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An Old Poem: Godspouse

I recently found this piece of poetry that I wrote several years ago. It’s a good way to start the new year. 

Godspouse

To be wed to a God
is incineration.

It is a mauling,
a joyous evisceration.

It is the agony of knowing
that human flesh is weak:
one can never be fully filled
completely with one’s God.
We claw our way forward anyway,
addicts aching for our next fix;
and the merest breath of His presence
strengthens us, makes us whole,
sates that terrible hunger for a time.

But only for a time.
We are all virgins here,
no matter from whence we come.
There is no experience like that of being claimed,
no penetration quite so deep,
as being taken up by the Gallows God;
taken, from the inside out, and outside in.
But I don’t think anyone claimed by Him was ever innocent.
He devoured that before we even knew it was there and found it sweet.

How does one wed a God, you ask?

Vows are whispered in urgency and need,
hunger, desire, and the agony of separation.
“I will love You and serve You always,
in each and every way You ask.
I will be whatever it is You need me to be
all for the barest taste of You;”
and then You delight and pour Yourself into me.
I lose my place in the restrictive fabric of being for a time.
The joy is too great.
If only if were that simple.

Here’s how it went:

I brought a dowry of courage and raw, ruthless pain,
of hunger, and an uncompromising will to serve.
I brought passion and promise,
and a thousand possibilities
all marked and tumbled with a warrior’s pride.
I brought stubborn commitment
and a terrified love.
It was enough.

My courting gifts were many, too many to easily count.
I did not know how lavish my Bridegroom had been
until seeing His paltry gifts to another.
It awes and frightens me even now.
We pay in service for every gift. That is wyrd and
He was generous, this God who loves the storm,
and hungers always to devour knowledge.
I did what any besotted bride would do:
I opened my arms in welcome,
to His hunger for devouring me too.

Love like this is the slim sweet shaft of a blade
pressed deeply between the ribs in the dark.

Love like this is the iron jawed maw of a hunter’s snare
From which the predator has no escape.

Love like this gnaws belly to bone,
Shredding the heart like ravaged meat on the butcher’s slab.

You might think this is a terrible thing.
It is not.
It is beauty beyond comprehension
but the cage of my words
is too frail and weak a thing
to contain the reality of this intoxication,
to capture the richness of my ensnarement,
to convey the holiness of this bliss.
I must use those words that strip away the trite,
that penetrate beyond our human shallowness;
even if those words are ugly and harsh.
He is like that too sometimes: obliteration.

If this is madness, then I shall be mad.
If it is delusion I shall count myself lucky to be so deluded.
Maybe instead I shall laugh, and dance and whirl and spit–
because my body is not strong enough
to contain the depth of the joy my Husband brings.
And because those who would demand I ‘come to my senses’
have not had their senses kissed by the cold fire of this God.
Pity them
and then let me tell you how it is.
I am His bride and His whore,
His servant and His valkyrie,
the meat He grinds between His teeth,
the wine with which he salts His palate.
I am whatever He needs me to be.
I’ll kiss that knife that slides into my heart gleefully,
cavort and caper wantonly
in whatever way brings Him satisfaction.
My joy at being His bride is as vast and great
as the Gap from which His ancestors sprung.
If that be called madness, that is a small enough price to pay
to take within me His storm.

By Galina Krasskova 

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Nott’s Prayer Card

And Nott’s prayer card is finished. She was the only member of the House of Mundilfari for Whom I didn’t have a prayer card. She is holding the milky way in Her hand. (image by G. Krasskova)

Nott

Our Communities Make Me Tired

Today I was checking my Facebook and I came across this gem:

“Notice to my friends-I will not be taking part in or hosting or organizing any [Pagan denomination name’s] rituals or [name of Heathen denomination]’s rituals until I start getting the things I have coming from the Gods and Goddesses. I have grown weary of communing with them, giving them offerings etc to have nothing in return for my connection to them. In my world there is suppose (sic) to be reward or at least confirmation that what I do for them is being put on the balance sheet. So until the scales get balanced in my favor I am withdrawing from all ritual work to honor the Gods until they start to fucking recognize and reward what I have done for them over the years. I will honor my class obligations but beyond that I will be ignoring the Gods.” [I am omitting the name of the author as well as his denoms.]

