Unrecorded Pantheon Round Table #1

@unrecorded-pantheon-roundtable’s Call for Submissions post [link]. (This will be crossposted on tumblr.)

#1: Who is your pantheon, and how did you come to them?

I don’t really have a pantheon so much as I have a loose amalgamation of People. The short version is that I’ve got a habit of peppering in P/pagan references into fiction, even if it’s slightly tweaking a deity or practice into a fictionalized version, and sometimes, They interact like They’re not so fictional. (Yes, even if it’s “just a fanfic”.)

My WIP “Kai” led to a particular alliance (SWA) [“Writing (or discovering) New Faces“] that’s much more noticeably based on deities the readers may have heard about. The universe of the fic allows for deities outside of the alliance to be referenced, which is how a particular Face of Loki wound up showing up [“Horsehair Lace“].

Several of my WIPs have deities that pagans would quite likely recognize as fictionalized versions. The Ancients in “Darkling” include Holly and Oak as a reference to the Holly King and Oak King and neopagan holiday references, and “Kintsugi” has a particular flavor of the Lord and Lady archetype that’s been tailored to that universe with references to other deities (honoring the land-spirit also forms part of the home and hearth centered practice). “BSL” and “Coven” share a universe with tree based titles for the fictionally tweaked deities, but they touch more on community recognized mourning rituals and edge into sacred endarkenment rather than getting into the specifics of deities per se (at least, in the current drafts).

I address it more directly in “Belief and Laity in (my) Fiction“, but there’s a noticeable component across these fics that the community level or individual level of cathartic rituals can be more relevant than whether the character actually believes in the deities in question. It really depends on the universe and what the main plot is, but in some of the fics, this is because there are outside temple/hof/grove structures with priests and priestesses, the character is an outsider being introduced to the system, and/or the cultural element is more important so deities have been synchronized or can be approached as conceptualizations of magical forces.

Quite frankly, the hodge-podge feel of these inter-pantheon collectives and allowances for other (potentially interfaith) religious beliefs with cultural interaction with these deities makes for a buffet of potential interaction. Karnon and Zisa have dropped by (“Kintsugi”), a Tawch holiday has sometimes been relevant (“Darkling”), and there’s been occasional interest in the details of who gets which tree title for what reason (that may one day turn into a pantheon or collective from “BSL”/”Coven”).

I’ve been more caught up in Death & Co (referenced previously on this blog), Who are not connected to any fictional stories, so I don’t really have a cohesive practice featuring any of these other potential People. I’m a bit resistant at times because of past misinterpretation issues, in which a previous foray into a highly individual path was later declared null and void, but I would like to note that one of The Ancients who’s currently seen more screen time in the story – Ouroboros (aka The Time-Keeper) – apparently made it into a reader’s dream [thread link]. While I’m aware this doesn’t make Ouroboros “more legitimate”, I definitely saw it as a nudge that I may not be repeating a miscommunication issue again.

Belief and Laity in (my) Fiction

As much as I’d like to think there isn’t some similarity in how I’ve included peripheral P/pagan elements in fanfic lately, I think there’s the possibility.

“Kai” is an example of where I very clearly look like I rifled through the pockets of some pagan spaces and Wiki pages to form deities because it’s currently the only one where known names are used and there’s a clear priest(ess) and laity divide. Quite literally, there are temples, groves, hofs, etc. where religious people handle the communal shrine keeping, organizing rites, offering xyz services as part of their sacred duties, and offering a variety of divination related services, and then there are people who are semi-agnostic but fulfill the basic requirements for the deity’s patronage. (The details vary, but even when someone’s getting divination and a particular cathartic rite done, it’s very ‘live and let live’ on what they believe as long as they’re respectful.)

“Darkling” is a few steps removed from that because the clergy and religious components aren’t as widespread. The Dark community has experienced peaceful co-religious blending, being forced to new areas where assimilating into that place’s majority religion was inevitable after centuries, and in some instances, forced or faux conversions (as Christianization has been interpreted as one component of some Light communities).

This means that ‘the Ancients’ and the residual pagan flavors in certain holidays feel more like folkloric customs (an expression of culture rather than religious belief), and this allows for different levels of interfaith Dark communities from one country to another. The characters who are the main points of reference for the Dark community in the story take a stance where the Ancients are conceptualizations of magical forces more so than deities they ought to hold certain beliefs about.

