Category Archives: devotional work
This has been rather frustrating. On the positive note, it’s made me realize that I need to really spend more significant devotional time with this God, to expand my experience with Him, to better integrate Him into my devotional life. On the negative, there is almost nothing left in the lore about Him. It’s so frustrating when one is used to dealing with a God like Odin for Whom a ton of stories and folklore exists. The only way that we will know more about Dagr, is through the devotional process. That, at least, is a beautiful thing. It gives us some measure of freedom, and the excitement of building a new acquaintance; but oh, I so wish there were more surviving stories for this bright and glorious God.
24 Share Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity.
This is the prayer for the Dagr prayer card available at my etsy shop.
Prayer to Dagr
Hail to You, Dagr,
God of Day,
Sunna’s faithful retainer.
Shining and Bright,
You welcome the dawn.
Son of Dellingr,
Son of Nott,
Beloved of Jord
You herald in the light.
Radiant and beautiful,
You illuminate our world.
Illuminate our hearts as well
That we may seek the rightness
Hail to You, Dagr,
And to Your children.
(by G. Krasskova)
25 Share A time when this deity has helped you.
26 Share A time when this deity has refused to help (I really like this question).
My answer is the same for both of these questions. I rarely go to the Gods asking for things. It just feels…wrong (I’ve actually been chided in divination for not occasionally doing so). Anyway, the upshot of this is that I haven’t actually given Dagr the opportunity to help me. His presence alone has seemed like such a gift, and it uplifts and enlivens, and makes everything seem beautiful and good. Sometimes, that is enough.
27. How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
Well, I’ve honored Mani, Sunna, and Sinthgunt for years, over 15 now, I think. I would pay homage to Mundilfari and Nott when opportunity arose but never much thought about what it would mean to incorporate Them into my regular worship. Dagr, aside from when I prayed “Sigdrifa’s Prayer,” barely registered for me. One day, I sensed Him so strongly it changed everything and opened me up to His presence a tiny little bit. That has made me want to honor Him further.
28. what are the Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered
Well, as with so many of our Deities when it comes to actual veneration, there’s a push from some Heathens to claim They were never venerated. I usually find this comes from those who would rather not be bothered with Gods and who really have little place in our communities to begin with. Still, it is occasionally irritating.
29. What is Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
I would, and I hope it is not hubris to say this, like to have a better sense of His mysteries.
30. do you have Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
Not at the time, no.
31 Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?
I would suggest starting by setting up a shrine, making offerings, and beginning a prayer cycle to Him. I think that consistent, ongoing devotional work is always the best way to learn about any Deity.
This concludes this sequence of devotional questions. If there’s a Deity (that y’all know I honor) Whom you’d like me to address with another series of 31 Days of Devotion, post here in the comments. I’d be willing to do these questions again.
Catching up here, both on my 31 Days of Devotion to the God Dagr and also on my 52 Ancestors in 52 Days. I love doing these, but I can never seem to keep up in a timely manner these days. Oh well, better late than never!
First, let’s start with the 31 Days of Devotion to Dagr:
- Share any Music that makes you think of this deity (August 3).
I really suck at making play lists. I was hoping to have one for Dagr, but I just don’t think of organizing music in my brain that way. If anyone has one, feel free to post in the comments. I’m still working to get my sorted!
- Share A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with (August 4).
William Carlos Williams’ “Summer Song” and “Spring Storm” (Sort of if only because of their topic)
Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty” (though I also very strongly associate this with Loki).
Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Summer Sun”
and finally, this excerpt from Hafiz:
“The Sun Never Says
Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”
Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.”
– From “The Gift,” by Hafiz
(translation by D.Ladinsky)
Now, onto my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Project. I think we’re up to Week 31 and 32.