I’m sure the Gods can hardly contain Their upset at this guy’s decision. SarcasmI sincerely hope this person gets the things he “has coming” from the Gods. Oh, I sincerely do. The level of obtuseness here irritates me but also makes me very sad. Someone hasn’t had very good spiritual direction, at the very least. Now I’m not posting this to shame the poster (If I were, I would have included his name) but because I think this attitude permeates, to varying and lesser degrees, large swaths of our community (especially Heathenry). I rarely see it as clearly articulated as the above, but it’s there coloring, all too often, our devotional lives. I probably should have more compassion but I’ll be honest, I don’t. We should be well beyond this by now and one of the biggest issues with Heathenry today is that we have zero structures in place to provide proper spiritual guidance, to provide good, devout models of how one should engage with the Gods, and most of all, we have zero infrastructures that challenge this outlook. We allow atheists to claim community privilege, we shit on the very idea of proper clergy and specialists, we reify the lore as though we were bible thumping Protestants, mock and spit at devotion, and at every turn we give our Gods nothing. While it’s marginally better than when I first became Heathen thirty years ago, there’s still a terribly long way to go and there shouldn’t be.

We all have our peevish moments before our Gods. Those momentary lapses are not a bad thing. We’re human and our Gods’ awareness and understanding must encompass that, given that They made us. The problems arise when this is a default spiritual setting. WHO THE FUCK ARE WE TO ASSUME THAT THE GODS OWE US ANYTHING?  This guy whines about all the things he’s done for the Gods. What? What have you done that possibly abrogates your responsibility as an adult for venerating Them? We do not honor the Gods and ancestors because we want things in return – not unless we’re shallow, selfish, underdeveloped, pathetic human beings. We honor them because it is the right thing to do, because it is our privilege to do so, because establishing and maintaining right relationship with the Powers transforms everything. It elevates us and brings us into balance with the cosmological order that the Gods Themselves established. The Gods OWE us? No, on the contrary: we owe Them EVERYTHING.

Attitudes like those expressed in the quote above are poison. They corrode the health of any spiritual relationship. Devotion shouldn’t happen only when it’s convenient to us. It shouldn’t be predicated on getting our way or getting rewarded in some way – it is not our place to dictate to the Gods. I can hardly believe that I’m having to write this. It is not our place to dictate anything to the Holy Powers. We can ask. We can beg. We can even have our occasional temper tantrums but in the end as adults we must realize that They do not operate according to our whims and whining. I can only imagine what this person’s life is like if this is the attitude he takes with those in it. Our Gods are patient and wait for us to come to Them properly. They wait and encourage us to order our minds and hearts in healthy ways and if we allow ourselves to recognize it, often provide us with everything we possibly might need in order to do so.

The Gods do not require our devotion. We, however, are the better for it. Attitudes like the above, even when one is going through the outward motions of ritual and respect automatically close the door to any blessings They might bestow. And really? Why should They bother? That They so often do is one of the most profound graces of our lives. The least we can do in return it learn to center ourselves rightly before Them. Let us know, now and always, our proper place before the Gods. We’re only hurting ourselves otherwise.

I suppose all examples are valuable, even the negative ones and here we most certainly have a perfect example of how NOT to engage with the Gods, how not to position ourselves vis-à-vis our devotional work, and the attitudes and behaviors not to encourage …if we give a shit that is about our Gods, our traditions, our ancestors, our communities, and our faith.

Submission to Saga’s Agon

A History Teacher’s Prayer to Sága
by S. Stockton

Sága, Goddess of Ages, bless my endeavor to pass on the history of my land, my morals, my people.
Help them to listen, Record Keeper of the Æsir, so that perhaps they will not repeat the mistakes of ages past.
May they hold fast to the histories of their Ancestors.
May they hold fast to the histories of their heroes.
May they hold fast to the histories of our land.
Strengthen my resolve, oh story-seething Sága, so that I may honor You in my lessons day by day, year by year, generation by generation.
May they never forget how their blessings came to be, and may they remember who they must honor for those gifts.
May they never forget the shame that may cling to them, and may they seek restoration by righting the wrongs of the past.

Another Submission to Saga’s Agon

Hail, Saga of Sokkvabekk
by E. Blakely

Desolate, I wander across a peopled landscape of concrete and steel.
Parched, I tread the wooded trails littered with debris of those who tread this trail before me.
What value this Life, this Generation, this Tide in the History of Mankind?
I collapse – the burden is too great; the future too bleak; all fades in oblivion.

