Patreon Topic 25: On Ancestral Threadwalking and Bloodwalking

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From Streaking Fate comes this topic:

“Your thoughts on following your ancestral threads back or other ancestral work done through trance specifically. “Bloodwalking” is a term I have seen, but I am not sure how widely used it is.”

Bloodwalking is not a widely used term, and from what I can gather it originates from Raven Kaldera in his book Jotunbok. It is a useful term, because it is more or less what it says on the tin. You go into a trance state, sometimes combined with útiseta, to find Ancestors using a person’s blood on a piece of string, yarn, or similar cordage. Maybe you are looking for Them to talk with Them, or find out information. I am going to use another term I’ve made up since I started writing this. Not everyone is okay with working with blood, and not all of our Ancestors are related to us by blood, so I have made the term Ancestral threadwalking. I could see Ancestral threadwalking including bloodwalking if needed because you might be looking for a particular family member in connection with, say, a family friend who may as well be family.

As with a lot of spiritwork this is not something I recommend for beginners. At the least you are going to want a good familiarity and comfort with going into and out of trance spaces, have established Ancestor cultus so you’re not going somewhere outside of the Ancestors you want to contact and/or walk to/with, and you are likely going to want well-established spiritual allies to keep you safe. With regards to Ancestral threadwalking/bloodwalking, as I understand this to be Hyndla’s speciality, I would highly recommend having already started a cultus with Her. Considering this is Ancestor work I would highly recommend a good devotional relationship with Hela.

I would also highly recommend being comfortable with útiseta prior to engaging in this work, as the act of going out onto a mound, near a body of water, and the like to engage in trance work, journeywork, and/or magic may be a required ritual to do this well. Before doing this for someone else or for Ancestors you do not know, I would do a few sessions with this with Ancestors you do know so you can get a feel for the work, how it is supposed to run, and what challenges you may face in the work.

My thoughts on following your ancestral threads back and/or threadwalking/bloodwalking are that it can be incredibly useful and also ripe for a lot of abuse, delusion, and sock puppetry. By ripe for abuse I mean that unscrupulous or harmful others could well use such work in an abusive fashion, eg “The Ancestors say we should be together” or “You have harmful Ancestor blocks only I can remove. Pay me to remove them or they stay in place.” By ripe for delusion I mean that one who engages in this work could fool themselves or be fooled by spirits into believing they have Ancestors they do not, eg the desire to have powerful, cool, or interesting Ancestors overrides whoever the Ancestors are that we need to contact. This ignores the understanding that a good chunk of our Ancestors were actually regular folks and that we may not have a given powerful, cool, or interesting person in our bloodlines. By ripe for sock puppetry I mean that this work could well lead us to interacting not with our Ancestors but with our mental projections, biases, and prejudices of what we think our Ancestors should be. Without the proper groundwork done and the care taken to be sure we are doing the work well what could be good spiritually insightful workings turn into little else than mental masturbation. It can go along with the risks in this work in regards to delusion, but the risks of sock puppetry vs delusion were important enough I felt both needed highlighting.

So, why should folks engage in following their ancestral threads and/or bloodwalking?

There are many of us who have limited access to our genealogical information. Ancestral threadwalking and/or bloodwalking can be useful in connecting us with Ancestors who we may not have been able to reach through conventional means. Even if we have official records, we may have Ancestors who were left out of them. Ancestral threadwalking offers us opportunity for connection that we may otherwise be denied. It may also offer our Ancestors connections They have been craving, or the opportunity to heal old wounds through connection with Their latest descendants.

How to engage in Ancestral threadwalking?

Begin with cleansing, grounding, centering, shielding, and warding the space. Pray to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir you have good, established relationships with, and make offerings for this to be a good working. Work with whatever method is best for you to go into a good and safe trance state. You can combine this with útiseta. The purpose is to find your own or another’s Ancestors and bring back information, establish contact, or talk with Them. Maybe you have a family name, or just an idea of who this person is, eg a great-great-great grandparent you have never met.

