Living in Season: The Eight-Fold Year

ndIshtar-star-symbol-encircled.svgI was introduced to the “School of the Seasons,” when I encountered the Eightfold Year of the Neo-Pagans (Wheel of the Year). Before that, I, like many other people, automatically adhered to the U.S. civil calendar. Summer started Memorial Day (around May 27), high summer – the Fourth of July, and the end of summer – Labor Day (around September 4). Fall lasted until Thanksgiving in November, when the holiday season began and continued to New Year’s Day. Winter was the next day and continued until Easter, when spring arrived. This was unsatisfactory to me since the delineation of the seasons seemed arbitrary. Since it did not fit the climate that I lived in, I felt out of sync with the natural world and living out of natural time.

Dividing the year into eight equal parts seemed to me a better way to follow the cycles of nature. The Eightfold Year starts with Yule at the winter solstice. The longest night and the returning of the light is commemorated. Imbolic (cross quarter – February 2), a time of restrained joy, celebrates the first signs of spring. Ostara, at the spring equinox, honors spring. Beltane (cross quarter – May 1) focuses on fertility in all its forms. Midsummer, at the summer solstice, commemorates the longest day and the coming dark. Lammas (cross quarter – August 1) is the first harvest. This festival celebrates the waxing and waning of the plant world. Mabon, the autumn equinox, focuses on the descent of Queen Persephone into the Underworld and the coming winter. Samhain (cross quarter – October 31) is the time of the Ancestors.

The Eightfold Year seemed to be more in sync with the actual seasons of my climate. However, I had several problems with it. First, it is man-made, and therefore arbitrary in deciding natural cycles. Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern Wicca, and Ross Nichols of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) based this Wheel of the Year on their romantic ideas of ancient Pagan festivals in Britain.

The second problem with this Wheel that it follows the climate of Britain. I live in Washington D.C., which is in the humid subtropical climate zone. Our seasons consist of mild winters from December/January, a windy dry March, the hot and humid springs of April-May, and tropical summers that extend from June into October. Fall usually runs from mid-October to end-December.

However, the Eightfold Year is an elegant way of discovering the actual cycle in the natural world. Dividing the year into segments of six weeks gives shadings to each of the seasons. This is an excellent start to reconsider how to live in each season. It can be adapted to the climate that one lives in. As Roman Polytheist, I do not celebrate the Neo-Pagan festivals. However, I do appreciate the approach to constructing a Wheel of the Year.


Monotheistic Filter: Redefining God(s)

Monotheism has embedded in people’s minds that God is always good and always rational. He cares about individuals and humankind. Under the watchful eye of God, everything happens for a reason. This ratifies the person’s importance in the mundane world.

Sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton coined “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” (Note 1) in 2005 to describe the beliefs of American teenagers. They define this term as:

1. A God exists who created, ordered the world, and watches over human life on earth.
2. The God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in “The Bible” and by most world religions.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
4. The God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life, except when this God is needed to resolve a problem.
5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

This is reflected in Polytheism, in the following ways. Everyone must have a special relationship with one God. Because of this, other people bemoan the lack of having a Patron. Moreover, a number of Polytheists only develop a relationship with one or two Gods, ignoring the rest. In each case, the God in question watches out for them, without expecting reciprocity.

The most striking example in Polytheism are the Moralistic Therapeutic Deities Who were the Norse Gods, Loki and Odin. In Tumblr postings, their God-Spouses (usually female) focus on how these Gods will meet their needs. They write about their importance to Odin or Loki (or Both), and how much He cares for them. These God-Spouses have no other relations with any of the Norse Gods.

Other examples are the blog sites of “Naturalistic Paganism” and “Humanist Paganism” which are directed towards Pagans who do not believe in the Gods. The bloggers, at those sites, regard Polytheism and Monotheism as the same religion, with One God in many forms. Written for Marxists, “Gods and Radicals” have bloggers who regard their Gods as devoted to the Marxist cause, while all other Polytheists (and their Gods) are the Capitalist enemy.

