Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times for March 2018
I write this on February 19, and it is a pleasant fifty-seven degrees Fahrenheit outside, with a soft, misty rain.
My crocus, hyacinth, and daffodils are pushing their green fingers out of the earth, and I have the sliding glass door open to allow some of the nice, fresh air into the house. My husband was saying it “feels like” Spring yesterday.
I corrected him, “It IS Spring, and it started the first week of February.” I explained Spring is not something that starts all in one day, but is a season that unfolds gradually, and people miss out on most of it if they don’t observe Nature daily. There have been more birds present for weeks, and I have been seeing worms, squirrels, and stronger sunlight quite a lot as well. It gets warm, and then cold again as The Cailleach struggles to maintain winter, I explained.
He just smiled, and turned on the car radio.
I’m both the Pagan, and the gardener in our household, and nothing I said made any sense to him.
Looking in Unexpected Places
More than looking for signs of the seasons in unexpected places, we find ourselves looking for a lot of things that may not be as clear as day to us. We look for answers to life’s big questions. We seek guidance when we feel lost. We open ourselves to inspiration in our arts, when sometimes, we can’t come up with any ideas.
Most of all, for many of us, we seek out the faces and presence of our gods when we feel they have stepped away, or the ways we have perceived them before seem to point to their absence.
The gods are still alive, and out there, even when we cannot feel them.
The issue many have expressed to me is they cannot feel that strong, powerful indication their deity is nearby. I have felt that myself. My gods come to me in well defined ways at times, and others, more subtly.
For example, it’s always easy to pick up the shape of the runes in the clouds when I have called for guidance from The Alfather, but he is also speaking to me when I see no signs, and I do not see him in my spiritual eye. He sometimes expects me to make a decision on my own, so he does not provide an answer.
Turning to the Gods in Difficult Times
Those times tend to be most difficult for us, because we have been conditioned to see the gods and goddesses as powerful, awe inspiring, ever present beings who are glued to our side at all times. This is due to Christianization of our gods. We attribute the beliefs the Christians who raised us have, and we get upset with our gods for not being the way they never promised they would be.
We sometimes doubt them entirely if they do not do all the things we expect of them. We forget they existed before us, will exist long after we leave these bodies, and still exist during times when they have few or no worshippers. We ask for things like healing, financial help, or love, and if they don’t deliver, we sometimes feel betrayed. We forget that many of the Pre-Christian gods had very high expectations of their devotees, and accept prayers, but made no promises to be wish givers.
The Christianization of Pagan gods happens in more ways than this, but this is the biggest way.
We also forget these are gods and goddesses of Nature, and were not always honored with buildings. Some absolutely had temples, but some did not. For the devotees of Pagan gods from places like Rome, Greece, Germany, and Ireland, some of the structures for these gods are still standing, but we don’t have access to those temples, so going to “the house” of our god or goddess every time we want to communicate with them is not going to happen.
For me, I continue to struggle with the fact my ways of perceiving my gods has drastically changed since my body has. I used to see answers in dreams, and got strong gut feelings in regards to what changes and progress I was to make. I went to a lot of group rituals, felt the gods speaking through others, and the collective energies we raised filled me with the divine also.
I fell ill, and everything from my brain functioning to my ability to go places, and circle with people changed. Some days, it seemed the gods voices went silent.
I begged for healing, and it never came.
That did not mean that my gods were not listening. It means my body is mortal, and time changes how it functions. I begged to be healed, and the gods answered they wanted me to adapt to my body’s changes.
I prayed that I could get back to work, and of course, it’s been over three years, and that is not happening either. The gods answered they wanted me to learn to live on less money.
I prayed for the pain to stop, because it limits the things I can do. The gods answered they wanted me to learn how to cope, and work within the constraints the pain caused.
Worst of all came the terrible despair, anxiety, and fears this all caused. I asked the gods to take that away. Their answer was, they expected me to live with it, and function mentally despite it all.
I asked for it to stop, and I asked to go back to how I had always been before. The gods answered that they expected me to pull myself together as best I could, function as well as I could, and adapt to the new normal the changes in my body created.
I fail at these things some days, and other days, I succeed. The gods have not told me to be at peace with the way things are, or to give up. They tell me to do my best every day, even if my best isn’t as good as I’d like it to be.
I asked, and they answered in the way they decided to, not in the way I asked them to answer. We don’t get to decide how they respond. Oftentimes, when we ask them for help with something, they respond with a request from us instead.
