The Trouble with Wicca a /rant

So the title got you here but for full disclosure let me say right off the bat there is no trouble with Wicca.  In fact, the trouble seems to be with folks who are not Wiccan but make a point of denigrating Wiccans at every turn.  The following is a bit of a rant on the reality of people denigrating Wiccans or wiccanate (Generic Neopagans who tend to follow a Wiccan model of ritual and belief) folks.

/rant on

If you have followed this blog for even a day, you know I am not Wiccan or even wiccanate.  I am and have been a dyed-in-the-wool Celtic Reconstructionist for 20+ years.  Like most people my age, I got my start in Wicca, Seax Wicca to be exact, but within a few short years I became a polytheist and left Wicca behind.  Like my leaving the Catholic Church the break was undramatic, so I didn’t develop any anti-Wiccan sentiment until I became entrenched in the CR community.

Even being in the online company of folks who did not like Wicca did not really make me think ill of that religion.  I just never voiced my concern of the sentiment and allowed myself to be dragged into the discussions about how Wicca did everything wrong from a CR perspective.  Some foolishly even went the route that somehow CR was better because our faith was based on what we knew of the pre-Christian people, meanwhile Wicca was made up by a ‘dirty-old-man’.   Seemed just as odd then as it does now – that a group faiths that are totally fabricated using archeology, history, mythology, ect. could think it was any better than one created using folklore and ceremonial magical systems.

Since then, I have moved way beyond the idea that a reconstrucitonist faith is better or that there is something wrong with Wicca.  In fact, Wiccans and those of a wiccanate faith are the hero’s of Neopaganism and should be treated as such.  They have broken ground in every aspect of Neopagan civil rights and lead the rest of the community in all organizational actions to support and enforce religious freedom for all Neopagans (and yes, reconstructionists are also Neopagans.)  Three groups that stand out are Sacred Well Congregation (Neopagan circles on military bases), Circle Sanctuary (lawsuit to get the Pentacle on VA headstones) and Covenant of the Goddess ….all of them Wiccan and all of them in the for front of fighting for religious rights or bringing Neopaganism out of the closet.  Of course there are others but these three come to mind as the oldest or most successful.

So why then do I still see non-wiccanate people making disparaging comments about Wiccans?  I am not just talking a random reconstructionist on Facebook but community leaders who should be doing outreach with other Neopagans, Neopagan churches and even interfaith organizations.  When suggested they get in touch with a certain well know “Big Named Pagan” the response is, “Oh, I just don’t want to deal with those Wiccans.”  Seriously??

Yes…seriously.  Seriously get over yourself…and get over whatever it is that has caused you to think you are somehow better than Wiccans.  Whether you are a reconstructionist voicing an opinion on social media or the leader of a Neopagan church – without Wiccans paving the way for the rest of us, we would not be able to be so vocal.

Anti ANY other religious group has no place in Fénidecht or Gentlidecht.  In fact, it is these wiccante groups and pan-Neopagan festivals where one would most likely function as a féinnid during ritual.

Guarding the boundaries between the worlds for ALL is what being a Féinnid is about.  So let go of your biases, accept that you will not agree with every faith, and get over yourself just enough to work with others who may be a little ‘lighter’ than yourself.

/rant off

*story slightly modified to maintain anonymity of the individuals being referenced.

A “Hidden” Purpose of Imbolc

Back in 2011 and over on Patheos, an associate of mine wrote on article on an alternative purpose for Imbolc.  I have referenced it in a few of my blog posts but I have not yet really promoted the article as something related to the outsider warrior.  So today I attempted to re-blog the post for you but for some reason the code at Patheos is failing and so….all I can do is provide a link and say: “PLEASE, go read this article.”  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pantheon/2011/02/the-hidden-imbolc/

The reason I am posting this now, as opposed to January or February is that I am presenting this material at Pagan Spirit Gathering 2014…just a couple weeks away.

So again, go read this article AND come see me at PSG if you happen to be there.

Sorry I could not re-blog it but, a click is easy right?

