Working with the Siani

In a recent Tumblr conversation, it was mentioned that it is a great shame that so little is said in our teaching about fairies. Indeed, if we exclude mentions of the Star Fairy, I think I can count on one hand the number of Madrian and Aristasian documents that mention them, and the only distinctive point of information of which I am aware is that the Filianic term for them is siani. That they are little acknowledged, however, does not make them unimportant.

Today, on our way home from the park, my three-year-old son asked to stop and pick a flower for his mother, which has become a common occurrence in the last couple of weeks. On this occasion, however, I told him to go choose one from the meadow and then wait until I told him what to do next. He bravely charged into the tall grass, placed his hand on the stem of a bright purple bloom, and then dutifully held his position.

“Now,” I said, “you need to ask the fairies if it is okay for you to take it.”

“Okay I take it?” he repeated, and then, without a moment’s hesitation, he grinned and nodded, “Oh, yes!”

At this stage, the ritual is mere formality. As he gets older, however, and grows in awareness and patience, my hope is that this little acknowledgement will teach him how to listen. I was an adult undertaking the study of Druidry before I learned that one can, indeed, slow down enough to hear the response of a tree, or a flower, or a stone—that there is an awareness that most modern people (at least in Europe and North America) have never cultivated, but which can still hear our Mother’s echoed laughter, bright and conscious and alive, in the being of each thing that exists. I have had trees offer their leaves or fruits for some good work, or refuse a request for good reasons; I have even had them offer unsolicited advice.

One can say one is talking to trees, or perhaps one prefers to think of it simply as making silence and stillness for the still, small voice within to speak. It really makes little difference to the grander point, which is that the effort at this awareness—this ability to simultaneously turn deeply within and open oneself wholly without—builds one’s capacity to discern. At three years old, my son can listen for the wishes of the fairies who tend a flower and it may seem a small thing, but that same skill, well-honed when he is thirty, will hear the wishes of his own heart. Fortunate indeed is the maid who can do this deceptively unsimple thing.

Thus may it seem that a small matter prepares for a greater, but I do not really believe that to be true. Our Lady assures us that “not a … grain of sand shifts in the desert reflecting not some spiritual truth; neither does a star fall in the farthest corner of the cosmos without an inward meaning.” (1 Teachings 11:28–9) What, then, can it mean to pluck a flower that has not greeted springtime with austerity (3:8)? There is a world of gravity in the plucking of a flower—the death of what is beautiful and visible in order to reveal what is invisible and still more beautiful—that I can only truly conceive in the sadness of the little fairy who grieves the blossom she has tended, but who gives it freely that the heartbeat of a child may be completed in expression.

When we get home, I watch my wife’s face as she receives the gift, and it seems to me that she is a flower, or is, perhaps, revealed as a far-strewn petal of that rose we lately honoured at the summer’s height. She takes the tiny stem from a tiny hand and leaves it on the altar at our Lady’s feet, where it lies dead at the very fount of Life. Yet I perceive it now alive as I cannot imagine, and all worldly life seems death beside what has been thrice-offered in this way.

I have no clever flourish to conclude this—no subtle turn or clinching argument. I have only the image of a fairy, sparkling in tears that run in sorrow and in joy as she yields up her treasure to a giant hand that is yet small by any other measure, but which will yield it in turn to a greater, and thence the Greatest still, that it may be placed again at the very centre of that fairy’s being—the place within herself that she had always longed to take it, but could not while it yet lived.

I have only this image to which my words can do no justice, and that is exactly why the siani are important.

 

Edit (22 July 2017): Thanks to @hearthshrine for digging up the reference for the term “siani”.

Of Rosa Mundi and Mascûls

I find myself coming somewhat late to engage with the Janites’ “Humble Admission”, which sufficiently incensed Glenn King to prompt his withdrawal from the Déanic community altogether. My delay in addressing it has had to do with many other demands on my time, including locating previously unavailable Madrian documents for upcoming addition to the Archive, as well as two major projects which it is to be hoped will bring some positive academic attention to the legacy of Madrian/Aristasian thought and, in the process, spread awareness of Déanism/Filianism. In looking up from this work on behalf of the community to find that certain major representatives of that community now regard me as outside the scope of its revelational grace is both disconcerting and hurtful.

