Regarding Festivals and Calendars


For the past month or so I’ve been working on compiling all of my thoughts and writings related to my religious practice. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long-ass time, but I am a habitual procrastinator and chronic forgetter (thanks, cannabis). 

The entire process thus far has been an interesting one. It’s definitely helping me delve deeper into the intricacies of my belief system and my praxis to weed out things that don’t work for me as a practitioner –  something I would have been loath to do in the past. 

Maybe it’s just my experience, but it seems polytheists tend to adopt beliefs and practices, with little alteration, from the cultural group(s) they’ve chosen to emulate religiously. I know, for instance, in my past practice, I was very much one of those polytheists; everything had to be as “authentic” as possible, requiring attestation and historical validity to be worth incorporating. In my mind, eclecticism was bad and created an unworkable mess of a religious expression. 

“Eclecticism? Do I look like a fucking Wiccan?”, is probably something I would have said had you broached the subject. I was dumber then and believed in silly things like “purity” in relation to religion. Thing is, once you scrutinize a bit, you come to realize how not-pure basically everything is. You also realize how different your situation is to that of ancient peoples. I have never ploughed a field, attended a human sacrifice, or sacked a village – although all of those things are on my bucket list. My lifestyle and religious requirements are decidedly different and my practice needs to reflect that. 

One of the big things I’ve been struggling with lately is coming up with a calendar I’ll actually follow. I’m notorious for putting hours of work into fashioning complex and workable lunisolar calendars, only to neglect to observe the dates on them. I’ve done this more times than I’d care to admit. I know some Pagan nerds love working out the moon phases, and discussing their calendars at length, but I am definitely not one of them. I find making lunisolar calendars to be tedious and annoying as hell. It’s always a chore for me, and you come out the other side with a bunch of religious tides that all seem to fall on a Wednesday for some reason (Wednesday isn’t a party day!). That, and you often end up having to do serious adjusting anyway, because the seasons where you live don’t exactly match those of the people you’re emulating. 

Bearing all of this in mind, I’ve decided against doing another lunisolar calendar I’m not going to use. Knowing the most auspicious time to do X thing based on the moon’s fullness is great and all, but not really worth it if I’m going to be too burnt out after work on a random Tuesday to care. Instead, I’m going to use the Gregorian calendar, since that’s what I’m already using each and every day. I’m also going to make a point of only choosing observances that are relevant to me and my predicament. Like, Lupercalia seems cool and all, but I have no idea how that would work for me as an individual. I guess I could run naked through the streets striking passersby with my underwear, but my neighbours have requested I stop doing that.

I need to keep reminding myself that just because something seems really cool, doesn’t mean that it’s practical or won’t get you arrested. 

When it comes to me and my laziness, simple is definitely better. My previous method of tacking as much as possible onto a given holy tide never worked out and always looked better on paper than it did in practice. Not to mention, I’m one guy, so a lot of the more grandiose holiday things just aren’t feasible for an individual or single household. 

These are all things I’m going to need to consider while I work through this new, less annoying (in theory) religious calendar. At the moment, I’m collecting everything onto a private WordPress site. I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll share said site once I’ve finished – if one can even finish such an endeavour. I might just disseminate the information through this blog and keep the rest private. Releasing content on the pagan interwebs always runs the risk of people wanting to “join” in the thing you’re doing, or looking to you as some sort of authority/leader. As an antisocial weirdo, I am opposed to this.

Anyway, cosordasetesi anton and remember not to do any drugs I wouldn’t do. 

On Devotional Acts

I recall a conversation I had a few years ago on one of the many online, pagan forums I used to haunt. In this thread, participants were asked to describe how they approached ritual and what their ritual structure looked like.

Now, if you’ve been around online pagandom for a hot minute, you’ll know a question like this can go in a whole host of different directions, especially if you have a diverse enough pool of people you’re polling (look at that sweet alliteration). You’ll get the classic, “my entire practice has been passed down in secret for generations by my family who is (coincidentally) descended from Valkyries,” response. That one’s always fun.

You’ll also, almost definitely, get someone who dislikes the idea of ritual and who proudly states they don’t engage in it. In the particular case I’m referencing, the person in question claimed they didn’t engage in ritual because they worked out for the gods, instead. 

