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.

Frith Forge 2020

So, this weekend, I lurked through Frith Forge 2020, an online international heathen event for members of the Troth. I think I would’ve enjoyed myself more if I interacted with people more but I didn’t feel ready. I am still dipping my toes back into paganism!

The event inspired me to have a shrine again, so I have a little tarot altar in my room.

I think my favourite talks were on heathen ethics and on wyrd relations. I learned that heathenry exists in Latin America and that they desperately need Spanish translations. There were some very important talks on folkish heathenry and white supremacy in heathenry. There was also a “fire pit” room where people could just chill and talk.

I think two biggest takeaways were:

  • the idea of halljoy, where there is frith and happiness in your hall/community
  • “Your folx include all with whom you gift.” — Austin Lawrence, a heathen priest in Ontario

People were really energetic and happy to see each other, but I gotta admit, as a newbie who is still feeling half burnt out and bitter about paganism, I couldn’t summon the same positive energy. Still, I did see a few familiar faces…

This event makes me want to engage more with the Troth in the private Facebook group. That could be a nice baby step back into heathenry. ❤

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!

 

Priest things & witch camp

I was lamenting to a friend, M, that I wasn’t sure where to take my [teaching] career, what to study for a Masters, etc and he was like, “I would suggest ordination but, I gather, with paganism, you don’t really have institutions?”

I appreciate that M said this because it makes me feel like my devotion and energy into paganism is seen by my community. ❤

I was glowing and told him that I recently joined the Troth, which does have a clergy program. I have bought all the necessary books for the Heathen Essentials program (I’ve just finished reading the Eyrbyggja Saga!), which is the slow start to the Lore program which can then branch out into the Clergy program.

Some friends of mine–a Muggle and a witch (couple) respectively–are going to a witch camp this weekend. The rituals are to Hekate and Odin. I totally forgot that there was going to be an Odin rite so now I am FUCKING ECSTATIC (subtle Odinik implication intentional there haha)(I am using Odinik with a K to differentiate from far right/white supremacist people).

I plan to mention this calling to priesthood at the camp, but mostly I hope to take notes on how people are doing ritual, the tools they use, the reasoning behind it all, etc. I’m bringing my rune dice and my Odin’s Journey: Norse Wisdom cards (rare, out-of-print, and awesome–probably the best $30 impulse buy I have ever spent). Additionally, there is a heathen camp later on in June, which I will be attending, so I will have lots of opportunity there to learn, grow, observe, take notes, and meet other heathens.

I currently have parsley cheese onion BEER BREAD in the oven for the witchy feast this weekend and it’s all very thrilling. It’s gonna be such a delight to go back to this glorious campground. I am psyched.

We leave tomorrow! We all took a day off of work to depart earlier in the day. I’m unlikely to take pictures, because it’s really not that kind of event or space, but I will definitely come back and write about it once I have digested my experiences!

😀

Being Sick at Mimir’s Well

Today, I did a tarot reading with Lord Odin, using the Odin’s Journey deck by Lars Im and Stephen Aitken. (This deck was a lucky $30 find several years ago.)

Themes:

  • Odin’s connections to others: Lady Frigga (a sacred bond I need to explore more), the Vanir, and Lord Thor
  • writing as orlog or fate
  • change: ignorance rising and falling, shifts in practice, ever-improving discernment
  • Svipall as a potentially new face of Lord Odin that I haven’t examined much yet

Something I specifically want to look at is Svipall and Mimir.

Svipall is Lord Odin’s face as a changing, illusory god who dons masks or glamours to trick individuals or to debate with them. I very much got a sense of “the God hidden behind the world”. This card appeared in conjunction with Mimir (and Gulveig). What does it mean to follow in His footsteps? These questions are things I want to bring with me in the future.

So I was pondering Mimir. What if Lord Odin’s sacrifice of His eye is a metaphor? What could this mean? And what does it mean in my life? Maybe Svipall learns to lose sight of some goals or dreams to access the greater vision that Mimir offers.

People often make remarks on how, when one is marked by Odin, threats to one’s eyes become more prominent in some way. I’m thinking about how I once heard of an Odinsman who wanted to deny Odin’s call. Apparently, he nearly lost an eye in some kind of accident. Now, I firmly believe that the gods do not injure us to get our attention. I think that’s some fucked up kind of thinking. However our disabilities and illnesses can bring us in greater sympathy to certain aspects or likenesses of God or Goddess.

For me, I am trying to get some kind of diagnosis or help around this optic nerve migraine thing that I seem to be having. My eye doctor think that this is the problem but is going to have me get a second opinion with a specialist. These migraines often cause me to see flashing lights, weird patterns, and tunnels of light when I close my eyes to sleep. I also get dizzy lying down. These symptoms make it very hard to sleep.

While I am not sacrificing my sleep nor my eyesight for any noble cause for greater knowledge or ultimate wisdom, there are things to be learned from sickness: abiding patience, an acceptance of illness (rather than fighting it), coping methods, and accepting help from others.

Generally, I like the idea of praying for the greater good of humanity–may my experiences here prevent others from suffering the same experiences. So, greater sympathy and empathy can come from suffering. This compassion isn’t a guarantee, but if you train yourself in it, you can do it.

I don’t want to say that I literally am at Mimir’s Well in any kind of astral sense, but as a hopeful abstract metaphor, I’d rather drink from the horn of knowledge available to me in this experience rather than spit it out in frustration or annoyance at being sick.

Tiny Check-In: Small Changes

Small changes:

  • it’s almost my birthday! (April 4th)
  • continuing to practice drawing, making progress on style a la David Petersen
  • brief visits from deities as opposed to the lengthier ones of the past
  • planning a brief trip to the U.S.
  • Lord Odin is helping me create a regular poetry practice 😀

Did a ritual last weekend for Skadi. Great, great success. So much fun. A mead-y toast-n-boast for the goddess and our Irish ancestors on St. Patrick’s day. Very very cool. We got to use my friend’s massive drinking horn for the occasion.

(Low spoons hence the short post)

Cheers!