St Collen, Annwn, and The Spanish Missions of California

Ok, bear with me. What I’m going to write is going to seem really very out of place for this blog. As stated in the past, the primary focus of this blog, as it’s very title would seem to imply, is magical practice. This includes mysticism, theurgy, and thaumaturgy.

One of my tabs is about Physical Manifestation, and this is an entry pertaining to that work. I want to open the topic at hand with an excerpt from a Welsh text about a Christian Saint, Collen. In case you are unfamiliar, this was the “hero” responsible for severing the physical ties between the Otherworld and a particular sacred hillock (according to some sources, it is Glastonbury Tor, the possible site of Avalon itself).

In this narrative, Collen hears someone saying that Gwyn Ap Nudd is the King of Annwn. He declares that the Fae are devils, and that everyone who disagrees should shut up forever. The good King of Annwn sends a messenger, who demands that Collen come to Annwn. This goes on for three days.

And the third day behold the same messenger came, ordering Collen to go and speak with the king on the top of the hill at noon. “And if thou dost not go, Collen, thou wilt be the worst for it.”

Then Collen, being afraid, arose, and prepared some holy water, and put it in a flask at his side, and went to the top of the hill. And when he came there, he saw the fairest castle he had ever beheld, and around it the best appointed troops, and numbers of minstrels, and every kind of music of voice and string, and steeds with youths upon them the comeliest in the world, and maidens of elegant aspect, sprightly, light of foot, of graceful apparel, and in the bloom of youth and every magnificence becoming the court of a puissant sovereign. And he beheld a courteous man on the top of the castle, who bade him enter, saying that the king was waiting for him to come to meat.

And Collen went into the castle, and when he came there, the king was sitting in a golden chair. And he welcomed Collen honourably and desired him to eat, assuring him that, besides what he saw, he should have the most luxurious of every dainty and delicacy that the mind could desire, and should be supplied with every drink and liquor that his heart could wish; and that there should be in readiness for him every luxury of courtesy and service, of banquet and of honourable entertainment, of rank and of presents: and every respect and welcome due to a man of his wisdom.

“I will not eat the leaves of the trees,” said Collen.

“Didst thou ever see men of better equipment than those in red and blue?” asked the king.

“Their equipment is good enough,” said Collen, “for such equipment as it is.”

“What kind of equipment is that?” said the king.

Then said Collen, “The red on the one part signifies burning, and the blue on the other signifies coldness.”

And with that Collen drew out his flask, and threw the holy water on their heads, whereupon they vanished from his sight, so that there was neither castle, nor troops, nor men, nor maidens, nor music, nor song, nor steeds, nor youths, nor banquet, nor the appearance of any thing whatever, but the green hillocks.”

(From “Buchedd Collen” Source)

So, TL;DR: confronted with exceptional hospitality and the magic of the Otherworld, tangible to the senses, he was not persuaded that the beings he saw were something other than devils. Rather, he consecrated the hill and dispelled the magic that he saw as falsehood and blasphemy.

If Gwyn Ap Nudd had yelled, or threatened, or tried to make Collen physically suffer, or given him a disease, or even struck him with a spell of grievous misfortune, Collen’s faith in Christianity wouldn’t have been in danger. He would have simply said to himself, as he was dying, “Yes, the old gods are terrible and they hurt people. That is why we need Jesus. Soon, our armies will purge their presence from the Earth. And now, I go to my reward.”

Instead, Gwyn extended his hospitality, showing Collen the beauty and majesty of the old ways. And kindness is ever so much more dangerous, in these types of conflicts, isn’t it? If the gods are truly waging war at all, it is a war for the human heart. You don’t make someone fall in love with you by hurting them. You don’t befriend someone by punching them in the face.

It is a story which speaks to the power which humans have to consecrate the ground, and thereby to change its very metaphysical essence, inviting certain powers in, banishing others. The consecration, in this story, changed the rules, sending a god and his Otherwordly courtiers packing.