I wish to be very, very clear about two things. First, I am on record for my affirmation of the importance of both Feminine Essentialist philosophy in the abstract, with its insistence on the primacy of the feminine in the nature of both divinity and the cosmos, as well as my affirmation of the practical corollary that positions of formal spiritual leadership in the Déanic community should be restricted to women. (I endeavor, as an act of service to Dea and to the community, to be a proficient and useful scholar of the faith, but I would never dream of setting myself up as someone’s ranya, or styling myself as a “Déanic priest” or any similar nonsense.) Second, I unequivocally affirm the right of women to establish groups open to women alone, and do not countenance any effort on the part of men to label such a practice as exclusivist or sexist, or to demand admission to such groups. The Daughters of Shining Harmony, whom I hold in the highest regard, maintain such an all-feminine group, and I am grateful that they do for the work which has come out of it. If the Janites wish to restrict membership or participation in their order to women only, I respect that decision entirely and say ‘more power to them’. As I have never been formally involved with the Janites anyway, I can see no reason why such a move on their part should trouble me.

The statement they released, however, is not simply such a declaration about their order. It presumes, rather, to speak to Dea’s own intentions in the giving of the Scriptures and to authoritatively interpret them with respect to the matter of their intended audience. To declare, as their statement appears to do, that God has not given the Scriptures to Tellurian maidkind as a whole, but only properly to half of us, is exclusivist and sexist.

It is also historically untenable. It is unquestionably true that the Madrians restricted the priestesshood and all other positions of religious leadership to women. It is also perfectly clear from their writings on both the ancient matriarchal past and on present conditions, however, that the Madrians always regarded Déanism as a religion for men as well as women (at least, from that point in history when men were supposed to have originated). Numerous accounts bear witness to the involvement of men in non-leadership rôles from very early on, and more than one of the earliest attested congregations were mixed. Sister Angelina was a regular contributor to a variety of countercultural magazines, appeared on local radio on a number of occasions, and gave the closing address for the 1979 “Re-Emergence of the Goddess” convention in Kensington; none of her published letters or recorded statements that I have found suggest a restriction of Déanic teaching’s relevance to women, and her statements in fact often suggest that Dea’s renewed self-revelation in Her original feminine form is a mercy to the whole world—men as much as women.

Aristasian thinkers, for their part, always held firmly to Aristasia’s women-only character, but they were broadly supportive of related movements that attempted to include men in the same intellectual currents (such as the Romantians). In more recent times, the Chapel has not only clearly stated its belief that mixed congregations are permissible, but it has gone so far as to wish well to such endeavors. The assertion of the Janite statement—that the Scriptures’ speaking of maid is not meant to apply to men at all and that the religion is irrelevant to them—has no precedent of which I am aware in Orthodox teaching.

It saddens me to have to take up the bulk of a Rosa Mundi post merely defending the idea that God has spoken in the Scriptures to me as much as to my co-religionists. I know the movement of my own heart, however, and I know the feeling of our Lady’s hand when it rests upon it. She speaks, saying: “For the Spirit is One, and I am the Spirit, and you are the Spirit also, in the innermost temple of your heart. And She who is the Spirit, My Mother, holds out Her hands to you in happiness beyond all knowing and joy beyond expression of all words,” (1 Teachings 10:12–14) and I know that She speaks to me.

I am not an eavesdropper. I am not an uninvited guest. I am a child of my Mother, and my soul is a princess making her way home. Perhaps she has farther to go than many others. Perhaps her face and body have been marred by the thorns of khear in especial measure. Yet still my Mother calls my name in the night, and I will not be told that I have but misheard the similar name of another child. I will not be told that I have braved the forest by mistake.

So on this Rosa Mundi, when my little son (who will turn three on Sunday) helped me pick a rose for the shrine, and yelled out “Haya Annya!” while I lit the first fireworks he has ever seen, I will give thanks and praise to my Mother that She has remembered me and others like me, that She has sent a mercy of comfort and of guidance down upon the whole Earth, and that She has wrought a temple from even my stony heart, and hewn it in the shape of a rose (v. 27).


