Having heard our call for prayers to Goddesses, particularly those carrying the title 'Queen of Heaven,' Alan Leddon responded with this lovely prayer to Epona, a Celtic Goddess Whose worship is slowly being restored in the modern day. Praise Her.
Prayer to Epona
(Epona was the Celtic (Gaulish) Goddess of Horses, Sovereignty, and Soldiers. She was popular with both Gaulish and Roman soldiers and mercenaries. In some parts of Gaul, a new ruler started his rain with a hierogamy to a horse standing in place of Epona; if the crops or land failed, it was assumed that the ruler had failed in his duties as Her husband!)
Goddess of Soldiers!
Wife to the rightful Ruler!
Queen of the Land!
We salute you!
In perfect order, we await your commands!
We ask your blessing on those Warriors who are true to their oaths.
We ask your blessing upon the land and its rightful rulers.
We ask your blessing upon those who oppose the foes of the rightful rulers.
We ask your blessing on those who oppose the usurpers of the land.
As Warriors have ever done, we stand asone to protect our homes, our kin, and our path.
We ask that you look upon us, Epona, and find favor in our struggles!
We who fight salute you!
By Alan Leddon
As part of their agenda of spiritual impoverishment, groups like the New Apostolic Reform (the people behind the DC40 campaign) also find the idea of female Divinity immensely threatening. In recent months, there have been murmurings and even a book (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1585020168/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=thewildhunt-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1585020168) attacking the "Queen of Heaven." Goddesses are commonly venerated across indigenous traditions, and that certainly holds true for the European polytheisms that the spread of Christianity destroyed. In the ongoing onslaught against indigeny and contemporary indigenous restoration, it's no surprise then, to see female Divinities coming under attack. This is nothing new.
In light of this, however, we encourage readers to send us your prayers and invocations to the Queen of Heaven (be it Isis, Inanna, Astarte, or any other great and gracious Goddess who bears that name). Let us spend the last couple of weeks of the Turtle Island initiative giving praise to these Deities, pouring out offerings to Them, and sharing poems, prayers, and invocations of adoration. Let the praises of the Queens of Heaven be sung loudly and high, and one day soon, perhaps Their rites will drown out the turgid buffoonery of monotheism.
So send us your prayers: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we'll post them here, that the Queen of Heaven --every Goddess who ever bore that title--may again be praised and honored. We'll post them here as we continue this virtual offensive against the poison and conquest-born agenda of the DC40 program.
(As to the bible, the authority so often called upon in condemnation of various Goddesses: As educated and multi-lingual human beings, we find this misogyny utterly ridiculous. The very bible that these groups so enshrine (often over and above their own God--Jesus said love your neighbor, folks, not bludgeon him into ideological submission) uses terminology in the original Hebrew that translates not only as male AND female, but as a plurality of divinity ('elohim,' the word used for 'God' in Genesis comes to mind). Humanity is said to have been created in the image of God "male and female they were created, in the image of God, they were created." Moreover, the Bible is a polytheistic text. It nowhere denies the existence of other Gods, rather giving the mandate to the Hebrew tribes that they ought to have no other Deity before YWHW. That's henotheism, not monotheism. Monotheism came later. It wasn't until Christianity began to gain political power that other Deities were actively and successfully demonized. It was part of the early Christian agenda in co-opting Pagan spiritual language and turning Latin and Greek into languages of conquest. I think what it comes down to is that the concept of a female divinity or divinities is one that cannot be so easily twisted to support the paternalistic, (often white), male privilege that these people so often enshrine as holy).
By Manaya Aracoel
Colonialism is a system that requires collaborators in order to perpetuate itself. This fact has become increasingly apparent in recent days. While major news corporations would cover the smallest Tea Party get together, Occupy Wall Street was ignored by the Media until the level of collaboration with corporate interests became so ridiculously obvious as the scope of the movement spread that they were forced to acknowledge the its existence. Every colonized people has had a select few handpicked for slightly better treatment as long as they worked to advance the interests of the empowered and try to stifle the voices of dissent.
