Lyrics on original YouTube link
Genre: Viking/Black Metal/Folk Metal
Lyrical Themes: Epic tales, heathenism, Lore, Norse Tales
So What is Hávamál? It is “the sayings of the high one.” It is a single poem in the Poetic Edda. For those of you who don’t know what the Poetic Edda is, it is a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking Age. Hávamál basically gives advice for proper living, good conduct and day to day wisdom. The verses themselves are attributed to the wisdom of Odin.
Some Key Hávamál Quotes:
FROM WISDOM FOR WANDERERS AND COUNSEL TO GUESTS
On courage and cowardice:
“A coward believes he will ever live
if he keep him safe from strife:
but old age leaves him not long in peace
though spears may spare his life.”
On mockery and judgement:
“The miserable man and evil minded
makes of all things mockery,
and knows not that which he best should know,
that he is not free from faults.”
Was the Ancient World all flower power?
Maybe the sacrificial victims were crowned with flower garlands before they met a bloody end.
People assume that Matriarchal authority is a peaceful affair.
Yet the Ancient Queens of Peru beg to differ.
A Divine Journey to the Inner Self and God Consciousness.
Yoruba is a West African spirituality that some Anthropologists estimate is 10,000 years old! It comprises the beliefs of the Yoruba people, whose homeland is in the South Western part of Nigeria and adjoining parts of Benin and Togo. Yet the beliefs of Yoruba are also incredibly widespread around the world. Some of this was due to migration that occurred before the Egyptian dynasties. Yet the most recent migration is because of the Atlantic Slave Trade that brought the peoples of Yoruba to Trinidad, Tobago, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Venezuela, North America and elsewhere.
Today, many people of African descent are returning to their roots via exploration with the Yoruba spirituality. There is a great article on this very phenomenon on NPR.
The spirituality of Yoruba focuses deeply on self exploration, learning one’s destiny (or fate), interacting with the spirits of nature as well as one’s ancestors, and getting yourself right with the almighty creator Oludumare.
Oludumare is not a “he” or a “she.” The only appropriate pronoun here is “it” because Oludumare is a genderless being who is responsible for all creation. It lives in a heavenly realm, far from its creation. Yet it has holy messengers who help to intercede between the Almighty and Mankind itself. These messengers are spirits called “Orishas.” In Yoruba you must believe and interact with the Orishas to reach God Consciousness.
There are many types of Orishas. Some who have always been present and others are humans who made the leap to divinity. And then there are spirits who take the form of natural resources such as rivers and trees. While some are similar to the Western concept of an Angel, there are also some key differences. Orisha’s are not perfect beings. They actually have very human characteristics, a variety of quirks and different attitudes. They marry, divorce and even have their own favorite beers and foods. Orishas also live on the Earth, rather than the sky. Some say that there are 400 and others say that there are more than 3,000. Of the real number no one can be certain. Each Orisha has their own color, drum beat and even an article of clothing that is associated with them.
Orishas are also capable of possessing the bodies of their followers or priests. This is done through an elaborate dance ritual where certain orishas are evoked through a particular dance and drum beat. The Orishas rise up from the Earth and mount the bodies and souls of those involved in the ritual. Men and women can both take place in these rituals. Some humans involved in the ritual even gender bend in terms of their clothing, if they want to summon an Orisha of the opposite gender.
However, not all spirits are good. There are some negative spirits called “Ajogun.” These spirits are typically responsible for the bad things that might happen in someone’s life: accidents, depression or an illness. People trying to get rid of an Ajogun will consult a priest, who performs a divination ritual to learn the spirit’s motives and the best way to banish them.
Ashe is a life force similar to Chi in Chinese traditions or the energy that flows through the chakras in Indian belief. Ashe is a force that has the power to bring about change – whether good or bad – and is contained in everything from lightning and hurricanes to blood and sacred names (Source: God Paths).