Update (12 July 2017): More recent statements by the Janites have changed their wording and now, “affirm that the scriptures were written for a matriarchal society. Of course, they may be used and read by everyone who loves Our Lady. It is only when they are taken out of their matriarchal context, that they are being misunderstood.

“The Filianic/Madrian religion is a feminine religion and Madrian men understood and accepted this. They understood that the Madrian religion was a matriarchal, feminine religion presided over by females.”

This formulation, of course, is wholly accurate. The earliest Déanic/Filianic communities were indeed matriarchal, and held matriarchy to be the primordial condition of humanity. To remove them from a matriarchal context (as opposed to an all-female context) would be a gross distortion, and render an understanding that, whatever else it might be, would not be Déanic/Filianic. My objections given above to the previous Janite statement no longer apply to this more refined wording, and I am very glad to see a consensus apparently reached that acknowledges the legitimacy of men’s participation in the faith and the applicability of Scripture to them, while uncompromisingly affirming the matriarchal nature of the Ekklesia and the restriction of formal leadership rôles to women.

The Year of Sai Vikhë

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With the approach of Rosa Mundi, we are also approaching the one-quarter mark of the Year of Sai Vikhë. Of all the Janyati, Sai Vikhë may be the one whom I have had the most difficulty relating to, as I was raised in a military family and anything redolent of that ethos has a strongly off-putting effect on me. It is said, of course, that the militaries of the Motherland are quite different to those of our own time and plane, and certainly nothing of the savagery and inhumanity of modern Tellurian warfare should be ascribed to Sai Vikhë, but even being aware of this on a conscious level, the imagery and metaphor of armed conflict have posed a significant barrier to me in approaching Dea by this face.

Partly because I think it important to work on my own limitations, and partly because I began this year (and continue) facing many personal and professional challenges that require courage, focused will, and (courteous) assertiveness to overcome, I made it a point to take advantage of Sai Vikhë’s patronage of this year to try to forge a relationship with her. This has involved nothing grandiose, but simply a deliberate effort to remember her during my prayers and to meditate upon her symbols. The results of this already have astounded me, and I wish to share them with all of you for your encouragement.

All my life, I have a had a dreadful fear of heights—not paralyzing, but enough to be deeply uncomfortable in a variety of mundane situations. One of these, which I managed only with considerable effort, was taking my son on the amusement park rides at the Mall of America—most particularly the innocuously-named Guppy Bubbler, which rises about forty feet while spinning its occupants around in seashells. To my two-year-old, this is tremendous fun. To me, it was a white-knuckling brush with infinity.

Back in April, as the sweat started to build on my palms at the top of the ride, I prayed, asking Sai Vikhë for courage so that I might be freed from my fear and not model it to my son. Instantly, my fear vanished. Still swirling around forty feet in the air, I was completely at ease. I have taken my son many more times since—and even taken him on the three-story-tall Ferris wheel—without the slightest anxiety or discomfort. After nearly thirty years of serious acrophobia, I can only regard this as a miraculous cure in the finest medieval tradition.

I gave thanks for this over the following weeks and, during a meditation back in May, received what might be termed a vision of Sai Vikhë—not that she came and stood in my living room, but more in the sense of having an icon communicated directly to my mind. I wish that I had the talent as a visual artist to produce it—the great winged figure aloft in a mass of cloud, her body perfect motion and her crimson robes perfect stillness, her outstretched arms bearing the flaming sword before her as though she were about to strike and to hold up the sky at the same moment and by the same blade, her knees swept forward like the talons of a falcon though her bare feet hang gently as drooping roses beneath, her blazing tiered crown of gold an image of perfect order atop a maelstrom of onyx hair, her face in unrelenting focus even as the kohl around her almond eyes seems swept back to a point by the force of the wind and her unfathomable speed. It was an image that, like the best Hindu depictions of Kali, made her ferocity beautiful and her power somehow touching. Even many weeks on, I can see it again perfectly within my mind, with all the detail of a pre-Raphaelite painting. It has been a tremendously heartening gift.

