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Our Newest Project: A Polytheist Journal

So, I promised everyone that during or immediately after the conference, Sannion and I had a new project to unveil. Well, I can't wait anymore and since some folks at the conference today got a sneak peak I'm going to share it here too. 

Sannion and I are producing a sleek, in-print journal through Sanngetall Press called "Walking the Worlds." It's a journal dedicated to all aspects of contemporary polytheism and spiritwork. We're seeking contributions of meaty articles and essays, and we will consider poetry and prayers too, as well as artwork. 

All contributors will be paid and we will be accepting advertisements of 1/4, 1/2, and full page. (cost of ads still to be posted). The journal is biannual to be published on each solstice. The first deadline for submissions is October 1, 2014. Those interested in submitting should contact me at krasskova at 

I'm excited about this project and I hope it will be a place where the many differing traditions of polytheism, and the many approaches to spiritwork can find some common ground as we work together to grow our traditions. 

Here's the link where you can learn more. 

Day 1 of the Polytheist Leadership Conference

Today was exciting and exhausting all at once as people began to arrive in force to the conference. I've posted some tantalizing photos on my Facebook and I will be posting a full recap of the conference Monday or Tuesday. Sadly as coordinator i'm not getting to sit in on many of the conferences but I've been hearing good things all around and many fascinating discussions being prompted. Plus, it's been a real delight meeting so many online colleagues face to face. 
To give you a taste of the day, we began with a warm welcome by Sannion, opening remarks by me along with a powerful ancestor prayer. The highlight of my morning was the key note speech by Rev. Tamara Siuda of the House of Netjer. It left me with quite a bit to think about and my mind is just whirling. 
After a brief break, Julian Betkowski gave a presentation "Polytheism in Contemporary America" in conference room 2, and Sannion led a Dionysos ritual in conference room 1. What a lovely way to start the whole conference off with a bang. Next, Kenaz Filan presented "The language of deity" against Raven Kaldera, Joshua Tenpenny, and Brandon Hardy, who gave a powerful workshop on "henotheism and monotheism". The night is continuing with Costel Hildr's workshop on being new and Rhyd Wildermuth on "radical relationally and polytheism." 

We have polytheists from a variety of traditions: Heathens, Kemetics, Hellenics, one or two Celts, at least one Roman-Egyptian syncretist, Thracian, Voudoun, Lukumi,  - even some international guests - and that's just those i remember talking to in the last hour! It's amazing what we can all accomplish when we work together.

Meanwhile here's a picture of Piety Possum enjoying a little snack. He worked hard today. :)

Day of Archaeology 2014: Codes, Bones and a Backstory

Happy Day of Archaeology 2014! It is a day where archaeologists from all around the world share what they are doing in order to spread awareness of the breadth and diversity […]

Skulls from Spanish cave illuminate human evolution

Skull 17 from the Sima de los Huesos site in Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain. 

[Image © Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films]Researchers studying a collection of skulls in a Spanish cave identified both Neanderthal-derived features and features associated with more primitive humans in these bones

Finding Your Gods

Shrine to Artio

   If there's one thing that seems to be a constant in neopaganism and polytheism it is the rush by newcomers to the concept of multiple deities to find "their Gods". I have seen endless iterations of this over the years, of people who have converted from another faith who then immediately feel the need to declare who their Gods are. Immediately. In a way I understand why this happens - it must be unnerving if a person is going from one spirituality to another and suddenly feels adrift. For people coming from atheism or agnosticism I can see how the switch from un-belief or questioning to belief might bring with it a need for certainty about the Gods themselves. And lets not forget that ever present desire to fit in with a new peer group of people who are often vocal to varying degrees about who they worship. Don't get me wrong either, as a polytheist it is important to know who (and why, and when, and so on) you are honoring, and it is certainly a normal part of the process to try to figure out who you, as an individual, should be worshiping especially in our culture where people are not being raised with the Old Gods (or they wouldn't need to convert to begin with). The problem comes in, in my opinion, with the speed at which people feel they need to do this. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen newcomers to Celtic or Norse/Germanic paganism who have been pagan for a matter of days boldly declaring that their God or Gods or pantheon is what-have-you. And then a few days or weeks later they either boldly declare a new set of Gods as theirs or, just as often, disappear from the online community they just joined and show up in another one (what can I say - I get around) declaring with equal fervor their dedication to a wholly different set of Gods. There is, naturally, nothing wrong with starting in one place and ending up in another or feeling pulled by a different God or Gods than the ones you began with, however pantheon-hopping repeatedly as a new pagan - repeatedly and loudly - is not going to get you much respect from more established community members or help you feel more stable in your own faith. So I have a couple suggestions for new pagans just starting out who aren't sure who their Gods are or how to go about finding where they belong.

