Patreon Topic 65: On Balancing Having Conversations vs Privacy

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Ansuz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“How do you personally balance the desire to have deeper conversations, 301 and above, with the need for both privacy and safety in these conversations? In a practical, “what do you do?” sense?”

Whether or not I choose to share something is based on a few factors. First among them are: is this something I feel safe in divulging? Second, am I cleared by oath, bond, obligation, and my own understanding of appropriateness if this is something I can speak with another person on? Third, is this a person I trust with my privacy and safety? Fourth, does this person have the depth to understand this subject on a 300+ level conversation?

If all of these are answered yes, I then ask more questions to determine whether or not a 300+ level conversation is warranted.

Does the person at hand understand what I am sharing? I mean this in a number of ways.

Intellectually. Do they understand the material(s) at hand? Do they have relevant backround to be informed in a discussion? If they do not, are they interested in learning or exchanging ideas? Will the conversation be stimulating to them?

Emotionally. Can they handle my emotions in sharing? Can they handle their own emotions that may arise in response to my sharing, the conversation, or ideas themselves being discussed? Are there triggers associated with the discussion topic that they cannot handle or will need time to work through? Will the conversation be satisfying for them to have?

Socially. Can they keep the conversation between us? Are they willing to suspend judgment/fixing/other responses unless asked? Do they understand the depth of meaning it holds? Would this person appreciate knowing this information? Is this information they have shown an interest in? Will the conversation deepen our relationship, add depth to it, or give us more areas to speak on?

Religiously. Do they understand the subject itself being discussed within the religion’s view? Are they part of the religion or adjacent to it, and if not, can they hold a respectful conversation on the topic? Do they understand the subject’s implications, and the ideas we are exchanging? Will the conversation be affirming, challenging, or both? Will the conversation add to their/my understanding of the religion(s), spiritual technique(s), etc?

Expertise. Do they or I have expertise and/or knowledge deep enough on the conversation topic to contribute, or is this a one-sided exchange? If it is a one-sided exchange is this one they wish to engage in? If one is teaching the other, does this exchange require Gebo? Is this an initate-only conversation? Does special care taken to avoid speaking on intiatory matters, or other considerations? Can the matter be talked about in enough depth for the conversation to be meaningful while avoiding initation-bound material, ideas, or experiences? Will the conversation deepen one or both of our expertise, or contribute to it in some way?

Gebo. Do you and they desire to have exchanges of ideas, techniques, opinions, experiences, and/or just to have comraderie in the exploration of a topic? Are you and they able to exchange well, in whatever capacity the conversation needs, whether it is 50/50, 10/90, etc? Is the conversation held respectfully, with care for the parties involved, and does it deepen understanding, appreciation, and/or lead to other experiences?

This might seem like a lot of consideration for conversations. Remember the points I raised in On The Need for Deeper Conversations:

This is an aspect of the deeper conversations seldom talked about: getting deeper into conversation and moving beyond the 101 requires a vulnerability that laying down the basic theology, praxis, and structures of Heathenry does not require. Even some 200-level conversations on subjects like the basics of how to do magic can be so dependent on one’s home culture, focus, and individual expression that it opens us up to scrutiny in ways merely talking about what magic is in Heathenry does not. For example, how one does útiseta might be a 200 or 300-level conversation. Depending on what comes out of the experiences you have with it, though, you might be having 400+-level conversations. In other words, the folks you hope to talk with about the subject at hand are going to need to have significant knowledge and experience with the topic, not merely a basic theoretical understanding, to have dialogue with you.

If the folks I am looking at having these deeper conversations with are those I feel safe with, trust, and have the relevant expertise/knoweledge/understanding to have the conversation with, generally I will have the conversation. The Heathen Spiritwork Discord I run, which is attached to my Patreon, is an ongoing example of this, especially with our biweekly meetings. We check in, talk about experiences and current projecs, and how things are going with spiritwork. These are folks I am in direct community with, and who have trusted me or trust me now to work with them in spiritual consultation, Rune readings, and the like. The Gebo goes both ways in terms of trust, vulnerability, and conversation.

There are some relationships with Ginnreginn I have that simply are not for public consumption. I have several relationships that I hold quite close to the chest, and have no need to explore with others beyond Them. Sometimes I am still working through the understanding I have of certain vaettir and I am not ready to share. Right now, I can say this about the Álfar. Here is a group of Beings I thought I would not hold much of a relationship with, and thanks to a patron and one of my partners, I am in far more deep with Them than I thought I would be. I am having ongoing interactions, and still experiencing things on my own and with my partner in this area that are still moving things around. Perhaps when things are more settled I will be ready to more publicly talk on them.

When I do find there is something I want to share and the other person is cool with it, then we decide on how and where we want to talk. If the conversation needs to be completely private then face-to-face is best. If the person wants to be able to refer back to the conversation, an app like Zoom, Marco Polo, and the like can be excellent ways to connect. They are among my most common. If privacy isn’t as big a concern or connection is just easier over text, Discord tends to be my choice. Does the conversation need to be public? Then, my first choice tends to be here on WordPress, and more recently, the Pagan.plus Mastodon server.

I hope that answered the question how you were hoping, Maleck!

Patreon Topic 64: On The Pack Spirits

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Ansuz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“Now that you’ve finished the prayers to the Pack Spirits, what have you learned?”

I was honestly surprised when Maleck approached me to do the prayers for the Pack Spirits. I had been introduced to Them as spirits belonging to an initiatory tradition and had not ever thought they would be a group of spirits I would have interaction with, let alone be able to write prayers for Them. When I reached out to Them, not only did this group of spirits respond, They were eager for me to write prayers for each of Them.

The Pack Spirits are just that, and while the particular mysteries and training of the Pack Tradition are closed to initiates, the Pack Spirits Themselves are quite accessible. So, I have learned how these archetypal and yet communal/collective/individual spirits operate, and at least some of my own ‘placement’ with Them as an outsider. Sometimes you need an outsider, and while I connected very readily and well with these spirits, connecting with Them and writing prayers for Them just confirmed that remaining on the outside of this particular initiation is a good thing. It allows me to see aspects of Them others would not from the inside, and it allows a kind of fluidity in relationship with Them that I may not feel were I an initiate.

Writing for The Pack, The Pack Ancestors, Earth, Silence, Pack, Howl, Sky, Hunt, and Prey has allowed me to connect with these Míkilvaettir (Big/Power Spirits) and has given me insight into connections that They carry with many of my own Ginnreginn, and myself. It has allowed me to feel those connections, eg through the Earth, in new and dynamic ways that differs from connecting to Jörð. She is distinctly Her, and yet, through these different vaettir, a new understanding and connection with the Earth emerges. Likewise through each Míkilvaettir and the associated Beings I could name in conjunction with Them. It broadens and narrows the scope of Who I am interacting with, experiencing, and coming to know.

Something that emerged through the prayers as I wrote them was personal connection. Many of them are written in “I” format, as I experienced many of the prayers directly before I wrote them down. Sometimes it was being taken in my hamr, my second skin, to another place and made to experience Them. Sometimes it was a personal revelation that They brought forward in me, whether through an inborn experience of something that They hit in me or something that really struck me in experiencing it in my hamr. Sometimes it was the feeling of wildness that I reveled in and had to somehow bring that experience forward in the poem, prayer, and/or song. Sometimes it was the conflicting emotions, or even the various vaettir I experienced within the experience of the individual Míkilvaettr. Each brought something forward in me, each called in to me as it were, and brought something out of me to put into the poems, prayers, and songs that I wrote. Though each is a powerful initiatory Being unto Itself each gave a non-initiate powerful insight into Them in dynamic ways.

Through the experience of each of these vaettir, and the experience of having to translate each of those experiences into poems, prayers, and songs, I have learned new understanding of and appreciation for these Beings, and the connections that each brings forward. The connections each brings with/to us is dynamic, and if we let it build, can be quite powerful whether the connection is found within us personally, through the old Ancestors like the first ones to have domesticated wolves, or in new ways with Gods we have worshipped for a long time. They bring a kind of ancient yet fresh wisdom, power, and ferality I think could be a source of profound experience for folks, whether or not they initiate into Pack Tradition or Pack Magic.

Patreon Topic 63: On Being a Teacher in the Community

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Ansuz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“What’s it like being a teacher in the community?”

It depends on the subject at hand, if I am teaching students or peers, and who the larger audience receiving the information may be. Whether it is here on the blog through topics, at conventions like ConVocation, MI Paganfest, or Ann Arbor Pagan Pride Day teaching through workshops, or direct teaching, I generally find teaching a rewarding and powerful experience. There are few things as gratifying as getting a good question from someone who has real engagement in the subject, or a question or comment that makes you sit back, go “huh” and plumb your own knowledge or the crowd’s for an answer. I enjoy teaching, and I enjoy the opportunity to learn while doing it, and to share what I learn wrapped up in that.

When I do workshops, I find that I tend to have a really good time because the folks that come to them want to learn, and/or have a good grasp of the subject and want to compare notes. That was definitely my experience at the recent Ann Arbor Pagan Pride Day September 10th, for both my Basics of Heathen Magic and Polytheism 101 workshops. Folks who turned out for them had really excellent questions, solid engagement, and abiding interest in the topic at hand.

I would say a good chunk of what is challenging about being a teacher in the Heathen communities has nothing to do immediately with my students, peers, or folks that come to learn from me. Rather, it is the overall cultural currents we swim in, both in terms of the overculture and that of the general Heathen communities, that makes the work of being a teacher so hard. On the one hand folks want to be taught and to have spiritual experts available, and on the other, there is not a lot of support for us doing that work in a reliable way. Many Pagan communities eschew paying folks for their work, whether that work is divination, teaching, developing training materials, etc, yet the demand is still there for that work.

The need for teachers becomes fairly obvious in the dialogue that still happens around concepts like orthodoxy and orthopraxy, terms that describe right thought and right action. Often, because of how terms like orthodoxy are used and weaponized in Christian theology and communities, Pagan and polytheist folks tend to have reactions against the use of the term. I have also seen similar reactions to direct translations of the term, eg right relationship. Some of these objections are based in the notion that someone is trying to mediate their relationship with the Ginnreginn, and some are based in a rejection of anything that smacks of authority. Because of these prevailing views in the polytheist and Pagan communities, it makes deeper discussion of these concepts harder, if not impossible. I have found that presenting these as the neutral, descriptive terms that they are, as opposed to the often prescriptivist way they are used in Christian theology and communities, is a good counteractive to this. That requires us to be open to education, to communicating well, to deconstructing Christian theology and use of terms, and no small amount of patience.

