On days like today I make prayers and offerings not only to the Sons and Daughters of Muspelheim, but the Sons and Daughters of Nifelheim. I smoke to the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits to keep me safe as I go to work. To keep me on the road. To keep me safe from harm. For the snow to be gentle with me, to work with my car. I smoke for my car, that it carries me well, and gets me safely to my destination.
This is where my metaphoric rubber meets the road. When I engage with the world I engage with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits. There is no, can be no separation. If there was, then the cold Ice around me as I walk to my car would not touch me nor inspire equal worship to the Fire I cradle in my hand as I light my pipe when inside it. If there was truly separation the cold could not touch me in heart, or body, inspiring words that praise the pristine beauty and fierce bite, and the heat would not inspire words or prayer to praise the warmth in my hands or the small flame I put to tobacco to say my prayers. There can be no separation because the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits are all around me.
Yes, even in something so mundane as starting my car there are spirits: the spirit of my car, the spirits of all those that fill its tank, the spirit of Fire that makes the engine go, the spirits of Earth that form the car, the spirits of Water that lubricate the car, the spirits of animals whose bodies line the cars’ various innards, the tires themselves made from rubber with spirits of their own, the spirits of Ice that keep the car cool in the summer, and the spirits of Air that help to warm my car. There are Gods and spirits of roads and crossroads, local and large, great and small. There are Gods to pray to, to worship everywhere one turns, if one but pays the mind and chooses to. I could split myself into a million millions of me and still not have enough of me to pray to, offer to, worship all the spirits great and small that surround me. So, I do what I can. I light the tobacco after a prayer to It and Fire, and smoke and pray to all Who wish to hear to my words, praying to my Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, speaking to the breathing, living Jörð and all Who share this time and space with me upon Her. I pray to Odin, my Father, through His heiti Gangleri the Wanderer and Traveler to help keep me safe and keep me keen, first among the many Gods I will pray to quickly before I pull out of the drive.
There are the landvaettir all over, some I would call local Gods, such as the rivers that run near town, and Others that live in the heart of parks and Others that live with humans, landvaettir and housevaettir. There are spirits, vaettir, all around, and though I may not worship Them all (how could I, They are so many?) They all are due my respect as I pass through Their homes, territories, holy places. I pass what I view as a herme each and every day on the way to work; one of my neighbors has 3 large stones set one upon the other, and there is a spirit there that, when it catches my eye, I nod to in respect as I drive past it. The ground I walk on is full of life, covered in snow. The sky is alive with little spirits that twinkle in my headlights, some landing on my windshield, melting from the heat of my car.
There is no place I, or anyone can go where the spirits are not. I am truly blessed.
Each day may I come
To know You better
In the small ways
The ways You know to reach
That no one else will see
That no one else may believe
But I will know
and in that knowing
I will be content
Mark well before | Èljuðnir’s road:
Journeys must seek their end;
Hail to the Dead! | the clan has come;
Shall they welcome their kin?
Mark well before | Èljuðnir’s road:
Journeys must seek their end;
Only the Norns | and quiet Frigga
know the doom of all things
I am not sure where all these Havamal-style posts are coming from, but I have been trying to write something else and it just won’t stick.
Patient is the Long-Watcher | who seats Hliðskjálf
Seeing the whole tapestry;
Sighting the Threads | woven by Frigga,
Wyrd is known well
Mother, I am shaking
Fear has taken hold
Of failing, of losing
I am stretched to my limit
My mind cycles
Thought to worry to fear
I stand tall but
I feel so low
The pressing, pressing down
Holy Weaver of Wyrd
Mother of Gods!
Please, hear me!
It is said You hold the threads
As the Nornir gather them
Weaving, weaving, ever-weaving
It is said You are silent in Wyrd
So all I ask
Are words of comfort, a touch
From Your Holy Hands or Lips
To soothe my quaking soul
The greatest of blessings
Hail Frigga, Holy Mother!
