New Blog!

Hello everyone!

As some may recall I have started covering my head back in March 2015 and since then I’ve been involved in headcovering groups and the concept of modest dress as a whole. It’s been a rather transformative experience and I’m glad that I started doing it.

However, being from the USA most headcovering and modest dress forums and blogs are Abrahamic in nature (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim). Naturally their reasons for modest dress and covering are rooted in their religious beliefs, beliefs that I and most pagans do not share. On top of that, I’m not even a “typical pagan”, so the rare pagan resources for headcovering do not resonate with me either.

In response I decided to start my own blog to share my experiences as a headcovering pagan, at a new blog called The Mantled Fox. I would really appreciate if my viewers here would have a look and tell me if the general theme and layout is legible and relatively easy on the eyes, and if the site actually works for you in the first place (i.e. comments can be left for instance).

I debated whether or not to have headcovering be separate from this blog or to be one category among others, as I’m not entirely sure what direction I’m going to go with the headcovering blog. Unlike the Abrahamic traditions there’s not a whole lot of philosophy or religious debate to headcovering and modesty in pagan religions, as there’s no broadly fundamental texts or old, continuing tradition to make interpretations from. Instead (speaking from an European-centered viewpoint) what we have are historical examples of pagan headcovers, and the creation of new traditions that may or may not be in line with the older forms, separated by thousands of years of Abrahamic religions overlaying the cultures and giving context to clothing styles. Some styles may resemble those found in ancient pagan cultures, but the reasons for the styles can be different. Besides, all of the pagan headcoverers I’ve seen do not follow any pagan European style of headcovering for daily wear, they follow contemporary Jewish or Muslim traditions due to the materials and resources that are available (as do I).

As a result I decided that a headcovering blog would not quite fit the theme of “Along the River”, as it would likely be rooted in opinion and personal experiences rather than historical and cultural religious exploration. Some overlap will occur, but I don’t think enough of an overlap will exist to justify a combination. Hence, the Mantled Fox was born.

(Now whether I actually keep the site active will remain to be seen lol)

 

 

 

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There are no dead cultures.

There’s an idea that has been bothering me a lot lately when I make my rare forays into the Neopagan blogosphere, and that’s the idea that supposedly dead cultures are up for grabs for everyone to take just because they’re considered dead. Egyptian and Greek being a common example, but there’s also Aztec and other indigenous ways that have been considered dead since the Europeans invaded the Americas. Even European religions are considered dead despite having records of up to 50 years ago in some cases.

To me that’s unacceptable.

For starters, cultures are created by people. They cannot truly die if the people are still alive, and in all the cases I’ve seen so far, they are most definitely still alive. There’s still Aztec, Mayan, and Egyptian people around who are the descendants of those who practiced the old religions. Hell, there’s even Taino people still, despite US history classes’ insistence that Columbus wiped them all out. Even if the Egyptians are mostly Muslim, that doesn’t mean their ancestor’s ways aren’t still a part of them and their current culture’s manifestations, or that they don’t have pride and ownership of their ancestor’s culture. That connection and that ownership should be respected.

Furthermore, even if a culture actually is dead, that still doesn’t mean everyone else can have at it. Do you rob graves to take the dead’s jewels and clothes? Hopefully not, that would just be plain disrespectful and gross. Dead cultures, and the people who used to live them, deserve respect too. There are ways to incorporate various symbols and ideas into a syncretic religion, but putting Bast, Thor, and Baron Samedi onto an altar with a smudge stick, a dreamcatcher, a pentacle, and Buddhist prayer beads and chanting from the Tibetan Book of the Dead ain’t it. That’s just making a fetishistic collection of exotic-looking items to fill a spiritual void in your life.

Cultures are not a free-for-all, dead or alive. Cultures are not meant to be “shared” by random people all over the world. That is a lie perpetuated by Western colonialism to turn exotic cultures (and the people within them) into commodities to own and exploit. Taking exotic sacred items and ideas and reducing them into something else is not true sharing. Thinking that a god from a foreign culture “called” you is not an excuse.

At the VERY least, if you’re that insistent upon worshiping a god or using an idea from a foreign and/or “dead” culture, put some effort into understanding the context of the culture(s) and the various reasons for why the god or the idea is what it is. Don’t just collect things for your personal benefit, actually learn all that you can learn about them. Put effort into showing respect for the culture(s) you’re taking from.

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“Hey, why haven’t there been any posts lately??”

Sorry guys, I’m on temporary hiatus due to how crazy busy my life has become lately. A good crazy busy, but still. I just graduated with my Master’s in Environmental Science (yay!) and will be defending my thesis later this summer, probably sometime in August. I’m also presenting a portion of my thesis at a conference in late June (so I gotta scramble to get that put together and polished) and I’m starting a new job around then running an invasive species program for my region, bringing me up to full-time hours. All while trying to write my thesis (yea I’m nuts, but I gotta make it work, it’s a huge opportunity to advance in my field).