  1.    Loud proclamations are not your friend - There is no need to declare your pagan allegiance to any particular pantheon or deity as soon as you decide paganism is the spiritual path for you. You do not get bonus pagan points for announcing that you worship Goddess such-and-such or are on a specific path, especially if you aren't sure who that deity is or what that path is. In fact the quickest way to lose respect in any group is to burst in as a beginner and make a big claim while simultaneously showing that you don't know what you are talking about. Even more so if it involves spelling the name of your deity or religious path incorrectly. It is perfectly fine to be a seeker and admit you aren't sure yet what direction you are going in. 
  2.     Ask lots of questions - Questions are your friend. People in groups may not agree with each other on lots of details, but they do, in me experience, like to help new people out whenever they can. Ask questions and you can learn an enormous amount about what other people do and believe and this will help you figure out where you are going. Even disagreeing with other people is helpful in letting us find out what works for us. 
  3.     Read as much as you can - Or if reading isn't your thing find good info in other media, but the point here is be open and study different options. Feel like Irish might be your thing? Read the myths and stories. Think Norse is the way you're leaning? Grab a copy of the Eddas and get a feel for the deities. Have no idea at all where to start? Find a good general world mythology book and read a selection of stories. Many people start with their own ancestral cultures or homeland, but sometimes you might find that nothing seems to be clicking, so keep an open mind and read the mythology. The myths are how we get to know the Gods, the first step in understanding who they are. 
  4.    Experiment - If you feel drawn to a God, Gods or pantheon then start by dipping your toe in the water so to speak. Read as much as you can and find ways that you are comfortable reaching out to form a connection to those Gods. Make offerings, use guided meditations, honor them in an appropriate context at a holiday - whatever works for you on the religious path you're on. But the point is don't rush into declaring a commitment to any deity, rather let yourself get to know them first, and let them get to know you. Sometimes we like a God very much on paper, but find that in practice they don't gel well with us at all, or don't respond, or just don't feel right. 
  5.    Be active in other ways - While you are sorting out which Gods you will worship you can be actively honoring your ancestors and the spirits of the land. You can be finding out which spiritual path works best for you. Whatever Gods you decide on (or who decide on you) your ancestors and land spirits will be the same and are important too - so use the time to focus on those aspects. 
  6.    Most importantly take your time - There is no rush. There is no pressure. You are not more pagan if you are committed to a pantheon or dedicated to a deity, and you aren't less pagan if you are still searching for your place. Don't feel like you have to instantly choose and lock yourself into a specific thing. While it can be frustrating to be a seeker it is also a wonderful opportunity to explore all of your options. Enjoy the experience for what it is rather than rushing to get to the destination. Let the Gods come to you - or find your way to them - slowly over time. Being a polytheist is about having a relationship with the Gods you honor, built on reciprocity, respect, and a sense of connection, and that doesn't happen - usually - overnight. It's a process. 

Less than one day to go!

 People have started arriving already for the Polytheist Leadership Conference and we are at T minus less than 24 hours to go. Sannion and I are halving our time so one of us will always be on site at the conference. Despite a couple of last minute snafus everything is progressing accordingly and I am really looking forward to the line up. My only problem is going to be which presentation to listen to in each time slot! ^_^

We start officially tomorrow at 1pm so if you're in the Fishkill, NY area, think about stopping by. You can find all the information about the conference here

Needless to say, I won't be on much until next week. 

