Theodish Thoughts

Musings on Theodism, religion, mythology, history, and contemporary Heathenry

Month: September 2012

My Favorite Season

Ahh… October.

The air’s getting colder, the leaves are turning here in New Jersey, and the Halloween season is upon us.

We had our family ritual today of taking the boxes of Halloween decorations out of the garage and starting to get the house properly spookified. The Great Pumpkin was on the DVD player (and afterwards the original The Mummy was on TBS), and cardboard and plastic ghosts and skeletons have started to adorn the house.

Later, this means that our weekends will get really busy. I’m hosting Winternights for my tribe this year, and then we’ve got our family Halloween party, and then there’s my wife’s coven, which does a Dumb Supper to honor the dead and then their actual Samhain celebration. It’s really nice– they stay up all night outside by a blazing bonfire to ring in the new year. I sleep, providing soup and hot cider before I go to bed, and donuts and coffee when I wake up.

And in and around all that we have multiple cemetery visits, loads of horror movies (I prefer the old Hammer films myself), a trip to Six Flags for fright fest, and this year I am treating myself to a Rob Zombie/Marilyn Manson concert in Manhattan. Plus of course trick-or-treating (both giving and receiving). It’s going to be a busy month!

But in and around all that is the very definite feeling that the veil is thinning. It’s not a particularly Germanic concept; our wheel of the year turns around Yule, and that’s when the ghosts really come out for us (there’s a faint echo of that in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). But that’s a subject for another post in, say, two months or so.

There’s a great feeling that there’s something special about this time of year, and it’s very cool that it’s a feeling that’s shared by the larger mundane culture around us. Symbols of the ancestors and the harvest are all around us, and it’s nice to feel that we’re not out of sync with the rest of society, at least for a month. The symbols of Christmas and Yule are similarly simpatico, but somehow the Halloween season just feels like everyone is on the same wavelength on a subconscious level, and that it’s more than just our symbols that match. I like it; it feels like we’re all Pagans in October, at least on some level.

Pagans and Blasphemy

(Cross-posted at witchesandpagans.com)

I dare mock the gods. 
I believe that Freyja is a bitch, 
And that Odin in a dog, 
Or else the other way around.
–Hjalti Skeggjason, ~1,000 CE

I’ve been working on this post for a while, but now that the Wild Hunt has opined on the subject, I thought it was probably time to get this off my chest. With the violence that has gripped the Islamic world over the last two weeks, it seems appropriate to discuss the issue of blasphemy. How was it viewed by our ancestors, and how might we view it today?

In pre-Christian Iceland, the Christian poet Hjalti Skeggjason was outlawed for the bit of doggerel at the top of this post. Socrates was famously put on trial for blasphemy and impiety. The ancient Athenians also put to death many hundreds of people on charges of impiety for desecration of statues of Hermes during the Peloponnesian War; Anaxagoras and Alcibiades were among the victims. Clearly, the notion of blasphemy or impiety as a punishable offense is not something unique to monotheistic religions or unknown to Pagan faiths, and punishments for what we today might consider mild expressions of free speech could be met with harsh penalties.

I happen to think that modern Pagans and Heathens should not hide it when those of other faiths say things that are offensive to us. We should feel free– nay, obligated– to speak up and react accordingly. Different people will have different reactions, of course; some will calmly explain why something is offensive to Pagans, and ask for understanding in the future, while others will match rant for rant and show righteous indignation. As long as the reaction is peaceful and legal, we should not be afraid to make use of the tools that the law provides us; chief among them is the court of public opinion. When we look calm and rational, and our detractors look like kooks and fanatics, we win in that particular court, but sometimes you need to show you won’t knuckle under to bullying.

In modern times, although many nations have blasphemy laws on the books, the United States explicitly does not. The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits such things under the umbrella of the freedom of speech, which was called out by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1952:

“from the standpoint of freedom of speech and the press, it is enough to point out that the state has no legitimate interest in protecting any or all religions from views distasteful to them which is sufficient to justify prior restraints upon the expression of those views. It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine, whether they appear in publications, speeches, or motion pictures.” (Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson)

Thus, those that are calling for prosecution of the people responsible for The Innocence of Muslims, or for cartoons of Mohammed, or whatever are pretty much out of luck. (Breaking news flash: they may be out of luck if they’re expecting charges of blasphemy, but apparently it’s good enough to get you arrested for an alleged probation violation.)

