Monthly Archives: August 2021
A friend of mine is currently working in Beirut and had the opportunity to visit Baalbeck, which is home to a temple complex in stunning condition. The city was known as Heliopolis in ancient times (a quick look at wiki confirmed this) and the temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a Temple to Bacchus and a Temple to Jupiter. My friend was kind enough to allow me to share his photographs with you, though he wishes to remain anonymous. These are just breathtaking (esp. the plaque with the image of Bacchus).
I’ve decided to share a nightly prayer that we do in my House. I hate only posting aggravating material. it’s not good for the soul. I try to balance each and every polluted thing about which I feel the need to write (like my previous post), with something spiritually nourishing. While it’s good to be aware of the negative, it’s so much more important to cultivate that which is good and holy. Prayer, among those things, is the most crucial of all.
Prayer to Niorun to be said before bed Niorun of the fire, Niorun of dreams, Protector of home and hearth, Warder against evil, Please hear my prayer. Your sanctuaries are beneath the earth, in places hidden and filled with power. The duergar and Svartalfar know them well. Please, I pray, make my home a sanctuary too. Fill it with Your holy fire, the fire that destroys evil, the fire that hallows and renders us spiritually clean. Drive out all pernicious, malicious wickedness, every evil spirit large and small, every bottom feeding creature that might prey upon me as I sleep and dream, and at other times too. Drive out all wicked powers seeking to do me harm, Wise and unyielding Goddess, I pray, protect me from the malice of others. You, great One, Who roams the night, Please guard the boundary of my world: my home, my body, my sleeping consciousness, my hame should I travel as I sleep. Let me dream good and prosperous dreams. Let me return to wakefulness safely, that I may serve the Gods well, and thoughtfully all the days of my life. Gracious Niorun, let me sleep restfully. Let me wake refreshed. Surround me in the dark and soothing cloak of Your protection. This I humbly pray, oh Goddess. Hail to You, Niorun, Goddess of dreams and darkness. (by G. Krasskova)
I have no problem with atheism. Do your thing. I have a huge problem when atheists come into religious spaces (especially when it’s our religious spaces), and aren’t there as respectful guests but attempt to take on leadership positions. It’s polluting to the tradition and disrespectful to the Holy Powers and community both. It also twists the tradition out of true alignment with the Holy.
I cannot count how many Heathen kindreds I have heard of or personally encountered that allow atheists to take on leadership roles, including that of Goði or even spaekona. Obviously, these groups don’t give a flying fuck about the Gods or simple common respect.
Today, a friend sent me this article.
Apparently this isn’t just a Heathen, Polytheistic, or Pagan problem. This is a problem across traditions. Harvard has just appointed their new “chaplain” and guess what? The fucker is an atheist. Like what even is the point? This is modernism, secularism, and the woke in action and it’s just revolting. I’d long ago written Harvard off as a serious school but this just proves it to me.
So ends the last couple of lines of the Second Merseberg Charm, with a cantrip of a type echoed in various healing charms in conjure, rootwork, and old English leechcraft. The whole ending (and the most potent part of the working charm) goes:
Sose benrenki, sose bluotrenki, sose lidirenki:
Ben zi bena, bluot zi bluoda,
Lid zi geliden, sose gelimida sin!
Like bone-sprain, so blood sprain, so joint sprain:
Bone to bone, blood to blood,
Joints to joints, so may they be glued! (1)
I’ve been thinking about this charm all day because I spent most of the morning dealing with precisely the type of injury mentioned in this 10th century incantation (2).
Living with chronic pain often means that one becomes accustomed to very high levels of physical pain as a daily norm. That’s certainly been my experience and having been a professional ballet dancer through my early twenties, I also learned early on to compartmentalize pain. I write this as a preface, because I’ve recently been attempting to address an ankle injury and I had my first physical therapy appointment today with surprising results (I was actually pretty shocked!).
In the early eighties when I was still dancing, I sprained my ankle badly. I came down out of a tour jete, a leaping turn, where one switches legs while turning in mid-air. I landed on the outside of my ankle and predictably tore the ligaments. It was bad, really bad, and sidelined me for several months. I never really had physical therapy and that ankle remained a weakness, though it was not what caused me to retire. I worked for many more years as a dancer, studied martial arts and just got on with things. In 2004, while hiking down a trail, I tripped over a root. As I fell I heard the tendon in that same ankle snap and thought, “that’s not good.” Turns out I had indeed snapped the tendon and I was in a stabilization boot for close to three months. I stupidly didn’t get physical therapy at that time.
