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A New Series of Posts on Ritual Praxis

February 10, 2018 4 comments

I was inspired by a conversation with two Heathens I speak with to begin writing on ritual praxis. For me, this project will take place along similar lines as Lārhūs Fyrnsida, especially in regards to their Ritual Format page. Before we get into types of ritual praxis, it is my firm belief that explaining why we develop a ritual praxis is more important, so that will be the first post in the series. Then, we can dig into how we develop a ritual praxis.

The reason I decided to write a series of posts on ritual praxis is because I have seen a lack of understanding about what ritual praxis is and why it is important in my local Pagan and polytheist communities, especially from a general Heathen perspective. My aim is to provide context for our home and communal rites, giving people a place to reference or jump off of in developing their own.

A few things to note:

  1. While I do not take a single ancient Heathen perspective my references are primarily Norse and Icelandic with bits of German and Anglo-Saxon. My use of language and the specific words I use reflects this view. I see nothing wrong with being eclectic. I respect that, for a great many people they find more use in sticking to one culture as their worldview. For me and mine, our worldview is primarily based primarily in Norse and Icelandic culture with appreciation for crosscurrents between other ancient Heathen religions as we find them.
  2. This will be a series of posts describing why then how Heathens without a particular cultural focus should and can build a ritual praxis. It will focus first on hearth cultus, religious life and rituals centered in the home. We can move out from there.
  3. This series of posts is meant to spur people to not merely think about their religion and religious activities, duties, and so on, but actively to do them. What this means is that if you are doing rituals and you are doing divination to check on things like “Is this ritual correct for us? Are the Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir happy with this?” I fully expect you to act in accordance with your own results.
  4. The power and beauty of tribal Heathenry is that presumably the reader and I are not in the same tribe, and just because we may approach the very same Gods does not mean They will have the same responses to our offerings, rituals, and so on. I fully expect folks may get completely different responses from the Holy Powers, and the needs of a given community may differ such that ritual format, protocols, taboos, offerings, etc. may need to change. In other words, none of what I am writing should be taken to be set in stone. These posts are guidelines, not instructions.
  5. Down the road I may move these posts and future posts down the line into a format similar to the Lārhūs Fyrnsida because of ease of access and solid structure.
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A Cleansing Prayer to Lykeios

January 14, 2018 1 comment

O Lykeios, O purifying Wolf God!
O You, Whose breath blows away miasma
O You, Whose teeth rend the evil spirits
O You, Whose tongue uplifts in howling song
Bless and purify me, cleanse and sanctify me
That I may howl Your praise and run in Your Presence!

The #DoMagick Challenge Day 23

December 31, 2017 Leave a comment
Dagaz

Dagaz (Wikimedia Commons)

Today I did galdr with Dagaz.

The earplugs continue to work well alongside the ritual work and prayer I do to prepare for galdr.  I initially wondered if I should do galdr with both Dagaz and Othala.  As I prepared to do galdr with Dagaz, I let this go and just concentrated on the work with Dagaz.

In the first round of galdr I experienced the sun being pulled in its cart, Sunna guiding Her horses across the sky as I looked up.  It was like seeing Her progression with the cart throughout the year, chased by Sköll, almost being swallowed at times.  The eclipse as His jaws just start to clench over Her, and She bursts forth from them, Her horses frightened and speeding across the sky to outrun Him.  The joy of being in Her glow as She beams down, lighting the World.

In the second round of galdr, I experienced a farm bathed in sunlight.  Flowers opened to the sun as it beamed down on them, and life unfolded from petals as bees and others woke to the morning work of gathering pollen.  Birds had already filled the air with song, and grew louder as the sun rose.  Animals of all kind stirred, other rested.  Eggs were laid, hatched, and chicks grew up and themselves raised more chicks, or were taken for slaughter.  The compost grew as scraps were added to it, shrank and baked in the heat, and turned brown over the summer into winter, bits of it going into the farm to bring rich black soil to the land.

In the third round of galdr, the scene I saw switched slowly, until I was in a sacred grove of a forest.  Light beamed down into the clearing I stood in, and arched down through the trees, and illuminated me.  It was a tangible, visceral feeling of the holy as I stood there, light shining through the trees and onto the vé, the hörgr stacked high with stones as the light shined upon it.  I felt a feeling of “Yes” as I laid a cup of water on it, the light shining down into it.  Then, the scene suddenly shifted, and the last experience I had was of lighting a Sacred Fire with sunstone, beaming the concentrated light onto tinder and catching it.  I believe I was still in the grove.

