Dahut At the Floodgate

August 16, 2015 — 44 Comments

This is part of a series of posts I’ve realized I’ve needed to write for awhile but am only now understanding why.  This is also a review of Many Gods West, as much as an organizer can possibly review his own event.  But also not a review–a report, and a revelation, and a manifesto.

Dahut, for those unfamiliar, is a Breton sea witch, daughter of the ‘Queen of the North,’ responsible for the drowning of the Isle of Ys, banished by St. Corentin for her ‘crimes.’  She’s likely a Mari-Morgan, and appears to have some relationship to the cults of Arianrhod.

Sunset over Caer Arianrhod

Sunset over Caer Arianrhod

Aranrot drem clot tra gwawr hinon,
Mwyhaf gwarth y marth o parth Bryth(r)on:
Dysbrys am y llys efnys afon,
Afon a’e hechrys gwrys gwrth terra,
Gwenwyn y chynbyt kylch byt ed a.

Aranrot whose beauty surpasses the radiance of dawn,
Her terrifying was the greatest shame by means of a wand.
A hostile river rushes about her court,
A river that assaults and injures the land,
Venom of the old world that circles the world.

(Kadeir Kerrituen/The Chair of Ceridwen)

I. What the Anarchist Saw

“It’s fucking awesome there’s an anti-Capitalist Pagan event in Olympia.”

I looked at the guy who said this, a local, not a named polytheist by any means, no one you probably know.  And then I looked around to see who else had heard his enthusiasm, to see if someone else would correct him instead of me.  I was exhausted, tired of words, my arm tired from carrying a shield no one could see.

But there was no one there to tell him otherwise, so it fell on me.  Afterall, I was the one he’d spoken to.

“Uh–it’s not really an anti-capitalist conference.  There are some here, yeah, but it’s a Polytheist event.”

He looked like he thought I was joking.  “Polytheists are all anti-capitalists and anarchists, though…”

I shook my head, noticing a few people I’d previously run afoul of regarding money-in-paganism standing nearby.  “No, not–”

And then I smiled, remembering what I’d been seeing all weekend.  “They are.  Just don’t tell them that.”

II. Leather, Wet From the Dragon’s Well

My boots were wet again.  They were wet like the last time, though there’d been no rain.  In fact, the heat in Olympia that weekend was brutal; the air-conditioning couldn’t keep up, but the building wasn’t old enough to have been constructed before conditioned air was a thing at all.  Tall, square, soaking up the light and heat from the unseely summer torching our ancient forests, filled with sweltering gods-folk barely complaining.

In fact–no one was complaining, or not really.  There were some snags, though.  The hotel manager obviously didn’t like people, probably had hoped to be a good Capitalist instead of a servant of Capitalists.  He treated some of us awfully, but the rolled-eyes of his staff hinted at a fierce class-war enacted behind the desk.  As everywhere, the people actually doing work, rather than telling others to do work, were quite awesome.

And they wouldn’t have noticed my sopping-wet boots, because they left no puddle, no moisture.  Only I could feel the leather wet from the chill waters of Llyn Dinas, and know I was elsewhere again.

This has happened before.  A few times just before the conference, sitting in a scorched field feeding crows as I cried for something I realized couldn’t exist; once after, just as I was contemplating whether I could write any of this.  One particular time in February, when a would-be king spewed words even he couldn’t believe he’d said, as the waves of Llyn Dinas lapped against the carpet of another hotel room.

My boots were wet again, as was the rest of me, face down in muck as a great army tread across my body to another shore.

Just before Many Gods West, I’d undergone some of the most terrifying transformations.  I do not have the words for them; even poetry fails, though some of it is hinted at in the Notes From The Abyss and a Wild Hunt article.  I don’t know if it’s a story I can ever tell, except to the few who guided me back out of the Abyss, as well as one to whom all these events eventually led.  They ended all at once, a sprinkling of soil as fire coursed through my body and a shield, lit by candleflame, awoke within me as I awoke within it, and that thunderous laughter coming from below and behind yet still shaking through my parched throat.

A mystery that started on the shores of Llyn Dinas, seared through with a burning lance of light from within the Dagda’s home, finally became the Wheel and the World, and my boots were wet all weekend.

III. The Gates of the Dead Rattle

Other’s boots were wet, from lake water nearer-by.  When one attendee arrived, he hurried to the shores of the drowned shanty-town to attend to the dead.  Others shook in ancestral terror after Sarenth Odinnson’s ritual, the dead we carry with us suddenly both lighter yet more real.

The dead are everywhere in Olympia.  The city sits upon a fault, just near the epicenter of the quake whose damage is still not fully repair in Seattle, 90 miles North.  The giants are everywhere, too, and water pours freely and fiercely from a spring in the middle of the city, like those of the ancient European cities where our gods were most worshiped.

And there were gate-keepers for them, or rather, gate-openers.  Sean Donahue is the most gentle giant of a man you might ever meet, yet wherever he stands there is also a gate of the dead, a power too many witches claim and too many more desire.  To gain access to the realms of the dead is to gain power, and witchcraft and Paganism is too much about power.  Therein’s also why polytheists are so hated, so belittled, and so feared–because they yet care nothing for power, and stab through the heart those who would rise above the others.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and painting this broad and macabre, but there are no brighter shades with which to hue this dying world.  When the Mothers arrived in ritual the third day of the conference, they laughed as they said the same gods-damned thing we’ve already heard from all the other gods: a storm’s coming.

We know, because they’ve told us.  Some fear the apocalyptic vision of the gods-folk, in the same way they deride Peter Grey’s manifesto without ever having touched the thing.  Apocalypse is for the Christians, or the fools, or those who hate others, or those who hate themselves. But if you do not care for a world, than you will not care that it dies, anymore than you’ll notice the slaughtered Black folk in American streets until you decide they’re worth caring about.

That ‘storm’ is like the dying city the Singers in the Darkness showed me, or the ‘Ragnorak’ heard by some in the Troth, not some mere windy day when electricity clips for a few hours and we’re forced to stare into our own darkness, but the relentless slaughter of the world.  But unlike the New Agers or the Christians, no polytheist I’ve met believes some magical figure or change of consciousness will be born from the withered husk of what we call the world.  Each vision is more dour and dire than the next, the sense of urgency quickening, and a panic settling into a new routine of conserving water, saying good-bye to great mammals, and chastising ourselves for ever needing to travel.

The Mothers laughed and said it again, “a storm is coming,” and it seemed so predictable that it was a bad joke, and yet the threads they weave and cut are deadly serious.

IV. Knives in Streets as Forests Burn

The hotel had never endured such heat, the staff apologizing, the air conditioning unable to keep up with the 160 folks gathered to hear Morpheus Ravenna speak.  Polytheists are anarchists whether they care to be or not–we’d run out of chairs in the room, before I finished asking for help gathering more 6 people rushed passed me into the other room to carry stacks of them back.  None were paid to find seats for others, none waiting to be called specifically, merely a need to be met and a rush to meet it.

Stained-glass windows and light, the clothing of the gods; I felt almost I’d heard some of those words before, said better by her than ever by the fumbling poet who’d tried a year ago.  This happened a few times, hearing words I’d tried to capture from echoing forests spoken by friends or strangers.  We’d heard the same echo, caught the same threads, pulled strands to weave the tapestries of the worlds around us, the worlds with gods in it, the worlds inhabiting a dying, scorching, quaking earth.

The dead lingered on the shores of an artificial lake, the pillars of the earth uneasy, unsettled below us.  Far to the west, forests climbing the face of the gods’ mountain smouldered, a rainforest parched, the last great ancestral towers of this land alight in flame.

When the Mothers spoke of the storm, they laughed; they certainly know we already knew.  That’s why we were all there, so many of us from across the land, reluctantly riding carbon-spewing death machines through the air and across asphalt to speak on such things, to be near others with similar visions, to be near others to whom gods speak.

Stormcrows winged black-feathered flight through the words.  Another mentioned it first–a narrative, a story unfolding from each speech.  His on the millenarian Chinese, the revolts led by gods and heretics gathering the poor and trampled against rulers thought divine.  It seemed familiar, he said so, we spoke of a story unfolding, each speaker weaving a melody out of the notes of the previous.

And something was inescapable about these presentations.  I alternating between two utterly different speakers, Finnchuill and Heimlich A. Laguz, one speaking on Becoming Placed, the other on Heathen Cosmology, and yet as I left one in mid-sentence to check on the other, it was difficult to separate the two.  One spoke of disenchantment, the other spoke of disenchantment; one referenced the capitalist un-godding of the land, the next referenced the same, just in different words.

Rituals for the dead, workshops for the dead. A purging ritual, a warrior ritual.  Recovering the monsters, becoming the monsters, slipping between genders, slipping between worlds.  It was rare not to hear a reference to the slaughter of Black folk in American streets, or the slaughtering of the forests, or the severing of our meaning, and in at least two presentations (including mine), these were all noted as springing from the same putrid source.

V. No King But Ludd…

Evariste-Vital_Luminais_-_Fuite_de_Gradlon

“The Flight of Gradlon” That’s St. Corentin on the left, urging King Gradlon to drown Dahut in the flood she caused.

So when the Anarchist lauded the event an an anti-capitalist, anarchist Pagan conference, it was dishonest of me to deny this.

I was wearing the same shirt as many others there, Alley Valkyrie’s mischievous artistic coup.  At the Polytheist Leadership Conference last year (the direct ancestor to Many Gods West), we were all wearing her bees, as she’d sent them as her offering to the event.  You’d think we were all some cult of apiarists, all devotees of the Melissa, but as Chakrabarty points out, academics miss the point when studying polytheists.  It matters not the shape of our belief; rather, it’s our practice which worlds them into the earth, and so the PLC became devoted to bee-goddesses, and Many Gods West was an Anarchist event.

No Masters, says the second half of the slogan, and it’s actually this very thing (and not the worship of multiple gods) that sets the polytheists out from the rest of Paganism.  Who are our rockstars? Our elders?  Our regents?

We have none, because we thus far topple them.

The moment someone begins to claim power-over, we cut into their breasts and throw their nipples and body into the bog, because we’ll have no High Priests, no Kings, no Temple-school gay triads of publishing empires and empty promises and selfies taken in the asphalt court of a San Jose Starbucks.

That is, if we remember where that path leads.

Consider:  In a few months in New Orleans a business-owner and marketing quean will host a high-priced event, despite having outed the legal identities of women and exhorted them to call out his name while they’re being raped.  There’s money to be made, and influence to be had–we should not be surprised that several ‘famous’ witches didn’t withdraw from this event, protesting that ‘we should all just get along.’  In Brand-Named Paganism, the coin is all, and we can always claim oppression to rally the faithful, just like Evangelicals–and shut down any dissent that gets in the way.

A polytheist who tried that shit currenly would be publicly disembowled before being thrown from a cliff to be fed to the carrion-eaters, and as harsh as this might seem to bourgeois ‘let’s all get along’ Paganism, it’s a lot less harsh than the circling of power seen in the Covenant of the Goddesses’ response to Crystal Blanton’s call regarding Black lives.  That anyone still reads so-called elders after their defense of racism should appall anyone but a Catholic apologist for pedophile priests, because they (and the self-proclaimed Kings) are playing at the same game.

This sort of polytheism is a revolt, regardless the politics of individual gods-bothered folks.  An uprising both against the people who defend awful people just because they’re ‘Pagan,’ and an insurgency against those who’d argue we keep our heads down, be good workers, and choke down the shit-covered cock of Liberal Capitalism.  It’s as much the Apocalyptic Witchcraft of Peter Grey as the loom-breaking of the soldiers of King Ludd.

I can only hope it will stay that way.

VI. Exclusively-Priced Sightseeing Tours of the Otherworld

Why bother calling out the merchant-witches, the ticket-sellers at the Gates, the money-changers in the temples? Precisely this: they are, more than anyone, the would-be Authority of Pagan belief, extracting tithes from the seekers of magic, barring the way of those who do not proffer money for a chance to see the Otherworld.  It is they who would codify, they who would build the temples only if they might become the High Priests.

Thus far, we fear and tear down the institutions of Paganism both because we’d otherwise be institutionalized, and because we don’t need Authority.  We may let some leaders around, mostly because they do good stuff, but when the time comes for them to abdicate, we’re ready with our pitchforks if they won’t.

Who are the masters of the gods-bothered?  The gods themselves, and they are myriad, and are more often waiting for us to open the gates to the DisEnchanted Kingdom in cover of darkness so they can wreak their havoc, torch the plastic edifice and loot the treasuries stolen first from the graves.  The Dead rattle at the gates, and we’re letting them in, dancing with them through the plague-ridden streets of the cities already crumbling.

You may think this dire, perhaps–even violent, but only because you do not look past the razor-wire border fences to our south, or the obliteration of indigenous peoples on the land we inhabit, or the blown-off faces of Muslim children in eastern deserts.  That’s violent.  This is compassion, the other edge of the sword of love.

The brutality of the gods-bothered is the severity of their hope, the madness of their poetry is a love letter to the world, and for that weekend I bore a shield atop a quaking fault for a weekend in a city of the gods.

What Brân asked of me was what was needed, laying face-down in a cold rushing river as others trampled my back across to the other side.  I don’t believe I’ll be here for the next Many Gods West; I think my path lies across a larger body of water, the direction my own skull will one day face in burial unclear to me.

But I do not not think my struggle will be for much longer on these colonized shores, nor against those happily clinging to their cars and corporations, more so in the name of ‘witchcraft.’

Amusingly, perhaps, there were two intentional hexes on MGW, a third accidental but no less troublesome.  Still more lesser ill-will from those fearful of the gates we’re opening.  What the gods-bothered are doing is what the respectables warned for decades against–we’re refusing to shut up.  The gods cannot be secret, their teachings cannot be hidden. Some have cut narrow paths through the forests of the Other and hidden the way; others wider paths with signs and wayside shrines.

A few have found great clearings, picked up rusty axes to appear responsible, and now charge a steep toll for their stolen knowledge.

To many of them, what we were doing that first weekend in August was a danger, an offense.  If gods are real, anyone can know them.  Their secret cults and training courses become irrelevant when you don’t need their gatekeeping to meet them, only a little help to learn to hear them.  Riverboat cruises with over-glamoured celebrities are meaningless when the Dead will whisper greater secrets to you in rainy gloaming streets, and charms of summoning and binding are no better than the battery cages of factory farms.

Polytheists won’t fucking shut up about their gods, gods that witch traditions have long hoped to keep secret and exclusive so to glean and gain their power.  But power for what, really? 

Power to start a witch-cult with your two sexual partners and build glossy websites and post a selfie to thousands of adoring Facebook likes?

To work the pillaging Market to your favor and comfort?

Power to gain sex, or celebrity, or to make your business prosper?

Those who’d opened gates to the Other have been charging admission, forgetting that other gates can be thrown open, the doors ripped off the hinges, the Other flooding through.

And already I’ve seen the gilded glint in the eyes of some of the gods-bothered, and I understand Dahut, fingering the key to the floodgates.

VII. She Sends A Flood Over The World

DSCN2358

I learned to unravel hexes not from some class or book, but from asking a few gods to teach me to do so.  Nagas swept in from the sea to aid one of us, a few giants sloshing through those deep waters to offer their help, as giants are so often wont to do.  The Kami blessed this thing because we asked them, not because we deserved it.  The dead, the ancestors, the land itself all listened to our call, not because we were powerful, but because we weren’t trying to use them like petroleum or slaves.

And not using things like petroleum or slaves is precisely what should’ve been written in our doctrines, not “do as thou wilt” or ‘an it harm none,’ but ‘overthrow the rich and bring the forests back.’  The pleasant cottage witch poisons the landlord, the kind village elder arms the rebels.  That we applaud ourselves for crafting a statement on the environment more pro-Capitalist than the Pope’s reveals how far ‘an it harm none’ has gotten us.

Things are breaking open, and this will not be pretty, and this will not be pleasant, and we have little say in the matter anymore.

The gods will show up to whom they will, more so than even those who’ve shepherded us this far will be able to track.  And they will not look like us, and they may not be known as gods, except in the howling slaughter of a Carnivalesque uprising, the dead dancing through those gates we can no longer keep shut.

In fact, the strongest movements–like the best leaders, wisely destroy themselves.  They throw themselves face-down into river-fords, they slice off the lips of horses and climb solemnly into the Cauldron, they laugh whimsically while caressing the levers of the floodgates.

All these things said of Polytheism will one day become untrue, if it does not first implode itself back into the raw earth and ancient forests, its gods-maddened heretics stumbling back into the cities with sharpened blades, poison roots, and feral visions of what the flooding torrents and lightning-scorched earth can become.

The Polytheists may one day become the new flaccid elders, searching for relevance, trolling for fresh voices to add to their empires, for influence, for power, and for the sacred coin, and three decades from now shake their heads at the new upstarts clamoring for revolution, hearing voices, wielding strange magics we thought we’d locked up behind gates.

All those clamouring for grip upon the flimsy “Pagan umbrella,” the older and venerable witch-cults, have failed to learn what the gods-bothered must:

There can be no Authority, there can be no complicity, there can be no Capital, there can be no Masters. 

Peter Grey’s done better than I ever might to outline these failings, the diminishing of our danger in order to be respectable, the compromises with Capital while the earth withers around us.  But even then, we needed none to show us this, only someone to say what we stopped letting ourselves say, to ask what we stopped allowing ourselves to ask.

We can all become this Jetzt-zeit, the gods-bothered leading the way, even as we are already this.

Or we can all stand pushing for space beneath a flimsy umbrella, a hastily thrown-together field-tent as the rains begin, hoping to be the center of attention, the center of a dying world.

The aluminum frame’s about to break, the plastic tent-poles are bending and soon broken.  Soon, the people who’d been hoping for a weekend-social or a little comfort will be soaked, and we with them, as lightning streaks across darkened skies.

The gates above and the gates below have opened, and nothing can hold back the flood.

Not even us.

44 responses to Dahut At the Floodgate

  1. 

    i love this so much it hurts

  2. 

    I notice you have often criticized those who teach magical skills, saying that the gods will teach those who ask. Have you considered the possibility that not everyone is capable of being spirit-taught? Magic, surely, is like any other skill, and people’s native abilities differ. Perhaps some of us benefit by first learning from another human being. Perhaps we need training before we can learn from the spirits directly.

  3. 

    Reblogged this on The Gargarean and commented:
    I really love Rhyd’s writing. His latest piece gave me a lot to consider. While I’m traveling this odd path of Dionysos, you may see me against capitalism and promoting anarchism, but as a Dionysian I find myself apolitical.
    Being apolitical is weird, whenever you mention it, it is an affront from all sides. It’s not being a fence sitter, it’s not apathy either. It’s witnessing, being open, yet being of no side confuses people who want to define human thought to ones and zeros.
    Imagine this in a classical context, Dionysos is the theatre where a space is given to those for and against. It has no bias, no place, but open for others to open their own space. Like the street, where you’d have Christian street preachers on one side of the road and Scientologists on the other.
    Dionysians are hosts to the celebration of life. They are also polytheist, but to say it is inherently anti-capitalist is against the concept of the Dionysian.

    There is no black and white distinction. No for or against. It’s open, fluid, constant in a state of flux.
    (Reblog with utmost respect.)

  4. 

    This is a great and deep piece! Thank you for sharing! ❤ I will re-read it several times I guess.

    And I didn't know that people actually cursed MGW. While I'm curious about who would have done that and for which reasons, I assume this is not public information. It's just sad what some of us (Pagans, Witches) do to each other instead of accepting that each and every one of us has a different role to play, a different desire and a different charge by the Gods. Everyone who actually cares about earth, place, nature and the sacredness of life (like all of us should) should be able to tell the 'real enemy' from people who just threaten their ego or sense of rightiousness.

    Also: Is there any particular reason why you feel so enraged (?) about the 'Temple school gay triad'? Just curious again. It's my curse/blessing. 😉

    Love & Respect!

    • 

      This is just one tiny part of this enormously thought-provoking and meaningful article, so I don’t want to give the impression at all that this was my entire take-away – but I have also been curious about the mentions of the “Temple-school gay triads of publishing empires” in a disparaging way in this and other posts. In no way can I claim any sort of knowledge or deep experience, but in my *very* limited experience of reading some of his books, taking an in-person class some years back(which he deliberately reduced his rates a great deal for, due to the economic situation of the patrons of the particular pagan store he did it in), and from indirect accounts of other people I trust, this probably wouldn’t be the particular person/group I would view as an exploitative capitalist deliberately withholding spiritual information behind an exorbitant paywall. Is it the fact that he charges for his books and online teaching at all? The fact that he has a long reach with his non-profit organization and an online school with classes for money? Where is the line where teachers and writers of teaching books can charge to cover their means of living and expenses, and where it becomes unacceptable, in your opinion? I feel like I am missing some information or just plain misunderstanding.

      • 

        I worry significantly when magic and the gods become an aspect of a business and marketing model, which is a worry encompassing many other trends (in fact, they’re hardly the only triad of gay witches to be engaging in this!)

        But the critique goes back to the failure of famous witches to distance themselves from events organized by people who glorified the potential of rape (of which there is a long roster) and suggest, instead, ‘we should all just get along,’ and to ‘assume the system’ rather than embracing what witchcraft has always been–a heresy and a rebellion against the powerful (see Sylvia Federici’s Caliban & The Witch for this, available free to download here: https://libcom.org/files/Caliban%20and%20the%20Witch.pdf)

        I would also highly suggest reading Peter Grey’s Apocalyptic Witchcraft for a larger sense as to why adopting the structures of Capitalist society for our witchcraft is so problematic.

  5. 

    (For whatever reason there isn’t a “reply” link in your comment, so please consider this a response to yours)

    Yes, I was really bothered and disappointed in the general “ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen” choice, and sometimes even the actual defending, of that individual that the vast majority of prominent Pagan authors and teachers took, with the particular individual(s) in this conversation included in that disappointment.

    I did read a few times, and was moved by, Apocalyptic Witchcraft(the lengthy post that was circulated widely a while back), but I’ll read it again with this in mind. I understood and agreed with the idea that the act of de-fanging and making witchcraft palatable to mainstream culture removes it’s power and is entirely against the nature of it to begin with, but I didn’t make the connection that this was the criticism, rather than just the idea of exchanging teaching for money. A case of me not seeing the whole picture at once. Thank you for the clarification.

    • 

      And also, if I’ve misunderstood you again, please feel free to correct me.

    • 

      Fair points.

      Perhaps the best way to understand what I’m attempting to get at is the question of whether or not we choose to emulate and adopt the dominant culture’s way of propagating knowledge and compensating skills.

      Within Capitalism (and to a different extent, authoritarian communism), everything is objectified (including natural resources like forests) and only valuable if money can be made from it.

      Paganism (including Animism and Polytheism) generally says the opposite–everything has intrinsic value because it exists, and valuing things as objects is the cause of the destruction of the planet and the disenchantment of the earth.

      When we adopt the same forms as Capitalist society, we create a tension between our understanding of life, the gods, and each other as sacred, and American Paganism particularly has, for the last 40 years, erred on the side of adopting Capitalist ideas at the expense of Pagan ideals. I’m witnessing a trend specifically in Polytheism that is diminishing its radical stance, even amongst people who once were considered ‘radical.’

      And thus I fear we’ll go the same way as the rest of Paganism. And there are specifically some people who can still change that within larger Paganism (including the aforementioned triads) and I hope they do, otherwise I wouldn’t mention them at all.

  6. 

    I was really struck by how the same threads kept showing up in many presentations and rites. What a weave!

  7. 

    Wet boots. A body as a bridge so that others may cross the river. Opened gateways for the gods and ancestors. Yes this.

  8. 