Week 31 (July 29-Aug. 4): Large
Two of my ancestors stand out here because of the remarkable size of their families. The first is my maternal great-grandmother (1875-1952). Her name was Lucinda Alice Shoff, nee Heffner. Like so many of my maternal ancestors, she grew up in Pennsylvania not too far from the man who would eventually become her husband (Hugh Clay Shoff). When married, she moved to Conowingo, Maryland, her entire world bracketed by the Susquehanna river and generations of Swiss and German ancestors who settled the area. She was deeply loved by her grand-children (and as far as I know her children too, though I only really knew her daughter, my grandmother Linnie Hanna), perceptive, kind, and apparently strong as an ox since she had 17 (seventeen!!!!) children. She and Hugh Clay Shoff (1873-1957) married in 1892 – I’d always wondered how they met until I looked at the census on day and realized they grew up nearly next door to each other. She had two sets of triplets and one set of twins. I find it a little mindboggling. Not all of them reached adulthood – one set of twins for example, was stillborn (they were buried on property my parents later owned, named Faith, Hope, and – I kid you not – Death according to family lore)—but the majority did reach adulthood, no mean feat. Of the ones who lived, their names are John Shoff, Elmer Shoff, Howard Shoff, Chester Shoff, Virginia, Luther, Linnie (my grandmother), Violet, and Rose. I think there was also a Charles, Emerson, Mary, Huey, and possibly a Louise…give or take one. I only really knew my Grandmother growing up. For whatever reason, we had almost no contact with the rest of the family. I met Rose Adams (nee Shoff) once, possibly Violet – I was so small I can’t remember—also Olive Shoff (nee Shultz) who married Charles. I remember I was very, very small, maybe three or four when I met her. She had all these knickknacks in a glass cabinet that just fascinated me at that age. I also went trick or treating one year at Hugh’s house. He was nicknamed “Bo,” ostensibly because his father’s name was also Hugh.
The second is my third great-grandmother Elizabeth Runkle nee Oberlander (1824-1900). Like Lucinda, she also grew up in Chanceford Township, PA. She married Jesse C. Runkle (1821-1894) in 1839 and they had thirteen children. Here is the amazing thing for the time: all thirteen lived to adulthood. I hadn’t thought about this at all, certainly not enough to consider it a remarkable feat until a cousin, a serious genealogist pointed this out. You know, we look at pictures of our ancestors, or these collections of facts, and they often look staid and straight laced but I wonder about their lives. What were their hopes, their dreams? Were they satisfied with their lives or is that a luxury that we have looking it from several generations past? I want to know what Elizabeth was like as a young girl, what her courtship was like, what challenges she and her husband faced as they made their lives together in those first few years. Hell, I want to know the how and why of each of their children’s names! One odd fact that I did learn about Elizabeth’s husband Jesse: he died on Christmas day exactly one hundred years from the year our immigrant Runkle ancestors (Jacob 1724-94) died.
Let’s see if I can name all her children: Mary Ann, Catharine (my great great grandmother – she married W. Henry Heffner and one of their children was Lucinda), Sarah Elizabeth, George Washington, Samuel, John, Rebecca Jane, Susanna Ann, Margaret, William James, Jesse David, Henry Franklin, Emma Lucinda. I find it interesting that as far as I can tell, in neither her case nor that of Lucinda Shoff was the first boy named after the father. They all had a namesake, but I don’t think it was the eldest boy.
I never felt much like I had anything in common with these women, for whom children and household formed the bulk of their lives, but over the years as I have run my own household, I realize just how tremendously difficult their work was, and how important and I am grateful they were strong and capable in their work. I know from family oral history that Lucinda was the real heart and soul of her very large clan. She is remembered by her grandchildren with deep, abiding love.
Week 32 (Aug. 5-11): Small
I was a little stumped with this topic, so I asked my husband, “Thinking about my 52 ancestors in 52 weeks project, when I bring up the topic “small,” what comes to mind? He suggested I think about a small artifact and talk about that. I like that idea because so often ancestral pieces are memory pieces, they provide a physical conduit to those who came before us. They’re treasures, not because of what they may be constructed of, but because they are a physical means of connection to ancestors we may have never met. So, I’ll tell a story.