Then, last week, the third sign. I have been contemplating for some time getting a physical rosary on which to pray, rather than simply counting through the repetitions as I have hitherto been doing. On Friday, I found myself teaching at a Catholic school on the last day of their school year, only to discover at the end of the day three rosaries (which had been distributed to students earlier) abandoned on the playground after everyone had gone home. They were not fancy affairs in the least—just simple knotted strings strung with plastic beads—but one was a brilliant red, with a medallion of Our Mother holding what the Catholics call the “Immaculate Heart of Mary” (Her flaming heart pierced by a sword). In Sai Vikhë’s color, and bearing her sacred weapon, I knew straightaway that this had come to me by providence. I returned the other two to the church supply and kept the red rosary, adapting it to Déanic use by trimming off the Crucifix and the other beads below the medallion save one (for reciting the Rosary Prayer before beginning the rosary proper).

I cannot put into words how touched I have been to have my humble efforts thus responded to. Sisters and brothers, take heart to call upon the commander of the hosts of heaven if you have need of her strength or her courage. She is always present with and for us, of course, but her year is such a blessed opportunity to know her and to seek her aid. All of us have demons that we must face, but at this time most of all have faith in the promise of the Scriptures, that “the radiant Janyati of heaven stand ready to defend the soul when she shall cry upon them.” (1 Teachings 11:26)

Vive la Reine!

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14 Maia 160 a.L.

One of the little customs I keep at every feast and festival is to read the Chapel’s article on that particular celebration (which is made easier by following them on Facebook and Twitter, if you haven’t already). For me, this is a kind of substitute for attending a local service (because there isn’t one) and hearing a sermon on the day. As I read the Chapel’s piece on Exaltation, however, I had in mind several recent conversations I have had with others in the community about the importance of building on-the-ground congregations, and so I could not help but read it with the voice of a priestess or a chantress in my head, imagining what it would be like to sit side-by-side with others and hear the words expounded by a knowledgeable teacher. I could not help but imagine, as I looked at the lovely photograph that attends the article, what it would be like on such a bright spring morning, having been thus initiated into the mysteries of the day, to rise from our seats amidst the birdsong and to walk together onto the green outside the dachara* to dance the maypole—hands clasped not only in spirit but in flesh, the spectral symbolism of the ribbons made tangible in silk or linen. It is a dream that I know, both from my own experience and from the conversations that I have had with many of you, can be hard to keep alive in solitude, and yet it is somehow very close to the essence of life itself. And so, on this Exaltation (which is cold and rainy here in Minneapolis), I want to offer to all of you, and to myself, a couple of hopeful reflections.

First, and most important, our Lady is crowned. Time and space and the Pit may all range themselves against us, and it may seem as though our community, small and scattered, is at their mercy, but the truth is that they are in Hers. We may be a long way still from fulfilling Her commission to take the Good Doctrine to our sisters and brothers all over the earth, but She has already brought the saving peace of Her rule to them. Our work in this world is important, but the success of our limited efforts is not the measure of success.

Second, our limited efforts accumulate, and the timeline for their success is long. It is forty-four years since Lux Madriana was founded and the first public efforts were undertaken to bring the faith of our Mother God back to the world. By comparison, this is the equivalent of the Christian year 77, at which time the sect was still too small to merit imperial persecution, with tiny pockets of believers still mostly gathering at synagogues. There was no canonical collection of the Christian Scriptures, and in all likelihood neither the Gospel of John nor the Book of Revelation had even been written yet. Forty-four years after Abraham was called out of Ur, all the Jews in the world were still just the members of his immediate household.

All God’s works have humble beginnings, and it takes long years to grow a mustard seed into a tree. As difficult as it often is to envision the distant fruits of our efforts, I promise you, sisters and brothers, that every blog post we write, every talk we give, every question we respond to from an interested seeker, brings the communities we are seeking closer to manifestation.

Amidst the first humble unfoldings of the leaves, and amidst the splendour of the light of our Lady’s coronation, have patience, dear ones, and have faith.

*In Madrian writings, a dachara is an open-air pavilion with a life-sized image or statue of our Lady at its center, used as the focal-point of public devotions in small towns or villages.

Into Her Divine Hands

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☿ 23 Culverine 160 a.L.