Over the past eight or nine months, I realized that ankle has been getting progressively worse. I’m having trouble walking. It flares up and the way my body compensates hurts my hip and sets off my back injury, causing a great deal of pain. I talked to my doctor and we decided to try physical therapy – better late than never, right? I had my first visit today (and the PT is wonderful).
Well, he noticed right away in examining my ankle that there was muscle atrophy. Then I got a rather horrifying surprise: “Did you break this bone” he gently touched my fibula, “when you damaged the tendon or did that happen earlier?” um…. I didn’t realize I had ever broken that bone –not to my knowledge. I asked a few questions and he pointed out that it had clearly been fractured at some point. I was stunned. I had never realized I had ever broken my fibula. We had a long discussion about it and apparently A) one can still walk with a fractured fibula and B) I broke it at some point between ballet, martial arts, and now. This was news to me but really, not completely surprising. I did break a metatarsal when I danced and just iced it and got on with things. It’s entirely possible that I had at some point broken my ankle and simply not realized it. I’m horrified. Of course, having waited so long to get physical therapy for the sprains and damaged tendon, it’s going to be a long haul but it’s worth it if even a bit of strengthening can help my overall pain levels.
My pain levels tend to be high, even with medication. That’s old injuries, including thoracic outlet syndrome, spinal radiculopathy, Achilles tendonitis and tearing, migraines, and fibromyalgia. I can focus so keenly that I often don’t realize that my pain levels are creeping up until I stop working and my focus is broken. Then of course, it’s a terrible experience. Even with all of this, I’m stunned about the broken bone.
This is a real wake up call to me and I hope those who have injuries like this, who sprain joints, hurt their backs, or have what may seem like minor soft tissue damage take note. Don’t wait. If you can do it, get physical therapy as soon as possible. It’s annoying. It eats up time. It’s 100% worth it though. Do not be like me. I’m going to have a real fight to get this ankle to a point where it’s no longer throwing off my gait and causing me severe pain. I’ll do it, but it would have been so much easier if the first time I’d sprained it, when I was still dancing, I’d taken the time to do the PT. Learn from my mistake.
In the Northern Tradition, our corporeal form is part of the soul matrix. That means that taking care of our health, keeping our bodies (as much as we can) in healthy, working order contributes to our overall spiritual well-being too. This may be the part of our soul that we slough off at death, returning it to the earth in recompense for the food and minerals, water and nutrients that from the moment we were conceived, nourished us and formed our bones, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to give it a little love now and again. Our physical bodies are the conduits through which we experience everything, including our devotional worlds. Their integrity is important. I wish to Gods someone had told me this when I was still dancing. I’d have approached the whole thing in a much, much healthier way.
- See here for the full Merseberg Charms.
- I love this this charm mentions Woden as a God of healing. We don’t usually get a focus on Him in this capacity.
A beautiful protective prayer to Freyja — I already told the author that I might be copying her applied use of Heiti here in a prayer that I’m working on for Odin. 🙂
I pray to Freyja
Who throws forth Her immortal shining cloak of gold
As She stretches Her arms
Always loving and full of joy and protection
Around me and all my kinfolk.
I stretch my hands to You not only in supplication
But in the offering of my very self,
So that my hands, my feet, my hair, my arms, my mind and heart
And every part of me
Are always in Your service, for Your joy
And doing Your works.
And I charge Thee, the most splendrous and lovely of all Goddesses in my eye, mind and heart
To attack with all Your vengeance and fury,
All your unmitigated fire and rage
Any and all who attempt to poison and destroy me or my kinfolk
For they will know Your names:
Freyja – The Lady
Valfreyja – Mistress of the Chosen
Blotgythia – That most sacred sacrificial priestess of…
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“It is not so much knowledge that lifts me up, but rather the ardor of a burning soul that urges me to try this. What if it is not given to me to reach the goal I strive for? What if I falter in running the course? Well, I will rejoice that I totally ran, labored and sweated to the extent of my powers in seeking the face of my God.”
—Richard of St. Victor, Book Three: On the Trinity (he is writing on the topic of study and contemplation of spiritual things)
Or, our ancestors were perceptive and we shouldn’t forget the folklore that they have passed down to us.
I”m having a lovely discussion with a friend about Appalachian folklore. We both have Appalachian ancestry (for me, it’s my maternal side) and there is a whole slew of folk sayings and beliefs, weather omens, charms, ways to protect the home, protect the land, keep oneself safe that were passed down. I never thought about most of it before. These were just things tucked away in my memory, some of which I put into play in my regular life as a matter of course. Unless otherwise noted, these are Appalachian or PA Dutch (the places where my bio mom’s line is from).