You might work with a skein of yarn, thread, or other form of cordage as physical representation or tactile-spiritual sensation of how far back you need to look in time. You might visualize a tree with long branches and deep roots and you are looking for a particular part of a branch, the trunk, or root. You might audiolize a song with many parts expanding from a deep bass or a drum beat into a multipart even multigenre song, and have to listen for a single instrument in all that and then find it. You might just have to wait for a sense of knowing that emerges out of a desire to connect with an Ancestor while doing deep, steady breathwork in a graveyard, next to a body of water, or in/before a vé.

Once you have made contact write or record as much as you can. Far better if someone can do this for you. This is not the time to filter information. Figuring things out comes later. Transmitting the information is key now. You may need to combine different divination methods together with this one, such as tarot, the Runes, or Yes/No binary divination methods.

If Ancestral threadwalking and/or bloodwalking is something you choose to explore it can be a powerful tool in your spiritual toolkit. Be aware of the risks any work where you are engaging in trance or journey work can pose. You should have an established spiritual practice, ongoing good relationships with Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, and familiarity with safely and consciously engaging/disengaging in altered states of consciousness prior to this working. If you have not developed a devotional relationship with Her, I would recommend developing one with Hyndla and/or Hela. I would do several threadwalks/bloodwalks with known Ancestors before doing this with unknown Ancestors, and especially with someone else’s. Done well, this can bring new Ancestors into yours and/or others’ lives, heal broken connections, and empowering you with good, strong allies that have been left by the wayside for a long, long time.

Patreon Song/Prayer/Poem 26 -For Hyndla

If you want to submit a request for a prayer, poem, or song to be written to you privately or to be posted on this blog or my Patreon for a God, Ancestor, or spirit, sign up for the Ansuz and above level here on my Patreon. This prayer was requested from Streaking Fate for Hyndla.

You can trace lines of red back

Back to where the red shifts colors

To light, syrupy sweet sap

Where the branches of lines end suddenly

Where the branches reach into the shadowy places

Where the branches curve, split, rejoin in unexpected ways

You can find them wherever they roam

No matter how hidden

No matter how lost we are

No matter how scattered we are

You, who know all the ways that Urðr has unfolded for each thread woven, each carved tile

You, who knows all the ways Verðandi is weaving now, each tile being scored

You, who cannot see all the ways Skuld will weave and carve

Hail Hyndla, Bloodwalker, Seer, She Who Knows the Lines!

Oaths, Maegen, and Hamingja

“Keeping your word is one of the most important things you can do.  Once you break your word it is hard to get that trust back.  Sometimes, it’s almost impossible.”  -My Dad

There should be little more needing to be said for oaths and oathmaking.  I make exceedingly few oaths nowadays.  This is not because I am untrustworthy or I avoid commitment, but because oaths carry maegen of their own, and along with that binding power, my and the other parties’ maegen.  This maegen will affect those communities I and they are attached to through hamingja.

Before we go much further, let us define some terms.

Maegen

Maegen is analogous to one’s personal luck or power.  Where önd is the breath and analogous to chi or one’s personal energies, maegen is the strength by which those energies are felt, how they are wielded, and so on.  We all start with önd, and some work with their önd quite well in context of building it, such as by learning breath control, inner control, meditation, and similar arts.  Maegen is worked with and built by keeping your word, by exercising your Will in ways that build you up.

Hamingja

Hamingja translates, roughly, to group luck or power.  This is built in much the same way as maegen, but it also ties into the group’s recognition of you keeping your oaths, showing up when needed (i.e. if you say you are going to be there you will be there), and being a good member of your communities.  Maegen and hamingja are part of the soul, as much as the liche (body), mynd (mind), and vili (Will).

The Weight of an Oath

When you make an oath or a promise you are literally putting a piece of your soul at stake.  You are saying to the other party “I trust you so much I am willing to wager a part of my soul for this oath.”  When you keep your oath your maegen increases, as may your standing in the community, thus increasing hamingja.  The same may be true in reverse: keeping well with your community may help to increase your maegen, i.e. showing up when you say you will, doing right by the community, etc.  After all, if you are keeping your oaths you are exercising the muscles of maegen, and potentially hamingja if the oaths and promises made were before or to a group.