Much of the reason for the two workshops I put on for Ann Arbor Pagan Pride is not only because those subjects are really useful in the context of being part of a Pagan Pride event, being 101 workshops, but because the sources we do have for solid historically-based information, especially with regard to modern and updated texts, are expensive and difficult to parse at times. Even in more approachable texts, like Dr. Price’s The Viking Way, they tend to be dense/hard to get through, and terms need to be broken down and made meaningful for a modern Heathen context. The meaningfulness here not only needs to be meaningful in regards to being able to be understood in a Heathen context, it also needs to be able to be applied to Heathen practice.

For an example of this, from Price:

“Besides the magic used by Óðinn, we also find the fifth category of ‘general’ sorcery. One aspect of this has a vocabulary of terms that appear to mean simply ‘magic’ in the same vague sense as we use the word today. The most common of these was fjolkyngi, which seems to have been especially well-used. In the Old Norse sources we also find fróðleikr, and slightly later, trolldómr (cf. Raudvere 2001: 88ff). The latter concept became increasingly common through the Middle Ages, and together with galdr it continued as one of the generic words for ‘witchcraft’ long into post-medieval times (see Hastrup 1987: 331–6 for Icelandic terminologies of magic during this period). There were also other terms which were used as collectives. These include gerningar, ljóð and taufr – all apparently kinds of chant or charm – and the complexities of runic lore as set out in Eddic poems such as Sigrdrífomál and Rígsþula. Another group of terms refers to various forms of unspecified magical knowledge, and include affixes implying this on the part of people or supernatural beings. Thus we find vísenda-, kúnatta- and similar words used for ‘those who know’, a relatively common perception of sorcerous power that occurs in many cultures.” (Price 33)

“The fabric of religious belief and practice in Viking-Age Scandinavia can be seen to have been nuanced, multi-scalar and far from static, with a degree of regional variation and change over time.” (Price 33)

I had to break down these terms and suggest ways we may use them in a modern Heathen context. In this way we continue to change the fabric of religious belief, nuance, and the application of these terms in a descriptive rather than prescriptive way for ourselves in our own time. For instance, while I often combine galdr (I tie this into singing/intoning the Runes) with the formation of taufr (physical charms) and other forms of magic techniques such as gerningar (chanting, sometimes mumbled under the breath) and ljóð (chanting or incantation which I interpret as being in verse, whether alliterative or rhyming), each stands on their own as a magical technique in its own right. Clearly definining and then applying these terms gives us a wider array of words, and in doing so, ways, of understanding magic.

Keep in mind these workshops are just at the 101 level. Being a teacher in the communities I am part of requires a recognition that folks are at wherever they are at when we come together. Some will have an excellent grounding in exoteric and esoteric Heathenry, whereas some will have a poor grounding in the exoteric parts of the religion, and others will have a poor grounding in esoteric religion. Sometimes folks will just be inexperienced with polytheist religion in general, or not have a good grounding in either exoteric or esoteric Heathenry. Having a mix of exoteric and esoteric practice in and of itself would not be at issue if it were grounded firmly in the Heathen worldview, experience, and understanding. So, I have to establish where we are. I often do this in my 101 workshops by starting off defining terms so we have a foundation to build conversation on. Unless we make these firm foundations deeper conversations are almost impossible to have. Once we have a shared language around the subject we can dig into it.

Part of the work of being a teacher is to ensure, as much as I can, that those I teach have a firm grounding in the material and its meaning. So long as folks are coming into our various polytheist and Pagan communities with these ideas grounded in worldviews other than our own this basic education will be necessary. To be clear: A lot of this I do not have to explain to my kids, who are second generation Heathens. It is a part of how they live their lives. This education is, by and large, necessary for those who were not raised in the religion.

Some of the reason for that lack of need to educate them is that my kids are only practicing exoteric Heathenry. My oldest has not expressed interest in learning esoteric practices, and my youngest is way too young to learn at the moment. Gods help me, though, she loves the Runes. When we go to have breakfast, she often picks ‘coffee Runes’ from my arms (I have tattoos on my forearms displaying all the Runes) that she has me ‘takes off’ my arm, puts them into my coffee, and than has me galdr the Rune. Then, I drink the coffee. It’s a fun way to share the Runes with her and empower myself for a full day. What esoteric practices my kids have learned are immediately applicable to exoteric practice and everyday life, namely cleansing by deep breathing. They have learned prayers and proper respect to show with the hearth, Sacred Fires, and other places the exoteric and esoteric tend to cross.

Teaching a workshop or even over the course of a weekend is one thing, but teaching folks in an ongoing way is a lot different. My Kindred started as a Rune study group, and eventually transormed into a Heathe Kindred, Mimisbrunnr Kindred, over about a year or two. Some folks from here asked for training in different areas, and delved into spirtwork in their own ways. Just being available has been a good part of my work with one-on-one work. Being available to answer questions, guide, or ask questions to help folks find their own answers, it is less the way we think of teaching in terms of a professor and student and more of a “I’ve walked this path and I’m here to help guide”.

Being a teacher, I get invited to help folks with their journey wherever they are when they come forward. Seeing folks really dig into their religion, whatever their experience with it, and getting to understand how it works and where they are within it is a gratifying thing. If I happen to get to help along that journey, if I can make a material impact on how they learn, what they learn, and make that easier or more involved or both, so much the better. The reason I teach is because the Ginnreginn call me to do it. On its own that is enough. What makes my work all the more gratifying is being able to see the folks I teach make progress as part of taking a workshop, watching a video, or asking me questions through email or Discord. Sometimes I have had folks come back to me a few weeks, months, or in some cases, years later, and share some of the absolutely amazing things they were able to do because of the time we shared. It really is an honor to do this work.

I have tried writing more on this but not much more is coming forward right now, so if you or other readers have more specific questions down this line please ask them!

Patreon Topic 62: On Writing Prayers for the Pack Spirits

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“What has it been like, writing these prayers for the Pack Spirits?”

It has been interesting, that is for sure. It is like….touching something, Beings, who are so close and yet are far away. It is being invited into Them and They into me. When I do sacred poetry I do cleansing, grounding, centering, and shielding. Sometimes I am guided to certain songs by Whoever I am writing for, and sometimes I write in silence. Sometimes I get imagery and visual experiences that makes it into the poetry, sometimes I get feelings, sometimes I get full-body experiences, sometimes I get words, smells, sensations, and other times just a fierce, bone-deep knowing that this, this is what I have to write.

The Pack Spirits are quite close in terms of proximity but far away because I am not initiated, nor do I think that is in my wheelhouse for this lifetime. Yet there is…something there. There is connection and power, a fierce connection that I make every time I interact with one of the great Pack Spirits. There is a depth of feeling that goes into my soul and yet there is something held back. I am touching the periphery and yet I am delving deep, and that thing holding me back from fully grasping Them that also makes doing this poetry so fascinating and powerful for me is that lack of initiation.

My most recent experience with Hunter, Will Made Manifest was a full-spirit experience. He took me with Him on a Hunt, on a Hunt where we were separate and one. I was the Pack and the Wolves, I was the Hunter, and I was the Prey. Now, the line “I am the Prey’s End and Beginning” originally read “I am the Prey” but it was not right and I had to look back to my experience of Hunter to realize why. Prey is something Else and Other, part of the sacred cycle but not Hunter Itself. Mainfestly needed but also necessarily not Hunter. I felt the loping as the Hunt began, felt my lungs expand, the snarl of excitement, felt felt felt. I was. In a very real sense my sacred poem, prayers, and songs invite me into union with Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir I may not otherwise have the call to, and with these Spirits Who are present but to whom I am not initiated They have a powerful pull.

It has been…experiences…writing for the Pack Spirits. It has been interesting, insightful, powerful, beautiful, and familiar while also being distant. The contrast between familiarity and distance has been fascinating. In a very real sense the Mysteries of these Spirits keeps Themselves because without that inititation there are things that I cannot reach, and yet because I do not have that initiation there are thins I can reach to, express, understand, and share that initiates just…cannot. It is fascinating. It is a privelege. It is good.

Patreon Topic 61: On The Year of Aun

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“Year of Aun. What is it? When is it? Resources for folks looking to know more? What are you planning for it and how can folks join in if they want to?”

The Year of Aun 2023 Celebration designed by Ludvig Levin, used with permission from Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen

What is the Year of Aun?

The Year of Aun is a celebration of the realignment of ourselves with the world, and accordingly, the Ginnreginn (the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir) we share it with. It is a year of healing ceremonies to bring us back into alignment with being good Ancestors with the example of the worst: that of Aun himself.

The Wikipedia entry on Aun the Old is not bad. However, it is not as deep as the sources and interpretation provided to us by Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen and Jósúa Hróðgeir Rood, the latter of whom coined the term Year of Aun. So, what are our sources? Thankfully, when I asked him, Rune provided me these:

Thietmar of Merseburg:
“Because I have heard marvellous things about their ancient sacrifices, I will not allow these to pass unnoticed. In those parts, the centre of the kingdom [of the Danes] is a place called Lejre, in the region of Seeland. Every nine years, in the month of January, after the day of which we celebrate the appearance of the Lord [6 January], they all convene here and offer their gods a burnt offering of ninety-nine human beings and as many horses along with dogs and cock – the latter being used in place of hawks. As I have said, they were convinced that these would do service for them with those who dwell beneath the earth and ensure their forgiveness for any misdeeds.” Thietmar of Merseburg, Book 1: 17. Here quoted from: Ottonian Germany. The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg. Translated and annotated by David A. Warner. Manchester University Press 2001, p. 80

Adam of Bremen:
“For all their gods there are appointed priests to offer sacrifices for the people. If plague and famine threaten, a libation is poured to the idol Thor; if war, to Wotan; if marriages are to be celebrated, to Frikko. It is customary also to solemnize in Uppsala, at nine-year intervals, a general feast of all the provinces of Sweden. From attendance at this festival no one is exempted Kings and people all and singly send their gifts to Uppsala and, what is more distressing than any kind of punishment, those who have already adopted Christianity redeem themselves through these ceremonies. The sacrifice is of this nature: of every living thing that is male, they offer nine heads with the blood of which it is customary to placate gods of this sort. The bodies they hang in the sacred grove that adjoins the temple. Now this grove is so sacred in the eyes of the heathen that each and every tree in it is believed divine because of the death or putrefaction of the victims. Even dogs and horses hang there with men. A Christian told me that he had seen 72 bodies suspended promiscuously. Furthermore, the incantations customarily chanted in the ritual of a sacrifice of this kind are manifold and unseemly; therefore, it is better to keep silent about them.”

