Blog Particulars

A Pagan!

A Pagan! Run!

TO BE PERIODICALLY UPDATED

// Last Updated – 02/15/2017/

 

Wes ðu hal!

My name is Marc and I am a (strict!) polytheistic Pagan who long ago decided to blog about my particular branch of unaffiliated contemporary Paganism. I decided on being reasonably open about my spiritual and religious background as a means to understand more about myself, my place in the universe, and what I truly believe. It is one thing to simply say that an ethos or religious perspective speaks to me, but something else entirety to actually explore what that means and work out the nuances of the system. I periodically write under my Roman name of Marcus Arminius.

I’m what is known as a “Freehold Heathen”, which means that I primarily focus on my home and hearth before dealing with wider groups.  Although if I could find a group or organization that I felt comfortable with I probably would join, but I prefer networking over group worship and practice. I have always been a loner in these regards, since I picked up the practice when I was twelve. While I am a Heathen, I overwhelmingly identify with the Pagan movement.  A part of the reason why I am writing is because I decided I’d like to give another voice to the image of both Paganism (as a non-Celto-Wiccan Pagan, as opposed to a polytheist who has left the umbrella term) and Heathenry.

I was originally on the path to becoming a Freysman, but that fell through because it stopped feeling right. These days I’m spiritually afloat, without having much in the way of much non-mundane interaction.

In my personal life, I’m working on finding a way in the world for myself. I’m a born and transplanted New Englander (of the South Shore, Massachusetts), though I’ve lived in Eastern New York for the majority of my life. It takes me a few hours to get a Boston accent back, once I cross the border. I think I’m also one of the only people in the Northeast that doesn’t absolutely hate the Winter. I read a lot, table top game, play video games, and spend entirely too much time staring at the drama of the Internet.

About This Blog

The meat of this blog will be focused about my particular experience within Paganism.  This includes focusing on both the community, which is typically found in an online capacity since I am in an area with a slight dearth of activity, and my practice. My practice is an unaffiliated, reconstructionist-derived, theistic religious understanding that falls within the greater pan-Pagan umbrella. In this sense, the term “reconstructionist-derived” is utilizing the aspects of reconstructionist polytheistic methodology: making use of history, historic philosophy, archaeological approaches, and other forms of empiricist academia to foster a greater understanding of my practice. I approach this from a contemporary perspective, and not a strictly intellectual pursuit, which means that I utilize these methodologies and pull them out of their own histories and attempt to make them applicable to the present, with modern adaption and advancement as required.  I very much support innovation and contemporary developments, couched in a traditionalist understanding.

I accept a generous helping of unverified personal gnosis which helps to confer a greater spiritual revelation to my practice than some other reconstructionist faiths might accept. This is a reason why I do not necessarily claim an exclusive reconstructionist mantle. Likewise, I utilize extra-devotional practices: shamanistic practices, ancestor worship and veneration, and other such forms of religiosity.

I focus, largely, on two traditions, in unequal amounts. I hesitate to call what I do “syncretic” because I do not attempt to marry one understanding to another. Because I am a polytheist I do not believe in enforced religious isolation, and I consider myself a descendant of both traditions that I practice.

The first tradition is a Germanic path, largely focused on and dominated by Anglo-Saxon polytheism, of a particular tradition espoused by the Lārhūs Fyrnsida. I write this, short hand, as a Germanic form of paganism because I often broaden my view with comparative studies in Old Saxon, Old Frisian, and (to a vast lesser extent) Old Norse mythology, language, and culture. Much in the way of Germanic foundation was cross-cultural, so I believe that one can partially inform the other. I am not Theodish, nor am I a member of any community-based organization – in fact, the lack of emphasis on “the heath” is a prime reason why I have been reluctant to call myself a Heathen.

The second tradition, which I focus on significantly less, is an influence from Rome, and the greater Roman polytheistic understanding of the world. Unlike the Anglo-Saxon or Germanic practices I focus on, my approach to the Roman religion is far more patchwork and personal, dealing more with moments of clarity and insight. I have some associations with the Cultus Deorum Romanum, and focus on late Republican and early Imperial-era religious understanding. I reject the state-based religious understanding that groups like Nova Roma would attempt to foster (play-elections).

