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Yule Tradition: Divination

Last year I started a Yuletide tradition for myself that I am continuing this year. I know I saw the idea on someone else’s blog ages ago and I can’t remember where, but I thought it was a fantastic idea for seasonal divination.

Each night of the 12 nights of yule, I draw a rune for each of the next 12 months. I spend some time in meditation, draw a rune, and then journal about it and what it indicates for that month of the year.

I started last night, as it was the Solstice, and historically the Northern folks counted days from evening to evening, not morning to morning so while today is Yule, yesterday was the start, at least for me.

It is a simple thing, but powerful, and last year the tides and themes were on point.

I tweaked a bit from last year, doing more journaling and less focus on dreaming, as I rarely dream (last year I slept on each rune, but had no dreams I could recall). I had also been doing the draws in the morning rather than evening due to my ridiculous work schedule, so I was trying to record one new rune and dream journal from the night before.

The first rune jumped out of the bag. I had my selection between my fingers and half way out the bag when this one dropped on the ground and demanded attention, and glad I am of it – January looks like it will be a surprisingly good month.

gebo by RomOnFire
gebo by RomOnFire on DeviantArt

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Posted by on December 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Recomendation: The Folklore Podcast

I am often either super late to the game with technology, or more rarely, early. In this case, I am very, very late in starting to listen to podcasts. No idea why it took so long, because I am now very enthusiastic about them.

What finally got me was a friend insisting I listen to The Folklore Project, (blog/episode guide here) particularly the Yule episode.

I have always been a fan of folklore, fairytales and mythology, and I always link them together like that because they are ultimately interrelated (including urban legends – aka modern folklore!) and all three have been helpful for informing my personal religious and magical practice, as it has others. For example, the 9 sacred herbs in Anglo-Saxon Heathenry come from a folklore charm!

The Folklore podcast has a focus primarily on European traditions, as that is where the podcast is based, but touches on folklore in the States and other countries as well. Also, host Mark Norman has a fantastic voice. I love listening to him!

I started with the Yule episode, since its that time of the year and I just finished listening to episode 3 today, “Concealed Revealed” about objects found hidden in homes like witch bottles, shoes, etc, and started the episode on the Wild Hunt, which is also very timely as Yule is nearing and Odin will be riding with the Hunt again soon…

A great podcast for anyone who enjoys folklore, and for witches, pagans and heathens with an Anglo-Saxon bent.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Heathen Holiday Crafts: Light Up World Tree

I am a crafter, and I am a Heathen, and often the two combine. Right now, it’s also holiday season, with Yule coming up, and Christmas ALL OVER the craft stores (well, all over since like September. Crafters, we are a couple of months ahead of all holidays because we need the time to get stuff made.

This year, I made a Nine Worlds light up tree – this will likely wind up being a permanent fixture in my home/altars. This is a fun project to help you get to know the 9 Worlds, to teach your children, or simply as a devotional practice to have a focal piece for your altar.

This is a project I’ve actually always wanted to do and saw all the pieces I needed on sale dirt cheap. First, you need a base. Both AC Moore and Michaels sell 2 ft tall wooden trees with holes drilled in them for lights:

I found mine at AC Moore for $5. The one I chose, unlike this photo pulled from the internet, is much wider all over.

I laid on a couple of layers of white paint on the front, back and base, and then used a pencil to outline where I wanted the boundaries of each world, then did the base colours for each world. Finally, the details. This one….has a lot of glitter. I’m not sorry.

It is not *quite* finished – I would like to get an eagle to sit on top of it, a squirrel for the side, and 4 stags to complete the tree, but I haven’t found the right pieces yet. (I could have sworn I had a miniature squirrel somewhere in my craft room, but that hasn’t panned out.)

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Above is the currently completed tree, with no lights. Unfortunately, I do not yet have a strand of lights that fits. I had bought a set of 20 lights, which is the exact amount of spaces, but they don’t quite reach to all of them.

Next, I’d like to give a brief overview of the Worlds and what images I chose for them.

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Asgard: At the top of the world tree, we have Shining Asgard. Asgard is the home of the Aesir family of Deities, and some of the most well known: Thor, Frigga, Skadi, and of course, Odin, leader of the As.  The Valknut is Odin’s symbol,  who’s Hall of the Slain is roofed with golden shields. Gold, too, are the apples of Immortality which Idunna grows and guards for the gods, and that is why I associate gold strongly with Asgard. The Rainbow Bridge links Asgard to Midgard and is guarded by Heimdall.

I had debated using the highest light space for Thor’s hammer rather than a star, but as a Heathen who’s practice includes many Jotun’s, and who is jotun blooded, I don’t feel comfortable using hammers in my practice. For another practitioner, however, that may be a more appropriate symbol to use decorating their tree.

I chose the rune Ansuz because it is one that is associated with Odin and the Aesir.