My grandmother Linnie Hanna was beloved by her family. When she died, her children lost their fucking minds. Though she had been a devout Catholic all her adult life, two of her children who had converted to Protestant religions decided they didn’t want her body in the church for the funeral mass because it ‘made them uncomfortable.’ I was a child at the time or I’d have had some words because she was entitled to the funeral she wanted according to the religion she followed and our comfort or discomfort with it was utterly irrelevant. The Monseigneur worked with the family and allowed it though it was against Catholic practice. Fine. Then my grandmother’s youngest son took it up on himself to empty out her house without telling anyone. He kept key pieces for himself and sold everything else to a local antique store. There was only one problem: that store was across the street from the ballet studio where I worked. In between rehearsals one day, I went over to browse and found all my grandmother’s things. I called my bio mom who came down. She was horrified. The poor old lady who owned the shop was ready to cry she was so upset. She couldn’t afford to give us everything back, which I understand, but she gave us as much of a discount as she could afford on key pieces. So, one of the few things I have of my grandmother, who pretty much raised me while my parents worked, is a small trinket box. I’m lucky to have a couple of her afghans that she knitted too, and a few tchotchkes that she gave me when I was small. My cousin, that particular uncle’s daughter, with whom I rarely got along, did me a major solid. She ran into the house and pressed a few pieces of jewelry into my hand shortly after my grandmother died: stuff my grandmother wore all the time, a ring, a small pot metal heart that said ‘I love you grandma’ that I’d given her when I was small, and her cross. I’m grateful for that. My grandmother’s death tore those siblings apart, due to the small mindedness of many of them in their grief. My uncle tried the same trick with my bio mom – throwing her stuff out rather than selling it – but I had been there first for the funeral and salvaged key pieces as did my brother. Trash is trash and every family has at least one person who qualifies.
(Linnie May Sarah Catharine Shoff Hanna and the box and pot metal pendant I mention above. The spoon is her baby spoon, which she’d given me when I was small).
Firstly, happy Lammas to those of you who celebrate it. It’s a little early for harvest festivals where I live, but always a good time to honor the Gods of the land. ^_^
Continuing with my 31 Days of Devotion project, here we go for the weekend.
- What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? (July 31)
I haven’t engaged devotionally with Dagr for very long, so my experience is limited here. That being said, I have found that when He is present, there is a pleasant lightness – oh that sounds so trite! It shouldn’t, He glitters and transforms a space and those in it. But, my senses register a brightening of the space when He is there. It may read differently to others, but for me, His presence brings a brightness and clarity and I respond very positivel to that.
- What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling? (August 1)
None that I can think of, save – and this is totally my issue—I’m not a morning person and I sometimes feel guilty about not having the wherewithal to rise to greet Him at the dawn. When I am able to do this, it’s usually because I’m about to go to bed…
- Share any Art that reminds you of this deity. (August 2)
Well, there’s the prayer card by G. Palmer of course and any images of the sunrise. I’ve seen images of the sun rising over a field of flowers, or over the mountains and these things for me, suggest His presence. I wish there were more art for Him!
Because these answers are, in many cases, short, it’s easier for me to post my answers in bulk. Here are my answers through today.
- Are there Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity? (July 27)
Not that I personally know of, either from the lore or from modern cultus. The only thing I can think of is greeting Him at the dawn, but I’m not sure whether or not that qualifies as ‘mundane.’
- How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins? (July 28)
The majority of pre-Christian Heathens were farmers. Agriculture was extremely important across the board. We think of them as Viking warriors, but even for those households that went a-viking, they still most likely maintained some level of agricultural practice. Those Gods of day, night, sun, moon, seasonal cycles would of necessity have been extremely important to people who worried about crops and feeding their families through the winter, about when to plant, and when the first frost would come. I think the fact that Dagr is noted, however briefly, in material written down by a Christian two hundred years after conversion is significant. I think it points to the importance of the House of Mundilfari, even if we don’t have much more than Their names and functions. I also think that perhaps Their veneration persisted in some form or another longer than that of the other Gods – I have no evidence for this, but it’s something that I believe is worth pursuing and looking at folklore and even fairy tales for potential answers.
