Daily Devotions

For me, being a Polytheist means daily devotions to the Gods. Like many modern Polytheists, my Gods do not all belong to the same Pantheon. Although I consider myself a Roman Polytheist, I do venerate Other Gods. Because of my brain injury and devotional work with the Dead, Anubis, Hekate and the Morrigan have requested devotions. Meanwhile, my Anglo-Saxon Ancestors want their family Gods honored. Finally for reasons unclear to me, the Gods of Babylon and Canaan have asked me for devotions.

To accommodate all the Gods Whom I honor, I had to set up a schedule. How did I go about doing this? First, I read the lore, and then did divination which days would be appropriate for which Gods. Finally, I broke my day into three parts – morning, afternoon, and evening for my devotions. Since we all have our daily rituals such as brewing coffee or checking our phones, including one for devotions seemed reasonable.

Mornings are devoted to the Household Gods. Before breakfast, I light a candle and offer incense. I offer to Janus (who always receives the first and last offerings) for his service in guarding the doors. Then to Apollo for the health of our family, and Juno Custos for guiding my family. Vesta, the Eternal Flame who warms our home, receives her offering and prayers next. Finally, the Genius of the Paterfamilias is thanked for guarding our family.

After I do this, I do my weekly devotions by splitting the various Gods into mornings and afternoons. My schedule is as follows – Monday – Anubis and Hecate (morning), The Lady of Beasts and The Morrigan (afternoon). Tuesday – Freya (morning), Anubis and Hecate (afternoon). Wednesday – Odin. Thursday – Hercules, Neptune and the Roman Pantheon (morning), the Gods of Babylon and of Canaan (afternoon). Friday – Frigga. Saturday – the Penates and Lars. Sunday – the Dead.

Why these particular days? Monday is “moon” day, and those deities prefer that association. Tuesdays is traditional for Freya, Wednesdays for Odin, and Friday for Frigga. Anubis and Hecate asked for Tuesdays, and the Gods of Babylon and of Canaan for Thursday. Since Thursday is Thor’s day, Hercules reminded me that it is his day also. The Roman Gods requested Thursday as well. Saturday is grocery day, which is when the cupboards are replenished. Sunday is for the Dead, since it is a day of reflection for me.

The evening is reserved for the Gods of the Month. Nightly, I say prayers to Them before going to bed. It is a part of my evening routine like brushing my teeth.

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Stonehenge in a Polytheistic Context

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When discussing Stonehenge, modern people often forget to place this monument into a greater cultural context. Nearby Stonehenge is a similar stone monument at Avebury, which was built around 2500 BCE. Meanwhile, there are signs of a similar circle made of timber at Durrington Walls, which was believed to be built before Avebury. Archeologist Mike Parker Pearson, who has worked at the site, said that Durrington Walls marked the realm of the living, and Stonehenge, the Dead.

Parker Pearson who heads The Stonehenge Riverside Project sees the stones as linked to the Ancestors. Durrington Walls, with its post holes of wood in a circle, is linked to the Living. The physical connection between the two realms is the River Avon, the water.

The new theory is that Stonehenge was a monument of unification. During the solstices, people travelled from as far away as the Orkneys, the islands north of Scotland. At those times, crowds would feast on the animals that they have brought with them. Stonehenge became an axis mundi for devotion, since it brought the Living, the Dead, and the Cosmos together in one place.

The building of Stonehenge can be regarded in the same light as the building of a Gothic cathedral. From the beginning of the project, the entire community is dedicated to seeing the building finished. Everyone involved understood that this construction project would take several generations to complete. Therefore, the entire community dedicated themselves to the process, and organized themselves accordingly. Some people regarded it as a fulfilling of their religious duties, while for others it was their community obligations. Although the specific vision may have been altered through the years, the newer residents of the community resolved to finish the original project. Stonehenge became a monument of devotion.
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Works Used:
Bradshaw Foundation, “Stonehenge: The Age of the Megaliths,” 2011, http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stonehenge/index.php.
NOVA, “Astronomy at Stonehenge,” 30 September, 2010. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/astronomy-stonehenge-au.html
“Secrets of Stonehenge,” 12 December, 2012. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-stonehenge.html
Richards, Colin, “Rethinking the Great Stone Circles of Northwest Britain,” Orkney Archaeological Trust, 2004, http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/dhl/papers/cr/index.html.

