Title: Dwelling on the Threshold: Reflections of a Spirit-Worker and Devotional Polytheist
Publisher/Author: Sarah Kate Istra Winter
Pages: 186 pp
Price: $18.00 US
I was thirteen years old when I signed my life away to the spirits. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but — as most traditional cultures know — spirits don’t necessarily play fair, or even understand our concept of fairness. — from the Introduction
A regular and popular blogger at a forest door and Girls Underground, as well as a jewelry designer, Winter is perhaps best known as the author of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored. (Read it, loved it, it’s in the list of Recommendations here at EHS. If you have any interest in Hellenismos at all, Kharis is definitely the book for you.)
In Dwelling on the Threshold, Winter gives us the book on spirit-work that she wish she had when first starting out herself. The wide-ranging essays, drawn from her blog and organized into a coherent whole, cover topics as varied as the use of entheogens, the nature and importance of sacrifice, the true meaning of Hekate’s Deipnon, the difference between trance and visualization, and the work of modern oracles. In “Taking the Christmas Out of Solstice,” Winter argues that Pagans should leave “the beast that Christmas has become” for the Christians; Pagans have ancient, rich, and varied traditions of our own for that sacred time of year. In perhaps my favorite essay, “Deepening Reconstructionism Locally,” Winter argues that practicing our faith in the place in which we live is more important, relevant, and meaningful than burying our noses in books and pining for a lost age.
… I have felt Dionysus connected to the buffalo rather than the bull, as it is the native large horned animal. Sekhmet may manifest as a cougar in the north, rather than an African lion. …. I offer the gods local wine and honey and grains now, rather than imports, and worship Them in groves and streams that I can walk to from my home, rather than wishing I could be doing so in Greece ….
Though not a spirit-worker myself, I found much food for thought in Winter’s essays. I have been inspired to deepen my own practices, and (hopefully) feel the touch of the Gods myself.
Highly recommended to anyone interested in devotional polytheism, spirit-work, oracles, or Hellenismos.
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of EHS.]