I also think Dagr emphasizes within the pantheon, something that we also see with Sunna namely, an understanding that the Gods oversee the movement of natural cycles and from Them comes wealth, warmth, abundance, and goodness. Through them, we draw strength and above all else health.
17, How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons? (July 29)
It’s always seemed to me like the House of Mundilfari is outside of the structures and tribal alliances that we see with the other Gods. Most of Them are Jotnar but that doesn’t really play into Their stories and interactions, and They seem to have contact and relationships amongst Aesir, Vanir, and Jotnar (and Alfar, Svartalfar, Duergar, et al.) equally. They are tasked with helping to maintain the architecture of the worlds in a very, very key way via the ordering of day and night and this seems to be the case not just with ordering these things in Midgard, but throughout all the worlds at once, which…is interesting. It rather implies that the boundaries that exist between our world and that of the other Nine worlds do not exist for these Deities, and that what They do in one world unites all nine, including on some level, temporally. Their work is the connective tissue keeping all the worlds functioning. I also suspect it in some ways allow access between the worlds, but I need to consider this a bit more fully and flesh it out.
18 How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG) (again, a question about which I could not possibly care less, but I suspect the answers might be interesting). (July 30)
I don’t know why one would ask such a reductive question about a Deity. Our obsession with these things is really ridiculous. In the lore, Dagr is gendered male – and when a Deity consistently chooses to present Him or Herself in such a way, I think that it can be important and reflective of the Force that the Deity carries.
As I continue with this month-long project honoring Dagr, I find myself growing so terribly frustrated at the lore we don’t have. I so wish that we had more of His sacred stories, that we know how or if our ancestors honored Him, that we had more, always more. I know that the paucity of recorded information opens the door to direct experience of Him and cultivation of His mysteries by devotees unfettered by the inordinate degree of authority with which we invest the written word but still, not having those things is frustrating too. For so many of the questions, I find myself having to answer, “I don’t know” or “we don’t have any surviving information.” I fervently hope that one day that won’t be the answer I’m forced to give, that modern devotees will have brought forward new stories, new experiences and His cultus will thrive. Hail to Dagr, may His light bless and fortify us all.
- What are some Places associated with this deity and their worship?
I haven’t found reference to any place names specifically associated with Dagr, though this fascinating article notes many places throughout Scandinavia and Iceland that are sacred to the Gods, otherwise unspecified. I only did a quick internet search, so it is entirely possible that there are spots named after Dagr but to date, I am unaware of any. The spaces given to Him must of necessity today be our shrines and those dedicated to Him.
- What modern cultural issues — if any—are closest to this deity’s heart? (this is a question that I’m not overly thrilled with. It presupposes that the Gods give a rat’s ass about our “cultural issues” but maybe some of Them do and if They don’t, we can talk about that too, always with the caveat that it is insofar as we as individual devotees have sussed out).
This is speculation and a great deal of gut feeling, but I think Dagr has an interest in sustainable farm practices, things that respect the land and its cycles. The sun and moon after all keep the earth in healthy balance through Their cyclical journeys and regardless of which genealogy one follows, Dagr has a strong connection to Jorð.
- Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
Well, again, this is speculation, but given that the majority of our ancestors were farmers (even if they also pursued other professions), I suspect strongly that Dagr’s veneration was much more integral to [agricultural] community life than He is now. I’ve often felt with the entire House of Mundilfari, that Their cultus must have been much, much more important to our Neolithic ancestors than to us in our industrialized society. I could be wrong, of course, but the things governed by these Deities, the cycles of the sun and moon, turning of seasons were crucially important to those whose health and livelihood depended on the weather. As we’ve moved away from relationship with the land, I think as a whole we’ve forgotten the importance Their cultus must once have had…and this has been to our detriment, I think.