These are Rune’s own thoughts on The Year of Aun through his website on Nordic Animism. You can read the full post here. I have reprinted the bullet points and the thrust of why we celebrate it with his permission.

“• We are Aun as our economic order is based on camoflaged, structural violence against other humans in other parts of the world.
• We are Aun as our endless consumerism reduces us to paralyzed captives of luxury and indifference.
• We are Aun in our acceptance of the gruesome and life-annihilating behaviour toward the non-human or other-than-human beings that give us life by becoming our food.
• We are Aun in our complicity in the omnicidal attack on all life by which Western civilization is mercilessly driving us towards the biggest collapse in the history of life for 66 million years.
• We are Aun in our loss of social connectedness to the people closest to us, as our social instincts are being hacked by synthetic systems that enclose us in algorithm-generated mirror cabinets that enhance our stupidest and basest sides and erode the political and social debates that should hold our societies together.
 We are Aun as we are the worst imaginable ancestors.

The Aun year is about acknowledging that we are Aun and calling on the healing of those pathological and abusive patterns with which our society and social order is predicated on violence and mistreatment of our world and of others in our world. That is why we will recover and celebrate the ancient tradition of the octennial celebration in “the Aun year of 2023”, a term coined by Jósúa Hróðgeir Rood as a call for the whole of 2023 to be a year under the theme of healing the rupture.”

When is the Year of Aun celebrated?

Per Rune on Nordic Animism: “We therefore call on you to participate in the ways that you find meaningful, both on the specific days that mark the octennial celebrations in 2023 and throughout the year (January 6 in Lejre and March 6 in Uppsala).”

Rune suggests we celebrate in these ways:

“Make Aun-themes for your 2023 celebrations. Make pilgrimages to regional sacred sites. Celebrate this year of Healing: make rituals for it, pray for it, dance for it, dialogue about it, celebrate it in your gatherings and festivals, call for the cyclical healing of the Aun year. Sacrifice elements of your life ways that derive from the abusive aspects society. Make oaths under the rune of Aun to change life ways that are predicated on destruction.”

Rune for the Year of Aun used with permission from Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen

My plans for the Year of Aun 2023

I plan on following in the steps that Rune has laid out here. Starting with the Yule celebration December 21, 2022, and continuing it in 2023 starting on January 6th. These first rituals will lay the groundwork for a series of both personal and communal rituals that will be oriented the work of healing our relationship with and to Jörð, and being better Ancestors. The pilgrimages I take will be oriented around sacred places where I live in Michigan, such as my local stream, rivers, and the Great Lakes. I began a pilgrimage working several years ago, starting with Lake Superior in which I was inspired to make a Heathen poem for the Great Lakes.

The healing work with the land we have already begun in our home will continue, as will my work with Crossing Hedegrows Sanctuary and Farm and the powerful work we as a community do with the land there. Crossing Hedgerows itself is a sacred site, and so the rituals I do there will be oriented around the healing work we do with the land. I invite folks of good will to contact us and work with us at the Sanctuary in good Gebo with the landvættir.

What does this healing work with the land look like? Something Jean of Crossing Hedgerows has taught me in my years of working with her is to just sit with the land and watch what it does already. That is how they began to heal the land they live on and with. It was severely abused farmland. I remember the land before they moved into their home. It was a monocrop farm operation being seeded, sprayed, harvested, and sprayed again year on year in a vicious cycle. They let the land rest, recover, and watched. They observed the first year. Over time they encouraged the land through berms, swales, the erecting of a hoophouse, and partnering with their chickens to do what it wanted to do, growing food forests alongside everything else. Crossing Hedgerows Sanctuary and Farm is a living example of partnering with the landvættir in healing.

My family and I are taking these lessons in healing and applying them with our relationship with the landvættir we live with. This first year we have planted a small garden in the garden plot the previous owners made, letting the strawberries and various plants they left here grow. Aside from this, and one shave of the land with a lawnmower, we have left the land be. We are letting Them show us what is here, what They want to do, and then we will assess in the early Spring with Them what to do next.

How can folks join in celebrating the Year of Aun with me?

Join the work with my community at Crossing Hedgerows. Reach out and develop rituals for persona and communal healing. Develop mutual aid networks in your own communities and between ours so we rely less and less on the capitalist systems ravaging not only Jörð, but our landvættir and our communities. Share places of pilgrimage with one another.

An idea I have had that has resonance with ancient Scandinavian rituals is the idea of the procession wagon. In those days a wagon with a representation of Freyr would go around to the various towns and bring blessings and healing. Celebrations would be had, and armed conflict would cease while Freyr was present. We could do this in the modern age, with a person or group bringing representations of the Gods, such as Jörð, Freyr, Freyja, and Njörðr, to folks in our area interested in receiving Them. With the return of Their representations being done in a sacred place by the communities They have touched. We could partner with Crossing Hedgerows and/or with interested people and their communities in their sacred places to bring this sacred procession in the Year of Aun to various places.

The Year of Aun is calling us to bring the beauty and power each of us can to the Work of this Year. Each of us who dedicates their time, power, beauty, and work to this Year of Aun helps carry on that healing work with our Ginnreginn to future Years. Each of us has something to contribute, to bring to bear. Each of us has our own work to do. Each of our communities their own work to do. All who celebrate the Year collectively have their work. Each of us contribute to the healing between ourselves and Jörð and our Gods and vættir of the Earth, the betterment of ourselves as Ancestors, and good Gebo with our Ginnreginn.

 

Patreon Topic 60: On Cleansing Tools

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Lisa comes this topic:

“An idea for topic/post: if you do any sort of craft and use stuff you make for devotional purposes, what would you do to cleanse any tools you use?”

The cleansing techniques I use most often in my spiritwork also work well for my crafting tools. These are:

Cleansing by breath. Breathing in deeply, then exhaling slowly. While I do this I visualize connecting with Yggdrasil. As I inhale and exhale, I breathe with Yggdrasil. I remember my connection to Yggdrasil by our Ancestors Askr and Embla, Ash and Elm, and to the first breaths that Óðinn gave to us. When I have cleansed myself, I then breathe over my items in a similar way. By doing this I become the conduit for cleansing.

Cleansing by fire. I make the Fire Prayer, a simple prayer that goes like this:

“Hail Sons and Daughters of Muspelheim. Hail Fire Itself! Hail Sunna! Hail Loki! Hail Glut! Hail Lögi! Hail Surtr! Hail Sinmora! Hail Eldest Ancestor! Hail Eldrvaettr! Ves Þu heil!”

I then light a candle, and circle it over myself in a sunwise direction, thanking the eldrvaettr, fire spirit, for cleansing me. I then either repeat the motion over the items or pass the items through or around the fire sunwise to cleanse any items before me that need it. Fire does not have to directly touch the items, particularly if they are flammable, so raising them well above the fire or raising the candle and making three circles sunwise over the item to be cleansed will do well.

Cleansing by smoke. I start with the Fire Prayer and then, I give thanks to the vaettr of the plant or substance I am going to burn. I burn whatever is going to work with me to cleanse the item/area by smoke in a fire safe container. I make sure not to make it too smoky and make myself or others cough. I most often work with Ama Una, Grandmother Joy, aka Ama Malurt, Grandmother Mugwort. As with cleansing by Fire, I pass the smoke over or the items through the smoke three times in a clockwise manner. Be sure if you are doing this that you or others do not have allergies to the mugwort or related plants, such as wormwood, or other plants that hit on similar allergy points like ragweed, sunflower, or feverfew. If you do, working with another plant may be advised. Working with a given plant in water as opposed to burning it may also be needed for folks who are traveling, partners or pets with sensitivities, and/or a change of pace.

Cleansing by liquid. Whether this is a suspension of herbs in oil or oil on its own, a tincture, a tisane, cleaning chemicals, simply adding water and herbs together to make a cleansing holy water, or sprinkling an area/item with water after prayers, there are a variety of options to choose from. A given crafting tool may be easier to clean/preserve/sharpen with one method vs another, eg sharpening a wood chisel with a blessed oil to cleanse it and keep it well. As with the other methods I make simple prayers, thanking the vaettr of whatever the liquid is in helping me cleanse the item. I then clean or wipe the tool down as is appropriate. Depending on what item I am making and what is required to make it, I may do this process before and after the time I dedicate to crafting.

To a certain extent the limit is what medium(s) you are working in, what is most appropriate to the long-term care of your craft and tools relevent to it, and if anything, what care needs to be taken with the items you are crafting and the area it takes place in. Cleansing before and after a crafting session is highly recommended, even if all you are doing is sitting in a chair and crocheting, knitting, or beading. Keeping the process and tools clean, particularly if you are crafting items for ritual use, will keep the focus of the items and area, and can prove both powerfully meditative and connective with various Ginnreginn.

These are just a few examples of what you can do in order to cleanse and prepare tools and areas for work. A lot of what I have found works really well in both small and large jobs are the simpler ways that, if need arises, can be made more complex. Starting with simple ritual actions, like the three breaths to cleanse yourself then another object and a simple prayer, connects the dots of spiritwork you have done up to this point and the Ginnreginn you carry relationships with into the work at hand. Adding on layers, like cleansing with three breaths, then making the Fire Prayer and working with a candle as Sacred Fire to cleanse the work space, and finally, finishing cleansing and preparation by marking tools with oil to cleanse and consecrate, are ways of building up from these basic techniques that carry over into deep, good work.

Patreon Topic 59: On Vanaheim

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Emi comes this topic:

“Do a discussion on Vanaheim.”

When we look to the usual sources, Vanaheimr is about as attested as Álfheimr is. It is explored in Vafþrúnismál, Chapter 23 of the Gylfanginning, and in the Heimskringla in the Ynglinga Saga. That’s it.