What wakes me first – the sound of the brook? – the hand upon my shoulder? – the cool cup offered by caring hands?
Saga of Sokkvabekk is beside me.
She supports my back as I drink deeply from the cup She holds.
I linger with the Lady of Sokkvabekk for a time.

I am refreshed. I am restored.
I take up the burden which is no longer too great; I look to the future which is no longer too bleak.
The way is clear and I step forward into the Tale of Me once more.

Submissions to Saga’s Agon

For Saga:
by Owlet

Let the cool waves flow over us
The glimmer of light reflecting on cave walls
The taste of honey and the decaying whispers of generations
It stings and it bites and it is languid like a summer night
A chord that strikes and you feel it vibrating not in air
But in the stuff your soul is made of
They say you are one of the protective goddesses
Oh, how you protect us, Lady!
What would life be without this gift of poetry?
Madness distilled until it is drinkable, flavored with the wisdom of ages
It changes us
Sweet as it goes down, sweet as song and thunder
You and the All-Father and the All-Seeing, All-Knowing, and The Beloved
Drink together
We hail your gift with all we are, with desperate longing,
With satiety and peace beyond all understanding that you bring
Drunk on mysteries and gladness and story
When we hear your voice

 

For Saga, the Lady of Words
By Amanda Artemisia Forrester

I sing now to Saga of the Sunken Hall,
Whose home is beneath the cool waves of memory.
She is the Lady of Words that flow like ale,
The Rememberer of those who came before.
Laughing Goddess, Bearer of the golden cup,
Surely You are a Power to be reckoned with,
To be called a companion of Odin, the most powerful (and fearsome) of the Aesir!
It is You, Saga of Sokkvabekkr, Who keeps the memories of our ancestors alive;
The storyteller, the wise woman, the historian, the myth-maker.
Lend me Your inspiration, bless my pen as I spill this ink in Your name.
Lend me Your words, bless my tongue as I as raise my voice in Your name.
And I will provide endless tales for You to collect.

Another Submission to Saga’s Agon

What is the saga of Saga?
by Grant E. Hodel

Saga of Sokkvabek,
She who stores the stories,
The Genealogist of the Gods,
The Lady who records the Legends,
The Lady who IS the Teller of the Tales,
Scheherazade of the north who serenades Odin with tale and ale.

What is Your Story?

We have many tales from times long past,
Past down to this generation from our ancestors,
Divined by poets and prophets, skalds and seers,
Written down for all to see written,
Written down for all to hear spoken.

Of the Gods of the North, we have many stories from the ages past,
That legendary Age of Mythology.
But humanity made a grave error it appears, for your story is not amongst them.

What is Your Story?

I feel an ache in my chest,
And a pain in my soul,
When I realize I do not have the answer to that question.

So I scour all my books,
And I discover again who you are.
But not what your story is.

So I search the internet for answers,
As one does when the present offline materials are unable to provide such.
And I find a website with little miasma within it
– Quite a feat that –
And I find on that website, a story about how you came to be what you are.

The magic of the written word has granted me the power of knowledge.
I now know your story Saga.

Or do I?

This latest question comes forth to my mind,
In all likelihood, from another mind.

As I ponder the possible answers, it hits me,
In a flash of divine inspiration.
I have been thinking too literally and to narrow in scope,
And far too much as the monotheist I once was.

I have been asking the question “What is your story?” incorrectly.
I have been asking a time long past “Where is the saga of Saga?”
And have asked that question with the unconscious understanding that
It refers to a story that has long since concluded.

I should have been asking the Goddess Herself “What is the saga of Saga?”
With the understanding that She lived with the ancestors in the past,
Lives with us in the present, and shall live with the descendents in the future.
For this, I offer a sincere apology to you,
Goddess of genealogies,
Woman of wisdom,
Lady of Legend, Lore, and Learning.
Frigga’s handmaiden of folklore, history, and mythos.

Now I reconsider my distress from when I recognized an omission –
The stories of Saga the ancestors told each other have been lost.
And this is a massive tragedy, and I was right to feel sick from such painful truth.