(image: “Dagr”, 1874 by Peter Arbo).
- What are common Offerings – historical and UPG
Historically, I have no idea. We don’t have enough left in the surviving lore. When I honor Him, I often give good wine (white, rose, both sweet and dry wines), cider, mead. I guess that’s standard for Heathen libation practice. I’ve also been known to give Him lush bouquets of flowers, beautiful, aromatic varieties; beyond that prayer, praise songs, and music.
11 Talk about Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity.
We don’t have the information for historical practice, but one of my readers noted that He liked to be honored at daybreak, which I have also found to be the case in my practice. This makes sense given His function as Sunna’s herald. I also personally tend to honor Him at the Summer Solstice, not just on the solstice proper, but for a week or so before and after. I haven’t gotten any push to honor Him for the Winter Solstice, but I also haven’t been paying attention that closely. It would make sense to honor both Him and Sunna during the period of Sunwait, the weeks leading up to Yule.
JKE recently asked,
“Here’s a question, if you have time. What is the most fundamental part of your devotional work? If all else had to be eliminated in a crisis, what would you keep doing?
This year, I have had multiple hospital stays, been temporarily displaced from my home, etc. I find myself asking this question a lot, trying to figure out what forms the bedrock of my spiritual practice. I find myself saying evening prayers every day, before sleep, and it keeps me anchored. At its most basic, it is just listing the names of the gods, and a few words of gratitude to each. I also offer song and fresh water, because those are available and possible just about anywhere. It makes me wonder what other polytheists do to stay focused on the Gods in chaotic times, or when stripped of resources.”
You hit on the answer to this question already, JKE: prayer. It is the most important part of any devotional practice. It’s where one usually begins one’s devotional journey, and it’s the thing that no one can take away. We may not be able to make offerings or libations due to circumstances (though the offering process is also important and as you note, water is almost always available) and certainly not everyone may have access to a properly trained blot priest, but we can always pray. We may not be able to wear any religious symbols or even to have a shrine, but we can pray. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you have the capacity to pray. This is the most fundamental form of devotional communion.
Now a lot of people think prayer is asking for things and it can be but … it’s also so much more. One may ask for things when one prays but I hope that sooner or later, with devotional maturity, one will ease away from this. There will always be times when we reach out to the Gods for help but where prayer is concerned, on a daily basis, that should be the exception rather than the rule. Prayer is a means of preparing the ground of the mind, the heart, the spirit for experience of the Holy. It’s communication, and I think the very process of praying creates in us a certain receptivity to the Gods and spirits. For that reason alone, it’s indispensable.
9. what are some Common mistakes about this deity?
I don’t know how to answer this question because I don’t think the majority of Heathens give Him any thought at all. When most people talk about the House of Mundilfari, it’s Mani and Sunna that receive the bulk of the cultus. Even Their Father Mundilfari or Their sister Sinthgunt aren’t talked about very much and the latter is mentioned in the Merseberg charms. So, I am unaware of Dagr having a substantial modern cultus (if there are those out there who honor Him, please feel free to post in the comments! I would love to be wrong here). My household started honoring Him when He sort of showed up devotionally, just poking at the edges of my devotional consciousness, but we’re still very new in His veneration. I know from my prayer card project that there ARE those who honor him, but not many. I think part of the problem is that there just isn’t much surviving in the lore about Him. This makes some Heathens nervous, I’m afraid.
- Discuss this Deity’s Names and epithets
He’s called Dagr in the surviving sources, which means ‘Day.’ Hrafnagaldr Odins also gives us “Son of Dellingr.” We can surmise “Herald of Sunna,” “Keeper of Time,” and depending on the family narrative one follows, “Son of Nott,” and “Brother of Jorð,” this latter name being attested in the Skaldskaparmal. Were I writing praise names for Him, I would include “Father of Kings.” All of these are either extant heiti or taken from surviving lore.