I’ll give you an example. My grandmother used to keep Dannon yogurt cups of red vinegar around the house. I’d come across a cup sitting on a bookshelf, or on top of a cabinet. (That it was in Dannon yogurt cups was not important. I note it only because as a three or four year old, I drank one, thinking it was a weird kind of yogurt and got very sick). It wasn’t until I was an adult and many years into my own practice that I discovered this was a 19th century spiritualist’s trick to keep the home free form negative spirits. I realized my grandmother must have learned it from her aunt Catherine, who was known for being able to clear a home of anything malignant or foul and who was deeply ensconced in spiritualism.
I was eating out with a friend the other day and I put my keys not the table and she quietly put a napkin under them. I looked at her and she said, “it’s a Ukrainian folk custom. Putting keys directly on the table is bad luck.” ok. filed under things to remember. Keys have certain connotations in Norse practice. I won’t be putting them on the table again. I might not understand why these things came into being, but it costs nothing to be careful. Keys represent luck and wealth after all.
When walking with a friend avoid letting any post or pillar separate you. It can cut the friendship–to cure this, say to each other “Hello for a hundred years.” Similarly, if someone gives you a gift of a knife, give them coins in return or it can cut the friendship.
From my Jewish friend Hal: the first person to visit your home on New Year’s Day should, before entering, toss a handful of coins across the threshold so that your coming year will be filled with luck and wealth.
If you are traveling and just cannot find your way, and you’ve been going in circles and it almost seems like something perverse is misleading you: turn your clothes inside out. It makes you invisible to any fair folk who might be messing with you. (I’ve done this and it works).
From my Ukrainian friend again: pin safety pins on your clothes somewhere. It wards off evil. (probably functions in the same way the nails in a witch’s jar do to pierce and attack evil spirits).
Someone told me that dreaming of bees was a sign of good luck. I’ve never dreamed of bees though.
Red Sky at night: Sailor’s delight; Red sky in the morning: Sailors take warning. (No idea where I learned this).
If someone praises your baby, esp. your baby’s beauty, spit on the baby. It wards off the evil eye. (I don’t actually advocate spitting on children lol. Put an evil eye charm like a blue eye pendant or something on the kid and keep him or her away from outsiders to avoid the praising).
When drinking alcohol of any kind, pour a little bit on the ground in offering for the spirits (land, ancestors, wandering dead? doesn’t specify. It’s polite though so why not?).
Another Ukrainian one that we do in my house: put the broom bristle side up. Brings good luck/drives away bad luck
Here’s one that’s Appalachian and PA Dutch: throw salt over the left shoulder to ward off the devil (not sure WHEN you’re supposed to do this, but it’s a very popular one and salt does cleanse and protect).
If you walk between two poles that run electricity, you’ll get sick (Ukrainian).
*whew*! that’s all I can think of at the moment — I need to get going with studying–but, please please feel free to post your own folk sayings and customs here. I would love to know what practices have crept into your lineages that y’all know of or maybe even maintain.
In response to this article, one of my friends said:
“Just saw a thing that said for witches and pagans to put our differences aside and stand united so that nothing can stand against us and I’m like bruh…you are under the very strange impression I want to stand in alliance with cosplayers, children that thing they can hex Allah and the moon, and other varieties of asshole in fluffy robes.”
Which pretty much sums up my feelings too. As to what the article says about not forcing anyone under the “Pagan” umbrella…they don’t have any problem doing this with polytheists who want nothing to do with their anti-theism, foolishness, and other assorted grossness.
This is not a social thing for us. The Gods matter.
This is less a post and more random thoughts and insights as I work yet again through the first runic aett. Each time I approach a rune spirit, I discover new things. Each time I approach a rune spirit, I’m taken more deeply into that rune’s mysteries. Each time I approach a rune spirit, new worlds open – at least a little – to my understanding, or at least to my awe.
They are such potent gifts of Odin and it is Odin and Loki Who have inspired me in their use. It’s not just that they are powerful forces in and of themselves, forces that can provide glimpses into the wyrd and the architecture of the worlds, but the runes reflect the mysteries of our Gods and working with them, if one is called to such work, has the potential to open up pathways to the Gods as well, especially Odin.
