Southern Hemisphere – Australia – Far North Queensland
Before I go on to tell you about Modern Heathenry in Australia’s Far North Queensland, I need to discuss with you about what I see as Modern Heathenry.
Modern heathenry in the 21st century will not and never can be like heathenry in the 7th, 8th or 9th centuries. To try to recreate it is illogical, in my eyes, and totally an unnecessary waste of time. Did Odin not wander so as to learn and grow? Did our ancestors not forge through the years learning new technologies to improve life? I see heathenry as an ever growing, ever changing, spirituality. If our ancestors were not able to change & grow with the times they would not have been so successful in trading or merging and assimilating with other tribes e.g. Irish, Scots, Rús etc.
Forget about the Christianised books that tell you how to heathen! Our ancestors didn’t listen or in fact read them! Deep down, when you meditate or just sit in quiet contemplation you will be taught how to heathen. Modernity is an inevitable constant in our lives and so we should embrace it.
I can just imagine it now, Thor’s Instagram filled with pictures of Mjolnir, Freya’s YouTube vlogs on how to achieve next seasons look, Nanna’s Etsy store for Oracle & Tarot readings, Loki’s latest book on Amazon on ‘How to Raise Unique Children’, Frigga’s ‘Cooking with Frigga’ T.V. show right after Ullr & Skadi’s ‘Wipeout’ and don’t forget Odin’s latest Periscope from his current world tour.
Go on, it may sound absurd but I bet you had a good laugh imagining it all. But is it really so hard to accept that you too could see the Gods in the same light? Living in the Now! So we should be doing it too, living in the present not the past. Utilise what the present has to offer and look forward to what the future has without being stuck in the past.
I know most people would have been expecting some sort of academic piece on Modern Heathenry, but let’s face it, there are already a multitude of articles on the subject, you just have to go to academia.com to find them. I wanted people to see how I view modern heathenry from a personal perspective.
Now on to the locality issues of being a Modern Heathen in Australia’s Far North Queensland. Australia is huge, I mean really, really big. Think North America without Canada or Alaska. Think the entire continent of Europe. Oh and we have some little neighbours off to the side that you would be familiar with too and no I’m not talking about the Hobbits… just because LOTR was filmed there does not mean there are actual Hobbits running around… It’s New Zealand.
Well about 2/3 of Australia is uninhabitable, 2/3 of the country is desert and it’s really hot and dusty out there… You can literally fry an egg on your bonnet (car hood), so hot that one desert town actually resides underground… Yes, underground (Coober Pedy)!
Ok so where do I live in the scheme of all things? Currently I live in the Far North of the country (I am relocating to a southern region in the new year for personal reasons.
Just to get an idea here is a picture of Texas compared to the state I currently live in…
Yeah, Texas isn’t so big anymore…
Australia has a very wide spread community and Heathens are not always close by. My closest fellow Heathen is 326km (202 miles) away unfortunately, so I only converse with this person via Facebook. The closest Universalist Heathen is well and truly over 1000km (620 miles) away.
Distances make it hard so most Australian Heathens are solitary or are members of their local Pagan Community groups. This is still not the same as having a group of heathens to bounce ideas and discussion off of. But at least it is community that we can engage with and most Pagan groups are all too happy to share their Celtic holidays with us or to learn more from us and most are inclusive.
Another part of the struggles of being in the Southern Hemisphere is the fact that our holidays are the opposite to most of yours. We are just coming up on Walpurgisnacht (May Day) whilst most of you will have just had Winter Finding or will be preparing for the Celtic Samhain. This in itself gets confusing, especially for those new to the path.
Another aspect that I find difficult living where I do,
is the seasonal changes. Where I live there really is only two seasons, the Wet Season (Nov – Apr) and the Dry Season (May – Oct). There is no real Autumn or Winter here. Our Summers are wet and humid and our Winters are dry and warm (not cold). So feeling the change is difficult in the tropical climate. Yule is a date on the calendar not a feeling of change in the season nor is it the autumnal colour changes that come with Winter’s Night.
So as you can see living ‘Down Under’ may seem great but it is hard work when we grew up with the tradition Gregorian Calendar dates that came with our Northern Hemisphere migrating ancestors 200-250 years ago.
I am a solitary heathen living in the far north tropics of Queensland Australia (for a few more months yet) in the Southern Hemisphere on the continent just above Antarctica.
So to all my crazies this is your SouthernCrossHeathen signing off…
Your tribe is not a group of people just like you, it is a group of people that compliment each other, a group of people whose strengths & weaknesses differ so much from each other, that together, you become one.
As I have mentioned in previous posts I am a co-admin for my local Pagan community group and with that I have helped create some generalised information and ritual documents to help out those that may not be experienced or who may just need a little help with ideas on creating their own.
I have been given permission to share these mini essays. I have found in helping create these little essays that I am also learning some valuable information that I would not normally have learnt had I not been given the role of co-admin. For that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to grow within myself and, like Odin, to gain knowledge from others.
“Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire” ~ Metallica
May Day? But it’s October you say. May Day comes from the celebration being held on 1st May in the Northern Hemisphere. There are some in the Southern Hemisphere that refer to the celebration as November Day.