Even Snorri Sturlson wrote down that
“The goddesses are no less sacred, nor are they less powerful.”
If a christian bishop can see plain as day that truth,
Then why did he not record the lost tales of you, sacred Saga,
Nor very many of your fellow Goddesses counted among Frigga’s handmaidens?

And I must meditate on that important question in the future,
If I am to be of any use to the Goddesses and the Gods,
In rebuilding the lost traditions of the ancestors – how they honored You all.

But I must always keep in mind this lesson I have learned
From seeking your story, Saga of Sokkvabek.
Your story never ended sacred Saga,
Nor did the stories of the other Goddesses end,
Nor did the stories of the Gods.
The stories of the divine are never ending,
And are as immortal as your kind are, Saga of all stories.

Hail Saga, the handmaiden of Frigga!
Hail Saga, the Goddess of the great hall Sokkvabek!
Hail Saga, the teacher of all who truly listen!

Another Submission to Saga’s Agon :)

We Hail Thee.
by E. Blakely

Joy and merriment fill the Hall.
Brimming beakers raised in salute.
We hail Thee, Dame Adventure.

Through our most courageous moments, we hail Thee.
Through our most grim moments, we hail Thee.
Through our most quiet and peaceful nights, we hail Thee.
Through our longest days under the Sun that extend into the dark of a Harvest Moon, we hail Thee.
Through the journey by sea and the return Home, we hail Thee.
Dame Adventure, we hail Thee.

Our lives were lived with passion and gusto.
Our lives were filled with meaning and purpose.
We provided for our Families.
We defended our Freedom.
We respected our neighbors.
We honored our Gods.
We taught our Traditions to the next generation.
We maintained our identity as a People.
Dame Adventure, we hail Thee.

Beloved Lady, we hail Thee
Our lives distilled to their most pure essence now flow through the Sinking Brook.
In the Hall of Our Ancestors, we hail Thee.
In the Hall of Our Ancestors, we welcome the newest arrival with a brimming beaker.
With eyes filled with awe and voice shaking with emotion, they say ‘I know you. Your life was Legendary. You inspired me. Thank you.’
With eyes filled with tears of joy and voice shaking with emotion, we say ‘Yes, and we watched you. Your life was Legendary. You took what we left behind and grew a greatness that made us proud. Thank you.’

Dame Adventure, we hail Thee.
Our lives preserved in Sokkvabekk.
Our lives served with meaning and purpose to the next generation.
Dame Adventure, Lady of Sokkvabekk, Mistress of the Shrine of the Sinking Brook,
We hail Thee.

For Saga’s Agon

Saga’s cupboard
by Emily Kelly

Saga keeps a tidy house.
Spare and harmonious is Sunken Benches Hall
Saga has a set of cups
Each as different as her many houseguests.

Snotra enjoys her visits there, sipping from cool Sokkvabekk’s source
She places her drinking glass back carefully with the others.

The fine bone-china teacup is for Hela
She comes bubbling up in the frosty streamers Hvergelmir sends here.

Here is a silver bowl beaten into fine filigree
Mani’s lips have touched the rim many times

Shapely and pale is Urd’s mug of fired clay
Made of the loam by Urdbrunnr

All of gold is Odin’s cup
Unmarked and runeless
Odin’s eye can read this cup’s designs
Mimir’s well fills it continually

Frigga and Saga drink together
Their cup is kept elsewhere

Saga keeps a holy house
Home to every kind of wisdom seeker
Hail, Saga

two more for Saga’s agon

Prayer to Saga from a writer

Hail Saga,
Mistress of Words,
who lingers over tales that reverberate
off Skvabekk’s walls like
the sound of falling
water.
Lady of Lore,
equal in words to Odin All-Father,
I ask that You bless
my ink and tongue
so that my own words
are ever pleasing to You.
May my pen
never falter
in its quest.
Hail Saga,
to You, I pray.

 

Thanksgiving to Saga

In adoration I come to You
Lady of Lore and Histories.
You who hordes the words of ages,
texts known and secret,
some written only
in the hearts of man and roots of Yggdrasil.
Thank You for all that You are
and all that You do.
May I ever honor You
in my written and spoken
workings as I sift
through tale and lore and
dusty genealogies.
Praise be to Saga
of Sunken-bench and
heavy tome, of
sweet meed and cool stream.
Hail Saga, be praised!

(both prayers by D.)