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06-28-2013, 11:01 PM
Post: #1
Of Spirituality & Toilets

In my father's house there are many toilets...actually, there's only one, and it's not a very good one. It's been there for almost thirty years, and wasn't put in right to begin with. It is a miserable thing, that clogs every time you flush.

So, my father decided in April to replace this toilet, and I made a very unladylike noise in my joy. I celebrated the fact that I would no longer have to dance about, hoping against hope that the bloody thing wouldn't overflow. So, we went to a store. A very common store, and my father turned out to be the PICKIEST MAN ON THE PLANET WHEN IT CAME TO THE LOO. I had thought this would be fun. Nooo. I was very wrong.

So, we special-ordered a toilet. We were told it would arrive in two weeks. It did. The tank was fine, but the bowl was broken. The store was very apologetic and reordered.

Three weeks later, we get a call. Toilet came in, but it was broken. Would Athair like to reorder? He says yes, of course and we await the arrival of the third toilet.

The third toilet is sent to the house, hoping that less shipping will cause it to arrive in better condition, but they send only half of the toilet, and that half is broken. It gets packed up and taken back to the store, who are very apologetic, and reorder again.

At this point, my patience is gone and the story is a joke among my mates and the family. I want to give up and reorder at another chain, and yet, my father has patience -- this is exactly the toilet he wants.

The fourth toilet arrives, and we pop it open in the store -- broken. Another reorder. At this point I honestly think we have a better chance of finding a unicorn who expels rainbows then getting this toilet, and I have to go to the gym because my patience is tried.

We get another call from the store this Wednesday. the fifth toilet came in broken. Of we were to reorder, it would not be in until mid-August. I finally convince my father to cancel the order, and we go elsewhere.

Of course, the other store doesn't have the perfect toilet, and we consider special-ordering, but a man is there special-ordering what sounds like an entire refit. Athair decides to come back after tea. This time we bring my aunt, who would have given up after the second toilet. We start to special order, but get told that such a toilet would not arrive until August 5th.

Together my aunt and I convince my dear father to take another toilet that comes in the exact colour he had wanted, but lacked two other attributes.

Now, there could be a lot of different morals of the story. A lot of lessons you could take from it. I, however, was struck by just two -- a friend who said he didn't believe the unbroken toilet did not exist and wouldn't believe it until he saw it, and a comment made about how patient Athair was.

Now my first thought about the comment was "How many times does the universe/fate/God/insert thing here have to say no before you say okay, fine." But on further reflection I think it illustrates people well. Sometimes we're all looking for that perfect thing, when all we need is something in which to expel waste that won't ruin your shoes and your day.
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07-01-2013, 11:07 AM
Post: #2
RE: Niva
Spinning & Stress

I have an exam on the twelfth. A fairly large exam, one that is pretty worrisome to me. I've been preparing for the past three months and I still don't feel I'm prepared. This is probably due to the fact that my school attitude resembles that of a Slytherin Hermione Granger. The amount of all-nighters I have been pulling is definitely unhealthy. This past weekend while visiting my father's (and he installed the toilet mentioned in my first blog post) I decided to decompress the easiest way I know how. For me, that's spinning.

So I got out a bag of wool, and went off to get my spindle. When I found it, however, I could have cried. My beloved, dastardly, troublemaking, Stormcager of a cat had somehow broken into the cabinet where my spindle was, and had broken the top off, and chewed up quite a bit of it. (I had no idea how she got into the cabinet, but I should not be surprised, because her name is River Song.)

So, whilst I was being rather sad for my spindle, and trying to find my mother's, I reflected on why I found spinning so calming, especially as someone who has trouble with more "classical" ways of relaxing, such as meditation. For me, I am someone whose brain is usually going, and asking it to slow down only makes it try to impersonate a whirling dervish by taking in as much sensory information as possible. I am not the yoga type.

