The Nature of the Powers

“Do you view the Powers of Waincraft as distinct beings, or simply as “ideas” or archetypes. For example, is the Lord of the Green literally a god sovereign over growing things, or is he just the personification of growings things?”

Short answer is both.

Literally, the Lord of the Green is the Power of life in all its forms, but most particularly cyclical life, of which vegetation is the most abundant. Symbolically, he personifies the cycle of life that grows and falls and rises again.

The Powers of Waincraft are fully immanent and integrated with the physical realm. Thus they are both spiritual beings that control and direct natural and cultural forces, and the impetus behind and manifestation of those very natural and cultural forces. Orthopsychy applies to all of existence, the Powers included.

A true archetype can exist in its own distinction as well as echo itself in other distinct beings. There is nothing simple about either an idea or an archetype – they are both powerful, complex, and utterly fascinating creatures.

Is a Mother not a distinct being from all other Mothers, while still sharing an essential commonality that differs only in its particulars? A Teacher can teach history or common sense or magic, and the style of that teaching can and will differ depending on subject and personality, but they are still a Teacher.

It is a poor tribute to Jung that one of his finest achievements has been so twisted by pop psychology as to completely change its meaning.

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Local Orthopsychy and Manifestation of the Powers

In the summer of 2013 I blogged some about Waincraft as I understood it and one thing I wrote about was bioregion and orthopsychy in relation to the Powers. For example, in the desert, The Lord of the Green might be seen as a little more harsh than in New England. The Lady of the Forest would possibly be the Lady of the Desert. Would this be a proper assumption to make?”

Yes, exactly. Some of the Powers are unlikely to be vastly different across different bioregions (such as Night, which is pretty equal across the board), but ones tied to forces that specifically differ between biomes will definitely manifest differently.

The Lord of the Green in the desert would likely be a harsh, dry-witted, prickly, eminently practical and thrifty personality (though given to occasional exuberant displays of fierce joy and wonder), whereas a rainforest Lord of the Green would be lush and potentially overwhelming in his exuberance and largesse. A wood and fields-land Lord of the Green would likely be very similar to most European manifestations of him, regardless of what continent his worshipers inhabit.

I would probably say that there would be no Maiden of the Woods in a desert, savannah or similarly low-tree or treeless biome. Likely, another predatory and protecting Power (such as your Lady of the Desert) would make itself known, perhaps in the form of a lioness as an example (such as in Egypt, which has few trees and without forests, and gave us several protecting lionesses – Bast, Sekhmet, Mehit and Pakhet).

Thoughts on Orthopsychy

“Could you share your thoughts/opinions on the concept of “UPG,” and especially how it relates to orthopsychy? Do you see these ideas as similar, overlapping, very different?”

Let’s start with some definitions, since clear communication is always important.

I personally define UPG as unverifiable personal gnosis. To me, UPG is that you know or have experienced that is simply not verifiable by its very nature. I consider it similar (perhaps even synonymous) to one of the religious concepts of Mystery – those things we know or see or experience that are virtually or completely ineffable in human words and to human reasoning. I am well aware that this definition of UPG is vastly different from the several standard ones, but you asked my opinions, and these are them.

To define orthopsychy is a bit harder. It’s a term that doesn’t exist in any dictionary, or in any common religious parlance (though it should and I very strongly advocate for it becoming so). The literal definition is “right-spirited”, “right-souled”, or “right-lived”, and I use it in a couple of ways. The first is to describe the concept of the great pattern of existence, where everything is interconnected and every being, human or not, living or not, animate or not, has a unique and vital place in that pattern. This is similar, though a little different*, from what PIE religion terms Xártus.

The second is to describe what that place actually is, what some (such as Plotkin) have termed a person’s “soul-image” – an image or story or idea or symbol that fully encapsulates and defines each individual’s concept of wholeness, of connection, of being fully integrated into the wider cosmos, of their unique gifts that they have to bring to others. Mine is the image of Raven spinning tales in a twilight glen. Someone else might be a woman singing the true songs of her soul, or a serpent with iridescent scales remaking the world, or any other of the innumerable soul-images that make up the pattern from beginning to end.

These could be classified as “unified orthopsychy” and “individual orthopsychy,” or outer and inner, or however you want to call it.