Why I do not worship the Morrígna

Original Post

I must be one of the few people in the Irish polytheism community that does not worship the Morrígna is some way.  In fact, not giving her offerings is so important to me that we made it a rule within my group, that we would not allow anyone to make offering to any of the Morrígna in our group rituals.  Being one who has been involved in warriorship for most of my adult life, it confuses my peers when I tell them of
my total opposition to the worship of the battle goddesses known as Nemain, Badb and Morrigu  (I am leaving Anand and Macha out of this for now.) I was spurred to write this entry after reading about a
Temple of the Morrigan at Pantheacon run by a group known as Coru Cathubodua, the idea of a temple to these goddesses being established at a Neopagan gathering of hundreds of people actually scares me a little.
There are plenty of blogs out there written by people who I respect a great deal that go into all the reasons they worship the Morrígna, you can read one of them, Shadow of the Hooded Crow.  I am
going to focus on the reasons why I do not worship her and won’t be part of any ritual that does, except under a very specific circumstance.
The very first thing that must be understood is that I have seen war, rather I have seen the effects war has on people’s lives, psyche and most importantly their body.  During my time as a medic in the United States Air Force I was often pulled to a unit know as am aeromedical squadron.  These teams were the ones that transported patients from around the world back to the United States for treatment.  On a few
occasions this included Somali’s who were injured during their clashes.  All of the wounds we were  treating were either from gunshots or explosives, inflicted on men, women and children.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than helping a kid who has an arm blown off to eat.
Then there was the American helicopter pilot that had a phosphorous round explode in the cockpit.  Out of everyone on the crew, he survived…in a way.  I say that because when he came back to the United States he was still alive, but with +90% 2nd and 3rd degree burns.  We kept him in a coma so that he would not have to be in pain.  I saw his dressing change.  You simply cannot imagine what that looked like, or how it would make you feel if you saw it up close.
Finally, there is my friend.  He carried a ‘saw’ while deployed in Iraq.  The fact that his gun is called a ‘saw’ should give you a pretty good visual of what this gun can do.  During one patrol his squad came upon a kid no older than 14 with an AK-47 in his hands and walking towards the squad.  While the entire squad screamed and yelled for the kid to drop the weapon, he raised it to his shoulder.  My friend has a recurring dream of this incident, each bullet hitting that kid in slow motion.  It’s not a dream.  It’s a fucking nightmare.
That is war. War at a distance at that because I saw them all cleaned up or in the case of my friend learned of it second hand.  Imagine seeing those wounds fresh, or witnessing the events as they occured.  This is what the Morrígna want, they want death and blood and slaughter.  Even when making prophecy it is death and war that they prophesize.  No, they are to be respected and feared but I give them no offerings and I won’t be part of any ritual that does.A few years ago, I would be trying to convince people to think as I do on this topic and I tended to avoid having close relationships with people who did worship them (I no longer do this, nor think it is appropriate).  Even Alexi Kondratiev would on occasion try to explain why it is a bad idea to “invite them into your home”, his term was “psychopath”.  As it is, I know some very nice people who worship one or more of the Morrígna and none of them have died a horrible death…yet.  So now my position is simple – Not in my house.  Easy to enforce and doesn’t step on anyone’s beliefs.
Addendum March 25, 2014.Dear reader, based on responses in other forums I feel it necessary to make this statement.  This blog post is about my experiences.  I understand that in the lore and your practices there is more to the Morrígna than just being a blood thirsty goddess of war but this is not a blog about her it is a blog about my experiences. Want to know all about her there are plenty of places to go, I suggest starting with http://caithream.blogspot.com/
Addendum August 17, 2014.
The discussion with Alexi Kondratiev in which he used the term ‘psychopath’ to describe the Morrigan occurred at the Chesapeake Pagan Community Gathering in 2008.  I no longer try to convince people it’s a bad idea to worship any of the Morrígna (it is rude and inappropriate). And the comment about people not being killed by her “yet” is meant as a joke.  Lighten up.

Outlaws/Outsiders Part I – Fénidecht

The following article has been published in “Oak Leaves – The Quarterly Journal of Ár nDraíocht Féin” Spring 2014 Issue No. 64

If  you attend Neopagan festivals or belong to a public Neopagan group, you have likely encountered individuals who, while willing to participate in social activities, for specific and often spiritually-based reasons they are unwilling or unable to take part in the religious aspects. As Neopagans, we generally accept that from outside the community many of us appear different from the norm or don’t seem to fit easily into mainstream culture. It’s often this “otherness” that brings us together, despite the variety of our beliefs and practices. So it’s understandable that when our members seem committed to remaining apart from our most central religious activities, we may react with disdain, discomfort, or simply not know what to do with them. After all, what’s the point of belonging to a community if you don’t actually want to belong?