I have gone on record many times as an advocate of the use of fixed, formal liturgy—not to the exclusion of more spontaneous, informal prayer, but as a stable foundation upon which the sudden movements of the heart may erect additional structures. One reason for this is that I feel there is tremendous value in re-visiting the same text regularly and in permitting the mind to probe it with ever new shifts of emphasis and intonation. Even the shortest of prayers is found, after months or years of repetition, to be a cornucopia of meanings and wisdom, in keeping with the sage observation of the apprentice weaver that, “There are two meanings to everything and three meanings to most things…” (TCA 8: 9)

My every day begins with the Madrian Morning Offering, the opening line of which declares: “Celestial Mother, grant me this day that every work I do may be as lovingly and as well-performed as though I were to give it into Your divine hands.” When I began saying this prayer, I read the work as being mine, and Her hands as being its destination. Knowing my own feebleness in many areas, of course, I know that, of myself, I could not make any of my actions as perfect as I would wish them to be in presenting them to Her. Hence, I pray for Her help in making all that I do an offering fit for my Lady. (Of course, our Mother accepts even the homeliest of gifts from Her children; the demand for excellence in them comes from our own hearts out of love.)

This reading seems to me still a perfectly valid one, but as I have repeated the line more I have come to think that there is a second, equally valid interpretation, in which the work is mine to surrender, and Her hands are the superior means. As I recited the words one morning, I thought of Krishna’s teaching in the Bhagavad Gita: “Therefore, O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with mind intent on Me, and without desire for gain and free from egoism and lethargy, fight.” (3:30) In this reading, the work becomes loving and well-performed not so much through a gift of grace that enables me to make it so before presenting it to my Lady but because, in presenting the work at its outset to Her for the doing, it becomes lovingly and well-performed as all Her works by nature are. In this reading, I recuse myself as the actor, and instead render myself transparent as the vehicle of Her action, in accord with the words of our own Scripture: “Seek not to conquer kear alone nor cleave alone to Good, but open your heart to Me, and let Me live through you…” (1 Teachings 8:19)

PS: I always prefer, of course, to draw on the indigenous resources of our own spiritual tradition, and so might have turned first to the words of The Secret of the World, yet I found that my first instinct had not been wrong in this case, for only a couple of days after this thought had first struck me, I was reading through an old Madrian text called The Inner Meaning of Chess, and ran across the following intriguing passage: “The same symbolism is implicit … in the legend that Inanna entered the chariot of an Amazon princess to speak with her on the eve of a great battle, a legend whose form and essential teaching have been patriarchalised and largely preserved in the Bhagavad Gita.”

The Beginning and the End of All Things

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She is risen!

With the resurrection of the Daughter, we begin a new year and a new spring, yet my thoughts are captured by the symmetry between this first day of the new year and the last day of the old.

Here in the Twin Cities, Kala was a fairly warm day (~55F) after a recent, long stretch of below freezing temperatures. My son spent much of it playing with the last piles of vestigial snow before they melted down, asking me to reseat his mittens every time they came off his thumbs (he’s two and a half). As he hurled snowballs against the trunks of trees, I looked up to find the first signs of new buds. With a distinct nip in the air, it clearly wasn’t spring yet, but spring was already a foregone conclusion. Today, in a burst of sun inaugurating a week of steadily increasing highs, that promise is fulfilled.

I once was told that the ancient Celts started their new year at Samhain (our Tamala) in reflection of a belief that all things came from darkness—the seed waiting in the earth, the day emerging from the dead of night. I do not know if that is true, considering that the dating of the Celtic new year is a conjecture from the Coligny calendar and otherwise unsupported by documentary evidence, but it is certainly a common Neopagan belief. It seems to me a fortuitous coincidence that 1 January, which the Council of Tours abolished as the new year in 567 (it had been such in Roman Imperial times, when it was the day consuls took office), only became so again at the start of the modern age with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Before then, most parts of Europe celebrated the new year at locally determined times, which most often fell around Easter, 1 March, or Lady Day (25 March). This latter was the official new year in Britain and its colonies until the Gregorian calendar was adopted by Parliament in 1752.