Part of my reconstructionist interest is to speak for the deities that may no longer be around – the less-than-remembered, or those that only meet our gaze within the pages of academics. There’s a lot of cross-over in continental worship, and I am making in-roads in the study of deities on the frontier of Germania and Gaul. While I would not say that I have much inclination to the Gaulish deities, I will not discount interactions or comparative studies done by Gaulish polytheists.

Further, it is my intent to include topics and interests which relate somehow to my Pagan understanding of the world that might not necessarily exist in an exclusively “Pagan”. This includes related occult topics, herbalism, rune work, and the like.

The guidance of the ancestors.

The guidance of the ancestors.

Where Did The Blog Title Come From?

Really, it came about because I thought it sounded good, that’s basically it.

I could wax historic about how the axe is one of the most important inventions of mankind, how it is not just a weapon but a tool which can both destroy and create, and how Europe was carved into a habitable place using some variety of this historic implement. The stone core handaxe was one of the first tools ever created, and the forests of Europe were sure as hell not pushed back by a sword. Likewise, I could argue that the plough’s history was what enabled successive generations of humanity to expand and flourish after the domestication of crops, and provided enough of a technological advantage to create a population growth.

But that would not be this blog’s truth.

I could also say that the aesthetic of the blog was specifically meant to evoke a Northern feel, of a shrouded, mist-choked forest on the edge of the world where the self-sufficient went to strike new lands and live their lives. That wouldn’t necessarily be untrue. But neither is it the truth of the title.

A Note on Racialist or Exclusivist Religion and This Blog’s Position On It

I’ll get straight to the point: Folkishness is stupid.  There’s no purpose to it, and it’s historically untenable.  I do not take part in the Folkishness v. Universalist drama that goes on, because I believe it is largely a fabrication of the modern world.  Racialist tendencies are a creation of the ambitions of imperialist Western countries hundreds of years ago.  I will not perpetuate the continuation of those archaic modes of thought.

Posters and followers of Folkish or Ethnicist blogs are welcome to follow me, but they need to understand two things about this blog:

  • I am not of your ilk.
  • Your opinions on ethnicist and racialist Paganism/Heathenry/whatever will not find purchase here.

My conception of the geographic boundaries of what defines “Paganism” follows Michael York’s view in his book Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion.  That is, I view it appropriate to call indigenous, reconstructionist, or contemporary religious groups from the historic European-Mediterranean cultural basin “Pagan”.  This includes many indigenous faiths that are not strictly European.  Other indigenous non-Christian religious bodies outside of this historic cultural zone often maintain their own identity, particularly if they have not been destroyed completely by conversion.  This is as far as I’m willing to go regarding exclusivity.

I hold that anyone, no matter their makeup, heritage, or what have you is able to worship, so long as they are dedicated, respectful, and hardworking.  I hold European-descendants to a higher standard, because they often assume they can waltz in to the religion.  A historic community wouldn’t care about any of it, so long as the community can survive.   It often feels like Tribalists are willing to extend the same opinions as mine on exclusive Paganism, so long as they “do it somewhere else”.  I find fault with this because in the survival of a community, it wouldn’t matter.  A person that assists in the community survival will be accepted, regardless of where they are from, over someone who does not aid their neighbors or assist with some pressing matter.

Think to yourself, “Is my comment or are my beliefs going to run counter to the idea that Folkishness is stupid?”  If yes, don’t post.

Think to yourself, “Are my comments or are my beliefs representative of White Supremacist and/or Nazitru ideoloy?” If yes, leave.

A Final Note on Updates and Revisions to Content on this Blog

I have a fairly strict personal philosophy of owning my own words and keeping to them.

However, this blog has been in existence in its current state since 2009, despite the lack of updates in the early years of it.  One cannot expect something as dynamic as religion and spirituality to remain static, and things can and will shift around as my understanding grows.

In the event of a major revision or change of an already posted article, I will leave an author’s note somewhere prominent.

Pages which are affixed to the banner of this blog (as in the ‘Books, Links, & Resources’ tab) will have a notice of last revision.

Thanks for reading!