The problem with blasphemy laws is that they must fall into one of two types. Either they are specifically geared to protect a specific religion (such as those in Saudi Arabia, which go even further and protect a specific form of Islam), or they must perforce be worded so broadly as to practically ban anything that anyone finds offensive for any reason.

To take one example, even the tolerant Netherlands has a law that makes “scornful blasphemy” a criminal offense punishable by three months in jail plus a fine. Does such a broad prohibition include offending the religious sensibilities of Pagans, Heathens, and Wiccans? Would publishing Hjalti Skeggjason’s poem cross the line? How about Piss Christ, or a showing of The Innocence of Muslims?

Israel makes it a crime, punishable by a year in the hoosgow, if “one publishes a publication that is liable to crudely offend the religious faith or sentiment of others”. Would it be possible, for example, to undertake a prosecution of the Tel Aviv edition of the New Yorker, on the grounds that their “Yes, Wiccan” cartoon was offensive to Witches? Unless you’re out to specifically protect a single faith, you end up protecting them all, and it’s only a matter of time before Pagans and Heathens start to exercise their rights in countries that do have such (in my opinion overly-) broad blasphemy laws.

One wonders what Bill Donohue (the head of the Catholic League, whose appearance on Fox News when the slightest irreverence towards Catholicism shows its head) would say if the Catholic Church were prevented from claiming that Pagan and Heathen faiths are inherently “false” and anything to do with magic and the occult is Satanic?

Part of the problem with the modern push for anti-blasphemy laws is that the loudest calls are coming from people who have absolutely no compunction against publishing and saying the most vile, heinous, slanderous lies about other faiths. It is a stark and obvious case of “protection for me, but not for thee”. Does anyone seriously expect to see anti-blasphemy prosecutions in Saudi Arabia against people who mock and spew opprobrium against Judaism or Wicca? And don’t forget that even Satanism itself would find itself protected by some of the broader definitions of blasphemy that are currently on the books in certain countries.

Personally, I am dead-set against laws that punish blasphemy, whether that is blasphemy against Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Asatru, Wicca, the Religio Romana, or whatever. The freedom of speech, and the freedom to express ideas is fundamental, and ultimately trumps anyone’s claimed right to live without being offended or mocked.

Even the crudest expressions of hate and scorn are, ultimately, the right of the person making them to make, and even obvious crudities can have their place to shock the complacent members of dominant religions that not everyone shares their faith, and that some resent the assumptions and privileges that go with it. Sometimes one needs to be crude and shocking to get the message through to someone else that “I don’t hold the same things sacred that you do.” Reminding others that people believe different things is not hate speech.

Naturally, this freedom does not extend to violence, whether against persons or property. Words can be hurtful, but ultimately they are only words, and can be overcome with more (and better) words. Violence is destructive, and should be punished with all the force appropriate and necessary to ensure that it is not repeated. Hold up a sign in front of a Pagan bookstore saying “You’re going to Hell”? Yes. Throw a brick through that same store’s window with that tied to it? No.

Of course, I reserve the right to be marching on that same sidewalk with my own sign. Such is the nature of speech– it should encourage more speech. That’s a good thing.

It’s Not Always About the Gods

(Cross-posted at witchesandpagans.com)

One of the things that Théodish Belief stresses is that the Gods– the Aesir– are much more interested in human beings on a corporate level. That is, They hear us much more clearly when we join together in a chorus, rather than sending our voices up to Asgard singularly. This is the basis of the Théodish tribal structure, which allows us to worship the Aesir as a group, and have the Luck of the Aesir flow through the tribe via the tribal leader to the individual members of the tribe, through the “web of oaths”.

That said, such tribe-wide gatherings and rituals are relatively few and far between. Individual tribal custom (thew) differs, but as a rule such large rituals– called fainings— are done three or four times a year.

Needless to say, that leaves a lot of time that can and should be filled with religious activity. But if the Aesir are mostly honored at the group level, where does that leave the Théodish individual or family? (Bearing in mind that this advice can apply to someone of just about any Pagan or Heathen faith.)

Certain individuals, of course, have special relationships with one or more Aesir, and are known as “friends of” a particular God or Goddess. This is well attested to in the written lore, and we see it in modern times as well. So even though in the Théodish model, the Aesir prefer to deal with humans in groups, They do make exceptions.

