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!

Advertisements

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: ROBIGUS (ROBIGO) of wheat rust

pexels-photo.jpg

As the God of Blight and Wheat Rust, Robigus does not receive divine honors. However, He does receive offerings to keep away from the crops. During the Robigalia, held on April 25, the Roman would sacrifice red dogs and sheep. In modern times, red wine is offered instead.

This is a form of sympathetic magic since the color of wheat rust is red. By giving red offerings to Robigus, He will be satisfied and leave the crops alone. Oberon Zell-Ravenheart defines sympathetic magic as “things that have affinity with each other influence and interact with each other over a distance,” according to. This means that everything is connected to everything else. Moreover, the offerings follow the Law of Similarity, as stated by Isaac Bonewits, of “like produces like and effect resembles its cause.”

Christianity adopted Robigalia and renamed it Rogation Day. During Rogation Mass, priests wore violet vestments. Then after prayer and fasting, the farmers would have their crops blessed.

“Spare Ceres’ grain Scabby Robigus, what You touch kills them. Do not harm the crops.” – Ovid.

Further reading: 

Wikipedia: Isaac Bonewits

Bonewits: Laws of Magic

Wikipedia: Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

Monotheistic Filter: Millennialism

One underlying thread in modern American society is the belief that the U.S. has been progressing towards a more ideal society. Known as “Millennialism,” the belief that the U.S. is “the Shining City on the Hill” permeates American culture in various forms. Usually associated with Fundamentalist Christians who long for the Second Coming of Christ, there is also a secular version of Millennialism as well. According to Secular Millennialism, America will evolve into a state of the just order of the good, where all oppressors of disenfranchised people will be trounced.

Starting with the First Great Awakening in the 1750s, Americans believed that the Holy Spirit would pour out and create Heaven on Earth in North America. During the Revolution, Thomas Paine, a secularist, wrote, “We have it in our power to begin the world again.” By the middle of the 20th Century, U.S. Presidents were cast as either the Messiah or the Antichrist. American elections became efforts in rescuing society and saving America from her enemies.

The Second Great Awakening of the early 1800s introduced social reform into religion. Religious people asserted that America would be the site of the New Millennium. Therefore, ordinary people could salvation by building the Kingdom of God in the United States. The Social Gospel Movement of the late 1800s focused on the sins of society such as poverty and inequality.

This is reflected in various Polytheistic blogs. I often encounter statements of calling the Gods and Ancestors to fight the Good Fight against white supremacy or racism. Other blogs exhort that that Polytheism is political and that Polytheists should overthrow political oppression. Seeing no distinction between religion and politics has always been a part of Millennialism.

Works Used:

Cohn, Norman, “The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages.” London: Paladin. 1970.

“Divining America: Religion in American History,” National Humanities Center Teacher Server. 2010. Web: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/divam.htm.

Kirsch, Jonathan, “A History of the End of the World.” New York: HarperCollins. 2006.
“God Against the Gods.” New York: Penguin Books. 2004

Walton, Chris, “Philocrites: Religion, Liberalism, and Culture.” 2009. Web: http://philocrites.com/index.html.

Monotheistic Filter: “The Vast Spiritual Battlefield”

Polytheists regard the world to be neutral, both clean and dirty. Polytheist author 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 1, Note 2)

In the official theology of Christianity, evil is the absence of good. For a person to be evil, they have to choose to disobey God. Meanwhile, Manicheanism divides the Cosmos into Spirit and Matter, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness. The two are equal and opposing powers. Evil has agency and purpose to overtake Good.

Christianity considers Manicheanism to be a heresy. However, because of Augustine who was a Manichaean before converting, some of its heretical doctrines have become embedded in Christian thought. Augustine stated that world was both corrupt and corrupting. And, in the minds of many Christians, evil has to be fought or it will overcome the good.

The duality of Manicheanism has carried over to Polytheism via Christianity. For example, the Norse God Loki does not conform to Christian morality. He becomes problematic for Heathens who still carry the Protestant world view. They will not invoke Loki at blots, since they regard Him to be evil.

Notes:

Note 1. The Romans have a Goddess – Lua – who protects all things purified by rituals and for rituals.

Note 2. Kenez Filan, “Miasma” from “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands,” Galina Krasskova, ed. p. 69.

Works Used:

Adkins, Lesley and Roy Adkins, “Dictionary of Roman Religion.” New York: Oxford University Press. 1996.

Jones, Kile, “A Comparison between Manichean and Christian Views of Evil.” Meta Religion. Web: http://www.meta-religion.com/Philosophy/Articles/Other/Mani_paper.htm

Kirsch, Jonathan, “A History of the End of the World.” New York: HarperCollins. 2006.
“God Against the Gods.” New York: Penguin Books. 2004

Krasskova, Galina, “Devotional Polytheism.” Sanngetall Press. 2014.
“With Clean Minds and Clean Hands.” Sanngetall Press. 2017.