Building Stonehenge

ndstonehenge

During the Neolithic Period (5000 – 1000 BCE), along the Atlantic coast of Europe and in the British Isles, local peoples built and maintained great stone circles and megaliths. This activity started about 5000 BCE and continued on to about 2500 BCE. These megaliths, built by Neolithic peoples, had multiple uses. The purposes that archeologists believed that Stonehenge was used for included: worshipping the Ancestors, watching the heavens, and marking the cycles of the sun and other astronomical occurrences.

One of the last monuments to be built during this period, Stonehenge was constructed in three distinct phases over a 1,500 year period, starting in 3000 BCE. The process of building this monument included digging large ditches as well as erecting the more famous stones. In the case of Stonehenge, three different cultures added their particular refinements to this monument.

The first group to shape Stonehenge into what we know today was the Windmill Hill People. Thought to be semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers, these people also grew crops. What archeologists noted about these people was their propensity to orient their burials and monuments in the east-west axis. These directions were important to them, perhaps because of the rising and setting of the sun.

In the 1960’s, when builders were excavating a parking lot near the Stonehenge site, they found four post holes that was believed to hold large pine logs. (These holes are said to be about 10,000 years old.) Ancient peoples traveling the Salisbury Plain would see these posts from miles around. Set east to west, these post holes were considered to be the first evidence of the area’s great importance.

Starting about 3100 BCE, the Windmill Hill People took the existing post holes and expanded the site. Using various tools such as deer antlers and digging stones, they dug a ditch and formed a bank, with an opening in the northeast. Call the Great Cursus, this ditch was white from the chalk underneath the grass. Outside this ditch, these people dug fifty-six pits named Aubrey Holes (after their discoverer James Aubrey). In these holes, archeologists have found cremated remains of people.

One theory is that the Windmill Hill People were commemorating their Dead and their Ancestors. When archeologists studied the remains, they realized that the Dead were mostly adult males. People were being selected for burial there instead of it being used by everyone. When Stonehenge was first built, their society was an aristocratic male one.

Many people have assumed that the Aubrey Holes had an astronomical use. Following the phases of the moon was important to peoples in ancient times. One theory is that these holes marked lunar eclipses. Another theory is that the Windmill Hill People were marking particular phases of the moon. Other archeologists have noticed that the Aubrey Holes were aligned north-east and south-west. These holes then lined up with the sun at the solstices and equinoxes. This has led to another working theory that the Aubrey holes are a calendar of equinoxes, solstices, lunar eclipses, and solar events. The underlying assumption to this theory is that many early peoples followed lunar-solar cycles for practical and religious reasons.

Archeologist Clive Ruggles, who has studied the astronomy of the site believes that it was probably not an ancient observatory. He did note that the mid-summer and mid-winter solstices do line up. For him, this indicates their importance to Neolithic peoples. Ruggles believes that the people who first built Stonehenge wanted to keep in harmony with the Cosmos.

From the beginning of Stonehenge, numerous ancient peoples have added their particular visions to the site. Each succeeding generation built on the previous one’s efforts. We modern people will never know what the original purpose to Stonehenge was, but we can stand in awe of these early peoples who built it. Whatever Stonehenge was originally intended to be, it became a monument to the vision and tenacity of the Ancestors of Europe.
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Works Used:
Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky,” Thames & Hudson: N.Y, 2008.
Bradshaw Foundation, “Stonehenge: The Age of the Megaliths,” 2011, http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stonehenge/index.php.

M, Richard, “Stonehenge,” MEgALiThiA, 06 Jan. 2006, http://www.megalithia.com/stonehenge/index.html.
Magli, Giulio, “Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy,” Copernicus Books: N.Y., 2009.
NOVA, “Astronomy at Stonehenge,” 30 September, 2010. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/astronomy-stonehenge-au.html
“Secrets of Stonehenge,” 12 December, 2012. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-stonehenge.html
Richards, Colin, “Rethinking the Great Stone Circles of Northwest Britain,” Orkney Archaeological Trust, 2004, http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/dhl/papers/cr/index.html.
Smagala, Suzanne, “Stonehenge,” August 2007, http://helios.acomp.usf.edu/~ssmagala/stonehenge/index.html.

The Theology of Core-Shamanism

Although proponents of Core Shamanism claim that they are only distilling techniques from classic shamanism, Core Shamanism does have an implied theology. Its belief system, which is human-centric, contains elements from Jung, the Goddess Religions, and New Age Religions. From Jung comes the doctrine that humans create the Goddesses to worship. These Goddesses are the archetypes of one divine benign entity, who is responsive to people’s requests. From New Age Religions comes the doctrine that the Universe is filled with friendly beings who allow humans to download information directly from them.

