Monthly Archives: October 2007

Meeting people

I went to go meet some local heathens and pagans this evening.  We actually took the whole crew, because it was a public place with a playground and outdoor cafe and everything.  I figured it would be good to have Gwenhwyvar along to see what was what.  It was nice to connect with real people and see that they might actually be normal.  The setting was a bit more overwhelming than I thought it would be, because the place was absolutely mobbed.  Nonetheless, the gathering put on by the Heathen group whose e-list I’ve been following for a few months was also attended by two reps from the Pagan group whose list I’ve also followed.  So, it was sort of like a two-for-one in terms of effort. 

I’m looking forward to the next such gathering, although I will probably be out of town for the next month’s event so it might not be until Yuletide that I am able to go again.  Next time, definitely without the wee ones in tow just for the purpose of being able to concentrate without worrying about their well being or Gwenhwyvar’s stress level in the crowd of kids.

I do need to find out some things before I go much further with the heathens, though.  I need to mail them and find out what they mean by “folkish” because it does mean different things to different groups.  Worse, it is also a buzzword that some of the hateful groups hide behind / rally around.  Fortunately, these people didn’t strike me as hateful or xenophobic but I should, I guess, ask to be sure.  Also, even if they aren’t, there are definitions of folkish that still wouldn’t fit me very well, ranging from “overly oath-happy” to “let’s revive the old social structure.”  So, it behooves me to ask.  If I’m really looking for a group at all, I want one that recognizes that the gods call whom they will.

Hi!

Just a placeholder to say hello, and if you really want to read about me you probably already have my home blog.  Otherwise, you should consider letting me know you really want to read this journal so I can add you to my friends.  Most of my posts here are locked to friends and family, and only some of the content is cross-posted on my everyday blog.

nice dinner out

Gwenhwyvar and I had a lovely dinner out, with good, meaningful conversation.  We talked a little about the upcoming vow renewal and deep stuff we don’t normally get to discuss with the wee ones around.  Then we went for coffee and dessert and talked some more.  Now we’re going to go catch up on some shows we like to watch together that have been piling up since the DVR fiasco. 🙂

Skaði

Just a quick note about another Norse goddess.  I managed to find an odd reference today to the equivalence of Skaði and Diana/Artemis in a book at Barnes and Noble.  I didn’t write down the title, or did I?  I wonder if there is any tradition to back this up, or whether it’s merely an academic observation that all three are Goddesses of the Hunt.

Reading list

This post is divided into two sections.  The first section represents my personal “must-read” list, containing only entries which I have personally found helpful or which I expect to find helpful based on browsing or the recommendation of a friend.

Selected Recommendations:

Celtic:

  • Kinsella’s Táin (1969) was recommended to me by a native Celt and language geek, raised in a family tradition, as “the best translation available”.  I have it on my shelf, awaiting a chance to read it.
  • Meeting the Other Crowd (Lenihan & Green, 2003) is a collection of stories that illustrate the surviving Celtic fairy belief, recommended by the same native Celt mentioned previously.  This is also awaiting its turn to be read.
  • Gods and Fighting Men (Gregory, 1904) Part 1 collates various fragments of early Celtic mythic lays into readable copy.  Contrast Gregory’s account of the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh with any of the existing translations of Cath Maige Tuired (Gray, unknown).  I have not yet read Part 2, which is a collection of heroic lays.
  • The Druids (Ellis, 1995) provides excellent scholarship regarding what we know about the ancient Druids and the Celtic culture and belief systems that pre-date Christianity.
  • The Four Ancient Books of Wales (Skene, 1868) is the source for much of Arthurian legend and is purported to contain kernels of pre-Christian mythology.  The samples I have randomly browsed from this collection appear to be mostly free of obvious Christian edits.  Contrast with the beautiful but highly contaminated Mabinogion (Guest, 1877), which is derived from the Four Ancient Books.
  • The Carmina Gadelica (Carmichael, 1900) is a collection of Scottish folk practices, songs, hymns and poems that demonstrate many of the old ways in spite of obvious Christian influence.
  • Lady With A Mead Cup (Enright, 1996), collects and discusses a great deal of research into European warband cultures, with particular attention to the place of ritual in the social structure of Celtic and Germanic peoples.