In the past month, I have really reached into myself to try and find the old me. I want to be her again more than I can express. Some days, it feels like she is long gone, but I discovered something. She is still inside me. I have caught glimpses of her in reflections in mirrors or glass more than once. It feels so good to see that old, familiar face. I see my new face also, and I am still reconciling that I am the same person, when I feel very much like I am not. Rationally, I understand I have changed, but am still me. Emotionally, I grieve the changes, and I feel like I have laid who I was for all of my life to rest. The goddess has reminded me in the past month that is not so, and I am still very much alive with things to do before I reincarnate.
She didn’t take the changes in my body away like I wanted her to, but she reminded me I am still me no matter what.
Nunnos by Daniel Faria
I talked about these things to introduce a wonderful film about the god Cernunnos called Nunnos by Daniel Faria. Luckily, it is on YouTube, and we share it here on PaganPagesOrg. It’s a little over three minutes long, and you can watch it by clicking one of the links now!
I was lucky enough to be introduced through e-mail to Daniel by our beautiful editor, Jennifer, and he was good enough to let me interview him.
Interviewing Daniel Faria
Saoirse- I watched the film, and first, let me say it was very nice. You made me hungrier for the Spring and Summer! You really captured the spirit of the growing season and the forest.
I noted it was a unique take on the god, and focused on his healing, gentle, nurturing side, as opposed to his god of the hunt side. He was gentle and caring, as opposed to just powerful and lusty. What made you decide to portray him as you did? Also, I most appreciated the fact you selected a softer, less gym ripped actor to portray him. The ripped, buff image of Cenunnos, if you will notice, is a modern one, and old depictions showed him with an ordinary body- like your actors.
What made you decide, specifically, to portray THAT particular god, and how did he speak to you before, during, and after the film? I paint, and I personally find deities speak to me extra when I am painting them. They tell me how they want to be portrayed. I’ve even been sent on a pilgrimage once before I was allowed to finish! Did anything similar to this happen for you?
Daniel- The process of creating Nunnos was very simple and fast. One day I took my notebook and then I wrote down four different short film scripts for Jesse, the actor who performs Nunnos. The four short films were really different from each other and only Nunnos was related to a God. I chose to portray this side of Cernunnos exactly because of what you said: the modern depictions of Cernunnos usually focus on his strength as a hunter and on his sexual energy. It is as if there was only this face of the God. But we know that Cernunnos, just like the Goddess, also has different faces. Why not showing another one?
When I come to think about it, I don’t really remember how I thought of portraying Cernunnos specifically. It could have been any other God like Odin or maybe Zeus. I think it was Cernunnos himself who asked and guided me through the process. I even made a sketch about the costume and the flute. Suddenly I had everything ready, just the way I first imagined.
I remember the day we went to Parque Lage, here in Rio de JaneiroParque Lage, to shoot the video. It was on a day in December 2016. It was a really hot day and there were many people in the park. Jesse and I walked through the park until we found that site under that tree you can see in the video. We asked for Cernunnos some protection, so we could prepare everything and shoot with no interruptions.
We prepared the camera, costume, make-up and everything else and shot the video. It was only one take. The final version is that take. No editions, just video effects. It was amazing!
I started editing in the same week. Everything went fine and easy until I realized something. I needed to record the soundtrack. Again, Cernunnos guided me. I made it besides I wasn’t a musician yet! From the video soundtrack, I was blessed with the idea of creating an audio track and then it turned out to be Nunnos’ Healing Song alongside the musical project Trismegistia.
Everything happened that fast. Nunnos, and Nunnos’ Healing Song were released on 11th February last year. It will be its first anniversary on a few days!
On the day Nunnos was released I received an Instagram message from a person I did not know. It was a young man who was thanking me for the short film. He said Nunnos really touched him and talked to him. He was considering to commit suicide on that very day, right before watching the short film. When he watched Nunnos he felt loved and remembered that Cernunnos would always care for him. He gave up the suicide idea, then. I was as surprised as happy!
Since Nunnos was released I’ve been receiving many other similar messages telling how Cernunnos touched people and how they felt better after watching the film.
So I think Cernunnos intention was to spread this message of “cure and love”. It’s been working, I guess.
Saoirse- That is beautiful! When you work with the Pagan deities, they speak, and give very good instructions as to how they want to be portrayed. Have you had any other experiences besides how he guided you to portray him, yourself?
What is your personal religious or spiritual path?
I’m going to guess you are also close with nature somehow? Am I right, and how so?
What other projects, pages, or websites can I share?
Daniel- Yes, I had many other experiences with other deities. When we were shooting Hounds of Hekate, for example, Jesse and I went to the same place where we shot Nunnos: Parque Lage. Again, it was very crowded. Different from Nunnos, Hounds of Hekate is a music video. It has got many different takes and there’s the dancing part.