    Good stuff much to agree with. Comments of agreement though are a little boring 🙂

    So..

    “Therein’s also why polytheists are so hated, so belittled, and so feared–because they yet care nothing for power, and stab through the heart those who would rise above the others.”

    Is his really the case over there in the US? The disconnect between polytheists and pagans seems to be pretty pronounced when talked about on the blogosphere and I cant get where it comes from.

    This disconnect doesn’t really seem to exist here in the UK, generally people are OK with pagan as a descriptor and many if not most would agree they are polytheist in outlook without making that the key distinction. Do you get much hate from pagans and on what basis?

    • 

      Agreement is definitely a little boring, but don’t worry–some Facebook threads made sure that wasn’t the case including the ones suggesting I ‘talk to a professional’ and am an anti-capitalist imperialist, comments from a polytheist, so…yeah. There’s some power-seeking within polytheism, which was the point of the essay.

      Most Pagans don’t care one way or another. Those I meet who don’t know me otherwise think what polytheists are doing sounds interesting and that’s all. But there are self-appointed gatekeepers who think this is dangerous, or think this is madness, and they get kinda nasty (and hex-y). It’s the matter of clinging to the handle of the flimsy pagan umbrella, getting to decide who’s in and who’s out, and ultimately who gets to decide who the gods are and what Paganism means, precisely the same matter address by Grey regarding witchcraft.

      • 

        I agree that certain groups think they are the gatekeepers. I’ve tried to join other like-minded groups of people to talk about and enjoy similar beliefs, but i always end up leaving because they try to impose their ways onto me – Or because they are hierarchical.
        My view is no one is above or below anyone.
        And it all seems a bit ‘middle class’ with the cost of workshops, talks, etc.. £500 for a weekend – Omg-ess.!
        So, i’m a bit of a lone wolf. And i’ve learned so much.
        It’s an individual journey. We can learn much from other people’s experiences/perspectives but we learn the most from delving within our selves.
        I’ll be honest – i don’t know what some of the words mean (polytheists) – and i won’t look them up because i know i will immediately forget what they mean – because i don’t need them in my vocabulary. Labels are very constricting.
        So, here i am in Wales, on a journey of re-remembering, while i sit for hours up the mountain. And i know the mountain, valleys, sky, clouds, sun, moon, birds, insects and the wise old trees are my teachers.. And Earth holds my sacred space.
        Thank you for your articles/essays. They resonate with me.! It’s nice to hear from other like-(but not the same)-minded people.
        When are you in the UK.? I hope you visit and maybe give a talk in S.Wales.
        Siân Morgan

      • 

        “’ve tried to join other like-minded groups of people to talk about and enjoy similar beliefs, but i always end up leaving because they try to impose their ways onto me – Or because they are hierarchical.”

        Yes. Most people I talk to are like this. It would seem we’ve forgotten that defining other people’s religious experience is a way of claiming power over them.

        I may possibly be in Cardiff in the middle of December; otherwise, there’s a possibility I may move there for a few months next spring. 🙂

    • 

      Unfortunately, there are a number of big-name pagans here who are very insistent on including everyone and having infinite variability in this, that, or the other aspect of the pagan umbrella/tent, but who then castigate polytheists for actually being polytheists (i.e. acknowledging the individuality of many deities), who refer to us as “you people,” who say they need not respect us, our groups, or our practices, who dismiss anything that they think implies “theology” (which is *Christian* and therefore *BAD* despite the fact that Plato–an ancient polytheist!–invented the term) and accuses us of doing it and of therefore being outside of what is good for Paganism, etc. They often implicitly include us–even when we ask not to be included–in their schema of the pagan umbrella, critique us for wanting to have rules and boundaries even within our own individual practices, and then start saying who is and isn’t a “real pagan,” all amidst a wonder about why it is that polytheists are then trying to break their umbrella.

      It’s not everyone, by any means, but once one has heard a few loud people say things like this, it gets very tiresome.

      • 

        Yup. I lost respect for some of those BNPs who claim to Know What’s Best in spite of demonstrations that that vision is flawed.

        I have an acquaintance who claims I am not a feminist. Between that and some other odd behavior patterns wrt me, such as reading-in unkind motivations to actions I haven’t taken, but some uninformed person opined I would, I may just walk away from that connection, in spite of the fact that her wife and I have been friends for several years before they connected. That our family and that couple have previously been very close knit is unfortunate. After we did a restorative justice session in 2011, I have not noticed any improvement in how she treats or behaves towards me. A lot of times I just roll my eyes, but I’m sure that if I confront her with it, it’ll be seen as “all about me”.

        I hate someone telling me what I am or am not, unless it’s a medical professional or a teacher of mine, when they are projecting something on me that doesn’t exist save in their own mind; and I am thus entirely sympathetic to those who’ve gone through the same thing.

  9. 

    Something….some deep connection riding under these words stirs a longing to hug you. To hold you. To weep with you.

  10. 