Questions, comments, and intelligent thoughts are more than welcome. Hate and ridicule are not. Contact me at thelettuceman(at)gmail.com


7 Responses to “Blog Particulars”

  1. I like how you mentioned, “heir to by blood and birth”. So your ancestry includes both Nordic (Thus, Germanic Polytheism) and Italian (Hence, Roman Polytheism) genetic lineages? I am not very hardcore in my line of thinking, but as a Vedic polytheist myself of Indian descent, I believe that people should first honor the deities of their own ancestral lineages.

    I admire the Egyptian and Canaanite religions for their rich ritual traditions and have no doubt about the great sincerity and devotion of their modern reconstructionist followers. But it kind of bums me out when people of Caucasian descent are honouring Egyptian or Canaanite gods while completely forgetting their own ancestral deities.

    While i believe that personal gnosis is important, I believe that a lot of Caucasians, especially Americans, believe in choosing their pantheon because they feel it better whereas i believe that one doesn’t get to “choose”. After discovering one’s personal historical and ethnic background, should one not honor first the deities your Great-great——-great grandfather probably worshipped?

    This view of mine may be slanted because in the Hindu tradition I was born in, reverence for the ancestors and the deities of one’s clan and family are very important. What is your take on this?

    • Hey there! I think, perhaps, that while “blood and birth” is a little poetic, but it’s a reason why I’m drawn back towards the Anglo-Saxon (Not Nordic) side of the Germanic cultures. My mother’s family has a lineage that comes from the Anglo-Saxons. In all truth, it is an old family that has seen a lot of work done on the lineage. I’m largely English and Italian for my ethnicity, although there are some other minor influences there. Both traditional paths feel like “Home” to me, if that makes sense. But, and this is a big but, I don’t really believe in ethnic religion. This is where I diverge a lot from some other Pagans, especially those in the Heathen sphere: I believe that one’s bloodline can give them a path backwards, if they want to follow it, but it is by no means the only path that they can (or should) walk. I can definitely appreciate your perspective, though. In some ways, I envy the fact that you were born into your tradition.

      Because, let’s face it, the European-Mediterranean basin was largely converted anywhere between 500 and 1387 CE, if we use Lithuania as the last true Pagan (and I’ll use a capital P here, because of the efforts to reform the faith as a state religion) region. Twice if you want to consider a lot of the North African coast, Iberia, and the Levant (among other areas, obviously). In my case, Anglo-Saxon folk paganism was largely dead by 700-800CE. Even the “re-heathening” due to the Danelaw only persisted for a few centuries more. That leaves, in my history, somewhere around 900 years of conversion and staunch Christianity to move past in order to regain my traditions. A period of time in which one could argue that I have a longer ancestral tradition of Christianity than Paganism.

      I think Americans suffer an even greater disconnect because all people that aren’t First Nations have been broken from their ancestral homelands, leading to further removal from the traditions of their ancestors. When it comes to attempting to find their new spirituality, I feel that many of us can feel cast adrift in an open ocean. Many of us are drawn back due to our interests or callings rather than any kind of familial connection. I also believe that the ancient polytheisms were highly mutable, highly transferable beliefs. You see that in the cultural crossover throughout Europe with bordering nations and peoples, even if they were of different ethnicities: the Near East is probably the best example I can bring up to mind, with the intermingling of different pantheons and faiths. Even the relatively “isolated” Norse had some cross-over with Sami peoples and beliefs, if I recall correctly.

      I can see why you feel the way you do. I’d wager it was because you were born into a living tradition, with a very rich history and a wonderful tradition that encourages a focus on your ancestors. Many Pagans have to try to recreate a spirituality that hasn’t drawn breath in several hundred years or more, so we’re left with a lot more uncertainty and a lot more blind navigation. It also, unfortunately, leads to a lot of appropriation. Something which I try to navigate carefully, and encourage all of the others that I come across to take heed of.

      I hope these answers are satisfactory and not too all over the place. I’m so burnt out from studying Latin that some thoughts are hard to coalesce into appreciable wording.

  2. Wow, burnt out? If this is your definition of “getting burnt out”, I am intimidated. Thanks for taking the time to write such a meaningful and detailed reply.

    I also apologize if I had come across as insensitive to the fact that most people of Caucasian descent do not get to be born into a tradition. I am, and that too in a living major world religion like you said, and thus my double advantage often leads me to take this for granted. Or if I should further qualify, born in a priestly caste (you might have heard of castes in the Hindu framework) has also given me a great predisposition to learning Sanskrit, and being able to think of ritual and religion in a formal, structured way. That would be a triple advantage that I am taking for granted.

