Look! Links! And a video!

My friend Jo has pointed out a couple times that I don’t have *any* links on my blog to *any* of the things I’ve done. No shop link, no book link, no other book link….yeah. I’ve fixed that finally. If you’ll look to the right you’ll see quick and easy links to the paperback and Kindle editions of Heartroad, links to the Coffee At Midnight shop on Etsy, and a direct link to the Etsy listing for Worshiping Loki. The first wave of these books are getting shipped tomorrow – finally. I didn’t consider that I’d come home with a case of con crud that would require a few days to recover from. I’m feeling better and will go to the post office tomorrow.

And speaking of Jo and books…here’s a video she made about a book.

Did you know that Heartroad is almost ten years old? I began writing it in ’07 as a college freshman. I’m thinking about releasing a second edition as a ten year anniversary thing; it would contain a new introduction and some bonus material and correct some of the formatting issues present in the first edition. Oh – and I’ll be doing an audio version of it at some point, too.

The audio edition of Worshiping Loki requires another 15 or so hours. Not terribly long but I’ll need to buckle down to get it finished over the weekend and into next week. I really want to have this available just as soon as possible.

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Annual “I’m finally back from PantheaCon!” post and everything I didn’t get to say at my session

I’m finally back from PantheaCon! I arrived home last night and my home has never looked older or colder or dirtier and I couldn’t be happier. I’m by no means a veteran or even an experienced PCon attendee (this was only my third year) but I’m starting to get a feel for how best to survive the experience with my health in tact. Nonetheless, I’ve got a creeping con bug/airplane bug. Blech.

My session on Monday morning went well and I think it was well-received. Devotional practice is often a very private topic so that people are willing to come out and not just listen to a frank discussion of how complicated this work can be but share their own thoughts and experiences is very meaningful.

Of course, once the session was over I remembered all kinds of things I forgot to say. So here’s the Corrections and Omissions part of Advancing Devotional Practice: PCon 2016:

– The Kindle book can be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615262155/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=

-The paperback can be bought here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/silence-maestas/walking-the-heartroad/paperback/product-4308209.html

Don’t buy the paperback from Amazon! There are people out there who’d like to convince you that this is a rare or valuable book. It is rare in the sense that there aren’t millions of copies floating around but this simple fact doesn’t make it worth paying a lot of money for. Pay $9 for it. When you do, I actually get a few cents. When you pay $40, $50, or $90, I get nothing. We both suffer – so I suggest not bothering.

-I have an article coming out in the next issue of Witches & Pagans! Watch for the Polytheist issue to hit newstands. Barnes and Noble usually carries it though people without chain bookstores hanging around may need to look online or visit their local indie bookstore or magazine seller. Unfortunately I can’t provide you with a copy; I think I’ll be getting a contributor’s copy but I’m not even positive about that so I’ll also have to make an exception to my “No B&N” rule.

-The topic of cultural appropriation was raised in the session. I’m not the person to guide this conversation for many reasons, not the least of which because I still have a great deal of work to do on this issue inside my own heart. Further, Kali worshipers are entirely capable of speaking on their own behalf and I love the Mother’s devotees too much to take that agency away from them. To avoid potentially thorny assumptions, I’ll state quite clearly that I am not Hindu. I do, however, worship the Mother as Kali in Her many forms. I approach this dimension of my spiritual life thanks to the teaching and ongoing support of people who provide both instruction and correction as necessary. Generations of devotees have created literature, music, and ritual instruction by and for themselves; that some devotees have in my lifetime chosen to share some of these things with me is an honor and privilege I don’t take lightly. I can’t answer questions about how, why, when, or if you should worship Kali because I am  not the Mother’s gatekeeper and nor am I the gatekeeper of Her devotees (except insofar as I love them and would be fully willing to help them if I was asked; I have not been). I might be willing to speak with people one on one about our experiences of Maa and of Her immense blessings but to drive home this fact in the my own mind if no one else’s I’ll say it outright: I am not an authority on Kali worship.

-I really wanted to state clearly in my session that devotional practice takes many, many, MANY different forms and that there’s no way I (or anyone else) could possibly say things that are going to feel universally applicable to all people, at all times, in all circumstances, in all relationships, in every configuration. As was probably obvious, my devotional configurations are of a very particular type and though things have changed over the years, the cast of characters not changed quickly or frequently. Additionally, my devotional practice is indelibly colored by the fact of my spirit work. They can’t be separated. I try to, at least mentally, because there are times that I want to talk about strictly devotional practice but then I find myself being unable to separate out the experience of myself as a spirit worker and the experience of myself as a participant in devotional relationships. This is not the case for everyone and it will become an increasingly rarer occurrence since there have always been more devotees than spirit workers.

(Did you know that there was a time when I couldn’t convince spirit workers that devotion was a thing that any of us were doing? There was a lot of shrugging and dismissal of the subject, then later a lot of surprise when someone found a book that mentioned the emotional dimension of religious engagement…..yeah. That’s why Heartroad rather specifically discusses spirit workers: because at the time it was written there was little to no acceptance of the devotional path as a thing that had anything to do with spirit work.)