The folklore, unfortunately, tells us nothing. I have yet to find any folklore directly relevant to Vanaheimr. I also have found nothing on the denizens of Vanaheim Themselves, only the main Gods of Freyja, Freyr, Njorðr, and for those who count Her among the Vanir, Nerðus. If anyone has folklore related to Vanaheimr or the Vanir Themselves I would definitely be interested in seeing it.

As an aside, I find it rather interesting that the Nine Worlds often find themselves remarked as being, in some ways, laying in one direction or another in relation to Miðgarðr. Miðgarðr, of course, being the Middle Enclosure, is in the middle of this cosmological map. Niflheimr and Helheimr are in the North, Jötunheim in the East, Muspelheimr and Vanaheimr in the South, Álfheimr is South and perhaps above Miðgarðr, Svartalfheimr in the North and/or below, and finally, Asgarðr which is either above Miðgarðr or perhaps West. If you are setting up a stalli specifically for Beings of one of the Nine Worlds you may want to set that up in a place that corresponds to the World’s direction. There are also many beautiful artist renditions of Yggdrasil, including this one by Sam Flegal.

Sam Flegal’s Illustration of Yggdrasil

So, from here on out we are talking personal experiences.

I have only visited Vanaheimr a handful of times going on heimgang (World/Realm walking) or as it is often better known, journeying. My impression of the World is that of growing cycles. Some of the places I have gone within Vanaheim have been akin to old forests, plains stretching with animals like buffalo or aurochs and an even wider variety of animal and plant life I am sure I have only just scratched the surface on. There are places in Vanaheim that look like they have come right out of an early medieval book on the ideal farmstead, only….there is something more right about them. The wild places seem both more wild and yet also just…more. I get the sense in this World that things grow, die, and consume each other until they balance one another.

Something is just…good about the place. There is a sense of being lived-in and also that everything is going as it should, in the right season and pace. The landvaettir and various watervaettir felt extremely contented. If there are more industrial areas I have not visited them yet, and it would not surprise me if there are given Njorðr’s connection with the sea, commerce, and fishing. What I felt during my most recent visit, on invitation, was a sense of deep peace. While I am sure this World holds its dangers, I never felt under threat while I was there.

It is a World I do not have much experience with, and I will be visiting more in the future. I would be interested in readings others’ experiences with these Worlds!

Patreon Topic 58: On Spirit World Politics Part 3

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“1. Concrete examples, *if* you can share them. Theoretical is great, but examples make shit real.

2. How does reincarnation (as applicable in its varied forms) and otherwise longer-than-human-lifetime-time frames play into how we can/should/do approach these politics? I’m thinking about both the pitfalls and genuine concerns about how past life and possible future lives (plus ancestors etc) show up in practice.”

Since I asked for input I received some from Grimchild, who shared this on the AGF server:

“Not to be a lurker late with Starbucks, but, I’ve been v much enjoying the SpiritWorld Politics series. A couple things I’d be interested in thoughts delving more into how things like inter-spirit politics & such can play out and affect the spirit worker, and how events in Midgard/the earthly realm can affect spirit realms and vice versa. These are things that I’ve definitely experience but not seen a lot of discussion about in a way that’s … I guess I want to say grounded in discernment.”

Spirit Politics in Miðgarðr

Given current events, I will be answering Grimchild’s points first.

In the wake of this Politico article, it should be abundantly clear spirit world politics shows up on this side of things too. Christian hegemony seeks to dominate the spiritual and political spheres together, and through this, seeks to regiment what is moral, and thus, allowed in society. It seeks to dominate and dictate what is allowed to occur in every realm of sexuality, medical rights and choice, and political thought, ideology, and action. Christian hegemony seeks to destroy other religions, and is hand-in-glove with white supremacist movements. It is important to remember even as we fight for them that they are not only coming for reproductive rights. This selfsame Christian hegemony is directly tied to science denialism of all kinds, including those against climate science, reproduction, sex, gender, evolution, and environmental science, and accordingly, all the people, communities, and things that these subjects touch on. It is directly tied to white supremacist movements. Combined with a capitalist system that seeks to turn everything into a commodity, this puts our very futures as a specie at risk.

Now, folks will say that Christian hegemony operates out of a purely political perspective. I could not disagree more. The kind of fervor and zealotry that is brought to bear is kept alive and burning hot with that of absolute conviction that is borne of a religious dogma that seeks to dominate, destroy, and convert anyone not of its ilk.

Whether or not this is a directive, obligation from, or action taken on behalf of the Christian God or that of an egregore, demiurge, or other kind of spirit is rather beside the point. Whatever the Being of the God or spirit, They have inspired a supreme amount of hate in Their followers. This hate has, in turn, spawned direct political impact on those for whom They, or Their followers, are opposed to.

We must resist this. Any Pagan, polytheist, or occultist should be in opposition to these religions, and the politics they seek to carry out on all of us. Ultimately it is our subjection that is being sought, and if we will not bend the knee, it is our lives.

Resistance

So how do we resist? We have a wider range of resources at our disposal than we may give ourselves credit for. We have the usual political outlets, including the ballot box and demonstrations. That is hardly the limit here, and it would be absolutely foolish for us to limit ourselves to these. Things like this are why I encourage folks to never take tools out of their toolchest. Situations like this are what cursing, hex work, seiðr, hamfara, niðing poles, and all kinds of magic are made for. Doing magic around these situations, whether directed at a Supreme Court justice, a politician, or towards local manifestations of the issue itself, can help.

Calling on the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir associated with abortions, bodily autonomy, herbs, healing, and medicine in conjunction with doing magic and political work are ways of bringing our political actions, our spiritual actions, and ourselves together into the work before us. Doing blessings on food that others take to protests, colored thread with magic worked on them so marchers’ patches provide protection and courage, standing in witness with phones out, or being part of coordinating emergency response teams with BOBs (Bug Out Bags) or kits oriented around physical, emotional and spiritual emergencies, are all ways to bring these things together in political action even if you cannot make it directly to a demonstration or political rally. Buying Plan B or equivalent for others’ use, linking folks to communities and resources, and keeping an eye on local, regional, and State elections linked to these issues. Watching the kids, packing lunches, and bringing funds together to pay bonds are other ways of providing support to the front lines of demonstrations, direct action, and mutual aid networks. Mutual aid takes a variety of forms, and some of the least seen on TV are the most sorely needed.

These Christians are calling on God and engaging in spiritual warfare to enact their political and spiritual will. They are doing this as they engage the wheels of power to turn to their will. They are not shy about this. They are emboldened by it. Many operate under the lie that they are persecuted for their beliefs while openly persecuting anyone who does not believe or look like them. This is spiritual fascism. You cannot negotiate with this. This is not someone who wants to get along or live with you. They want you to bow or to die, and either way, they will feel emotionally superior while you do. Do not give them the satisfaction. Live powerfully, love deeply, and resist in every way you can.

This is how Spirit World Politics hit here in Miðgarðr. Sometimes, when it comes to powerful forces like those employed by Christian hegemony and all their backers, including evangelicals, traditionalist Catholics, and atheist and anti-theist enablers, this is what it looks like. Likewise, us calling on our Ginnreginn, our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir to help us in these desperate times cannot help but cause ripples politically within the Spirit Worlds as well.

Inter-Spirit Politics and the Ancestors

How though? Grimchild asked about inter-spirit politics, and one way this definitely can play out is through our Ancestors. It is entirely possible that our Ancestors are going to be divided on the subject of something as emotionally impactful as abortion. In my own case I have Catholics going back a long way in my family. Some of these folks will not be behind me on abortion rights, and will still support me. Some of these folks will not be behind me on my religion, and will still support me. If the Ancestors at hand are not behind me They don’t get reverence, worship, or offerings from me, my family, my tribe, or my Kindred. If the Ancestors do not have a relationship with me They likely will have little to no influence now, because I am the only spiritworker in my family that I know of, and the only one in my family that I know of doing any kind of in-depth Ancestor work. If They do not play ball with me then They are not likely to be heard, have impact, or be instrumental in this or the next generation. Their ability to impact Miðgarðr is greatly reduced, if not eliminated.

How do I know if a given Ancestor or group of Ancestors is on my side? I talk with Them. I work with my gifts of spiritual hearing, sight, etc. I do divination to commune with Them and to discern messages, and when I am stumped or need help I go to other diviners. I begin with the powerful Ancestors whose names I know or Who have revealed Themselvs to me. I move out from there and develop more relationships. I have good relationships with a few of the powerful Ancestors, the Disir, Väter, Eergi, and Þverr. I have good relationships with Catholic Ancestors, and older ones we could call Heathen Ancestors to keep things simple. I have Ancestors I share with loved ones related to me by blood, and I have Ancestors I share with loved ones related to me by lineage, adoption, and spirit. What all Who are in relationship with me hold is that They are with me, not against me.

If a given Ancestor wants nothing to do with a political issue that is fine, but They do not get to have input when it comes to getting shit done for that topic. If They get in the way, well, I get Them out of my way either by exclusion or asking the powerful Ancestors to keep Them out of my way. An Ancestor does not have to support everything I do, but I get to make my own choices on how my megin (might) and hamingja (group luck/power) gets used. I also get to make choices on what influence They get to have on that megin and hamingja and how they are used. In turn I deal with the consequences of that choice.

Inter-Spirit Politics Between Gods

Inter-spirit politics can take a number of other forms. Some of them can be quite beautiful, and mutually build up good relationships between the Ginnreginn. Contrast this with those that exist between the evangelical Christian God and our own. A form this can take are those that exist between two different Ginnreginn of different Worlds. I will be getting into my own experiences here, with a huge caveat: this is my personal experience, and I have no doubt that they will be controversial, particularly with those who do not believe we should be worshipping Her, or Her Children. However, I have experienced Óðinn and Angrboða, very divergent Gods, reaching out to one another. In my own case, it was through direct contact between the two of Them, being fostered to Her from Óðinn.

A brief explanation: fosterage is an old practice. In the cases that comes to mind, it was most often between a man and his brother, a freeman (karl) and a jarl or góði, and similar arrangements. However, it certainly is not the only kind, and I am finding this kind of thing happening with Gods from the same culture background (Norse and Icelandic in my case), I am also finding it across different backgrounds.

What would the purpose of such a fosterage be? Sometimes to tie two families together, or for help in raising the child. Others times fosterage would be something like a political move to unite two families or work to resolve disputes between them. Looking up fosterage in the sagas, and Gisla Saga, Sturla Saga, and Njal’s come up. In my own case it seems to serve two purposes: first, to tie these two families together in a binding way, and two, as a working relationship to resolve disputes between these families. While I would say that the grievances these two Gods and Their families have with each other are not over in any final sense, that They are willing to have and are engaged in this dialogue is a powerful thing.

