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Outdoor Practices and Shrines: The Shrine to Hela and Niðogg

April 29, 2014 6 comments

With the Spring finally here in Michigan, I thought I would take some time to go over some of the practices I keep outside.

I maintain an active shrine to Hela and Niðogg. It is rotten, and full of life-giving soil.  Snakes have lived in it, and it gives much-needed nutrients back to the soils when we incorporate it in the gardens we keep. It is a compost pile. When I take the compost to it I make a simple prayer: “Hail to the Gods of Death and Rot. Hail Hela and Niðogg.” This one of many devotional acts one could offer to these powerful, and sometimes maligned and misunderstood Goddesses.

Given so many of us are going to Hela’s realm, whether ourselves or others, I would think cultivating a good relationship with Her would be a good thing to do. She is a holy Goddess who houses our Dead, who gives the Ancestors comfort and rest. It is rude to denigrate the Hostess of our Dead. So I praise Her, and thank Her for housing my Dead, for letting Them speak with me, for helping me to hear Them.  In building closer ties to death and Hela, we better appreciate and revere life.  Through Her we connect with our past and our Ancestors.  For that alone She should be given deep respect and praise.  

Niðogg’s presence in the world, eating the poison given to the Tree, gnawing at the dead roots of Yggdrasil and traitors and oathbreakers is one which is needed. It is not pretty. It is often thankless. She is the eater of our most rotten Dead. The liars, the oathbreakers, the traitors. She eats the poison and the rot from the Tree, and helps the Tree to grow even as She does eat at the healthy roots.  In appreciating the poison Niðogg takes on, it should inspire actions to prevent the poisons that ravage our planet, our nations, our homes, and our communities.

Yet, like a great many small or simple devotional acts that build on themselves, the results are wonderful, perhaps profound, when built well and with frequency. The effects on the garden, when we do these things, are good. Our Gods do not exist only in some ‘out there’ sense. If we are living in good relationship with Them, that will have some kind of effect in this world. It does not need to be dramatic; Hela and Niðogg do not come burrowing out of Jörð to declare to me the compost is good and sacred. It is sacred because the respect for Jörð, the landvaettir, Hela, and Niðogg is present whether I am alone, or my son or his mother helps offer the compost. It is sacred because I have maintained the shrine to these Goddesses, and the landvaettir have allowed the space to let us work with Hela, Niðogg, and Them so we may eat. We are the landvaettir’s guests and friends. We have invited the Gods to come to this place. In doing this, our family has chosen to be a bit closer to death and rot, and to build respect and good relationships with both.  Doing this we invite the Goddesses to share in Their blessings with my family and I.

The Shrine to Hela and Niðogg in the backyard.

The Shrine to Hela and Niðogg in the backyard.

Initiation by Anpu

Once a Way was Opened for me

My body was shaved clean

Was wrapped head to toe in linens

My Mouth was Opened

He bore the scalpel and the was staff one after the other

As I was prepared

With spells and oils

With those gentle, kohl-furred hands

Was my soul lifted

Tender and brotherly

From my corpse

 

He raised me up and spoke

What remains between us

Then set me down, a child

Newly born into his body

 

Oh there was pain as

He stitched my soul back

Bleeding and begging

For any ointment

Any thing

That would dull the pain

 

O, Mercy is in Him

So too is respect

for sacrifice

for work to be done

So He wrapped my organs tight

in my living corpse

and raised Open the Way

So I could rise again

Wyrd Dharma

This was an older piece of poetry I wrote while in my Hinduism course in my last year at college.  During this course I wrote a comparative essay on the Bhagavad Gita and the Havamal.  Good times, and good food for thought.  This was one of the results of thinking on Hindu religion and looking at my own.

Is it in my nature to fulfill my Dharma?

Or is it Dharma’s nature to prompt my Wyrd’s weaving?

Is it the weave and weft of Wyrd to fulfill Dharma’s drive?

Or is it only the choices we make that determine where we lie?