Rather than focusing on salvation, much of the focus has been on living a good life in the here and now. While there is some mention of a “good and bad heaven” most followers hope for reincarnation, which is actually a good thing in this religion, while it is something to be escaped in Buddhism. People who are bad or who commit suicide do not get to be reborn. There is also a belief that reincarnation matches family lines. Therefore, that a grandmother or grandfather will reincarnated back into his or her family tree. It’s not uncommon for a boy to be called names like Babatunde which means “Father Returns” or Yetunde which means “the mother comes back again”. Gender is hardly ever taken into account because its believed that it often changes with reincarnation.
In Yoruba, we get to choose our own destinies before we are born. This can be to the very exact details of where we live, who we love and our life purpose. Yet once we are born, we forget these destinies and must struggle to remember them again. Consulting the spirits is a good way to learn one’s life destiny and purpose.
In the Yoruba tradition, there are men and women who are specially trained to communicate with the heavenly realm. You see the Yoruba have specially trained intercessors called either Babalawo if men (which means Father of secrets) or Iyalawo if women (Mother of Secrets) who through an intense period of training are taught divination techniques that allow clients to seek help or advice from the Heavenly realm on anything from relationship problems to job issues. Babalawo are different from your typical psychic though.
They don’t claim to have any special power in and of themselves. They are merely people who are masters of the art of divination which involves knowing how to cast divinations with palm nuts, recording the results, and reciting the poem connected with each result. This however is not very easy since the chances of any one result coming up are 1 in 256 and four poems must be memorized for each one. Therefore, it takes a lot of work, memorization and dedication to be a Babalawo or Iyalawo
YORUBA MEETS CHRISTIANITY
When Europeans came to Africa, or traded Africans abroad, the Africans were forced to embrace many of the European ways – including their religion. The Yoruba spirituality survived better under Spanish and Portuguese Catholicism than the English Evangelical Christianity.
Catholicism had parallels similar to the Yoruba Faith. A belief in an almighty God who had many helpers (saints and angels). When the Yoruba converted to Catholicism, they made their Orisha’s into saints. However, the conversion wasn’t such a simple affair – since the Yoruba had less of a belief in black and white “good and evil.” Yet at least their Orishas were able to maintain some worship in Catholicism.
In the Christian Evangelical system, many of the Orisha’s were simply abolished.
Yet the Catholic Yoruba synthesis is alive and well in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Trinidad, Haiti, Cuba and New Orleans.
Because of Yoruba’s elasticity, it can adopt other religions quite easily. This may be part of the religion’s popularity. Some say that Yoruba – with its many different versions included – is the world’s top 6 most practiced religion.
Some have chosen to practice both Catholicism and Yoruba simultaneously. Yet others are leaving their Christian Faith behind altogether. They are enticed by a faith with African Roots, a personal connection to the spirits of the divine, and a deep connection with the spirits of nature. If you are still curious for deeper knowledge about this ancient faith, check out my resources below.
NOW ENJOY SOME SMOOTH RHYTHMS – DUB MUSIC BEFORE DUB STEP WAS A THING…
Jah Shaka & Mad Professor – People of Yoruba
The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts (Book on Amazon)
The World We Live In
The bears I surveyed gave this movie a C+.
There were two reasons I was initially excited to see this movie: a fascination with Ancient Celtic Myth and the fact that this was Pixar’s first movie with a female protagonist as the lead. Yet watching this film left me feeling like this was the “C” student who I was expecting to make an “A.” On this blog, I admit to feeling silly for criticizing a movie made for children. Over all, the movie wasn’t terrible. I still walked away from it being somewhat entertained. But there was also something about this movie that left me feeling frustrated.
PIXAR’S FLIMSY ATTEMPT TO CREATE A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER
I feel like “Brave” was Pixar’s attempt to make a strong female character, since they have been criticized for being something of a “boy’s club.” Yet instead of coming off like a strong, female Celtic warrior the likes of Boudicca (a woman who destroyed three Roman towns and nearly kicked the Romans out of Britain), Merida – the lead – remains a prissy, self entitled teenager who seems more likely to whine about doing her math homework rather than leading her clan to greatness.
NOTES ON THE MOVIE ITSELF
Brave itself is a movie that takes place in an idealized 10th century Scotland. The animation and scenery is remarkable, in this aspect, Pixar does not disappoint. Directors Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman both also have Scottish roots, which gives the film some authenticity.