It is thus only at the beginning of modernity that we see the idea of the year beginning and ending in the darkness of winter establish itself widely. It has a resonance with the other intellectual products of those centuries: the prejudicial notion that Renaissance and Enlightenment society was emerging out of “dark ages”, the idea that human beings were born tabula rasa and that children were thus ignorant instead of unspoiled and the elderly senile, the fixation on the sun as astronomical object (collecting itself from dust and then burning out) rather than as a metaphysical symbol of eternity… even, ultimately, the Darwinian notion of maid as a thing crawling up from the mud which will, like all other species, eventually go extinct in a great finality. The essential recognition that all mortal and material things pass from ashes to ashes and dust to dust is, of course, quite Traditional, but the belief that the ultimate reality of all things is thus to pass from darkness to darkness is a particularly modern trait.

And so, as I watched the trees prepare to burst into leaf amidst the melting snow on the last day of the year, I was grateful for our calendar’s restoration of the old new year at this moment of the coming spring, which assures us that, at the deepest level of reality, all things end as they begin—in Light.

An Open Letter to Several Questioners on the Calculation of Eastre

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28 Moura 159 a.L.

I have now heard from a number of people who have recently become uncertain as to when they should celebrate Eastre. I am therefore writing this emergency post in the wee hours of the morning before the onset of Hiatus at dawn forces me to close my laptop. Before I say anything else, I wish to note that when we celebrate is much less important than what we celebrate (which has just been described very helpfully over at My Devotions to Dea). When we celebrate is still important, however, and deserves to be discussed frankly.

Some Déanists have recently expressed the concern that, this year, the astronomical equinox falls on 20 March (our Hiatus), rather than the 21st, and that Eastre will consequently be “late”, with Hiatus austerities continuing to be practiced after (what they suppose to be) the onset of spring. This is an understandable concern but, I think, ultimately a misplaced one, threatening to recreate among Déanists what the Christians call the “Easter controversy“. I therefore wish to present four arguments against the proposed adjustment of the date as it has been described here, addressing the following points: 1) that there is no inherent association between astronomical equinox and the beginning of spring, 2) that it is impossible for any calendar, but especially ours, to reliably associate a single date with the astronomical equinox for practitioners in all locations in all years, 3) that attempting to do so unacceptably undermines the symbolic and ritual value of our calendar, and 4) that attempting to do so introduces unnecessary division into the Ekklesia.

  1. The celebration of Eastre on the day corresponding in the Gregorian calendar to 21 March is an established custom of our community, common to all its various branches, for over forty years. I, personally, am loathe to break with the consensus practice of all our honored foremothers in the faith, but even more loathe to do so in pursuit of an aim that appears out of accord with even broader swathes of Tradition. A very large number of celebrations marking the equinox exist all over the world, but with the apparently singular exception of modern Druidry, none of them align to the precise date of astronomical equinox; all, instead, are marked on a date determined by some other, customary formula. In our particular case, the direct antecedents of our Eastre celebration are Christian Easter (marked on the fourteenth day of the lunar month following 21 March, which is taken as a customary date regardless of astronomical equinox), and the traditional first day of the year in Britain, which was, up until 1752, (Christian) Lady Day, falling on 25 March (which, incidentally, had been the first day of spring in the Julian calendar when it was created). Only after 1752 did 1 January become the first day of the year, or 25 March cease to be regarded as the first day of spring. The precedent for taking a customary date which is, at least in some years, out of alignment with the exact moment of astronomical equinox thus goes back well beyond the forty-odd years of Déanic tradition, into the very traditions from which Déanism arises. We might even expand the scope of this back reference to note that Celtic calendars anciently began spring back at what we call Luciad, showing quite demonstrably how the start of the season of spring and the moment of astronomical equinox are not necessarily related (just as our calendar ends winter well before the equinox that ends it on the Gregorian calendar, because of the introduction of Moura). Thus, contrary to the proposal’s claim, we never have Hiatus when it is “already and actually spring”, because spring definitionally does not begin until after Hiatus. The moment of astronomical equinox is irrelevant to when spring begins in all traditional calendars, not just ours.