Know that in the midst of my fear
I ever-hold love for You in my heart
May we know healing in this time of grief
Frigga, please, let us know comfort
May we judge in wisdom and see truth
Odin, please, give us insight
May we remember the names, for in remembrance these people live on
Hyndla, please, help us to remember
May we well mark their passage from this world
Hel, please, receive them well
May the victims know rest
Jörð, please, give them rest
May we know justice for the families and victims
Tyr, please, bring us justice
May we all be able to laugh again
Loki, please, help us find joy
May all those who feel this loss be given strength
Sigyn, please, help us bear this venom
I’ve known that Odin would want me to wander at some point. He’s told me that since He started working with me. I’ve asked Him, myself, other Gods, spirit allies, and friends, physical and not, what roads this could go down. Now I finally have the first piece of that puzzle. It was a relatively simple click to get it into place, but it took me hearing it and seeing it for it to fall into place.
I believe in living as sustainably as one can, from recycling and reusing as much as possible, to living as much on the land as possible. Yet, I have no job, and no training on how to do a lot of the things necessary for it. Sure, I’m learning to grow vegetables and herbs (I finally have my own space for herbs!) and I am willing to learn how to raise chickens, goats, and the like. I’d be willing to learn every aspect of life that my folks grew up with on their farm. Yet I didn’t even know how to start; I kept thinking “what about the price of having a home? The utility costs? The costs of getting everything around?” Then, some friends of mine from my local shaman gathering told me about training they are taking this fall with the Earthship project. I asked about it, and as they spoke, I could almost feel that puzzle click into place. Holy shit. It made sense.
Don’t get me wrong, at first I was skeptical as hell. I thought How can you live so completely off-grid? What about water, food? Turns out the way the place is laid out you actually can grow food year-round in-house. Water is collected from melting snow and rainwater, and electricity is made by wind and solar means. There’s a lot more, but the website goes into more detail and gives it more justice than I can. To put it simply, my fears were laid to rest. These people built shelters that are designed to be earthquake resistant for the people of the Andaman Islands, and they built homes for Mexican families in the wake of Hurricane Rita. The walls were built out of ordinary materials that we Americans have in plenty: old tires, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and cement, with plaster for the outward finish. It seemed unreliable when I first heard about it, yet they stand tall and strong against even monsoon weather, as experienced in the Andaman Islands.
I wasn’t just skeptical for practical reasons, but spiritual too. After all, it was kind of convenient that the answer fell in my lap. That said, I don’t much believe in ‘coincidence’ anymore; more often than not, when I do pay attention to them, positive outcomes ensue. I tend to kick myself later when I don’t pay attention. I did a few readings to confirm that I wasn’t just listening to sock-puppets in my head, while the next was for the next as-important question: why? The two Runes that I remember best from that reading (it was about a week ago) were Naudhiz the Rune of Need, and Othila the Rune of Ancestral Land. Naturally, there are other interpretations for these two Runes, but again, these two may as well have hit me in the face. Of course, I could have just read it as NO from their Futhark-to-English rough letter translation. I didn’t read it like that because neither were merkstave, and there wasn’t anything from the previous Runes to doubt the message screaming from them to me. Still, I had another person who I hadn’t had any of this explained to her to read my cards just to check. This time the message did club me over the head, and several times. I needed to do this. I needed to go for training, and it was part of my next step in my life in all its forms. Okay, message received, stop the clubbing.
I asked Him why this would be part of my Wandering. He told me that I needed the skills before I hoped to set out on my own, that having all the spiritual tools were good, but I “needed to learn to live in Midgard”, and that is what has largely been missing from the past couple of years. I’ve lived, by and large, on others’ resources, time, and good will. If I am to live in the future as a person, father, shaman, priest, and Pagan, I needed to change my relationship to the world. If I believe in sustainability as more than a pretty word, as a lifestyle and as part of my spirituality, then I need to live it. By learning these techniques I hope to live sustainably. By learning all I can, I hope to live closer, and in better relations with the landvaettir, the Vanir, the Jotun, and the Aesir, and other Gods who have called to me. It’s my hope that by Wandering here, I am able to leave a land worth inheriting to my children, with a right relationship with the landvaettir, Gods, and people, who call it home with me. This may not be the end of my Wander, but it certainly is the first of many steps.