Thursday, September 29, 2011

We're Looking for a Few Good Things

The hosts of Conversations from the Porch want to help promote pagan / heathen artisans by getting your work "out there". One of the ideas is to hold a raffle contest through the broadcast, and offer some of our listeners a chance to win a distinctive 'thing'.

Of course, the first thing we are looking for, is an artisan who is willing to part with an item - free of charge (donated). Not only does this 'donated thing' make someone very happy, but, it allows your work to 'get out there' and circulate in a new environment with more potential customers...

The second thing we are looking for, is something appropriate for a Yule gift. We are interested in having one lucky listener win a beautiful pagan / heathen 'thing' just in time for Yule. Yule is the perfect time of year when family and friends gather around and marvel at the beauty of the season (and, anything else that might be new - like, your one-of-a-kind 'thing' that was happily won by drawn-lot on the Conversations from the Porch broadcast).

The third thing we are looking for, is a professional package. Not only would we request a photograph of your donated 'thing' to share with our listeners on our websites, but, a little biography about the artist / business so we can promote you, also.

If you're an artisan with a few 'good things' lying around - and, you'd like to have an opportunity to share your art / business in new areas, please write to the hosts of Conversations from the Porch at:
subject line: Yule Give-Away

Please understand that your art / craft / 'work' is donated for give-away, and we would not expect anything of great expense to be donated.
The hosts would like to know how much shipping and handling would be for your item, as we would pay all shipping costs from you to the contest winner. Please provide this amount along with the photo & bio. Photos & bios arriving without a shipping and handling fee will not be considered for the give-away, nor subject to promotions on air.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wyrd from the Web

According to Wikipedia: Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm.

Obviously, we're not normal. No. Not "us" (as in, the "hosts"). Rather, "we" (as in, the polytheist community that our hosts represent). Well, okay; maybe ...we're... not normal, either.

"Vaarshteiner !!!"

However, there are so many individuals working behind-the-scenes who rarely get the credit for the hard work they put in. We - as consumers - can identify the mainstream titles and names that circulate within polytheisms; names that are synonymous with "normal paganism". Then again, there are so many 'unsung heros' that get lost amidst the shuffle of book-signing events, radio interviews, journalist write-ups and photo ops in high-end "New Age" shops. People, we never hear of, or from. Normally.

What about those people who really make a "big difference"? Why doesn't anyone go looking for these 'unsung heros'? So. Here. We. Are. (Or, will be... on October 2nd) Just having a nice little conversation from the porch, with our close friends at The Spider Web.

(Because I just know that Sam and Deb are gonna love this!) Our "Wyrd from the Web" special broadcasts will introduce our listeners to avante-garde personalities and people who work behind the scenes of mainstream polytheism.

And, while Sam and Deb are loving that.... I (little ole me) will be loving the banter back-and-forth with a kindred Celtic soul. Ah... kindred souls.

Wyrd broadcasts will occur once every three months. So tune in this Sunday, October 2nd (at 5pm); make sure you've got some great autumn brews and sit a while! Listen to the Wyrd from the Web while we have another Conversation from the Porch.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fire in the Head - Fire in the Heart: Drinking for Inspiration


Dan O’Halloran wrote in his essay Fire in the Head: A Tradition of Ritualized Drinking: “While our modern culture descends from our Celto- Germanic forbearers, and this European backdrop pervades our present, neither folklorists, historians, nor anthropologists have systematically combed through the available historical and archaeological records to truly understand the phenomenon of Indo-European "drinking."

Sterling Publishing Company made a compilation of Irish Inspirations: Toasts, Wit & Blessings, wherein, many traditional sayings compiled from four different materials appears…

“Drunkenness and anger speak truth.”

“The inebriated heart will not lie.”

A truthful, honest heart is one that feels the most intensely. It moves us into action whether by drunkenness, or by anger – the inebriated heart is one that is relaxed and open to truth. No matter where you live, this old adage has been spoken many times: “the truth hurts”. But, the truth can heal, as well.

In a speech by an Irish member of the European Parliament named Nuala Ahern, this phrase appears:

“It is in bringing the rage of what hurts you personally into the world

that you have the power to bring néart, this active spirituality, out into the world.”

The word “néart” has no English translation. It is a type of sacred, life-force energy of might – a power that seems to connect all movements within, and around the universe. To lose one’s néart is to be powerless in the world, victimized and unmotivated. The only way to regain one’s néart is to embrace rage and to channel it into a positive motivation for reconnecting with the primal powers of the universal life force.

neart / nèirt (m): energy / force / might / strength [Freelang Dictionary; Scottish Gaelic translation].

