Patreon Topic 71: On Connecting With Wolf Parts

“What is it like connecting with a wolf pelt or other wolf parts?”

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 is it like connecting with a wolf pelt or other wolf parts?”

When I first bought my wolf pelt from Lupa, whose stores are on Etsy and Storenvy, I had to let it air out. I had to give it time to breathe I would be able to don it. When I finally did, it was like slipping on my own skin and fur. When I was able to ritually connect with it, it felt like a completion, a marriage of what was inside and outside. It felt like coming home. Home to myself, home to us.

A tintype photograph of the author at Ann Arbor Pagan Pride. Credit to Stephen Boyce.

I still get that feeling when I handle my wolf skin. I carry that feeling of connection whether it is on me, lying on my partner, or in my room. There is a feeling of weight in handing it to another person because they are handling a one of my souls.

The feeling of connecting with my wolf pelt in ritual is generally a full sensory one. The feeling of the skins contacting each other, of skin on skin and a kind of overlapping feeling in my souls. I would frequently pull the head down over my eyes so I would be looking through the wolf eyes, and there was that feeling of us that would come over me much stronger than if I left his head atop mine. Smells and sounds would strengthen sometimes, and sometimes they would muffle. Tastes might be sharper or duller depending on what it is I’m munching on. Sometimes, particularly if engaging in something involving hamfara (faring forth in hamr) I might feel myself go forth as a large wolf. Otherwise, I might feel like I am going forth as a werewolf, or úlfheðinn.

Connecting with a wolf pelt can be quite a powerful experience for other folks as well. Particularly if a person has never seen a wolf up close, it can be shocking just how big a wolf can be. My wolf is about 6′ from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. When folks have asked permission in places like Ann Arbor Pagan Pride, ConVocation, or Michigan Paganfest, them touching and being able to pet the pelt can be a powerful experience. When folks touch, paw at, or pet my pelt without my permission (particularly if I am wearing it) it feels like a violation, often uncomfortable and invasive.

Because I do not wear the pelt for only aesthetic purposes, I do not relate to it as a mere costume. It is a soul, one of my own, and its own as well. It is the skin of a living being and that living being connected with me in a deep manner, becoming part of my (to borrow a term from Winifred Hodge Rose) my ‘soullar system’ or Soul Matrix. It also acts as a kind of connection point, doorway, or den, from which contact wolf and wolf-aligned Ginnreginn, that is Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, may work through. When folks have held the pelt it has produced powerful connections. I have seen some folks brought to tears in this, because the connection was profound, visceral, and needed.

With the number of rituals, gatherings, and such I have brought the pelt to, and the nature of our connection, the connection I have with it is powerful and profound. My connection with wolf parts in general is not as well-developed nor intimate, as there is not the body-on/with-body and hamr-to/with-hamr connection I carry with the wolf pelt. However, there is still quite powerful and profound connections to be found here. Sometimes I work with teeth as connection to wolf Ginnreginn, and others as taufr (physical objects that are enchanted) in their own right. A lot of wolf parts, such as the phalanges and teeth, tend to be small and easy to carry, making it easier to pass on to others. I am slowly assembling a wolf bone divination kit, and having different parts is key to producing useful answers. So far, the items that are going into this divination system have obvious meaning, such as a tooth being something used to rip, tear, shred, destroy, and to eat, carrying a lot of this meaning into the divination work. I am sure as time goes on more meanings will make themselves apparent, particularly if I collect more kinds of teeth, or the need for various parts comes forward.

Whether a single tooth, a phalange, or a whole pelt, these parts of wolves provide points of connection to Wolf Ginreginn, the Wolf Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. They provide connection to úlfheðnar, and various folks who were seen or understood as being and/or existing between human and wolf. They serve as connection points that I carry with me for personal spiritwork and for connections with others, and for connecting others to Them in kind. Sometimes, connecting with wolf parts provides connections between all of us. For me, all these ways hit me in my souls that provides a kind of feeling most often of family, pack, tribe, of being and belonging. When I work with them in spellwork and spiritwork, there is a feeling of being wholly involved.

AGF 105 – Thinky Thoughts

Also Available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, and more! Your hosts get caught up after the Yule break in this first episode of Season 5! Send in a voice message: Suggest a topic or a guest: Our Patreon Our Buy Me A Coffee — Copyright 2023 — