I began this blog to keep a journal of my musings as a member of a Neopagan religion, as a Celtoi-Norse Polytheist and Animist. The phrase has always been misleading. Sometimes I call myself a Heathen. Sometimes I call myself Vanatru. Sometimes I call myself a Neopagan Animist. All of these are true, and all of these are somewhat misleading. I am not just a Heathen, I am also Druidic. I am not just Vanatru, I am Celtoi-Norse. I am not just Celtoi-Norse, I believe in multiple pantheons, each their own set of spirits, each with their own personalities, desires, and agendas. I have worked with Apollo, with Zeus, with Veles, with Thor, with Nit, with Wepwawet, with Djehuti. I have worked with other Pagans who worked with Kuan Yin, Tsukuyomi, and Astarte. While I have, up to this point, considered myself primarily a Northern Germanic practitioner with Celtic leanings, I have done things and helped out in ways that I could probably be considered a member of any of a number of religions within the Pagan umbrella, as well as Gnosticism.
I’m not good with keeping a journal, and a year’s hiatus from a blog that was supposed to chronicle my on-going journey shows that flaw in my practice. I love to write, but some days, the words to put to pen seem to escape me. Like anyone, I have work and projects that attract and even demand my attention. So allow me to start by stating that while the changes chronicled in this post may seem sudden, they are the product of a year of confusion, research, practice, and change.
I will always owe my practice to Freyja of the Vanir. She has been a steadfast star to guide me since 2004, when I finally gave up all pretense and fully embraced a Pagan path. The practice that I have is not going to change, except as circumstances require and as my dedication to Her continues to evolve and grow. As I have said above, however, I am not simply Hers. I belong to others, both in the Norse and Celtic pantheons, and I work with more besides. A friend once joked with me that, just as I was (and am) polyamorous, I was also “poly-religious.” She implied that I could not possibly be with just one God or Goddess, and that I would never close myself off to other Gods who wished to work with me, regardless of pantheon. She was right.
I honor a long list of Gods at my rituals, among them the Norns, Herne the Hunter, Manannan Mac Lir, Gwydion, the Morrigan, Odin, Thor, and even Loki. Some I only name as a part of a pantheon, the Tuatha De Danaan, the Children of Don, the Aesir, Vanir, and Rokkr, and the Olympians. I honor Yeshua Messiah as my first spiritual teacher. Yet even I do not always include all in my rites, and up until recently, I have chosen to ignore a set of Gods which have shown interest in me, even as I knew I had interest in them. These are the Deiwos, the Gods of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, the religion that supposedly predates the veneration of any of the Indo-European deities I mentioned above. Every time I look into them for research, or check something related to comparative mythology and religion, they are there, reminding me that I should look into them, should include them, should practice in their way. The idea has scared me. The idea has straight-out terrified me that I should join their number and honor them as they wish me to. Of course, they are not asking anything of me that Freyja has not, that Skuld has not, that Herne has not. I should be happy to include them, as an animist. I should probably be happy to work with them.
Instead, I fear the possibility.
Why should I fear them? Familiarity, for one. The practice I have been working on since 2004 is familiar to me, it works, and I feel the power of it. I know it works, and I know I contact my Gods this way. I know Freyja is pleased with my practice in this way. She lets me know that the offerings were accepted, that blessings are given, that *ghosti is satisfied. She gives me respect, and I respect her in turn, and I feel that relationship bear fruit, and have for over 11 years, now. The practice of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, however, is not familiar, is untried in my home, untested in my heart. The Gods are unfamiliar; they speak, but it is a very different power, from a different time. I can feel they exist, but – and let’s be honest – no set of scholars can agree on which Gods of the Deiwos are certainly real and which ones may be false reconstructions. There are few sources on the subject, and nothing remains directly of the practices of these people, or the tales of these Gods. It is all uncharted territory.
Second, I have a practice already. A practice that works for me. A Goddess that works with me. A power that flows from me. Freyja has been my beacon and shining light, even through my dealings with Herne, with Skuld, with Laufey. She has been my shield when I have angered Zeus, and my ally when Hera came calling after me. Up until now, I could say that I had no need to work with the Deiwos, because I had Her on my side. Up to now, She has jealously guarded Her relationship with me, even in regard to mortal lovers, deeming them worthy or unworthy. Now, however, She states clearly that my life has been building to this, that She wants me to work with the Deiwos. What does this mean? Am I still Hers? Is She relegating me to their care? What does it mean if She is? What does it mean if She isn’t?