You may have seen all the references and pretties on the internet for Samhain/Halloween and that is because in the northern hemisphere they are in Autumn. Beltane is a Spring festival. November is the final month of spring and summer is creeping around the corner, although here in the tropics, we have already begun feeling the humidity rise (or was that just the heat from our recent Supermoon in Aries). The days now will become more humid, the summer rains are nearly upon us, in the southern states daylight savings has commenced as has the dry and dusty heat.
Although the seasons are mirrored to those in the north, Beltane is still a highly charged, spiritual event. The veil thins just as it does during Samhain with some saying that the thinning is even more prominent at this time. This will be totally up to you whether you feel one is more spiritual than the other.
Winter has definitely left us by now and we have new life all around us. Ostara brought with her the new buds and Beltane brings the lush full foliage of nature. Where Samhain is focused around letting go of the past, death & crossing over, Beltane is about life, love, living & rebirth. Siebog & Ziva (Slavic) are often honoured at this time during Handfasting festivals. Handfasting is very popular this time of year as love & marriage are in the air, the Gods & Goddesses are doing it so why don’t we. It is said that babies born from a Beltane union hold very special powers. Although some prefer to keep May Day exclusively for the handfasting of the God & Goddess only, seeing it as a sacred act reserved for the sacred unions of Kings & Queens.
Beltane translates to ‘bright fire’ and fire is used not just as a celebration tool but as a sacred element in the May Day ritual. Fire was honoured for its part in the survival of the darkest period of the year. Sorry for those that thought Aries leaving was going to cool things down again. Baelfires were lit with a wide walkway between them and cattle were herded through to cleanse them and bring good fortune for the coming seasons.
Jumping the fire (a small one obviously) is another one of the many ritual activities preformed during the festivities, as is CONSENSUAL sex. Come on, love, marriage than consummating the marriage with sex. Although plain simple courtship was also another celebrated rite of passage for those too young to marry.
Walpurgisnacht (German), Hexxennacht (Dutch) can be translated to Witch’s Night and was a celebration held atop a high mountain in Germany. May Day is celebrated in a variety of countries, all with their own history behind the day (northern hemisphere).
The Warrior God, in his masculine form has now reached his sexual peak and is ready to become the father and spread his fertility across the lands. The Goddess is now entering her Mother phase and together they spend this time frolicking happily until the seed is planted. When two become one.
List of just some of the fertility/love Gods:
Freyr, Odin, Cernunnos, Siebog, Heryshaf, Min, Aramazd, Ba’al, Fufluns, Äkräs, Aphroditus, Dionysus, Eros, Phanes, Priapus (the Greeks apparently couldn’t get enough of the fertility gods), Phallic Saints, Lono, Chandra, Wollunqua, Gedi, Innus.
List of just some of the fertility/love Goddesses:
I also came across a few Roman deities whose sole act is to consummate the marriage between the bride and groom.
Prema, goddess who holds the bride down on the bed
Subigus, the god who subdues the bride to the husband’s will
Pertuda, goddess who enables penetration
Domidicus, the god who leads the bride home
Domitius, the god who installs the bride
Jugatinus, the god who joins the pair in marriage
Virginiensis, the goddess who unties the girdle of the bride
Manturna, the goddess who kept the bride at home.
Ok, enough of the name dropping. May Poles are a symbol of the Gods manhood and the flowers represent the Goddess. Apple and pear blossoms make great circlets for the young women to adorn their heads. Flowers from the Hawthorn bush were hung about doorways and windows to ward off evil for the season.
Many Pagans, in ancient times, left votive offerings at pools, wells, fountains and springs. Commune with the spirit that resides in the water, leave a coin or flower in exchange for some water. You could also say something like:
“With grateful thanks I leave this gift;
For the Guardian of the Well (or spring etc),
For the water I have taken,
May it aid me in my sacred rite.”
N.B: I am sorry, but I found this a while ago and have no idea where, so I am unable to give credit to the author.
Here, November is a month to enjoy blossoms, they are in abundance (my streets are lined with yellow wattle blossoms right now). Escape to the cool rainforests that surround us and look out for some landwights, brownies or faeries. Dance at every chance you can and celebrate the new life that is around you. Live, love and immerse yourself in the now. Remember that you will probably still feel the energy from the previous full moon in Aries and we have another supermoon in November. Recharge as often as you can. Spend time at a local creek, or at the beach, ground yourself in preparation for the coming months.
* Beltane is a Fire Festival and we live in Australia at a period when bushfires can occur. Please be responsible in any fire use.
* Remember that you are the Priestess/Priest/Gothi/Gythia of your own rituals. You create them how YOU feel they should go. There is no right or wrong way to follow YOUR path, only what feels right or not-so-right. It is fun to gather together with a few other like-minded souls and recreate the tradition of the God & Goddess, but never do anything that you feel uncomfortable with. Remember that it must always be CONSENSUAL and if you do engage in consensual sex, make sure you practice safe sex.
This will be my final write-up for the Pagan Spiral as I am relocating to Victoria in early January and will be unable to get Litha out for you. Over the last 6 months, the admins, have ensured that each piece that we wrote contained as many references as possible, even some that we did not end up using. I suggest that you go through the lists and research for your own history and ritual for Litha. Your path is all about you growing and learning, so please do not hold yourself back.
Many blessings and much prosperity for the coming season.