  2. We note, then, that the beginning and ending of the seasons is, throughout the world, marked culturally without necessary regard to precise astronomical considerations. The desire to align with astronomical positioning is perfectly understandable, but also impossible to achieve in practice. Even the Gregorian calendar does not quite manage it with its allowance of a three-day slip for the first day of spring between 19, 20, and 21 March, since it still occasionally occurs that the technical point of equinox falls in the very early hours of the morning of the 22nd for East Asia only, while coming late in the night of the 21st for everyone else. No matter the system we use, there will always be the possibility not just of the astronomical equinox not coinciding with Eastre in certain years, but of the astronomical equinox not even falling on the same day for everyone in the same year. Our situation is made even more difficult in this respect than it is for the Gregorian calendar, however, because our days do not start and end at fixed clock times, but instead begin and end at dawn. The timing of dawn, of course, varies dramatically with the latitude, longitude, and altitude of the observer (and in some cases even the landscape, where significant enough mountain ranges can actually delay the official onset of dawn for those living on their westward side). It thus will necessarily happen with some regularity that the astronomical equinox, happening to fall in the early morning in certain years, will in those years be erratically distributed between two different days for Déanists in different locations. Simply put, the proposed adjustment cannot achieve the aim it intends.

  3. Even if the adjustment could accomplish what it sets out to do, however, a strong case against adopting it would still exist based solely on the preservation of our calendar’s internal logic and symbolic structure. The proposal aims (in years in which the astronomical equinox falls on 20 March) to advance the date of Eastre onto the date which is currently Hiatus by merging the observance of Hiatus with the observance of Kala, and then making 1 Culverine a two-day event. There is, of course, a strangeness in having a single calendar date cover a forty-eight hour period, which I believe could have unintended consequences in cases where the calendar is used for anything other than simple ritual planning. (And even within a purely ritual context, is there only one set of daily prayers? As 1 Culverine now covers two days of the week, which Janya governs 1 Culverine, and therefore the whole rest of the year? Similar thorny problems abound.) Quite aside from this, however, there are two much more substantial objections I am compelled to raise. The first is that Kala is a Janyatic feast day (though not observed with literal feasting) dedicated to Sai Kala, the third of the three Werdës. Many of those backing the proposal have taken, for reasons unknown to me, to referring to the Day of Kala as Moura (which seems to make an unnecessary confusion with the month), which has perhaps obscured this difficulty for them. However, both of the other Werdës have designated feast days (Florimaia and the Day of Werdë, respectively), and effectively eliminating the Day of Kala by merging it with Hiatus thus creates a symbolic imbalance that implicitly (one might even say subconsciously) devalues all those triplicitic elements with which Sai Kala is connected—cronehood, death, the Dark Mother, and many others. The second point is that such a fusion also effectively eliminates Hiatus. The Day of Kala marks the death of the Daughter, which is a narrative event. Hiatus, being outside time, cannot mark a narrative event which presupposes time for its symbolic description. Hiatus is not simply, as the proposal suggests, an extraneous sixth season; it is a way of representing the hypothetical eternal condition of divine absence, which no day with a calendar date can do, because such a date is necessarily involved in time and thus presupposes the divine order. 28 Moura, simply because it is the twenty-eighth day of a month with narrative functions in the story of the Mythos (as per its meditative use in the rosary) cannot fulfill the symbolic functions of stagnancy and futurelessness that Hiatus carries. To attempt to fuse these two starkly different observances into a single day is to obliterate them both, and thus to impoverish the liturgical year.

  4. These considerations, combined with the authority of sacred tradition, guarantee that some significant number of Déanists will cling to the old dating. Anything less than universal adoption of the proposed adjustment, however, risks compromising what sense of unity and sisterhood currently exists among the diverse branches of our faith. It is telling, to me, that I first learned about the proposal from a Tumblr post describing the state of “confusion” into which the community on that platform had been plunged. There is enough that divides us already in thealogical understandings, conventions of naming, and much else without introducing yet another point of division. Such divisions, besides weakening our bonds as an Ekklesia, also tend to give outsiders the erroneous impression that ours is an eclectic, make-it-up-as-you-go faith like the Neopagan traditions and New Age cults with which we are already too commonly confused. This deters interested seekers and inhibits the growth of the community.

The proposed adjustment has been put forward, I know, with the best of intentions. Nonetheless, I believe there are, as I have outlined, several compelling factors which urge against its adoption, and I therefore feel compelled to recommend the maintenance of our traditional practice to all those who have been asking for guidance in the midst of the present confusion.

