An announcement of sorts

I’ve been extremely hesitant to announce this, but there’s no point in creating a strict divide between my pagan blogs. For the past year, I’ve been writing devotional poems, prayers, and Twine games under the craft name Cardinal.

You can read or listen to my devotional works here or play my three Heathen-oriented games on itch.io for free here.

I’ve been using the name Cardinal on pagan Discord servers and it’s a name that has come to suit me. I chose the name as it was the first bird I really learned to recognize during the pandemic. (Yes, birding was a pandemic passion!)

On my itch.io profile, you’ll note that my username is battlepoet. This is my username on Discord and WP as well, and I’m changing my public name to reflect that. I use this account for my blog associated with my legal name and professional writing identity, which is why I am not using the name Cardinal as my public name. I want to keep my professional and public identities separate.

I’m going to be reorganizing this blog over the next week or so as I decide what kind of resource I want this space to be.

On another note:

Last year, polytheist monasticism leapt into visibility in a big way: an anthology of essays came out, a podcast released, a forum launched, and an online class came to be.

I was fascinated.

I am fascinated.

I’ve been diving deeper and deeper into this topic. I feel my gods are calling me to pursue this path.

So, I want to reorganize this blog with that calling in mind. Many of you are long-time readers. I want to thank you for following me. Your enthusiasm means the worlds to me. I hope you’ll continue to read as I delve even deeper into polytheism, worship, devotion, and joy. If you’re new here, welcome!

Creative Brainstorming: Prayer

Last year, I wrote rosary prayers to Hel, Loki, Odin, and the ancestors. I had originally been inspired by a fellow Hel devotee who wrote a long rosary prayer for the goddess. Rosary prayers, as far as I know, were meant to be repeated prayers, and I found that the practice fell away because the prayers were too lengthy and it became laborious. Ideally, I’d like to have prayers that are short enough to memorize so that–eventually–I won’t have to stare and read a piece of paper while praying.

Now, I don’t mind using printed hymns for ritual use. I’ve collected a good mass of Heathen prayers that I’ve written, been given from Discord server users, copied from Heathen e-books, or have found online. But it’s nice to have short ritualized prayers and phrases that I can trot out whenever the need calls.

So, today, I have been tinkering with a rosary prayer for Queen Guinevere to use in my Arthurian polytheistic practice. I rewrote this prayer three times in effort to make it short enough to (eventually) memorize. I was inspired by Clann Bridhe’s Book of Hours (p38-39) in the creation of this prayer.

Guinevere of the flowers, bless my heart with joy.

Guinevere of peace, bless my heart with grace.

Guinevere of the convent, bless my heart with devotion.

Guinevere of water, bless my head with calm.

Guinevere of fire, bless my head with inspiration.

Guinevere of dragons, bless my head with wisdom.

Guinevere of the Grail, bless my hands with strength.

Guinevere of justice, bless my hands with courage.

Guinevere of my heart, bless my hands with hope.

I would love to hear other practitioners’ thoughts on creating prayers or memorizing stock ritual phrases to help smooth along devotional practice. Please let me know!

Sources

Book of Hours: for Daily and Seasonal Practice by Clann Bridhe

Hel Rosary by helshound

Thorrablot Preparation

About 10-ish years ago now, I converted to paganism. It was in the month of January although I have no specific date written down. My Thorrablot celebrations have mixed with my pagan conversion anniversary date (arbitrarily chosen as Jan 20th) and now I honour the two together. I wrote some prayers to honour the gods who converted me in the beginning.

Thorrablot has become a time for me to celebrate my dearest friendships with stories and games. It’s an especially nice thing to do as winter is cold so it’s a good time to warm up with hot tea and board games.

Fast friends Thor and Loki | in the flurries of winter

hold the home warm | with hoary tales 

of valour and victory | Old Vegtam knocks

calling the companions | to create room for him.

These age-old adventures | amuse the ears

cheering all of Midgard | in the cold.

I want to honour Loki and Guinevere specifically as two entities who first called out to me as a baby pagan, so I wrote this for them.

More than ten years ago | two tremendous beings

came to me, crying my name | crafty Loki 

and kind Guinevere, curious | to circuit the course

of the pagan year with their new pal | prayers in hand.

I honour their hearts | hanging by me in all troubles.

Hail Loki! Hail Guinevere!

Happy New Year to all my readers! May the new year bring joy and mirth to you.