But such true exceptions are few and far between, which leaves a great many people wanting between major holy tides. As Théodish Belief leans towards the historical reconstructionist end of the Heathen spectrum, fortunately the written lore gives us plenty of examples. Most specifically, the worship of the land spirits (Old Norse landvættir, house gods (Swedish tomte, Norwegian nisse, English brownie), and other more specific spirits of place.

In my house, for example, we keep a stone by the hearth as a home for the house-god, and offer him a bowl of porridge every Yule. As head of the household, I make weekly offerings of “meat from my table and bread from my board” to the land-wights and elves.

Since these beings are closer to us, They are much more inclined to hear us individually and familially, and it is thus easier to enter into a good and fruitful relationship with Them. Establishing such a good relationship, and maintaining it throughout the year through simple and heartfelt rituals– generally speaking simple is better, and you should have the attitude of maintaining a good relationship with friends and neighbors– is an excellent way to maintain a connection with the divine, without the sometimes inappropriate pomp and circumstance of dealing with the Gods Themselves.

Personally, I find folklore to be an excellent guide. Stories of dealing with elves, brownies, trolls, and tomten are treasure-troves of practical advice, and have aided me immensely even though I am literally an ocean away from the land of their origin*. And, given that the goodwill of such beings can’t always be taken for granted, warnings.

_____

* I am reminded of an newspaper advertisement that appeared in a late 19th century midwestern journal noted for its Scandinavian readership, seeking a house-spirit to keep company the house-spirit that had accompanied the family to the New World. Apparently, it was lonely and wanted companionship, and the family thought it would be quite likely that some other immigrant family would be able to oblige. I know of no record as to whether or not the request ever bore fruit.

Grieve Indeed the Growth of Neo-Paganism

(Cross-posted at witchesandpagans.com)

Over at Pantheos, Timothy Dalrymple, on his Philosophical Fragments blog, posted about a trip he recently made with the editor of the Pagan channel at Pantheos, Star Foster. After a pretty nice and friendly introduction, though, he lays open his bigoted Christian heart and says:

As a Christian, of course, I grieve the growth of modern Neo-Paganism. … I find the historical scholarship of the Pagan communities sorely wanting, and the philosophy and theology behind it all is not yet mature.  Although it’s always harder to hear an outsider say it, I think most thoughtful pagans agree (and many say openly) that there is, quite naturally, a lot of growing left to do. 

And then bigotry transforms into condescension as we are treated to:

It’s like watching new religions take shape right in front of you, and observing the processes that transform ideas into teachings, teachings into communities, and communities into institutions and traditions.  Sects are becoming religions.

Like monkeys in a zoo. How quaint! The cute little Pagans are starting to turn into a real religion right before my very eyes! Isn’t that adorable? It’s like they think they’re real people!

I have a bit of historical analysis for Mr. Dalrymple, if I may, who despite his self-claimed status as a “scholar of religion” seems to think that “religion” equals Christianity.

Perhaps the “historical scholarship of the Pagan communities” would be a bit more robust if Christians had not gone around systematically obliterating as many traces of our history, beliefs, and practices as they could.  Thanks to Mr. Dalrymple’s forebears, we are forced to make do with fragments, bits and pieces that we are able to cobble together to get an outline of what our ancestors believed and how they acted on those beliefs. If the Christian conversion of Europe had spilled a little more ink and a little less blood, then perhaps those of us who utterly reject the Christian world-view would be able to satisfy Mr. Dalrymple’s standards of scholarship.

Alas, we must make the most of what his forebears left us.

Perhaps the modern revival of Pagan and Heathen religions might have happened earlier, and thus would now find themselves in a more “fully grown” state at this point, if there had not been systematic oppression of non-Christian beliefs and practices. Perhaps, if there were no “Witchcraft Acts” in England, or if they had been repealed prior to 1951, we might be in a bit better place right now, compared to Christianity, which had a bit of a jump on Paganism these last thousand years plus.

Alas, we must make the most of what his forebears saw fit to allow us, in the time they saw fit to allow us.

And then we go beyond mere bigotry, beyond condescension, and into complete and utter xenophobic invalidation:

Personally, of course, I don’t want Pagans to find religion, because I want pagans to recognize that the great God above all gods become incarnate and communicated his love and reconciliation to the world through Jesus Christ, the God-man.

