Tuesday, May 28, 2013

[What I Do]My Own Gods, Part One - My "UPG", So Called

I am going to make a slight shift in emphasis on this blog. It is time to begin discussing what I, myself, do in a practical sense. I don't present this in a way that is intended as the One True Way to practice lycanthropic religion, but only as an illustration of one way to go about it among many. So, in this series, which will probably be occasional, I am going to discuss the exact gods that I devote myself to, with their names and epithets, and the specific ways in which I perform devotions to them. This is necessarily a bunch of what other people call "UPG", or "Unverified Personal Gnosis", and which I tend to think of as the product of iomas, to use an Irish word (the Old Irish spelling was imbas).

This is a fairly uncomfortable thing for me to do, actually. As I begin to write this, I have never discussed any of this with anyone else. I will probably talk about it with some people whose opinions I respect before I make it generally available (and as of this parenthetical edit, I have done so to some extent), but setting this down as I am writing it now is entirely without any discussion with others.

The first god that I will discuss will be the one who is most important to me. He is Lú (who may be more familiar in his older spelling, "Lugh"), and his epithet as I interact with him most is Ardáinmór, which means "Of The Great Height" or "Of The Great Platform/Stage". This is not an epithet that is attested in any literature of which I am aware, though it is the name of a mountain that is the subject of a short poem by Francis Ledwidge. You don't have to follow that link, though, because as it is short I am going to reproduce the poem here (the epithet is genitive, while the name of the mountain is the nominative form):

As I was climbing Ardan Mór
From the shore of Sheelin lake,
I met the herons coming down
Before the water’s wake.
And they were talking in their flight
Of dreamy ways the herons go
When all the hills are withered up
Nor any waters flow.

Now, Lú Ardáinmór is a particular theophany of Lú, whose mythology is very similar to that of the other theophanies of Lú that have been recorded in the extant lore, though as in all such things it is not identical. He is, for instance, more explicitly connected with wolves and other canines, and with lycanthropy. He partakes of elements of other "wind-wolf" gods, as well, in a somewhat syncretic fashion. Specifically, I know that parts of his stories resemble those of Oðinn, and some those of Apollo. I am not entirely sure of the provenance of other parts of his stories as he has seen fit to reveal them to me. I hope to present some of his specific stories here as time goes on. I know that the reference of his epithet is connected in some way with oracular practice, though he has not (yet?) seen fit to interact with me in that way, as such. I suspect, given the epithet, that such practice would resemble Seiðr in some manner.

I know that Ardáinmór is somewhat of a pun, as well. He has explained it to me as, "Ard-dán, the high poetry and high art and skill of the Three Gods of Skill, the Trí Déithe Dána. For it was through their poetry told on a platform that the Three Gods of Skill were able to tell what would happen in the coming days, to the end of the age."

When I say, "He has explained it to me," it is probably important that I explain what I mean by that. In this case, the discussion came to me in a dream I had, where Lú came to me and talked at length about matters of poetry. This short extract from that talk is the only part of it that I remember consciously, sadly. I think that he may have used the Irish word , which can mean either "moon" or "era", instead of the English word "age", but I'm not certain about that. Dream-language is occasionally difficult to render in natural language, I have found. That this description resembles the "high seat" oracular activities of Seiðr more than anything I have found in Irish story is something that I have found odd, but that may be part of Lú Ardáinmór's somewhat syncretic nature.

I should add here that, when I first was told the epithet and its meaning, I was not aware of the Irish word ardán, and thought that it had only to do with what I later came to understand was a pun, as described above. When I found that there was a word ardán, as well as the compound ard-dán, and that ardán was further referenced obliquely in the description given by Lú to me (with the talk of the high platform), I was naturally surprised. I have come to believe that it was a specific confirmation given that the experience was not of my own making. I was also unaware of the poem by Ledwidge, but I think that it is indicative of Lú Ardáinmór. The connection with herons, for instance, is well within my understanding of Lú Ardáinmór, as is the connection with a lake called Sheelin (sí linn "enchanted lake").

Next time, I will discuss what, exactly, I do in devotion to Lú Ardáinmór.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. Not only is it interesting to learn more about what you do, but also I have my own discomfort at sharing such things and it helps to see someone else putting things out there.

    1. I think that we have reached the phase where it is time to have this discussion. We need to move past the (previously essential) phase of talking exclusively about what was done in the past. Those make good guidelines for what we do today, but we have, more or less, exhausted that conversation (pending new information). Now that we are on a fairly solid foundation, we can start to participate more fully with the traditional material, rather than just reiterating it.

      I point to people like Morgan Daimler and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus as the real pioneers here. Morgan's ongoing discussion of the hearth-related and fairy-faith practices she shares with her family, and PSVL's presentation of the novel expressly-gender-fluid gods he has encountered have been helpful to me in forming an approach to this.

  2. Very interesting! I've always seen a Lú-Odin-Apollo connection as well, so I'm very interested in what you have to say about this.

    1. I've been away from this blog for a long while now, in part because I've decided to write a book instead and that is taking up my writing time. At this time, I'd refer anyone interested to Daniel Gershenson's book, Apollo the Wolf-god. While Gershenson does not mention Lú, as such, it is easy to make parallels from what he does include (especially, but not exclusively, his references to Óðinn). I'd point out that seals seem to replace dolphins in the Irish (and possibly Scandinavian? I am short of references to the sea creatures associated with One-Eye at the moment) material.