Sunwait Prayers: Weeks 5 & 6

Two prayers for a Wild Hunt-themed Sunwait

This week is Odin’s time. I’m reviewing what Lecouteux says about Odin’s connections to the Hunt. If I am understanding him correctly, attributing Odin to the Wild Hunt only gets its first mention in 1593 from scholar Nicholas Gryse and its second mention in 1654 by Johannes Locenius. It seems that from there, scholars used Odin’s various associations with the dead to forge a connection between him and the Hunt. Then, scholars wrote about Odin’s Hunt in newspapers, thereby passing the information on to common people. But Lecouteux goes on to say that while scholars relied on etymology and investigated materials, we cannot say for sure if scholars started this Odin-as-Hunter trend first, or if they picked up this comparison because people had already been using them.

Old Herjan | Heart of the Hunt

Furiously flies | over field and farmland

Beckoning the breathless | out for blood

A creed committed to | a counterbalance for life

Father of Hosts | faithful to the friendless dead

Necromantic nights | for a needful god

Riding out rage | riding out revenge

That frenzied force | in a frosty season

The Disir will be my focus in the last week of Sunwait. I am preparing this prayer in advance. I’ll be having a gender-affirming surgery next week so I want my prayers in neat order so I don’t have to worry about it. Of course, the question remains–will I even have energy for hearth cult after surgery? Probably not. The Disir would want me to rest. I will likely just sit with them quietly instead. But I thought to share the prayer anyway.

While I was basing myself off of my notes off of a fellow server user (and thanks for that!), I did feel the need to review Lecouteux’s comments on what the goddess leaders of the Hunt did while hunting. In the Norse tradition, we have The Lay of the Lance from Njal’s Saga which includes a man witnessing women weaving fate with: “men’s heads were used for weights, men’s intestines for the weft and warp, a sword for the sword beater, and an arrow for the pin beater” (p. 20). We know Valkyries rode the skies as well. I decided to include some of the more benevolent aspects that might be found in Perchta where she might bless a household with abundance if they serve her food between the nights of Christmas and Epiphany (p.16). Mother’s Night is coming up so it seemed appropriate.

Doubtless, those Disir | deliberate the dead

Who helm the Hunt | helping hatred ride itself out

while blessing in bounty | to benefit an abode

but scolding unkind society | who give no souvenir

to the magnificent Mothers | maternal women

who decide destiny | daring the deceased

to run out their retribution | in the rimy ride

Sources

Phantom Armies of the Night by Claude Lecouteux

Sunwait Week 4: Angrboda

As I mentioned last time, I’m working on a Wild Hunt themed Sunwait praxis. I’m following a template from another Skid user. I think that since this is my first time trying out Sunwait, it works well enough to follow the same template, but next year, I’d like to customize it more to my practice.

At any rate, I have here a poem I wrote for Angrboda and her wolves. She leads the wolves on a Hunt herself!

Given that I am a Lokean promised to Hel, I call the Jotnar ‘kin’ and that shows up in the poem.

Wyrd-wise woman | wily witch

Angrboda arrives | augury-ready

Even the wolves must eat | eager and enduring

All are lean, all are livid | light of stomach

Revelling in rage | reaching for the rigorous ride

in the crisp cold | o colossal kin!

If it appeals to you, this poem is free to use as long as you credit me.

Poems for the Wild Hunt

My online kindred has long had an affection for the Hunt. I had always admired it from afar. For a year or two, I managed to make offerings at what I perceived was the beginning of the Hunt (Nov 1st) and the end of the Hunt (April 30th). I understood the Hunt as riding all winter long. But it wasn’t until I saw fellow heathens on a heathen Discord server make active and ongoing cultus to the Hunt that I started to really understand what it was about. (They also directed me towards Claude Lecouteux’s Phantom Armies of the Night which helped a lot too!)

To me, the Hunt is a chance for restless dead folk to ride the skies and burn off their burdens, rid themselves of guilt, take penance, or perform vengeance. Odin, or Woden, leads the Hunt in a furious charge, giving himself over to windy rage. King Arthur, leader of the Fantastic Hunt, is cursed to ride the skies either as penance for committing adultery (Lecouteux, 2011, p.80) or as penance for preferring the hunt over listening to Sunday mass (Bonjour from Brittany, 2021). (Tangential thought: King Arthur’s punishment centers around religious sacrilege. Perhaps I could make an offering to his Hunt around Easter? Hmmm.)

This year is the first year I am managing to celebrate Sunwait. I am on medical leave from my studies right now, so I have the time to develop cultus through poetry.

Inspired by one particular user, I am honouring the Wild Hunt at Sunwait, instead of using the usual FUTHARK structure that other practitioners are following.

In the first week, I honoured the restless dead. I used poems from A Litany For the Many Dead by Rebecca Lynn Scott.

