Ramblings on Ecstatic States

So… it occurs to me that I can get into trance states pretty easy. And I think they are a mild form of ecstasy.

This morning, I was rereading “American Gods” (Neil Gaiman) and I got to the part about the vigil.  After thinking loudly about some questions about Goddess participation & agency in this novel (because let’s face it, there’s lots of sexy or cute goddesses & dead people in this book and I’m not convinced this book passes the Bechdel test), I ended up on a series of… revelations, I guess, about some powerful Norse goddesses. I’m not sure if I want to talk about it, and am just sitting with that.

But, I was certainly riding some kind of energy there, and if it’s not called ecstasy then I don’t know what it is.

I guess the sensible thing to do would be to read some Diana Paxson and Jenny Blain.

It even occurred to me today, you know, could I visit the Nine Realms, and I Saw outlines of Muspelheim in the top page borders of an illuminated manuscript. (Bookbinding, calligraphy, petroglyphs, and Celtic knotwork being my methods of choice lately.)

So the Norse Pantheon has stepped up into some kind of Muse relationship with me as Artist. And I can look to sculptors and painters of the past who were also inspired by myth, and how that relationship is ongoing today with graphic designers and tattoo artists on Instagram.

There is a spirit in my life who guides me in navigating sex stuff. This week, he* helped me understand that, for me, spiritual and sexual ecstasy are on opposite sides of a spectrum and that it’s unhealthy to try to do both in a limited time frame.

That seems like a sensible boundary for me to have. I know some people can combine the two, but I am not sure I am wired that way.

*his default mode is male but he can switch to female when he wants to

I can listen to some Norse folk metal or epic movie music and feel moved to create. I don’t find that I can just sit with the inspired energy–it’s best to do something with it.

I think I could even be capable of Othinn’s frenzy when it comes to performing spoken word but I haven’t experimented yet because… well, it’s been a slow year so far, work-wise, so I haven’t had time. But I’d like to take the time at some point.

I’ve been very slowly drawing and colouring a quilt of runes with Frigga’s face in the middle. It’s just pencil and pencil crayon but it’s quite satisfying to think Frigga has her own runic mysteries through craftsmanship and art. (So far I’ve only coloured Hagalaz, Inguz, Kenaz, Jera, and Teiwaz which speaks to what runes I feel comfortable with, and which ones I don’t!)

I’ve also made at least four or more artist’s books out of rune-staves and Jormungandr serpent/dragon designs during my bookbinding class. That was rad. My classmates knew me for a black-and-white style, since I was using a lot of India ink for the rune-staves. I finished the class with a LeGuin-inspired full colour dragon book that I gifted to a classmate. I chose not to take pictures of the book, since it was explicitly a private gift for a mystery person. Totally worth it though. Those dragons were epic.

Anyway, this whole post is to say that Norse myth is really inspiring me these days and it’s AWESOME to explore it. I feel like I have a way healthier relationship to the spirits now that I am not oathbound to them in sickness. Woot!

Art rocks!

Art & Magic, a crossing of gebo

The deeper I delve into art, the closer the gods, dragons,  ancestors, and goddesses are drawing (pun intended). 

I painted a dragon gift for a classmate and a dragon came to me in the night time.

I painted a score of world snakes and Loki has allowed me a glimpse of what I pray is a Transgender Mystery.

I stitch and sew and Frigga blesses my hands.

I study death’s history and the dead speak. (And the dead in me speaks)

I study the self through Jung and God appears. Odin shows me a valknut. My face is Baldur’s face today.

What need have I of magic if art serves its necessary purpose?

Hail all those who have helped me, blessed me, and protected me on this path! You have my thanks.

Art planzzzz (ft Frigga)

I was rather grumpy in my last post.

I’ve taken some time to write some Japanese haibun poems (prose-paragraphs + haiku combo) and otherwise encourage myself to take breaks from Norse stuff sometimes. I feel a bit better now.

In my bookbinding class, I keep getting lots of fun ideas for potential zines so that is going to be a blast this year.

Current audio: “Stare” by Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm (two longtime favourites of mine from Iceland and Germany respectively)

I’m gently trying to start a habit of doing Norse things on Wednesdays and maybe also Fridays.

So on Wednesday nights after dinner with my grandma, I make art with Team Norse in mind.

Alongside a friend of mine, I am trying to reserve Friday afternoons for art. Although, when I am with this friend, we spend half the time talking about witchcraft and politics anyway. But still, they manage to write their novel a bit and I scribble poems or stitch my latest project (an ongoing WIP of a skeleton saint, by the way).

So, since my Saturdays are booked for the next month, I am trying to make my Friday nights restful. I feel like Frigga would appreciate this, being a goddess of hearth and home. I know most people celebrate Freya on Fridays, but Frigga has really been encouraging me to worship her lately. If it helps balance things by honouring Odin on Wednesdays and her on Fridays, then so be it!

I’ve been devoted to Odin for years but only really started to feel drawn to and understand Frigga when I started cross-stitching, and later, embroidering. I think she wants to balance out all the Odin/Loki vibes with some quality time being calm and domestic.

