Pop Culture Paganism or What Would Bruce Banner Do?

Disclaimer: Some of these ideas are based on my UPG, and all are colored by my own perceptions. They are meant to be helpful for those who need them, and all are encouraged to be modified to suit your own needs. A living practice is a personalized one. Please use my thoughts as a jumping off point for discussion.

Bruce-Banner-Naked-Avengers

Bruce Banner. This is also how I feel sometimes after emerging from meditation.

 

I promised a while ago I would delve into some Pop Culture Paganism with everyone, so please, allow us to begin.

What is pop culture paganism?

Pop culture paganism is when a pop culture entity or idea is incorporated into a religious practice. There may be some debate about this, but I consider people who practice the tenets of the Jedi or Sith to be pop culture pagans, even though you could be any religion and a Jedi or Sith, much like you can be any religion and a Buddhist. (This is to my understanding. Feel free to chime in at the comments section if I am wrong.) Anyone who turns something from Popular Culture into a living practice for themselves, or incorporates it into their religious practice is a Pop Culture Pagan.

Guess what? Do you know the Charge of the Goddess? Do you recite the Wiccan rede? Then YOU TOO are a pop culture pagan, because these did not arise out of the ether, as some pagans believe, passed down from antiquity, but through modern writing and poetry. I learned a version of the Rede when I was a new baby Celtic Wiccan, and I thought I was learning something passed down through the mists of time.

Not so.

This post is not going to be about using established Pop Culture codes for yourself. That would be more ways to structure your practice. Right now I am going to talk about characters, or Pop Culture Divinity. The divine moves in mysterious ways, that is still true.

Pop Culture Divinity

Pop culture icons, like, for example, Marvel!Loki can provide several different avenues for interaction with the divine energy in the universe. It is an age old idea that we can create an energy through mass consciousness, for example the construct of the Akashic record. I believe we can also create a spirit or entity through mass energy direction, and this idea is also not a new one. The ancient Greeks believed in spirit forms. They believed that there was an idea of a perfect everything floating around to be dropped into the heads of people. There was a perfect chair. A perfect spoon. And, to the detriment of society for all time, they also believed there was a perfect man and a perfect woman. So, to my way of thinking it is not a stretch to believe Marvel!Loki does exist in some form in the spirit realm, and honestly probably with quite a bit of energy behind him.

But here is where things begin to get murky. Is Marvel!Loki now just another aspect of the God Loki? Are you a hard polytheist? Do you believe in aspects (or don’t know what they are?). An aspect is a traditional pagan ideal. In traditional paganism everyone might talk about the God. The Green Man is an aspect of the God. And so is Lugh. And all other faces of the god are an aspect. Zeus. Pan. The list is practically endless. Traditional Wicca based paganism is at it’s heart monotheistic, something a lot of Wiccans don’t even understand because we do not discuss theology much when there are much more interesting things like spells to learn. Wiccans believe that all faces of the gods are part of a singular divine entity.

I am a hard polytheist, which means I believe all gods are individual. I also believe that a singular “divine” energy exists. These two ideas don’t necessarily need to conflict. Aspecting can be part of the idea of hard polytheism. For example, if you call Loki the Trickster, I believe Loki is a powerful enough being that you can indeed call down a part of Himself and only get the Trickster (unless you have a long standing relationship with him). Also, you can call down Loki the Father or Loki the Mother (Loki the parent?) and get someone very loving and caring toward children. Loki the God of In Between. Loki, My Sweetest Friend. Loki, my Beloved. All of these are pieces of Loki who can be called, and if the general idea of the God is called in ritual and it is for something or by someone Loki, Himself has a vested interest in, he may just show up.

Take that into consideration the next time you just ask for “the God” in ritual. Who is taking part in your party?

A character can also become a face of a God/dess. Maybe you really enjoy Sherlock Holmes. You have seen every movie and show, including the old Masterpiece Theater productions. You’ve read all the books. Have posters and bobbleheads. Maybe you see Sherlock in your dreams or staring over your shoulder while you’re in line at the grocery store.

You feel a special love for this character. You have imaginary discussions with him. Maybe you write fanfiction and poetry and create photoshopped images of him for fun. And then one day you feel him hanging around and just keep talking out loud to him, even though you feel a wee tad nuts.

Perhaps this is a mask of Ganesha, or Odin, or whoever, but you don’t know that God. This can be their doorway to your consciousness, especially if you put in a lot of energy thinking about that character. The pop culture pagans I know frequently already have connections with the Divine before they begin their pop culture journey and are constantly in a quandary as to whether or not the spirits they are interacting with are actually an Old God in disguise, or if they are simply a spirit using that character because they have a lot in common, or if they are actually the manifest energy of that character created by mass conscious energy.

