bring back my “lost” soul. Although they were well-meaning friends, I had to refuse.

The concept and protocol for Soul Retrieval by Core Shamans was developed by Sandra Ingerman. (Note 2) (Note 3) After suffering a stroke in the 1980s, Michael Harner, who started the Foundation of Shamanic Studies, had Ingerman replace him. It is from Ingerman’s writings that the modern beliefs about soul retrieval took shape.

Ingerman’s background is that of a mental health professional. She bases her theories on the writings of Carl Jung. There is the Higher Self of Humanity/God, the Conscious Self, and the Unconscious Self. Ingerman explains, “When we talk about soul we are really talking about light. In returning the soul parts and lost vitality to the client we are really returning light.” (The “light” is the Higher Self.)

For Ingerman, soul loss can come from daily life. She writes, “A reflection of how much soul loss people are dealing with is evident when so many governments and businesses are valuing money over life.” In her book on Soul Retrieval, Ingerman notes, “Although soul loss is a survival mechanism the problem from a shamanic point of view is that the soul part that left usually does not come back on its own. The soul might be lost, or stolen by another person or doesn’t know the trauma has passed and it is safe to return.”

Ingerman expands on her concepts of soul loss. “The basic premise is whenever we experience trauma, a part of our vital essence separates from us in order to survive the experience by escaping the full impact of the pain….It is important to understand that soul loss is a good thing that happens to us. It is how we survive pain.”

Ingerman’s focus in her ideas of soul loss is to repair the psyche or emotional aspects of a person. Although a shaman, she accepts the Monotheistic tenet of a single soul. Going further, Ingerman assumes that the soul is very fragile.

For a Polytheist like myself, a traditional Shaman is best for soul repair. One of the many souls usually needs to be healed instead of being retrieved. During the first five years of my TBI, I went to a therapist to deal with trauma. It served me well.

Notes:

Note 1. The Romans have the genius, renamed by Christians as the Guardian Angel. Meanwhile, the animus, which is the dynamic force of personality, can exist outside of the body. One soul dies with the body, while another one survives to form its own body. When a person dies, one soul will merge with the ancestral soul, and another soul will go to the underworld. The physical (body) soul that lives on after death is called a revenant.

Note 2. According to Ingerman: “The definition of “soul” is “essence”. Essence can’t be harmed or hurt. When we perform a Soul Retrieval on behalf of another we return to them pure essence that brings the client to a state of healing and wholeness.”

Note 3. Ingerman’s protocols for Soul Retrievals include:
• You want to learn how to help someone who lost a piece of his or her soul as a baby or a toddler and now have a habitual life pattern that runs the life of this person. People often notice that a recurring traumatic theme occurs in life that results from soul loss at an early age. An example of this would be a repetitive pattern of someone who always finds himself/herself being betrayed in relationships. …help a client break old patterns and create a new positive present and future different from the traumas of the past.
• Helping a client fully integrate their soul parts so that the Soul Retrieval creates long term healing instead of short term effects that fizzle out over a short period of time is crucial.
• ….share what was seen in a Soul Retrieval journey for a client in a way that inspires clients to move on with their healing process instead of re-traumatizing them and taking them back into traumas of their past. This is key as I found that so many clients were re-traumatized by shamanic practitioners’ lack of education in how to tell healing stories.
• People today don’t need more bad news. People today need to hear stories of hope and inspiration about the gifts, talents, and strengths that are now available to them after a Soul Retrieval which will improve the quality of their life.
• Frankly this takes simple common sense on behalf of the practitioner to understand the impact of his or her words on another….phrase your healing stories so that you bless each client with planting seeds of love, hope, and inspiration. Words can be used to bless or curse someone.

Works Cited:
Gaia Staff, “What is Soul Retrieval?” 30 March 2017. Web. https://www.gaia.com/article/what-is-soul-retrieval
—-, “The Power of Shamanism to Heal Emotional and Physical Illness.” Web. http://www.sandraingerman.com/sandrasarticles/abstractonshamanism.html
—-, “Soul Retrieval.” Web. http://www.sandraingerman.com/sandrasarticles/soulretrieval.html

Works Used:
Sandra Ingerman, “Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.”
Sandra Ingerman’s Website: http://www.sandraingerman.com/

The Multiple Souls of Polytheism

adult black coat conceptual

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Polytheism differs from Christianity in that instead of one soul, a person has multiple souls. The Romans have the genius, renamed by Christians as the Guardian Angel. Meanwhile, the animus, which is the dynamic force of personality, can exist outside of the body. One soul dies with the body, while another one survives to form its own body. When a person dies, one soul will merge with the ancestral soul, and another soul will go to the underworld. The physical (body) soul that lives on after death is called a revenant.

