An Offering to Odin
by H. Rawlings
The one who whispers
With bold tenderness into a woman’s heart
Who finds you laid bare
Skin and bones
And applies the healing balm
Knowledge and fury
Breath and calm
The Resounding One
Open yourself to his breath
Let yourself be restored
by Ryan M.
Bloody staves and candlelight,
the questioner being questioned.
A divine and cosmic discourse.
A path weaved through the Wyrd.
Answers appear through the smoke, some beget more questions.
Comprehension is the problem of the inquirer,
Truth cares not if it is understood.
The Wise One takes another sip of mead,
knowledge of all is seldom a comfort.
He mastered this game long ago,
and I wonder if He misses the mystery of it.
Either way we drink together,
for the Truth is seldom easy to swallow without assistance.
Lady of the islands and low-lying lands,
Mistress of the tides and the flowing waves,
Mother of the Morini and the maritime peoples,
Domina of lapdogs and hounds of every sort,
She Who is the hand upon the rudder,
The line suspending every anchor,
The glint of the guiding star along the shore:
Nehalennia, Great Goddess,
when the inundation comes
and drowns the low places
and the souls are overfull of doubt
and are submerged in sadness
may You lead them out, and across,
and on the secret trackways of the deep;
For Yours are the paths under the waves
and Yours the unknown roads upon tides,
Yours the baying of hounds in searching
and Yours the barks of greeting from dogs
who are Your children, and who welcome Your children
when they come to You at last when life runs dry
and it is Your fresh air You give them in death.
Hail to the Lady of the watery grove,
Whose hand rests upon the tiller of fate,
Who knows the bonds of life and sacrifice
woven between land and water from the elder days,
She who knows that wealth flows like water, channeled for a time before bursting bounds and sweeping all aside before it.
Hail too to the Lady of the faithful hound,
Who knows the bonds between water and the dead,
Who guides the dead to the isles in the West.
Hail Nehalennia, one and the same.
by C. Greene
Orthodox Ritual Praxis
This morning I read an article on Greek and Russian Orthodox Church services and it was fascinating. The services, particularly around holy week can be quite grueling. They last for hours and in the most traditional churches people are standing that entire time. Of course, they don’t just stand: they pray, they sing, they move to various icons and light candles and pray some more as the spirit moves them. It’s interactive and quite physically demanding. Here’s the article I read, which actually downplays quite a bit the physical exertion and discipline required.
So I read this and think: we can’t even get people willing to offer water without them whining about how put upon they are, and how they feel being expected to actually DO something is elitist, ablest, classist, insert ‘ism of your choice here.
If people cared about their Gods as much as they cared about the latest cause or video game or Dr. Who episode maybe we’d actually be getting somewhere but I look at articles like the above and realize exactly how far we have to go to hit even a bare baseline of active devotion.
The Vikings Didn’t Need Islam to be Religiously Fulfilled.
Then there’s this little gem. Apparently, the Arabic word for God (Allah) was found on some Viking textiles and a group of academics is using this as an opportunity to normalize Muslim invasion of Europe, and to erase our indigenous religions. The scholars involved are claiming that Vikings were influenced in their burial practices by Islam, extensively influenced, because of course Heathen religions couldn’t possibly have complex and fulfilling beliefs about the afterlife. Of course, the Vikings would have had to turn to a monotheistic religion for that. It’s utter bullshit and frankly bad scholarship along with being subtle pro- Muslim propaganda. It goes without saying a certain portion of our communities are celebrating this.
Yes, religions communicated. We know this. No religion evolved in a vacuum and there were borrowings across history. This is a normal part of the conversations that happen culturally between different groups, including religious groups. That, however, is not what the article is saying. It’s flat out giving Islam credit for Viking burial practices and doing so with zero evidence.
Why were there Islamic textiles in the Northlands? Most likely trade. And frankly, given that silk is a luxury item, it shouldn’t be too surprising that it’s found in burials. Why wouldn’t you want to bring back and give pretty, rich things to the dead that you love before sending them off? (I’ve seen this before though in academia. Secularism and/or atheism holds such sway in certain fields, along with the blanket assumption that if you’re educated you will not be religious, that I’ve actually attended lectures on religious topics like pilgrimage wherein the speaker put forth every possible explanation for why someone would undertake this difficult and expensive process…except devotion and piety. There is a swath of academics who simply cannot conceptualize devotion. It’s quite sad and leads to some seriously shady scholarship or at the very least, scholarship that misses its mark significantly).