From the Goddess Religions comes the doctrine that we live in a patriarchy which overthrew the matriarchy of earlier times. In order to save the world, we have to end the patriarchy. This is reflected in the writings of Evelyn Rysdyk, a well-known Core-Shaman, and Theresa Dintino, a self-described Core-Shaman. Archeologist Marija Gimbutas wrote that a Goddess culture existed before it was overthrown by the invading the Indo-Europeans and replaced by their patriarchy. According to Gimbutas, this culture was peaceful and egalitarian. Since it was ruled by female shamans, the culture was a nurturing one.

In her self-published books, Theresa Dintino calls Nyame, the supreme deity of the Akan people of southern Ghana, a Goddess. However, this Deity is really the Male Creator of the world. Her reasoning is that Nyame (female) is an aspect of the Mother Goddess, who is the luminous life-giving force of the universe (the Archetype of the Womb).

Meanwhile, Rysdyk interprets The World Tree of Norse Polytheism in the context of the cosmic tree that is found in other cultures. For her, this World Tree has many connections to the Mother Goddess. She says that the Norse World Tree is a symbol for the primordial Goddess. Rysdyk echoes Dintino’s idea of the Archetype of the Womb by saying that this particular Tree acts as a cave, and is therefore a womb. Then she ewpresents Ragnarok, the end of the world according to Norse sagas, in terms of overthrowing the tyranny of the patriarchal culture.

Core shamanism also reflects aspects of monotheistic theology. In her various writings, Rysdyk discusses surrendering the ego for knowledge. In order to be a shaman, people need to strip away their egos to unite with the Mother Goddess. At her website, Rysdyk says, “Increase your personal power and feel your intrinsic sacredness through expanding your connections with All That Is.” This is similar to the objective of Christian monks to unite with God.

In the collection of essays, “Awakening to the Spirit World” (edited by Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman), various Core-shamans stress that we are here to co-create the next reality in planetary evolution. Westerners will take up where the indigenous people have given up. In other words, Westerners have come to save the world and usher in the New Age. Ingerman in “Walking in the Light,” expands on this by saying that Westerners will transfigure the world to be luminous. They will also be the new caretakers of the Earth. This reflects the Second Great Awakening in the United States which focused on Christians creating the New World for God’s Coming.

Works Used:
Dintino Theresa, “The Amazon Pattern.” Self-published. 2015
“Notes from a Diviner in the Postmodern World.” Self-published. 2016.
Ingerman, Sandra, “Walking in Light.” Boulder (CO): Sounds True. 2014.
Ingerman, Sandra and Hank Wesselman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.” Boulder (CO): Sounds True. 2010.
Rysdyk, Evelyn, “The Norse Shaman.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2016

Core-Shamanism: the Shamanism of the New Age

To make classic shamanism available to lay people, Michael Harner developed Core-Shamanism (Note 1) from his field studies. He distilled a set of techniques for Westerners of how to be a shaman. Furthermore, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (his organization) indicate that they intend to recreate European shamanism (Note 2), which (according to them) is virtually extinct. (Note 3) Therefore, by using the core techniques of classical shamanism and by consulting the spirits, Core Shamans can rebuild this lost tradition.

However the writings of Core-Shamanism as presented by two noted practitioners -Sandra Ingerman in “Walking in the Light” and Evelyn Rysdyk in “The Norse Shaman” reveal a strong New Age/Theosophy influence. Ingerman writes, “A way to evolve your work is to acknowledge the unlimited power of your helping spirits. … This adds exponentially to the outcome of whatever spiritual healing practice you engage in. You can be a vessel of this unlimited power when working for yourself, others, and the planet.” (Note 4) Moreover, Ingerman claims that people can transfigure and experience their divine light, which is considered to be an ideal state of being in Theosophy.

None of this echoes European cultural ideas but is instead a mixture of Theosophy and New Age beliefs. Core-Shamanism promises the power of divinity, and union with a great moral purpose. Ingerman writes “Transmute the energy behind your thoughts and words…Dream the world you wish to live into being.” (Note 5). She and other Core-Shamans speak of dreaming a new world of light, harmony, peace and abundance into being. This is the ideal of the New Age religions to bring about the New Age of Light and Love.

Rysdyk alludes to the same thing in her book, “Norse Shamanism.” She urges people to move towards the light. Rysdyk says, “Since Urd (one of the Norns) functions as this action of transforming potential into reality, it would suggest that Urd is a representation of the Divine Mind manifesting physical existence.” (Note 6). She describes the Divine Mind as “All That Is.” Although Rysdyk titles her book, “Norse Shamanism,” it is really Core-Shamanism with a Northern-European flavor, and not actual shamanism practiced by the Norse.