This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp. Western culture sees a person’s soul as a singularity. Moreover, the revenant is no longer believed to be real. Since the Dead have been relegated to being phantoms. Modern science has reinforced the idea that ghosts are figments of a confused mind.

The Christian Church deliberately redefined the concept of “soul,” thereby merging all the souls into one entity. Now, when the body dies, the soul merges with God. The Church dismissed the existence of revenants. Tertullian, St. Augustine, and Gregory the Great developed and promoted the concept of the soul being a singularity. Their aim was to eliminate the Pagan veneration of the Dead.

Tertullian claimed that Plato had asserted that the soul remains in the body after death. However Plato said that after death, a soul does continue to exist. Moreover, he divided the soul into three parts – logos (mind), thymos (emotion) and eros (desire).

In Polytheist theology, it is important to note multiple souls are the norm. For example, the Egyptians believed that everyone had nine souls. They are: kha: the body, ka: the living life force, ba: the personality, sekhem: the transfigured life force, khaibit: the shadow, akh: the transfigured soul, sahu: the spiritual body, ib: the heart and ren: the true name of the person.

In Norse Polytheism, the litr is the body’s vital force. The hame, the “astral body,” works with the lich, the physical body. The flygja is similar to the Roman genius. The kinfylgja is the ancestral soul.

It is important to note that the texts written by the ancients are often interpreted by people who are steeped in the monotheistic culture. Therefore, references to multiple souls may be thought of as aspects of a single soul. However, the idea of multiple souls still manifests itself in modern thought. I consider Freud’s theory of the ego, id, and super-ego to be one example.

Dealing with Fairies (i.e. the Fair Folk)

close up photography of hand with lights

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My friend Diane sees sparkles in her room in the evening and early morning. Pieces of her jewelry keep disappearing and then showing up weeks later elsewhere in the house. She asked me for advice.

Before focusing on any magical cause, I would first eliminate the mundane. I would have Diane be examined for any medical problems. Sparkles can be a sign of eye floaters, which is serious. Once she was cleared by the doctors, I would then attend to uncovering the magical problem.

First, I would conduct a series of interviews with Diane about herself and the incidents. I have observed that psychic events happen frequently around sensitive people. These individuals are usually psychically and emotionally sensitive. Psychologically vulnerable people tend to have more magical problems than the regular population.

I have a list of standard questions for people having magical difficulties. First, I would ask Diane about her ideas about the occult. Does she or her friends dabble or practice in the occult? Does she watch shows about the supernatural? Does she know anyone who could be a magician? I want to know what types of magic either her or her friends may do. The answers could offer clues to if she or someone has triggered a cascade of events.

In “Monsters,” John Michael Greer offers suggestions for questions including those to detect a hoax. Greer stresses adding whether the person had read about the phenomena. He says that the mind can bring forth entities. Furthermore, Greer includes inquiries about the person experiencing any other phenomena. This is to establish how sensitive the person is or how other events may have influenced this event.

Next I would have Diane flesh out the incidents of the sparkles and missing jewelry. Did she have any physical reaction to the sparkles such as tingling or prickling? Other than jewelry has anything else been taken? Are the sparkles seen elsewhere in the house? Are there other times the sparkles happen? What does she feel about the sparkles? Do they give her the creeps? Do the sparkles happen when other people are there? What is she doing at the time? A part of this line of questioning is to root out hoaxes.

From the description that Diane gives, I strongly suspect that it is some sort of fairy. The times of sighting at dusk and in the morning are liminal ones, when the boundaries between worlds are porous. According to the lore, fairies will come into homes. The items being stolen are shiny, sparkly jewelry, which some fairies are attracted to. The jewelry being returned suggests a non-malevolent entity, at least towards Diane.

Before I conclude that it is fairies, I do several mundane tests first. The entities could also be thought forms or an intelligent ghosts. Ghost and fairy lore have many things in common. Ghosts generally do not appear as sparkles but they do take things.

First I would have Diane put the jewelry in a sock drawer. If it disappears from there, than it is something other than a fairy. Then I would conduct other tests.

In Diane’s case, the jewelry did not disappear, I tested for fairies by putting nails around one set of jewelry and nothing around another set. I noted what gets taken, since iron repels fairies. If the entities behave like what is described in traditional fairy lore, then I would conclude fairy activity.

While conducting these tests, I would consult the Runes to see if there is an on-going psychic attack. Since the answer they give is no, then it is not be a malevolent fairy. (Most fairies tend to be neutral in many events.) Then I narrow down what sort of fairy it could be. Among fairies, goblins and imps steal things as well as pixies.

