Post-Norse Lent Ramble

So, two-thirds of the time I succeeded in refraining from my bad habit. That’s pretty good. I realized that I need to create a better sleep schedule to help settle down into sleep, and avoid making myself ill as much as possible. I don’t think I could’ve understood that without taking time away from this habit of mine.

I also read hymns and offerings maybe…. five out of nine days? Something like that. I got my hymns from the Northern Pagan online shrine for Her and from the Frigga devotional I had mentioned a few posts ago.

I made a point to try and get some mending done: sewing patches over holes, stitching breaks in fabric on shirts, etc. This has continued into the coronavirus state of emergency in my city, so I’ve fixed holes and tears in pockets, patched a hole in my comforter, and more.

Frigga seemed happy.

The day after Norse Lent was a Friday. I made a point to give Frigga an extra offering, spontaneously adding in Thor and Sif since it was raining heavily that day. (I actually got caught in the rain).

I skyped with my pagan friend V. I told her I wasn’t sure if I learned about Frigga herself during this Norse Lent season. I complained to her about Frigga’s image as a housewife. She encouraged me to think about Frigga in a more political way, rather than a housewife-y way that more right wing folk might often interpret Her. Frigga is a Queen who takes audiences, manages the kingdom, makes decisions, sets laws, etc when Odin is gone.

So, since then, I have been trying to see Her in a new light. Freya too has told me to think of her more often as a queen. I haven’t made a lot of progress with this yet, mostly because I am being very cautious to go into trance states or extended ecstatic states while alone at home during the entire day. Because I have less activities, work, etc to ground me, I’m concerned that the likelihood of being ungrounded and hallucinating could be higher.

So, I’ve been connecting to my own domestic habits. Rather than see Frigga through this light, it could potentially be interesting to see Freyr in a more domestic light. He is a male role model for me. I am certain his Mother Njord or his Sister Freya would’ve taught him to sew, just as Njord surely taught him to weave nets for fishing. So, to imagine a bisexual male deity sitting in his hall doing a traditionally feminine task pushes the boundaries of these heteronormative dualities I seem to be stuck in.

I’m not sure how to break these dualities, really.

I want to see the God, Goddess, and –what’s a word for a genderfluid deity???– beyond the binaries that seem to be set upon them. Taking Deity out of the box we put them in seems to be an ongoing task for any devotee. Deity should resist definition, and that includes heteronormativity, racism, ableism, and more.

Do any of you, my readers, have thoughts on how to remove stereotypes from your deities?

I’ve been printing a lot of hymns from the various Northern pagan shrines that are, I believe, set up by Raven Kaldera and his crew. While I don’t always agree with all his practices, I do appreciate these online shrines with their collections of images and poems/hymns for practitioners to use.

My binder of Norse hymns is getting thicker. I also store printed images of deities in there, as well as some old artwork I have of the pantheon. It’s satisfying to see this binder of Norse resources grow and grow!

Do you use hymns in your practice?

How do you organize your witchy gear? I keep a Google Drive Grimoire for most things, and then keep print copies of useful things, like tarot spreads, hymns, etc.

I recently went through my witch-drawer of things. I composted, recycled, or threw out most of it, keeping the incense, bottles of snakeskin, and some bits n bobs. I feel more organized now! My favourite feeling! Witchcraft really encourages the accumulation of things.

How do you know what witchy things to keep and what to throw away?

Norse Lent So Far & Long Musings

Norse Lent is interesting so far. Frigga seems happy.

I bought the only Frigga devotional I could find so that I could have more hymns to offer her. It’s pretty good, although rather repetitive in the “I am Goddess” phrases. There is variety there but not much. I understand that many of these poems were published for different publications, perhaps as introductory poems to this goddess.

There are quite a few unique poems I am enjoying though, like “Word Weaver”, “Please Weave for Us”, and the Frigga chant. I haven’t read it all yet though. I’m enjoying learning about Frigga through this poetry and find it really useful. Even the author’s more personal poems about her practice feel relevant to my own, although I find myself hardcore resisting the idea of a deity owning someone (I guess as long as it’s healthy for her, it’s cool).

She’s pushing me to learn about her handmaidens. I think these handmaidens are aspects of her and separate faces. I’m developing personal UPG about her in the lack of myth and it’s very interesting. I’ve never done that before with a healthy mindset, and these revelations are really awesome. I feel very thankful. It’s nice to have genuine, kind, boundary-respecting interactions with deity after having been sick for so long.

I’ve done two days of offerings. I gave myself time off from that on Friday because yesterday was very very weird, what with the covid19 going around. I figured focusing on self care on a Friday was an appropriate reaction and that Frigga wouldn’t mind. Once I eat and shower, I’m going to do a small ritual for her today.