Norse:

  • Essential Ásatrú (Paxson, 2006) is easy to read, the scholarship seems genuine and the attitude of the author seems suitably modern and hate free.
  • Dictionary of Northern Mythology (Simek, 2006) as translated by Angela Hall is the superior version of this work (according to Simek, her translation is better and more complete than the original).  A work like this is, in my opinion, essential to keeping track of the many proper names and terms in the Eddas and Sagas.
  • The Poetic Edda (Thorpe, 1866) is reputed to be among the most accurate translations of this work.  I have been able to verify some of its accuracy myself.  Contrast with the more popular Hollander translation, which takes too many liberties for the sake of flow.
  • The Poetic Edda (Bellows, 1936) often flows better than the Thorpe version and is nearly as accurate, thus negating the need for Hollander’s publication.
  • Heaney’s Beowulf (2000) preserves the feel of the original Anglo-Saxon in a facing-pages dual-language edition that is a joy to read.
  • Northvegr’s Trúlög, Sögumál, and Praiseworthy Virtues of the North (Teague et. al, 2004) provide a good introduction to the Norse mindset, grounded in the Sagas and Eddas.
  • A Short Introduction to Heithni (Teague et. al., 2005) includes an overview of the Regin (gods and goddesses), a reconstructed creation tale, and information about the Fuþark (runes), Galðr and Seiðr.
  • The Religious Practices of the Pre-Christian and Viking Era North (Teague et al., 2004) contains an overview of the vast amounts of information that were preserved for future generations about the ancient Norse ways.
  • Wyrd Staves, Mystery of the Futhorc (Bohrer, 2003) provides an examination of the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poems and the runes themselves.
  • Lady With A Mead Cup (Enright, 1996), collects and discusses a great deal of research into European warband cultures, with particular attention to the place of ritual in the social structure of Celtic and Germanic peoples.

Hindu

  • The Rig Veda (Griffith, 1896) is among the most ancient surviving religious and cultural texts in the world.
  • The Origins & Development of Classical Hinduism (Basham, 1989) is a wonderful introduction to ancient Hindu belief written by “one of the world’s foremost authorities on ancient Indian culture and religion.”

Occult:

  • Aradia (Pazzaglini, 1998) is a new translation from Leland’s original notes.  It is widely held to be superior to Leland’s original.
  • The Wiccan Mysteries (Grimassi, 1997) includes references and explains the nuts-and-bolts of the occult theory that many modern magical practices (Wicca, Ceremonial Magic, Thelema, Shamanism) are based on.  The scholarship in this regard is top-notch.  The book also includes an overview of Grimassi’s theory that Wicca and other modern practices evolved from an old “European Goddess Religion.”  While some of the links in this particular logic chain are (IMHO) tenuous, Grimassi points out most of the holes himself.
  • Wicca (Cunningham, 1988) because nobody ever has anything bad to say about Scott Cunningham.  Even the authors that argue amongst themselves usually agree that Scott Cunningham “had it all figured out.”
  • The Magical Household (Cunningham & Harrington, 1983) because it has a bunch of stuff you can “do” around the house to create a more positive living experience.
  • Knight’s Exploring Celtic Druidism (2001) contains a beautiful system with workable rituals, a sound introduction to Celtic mythology, and hands-on instructions for creating your own tools.
  • The Evil Eye (Elworthy, 1895) is a hands on manual for warding against and purging evil.

Complete Bibliography:

If I have read a work, or a significant portion thereof, the publication date appears in bold face.  The remainder are listed either because they are useful for contrasting with alternate preferred versions (in the Selected Recommendations, above) or because I have evaluated them and expect to find them useful eventually.