With this in mind we have some good reasons for such an arrangement between two Gods, particularly ones that are chieftains of Their respective tribes. Those who are utterly opposed to the Jötnar have already checked out of the conversation. What are the implications if we accept such an experience as genuine? Again, as I have spoken about in previous posts, it is not that I am inherently more holy or better than others. It is that my lot is to be a container of relationships in this way for these Ginnreginn. Potentially anyone could be put into this situation if they accepted it. What it means is that these two Gods are willing to engage in relationship-building at the least through us, the humans, in which They are also in relationship with. It does not mean we have power over our Gods. Rather, we have power with Them.

Part of the power of animism and polytheism is that our relationships can be as varied as they are many. As many ways as we have relating to and with the Gods, why should this be an area where the Gods have no care for us? Why would we seek to limit the Gods in such a way? Why would we seek to limit ourselves in how we can connect to the Gods? Monotheism’s norms should not ever have become our yardstick, and we need to discard them should we ever hope to genuinely come into our own relationships with the Ginnreginn.

This gets to the another side of inter-spirit politics, and that largely starts in our realm and what we limit or open ourselves to. If all we ever accept is a relationship with the Gods like that which was modeled for us in Christian homes and churches then we necessarily limit ourselves as well. I am an Odinsson, and that brings with it obligations and political meaning. Accepting this brings power. It brings power through hamingja, and through all the relationships Óðinn has ever touched for good or ill. Without Óðinn I would not have gotten to know or love Loki. Without Him I would not have a relationship with the Runevaettir. Without Óðinn I would not have touched all the lives I have through those relationships with the Runevaettir, here through this blog, the Patreon, and all the shows I have been a part, including The Jaguar and the Owl, Around Grandfather Fire, and 3 Pagans on Tap, would not have happened. If I had limited myself to what was acceptable as Catholicism had taught me or as later examples in my own Pagan, polytheist, and Heathen communities had taught me, I would not be here doing and writing these things.

Reincarnation and Spirit Politics

Now, to Maleck’s questions. I will be writing on the second question first. “2. How does reincarnation (as applicable in its varied forms) and otherwise longer-than-human-lifetime-time frames play into how we can/should/do approach these politics? I’m thinking about both the pitfalls and genuine concerns about how past life and possible future lives (plus ancestors etc) show up in practice.”

My first question would be: is the life in question relevant? For instance, if you made a deal for multiple lifetimes of service to a God then that would definitely be relevant. However, I think the majority of our lives are just lived through, and while their influences may still be felt on us, such as guiding our actions, our past lives are not any more in the driver seat than our Ancestors are. There is the idea of karma as found in Dharmic traditions. This Buddhist Centre article goes over it from one point of view. To briefly sum up, karma has knock-on effects from past lives to future ones. Your choices affect how you do things as you go on to different lives.

A pitfall here can be to try to ‘make up’ or atone for the actions of your past selves. To a certain degree, particularly if you did some horrible stuff in a past life, that is laudable. However, as with a lot of things to do with past lives, it is far too easy to get sucked into those as opposed to living this life the best way that you can. You cannot change the past. However, you have immediate power with how you respond to the örlog of this life.

I do not worry much about my past lives. I am pretty busy living this one. I will not say there is nothing useful in them, though. They can be a source of power, of obligation, and healing. They can also be a source that you can tap to look for direction in this life. After all, if you can look back and see the bigger patterns or figure out where certain connections have come from, why not work with that?

Just because I do not work much with my own past lives does not mean that they are not of concern to spirit politics. To that point, it may mean quite a bit in what spirits are willing to work with you, what you örlog looks like on this go-around, and what situations in this life may be open to you. It can be worth investigating to see what you have going on, with the caution towards getting sucked into just swimming in the waters of all those past lives vs the one being lived now.

Examples of Spirit World Politics in My Life

Now, to Malek’s first question: “1. Concrete examples, *if* you can share them. Theoretical is great, but examples make shit real.”

Some examples of spirit world politics in my life:

Being the only spiritworker in my family, I get to be the point of contact. Few folks in my blood family are paying any attention to our Ancestors. Fewer still would heed Them if they were. If our Ancestors want to be heard, want a voice, or want Their descendents to listen to Them, I am more or less it. They can disagree with my choice of religion, my queerness, my relationships, all of it. They do not get to disrespect me, my partners, my Gods, my vaettir, or my other Ancestors and still have a seat at the table. Does this cause some chafing? Absolutely. However, the powerful Ancestors are also there to help sort this, so, by and large we have.

In Their turn the Ancestors get to ask things of me. So, the Catholic Ancestors had Their own section on our home Ancestor stalli in my folks’ home, and when we set it up again They will have Their own section for that as well. We have different sections for different Ancestors because folks wanted Their own space. Since our home layout is completely different it is taking a bit of time to find stalli that will work with the layout of our hearth. In the meantime we honor Them on our home’s hearth.

The wearing of the Runevaettir as tattoos on my forearms is in part a political message. It is first about my living in community with the Runevaettir. They are so important to me that I wear Them on my skin and I display Them every day since I seldom wear a long-sleeve shirt. Displaying Them this way is a signal to others that the Runes do not belong to white supremacists. It is also an open invitation to anyone to talk with me about Them, which is part of why the Runes held me to the oath to get Them tattooed onto my body, and chose the location They did. I talked about this at length in The Importance of Being Visible.

Being an Erilaz and being vocal about working with the Runes as vaettir is part of being political. It would be very easy to just shut my mouth and nod along when folks say that They are nothing more than writing. I think, though, that there is a lot to be gained and not just in terms of having solid spiritual relationships with the Runes Themselves. When you understand a Rune as a vaettir They are a whole Being unto Themselves. If we understand our writing, our systems of divination, and one of the ways in which we Heathens bring magic and power into the world as being vaettir, the political implications are enormous. The worldview brings with it an entire wealth of relationships to be considered when we want to do anything from galdr to making bindrunes to reading Runes in divination. It brings Their considerations and insight to the table, not merely what we memorize of the Rune Poems or the meaning of the words that make up Their name. It takes power out of the hands of academia to dictate the bounds of our relationship and puts that power into that of these vaettir.

Think about this. When you start to listen, really listen to these vaettir, Hagalaz is no longer just hail or destruction. They are hail and all the things that brings. They are the destruction that will be wrought, the waters that hail will melt into, and the benefits that brings. They are noted in the Icelandic Rune Poems as being the sickness of serpents, and serpents (attor) are noted in the Merseburg charm as being carriers of disease. Hagalaz can be worked with to destroy disease. Likewise, if we look to Lacouteaux and his examination of serpents in protecting the home, such as in The Tradition of Household Spirits, Hagalaz can also be worked with to destroy protection. So, while Hagalaz does not lose Their aspects of hail or destruction, They cease to just be that.

My relationship with many of the húsvaettir and landvaettir of my parents’ home has continued in my new home. When we moved we made the offer that any who wanted to come with us could. Sometimes vaettir leave a place because of neglect, abuse, or wanting to get away from a toxic situation. In this case, the reason many vaettir came with us, is that while my folks take good care of their house and land they do not offer cultus to the vaettir. To be sure, the landvaettir and húsvaettir that have stayed are happy, and so are the vaettir that came with us to the new home. Not all separation of vaettir from a place need ly to horrible, traumatic, or anything beyond wanting to stick with folks that treat you right.

This kind of positive relationship building with the landvaettir keeps up whether we are talking of my work at Crossing Hedgerows Sanctuary and Farm or at my own home. The landvaettir talk. They share news as surely as nutrients are shared through the soil and mycelium networks. As sure as connections on the wind. Those political dimensions, including the little things of what I put into the soil, they feed that soil that in turn feeds those relationships. I am showing the landvaettir that They matter by what I put into the ground, how I grow what I grow, and by listening to Them on how They want things to be grown. I am putting my spiritual politics into practice by putting my hands to work in and with the ground beneath my feet as surely and concretely as I am when I make prayers or offerings.

Thank you to everyone who submitted responses, especially to Maleck for getting this series of posts started, their ongoing questions, and to Grimchild for their contributions. I am not sure if there will be a Part 4, yet, without folks submiting questions or ideas on what to cover. So, if folks are interest please let me know what you want me to cover in the comments section, in my email, or on the Around Grandfather Fire Discord server.

Patron Topic 57: On Spirit World Politics Part 2

In Part 1 we went over some of the basic ways that politics interact and intersect with the spirit world. Now, I would like to explore the Spirit World and politics from my perpective as a spiritworker.

Political Implications of Spirit Travel

Humans are, in a very real sense, spiritual Beings. We have a Soul Matrix and a way that expresses and exists here. It is not unreasonable for us to understand that other vaettir also have a Soul Matrix, however close it does or does not match our own. This adds a very interesting spiritual-political dimension to travels we may make to other Worlds. The one that I am thinking of here namely being that we can have some form of what could be termed material impact on Them just as They may us here in Miðgarðr.

If we understand other vaettir as being able to have interaction and impact on us in our World then we, as visitors to other Worlds, can have impact on vaettir in other Worlds in no less wise a way. This makes spiritual tourism as a concept even more fraught with danger because we have the ability to harm and help in Worlds other than our own. Certainly, if we accept that various vaettir can cause help and harm in our own Worlds it follows we can have similar impact on Them in Their own Worlds even if it follows on different lines than we may expect. Anger the Álfar and you may receive elfshot. It occurs to me, especially having recently visited Álfheim, to wonder if there are similar stories about us humans who visit the Álfar there.

If we can have this impact then how we arrive to a given World matters. Since our souls can take flight, and depending on your understanding of the Soul Matrix, this can happen in sleep as well as with determined effort eg journeying, or hamfara (journeying forth in one’s hamr) it is not something limited to just spiritworkers. However, I think what marks the difference here is expertise. A competent heimrgangr, spiritworker or not, will journey with intent to where they wish to go. Most folks who wander around the Worlds in their sleep do not do it with any effort, it just happens.