We pray to the Restless Dead
You whose names go unspoken
You who died with things undone
May you find release at last
We pray to the Restless Dead

(Scott’s book has many excellent short poems that I have been using for recent ancestor veneration purposes for Winter Nights and Remembrance Day. I recommend it for anyone who needs a plethora of poems for honouring the dead.)

In the second week, I honoured Frigg, as a goddess who sends out the Hunt and awaits their return.

This week, I will honour any unhappy Alfar. I wrote an alliterative poem for them. I am still learning to do this and it’s a lot of fun!

The wind whirls | Woden leads the hurrying

Unrested and unhappy | the undead ride

Sate your internal storm | proceed with penance

Then return to your resting place | the ringing mound.

(You may use this poem in your own worship, if you like, as long as you give a source back to my blog.)

Next week will be Angrboda and her wolves. I will post a poem then too. The fifth week will be Odin. I have enough accumulated prayers for him that I am unsure if I will write him a new one. The last week will focus on the Disir. Then, of course, Yule will arrive!

Sources

Claude Lecouteux’s Phantom Armies of the Night

King Arthur’s Fantastic Hunt from Bonjour from Brittany

Rebecca Lynn Scott’s A Litany for the Many Dead

Odin and me: Godspousery

I’ve been worshiping Odin since the summer of 2013 when I decided to learn the runes.

(cw: extended yet vague talk of mental illness. No details of what the illness is are given.)

From 2014-2017, I was seriously mentally ill. My religion became unfortunately very mixed up in my praxis. I remember trying to be married to Odin, even though I had no omens or signals from him that this was desired. I read a very advanced series of pagan blogs about Ordeals written by Kaldera and Krasskova (I won’t link the blog as I don’t think it’s a safe or wise resource), and started to explore kink for myself (Kaldera is an awful starting point for kink 101. 0 out of 10, do not recommend). I then decided that I wanted a Master/servant bond with him. I also had no omens or clues that he wanted this. Looking back, I feel Odin was certainly present in my life, and used my false claims on him to be generally protective to me. He never took advantage of me, even though he could have.

A part of my return to health was untangling and destroying all these bizarre claims, promises, and contracts I had tried to make with various deities. I had tried to leap into the deep side of spiritual devotion without forming the basics first. I had to learn discernment between mental illness, gnosis, reality, and religion. It was a deeply difficult and painful process for me.

I was married to Queen Guinevere from 2014-2016 (with consent from her and mixed consent from me) and then again from 2018-2019. I will detail this more in a future post. The marriage failed because some of my illness was triggered due to a very particular series of images/omens she tried to send me. Additionally, my daily practice was incredibly inconsistent. I didn’t quite realize that I could just… change what I wanted to do with my practice. I thought I had Failed at Being a Pagan by not having a daily practice. So, at Queen Guinevere’s loving suggestion, we divorced. It was the right thing for me to do at the time.

2020 was largely a spiritual fallow time for me, as it was for most people. I felt mad at the gods because I couldn’t figure out a consistent working spiritual practice. I had never had any teachers, and felt that if I had had teachers, a lot of my troubles could have been avoided. So, I tried taking some online classes by Lara Veleda Vesta, a witch and rune teacher. Without Lara’s intention, the first class I took in April 2020 pitched me into spiritual burnout. The second class I took at the end of the year gave me some small success at connecting with ancestor, exploring visualization, and journeying. At the waning of the year, I also began joining more pagan and Heathen Discord servers which inspired me to try to develop a working spiritual schedule (and I succeeded! Yay!).

In January 2021, Odin proposed to me. I spent most of that year anxiously freaking out about his proposal. I even tried to quit being his devotee, but even in the moment of an August goodbye ritual, I realized I was trying to run away from something I wanted. That was a turning point. Something about the godspouse path was clearly desirous to me, so I started considering the proposal more calmly with long-term plans in mind. By winter’s arrival, I accepted what I wanted–Him.

In October, I got a tarot reading about our future and was bowled over by an offer I never expected: a chance to study necromancy with Odin Draugadrottin and Hel, the Norse goddess of death. I was thrilled. I never thought the gods would offer me this. After reading that tarot reading in the morning, I think I was walking on air all day. While I already had an ancestor veneration practice, I made it more explicit. I intentionally started acquiring resources on necromancy, death witchcraft, and the dead. (Tangent: I just picked up Claude Lecouteux’s The Return of the Dead at an occult shop and I am very excited.)

I spent 2022 writing and rewriting my marriage vow to Odin. I also wrote him a lot of love poems. We had some rocky moments when Hel and I decided to get together (this will be a future post!). I had trouble figuring out a balanced polyamory. With the support of online friends, I got some good advice. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s helpful not to get advice sometimes too, and just let the issues play themselves out without posting about them immediately on the Internet! Now, I’d say things are well-balanced between the two deities, although it’s still a puzzle sometimes how to manage Aesir and Jotnar tensions! (That might deserve its own post too.)