Celtic Studies

Carmichael, Alexander (1900). The Carmina Gadelica. T. And A. Constable.
Dunn, Joseph (1914). The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge. David Nutt.
Ellis, Peter Beresford (1995). The Druids. Wm. B. Eerdmans.
*Ellis, Peter Beresford (1994). The Druids. Constable and Company. Ltd.
Enright, Michael J. (1996). Lady With A Mead Cup. Four Courts Press.
Gray, Elizabeth A. (unknown year). Cath Maige Tuired. The Internet Sacred Text Archive.
Green, Miranda (1992).  Animals in Celtic Life and Myth. Routledge.
Gregory, Lady Augusta (1904).  Gods and Fighting Men. J. Murray.
Guest, Lady Charlotte (1877). The Mabinogion. Bernard Quaritch.
Kinsella, Thomas (1969).  The Táin.  Oxford University Press.
Kirk, Robert & Lang, Andrew (1691/1893). The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. David Nutt.
Lenihan, Eddie & Green, Carolyn Eve (2003).  Meeting the Other Crowd. Tarcher/Penguin.
MacCulloch, John Arnott (1911). Religion of the Ancient Celts. T&T Clark.
Skene, William F. (1868). The Four Ancient Books of Wales. Edmonston and Douglas.
Squire, Charles. (1905). Celtic Myth and Legend. The Gresham Publishing Company, Ltd.
Unknown (unknown). The Carmina Gadelica. Unknown.

*I have never seen the 1994 edition of Ellis, but supposedly it is still available.

Christianity

Miscellaneous Religious, Mythological and Literary Texts

The Internet Medevial Sourcebook.
The Internet Sacred Text Archive.
The Nag Hammedi Library.
Hellenismos.
Legge, James (1899). I Ching.  Sacred Books of the East(16). Oxford/Clarendon.
Legge, james (1891). Tao Te Ching. Sacred Books of the East(39). Oxford/Clarendon.
Plurabelle, Anna Livia. (2002). The Book of the Goddess.

Hindu Studies

Basham, A.L. (1989). The Origins & Development of Classical Hinduism.  Oxford University Press.
Griffith, Ralph (1896). The Rig Veda. The Internet Sacred Text Archive.
Griffith, Ralph (1895). The Sama Veda.  The Internet Sacred Text Archive.
Griffith, Ralph (1895). The Atharva Veda.  The Internet Sacred Text Archive.
Keith, Arthur. B. (1914). The Yajur Veda.  Cambridge.

Northern Studies

Bellows, Henry Adams (1936). The Poetic Edda. Princeton University Press.
Enright, Michael J. (1996). Lady With A Mead Cup. Four Courts Press.
Heaney, Seamus (2000). Beowulf. W. W. Norton & Company.
Gummere, Francis B. (1910). Beowulf. The Harvard Classics. 49. P.F. Collier & Son.
Odhinssen, Ari (2004?). The Meaning of Faith in Heithni. Northvegr Foundation.
Paxson, Diana L. (2006). Essential Ásatrú: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism. Citadel Press.
Simek, Rudolf. (2006). Dictionary of Northern Mythology.  D.S. Brewer.
Stead, Lewis & Pereira, J. S. (2001). Ravenbok. Raven Kindred.
Sweet, Henry (1895). An Icelandic Primer. Oxford/Clarendon.
*Teague, Shannon. (2003). Guardians and Weavers of Wyrd. Northvegr Foundation.
Teague, Shannon. (2003). Loki, Friend of Odin. Northvegr Foundation.
Teague, Shannon, et. al. (2004?) The Religious Practices of the Pre-Christian and Viking Era North. Northvegr Foundation.
Teague, Shannon, et. al.  (2003-2006) Northvegr Northern European Studies Archive. Northvegr Foundation.
Teague, Shannon, et. al. (2004?) Trúlög. Northvegr Foundation.
Teague, Shannon, et. al. (2004?) Sögumál. Northvegr Foundation.
Teague, Shannon, et al. (2004?) The Praiseworthy Virtues of the North. Northvegr Foundation.
Teague, Shannon, et al. (2005) A Short Introduction to Heithni. Alfaleith.org.
Thorpe, Benjamin (1866). The Poetic Edda. Unknown Publisher.
**Thorsson, Edred (2005).  Northern Magic:  Rune Mysteries and Shamanism. Llewellyn Press.
Bohrer, Uriah (2003?). Wyrd Staves: Mystery of the Futhorc. Northvegr Foundation.

* Shannon Teague often publishes under the heathen pen name “Alfta S. Lothursdottir”
** Originally published in 1992 as Northern Magic: Mysteries of the Norse, Germans and English.