I recall a big row ensued after that, and things went from zero to holmgang within, like, an hour. Pretty soon you had bros shouting crazy things like, “do you even lift?!?!” and “I’ll holmgang your whole family!!!” (both of which were almost definitely directed at me). 

At the time, my view of what religious practice should look like was narrow, to say the least. While I still don’t agree with the abandonment of ritual do ut des, I’ve changed my tune regarding the importance of devotional acts, which is, I guess, at the core of what Ragnar Sweatpants was trying (unsuccessfully) to articulate. 

Religious devotion is an odd topic when it comes to modern polytheist discourse. Among many in the hardline recon-or-die camp, the term, “devotional,” instantly conjures up images of Wiccans in crushed velvet capes. That, or images of the aforementioned brodudes lifting for Odin. There’s also a knee-jerk dislike for the term among the newly-pagan-ex-Christian contingent because it looks kinda sorta Christiany if you squint. 

Me, I never really gave the concept of religious devotion a lot of thought before a year or two ago. I was firmly planted in a world where you could have easily replaced “do you even lift?” with “do you even ritual?” My first forays into exploring the idea of “devotion” came after I wrote the article, Slice of Life Polytheism. In that post, I talked about the benefits of doing small religious gestures throughout the day – a prayer here, a small offering there . I also touched on “devotional acts” for the first time and how they might be used to get in a positive headspace to engage with deity. 

If you’re looking for historic precedent for devotional acts, there’s loads of it. There are accounts of temples being funded as acts of piety and devotion, of games being held in the honour of certain deities, and of warriors devoting their victories/lives in battle. If we consider that there was no “secular”, and religion touched all aspects of everyday life, I think it’s safe to assume many of the so-called mundane tasks we engage in secularly today probably had some sort of spiritual/ritual significance. 

Appealing to history aside, it seems pretty obvious, at a base level, that doing a drawing of a particular god, or writing a song about them would make you think of them while doing it. As an exercise in strengthening one’s connection and understanding of [deity], it actually seems like an indispensable tool and I don’t really see how dedicating your squat-thrusts to Thor is any different in that regard. 

I’m of the belief that the gods do as they please, where, when and to whom they please, in whatever form they please. This means if they choose to manifest through a painter’s brush, a song, or in response to some power lifts, then that’s just how it is. Who am I to say a certain devotional act won’t be a potent means to commune with [deity]? I’m just some fucking guy. 

I know through my own experiences, and according to my own religious beliefs, actions have a reverberating effect that, in essence, shape our reality as we go. We don’t know how far reaching our actions might be, or what outcomes they are creating, but we are still feeding the growth of the “Tree”/cosmos. Bauschatz argues that “smaller,” “insignificant” deeds do not feed the “Tree”, but I personally find that aspect of his otherwise excellent model to be a bit off putting. Devotional acts, given their weightiness in connection with the gods, would potentially contribute what I’d consider positive strata to the cosmic “Well” of the universe. 

So, I guess what I am trying to say is, acts of devotion are a good and an essential component to the modern polytheist apparatus. They shouldn’t replace ritual, but should exist in tandem with ritual and prayer as means to commune with the numinous. Not to mention, you can also ritualize devotional acts, so there’s very little divide between modes of religious worship.

Mantalon Bolgon has done a good job of marrying the devotional and the ritual by incorporating “athletic cultus” into their religious structure. They’ve articulated what Ragnar Sweatpants couldn’t, and in so doing, set a precedent for other parties to follow. 

I know finding new ways to bring religiosity and the numinous into my life is something I’m actively working on. I spoke previously about my love of creating ambient music, and through that medium, I released an album dedicated to the god, Belatucadros. It was a genuinely rewarding experience that helped pull me out of the mundane and into the liminal space where the plane of mortals and that of the [Other] meet. The fact that ambient noise is sort of the liminal, in and of itself, didn’t hurt, either. Hopefully this project will be the first of many devotional works to come. 

I’ve rambled on for far too long and my cat is screaming at me to play with her, so I’ll end this article here. Hopefully this post represents me getting back into the swing of blogging again. I’ve got some ideas kicking around in my head for potential posts, but they just aren’t coalescing well at the moment. Maybe I’ll do some posts chronicling future devotional endeavours. Who knows? 