At issue is a basic misunderstanding: Neopaganism as a whole has not yet recognized the true  motivations and needs of these individuals, nor recognized that a historically-grounded role known as the ‘outsider’ can be a powerful spiritual path for its practitioners while also contributing to the broader
Neopagan culture.

Though every person has his or her own reasons for remaining on the fringe of their chosen community, this article will focus on the Gaelic based ‘warrior outsider’ path known as fénidecht. Presented here  from a historical perspective as well as a modern spiritual practice for those who identify as Irish or  Scottish polytheists, we look to the tales of the Irish warbands known as fiana for inspiration.

Ancient Fiana
 Up until the medieval period, communities of Indo-European descent were routinely harassed and, paradoxically, protected by bands of men living in the wilds. Often wearing the pelts of and referred to as wolves, these men  have had many names among many peoples, such as the French iuventus, Irish fíana, Germanic úlfhéðnar, Welsh gwyn , Greek krypteia, Gaulish gaesates and in Indo-European *koryos (McCone, The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian 22, 30; McCone, Werewolves,  Cyclopes, Diberga, and Fianna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland 15). As in other cultures, the Irish fíana,  were typically comprised of temporarily disenfranchised youth (such as second sons without inheritance or uncontrollably rowdy adolescents), social outcasts, and self-imposed outcasts seeking recompense for offenses given outside the law (as in the case of Nessa, who sought  to avenge her foster father’s death at the hands of a fían). (McCone, Werewolves, Cyclopes, Diberga, and Fianna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland 13; Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in
the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 48-51). Living outside of established communities, these men formed an ancient counterculture; existing beyond the bounds and protections of their villages laws, they had their own rules and values.

Leading these outlaw bands were older warriors who for various reasons never transitioned back into the communities. Instead, they trained and fostered the young men (and if we believe the tales, sometimes women) who were sent to them to become féinnidi (singular féinnid).  Despite being part of the counterculture, these aging warriors were held in high regard by local leaders and ironically were often asked to enforce the established laws and defend towns and villages from outside forces. Despite such status, they remained outsiders in both their eyes and those of the people they protected. They lived
and worshipped their gods on their own.  (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 50; McCone, The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian 20).
According to the lore, in Ireland these bands were led by gods and heroes such as Finn mac Cumaill; Nessa, daughter of the King of Ulster; the druid Cathbad; and many others named in the Ulster and Ossianic Cycles of Irish mythology. These roving warrior bands often raided the countryside, attacking farms and hostels, while at the same time defending Ireland against invaders from the Otherworld or across the sea as necessary (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic
Narrative Tradition 54-55). To join a warrior-band or fían required one to give up all claims to hearth and home and complete legendary feats requiring mental and physical discipline (Keating 349-350). Separate from their society, they had to fulfill the most crucial and highly valued roles for themselves, including those of hunter, warrior, poet, and seer. As he excelled in all these things, Finn mac Cumaill was often considered the epitome of the accomplished warrior outsider.

Modern Fiana
 The reality is that we no longer send our disruptive youth into the wilds to learn usefulness as hunters and warriors, or to keep them from making trouble for the community. However, outsiders do still play a role in 21st century culture. From the hermit living in his rural home to the soldier and his family
living next door, the outlaw motorcycle club you saw on the highway and the loner kid who seems slightly off to classmates and parents alike, modern life affords the intentional and unintentional outsiders many different lifestyles and expressions, and unlike in the past, they may or may not come together in counterculture groups. The hermit isolates himself voluntarily much like some ancient seers and poets while the soldier, also a volunteer (at least in the U.S.), is involved in a military lifestyle not so different from the warriors of old, and that is separated from regular society by the tasks they are asked
to perform. Some outlaw motorcycle clubs may be involved in criminal activity, while the loner kid is intellectually or socially in conflict with his peers. These are all examples of modern situations and lifestyles that can set people apart from their societies of origin.

So how does fénidecht manifest as a life practice in the 21st century with our cities, supermarkets, standing armies and police forces? The answer is complex due to the fact that those I know who identify themselves as féinnidi vary greatly. Though fénidecht manifests as a spectrum encompassing wildly different lifestyles, all are practitioners of fénidecht due to what they have in common.