My general advice to folks looking to do spirit travelling is to first have at least one or two competencies in divination systems down. This means being able to do these divination systems for yourself without worrying you are messing with the results of the reading. The divination itself can be simple, such as a special coin you flip or dice, three stones assigned as Yes/No/Indicator, tarot or an oracle card set, the Runes, or some sort of sortilege. I favor systems where randomization is built into the answer, rather than something relying utterly on your translation, such as with scrying in fire or a pendulum. While these can be useful tools, I find for my own work I need that random factor to reassure that I am getting good and accurate responses from the tools, and not get in the way of them. These divination methods serve as helpmeets in communication and interpretation. As examples, divination can help you see in clear terms if a request to enter a World has been accepted, help you understand a message that you cannot interpret at the time of a journey, or can be used to see if an offering idea would be good, and whether an offering was received well or not.

We need to be able to travel to and return in ways that do not harm ourselves or the places or people we wish to visit. We need to be able to communicate, or at the very least able to effectively and accurately interpret our interactions. We need to understand how we take in and interpret spiritual information, and be able to assess it. Why? If we understand that our impacts on other Worlds carries real benefits and harm not only to ourselves, but to the Beings of those Worlds and the Worlds Themselves, we have a responsibility to be competent in our traveling and in how we conduct ourselves. If we understand that there are political dimensions to these interactions then it should underpin the importance of being able to do these things well.

I generally advise anyone looking to do spiritual travel to be sure that, whatever your destination, to get the consent of the Beings of that World to enter. On the one hand, it is plain rude to show up unannounced when there are means to send a request to enter and get a clear response. On the other hand, it is disrespectful of the sovereignty of the various Beings if you gatecrash Their home. I am working with the Nine Worlds model in Nordic Heathenry. Most any World I can think of has at least one, if not many Gods, who call it home it in some way. Many of these Gods rule the Worlds we would visit. It’s hardly in my best interest to offend those Gods. Then there are the various vaettir who will likely be as displeased to find an invader in Their midst.

It is worth noting that our cultural and ethical frameworks may not be compatible with the Beings of the places we are seeking to interact with. A given Jötun in Jötunheim is probably not going to have my political outlook, and what is rude in a given context with Them is likely to differ from that of an Álfar in Álfheim. Likewise, that same Jötun may not share Angrbóða’s cultural or ethical frameworks. If we treat the Beings in other Worlds as Beings unto Themselves then we need to acknowledge that They will likely differ from us and each other in many ways. Then again, you may find that many of Them hold to some of the same views as we do. Ideally, you ask questions before you set out so you know as much as you can. Either way, if you are able to visit, ask questions.

A lot of these points may seem obvious, except I have seen folks stereotype all Jötnar as beastial or out of control, and Álfar as aloof and completely alien. To be sure, some Jötnar I have the pleasure of knowing are more beastial and some Álfar are aloof. I do find some Álfar completely alien. Some of those same Jötnar are also some of the wisest and most powerful Beings in the Nine Worlds. Those Álfar likely have damned good reasons for being aloof.

As relationships develop with Ginnreginn the varying bonds of politics we can experience between Them and the various Worlds can begin to pull and tug on one another. As an Odinsson I can feel this pretty keenly. There are some relationships that will be limited or simply never form due to being who I am to Óðinn and vice versa. Those might be open to others. Then again, I have had doors open that may not have otherwise, or not in the ways that they did, because of Óðinn and I’s relationship. This is part of why I advise Heathens, especially those wanting to get into spiritwork, do so with their Ancestors being among the first Ginnreginn that they develop relationships with. The Ancestors have a vested interest in you doing well and keeping safe. Most of your Ancestors are likely to remember being alive, and collectively have generations worth of experiences to tap. As many of your Ancestors may have pissed off a random Álfar, They may also have had good relationships with others. They can be a great source of contacts, influence, power, and wisdom. You are likely not the only spiritworker in your Ancestors, and tapping into these Ancestors can be especially potent in bringing your own spiritwork along.

We live here in Miðgarðr. We are visiting there. Even if the framework for what constitutes a good guest differs, it is still on us to put our best foot foward as a good guest

Magic in Other Worlds

When it come to magic in other worlds, all the ethical considerations I have covered in previous posts, namely Ethics in Animism and Polytheism Part 1 and Part 2, and On the Ethical Use of Magic can apply here. The long story here is that we are ultimately responsible for what our magic does in other Worlds whether or not it does what we intend.

An aspect of using magic in other Worlds few think about is that we can do it at all. Think about the many effects magic has the potential to enact in our world. Now, apply this thought to the Worlds of other Beings. When we read stories of elfshot for those who angered the Álfar, we can clearly see these Beings from another World can affect us in our own. Are there similar stories of humans in Álfheimr? To deny the possibility that we can have similar effects, among many, seems to place us lower than other kinds of vaettir. It makes the point that we are less magical, spiritual, or capable of committing harm or help. I find this notion false.

Rather, I think the opposite is true for folks who have any modicum of skill in hamfara, or magic in general. If we understand magic as the affecting of Urðr to achieve an end, then a given magician or spiritworker can present even more of a threat to themselves and others. If we understand a part of our Soul Matrix, eg the hamr, has the ability to get up and go walking about in other Worlds while our lyke (body) is asleep, then even if, say 10% of the estimated 7.8 billion person population of humanity did so, that would be about 780 million people. If only 10% of this estimate can effectively do spiritwork and/or magic then that still leaves 78 million people. That is not a small number.

When we apply this understanding to other Worlds, then, an intentional journey to another World is not a small thing even when the mechanism for the journey itself may be relatively simple. If magic can and does affect the patterns of Urðr, then its effective application can do active and ongoing harm or good, just as when other Being apply Their magic to us or our surroundings here in Miðgarðr. How does this aspect of the use of magic play into spiritual politics?

In a number of ways. For myself, the reputation the Álfar carried with Their use of magic and overall demeanor that I saw in the sources made it so I wanted as little contact with Them as possible. For a lot of folks, they carry this same idea with regard to the Jötnar. The very way we form relationships with vaettir, then, can be informed by how we, or our fellows, undertand and use magic.

The way we use magic can have an impact on how things come around politically. For instance, we have the varieties of seiðr. One of the things I understand that differentiates seiðr from other forms of magic is that seiðr works with vaettir to get things done. So, what vaettir are you working with to get the thing done? What are you having Them do? Are you asking Them at all, or have you enticed Them with a song and now you’ve roped Them into doing things for you? If you primarily work with landvaettir in your seiðr here in Miðgarðr, what do you do in other Worlds if you work seiðr there? How you interact and treat these vaettir can (and I would argue likely will) have direct impact on whether or not vaettir from other Worlds will want to treat with you.

There is a similarity between armchair occultists and 2nd Amendment fans here in the United States. Both are not very likely to have actually done their homework, and both talk a good game without actually engaging with the topic they will very loudly ‘debate me bro’ about. America’s total gun ownership rests around 37-40% if the Gallup polls are any accurate indication, though that number includes those who “own or live with someone who owns a gun”. Gun ownership, though, is one thing. Competency in their use is quite another. See also armchair occultists vs operant magicians.

When you first learn to shoot you do it with targets. Targets that are not shooting back, and that, so long as you are actually practicing safety with your weapon, you are not going to hurt yourself or anyone else. You learn discipline with the weapon and its use, how to take the thing apart, clean it, and how to put it all back together safely. Training for scenarios and the like come later once you have developed core competencies with the weapon. This bare minimum for weapons is similar for anyone who wants to use magic. Cleansing, grounding, centering, shielding, warding, and being able to do divination and some basic forms of magic for safe spiritual journeying. You need to be able to competently and effectively use this tool at hand with a minimum of damage to yourself and others.

All of this is not to say “Don’t use magic!”. Rather, it is to really push folks to think through what magic they use and how they do it. It is a push for folks to think through how magic and its uses can affect the relationships they hold, and to weigh the political consequences of their actions. It is to consider that your actions have political dimension, especially when you are journeying to and/or are affecting other Worlds. Since magic is a form of power through affecting Urðr, and doing magic in others Worlds can have consequences deep consequences, it is another way through which we express ourselves, and our political allegiances. We cannot detach magic and its use from ourselves as though it is not real. After all, magic requires many parts of the Soul Matrix to be done. If you’re going to commit so much of yourself to doing somthing that can have such profound consequences, it seems to me it is worth doing well and with forethought.

Relationships Found and Formed

Here is where the metal meets the meat for animists and polytheists alike, whether or not we are spiritworkers. Relationships are at the core of both these theological worldviews. How I relate to the World around me has direct impact on how I act, function, and relate to every other thing. If I understand myself as being enmeshed in a web of relationships my outlook and actions are understood and expressed fundamentally differently than if I believe I am a cog in a machine. If I understand the Earth, Jörð as a Goddess, Who Herself is and contains vast, interrelated vaettir, that is a far cry different from understanding the Earth as a machine needing to be balanced. If we understand ourselves as existing in relationships, then ‘pantheons’ as locked-down relationships taking place only within a single culture are flawed models for understanding our place in things, and especially our Gods. Even a cursory look at ancient animisms and polytheisms shows that they interrelated with one another in myriad ways, and personal relationships with Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir had the potential for immense variety even within a given culture.

Much of this post has been about relationships in the abstract, or in relation to how we use power. This is about the relationships we intentionally make or that are made with us. The Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir we make relationships with have impact on the relationships we hold, or can hold. Some relationships we hold, such as with our blood Ancestors, are a result of how Urðr shakes out as our órlög when we are born. The spiritual relationships we make as adults are, predominantly, choices -yes, including if a God comes along and takes you up.

We develop the means to meaning through relationships. For the most part we worship our Gods because we relate to Them in concrete ways. ‘God of’ as a primary model of understanding our Gods is flawed, as it is often used to box our Gods into standardized meaning and relationships. However, many of the Gods we have a cursory relationship with fall into this understanding. A person who holds no direct relationship with Þórr may only relate to Him as a God of lightning, thunder, and rains. Another person may hold a mentor/mentee relationship with Him. Even for those who have such a relationship may still hail Him as a God of storms when a storm comes their way. What matters here is the ‘God of’ model is not the only way we relate to the Gods. It is not the whole of Them. We also relate to our Gods through Their relationships with one another, eg someone who has a direct relationship with Óðinn may relate to Þórr as a God of storms and also as a Son of Óðinn, Jörð, and Frigg.