Anyway, cosordasetesi anton and keep it real, pilgrims. 

With the Wind at My Back

Of Axe and Plough

Just under a week ago, I left New England.

I tendered my resignation at work, said “Goodbye” to the life I had known for the past half-decade. At two minutes before two in the morning I loaded what bags I had left in the back of my car and drove with my two very grumpy, very surprised, cats for ten hours.

Almost seven hundred miles later, I finally got to a new home.

It’s in a new region, with its own local slang, idioms, customs and expectations.
It’s in a different growing season, with variable temperatures, rain patterns, and new local geography.

So many things are different, more than you would really think to expect when you set out. Time itself is different, despite being in the same demarcated zone – the sun rises differently here and sets later, and it’s enough to throw me off. The air smells different…

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Hi, I’m Back : An Update

Well, I am alive and, as the title of this post suggests, have returned from my little writing hiatus. 

I’ve wanted to write something for a few weeks now, but I’ve been low on inspiration and on drive. I think it has something to do with the weather changing, since my arthritis also flares around this period and I become an achy, unmotivated sloth-person. 

I’ve spent most of my recent free time listening to audiobooks (I’ve listened to about seven in as many weeks) and creating spooky ambient tracks.

I really love ambient, and it has become an integral part of my ritual in the last few years. When I ritualize, it’s important for me that I escape from the monotonous and the mundane, and I find ambient soundscapes (and a puff or three of a joint) really help to facilitate that transition into the Everywhen. 

When I first discovered ambient, I knew I’d managed to find something to enliven and enrich my praxis, and artists like Atrium Carceri, ProtoU, Dronny Darko, Northaunt and Northumbria soon became the de facto soundtrack of my weekly hearth cultus. While I really enjoy all the aforementioned artists and still listen to them regularly, there came a point where I felt they were missing something and were failing to capture the exact emotional/spiritual feels and the darkness I found my practice required. It was then that I decided to create my own soundscapes to play during rituals – tracks that captured the radiance of Sulis, the ancient strength of Belatucadros, or the inscrutableness of Andescociuoucos etc etc.  

I don’t really know where I’m going with all of this, suffice to say there’s something to be said for setting the tone and atmosphere of a ritual. The sweet smell of incense, the warm flicker of candles and dark, ominous soundscapes provide that atmosphere and are able to put me into the appropriate mindset for communion with the divine.

Anyway, if you’re keen to listen to what I’ve been creating and want to try playing some ambient during cult, you can find my shit here. I also highly recommend the artists I mentioned above, as well as any of the ones signed to the Cryochamber label. If you have any other suggestions for cool ritual music, drop ’em in the comments and I’ll be sure to give them a listen.

Herons, Cranos and the Cranalia


Well, the snow is starting to melt here and it looks like the weather is improving. I’m not going to get my hopes up too much, though, since this is Ontario and anything can happen between now and the Victoria Day weekend. 

With the end of Winter comes the return of migratory birds, which my cat is always pretty delighted about. I get excited, too, since birdsong really brings the landscape to life again, and seems to chase away the deadness of Winter. One type of bird I have a particular fondness for is the great blue heron, a familiar denizen of marshy places throughout Ontario. It’s not uncommon to see them stilting along the side of the road near ponds and flooded fields, prompting me to shout, “look! A heron!” each and every time I do. 

They’re just really cool, enigmatic creatures that make me feel somewhat uneasy in the way meeting a pterosaur might. I’ve gotten up close to them on more than one occasion, as there are three nesting pairs that reside at a pond I frequently do rituals at. It’s that proximity to one of my ritual spaces that sort of placed herons on my religious radar and drove me to ponder their spiritual significance and how they might tie into my religious expression.  

Herons are migratory (at least in most of Ontario), and, as such, they possess a decidedly liminal quality. Couple that with the fact that they divide their time between the aquatic, terrestrial and aerial realms, and you’ve got the perfect candidate for a spiritual messenger or herald.

There’s also the mysterious character of Cranos, whose name appears on an inscribed silver spoon from the Thetford Hoard, found in Norfolk. In the inscription in question, Cranos is syncretized with the Roman God, Faunus, which is something of a rarity when it comes to Romano-British finds, since there are only six British inscriptions in total (all from the Thetford Hoard) attaching native deities to Faunus. 

