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)

Teachers and Elders

One of the reasons why I contemplated leaving paganism last year was due to a strong sense that I had no elders or teachers. I promised myself that, if I were to return, I would have to find a teacher. And in a way, I did.

This year, I’ve really been taking the time to think about who my teachers and elders are.

There is Lama Rod Owens, a black queer Buddhist teacher, who teaches me about love, mindfulness, and community care. There is M, who might not consider himself my elder (as yet unconfirmed/does it need to be?) but is a lovely gay Hellenic pagan who has taught me a lot about weird, queer, and nerdy in the world. There is L, a medium, yoga teacher, and ancestor spirit worker, who guides me in energetic health and safe praxis.

L and I actually just spoke today where I confirmed with her that it was ok to think of her as my elder. She laughed, and made a comment that she kind of just has to accept that now, as a woman in her 40s. I’ve been in community with L since… 2013 where I met her at my very first heathen ritual and blot. Or it may have been the beginning of 2014. I am unsure. Anyhoo.

L and I were talking about a heathen ritual I want to make, loosely styled after Baldur’s death and rebirth. I want to do it to honour my past as a sick pagan who has now been reborn into a healthier practice. I want to emphasize here that I am technically still sick, but not in the dangerous way I was before. Now I am sick in a more physical way, but I have greater mental coherence and cognizance, and would not describe my practice as ailing or ill. So the ritual is going to take some brief time to be sad and remember the past, cocoon myself a bit, then, I think, do some sort of heathen baptismal thing as a rebirth/acceptance of my Norse faith.

I realize that could sound rather Christian to some folk, but I grew up Protestant, so if there are similarities, well, that’s ok with me. It’s my practice, for me.

Anyway, L encouraged me to reach out to heathen elders to ask for more info on Baldur, any UPG or SPG, and other lore that might aid me in this ritual. So now I am thinking, who are my heathen elders and guides? There’s two heathen priests I have done ritual with in my neighbouring province whom I could talk to. I don’t know either of them well but it could be a good moment to ask and have a touchstone for future questions.

There is one heathen priestess in my community here. She’s certainly taught me some things, and definitely knows her stuff, but we’ve never bonded as friends. And maybe that’s ok! L and I aren’t necessarily besties, but we certainly care about each other and inquire about each other’s lives. I guess it couldn’t hurt to ask this priestess. The worst that could happen, I think, is that she would direct me elsewhere. I’m shy to talk to her, but… it can’t be that bad!

Tyriel, over at RuneSecrets.com, now has a Discord group. I’ve been a part of it for a few months now. We all have some great chats! Tyriel has been kind, and is happy to educate. He seems to be plotting a rune course but I am unsure when that will happen. He’s definitely becoming a guide in my practice.

The last comment I want to make about teachers is this: I thought about taking some classes on tarot or psychic health classes or some such thing. I even looked into taking some online classes on those topics, but they’re pricey and, really, who knows if the teachers are good and true, or just hacks looking for money.

But you know what? That doesn’t interest me nearly as much as taking local art classes does. I’ve signed up for a calligraphy class in May, but given this coronavirus, I don’t know if that will happen or not. So, having art teachers is really good for me because much of my spiritual practice anyway, has become art.

I do want to be careful to ensure that I have “spiritual art time” and “fun art time”. L pointed out that if I only do spiritual art time, it will just feel like work. And that’s definitely something that helped in destroying my spirit spouse bond to Queen Guinevere. I had to let go of that whole path entirely to commit myself more deeply to my artistic practice as a whole.

So, ultimately, I do have teachers and elders! I was just too mad and hurt to see it before. But now I know the truth. 🙂

Offerings

Offerings used to make me sick. I overdid them–offered in excess and too often.

Now I am unsure if I want to make them anymore. I think I might stop for a good long while and see what my practice consists of. I want to look clearly at my practice and that means taking a break from offering anything.

The feeling of obligation to do them makes me suspicious.

My friend J tells me he makes food offerings 1-2 times a year. I can’t remember how often he makes drink offerings. So I am thinking, if I feel moved to make an offering, I can, but exploring J’s infrequency of offerings seems useful.

I am also thinking of having a personal taboo of offering turkey–not that I ever offer meat anyway. Turkey is an offering I gave as a baby-pagan on Thanksgiving one time, and really overdid it by trying to offer to every single fucking god I had a dream about or even the slightest hint of interest. It was a very painful experience. I think I ought to share that memory with a friend, and say it out loud, just to… confirm and validate that it happened in sickness.

I’ve been sick for the majority of my practice. I am very curious as to what it will look like as I gain greater and greater health.

 

 

Where I’m at now

Prompted by my good friend’s blog post “On discernment, discipline, mental illness, and witchcraft”, I thought I would update my blog.

First off, I want to say I was “B” in the above post. Osfairy, I hope you don’t feel guilty for accidentally prompting me to take a break! It was a healthy decision for me and I feel I have a lot more clarity. (And bitterness, but so it goes.)

They spoke of discipline:

Discipline takes on a weird taste when you have mental health issues, because laziness and discipline become weapons that partners, friends, family, society and establishments use to further punish and marginalize you.

Putting meditation discipline and the discipline of daily offerings into my life did me no good in the end. There were no fruits beyond stress and exhaustion. I was awfully hard on myself for not succeeding in these activities.

So… what’s the point of religion if not to bring joy, sanctuary, justice, and wisdom?

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–onwards to updates, then.

Well, having permanently broken things off with Queen Guinevere, she is no longer in my life.

I’ve put away my reduced heathen shrine. Everything is in boxes and bags in my closet.

I still get occasional nudges from spirits, but they are rare and infrequent compared to before.

I met with a local spirit worker to talk things out. She at first tried to convince me to relearn grounding, centering, and shielding since I am still having problems with basic basic stuff but then I told her that I don’t even want visions right now. I don’t really want to interact with that stuff. It’s too easy to see pretty lights, colours, and to hear what I want. Visions are too insular and, with the way I feel now, they’re sorta useless? Like, do visions really bring any good to my life?

That conversation with that spirit worker friend helped me see that if I had had a pagan teacher or elder to speak with from the very beginnings of my practice, much of my delusions and illness could have been avoided. I told her, well, were I to continue practicing now, I would ask her, but now it’s too late.

She invited me to a Solstice party regardless so we’ll see how I feel. I don’t have any goals or hopes to paganism right now.

Last Friday, after watching a beautiful choir performance, I stood in front of a fake tree of silver lights in a park grove surrounded by real trees. I promised myself that I would not go back to religion without a teacher.

This morning, as I tossed and turned from an upset stomach, I had a dream that I was given a gift of a Valknut ring that shone like a diamond.

 

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Source: https://silverviking.is/product/925-sterling-silver-valknut-icelandic-scandinavian-odin-viking-norse-ring/

I was either Told or my unconscious-mind told myself that I ought not give it away until I find a husband.

I’m not sure why I should dream of such a thing when I am questioning all my religious pursuits.

The one hope I do have is to go to a Buddhist temple to ask anew how to meditate, and what to do with visions whilst meditating. Buddhists are experts, after all, and have been meditating for thousands of years. Who better to ask? (Plus, despite my heathenry, I still find Buddhism super interesting.)

I did look at my agenda today though, and noticed a libation to Dionysos coming up. I felt pretty friendly about it, looking at my scribble. I think a group ritual can’t hurt, particularly because it doesn’t require me to meditate or seek visions in any way. Plus libating Dionysos would be appropriate.

*shrugs*

I’m not really sure what I want right now, beyond time and room to make art. That, at least, I can learn to give myself.