To begin with there are the physical and mental aspects of the warrior/hunter, namely combat and survival training. Warriors are trained to fight and are expected to do so if the need arises. In the 21st century hand-to-hand training is the most available and does not come into conflict with any legal authority the way weapons may. The mental training a warrior goes through to cultivate survival skills typically includes simple plant identification and ideally the experience of a hunt. At minimum  warrior/hunters would know if they can and would kill for food, and it’s best if they test that
capability occasionally. An authentic practice of Fénidecht also requires that the warrior/hunter aspect of the path be sustained through non-combative physical training.

Following the old model, modern féinnidi should also be reading and writing poetry—in other words, practicing filidecht. As noted previously, in Irish lore Finn is held as the quintessential warrior outsider, and his command of poetry rivaled that of the more widely known bardic traditions. Filidecht is a basic and as essential a component of fénidecht as hunting or fighting skills (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 17-40). Further, the requirement for the
memorization and recitation of poetry comes to us from the stories of Finn and the initiation requirements to join his fían (Keating 349-350; Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn inthe Gaelic Narrative Tradition 248). Today, this requirement could be expanded  to include the writing of rituals and liturgy that they share with their communities.

Additionally, as the fíana had the ability to interact with and even enter the Otherworld (Dooley and Roe 13-15; Nagy, Shamanic Aspects of the “Bruidhean” Tale 302), it follows that modern féinnidi must  cultivate the skills of the seer. Unlike Finn and his fían we don’t physically cross the boundaries between the worlds, but through journeying and divination we can interact with the Otherworld to get answers
and seek aid for ourselves or our community.

Last but not least, as much as the ancient fíana conducted raids, they also defended their homelands and thus the communities to which they would eventually return to finish out their days as householders or
old men (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 51; McCone, The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian 20). Because modern fénidecht
mostly live in communities rather than remaining camped in the wild, this defensive role must evolve slightly. Serving in the national or local defense industries, working with or on the police and firefighting forces, working in the personal or self-defense industry, doing festival and event security, and even participating in activism to protect your community’s interests are all ways in which the “defense of the people” can manifest.

Beyond the traditional roles and their associated skills that define féinnidi, another defining feature of Fénidecht is the worship of the gods of the Gaels, since this path is specific to the Irish and Scottish cultures from which Finn’s legends come. (As a side note, the same tradition of warrior outsider exists in the Welsh culture and is called gwynwyr in Middle Welsh (Lewis xi)). Many naturally worship the war
deities but there are also “outsider” deities, such as Manannan, Finn, and Brig Ambue.

Today’s Outsiders and Their Communities
 What I’ve described so far are practices familiar to many pagans, especially those who follow a warrior path. However, there is a distinct difference between warriors and warrior outsiders, namely  “separateness” from the larger community. Again, the reasons vary, but for those who identify with the fiana or for whom Fénidecht would be an appropriate path, those reasons typically have to do with differentreligious practices, views, or values that restrict what they are able or willing to share with others. For example, it’s common for Neopagan groups to work with a variety of deities from a variety of cultures in ritual space—but for a warrior outsider devoted to a particular god or Gaelic pantheon, this
kind of ceremony may be best uncomfortable, and at worst in direct conflict with his oaths.

So then what can an outsider or even a group of outsiders do for the communities to which they only peripherally belong? I have already covered a few things that féinnidi can do to contribute to the communities’ wellbeing, such as being part of defense efforts and contributing poetic and ritual material to the liturgies. But I believe Neopagan communities can provide more proscribed roles and open themselves to including féinnidi in yet more ways.

If affiliated with a group, féinnidi could participate in community rituals by acting as guardians—protectors outside the ritual itself—both in a physical sense as well as spiritual. When attending public festivals they could do the same—in fact, it was at a pagan festival where I first witnessed a large-scale  recognition of the outsider as the organizers gave them space and latitude to function as they saw fit. Some who follow fénidecht have composed prayers and ritual acts they perform during these community rituals either independently or together as a small, intimate group. The féinnidi could also come together, much  like their predecessors, as groups that aid each other in development in all areas of fénidecht and to celebrate the outsider lifestyle and spirituality. Part of this effort could include an exploration of the transitory nature of being an outsider.