Because, dontcha know, Dalrymple really knows what’s best for all of us, and if only we’d listen, we’d all agree with him. Because his god is “real” and ours are just… what? Demons? Figments of our collective imaginations? He seems to ask Star with incredulity:

When you honor Hephaistos, do you believe that Hephaistos (and the whole pantheon, for that matter) truly exists or do you honor Hephaistos as a symbol for important truths and values?

I have news for you: your Jehovah isn’t “above” Thor or Odin on his best day. Your pathetic god was nailed to a cross. My God wields a giant hammer. Any questions?

Mr. Dalrymple lays accusations and faults at the feet of Paganism and Heathenry which are explicitly and historically the fault of Christianity. And then he has the audacity to say that it is our fault that we are not “mature” enough. Not “scholarly” enough.

Perhaps we should aspire to be as mature as Islam, whose enthusiastic supporters kill, burn, maim, and destroy at the slightest provocation because non-believers violated strictures that their believers are held to, and hold back basic human rights of women, homosexuals, and those who dare to want to follow a different faith.

Perhaps we should aspire to be as scholarly as Christianity, a significant number of whose evangelical adherents believe the Earth to be something on the order of 6,000 years old and who deny undisputed scientific observations of biology, astronomy, and geology in the process.

These are but two examples; one could of course find many more illustrations of maturity and scholarship among the “real” religions.

On second thought, perhaps we should be quite happy with the pace we’ve been setting. If that’s where maturity and scholarship lead a religious movement, we might not want to get there all that quickly. Maybe we might be able to get where we’re going with some more ink, and less blood, than the “real” religions spilled while en route.

The Gift-Cycle in the Modern World

One of the centerpieces of ancient Germanic culture was the gift-cycle. Warriors in the service of a chieftain would be rewarded with gifts in return for their loyalty; one of the kennings (poetic circumlocutions) for “king” is “giver of rings”, a reference to the practice of giving arm-rings of precious metal to one’s supporters. It is said to be cyclical because gifts are given in return for service, which is given in return for gifts, which are given in return for service, etc.

This same concept is seen in the Germanic approach to the Gods. Sacrifices (Old Norse blót) are made to the Gods in order to secure Their favor. This could be for some specific purpose (such as the votive offerings in the form of tiny ship figurines that have been found, presumably offered for safe passage while at sea) or for a more general effusion of good fortune (what those in the Théodish branch of Heathenry would call luck). Snorri Sturluson makes it plain that at certain times of the year, sacrifices were made to elicit specific things in return:

“þa skydi blota I moti vetri, til ars, onn at mðjum vetri blota til groðrar, it briðja at sumri, þat var sigrblot”

“On winter day there should be blood sacrifice for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop, and the third sacrifice should be on summer day for victory in battle.” – Heimskringla, Ynglingasaga ch. 8

Modern Heathenry is similarly informed by the gift-cycle. Most contemporary Heathens make offerings to the Gods with a motivation similar to that of their ancestors; they give gifts, thus obligating the receiver (in this case, the Gods) to reciprocate. This is one reason that many Heathen rituals will seem quite different than Pagan or Wiccan rites; they are not magical in nature so much as votive. Most contemporary Heathens make offerings of food and drink, although other sorts of offerings are not uncommon.

Théodish Heathens, with their emphasis on the tribal social structure and system of “hold oaths” that bind the individual members of the tribe together in a “web of oaths”, demonstrate this gift-cycle within the tribal structure as well as between tribes. The chieftain of a tribe will give gifts to the members of the tribe (often in elaborate and ritualistic settings such as the ritual known as sumbl (in Old Norse) or symbel (in Anglo-Saxon)), who in turn reciprocate with their service to the tribe and its leader.

This does bring in a question for contemporary Heathens and others who follow the gift-cycle either on a social or purely religious level; how does the gift-cycle fit in to modern society? Instinctively, we have some idea of the mechanism on a cultural level, which was humorously and pedantically pointed out in The Big Bang Theory episode “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” (2008):

Sheldon: Wait! You bought me a present?
Penny: Uh-huh.
Sheldon: Why would you do such a thing?
Penny: I don’t know. ‘Cause its Christmas?
Sheldon: Oh, Penny. I know you think you are being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift. You’ve given me an obligation.
Howard: Don’t feel bad, Penny, it’s a classic rookie mistake. My first Hanukah with Sheldon, he yelled at me for eight nights.
Penny: Now, hey, it’s okay. You don’t have to get me anything in return.
Sheldon: Of course I do. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you’ve given me. It’s no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year.