I haven’t written enough prayers and praise poems to this God to know what modern epithets seem appropriate. That is something I hope to remedy this year.
8 Discuss Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)
Scholar Otto Hoefler equates Dagr with the hero Svipdag, who is mentioned in the Eddic lay the Svipdagsmal, and whose name means “suddenly dawning day” (1). Svipdag courted the healing Goddess Mengloth after both seeking counsel and learning charms from his mother, the seeress and seiðkona Groa. In my own devotions to Dagr, I just don’t see this equivalency, but I mention it here anyway.
I was curious if there was an Anglo-Saxon equivalent to Dagr, but I wasn’t able to find anything. Of course, the Old English word for ‘day’ was “Daeg” but whether this was ever used to refer to a Divinity of the Day, I don’t know. Regional cultus is such a rich part of polytheism, I don’t see why Heathenry in all its iterations would be any different. I’m just beginning my explorations of Dagr and His veneration and who knows what I’ll find or where it will lead? Maybe I will find more regional forms, epithets, etc. as I progress.
- See Rudolf Simek, Dictionary of Northern Mythology, 55, 307.
Today in my wordpress reader, I came across this very thoughtful and thought provoking blog post. I suggest going and reading that article before continuing here so we’re all, quite literally, on the same page.
At the very end of this piece, discussing Aztec polytheism (among other things) and gender roles, the author asks:
“With no state sanction, no political agenda, no economy to bolster, what does religious duty and sacrifice mean? If it’s not about securing tribute for a highly militaristic empire, then what is it?
Can it just be about love and devotion?”
While I disagree with the author’s earlier conclusion that ‘gender and sexuality are no longer disruptive in ways that matter to the functioning of society…” and agree very strongly about the problems of modern communal life – I would say we have dysfunctional communal life because it is utterly lacking in community—I found the above quote to perfectly encapsulate one of the areas of disconnect facing modern polytheists. Our polytheism is unconnected to any state enterprise, and we are incapable in many cases of seeing purpose in that which doesn’t immediately affect collective humanity, so the question automatically arises of the ultimate purpose of offerings and devotion. What good does it do? Why bother?
In various iterations, I get this question a lot. It’s what underlies quite a bit of the push back to the idea of actively engaging in the devotional economy. The post-modern world has worked very hard to close and securely bolt any window, keyhole, or door that might lead to the awareness that we share our world with Gods and spirits, that in fact, our world is under Their aegis and our own temporal guardianship a privilege we have abused. To understand that changes everything. It challenges the current societal status quo, challenges first and foremost the contemporary ontology that ascribes no greater responsibility or purpose to human life than the pursuit of personal pleasure. It demands that we stop living in a world where the first question asked is “what’s in it for me?” So, yes, I think it canbe just about love and devotion. Offerings and devotion serve many purposes. First and foremost, they root us deeply in right relationship with our Gods. That in turn nourishes that scaffolding of creation that the Holy Powers set in motion. It lubricates it, renews it, acknowledges our place and part in it. That is enough because that relationship with our Gods, ancestors, and other Holy Powers is fundamental to healthy being. It is our purpose, it brings renewal, it roots us deeply in conscious awareness of the architecture of creation, that the Gods have put place and of which we are a part.
Devotion thins the walls between what some scholars of religion refer to as the sacred and profane. It opens up our world experience again and aligns it far more fully to that of our Gods. It reifies again and again the moment of creation, the moment when the Gods decided to set the structure of the worlds, of creation, of being itself into organized motion.
By our devotional actions or lack thereof, we participate in sustaining the sacred architecture of the worlds. This is where true change happens. Just as the Gods nourish us, our prayers and offerings are like the water from Urdabrunnr that daily nourishes the World Tree. So, yes, love and devotion are enough but there’s a powerful theology behind it.