The beginning of the movie seemed promising. Merida is a princess with remarkable archery skills. She wants to be a powerful warrior like her father, King Fergus. Yet she remains trapped by her mother with the responsibilities and traditions of being a “prim and proper” princess who doesn’t “put her weapons on the dinner table.” Eventually the day comes when it is time to marry Merida off to the future leader of another clan. Politically successful marriages were vitally important to the survival of a clan. These marriages were key in bringing peace to two different clans that may have ended up declaring war on one another. The Ancient Celtic Goddess Brigid herself played an important role in bringing peace to two warring tribes after her son was killed in battle.
Different clans come together in order to compete for Merida’s hand in marriage. The sons of all the clan leaders end up being quite unsuitable – suitors. In cliché movie fashion – they are all miraculously a bunch of bumbling doofuses who can’t tell an arrow’s tail from their own faces. I understand the element here was to introduce comedic relief. Yet I found it incredibly disappointing that ALL of the men in this movie were incompetent. The mighty king Fergus can’t even give a speech without his wife’s assistance. This element made the movie more frustrating and stereotypical than funny in my opinion.
The reality is that the Scottish clans of these times had an intense focus on warfare and raising up powerful warriors. The son of a clan leader would’ve trained his whole life in different skills of battle: sword fighting, archery and hand to hand combat. The idea that all the suitors would be this incompetent is just as insulting as it is stupid. But then again…I remind myself that this is a kid’s movie and I must suspend some expectation of reality here…
With a lifetime focused on physical training, like throwing logs and boulders, it’s likely that the Scottish Suitors may have looked something like this. Heart melts! Merida, if you don’t want any of the suitors, I’ll take all four. Mwahhaa!
MERIDA VIOLATES TRADITION
Merida ends up competing for her own hand in marriage – which violates all protocols of tradition – and wins. This horrifies her mother – the Queen – and increases the rift between the two. After a fight, Merida ends up running away. At this point in the story, I was expecting some heroic adventures and deep life lessons. Instead we get some wacky hijinks where Merida ends up using a witch’s spell to “change her mum” – the most vague request you can make of life altering magic – and ends up turning her mother into a bear. This is bittersweet considering that King Fergus is a mighty bear hunter.
Perhaps there may be some mythological significance to this transformation considering that shape shifting magic was a common theme in Celtic Mythology and that Artio herself was a mighty Bear Goddess.
However, getting back to the movie plot, the rest of the movie tediously makes its way through Merida trying to turn her mother back into a human. There are a lot of shenanigans that ensue which provide some slapstick humor and some clumsy plot development.
BRAVE IS NOT SO BRAVE
(Now that’s what I call Brave!)
Our heroine also does not prove to be very “brave” either. When she comes close to having a fight with a real bear she ends up screaming and curling into a ball out of fear.
Eventually Merida discovers that she must “mend the bond destroyed by pride.”After this revelation, I was hoping some life lesson would emerge about the destructive effects of pride – but in the end this was all muddled by some vague lesson of each person being allowed to choose their own path. Merida does not end up getting married, the unsuitable suitors go home, and there is not much clear indication of what happens to the rest of the clan as a result.
The reality is that the clans would’ve probably declared a brutal war on one another, destroy their alliance and bloodshed would ensue. Merida’s actions did nothing to benefit her people or her family. The desire to doom the future of one’s entire clan for one’s own selfish interests is not “brave,” it is selfish and “prideful” and frankly is a perfect description of what is wrong with modern values today. Actual Celtic history is replete with tales of women who knew how to fight – and there were women who even had their own fighting schools. Yet most Celtic men and women did what was good for their tribe and not necessarily what was best for themselves. If we are to learn from the past, we must learn to do what is best for those around us – not simply living for our own selfish ends.
LACK OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT OR STORY ARC
I think the problem here is that the boys at Pixar really had no idea how to develop a powerful female lead. They couldn’t conceive of an independent and strong female without also making her selfish and prideful, not really heroine material. A good character is also someone who has some kind of challenge to overcome. I suppose the challenge here was to mend the bond torn by pride – but she didn’t really end up making any major sacrifices or concessions for her prideful behavior. She was also a great archer from the get-go, so there wasn’t really much to develop on that end either.