Vanaheim: Next, we have Vanaheim, home of the Vanir family of Gods – Freya and Frey, Njord, Nerthus. The Van are Gods of fertility and agriculture, and the mysteries of death and rebirth, which is why I chose the rune Ingwaz here, which is Frey’s rune. The pictographic interpretation of Ingwaz is the bound wheat shaft, waiting to be cut down, as Frey is cut down each year and yet reborn, and I painted little wheat plants to flank it. I used gold for the details here as Frey is known as the Golden One

The runes chosen, Fehu (wealth) and Jera (Harvest) were chosen to reflect a bountiful harvest, which the Vanir can grant us. Fehu is also associated with Freya.

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Alfheim: Alfheim was was hardest for me, because Alfs/Elves are very foreign to me. I don’t know them well, don’t want to, and feel they have the same opinion of me, which. We are all fine with that. Everyone I asked and the sources I checked associate Wunjo with Alfheim, hence its inclusion here. Alfs have a liking for very, very pretty well-made things, so I used silver, gold and pearl to decorate and created the best flower I could.

Midgard – Midgard, depending on your cosmology, is either our world that we currently live in, or the sister-realm to ours. Midgard is encircled within the Great Snake, Jormungandr, Angrboda and Loki’s youngest child; the Serpent is associated with the rune Ior, included on the left.

Mannaz is the centrepiece of this world because Mannaz is the rune of humanity, community, marriage, etc. The pictograph is two people standing with their hands joined, as in a handfasting.   Also included is the Eihwaz rune, the yew staff a farmer would use to defend his home and land.

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Jotunheim: One of the 3 realms home to the Jotunkind, Jotunheim is large, full of mountains and dark forests. Pictured on the right is a representation of a wood, the Ironwood where Angrboda dwells, represented with the Ac rune.Also included areUruz, the rune of physical strength and endurance (also note – Ac is a rune of Angrboda, but it is also a rune associated with emotional/psychic strength and endurance) Thurisaz -clearly one associated with the Jotunkind, also called Thurses. I find this rune a fascinating symbol for Jotuns because it is also emblematic of Fire and Ice – it is made of Isa, the Ice rune, and Kano, the Torch. The universe was created by the meeting of fire and ice in the great void. It is not for no reason that the Thurz rune is so potent.

Getting more personal, the heart is there because I strongly associate the heart with Angrboda, my fulltrui, and inside of is Othala, because I see Jotunheim as my home, and where some of my ancestry is from.

Svartalfheim & Nidavellir – home of the Duergar (Dwarves) and the Dark Alfs. Some traditions consider the svartalfs and duergar to be the same beings – dwarves. My tradition sees them as distinct separate races and communities.Moreso than Alfheim, this was another extremely hard world for me. The Dark Alfs are even more remote to me than the Light Alfs. I used silver-grey for this world to contrast the brightness of Alfheim. The Dark Alfs live on the surface of this world, the dwarves preferring to stay underground.

Moreso than Alfheim, this was another extremely hard world for me. The Dark Alfs are even more remote to me than the Light Alfs. I used silver-grey for this world to contrast the brightness of Alfheim. The Dark Alfs live on the surface of this world, the dwarves preferring to stay underground.

The only symbol commonly associated with the Dark Alfs that I could find was the dagger. For the Duergar, the hammer would again be an appropriate symbol, as the hammer is used in smithing, and they were the creators of Thor’s famous hammer, but I opted to include a compass to represent the hall of the four directions, the Duergar temple to the creatures that take the form of dwarves to hold up the sky -Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri (North, South, East, and West).

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The next two worlds are Niflheim and Muspellheim, the worlds of Ice and Fire.  The purple bordering them is to represent Ginunngungap, the primordial chaos from which the world originated.

Niflheim is the world of Ice, represented by Haglaz, one of the two Ice runes (the other being Isa, which is included as well but not as the primary focus). Haglaz is the ice seed – a hail stone and can be as dangerous as a hailstorm.

Muspellheim is the world of Fire, and its focal rune is Cweorth, the fire twirl, one of the oldest methods of making fire, and is associated with the funeral pyre. The  Kano fire run is included as well.

Helheim, finally, is at the bottom of the world tree, and is painted black and has silver accents – the Keys represent the keys to Helheim, which only a few mortals have access to (nb – I am not one of them).  To the right is Niddhog, the dragon who gnaws the roots of the world tree and who is in a battle of insults with the eagle at the top of the tree – Ratasok the squirrel ferries the insults between them.The apple is for Hel, who I strongly associate with apples. I’ve been told that there are several fine apple orchards in Hel.

The central rune here is Ear, the Rune of the Grave. Its pictograph is of the pole and yoke or tree from which an animal was hung when it was butchered, and is an apt metaphor/symbol of Hela.