The etymology of Cranos’ name is, as is usually the case with these ancient theonyms, contested. Daphne Nash Briggs provides four potential etymologies in her paper, Something old, something new: the names of Faunus in late Roman Thetford (Norfolk) and their Iron-Age background. Of the four aforementioned etymologies, two stand out as being most plausible. The first of these is, “of the stores, barn or treasury,” drawn from modern Welsh, crawn, meaning “accumulated wealth or treasure”, suggesting a link to the household and the accumulated wealth found therein. The second etymology, and the one I prefer for my reconstruction, is taken directly from Proto-Celtic, *garanos, meaning “crane,” or “heron,” which, to my mind, implies a Faunus-of-the-Wetlands vibe. 

Wetlands are amazing, mysterious places, with their tall reeds and murky waters concealing a world absolutely teeming with life and vitality just below the surface. In many ways, this view has informed my understanding of Cranos as a deity of the liminal, the mysterious and of the hidden. Like Ontario’s wetlands, Cranos is fecund, he is the delicate balance, the ecosystem, the predator and the prey. He is the wind that shakes the bulrushes, the chorus of frogs chirping in the darkness and the mighty heron wading along the water’s edge at dawn.  He is wild and untamable, yet perfect and harmonious. He is the cycle of life, death and rebirth, and of decay and renewal.

As governor of cyclical change, Cranos is also attached to the changing of the seasons, and, as such, I’ve formulated a day dedicated to him that coincides with the return of the great blue herons to Ontario. I’ve decided to refer to this tide as Cranalia, since “Heron Day” just didn’t have the same pizazz, and I’ve set the date to the first weekend in April, since that’s roughly when the great blue herons make their way back to Ontario. During this tide, I plan to offer to Cranos (obviously), as well as visit the pond I spoke about earlier in this post, perhaps dedicating and depositing more offerings to Cranos and resident spirits of the place while I’m there. I’ve also been known to donate money to organizations involved in wetland conservation, so I may do that again as part of future Cranalia observances (assuming I’m in a financial position to do so, of course). 

On “Eclecticism” in Polytheism


I really don’t know why I do it to myself. Every time I end up scrolling through Reddit, I need to, like, scream into a pillow afterwards. It’s a decent place to get some blog post ideas, but, man, there are some serious weirdos who frequent Pagan subs (I say this as a weirdo, myself). 

When you’re away from online fora for a time, you start to forget about some of the annoying tropes and terminology people use. You trick yourself into thinking maybe Paganism has moved on from there and we’re actually making some sort of marked progress. Unfortunately, unlike the Who, I will be fooled again and again. Shame on me for that. 

During my internet spelunking, I came across a post discussing “eclecticism” in Polytheism, a term I absolutely loathe. The comments were what you might expect from a Pagan forum; they ranged from “I think it’s cool as long as you’re respectful” (whatever that means), to “I don’t agree with just picking and choosing random stuff because reasons”

Using the term “eclecticism” in a derisive way is pretty common in Polytheist circles. Apparently “mixing pantheons,” and religious practices and ideas is tantamount to practising Wicca and should be decried whenever possible. I mean, we wouldn’t want to destroy the artificial edifices of purity and insularity we’ve constructed, would we? Surely, deriving one’s practice from a variety of times, people and places is too great a faux pas to be excusable. 

Thing is, Polytheism is “eclectic” and fluid by its very nature, rendering the label “eclectic Polytheism” rather moot. And the fact that it’s being viewed as a negative is just plain silly, and definitely speaks to the baggage and insecurities modern Practitioners experience. This is made abundantly clear if you go through and search the old posts in r/pagan and r/heathenry, where you’ll see a plethora of posts asking if it’s ok to mix Gods/practices from [thing A] and [thing B]. The responses they receive to these questions are usually equally disheartening and unsupportive. 

Various forms of idea exchange were/are commonplace in polytheistic religious expressions. We have evidence of ancient Greek coins and artworks featuring Buddhist symbology. We have various deities from North Africa, Gaul and the Middle East being adopted and integrated into the fabric of Roman religion (see: Epona, Isis, Dolichenus et al). We see the same thing with the many mystery cults popular throughout the Roman Empire, where the likes of Mithras, a deity adopted from Zoroastrianism, became exceedingly popular among the Roman military. I could keep going with these examples, but you get the picture. Eclecticism, syncretism, appropriation, hybridization, accretion and transmission are intrinsic to Polytheism, and not something to be derided and condemned as “basically Wicca or something”. 