WANT TO A GOOD KID’S MOVIE ABOUT A FEMALE HERO?
A much better children’s movie about a strong female lead was Mulan. She joined the army not out of some childish fantasy, but in order to save the life of her father, who was becoming too old to realistically defend himself in armed combat. She also isn’t a “Mary Sue” who ends up miraculously being good at combat either. Mulan was somewhat clumsy in the beginning and actually has to train and work hard in order to become a powerful warrior. In the end, she makes tough decisions and harsh sacrifices in order to save the nation of China. What’s even better, is that Mulan the Disney movie was actually based off a true story.
While Mulan was fighting to save the nation of China from Hun invasion and inventing clever war tactics, Merida was busy throwing tantrums and getting freaked out by Bears.
WANT TO SEE SOME STRONG CELTIC WOMEN WHO ACTUALLY EXISTED?
“The planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”
~ David Orr (From the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids)
A Kemetic Practitioner, Sharon, explains views on Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt.
She uses the book “Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt” by Lynn Meskell as her reference.
Modern Day Notions About Homosexuality Contrast With Ancient Thought
She makes a great point that much of our concepts about homosexuals being a different kind of person are only 100 years old. What she didn’t say, is that this identity was constructed by many new ideas in the emerging field of Freudian thought and psychology.
Before this development in the world of psychology, “gay” wasn’t an identity. Homosexuality was defined more as an action rather than an identity.
How did people feel about Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt?
Much of the connotations we have in the modern day and age about “gay” behavior wasn’t “gay” back in Ancient Egypt.
For example, Sharon makes the point that in this day an age, we make stereotypes about a man being gay if he cares too much about his appearance – or at least joke that he is “Metrosexual.”Yet in Ancient Egypt, it was perfectly normal for both men and women among the elite to wear makeup, shave their body hair, wear wigs and doll themselves up in fashionable clothing. (Sometimes the men could be prissier than the women in this respect). Dressing in fancy clothing, historically, wasn’t really a taboo for men until the modern era. In fact, dressing in expensive silks and resplendent colors was a way for most men to show their status and masculinity throughout history. The days of black suits and ties for all dudes are pretty recent.
Also, engaging in “gender swapping” behavior did not necessarily make one gay. There were some Goddesses that were depicted in male clothing, but they still engaged in sex with male Gods.
Was there any type of homosexual behavior that was frowned upon?
Rather than homosexuality itself, Sharon explains that being the “receiver” in a male homosexual act was looked down upon while being the “giver” wasn’t a problem. This is similar to norms in other Ancient cultures.
Nek: is the Ancient Egyptian word for sexual penetration.
Neku: Was a derogatory term – “to penetrate somebody”
Nekek: This was the person who had the thing “done to them.”
Sharon also says that there may have been a third gender in Ancient Egyptian Society, a sort of trans-gendered person. There is something similar to this in Hindu society today called a “Hijra.” They are people with male biological bodies who dress and act like women (The Third Gender).
There is some ambiguity since it was frowned upon to sleep with a young, effeminate male. Yet it is uncertain whether the taboo came from the fact that both participants in the act were male, or if it was because one of the participants was too young to give consent.
Homosexuality Wasn’t Really That Big of A Deal
While it may have been socially looked down upon to be someone’s “Nekek”, it didn’t receive the same vehement hatred that you see in today’s world. A Heterosexual marriage that resulted in children was seen as an ideal, since children would take care of you and perform your burial rites after death. Also, the homosexual relationships between men in Egypt were not celebrated as they were in Rome and Greece, given that fertility was a big part of Egyptian magic and life. Yet homosexual acts themselves weren’t a moral outrage like they are in parts of today’s world.
The best word to describe Ancient Egyptian feelings towards homosexuality was probably “ambivalence.” What people did behind closed doors was their own business – as it should be.