Writing this, with a blistering migraine so bad that focusing my eyes on words hurts and makes me nauseous (we’re being buffeted by Tropical Storm Henri right now as I write this, and with my migraine issues and chronic pain I’ve spent most of the day in agony), I can’t help but reflect that this is one of the key differences between working in the esoteric traditions of the Northern Tradition, and something like ceremonial magic. Working with the runes reinforces our understanding of divine hierarchy (1). I am grateful, so immensely grateful to be steeped in these mysteries, and this tradition. I am grateful to know about our Gods, to be able to honor Them, to touch – for however long or short a time – the echo of Their presence. Every moment of rune working is a reification of Their glory, Their power, the architecture of creation that They set carefully into place – every single moment.
I am, more and more, coming to think that the runes themselves are worked into that architecture, moving, living pieces of it brought forth from the Gap. They move and flow along its threads and angles and keep creation alive, vital, ever changing. They provide keyholes through which we can tap into that vital creative power. They provide doorways to all that lies behind creation. For this reason alone, the way they interact with each other is an important thing to consider in one’s work with them.
That first aett: fehu, uruz, thurisaz, ansuz, raido, kenaz, gebo, wunjo is filled with life. It’s force and fire, the raw force of vitality that in Greek, I’d term Βιος. It bubbles up and fills every world with wonder and more importantly with luck and power. It’s a bright aett in many ways, the energy of it is bright but it ends in the darkness of mystery just as it began with the promise of a luck drenched hamingja. It’s probably my favorite aett with which to work. I find it surprisingly accessible on the surface (though wunjo can be problematic to access at first) just as I find the third aett, more concerned as it is with concrete manifestation, to be the most difficult (and of course, any definitive statement made about these aetts needs to be viewed as a part of the whole, not definitive, but reflective of my own experience with them. They’re complex, multi-layered beings and what they choose to show is dependent on the relationship the runester has with them, and *that* is a very individual thing).
The runes pair off in interesting ways. This is particularly evident with that first aett. This aett is sometimes called “Freya’s aett” by rune workers of the generation preceding mine and while the runes are part of the Odinic retinue (2), that appellation makes sense to me. It’s not just that I think this generation latched onto the phonetic use of Fehu as the first letter in Freya’s name, but that this entire aett contains the kind of life and vitality so strongly part of the mysteries of the Vanir (3).
Fehu and uruz work extremely well together. I never really thought about this until recently. I’ve just started going through this aett with one of my students and doing it in a systematic order has been very revealing in terms of patterns and relationships that might otherwise not stand out or that might be taken for granted. Thurisaz and ansuz do the same, likewise raido and kenaz, and the sacrifice of gebo leads to the mystery and power of wunjo. Kenaz pairs well with all of them, elevating and opening the way. Raido I haven’t quite figured out yet in this capacity. It contains such an intense forward focused momentum that I feel like it aids the other runes in moving over and past (or through) blockages. It and kenaz are the outliers in these pairings for me in a way that bears further exploration. I’d add that when I say pairings, these are special relationships within this aett. They don’t preclude other working partnerships (thurisaz works extremely well with uruz for instance, or wunjo with fehu, and so forth), but I think these are particularly important in teasing out the overall power and mystery of this particular aett. The order of the runes is important on some level. How do these runes choose to interact with each other and what does that accomplish?
Working through the aett this time, I’ve realized how much Wunjo is a bitch of a rune. All the rune books talk about how it means joy or perfection (and it can). That is only on its surface. It’s also raw, ecstatic inspiration, frenzy, ekstasis. This is the rune of Bolverk when He won Óðrœrir. It’s crafty, clever, and sometimes cruel. Sometimes the force of inspiration really, really hurts. Sometimes, it demands a sacrifice of one’s preconceptions of morality, of right/wrong, one’s comfort. Sometimes it fills the space left by those sacrifices with glory. It’s the wand-rune of a God that doesn’t mind a body count, that doesn’t mind the consequences of necessary sacrifice. It’s far, far more vicious than thurisaz, which is clean and upfront in its hungers. The two of them have … a perplexing relationship that I’ve only begun exploring. Wunjo and dagaz have a similar working relationship with each other.
- It’s not that ceremonial magic can’t do that too, it’s that the way it’s so often taught is unbalanced by lack of attention devotion. Then you get ceremonial magicians who think they are God instead of competent practitioners rooted in the divine hierarchy from which the structures they are wielding flow.
- The Runes are Odin’s mysteries. Other Gods may use them (and DO!) but they are specifically Odinic mysteries and thus part of Odin’s retinue of spirits, just like the Valkyries.
- This just briefly discusses the relationship between the runes of the first aett with each other – and even there, only in brief. It should not be taken to imply that the runes of this aett don’t interact with the runes of the other aettir. They do.