Now, maybe it’s not a literally true story. Maybe its just a legend that new Christians experiencing anxiety about abandoning the religion of the ancestors needed to hear —   that their new faith could protect them from the wrath of the old gods. Nonetheless, it speaks volumes about the Christian understanding of the power and purpose of their holy water, and what consecration with holy water had the power to do to the old Pagan religious sites.

Do we live on hollowed ground? Is that a problem?

 

Particularly, I think of where I live. Here, in California, there was a great deal of effort put into Christianizing Native Americans. A network of 21 missions were set up by Catholic priests, each a day’s ride on horseback from one another. From these outposts, Christians waged spiritual warfare on the local faith through baptism, slavery, and “education.”

Given the Christian habit of trying to dispel competing spiritual energies by sprinkling holy water, it would surprise me not at all to discover that parts of our land have been consecrated under the auspices of this particularly toxic flavor of Christianity. Perhaps, on some subtle level, this place is still at war. Perhaps there are reservoirs of magical energy which are being capped, like a volcano, by wards put in place by those priests.

Consecration sets the rules for a space. The Christian rules aren’t going to work for us, in a number of ways. Firstly, they are hostile to our gods. It’s not even that they don’t believe our gods exist. To them, our gods do exist, and they are evil. They are conflated with demonic influences which bring harm of various types, like illness and bad luck. More worryingly, they are hostile to our dead. After all, we know where people who don’t accept Jesus go when they die.

Protestant sects, by and large, aren’t bothering us any. They see the eucharist as symbolic, and often fill their baptismal font with ordinary tap water, if they have a baptismal font at all, and don’t opt for a natural body of water instead. For them, faith, not ritual tech, is the business end of their religion. In short, they are leaving the work of creating that bridge between Heaven and Earth, and the working of miracles to God. If you aren’t buying into their shtick, it can’t hurt you any.

Catholics and Episcopalians, on the other hand, if they know what they are doing, are magically potent. Unfortunately, many of them also believe that our magic and our gods are dangerous and evil influences.

Certainly, if you talk to spirit workers that live in the area, there are a lot of restless dead that can’t seem to find their way back home. Christian consecration means Christian rules, and we all know what those rules say about the dead who have not received Christ. Given that only 25% of people in Silicon Valley are Christian, and fewer than that number are actively engaged in their faith, the problem is going to get worse.

This issue might also connect to something which I have observed about California as compared to Massachusetts. It is harder to call down deities here, and when they arrive, they are far less palpable. The problem is less in places that I show up and khernips weekly,  and it is even less in my home, where I have several different kind of consecrations I trade out on a regular. But I have definitely been to devotionals where I couldn’t feel the gods at all.

And of course, when I mentioned it, I was told that I had too many shields — a canned answer which a lot of people around here get, apparently. But if I can get a psychometric read off of the people, the furniture, the land and the walls, why would I be too shielded to feel something big and obvious like a deity? And why would this stubborn shielding which I am unaware of putting up and can’t take down, which selectively eliminates only deities (who I went to a devotional to see, on purpose, and who I am actively trying to scan the room for), only be present in certain places in California? And I mean, my blog. The whole thing. Do I seem like someone who has trouble perceiving deities?

It’s not just me. And furthermore, it’s not the devotionals, either. Why would the exact same ritual techniques that work in Boston not work in San Fransisco?

I suspect the difference is that Massachusetts was settled by Puritan lay-folk and California was settled by Catholics led by priests, and that those priests were hell bent on destroying the traditional faith of the people they were colonizing. There are probably consecrations in place here that make the prospect of drawing the gods near more difficult than it needs to be, as a result of that effort.

What to do, then?

Khernips helps a lot, but it’s still not completely zeroing out the space. I’ve tried souping up my khernips with special extra blessings of the water and salt, and that helps even more, but it doesn’t quite cut deep enough. It’s like a room where something pungent has gotten into the carpet fibers. Vacuuming is not enough. The land needs a deeper cleaning before it can truly be hallowed again.