As we’ve learned from Druidic ritual accounts, the mysteries lay in the “between” states: “thresholds” neither in, nor out of one single place or time. The most significant thresholds for the Celtic human experience lay on the verges of spiritual / ritual occurrences. Where soul met deity, the spark of creativity could flourish – if properly nurtured by one’s néart.

H.R. Ellis Davidson writes in Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe [1998], “There are references in early Irish literature to the inexhaustible cauldron of mead in the Other World. [p.45]” In most ritual Celtic feasts, the mead vat [cauldron] was just one of several set up for guests. She then adds, “The mead was often referred to in early poetry, representing as it did the gift of poetic inspiration and skill in words…[p.176]”

According to Alistair Moffat in his book, Before Scotland [2005], he refers to “a Celtic fondness for strong drink and drunkenness, but for warriors it was used to induce what contemporary Irish sources called the rage-fit, a battle frenzy which could produce acts of superhuman courage. Men became what the Vikings later called berserkers.”

I refer back to O’Halloran, here: “The word beer, also of Celto-Germanic ancestry… is frequently referred to in Celtic songs as the "bolsterer of courage" and "fortifier of man". [The Celtic Song "Canu y Cwrwf" is the "Tale of Ale"].” His reference: Matthews, J. A Celtic Reader, Aquarian Press, London:1992

Strong drink, therefore, begets two states common to layman Celts. The first is inspirational poetry that stems from the threshold one stands upon when getting drunk – a “fire in the head”.

The second, is the spark of néart one needs in order to channel his powerful life force into the battle fray – a “fire in the heart”. Warriors fought for what they believed to be true. Their truths could have been their perceived right to lands, property or even holding strong against an invading force.

It is not coincidental that large cauldrons of beer and mead were present at ritual feasts. Without néart warriors wouldn’t go bravely into battle, nor compete for the finest cut of meat at banquet. Without inspiration, poets would not compose their lays. Without the socially accepted practice of drinking for “inspiration”, Celtic poetry would not be as beautiful and distinctive as it is; nor Celtic warriors as fierce, admirable and worthy of mention as they were.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As if, On Que...

After Sunday's (September 19th) airing of "Conversations from the Porch" an old, familiar stench wafted through the cosmos as if, on que and in sync with the broadcast about universalism, folkishness, and tribalism. It was the most awful of odors - alternative religions in political parties supporting racial purity.

In light of the innumerable pages of fodder handed into the polytheist arena, we will give a brief run-down. (The following information is cut, pasted, copied, linked, etc., and posted, here, as a means to provide a synopsis.) *Gagging sound*  Enjoy...

The National Policy Institute is an American white nationalist think tank based in Whitefish, Montana. It describes itself as the right's answer to the Southern Poverty Law Center... recently held their 2011 national conference, and Brian Powell from Media Matters was there to cover it.
The Supremacy Cause: Inside The White Nationalist Movement
National Policy Institute
[The artwork on the NPI Conference Name tags]

According to the conference's panel of scholars, a culture that doesn't recognize the preeminence of the white race is literally doomed to fail... One's race is one's family -- a group of people that have survived and evolved over thousands of years because of their reliance on and recognition of people that look like themselves...The white race, which they know to be genetically superior to non-white lineages, is threatened by massive non-white immigration movements and widespread political liberalism promoting a universal egalitarian moral code that shuns conversations about race.

From a political standpoint, the speakers believe that affirmative action, social welfare programs, lax immigration laws and an activist judiciary hell-bent on undermining federalism have stacked the deck in favor of non-whites in America.

"Why aren't there more females in this room?" asked one incredulous [NPI] attendee.

Why, indeed? After figuring out the NPI agenda and, stepping out for a much-needed lunch break, Mr. Powell gets four unwelcome guests at his table... pro-white males (who coincidentally belong to the AFA). He describes them, thusly:

I was exposed to a strange, almost primordial vein of white tribalism running through the network of conference attendees...four well-groomed white males smiled politely...I noticed that a couple of the guys wore unusual T-shaped metal brooches on their jackets and ties that they later referred to as the "Hammer of Thor."

They talked about runes, and were offered a place to stay by a man they didn't seem to know. If you have a hammer, he said to them, you always have a place to stay...

My curiosity got the better of me, and after some coaxing and snooping (e.g., craning my neck to watch them writing down information on their group for another young attendee), I discovered to my surprise that they were part of something called the Asatrú Folk Assembly.