On the Ultimacy of the Daughter’s Sacrifice

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28 Moura 159 a.L.

[For Kala, some thoughts on the meaning of the Daughter’s sacrifice extracted from a conversation I had on Tumblr a while back.]

For a full understanding of the Filianic concept of sacrifice, it is important to recall that the contemporary English sense of sacrifice as a renunciation or giving up of something is a secondary meaning, which the word did not fully acquire until the 1700s. Prior to that, to sacrifice something meant to set it apart from worldly use as dedicated to the gods, the term coming from the Latin sacra + facere—literally, “to make into sacred things”. The sacrificed object was, in a sense, pulled out of the mundane world and the normal stream of time and made a part of eternity (hence the ironic sense, in a later age when people spent more time immersed in the things of the world and less time dwelling in eternity, that sacrificing something meant losing it forever).

This is important to understand because we share with Christians the belief that God has rendered the ultimate sacrifice in the person of Her child, Who is consequently become the final high priestess, performing Her office for all time in the temple of eternity (cf. the Christian Epistle to the Hebrews and our own Mythos 7). Too often, especially in Christian circles, the everyday connotations of the word “sacrifice” cause this to be misunderstood. People take the idea that the Daughter’s sacrifice is final or ultimate in respect of grandiosity—as though, because God sacrificed the most precious thing imaginable, She is now so impressed by Her own sacrifice that nothing anyone else could offer would impress Her anymore. This, of course, is a rather shallow conception.

The Daughter’s sacrifice is ultimate because the effect of her descent was to bring Her Mother’s Light into every corner of the cosmos—inseparably to bond the nature of every created thing back to the divine nature. She is the love that holds the stars within their courses (1 Teachings 5:34), and in this way is Herself become the quintessence—the fifth element that binds the other four together to make manifest existence possible. Hanged upon the pillar of the world, She is become that pillar, replacing its being with Her own like minerals replace bone in a fossil, so that all creation hangs now upon Her. (Remembering, of course, that the Mythos expresses in the language of time truths which are outside of time; i.e., we should not imagine that there was ever a time when the cosmos was not constituted thus.) To bond a thing indissolubly with God’s own being is, of course, the greatest possible “making sacred” of it, and thus the greatest possible sacrifice. It is not that we have nothing as valuable as a divine child to give up, but that we cannot possibly make anything more sacred than She has already made it. Americans might think of the words of Abraham Lincoln when, in his famous Gettysburg Address, he declared of that battlefield where so many had been slain that, “We are come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place… But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far beyond our meagre power to add or detract.” So must we say of the whole cosmos in the light of the Daughter’s sacrifice.

In a very strict, thealogical sense, then, there is only one, and has only ever been one, and can only ever be one sacrifice, and that is the sacrifice which the Daughter is eternally making. Everything which we, in the lazy convenience of our common speech, call a sacrifice is, in truth, simply a ritual participation in that one, eternal sacrifice that is God’s pouring out of Her own Self like so much ghee into the fire of Her own Being. The old Madrian Rite of Sacrifice recognizes this quite profoundly, as does the Catholic/Orthodox mass on which it is unselfconsciously patterned. We can add nothing, metaphysically, to the Daughter’s act, for all things are now sacred, but we can add the time and attention required for us to perceive and appreciate this. Ritually, that may look like a traditional giving up of something treasured as a token of our love for God and a ritual gesture of our willingness to put our relationship with Her above all other things. It may also look like our donating an hour at the soup kitchen to perceive the sacredness of the people who come there, or spending an hour sitting attentively in the woods to perceive the sacredness of the land, or even passing an hour making ourselves up in the vanity mirror to perceive the sacredness of our own selves bearing the image of God. Any of these, done in the right frame of mind, can be a sacrifice—or, more precisely, a way of entering into and participating in Her sacrifice. “Handle a leaf as though it were the body of the Buddha,” the medieval Zen master Dogen used to tell his students, “and the body of the Buddha will manifest through it.” That—which is none other than the vow of the Madrian Morning Offering, to make our every work so lovingly and well-performed as though we were to give it into Her divine hands—is, to my mind, the essence of Filianic sacrifice.