Tag Archives: 30 days of Paganism

Day 11: Pantheon – Overview

If you have been following my blog for a while, then you’ll know that I look into a variety of neighboring cultures in Central and Eastern Europe, with greater emphasis on Magyar cultures (and it’s influences) because there’s so little known about its pre-Christian past compared to Germanic or Slavic cultures.  This mixture applies to the gods as well. Even if I have names, there’s little to no explanations or descriptions for many gods so I have to fill in the blank so to speak with concepts from possible cognate gods and with my own UPG. So while I do prefer to make things as historical as possible, and I base as much as possible in evidence presented by literature and archeology, there are some things that are gonna be major UPG here to at least keep things making sense for me.

Explanation on the cosmology structure can be found here. It’s essentially a World Tree structure, growing out of a giant deer skull. The Upper World is the crown, the Middle World the trunks and surface roots, and Underworld is below the surface deep into the skull. Surrounding this is the ancient sea, creating an island of sorts out of the skull and tree, and is ringed by mountains on the horizon. Surrounding all this are the Mother and Father of all, being both the material and the makers of all that is and will be.

The Origin

Arany Atyácska (Golden Father), Hajnal Anyácska (Dawn Mother)

Mother Danube (the Primordial Waters)

Upper World

  • Sunna (The Sun)
  • Napkirály (King of the Sun)
  • Mano (The Moon)
  • Hold Anya (Lady of the Moon)
  • Turul (Heavenly Messenger)

Middle World

  • Nagy Boldogasszony (Queen Mother)
  • Szélkirály (King of the Wind and Rain)
  • Hadúr (King of War)
  • Csodaszarvas (Miraculous Doe)
  • Tündér Ilona (Queen of Fairies)
  • Tabiti/Kresnik (Hearth Fire/Sacred Fire)
  • Fra Berta (The Bright One)
  • Volos/Zomok (The Serpent God)
  • House and Nature wihts
  • Ancestors

Underworld

  • Ördög (King of the Dead)
  • Wihts of bad things

I’m going to be giving each one here a post (if I haven’t already) with my own understandings and associations, that way their roles will (hopefully) become clearer.

I also want to point out that the high gods are primarily Magyar ones, but the lower gods and mythologies are what I tend to associate with more Germanic and Slavic wihts (along with some Ho-Chunk and other Great Lakes tribes’ wihts, since I live in their area). This is the pattern I tend to find when researching Hungarian stories and culture, where the more formal sagas are distinctly Magyar, while the informal tales feel Slavic.

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Day 10: Patrons

I don’t have any patrons. It’s not a concept I believe in. However, there are gods that have great personal significance for me: Csodaszarvas, Fra Berta, Volos, and Parom. If I did believe in patronage, they would be the ones I’d petition.

In the past I’ve also referred to Grandmother Spider as being a significant deity for me, but lately I’ve been questioning the idea. Spiders themselves are still highly important to me, but I really don’t know if the spider experiences actually have any link to Her. Rather, like the foxes, I’m starting to feel that the spiders are significant beings in their own right, rather than being representative of a deity.

(And I know that I keep referring to “the foxes” without any context. They’ll be day 14 of this list, as they’re a unique aspect of my beliefs and experiences that need their own space to be satisfactorily described).

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Day 9: Beliefs – Deity Gender

I briefly discussed this in my first Non-Binary Mysteries post so it might sound repetitive, but I want to make the 30 days of Paganism structure as complete as possible.

My beliefs about deity gender (or the gender of wihts in general) are not strongly held. Several of my gods have been depicted in both male and female ways (no third genders simply because the source cultures were binary, as far as we know), but the depictions are usually in favor of one gender over the other. Volos (Veles), for example, is primarily depicted as male. Yet there are giant snake/dragon beings that share everything with the “standard” Volos associations, except they’re described as female (or they’re mentioned as suckling young, which is a traditional sign of being female). Many deity depictions of my gods are like that, where there’ll be either an opposite-gender version in one of the stories, or there is an opposite-gender counterpart with a similar name (Fra Berta has many names, one of which is Lady of the Ember Days. There is also a Man of the Ember Days, with no distinction other than being the male equivalent).

