Happy Vanadis Day!

Here it is Vanadis Day again, and this year I decided to give the Lady a gift for her day.

As I’ve mentioned here before, lately, I’ve been lately taking ugly old clothes from the thrift store and turning them into cute clothes. Which, in general, I think is more up Sif’s alley than Freyja’s, what with Sif turning the mind to love and getting beautiful hair out of losing it all and all that. But Freyja would obviously never turn down a pretty dress. 

So the other day, I went to the thrift store with the express purpose of purchasing the ugliest red dress I could find to make Freyja’s dress out of. And boy, did the thrift store ever deliver on that.

red dress before front

red dress back beforeOh, where to start? The ugly sleeves, the weird womb triangle, the pleats around the womb triangle. 

We had a couple of snow days this week (Hey, Holda!), and so I spent one of them taking apart almost every piece of this dress except the neckline and making a whole new dress, which of course makes me feel like dancing for Freyja in a dress for Freyja:

red dress after 1 red dress after 2 red dress after 3 red dress back after

Hail Freyja, the wife of Odh, the beautiful Vanadis!

Hail to she who makes tears sparkle with her magic!

Hail Freyja, falcon-flier, who grants passion and beauty in all of our days, who gave me my husband and my faith, enjoy this dress on this day filled with the lovers’ embrace.

Happy Vanadis Day!

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A (Blasphemous and) Funny Conversation with my Husband

Necessary backstory: My (Christian) husband and I are always joking that he’s basically a dog and I’m basically a cat.

So a few weeks ago, I was reading How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, and a section gave me the most blasphemous thought I have ever had. While writing about a Middle Ages chalice for use in communion in comparison to a bronze age cauldron that depicts human sacrifice, Cahill says:

It is the most extraordinary metal-work of the early Middle Ages, both barbaric and refined, solid and airy, bold and restrained. Like the Cauldron, it was forged for ritual, but it makes a happier statement about sacrifice, for the God to whom it is dedicated no longer demands that we nourish him and thus become one with his godhead. The transaction has been reversed: he offers himself to us as heavenly nourishment. In this new “economy,” we drink the Blood of God, and all become one by partaking of the one cup, the one destiny.”

So I thought, if in Christianity, it is God who gives the blood sacrifice to man, does that make God the worshiper and Man the Gods? I told my husband about my blasphemous thought. He laughed and said it was in fact the most blasphemous thing I’d ever said. He’s used to me blowing his mind with how much I can blaspheme by purposefully misunderstanding Christianity.

Anyway, my mother-in-law gets a daily joke email and sometimes forwards them to us when she particularly likes a joke. Today’s joke was this:

“Dog: You pet me, feed me, play with me, love me … you must be a god!
Cat: You pet me, feed me, play with me, love me … I must be a god!”

So my husband responded to me with this email:

“The joke is just like the blasphemous comment you made the other day with the sacrifice thing. Christians think like the dog and your thought is in line with the cat. :)”

And I responded to him with this email:

“The joke reminds me of my blasphemous thought. I guess the difference between pagan gods and Christian ones is whether they are dogs or cats. :)”

And then I responded with this:

“Hilarious. I sent that before I read your response. We must think alike even though you’re a dog and I’m a cat. :)”

And he finished the conversation with this:

“Yep. and that right there explains our whole relationship. Me the dog, you the cat. :)”

 

On Paganism and Christian Privilege

So here I am, getting settled in my new life, when the fact that I’m now living in the Bible Belt becomes quite clear. I was having a phone interview for a dance teaching position (Yay! I’m now teaching ballet to teenagers!), and the studio owner just dropped that she owns a studio because that was God’s plan for her life. When I met her in person, she was talking about Church.

And it made me think of all the ways that this could never be my life. I don’t have the Christian privilege to drop m faith into a formal conversation like a job interview, no matter whether I was the interviewer or the interviewee. And it’s strange for me because in Philadelphia, people’s religions were a private thing in a way they aren’t here.

One of my first posts here was on my desire for public piety, a way to show my faith without having to tell anyone about it. But now I see that a public faith comes with it certain downsides. The main one of which is that you are automatically subject to people’s stereotypes. If people know I’m a  pagan upon first meeting me, many here in the Bible Belt wouldn’t make any effort to get to know me at all. If, instead, my faith is something people learn after they already know me a bit, I can break stereotypes and encourage discussion.

So since I moved here, I took my religion off of my Facebook profile. I thought that with all the new people I’m meeting, there is no reason to make things any more awkward than they need to be when people first look at my profile. But it’s got me thinking about why I’m a Pagan anyway and why I have chosen to give up the Christian privilege.

There are a lot of people and forces trying to make me go back to Christianity–the mainstream, and especially my mother who has now stopped totally ignoring my conversion and is instead dropping snide comments here and there. But I have no desire to give up this beautiful faith. It’s been a long time since I wrote about why I chose (and continue to choose) paganism, and Imbolc is the seventh anniversary of my first good pagan ritual (even though I don’t celebrate Imbolc anymore) so I thought it would be a good time for a refresher.

I am a pagan because I believe that a multitude of stories for a multitude of people and experiences is a more helpful religious paradigm. I can find comfort in Freyja’s story when I miss my love, Sif’s story when my hair falls out, Holda’s story when the first flakes of snow fall in winter, any number of stories for any number of pains and joys.

I am a pagan because the gods and the land speak to me. I hear the beauty of the goddesses in the call of the birds, I see Freyja sparking in the sunlight glinting on the surface of water. I feel Sif when my hair brushes my lower back. I feel Thor when the thunder shakes my home. I remember that the trees are living beings who give to us. I remember that was also give something to the trees. I remember that the land is not something we own, but our nurturing mother who provides us with our food, our air, our homes, our bodies.

I am a pagan because the mainstream is not good these days. What is mainstream and conventional is a toxic and unhealthy relationship to the land and our bodies. It is toxic to our minds and our souls and our ability to spend time or energy on the things that matter in life instead of rushing from work to the store to home and to bed. I want a life that has time for leisure with my family, that has space for remembering my soul. To gain the Christian privilege of dropping bits about my faith into everyday language, I would have to give up so much more. I would have to give up Freyja and Sif and Holda and Thor in exchange for one story of redemption.

If every story must fit the narrative of sin and redemption, or of progress which is also redemption from backwardness, than there can be no stories of loss. No stories of stasis. No stories of change for its own sake. Not everything needs to be redeemed, most things and spirits and people and flora and fauna and planets and stars just need to tell their own stories. Stories as multifaceted at the universe, as big as the galaxy, as bright as the sun or as dark as the far side of the moon.