This is why in the Northern Tradition oathbreaking is regarded as the lowest thing you can do, right down there with being a traitor.  Think of most any mythology where a person breaks their oath to the Gods, or to their kin; there is backlash.  Sometimes there is no ‘good’ choice and it is a tossup of breaking of one oath or another, such as the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t story of Cú Cuhulain who was given the unenviable choice of breaking one or the other of his geas.   It may be you have to keep to established taboos, such as not eating this animal, wearing that piece of clothing, or not speaking certain words.  Keeping to the oaths, the taboos, the expectations is more important than I can say in words.  I have lost friends, and hurt those I love both emotionally and spiritually by not doing so.  I was removed from a group for this.  Take my example as a lesson, and don’t repeat it.  The consequences reverberate through your life and Wyrd.

Oaths in America

Modern American culture no longer respects oaths, if indeed, it ever really did.  Our elected officials make empty promises to their constituents, and once elected, to the Constitution.  Veterans give their lives to a People that sees fit to lead them to lives of plastic bags, cardboard boxes and underpasses when they have given their all.  Companies who pledged money to their employees thirty years ago bilk their workers’ retirement accounts in schemes and scams, leaving people to struggle to keep their homes, let alone food on their table, in their old age.  Marriage vows are no longer held, with some celebrities not even waiting twenty-four hours before divorce.  With oaths and promises, taboos and peoples’ word given such short shrift it is little wonder that we are in the straights we are in.

With as many broken oaths, half-truths and full-on thirty year lies, how much work would the U.S. government have to do to get an inkling of trust back?  Look at all the broken Treaties the United States government signed with Native American Nations.  No really, look at them.  It’s a litter of literally hundreds of broken promises, terrible deals, backstabbing, and genocide.  In the Declaration of Independence it was declared “all people were created equal” then, when the Constitution was ratified, it cast blacks a 3/5 of a person, less than human.  Our nation was part of the creation and ratification of the Geneva Convention, and now We flaunt it shamelessly.  Companies poison our bodies, minds, land, sea, and sky are raking in record profits while bottom-rung workers are forced to take up public assistance.  Any thought to the well-being of the People, and associated promises and oaths to take care of the environment, the poor, or anything other than a bottom-line profit motive are met with scorn.  America’s maegen wanes as we shore up our falling power with an ailing, ill-served military, and Its hamingja dies in our constant ‘might makes right’ pursuit of our ‘national interests’.  Meanwhile we have people all over our country unable to care for themselves, half of our nation exists in or under the poverty level, and the nation’s infrastructure crumbles.  Oaths are as important for the soul as they are for the foundation of any society, and when oaths erode, so does the soul.  No less the soul of a nation.

The Marriage Oath

Getting down to the more personal level, let us talk about marriage oaths.  The most common we are used to hearing is “Til Death do you part”.  Think about that.  You are investing a part of your soul, and what ought to be a significant part of your life in a relationship until one or the other of you dies.  There is no ‘out’ in most of these marriage oaths, no ‘if this person turns out to be a total jackass or doesn’t take care of the kids or is abusive I can leave him’.  At least from the Catholic side, you have to get your marriage annulled before you can marry again, but, from the Catholic point of view, this is not breaking an oath.  It is saying the marriage oath was never valid to begin with, and so the oath cannot be binding.

The marriage oath is particularly powerful as oaths go.  You are combining all your bloodlines into one home, welcoming the Ancestors and their descendants of those bloodlines into your life.  You are putting your maegen into your partner(‘s/s’)  hands, and  through your public oath, whether to a court, a few witnesses, your families and friends, or all and sundry at a Renaissance Fair, you are tying together your hamingja to that person, their family, and to the communities you make the marriage oath before.  You are swearing an oath before the Gods, the Ancestors, the spirits, and the landvaettir.  You’ll be making a home with your partner(s), and you’ll be making it on the landvaettir’s home.  Right relationship with all the Beings involved in making your lives, and in helping you live is crucial.  Keeping the oaths is just one part of this, but a deeply important one.

There are many parts of the marriage oath you can change; heck, you can write your own.  There may be some oaths the Gods, Ancestors and/or spirits want you to change or adapt.  We do not, in most cases, have a singular body of liturgy that has passed down generation after generation, and our Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, especially landvaettir, may have different expectations when we come together to marry than what we have in mind.  So while there is a lack in foundation there, there is also a lack in the ossification of the Holy, of written word and spoken oath.