The reason it occurs TO ME is that the local spiritual energies seem to be giving me a lot of pushback on certain goals of mine. If I’m trying to bring about change in conformity with will, and the energies I am wielding are non-Christian, then I’m probably dealing with resistance which could be removed.

I want to do the exact reverse of what Saint Collen did. I want to bring back THAT kind of magic. But in order to do that, I’m going to have to understand the mechanics of how it was done.

I’m going to go make a careful study of some Catholic ritual, and come back to this problem with some Psychic Ka-Boom.

31 comments

  1. celestinenox

    Okay, I absolutely promise that I got more out of reading this than this, but: GASP! You live in Massachusetts??? I’m hoping to move there some time this year, before summer. Because I’m hoping to transfer to Salem State University. 😀 😀 😀

    • Thenea

      I do not live in MA. I live in CA, but I lived in MA for years and visit frequently. I do have lot of friends in MA, and some are even in the Salem area. So, depending on what you are looking to do, I might be able to hook you up with some really awesome practitioners.

      • celestinenox

        Oh, I just managed to confuse myself. Looking back over it, it’s clear where you’re talking about when.

        I’ll be pursuing a Master’s degree and probably having to work at least two jobs just to be able to make rent–so the honest truth is that I probably won’t be focused too much on practice beyond what I already have made part of my schedule. 😦

    • dunkelza

      Having recently moved from Massachusetts, there are some very awesome esoteric folks, entities, and places in New England. However, Massachusetts (and all of that part of the country) do have some issues. I’d be especially careful around Quabbin Reservoir and Freetown State Park, for instance. Lake Champlain in Vermont, on the other hand is worth the visit on account of its shaper, who seems to keep a firm hand on His creation.

  2. mirron91

    I live in California too, which makes this especially relevant to hear. It also makes me feel a bit better, and makes me wonder if what you theorize is why I have difficulty connecting at times. I do find it interesting that Pantheacon is held here though.

    • Thenea

      Yeah, Pantheacon is better than most places because of several factors. It’s at the crossroads, there are thousands of people doing whatever their tradition does to purify and consecrate, and persistent rituals for an entire weekend.

      It’s a hypothesis. It makes sense to me. I’m going to create a ritual thing, and if it helps, we’ll have more evidence to support that hypothesis. *shrug* It’s important to attack the problem from many different angles.

      • mirron91

        I think it makes a ton of sense. I mean, basically it’s just… magical residue. And this residue is inherently opposed to anything that isn’t the same as it. Maybe you could work with some occult traditions and you’ll be fine, but as far as Pagan traditions? Yeah, Christian rituals aren’t going to be approving of what we do. I’m interested in hearing how this goes, but I kind of expect it to be a very difficult thing to work out.

  3. Faemon

    This is interesting to me because my birth religion is Catholicism, but my family converted to a Pentecostal(? Evangelical? The people at the new hub simply called themselves Christian,) because Catholic masses and rosary months became empty rituals to them. I more recently got to sit in a religious studies lecture where the professor’s favorite people-study to bring up were these local healing and protection amulets—that the church had officially disapproved of as superstitious, but the tradition had come to be that the thing only starts to work after it’s been blessed by a Catholic priest. So there’s all this accompanying advice on how to “steal” a blessing, when the amulet-makers sell it.

    The metaphysical implications of the way different belief systems interact can get really weird.

    • Thenea

      Khernips is a kind of banishing. But I’m trained in the Golden Dawn system, and several other traditions that have their various banishing rituals. No, they did not help. I think I need something aimed at literally undoing, point by point, the sort of consecrations the 1800’s Catholic Missionaries might have done.

  4. Keen

    As a born and bred Angelino, I agree that something like this is up around here. I can get no “signal” in the cities, ie places that are near missions and the older thoroughfares. If I go up into the hills, though, or the desert, I suddenly Feel Things much, much easier. The nooks and crannies of the San Gabriel mountains are absolutely -teeming- with spirits, I’ve found. So they’re here, just… exiled.

  5. inannagram

    Thanks so much for this. It all makes great sense and gives me lots to think about.