So, where does this condemnation of eclecticism come from? As I said above, there’s a romantic notion of “purity” and isolationism that people appear to cling to. Somehow a thing is better and more real in the minds of individuals if it hasn’t been tainted in some way by outside influence. I think this reticence in accepting eclecticism also stems from the problematic view that “foreign” is synonymous with “bad” or “degradation,” smacking of racialist overtones and an inherent tendency towards ethnocultural stratification and segregationism.  I think it’s important we take a long, hard look at the collective language we use and the sorts of things we get our backs up about to find their root. A lot of the time, when we do scratch below the surface, we find rather questionable or unsavoury origins for a lot of the tropes common in online Polytheistic discourse. And really, if we want to excise the unsavoury elements polluting the Pagan waters, it behooves us to try and dismantle the apparatus in its entirety and look at each part objectively before we reassemble it.

On Identity Generation in Western Polytheism

This is a fantastic read which I wholeheartedly agree with. Practitioners need to shed problematic identifiers. They need to stop obsessing over dead ethnic groups and cultures. Maybe if we can do that, we can rid ourselves of the racialists and roleplayers who cling to and ultimately pollute polytheism. Stop worrying about [ethnic group] and just make your own, modern thing, people.

Of Axe and Plough

Identity formation is an ongoing process – achieved through both interactions with groups of individuals consisting of a common outlook, and through performative actions of rituals throughout life (Khademi-Vidra, 2014). How they form, are applied through the self or from external sources, and how they are integrated has spawned a century-old subfield of sociology, which only briefly will be spoken about here.

In the modern world, identity formation and enactment is often stripped from individual and communal spaces, largely through a combination of socio-economic forces that dismantles in order to replace in the service of its own ends – that is, the exploitation of capital (Krawec, 2022). Social spaces and relationships which would otherwise ground and offer foundation to one’s identity are destroyed; in its place a deep-rooted insecurity and longing for a sense-of-self is erected, as neighborhoods, ties to location and history, and even family ties are all uprooted…

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Of Twisted Brambles & Thorns: A Short Ramble About Belatucadros


I’ve really wanted to write something here for the past few days, but my mind has been all over the place. It’s difficult to focus on something trivial, like a blog post, when the world is teetering on the brink of nuclear war. Between feeling utter despair about that and playing video games to try and decontaminate my brain, I just haven’t been in the correct mindset to put my thoughts into words. 

There’s something therapeutic about blogging for me, though. It takes all the clatter from my head and gives it a place to settle. That’s why I’m forcing myself to write right now – so I can free up some hard drive space and detox. 

Heidi Hall recently wrote a really good article about Rosmerta of Roanoke where she used the local environment and lore to really flesh out this local manifestation. I decided I wanted to do something similar with Belatucadros, since he has recently become a central figure in my praxis. 

In terms of existing information about Belatucadros, we don’t have an awful lot to work with. There are roughly 28 known inscriptions dedicated to him, all of which were discovered in the vicinity of the Northwestern section of Hadrian’s Wall. It seems his cult appealed to the lower echelons of Romano-British society, since most of the altars are small, crude and lacking sufficient space for a dedicant’s name. The inscriptions also present a wide array of spelling variations, suggesting his worshippers may not have been overly proficient in the use of Latin (ie: native Britons).

Many authors default to referring to Belatucadros as simply a “martial deity”, which is understandable, but not exactly the most nuanced or helpful take. I mean, yeah, his cult sites were adjacent to military installations and he was paired with Mars in about five inscriptions, but surely there was more to him than just, “RAAAAR!! BATTLE!!” Especially when we consider even Mars was far more multifaceted than that. 

When we look at Belatucadros next to Cocidius – another so-called “martial deity,” who received cult around Hadrian’s Wall – we start to see a more nuanced picture. Where Belatucadros’ altars were gifted by solitary, lower-ranked individuals, Cocidius’ were made by officers and entire units. Georgia L. Ilby-Massie suggests this was down to their spheres of influence, suggesting Belatucadros may have been seen as something of a protective deity of the average soldier on the limes. 

