(Source.) I’ve been nudged towards Arsvantan, so I thought I’d share a little something on it. A transcription is below the cut.
I have spent a fair bit of time compiling information on the Vanir and Jotnar that related to my path (UPG), which did include info that were seeds from others. Y’know, all that stuff that probably seemed weird – Families, Tribes, Tolkien crossover with the Vanir (including Quenya or Tolkien Elvish), the separate but interconnected calendars of holy days. People have been slowly trimming away elements that snuck in from other people, but with all The Burning and stuff, it’s been more like They just want me to walk away now.
It’s not that everything was false; it’s almost like I was getting a set of Faces where that info was true and now new Faces have turned. I’ve been hoping that I don’t seem too jaded to Them, but at a certain point, I can’t make guarantees. There’s this thing where I wind up attracting expected Faces instead of actually getting through to the Face I was supposed to, and They’ve always planned on stripping away unnecessary outside influence, and Burning and Leaving just exponentially sped this up.
I’m honestly more tired than anything. It’s like I’m in this halfway stage where all I can really see is all of the debt that I have to repay to different People before They can officially and permanently Leave. Anyways, some of that debt involves activity and final posts here on WP.
I get bothered by gods, well, fairly frequently I suppose. I don’t personally see it as such myself, but that’s what happens when you live in the thick of it. However from an outsider’s perspective looking in on the vague posts I make, it could seem as though my entire life is a giant way station for some new god to appear and go, “hey, hi. I’m here,” or something like that.
I can definitely say that things used to work that way; they don’t anymore. It seemed like once a month or so, some deity was jumping off the train with some baggage and a sign that said, “Satsekhem: look at me!” At first, I tried to accommodate and wound up in that deity collecting phase that drove me up a flipping wall. I would take one look at whoever the new deity was, roll my eyes as theatrically…
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The topic of godspousery can be controversial. You go through a ritual marriage ceremony and interact with that Deity as a Husband / Wife / Spouse, basically. Within the Heathen (or related) communities, I think someone once said that wives of Odin were the first to speak about this, but most people think of wives of Loki. I don’t know if there was a real boost in relation to the DC movie, but it became a bit of a trend to mock presumably teenage girls for being new spouses of His.
I know I’ve seen other examples cross my dash / reader (Hellenic and Kemetic deities), but I’m not as involved in those communities. Some people don’t want to deal with the backlash and don’t talk about this, and some people want to provide resources and wind up talking about this more. I haven’t really delved into the specific communities for human spouses because I didn’t want to have to unlearn the comparisons and what others were being asked to do.
I’ve gotten hints that I should keep godspousery in mind over the past few years, and I’ve been allowed to refer to m’Lady as my Wife-to-be in some places. Recently, I don’t think that label fits us anymore. Yes, I love m’Lady, and I strive for being Her Home, and as far as I can tell, She does love and care for me. I don’t think this is limited to being a godspouse, though, and I don’t think that we need the extra ritual and Oathing that a marriage ritual would entail.
In terms of describing what we are, I’d say that what I’ve mostly used – Beloved – still stands. To me, this doesn’t carry any associations of marriage yet still conveys that this is someone I love. I haven’t really had to refer to myself in this aspect, but I guess ‘loved one’ could work. I have nothing against godspouses or spiritspouses, but I just don’t think we’re actually in line with those relationship models.
When I first started writing pieces (before #sccwriting), I was relatively fresh off reading material from other people who definitely claim the godslave label. I’ve bounced around along the path of trying to live the goal of following m’Lady since then, and it was only recently that I was asked to return to this matter. The rest of this is based on my impressions, and I am definitely not trying to be an authoritative voice on this. YMMV, you do you, etc.
There’s a mix of preferred titles, connotation / baggage, and the extent of control that a sub hands over to their Dominant when I try to mentally separate a godslave from a servant. I think of a servant as being work oriented, and they may not hand over control of an area that isn’t related to the work. The Dominant could still be an Owner, but I’m more likely to think of Boss. When it comes to godslavery, I definitely think of the Dominant as the Owner, and I associate handing over the most amount of control with this dynamic. Realistically, you can’t reach 100%, but I don’t think anyone’s talked of an area that always stayed off limits.