Meanwhile, “The Valkyrie Squad” of Tumblr reviews blogs, and lists only those they deem safe for Pagans and Heathens. They write that “racism, sexism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia and trans-phobia will not be tolerated.” My opinion is that The Valkyrie Squad functions similar to the Roman Catholic Church who had the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (the List of Prohibited Books). This group of self-appointed and unknown people with only screen names have decided that the Polytheist Gods should be comprised only of their particular ideas.

Note 1. R. Albert Mohler Jr., “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism – the New American Religion.”

Molher, R. Albert, Jr., “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism – the New American Religion,” The Christian Post. 18, April, 2005. Web:

The Monotheistic Filter

The Monotheistic Filter

What is The Monotheistic Filter?

In her blog, “Gangleri’s Grove,” (Note 1) Galina Krasskova explains that people are shaped and informed by nearly 2000 years of Monotheism. She calls this shaping, the Monotheistic Filter. In her opinion, The Filter is a sentient being that feeds off humanity. According to Krasskova, The Filter works tirelessly against the Gods, to retain Its hold on people.

Easy to describe, The Filter is hard to define. I have experienced It as an aspect of the Monotheistic Gods (God). (Note 2) In trying keep his power, He uses the Filter to disable and dissuade people from challenging Him. He needs people to continue to believe in redemption and salvation, which makes them dependent on Him.

Religion can be divided into “revealed” and “natural.” In revealed religions, God transmits his knowledge and expectations through prophets. Holy texts such as “The Bible” are the official record of these revelations. Meanwhile, God is transcendent and beyond all physical laws. To interact with Him, a person has to give up the world and seek salvation. Religious doctrine and dogma are interpretations of this God’s requirements and desires.

In contrast, natural religions like Polytheism arise from people’s interactions with the world. The Gods and other Spirits are immanent and live in this world. They are accessible to people through divination and offerings. The relationship between humans and the Holy Powers is one of reciprocity and mutual respect.

Before modern people can develop a Polytheistic mindset, they need to know the workings of The Filter. It spreads through groupthink (Note 3), which colors what people think and believe to be true. The prism that truth is determined by is filtered through others and the culture they live in. The group teaches people to how to cherry pick for “truth.” By collecting certain stories and discarding others, people form their belief systems in accordance to groupthink. This is how The Filter burrows into people’s thought processes.

Note 1. Galina Krasskova, “Radical Polytheists or Happy Fucking New Year to You Too.”“Radical Polytheists or Happy Fucking New Year to You Too.”

Gangelri’s Grove. 5 January 2015. Web: https//

Note 2. Monotheism has multiple Gods, all male, and all specific to each Monotheistic religion (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).  The Filter is an aspect of all these Gods united.

My experience with the Filter has been one of pain. I was thrown out of bed when I started this essay. As I continued, I suffered from strained calves. The Filter is nasty to those who defy It.

Note 3. Groupthink occurs when a group reaches a consensus by minimizing conflict. Outside or alternative viewpoints are not allowed for the sake of group harmony.

Nature Mysticism, Atheists, and the Numinous

Little marrow type pumpkin and flower.

Little marrow type pumpkin and yellow flower.

Before I became a Polytheist, I was a Nature Mystic. I felt a oneness with the world, since I enjoyed all things in nature. From my experiences, I knew that the earth is sacred. Since I had close encounters of the numinous kind, I gradually moved from Atheism to Theism.

By their nature, mystical experiences are altered states of consciousness. They are the neurochemical responses of the brain to outside stimuli. What makes the neurochemical response a transcendent one is when someone gives it meaning. A person may place import on a “supersensory” response by seeing the earth as “the Holy Body that we are all a part of.”

The Atheists who are Pagans often confer meaning to the world by science. However, by calling themselves, Nature Mystics, they have elected to enter the metaphysical realm. Nature Mysticism is a non-theistic religion with a belief in the numinous. It is the spiritual underpinning of the deep ecology movement.