We were looking for a place where we could prepare everything for the dancing part and we were guided by Hekate to that area you can see in the video. It was full of people when we arrived. We asked her to help us once we were making a video in honour to her. A few minutes later, it was completely empty.
We stayed there for around 40 minutes. Time to get dressed, prepare the camera and shoot the dancing part from different angles. No one appeared. When we finished shooting and started collecting things, people started gathering around again immediately.
In other occasions, not related to videos, I was also guided by deities. The creation of Santuario Lunar is an example. After I read the book “The Goddess Path” by Patricia Monaghan, I immediately started creating the website and I had no experience at all with blogs by that time.
I consider myself a natural witch. I’m from the Brazilian countryside and I used to be very close to nature. Nowadays I live in Rio de Janeiro, capital city. There is a park on the left side of my building and I can see a bit of Baia de Guanabara from my living room. I’d like to have more contact with nature, but here it is not very easy, though. I go to parks and to the beach, but not as much as I’d like to.
My current projects are Santuário Lunar website (http://www.santuariolunar.com.br), Trismegistia (https://open.spotify.com/artist/3oJxfvyA2GgoI7gLuwZXWt?si=pq-YQphRTNanELmFduYkbg) and Templo de Saule (Saule’s Temple) an online holistic therapy website which is starting in Portuguese and soon it is going to be available in English as well (https://www.templodesaule.com.br)
I’m currently starting a new music video for Trismegistia. The song and video will be available soon on every streaming platform.
Make sure to check out all Daniels projects through the links and his pages he provided!
Many thanks Daniel for the beautiful, healing film, and the amazing interview!
I’d like to write a little bit about the god Cernunnos. Like many Pre-Xtian gods, devotion of him is being resurrected by today’s Neo Pagans.
Because our ancestors writings are lost if they were ever made, knowledge of him is lost, but what little we do know is enough for many to venerate him.
Gerald Gardner of course refers to him as The Horned God. Indeed, his name in both Gaulish and Latin contains parts of their words for horn. His name was carved in The Pillar of The Boatmen, which was created in 14 CE, part of which is missing. Only his head, the horns adorned with two torcs can be seen unless the lower part is found someday. His name was also carved on a metal plaque discovered in Luxenborg, naming the god “Cernunicos”, thought to be the same god, as well as an inscription from Montagnac naming “Carnonos”. Images of the horned god with torcs and or horns not using the name Cernunnos, or similar spellings are numerous, and perhaps the most famous being on the Gunderstrup cauldron with the horned god seated, holding a torc and serpent, and surrounded by animals.
We believe him to be a god of the hunt, the forest, life, vitality, strength, male virility, and power.
Due to the fact writings and unbroken tradition of worship do not survive, we are guessing.
However, I am of the belief these gods still speak, and make themselves knows to those who belong to them. Our devotions to them will never be exactly what pre- Christian Pagans were, but their voices communicate clearly with us, and we know them as intimately as people did centuries ago, before Christianization.
Here is his picture in The Pillar of the Boatmen-
More exciting than just the photo, one of the men who actually lives right here in my town traveled overseas and actually SAW the Pillar of the Boatmen! He made a beautiful video I am linking here for you to watch. Many thanks for this amazing educational video to Rev. Michael Dangler of Three Cranes Grove ADF, and co-owner of The Magical Druid in Columbus, Ohio.
March Working to reach the Gods
I was gifted with a prayer I wrote four years ago today in my Facebook Memories, and I think it is perfect for this month’s working. This prayer can be to any god or goddess you like. You may give them a gift, and cast circle, or not before doing this prayer. This prayer can be said by anybody to any god or goddess anytime.
A Prayer to the Great Goddess
When I search for you,
remind me not to look
in places from a time
before my language was born-
in places far beyond the reach
of my yesterdays and tomorrow’s.
Remind me not to look for you
in some high mountain
I may never reach
or some ancient site
whose soil I may never touch.
Let me seek you, rather,
in the gray and the blue of the sky,
in the night,
and in the dawn.
Let me hear your voice
in the laughter of a child
and in the tears of the bereaved.
Let me see you in my suffering and my anger.
Let me search for you in the silence of my heart
and know you are there even when I think I can’t find you.
Help me to remember
the answers to the mysteries
are as simple as a smile
or opening my eyes from deep sleep.
I will see you in my visions
in my waking awareness,
and in my forgetfulness.
Let me never forget
your great mercy,
even when I’m not feeling especially merciful.
Let me hear your comforting words
when I feel attacked,
and assume your power
when I feel defeated or weak.
Let the earth, the sky, the forests be your temple.
Move in and out of dwellings.
Move beyond time, and flaws, and fears,
and let me remember that I, too, am you.
So Mote It Be.
About the Author:
Saoirse is a recovered Catholic. I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.