Saturday, June 16, 2012
Hello and Happy Saturday!
I wish to thank E. Perren Hayes for his very interesting and informative interview last week. Thanks so much for sharing with us Perren!
Today we have a new interview so please welcome Sophie Reicher. Sophie is a Polytheist and I know you'll enjoy her interview as well!
Here Is Sophie Reicher's Introduction:
I think my introduction is pretty quick and dirty: Sophie Reicher has been a polytheist and occultist for many years. She has published one book: "Spiritual Protection" and currently maintains a rather sporadic blog at http://sreicher.weebly.com. She is primarily a northern traditionalist, with a special dedication to the House of Mundilfari, but she does maintain alliances outside of the northern pantheon too, most especially the Egyptian Goddess Bast. As a writer, Sophie writes primarily about magic and the occult arts. Occasionally she also writes poetry, prayers, and articles on things of interest to modern Polytheists.
My blog is here: http://sreicher.weebly.com.
1) What religion do you practice?
I am a Northern Traditionalist, a Heathen. My spirituality centers around honoring the Norse Gods primarily, my ancestors, and the spirits of the land upon which I live.
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I was raised nominally Catholic but I left the Church as a teen. I didn't have to do anything to convert to Heathenry. I just had to start the slow process of rooting myself in my ancestral practices and learning to view the world through the lens of that tradition. Part of that involved learning to properly honor the Gods, learning to connect with and properly honor my ancestors, and allowing my growing awareness as an animist to impact the way that I interacted with the world every moment of every day.
3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
I think that there are degrees of observance in Heathenry. That is pretty much the norm in every religion as they evolve and grow. There are certainly a lot of points of conflict between denominations in Heathenry. In fact, I would go so far as to say that whether or not a person seeks to engage in devotional practice and seeks to be deeply observant is one of those points. I think the biggest issue facing Heathenry today is whether or not personal devotion is a good thing and to which Gods and Goddesses one ought to be devoted. *shrugs* I try to stay out of that mess. I surround myself with people who believe, as I do, that devotion is a good thing and that doing devotion well requires attention, mindfulness and a healthy dose of humility, that the Gods are real and can in fact interact with us directly and that this ought to impact every aspect of our religious lives. I don't waste my time on people for whom that is an issue. Life is too short.
4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
I would say that I am very observant. I chose this because I believe this is what it means to live a whole, healthy, responsible, adult life. Being as engaged as I am with my spirituality and spiritual practices enhances every aspect of my life. It makes me a better person, a more aware and awake human being, and it enriches my existence.
5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
There are a number of options for a Heathen after he or she dies. Some of us believe in reincarnation, some believe we reincarnate only within one's ancestral line, some believe that we will go to Helheim, the hall of the dead presided over by Hela, our Goddess of the dead, warriors who die in battle or those claimed by Odin may go to valhalla, others may go to the halls of specific Deities. There are options. The point is to live life honorably and well so that one may meet one's death and whatever comes after with head held high.
6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
umm...this isn't a question that I can really answer since my theology doesn't have the concept of salvation or paradise in the way that monotheistic religions like christianity do.
7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
This is a rather shallow question. It's not about me necessarily. It's about doing what is right and proper to maintain the bonds of connection and obligation that inform my awareness as an inheritor of my ancestral traditions: it's about honoring the Gods, serving them, honoring the dead and maintaining those relationships, and honoring the spirits of the land upon which I live. This is what it means to live an engaged, organic, awake life. It's occasionally inconvenient yes, but it is my duty and obligation to my ancestors and Gods. I suppose what makes any religion a 'good fit' is the response one gets from the Gods, Goddesses, and other Powers. I felt very much called to Heathenry and for me the impetus for that calling was a developing devotional relationship with certain Gods. That's what makes it fit for me.
8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
Heathenry has eight holy days: two solstices, two equinoxes and cross quarter days marking the agricultural cycle of the year. I celebrate them all with my kindred, which is what we call our religious groups.
9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
that would depend on the person: if someone is a decent person then sure, why not? If they're an asshole, well, I wouldn't want to be around that person even if he or she was Heathen. I wouldn't refuse to be friends with a person because of their faith. I have friends of all different faiths and value them tremendously.
10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes, and I have done so. Sometimes, it is joining another polytheist to honor a God or Goddess not of the Norse pantheon. I would do this if I felt a particular connection or more likely debt to that Deity. Sometimes it's a matter of having a friend who is having an important ritual celebration of some sort who invites me, in the name of friendship, to attend. I just make sure that I don't break any of my own ritual and religious taboos, and that I know if there are any taboos or requirements within my friend's faith by which I would be expected to abide.
11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I know many Polytheistic women (and some men) who cover themselves...some all the time, some just for religious observance. I find great merit in this practice when it is done as a method of devotion to a Deity, or for a particular spiritual reason, or to enhance one's focus during ritual. I have no issue whatsoever with a woman who chooses to wear the burka of her own free will as an expression of devotion to her god, or personal modesty. I have great issue with monotheistic religions in general and their misogyny in particular. No woman should be forced to wear or not wear the burka. Shariah law is just another excuse for lack of respect for female life. It's a sickness inherent in monotheism. It offends me.
12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
yes, of course they are. It's a non-issue within my religion. How do I feel about it? I don't care if my clergy person is male, female, third gendered, transgendered, or any other gendered so long as that person has a deep devotional relationship with the Gods and the training to be an effective clergy person.
13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
no. I would not be part of a religion that segregated.
14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
it affects every aspect of my life. It is the center point around which every aspect of my life revolves. It informs every decision I make. For the record, by the way, I am pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. How could I look my ancestors in the face if I were to spend my life preaching discrimination and hatred. They did not suffer and sacrifice to ensure that I had a chance at life so I could spend that life harassing other people for their *personal* choices. These things are not moral questions. They are matters of personal choice and as such none of my business.
15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
That would depend what religion my child wished to marry into. I would not want any of my children to marry monotheists.
16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
...we don't have a concept of hell or damnation. it's not part of our theology.
17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
For the most part, I don't respect very many of the Heathens who are considered 'leaders' in the community. I think most of them are fundamentalist in mindset and have very little idea of what it means to be polytheist. I don't believe the majority of them have any sense of devotion whatsoever, or connection to the holy. They are, in my opinion, still moving from a very monotheistic mindset that teaches there is one true way. That being said, I respect the work of those theologians and writers mainstream Heathens consider controversial: Galina Krasskova, Raven Kaldera, Elizabeth Vongvisith. I respect the work of other polytheistic theologians like Sannion, Dver...two Dionysians who are doing amazing work, P. Sufenus Virius Lupus, Thracian polytheist Andrew Carlson, or Queen Mother Imakhu, a Kemetic Elder. I respect the work of dual traditionalists Laura Patsouris, and Kenaz Filan. Mainstream Heathens....I don't waste my time.
18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
Once I was attacked on the street...I'm not sure I'd call it a hate crime, unless the fact I was a woman alone can fall under that category. Fortunately, in addition to being pro-choice and pro- gay marriage, I'm also pro-right to bear arms and I walk my talk. I frightened my would-be attacker away.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
no. Why would I be part of a religion that devalued me? (Something I'd like to ask every monotheist out there, especially the women).
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
no. It gives me many things, peace of mind is not one of them. I am always challenged to go deeper, examine further, work harder.
21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
yes, I do. I very strongly believe in reincarnation based on some of my own experiences and my understanding of the flow of fate and being that my religion calls 'wyrd' i.e. causality and consequence.