There is a third type of orthopsychy, and that is “local” or “communal” orthopsychy. Given Waincraft’s intense focus on bioregional animism and diversity, this local orthopsychy serves as an intermediary between the other two forms, shaping each person’s experiences, metaphors, images and gnoses with the patterns that are unique to each geographic bioregion. Thus, at the level of local orthopsychy, the greater pattern takes on the attributes, flavor, history, etc. of the local landscape and ecosystems. This is the level at which experiences begin to differ between practitioners, and the Powers take on the attributes and personalities that a hard polytheist would define as individual distinct beings.

Now, to answer the question – How do I think UPG relates to orthopsychy?

My definition of UPG is fairly similar to both the first and second types of orthopsychy, in that it is extremely symbolic and relevant to the greater pattern as well as the individual person.

The standard definition would probably fall between the second and third kinds, in that it is knowledge gained by an individual that is not shared by others’ experiences. The reasons for that can be because it is only relevant to that person’s soul and needs, or because the nature of their local landscape is necessarily different from that of someone living in a different biome, and thus their experiences and gnoses will also necessarily differ, because they’re using different symbol sets.

For the end, though, I think UPG as a term is only as useful as an agreed upon qualifier that is used by someone to classify their own paradigms. I am firmly against the practice of labeling someone else’s practices, experiences, etc. as UPG in a derogatory, belittling or diminishing sense.

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*For example, there is no distinction in orthopsychy between creation and destruction and the Powers and beings that embody those forces. There is no such thing as an Outsider in the Waincraft cosmology, because it is all a part of the pattern, and the powers of destruction and chaos are as vital and inherent to the cosmos as those of creation and order, represented in the figures of Wildness and Abundance, who are twins, and thus share one soul.

Altars and Shrines in a Waincraft style

“How important are altars/shrines to you and your practice of Waincraft? Also, what’s a good example of what could be on a general Waincraft altar/shrine? I know the general answer will probably be that it depends on one’s orthopsychy, but I’m more curious about YOUR opinion.”

Personally, altars and shrines don’t hold a lot of importance in my practice. I have them, but they’re not the main focus, as I am not devotionally-bent, and believe the best altar and shrine is the world around us.

The majority of the items on my altars/shrines are for magical purposes, and most don’t really have anything to do specifically with Waincraft. I do have a statue of Night and the Divine Twins (re-purposed from my CR days) with a circle of stones in front, a space for photos of my family dead, and a space for imagery (including a raven plushie that speaks :3) as remembrance of my membership and initiation into the Raven Tribe, but that is the extent of any specific Waincraft elements to altars and shrines for me.

I think part of it is that altars and shrines, at least as they are commonly used in paganism, are seen as way to commune with and focus worship on beings that are mostly considered purely spirit with little to no presence in the world as it is, or only a partial presence*, whereas Waincraft holds the position that all divinity and spirit is immanent within multiple realms, and thus to commune with and worship Night or Sky or Ocean or Life, all you need to do is be in it, look at it, spend time with it. The Relations are just as divine as gods and humans, and you don’t need to have an altar to Salamander to commune with it – go play by the creek, and Salamander will be there with you. So, in a sense, altars and shrines separate from the world around us is somewhat superfluous.

However, that does not mean that standalone or separate altars and shrines have no place in Waincraft. For example, if one does magical workings with various of the Beings, it can be useful to set up an altar or shrine to concentrate energy, sacralise space, and provide a focal point for will and connection. Or, one could set up a shrine as memory for times when going outside or spending time in the world around are not available options for whatever reason, or a small portable shrine for when you travel outside the limits of your personal bioregion to serve as connection and grounding support.

For instances like that, I would probably suggest some or all of the following: some imagery, perhaps with strong emotional symbolism, of a few of the Powers you most connect with (I would say any altar should include at least Night, since she is the beginning of everything, anything else is personal preference); some imagery or symbols of a Tribe if you have been contacted by/come in contact with one to represent and memorialize that relationship; a place for house-bound Fair Folk with a corresponding place outside for wild ones; a space for the Dead, to remember and commune with if you cannot visit them personally (as is often the case in the US with our culture of mobility); and maybe some figurines or images of Relations and Spirits that you have connected with in your locale, not as sole communion or focal points of worship, but as memory – similar to sharing a photo with family or friends. You should still strive to connect and commune with them where they actually are (and barring pets, that will not be inside)

Of course, all of that is for inside altars. Outside altars would be a bit more practical, at least with regards to those Beings that do not have tactile forms (the Fair Folk, the Dead, the Tribes, some of the Powers), but not everyone has the space to set up on personal land, and public land tends to frown on overt religious displays. That is when you should go to the Beings where they are – stand in the sunlight and receive Zir healing; wander through dark Night’s embrace; share an intimate moment with the creek, touching and being touched; sing with each individual raindrop and shout with each flash of lightning; hold a philosophical debate with the robins, and attend the owl parliament; meditate in the stillness of the mountain’s shadow, melding your quick thoughts with their slower ones and feeling the passage of eons as a single lifetime.

