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.

Hearth cult musings: Hel and company

Heathenry and Lokeanism

After ten years of worshiping Odin, a different deity is coming to the fore. Hela has really caught my attention. I tried focusing on both of them for three months: I wrote rites and rosary prayers for each deity, but consistently found I was being drawn closer and closer to Hel and her associations: ancestor veneration, bones, shadow work, her monstrous kin, and Loki.

Odin encouraged me to follow this new direction, so I did. I wrote multiple free verse poems (some of which got published). I wrote and fine-tuned a monthly hearth cult rite for her and the ancestors. I started a Tumblr (again!) to connect to other devotees. I talked about her a lot on Discord servers.

I had some pretty intense experiences with her at the end of March, so I decided to make April an intentional fallow time. I am going to try really hard not to read spiritual texts. I am going to attempt to take breaks from polytheist Discord servers. I am also going to try to rest more, since I will have a brief window between the end of my winter semester and my summer semester.

Odin and Loki are still around, but in different ways. Hel takes up a lot of my time, energy, and bandwidth right now, but I like it that way! It feels nice to focus on a deity, rather than be distracted by multiple.

Hellenic polytheism

Hel’s energy is weighty and dark–or it is so far, anyway, that might change in the spring/summer–so, I thought bringing in some brighter, happier gods might help. I have long found Ancient Greece to be endlessly fascinating, so I am going to borrow my little brother’s copy of Sarah Kate Istra Winter’s Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored and read that… after my fallow period!

As I walked home from my internship/work today, I mused that it would be nice to worship Apollo, Dionysus, Athena, and, possibly, Hephaestus. I’ve known these deities a long time, and often worshiped them at my friend’s monthly cultus to the Theoi.

OTOH, I just spent more than an hour on theoi.com looking up hero cults and obscure deities, so we’ll see who I end up worshiping, haha!

At some point, I’ll have to write about my past studies with Ancient Greece…

Hearth Cult

I think that if I choose three Norse deities, and three Hellenic deities to worship, I think that could work very well. In my explorations of ritualized hearth cult, I found listing out ALL of Hel’s family in my prayers to be rather labourious. If I limit the number of deities, I think that could go more smoothly. I could, for example, only invoke Hel’s family at my yearly Hel’s blot at Samhain. Or I could do that at the autumn Equinox, if I would prefer to focus Samhain on Hel and the ancestors.

I’ll also need to determine what Hellenic holidays to add to the calendar. My yearly calendar has already been hammered out (by Mjolnir, haha!), so I think I would try to pick small or easy holy days to include.

I’d also like to include more intentional stillness and quiet time before holy rites. I will start small, with 15 minutes of meditation, spiritual reading, or rest. Ideally, I’d like to have quiet time for longer and longer periods until I have an hour of calm before the rite. This timing will vary depending on how big the rite is. If it’s a high holy day, I’d prefer a longer period of contemplation. If it’s a smaller moment of cultus, the quiet time can be shorter.

This practice was inspired by a mixture of Christian Ember Days and the Jewish Sabbath.

Eastern mysticism

I’ve been keeping up a regular daily meditation practice since Yule 2021. My little brother brought me into his weekly group meditation sessions and now I have a teacher. I’ve found a free app to use called Insight Timer. There’s tons of guided meditations on there.

So all this to say that my interest in Eastern religions is renewed. My brother bought me the LeGuin translation of the Tao Te Ching for Christmas–an excellent gift because I love the author and can now compare her translation to the David Hinton translation that I have. I recently picked up Benebell Wen’s The Tao of Craft and it is waiting on my night-table.

I’d love to resume investigating local Buddhist temples. I trained for eight months at a Pure Land Buddhist temple here in my city, but eventually left, as my career took me away from that path. I’d like to visit other temples to find a ‘home’. My brother wants to attend with me, so that will be a nice brotherly adventure…

Hela’s Arrival

So this year, I jokingly called my July schedule The Month of Hell.

Hela noticed.

Then, in August, spurred by I-am-not-sure-what, I did a rite to Her at an outdoor shrine at a pagan camp. I introduced two friends to Her at the same time; one of whom felt very compelled to get to know Her better afterward.