So yea, that’s why it’s been so quiet here again. I have quite a few drafts made for this blog so it’s not like there’s no content, but due to my goal of returning to more academic articles with accessible references means each one needs to have extra time devoted to research. Those usually takes a bit longer to double check than a UPG-focused post, but I feel the extra care is worth it.

I’ll most likely be able to return to a more normal schedule once the fall rolls around. Meanwhile the posts will be few and far between. Well, fewer and farther than usual. I’m still able to be contacted and I get comment notifications right away on my phone so if there’s questions or topic requests send them my way ūüôā

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Youtube expansion?

Hi again, another not-on-topic blog post again but this’ll be a short one this time.

So I started up a YouTube channel (no videos or graphics yet) after seeing some other channels that discuss pagan stuff, like the headcovering topic, and thought that maybe an expansion of my own might be useful? Though I don’t have a whole lot I could talk about right now but maybe having my blog post topics be remodified for a video so that there’s an audio option for the topics I discuss. I already have a seperate channel for random spinning and pet videos so I felt that if I were to make religion videos it should be kept seperate. 

I recently made an expansion into tumblr and that has gotten some good results so far. Has anyone else used YouTube as a platform for religious discussion? 

(If I do make videos after all I’ll link the channel here then)

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Headcovering

This is an entirely personal post that pretty much has nothing to do with the focus of this blog because it’s neither a religious act or a cultural one, the way I’m doing things. And by things I mean wrapping my head with a scarf.

Yours truly with a simple wrap on.

So as you can see I have basically joined the ranks as a “veiled pagan” though honestly I’m neither veiled or pagan in the subculture sense. I bring this up because when searching for headcovering styles and stories its predominantly women who either do it for their gods or do it for ritual/psychic purposes. I share none of that, and do not see another like myself who does this. So here’s my perspective:

I’m not a woman. I am female bodied, but as I’ve mentioned before in other posts I’m non-binary and my gender status is agender. Therefore the headscarf is not a symbol of being an adult woman for me (though I do recognize it as meaning such for most other headscarf wearers since that is a common attribute). The aesthetic appeal of a well done wrap or scarf is something I like on all genders, just like how I love long hair on all genders. But external stereotypes do influence me a bit and I find that I like the more decorative wraps on days I feel more womanly, whereas on more manly days I just want to keep things plain or not have a scarf on at all. The wrap you see in the picture above was one of those womanly days. The days where I’m neither are anything goes days pretty much. 

I do not wear the scarf for ritual or spiritual purposes. My current restrictive living situation and the fact that I’m just now getting started in exploring aspects of myself and who I want to be in the future means my wrap-wearing hours are limited and irregular. The wrap doesn’t go on or off for any particular holiday or moon phase or anything like that. It doesn’t have an association with rituals like divination or spirit work (mainly because I don’t do those things). I am not devoted to any gods who would want me to do this nor do I believe that such a direct, personal request would even happen in the first place.

As far as I currently know headwrapping is not a universal practice in pre-Christian Central Europe, though various things were worn on people’s heads in a variety of cultures (hats, jewelry, helmets) and neighboring empires like Rome did have women covering their heads. But comparing modern cultures to ancient ones we see more examples of headcovers in recent times than the bronze and iron ages, possibly the result of Christianity. Obviously I’m not wrapping for Christian reasons and there’s no solid historical precedent to make wrapping a recon move either. 

So why do I wrap? I wrap because of power. I can choose who can and can’t see a part of me that is normally taken for granted as being visible in my society. No matter how much I scream from the rooftops that I’m nonbinary people will still look at me and see “woman”, with all the entitlement to my body that goes with that assumption. So fine, here’s a “fuck you” by creating a barrier between my body and the eyes of others. I am not approachable, I approach people instead. I am not here for you to look at, I’ll decide when you can see me and how much you can see. My body is for me alone. It’s a political statement essentially (and I do also use the headwrap’s association of being an older woman or old fashioned/conservative woman for that distancing purpose as well). 

On the flip side, I also like how it makes me feel, both for the protective aspect and for the aesthetic appeal. Headscarves are beautiful and the methods of wrapping them even more so. I feel beautiful wearing one, which is a difficult feeling for me to obtain. It protects me on an emotional level, but also in a practical way because it covers my hearing aids/cochlear implant, which protects them from inclement weather like rain. Scarves aren’t itchy or uncomfortable like hats are and hats tend to be outdoors only while scarves are also appropriate indoors. Hats also tend to hurt due to the bulky nature of my implant around my ears, while scarves go around that and aren’t restricted to just one head size or shape. 

In essence, I wrap because of personal secular reasons. I don’t cover because I’m a pagan, I’m a pagan who happens to cover. Well, technically a heathen who happens to cover but Google search of “heathen headcovering” just brings up bible studies, so this is pretty much restricted to the pagan/neopagan community. There may come a time in the future, once I can more freely and regularly do this, that the wrapping takes on more religious meanings for me or develops into a meaningful system, but for now it’s pretty simple. 