I have seen a lot of feedback about indigeny and the forging of alliances and the awakening of a pan-indigenous consciousness…and much of it centers on a fear of being perceived as radical or of alienating the dominant group. This begs the question: why are we so concerned with appeasing Christians when they are praying for our disempowerment and destroying our sacred items? Why are we so afraid to appear upset about the disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples? Which side are we on? And can it even be called equality if we achieve it by silencing our own voices and stifling our narratives as the price for inclusion?
There is plenty of lip service given in the larger neo-pagan community about wanting to be inclusive and wanting to connect and be friendly with indigenous polytheists practicing their ancestral ways. I’ve heard some bemoan the fact that the indigenous people are standoffish or suspicious of neo-pagan motives. Well, here’s an excellent reason why: as we speak there is at least one pagan news source that will rush to cover almost any pagan event no matter how small scale…and they have outright refused to cover the Turtle Island 42 initiative and I have to wonder why that is. It certainly sends the message that indigeny isn’t important for Pagans, which might come as a surprise to some of those self-same Pagans. So, if, at the end of the day, indigenous peoples do not trust the larger neo-pagan community, perhaps it is because we fear that they may be too attached to their white privilege to risk pissing off The Man. Perhaps too many of us with tans have had our conversations about race and conquest shut down by people who were concerned that we were “living in the past” or “angry” or “militant” or somehow oppressing white Christians by our failure to ignore our pasts and our present realities in order to accommodate their sensibilities. We may have been told that talking about conquest, genocide and slavery (particularly in interfaith settings) upsets the descendants of our conquerors. The message is that it is more important to pander to the dominant group than it is to be true to ourselves. Yet one cannot and should not talk about reclaiming indigeny without also talking about why it was lost in the first place, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
Diversity is not about people of all colors and ethnicities being tolerated as long as they look, think and act assimilated. True diversity respects the multitude of experiences and faith and cultures being expressed to their fullest potential and celebrates the existence of difference even while asserting our common humanity. This is what the DC-40ers don’t get. And those who would ignore or silence the segments of the pagan or polytheist or indigenous population because “they might make us look bad to the Christians” are collaborators. And if they think the likes of the DC-40 are going to accept them, no matter how nice they play, they are also deluded.
We are at war. It is not a war we asked for or wanted. Indigenous people have been on the frontlines for centuries. It isn’t a war for commodities or for money, but for cultural spiritual (and often physical) survival against a colonial machine that would eradicate us. The DC-40 has openly declared spiritual warfare on everything and everyone who does not conform to their Dominionist Christian worldview. The time has come to awake, rise up and choose a side.
Yesterday, Montana had the dubious fortune of being the focus of the DC40 campaign and today it's South Dakota. Pour out an offering to the Gods and ask that such spiritual poison gain no foothold and no purchase in the hearts of those who dwell in those states. Be strong, Montana. Be strong, South Dakota. You're not alone. Resist. Resist. Resist.
This campaign goes well beyond simple proselytizing. It is blatant attack on spiritual freedom. It is the use of spirituality as a weapon. I read a story today in the news about Air Force Cadets who feel so pressured by fundamentalist Christians that they are forced to hide their faith and pretend to be Christian. You can read that story here: http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/10/13/111125/16
Reading this made me sick to my stomach. This, dear Readers, is terrorism pure and simple. It is spiritual terrorism. This is the type of thing that we are committed to fighting and this is precisely the type of thing that you would never find within an indigenous world-view.
We are charged, each and every one of us, with reclaiming the filter of our indigeny. What does that mean exactly? Well, for starters, American "secularism" isn't. It's a very Protestant Christian Weltanschauung and over the past decade has grown more and more reactionary and fundamentalist. The filter of monotheism, rooted as it is in that reality, is far older. The filter of monotheism has its roots in colonialism and conquest. it is a lens through which our every interaction in the world is filtered. It colors everything. It breeds intolerance, fear, hatred, and poverty--physical and spiritual (the first corporation, as I was recently reminded by one of my students, was, after all, the Church).