Why is that surprising? This is right up there with archeologists finding multiple burials of women having died of war wounds, having been buried with weapons – repeatedly—and acting confused, claiming that perhaps the burials were contaminated because women can’t have been warriors to the degree they’re finding. There is a level of obtuseness and flat out stupidity in this that I find mind-blowing. The standard attitude of academia toward polytheism in the ancient world (they hardly ever acknowledge it in the modern) is to insist it didn’t exist, to insist it was solely a matter of praxis, that there was no meat or belief or devotion or passion there…despite quite a lot of evidence (linguistic, literary, archeological, etc.) to the contrary. The contemporary academic response to polytheism is, essentially, erasure.
Bringing this full circle, it’s bad enough when academics try to erase our devotional worlds. It’s bad enough when they damn our ancestors and their traditions like this. You know what’s worse? When we do it ourselves by simply not giving a damn.
by Dr. Emily K.
We shouted from the docks on the day You arrived,
Splendid and sailing up from the South,
Your barge trimmed with beaten gold.
A noble hound attended Your right hand
And a basket of the sweetest fruits spilled from Your left.
We have You now!
O Queen who has travelled in many lands,
Now at last in these low fields
Walled off and dug from the ocean
You are home at last.
Keep safe our sailors, silks, silver, slaves,
And all the wealth our merchants will display.
You will be our Mother
Until the day we come sailing to Your harbor
Hounds and health-bearing fruits laid by our sides
As we lie in earth
Seafaring in the mound
Then You will say to us:
The Winner of the Persephone Agon, chose by div, is Alexeigynaix. Congratulations. i’ll be in touch today about your prizes.
Everyone else, thank you so much for submitting such lovely pieces to the Agon. May Persephone ever and always be hailed. 🙂 Please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com with your mailing addresses and also to let me know which prayer card you would like.
Here is the first submission to Nehellenia’s Agon.
Prayer to Nehalennia
May my life,
Be a boat under your guidance and protection,
Grant me strength,
To hold the rudder of my life,
And follow to the right direction.
Grant me wisdom,
To discern between the moment,
To anchorage or to start new voyages.
May the winds blow gently,
And no storms destroy the pleasure of living.
Grant me access to my inner treasures,
And to your deep mysteries.
Oh Lady, grant me prosperity and fullness!
by Bela Síol, 06/11/2012. (This. prayer is part of The Oracle and Nehalennia author Bela Síol and the artist Igor Alexandre).
I was thinking about the ‘Lay of Hyndla’ today. There’s a beautiful, haunting passage where Freya talks about the piety of Her servant Ottar, whom She has transformed into the boar, Hildsvini — apologies to Old Norse readers. I’m typing this directly into WordPress and can’t figure out how to do the accent marks. In Stanza 10, She tells Hyndla about Ottar, indicating why, perhaps, She is willing to help him on his quest. She’s arguing with Hyndla, who is basically a Goddess of genealogy,(1) so that the latter will recite Ottar’s ancestry, enabling the hero to tap into his ancestral blessings. It really shows how important it is to have proper relationships with the Gods and ancestors, and that if you have one, They’ll help with the other.
10. “For me a shrine | of stones he made,–
And now to glass | the rock has grown;–
Oft with the blood | of beasts was it red;
In the goddesses ever | did Ottar trust.
In other words, Ottar made so many sacrifices, and committed those sacrifices to immolation on Her altar, that the heat of the fires turned the stones to glass. Note that it’s his piety that wins Freya over, not some great heroic deed. May we take him as an example of good, religious behavior.(2)
- Not everyone in the Northern Tradition views Hyndla as a Goddess, but my particular tradition does.
- * sarcasm* I guess that makes Ottar one of the original members of the Piety Posse.
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by Sarenth Odinsson
You Who gave us oðr
Mud King, Marsh King
You Who gave us Will
Hail to You!
Whose friend and aide is Mimir
Who is confidante and conspirator to Odin
Who brings action in Vé’s wake
Hail to You!
Whose mouth is full to bursting
Whose hands held Ymir down
Who helped Odin and Vé craft many Worlds
Hail to You!
Whose silence is full of wisdom
Whose countenance is fearsome
Whose counsel is prudent
Hail to You!
Who knows the many ways forward
Who even the Gods seek in counsel
Whose divination sees the Worlds set aright
Hail to You, Hoenir!
by C. Greene
Hoenir, King of the lands of plenty,
what wisdom have You found amongst the marsh birds and the eels?
God Who granted will to Ask and Embla,
terrible will born of a slayer of Ymir,
Haunter of the lands most filled with Ymir’s blood,
what do You seek there?
Are the bog lamps the lingering flicker of Ymir’s synapses,
does wyrd stretch out its threads before You in the fog,
or are the cleansing places of the world whispering their secrets?
With whom would You share Your heron-wit?
Will the descendants of the driftwood born be worthy of such a gift,
or will we burn brightly and fade like the will o wisps of Your holy places?
Silence in the bulrushes may greet the querent, but that may be an answer in itself. May we be worthy Hoenir, may we learn from Your primal acts, and in Your silence may you not be forgotten.