At Samhain, I held my usual Hela rite, but invited my brother and his girlfriend. So, they too met Hela.

I started including Her in my monthly hearth cult. I made Hela a Spotify playlist. I found a Hel subreddit.

I started to realize I was doing a lot for Her–more than usual. Then, I got a tarot reading (that was originally for Odin) that offered me a chance to do some deep ancestor worship with Hela.

Thursday, I got an extra reading, specifically for Hela and the ancestors because I wanted to be sure I was interpreting the situation correctly. (Thanks, L, for that!)

In the live virtual reading, Hela, in her usual tough manner, encouraged me to just freaking start already and do the cultus of incorporating ancestors and doing slow, manageable research [in tandem with grad studies].

This feel right. Having Her here feels good. I think my ancestors are happy too.

What is my religion?

Try and explain or describe your religion/tradition/praxis without using negation or comparison, in your own words. –from this post

I follow the Norse gods and goddesses throughout a year of sacred holidays. I believe in the gifting cycle between myself, the ancestors, deities, land wights, and house wights. I try and uphold sacred hospitality and frith in my daily actions.

As of late, I have been drawing closer to the jotun or giants. So, I believe in celebrating the dark, the monstrous, and the unseen. Loki is my hearthfire.

The Wild Hunt guides my year. It begins in October and ends in April. I propitiate to Odin, Sleipnir, and the Hunt at the beginning and end of the Hunt. In the spring and summer, the Vanir come forth to bring sunshine, fertility, and merriment (if you think I might be a Canadian who blots to give thanks for spring fever, you are right!). In autumn, Hela and her kin sit with the dead, and honour them. The winter brings both cold and a certain coziness, as I rest from the busier seasons.

The Hunt ends with rites to Odin. For two or three years now, I honour his Hanging in April, at the end of the Hunt. I have yet to figure out how His sacrifice specifically fits into the wheel of my year, but I’ll get there.

Monthly Hearth Rites

Finding more heathen community online has really helped me organize my hearth practice. I’m becoming much more organized than I used to be: I type up my rites, for one thing. I’ve also got a template for a monthly hearth cult and have modified it to suit my needs.

I’ve taken to sanctifying my altar space with a tiny Mjolnir keychain. (If I am doing a Jotun rite, I ask Jormundgandr to sanctify the space, using a little snake ring I have to circle the altar). I’ve also invoked Heimdall (or other entities) as a guardian deity to allow safe passage for prayers and offerings. I’ve been invoking Loki more explicitly as a hearth deity in the same way you might invoke Hestia, a Hellenic hearth goddess, at the start (and end) of a rite.

The monthly hearth cult rite I have invokes Loki, Hela, Freya, and Odin. Yep, I am slowly adding Hela as a main deity now. I’m debating adding Freyr too. The rite also thanks the ancestors, the land wights, and the house wights.

It feels appropriate in my ninth year of being a Norse heathen and polytheist, that my practice undergoes some great revolutions, such as an organizing rehaul. (nine being a sacred number in Heathenry)

Rune study 2021-2022

I just read The Runic Book of Days by Kelley Harrell. I’m going to use its framework to study the runes for a year.

Image description: pictured is the first page of my new rune journal. In black stamps, it says “Rune Journal 2021”. A fox is stamped above the title. A hand-carved FEHU is stamped below.

The start point is the summer solstice, which doesn’t *really* fit my personal spiritual schedule, but I’m going to roll with it for the sake of following the text. I figure if, after a year, I’d like to continue these studies, I can adapt it to my own framework.

I’ve had some very positive rune visions lately that feel auspicious. I’ve noted them in my ongoing “Rune dreams” google doc so that I can observe my rune dreams and visions over the course of the year. I wish I had thought of this sooner–it’s so useful!

Some joyous news: I’ll be camping at a pagan campground next weekend! I hope to do a small 3-person group rite for Hela, as well as greet the Norse deities at their ve. I plan to bring lots of alcohol for offerings… and so me and my friends can have a horn to lift too!