Spirit work is entertaining if nothing else.

To talk about my personal journey a bit, some of you know I came to Loki Himself (who is not much like Marvel!Loki) through pop culture. Yes, I was one of those Lokeans who met Him through Marvel, laugh all you want, but I will be eternally grateful. Most recently I have been working with Bruce Banner.

*cue the gigglesnorts*

I believe my Bruce Banner may be the face of a lost representation of Ganesha. I came to this idea through a lot of meditation and consideration of what Bruce means to me. Bruce is The Man who Lives with His Monster. Bruce is intelligent. Quick witted. Kind hearted. Steady. Bruce is constantly balancing Anger and Fear in his life.

My Bruce frequently wears a gentle smile. He’s not angry, but he can access his anger.

In working with Bruce I have:

Become a more steady writer.

Let go of much of my anxiety.

Become much more diligent in my day to day interactions with people and not flying off the handle.

Gotten some rage issues under control.

 

I’m fairly convinced of the Ganesha connection with my Bruce for several reasons, but one of them is that I’ve always associated Bruce with India in ways that even violate movie/comic book cannon. And there were hints and directions given to me here and there that my Bruce was not actually only the movie character, but a hidden divinity.

The story of Bruce has been almost two years in the making, and I can’t truly condense it down into one blog post. Working with him has been nothing but beneficial for me. I was skeptical at first because Bruce Banner? Come on. But he was cropping up in my meditation more and more, and if Loki could use the face of Marvel!Loki, why couldn’t someone else use the face of Bruce?

Pop culture icons give old Gods who have lost their worship the perfect place to find new devotees. There is a willing pool of people who are already committed to the ideals of a certain character and love them. They collect images and put a lot of mental energy into keeping their connection with the character current. They surround themselves with all the trappings of worship. And whatever the Gods get out of their relationships with us, and us from them, it is all right there for the taking in the form of fandom and fan interest.

Some pagans look down their nose at pop culture paganism, but these people aren’t being realistic. How did we get the Gods at all? We told their stories. We gave them our love. We worshipped and offered our own energy and whatever physical possessions we could. And they stuck around and tried to help us, loved us, and offered what they could into our lives.

I have a living practice, and I believe that pop culture has a place in any daily worship, if it is beneficial and the person wants to include it. Don’t let a little sneering from the old guard, the reconstructionists, stop you. Wicca isn’t real either. Shock? Gerald Gardner was around during my lifetime. Wicca is just a bunch of cobbled together non-sense that helps witches organize basic ideas and gives us structure for our working year and a place to visualize our personal power and magic. Ancient magical practices and stories do exist, but nothing is more valid than anything we decide to do with intention.

I’m going to finish this post with a brief quote from the Introduction of the 1999 edition of The Spiral Dance by Starhawk:

“Witches, on the whole, are interested in discussions of our history. There are new conferences, magazines, articles, and panels at the American Academy of Religion on the subject. But the interest is separate from any sense that the validity of our spiritual choices depends on documenting their origins, their antiquity, or their provenance. This has sometimes been misquotes as “not caring about truth”. In reality, it’s simply saying that the truth of our experience is valid whether it has roots thousands of years old or thirty minutes old, that there is a mythic truth whose proof is shown not through references and footnotes but in the way it engages strong emotions, mobilizes deep life energies, and gives us a sense of history, purpose, and place in the world. What gives the [religious practice] validity is how it works for us now, in the moment, not whether or not someone worshipped this particular image in the past.”

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A is for A Long, Long Time Ago

 

MapofNeverlandMonster

Once upon a time I was locked in a Tower, away from the world, to keep it safe…

Once upon a time I was locked in a tower, gazing out hungrily. Yearning.

Touch. Smile. Love.

None of it was Mine.

Once upon a time I was Him and He was Me, and neither of Us were happy.

Once upon a time, a Trickster jolted Us free.

Set Us loose, on this unsuspecting world.

As a Favor.

As a Lark.

 

 

 

So, many of you may be wondering why I did a big, “I’m going to reopen this blog!” thing, and then pulled a radio silence.

I’ve been contemplating discussing some of my PCP experiences (Pop Culture Paganism for those of you not in the know), as they have vastly outnumbered my staid and true “Old Norse” experiences of late….sort of.

Everyone already thinks those of us with a living practice are crazy anyway, so I’m not sure why I’m so hesitant.

Rumi would be an outlier today with his whirling poetry and his incorporeal lover.