There are a few issues with this "coincidentalness"; as the Wild Hunt seems to sum up, perfectly:

...Why were so many AFA members attending a blatantly racist conference...and will the AFA condemn the views displayed at NPI as against their stated values? Will these members be ejected for going against its own boundaries in matters of race? If not, what does that mean for the future of the AFA? Will the wider Pagan movement, including other Asatru organizations, have to reconsider its relationship with them?

Goodness gracious, what questions! Well, someone had to address them - so, Steve McNallen from the AFA decided to do just that:

At no time was there any attempt to speak for the AFA or to identify the ideals of the AFA with the subject matter of the conference... The AFA will not dictate to its members which meetings they are permitted to attend as private individuals.

Let me very clearly state these two points: 1. The AFA will never advocate, condone, or excuse illegal or dishonorable acts directed at any person because of their race. 2. That said, men and women of European descent have exactly the same right to meet and to promote their collective interests as do any other group. To demonize them for doing this, when every other group is encouraged to do so, is to indulge in a vicious double standard.

Another well-known heathen (who is not a member of the AFA) has been addressing the issues ever since the Wild Hunt's post...

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions regarding Heathenry, Ancestor Veneration, and Racism. Let me start out by pointing out that these are three very different things.

Heathenry is the umbrella term for a body of religions that focus on restoring the pre-Christian practices and beliefs of Northern –the Germanic and Scandinavian parts of—Europe.

Ancestor veneration is a fundamental spiritual practice of nearly every engaged, indigenous faith including Heathenry. It involves honoring those who came before us and who paved the way for our lives today.

Racism is a vile belief that one race is better than another, that peoples’ capacities and talents are determined by their race, and that some races are more deserving of rights than others. Racism is total, unadulterated bullshit.

Could I be any clearer?  There is nothing within Heathen cosmology and lore to encourage any type of racism or white power crap. Our ancestors intermarried, traveled, traded, and were remarkably uncaring when it came to a person’s race.

And, that is 100% correct... So, why all the hubbub? Because while Mr. Powell was shocked by his first-ever meeting with "modern-day Vikings", his questioning 'how' they are affiliated with an obviously racist entity as the NPI was insufficiently answered. No. I take that back - no one at the NPI conference seemed to clarify that white-supremacists can wear the guises of many different people and religions - not just Asatru.

The other questions brought up by the Wild Hunt are merely speculative, and pose a sensationalist concern that ushers in additional subscribers. I am quite sure that all the Heathen authors writing for the Wild Hunt have put in their two cents, but, have gone unheeded.

Why were so many AFA members attending a blatantly racist conference? To answer this, I can only point out the obvious: There weren't "so many" AFA members attending this conference"! The AFA has over 300 memberships. Four men and one "ruddy Englishman" do not constitute a lot when you compare the numbers of the organization.

This is like running into four schoolmates at church, and then claiming that your school is Methodist! How come people miss out on this sort of information? Tsk. Tsk... Perhaps some of that political dribble being discussed at the NPI conference is true! ...a dilution of the current white prominence, would "result in a serious reduction of national IQ," ... Oops! Too late!

No one clarified for the ignorant Mr. Powell that there are absolutely no political ambitions of the AFA beyond religious recognition in society; although, there are coincidental memberships of politicians within Asatru kindreds. Just as there are attendees at an NPI conference that coincidentally hold memberships within the AFA. Coincidences are everywhere!

Mr. Powell even pointed out that a stranger to these "four" approached them, saying: "If you have a hammer, you always have a place to stay." Mr. Powell cannot even clarify at this moment whether, or not this stranger was an attendee of the NPI conference. Even more ironic is the fact that Mr. Powell assumes the stranger to be a member of the AFA, themselves!

He seems to have assessed a lot of people attending this conference in his article. I am quite sure he would have clarified for his readers IF this "stranger" was "another person at the NPI conference" or not. I am quite certain that had another faction of Asatru been in attendance at the conference he would have mentioned that, too! However, he didn't.

Perhaps, Mr. Powell is unfamiliar with hospitality in heathen circles? Or, more likely, Mr. Powell is unfamiliar with Asatru. Period. As a liberal journalist, perhaps, Mr. Powell should do more research into religions and factions that defy the right-wing conservative Republican party before speculating in public posts about religious organizations whose memberships are constructed from Americans who have a consistutional right to their own, individual opinions... autonomous from their religious institutions.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Autumn Descends on South Florida

Visitors to Florida rarely notice the seasonal shifts because they are very subtle. However, natives and long-time ‘transplants’ know that a few weeks into the hurricane season, the atmosphere begins to show signs of softer days.