    I also wonder whether this has anything to do with why I accidentally ended up where I did when I returned to California after a decade away. We meant to land in SF but after what was supposed to be a short stay in West Sonoma County couldn’t be torn away. I feel nothing from the land, the spirits, just a a few miles to the south or the east…both in the directions of the nearest missions. I can’t believe it never crossed my mind before.

    Now that we’re on the verge of maybe heading to NY again, I’ve been very worried about my ability to connect with one of my gods in particular because so much of the magic we’ve done is tied to a particular beach, to the Pacific. I’ve gotten plenty of assurance that it’s ok, but after reading this I’m now kind of excited to test your hypothesis.

  6. darkmagnificat

    I was raised in a Christian family, but they were Welsh, and there is often a touch of the pagan in many Welsh people. Where I was born, in Oxfordshire, UK, the land teemed with tumuli, the Uffington White Horse galloped across the Downs a couple of miles away, the ancient Ridgeway track cresting the skyline.

    I used to wander alone all the time as a child, and felt that the land was ‘alive’ with genius loki, with ghosts, spirits, old gods, even what I called Elves, then, I suppose. It seemed perfectly natural.

    But when I first went to Wales, at a young age, they were even closer, more real and more pressing upon the senses. And I still feel that today, and often in so-called Christian places that have a very long history. I always have a feeling Christianity and ‘other’ gods coexist quite easily in Wales. And some places, such as the area around Nevern in Pembrokeshire, where I swear we were ‘Pixie lead’ as they say in Cornwall, are completely otherwordly. (Glastonbury still is under all the hype).

  7. Beth Wodandis

    Catholic missionaries were more active on the west coast in general than they were back east. I live in Oregon and while the problem is probably not as severe here, I did notice a difference upon moving here from the east coast ten years or so ago. So I’m very excited to see what you come up with!

  8. Jules Morrison

    I have a feeling the land spirits all over the USA are pretty sore at colonists in general, spirits that have been whomped with magic even more so. Modern day pagans not exempted. I’m reminded of the way that Native Americans fighting the DAPL pipeline at Standing Rock were annoyed at some pagans who had joined their prayer camp and just set up an altar to a completely different religion without asking. Could be that the carpet you can’t get clean doesn’t regard Greece any better than it does Judea?

    • Thenea

      I don’t think it boils down to the spirits being angry. I think it boils down to Christian magic suppressing the innate magic of the land.

      For example, I do not notice the same resistance when I’m doing Kabbalah or GD stuff. It seems to be specifically a binding done on things outside the monotheist paradigm.

    • Thenea

      But, you know. Hypothesis driven research. If I create a ritual specifically aimed at removing hostile christian consecrations, and it works, but doesn’t solve the problem, then your hypothesis is likely to be correct.

    • Thenea

      Your hypothesis, however, doesn’t explain why there ISN’T a problem in MA, where, arguably, Native Americans were not treated any better.

  9. celestinenox

    Okay I’m back with more substantial things to say. Also, a question: what is/are khernip(s)?

    I currently live in North Louisiana, and I’ve noticed some weirdness here, too. I don’t know if it’s related to what you’re talking about, but it could be. We are very disconnected here, Pagans and non-Pagans. Groups may form, but they will be small groups, and they will also be very insulated from everyone and everything outside of themselves. Getting people to work together here is like pulling teeth. I once described it as a spiritual black hole, and someone else described it as just being a series of very isolated bubbles. No one steps outside those bubbles, no one tries to merge bubbles, even temporarily to achieve a common goal, and very rarely does anyone even talk to anyone else outside their bubble.

    It’s very… weird and off-putting and frustrating and kind of alarming. But it IS Louisiana. North Louisiana at that–we’re in that strange sort of limbo place where we have something of an identity as Louisianians, but we don’t have the same kind of cohesive cultural identity as people in more southern parts of Louisiana, especially New Orleans, do. Our culture is not the same as N.O. culture, and I’m not even sure we have one.