***

I’ll begin at the beginning, as that’s where things usually start. When I was a child, probably about 8 or so, I was friends with Peter Pan. Now, I’m fairly certain Peter was a guise for Loki, a fairly thin one at that, but the longer I contemplate things and the more I interact with “spirits”, hell, who knows?

What I was once convinced was a face of Loki could have been Him, or Someone else…or the mass conscious energy converted into Peter Pan.

There wasn’t a night for a few years that I didn’t spend about an hour before I fell asleep in my head space with Peter Pan. He was my friend, oddly even at that age my Lover, and a foil for my plans and ingenious ideas. We inhabited a Land of Dreams, a creation entirely of our making, which I never knew until reading Peter Pan as an adult is the Very Essence, of Neverland. Neverland is constantly changing, shifting, renegotiating realities….

And that is where we were.

And I argue, to some degree, that is where all of us who spend time with Pop Culture Entities go to Play.

All of this Pop Culture Mess starts at the beginning, A Long Time Ago, in the stories our Elders told us, the Playland of dreams, where we were free and didn’t know any better and loved best and hardest.

Pop Culture Paganism starts in the unbridled joy of childhood, or at least it did for me.

 

Grand Re-Opening!

This is extremely tentative, but I am considering reopening my blog. My life is in a slightly different spot than it was when I closed it, so…there’s that. I have since moved yet again. I’m going to ease back in with a post a week, possibly.

 

Cheers!

What’s On Your Altar?

Let’s have a round of “what’s on my altar?” tonight.

Let’s see…two burning candles for the Blood Brothers. One candle for Loki Himself that is an autumn/fall harvest candle. It won’t burn no matter what I do to it. (I’m thinking of putting something extremely flammable on it just to see if I can make it burn because GOD DAMN IT *L* what don’t you like about that candle? I’m starting to think it’s just that the time of year isn’t strictly his domain so He won’t let it burn.) A wintergreen candle welcoming Lady Skadi (getting cold here). A piece of driftwood because it carries a calming energy with it. Another harvest candle for the Gods Who Smile on Me. Another candle for Loki Himself, a tall white candle for Odin–Loki’s Blood Brother. A sage bundle that isn’t being used at the moment. A candle welcoming bounty into our household. And a wonderful plaque a friend of mine made for my birthday. choose I love tending my altar. It’s a joyful duty, one that brings me peace and a sense of purpose.

Missing Loki

missedaspot

I don’t know if anyone will particularly find this interesting, but I thought I would share. For a while I’ve been having minor health problems. Nothing that is going to kill me today, but if I don’t get a handle on them they will certainly do so down the road. Or brain damage me, which is, about my worst nightmare. About a year ago (maybe less, but if feels like forever ago at this point) I was having some deep conversation with myself, and Loki, and the universe at large and He demanded I completely overhaul my diet.

He’s done this to me before, and I wasn’t happy, but did end up dumping caffeine, the sweet, dark nectar of the Gods. It was hell. It was horrid. It was hard. I felt much better.

I wasn’t eating terribly: my husband is vegetarian tending toward vegan, so I was eating with him part of the time. However, when I wasn’t with him I was eating drive through because I don’t feel like I have time to eat properly when I’m working. I was eating garbage fast food for breakfast almost every day of the week that I was working because it was so easy to get it and cheap. I was having doughnuts almost every morning too because the Krispy Kreme bin is right there beside the newspaper when I stop to pick it up. In the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t good, but I didn’t want to work harder at simply staying alive.

Plus, doughnuts are awesome. (As an aside: I eat organic at my house. I buy nothing but organic, wholesome foods for my husband and children, yet here I was eating fucking doughnuts.)

Loki told me to stop or I was essentially going to kill myself. NOW, when He exnayed caffeine for me at one point it was raising my blood pressure to extremely unhealthy heights because I’ve apparently developed a sensitivity to it. I can do de-caf for the most part, but even that can be iffy if there is too much caffeine in the decaf roast of the coffee. So, it’s best if I just avoid it.

When he started hinting around again that I needed to overhaul my diet I wasn’t happy. I went to the doctor and my blood pressure was pushing up to unhealthy ranges again and my other bloodwork wasn’t the greatest. Grumbling, I decided I would try to change things, but didn’t really want to. I resisted, doing well for a few days, fucking up for ten more. Then I went back and my blood pressure was even higher.

Loki: Cut the shit. No sugar. No salt. No dairy. No meat. No caffeine. Eat like your husband. He’s healthy. And knock this shit off. Why won’t you just do what you already know you need to do? It’s either shape up or die thanks to your genetics.

Me: You love meat!