When we were first starting along this path, m’Lady stressed handing over control and that She owned me. There wasn’t really work per se, or an assignment, so I didn’t think that serving quite described us. However, there’s connotation wrapped in these labels that I think nudged me away from using “godslave” a lot in the beginning. There is consensual sexual slavery, but I’m honestly not sure that that’s the first association that people have with slavery because of the very non-consensual kidnapping and human and/or sex trafficking that happens. I’m aware that the people writing about godslavery initially were talking about situations in which they didn’t really have a lot of say in declining this dynamic (tied into the death / rebirth process of being a spirit-worker in their paths), but I’ve been under the impression that this isn’t the norm.
When I think of a servant, I can see someone having more say in becoming one. I have a feeling this may not be true all of the time historically, but there’s only so much history that I – someone who isn’t a history buff – can bring into the effort of defining words that seem rather recent in getting a name. I think of butlers, ladies in waiting, and people who are almost like live-in assistants in working with someone else towards a goal. I think there was a stress on Ownership and handing over control in the beginning because it was new more so than that being a focal point in our relationship.
m’Lady still owns me, but it’s not as prominent. The title Owner is in storage more so than having been discarded, if that makes sense? It seems like godslavery is a lifetime commitment, but I think being a servant can also entail that commitment. Granted, the first example I can think of entails a fictional medieval setting, but I don’t want to feel like I have to use the godslave label in order to convey this sense of longevity. I know this probably looks like drawing very particular lines in the sand when some people view these terms as overlapping and sometimes being synonymous; I’ve been trying to see if I can figure out why I’ve been drawn more to the servant label than godslave.
* * Note: I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I err on the side of caution and use “Spirit Guardian” or something close instead of using “totem” (that term is specifically tied into certain Native American / First Nation cultures). I typically don’t write about these Beings – however you want to refer to them – so I may not be perfect in not using totem.
How I use Spirit Guardian – the representative spirit of a particular species who acts as a guardian, overseer, “Phone” answer-er, ambassador, etc. for the living members of the species. I honestly don’t know exactly where they reside, but it’s some sort of spiritual / astral / not-here realm, so I’m prone to assuming that other information about spirits and communicating with them (for example) can apply here.
My first exposure to Spirit Guardians was through Silver Ravenwolf in a section of one of her books about tapping into my personal power through interacting with them (I think that was the gist). I obviously wasn’t intrigued enough to continue looking into this at that time, and I kind of didn’t quite click with some of the dictionary styled information I found for the few times I considered interacting with Someone.
I also felt rather overwhelmed by some people talking about having multiple Serious Alliances with Spirit Guardians due to being spirit-workers, shamans, etc. I was new enough that I didn’t want to jump into such serious, committed, taboo heavy relationships with so many spirits. I’ve also found out along the way that I’m not wired for spirit-work in that capital W sense, and I didn’t really see a reason for Spirit Guardians to want to interact if I wasn’t going to do spirit-work.
At some point in the past few years, I wound up on Lupa’s blog and her talk of interacting with plant and fungi Spirit Guardians and bioregional / ecosystemic approaches have percolated. With various People advocating an environmentally friendly lifestyle and nature focused things, I’ve circled around to Spirit Guardians as potential Vanic allies in conservation efforts (not limited to that, though).
Having not jumped into a lot of the Wiccan / Neopagan books on this topic, I don’t think I’ll have to unlearn as much. I’ve also returned at different points to Lupa’s Totemism 201 masterpost (series isn’t complete, as far as I know):
I had a long conversation with an older close relative of mine over the holidays. He had overheard my sister, brother-in-law, and I talking about herbalism, permaculture, cultural shifts. This conversation was framed in the context of the recent Paris climate talks where it appears that world leaders agreed not to do anything for 15 years and in some future time, stave off too much of a temperature rise. After listening to us for a time, my relative indicated that anything that we would do would make “little to no difference” and that when we were his age (he’s in his late 60’s), we’d look back on our lives and regret not being able to do much; we’d certainly regret not being able to hope we had hoped to accomplish. The fact that we had “little money or resources” made this a certainty. He thought he was doing us a…
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I updated Feast of the Fallen to include:
Gorwerdë (from the Tolkien Elvish oak gorw + seed erdë) [gore-wur-day]. He is not the ‘King’ and does not hold the priest role associated with the ‘King’ as Nornoriel has described. While Gorwerdë has taken on the official role of Sacrifice, He isn’t as involved or interested in ambassador work as Frey in my experience, which is why I still encounter Frey as being the focus of this day’s activities.