Relating to our Gods without the notion of a pantheon binding Them does not mean their myths are not relevant to understanding Them. They still exist in relationship with one another, whether that is as rivals, relatives, or some other way. Myths are a way to understand these relationships, and how we may relate to Them in kind. The binding idea as animists and polytheists in understanding myths and our Ginnreginn is relationality.

I wrote in Part 1 that “This is not to say we need to like, befriend, or worship every God to have good relationships with those in our hearths. You do not have to like or worship Óðinn to worship Frigg or Þórr. Respect, though, is important. We gain nothing by disrespecting the Ginnreginn, especially ones Who are close to those we worship.” By engaging in certain relationships we may leave others out of our lives. There is a closeness with Óðinn I have that I will not have with Fenris. My allegiances being what they are, I have forgone relationships with some Gods, such as An Mórrígan, because what They could ask of me is more than what I could give. Part of respecting the Gods is understanding where our own limits lie in Who we have time to give to. Part of respecting the Gods is knowing whether or not we would be out of our depth with Them in a working relationship, and to respect ourselves enough to not to try to take on more than is good for us.

On Spiritworkers

A spiritworker is what it says on the tin: someone who does work with and for the spirits. It may be someone who divines, does magic, heals, helps facilitate contact, does spiritual consultation, or does all these things and more. What it is, at the end of the day, is a job title. It says nothing of the individual view, expertise, or experience to be expected until and unless a given community develops those baselines.

Part of why I use the term is because it effectively captures the idea of what I am and do. It does this without appropriating the word shaman. I used to use the word to describe myself, and I no longer do. Shaman is a term that, on the one hand has become so divorced from its roots in modern Pagan, animist, and polytheist communities while being marketed so heavily on the other that it has largely lost its utility as a word. It is important to note, though, that spiritworker is being used not to imply that we are shamans, but because that word does not apply to us in the first place. There are layers of cultural meaning that has built up around that word, from its original people, from academia, New Age spirituality, and our own communities that do not convey what we do. What had been a useful word has been both stripped and overloaded with meaning. Even if that word, with all its baggage, was useful as a ‘handle’ word to carry meaning, it no longer does.

Spiritworkers may hold different roles in the communities they are part of. Some may be part of formal organizations, and others serving only a community of Ginnreginn that has called them to service. Some may serve in leadership roles, while others only serve in support capacities. Some hold formal community roles which may or may not include their job as spiritworkers. It may be worth our while as members of distinct communities to use spiritworker as a term alongside more specific ones, such as vaettirverkr, Runeworker, erilaz, seiðmaðr, and spámaðr which point to communities we serve, specialties, training, expertise, and the like.

On the Politics of Being Spiritworkers

This brings us right to the politics of being spiritworkers. We are not neutral actors, and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous both to ourselves and Those we serve. Each of us are aligned with Someone, and generally that Someone, or group of Someones, are the Ginnreginn we are closest to, work with, and/or serve. It is worth remembering when getting a reading from a spiritworker you are not just getting information from them, you are also getting information filtered through them from their Ginnreginn.

When folks get a Rune reading from me that means at least 24 individual vaettir are potentially adding Their voices to the reading, whatever the question or issue. That is not including any of the Gods, Ancestors, or vaettir on my end, or the querant’s for that matter, that would like to chime in on a given topic. It is part of why, when folks ask questions like “Should I do such and such a thing” or “Is this good for me?” I ask them Who they are asking. This is especially imporant with ‘should’ or direction-based questions. If you leave the question to the Runes you’re going to get an answer based on Them much more than if you asked, say, Freyja. The Runes will effectively communicate Her response, but if you do not ask Her, you get Their answer(s). Given I approach tarot as a single vaettr with a lot of pieces, it is a similar deal when I read the tarot.

This means that there really is not such a thing like impartiality to a spiritual consultation. Those I consult for have political interests, as much as their own Ginnreginn will in and for them, and the connections They have. Part of my job can be to tease those out if they come up in the reading, to figure out Who is present, and how They are affecting the answers I am receiving. Another is to have figured out as much as I can where my Ginnreginn stand on things so I can account for that in regards to the reading. Sometimes I will not be able to answer questions because I do not have certain initiations, or I do not know a given God, group of Ancestors, or vaettr well. I may be more or less suited for a given person in a reading, and may need to pass them off to someone else better qualified for their needs. The relationships we hold can bring a lot of wisdom to the work we do, and sometimes that wisdom is “I’m not right for this person”.

Spiritworkers as Extensions of Spiritual Politics

If we are aligned with various Ginnreginn and involved in spiritual politics then it also makes sense that the opposite is true: we are a way for how spiritual politics flows between and through different spaces, people, communities, and between and through different Ginnreginn. I have encountered in my time, primarily working for Óðinn as a spiritworker, and more recently as an Odinsson, that sometimes we are how different groups of Ginnreginn get to talking with each other. This is where things can get…interesting in talking with folks, because we are so thoroughly engaged at this point with personal experiences, understanding of relationships and how we interact with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. It is a vulnerable place to be in, to talk from, as there are many intersecting points of personal experience. I am at pains to point out that while exploring this is necessary to understanding spiritworkers’ roles in modern Pagan, polytheist, and animist communities, it is also a place that has the potential to be rife with self-interest and delusion. Having a regular spiritual practice, spiritual accounting, discernment, and solid communities we can rely on to help keep us grounded, are needed.

To be sure, one does not need to be a spiritworker for the Ginnreginn to work with you as an extension of spiritual politics. It is something I find far more common with spiritworkers, though, since a lot of our work is networking, community building, communing, and other work that has us reach out between folks and various Ginnreginn. A really simple example of the kind of networking I am talking about came across my TikTok feed where Neomudang, a Korean shaman in America, was making offerings to various Greek Gods. Per her words “My Korean general Gods love partying with other Gods”. I asked if she would make an offering to Dionysos and Lykeios, and she did. So, in return for her offering to Dionysos and Lykeios, I will be making my own offerings to the Korean general Gods and my own, especially to Óðinn , Dionysos, and Lykeios once I get some new shot glasses and some good whisky.

Now, did the Gods need us to introduce Them? No. Not in a strict sense, eg the Gods had no other way of making connections to one another. We could be needed in other, less strict senses though. Sometimes we can make things easier. Sometimes the Gods would have no reason to interact otherwise. Sometimes we are the glue that holds Gods, who would otherwise not interact, in relationship with one another. Sometimes we can be the bridge that heals wounds. We serve as a bridge, a point of connection, one that may be more or less potent for whatever reason for the parties involved. Just as with our human communities, sometimes the Gods just need intermediaries to move things along smoothly.

We can make and sustain the bonds between the Ginnreginn, who may not otherwise have reason to interact, in bonds of relation and community. By being an ongoing intermediary we can encourage and build these ties. The bonds we carry with our own Ginnreginn may be enough for Them to build new ones between Themselves.

Spiritworkers are not themselves inherently better, able, or more worthy than others to make these networks or sustain these ties. This gets to the “Why?” of spiritworkers. Again, I am going to emphasize that spiritwork is a job. Our purpose is to have the expertise and time dedicated to the ongoing work of encouraging and sustaining good relationships between our communities, and the Ginnreginn. Our job is to help others effectively commune, communicate, build, and maintain good relations with the Ginnreginn. Sometimes we do this by divination, by starting a new cultus or sustaining them, initiations, or doing magic. Our job is to work for the Ginnreginn, and not everyone has the time, inclination, or expertise to do this.

I am an extension of Óðinn’s spiritual politics. He is the main God, Ancestor, and vaettr that I serve, and as an Odinsson I directly benefit from my relationship with Him. He also directly benefits from His relationship with and to me. There are folks who might not otherwise have connected with Him. Connections have formed between Him and other Gods through me that He might not otherwise have had. Many of my own relationships with the Ginnreginn I have in the way that they exist would not have formed without Him. Through Him I came to the Runevaettir, and all the Work we have done, and all the lives They have touched through me.

Something I think each spiritworkers comes, or at least should come to understand pretty quickly, is that even if we are serving the same Gods the politics of that service can vary significantly. Where I may serve an ambassador role, as I found with Álfheim, another Odinsson or another spiritworker may find their role quite different. We may take on different roles with with the very same Ginnreginn we serve in making ties with other Ginnreginn.

If it is so hard to say anything across the board, why say anything? Because these points and discussions need to be made. They are not part of mainstream polytheist discourse, not even among spiritworkers and yet, are part of the experience of both. We spend so much time on 101, 201, and, on occasion, 301 material exploring the basics of ideas in our various communities that discussions of these depths are hard to have in the first place. They are so dependent on our developed relationships with the Ginnreginn and the understanding we have, and the experiences that flow from them. I felt in order to effectively even start talking about the topic here required these two posts to get the basics of it down. I feel that I could keep on going, but this post is getting fairly long on its own, and a third part is probably needed.

I am interested in writing Part 3. As I have written before, this is a topic I have not seen covered much and I have enjoyed writing these two posts. Thank you, Maleck, for giving me the idea for these two posts.

I want to know what you, my readers, want me to explore in it. Do you want me to dig deeper into what I have already written in Parts 1 and 2? Do you want me to explore particular topics within spiritual politics? Let me know here, in the Around Grandfather Fire Discord, or by email.

Patron Topic 57: On Spirit World Politics Part 1

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Maleck comes this topic:

“Would you mind discussing, as much as you can, your experience with politics in the spirit world, especially with how it can involve practitioners?”

I think that whether or not you understand there being politics in the spirit world is going to come down to your theological position on things. Within polytheism there is a breadth to understanding we can have regarding the way the cosmos was formed and functions. If you understand the Gods as being perfect, whole, unto Themselves and utterly benevolent, then politics as we understand them taking place within the various spirit Worlds may not make much sense. My own worldview is that the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir are many, and so, among a great many things, politics varies between and among Them all.

Defining Politics and Exploring the Spiritual Implications

Before we go on, though, what do I mean when I am writing on ‘politics’? The Oxford English Dictionary define politics as “The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” I also find 1.5’s definition useful: “The assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, especially when concerned with power and status in a society.” These definitions work for our purposes.

We clearly have different political setups in the various home cultures these Gods were first worshipped by, eg chieftain-style in Nordic, and pharaonic with Kemetic. This can quickly get into “Is it the chicken or the egg?” type of questioning regarding a given political system. Since, as I understand it, the Gods are part of the undergirding of reality in profound ways, whether the political systems emerged from Them or not, all things are grounded in the Gods. I think it is entirely possible that some Gods favor certain political systems over the others, particularly when it comes to Gods who benefit from the establishment of Their order. It is also possible that a God may prefer no political system in particular.