Painting stones: Prehistoric decorated quartz pebbles

Painted pebbles left to right: Sandsound; Upper Scalloway; Balta; and Clickhimin (© Shetland Museum and Archives).Painted pebbles from the prehistoric period have been found in various Scottish locations, but there is still much work to do in order to understand their particular function

Understanding historic use of the Amazon Basin

Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest. Image: Jorge.kike.medina (Wikimedia, used under a CC BY 3.0)Large parts of the Amazon Basin may have supported farming communities and looked more like open savannah than rainforest, prior to arrival of Europeans in South America

Zeus Agon: Submission #6

 'o Ζεύς tou Διονύσου πατήρ
with fire and wrath
they burn his son: his wild
heart alone survives:

hands aching with grief,
he digs his son’s heart from the
ash and mud, splits his

own flesh, and sews that
heart into his thigh: cherished,
his son grows: transformed,

he is reborn: scarred,
he weaves a crown of ivy
for his beloved


(by Rebecca Buchanan)

Zeus Agon: Submission #5

I've received the fifth submission to the agon. Thank the Gods that protocol dictates we determine the winner by letting Zeus decide because these are all so good, I know I couldn't!

Zeus, first and last
by Melia Brokaw
Zeus, first and last
Bless’d Lord on High,
Helpmate of Earth
Power of Below
Zeus in my every breath
Zeus in the fire of my heart
Zeus in the flow of my veins
Zeus in the meat of my bones
Lord of light, Protector at need
Father who receives
my laughter and tears
Zeus I honor, Zeus I praise
Zeus is with me
All my days.

We’re Gearing up for the Auction this Sat.

Ok, folks, 
I'm prepping for Saturday night's silent auction at the Polytheist Leadership Conference and I want to give you highlights of what we have going up:

"Eupraxia" painting by noted Hudson Valley photographer and painter Mary Ann Glass. This painting was featured recently in the New York Times and is part of an ongoing collection titled 'undiscovered worlds," contemporary mandalas designed to inspire wonder and magic in their viewers. 

"Purity," a gorgeous photograph of spring flowers by award winning Hudson Valley photographer Linda T. Hubbard. Linda's work can be found, as can Mary Ann Glass's at Riverwinds Gallery in Beacon, NY. 

Three gorgeous silk scarves donated and decorated by Erin Lale. Each will be auctioned separately. 

A certificate for a free 30 minute divination session by Sannion. 

Several sets of books by me, H. Eckart, P.S.V.L. and Rev. Tamara Siuda. Each set will be auctioned separately. 

Two sets of prayer cards: 1) Frigga and Her Retinue and 2) Apollo and the Nine Muses. Each set will be auctioned separately. 

Three of my paintings 1) Mercury Taking Flight - acrylic on paper, framed; 2) A Dream of Bast, acrylic on canvas and 3) Dionysos, mixed media on canvas. Each will be auctioned separately. 

two textiles donated by Rede Seeker. 

two ancient Roman coins donated by G. Santagada and Iseum Coins

(we are still accepting donations for the auction, folks, so there may be even more stuff up for bidding by Sat.)

In addition to the above items, all of which are going up for auction, several of us will be selling our books and there will be a book signing at the conference. I'll also have all of my prayer cards available for sale, as well as assorted 5x7 meditation cards. 

All proceeds from the auction will be donated to RAINN.

Zeus Agon: Submission #4

I awoke this morning to find another submission for the Zeus Agon in my box. Thank you, Cody. This is a gorgeous praise-poem. 

For Zeus
by Cody Greene

When lightning walks among us, the scars of the sky walk the world,
The scars that stand as mute testament of your sacrifice Father Zeus,
Battle scars from a time when the seas boiled and few would stand with you,
Birthing scars made by fell axes and the pain of a grieving father,
Understanding writ large across your mighty frame,
May we remember when we see them,
May we remember your sacrifice,
May we remember the savagery of youth may become Wisdom,
May we remember your stand and stand with you should it come again,
May we not forget amid the glories of your family, to honor you Zeus,
Head of the households of Starry Olympus.

Clothing the Dead in Ancient Peru

Why is clothing on the dead so important? Because what we choose to put on our bodies conveys social meanings about our wealth, our status, and the social groups we […]

Clothing the Dead in Ancient Peru

Why is clothing on the dead so important? Because what we choose to put on our bodies conveys social meanings about our wealth, our status, and the social groups we […]

Two more days, folks!