So, I’ve wound up finding out that Star Mother, Horn Father, and the Serpent Twins have priests. They all have pools of priests with One as the ‘official priest’ because I have no terminology for these levels of priests / roles. When I refer to Them in my posts about the holy days, I’ve erred on the side of not being really confusing and used “priest of X”.
The priests serve as bridges to these harder to connect with Powers, and They can tap into the Hat / Title. This means that the official priest is called by the Name of the Who They are serving. The names as given to me are in Tolkien Elvish, so the English translation is the same as Who They’re serving (if we want to get specific).
However, when it comes to how I’ve interacted with these priests, I’ve more been getting a mix of Both (Whoever They’re serving + Them) that makes it hard to differentiate. I would have to rely on Whoever I was communicating with to be truthful in being ‘priest entirely passing on message’, ‘priest filling in holes of X’s initial message’, and ‘brief message entirely from X’. I may be able to build up a differentiation, but right now, I can’t.
- Priest of Star Mother
When I was under the assumption that I was interacting with the ‘Queen’ (as named by Nornoriel), it was actually Elenamil (from [Tolkien] Elvish star elen + mother amil) [ell-in uh-mill]. She also accepts Amya [ah-m yuh] (informal variation of “mother”) outside of formal rituals. She started out as One of the “daughters of the stars”.
- Priest of Horn Father
When I was under the impression that I was interacting with the ‘King’ (as named by Nornoriel), it was actually Tawaradar (from Elvish forest tawar + father adar) [tuh-war uh-d-are]. He also accepts Ada [ah-dah] (informal variation of “father”) outside of formal rituals. He started out as One of the “sons of the forest”.
- Priests of the Serpent Twins
These priests also share the names of Who They serve, but I’ve also run into the Serpent Twins going by different names than Nornoriel gave. One’s name is Coi (life) [coy], and the Other’s is Nuru (death) [ner-roo].
The Serpent Twins are the firstborn children of Star Mother and Horn Father and embody all possible sexualities and genders, but I do not encounter Them as being dead (as Nornoriel presents in his book Visions of Vanaheim). Due to being created first, They seem distant, and I don’t experience Them as being as connected to Midgard as Star Mother and Horn Father are (They Work in other Worlds more).
Their pool of priests “children of the void” are what we’d classify as gender nonconforming, not cis, and generally wibbly-wobbly, gendery-wendery. This occurs in all priesthoods, but there’s a higher rate in this one (not uncommon with Serpent affiliated People in other groups of Entities).
This is part of how I’ve run into personal deviations from what Nornoriel has presented as his upg.
I’m not sure I’ve seen someone point out a difference between an offering and a sacrifice like this [Why make offerings, anyway?]. I’m pretty sure past-me would have found it helpful because I tried not consuming edible offerings, and it doesn’t really work for me. I can understand the stance of composting food and pouring a drink outside, but I’m not in a position to do so.
For me, it literally amounts to throwing food away (or if I’m with my family, our dogs get the chance to finish off plates of food, so it fucks with the whole ‘don’t consume’ stance anyway). When I’m literally putting food in the trash, it’s really hard to accept “but the Deity ate it” when my mind is locked on “that’s perfectly good food, someone could eat this, you are wasting PERFECTLY GOOD FOOD”.
I don’t know if it was growing up and always being told to finish my plate, hearing a lot about food waste when talking about composting in classes, or some sort of compulsion, but I can’t throw away food that I could still eat. I’ve had to deal with overeating and setting specific boundaries on only being able to control what I do with my plate, in a manner of speaking.
(I love my one friend dearly, but the first time I ate dinner with her at a dining hall on-campus I had to fight some panic at her getting a plate of some sort of pasta product, taking one bite, and throwing the rest away. If she had said that the food was being offered to Someone, I still would’ve been panicky. It’s the literal food being thrown away, still.)
Wasting food is some sort of thing with me and my brain. It doesn’t matter how many people say that it’s rude, equivalent to stealing from the Gods, or not showing the proper devotion or piety. I can understand where traditions have rules about not consuming edible offerings, but someone throwing out Hellenic examples kind of misses the mark for me (because I’m not a Hellenic polytheist).