NOTE: the style I use is not tichel or hijab or anything like that. Those are specific words for religious headcovering customs and I do not lay claim to any of them.

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Hold Anya

Lady of the Moon

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Possible Symbols: Moon, night, ocean tides, calendar, menstrual blood, agriculture

Colors: Blue, black, silver, gray, red (in relation to menstrual cycles)

The only information that I have of this being in an Old Magyar context is the name. Hold means moon, Anya means lady. Even then, it’s questionable whether this is just a name (like how contemporary English speakers say “Man in the Moon” while just considering the moon a rock in space), or if this was an actual deity with a personality and a story.

Contemporary Hungarian culture has more beliefs and ideas fleshing out the moon, but the modern agrarian society is rather different than the primarily steppe riding society of 1000 years ago (and who knows what the Hungarians were before that, the scholars who devoted their entire career to this still haven’t figured it out since there’s several theories at the moment). Therefore the values and social needs are different, and we see that many folk beliefs center on the moon cycle being a calender that was most often used to time crop and herding practices. Interestingly enough, “hold” also referred to an area of land (whether it was a unit of land measurement, or was a parcel of land, I cannot tell). There’s also folk beliefs that recognize the cyclical nature of the moon being similar to menstrual cycles, like many other societies have.

Folktales that describe the world tree upon which the taltos climb show the sun and moon being cosmological entities residing in the upper branches of the tree, with no personalities or sense of being attributed to them. There are several depictions of the Sun riding around (i.e.¬†Napkir√°ly in a chariot or on a horse), or being driven around (i.e. a Hungarian Christmas ballad with the Sun being in Csodaszarvas’s antlers) in folktales, but none for the moon that I’ve found thus far.

There’s several possibilities that we can take away from this. For one, maybe the moon just wasn’t an important entity in the deep past, but became important more once the Hungarians became an agrarian society (Other agrarian societies have also used the moon cycles as a calendar for crop activities; in Hungary it is the new moon that marks a new month, in some Germanic cultures it is similar with the first visible waxing crescent marking the new month). The other is that I simply haven’t found the information yet, or that the information is lost to time. Either way, considering Hold Anya as a distinct deity rather than a force of nature is, as far as I can currently tell, not historically attested and is therefore UPG.

My personal view is that Hold Anya could be a deity, but an impersonal one. To be honest the only “deity” attribute I regard her with is to list her as a moon deity (in terms of gendering the moon, while I feel that it’s mostly unnecessary I also feel that the moon shifts between male and female, story-wise). Otherwise my perspective is more along the line of modern Hungarian folk culture. I refer to the literal moon that is seen in the sky, and consider it a force of nature that creates a useful calender and affects the earth’s waters. The Germanic perspective that I also include in my “religion” is similar, where Manu (in this case, a male name) is impersonal and doesn’t have a whole lot to him other than existing and being listed as a deity. I usually just call the moon “Moon” and don’t engage in devotional rituals or create dedicated holy days. The Moon is just there, always watching and always with us.

 Images that remind me of them:

When the moon kisses the ocean by beautymothernature.tumblr.com

by holidaylettings.com

by Pui-Mun Law at shadowscapes.com

Tsukiyomi in Moonlight by Edji

~~~

Artwork: Selene by kaelycea.deviantart.com

 

Sources

Hold by Akadémiai Kiadó (1982). Magyar néprajzi lexikon. http://mek.oszk.hu/02100/02115/html/2-1344.html (paste link into google translate)

Moon Goddess (*KUNKE > KUL >HOD/HOLD) by Fred Hamori (2002).  Sumerian and Finn-Ugor god names compared to Sumerian. http://users.cwnet.com/millenia/FUgods.htm

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Dear Readers, please give me feedback!

3 things in particular, and be as brutally honest as you can be, I honestly don’t mind criticisms at all (as an artist and as a scientist I welcome critiques and criticisms as chances to improve myself, no matter how big or small they are).

1) So lately I’ve been kinda going into a lot of UPG/spirituality type things with my posts and while that’s fun, I feel like this blog has strayed from it’s original intention, which was to provide more scholarly information about central european customs that are, or could be, related to pre-Christian ones. How many of you like the more personal stuff and how many of you want more scholarly stuff?

2) After seeing quite a bit of people over time express interest in Magyar/Old Hungarian religion but were frustrated by lack of resources I’ve been thinking of doing a project on here to make a “Hungarian Religion” resource. Naturally this would be limited and biased by my American upbriging, but at the same time I too get frustrated by constantly running into personality cults or nationalistic groups. This would be a long-term undertaking, but essentially I wanted to gather up posts and resources and make a masterlist of everything that could possibly be in a “Magyar religion”. Should I do it? Would it be too presumptuous me to attempt this?

3) Do you guys like the “god post” style I’ve been doing, like this one? It’s more UPG than scholarly, which relates back a bit to my first question, so I’m wondering if you guys would prefer to see more historical information rather than my own imaginings.

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