After all, being a féinnid was never meant to be a permanent state, but a temporary one after which the individual would return to society (Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition 50-52). For most, this is still true. There are warrior outsiders who fluidly move in and out of society during different periods of their lives, and others whose status relates more to their profession or experiences, such as the soldier who is leaving military service or returning from war. This aspect of fénidecht has historically been addressed through rites of passage transitioning outsiders back to the community-at-large when desire or circumstance calls for it. The Gunderstup cauldron has a
depiction of one of these rituals and is described by McCone in detail (McCone, The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian 28-29). But groups of féinnidi can do more than facilitate these rituals and transitions for their own  as members go through phases of being within the community and without—they can provide such work as a service to the broader community as well, facilitating rituals of ‘cleansing’ and ‘purification’ for others, such as the aforementioned soldier. (Lupus).

As you can see, Fénidecht is a modern, complex and valuable spiritual practice. It is my hope that in  exploring how those who practice fénidecht approach their spirituality and showing how these féinnidi
can support the Neopagan community, this article may inspire more groups to provide for the inclusion and spiritual development of these individuals in their organizations. As knowledge of this path spreads, I look forward to seeing the community learn how to acknowledge and accept the outsiders, and
give them a place and a voice, which is, ultimately, what all human beings—even self-described outsiders—desire.

Bibliography
Dooley, Ann and Harry Roe, The Tales of the Elders of Ireland: A new Translation of the Acallam na Senorach. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Keating, Geoffrey. The History of Ireland from the Earliest Period Through the English Invasion. Trans. John O’Mahony. New York: P.M. Haverty, 1857. PDF Document.
Lewis, Timothy. A Glossary of Mediaeval Welsh Law Based Upon the Black Book of Chirk. London: University Press Manchester, 1913.
Lupus, P. Sufenas Virius. The Hidden Imbolc. 1 February 2011. 1 October 2013.
McCone, Kim. “The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian.” The Gaelic Finn Tradition. Ed. Sharon J. Arbuthnot and Geraldine Parsons. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012. 14-73.
—. “Werewolves, Cyclopes, Diberga, and Fianna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland.” Camrbidge Medieval Celtic Studies Winter (1986): 1-22. PDF.
Nagy, Joseph Falaky. “Shamanic Aspects of the “Bruidhean” Tale.” History of Religions 20.4 (1981): 302-322. PDF.
—. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in the Gaelic Narrative Tradition. London: University of California Press, 1985.

Synopsis of Kim McCone’s and J. de Vries’ Theory on the Gundestrup Cauldron

The short of it is that Prof. McCone theorizes that the Gundestrop Cauldron is associated with fiana like warriors of Gaul.  All based on the images on three of the inner panels of the cauldron.  I will paraphrase his work from his article “The Celtic and Indo-European origins of the fian” found in The Gaelic Finn Tradition published by Four Courts Press.

Panel 1 – This is the well known ‘Cernunos’ panel, the main figure with Gaulish parallels (see “Keltische Religion (1961 Pp106-7))  with horns on his head and the “hatching” of the clothing worn is indicative of fur.  A deer stands on the left and a wolf on the right, with the horns associating him with the deer and the fur possibly associating him with the wolf.  The implication being that he has attributes of both animals.  Above and below the figure are a goat and lion, which would have the same cultural attributes as the deer and wolf near Eastern or Balkan context.  Keep in mind that the cauldron most likely comes from Thrace, which was a mix of Eastern and Gaulish peoples.

Prof. McCone believes that the figure depicted is a patron of the *koryos the outcast warrior bands of Indo-European cultures such as the Fiana in Ireland.

Panel 2 – The second panel has hunters accompanied by hounds or wolves attacking large oxen.  Above each stands a spotted cat like figure that could be a leopard. The prey our doubtless to be aurochs with the leopard being another Balkan addition.  If the dog figures are hounds then they would be helping with the hunt, if wolves they could represent the ‘mascot’ of the hunters, who garments resemble that which is worn by the “Cernunos’ figure on the first panel.  The two outer men are wearing only britches and cap with the more seasoned leader wearing a garment covering his upper body.  With the stylized leaves, also found on the first panel, this could be a *koyros hunting party in the woods.