I do ascribe to certain gender depictions for certain deities without switching back and forth simply because that’s either how I’ve come to know them in the stories, or it simply “feels” right. Having Csodaszarvas or Fra Berta be female feels the most comfortable to me due to their motherhood associations and due to how “female” is viewed in the culture I’ve grown up in. When I left Catholicism and started researching all this, it was empowering to me to see these powerful and important figures as a sex that I’m viewed as, as the sex that’s lower in rank compared to males. But as I got older and became more comfortable with myself, the gender of the deities became less important to me as well.

I also started to realize that the deity’s genders were more symbolic of how they worked with humans and how the sexes were viewed in the source cultures, rather than anything actually involving sex or genitalia, which allowed me to become more apathetic about their gender as well. For instance, Nagy Boldogasszony is always described as female. This isn’t because she biologically has a uterus, xx chromosomes, etc., but because she has consistently been the god to petition to for women’s protection in pregnancy and birth. That association carries over to the more symbolic realm, where the Magyars considered agriculture and earth-related endeavors to be associated with female qualities due to the appearance of the earth giving birth to new life each year (my suspicion, assuming the “original” Magyars were steppe riders, that this is an adoption from their agricultural Slavic neighbors once they became more sedentary). Her becoming conflated with the Catholic Virgin Mary solidified the female depiction.

I find that the high gods, due to having more “official” descriptions compiled over time, tend to be the ones with gender associations, while the lower gods and local wihts are usually more ambiguous. The foxes have no apparent gender, for instance, nor do the nature wihts that I’ve come in contact with thus far. The one local wiht that I met up near Door County, WI  (The “White Lady”) was female, but that’s because she appeared as a form of Virgin Mary to a future nun and her followers accepted that vision as fact (I’ll go into that in a future post, as she was a one-time visit rather than a permanent part of my pantheon, since I don’t live there anymore). That’s how she “felt” to me too, so that’s how I’ll consider her until it’s indicated otherwise.

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Day 8: Patronage and other deeper relationships

Ya know, this could have been another short post like a couple of others but I’m gonna try to delve into this with a bit more meat because there’s a lot that can be said about this, even if I don’t get personally involved. I’ve also had conversations recently that have given me a lot of food for thought regarding deities and how humans relate to them in my worldview. As a refresher here’s my previous post going over what I felt deities were in general. In addition to that, I feel that I must add here that the term “deity” is more of a title or a class of being rather than a species of being, so to speak. They’re basically big wihts, one who rules over a major function, group, and/or area as determined by the reference culture (a wiht may be a high god in one culture, but a low god in another, and be completely meaningless in yet another culture). It all depends on who you ask whether one is a deity or not, and for me there’s a gradient or hierarchy of wiht status rather than clear categories of “deity” vs. “non-deity”.

Like I said in my Being Heathen post, I don’t believe in the concept of patronage when it comes to wihts. It feels hubristic to think that they would do such a thing for us, let alone be directly involved in our lives at all. It also feels very contemporary Christian, what with the idea that we can have a personal, familial relationship with Jesus/God and the concept of a patron saint for certain sects. I have a suspicion that the idea of personal patronage is a Christian influence due to so many Neopagans coming from Christian cultures. Yes, there is evidence for individuals to have a patron-like relationship with a god, but those individuals are usually big deals like kings or chiefs, not a regular civilian (i.e. Turul appeared to Emese’ to fortell the birth of Almo’s, in a style not unlike the angel speaking to Virgin Mary about Jesus. Almo’s becomes the ancestor of the ruling family of the Magyars and by extension the leader of the Magyars. He wasn’t just any baby that Turul got involved with). I don’t consider “gods of a group” type (such as a “god of farmers” or “god of magicians”) are to be considered personal patrons because they’re for the whole class of people as defined by their work, not any one individual as a whole.