These writings by Core-Shamans reminds me of Ufology, another Western belief system. After studying reports of encounters with alien beings, Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman, investigators of the unknown, noted that people would experience UFOs in the context of their culture and era. Some saw fairies, others angels, and modern people space aliens. Understanding what these beings are is to “understand the incomprehensible.” They summarized it as (emphasis theirs): “The UFO mystery is primarily subjective and its content primarily symbolic.” (Note 7)

Jerome Clark (ufologist) and Loren Coleman (cryptozoologist) described the continuing fascination with UFOs as being rooted in “future shock.” (Note 8) They define this as “the acceleration of changes has become unbearable and the future unimaginable.” This makes living in the present problematic. Therefore, in their opinion, some people seek liberation from Western materialism by having UFO experiences.

I see the same impulse in Core Shamanism, which instead of recreating European shamanism, offers people relief from their awful present. It gives them a picture of a utopian future. It allows them to feel that they can do something to ensure that future. In fact, Rysdyk ends her book with “we can become the new humans who will contribute in bringing forth a verdant new world. (Note 9)”

Notes:
Note 1: From the Foundation for Shamanic Studies: “Core shamanism consists of the universal, near-universal, and common features of shamanism, together with journeys to other worlds, a distinguishing feature of shamanism. As originated, researched, and developed by Michael Harner, the principles of core shamanism are not bound to any specific cultural group or perspective.”

Note 2: From the Foundation for Shamanic Studies: “Since the West overwhelmingly lost its shamanic knowledge centuries ago due to religious oppression, the Foundation’s programs in Core Shamanism are particularly intended for Westerners to reacquire access to their rightful spiritual heritage through quality workshops and training courses.”

Note 3. Medieval scholars such as Claude Lecouteux have studied ancient and medieval folklore of Europe. In their research, they point out that European shamanism is often reflected in Christian mysticism and European folklore.

Note 4. Ingerman, “Walking in the Light,” page 198

Note 5. Ingerman, page 213

Note 6. Rysdyk, “The Norse Shaman,” page 78.

Note 7. Clark and Coleman, “The Unidentified,” page 236

Note 8. From Alvin Toffler’s book “Future Shock” (1970): A condition of distress and disorientation brought on by the inability to cope with rapid societal and technological change.

Note 9. Rysdyk, page 204.

Works Used:
Clark Jerome and Loren Coleman, “The Unidentified.” San Antonio (TX): Anomalist Books. 2006. (Reprint of 1975 edition.)
Cooper, Diana, “The Archangel Guide to the Animal World.” Carlsbad (CA): Hay House 2017.
Foundation for Shamanic Studies, https://www.shamanism.org/workshops/coreshamanism.html
Ingerman, Sandra, “Walking in Light.” Boulder (CO): Sounds True. 2014.
Rysdyk, Evelyn, “The Norse Shaman.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2016
The Theosophical Society, http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gdpmanu/ryan-wh/wit-hp.htm
Toffler Associates, http://tofflerassociates.com/about/the-toffler-legacy/

My Polytheism and Jung’s Archetypes

In Postmodern Spirituality, people found themselves at a crossroads wanting spirituality but finding Monotheism too rule bound to follow. Since Western culture is steeped in Monotheism, people regarded their only choice was between God, Who lives outside of Humankind and the Higher Self, Who arises from humanity. Therefore, it became easy to combine psychology and spirituality to form a new belief system. Human-created archetypes became the root of this new religion.

My problem is with Archetypes comes when people insist that They are my Gods as well. I dislike the notion that those who believe that Archetypes are Gods should be included in Polytheism. I have no problem considering these people being called Neo-Pagan since that religion includes a wide variety of beliefs from the Divine Feminine to Core-Shamanism.

Jungians Caroline Pearson and Hugh Marr say that the sacred myths of cultures are archetypal and not literal. According to them, the ancients projected the Archetypes on the images of their Gods. These religious figures actually symbolize the inner experiences of humans. To me, this reflects the meme that the ancients are unenlightened unlike modern people. This needs to be exposed for what it is – a bias.

I was raised Atheist by dedicated Atheists, who regarded the study of religion as simply an intellectual exercise. Therefore I was not conditioned to think about God or Gods. In fact, I could point to “The Bible” for evidence that God was fiction. In the Old Testament, Elijah dueled with the priests of Ba’al. He taunted them by asserting that Ba’al and the other Gods were made-up. If that was true, then why not the Monotheistic God?