Where things get curious is when we have ordinary transactions in the context of modern living. When I hand someone $5 and get a hamburger in return, have I just participated in the gift cycle? When I am taxed, and those taxes are given to someone I don’t even know in the form of food stamps, is that part of the gift cycle? The answer would be no, as those sorts of transactions are lacking in one crucial aspect; the expectation of reciprocity. There is no expectation on the part of the hamburger cook that I will, having finished one burger, then pay for another (or that I will seek out that particular establishment the next time I am hungry), nor do I feel any obligation to do so.

Salaries and other pre-agreed payments for services rendered do not fall under the rubric of the gift cycle, for exactly the same reason. Bear in mind that the very name implies that what is given is given voluntarily on both sides; as a gift between friends.

Taxation and the receipt of government largess is a different story, but is similarly outside the gift-cycle because it is impersonal. There can be no expectation of reciprocity unless there is a face to whom one can reciprocate; when someone receives a welfare check, there is no single individual to whom they can offer thanks and reciprocate (except in some instances where a particular government official positions himself to be seen as the font of such largess, which is a phenomenon politicians are all too aware of and willing to exploit).

Similarly, notions of anonymous charity such as those espoused by certain Christians and others, would fall outside the gift-cycle because they explicitly break the notion of reciprocity. By dropping a coin into the poor box when no one is watching, one is taking steps to ensure that whatever use is made of the money, it cannot be traced back to the donor, and thus no thanks can be given (except, one imagines, by the Christian God, so perhaps in that sense it’s not so anonymous after all!).

This is not to say that “tribal” Heathen communities are somehow isolated from the rest of society, and such Heathens have one set of rules that apply to fellow tribe members and not to others. As noted above, the idea of the gift-cycle is embedded within us on a cultural, and perhaps psychological, level. It can be seen to work on as simple a plane as the man who rakes his neighbor’s leaves while he’s gone for the weekend, only to find his walk shoveled a few months later after a snowstorm. We instinctively know the gift-cycle to be a healthy and community-building way of behaving, even if we don’t always call it by that name, or indulge in it self-consciously.  The Hávamál may say that “a gift demands a gift”, but in more modern terms we can simply acknowledge that being good and generous to others tends to make others good and generous to us. By following traditional modes of dealing with others, such as the gift-cycle, we set ourselves up as a good example for our non-Heathen neighbors.

Islam Is Not A No-Ridicule Zone

Today a mob in Cairo violated international law and stormed over the wall surrounding the U.S. embassy to Egypt, in a scene eerily reminiscent of what happened in Iran after the Islamist revolution there. The American flag was torn down and in its place a black flag with jihadist slogans was raised in its place. This was, apparently, due to Egyptian television inciting the riot by playing clips from some video that they knew would incite the barbarians among their viewership that showed Mohammed in a bad light. Apparently, it’s not even an American video, but a Dutch one. Mobs are not known for their subtle interpretation of facts, however.

Now, how did the U.S. Embassy react to their staff being forced to retreat from the embassy grounds and the American flag being desecrated? Why, they condemned the video that was used to incite the mob, of course:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

How many times do we need to be shown that Muslims are emotionally stunted as a group, that they demand special treatment for themselves that they don’t even make a pretense of showing towards other faiths (or lack thereof), and that they have such a non-concept of the true meaning of the freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion that their first go-to strategy when they feel offense is to kill people, burn down buildings, and destroy property.

Those are not the reactions of civilized people, and they are not the reactions of a confused fringe group within their numbers. These are the reactions of a majority of Muslims around the world, who even if they don’t personally participate in such barbarism applaud it or turn a blind eye to it.

Worst of all is the reaction of the American government, through its Egyptian Embassy, which doesn’t condemn the violence against the embassy itself, but tries to make the case that the Freedom of Speech enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution somehow doesn’t apply if that speech offends someone else’s religious sensibilities!!!