Instead, what I feel actually happens is that a person pledges their devotion to a wiht, gives them offerings, shrine space, and attention, and the wiht might take interest in them. There is a concept sometimes used in Germanic heathenry called fultrui that references this idea (essentially translated into a relationship of trust in a deity) but there is no equivalent in Magyar culture that I know of currently. However, there are totem-like concepts present that likely have a similar relationship of trust, protection, and reciprocation for the group as a whole. Turul is the obvious one, as she fortold the birth of the founding ruler and is an important representative symbol to this day, but Csodaszarvas’s role in leading the men to their wives and thus their future cultures could also be considered a totemic one.

As you can probably tell, I do not have a lot of deeply personal relationships with most wihts, god or not. There are those who are very special to me, but it’s a matter of me being in devotion to them out of awe or gratitude rather than them patronizing me. I don’t expect them to even notice me that often, let alone interact with me or my kind. Very few of my gods are close to humans or have any need for direct, individual interaction, and most of them do not have human-like features or tendencies. Those that do get heavily involved in human lives, such as the hearth/fire wiht, are an exception rather than a rule. Other cultures tend to be the opposite, such as the Hellenic gods. Why that is, I cannot say. But coming from a Roman Catholic background where there can a ritual devotion for nearly everything and everyone, I have to say I much prefer the hands-off feel of my gods. It may seem a bit harsher and more distant, but they’re still very real and very special to me.

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Day 7: Holidays

Slowly but surely we’re chugging along with the 30 days of Paganism meme, and this is one of my favorite topics to talk about!!

I love personal calendars, especially when you start seeing how they evolve according to one’s environment and home culture. Mine is no exception, as it’s a blend of Pagan and Catholic traditions from the ancestral lands carried into the US. Due to my currently solitary nature, continuous research, and the fact that changes in life are prone to happening, my calendar is tentative rather than being hard and fast (despite having specific dates listed), and is not entirely religious in nature.

Winter

wordpress winter

  • Feast of the Dead (October 31-November 2)
    • A mixture of US Halloween festivities and the more solemn ancestor worship of European All Soul’s Day, where ghosts and spirits are awoken and the ancestors return. The growing season has officially ended.
    • Honors: Ancestors
  • Harvest Celebrations (Late November)
    • These are usually several family-oriented days (including US Thanksgiving) that center around gratitude for the last of the harvest. Usually by this point all the native plant species have gone dormant for the winter, and the migratory birds have past. Deer hunting season traditionally occurs this time as well.
    • Honors: Nagy Boldogasszony
  • Krampus Night/St. Nick’s Day (December 5-6)
    • A fun little Christmas holiday where the kids leave out their clean shoes in anticipation of some goodies from St. Nick. A holdover from family traditions.
  • Green Sunday (1st week of December)
  • Copper Sunday (2nd week of December)
  • Silver Sunday (3rd week of December)
  • Gold Sunday (4th week of December)
    • These Sundays are a holdover from Advent, as mini-celebrations in anticipation of Karascunt and the Rough Nights. Due to the names I also use the days to reference a corresponding Magyar deity (Copper – Hadúr, Silver – Szélkirály, Gold – Napkirály)
  • Karascunt (December 21/22)
    • Winter Solstice festival full of fire, drink, and merryment to celebrate Csodaszarvas carrying the Sun over the river to begin the year anew and overcome the darkness. First day of the Rough Nights. Spinning stops by this night.
    • Honors: Csodaszarvas
  • Bertchten Day (January 5-6)
    • This day ends the Rough Nights and the new year begins. The sun finally overcame the darkness and the light continues to grow in strength. Spinning chores resume. Also known as Twelfth Night (evening of Jan. 5)
    • Honors: Fra Berta/Lutzl (though she is also associated with all 12 of the Rough Nights)
  • Day of the Bear (February 2)
    • Midwinter celebration in anticipation of the season’s end. The Bear awakes and bring with it the first hints of life and hope in a time where patience and food stores are wearing thin. “Spring cleaning” and purification processes occurs at this time. Winter expulsion begins.
    • Honors: Szélkirály
  • Zöldágjárás (usually mid-late March)
    • First hints of life appears in the trees and shrubs, and the initial bits of greenery is brought inside to continue the purification process. Boughs of greenery are formed into arches and wreathes for women and children to dance under, and boys splash water on girls (purity and fertility rite, most likely). Birds are migrating back at this time.
  • Fruit-grafting day (March 25)
    • Fruiting tree branches that are starting to bud are grafted and hopefully successful. Several traditions regarding death and fertility surround this day as it is also the Catholic holiday of Mary’s conception of Jesus.
    • Honors: Nagy Boldogasszony
  • Walpurgis Night (April 30)
    • Winter expulsion ends, compelling the ghosts and ancestors back to sleep. Most migratory birds have returned and begun their breeding season.