Of course, spinning has a long history of myth and folklore behind it as well, even though it was a chore in the olden days. Is that why? No really, though it's neat. I think it has more to do with the rhythm of it. In meditation, you are asked to clear your mind and focus solely on your breath or an image, or music. Spinning offers a rhythm, the push-pull of drafting, as well as the actual sight of the spindle or wheel spinning. It gives your hands something to do that, when you're good at it, requires little to no thought without requiring you to stop, but allows me to still go into a calm (meditative?) frame of mind. It was something I hadn't really thought about before, and I was glad to do it. It was an interesting way to spend some time -- but I still would have preferred to actually be spinning. I ordered a new spindle, though, and it should be here relatively soon. (Though I am contemplating rigging one up in the meantime.)
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07-01-2013, 01:00 PM
Post: #3
RE: Niva
About the toilet ... I don't think I'd want one that had so much history of breakage. What a tale you have to tell future generations!

About stress ... I crochet during the cooler months and find it very relaxing. For other stress busters, cooking is what works for me.

And Pink Floyd, for some reason. I noticed yesterday that even when I'm irritated with sound/noise, I can take PF at any level.
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07-05-2013, 01:41 AM
Post: #4
RE: Niva
Of Television

I'm on a bit of a break at the moment, which is definitely needed, due to the stress of school. Of course, my response to this is to go home and work our smallholding. I think I may have the strangest view of fun ever. My mates are all going out to pubs, eating crisps and watching Corrie, and whinging about their partners.

I'm picking berries and weeding like Barbara straight out of The Good Life. I feel slightly strange. Perhaps there is something wrong with me. I feel as though I'd rather brain myself on the desk than watch The Only Way Is Essex and I don't care that there's a new episode, that's generally how series work. Yet, I get asked to pop over and watch the new episode this weekend.

I hate feeling like there's something I'm missing, but I just don't get it.

(And for the record, I kind of like Corrie, I've just missed WAY too much to understand what's going on.)
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07-06-2013, 08:31 PM
Post: #5
RE: Niva
My Views on Reconstructionism

Satyros posted a very good video on his blog about his views between Reconstructionism and Contemporary Paganism, or non-Recon. While I agree with a lot, if not all of what he said, I wanted to touch on the subject as someone who considers themselves Recon.

I find that the easiest way to explain Recon vs. Non-Recon is a comparison to something a lot of people understand. So, in my view, i's sort of like Orthodox Christianity and Protestantism, and I don't mean that in a mean way.

Orthodox Christianity tends to follow a different calender than mainstream churches, because they view it to be more accurate and/or older. Orthodox recognise deuterocanonical books as scripture, while Protestants do not. They may also hold to older traditions such as rules of dress in their churches, while many protestant churches do not. Does this make Orthodox better? No, it only makes it different. To me, the difference between Recon and Non-Recon is that simple, they're different one is not "better" than the other. Recon is simply better for me.

If you saw me walking down the street, you wouldn't think me different from any other bird. I don't wear Anglo-Saxon dress every day. I don't go to class with a seax on my belt, I own a telly and if you interrupt me during Who I may throw something at your head.

However, when it comes to my faith, I find value in attempting to practise as close to what my ancestors did as possible. This means that I have two calenders, using one for "normal" life, and following a reconstruction of the A-S calender for other things. Recon also means you have to do a crazy amount of work, which can turn a lot of people off to it. It's hard to use your spare time in academic journals and dredging every piece of information you can from old manuscripts. It's fruitless a lot of the time, especially when every non-Recon is saying it's unnecessary or silly.

Another difference is while I speak English on a day to day basis like the rest of my mates, in fainings and blots I use Old English -- not because it's somehow "better," or the gods will "respond" better, but because on a personal level it's an extra thing I can do. It's a way I can show that I'm serious, that I value what came before. It has nothing to do with showing up anyone else, much like putting on the Saxon dress and carrying a seax when in ritual is not a way for me to say "I'm more pagan than you," it's more because it's a way to set it apart, and to honour the ancestors and the gods with reconnecting with a lost era.

None of this means that I don't think Non-Recon aren't pagans, or that I'm somehow being "hardcore" or "fundamentalist." I don't think Wiccans or anyone else are valid, though we have had some spirited debates. It's about making my spiritual practises as powerful as they can be to me, personally.
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07-11-2013, 12:48 PM (This post was last modified: 07-11-2013 12:51 PM by Niva.)
Post: #6
RE: Niva
Women in Heathenry: Part 1 -- Misconceptions

This week has been a frustrating one for me with regards to religion, but today put the cherry on top with all the debates about the nature of paganism recently. So, today I had a rather unpleasant run-in with a group of Dianic Wiccans. Now, to be clear, I like some Wiccans, I may even like individual Dianics, but not this group. So, I tend to be rather short with them, because they don't seem to understand: "Get out of my back garden!"