I wrote a poem recently about her grief over Baldur. The poem was actually *too* domestic*. A friend kindly pointed out that, like, her qualities are also stereotypes @ women. So now I have been pondering how similar she must be to Odin, to keep up wtih the guy. Like, what runic mysteries does She know? And she knows the fates of everything! Like CLEARLY there be some cool spooky witchy vibes there that we just don’t know about because she’s not really talked about in the Eddas except as a grieving mother.

Like do *all* deities make sacrifices to gain runic knowledge? Did she have to go through some ordeal or did Odin just sit down and teach all the Aesir and Vanir the alphabet? I like to think deities must have had to strive and earn the runes each in their own way. So I’m going to draw some tonight in relation to this idea.

I don’t want to share yet what it is. 🙂

Uh anyway, tangents aside, the point being is that my Fridays need to be restful for the next month or so. As such, I might try to do a Frigga-themed thing on Friday evenings. Or just rest, I am not sure. It really depends on how stressed or not I feel by the end of the week.

I’m excited for this various developments. 🙂

*I want to clarify, I really appreciate and enjoy doing domestic tasks and such. It’s very grounding and pleasant for me.

Mad-sad about religion

So, one of the big reasons I broke up with Queen Guinevere–besides the delusions–was that being with her was taking away from my art. All the art I made was about her: love poems, doodles, etc.

I left her. I took a break from spirituality for maybe two and a half months.

In December and January, I started doing Norse stuff again. I bought runic prayer beads, some books on runes and sigils and hymns, and rebuilt my shrine. I daydreamed about monkhood. I intended to study the runes. I planned collages, a chapbook of rune poems, and paintings.

I`m an Aries who likes to take on big projects, and then, fails because they are Too Big.

Recently, I went to a Norse folk/ambient concert. While the music was incredible, the style seemed very shamanic and very Indigenous, despite being done by white performers. It left a bad taste in my mouth and a sour pit in my stomach. It seemed very culturally appropriative to me. A friend confirmed via text message that much of that style or genre was taken from the last remaining Indigenous group in Europe, the Saami of Siberia.

Then, today, I realized that now all my art was about Team Norse: kenning poems, alliterative poems, petroglyph drawings (which too seem to border on appropriation), and so on. My latest sketchbook is all Norse stuff.

I am fed up. I am fed up with teaching [ESL], with religious practices,

–I just want to make art.

I want to dedicate my time and energy to thinking and learning about art.

Now, I have this opportunity with the UU church to sit in 8 weeks of meetings about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This is a huge commitment to make with a new community when my faith is on the rocks as it is. These meetings might be able to help me examine the racism and colonial practices in Heathenry and in my country. But… I am very hesitant to sit in church.

I want to commit to art, not religion, so will being in the UU really help? Maybe I should talk to the minister about this concern.

UGH. Too many big questions.

 

 

Q: Where will I go next? (A: art)

As I ponder studying medieval literature for an MA in a year or two, I’ve been reading the anthology “A Sense of Wonder” and the introduction to Monica Furlong’s “Visions and Longings: Medieval Women Mystics”. It inspired me to look up Elizabeth Vongvisith, a (former?) pagan nun or monastic and then I led myself down a rabbit hole to pagan monasticism in general.

The Order of the Horae offered a lot of food for thought, as did the Universalist Unitarian church.

I scribbled down lots of notes on what a home-based monkhood could look like. Here are my conclusions:

Working on a daily artistic schedule seems more practical than a devotional practice. Part of the reason I took a break from paganism last year was because I spent too much time on religious practice, and not enough on art. Additionally, my prayers were quick and not heartfelt as I rushed out the door in the mornings.

Focusing on coffee and art seems workable. Then, as my schedule allows, creating some intentional time with the divine with chanting, prayer beads, prayer, or song seems sensible enough. 

So I think what could work is trying to get up at the same time every day with coffee or tea. Then, perhaps, scheduling 15-20 minutes during my week to pray. Preferably Wednesdays, perhaps after dinner with my grandmother or Sunday mornings.

I might try going to the UU church for a bit, for some sense of spiritual community, but I think ultimately, taking the time to make art should take precedence. I also doubt I have the conviction to end up in church every week because I am often tired from D&D or my work week in general.

I’m not convinced I will always want to pray either. I really don’t want to force myself at all, and would rather do it as inspiration takes me. Additionally, I would also sometimes prefer to pray “at myself” for centering on purpose, role, or task (i.e. reiterating to myself a commitment to warriorship or art or teaching).

Anyway, to be brief, while being a Norse skald&artist is a fascinating idea, I want to focus primarily on where my art calls me. Right now, without forcing myself into anything, I’m drawn to the Norse. It’s as if once I freed myself from all the restrictions I placed on my practice, I was able to naturally move towards the reason why the gods inspire me in the first place: their myths are cool, their wisdom makes sense to me, and the deities are bad ass and visible.

I still want to be a #nopressurepagan which is another reason why I’m avoiding a monkish life, appealing though it may be. Fostering artistic discipline will get me where I need to be.