No definite depictions of Belatucadros exist, unfortunately, though images of horned figures wielding a shield and spear have been discovered in close proximity to his cult sites. Regarding this, Ilby-Massie states:

“No surviving altar preserves a depiction of Belatucadrus, and no other iconography of the god exists, but it is possible that Belatucadrus was one of the horned deities pictured on numerous uninscribed altars from the Hadrianic limes, since his votives coincide roughly with the horned god monuments. A relief of a naked and armed horned god was found near an altar dedicated to Belatucadrus at Maryport.  At Netherby, where Belatucadrus was honored with a dedicated altar, a ram-horned head is distinguished by its gouged-out hollow eyes suggestive of the eyes of the dead supporting a connection between the horned god and the cult of the dead. Reliefs of horned deities together with undecorated invocations to Belatucadrus have also surfaced at Burgh-by-Sands.”  (pp.117)

Etymologically speaking, Belatucadros’ name is a bit of a mystery. The most prominent translation you tend to see strewn all over the interwebs is, “Fair Slayer,” or “Fair Shining One”. This etymology is fairly spotty, though, and relies pretty heavily on Proto-Indo-European, *bʰel-, meaning, “shiny,” or “white”. A second etymology – and the one I prefer – stems from Proto-Celtic, *blatu-/*belatu-, “flower,” “blossom,” and *catric-, “fortification,” which would make his name something akin to “Hedgerow”. Xavier Delamarre provides a third possibility in the form of, “Fragrant/Floral Beau.” 

Bearing all of this information in mind, it’s much easier to formulate a foundation to build off of. 

The idea of a God presiding over the individual and the common person is definitely appealing. I am just a working class dude with a blue collar job, after all. Couple that with the fact that I work in a vocation that requires me to secure buildings and be vigilant about trespassers, and it just seems like a good fit. 

I’ve also taken to reciting a short prayer to Belatucadros prior to work, attaching him firmly to my daily routine. The prayers change slightly each day, as I typically improvise them, but the general idea remains the same. Here’s a sample of what one of my prayers to Belatucadros might look like. 

Bedecked with thorns
Lord of spear and of shield
I call to thee

I ask for your protection this day
Your guidance
Please see my day free from harm, toil and hardship
And may it be filled with joviality and kindnesses 
If it so pleases you

Let those who trespass against me be met with your wrath
Gore them with your horns
And your blade

May your voice be as mine
And may your strength be as mine
See me returned safely to hearth warm and waiting 
At the end of the day

Based on the “Hedgerow” etymology, his connections to Hadrian’s Wall and my own intuition, I see Belatucadros as a vigilant protector, a bulwark and warden. Because he sits between the civilized world and the wilderness beyond the wall, he also strikes me as a liminal deity, intercessor and walker of margins. It’s for this reason that I’ve started petitioning him as a gatekeeper (in the same vein as Janus) at the beginning of each rite I perform. This in-between nature might also tie into Ilby-Massie’s theory about horned deities being related in some way to death and the dead, perhaps suggesting some sort of psychopompic function.

Now, considering Belatucadros’ propensity towards protection and alleviating the plight of the common man, I’m going to close this post with a link to some organizations dedicated to helping the people of Ukraine. May Belatucadros’ thorns encircle and protect the Ukrainian people against their aggressors. Слава Україні!

Rosmerta of Roanoke: Our Lady of the Valley

Excellent article, this. When I refer to the regionalization and personalization of polytheistic religion, this is the sort of thing I’m referring to.

The Wind's Eye

Local Gods hold a special place in my particular religion, where I emphasize connection and interdependence. I’ve always been drawn to building relationships with the spirits that surround me, even from a young age when I didn’t explicitly identify as pagan. Going into the woods as a kid, I tried to feel out the spirits of the trees, the living breath of the forest. I craved those immediate, commonplace connections, discovering the hidden holiness around me, and a feeling of intimacy with a place, before I had any interest in petitioning more widespread and historically attested Gods.

When I first visited Roanoke six years ago, I was captivated by it. I loved the small but cosmopolitan energy of the place — the silver whale of the ultramodern Taubman Museum cresting above the late 19th century brick market and railway buildings, the sprawling Tudor-style monolith of the Hotel Roanoke and the…

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Transitions and Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes


My transition from practising “Anglo-Saxon Heathendom,” to doing what I do now was something of a strange and unexpected journey. I’ve been told my experiences in that regard might actually be helpful to others who are struggling to find their identity and are considering making the big leap to the next incarnation of their spirituality. 