After consulting the lore, I am left with either an imp or a pixy. Both are common pests but imps have an edge to them because they like being unpleasant. Pixies are naughty but not malevolent. I use a pendulum to divine which one. After the pendulum indicated pixies, I consulted the lore on stopping them.

Diane can stop the thefts by wearing her jacket inside out. It will break the spell. If she wants no pixies in her home, then Diane needs to ring the house with iron or steel nails. If she doesn’t mind them, then Diane requests that they return her jewelry. After that, she puts out shiny objects for them to take instead of her jewelry. (Some people believe that fairies offer blessings to those who help them.)

Works Used:
Bruce, Robert, “The Practical Psychic Self-Defense Handbook.” Charlottesville (VA): Hampton Roads Publishing. 2011.
Carlin, Emily, “Defense Against the Dark.” Pompton Plains (NJ): New Page Books. 2011.
Daimler Morgan, “Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fairfolk.” Winchester (UK): Moon Books. 2017.
—-, “Pagan Portals: Fairy Witchcraft.” Winchester (UK): Moon Books. 2004.
Greer, John Michael, “Monsters (Revised ed.).” Woodbury (MN): Llewellyn Publications. 2011.

Roman Gods of the Month: March

The month of March is named for Mars, the Roman God of War. Besides war, Mars also protected the land and crops. Spring brought both preparations for planting and for war. The Feriae Marti (the Festival of Mars), lasts for nearly the entire month and is similar to the Carnival Season and Mardi Gras.

Traditionally, the New Year for Romans began in March, the first month of the original calendar. After the reforms of Numa Pompilis and Julius Caesar, it was still celebrated as a second New Year’s Day. The spring equinox was still the beginning of the planting and war seasons. The Roman Calendar

Juno Lucina
On March 1, the Matronalia is held in honor of mothers. Husbands and daughters give presents to mothers. Juno Lucina, the aspect of Juno who governs over women and childbirth, receives prayers for safe childbirth and fertility. God of the Month: Juno Lucina

Anna Perenna
On March 15th (Ides), Traditional New Year is celebrated. Anna Perenna, the Goddess of the Returning Year, oversees the celebrations. People would picnic and drink cups of wine in her honor, and offer prayers for a prosperous year. God of the Month: Anna Perenna

Liber Pater and Libera Mater
On March 17, the Liberalia is held. Wearing ivy wreaths, several old women offer cakes made from oil and honey (libia) to Liber Pater. Then a large phallus is taken around to encourage the plants to grow and for a good harvest. Liber Pater and Libera are the Gods of the Male and Female Seeds, respectively. Gods of the Month: Liber Pater and Libera

Minerva
From March 19 to 24, the Quinquatrus is held to honor Minerva, the Goddess of the Arts and War. Since the first day is sacred to Her, no blood is shed on that day. The Quinquatrus is celebrated by artisans and students. Traditional Roman festivities included martial arts contests. God of the Month: Minerva

Mars
Starting the 1st of the March and on the 9th, and 24th, the Salii (Leaping Priests of Mars) danced through the streets of Rome singing hymns, and later held feasts in honor of Mars. Horse races were held, sacrifices made, and trumpets purified. Mamurius Venturius, the Old Man of March, was driven out of Rome taking disease and sickness with Him. Gods of the Month: Mars and Gods of the Month: Mars

Identifying a Psychic Attack

 

To evaluate whether I was under attack or not, I decided to do two divinations. For one divination, I used was the Ogham, and for the other the Runes. (Note) I wanted to test whether the information would be the same. Both methods said nearly the same thing. I was not under attack, but I did need to shore up my defensives. Moreover, the Runes said stop asking the same question again. I should just do one divination and study the results.

ogham_vert

Ogham
Coll (Hazel), Fearn (Alder), and Nuin (Ash)
Coll means “wisdom and intuitive knowledge.” If I was under attack, I would know it. Fearn indicates listen to my intuition. Since ash (Nuin) was used for weapons, I believe the message of Nuin is to strengthen my boundaries. The Ogham says that I am not under attack, but I do have weak defenses.

runes

Runes
Berkana, Pertho, Isa and Nauthiz. (I drew the last two together.)
Berkana indicated that I am protected. Pertho pointed to following my intuition because I have good luck. The emphasis of Isa and Nauthiz was to stop asking. As with the Ogham, the Runes implied that I needed to reinforce my perimeter.


Note: The Ogham is a Celtic divination system and alphabet based on trees.

The Runes is the Norse writing system used for divination and magic.