(Image Taken From Maat Shrine)
Ma’at is the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of truth, balance and order. She is most often depicted as a woman with wings or a single white ostrich feather. When the deceased go to the afterlife, the Egyptians believed that their hearts would be weighed against this feather.
If the individual lived a good life, following the rules of ma’at, their heart would be lighter than a feather and they would get to go to the afterlife. However, if that individual did not follow the rules of ma’at, they would have a heavy heart – weighed down by the guilt of their transgressions. As a result, their heart would be devoured by Ammut and the soul would be destroyed.
The laws of Ma’at are called the 42 Negative confessions and they were revealed in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or the Papyrus of Ani – a book that was written more than 3,000 years ago.
THE 42 NEGATIVE CONFESSIONS
- I have not committed sin
- I have not committed robbery with violence
- I have not stolen
- I have not slain men and women
- I have not stolen food
- I have not swindled offerings
- I have not stolen from God
- I have not told lies
- I have not carried away food
- I have not cursed
- I have not closed my ears to truth
- I have not committed adultery
- I have not made anyone cry
- I have not felt sorrow without reason
- I have not assaulted anyone
- I am not deceitful
- I have not stolen anyone’s land
- I have not been an eavesdropper
- I have not falsely accused anyone
- I have not been angry without reason
- I have not seduced anyone’s wife
- I have not polluted myself
- I have not terrorized anyone
- I have not disobeyed the law
- I have not been excessively angry
- I have not cursed God
- I have not behaved with violence
- I have not caused disruption of peace
- I have not acted hastily or without thought
- I have not overstepped my boundaries of concern
- I have not exaggerated my words when speaking
- I have not worked evil
- I have not used evil thoughts, words or deeds
- I have not polluted the water
- I have not spoken angrily or arrogantly
- I have not cursed anyone in thought, word or deed
- I have not placed myself on a pedestal
- I have not stolen that which belongs to God
- I have not stolen from or disrespected the deceased
- I have not taken food from a child
- I have not acted with insolence
- I have not destroyed property belonging to God
In recent years, a list of 42 ideals was written as a parallel to the Negative Confessions. Some modern practitioners of the Ancient Egyptian Ways like to repeat these 42 ideals in the morning and evening, as way to encourage these ideals in themselves. Chanting was an important part of spirituality in ancient Egypt. It was believed that if you chanted something often enough, that the words would become a part of your being. I guess there really is something to encouraging positive thinking!
THE 42 IDEALS
1. I honor virtue
2. I benefit with gratitude
3. I am peaceful
4. I respect the property of others
5. I affirm that all life is sacred
6. I give offerings that are genuine
7. I live in truth
8. I regard all altars with respect
9. I speak with sincerity
10. I consume only my fair share
11. I offer words of good intent
12. I relate in peace
13. I honor animals with reverence
14. I can be trusted
15. I care for the earth
16. I keep my own council
17. I speak positively of others
18. I remain in balance with my emotions
19. I am trustful in my relationships
20. I hold purity in high esteem
21. I spread joy
22. I do the best I can
23. I communicate with compassion
24. I listen to opposing opinions
25. I create harmony
26. I invoke laughter
27. I am open to love in various forms
28. I am forgiving
29. I am kind
30. I act respectfully of others
31. I am accepting
32. I follow my inner guidance
33. I converse with awareness
34. I do good
35. I give blessings
36. I keep the waters pure
37. I speak with good intent
38. I praise the Goddess and the God
39. I am humble
40. I achieve with integrity
41. I advance through my own abilities
42. I embrace the All
When I think of the Ancient, Immortal Gods, I think of beings who inspired so much fear in the hearts of men, that many men would sacrifice their own blood in order for the sun to rise another day. The human ambassadors to such deities required years of training and spiritual purification before they could even begin to properly divine the will of the Gods – let alone make requests. It is said that the Celtic Druids trained for 19 years for this feat.
Today, the internet is abound with spells promising love and success after muttering a haiku. “Buy this spell and a 16th generation witch will conjure a porsche filled with stacks of money in your lawn!” You’ve all seen the ads. Much of our society revolves around the willow wisp promise of self gratification through little effort and time – therefore, some forms of modern magic attempt to do the same.