It all comes down to this. She has asked me to not ignore them longer, to listen to the possibility, to consider it, to take it. I made offerings. I made my prayers to the Deiwos, proscribed as recommended by Ceisiwr Serith in Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. The offering itself was not as recommended, but this was a simple prayer, not a full holiday ritual. I went down into meditative prayer, and I got a response. Paxuson, the Shepherd, the God of Roads spoke to me, and delineated the first in what I believe is a long set of lists of responsibilities and benefits. I am considering them, even as I am considering the situation.
This isn’t just a simple personal gnosis of another spirit, one of many I have had. This is a surprise, and a telling one, at that. This is yet another horned God in a long list of them, Herne, Cernunnos, Pan (wasn’t there something about An Dagda sporting horns from time to time, too?) who is interested in me and willing to make contact, offering a bargain, a *ghosti relationship. If you study PIE religion, say what you will as to whether Paxuson is a horned God, or even a God at all: that is how He manifested to me, and there’s ample evidence to consider the supposition based on the descendant names. Several of the horned Gods have similar aspects: they deal with either roads or act as psychopomps, they border the wild world, and they also are Gods of Wealth and Plenty. Paxuson seems no different. Going on into the peer-corroborated gnosis of those nearest and dear to me, horned Gods tend to be at the very least bisexual, and some are out-and-out gay. None of these aspects are a problem in the long run of dealing with the spirit, but at the same time, they are something that may indicate where and how the Deiwos wish me to begin. Not to mention, there is another implication that terrifies me more than practicing with the Deiwos in general: I am fairly comfortable in my sexuality (I am attracted to women romantically and erotically, though I can appreciate males aesthetically), but nowhere near comfortable in the concept of my gender-fluidity (shape-shifting between male and female, spiritually, is a common aspect of my practice; portraying that change in the physical world is an uncomfortable challenge).
There is also the fact that this was by far not the God I expected to make an appearance (not the first time I’ve been wrong, I’ll admit). I, frankly, expected Xakom Nepot (H²epom Nepots), God of the Waters, to show, as He has been the one to brow-beat me every time I skirt the edge of looking into PIE Paganism and decide against practicing. I know He will be a part of my practice – an important part – but the fact that He was not the one to approach me also has terrifying implications.
There are some of the requests that were made that concern me somewhat. I am expected to work in a more PIE manner. This does not mean I have to do exactly what was done in the ancient days (and how could I, since none of that information has been passed down?), but it does mean that I have to work from a more PIE cosmology than a strictly Neopagan Animist/Celtoi-Norse cosmology. It means delineating edges of the ritual space, and adhering more strictly to ritual offerings and acceptable substitutions. None of this is beyond my ability to do, but it is more effort than I have heretofore been expected to make, and deviation will be less-tolerated than I am used to. This sort of thing would make anyone nervous, from a new boss in a job expecting more from an employee than the previous supervisor to a tightening of the laws controlling aspects of one’s life. I am concerned I will slip up, that I will not make the grade, or that my poor memory will get me into trouble.
There is another side to this situation, that I really should have considered years ago. I am attracted to the ideas of Proto-Indo-European words, such as *ghosti, *xartus, and *gheuter. They ring true to me. *Ghosti, for example, was used over 150 times in my fourth draft of the manuscript I’m working on for Neopagan Animism, out of a total of 221 pages. That was one use of the word every page to every couple of pages. I certainly pared that down after it was pointed out, but the word means a lot to me, and works in ways that no word in English ever has.
So, after a year of silence, I dust off my old online journal and prepare to make use of it yet again. I am going to try to faithfully chronicle the aspects of this journey, and where it takes me, both as a Priest of Freyja and as a Neopagan. I am uncertain whether it will take me to a closer walk with the Deiwos than the Vanir or Tuatha De Danaan, but I imagine the journey will be interesting, to me at least.