Summer

wordpress summer

  • May Day (May 1)
    • Summer begins. The fields and markets are readied for the growing season.
  • May Crowning (May, usually mid-to-late May)
    • Fields are cleared and sown, and seedlings transplanted, as the risk of frost is gone by this time. First harvest occurs around this time (depending on what plants are growing). Leaves have returned to the trees. Flowers are offered to the Queen of May by young girls.
    • Honors: Nagy Boldogasszony
  • Szentiván-éj (June 24)
    • A summer solstice celebration of fire, successful crop growth, and remembering the ancestors. Peak growth and first major harvests are occurring around this time. Apples are served to the fire and to the graves.
    • Honors: Csodaszarvas
  • Goldenrod Days (late September-early October)
    • A completely made-up period surrounding the autumn equinox to mark Summer drawing to a close. The Goldenrod flowers are in their full, yellow bloom, as if they absorbed part of the sun and took away some of its vigor. Apples are harvested at this time, and the birds are undergoing their fall migration.
    • Honors: Volos/Zomok

*Deities and their associations here will be discussed further in later posts of this meme. Some associations are traditional, some are not. Those with / between two names refer to the same being.

**The inconsistency of the names is due to some English counterparts being too vague to be a useful label, so the source culture’s holiday words are used instead to refer to their specific traditions that I observe (i.e. “Karascunt” in place of “Winter Solstice”). Exception being Zöldágjárás since there is no English counterpart in existence.

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Day 6: The power of prayer/reciprocity

Day 6 of the 30 Days of Paganism meme. This will be another short one like the Day 5: Magic post because my attitude and use of both concepts are very similar.

Given that this asks about the POWER of prayer/reciprocity rather than solely the belief, I’ll take this literally and answer this as I don’t think there’s a whole lot of external power to prayer. Rather, it acts internally to relieve anxieties and restore a sense of control in one’s life.

Course, that armchair-psychology approach to it hasn’t stopped me from praying to the foxes (more on them later), ancestors, or to certain gods when I was in need of something like a job or even a good grade. What was the American saying, that there’s always going to be prayer in schools as long as there are tests? It’s meant to be a joke but it’s a sad truth.

Even if I believe that it doesn’t actually do much, I still make sure to reciprocate and give offerings to whoever I prayed to for their help, especially if my request was fulfilled. Do I know for sure if what I wanted happened because of chance or because of who I asked? No, but I’ll live as if the latter was the cause.

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Day 5: Magic, spellcraft, mysticism etc

Back to the 30 days of Paganism meme. This will be a quick one.

I have very little personal interest in magic. Aside from the occasional casting divination and partly magic/partly prayer type of ritual in dire situations it has little purpose in my life. I do enjoy reading about magic rituals in historical/anthropological texts however.

As far as beliefs go about magic, I’m kind of agnostic about it. I don’t really have any belief in it, but I don’t have much of a belief against it. I’m highly skeptical of people who claim to be witches, magicians, shamans, or sorcerers and they’ll have to do a lot before I believe they’re not full of themselves or being delusional (I can’t control who uses those labels, but there are too many cases where I find the use of the labels extremely questionable and ignorant of what they actually mean, and I blame New Age literature for much of that).

However, I will admit that I think certain people in the world do have a legit magical/spiritual skill, and that there is a time and place for mystics in today’s world.

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