If in death I find a pull, a push, a paradox

Between the way that I am and the way that I was

I will know the way between Dharma, Wyrd, and Way

From the fullness in Death I take from Life

Wherever my soul’s to stay

So whether I am in the Halls of Hel, Sessrumnir

Or Valhall’s shining stone

Or enter into nirvana with the Gods

Or nothingness alone

I have made choices, changing Wyrd within my Path

At the end my choices are all the means that I have had

Hail to the Dead

Hail to the Dead who walk under my feet

To fungus and plant, animal and insect

Hail to the Dead who walk with me

To Elements and Gods, Disir and Väter

Hail to the Dead who walk over my head

To stars and skies, Þjazi’s Eyes watching

Hail to the Dead who gird the Worlds

To Ymir’s corpse, and Helheim’s hosts

Hail to the Dead all around

From highest ground to deepest grave

From burial mound and mountain high

From ash and bone, blood and soul

Hail to the Holy Dead

Mordgud

Death’s Defender waits

She watches, white eyed, white-haired

Over the Dead’s grim Gate

 

Her spear glistens in the snow

Arms arrayed in black

and sword hangs on Her hip

 

None but the invited pass

Beyond Gjallarbu’s gaze

Beneath the wary watcher

 

 

Odin Project: Day 19

The wise tread soft | the body of Jörð,

But fools poison their fields;

How can one eat | or drink so well

with death in every mouth?

Odin Project: Day 2

Hail to the Father | giver of breath

Who raised the trees to life

Crafter of Midgard | from Ymir’s corpse

You fashioned our home

Prayers to the Gods and Spirits of Storm, Wind, and Sky

October 28, 2012 2 comments

Prayer 1

May the Gods of Storm and Sky

Dance lightly in the world

From coast to coast

Continent to continent

 

May Their steps be light

Sparing life where They may

Bringing life where They step

 

Prayer 2

Lightning, sleet, snow

Rain, hail, and winds

Gales, gusts, and forces

Be gentle to Your people

Be gentle to their homes

Be gentle to their loved ones

 

Prayer 3

Hail, Gods of Storm and Sky

Keep us in Your hearts

As You dance in the Skies and Upon ocean and land

About home and field and city

 

Prayer 4

Hail to You, Blessed Ones

Of Storm and Sky, Weather and Wind

May we remember

That many of us call You Father, Brother, Sister, Mother

Your statues grace our altars

Your Names grace our lips

Your Blood is in our veins

Your Breath is in our lungs

Your Holiness, in Its power and awe, abides in us

Even in fear may we hail You

Even as the rain falls and the snow piles may we hail You

Even as hardships come may we hail You

Knowing that You bring blessing with bane

That You bring comfort with sorrow

That through Death’s door come’s Life’s return

Hail to Lady Hel

October 20, 2012 4 comments

The Halls of Helheim

Few alive have seen

Death’s home and Dead’s abode

Yet here within the splendorous Halls

We all may find a home

Perhaps on plains we take our rest

Upon grain and well-turned earth

Perhaps by river or field or fen

Our rest is finally earned

Perhaps in cave so hollow

Yet sweet-smelling and richly warm

Sweet Hel has a place for us

A place we are reborn

She tends to all the newly Dead

And old who’ve taken rest

All those who have taken leave of Life

Come to Her generous breast

We lay our head upon Her home

Some stay but for a while

When we leave She does not grieve

Her Gate it opens wide

For in Her a part of us remains

Waiting our return in time

So when the Dead leave your home

In gurney, mound or grave

Celebrate Life’s giving way

And new Life that is made

Hail to the Lady Hel

To Mordgud Guardian in black

Hail to the Dead our lives are owed

We all are coming back!

Calling

September 16, 2012 Leave a comment

By Ash and Elm

By Root and Ice

By Water and by Flame

We call to You O Holy Ones

By all Your Holy Names

 

By grave and mound

By blood and bone

By flesh and by soul

We call to You O Ancestors

By Your generations manifold

 

By soil and seed

By scale and fur

By tooth and by nail

We call to You O Landvaettir

By Your Sacred homes we hail

 

By work and word

By death and life

By vow and by deed

We call to You O Holy Gods

By Your Holiness that we seek

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