So today I was finishing up an offering when the show up to annoy me. The Dianic High Priestess says to me: "You're heathen, right? You should join us! You can worship Freyja with us, without a man shaking a drinking horn at you and yelling for more beer, and all goddesses are one goddess anyway."

Now, there are so may things wrong with this statement that I had to laugh, before I made them leave.

However, this statement has given me pause as I've thought over it. There are a lot of misconceptions in it that even occur among baby heathens who know just enough to make people pause. So, this post will in particular, handle just this statement, and in the future, I will probably post more about specific things about women in Heathenry, historically and in the modern world.

So, onto a bundle of misconceptions!

Misconception 1: You're heathen, right? You should join us!

Yes, I am heathen. I am not Wiccan. Heathenry is not Wicca. The two are not exactly similar. Just because they are both considered "pagan" (arguably) doesn't mean our worship is alike, or that I would be comfortable there.

Misconception 2: You can worship Freyja with us

This is a big misconception I've run into multiple times, even in heathen circles. I am going to break this down into smaller pieces to handle everything.

A. Heathenry is not a monolith. Anglo-Saxon practise is not the same as Norse, though there is a lot of blending. Freo is an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Freyja is Norse.

B. Freo or Freyja is not the only goddess in heathenry.

C. Just because I happened to be born a girl and have girl-bits doesn't mean I am closest to a goddess. This assumption occurs a lot even in heathen circles. Maybe I do, maybe I don't, but you can't tell by looking at me. A girl can be closest to Woden and a bloke can be closest to Frige, the gods are not limited to gender to who they favour.

Misconception 3: without a man shaking a drinking horn at you and yelling for more beer

A: If a man yelled at me for more beer, he'd end up with it on his head, and that's if I was in a good mood.

B. ...why are we using beer and not mead? Not that both aren't acceptable, it just seems odd.

C. Heathenry is not an "old boys club". Women are not there solely to look pretty and pour the mead. I've run into an idea with female heathens who seem to think they are "restricted" to hearth, home, and frith...and somehow that translates to fetch and carry. This is not the case. Frith does not mean doormat.

Misconception 4: and all goddesses are one goddess anyway

That's your belief and that's fine for you. Soft polytheism is a valid form of belief. I, however, view my gods as real, actual entities, not one aspect of an amorphous whole. What is a valid Wiccan belief does not mean it is valid for all pagans.

And on that point, which I've been saying repeatedly lately, I will end this part of what will undoubtedly become a series. I feel much better for having had the chance to vent, though my cup of tea probably helped with that.
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07-11-2013, 12:56 PM
Post: #7
RE: Niva
(07-11-2013 12:48 PM)Niva Wrote:  Misconception 3: without a man shaking a drinking horn at you and yelling for more beer

A: If a man yelled at me for more beer, he'd end up with it on his head, and that's if I was in a good mood.

Hear hear! Wiccans can play the victim all they want, but for us Heathens? Our women have guts and steel.

Кровь за Кровь, Во Славу Великим!
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07-13-2013, 06:58 AM (This post was last modified: 07-13-2013 10:40 PM by Niva.)
Post: #8
RE: Niva
My Personal Path

In another thread, shiver asked about as he phrased it, "natural" or "mythological" theology and paganism. This is far too broad, and then he asked about how "we" work with both. I started to reply, but it felt a bit like telling my "coming to heathenry" story, so I thought it would fit better here, so others don't have to read it if they don't want. I don't like the term "mythical theology" so I'll use "revealed religion" instead, as both seem to be contrasts to natural theology according to the wiki article I was linked to.

For me, my views on revealed vs. natural vs. mythological is that they can be very intertwined. In order to explain my views, I have to go back to the beginning of how I found heathenry.