Samples, Kevin, “Exploring Manichaeism: St. Augustine, Part 3.” Reasons to Believe. 26 June 2012. Web: http://www.reasons.org/blogs/reflections/exploring-manichaeism-st.-augustine-part-3

 

 

Alphabets: Writing in Cursive (Roman)

vimala.jpg

An activity that is good for brain health is writing in cursive. Learning cursive activates multiple areas of the brain and integrates them. By joining flowing lines into words, motor control and executive thinking is enhanced. Cursive writing translates aural memory into visual memory. As I write, I can feel the junk leave my brain, and change the neuro-pathways of my brain. (I have a traumatic brain injury.)

After reading Soul Development through Handwriting by Jennifer Grebbin, I became amazed that there were so many benefits in practicing individual letters. Writing for Waldorf students, the author explains that, “Because when we write we not only express through the forms of the letters how we see ourselves and the world, but we also reinforce it. The Palmer method most often used by teachers, which was first developed in 1895, reflects all the values of that materialistic time. However, when we teach children the Vimala Alphabet (Note 1), we help them preserve their connections to their inner spiritual wisdom.” (Note 2)

According to Vimala Rogers, the author of Your Handwriting Can Change Your Life, by changing the shapes of your letters, you can train your mind to think differently. She states that by altering specific letter strokes, you can change certain aspects of your personality. To that end, she developed an affirmative alphabet to practice. (You can find her alphabet at the site, The International Institute of Handwriting Studies)

Re-inventing the Roman alphabet for the 21th Century, Vimala Rogers formed different mystic connections with the letters. Her worldview used the cursive alphabet to connect to the Divine. To that end, she organized the letters into various families such as “Family of Insight (L, E, I, J).” Rogers also expanded the sense of each letter to connect to the qualities of specific animals, elements, gender, stones, and spiritual beings.

Using her alphabet and methods, I created pathways to the Gods with each letter. For me, writing a particular letter will create a bridge to a God. Again I write out repetitive prayers and listen. Then I unwind by writing lacy “Ls”. That returns me back to the present moment. Of course if I get “lost,” hand cramps will usually jerk me out of any trance I may be in.

Notes:
Note 1. For example, the letter “A” that is often taught in schools emphasized the ego instead of the soul. The attribute of the Vimala “A” is “spiritual stardom, transforming ego into spirit.” The affirmation for this “A” is “Today I will notice how my personality affects others and grow from that knowledge.”

Note 2. Jennifer Crebbin, Soul Development through Handwriting, p. 12.

Works Used:
DeLooze, Laurence, The Letter & The Cosmos. University of Toronto Press: Toronto. 2016.

Grebbin, Jennifer, Soul Development Through Handwriting. Steiner Books: Great Barrington. 2007.

Rogers, Vimala, Transform Your Life through Handwriting. Sounds True: Boulder. 2009.

—, Your Handwriting Can Change Your Life. Fireside: New York. 2000.

The Alphabet and the Cosmos

 

ndtree-of-life_paths_sm

The Tree of Life by the Hebrew Alphabet

 

Alphabets do more than simply freeze speech. They extend the power and reach of people. In reading Shakespeare, a person is partaking of the thoughts of a man long dead. Alphabets form the basis for magical speech and prayers to the Gods.

Traditionally, alphabets are thought to be the organizing principles of the world. For example, Christians believe in Christ’s statement: “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” (Christ is referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.) He is both ordering the cosmos through the alphabet and becoming the cosmos, itself.

Each letter contains the world, the means and form of creation. For many cultures, the letters themselves are holy beings. For example, the Norse viewed their Runes as living entities. The Ancient Greeks saw their letters as part of the cosmic order. Every letter conveys an idea, a poem, architectural design and textual space.

Letters through time have affected and reflected Western consciousness. Alphabets string letters together forming words. In this manner, they offer a magical portal to bridge the worlds. Moreover, individual letters have cultural meanings. In the Middle Ages, the capital “T” represented the Cross of Christ, associating that letter with the Crucifixion.

In 1529, French typographer Geoffroy Tory (1480–1533) in Champ Fleury, his treatise on the alphabet, reflected the Renaissance worldview that the Roman alphabet should one of harmony, balance, symmetry, and scale. He wrote that “L” was the letter of balance, because it was the shadow cast by the body at the autumn equinox. Tory presented “Y” twice: once in the “moral sense of the Pythagorean letter (Sens moral de la letter Pythagorique), and again as the choices presented in Dante’s Inferno.

Letters have shaped culture as each culture has shaped the letters. According to Cicero (First Century CE), the “Y” (upsilon) was associated with Hercules. The letter indicated the two paths – good or bad – that He had to choose. From this association, the “Y” became a letter which represented the physical geography of the Western world – the “fork in the road.” And also, because of its shape, the “Y” represented the moral choices that a person has to make.