Panel 3 –  The third panel depicts a ritual, where a group of foot soldiers move towards a cauldron are dunked into the cauldron and come out as horseback warriors.  An initiation or cleansing from one status to another.  The bottom six soldiers are armed with spear and shield and are again wearing clothing as depicted on the ‘Cernunos’ panel.  At the front of the line of soldiers is a wolf facing the oncoming soldiers, with musicians at the end of the line.  The wolf is presumably the mascot and the young men are the ‘young wolves’ preparing for initiation back with the musicians also being ‘young wolves’ not yet ready for the transition but acting as assistants to the ritual.

I will quote McCone’s summary:

Whatever about some of the details, the crucial point here is that the three scenes from the Gundestrup Cauldron, just discussed, present clear evidence for a sequentially regulated Gallo-Thracian opposition between, on the one hand, spear and shield, and, on the other, a class of mounted warriors, progress from the former to the latter set being marked by a baptismal rite of passage. 

For my own part.  I have to wonder if the cauldron was actually used for such rituals.  Now that would be an amazing thing.

Further reading:

de Vries, J. Keltische Religion (1961), pp 104-07

McCone,
Kim. “The Celtic and Indo-European Origins of the Fian.” The Gaelic Finn Tradition. Ed. Sharon J.
Arbuthnot and Geraldine Parsons. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012. 14-73.

I hate writing, but my wife is a master…

As much as I love to talk, I don’t like writing so much.  My writing is pretty much how I speak, long winded and full of information that may or may not be needed to get my point across.  So after my editor went over the Fénidecht article with me for a 3rd  time (we dropped 1000 words) and we jointly declared it ready for submission, I sent it in.  Then as I fell asleep last night I was fretting everything that I removed to make it more concise and specific to the audience. ARG!!

That really is the beauty of the modern technological age though isn’t it?  ADF will publish the article in the Spring edition after which I can publish another version on this blog putting that information I had to remove for length back in and making it more informative for the general audience.   This flexibility should remove any anxiety I have about not providing enough information in the print edition, but it really doesn’t.  Maybe I should focus on getting a larger following by the time it comes out??

My next published project was going to be on Finn as a god, but I think I will focus on gentlidecht and how I came to choose gentlidecht as the word to describe my faith.  Both drafts are over 2500 words so I suspect my editor and I will be going over them a lot before they hit the blog.  I hope to learn how to better write my drafts so that she doesn’t have to go over them as much in the future.

_____________________________________________________________
For full disclosure the editor I work with happens to be my wife.  I call her my editor because being an editor and writer is her career, from Simon and Schuster to her successful freelance business.  From query letters to developmental editing to ghostwriting she does it all, and I have to plug her latest ghostwriting project is now available on Amazon called “Way of the SEAL”  by Mark Divine with Allyson Edlehertz Machate and it is something those interested in the warrior path should read.  I will be doing a review of it in the next couple weeks and posting it here.
  

Personality Types – Of Warriors and Jerks

The following is an excerpt from the forth coming article on various personality types I have identified among the neopagan warrior and Celtic Recon community.  It was pulled from another article entitled Fénidecht to be published in “Oak Leaves” Spring 2014 and on this blog June 2014.

In this excerpt I am discussing two types of ‘warriors’ we find online.  The problem we have is that we can’t usually tell them apart until it is too late unless we know what to look for, and by giving information on these two I hope to increase awareness and decrease the killing of good discussions while not feeding trolls.

 One of the most common féinnidi personality types I have come across is the “Challenger of the Norm.” They enjoy discussions with others and tend to ask questions of the community that force people to consider something that is counter to an existing belief or understanding thus disrupting how society thinks of itself. This has often resulted in the assumption that the féinnid is somehow trying to change things or be intentionally disruptive, while the truth may be as simple as that they want to understand another’s perspective and simply don’t know how to couch the question in a way that doesn’t seem as though they are pointing out errors in others’ understanding. Of course, sometimes an individual is in fact being intentionally disruptive, which is simply poor behavior. However, intentional or not, the community response is too often hostile, and instead of nurturing discussion and debate, the féinnid is flagged as a troll. Given an opportunity, the well-intentioned “Challengers of the Norm” will distinguish themselves by staying involved in a discussion; a troll, on the other hand, will post inflammatory statements with obvious intent to create trouble. While disruptive at times, “Challengers of the Norm” should be seen as the people who help us really know and understand ourselves by forcing us to periodically re-evaluate what we believe.