My family was atheist, but if you pushed us, we'd of course claim we were good members of the kirk. I think I went a dozen times in twenty-some years, and most of those were weddings, funerals and the like. I found religion interesting, but I didn't "need" a religion. I didn't feel empty. I never felt lost. I was fine.

Then I was assaulted. The courts couldn't really do anything.It was a he said-she said, and he had his mates to back him up. I was angry and vengeful and threw myself more into my schoolwork and surrounded myself with people I liked while drowning my sorrows in pints and more Ardbeg than is healthy for one liver. I didn't feel comfortable telling my father, because he would have taken matters into his own hands.

So, one night, completely pissed, I'm talking to another atheist friend about how I felt bereft of any family support. He was in the same program as I was, and made a joke about how Woden was supposed to be the all-father of the Anglo-Saxons, why didn't I just pour it out to him? We laughed and kept drinking.

After I had sobered up and a cup of tea the next afternoon, the "joke" came back to me. I thought, oh, why the hell not. If nothing else, it'll make me feel better, just to get it out at the universe. Sound psychological principle.

So, I poured two glasses of Scotch, and headed out on a brae, where a mountain ash was growing. I sat the two glasses down, sat myself down, and spoke aloud to Woden. I talked about what had happened to me, how frustrated I felt, being a "victim," how I felt like the crown had let me down, the rage at the guy who had done it, everything. I actually cried for the first time about it. Did I believe in Woden at that time? No. It was me talking to a "paternal archetype" because I felt unable to talk about it with my father.

A week later, the bloke is blathering about crows nearly pecking his eyes out, and had clawed him up proper, and complaining about having to wear an eyepatch. I was well and truly gobsmacked. There are coincidences and then there are coincidences. Still, I wasn't convinced. I had never believed in deities. I wasn't about to start now, especially as someone who had a firm grip on science. It was just...sort of "out there." Sure, the histories do draw in reconstructionists to study, so I knew not all pagans were like the druid who raced for fastest faith on Top Gear, but still.

I went back up the hill to the ash tree with more Scotch, and I said thanks. Then I admitted that I was having trouble getting my head round it. I asked for a very specific sign that I'm not comfortable going into detail on, but a few days later I got it, and that was enough for me.

As a baby heathen there were a lot of things I did in a new light. That included rereading The Sagas and Beowulf, doing a lot more research than even my program required into Anglo-Saxon lore and faith and traditions and trying to pick my own way out of it. Eventually I got brave enough to find others and be more sure and call myself a heathen, but it took time.

Enough of my sob story though, back to the question of type of theology. Do I feel the Sagas and the like have a place in pagan belief? Absolutely. Do I think they are divinely inspired words of the gods? No. Do I think that they help us understand who the gods are and what they want from us? Yes. Do I think archaeology and reconstruction can help us understand the gods through our ancestors pactises and beliefs? Yes. Do I think nature can teach us about the gods? Yes. Do I think a belief in the gods can make you appreciate nature more? Yes. Do I think a belief in the gods can help you connect with nature? Yes. Do I think you can look outside and fundamentally know Frige or Thunor exist? No. It doesn't have to. Unlike Islam or Christianity, a faith in the gods is not necessary. They don't need worship. They don't require it.There is no place of torment for those who don't believe in them. If you find your way to them, then they welcome you. If you don't, and you don't need them, that's fine too.

I don't know how you would categorise that, but that's how I see it.
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07-13-2013, 07:08 PM
Post: #9
RE: Niva
I think you have a really fascinating story of how you came to believe what you now believe. And I think your answers are great, they definitely give me insight into how you feel both the revealed and naturally-observable aspects of your religion work into forming your point of view.

Note: I'm male, not female, haha.
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07-13-2013, 10:39 PM (This post was last modified: 07-13-2013 10:40 PM by Niva.)
Post: #10
RE: Niva
(07-13-2013 07:08 PM)shiverleaf15 Wrote:  I think you have a really fascinating story of how you came to believe what you now believe. And I think your answers are great, they definitely give me insight into how you feel both the revealed and naturally-observable aspects of your religion work into forming your point of view.

Note: I'm male, not female, haha.

I am so sorry, shiver! I don't know why I thought you were female, I've corrected that mistake. I am glad it answered your question, though.
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