Part of the reason I am not being too cut and dry here is because, while it is possible a given God may prefer a political system, They may have preferred a system They insituted but no longer exists, changed Their viewpoint over time, and/or Their view varies by political subject and Their worshipers at a given point in time. They may just be fine with taking us as we are now. It may also be a difference in interest even within a given God, eg Rúnatýr may not care as much as Óðinn about political organizations, hierarchy, etc, or only care insofar as these things matter with regard to understanding and working with the Runes. I also think it is entirely possible for one group of people to get one answer from a given God or an aspect of that God and for an entire separate group of people to get another answer and still be validly praying to, offering to, and communing with that God.

As if this is not complex enough on its own, add in the various vaettir, including our Ancestors and that of other vaettir such as landvaettir, Álfar, Dvergar, Jötnar, Aesir, Vanir, trolls, and so on. Every single vaettir, since They are a Being unto Themselves, may and likely does have varying political concerns from one another. I am also not assuming we are going to wander the Worlds and find that the Álfar have read and agreed with Kropotkin or the Dvergar with regard to Adam Smith or John Stuart Mills. Indeed, if I understand that each vaettr, that each spirit, is a Being Unto Themselves and the potential that I have as a being living and growing in Miðgarð is no less available to any other, then not only may each group of vaettir have Their own ideas of political theory, these may be more or less compatible with my own.

All of this is to say that anything I, or anyone else would have to say regarding our experiences of and with politics, political bodies, and views we have received from various Ginnreginn (Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir) in our communing with Them is our experience, and accordingly, the interpretation and understanding we have of it. I understand myself as an ecosocialist, that is, my politics’ first concern is right relationship with the environment, ecological care, and ecological justice. My framing and understanding of economics flowing from this: that the means of production should be owned and operated by the People rather than moneyed interests, and that for the People to have a good life the economy must comport with the limits of and be in right relationship with nature. Understanding my political perspectives allows me to compare and contrast between those of Others that I may experience in communing with the Ginnreginn, that is, the Gods, Ancestor, and vaettir. I also recognize that my political worldview may have everything or nothing to do with whether a given Ginnreginn wishes to develop a relationship with me. None of the Ginnreginn are monoliths.

Even to say that the Ginnreginn have politics is controversial. In part, it is because it is often seen as an invitation to Folkish and White Supremacists that they might be right. I want to put that to rest right now: this understanding that the Ginnreginn only can develop relationships with what we in modern times understand as white people unnecessarily limits the Ginnreginn’s ability to form and maintain relationships. It is an unncessary burden placed on Them by racist idealogues. Óðinn alone has crossed what we understand in modern terms to be lines of race, sex, gender, political, and ideological boundaries in His quests for knowledge, power, and wisdom. It is also ahistorical to ancient and medieval Scandinavians, who we take understanding and inspiration from, as going finnfarar or fara til finna to learn seiðr is remarked on in sagas. See The Viking Way by Neil Price, pg 225, for examples of this.

Basics of My Views on Spiritual Politics

So, all of this being said and out of the way, to Maleck’s topic request: “Would you mind discussing, as much as you can, your experience with politics in the spirit world, especially with how it can involve practitioners?”

Part of the core of polytheist and animist religions and thought are the formation and maintaining of relationships. While most Heathens are exoteric, Maleck specifically asks about practitioners, to which I take to mean spiritworkers of all kinds, magicians, and folks I will call heimrgangr, world-walker. In other words, these are folks who are engaged with esoteric practices.

I understand that the Ginnreginn have politics and are bound up in them not only in regard to relationships with us, They also are bound up with each Other in this way as well. I am fairly limited to what I can competently talk about here with regards to Gods and spirits outside of my particular Heathen worldview. In a way, limiting the conversation to Heathenry will help to highlight what politics can look like to folks when you develop and maintain relationships with a variety of Gods, Ancestors, and spirits.

I carry a number of baseline assumptions with regards to how I understand the Heathen Ginnreginn. First, we shall regard the Gods. I generally approach the Aesir, Vanir, and various Jötnar as tribes rather than separate species. Many of these tribes have Gods within them that share attributes, such as þórr and Farbauti being Gods associated with and/or wielding lightning and thunder. How They relate to these things and how They relate to us through these things is also part of our relationships, including political dimensions. I understand that many Jötnar are part of or aligned with natural forces, and so, there are Jötnar connected to Earth, Air, Ice, Fire, Water, as well as those connected with natural places such as bodies of water and mountains, and then there are Jötnar connected with natural Beings such as trees, wolves and elk. Mixed in an among these various Jötnar there are those that are easiest to refer to as being ‘monstrous’.

Many of the members, including but not exclusively Gods from these tribe intermarry, such as Freyr and Gerðr, adding complexity to Their relationships with one another and with us. What I find beautiful is that this complexity adds depth and nuance not only to our understanding of our Gods as Beings unto Themselves, it also adds this to the various things our Gods represent, teach, and impart through Their stories. In appreciating our Gods’ complexities we can better appreciate our own, and the varieties of interconnectedness there.

Coming to understanding that our relationships with our Gods have political dimensions has powerful implications for where we are in relationships with all our Ginnreginn, and all the things that follow from that. A relatively simple example is Jörð. Jörð is a Jötun, the Earth Herself. She is the mother of Þórr. So, anyone who says carte blanche that they are enemies of the Jötnar is literally admitting to being an enemy of the Earth. Anyone ascribing to Þórr a universal hatred of Jötnar is attributing a hatred to Him of His own Mother. So, declaring ourselves or the Gods as carte blanch enemies of this or that tribe, or this or that group of vaettir ignores the complexity of relationships that the Ginnreginn inhabit. By making such a declaration it is entirely to end up an enemy to a good many of the Gods in Heathenry.

This is not to say we need to like, befriend, or worship every God to have good relationships with those in our hearths. You do not have to like or worship Óðinn to worship Frigg or Þórr. Respect, though, is important. We gain nothing by disrespecting the Ginnreginn, especially ones Who are close to those we worship.

As we gain relationships with different Gods our relationships with different tribes or families of the Gods may change as well. In my own case I did not worship Loki or any of His Family starting off as a Heathen. I came to worship Loki after knowing and worshipping Óðinn. From coming to know and worship Loki I came to know and then worship Angrbóða, Jörmangandr, Fenris, and Sigyn. I went from fearing Fenris and refusing to worship Him, to worshipping Him in a “here’s an offering now please leave me the fuck alone”, to “You eat my Father at Rágnarök. I don’t like You for that….but I can understand You.” It is far, far too easy to merely cast Fenris as an out-of-control monster and that is all He is. If I love and count Loki as among the Gods most dear to me, for all the shit He catches from Heathens, let alone His fellow Gods, I should at least be willing to give His Son respect and try to understand His Children.

Not everyone is going to give Fenris that, and I get that. I used to feel intensely antagonistic towards Fenrisúlfr. Over time, though, as I came to deepen my understanding and relationship with Loki I softened, not only because I’m also a Dad, but because I loved Loki. How could I so viciously despise His Son for fulfilling what amounted to a self-fulfilling prophecy that Óðinn helped to propagate by His own actions? I have been in a situation where the weight of expectation has hurt me and then the people around me. If I could see that in myself I can see that in Fenris’ myths too. I found, as I explored these feelings and how I related to Fenris, what I was reacting too was far less Him, and more the feelings He brings up, and my own ‘inner monster’. The personal sure is political.

Ancestors can be a bit more personal. I reckon Ancestors as anyone who is part of our ancestry whether that is by blood, adoption, Ginnreginn, and/or initiated lineage. So, They easily intersect between various Ginnreginn. In my own case I do not understand nor came to understand the last name Odinsson lightly. There is connection with Óðinn as Father there, and it ripples out into all the relationships I have. Some of my blood Ancestors are staunch Catholics, and will refuse to have anything to do with me because of this. Some of my initiated lineage Ancestors happen to be Wiccan because I was initiated into Georgian Tradition Wicca around 2007, 2008. No offense to Them, I just do not interact with Them much. They’re still there, though, and worthy of honor.

I take the use of the word “Brother”, “Sister”, “Sibling”, etc quite seriously. The use of that word implies a closeness, a host of obligations and responsibilities to one another. It means that I would lay down my life for you. It also means that we share Ancestors on acceptance of the term. So, I tend to cringe when folks at work or random Heathens I have never met call me “Brother”. When I call folks “Brother”, “Sister”, “Sibling”, etc that means your Ancestors are getting honored at my Ancestor stalli, and, if you have one, mine should be too.

So politically, Ancestors are interesting. They are flexible in some ways because we can take Them in from others, and get brought into Their circles by Them, other Ginnreginn, and other people. Then, They can also be fairly inflexible -our blood Ancestors are who They are whether or not we relate to these Ancestors. Many Ancestors, especially blood Ancestors, can be fraught with issues depending on the history we have. We may have Ancestral traumas that were dealt to our families that we are dealing with and may need to resolve, or those that our Ancestors inflicted on others. Suffice it to say, our Ancestors’ stories have political dimensions, ones it would help not to ignore.

Vaettir run the gamut of being part of the Aesir, Vanir, or Jötnar, to Álfar, Dvergar, fylgja (follower vaettir), landvaettir, vaettir of various elements, and every variety in between. They can be as big as a galaxy, and perhaps bigger, or as tiny as a grain of sand, and perhaps smaller. They can occupy any of the Nine Worlds. Us flesh-bound human beings are vaettir. We just happen to have physical bodies here in Miðgarðr. All of us, whatever World we are part of, have political dimensions we ought to consider as part of relating to and understanding one another. That would ideally start here, in our own World, and extend outward as we develop and maintain relationships as Heathens with the Ginnreginn.

This post, even as basic as it is, is already getting to the point of being fairly large on its own. I cannot hope to cover everything in exhaustive detail even if I made a series of posts like these though I am finding them fun to explore and develop. In the next post, On Spirit World Politics Part 2, I will explore some of these topics in more detail. Particularly, I am interested in exploring the way politics can shake out with esoteric folks, including the political implications of spirit travel, how magic in other worlds can operate, and how these things impact our relationships spiritually and politically.