Patreon Topic 60: On Cleansing Tools

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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.

A Cleansing Prayer to Apollo

I originally wrote this August 31st, 2017. It seemed about time for it to be published.

Hail Apollo!
Lord of Cleansing!
Purifier of Purifiers!

O Lord Whose hands hold plague and purification,
Whose forms are all arrayed in Beauty,
You have brought a beautiful cleansing!

You have blessed the leaves of bay;
They are holy!
They are holy!
They are holy!

You have blessed the lustral waters;
They are cleansed!
They are cleansed!
They are cleansed!

You have blessed the khernips;
I am pure!
I am pure!
I am pure!

Thank You, Who has cleansed me:
Acestor! Iatromantis! Lykeios!
Hail Apollo!

Offering Water: A Cup of Life

Offering good, clean water can be one of the best offerings you can give.  It is clean, life-giving, purifying, and cleansing.  It can clean you within and without.  I give water as an offering on a regular, everyday or every other day basis to all of the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits who I worship and work with.  I appreciate Water as a Being unto Itself, a holy Being that helps to give us life.  Yet, even having this mindset I became complacent with Water’s place in my life because it is all around me.  I live in water-rich Michigan.  I am literally surrounded by water.  There’s ice outside, rainfall is excellent here most years, and our family has a well.  I’ve never hurt for water.  Till the water pump completely died on us.

For a few days we were without running water.  If we wanted water to flush the toilets snow was brought in and melted.  If we wanted it to drink we needed to melt down snow or do with bottled water.  Dad affectionately called the process of melting snow for water Snow Soup,  since he had to use the largest pot we had to get enough snow to melt for our needs.  Until the well pump was completely replaced, a costly thing to have happen just before Yule and Christmas we could not shower, drink, boil pasta, or do many of the normal, necessary things we were used to.  Water keeps us moving, keeps our parts lubricated and in good working order.  It keeps us in balance.  Water purifies, it enlivens.  To be without it is to die, and quicker in that regard than going without food.

What I went through was small, but it made me think on things in a sharp contrast.  Where my family was just a repair away from our steady, clean water supply, water scarcity is increasingly becoming a problem the world over.  The situation for potable water is even worse.  Several places are just starting to understand what much of the world, parts of the world that aren’t part of the G8, G20, and so on, go through.  Indeed, many Southern States here in the U.S. know water scarcity firsthand as their crops withered and died from lack of water.  Michigan, along with a good chunk of the country, went through a drought (with some places still feeling the effects) a few years ago that significantly hampered the growth of crops, especially our yearly well-known foods like cherries and apples.  Couple that with nasty frosts at the beginning of planting time, and it has been a hard couple of years.  The local farms and orchards (as in, a 5 minute drive from us at most) had poor yields and the costs for all their produce doubled or tripled.  Fishing has been hard hit because of lower lake levels and the various algae blooms, chemical and oil spills, overfishing and invasive species.  Then there’s fracking which is trying to sink its claws in here.  In short: the stresses on water are immense.

There is hope.  Species of fish are starting to make comebacks, and people are more turned on than ever to environment and the impacts on it.  People are doing their level best to consume less.  People are pushing the biggest institutions and companies which waste and use natural resources to then dump them in water, to amend their ways.  People are pushing back against exploitation of our water sources for things like bottling companies to sell our sacred Lakes and other freshwater sources as bottled water.  There is a growing awareness of resource scarcity, especially potable water.  Could there be more, should there be more done and hoped for?  Absolutely.  This is just a start.

There a few ways I make Gebo with Water, even as I use water as a regular offering for other Gods, Ancestors, and spirits.  I make regular offerings to the spirits of Water, such as taking garbage out of bodies of water or places near water when I find it.  I also give offerings such as herbs or food, breath, song, and prayer.  One of the offerings Water seems to appreciate most is prevention as an offering, such as not allowing people to throw garbage into a body of water, or being careful in the use of water.

If wine or mead are good offerings, so too is water.  Without water containing the elements necessary for fermentation and delivery of the alcohol, all you would have is rotting fruit or a pool of honey.  Water gives the medicines and powers of the plants, animals, and spirits ways to come into our body, to become one with us that is similar and yet different than eating a given plant or animal does.  Soup to help a sufferer through a cold, a potion to ease nightmares, a drink to gain the gift of poetry, all given through water’s form.  If blood is a good offering so too is water; without water our blood would not flow, life would not be.  

So is water a good offering?  Yes, especially provided you respect Water itself.  Without this vital substance we are so much a branching skeleton and trace elements. When Water is offered, what is offered is what allows us to live.  A cup of Water is a cup of life.