 

Rune/Art Studies: Raidho ft. Frigga

I am very pleased to be engaging with Norse mythos and legend via art. It’s a healing process for me.

Over the holidays, I cross-stitched the Elder Futhark runes on 14-count Aida fabric with DMC 310 floss (aka black thread!). I did this without metaphysical flourish or blessing. I regret that a little. I could’ve asked Frigga to bless my tools or my work. She’s definitely hinted that She would bless my needles if I asked, and generally, that She approves of my stitching.

I shyly stitched most of this at a Solstice party. I ended up boasting about my knowledge of the runes. I have mixed feelings about this–the Christianity and Canadian politesse that I grew up with scorns boasting, but the Norse love and encourage boasting. In the end, I recited the alphabet, and upon questioning, I recited the name of each rune as well.

IMG_1456

The finished piece turned out quite well. I will likely sew brown felt onto the back and hang it up in my room.

This evening, I worked on a collage. I inkedg each rune onto separate pages of my sketchbook, using India ink.  I chose to start with Raidho because I impulsively wrote a poem about that rune two days ago. I think I may have channeled a vision into a poem but didn’t notice it right away because I was so intent on the poem.

I’m hesitant to share my runic poetry because I may want to publish it one day. But here is the gorgeous collage:

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Raidho collage by Eddy Sparrowhawk

[image: a collage of images: an illustrated black man guiding a ship, a sticker of a spaceship, the words “a hundred miles”, the Norse god Thor guiding a massive goat, a tree stump, a sticker of a wagon wheel, an inked R rune, a canoe, a steering wheel, a canoe paddle, a butterfly, the words “the procession”, an image of a procession of Japanese royalty, and a young Buddha sitting atop a tiger. You can see the creator’s painted fingernail holding the sketchbook on the left side.]

Here is, at least, my collage. For those of you of a literary bent, you may recognize some influence from LeGuin or Japanese folklore. There is also a photocopied version of a card from the Mary-el tarot. The stickers are, funnily enough, from a Toy Story sticker pack that my best friend gave me.

I am very pleased with the results. In two weeks, I’d like to tackle Ehwaz next as it pairs well with Raidho. Following Diana Paxson’s practice of pairing the runes, I’m going to study the runes in pairs or, perhaps like Alaric Albertsson, in groups of similarity (runes of house, runes of outdoors, plant and animal runes, etc). I’ve ordered two of Paxson’s books (her rune book and her book on Odin) and Thorn T. Coyle’s Sigil Magic: For Writers and Other Creatives with a kind Christmas gift card from my local independent bookstore today (thanks Mom!).

I also discovered Ann Groa Sheffield’s Long Branches: Runes of the Younger Futhark on Lulu today. Even just looking at the Amazon excerpt, I was fucking stunned. She relates the runes to the Sagas! Wow! I’ve never seen a heathen author do that in such depth and detail. Yes, heathen writers often reference the Eddas. But the Sagas? It’s a rarity (at least, that I know of, in my limited readings). I happily put that book on my to-read list.

It’s been a pretty productive holiday, artistic-wise. Huh. That was completely unplanned.

Huzzah!

Praise Frigga, goddess of weaving and handicrafts! May her tapestries grace Asgard forever!

 

 

 

Art??

I’m so doubtful. I’ve cut off contact with the spirits for the most part.

Lady Guinevere managed to get through to me today to encourage me.

I’ve found that focusing all my writing and drawing practice on devotion then destroyed my desire to want to do those things. Falling into a rut of regularly producing devotional art just… kinda wrecked all the fun of it.

Poetry sorta survived because I sometimes wrote non-religious poetry but by the summer, that remnant had faded. Cross stitch, on the other hand, has only rarely been about devotion. For the most part my cross stitch has been for fun: D&D/RPG designs, gifts, and silly things. I’ve been stitching regularly for a little over a year now.

I just finished stitching a second Google dinosaur bookmark. I still need to cut it to size, wash and iron it though, for optimal use. Hypothetically I could use it as is, but there’s a mysterious pink stain on it that I want to wash off.

I’ve already picked out my next project: a werewolf and black cat (with pumpkins!) in a cemetery. It’s got 9 colours. I usually pick one-colour projects so this will be a good challenge for me! I’ve done a few 2-3 colour projects, of varying size, so I’m happy to go back to a broader colour palette.

I’ve also typed out a few sentences of a heartwarming and spooky gay romance that I want to write. I’m hoping to start writing fiction again. I haven’t really written any since I tried writing and editing a short story for Aphrodite last year. It was a decent idea, and I even paid an editor for it–having vaguely intended to get it published–but I lost motivation because it seemed too big a project. I think intending it for publication made me feel a lot of internal pressure.

It’s better to create for fun for now, I think. Lady Guinevere noticed today that I am trying to “demote” her as Muse because I am finding her to caught up in my artistic practice. I don’t know yet how to iron out these things. I’m still angry about the delusions and the over-commitment.

I am hoping that if I find a way to make a regular artistic practice, whatever that looks like to me, then I will find a way to preserve my marriage.

I want to borrow “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life” from Twyla Tharp from the library. I think it could help.

I’ll stitch my way into something better…