Loki: No shit. Your body shouldn’t have it. You’ve known this for a while, but you continue.

Me: I know.

Loki: Then do it, Love. Stop being stubborn.

It’s food though. It’s a lot harder than it should be. I’m embarrassed to admit this has actually driven a wedge between myself and Loki, mainly because though I’ve done a lot to do what He wanted from me, I haven’t fully complied. I stopped buying sugary lattes all the time. I stopped buying cookies and doughnuts (for the most part.) I haven’t fully gotten on board though because it’s hard. I love that kind of food. I grew up on German food and rich, fatty farm food. We negotiated and he said I could have a day a month to eat as I chose, and I’ve still been having trouble getting there.

I recently found out my biological father has diabetes at 50, something I’ve been terrified of because my birth mother’s family also has it, and once again Loki has a point. My birth father is apparently not doing well either. That scared the shit out of me. I want to be around to do all the fun stuff with my family I’ve envisioned. I may get diabetes eventually, but I don’t want it to be because I couldn’t lay off the sweets. I want to be around to write and laugh and love. I need to try harder. He always has a point, and I’m so very ashamed that I’ve allowed this to come between us. I adore Him. I adore everything about His ecstatic, energetic, beautiful self, and I’ve been having trouble sitting with Him because I feel like an errant child.

But He doesn’t care the way I think He does. He doesn’t hate me because I’m having trouble. I’ve been tossing my human baggage His direction.

He gives a shit about me.

I have so much trouble with that concept. I’ve finally realized that I’ve been pushing Him away even as I’ve been lighting candles on His altar because of this enslavement to the food I want to continue eating when I shouldn’t. It’s insane. I’m addicted to crappy fucking food that isn’t even as good as the home cooked food I make.

I guess I’m writing this post because the struggle is real. Sometimes They ask us to do things we already know we should do. Sometimes They ask us to do things that seem ridiculous on the outside, but are perfectly legitimate because They have a longer view. And we don’t want to do it. We don’t want to do whatever they are asking because it’s HARD. Well, change isn’t easy, but Loki is a God of change. This piss ant struggle over what food I should and shouldn’t be shoving in my face capsized my entire religious practice because I didn’t want to change. I started to gradually change the way I was eating and my blood pressure has been getting steadily better. I started doing the things I should do. Then I relapsed a little, took a half a step back. Now I’m struggling forward again. But, I want it now. I spent almost an entire summer without Loki. I have been ignoring Him, and I know He hates that. I want to do things differently. Loki has been around. I’ve felt him checking on me frequently, but I haven’t been engaging.

Shame is a powerful thing.

But fuck that noise.

I’m getting healthier for myself and my family, and I feel like I can’t truly work with Them unless I’m healthy enough to delve into the energy work and that’s where I’m at with Loki. I’m trying to get healthy enough to do that with Him again.

I’m trying to think of a good way to tell a God I’m sorry.

Maybe something like this?

I’m so sorry I’ve been absent in my practice, my Sweetest Friend. I know I’ve been with you in spirit when I’ve been engaging in creating, in art, but it hasn’t been quite the same. I miss you and I’m sorry.

I’ve also missed My Sneaky Starshine, whoever you are.

And thanks, Odin, for not forcing the issue. I know you could have and you are letting me work it out on my own.

Thank you Lady Sigyn for showing me the perseverance is in my realm of control. Thank you for being Victory Woman.

Hail to the Gods!

That Struggle

I am editing a text on Teutonic religion right now, which is interesting. I haven’t been doing much lately that works directly with religion itself. Okay, I take that back. I haven’t been doing anything at all with the exception of my devotions, which, when done without much intention are hollow at best and insulting at worst. I’ve been trying to draw my attention to my devotions as I do them, once I realized what I was doing.

Dealing with some minor medical issues, work, and family, as usual and still trying to make it all flow. Every day is a struggle for time, but I’m aware of the need for it, which makes it more likely to happen.

Let’s Play Name that Deity

Long black hair. Bold eyes that have a touch of madness sparkling in their depths. Feels like excitement and dread all rolled into one when he looks at me during a meditation. And he does look. Pale. Tall. Masculine. Prefers black. He stalks my dreams and his lessons are bitter tears I haven’t wept salting my tongue.

He lingers in the dark, dirty gray bricked room of a temple with a gray cement throne. He doesn’t like to sit on the throne.

He doesn’t want the throne.

Is that you Jor? The son of the Trickster radiates similar vibes to the father. I’m simply not sure.

Or is it someone else?

His love would be like fangs, sinking in deep, cutting on their way out. There’s something off about Him in the best way possible. I hate it when They don’t identify Themselves.