Occult Studies

*Cunningham, Scott (1988). Wicca. Llewellyn Press.
*Cunningham, Scott (1993). Living Wicca. Llewellyn Press.
*Cunningham, Scott (1989). The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews. Llewellyn Press.
Cunningham, Scott & Harrington, David (1983). The Magical Household.  Llewellyn Press.
Elworthy, Frederick Thomas (1895). The Evil Eye. J. Murray.
Grimassi, Raven (1997). The Wiccan Mysteries.  Ancient Origins & Teachings. Llewellyn Press.
**Knight, Sirona (2001). Exploring Celtic Druidism.  Ancient Magick and Rituals for Personal Empowerment. New Page Books/Career Press.
Leland, Charles Godfrey (1899). Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches. Robert Nutt.
***Pazzaglini, Mario; Pazzaglini, Dina; Clifton, Chas S.; Mathiesen, Robert & Chartowich, Robert E. (1998).  Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches: A New Translation. Phoenix Publishing.
Strong, Herbert A. & Garstang, John (1913). De Dea Syria: The Syrian Goddess. Constable & Company, Ltd.

* These three books are available together in an out of print 2003 single binding by One Spirit/Bookspan, which is as of this writing less expensive to obtain on the used market than any of Cunninghams books are separately.
**Knight’s book provides some good information and cites excellent references.  The practices she writes about seem like a complete system, however she has admitted in interviews since publication that the book mislabels these practices as Druidism when they are in fact a form of Wicca.  For that reason it is is filed under Occult Studies and not with the other Celtic materials.
***There seems to be some consensus among readers that Pazzaglini’s Aradia is superior to the original.

Tanfana (or lost Vedic Heritage)

I was pondering some information that seems fairly well established.  Notably, that the Vedic Hindus, Celts, and Norse/Germanic tribes are all rooted in the same cultural, spiritual and linguistic ancestry.  One of the more important goddesses in Celtic Myth is Danu/Dana, in terms of early influence on the world.  Some of the myths are reconstructed, but what is known is that Tuatha De Danaan means “Children of Danu” or “Tribe of Danu.”  Her name is all over Europe, according to Ellis, Knight and others.  The Danube and its many names are prominent examples.  She also appears in at least two contexts in Hindu lore, both times as a water goddess.  The earliest reference I am aware of is supposedly in the Rig Veda, I haven’t found it yet.  It’s interesting because in this context she’s a goddess of primordial water and darkness, and Rig? must defeat her son (some sort of beat) and drive the Danavas (children of Danu) out. The later reference is, as I understand it, simply as a beneficial water goddess, associated with the Ganges and other rivers.

Also interesting is that there’s a reference to some battle between the gods and the Asuras in Hindu lore.  The Asuras are often held to be the Æsir in Norse myth.  Again, the gods defeated them and drove them out… 

So, probably these are examples of ancient religious rifts that survived in the lore.  That the Danavas and Asuras (and their followers, or children) left after some sort of dispute, and elements of ancient disagreements and shifts of power among the gods (Tyr and Heimdallr/Rig used to be more prominent than Oðin in Norse Lore)
and that these accounts should recognizably survive in each culture’s lore is remarkable.  It led me yesterday to the question of whether Dana/Danu survived in Norse and Germanic lore, which I didn’t have time to research.

Today, I managed to have near-immediate luck with a quick web search.  The answer appears to be both yes and no.  That is to say, in Scandinavia (named for Skaði, the Norse goddess of the hunt and winter), Danu’s function appears to have been absorbed by other entities.  However, in places throughout central and western Europe, her legacy lives on in place names.  The Celts probably left their mark (I have seen academic sources on this but am not presently prepared to quote them, do your own homework first) on the religion of the Greeks and the Etruscans, in names such as Zeus (Tiwaz/Tyr) and Diana (Dana/Danu/Tana/Ana).  Moreover, a rather popular deity in the western Germanic and present-day Dutch lands was known by the name Tan or Tanfana.  She was a mother goddess, a water goddess, a goddess of the moon.  These are all associations made frequently in various cultures to goddesses with names that sound (when spoken) like Danu, Dana, Diana, Tana, Tan, Don, etc. 