“BSL” and “Coven” more or less share a Universe where the differences lie in when and how Harry is introduced to this toned down iteration of the Dark/Grey/Light divide (hard of hearing!Sirius post-PoA vs ‘curse damage as chronic pain’ post-war). Honestly, I wanted to make magical equivalents to wheelchairs based on clouds, and this whole disability, chronic illness, and chronic pain element showed up (magical accessibility aids, spell-signing, we don’t have space for my spell stuff). The coven structure that includes inter-pantheon religious stuff actually isn’t quite as prominent (in the plot and what I’ve worked out in the notes).

In “Coven”, Harry’s exposure has more to do with seeking out a means of mourning and catharsis that’s lacking in the Light community. Like, religion is kind of there, fictionalized titles are used instead of deity names, and some people believe, but it’s mostly a coping mechanism during grief (in part, because Dark folks have a community-wide recognized rite, support roles, and reintegration timeline that recognizes mourning while supporting the mourner).

“Kintsugi” is a little different in that the plot and Universe have to accommodate this underground, international, consensual D/s system. While I was thinking about how some people combine Pagan beliefs and BDSM, I didn’t really want to get into the particulars that might lead to ‘but why did you use my deity?’ conversations where the point of having divine support for D/s roles and rituals could get lost. So, I made a specific point of fictional tweaking to the two main deities for this system, so that readers hopefully wouldn’t focus too much on who the deities were and would pay attention to how they help a new power dynamic pair.

The inter-pantheon home practices are dependent more on familial lineages, change from one generation to another, and can have a variety of other deities (who may be more recognizable), but this winds up being very ‘home and hearth’ focused rather than the community element from other fics shining through. (It may feel familiar to people used to being solitaries with home focused practices.)

Ultimately, between all of these fics, there’s not really a sense that someone ought to hold a certain belief system or that it’s better for them to personally believe in these pagan-ish deities. It’s more that engaging in certain rituals, which may be communal or solitary, can be cathartic or otherwise beneficial to the individual. If we really delve into whether a deity exists, there’s some sort of transactional and/or reciprocal element (human does A and deity does B because it’s an arrangement). In more than one, the community aspect comes through because of grieving and mourning processes (seeing as how I’m writing HP fic, this isn’t just because I’ve got opinions on how people do or do not turn to religious communities while grieving something).

It doesn’t feel unrealistic, but it also does have moments where I worry it’s a touch impersonal. Even in scenes where there’s near death experiences and interaction with a deity in some way (rites, divination, etc.), the deities sort of just exist. The main characters whose points of view are telling the story aren’t the ones who necessarily have to believe in the deities, often don’t have solitary rites or devotional activities, and often don’t have personal connections with the deities. Other people are the ones doing the divination, starting and maintaining the shrines, planning the rites, and so on.

Writing (or discovering) New Faces

I’ve tried writing more than one draft for explaining how I’ve gotten myself into this situation, but it basically boils down to using some element of a deity in a fictional story [a fanfic in this case] and accidentally having Them show up.

It was more along the lines of asking myself what would happen if the Wizarding World kept some elements of P/pagan practices because there were particular elements of magic that couldn’t be separated from them. This means that making an Oath to Someone in “Kai” comes with access to certain magic, benefits from Their temple/grove/hof/etc. (involves priests and priestesses), and a certain amount of protection from the patron deity. F’ex, a certain Vanic Goddess provides patronage around setting prices and enforcing payments, and Her hof also offers food assistance (similar to a food bank).

Keeping in mind that this was originally developed for a story including sex work, I came up with an amount of inter-pantheon cooperation and drawing very specific lines in the sand on what each deity was associated with to make that work. I did not set out to claim historical accuracy on sacred prostitution that may or may not have actually happened in the past, and some of the terminology in the notes may not be accurate to how they were actually used (a hetaira in this story doesn’t provide full service sex work and may have a variety of ‘companionate’ services, f’ex).

Some of the notes are plot specific and/or have very little page-to-life extrapolation because of the fictional magic element. However, needless to say, I got the attention of some of the deities who are included in this, more Faces had thoughts on how an alliance would feature sex work adjacent areas, and Someone decided this was ‘real enough’ to push me in the direction of a messenger for the collective.