So, there you have it! A DIY Yggdrasil of your very own.  If you already have paints, this project is easily under $10 for the wooden tree and lights to light it up.

I will post an update once I have further pictures with lights!

The next craft will be Rune Ornaments for your real life Yule tree!

 

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Lessons from the dojo

I’m a silly person. I spent a lot of time wanting to write rather than writing. So I’ve decided to start blogging a bit more, and while the primary focus of this blog is religious, I’m going to broaden the topics to cover whatever the fuck I want.

With that said, let’s talk about Aikido; namely, the things I learned in class last week.

Last week in class, we had a couple of new white belts in class, which I love. First, because I love seeing new folks on the mats, and second, because that means we go back to the basics a bit more, and we can hear the same questions, and come to different understandings about the answers, or learn a new way to do something, or correct a bad habit we’ve fallen into. There’s a lot to be said for working with folks you’ve known for a long time, but new folks are a breath of fresh air.

I was working in a three person group with one of the white belts and a black belt when Sensei came to work with us. The white belt asked a question I remember asking to – “What do you do if someone is using this move/aikido against you?”

Sensei’s answer was simple – “Don’t let them use aikido against you. If someone is using aikido against you, you are likely in the wrong.”  We don’t learn attacks in Aikdio except what we need to be a good uke. The art of Aikido (which translates as “The way of unifying with Qi” or “The way of harmonious spirit”) has no attacks because we are not interested in attacking. We defend.  We protect ourselves. We get out of the way. The first move in many cases is a turn – irimi, we move in, tenkan, we move out.  Most of the moves traditionally end with a pin, not a knockout.  I once saw an illustration explaining how different fights start and end (two people meet and one kills the other, they meet and one provokes the other and kills him in ‘self-defence’ vice versa, etc.). All the fights ended with one or both people dead or injured, with the goal of Aikido being the result of such a situation being that either the fight does not start or is ended in a non-fatal, ultimately non-injurious way.

The Aikidoka strives not to start a fight, and if they cannot avoid it, to end it safely. Ideally, both people should walk away from the encounter. We blend with an attack rather than fight against it. We stop before things go on, and we get away. But basically – we don’t start shit.

I made such a face that Sensei asked what I was thinking about, and I pulled her aside to share that I was both pissed off and justified.

See, I had an ex who used to tickle me. I’m not…against tickling. It has a time and place. But if I say stop, you need to stop, period.  With them, I would say, “No really, stop now.” and even”No seriously fucking stop it”. Yet they would not, and I couldn’t make them stop, as they were bigger than me and had the better hand to hand training. However, eventually on at least one occasion, later in my training, I snapped and wound up getting them with a sankyo, which is…not fun. You don’t want to be in one.  I think that fairly clearly states that no, I am not ok, and you really need to stop now.

I always felt bad about that, though. It hurt their hand and wrist, and they complained all night and was very upset, because they need their hands for work, and I generally don’t want to hurt the people I loved.  Between that and how upset they were, I sincerely thought I was in the wrong. But. Here’s the thing. I literally cannot put someone into sankyo if they don’t have their hands on me, unless they are trying to lay hands on me. That’s not how it works.

I’d like to pretend that they were really upset that they had ignored my requests to stop and felt like a bag of dicks because of that and how I had to get them to stop, but let’s be real here, they were upset that they got hurt end stop. The fact that my boundaries were crossed was what caused the pain didn’t factor into their thought process.  That was not the first or last time my boundaries were crossed like that, but if theirs were crossed it was always a Very Serious Situation.

Moral of the Story: Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person is to pin them until they think about what they’ve done. Also, while they have every right to lose their shit when their boundaries are violated, I can and should have the same reaction. I shouldn’t have to put up with it and one of the few things I regret is that I did.  I’ve also learned that historically I have been willing to put up with boundary violations from someone I care about and I’m not into that anymore – it was like being with my ex-husband all over again but without the ‘because I wanted to!’ foot stamp.

The other thing that happened in Aikido is I had a bit of a breakthrough regarding how I feel interacting with people.  I’m three years in, but still very skittish.

See, I was ordered into martial arts by Angrboda. And I know a big part of that was to help me get past much of the fear and anxiety I have, particularly around men. I am a survivor of sexual assaults, and I still have anxiety and PTSD.  Even though I know that I am safe in the dojo, I still get nervous, especially when I’m the only woman in the class. It’s not rational, but trauma isn’t rational.

And of course, over time, its gotten better. But I still get skittish when folks get too close to me.

One sensei likes to include techniques that can be used in practical situations, and we were practicing a technique to get away if you are pinned to a wall, front or back. My partner was being very polite when he was pinning me from behind – the pin we were working with was one hand on a shoulder, pinning to the wall, a knee up on a leg, and a hand/implied knife in the lower back. I finally looked at him and said “Listen, if I get pinned to a wall like this, no one is stealing my money. They would be right up in my grill.” I kindly did not say that this had happened to me before. Dude didn’t need that info. and once he confirmed I was ok with it, when it was my turn to practice with my face in the wall, he’d get right up in there.