So, I’ve given up a bad habit for Norse Lent. So far, I am resisting pretty well, although I had dreams of it while half-asleep this morning. I’d rather not say what I am giving up, as it’s rather private.

So, I thought I would write about some of the themes of Norse Lent:

Restraint

I can often struggle with this. It’s easy for me to want to buy many books. I work near a bookstore and am friends with the owners. They recommend me books every time I pop in there and, over time, I have developed and explored boundaries with them like: informing them I have a limited bookshelf, that I have limited cash, and/or am limiting myself to 2 books a month

I tried the latter for 2 months this year and let me tell you, it didn’t work. So I decided that as long as I am moderate in my book purchases and am not going into debt, it’s ok. I also want to add that my bookstore-owning friends are very respectful of my limits and are equally happy when I pop in to say hi too.

Moderation

What am I moderate in? Hm. I often limit myself to one cup of coffee per day, and drink water afterwards. Sometimes I have two cups but never more than that. I would say that I drink more tea and am not as good with drinking water afterwards. So I could practice that there…

I’m also pretty careful when buying clothes. When I can, I prefer to buy secondhand. Sometimes my parents give me gift cards for clothing stores, so I’ll use those, but ultimately I prefer to buy secondhand: it’s cheaper and better for the environment.

When it comes to deity interactions, I try to be moderate about it. I think I may have overdone it a bit lately through focusing too hard on visionary experiences, so I want to focus on tarot, ritual, and action. Scaling back my visions seems to be doing me good. I’ve also been trying to call a friend rather than seek a vision as I walk, just to ensure I’m getting enough time talking to humans rather than spirits. So, I had a brief period of excess, but now I am returning to moderation. 🙂

Excess

TL;DR: I need to spend less money out, cook more at home and use my herbs, and use social media more intentionally (or just use it less as a whole!)

Last summer, I grew some herbs on my balcony. I overharvested them, not aware of the Indigenous idea of the Honourable Harvest (take what you need, never take more than half, leave some for others, etc). I dried the herbs and put them in mason jars which felt like a nice domestic feat at the time.

Then, I didn’t cook for months on end. I either ate out, ate super simple quick meals (ramen, tofu sandwiches, quesadillas), or ate frozen foods. I’m slowly starting to cook again by reserving Mondays to cook. But, I still have all those dried herbs in my cupboard. It seems unfair to the plants to have harvested them and not used them. I can use them in the next few weeks, of course, but I didn’t plan my garden well.

Remedy: This year, I am thinking of growing food, like tomatoes and kale, so that it gets used. I might also keep growing lavender, as I am very fond of that plant.

Another point of excess for me is my social media usage. I don’t need to be on Twitter or Instagram as often as I am. I could be reading or stitching or drawing. Perhaps that’s a habit for next year!

Remedy: Or, sometime after Norse Lent, I could take Odin’s Easter to limit my social media use… that would be appropriate as I want to take that weekend to focus on poetry. I’ve also been putting timers on my phone apps, but I keep pressing the “15 more minutes” on Instagram.

Yet another area of occasional excess is eating out downtown. I work in the downtown area of my city and let me tell you, it’s so easy to go grab lunch with a colleague or buy a nice coffee in the morning, or what have you.

Remedy: cook meals beforehand and pack more snacks. Buy another thermos (I keep losing mine) and prepare it before work. Actually, as I write this, it feels really important so I want to try to commit to it.

Ok, last area of excess I want to address: I’ve noticed this year that sometimes, in my insomnia, I will go online and buy books. This isn’t bad, per se, as I haven’t lost tons of money, and I do read the books. But it’s a habit I want to be cautious of. It hasn’t gotten out of hand, but it could.

Last night, I was tempted to buy an affordable limited edition print from an artist I love but I didn’t. On the other hand, it’s a print of someone stitching, and I know I would love to have the print, and cherish it, so I actually might do it anyway! So, perhaps this is a moment to be kind to myself. ^^

Other areas of excess are more benign: drinking a lot with friends at punk and metal shows, staying up late to play D&D, or spending some cash on my students. These moments feel ok! Sometimes excess is healthy, as I am sure Dionysus devotees would counsel.

Do any of you have any good habits around excess? I’d be curious to hear!

Norse Spiritual Observances

So, given my habit of making big plans and then canceling them, I am planning some small spiritual observances:

  • a nine day Norse Lent, starting next Wednesday
  • Easter, but with a focus on Odin as the Hanged Man
  • an eventual 3 day rebirthing ritual for myself into Norse paganism

My Norse Lent will include giving up something, a small charitable donation, and lots of stitching and mending.

Odin encouraged me to make a sacrifice to try and understand Him better. Frigga told me that as He hung on Yggdrasil, She quilted His Hanging and Her tears soaked the threads. (Did She quilt it beforehand as She knows the fates of all, or did She do it as He Hung?)