    Hmm. This came out more like a comment about regional identity than about magical and spiritual influences on the land. But I do wonder how much of this could be connected to the latter. I don’t know much about the history of my region–I do know there were Native tribes in the area that have been displaced (an older cousin and I have both been attempting, without success, to track an ancestor of ours, but we have no way of knowing what tribe she was; there’s a very good chance she was Caddo, but there’s no way to know for certain since she took a white name when she married, and the marriage license is as far back as documentation goes for her). I know Louisiana spent a bit of time under Spanish control in between French ownership, before the Louisiana Purchase. But I don’t know how much of Spanish or French Christian history here would have involved the kinds of Christian rituals to excise “heathen devils” would have occurred. It’s an avenue of research to pursue in all my spare time in between work for grad school (hahahah).

  10. polyphanes

    I’m sure you’ve heard of the joke where someone asks, since holy water is just water and salt, whether it’s possible for a priest to bless the entire ocean. One of my colleagues actually asked a priest about that, and it turns out that, yes, it is possible for the priest to bless the entire ocean as holy water, but that runs into the problem of people desecrating the water by swimming, urinating, defecating, polluting, etc. in it.

    This gives me an idea. If you’re concerned with Catholic holy water being used on the land as the primary agent of why magic is less effective where you are, consider this course of action: for some time, fast, cook with and drink water only from a non-Californian source (especially something like a sacred spring from somewhere, or get bottled water from elsewhere and consecrate it to “spiritual fertilization”), and piss on your land. Mark it not only your territory, but the product of sacred energies running through you and returning to nature.

    Another idea: instead of undoing the work, open up holes in their work from within their own system. Sometimes, it’s best to fight fire with fire (or water with water, in this case); though you’re not Christian, the angels as called upon by Christianity are totally amenable to being worked with no matter who or what you are (I speak from personal experience). Michael would probably be a poor choice, but I might recommend instead Gabriel, Raphael, or Sealtiel/Selaphiel to poke holes in the barriers that have been set up to return the land to itself. It’ll be a slower process, but getting license from within the system that outright forbade it can be a massive loophole that wouldn’t have been foreseen otherwise. I also recall how this worked well for, say, Cuba, where they were massively taken over by Catholicism, and yet it’s a land still full of magic and gods and spirits; consider how the orisha worked/work through the saints to get their work done, again operating from within the same system that would see them kicked out!

    • polyphanes

      Also, speaking of Cuba, that brings up a good question. Consider that Cuba was colonized by Catholic Spaniards, and in the intervening time from when Massachusetts was colonized by the Puritans, there have been massive Catholic surges there. And, yet, both Massachusetts and Cuba are ripe and fertile places for magic and spirits. Also consider how much old witchcraft and “black magic” (I’m thinking of books in the line of El Gran Libro de San Cipriano or other such black books) drew power right upon churches and churchyards, despite it being truly antithetical to Christianity and Christian spirits.

      Based on these examples, it can be said that just because a place has strong Catholic presence doesn’t necessarily rule out other spirits or religions being practiced there. Are there other explanations for California not being a great place for ritual? There could be reasons completely apart from Catholic influence. After all, if people seek out places of power to build temples or shrines, then it stands to reason that there are also places of weakness that are to be avoided for building temples or shrines.

      • Thenea

        I dunno. Geographical features have been suggested as a reason, but I am going to try to operate on what I can potentially influence.

        There is also a theory going around that “banality” or the native disbelief in magic and the supernatural is a factor which can make magic difficult to practice.

        It is also possible that it has to do with local area consensus. Maybe what needs to happen is more active work with the collective unconscious mind, or zeitgeist, of the area where one wants to work.

        Mountains or high ground tend to be considered sacred in a lot of the traditions I have studied. Most of the cities are in a valley. So there is that, too.

        But I keep coming back to how well Jewish and Christian magic work in this area. It’s not devoid of magic. Anything running on the Abrahamic OS (Including Santeria), seems to work just fine. But isn’t that a bit weird?