For those who aren’t aware, I was a practising “Anglo-Saxon Heathen,” for about a decade. I was involved in various groups and projects related to ASH during that period, and was one half of Larhus Fyrnsida (the other being my bro, Marc). I was so deeply entrenched in that, I never imagined there would come a time when the old spark would fizzle out and I’d feel the need to move on. 

To be honest, I’d felt disenchanted with ASH for quite a while by the time I left. I had long been jamming square pegs into round holes in a ham fisted attempt to make ASH a viable religious expression. In the process, I came to realize that the more I added from Graeco-Roman and British sources, the more my religion began to look like a fusion of those two things rather than anything that could be considered identifiably “Anglo-Saxon”. Couple that with the fact that I was becoming increasingly uneasy about using the term, “Anglo-Saxon,” as an identifier, and it’s not hard to see why I moved on. 

It wasn’t until I got really sick during the Summer of last year that things sort of fell apart. I’d long been struggling with a mystery ailment (which I now know is a form of inflammatory arthritis), and I was struck with a particularly nasty bout of it. My mental health also took a turn for the worse as a result, and at a time when I should have been most able to lean on my spirituality and my Gods, I just… felt nothing. It’s as if the religion I’d helped Frankenstein together with Marc had finally come away at the seams and all its deficiencies (and mine) were exposed. I spent years helping to build a house that I ultimately did not want to live in.

I spent the next 4 months off work dealing with doctors and various changes to my medications. At that time, my practice had completely dried up and I felt I wasn’t in the correct headspace to communicate with people outside my house, let alone commune with a higher power. 

Once my mental and physical health began to get back on track, I felt like I’d just woken up from a lengthy coma. I couldn’t even reconcile who I was before with who I’d become during the sick times. The ordeal had provided me with a new perspective on… basically everything, as well as a desire to reintegrate religion into my life in a more honest and organic way. I’d done enough of the aforementioned jamming of pegs into holes and I figured it was time to abandon that method and start anew. 

The transition to something new was not as I expected. In my mind, I always figured if I went on to do something different, there would be a lot of transferring like for like and very little, outside the finer details, would really change. As it turns out, that was not the case at all for me. I’d follow the threads as they appeared and I’d often find myself at unexpected destinations.  I thought my previous relationship with Wada, for instance, would see me automatically pulled towards Nodens, yet my gut told me they had less in common than I’d originally assumed. My gut became an indispensable tool in finding my way. I’d have a dream, draw a picture or write a prayer and something would click and I’d just get that “well, that’s fucking cool!” jackpot feeling and know I’m on the right track with a thing. I like to draw images of deities to see where they take me, and sometimes, as was the case with Andescociuoucos, the finished illustration broadens my understanding of them. It’s a weird thing, but it seems to work for me. Dreams have also been important, and have helped shape my understanding of both Sulis and Cranos. 

That’s the beauty of just…letting go and allowing things to happen organically rather than trying desperately to build something that adheres to romantic notions concerning extinct ethnic groups. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not a Saxon, Roman, Briton, or whatever. I’m just a modern dude with sore bones that has thoughts, experiences and ideas that might not mesh perfectly with those of a bunch of people who lived millennia ago, and that’s cool. When the shit hits the proverbial fan, I’d much rather lean on something personal, innovative, fluid and evolving, than on something that seems accurate to a time and place I am not in.

“When a cat falls out of a tree, it lets go of itself. The cat becomes completely relaxed, and lands lightly on the ground.

But if a cat were about to fall out of a tree and suddenly make up its mind that it didn’t want to fall, it would become tense and rigid, and would be just a bag of broken bones upon landing.

In the same way, it is the philosophy of the Tao that we are all falling off a tree, at every moment of our lives.

As a matter of fact, the moment we were born we were kicked off a precipice and we are falling, and there is nothing that can stop it.

So instead of living in a state of chronic tension, and clinging to all sorts of things that are actually falling with us because the whole world is impermanent, be like a cat.”

-Alan Watts, What is Tao?