This time, I picked the move up much quicker.  I actually do pretty well while learning with a bit of an extra push like that, and the adrenaline seems to make everything a bit sharper.  By the end of it, I was able to get out of the pin and atemi (strike, or feint a strike) to the face.  I was quite proud of myself, for getting it, for remaining calm even though it was an unpleasant and uncomfortable position to be in again.

My partner’s reaction to it was rather interesting as well. He was willing to do it, but clearly, very uncomfortable because to do that to another person, or to a woman, was clearly not in his nature.  He’s intimidating on the mats, and very intense, and it’s a good reminder for me that most dudes are *not* a problem. Its just the ones who are. That whole not being able to tell until its too late thing. But overall, I felt very good about this class as well.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A Prayer for my Divided Nation

facingthefireswithin

Things are looking dark right now, and many friends feel that.  I have seen swirling anger at levels that I cannot remember before and friends deeply divided in many directions.  Rage and violence are in many places. I fear I may lose friends as well.  In meditation this morning, and after, I wrote this:

Hail Heimdall! Help those who must keep the watch and remind them to do it well as well as to remember ALL of their duties.

Hail Hermod! Let those who must bear the memories and stories of the dead be inspired to carry that duty well.

Hail Tyr! Remind us that Rage, even Righteous Rage, can be the Fire that engulfs us all. “For Fenris must be chained, or Chaos will be King!”

Hail Freya! Remind us that the Passions we all bear do us credit, but can sometimes go too far.  I call on you…

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Posted by on July 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

For the past few months, the same memory has been floating up to the top of my mind. I figured I might as well share it here. I think it might be a reminder to share more of myself than just what I think are ‘important woo things’, because its a reminder that its the little things which can make the biggest difference


When I was as the end of my time in massage school, we were sent out on a variety of externships to get practice with real world clients. For one of mine, I chose to go give massage at a group home for mentally ill folks, many of whom were (recently) formerly homeless, who were at a point in their treatment where they were transitioning back into living and working. We were giving relaxation chair massages, nothing fancy. It was mostly a chance to practice intake and working with strangers. I was in my white pants and fancy little polo shirt from the school, looking all neat and professional for all that we were throwing pillows and towels on a table for folks to lean on – no actual massage chairs were available for offsite work.

My last client of the day was late and not a happy camper, but I didn’t have to be anywhere and he looked like he needed the massage. I sat there while he painstakingly filled out his intake form in wobbly block print, hands shaking the entire time. He had trouble spelling, especially his medications. He asked me how to spell one of his meds – seroquel.

I told him, and mentioned I took it as well, and he was so surprised. Its hard to describe, so many years later, when I can’t recall the exact words. But while before we started we talked a little. I was taking seroquel at the time because I used to depersonalize; for a very long time, my doctors thought I was bipolar (long story short, while I am OCD and clinically depressed, the BPD was a side effect of the hormones I’d been on.) I told him that I was bipolar, and he said he was too. That some of the meds he was on made his hands shake and his muscles hurt. And he was amazed to see that I was doing “So well”, even though I didn’t feel like I was at the time. Shit, I still don’t feel like that. But just that little bit of sharing made a huge difference to him. He left that day smiling, because he said he figured if I could be ok and be doing so well as a massage student and what not, that he could do ok too.

Its a good reminder for me that how we perceive our selves against others is relative – I certainly didn’t feel like I had my life together compared to other folks I knew, but to this man, I was a light in  a dark place. And I learned that sharing some of the things folks hide about themselves can make a huge difference to someone struggling with the same thing.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A Mother’s Day prayer for those whose earthly mothers are lacking

Happy mothers day to the moms, soon to be moms and trying to be moms in my life. To those of us with terrible moms we choose to be estranged from: at least our dads are cool.

A Mother’s Day Prayer
For those whose earthly mothers are lacking

Hail Angrboda, Mother of Monsters:
May I have the will to keep on my road, even when lost.

Hail Sigyn, Mother of Grief:
May my sorrows be bearable, even when sharp

Hail Freya, Mother of Treasure:
May I remember my value, even when knocked down.

Hail Frigga, Mother of Light:
May I remember that even when in darkness, light comes from me.

Hail Rind, Mother of Vengeance:
May what comes forth from me be my revenge, a life well lived.

Hail Jarnsaxa, Mother of Strength:
May I always be strong enough to always do better than my past.

Hail Hela, Mother of Death:
Take what sorrows I cannot bear any longer and lay them at the feet of my ancestral mothers, so they may know I tried.

—-
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This work by Úlfdís is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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