For this little bit of trivia I do have a reference.  The book is called Geesten en goden in Oud Oldenzaal, by A.G. de Bruijn (1929).  This page has an English language summary of the chapter on Tanfana, which I am pasting here for posterity:

Chapter 6 deals with the goddess Tanfana.
J. van der Worp already concluded that the temple mentioned by Tacitus that was dedicated to Tanfana could not have been positioned at Oldenzaal or on the Tankenberg.
In succession of van der Worp’s work de Bruijn tries to provide an answer to the question who Tanfana really was.
De Bruijn does not exclude the possibility that Tanfana was worshipped in the Dutch area of Twente, and that the name Tankenberg is connected to her.
The ending of her name, -fana, is seen with more goddesses, like the Roman Befana.
De Bruijn splits the name in the pieces Tan and Fana, and explains them as: the goddess Tan.
The diminutive form of Tan, Tanke, can explain the name of the Tankenberg.
Although there have been no temple on the Tankenberg there are clear clues that the Tankenberg used to have been a religious place.

The Big Stone (see 1st chapter) is also said to have stood there in earlier times.
This Big Stone almost certainly symbolized Tan herself, and according to legend the White Women come there every year on May the 1st to drink beer.
The moving of the stone from the Tankenberg to the city may have been an attempt to stop its worship.
On the Tankenberg is a well, which was later changed into a fountain by the Christians.
Because of this it is plausible that this well used to have played a role in the heathen religion.
Along this well lies the witte-wijvensteeg (white-women alley).
Tan has similarities with the in the province of Zeeland worshipped Nehellenia.
De Bruijn agrees with J. Wagenaar and C. Cleijn, and thinks that “goddess of the new light” is the best explanation of her name.
She would have been worshipped during the New Moon.
Just like the White Woman of Monferland she carries a little basket, but although Nehellenia was only worshipped as a solely benefacting goddess the White Woman also has some revengeful and ghostly features.
The name Monferland can be explained as Maanvrouwland (“Moonwomanland”).
The name Tan can still be seen in the Dutch girlsname Tanneke, and the Dutch saying “Anneke Tanneke toverheks” (“Anneke Tanneke magic-witch”).
Girls with the name Anna were teased with this because their name looked like a by the Christians hereticiced old goddess.
The Carthaginian goddess Tanit does not only look like Tan in name.
Tanit means “well” in Berber, Tan is a very old Germanic word for water (compare Tanais, the old name for the river Don).
Tanit was often depicted with a half moon, a serpent staff in her hand and a sun symbol above her head.
The serpents are symbols for the orbits of the Sun and Moon through the sky.
The snakes have a lionshead and an eagleshead, symbol for constellations.
The stamp of Ommen This depiction looks much like the stamp found near the Dutch city of Ommen, which dates from 1336.
On this stamp is a woman with in her hand a fir-tree (“Denneboom” or, as in older Dutch; “den Tanne”, alluding to Tan).
To the upper left of her is a Sun symbol, and she is flanked by a catlike creature and a bird.
The stamp symbolizes the marriage of the moongoddess Tan with the sun, and after the marriage she changed from a moongoddess into a mothergoddess.
The stamp completely originates from pre-Christian times, and the current city-weapon (heraldic sign) of Ommen is according to de Bruijn “a caricature and evidence of the disgraceful ignorance in our country about this subject.”
The Christians equalled Tan with the Irish saint Brigida.
The old heathen customs lived on in her worship, like the burning of an eternal flame.
The Irish church prohibited this custom in 1200.
In Noorbeek in the Dutch province of Limburg people still have the custom of raising a fir-tree in front of a chapel that has been dedicated to Brigida in the beginning of February during New Moon.
Tan also has a linguistical similarity with the old word for stone, “stan”.
This is the symbol for the Earth, source of new life.
The cavities of the stone are also resting places for the souls of the dead.

Old friends

I managed to discover today that an old friend of mine has had similar experiences and is on a similar sort of spiritual journey.  I am, in a word, relieved.  This is a sort of confirmation that I could never get from randomly reading similar views expressed by complete strangers in forums somewhere.

I’ve been somewhat determined for about a week now to go meet one or more of the local spiritual groups and see real live people.  The next opportunity appears to be on the 13th (Winter Nights).