I think that was everything I wanted to say but didn’t get to in my session. There was also like a whole page of notes on evaluating the changes that occur in this practice and how we can determine if these are things that are actually helping us in the long term. There was actually quite a bit of material that was left out of the session in the first place simply because I wanting to leave room for discussion. There’ll be more about this. I’m working on it. Trust me.

 

 

Pre-Order Continues! Also a story.

Thank you all for the overwhelming response to the pre-order for the hand bound copies of Worshiping Loki. As of now, nearly half of the 20 volumes have been reserved and paid for. If this is something you’re interested in, I suggest getting in contact with me soon. (To order, email me at salinespirit@gmail.com and provide me with your shipping information and Paypal email address if you have one. I’ll generate a Paypal invoice that can be paid with credit card, debit card, or Paypal balance.) In the meantime, I’m already cutting cover boards for these volumes and I’ll be purchasing additional sheets of cover paper and book cloth soon.

lokibook6

This little book came about in a very curious way. In the nearly 15 years I’ve been a Lokean I’ve come across the same questions over and over – and over and over – again. “I want to worship Loki; how do I get started?”, “How do I build an altar?”, “How do I do ritual?”, etc. etc. People more patient than myself have been answering these things for a long time and have certainly done a great service to newcomers. Earlier this year I suddenly wondered why someone didn’t just write a book answering all these basic questions since the answers were always the same.

And that’s how it started.

I knew I didn’t want to write about Loki in a Heathen context. Other people have done that and frankly I’m not entirely convinced that doing so again is really necessary. While I think having a grounding in the fundamentals of Norse polytheism is helpful (and it’s certainly respectful), the fact that Loki worship has turned into some weird ideological pissing match makes current Heathenry a really hostile environment to newcomers. I also don’t believe that Loki is limited to this context. Except for the highly appropriate courtesy towards cultural context, there’s absolutely no reason why a person needs to participate in current reconstruction Heathenry in order to worship Loki. This book therefore is not grounded in Heathenry. Though I state as much in the introduction, I’ve no doubt that people will leverage this as a negative criticism. (I invite them to step up and write their own damn book.)

Aside from not wanting to go back over ground that’s already been covered in better ways by better authors, I wanted primarily to provide practical information that could be immediately applied to one’s practice goals. Providing an ideological and theoretical background is undoubtedly part of how practical information should be shared but again: other people have done it already.

Related to the desire for a practical emphasis, I wanted to empower people with the fundamental skills to make religion happen for themselves. Expressing hospitality towards the Powers, arranging a space for them, and then expressing praise and worship in a constructive way are all essential skills in the actual doing of religion. Polytheism should be empowering to individuals. We can and do rely on religious specialists the same way that we rely on, say, chefs. This doesn’t mean that we eat every meal out. Knowing how to provide for our day to day religious needs is important and part of what makes paganism on the whole a very powerful thing. I wanted to make this very clear to readers.

And finally, I wanted to talk about discernment in a way that didn’t rely on any kind of psychic context. Discernment can and should be a logical, reasoned approach to problem solving in a religious context. By divorcing discernment from the realm of psychic woofoo, I hope to make polytheist Loki worship even more accessible to people.

All these goals were swirling around in my head as I started writing. I wrote a few thousand words and then got bogged down in a lot of self doubt. Self doubt is my primary demon. I questioned the wisdom of removing Loki from a specifically Heathen context – never mind that He’s been disowned by many voices in Heathenry. I wondered if I should include yet another pointless reiteration of stories that other people had told better. I wondered if I should talk about reconstructionism despite not being a recon polytheist myself. I wondered if I really had that much to say. I let the project stall.

Quite unexpectedly I got an order through my Etsy shop for a custom devotional volume. This listing is for a hand bound volume with content that the buyer provides. It’s a great way to present one’s ritual records, devotional poetry, or really anything. The buyer misunderstood some of the details of the listing and asked for a book on Loki – specifically a book on Loki worship. A book on Loki worship that would providing information on things like how to set up an altar and do a ritual.

To reiterate: I was being asked, by a stranger, to write the very book I’d been working on for Loki. I’ve rarely received such direct direction.

Because it was a formal order through Etsy I had a hard shipping deadline to meet. I had to finish the manuscript, edit it to some presentable state, format it for printing, get it printed, and do all the rest of the fiddly steps involved in hand binding a book in about six weeks. Worshiping Loki: A Short Introduction is the result.

lokibook1

Is this little book everything it could be? I’ve no doubt that I could have done more but at a certain point I felt like I wasn’t providing anything unique anymore. I wanted to present information that was fresh and hopefully interesting. This book shouldn’t be your only reference for Loki worship but I hope that it provides something that no other book can. I hope that it helps empower you to do religion for yourself, to make spirituality occur on your own terms, with the Powers you love most.