When I came out of the galdr work, I did my usual prayers of thanks to Rúnatýr and the Runevaettir.  I cleansed with the candle and prayed prayers of thanks to the Eldest Ancestor.  I hesitated, however.  I was not sure if, given the New Year, I should simply galdr Othala and dedicated the last seven days of this work to working through each Aett, or if  I should let Dagaz be the last galdr of this year and Othala to start the new one.  Again, I asked the Eldest Ancestor to cleanse me, and did my Fire Prayer.  I then prayed to Rúnatýr and the Runevaettir for guidance.  Within a few short moments of breathing deep and communing, I knew the right thing to do was start the New Year with Othala.  The symbolism there is packed, and appropriate for the things going on in my life, my family’s life, the life of the Kindred, and my allies.  I cleansed again, thanking Fire, Rúnatýr, and the Runevaettir for working with me, and wrote this post.

Link to the Daily Ritual for the Challenge.

#DoMagick

Submissions to Odin’s Agon

December 31, 2017 Leave a comment

For Óðrerir’s Brewer

You kindled in me a love for brewing
Water, honey, yeast
Sacred magic, old magic

Kvasir’s brood, your spit

Relaxing and maddening

Teasing out the ties
Inspiration strikes
Fury froths

Growling forth from each sip, each gulp

May each brew be a worthy working

Each bottle a sacred vessel

Each glass a welcome offering

Alliterative Poem to Odin

Wind and wound

Scream and spell

Health and harm

Scar and sense

Wrath and release

Power and purpose

Grey and gold

Eye and iron

Hanged and hale



Making Midgard


When the Sons of Borr took up the spear

No ravens flew or wolves roamed

Nifelheim was far too cold

Muspelheim far too hot

They dreamed of more than ice and mist, fire and smoke

A World teaming with life, with warmth and with cold

A World full of flowing waters and rain

A World between the the Worlds

So when They slew Ymir

The Sons of Borr took up the best of all Worlds to make Midgard

Fire from Muspelheim gifted by Surtr

Ice from Nifelheim taken from Ymir

Fertility from Vanaheim gifted by Freya, Freyr, and Njordr

Wildness from Jotunheim made by the Jotnar

Riches from Svartalfheim dug deep by the Dvergar

Liminality from Alfaheim made by the Alfar

Death from Helheim overseen by Hela

Potential from the Ginnungagap woven by the Nornir

Within the Middle Yard each World was woven to the others

Crafted with care by the Sons of Borr

The #DoMagick Challenge Day 17

December 21, 2017 Leave a comment
Teiwaz

Teiwaz (Wikimedia Commons)

Today I did galdr with Teiwaz.

I cleansed with Sacred Fire after making the Fire Prayer.  I settled deep, deep into meditation headspace today.  I had done a brief but potent bit of exercising just before coming home and jumping into doing the Runework.  I may repeat this because the result was several moments of connection with the Rune and a kind of disconnect from myself.  Not in a “I have lost myself” but more of a “getting lost in the Rune moreso than usual”.

The first round of galdr brought the experience of The Binding of Fenris, of Fenris biting off Tyr’s hand, with myself being in both roles one after the other.  It was intense, and to this end I will say no more.  The next part of the first round brought with it the holding of a spear before a wall, before a town with farmsteads behind.  Not merely standing, but seeing a threat coming and readying to do something about it, spear in one hand and shield in the other alongside fellows forming a wall of shields and spears.  The last part of the first round was a sword being unsheathed, a spear being held for combat, grit teeth and flashing, then bloodied steel.

The second round of galdr brought with it the feeling of the home, of doing well in the community.  The next part of the second round I experienced a holmgang to defend myself in a matter.  What seemed to matter in what Teiwaz showed me here was not the end, but that I stood up in the sacred space and took to my duty.  I did not see how the fight ended up.  In the final galdr of this round I was sitting as a chieftain in the hall, a fight ready to break out between two families.  It was the act of putting away the swords I was meant to see: the judicious use of violence and force, and the force that can make these things come forth or retreat.

The third round of galdr was very heady.  I fell into and out of being able to articulate what I was experiencing.  I think the closest I can come to is experiencing the meaning of it, God or Gods.  Like dipping into the current of meaning and power there.  As I galdred further, this connected feeling swelled and I was being overwhelmed by the Rune.  It was like swimming in Its power, Its Being.  As I finished the heady feeling stopped crashing over me, and I slowly came back to myself.

I did my prayers of thanks to Rúnatýr and the Runevaettir.  I cleansed with the candle and prayed prayers of thanks to the Eldest Ancestor.  I am still a bit blown away by Teiwaz’s response.

Link to the Daily Ritual for the Challenge.