    Hey there Rhyd. Do you realize that two of the people involved in the conversation you linked as “those clamouring for grip upon the flimsy “Pagan umbrella,” the older and venerable witch-cults,” write for Gods & Radicals; namely, myself and Yvonne Aburrow? And we both spoke positively of “the Pagan Umbrella?” And this was preceded by this paragraph: “The Polytheists may one day become the new flaccid elders, searching for relevance, trolling for fresh voices to add to their empires, for influence, for power, and for the sacred coin, and three decades from now shake their heads at the new upstarts clamoring for revolution, hearing voices, wielding strange magics we thought we’d locked up behind gates.” And that strongly implies that you meant to apply those pejorative statements to the people mentioned in the link?

    Was that your intention?

    • 

      That was not my intention, no. Gwion Raven was also part of that conversation, as well, and I do not think any of you involved were ‘clamoring for grip on the Pagan umbrella.’

      I was trying–probably clumsily–to discuss the jockeying for ‘center’ of many self-appointed Pagan & Polytheist & Witch gatekeepers, and attempting to point out that the Pagan religions maintain their radicalism specifically because no one gets to be Pope or Heirophant or King.

      However, I can understand that the juxtaposition of the link and the statement may have made it appear I was asserting complicity. I did not intend to. How do you suggest I ameliorate this?

      • 

        *nods* I was sure I’d remembered Gwion writing on G&R too but I couldn’t find him when I did a search. I must have typed his name wrong.

        Thanks, Rhyd. I’m glad that wasn’t what you meant. Your prose is so poetic I’m afraid to make any suggestions to change it because I’m afraid it will lose something. And your message — namely, that there can be no Gatekeepers — is spot on.

        Maybe ditch the link?

      • 

        Removed the link! I hope anyone who made that association reads this comment. :/

        Gwion’s not a G&R writer (yet?) but he spoke at MGW.

        Thanks for pointing that out….trying to be aware of as many potential readings as possible is difficult, even as it’s a practice that makes one a better writer. It’s always good to learn when it was read in an unintended way so I can adjust. 🙂

      • 

        I have been there more than once! Waving my hands frantically trying to say “no, no, not what I meant, so sorry!” 🙂 It’s cool.

  11. 

    Wet boots? That was literally me getting caught in the rain today in old leaky trainers! Squish! On a more serious note I feel there’s some deeper meaning why these stories of opened floodgates are returning again. Dahut, Seithenin’s drunken mistake and Gwyddno’s drowned land (may have actually been caused by a lake spirit). Why these drowned lands are coming back into view. Why we’re remembering Doggerland. Because the past speaks the future. Because these times and places are coming together in a constellation to form some new jezt-zeit?

    • 

      Jetzt-zeit indeed, one that I fear we’ll miss, or one that others may seize, if those who see what’s coming try instead to keep those floodgates closed.

      There’s an essay I just read, submitted for the G&R journal, that you’ll really like, and it speaks of the katechon, those who’ve seen the apocalypse, compares it to the anthropocene (in fact, suggests it is a katechon), and how they are both a return of the ‘uncanny’ (which is in essence, ‘the Other.’)

    • 

      Also, interestingly–some of the myths of Dahut have a drunken gate guard whom she seduces, possibly the source of Seithenin, or possibly both hearkening to an older myth.

    • 

      I gather the rain, or at least its strength, was unexpected, and kept you from wearing your wellies?

      In 1978 or ’79, I was on my bicycle with my boyfriend, returning after dark, in a thunderstorm with heavy rain, along a poorly paved and lit road with no sidewalks or kerb. While our bikes had notice-me light, the “headlight” was relatively weak. With lightning strikes blinding us for 10-30 seconds each, and the potholes at the side of the road we couldn’t see for the water covering them, when we got back to my place, a mile or two from the mall, we emptied a cup from each thoroughly soaked boot. I hope never to experience that again!

      Your feet were probably turning into ice blocks: you have my complete sympathy.

      When you say, Drowned lands are coing back into view, I find the meaning ambiguous–could you elaborate? With global warning, I’d expect more lands to be drowning than exposed.

      • 

        To be honest the rain wasn’t too unexpected and my feet got so wet due to the leakiness of my old trainers!

        Sorry, I’ll explain a bit further about drowned / exposed lands. In Britain we have a long history of myths about drowned lands off the west coast which have some basis in fact. Britain once stretched to the Isle of Man and people inhabited that land. When the Sub Atlantic period began (@2BC) the Irish Sea rose and drowned those lands. The notion of drowned lands was often seen as a myth. However recent storms have exposed, for example, the lost lands of Gwyddno Garanhir http://awenydd.cymru/2015/02/21/maes-gwyddno-and-the-waters-of-the-otherworld/ and possibly even the place where Taliesin was found http://welshmythology.com/2015/05/01/the-birth-of-taliesin/ Their exposure is reminding us these myths are real. The massive rise in sea levels that happened when these myths originated is recurring again. It’s as if the land and the stories are reminding us. And that’s where I’m at in this chain of thoughts at the moment!