Therefore, Core-Shamans Sandra Ingerman and Harry Wesselman could assert that people are in contact with the “greater Human Spirit (which can be thought of as ‘God’) through their personal oversoul.” (Note 1) This leads to what Katalin Koda writes in her book, “Fire of the Goddess,” the “goddess is a feminine archetype who figures in myth and holds certain quality of power… in the sacred feminine path.” (Note 2) To “ignite the Sacred Feminine,” she suggests following the paths of nine feminine archetypes.

Neo-shaman Linda Star-Wolf writes, “Do the archetypes change under a cosmic plan of some sort? Or are we changing, and so we change our archetypes? Just as the sun keeps us alive, the archetypes are keeping us alive through the planetary influences of intersteller multidimensional beings. Jung said that there are psychic forces within the human psyche. Perhaps these forces are downloading into the human psyche at this time.” (Note 3)

To me, these ideas of Archetypes are a form of ‘having your cake and eating it too.” A person does not need to believe in a God or Gods, but still have the benefits that belief brings. Archetypes are another aspect of the postmodern culture – i.e. being spiritual without having to deal with a God.

Because I kept having unexplained “psychotic” experiences, I sought answers. After many years of working with psychiatrists, I finally came to realize that I was experiencing the Gods. They were the Other, Who are not a part of me. These Gods were not internal archetypes derived from the “collective unconscious.” They were alien. There was nothing human-centric about the Gods.

Notes:
Note 1. Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World,” pgs. 172-3.
Note 2. Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess,” pg. 191.
Note 3. Linda Star-Wolf, “Soul Whispering,” pg. 210.

Works Used:
Raven Kaldera, “Dealing with Deities.”
Katlin Koda, “Fire of the Goddess.”
Caroline Myss, “Archetypes.”
Carol Pearson and Hugh Marr, “What Story Are You Living?”
Romanian Association for Psychoanalysis Promotion (AROPA), Resources for Carl Jung. http://carl-jung.net/index.html
Linda Star-Wolf, “Soul Whispering.”
Hank Wesselman and Sandra Ingerman, “Awakening to the Spirit World.”

Third in a series.  The others are:

Gods and Archetypes: Archetypes and Postmodern Spirituality

Gods and Archetypes: Jung and Postmodern Spirituality

 

 

Roman Virtues and Principles

ndfidesRomans are guided by three principles in their Polytheism. First, Do ut des (I give that you may give) focuses on the reciprocity between the people and their Gods. Second, Ius divinus (sacred law) governs the right relations between humans and Gods. Finally, Pax deorum (peace of the Gods) stresses maintaining harmony between people and the Gods. These principles are rooted in pietas (piety). For Romans, this includes devotion to their families, the Gods, and their communities.

Added to that are the many public and private virtues that every Roman aspires to. Of the list of private virtues relevant to political action would be dignitas (a sense of self-worth), firmitas (tenacity), gravitas (a sense of the importance of the matter), prudentia (personal discretion), severitas (self-control) and finally veritas (honesty). These particular virtues both guide the conduct of the Roman Polytheist in politics, as well as define how to be an effective advocate. Following these virtues ensures that one does not degrade those for whom they advocate nor the Gods Themselves.

Meanwhile public Roman virtues provide a structure on what to advocate for. Abundantia is enough food for all. Aequitas is fair dealing between the government and the people. When conducting affairs let concordia (harmony between nations and between people) and fides (good faith in contracts) be the guides. Iustitia points to having sensible laws, and salus, the concern for public welfare. In the throes of advocacy, bonus eventus (remembering positive events) and fortuna (acknowledging positive events) should not be forgotten.

Virtues who are Gods:
Abundantia: With her cornucopia, this Goddess distributes grain and money to all.
Aequitas: Aequitas is the God of Equity.
Bonus Eventus: Depicted with a patera (cup) in his right hand and a wheat shaft in the left, this God ensures good harvests and successful enterprises.
Concordia: This important Goddess has a festival on July 22.
Felicitas (Prosperity): This Goddess represents the best aspects of communities.
Fides: This Goddess oversees oral contracts between people.
Libertas (Liberty): This Goddess personifies liberty in all its aspects – personal and political.
Pax (Peace): When Augustus re-established peace after the Roman Civil War, he made Pax a Goddess.
Pietas: This Goddess is usually portrayed with a stork, a symbol of filial duty.
Pudicita (Modesty): This Goddess, once represented the modesty of women, but later oversaw the moral uprightness of citizens.
Salus: This ancient Goddess also preserves public health.
Spes (Hope): Depicted about to depart, this Goddess holds an opening flower.
Virtus (Virtue) and Honos (Honor): These two Gods are usually worshipped together. They are also Gods of Military Courage and Honor.