#DoMagick

The #DoMagick Challenge Day 7

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment
Gebo

Gebo (Wikimedia Commons)

Today I did galdr with Gebo.

As before, I smoked Großmutter Una to cleanse and prepare myself.  As before, I did the prayers to prepare and flowed into a good, clean whole self when I did.  Given it had snowed I had some concern I would not be able to handle the cold with the wind for very long, but I felt urged to go outside.

Breathing before the first round of galdr was sharp, but the wind had a kind of cleansing feeling to it as cold as it was.  The cold bit the tips of my fingers and my ears.  For a few moments all I could feel was that cold.  As I breathed through, long and slow, I concentrated on Gebo, and galdred It in a long, warm tone.  I felt like I was put before a hearth fire, someone welcoming me in.  The exchange of greetings, a handshake, a seat offered.  I spoke with the host, about what escapes me.  The point, I think, was the exchange of hospitality for news and companionship.  The proper respect between guest and host.

It was then I felt I had to go inside.  My fingers were aching, and so were my ears.  The wind was picking up.  I went into the garage, my right hand tight around my pipe, taking long, slow, cleansing drags as I entered.  I breathed and I was already warmer despite the garage not being heated.  Thankfulness for shelter washed over me.

The next round of galdr was more deep, animal almost.  The things we needed gained through trade, work, sacrifice.  The warmth of my trenchcoat an animal’s skin, the pipe a tree’s body.  The give and take of predator and prey, of farmer and field, of animal and slaughterer.  Right relationship.  That affirmation of right relationship sang to me throughout the galdr.

After I took several moments to cleanse and breathe, the third round of galdr began.  The first of the three galdr was high in pitch, singing to the top of the Tree and the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, the Holy Powers, there.  The next was milder, singing to the middle of the Tree and the Holy Powers there.  The third was deep, bass, singing to the bottom of the tree and the Holy Powers there.  Each world brought with it a flood of images, many I am still trying to sort out.  What I do remember is a cup of mead, the blood of a blót, a bottle of beer poured on a field, water on a tree.  Standing, kneeling, prostrating before different Holy Powers.  Offering a blood sacrifice, a blót, to the Runes was the last thing I was left with as I finished the last galdr of Gebo.

As before, I made prayers of thanks to Rúnatýr and the Runevaettir.  As before, I cleansed and then cleaned my pipe to come back to normal headspace.  I am grateful for the cup of coffee my wife made me.  Gebo between us.

Link to the Daily Ritual for the Challenge.

#DoMagick

Small Devotional Work

November 24, 2017 1 comment

Of late, I have had to be okay with doing smaller devotional work.  I like doing my altar work; it’s formed the core of my practice for most of my religious life, Catholic and Pagan/polytheist.  Between a more hectic home life and moving religious work, though, I have had to move out of comfort zones and into different ways of doing devotion on a regular basis.  This happens, and at different times in my life altars and shrines have been more and less central to my religious life.

That’s not to say I have stopped altar work entirely.  I still approach my altars and pray at them.  My family and I still make our nightly prayers at them, and make offerings at least weekly at them.  That, however, is the difference: once a week offerings vs. say, every other day as was the norm until a few months ago.  While other kinds of devotional work do not take the place of making offerings of food and drink, I am shifting more towards other kinds of devotional work.  I’m sure if we had a fireplace or a wood stove more of my offering work would be centering around it.

So what kinds of devotional work am I doing?  If you are reading this blog, well, you are reading some of my devotional work.  Among other projects, I am slowly putting together different books, including a book on the fallow times, a 2nd edition of Calling to Our Ancestors, and a book for Heathen children.  Devotional books for the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir may be down the line too.

What about my daily devotional life?  Prayers.  Prayers and regular spiritual ground work.  Foundational stuff to be sure, but necessary.  I have started to get back into working out, finally, and that is an offering to several Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir.  Small offerings like the one I wrote about.  The work I am engaged with now is more and more geared towards bringing devotional work into as much of my life as possible, weaving sacred work into my life wherever I am.  Whether working out or spending time with the family, cleaning, brewing mead, or making poetry, much of my devotional work is shifting more towards the doing end of devotional work while maintaining footing in offering devotional work.

Part of me does fight this.  The familiar feel of kneeling or bowing at my altar, offering drink and occasionally food with prayers is all very familiar.  Sometimes a bit too rote, though.  Sometimes being shook up is part of the experience.  Sometimes finding different routes for devotion is the way forward.  So keep on doing, keep on exploring, and find different ways to connect with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir.  Keep on bringing Them and you together, into good Gebo in more ways.

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