I hope that begins to answer your question?

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*For an example, a Pagan prominent in the blogosphere opines that there is no point in worshiping nature, only the spirit within or behind it without allowing for the possibility that the spirit is not separate from the physical in natural persons and phenomena any more than your spirit and soul are “separate” from your body. There are some beings in the Waincraft cosmology that are considered to be mostly non-physical (the Tribes and Fair Folk, to be exact) in that they cannot be sensed with the physical senses, but they still have natural and physical associations and attachments.

Working with Waincraft outside of a Euro-American paradigm

“So if you’ve already got a (rough) cosmology and a theology, how would one go about approaching Waincraft if they were say… working primarily with a diverse set of Abrahamic demons and Lucifer and sometimes some angels who put up with your wise-assing?

 

A very good question!

There are a couple of different ways someone could go about it.

The first would be to adopt Waincraft side-by-side with the previous paradigm, similar in manner to Christopagans, Japanese Shinto-Buddhists, etc. This way, one could work with and honor each side in its own context or combine them for a fully rounded spirituality

Another would be syncretism. The theology of Waincraft is fairly syncretic to begin with, and with thoughtful and creative tampering could likely work for non-Eurasian/European paradigms. For example, with regards to the Powers, almost all of them are tied to a specific common natural phenomenon (the earth, the sun, the moon, the ocean, fire, etc.). Many demons and angels are also tied to these phenomena in various lore, so theoretically, these demons and/or angels could be worked with in those particular roles. Also, SPG indicates that most, if not all, Abrahamic spirits share common ancestry with the spirits of the Tribes and the Fair Folk via the First God (Night/Star Mother), so again, there is little conflict there.

A third option would be to, as I mentioned, not use the framework cosmology and simply focus on reintegration/reconnection and orthopsychy. This is the very fringe of Waincraft with little commonalities to other versions, but I am OfficiallyTM OKing that as valid “Waincrafting” if people want to do things that way

What is the difference between Waincraft and Vanatru?

In your own words, I would like you to explain how you think Vanatru and Waincraft are different, because this is a thing that confuses a lot of people.

Certainly!

The original Waincraft was a lot more similar to Vanatru than its current incarnation, which is probably part of the issue.

People who have read the book and conflated Waincraft with their own Heathenry also haven’t helped (I’m specifically thinking of Volmarr, here)

To me, Vanatru as it’s commonly practised is still a specifically Heathen paradigm, using specific Germanic/Nordic (and/or possibly Gallo-Germanic depending on the scope) deities, spirits and cosmology. Vanatru itself ranges from strict recon Heathenry with just a focus on the three specifically-named Vanir to a more mystical and spirit-centered version such as your own.

Waincraft is intentionally not culture specific (except where it tries to be a spiritual resource relevant our modern culture), though its initial phase drew heavily on both Heathenry and Celtic Recon, hence the prevalence of those two influences even still. The material as set forth in the book is almost entirely “lead by example” to show how the model can be frameworked into various pre-existing mythologies and/or cultures, or taken on its own with some additional work. The only “intentional” similarity at this point to any type of Vanatru are the Tribes, but that’s because of certain agreements I made with various spirits while creating the model.

To use an analogy, if Heathenry as a whole is Christianity, and Vanatru is the Unitarians or Quakers, Waincraft is Baha’i or Theosophy (sorry for the really bad analogy, but there really isn’t one that works properly) – common generalities of belief and practice, but rather different in specifics.

Waincraft can be integrated into specific pre-existing mythologies, as I mentioned before, and certainly Heathenry, and thus Vanatru, could be practised in the Waincraft manner, but they are not synonymous by any means. For example, one of my students is working through the program and model from a strictly Celtic basis, and I myself don’t focus on any particular culture at all, but work with the model in the abstract/archetypal.