The next time you meditate, ponder the shape and order of each letter in the alphabet that you use. What does each say in the relation to the world? For example, in the Roman alphabet, why is “X” the unknown and not “P?” Meanwhile, the Chinese use “N” for the unknown in mathematics. Why is “A” the grade for the best and not “L?” What does your alphabet say about your world and your consciousness?

Further Reading:

DeLooze, Laurence, The Letter & The Cosmos. University of Toronto Press: Toronto. 2016.

Gods of the Month: VENUS VERTICORDIA and FORTUNA VIRILUS

pexels-photo-207962.jpeg

After a series of unfavorable prodigies, that signified a breakdown in their relations with the Gods, the Roman Senate consulted the Sibylline Books. Three Vestal Virgins with their male partners had broken their vows. Although all of the people involved were put to death, the Gods were still upset by what had happened. What the Vestals did was nefas (contrary to divine law), and the Pax Deorum (Peace of the Gods) had to be restored. The Sibylline Books said to do this was to erect a statue of Venus Verticordia (the Changer of Hearts) in the temple of Fortuna Virilus (Bold Fortune). There She would be attended by modest young women, who were supervised by long married matrons. This statue to Venus Verticordia was dedicated on April 1, 114 BCE.

During the Veneralia, women would wash and dress the statues of Venus Verticordia and Fortuna Virilus. Then wearing myrtle wreaths, they would march into the men’s baths. There they prayed that their physical imperfections would be hidden from view.

At the Veneralia, people would ask both Goddesses for help in their love lives. Married people prayed for deepening while the unmarried requested someone to love. As Ovid said of Venus Verticordia, “beauty and fortune and good fame are in Her Keeping.”

Salve Venus Verticordia!
Changer of Hearts
Salve Fortuna Virilus!
Fortune, Who favors the bold
Help us deepen our love
Grant us the courage to ask another

Goddesses who know the human heart
Guide us in our love affairs
Salve Venus Verticordia!
Salve Fortuna Virilus!

Gods of the Month: April

April for Romans is the time of opening buds. Flowers appear, trees come into leaf, and new crops are coming up. At this time, most of the festivals centered on honoring the fertility of the land and protecting the crops. Of the various festivals that I follow are:

VENUS VERTICORDIA and FORTUNA VIRILIS
On April 1, the Veneralia is held. During this festival, women would go where the men are. While they would pray to Venus Verticordia (Venus, the Changer of Hearts) and Fortuna Virilis (Fortune the Bold) for support in their love lives. Later the festival included everyone, married and single, male and female asking these two Goddesses for help in matters of the heart. Fortuna, Goddess of Rome God of the Month: Venus

CERES and TELLUS
From the 12th to the 19th, the Cerialia is held to honor Ceres, Goddess of Agriculture and Gain. The festival is to thank Ceres for the earth’s fertility. Many of the ceremonies of the Cerialia are held in private with the participants wearing white. An Ancient Roman tradition was to set loose foxes with burning torches tied to their tails. (It was believed to drive out diseases of the land.) For Ceres, I usually walk the nearby field three times and offer milk, a traditional offering.

During the Cerialia, the Fordicidia is held on April 15. In Ancient Rome, pregnant cows were sacrificed to Tellus, the Goddess of Productive Power of the Earth, for the fertility of the cattle and fields. The ashes of the unborn calves were burnt and use in the Parilia later in the month. Modern Romans will burn meat and mix it with soil as an offering to Tellus.  Gods of the Month: Ceres and Tellus

PALES
On April 21, the Parilia is held. Similar to the Celtic Beltane Festival, the Parilia focuses on the purification of sheep and shepherds. Bonfires are lit and sheep are driven through them. Grain and milk are offered to Pales of Shepherds and Sheep. For this festival, I pray for healthy livestock and put a stuffed sheep between two candles.

Pales is a mystery as to what They are – male or female, plural or singular. This/these ancient Roman God/s are from the time before the Romans were shepherds, which adds to the confusion of who Pales is/are. I prefer to regard Pales as the entirety of all the concepts about Them. God of the Month: Pales

ROBIGUS (ROBIGO)
To save crops from wheat rust, the Romans sacrificed dogs to Robigus, the God of Wheat Rust during the Robigalia on April 25. Traditionally, red animals were offered at the boundary of Roman territory to ensure protection of the crops from mildew and blight. Today, people offer red wine requesting that Robigus leave the crops alone.

FLORA
The Floralia, honoring Flora, the Goddess of Flowering Plants, is held from April 27 to May 1. (Fauna, the Goddess of Wildlife, is her Sister.) Coming after the Robigalia, the Floralia affirms the safety of the growing plants from harm. During this time, people adorn themselves and their homes with flowers. They also wear colorful clothing to reflect the emerging flowers. Traditionally, goats and rabbits were set loose in the crowds, while priests threw lupines, bean flowers and vetch about. This was to ensure fertility for everyone.