Therefore, I ponder how some Atheists who are Pagans reconcile their beliefs of only science can determine the Truth with that of Nature is holy. I wonder how someone who discounts the supernatural can have the transcendent experiences that they often write about. The human places meaning on to what is sacred and holy. Science cannot do that. How does a person reconcile the two?

As a Polytheist, I am outside the norm of Western society, which is a secular one that has humans at the center of things. This society places a high value on science and cultural progress. A belief in many Gods is considered a throwback to a primitive past. Perhaps, that is my answer – in the society that we both live in, Atheists who are Pagans as the norm. They can believe in both without worrying about being congruent.

Embracing the Supernatural


I confess that I believe in UFOs of the space alien kind. At one time, it was an irrational fear of mine since I firmly thought that a UFO would abduct me. Although I live in the city, I still clung to this absurd fear. It inhibited my movements, keeping me awake at night. I decided to end my torment and get help.

While in therapy, I was presented with several choices. I could believe that UFOs were real but the odds of being abducted by one was nearly nonexistent. I could set up ways to prevent being abducted such as carrying a flashlight. I could decide that UFOs did not exist. I could interpret UFOs as a metaphor for hidden traumas. I could think that my mental illness manifested itself as a fear of UFOs.

I decided to make peace with the UFOs and move on. I did resolve several traumas arising from childhood that I had submerged. I admitted that my fear was silly and debilitating. At the end, I still believed in UFOs but viewed them differently. Now, they add a bit of mystery to the world.

Because of my experiences in resolving my thoughts about UFOs, I understand mental illness more clearly. Therefore I have problems with any Atheist who is a Pagan asserting that the Truth lies only in the reality of science. They usually add that believing in the supernatural is mentally unhealthy. A belief in “literal gods” is a cause for concern since that is rooted in the synapses of the brain. In other words, the supernatural is only the figment of one’s imagination. Because none of it exists, the only path to Truth is through science.

This philosophy is known as “Scientism. It states that science alone can determine the truth about the world. I find this to be very limiting, since, for me, the world is beyond human understanding. Moreover, this philosophy is self-annihilating because it posits that only scientific claims are meaningful. That is self-contradicting since science cannot confer meaning on anything or any idea.

Along with a belief in Scientism, many Atheists who are Pagans also espouse Humanistic Naturalism. According to this philosophy, humans understand and control the world through the scientific method. What occurs to me is that this centers all things on humans to determine how the world should be. That is an awful burden to bear especially if other Pagans do not agree with the assessment that the world is needs to be saved. Since many Pagans have other priorities, it becomes a cause of anger and frustration for these particular Atheists who are Pagans.

As for me, a belief in the supernatural means mental health. I do understand how a belief in the supernatural can be held in suspect. I grappled with my fears of UFOs as being malevolent. My imagination fed into my fears and prohibited me from living a full life. However, for many people, imagination and play lead to a more rounded life. A world without UFOs is a sad, empty one.

Gods of the Month: February


In February, Romans prepare for the coming of spring by purifying themselves, their homes, and their regions. “February” comes from februum (purgation), and the februa (expiatory rituals). Ceremonies for the Dead abound, since a part of purification is fulfilling the obligations to the Dead. For example, the Lupercalia and Quirinalia have specific purifications rites as a part of their rituals. In addition, the Terminalia and Fornacalia are a part of the worship of the Di Parentes (Parents). Meanwhile, the Feralia focused on all the Dead and the Parentalia on the Lar Familiaris (family spirit).

For Roman Polytheists, the focus on the Dead puts them outside the norm of Pagans, who usually follow the Wheel of the Year. For these Pagans, Samhain, held in October, is when the Dead walk the earth. Meanwhile, Imbolc, which is held in February, is the fire festival of Brighid. This time of restrained joy focuses on the returning of new life. In contrast, for Romans, February is the time that the Dead walk freely amongst the living.