      • 

        This is a reply to Lorna Smithers’ reply to my query, there being no reply link there:
        I hadn’t heard of the uncovering of those sites–thanks for the links: I will read them!

  12. 

    Where did you get this translation of ‘The Chair of Ceridwen’ by the way? I’m only familiar with the translations (Skene, Nash, John Matthews) that feature a rainbow and make no mention of venom.

    • 

      ‘Gwenwyn’ roughly translates as poison 🙂 the translation at http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/t16.html looks to b this one or vice versa

    • 

      I’d just found it a few months ago…there’s a druidic order on Anglesy that did a translation recently. The only one I’d seen was the rainbow one too, and if I remember correctly, one of the common translations suggests that rainbow brings peace or somesuch and has no intimation of violence.

      • 

        Ah… the Anglesey Druid Order – Kristoffer Hughes 🙂 Only a few words and the order have changed, but the sense has shifted entirely. Was it in your writing on Arianrhod I came across the notion that the poisonous stream mentioned here could bear some relation to Gweir’s grey-blue chain when he was imprisoned in Caer Sidi? I’m also sure I’ve read somewhere this venom relates to the poison from the broken cauldron.

        And in relation to all this, quite interestingly not far from the Dahut myth’s location, I’m reading about Blanqui’s imprisonment in the sea fortress the Fort du Taureau off the north coast of France where he wrote ‘Eternity by the Stars’ – a very Taliesin-like vision doing away with linear time and progress that inspired Walter Benjamin. If you have time I’d recommend you check it out.

  13. 

    Reblogged this on Mysa and commented:
    Reading this, I feel as I did reading Peter Grey, and I wonder what is stirring inside me.

  14. 

    “Yes. Most people I talk to are like this. It would seem we’ve forgotten that defining other people’s religious experience is a way of claiming power over them.
    I may possibly be in Cardiff in the middle of December; otherwise, there’s a possibility I may move there for a few months next spring. :)”

    They will never claim power over me. They can try as i wave goodbye.
    That’s good news about you visiting & maybe living in Cardiff – if the possible’s become reality. I live about half an hour away from Cardiff; I’m in the valleys. So, if you want to do another sort of ‘worship’ – just being with nature – then i’ll be more than happy to join you for some walks and talks.

    Compared to any of the other cities i’ve lived in or visited, Cardiff is more like a very large village. And five minutes out of the city, in any direction, nature and heritage is there, on the doorstep. I’m not talking about the castles and other oppressive symbols of English dominance over the Welsh people – i’m talking about the ancient cairns and stone circles in the vicinity. Dr William Price’s Serpent Stones are just down the road in Pontypridd. A friend of mine has highlighted all the places of ‘ancient’ interest on his OS Map. Wow, there’s so many.

    I want to go on a pilgrimage to Mona (Anglesey) one day. This is where everyone in Europe trained in the ‘arts.’
    And one day i will walk the whole of Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – amazing natural beauty.
    “Lonely Planet said….
    one of the best long distance trails in the world!”
    http://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/explore-pembrokeshire/coast-path/

    Did you know, just up the road from Cardiff, in the Gower (close to Swansea), they found the oldest/ritual burial remains in western Europe? They thought the remains were that of a woman but later discovered it was a man – Although, the name has stuck – The Red Lady of Paviland.
    http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-history/gower-caves/paviland-goats-cave-red-lady

    Oh and Ystradfellte Waterfalls are amazing for any free-spirit. Every time i visit, i get a wonderful feeling of empowerment.!
    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ystradfellte+waterfalls&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=667&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0CDQQsARqFQoTCO3h2_qt2McCFYpYFAodmR0KTQ&dpr=1

    Haha, i’m off on a roll. You can probably tell, i’m in love the Welsh landscape! And i’m always happy to show people how lush it is.
    And i have lots more exploring to do for myself.
    So much to do and so little a life to do it all in. 🙂

  15. 

    Do you remember ages ago I mentioned Skene’s translation of ‘The Chair of Ceridwen’ which features a rainbow?

    ‘Arianrod, of laudable aspect, dawn of serenity,
    The greatest disgrace evidently on the side of the Brython,
    Hastily sends about his court the stream of a rainbow,
    A stream that scares away violence from the earth.
    The poison of its former state, about the world, it will leave.’

    I recently found this quote in Tom Zoellner’s ‘Uranium’ in relation to Mount Brockman, a mountain sacred to the Aboriginal people of Australia, which was still being mined in 2009. In a pond at the top dwells a sleeping serpent who is ‘cousin to a greater beast known as the Rainbow Serpent, who was responsible for creating the world. She is the giver and taker of life, and cannot be disturbed… If the serpent should ever rise, she would create a flood so large that the world would end.’

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