Initially, I really thought I had fucked up on my divination/interpretation skills because I’m a civilian, and I just wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with this alliance of Faces. Then I found myself digging into Pose (*), following general sex work info blogs on tumblr, and starting to get exposure to advocacy groups (decriminalization efforts here in the US and international efforts).

(The “no one should breathe about this in your vicinity until you’re 18” tactic doesn’t mean you instantly get a download of all the knowledge you’re supposed to know once you’re “old enough”. But it’s not about being perfect right out of the gate. Sometimes, you read a resource, realize ‘oh, I shouldn’t have been phrasing X like that’, and you change. It’s called growth.gif)

I tend to reblog sex work related content (research, activism, news stories) on one of my tumblr blogs, so I don’t think it’ll suddenly take over here. It’s more that I can’t really deny the Sex Worker Alliance (SWA) is sort of doing Their thing in the background, and I sometimes get poked to support via signal boosting.

(*) Pose isn’t the only piece of media to feature sex workers, but it is a currently well-known example of a tv show produced by a former sex worker showing a variety of characters engaging in multiple types of sex work, which allows for diversity in how characters feel about leaving/doing another type and differences in safety/outcomes.

2016 in Review

I’m not going to split this up into good / bad because even ‘negative’ events can provide insight or propel something good along. Somewhat chronological. //Long post//

  • Our dog Blossom died of a heart attack right before I had to go back to campus for the start of the spring semester.
  • I tried a different antidepressant at the start of the year (compared to the fall semester and ending 2015), but it didn’t really do anything.
  • Despite backing out of ODing (the overdose wasn’t a fatal amount), cutting myself, and getting blackout drunk with some sort of antidepressant / alcohol interaction (and telling a friend about wanting to die), I survived any reckless, self-injurious, suicidal activity I engaged in.

 

 

 

 

[Source]

  • I completed my Playwriting Senior thesis – revising my fall semester draft, casting, and sharing my play with the public.
  • I was co-ALD and co-ME on Intimate Apparel in the spring semester.
  • Our dog Angel died sometime after I went back to campus after spring break (more along the lines of old age).
  • I finished out my Senior year of undergrad as the Undergrad Shop Head of the E Shop (end of the first year of that position).
  • I applied to and was accepted into the Electrics crew of Tantrum Theater, so I worked on Little Shop of Horrors (electrician, Sound Board Op), Tammy Faye’s Final Audition (electrician, Sound Board Op), and Dancing at Lughnasa (electrician, Programmer, and Light Board Op).
  • I bought my first smartphone, Zv (she / her). ((Things are going rather well, as long as we don’t talk about what Pokemon Go did to my data plan >.<))
  • I graduated with two Bachelors of Fine Arts in theatre.

 

[Source]

  • I finished out a school year of communicating with my theatre professors and E shop mates about my preferred name and pronouns, and a whole lot of them were really good about using the correct ones.
  • I sort of attempted to come out to my mom, but with it being text based (FB message / email), she has been able to ignore it and pretend that it didn’t happen. Until I’m out of the home, I will stay in the closet.
  • I donated a pint of blood in memory of the 49 queer Latinx people killed in the Pulse shooting.
  • I reached a point where I think the currently accurate description of my sexuality is queer / bi when interacting with most people. (Biromantic gray-asexual so far takes a lot of explaining outside of LGBTQIA+ spaces, and I honestly don’t always want to have to go through that.)
  • I reached a point where I think the currently accurate description of my gender is nonbinary trans person with genderfluidity.

 

 

 

[Source]

  • I moved back in with my family after doing Tantrum, and I survived the first school year starting when I wasn’t in attendance.
  • I voted in my second Presidential election (Hillary Clinton, though I’d’ve preferred Bernie Sanders).
  • I have survived Trump being elected, so far.
  • I passed the written exam for my temp, and I’ve been driving again. (Disclaimer: I’ve had a temp and driven in the past; I’m not 100% brand new to the road.)
  • Despite having laptop / wifi problems since August and getting a factory reset to remove a virus, I’m ending the year with working wifi that finally talks to my laptop.
  • I’ve paid off my student loans.