      • polyphanes

        As an initiate in Santeria, I wouldn’t say that it runs on the Abrahamic OS. The saints have only ever been really used as masks, and since there’s less and less need for secrecy in that way, you see the saints less and less, with the orisha themselves taking on their own names and forms without much. If anything, it’s peppered with Abrahamic seasoning, but it’s just that, seasoning. An argument can be made that it’s another distribution of some more fundamental OS, like how Ubuntu and Mint are both distros of Debian, but this is probably neither the place nor the time for such a discussion. 😛

        So Jewish and Christian magic work fine in your area, but Hellenic stuff doesn’t seem to as much? Interesting, indeed! I know that on the East Coast, especially in DC where I work, there’s lots to tie the Hellenic and Roman gods to the place here with the echoes of their own architecture, even their own relics and statues and recreations present. I’ve also done work setting up hermai in my own neighborhood and on my own land. Have you experimented by setting up hermai or stapling images of Hermes to telephone poles found at intersections near your home, and seeing how that influences your work? Alternatively, have you tried doing something covert but minor at a museum that houses relics and items that tie directly to the ancient Mediterranean, and seeing what kind of oomph you get?

        It could be a combination of things as you’ve noted. Hypothetically speaking, consider the case where you’re in a place where (a) it was a naturally spiritually barren place to begin with (b) people in the area historically have not put much faith or belief in magic, and continue to do so (c) Christian influence is the only influence that has historically nurtured an environment capable of spiritual work. If so, then that means that Christian oomph would literally be the only “natural reserve” oomph to work with in the area, not that it’s native to the area but it’s been transplanted there and cultivated, as wine grapes have to Napa or dingoes to Australia. In such a case, you’d either need to start transplanting and cultivating your own oomph, or draw on Christian oomph and twist it to your own ends. If it is the case that Christianity is the only oomph where you live, which would be unfortunate, then I’d actually not want to do the “undoing” of its placement, which would then leave the land where you live truly barren. I’d probably cross-pollinate it and plant other spiritual seeds alongside what’s already there (itself, hilariously, a thing that is banned in Deuteronomy!), using it to get a leg up rather than having to start all over with fields potentially too drained to be fertile for bootstrapping new oomph. Then again, that’s all rather hypothetical.

      • Thenea

        Thanks for weighing in as an initiate. That’s good to know.

        Yeah, Christian magic, Jewish magic and Santeria seem to do quite well here. I’m just wracking my brain trying to figure out what they all have in common. Then again, I think it might take a Santero flying all over the place to truly say that the tradition works equally here in comparison to other places. But my suspicion is that, if I went to another place with a similar Spanish Catholic Missionary type history, I’d find a similar dynamic.

        Your hypothesis about cultivating seeds is fascinating.

        If this hypothesis is correct, then what I’ve been observing about khernips is merely tapping into the Hellenic egregore, and spreading it’s “oomph” (stored, generally, in the ether, or the astral, rather than in the land), only to have that sucked up and devoured by an overly dry environment.

        But I have a really hard time believing that this place had no magic of its own. It has people, after all, and those people have a faith. Although if they truly left no trace of themselves in the land, then that’s an opportunity.

        It’s really hard to create a vacuum. Even the plans I’m drawing up for freeing the land from any potential binding rely upon a divinity or three.

        Christians can plant their oomph in foreign places that they have no prior connection to. I think it is potentially because they draw power from Heaven, from faith, and from other non-land, non-tangible sources.

        There are so many confounding factors. I’m going to do my best to understand what is going on here, but at the end of the day, I’m looking for a solution to a problem. So, if it gets fixed, and I’m still not sure why, I'[ll be ok with with that.

      • polyphanes

        From what I’ve heard, Santeria works as well in Cuba as it does in Miami, New York, DC, and the West Coast. Consider, though, that portability is inherently built into it: it was brought over and put together, through lots of trial and error over the course of generations, in a way that made it “pick up and go” as a course of necessity. It is, after all, a slave religion, and though it’s mostly Yoruba, it also incorporates indigenous Taino beliefs as well as Christian flavor. That’s part of what made it so hardy a religion, and even though it’s very nature-oriented, it expands itself inherently to account for local variation.