The filter of indigeny is different. It is rooted in a glorious multiplicity of ancestors and Holy Powers, of an awareness of the sacredness of the land and our interconnected relationship with all life. It is rooted in responsibility and respect. You may see conquest within indigenous cultures, but you'll not see the type of religious totalitarianism that you find with the history of monotheism; and everyone has indigenous roots. Every single person born on this earth, if they go back far enough comes from an indigenous culture. He or she has a tribe. Those of us coming from European descent have just forgotten that.
I maintain that the genocide and conquest of the Americas could never, ever have happened if Europe hadn't first been overrun by monotheism. The spread of monotheism across Europe brought with it a cultural and religious destruction. It destroyed our native traditions and then, in some sort of cultural Stockholm Syndrome, we fell into line and came across the ocean and did the same thing to others. It's time to wake up and realize what we lost the moment we laid down the threads of responsibility, obligation and connection to the ways of our ancestors. It's time to reclaim our traditions.
This is a frightening thing. It means first becoming aware of the filter so many of us wear. It means confronting privilege (white, Christian privilege), it means being willing to tear that filter off and step away from that and look at the world in a whole new way. It means questioning everything. But you know what? It needs to be done. Our ancestors are crying out. our world is suffering. The alternative is the poison of spirit, heart, and mind proferred by the DC40 and folks like them.
Our ancestors did not suffer, they did not fight and die, and sacrifice and hope and dream and work hard to see us walk willingly into spiritual slavery. THAT is not the legacy they left for us. Fight that filter, even when it's difficult--most especially when it's difficult. In this we must all be warriors.
Within days of going live with the Turtle Island Initiative, we received notice of the desecration of several Pagan temples. Contemporary Paganism is, in part, an attempt to revive, restore, and return to our ancestral –i.e. indigenous—ways. Not unexpectedly, such restoration has often been met with violent resistance.
The most recent attack occurred on Sept. 26 in Poltava, Ukraine by Christians against a Temple of Jupiter in the process of being built by the growing Roman polytheist community there. The pontifex
was injured defending the altar. The graffiti left at the site reads “Die, Heathens.” More information can be found here: http://cultusdeorumromanorum.blogspot.com/2011/10/temple-site-desecration.html
and here: http://www.sodahead.com/living/temple-of-jupiter-perennus-that-is-being-built-for-pagan-community-in-poltava-ukraine-was-attacked/question-2196325/
. The latter site has a link where readers may go to donate in support of the desecrated temple.
This is hardly the first attack in recent months on Pagan and polytheistic places of worship. Earlier this year, a band of Christians attacked a Romuva sanctuary in Lithuania. Romuva happens to be the indigenous Pagan religion of Lithuania and since the fall of communism in that area, has been experiencing a rebirth. It has also been meeting violent resistance from the Christian Orthodox Church, as the latter scrambles to reclaim the power it lost in the area with the rise of communism. Are we seeing a pattern yet?
These attacks are not limited to areas in the process of recovering from communism. Let’s look a little closer to home. Last year in Ohio, Christians attacked a CUUPS sanctuary and in New Jersey, a Christian group desecrated a Hindu Temple. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
In “Moses and Monotheism,” Freud wrote that “religious intolerance was inevitably born with the belief in one God.” Conversion era documents chronicle again and again the brutal destruction of Pagan and Heathen places of worship. They also, of course, chronicle the brutal torture and slaughter of many Pagans and Heathens. It is easy for us to assume that such violence and intolerance are things of the past, of prior, darker, less-enlightened times. The truth is however, that given half a chance, the same type of violence happens today. It is happening and it’s happening in the name of monotheistic doctrine. We have Christian clergy preaching of the need to wipe out Pagans today, now, in our own supposedly enlightened times. This
is the fruit of monotheism.
Our pre-Christian ancestors may have engaged in wars of conquest but it wasn’t until the rise of monotheistic doctrines that one finds this happening repeatedly in the name of religious righteousness. A cultural imperative after all, is quite different from the embedded authority of a moral one. Across the world, there are those men and women—Jewish, Muslim, Christian – who practice their religions and live in peace. We commend them, however, if they are not speaking up against the hatred, violence, and villainy of their monotheistic compatriots, they are part of the problem. What is it the philosophers say about the only thing evil needing to triumph is for otherwise good men to do nothing?