Fornax and Quirinus

The Fornacalia is held between February 5 and 17. At this time, in ancient Rome, people brought grain to the communal ovens to be parched in the ancient manner of their fathers. Fornax, the Goddess of Bakers and Ovens, was invoked to keep the wheat from burning. The last day of the Fornacalia is the Quirinalia, also known as “The Feast of Fools.” This is the time that people who delayed bringing their grain came to fulfill their civic duty. Modern observances involved making bread from scratch, and making offerings to Juno Curitis (Juno of the Curia (Wards)).

Quirinus is thought to be the deified Romulus, and represents the Romans in their civic sense. “Quirites” is what officials addressed Roman citizens as. In their military capacity, Romans were called “Romani.” Gods of the Month: Fornax and Quirinus

Di Parentes and Di Manes (The Dead)

The Parentalia starts February 13 and runs through February 21. The Caristia on February 22 officially ends this period of venerating the Dead. During this time, the Lupercalia and Feralia are held. Each ritual focuses on a different aspect of purification, families, and the Dead. The Parentalia is a private ceremony that the family does to honor their dead. The Feralia entails visiting the graves and making offerings. The Caristia is a family feast, where all quarrels between family members are settled. Family unity is then cemented with the household Lars. God of the Month: Di Parentes and Di Manes

Faunus and Inuus

On February 15, the Lupercalia is held. Traditionally, sacrifices were made at the Lupercal Cave in Rome, where the She-Wolf nursed Romulus and Remus. This was followed by the Lupercii (young men) running through the streets striking women with the februa (goatskin whips). This was to insure fertility in the women. Traditional Gods of Fertility, Faunus and Inuus preside over the Lupercalia. Modern observances entail prayers for purification and fertility, the cleaning of the house and self, and offerings left in secluded areas. Gods of the month: Faunus, Inuus, and the She-Wolf of Rome


The Terminalia, held on February 23, honors the God of Boundaries. It is a time of purifying the land and redefining the boundaries between homes. The “beating of the bounds” which entails walking around the perimeter reestablishes the boundaries for another year. Cakes and wine are offered to Terminus during this activity. God of the Month: Terminus

The Roman Calendar

pexels-photo-289689.jpegAs a Roman Polytheist, the festival calendar that I follow is based on Roman civic and agricultural holidays. In doing so, I realized that the Gregorian calendar, which is in use today, carried elements of the old Roman one. For example, the names of the months are the same. Furthermore, the number of days (30 or 31) in a month was set by Julius Caesar and the Roman Senate. The ordering of modern time seems to be based on Roman ideas with February as a traditional short month.

“December” indicates that the original Roman calendar had only ten months. The year ended in December with a 62 day period attached to the end. At that time, January and February did not exist as separate months. The year began with March (named for Mars) and continued through April (meaning to Open), May (Maia), June (Juno), Quintilis (5th), Sextilis (6th), September (7th), October (8th), November (9th) and December (10th).

The second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius reformed the 10 month calendar set by Romulus. He added January (named for Janus) and February (meaning to Purify) at the beginning of the year. His calendar, a lunar one, had an intercalary month which fell between February and March. This month (Intercalaris or Mercedinus) was added by the Pontifex Maximus (high priest) as needed to align the calendar with the seasons.

Numa’s calendar featured “hollow months” of 29 days and “full months” of 30 days. When the intercalary month was used, February was reduced to 23/24 days, while Intercalaris had 27/28 days. In contrast, the calendar of Romulus had six months of 30 days, four months of 31 days and winter of 61 days.

Because of Roman politics, the calendar of Numa became out of sync with the Roman climate. Different administrations did not want festivals to fall on certain dates, while others wanted to extend the year for a particular Consul. By the time, Julius Caesar became the Pontifex Maximus, the calendar was a mess.

Upon the urging of Sosigenes, a Greek astronomer of Alexandria, Caesar decided to create a solar calendar. He would have three years of 365 days and a leap year of 366. Caesar set the months to be 30 or 31 days (alternating). The Senate changed it to have February have only 28 days, July (Julius Caesar) 31 days, and August (Augustus) 31 days. The Julian calendar was in general use until the reforms of Pope Gregory XIII. (The Orthodox Church still uses the Julian calendar.)