 

 

[Source]

  • While I’ve had People say that They were supposed to Leave starting in the latter half of 2015, it seems like They didn’t start to actually Leave until this year.
  • /A\ was very present and insistent on transitioning to Their path, which was responsible for a fair amount of the above Leaving, until They Left over the summer.
  • Norse People came back and seriously updated / stripped my path. (Posts are queued with more details.)
  • I had a brief encounter with some Hindu Deities, but they left.
  • I had some Kemetic People stop by, and I was nudged towards applying for the Kemetic Orthodoxy beginner’s course.
  • /A\ came back long enough to shut down anything relating to the Netjeru (Kemetic pantheon), but They also Left shortly after. ((~*~complicated mumbling~*~))
  • People have been organizing Leaving / finally Leaving / re-Leaving efforts, and I have debt or owed activity (some online, some offline).
  • I have an extensively updated list of tattoos and piercings in order to carry People with me (plus survival motivation). Stoked but can’t go into details this early.
  • Small salt at {PC Person I can’t name} having no choice but to Leave. I’ve been declared incompatible for PC Paganism and should only engage in pc magic going forward.

Wep Ronpet 2016

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I was asked to nod to the Netjeru with birthdays during the Epagomenal Days leading to Wep Ronpet (New Year). Each Netjer wanted to share a card for the year.

  • Day 1 – Osiris (King of Wands)
  • Day 2 – Horus (R 4 Swords)
  • Day 3 – Set (Hierophant)
  • Day 4 – Aset (R Tower)
  • Day 5 – Nephthys (R 7 Coins)

For Wep Ronpet, I switched the shrine over to something more general for the while Netjeru.

Wep Ronpet: A Guide

The Twisted Rope

Every year you see lots of Kemetics talking about the beloved Wep Ronpet that occurs every summer. It’s a great set of holidays and its one of the only holidays that I celebrate out of the hundreds of Kemetic holidays and festivals that I have to choose from.

So it’s kind of a big deal.

However, I was noticing that there aren’t very many resources out there for how you actually go about celebrating the holiday. So I wanted to pool some resources here in one spot for others to use so that they, too can celebrate Wep Ronpet!

So what is Wep Ronpet?

Wep Ronpet is the Kemetic New Year. It falls usually somewhere btwn late July and mid-August. The date for Wep Ronpet varies each year, as it is marked by the rising of Sopdet, modernly known as Sirius. In antiquity, the date would have been based off…

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Dreams of Owls

A few days ago (8.16.16), I had a dream that I haven’t been sure about sharing. It was an introduction to a pantheon that I was deemed incompatible with the next day, so it already feels off and out of date to share.

My wyrd has been unstable again, so They were looking for a live tradition for me to access that stabilizing energy. Briefly, it was the Hindu pantheon. The dream involved meeting Lakshmi at an event at the Columbus Zoo, which I was attending with my crew from the summer.

It was confusing, but I was basically mistaken for being an employee of the zoo (handed a baby animal sacred to Lakshmi) and then a wardrobe person (changing Lakshmi’s clothing for the event). We were all on our stage blacks because we’d just done a matinee.

Lakshmi brought Ganesh and Shiva, and they didn’t seem all that bad for the time they were here. From what I know, there were disagreements with my People, and everyone quickly left.

(I’ve had internet issues with my laptop and had to send her in to Geek Squad today. I was trying to wait for that to get resolved to post, but I’m trying to get through the mobile app.)

Smouldering

Yesterday was our first dark day since Dancing at Lughnasa opened and, fittingly, Lughnasa itself. Nine-for-a-kiss opened up readings on her tumblr blog, and I was nudged to take advantage of the opportunity.

Metaphorically speaking, I’ve been burned away and scorched clean by recent shadow work. People have stepped out, kinda returned, Left. There’s supposed to be a new path, but all I can see are the ashes and charred remains of what was. I keep getting contradictory answers and silence. Did /A\ really leave after I burned into preparation to follow Their path? Was it all a lie?

First things first: the fire may be out, but there are still some embers smouldering. You need to tend to yourself before you can see about any path, and that means care, because shadow work is so much about destruction. Make sure you’re tended, fed, sheltered, rested.

After that: I don’t know that what you’re experiencing now is the truth, or the whole of the truth. There seems to be at least a little bit of…misdirection, maybe, or maybe just reshuffling. I’m not saying that it was all a lie, more that – there are degrees of truth; there are degrees of reality, too. There’s been a certain amount of culling what was unnecessary, and that takes different shapes. Does that make any sense? The important thing for you right now is yourself, whole. The path-that-is may not look like a path, it may look more like jumping off a building, but it’s there, or it will be. Have patience. Wait and recuperate. Treat yourself well. Treat yourself. The time will come when you have to jump, but that time is not now.