Florida’s Autumn – in fact – begins at the same time “hurricane season” does. It is the slight variations in humidity and water temperature that ushers in this season. And, though, hurricane season “officially” begins around May or June (in the Caribbean), the majority of Florida doesn’t get it until around September or October.

Florida is a tropical environment – similar to the rain forests of South America. Visitors may feel the heat and humidity because they are not as adjusted to the environment, down here. The state is continually blanketed with a thick covering of dense, wet air (humidity) which tends to ‘thin a smidge’ the farther north you go.

In the summer months, this blanket is extreme; you cannot step outside without immediately perspiring. However, when autumn falls, this blanket is no longer there, at least it seems that way to native Floridians and long-time ‘transplants’.

These cooler and milder days also usher in the beginnings of tourist season in November. This period is toward the end of hurricane season, but, before the harsh winters descends in the northern states. Yet, no matter how far north one travels, you are still surrounded by large bodies of water.

Tourists come, mainly, for our beaches; our ‘moody’ beaches. In autumn, the days are coming out of summer (when it’s excruciatingly hot) and cooling off; the underlying firmament isn’t, though. This makes the waters off our shores extra warm. So, in autumn the air in the days cools, significantly; but, the waters are still extra warm.

However, in the spring, it is quite the opposite. The firmament has been significantly cooled, emitting a chill into the waters off our shores, while the air in the days is significantly warming. The winter and springtime waters are too freezing cold for Native Floridians.

For example, in autumn a daytime temperature of 77° has little humidity and 83° water; whereas a springtime day may have a temperature of 77° severe humidity (making the day feel like 85°), but, the water is only 73°.

The typical “norm” for acceptable water-temps to a Native Floridian is about 80° – 90° F. Anything below 80° is too cold!

Personally, I have a saying that I like sharing with trans-plants; it does not apply to tourists, though:

You know you've become a Floridian when you can, actually, see the seasons change.

How Different Floridians Are! [A Short, but True Story]

A Native Floridian visits Washington State in the late spring and stays with a family friend who is a Native of Washington. The Floridian fixes the pool out back, noticing the day is gloomy, grey and very chilly.

The next day, however, the sun is out and the temperature is somewhere in the 70’s. The Floridian goes outside and sees the Native Washingtonian floating in the pool with sunglasses and a beverage. “Come on in,” she says. “The water is so warm!”

The Floridian goes to the edge of the pool and pulls the thermometer out to read it. The temperature reads 56° F. “Oh, my god,” the Floridian shouts! “I’ll get hypothermia.”

The pool-floater asks what would be an acceptable temperature to go swimming. The Floridian replies, “I’d go in if the temperature was closer to 77° - 80°.”

“That’s bathwater,” Shouted the lady in the pool, disbelievingly! To which, the Floridian replied, “No... Bathwater is 110°.”

*Old mariner's poem about Caribbean hurricanes:

June- too soon.
July-- stand by!
August-- look out you must.
September-- remember.
October, all over.

By Teresa Plowright, Guide

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Flavors of Good Conversation: Autumn


A gift from God to his mortal champions can only describe this wonderful tasting golden wine. Made naturally with the highest quality honey and no sulfites added, this makes it one of the most exquisite dessert wines in the world. Samuel Adams OCTOBERFEST ... Brewed with five varieties of malted barley for a big, rich flavor.

The first thing you notice when pouring a glass of this seasonal beer is the color. Samuel Adams® Octoberfest has a rich, deep reddish amber hue which itself is reflective of the season. Samuel Adams Octoberfest masterfully blends together five roasts of malt to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavors including caramel and toffee. The malt is complimented by the elegant bitterness imparted by the Bavarian Noble hops. Samuel Adams Octoberfest provides a wonderful transition from the lighter beers of summer to the heartier brews of winter. Blue Moon Brewing Company's HARVEST PUMPKIN ALE ... Available September through Novemeber.

Is an amber-colored ale brewed with a bounty of fall flavors like vine-ripened pumpkin, allspice, cloves and nutmeg. Together with a touch of wheat, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale has a smooth, lightly spiced finish.

Pairs well with beef dishes and seasonal soups... The taste will remind you of pumpkin pie!

And, everyone's favorite "stand-by" ... WARSTEINER!

THE SURGEON GENERAL WARNS: (1) women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!