Well, Hel! That’s certainly a new twist on things.

So, when Pat Robertson said that witchcraft is inextricably linked to abortion, divorce, feminism, should we have expected Wiccans around the world to lose all control and start stabbing people and burning down churches?

When the Pagan religious space at the United States Air Force Academy was vandalized within days of its being opened, should we have expected all Air Force installations around the globe to go on lockdown, against the inevitable and expected backlash from hordes of outraged Pagans determined to kill as many Airmen as they could before they entered the Summerlands?

Every time that a Muslim says “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet”, every Christian within earshot should be expected to grab any handy bludgeon and beat the offender to a pulp, perhaps also slicing off their head in outrage that the divinity of Jesus is being questioned?

That every time a Jew hears someone say the word “god”, they should immediately be expected to go into a killing frenzy, because the offender has violated what they think their god has commanded?

When my car has a bumper sticker that says “My God Wields a Giant Hammer. Your God Was Nailed to a Cross. Any Questions?” I should expect that it will be vandalized and set on fire (preferably with myself inside) because reasonable Christians just can’t be expected to respond any other way?

No! Of course not! There’s only one religion that everyone tip-toes around because its followers are so irrational, so barbaric, and so self-righteously demanding that they expect everyone to not only respect their beliefs, but also to refrain from disagreeing with them, lest they be the subject of violence.

Islam.

No more special treatment for Islam. No more tip-toeing around it. It’s a monstrous, barbaric religion must be stopped before it’s able to impose a silence of fear across the planet.

The First Amendment affords me the right to worship, and the right to speak. It does not afford anyone the right not to be offended by my speech, nor does it carry with it any implication that I should temper my speech or my beliefs accordingly.

Muslims are going to be offended by the fact that I have God-posts at my home, and that I make offerings to them on a regular basis. They will be offended by the fact that I worship multiple Gods; Thor, Odin, Freyja, etc. etc. etc. They will be offended by the fact that I drink alcohol as part of my worship, in the sacred rite known as sumbel.

And you know what? The fact that they’re offended does not mean I’m going to stop, and it most certainly doesn’t mean that the U.S. government should in any way tell me that I should stop doing, or saying, anything just because Muslims will be offended. You can’t handle ridicule? Can’t handle cartoons, or videos, or speech that “offends” you? Shut up. Everyone else can.

Muslims don’t get a special pass. They get to be offended like anyone else. And if they just can’t handle that fact, that somewhere, someone is behaving or speaking in a way that doesn’t show their weird barbaric beliefs respect, they don’t get to act out like children, killing, maiming, burning, and destroying. If they try, they should be put down. 

Old Norse Nicknames

Medievalists.net today gives us a masters thesis by Paul Peterson at the University of Iceland on the subject of Old Norse nicknames.

The free pdf is a 67 page study of the phenomenon of nicknames in Old Norse literature, and is a very comprehensive study that covers the subject from a variety of angles including skaldic (poetic) nicknames, nicknames that eventually turn into proper names, and the use and significance of nicknames in ON literature itself. All in all a very enjoyable paper, and one that should be very interesting to those interested in Germanic naming conventions.

Contemporary Heathens who choose to assume a faith-name will find this paper of particular interest, as it goes beyond a mere list of names and meanings and discusses some of the significance of the choices.

My Favorite Season

Autumn is my favorite time of year, hands down.

The leaves are turning, the air is getting crisp, my wife and daughter are back in school and out from under foot… Plus Fall leads up to my flat-out favorite holiday; Halloween, so I get to decorate the house and add to our store of props and decorations. Soon the television will be filled with wonderful old horror movies, and baseball will finally be off the air for the season.

Plus even though October is usually packed with activities around my house (my wife has her Samhain stuff, I’ve got Winternights, and we all have Halloween) it’s mercifully without the hectic rushing around that accompanies the Christmas/Yule season. I don’t have a free weekend for the whole month of October, but I don’t mind a bit.

For some reason I feel more focused in Autumn. I’m more productive and creative. This is the time I generally start new major undertakings. For the next couple of months, I plan on being inordinately pleased with myself, for no other reason than it’s Fall.

(Yeah, I know that astronomically Autumn doesn’t start until September 22, but my Heathen ancestors based their calendrical perceptions on observed effects, and those effects around here tell me it’s Autumn already.)

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