I am so excited about the upcoming Polytheist Leadership Conference! I can hardly believe that it is only two more days away. Wooooo! We've an amazing line up of speakers, I've had some great donations for the auction (100% of the proceeds will go in donation to RAINN), and I've been sitting on a very special project that I'm just dying to announce. ^_^

Y'all are going to have to wait though, however much I may tease here with this post. As excited as I am, I'm going to announce/unveil/unroll this project first to those attendees of the conference. Good times, my friends, and lots of exciting shit is happening. 

Zeus Agon: Submission #3

Tonight I received a third submission to the Zeus Agon. Thank you, Rebecca, for a lovely prayer. I love the image of Him dancing.

Hymn to Zeus VII
by Rebecca Buchanan

he calls the storm:
the winds his to command,
he gathers clouds
heavy with rain:
he dances

A Look Back…

(Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Zhakarova in a magnificent leap)

So I spent the day going from doctor to doctor: physical therapist, orthopedist/pain management specialist, and chiropractor. I've been trying to take my back pain, which is generally quite severe, in hand of late. If I get a very clear assessment of what is wrong, then A) it will help me determine the best course of action and B) at least I'll know and I do better with excruciating pain when I have a clear reason for it (as opposed to those random days when I wake with every joint hurting for no reason). The conclusion over several doctors has been that I have disk issues in my lumbar region and today I got the go ahead to have an MRI so soon I shall know precisely what damage my ballet career wrought on my bones and joints. yay. 

This has been a big step for me. I've never put much stock in doctors and have had some really bad experiences with the pain management crew. So I'm tired, but hopeful, and it looks like i'll be hitting this issue from a number of different sides and modalities that will overall leave me healthier than before. This is good regardless of my pain levels. 

It begs the question, as several people close to me have asked in the past month if I regret my ballet career. I really don't. I knew when I started, even though I was young at the time, that I would likely pay a physical cost, perhaps a severe one. I was never one of those ballet students oblivious to the price of what I was about. While nothing could dissuade me from studying ballet and pursuing a career, I did so with my eyes open. It was my passion, the closest i could come at the time to touching the sacred. I don't regret one moment of it. 

(A typical ballet dancer's feet)

I was thinking about that last night. As part of my ancestor practice, I venerate not only my ancestors of blood and adoption, but also my lineage, specifically my various spiritual and esoteric lineages. As part of that latter category, I also venerate the ballet dancers who inspired me, whose stories sustained me. They carried me through and by entering into the art as I did, I became part of that lineage too. I took my place, small and insignificant though it may have been in a line of artists stretching back to the beginning, when the first devotee began to move in praise of the holy, to pounding rhythm of heartbeat, drumbeat, and power. I studied, taught ballet, danced professionally and by doing so I was able to touch my audience, inspire my students, and -- as I recently found out from an old friend and dance colleague--inspire those with whom I worked. One of them continues to teach ballet today, raising up the next generation to take their place in the lineage too. There are times I sit down and cry because it moves me so. 

(an x-ray of what a foot actually looks like en pointe)

Ballet is a brutal art. It exacts a price from its devotees. I had achilles tendonitis, damage to my knees, injury to the disks in my lower back, possibly stress fractures in my back (it's a theory), and a number of other injuries, most of them from chronic overuse and strain. These are not unusual. I am not unusual in this. It's largely par for the course with dancers. We wear our injuries and scars with pride, the pride of those touched by the same sacred force, used by it, both sustained by and sustaining it. We share a common history, a common vocabulary, and a common lineage. Every time I took my place at the barre and started the regular order of exercises from plie to tendu and on, my body was reenacting a prayer of movement that every single ballet dancer has done from the time the art was given structure and form (which for ballet is largely the seventeenth century when it evolved from courtly dance, which itself drew on older dances including, by some theories ancient mime and choral dance). It's an art where memory is transmitted via embodied movement from one person to another. Each dancer is a living library, a repository of a very old tradition. There's strength in that and tremendous comfort. 

