Heathen Chinese writes the TWH monthly column, "Tiger's Leap." He is the son of Chinese immigrants and is a diasporic Chinese polytheist living in the San Francisco Bay Area (stolen Ohlone land). He practices ancestor veneration and worships (among others) the warrior god Guan Di, who has had a presence in California since the mid-1800s.
The fourth century C.E. Neoplatonist Sallustius, a friend of the Roman Emperor Julian (who revoked Christianity’s status as state religion and attempted to revive polytheist worship), wrote in On the Gods and the Cosmos that the myths told in religious initiations “never happened, but always are,” and that “as the myth is in accord with the cosmos, we for that reason keep a festival imitating the cosmos, for how could we attain higher order?” (section 4) Sallustius wrote that myths which mix both psychic and material interpretations particularly “suit religious initiations, since every initiation aims at uniting us with the world and the gods.” As an example of a “mixed” psychic and material myth, he cites the story of Kybele and Attis, putting forth the interpretation that Kybele “is the principle that generates life,” that Attis “is the creator of all things which are born and die,” and that “the creator who makes these things casts away his generative powers into the creation and is joined to the gods again.” Kybele’s priests, the Galli or Gallai (the latter term, of feminine linguistic gender, found in a fragment of Callimachus), were known for re-enacting Attis’ self-castration in their own ecstatic rituals. There is also a cave in at Hierapolis in Phrygia, of which Daniel Ogden writes in Greek and Roman Necromancy: “The …
“6-3-6: The concept of politics has then become completely absorbed into a war of spirits.” —Nietzschemanteion
Or as Diane di Prima wrote, “the war that matters is the war against the imagination/all other wars are subsumed in it.” The enemy is despair, but secular ideologies of progress will never be enough to keep the enemy at bay. It takes a certain kind of sympathetic magic to counter despair. The seeds of what one is fighting for must be contained in one’s actions. If you want to live in a world where the relationships between the gods, the ancestors, the land and human beings are in harmony, then you have to put effort into strengthening and balancing those relationships right now.
The Tao of Craft: Fu Talismans and Casting Sigils in the Eastern Esoteric Tradition by Benebell Wen. Published by North Atlantic Books (600 pages)
The Tao of Craft, by Benebell Wen (also author of Holistic Tarot), is an English-language practitioner’s guide to Chinese 符 (fú). 符 is usually translated as “talisman,” but Wen chooses to use the word “sigil,” which more specifically captures the use of written texts and glyphs and symbols, the ritual charging of such designs, and their relationship to both spirit-work and directly achieving desired practical results. Wen also chooses to use the term “craft” rather than “magic.” The lines between “magic” and “religion” have always been blurry, and while she acknowledges that the vast web of traditions comprising Daoism is often religious, Wen argues that the metaphysical principles underlying the Fú techniques themselves can work from a variety of religious frameworks.
In 1940, Walter Benjamin wrote, “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ’emergency situation’ in which we live is the rule. We must arrive at a concept of history which corresponds to this. Then it will become clear that the task before us is the introduction of a real state of emergency; and our position in the struggle against Fascism will thereby improve.” (thesis 8) It’s a good thing that Pagans and Polytheists have been talking about strengthening their communities and developing defense and solidarity networks, but black and brown people in America have long been living in an “emergency situation.” Obama has deported over 2.5 million undocumented immigrants while in office.