Then there is the‘Warrior Antagonist’, which is not a personality type limited to féinnidi but is a general type often found among those who identify themselves as warriors. They often appear to be “Challengers of the Norm” but as the discussion continues they tend to get more heated until finally a moderator steps in or the entire discussion shuts down. When challenged as to why they get so heated and fight the response is something akin to “I am a warrior and we enjoy conflict and fighting.” This is a behavior that no one, especially féinnidi, should accept. As modern warriors part of our martial training is de-escalation, team-work and in many organizations,including the armed forces and police forces, conflict resolution. The only time a warrior should escalate a conflict is to bring it to a quick end, and this only applies to actual combat situations. Escalating discussion and debates to the point of open hostility is also counter-productive and in the end only places the warrior in a poor light. With féinnidi already being misunderstood by the Neopagan community it is important to not be a ‘Warrior Antagonist’ and for non-warrior Neopagans to recognize the differences between the personalities to avoid killing discussions that could introduce new ideas and opinions.

EDITED – Updated the first paragraph after my editor pulled this section from the original article.

Pagan adaptations of original source material.

I love the work of Morgan Daimler and Mike Nichols who both published poetry from the Carmina Gadelica converted to a Neopagan version.  This makes sense to me.

What I don’t understand is why we have to change things that are already good.  The example I ran into just this morning is from the “Acallam na Senórach” when Patrick asks  Caílte what kept Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s warrior band going all those years.  His response  is “Fírinde inár croidhedhaibh & nertt inár lámhaibh, & comall inár tengthaibh.” which has been translated in variants: “truth in our hearts, strength of our arms, and constancy of our tongues” or  “truth in our hearts, strength of our arms, and fulfillment of our tongues”.

If you look for this phrase on the internet though you find it written as  “Strength in our arms, truth on our tongue, clarity in our heart” and yet there is no use of this version that I have been able to find in any translation of the AnS yet people cite that it is from the Fennian Cycle.  It’s not but I did find its source.  Turns out it was written by Seán ó Tuathail in 1993 as part of his Foclóir Draíochta – Dictionary of Druidism.   In it he reorganizes the phrase and puts it into Modern Irish as “Neart inár lámha, fírinne ar ár dteanga, glaine inár gcroí”.  Honestly, it is easier to understand than the various translations of the original but why not just clarify the original?

Three points to take away from this brief rant:  1) Why not use original phrases when they don’t contain obvious non-Pagan overtones 2) Be sure you know the source of something before citing it.  3) If you adapt something, cite it properly so we all know its origin.

As Abraham Lincoln said at his 1865 Inauguration Speech – “Just because it is on the internet!!  Does not make it true.”

Daily Declaration of a Féinnid #1

An affirmation is a positive self-empowering statement that should be said daily .  They have probably always been around for a long while but became a ‘thing’ in the New Age movement.  As part of our spiritual lives many make affirmations and I support this, and we should make affirmations part of our daily ritual.
As  féinnidi we should do more.  We should declare ourselves to the gods daily our role and remind ourselves who we are and why we do what we do.  This first declaration focuses on the Otherworldly aspect of fénidecht and is a prayer that can be done anytime or anyplace.

Warrior, hunter, poet, seer, outsider, I am what
is feared by the ‘things that go bump in the night.’ With truth in my heart,
strength of my arms, and constancy of my tongue, I walk the boundary between
worlds and stand at the borders guarding against the unknown. Armed against
those who wish to harm; I am the wolf, I am the prey, I am the wild hunt.
 I am a guardian between the realms, a wild beast in the wood, a féinnid
in the service of my people.

*Writing requirement for OOTW course *koyros1 

Processional Prayer of Introduction

Féinnidi protected the community from invaders, from this world and the Otherworld.  When standing outside a ritual space modern Féinnid should do the same.  Here is a poem I wrote years ago for Pagan Spirit Gathering.  I would say it as the participants would process into the circle for the larger rituals.

Finn, Chieftain of the Fiana hear our call.
For we stand at the boundary between Order and Chaos, the civilized and the wild.
As the tribe gathers we come to observe and protect. 
We shall fear no man, nor beast, and nor spirit. 
We shall challenge any who come to do the people ill.
Gods and ungods of the people, know that we are here and we are allies.
With spear and shield we will protect the people, aid the people and sacrifice ourselves for the people.
We stand at the boundary between Order and Chaos, the civilized and the wil
d.

*Writing requirement for OOTW course *koyros1