However, a Hellenist woman I interviewed in the past had a great response to this. “The Gods are not our personal errand boys.”
This is not to say that we shouldn’t attempt an interaction with the Gods or Nature. A spiritual reconnection is vitally important for the people of our time! However, what I’m trying to articulate here, is that some folks tread down the path of Paganism and Earth Based spirituality with some erroneous expectations.
In meditating on the matter, we have to ask ourselves, what is the purpose of spirituality?
In this blog, perhaps it is not my role to tell you what you can and can’t do with your spirituality.
However, I think it is useful to ask yourself why you are spiritual? What draws you to the Gods?
One reason people tell me they’re not spiritual is because they never get what they pray for, spirituality doesn’t have the “desired results.” When the “place in the oven for 3 minutes and reheat” tactic of spirituality doesn’t work for some individuals, they abandon the spiritual world altogether. But of course, these individuals set themselves up for failure because they had the wrong expectations to begin with.
In my opinion, spirituality shouldn’t be about what the Gods do for you.
Spirituality should be a process of purifying yourself and making yourself worthy of the Gods presence.
Throughout history, the different spiritualities of the world required the following attributes of a practitioner:
The mentioned steps above were required more so for a religious priest or priestess of sorts. Yet even laymen found ways to include these attributes into their life.
For example, if someone prays everyday for a Hummer and doesn’t get it, they will declare there are no Gods/God. If someone prays everyday for world peace, only to face the cold, harsh reality of a cruel world filled with suffering – they may also declare that there are no Gods/God and that they are alone in a cruel world.
However, deep change occurs at the subconscious level. Through sacrifice, prayer, meditation, establishing bonds with a community and enforcing self discipline we change ourselves at a deep level. We put ourselves through a process of purification like a sword being tempered by a steady flame.
By becoming more spiritual, you align yourself with what is actually important in life and place yourself on the path towards achieving that goal.
The Gods aren’t your personal errand boys in a quest of your choosing. They are the embodiment of timeless truths and nature’s power – and you mere mortal, are a part of a quest of their choosing.
Read the article at Cracked.com
Cracked is not the most accurate source, but the article above does tackle some of the major misconceptions about ancient Greece and Rome.
Sexuality: While Rome was more open about Sexuality than the Christians who succeeded them, the whole place was not a sex crazed romp party. Most wealthy Roman women lived very guarded lives where they judged by strict values of modesty. From epigraphy we read that the Roman woman was valued for piety, modesty, maintenance of harmony and for being a one man woman. (Ancient History).
“Pudicitia” was a set of sexual standards that both Roman men and women were expected to abide by. The standards of modesty were more strict for women, but there were certain standards that men had to follow as well. Augustus Caesar even enacted a program of moral legislation to encourage pudicitia.
Yes, it is true that prostitution, sex slavery and the sexuality of the Gods was a part of Roman society. Yet much of the stories of in your face, Roman sex orgies that fill popular imagination today were an invention of early Christians who were trying to defame the whole place.
Diversity: This article makes a great point. In most movies about Rome, the actors are all lily-white. Yet the Roman empire itself encompassed territories in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It was definitely a melting pot.
The Christian Martyrdom Myth: In addition to over the top sex orgy stories, the early Christians also have fabricated many tales about horrible persecutions and being thrown to the lions. Yet there is very little historical evidence that such events took place, aside from a few isolated incidents that were more political in nature than religious.
The Olympics and Fame: Cracked reiterates that the Greeks were not much different from us modern folk in this respect. People love fame and celebrities, why would it be any different in ancient Greece?
Greece and Democracy: Many like to laud Ancient Greece as a golden beacon of Democracy and Progressive thought. Yet Cracked points out that Democracy lasted less than two centuries in Athens. This so-called “Democracy” also did not include a majority of the Athenian people. Greece itself wasn’t even a singular entity. It was a hodgepodge of different city states that spent a good deal of time fighting each other. There were even situations where certain Greek City States allied themselves with Persia to fight other Greeks.
Also, in regards to the so-called philosophical and educated populace – Cracked aptly points out that a majority of the Greek population could not even read.