The storm has arrived. Thunder rolls all around, lightning streaks from cloud to cloud, its forks mirroring the trees in their early-Spring bareness. Gather yourself, your bare feet, your cup of dark wine, and stand outside, barely skirting the drenching rain beneath the small overhang of the stoop.
Week 2, only 2 weeks late! This has been sitting in my drafts for a while now, waiting for me to add headnotes to a few of the prayers. Oops?
I don’t do magic, not as a general rule. I’m not even sure I think it exists outside of an internal psychological reality, though a number of people I trust seem fairly sure of it. But recently I found a situation that really seemed to call for a response that was, well, magical. A few days ago, a colleague came into the office at work, waving a piece of paper angrily. It was a flyer she’d ripped down from a a bulletin board in our academic building: an image of a bust of a Caesar in white marble, its empty eyes staring out above the legend “Serve Your People / Identity Evropa.”
I’ve been thinking, for a good six months now, about the question of benevolence (or malevolence) when it comes to the worship of the old gods. Specifically, I’ve been wrestling with what it means to worship gods who are closely identified with natural and elemental forces that, while they may at times benefit us, may also harm us grievously. In many ways this is almost the druidic version of the question of theodicy: the Christian attempt to reconcile the evils of the world with the existence of a ruling god seen as both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. It doesn’t entirely track, of course — rare is the pagan who proclaims an all-powerful or a perfectly good god — but the parallels are there.
Continue reading Worshiping forces of nature: the question of harm
I’ve been thinking a good deal lately about the way art interacts with my religion, especially when it can seem like my art is somehow getting in the way of my religious practice. Usually this is a nebulous time-management question, but sometimes there are clearcut moments: this weekend, for example, Three Cranes Grove’s vernal equinox rite will honor Indra, the Vedic god of storms, and will ask him to to send his rains to the waking earth. I’d love to attend and join in that communal ritual, but I have a conflict: I’ll be on stage with the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, celebrating our shared history in a 25-year retrospective show. Additionally, the final rehearsal process for that same show is taking up a good deal of my mental space and energy this week. After a full day of work and 4+ hours of evening rehearsal, I can only manage the time and energy for a brief whispered prayer before I fall asleep. Continue reading Following the heron: art, time, and prayer
There are many functions of prayer — to praise, to implore, to thank, to express wonder, just to name a few — but for theists, prayer always communicates. More often than not, the communication only goes one way: we say or ask something of the Gods and spirits, we hope they hear and accept the prayer, and we go on without an answer. The Kindreds are certainly capable of answering, but hearing them, and moreover interpreting them, is a difficult skill. Continue reading What It Means to Hear