        Come to think of it, Hellenic religion is also extraordinarily portable: consider that the Greeks colonized much of the ancient Mediterranean, from Spain to India, and likewise wasn’t tied down to any one area (though it had its own major focal points of worship in Greece proper, as the Abrahamic ones have theirs in Israel and Santeria in Nigeria). It also expanded and incorporated indigenous beliefs wherever it went, one of the reasons why so many people saw their gods in the theoi and why the Greeks saw the theoi in local gods, sometimes overlapping, sometimes conquering. So, there’s no reason why Hellenic religion can’t likewise spread wherever it goes, though it might take time. It’d be interesting to see where Hellenic religion wasn’t successful or lasting to offer parallels to what you’re experiencing, but given the paucity of records from such areas in those times, I’m not sure it can be seen where that might be the case.

        One of the reasons, I think, that Hellenic religion (and, afterwards, Roman religion) could be as widespread as it was (ignoring the more obvious reasons of conquest and diplomacy and colonization) was that it could accommodate local variations or overlaps within different regions. It’s totally within tradition, then, to see what local culture heroes, saints, or nature gods overlap and simply take over, by giving them your names but retaining their old characteristics (or at least some of them). Likewise, since Hellenic religion wasn’t separated from mundane life, it might also be helpful to build up naturally-resonant areas where you might find some of the same gods or spirits. For instance, I work in the old Postal Square Building, which now maintains the Smithsonian Postal Museum, which I effectively find a temple of Hermes (it even has caducei on it!), and if I need to, I’ll do ritual right in my office building when I can get enough privacy for it.

        Likewise, there’s no reason why you can’t draw the theoi right into the land from the heavens and hells themselves, just as we propose Christians do. There doesn’t have to be an explicit home to draw from, besides mythical Olympus. But, by the same token, there’s another thing that’s critically important: the passage and transference of power. Catholics have their apostolic succession, and Santeros have their lineage of passing aché from godparent to godchild, and even the Greeks had their formal initiations by means of rites of passage and other rituals like lighting one’s hearth from the hearth of Hestia in a given town, which itself was lit from its own parent city. Instead of building things afresh, it might be better to claim some sort of lineage from where you were to where you are: grave dirt, dirt from Olympus or Athens or Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, or even dirt/stones from where you were living back in MA where you got such better results.

    • Thenea

      I think this is also what happened in the British Isles. Another commenter said something about the old traditions getting along well with modern British Christianity. This was likely a long. slow process, starting with their split from the Catholic Church (and the church consequently no longer recognizing them, in turn), continuing with the British Romantic period (See also Lord Byron, John Keats and the Golden Dawn), and perhaps culminating in the birth of Wicca.

      Cuba’s situation has many commonalities with where I’m living. It was settled by the same flavor of Catholic Spanish conquerors. There was a First Nation there, and they, along with a large number of people from Africa, were enslaved there.

      Now, the Orisha are not native to Cuba, but are an African import, which were nonetheless influences of choice to mix into the Catholicism. (Similar, I guess, to the way it happened in Puerto Rico).

      Here, there is also a strong contingent of people practicing African Diasporic faiths. The Orisha do seen to be old hat at mulling their way through the Christian firewall at this point.

      Unfortunately, I don’t particularly care for the manifestations of European gods as they appear in those spaces.

  11. dunkelza

    This is a very interesting hypothesis and might explain some thing here in Texas. Ever since moving, I’ve noticed that it’s much harder to connect, even just to ground, than in New England. For a long time, I figured it was indifference, the land being so much more open and wild here… and in many ways much cleaner. This, however, offers an interesting alternate explanation.

    My guess is that the Catholic consecrations were done on a very regular basis (like daily for years) using a particular liturgy and technology- one that may even have its roots in Roman (or even Hellenic) practice as adapted by converts in the wake of Constantine.

    As such, it’s possible we need to deconstruct the Catholic consecration ritual and reassemble it and/or adapt the one intended for deconsecration of churches.

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