I thought that was super interesting (and sad), so I decided to honour Her by taking these nine days to do some long-awaited mending and finishing of stitching projects. It’s also timely, as winter is ending, so I should finish up these projects.

I’m also very curious as to what, in Frigga’s life, compels Her to action, as Her portrayal is very domestic and stereotypical of women of the time. Who is She outside this sphere? Does She fight? Does She wander? (Are Her handmaidens aspects of Her or individual goddesses in their own rights? Or both?)

I’m developing personal UPG about this goddess, and other goddesses in the pantheon. I think it’s becoming a healthy balance to my long-time devotion to Odin. I focus on Him a bit too much, to the detriment of the goddesses. So this is an interesting period for me.

My understanding of Deity seems to be aligning a little bit with how Hindus view their deities as having slippery identities where their deities just have different faces but are still the same deity behind that (i.e., Kali-Durga-Parvati, if I understood that right). I’m just sitting with this new curiosity to see what’s up. It’s nice to have this complication. It feels right.

Frigga Spinning the Clouds by J. C. Dollman (1908)

Easter will be just a three day focus. I thought about making it a nine day cycle but, honestly, doing nine days of Lent and nine days of observing Odin’s Hanging feels like a lot for me right now. I also thought that following the three days of Easter could be really interesting in noting Odin’s correspondences with Jesus.

I grew up in the Protestant church and so I am familiar with Easter. I am curious to mourn Odin’s Hanging like Jesus’s devotees might, just to see what it feels like. Odin dies then comes back with knowledge, akin to how Jesus does, so why not bring those cycles close together and see what I can see?

I’m thinking of taking the time to write poetry. I’ll likely also offer hymns from the Norse pagan online shrines (honestly all those shrines have good hymns, I really recommend it).

And then, sometime later, when I am ready, I would like to do some kind of mourning for my past health and its mixups with religion. Odin encouraged me in this, saying I looked like Baldur on his pyre. He also whispered something to me, but I’ll keep it for myself!

This will be followed by a short… deathy gestation period maybe? Should I involved Hela? Hm. So many thoughts.

And then a rebirth where I ask the Norse pantheon to bless me, my Mjolnir, and my prayer beads too. I’m not sure if I’ll use my name or a craft name or what. (And my name is actually rooted in Iceland already, which was not intentional when I chose it)(I’m a trans guy, for followers who don’t know!) Should I ask them to bless my paint brushes? Hm.

I might ask a friend to be with me for this thing. I dunno.

I’m really unsure as to what I want this ritual to look like. I need to plan it. But death/rebirth rituals seem to be a trans forte, so I am sure I’ll think of something.

I got the impression that Baldur wants to be involved, as a “Life After Ragnarok” deity, which is very kind of Him. (He hinted He would be working with His parents on this, so there’s that too.) I had a vision of His parents names in the sky, with His name below as a star in the night sky…

baldur
Illustrated by W.G. Collingwood (1908)

This was at bedtime and I actually got kind of grumpy about receiving a deity vision when I was trying to sleep. I’m trying to get more grounded, which means less communing with Deity for inspiration/revelation, and more talking to friends.

Doing tarot instead of vision work would be healthy too I think. Rather surprisingly, I had a dream last night about a Strength card as a blue and gold shield, in a sort of WoW Stormwind style… was there a lion? I don’t remember now. Tarot is a strength when I let it be.

I welcome suggestions for any kind of death/life – Ragnarok/post apocalypse – Baldur-ish ritual!

 

Frigga & Freya

This video really made me rethink how I interpret Frigga and Freya. It really makes sense that they were originally the same goddess, but then separated over time.

  • the falcon cloak thing
  • Freya has a backstory but Frigga doesn’t, so it’s probably the same story
  • the similarity of their names (as explained by Crawford)
  • Odr = Odin
  • Valhalla and Folkvangr being the same place

I appreciate being able to look at the historical roots of what we know to understand deity. For now, I am thinking about these goddesses as sisters and separate deities altogether. It’s clear to me that deities change over time and I feel pretty ok about making distinctions about who they were then and who they are now.

I’m also pondering this idea that both goddesses are married to Odin. Perhaps Freya/Frigg married Odin as a part of the hostage exchange and then the goddesses grew and split from there. Alternatively, you could interpret them as sisters who both married Odin. Certainly Shiva and Vishnu have goddess-wives with many faces, so why can’t Freya/Frigg (or Freya and Frigg)? (One day, there should be a myth about a goddess with multiple husbands, rather than a god with multiple wives.)

I had a lot of feelings about this topic last night, so before bed, I wrote a poem:

A single perfect step towards you

is all the Goddess needs 

to teach you. Praise be.

 

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.