I do not expect much, if any of my living extended family to show up when I get married, yet my partner(s) and I we will be recognized as married when we visit family.  Yet oaths will be made, and the threads of those oaths will tie together our Wyrd to one another, to our communities, and our families.  The ties of maegen, hamingja, and the rest of our soul(s) will still be there, recognized before the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, and the communities who see fit to be there.

Maegen, Hamingja, and the Pagan Communities

I have spent a good time talking about oaths, so now I am going to switch gears here a bit.

We build maegen and lose it, break it down and send it up, over the course of our lives.  We can use it to exert control over ourselves and others, we can let it shine like a beacon or we can hood the lamp and keep it to ourselves.  We can work with maegen to make ourselves a better person, or fight its pull and make our lives infinitely harder.  Each person’s maegen is different, and is built differently.  My workout regimen may not work for you.  You might need to build up your arms where I may need to build up my legs.  Your Gods may ask you to contribute to your maegen in a thousand ways  I will never have to touch, whether it is the oaths you keep, the taboos you are not to break, or the path you are meant to walk.  We may even walk side by side, but your maegen is just that: yours.

Hamingja is affected by us, but it is also, in parts, distinctly out of our control.  If it belongs to anyone, it belongs with us and those we share our lives with.  We help to build it up in building up our maegen, but it may also help to build maegen in its turn.  It is, in part, our reputation in the communities we exist in.  It is the relationships we have to those communities, and they to us.  It is the building of partnerships and the burning of bridges. It is the life you touch for good that encourages a person to excel.  It is the person you harmed and helped continue a downward spiral.  It is who you are, and how you are known.  It is your reputation, your name(s), your good word.  It is what you have done for your community and what you have failed to do.  It is trusting the community to have your back as much as it is doing for the community.  It cannot be made alone, though each person has their own part in building it.  Hamingja is like a good barn raising: best made together with those you trust not to drop it as it is raised.

Our maegen and hamingja are the chains we forge with each duty done, each oath kept, each taboo observed, each deed that helps ourselves and others, and it is broken, sometimes link by link and sometimes all at once, when we fail in these.  Yet there is hope because it can be reforged.  So if you do screw up, and Gods knows I have, it is not the end of the world even if, in the moment, it feels like it.  Rebuilding the maegen and/or hamingja from this state is started by making the right choice: to rebuild it.  It may be hard and long, and that chain may never be the same, but it is as worthy Work as any we may engage in.  Good maegen and good hamingja promote frith, good peace and social order.

The Pagan communities have an opportunity to continue to reforge the broken chains that had lain at the Gods’ feet for hundreds, if not thousands of years.  The only way that I know of for these chains to stay forged is for us to remain in right relationship with the Gods, Ancestors, spirits, and one another.  This is not a one-shot solution.  This will take time and effort.  It will take patience, starting with ourselves, and branching out from there.  There is no end to this work, really, and no silver bullet, no scrap of lore that will unlock the secrets of this Work.  It is a link forged with the Gods, Ancestors, spirits, and communities one person at a time with each and every Being, human and otherwise, that they encounter.  The metal of the links are shaped by our word and deeds, by how we treat one another, and the devotion we show to our Gods, the Ancestors, the spirits, our communities, and to our own journey with all of Them.  So let us all dedicate or rededicate ourselves to making these links, to making them lasting long after we are gone so that when the link is tested it will stand strong as it once did, as it can, and I believe will, again.

 

She Sees

She sees the bloodlines run

The Tree dripping down

Roots housing the Holy Dead

Branches and Leaves the Holy Gods

The Living betwixt the two

 

She sees the paths our Old Ones walked

Jormungund ringing around us

The waters braved

The lands explored

The Trunk wide and strong

 

She sees the bloodlines

Before and after

When Fire and Ice met

The Sapling growing tall

In the midst of Gap

 

She sees the Gods

The Allfather’s Breath rise on the Trees

His Brothers’ gifts

The Gods’ embrace

Holiness in humanity

 

She knows the ways

The Disir, the Vater

Ancestors great and small

Those whose names skalds recount

and those who are Nidhogg’s dinner

 

She carries the knowledge

The Rings of the Tree

Wrinkles in Her Mind

Sharper than a field of swords

Full as Yggdrasil