After ten years of solitary Heathenry, I attended my very first Heathen festival, Hail and Horn, in July. I had trouble planning my work/vacation schedule and pledged to Bragi that I would read a poem at his godpole if he got me to camp! He did and so I fulfilled my oath at the group ritual. I had an incredible time. I made new friends, attended group sumbel, saw a fantastic planned performance of a flyting (a Norse rap insult battle), participated in several rituals, ate boar for the first time, got to help carry Bragi’s godpole (which was a deed for the ages), and introduced a dear friend to Heathenry’s basic practices. I was over the moon with happiness and have agreed with my friend to return every year.

Two days after the fest, Odin basically sat me down and said: “Look. You’re ready. The oath is ready. You have the wedding mead. Let’s get married right now. Don’t worry about fancy food offerings. Let’s marry!”

And we did! Haha! I got out of trance, changed into some nice clothes, poured the mead, and said my oath!

It was such a pleasure to marry him properly. It feels like this role has been coming for a long time and I am so happy to embrace it. It’s also really nice to feel like I can practice godspousery in a safe and sane way. What a relief!

In reflecting on my path with Odin, I feel really grateful for: my longtime pagan friends who witnessed me struggle, Beth Wytch of the North‘s Odin-oriented blog, the Troth, therapy, medication, my online kindred, my Discord communities, and my non-pagan friends who listened to me ramble about pagan stuff, even if they had no idea what was going on.

I want to give an extra shout-out to Beth. Beth has always been kind and encouraging to me. If you’ve read this far, please consider donating to Beth’s household. She and her wife are sick with COVID and are struggling to make ends meet. Please donate or signal boost this post.

Help our household while we have Covid!

Beth has long been an Odin devotee. She’s been an inspiration to me on my path. Now, she and her wife are sick with COVID and are struggling to make ends meet. Please consider helping her out!

The Wytch of the North

Thanks to the generosity of a few amazing people, we have met our goal. So I was going to take this down (and I did stop publicizing it a couple of days ago) but realistically, we have no idea how long Jo will need to be out of work for. Here is the link to our fundraiser.

Also, I just went in and tested positive today too, so I won’t be able to do much work on the shop or look for a part-time job until I’m feeling better. (I can’t afford to put the shop on vacation, but any orders that come in will be processed in a well-ventilated area with me wearing a mask and gloves. According to the science, the chances of getting Covid from an object are very minimal, and that should go down to zero by the time the item reaches you.) I have just…

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A Summer Hello

It’s been a long time since I have written. I thought I might abandon this blog, but watching my friend type up their latest post inspired me to return. I spent the weekend resting at their cottage. It was wonderfully restorative. I got to canoe, drink tea, libate to a pre-Cambrian rock wight, chill with dear friends, read a lot, catch up on letters, pet a cat, and luxuriate by the fireplace. It was so nice.

What has happened since I last wrote?

  • I gave up on Hellenismos, since adding in a whole other religion was too difficult
  • Hel has firmly established her presence in my practice
  • I got to attend my very first Heathen festival
  • I married Odin this past July!!
  • I’m slowly reconnecting to some deities I met early in my practice 10-12 years ago
  • I’ve been forging deeper connections to Odin and Loki’s respective families
  • I wrote lots of devotional poetry
  • I’ve forged quite a few new pagan friendships
  • I’ve taken a few tentative steps towards using reconstructionist practices to shore up and firm my religion

My hope with this blog is to try tackle subjects and topics, rather than just writing about random things that come to mind. Perhaps that will add greater purpose to my blogging. And if that doesn’t work out, that’s fine, because it’s just an experiment.

I hope you are all well. ❤

Celebrate the Laity

Being a devotee is wonderful, and it took me a really long time to learn that!

Cıbear-ḟoraoıs Sneaċta

Nobody gets paid to be Pagan.

Think about it.

People get paid to teach, to lecture, to write, to make videos, to sell crafted items, to run workshops or courses, but nobody is being paid to be a Pagan. People don’t get paid to be religious. You believe what you believe, you pray, you hold your rituals, you perform cultus, but nobody pays you for those things. Being religious is not a full-time job. It’s a massive part of someone’s life that can (and in my opinion, should) intersect with every part of someone’s life, but you need to spend time on those other things in life for your religion to impact, intersect with, inform, support.

If someone is a Muslim taxi driver, they’re not just a Muslim. They’re also a taxi driver. If someone is a Catholic grandma, they’re not just a Catholic. They’re also a grandma.

Paganism, in…

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