Part of the issue as we see it, is that anyone coming from the (in America) Christian majority is speaking from a place of privilege. Most don’t even realize it and for those that do, most are unwilling to give that privilege up. How often do we hear reports of certain types of Christians screaming about oppression when all that’s being asked is that they cease harassing others with their beliefs? It is the fundamentalist mindset. Others, otherwise tolerant human beings, respond with anger, resistance, and accusations of bullying and victimization when their otherwise obvious privilege is pointed out…as it must be, for clear and productive dialogue to occur.
Author Laura Patsouris, in a recent discussion on the subject of white, Christian privilege wrote: “whether the topic is race, religion, sexuality, or indigeny: the dominant group in their privilege struggles to control the narrative of the minority because he who controls the narrative controls reality. Or at least how the history will be recorded...we need to all be brave enough to rip away the filter and honestly listen to the narratives of others and celebrate multiplicity and diversity.
This I think is easier for polytheists to do just because it is an open ended system that acknowledges the sacred and holy exist even outside their own particular faith structure. Monotheism's issue is that it is a closed system: so inherently anything outside of the narrowly defined parameters is "evil". Ironically when the original texts are read in Hebrew what we see is not monotheism but henotheism; "you will have no other Gods before me"...i.e. there are other Gods."” (Private communication with L. Patsouris, on October 10, 2011).
Anyone seeking to reclaim his or her indigeny is taking a stand against unexamined, unacknowledged privilege and the harm that so often stems from it. They are taking a stand against a very unhealthy, unnatural status quo. Christians, Jews, and Muslims can do this too. After all, there is nothing inherent in polytheism that would deny them
the right to worship their
In the meantime, let us all pray for those Roman polytheists in Poltava, who weathered the first and hopefully last attack on their sacred temple. I leave you with a prayer by Kenaz Filan, to the God Jupiter, that He may look down upon those who harmed His temple and His priest:
“Sky-Father, Thunder-Roarer, Lord of Lightning, may your vengeance fall upon those who have defiled your holy place. May their blaspheming mouths be filled with poison; may the rot which has consumed them in spirit flow through their veins and their sinews; may they shoulder the stone alongside Sisyphus and slake their thirst in the pool of Tantalos. May all who hear their fate shudder and may they live eternally in legend as a warning and a testament of your power.
I make these words as an offering to you, oh Jupiter. May the Fates hear them and weave them into Their tapestry.”
May it be so and may all good people hear the call of their ancestors, that they may step up and step forward for what is just.
...and then it is not the beginning, but a sacred, intensely political and powerfully Ancestral continuation of something that has been here since time immemorial - the sacred relationship of humans to the earth, to nature, to each other and to Spirit. This is the validation of the indigenous soul as spoken of by authors and spiritual workers Nancy Jane, Martin Prechtel and Malidoma Some'. It is the primary, most fundamental and harmonious state of humanity throughout all of human history. It is the acknowledgement that we live in a polytheistic world, a world alive with energetic intelligence and human divinity. This is not a world of fantastic perfection, but one of integral harmonious functional empowerment, a world of the consciousness of the oneness of all things, true unity consciousness and behavior.
And even though what we consider christianity is a dominant phenomenon in the world, it does not mean that it is not inherently aberrant and transgressive. In the coming days, we will take continued opportunity to consider the power and grounded genius of the indigenous human imperative, particularly with relationship to the negative effects and nature of predatory christianity, the Doctrine of Discovery, manifest destiny and the fear-based threads of neo-manifest destiny missiology that the DC40 process represents.
I greet my Ancestors here and at my altar and in the sacred crucible of nature in which they developed our traditions. Asante sana to my Ancestralized, empowererd Dead, to the wakale (Ancestors) of the Middle Passage and of Turtle Island and those that died on the Trail of Tears, on the battlefield of Wounded Knee and on the shores and hills of Guanahani, of Bohio at the hands and orders of Criminal Columbus. I call upon these Ancestors to guide us in our work, in this continuing process of defining and refining our sacred and grounded relationship with All That Is. May we continue the struggle, the intelligence, the love and compassion and bravery of our Ancestors as we step forward into history.