Catching up with…everything

After last week’s big announcement of the hand bound Loki devotionals, I spent the weekend trying to catch up with a few important things.  At last, taxes have been taken care of, laundry done, some cooking accomplished, medical stuff addressed, and my practice routine resumed. To tell the truth, I’m a little overwhelmed at all the projects I’ve got on my plate right now. The book project I’m working on for submission to a publisher has all but stalled, Heartroad 2 is gathering cobwebs, and the article I said I’d have drafted in a month is, eh, going to take a little more time. There’s also Many Gods West to prepare for, some other craft projects that have been languishing, and a custom project that I need to get back to. Oh and, you know, the day job.

I’ve created a little schedule to keep my writing efforts focused. I work at my writing job 6 – 7 days a week in addition to my day job employment so it’s very hard to predict where my creative energy is going to be. BUT my goal is to open a particular document on particular days of the week. I don’t have to do much – I just have to do something.

So! Tuesdays will be Many Gods West material (since today is Tuesday and I decided that’s what I wanted to work on today. Tomorrow will be the article, Thursday will be Heartroad 2, Friday will be erotica for the Kindle market (I’ve written a couple pieces and eh, every $.33 sale helps). Perhaps Saturday will be the Santa Muerte writing project. Perhaps Sunday will be prepping my 2016 Pantheacon submission (because that’s a thing that needs done, too).

I’m happy to have so much work to do, even if it’s going to be tough to accomplish. For several years I hid from most forms of community engagement in order to focus on school (and let’s be honest, because the Heathen groups I was involved with collapsed into infighting, murder, and allegations of child porn so there’s that). I prefer practicing privately; I’ve become very jealous of my time and energy. In many ways I don’t want to share, not when I’ve experienced such a long track record of getting very little in return for my effort. I’m not just talking about getting back a positive community experience; the energy exchange I trusted in simply didn’t seem to come about. In many ways, I feel like I got away without sustaining more damage. I also encountered a level of conflict regarding Loki that I simply couldn’t tolerate after a while.

Community engagement can be hard for all kinds of reasons and I think there are times in all our lives when we simply don’t wish to have it in our sphere. Coping with the anger and fear and distrust and yeah, even the disgust that comes up with dealing with humanity in general has been a challenging thing for me but it’s also been a very important lesson. We must engage with humans in order to understand humans, and we must understand humans in order to represent the needs of our species to the Powers that are concerned with us. Anyone who communicates with the Powers on behalf of any human – including themselves – can’t afford to be dismissive of the human condition, including all the suffering and hypocrisy and anger and violence. These things have to be confronted, recognized, named, and dealt with on personal, interpersonal, communal, and global levels. Checking out of this work can become a disadvantage. Checking out of this work can put a worker at a disadvantage.

Setting heavier thoughts aside, there are many things to look forward to this year but managing the stress and busyness of it all will be a distinct challenge for me. In the meantime, I’m also working on preparing a handmade devotional book for Odin. I actually started planning His the day after Loki’s was finally released. I’m really excited to work on Odin’s and I’ll probably start formatting it before the month is over. Is there any traditional material related to Odin that you’d like to see in a devotional book?

New Book: Further Along the Heartroad

Further Along the Heartroad! It’s a thing! Or it will be – eventually.

I’ve talked for a year or so about a follow-up to Walking the Heartroad and in all honesty, this new book has been in the works for quite a bit longer than that. For better or worse this second volume is not going to be finished quickly. Most of this has to do with the fact that I do actually write for a living which means that all my energy is given over to writing copy for drain cleaning products and not to writing books for you guys. Don’t feel sad, though; having a professional writing job has made me a much better writer and I feel reasonably confident that Further Along will be a much stronger book than the first volume. It will also be quite a bit longer, a little broader in scope (not addressing spirit workers specifically), and a lot more detailed.

Here’s the sneaky peek you’ve all been waiting seven years for. It’s just a portion because, well, I want to protect my work and I don’t want to give away all the secrets right away (plus certain aspects of the outline might change). I also included a 20-page excerpt of material from this book in the Kindle edition of Heartroad and I’ll probably share other previews as the project progresses; watch this space.

I need to thank absolutely everyone who has supported and who continues to support this very humble work of mine. Articulating the self-aware emergence of a devotional current within paganism and polytheism has been a greater adventure than I ever might have expected to take part in.

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Guest post for Heather F: Devotional Relationships and Their Parallels With Bhakti Sadhana

I recently broke my Internet silence and shared a few thoughts regarding some recent conversation in the online polytheistic community. Though observers might suggest that experiencing a connection and/or identification with a sacred Power is a bizarre aberration of practice, it is actually an established part of multiple devotional traditions. I specifically discuss this process within the context of bhakti since that’s where my knowledge base lies.

The occurrence of a deep level of personal identification with a sacred Power is not new in paganism/polytheism and it is not new within greater scope of devotional practices. Each tradition describes it slightly differently using technology and concepts specific and relevant to that tradition. We have seen some people express this connection/identification in terms of reincarnation. This is mechanic of the polytheistic worldview relevant to the practices of the individuals, just as joining the body of Christ is relevant for Christian devotional practitioners and as entering the sacred play of Vrindavan is for Krishna bhaktas. Anyway, you can read parts one, two, and three on Heather’s blog. Who knows, maybe I’ll revisit some of these topics in a future post or video.