(Anna Pavlova, whose story inspired me to dance. I would say the chileren's bio of her that I read when I was nine, "Dancing Star" by Malvern probably had more impact on me than anything else I've ever read. Pavlova in her turn was inspired by the story of Marie Taglioni, whose talent came to define ballet and inspired an entire tradition of romantic-era ballets. Taglioni was so popular a dancer that one of her admirers supposedly, in a frenzy of adoration, cooked and ate one of her ballet slippers!
(Olga Spessivtseva, a contemporary of Pavlova and equally great dancer whose work likewise inspired me when I was a student. Ballet master teacher Enrico Ceccheti, who taught both her and Pavlova was once quoted as saying "God tossed an apple to earth that was cut in two halves. One half became Pavlova, the other Spessivtseva.)

(One of the very few photos I have of myself dancing. I'm eighteen here dancing in the corps de ballet of a regional company that has since gone defunct.)

I was not meant to serve the daimon of dance. I was only fostered out to it for a time, and it helped me to survive and spiritually thrive. All the lessons I learned in that apprenticeship have served me well over time as a priest, a spiritworker, a devotee. It was a privilege to taste of those mysteries even if only for a time, even if i paid a price in pain to do so. Do I regret my time as a ballet dancer? Not even for a moment. For those years, however briefly, I knew what it was like to soar. 

Sneak Peak at Zeus Prayer card #1

I was going to save this until after the Agon was finished, but I can't wait. :) I want to give you all a preview of one of the two Zeus cards (the other is still in production) that will be available after July. The winner of the Agon will have their prayer on the card. Check it out. This image is by Grace Palmer. :)


  The third rune of the second aett is Isa, which is equivalent to the letter I in English. The rune looks like a straight vertical line. Isa is most strongly associated with ice.The Icelandic rune poem calls Isa: "bark of rivers
and roof of the wave
and destruction of the doomed." *
The Norwegian says "ice we call the broad bridge;
the blind man must be led."
And the Anglo-Saxon says: 
"Ice is very cold and immeasurably slippery;
it glistens as clear as glass and most like to gems;
it is a floor wrought by the frost, fair to look upon."
  Isa is a rune than represents all aspects of ice. It is the need for caution, hidden dangers, and passive treachery, a rune that warns to beware who and what you trust. Isa also represents being motionless, stillness, calmness, rest, retreat, inertia, and temporary stasis. As well it can be temporary opportunity and taking advantage of transitory situations to our own advantage. In a broader sense Isa is also representative of winter and many people associate this rune with Skadi. Isa can be seen as reflecting the primal ice of Niflheim and in some senses of being a part of the original process of the creation of the worlds. 
   In divination Isa can represent a need for reflection or consideration before acting, or a need for a time out to consider options. It can also indicate an enforced period of stillness or stasis, when goals or plans will not move forward. In some cases Isa is a time marker, literally meaning winter. In a more negative sense it can indicate not trusting the obvious and proceeding with caution.
  Magically Isa can be used to slow things down or cool things off, especially emotions. I have had a lot of success with Isa by galdring it or visualizing it over an area or situation where a fight was in the process of breaking out or people were getting extremely upset; Isa's energy chills the situation out and diffuses the emotional tension. It can also be used, with caution, for healing work, although you should always be careful to set it for a specific period of time and remove it afterwards.  
  Connecting to Isa is easiest, in my experience, in the winter because that's when we can most clearly feel it's presence. However a guided meditation or basic journey to the rune will work at any time. If you use Isa magically in any way or undertake any meditations be sure to journal your experiences; it can also be helpful to simply reflect on your feelings relating to ice and winter in general. 

Rune poem references from

Further Reading:
Taking Up the Runes - Diana Paxson
 The Rune Primer - Sweyn Plowright
Northern Mysteries and Magic - Freya Aswynn
Runes -  R I Page

Neanderthal trait found in archaic early human skull

The Xujiayao 15 late archaic human temporal bone from northern China, with the extracted temporal labyrinth, is superimposed on a view of the Xujiayao site. Image: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of ScienceRe-examination of a circa 100,000-year-old archaic early human skull has revealed the surprising presence of an inner-ear formation long thought to occur only in Neanderthals
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