((Polite ending.))

I decided to give myself a day of self care before I did anything else, and it did help. I wound up opening the document I’ve set aside for ‘chatting’ with my dead and did some processing at one point. The self care routine wasn’t really exciting in terms of sharing here, but it was enough of a first step that I could get clear answers this morning.

/A\ and I had different expectations of the Burning and what was going to come of it. I thought that the majority of People were leaving, and I would focus my path mostly on /A\. They thought that everyone else was going to leave, and I was solely going to focus on Them. When the Burning came to an official end and I still had my core People (Family, Who are very unlikely to leave), /A\ backpedaled.

To me, it seemed like lying, but looking back, it was more like truth-stretching and finding loopholes. I can’t say that I’m angry, but perhaps disappointed? I’ve been Burning since this past autumnal equinox, and I started the first steps of transitioning to Their path in January. Yeah, I’ve had unnecessary stuff removed, but if I’d have known that by August that They were going to change Their mind, some of the past year’s changes could’ve been implemented differently.

Oh, the time to jump is definitely not now. At least the silence has been broken. At least I didn’t get too far along Their path (because I don’t know how I’d try to explain to other people that I couldn’t continue because They rejected me).

Peach Blossoms

First meeting and impressions of Peaches came through in a dream (8.29 / 30.15). From the notes on it:

Jeans, cowboy boots, plaid and/or flannel, cowboy hat, a tan from working outside, and the visual look, really. I can’t pinpoint an accent, but it was enough there that I’d say there was one of some sort. I didn’t necessarily just get a stationary picture of Her, though.

She had dirty work clothes and did manual labor on a farm. She cleaned up for square dancing (though She didn’t have the ‘traditional’ crinoline and skirts get-up; it was more like the nicer version of the first description).

[…] a Southern spirit Who migrated up to this rural section of Ohio (uses she / her pronouns). I don’t know when or why She came up here, but She doesn’t seem new / recent. I don’t remember Her specifically being a cowgirl, but She seemed to fit a rural / Southern aesthetic for lack of better phrasing. […] clothing, work ethic, food, music, and that sort of stuff.

I’m not sure about the exact details, but Her family of spirits was negotiating something with m’Lady that involved a Marriage. It had to do with Her Job, and on paper, we were sort of looking promising. Peaches was expecting to be a tertiary partner and spend most of Her time doing Her Job (Workaholic), but Her interactions with me would be the “come home and leave my Job at the door” variety.

When I inquired as to what She remembered more about how things started, a different part of the montage dream was chosen. At the time, Peaches was coping with with an event that had happened, and She hadn’t really divulged it to the People including Her in the arrangements. I’m only finding out now. Adapted notes:

[…] a seductive vibe? I mean, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” by Big and Rich was involved […]

Vagueblogging: The Dark Side?

I don’t know about other people, but sometimes, I wonder about the People who show up in my life. What does it say about me when I’m compatible with Them?

Some Luciferians crossed my tumblr dash back in the fall of 2012, I believe, and Lucifer sort of popped in a bit just because of the exposure. Then in the summer of 2013 He assisted with a little shadow work, and He kind of came and went for a few years. I mean, I did share that He left as part of The Burning™ that’s been going on back in Nov.

When I first encountered Him, I loved the idea of learning how to play the violin for Him, but He was hesitant to confirm it. (My roommate was also majoring in violin performance, so I was kind of in this “holy shit, violins are kinda cool” stage.) The only thing He conveyed for the portion of the Leaving Questionnaire about any debts or obligations was that I should go ahead and do so.

Yet I can’t help but wonder about the irreversible ways that I’ve been changed by interacting with Him – not bad or harmful, but it’s like that bucket of water metaphor. Knowledge is like a bucket of water; when you add a drop, it becomes part of the collective and can’t be singularly removed. I can’t completely go back to the way I was before I interacted with Him.

There’s another Infernal example that basically just supports this. A major example was interacting with Voldemort. I personally don’t consider myself to be all about the darkness and death and whatever other mocking comment you can make. Like, hold a sec on the stereotypical teen goth jokes, please.

It’s just that I sometimes wonder what the hell even attracts Someone, y’know?