collowrath: (adama)
Rant on family - disregard unless interested. )

In other news - now that I've been fasting through the days until the end of next month, I am suddenly inspired by food very much.  It's funny how that works, being apathetic until there's no good to come from passion in it.  I'm particularly enamored of cheese platters and dark red wines.  Also, with heavy pasta dishes with creamy sauces and meat dishes.  Maybe I'll do a little food blogging at some point.

The fasting has been going pretty well.  My motivation, even though the fast coincides with Lent and some of my practices are tied pretty closely with it, is not Lenten.  I don't necessarily give up meat and eggs and dairy products, instead fasting in the manner of Ramadhan for the entire forty days (sun up to sun down, though my current class schedule means that three days a week, I come home and eat a slice of toast and a small cup of juice or milk at around noon), though I don't fast on Sundays in order to keep up an energy reserve.  I've fasted for Ramadhan with Muslim friends of mine before and I find that if I don't take a break once a week or so, I get very very sick.  Like, in a hospital sick.  I'm sure it has something to do with my being 5'6" and anywhere from 115 to 125 ell-bees.  Even though I don't impose a particular dietary restriction on myself once the sun goes down, I find that I tend to eat very light foods that are sans dairy and egg and (lots of) red meat any how, as those things tend to overload the system and result in sickness - so my fast actually tends to line up pretty well with that found in Eastern Orthodox churches.

All of this probably seems really out of place for a heathen such as myself.  Really though, this ties in directly with my cosmology.  You see,the end of the winter months and the start of spring is ritualized and very much involved with the Otherworld, Gods, and Ancestors.  The White God (Bieloboh), among West Slavs, is identified primarily with a God names Jarilo - often described as a vegetation God and sometimes identified with the Greek Dionysos.  He brings plenty, ecstasy, warmth, pleasure.  He rejuvenates the world after the cold, dead winter.  When he is reborn every spring, along with his twin sister Morena, they marry and have many children.  Toward the end of the year, when the crops are brought in, Morena finds Jarilo was unfaithful, and she murders him, tears his body apart, and build a house from it.  Through the winter, she becomes a frustrated old hag - a dangerous Goddess who brings ruin to the world.

When the winter is reaching its end, at the Vernal Equinox, a doll is made that is inhabited by Morena.  It is dressed up, paraded through the town, and ritually sacrificed by lighting it on fire, or drowning it, or both.  With the sacrifice of Morena, Jarilo is reborn and the cycle begins again.

This ritual is where the justification, rather, the need, for my fasting now is found.  My personal faith draws a very strict set of purity standards brought from my Hellenic practice and combined with certain Slavic cultural practices.  Historically speaking, I do not think that ancient Slavs necessarily held the same views that I do, but the justifications for certain cultural practices and attitudes/events in myths I think point to an at least similar concept.  

To be in the presence of our Gods, I believe that our bodies and minds must be "clean."  This includes washing the body thoroughly, wearing clean clothes, and purging the mind of thoughts of food, sex, and other things that would render an impurity.  In the winter, my spiritual practice doesn't necessarily stop, but it slows down quite a bit.  This has a lot to do with the absence of Ancestors as an active participant and motivation in my religious life and the absence of the Gods I regularly worship from life during those months.  A bit of UPG here tells me that the rule of bad spirits and "negative" Gods over the world in the winter leads to a kind of "general impurity" that should be washed away to make way for the new year of bounty in the spring.  When Morena leaves and the Black God is defeated again and the evil spirits roaming the world are again pushed away by our Ancestors and the White God, we should meet this time with clean bodies and minds.  Hellenic religion does this in its own way at the end of Anthesteria - decloaking the shrines and cleaning away the bad spirits from the homes, commanding them to not return.  My own practice puts Anthesteria at the end of March, a week after I take out Morena and coinciding with Easter.  That fits more with my cosmology (and moving a festival is not without historical precedent - I'm not Athenian after all), and is in a way for my own benefit; a week of rest between two major festivals.

But, the month long preparation of fasting for me comes directly from Morena.  As a Goddess who shall inhabit a space directly, and be directly in the presence of me and my house and family, it is doubly important to be clean.  All the impurity of the winter and the year in general needs to be purged; I should be "clean as possible," so to speak.  As such, every step must be taken.

Novy rok!

Jan. 1st, 2010 01:41 pm
collowrath: (Default)
It's a New Year, finally.  This is especially nice since last year sucked balls.  There is a traditional superstition in my family and among Slavs in general, I think - what you do on the first day of the New Year resonates through the rest of year; it sets the tone for what's gonna go down.  For instance, we don't lend or give away money on the first, for fear that we'll spend the rest of the year handing out money (and being left with none by the end)!  So today, I'm reading books (I finished one, good sign), relaxing (something I need more of), and cooking dinner (some pork - for good luck).

The book I finished was Slavic Sorcery, by Kenneth Johnson.  It was a good book.  It explored Slavic magic in a modern context, providing just enough historical information so that it would make some sense.  He also attempted to deconstruct some of the traditions to remove the Christian veneer (which I felt was unnecessary, as did the Doctors who wrote the forward, but not altogether unpleasant or negative toward the book).  In the end, there was very little that I learned from the book that was entirely new; however, there was quite a bit that I had known, but not known how.  The concise instructions are immensely helpful to someone who is starting out in Slavic mystical practice, whether Christian or pagan.

I have a couple of gripes, which I've voiced before (though not here, as I haven't posted in a minute).  My first and primary gripe is the insistence on the term "Pagan Earth Magic."  The reasoning given for this in the book is that it was practiced by villagers with an intense relationship with the Earth, and natural processes.  I am plagued by the reaction, "... as opposed to what?  Pagan Mars Magic?"  This tends to flow directly into my other gripe - the author's constant references to Slavic tradition as being "remnants of ancient Goddess worship," even after having taken the time to inform the reader that an overarching, ancient Goddess civilization is fantasy.  He also tends to use "chakras," "family karma," and other "Eastern" terms, because they are now recognized Western jargon.  This is easily excused, as his Russian contacts had a tendency to use these terms as well, though I do wish Johnson had been given better opportunity to find the Native terms he's trying to refer to.  Much of my issue with the book stems directly from the author's relative inexperience within Slavic culture and his overlay of Western concepts and Western Neopaganism over a tradition that has nothing to do with it.

Just keep in mind, while reading, to do a little "translation work," unless the generic Neopagan veneer is what you're looking for.  I would definitely recommend the book for someone interested in practical Slavic magic, especially if that person is already pretty knowledgeable about the mythology and language involved.  Otherwise, I'd still recommend it, but I would also recommend taking extensive notes and doing supplementary research (which, as skillful readers, we all do anyhow... right?).

Now it's on to reading Night Watch, by Sergei Lukjanenko.  I've heard fantastic things about it, but never took the time to acquire it.  Fortunately, I have a best friend who knows me better than I know myself, and she took the liberty of ensuring that it, and its sequel, made its way to me.  The first chapter is pretty amazing and I'm looking forward to the rest of it!

Збогом, и срећан нови година!


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