    However, my own path is not without its struggles. Hinduism has never been a religion; only a mere family of religions competing with one another. And a good number of them are Henotheistic or downright Monotheistic, with the most ancient polytheistic layer, relegated to a very naive and uneducated form in rural India. Being born in a family that is more inclined towards the “Henotheistic” setup (Soft Polytheism at a rare best; Monotheism at an occasional worst), it was difficult for me to find my way towards a Hard Polytheism with its colourful world of ritual praxis.

    My stumbling across your blog is a result of my personal drive to help initiate, in my own way, the revival of polytheistic religions around the world. To this end, I am trying to understand the religious landscape of modern paganism/heathenry. I am more interested in Polytheistic Reconstructionism given its serious and academic tenor and find this more prevalent in the West whereas Polytheism has degenerated to mere temple worship in Asia. For example, I was very happy to read that some Israelite soldiers are secretly worshipping Anat, the ancient Canaanite Goddess of War amongst a few other deities of their ancestors. Perhaps, I had envisioned, over optimistically, a scenario where the descendants of the ancient ethnic peoples could once again re-ignite the fires of their own, genetically ancestral faiths.

    Of course, this would naturally beg the question if I am ethnocentric. Unfortunately, due to white guilt and a few lunatics among the heathens, this word has become loaded with terrible connotations. But I will take advantage of the fact that I am an Indian and would argue that, to be ethnocentric is simply to acknowledge one’s genetic roots and desire to maintain this continuity- not because of a belief in superiority but rather a pure and noble desire for self-preservation.

    The concept of choosing a pantheon still appears very alien to me. On a sociological level, this might reflect the individualism-collectivism dichotomy between our respective cultures where individualism creates a conducive environment for choice. But given the tremendous superficiality of that dichotomy, I would guess it is more to do with the reasons you have listed out. The religious landscape is very different in our respective regions. For me, not just India, but Singapore as well, where the environment is pretty amicable to a polytheist.

    Thanks for providing a historical context to the Eurasian Polytheisms. It was enlightening and I will look it up. Also, the “Nordic” was a force of habit. I will condition myself to think of Anglo-Saxon as well when I think of Germanic! Have a great week ahead and may your deities and ancestors bless you with greater wisdom and energy!

    • I’m sorry this took so long to get back to you! No, I’m burnt out because of other reasons. I have my own issues to overcome in this exploration of my spirituality and religion, but it is not yet at the level of being “burnt out.”

      I’m glad you stumbled across my blog! I’m one very small voice in a small movement, but we’re growing and I feel that everyone generally has something useful and insightful to say sometimes. I have a very little acquaintance to any of the Hindu traditions and philosophies, but I like to view many of them as kindred spirits in both cultural history and in religious ideals. I should probably make more of an effort to do so, because some Pagans will erroneously lump Hindu practitioners in with the larger umbrella and it causes some hard feelings.

      Ethnocentrism is one of those words that ends up getting blown around way too easily, along with appropriation and – as you said – white guilt. Anthropologically defined, being ethnocentric is more the state of assuming that one’s own experiences and culture are archetypal, instead of one of many different interpretations. I wouldn’t argue that defining oneself by genetic and ethnic or cultural roots is ethnocentric, although I am sure there are a lot of people that would. But, like I said, I wouldn’t turn anyone away from any religion if they were heartfelt into it.

      I have a cousin who is a citizen of Singapore, and we were speaking about some commonalities and differences to the extent of the culture of different religious interpretations. Interesting stuff, although he lives in the US, so it’s not his home culture. I honestly have no clue what it’s like to be in a culture that’s amicable in any way to a polytheistic tendency. In the United States we’re generally seen to be backwards or play actors. And it gets really boring to deal with!

      I hope you swing by more, when I manage to get more content out, and I’ll try to do the same to your blog! And I hope that your Gods smile on you and keep your family well!

  3. I’m glad I found this little gem of a blog!
    Well done.

  4. […] Blog Particulars […]

  5. I am so glad I came across this blog. My recent journey into Frynsidu has directed me to a lot of interesting and intelligent people. I still have a lot more that I want to learn, but it is very refreshing to see other Pagans with similar outlooks.

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