I know that some people are multi-trad and/or have side practices where they have to follow different rules and those rules can leak over into other practices sometimes. But my main problem with those making this argument was: 1) They talked like everyone in the ancient traditions did X just because the ancient Hellenics did X, 2) They took it upon themselves to define how poor someone else could be before they could consume offerings, 3) They talked like they wanted / expected everyone else to be able to do what they could do in terms of offerings, and 4) Did I mention the part about how they tried to define being poor and what poor people can do?
Some of this came out in follow-ups and not all within one post, if I remember correctly. I was unbelievably angry at their assumptions of what services poor people can access (Sebastian referenced the internet comment in his post, for example) and how they were defining a group of people they didn’t belong to. There are working poor, there’s the federal poverty line, people can get gifts that make them appear to have more money than they do, and there’s a component of racism and/or generational poverty. There’s also a matter of living with family, friends, or roommates, and what public services you can access. There are a lot of variations in how poor people live, and assumptions based on one person’s experience aren’t going to cut it.
While I was personally angry enough to say ‘fuck off’ to their opinions on consuming offerings, I ran into issues. I was new to this polytheist thing, they were very vocal about Heathenry, and I wasn’t exactly seeing a lot of evidence that you could consume offerings. Sebastian references prasad (a Hindu example), but I mainly sighed in relief at finding the Kemetics (they were vocal about not supporting the language the group of people used to imply that everyone shouldn’t consume offerings). And then a bit later, I found Grumpylokeanelder’s post On Heathenry and Consuming Offerings that looks at Lore examples and comes to the conclusion: “…we’ve got evidence for both consuming and not-consuming offerings within the Heathen tradition.”
At a certain point, I sat my ass down and did some divination because I was a nervous wreck about throwing away food, guilty for not “giving enough” to my Gods, and I was tired of trying to live my devotional life according to what someone else said. I switched to saying a prayer and offering up my food and drink before a meal to most of the Powers I interact with, They can split the energy however They like, and then I consume it. On holy days and special occasions (or periodically, by request) I offer up to a certain group or a specific Someone.
And you know what’s happened since I started doing this? The world has not ended, for one. Deities and Powers Who don’t want to use this system and be included opt out and ask for other types of offerings. I feel like I’m including Them in my life more, and it feels more like we’re sharing a meal rather than me just shoving a few bites at Them. Win-win. Not to mention that it gave Some a foot in the door about eating healthier and/or requesting stuff, but They probably could’ve gotten around to that in a different way.
In addition to interacting with Deities and Powers Named in Their respective traditions, I’ve had Some stop by Who fall into this nebulous ‘wight / Deity / Spirit’ category. They’re Jotuns / Rokkr Who aren’t Named in the Lore, and I can’t guarantee that some of the information applies in how I interact with Them will be useful for others. The main example off the bat is that different Tribes are connected to certain languages.
I’m currently only likely to have three certain Tribes drop by, so I’m primarily just going to be sharing what I’ve learned from Them. These Tribes are: Mountain, Fire, and Snow / Ice. They have reasons for stopping by (as opposed to other Tribes), and each one is associated with a language. I will likely stick to the English translations of some phrases (especially when tagging here), but I wanted to cover them here in case I leave them in while transferring notes to posts. ((It will also help to explain why some Spirits don’t use English names.))
Mountain Jotuns stop by because They’re distant relations of m’Lady Sigyn (in my practice, Sigyn is the offspring of a Mountain Jotun and an unNamed Aesir). Currently, there have been tips on warding / protective magic. They’re connected to German, so the collective term for the Tribe Family of Mountains may also appear as Familie von Berge. The term for an individual Mountain may also appear as Berg.
Fire Jotuns stop by because They’re related to Sunna. Currently, there have been tips on cleansing methods, but Someone has also stopped by Who doesn’t have an explicit cleansing connection. They’re connected to Slovenian, so the collective term for the Tribe Family of Fire may also appear as družina od ogenj. The term for an individual Flame may appear as plamen.
Snow / Ice Jotuns stop by because They’re related to Kari and Holda. I’m not 100% sure I want to get into another reason in this specific post, but Their connection to Russian also plays a part in why They’re interested in me. The collective term for the Tribe Family of Snow and Ice may also appear as Семья из снег и лёд. The term for an individual may be Snowflake (снежинка) or Icicle (сосулька).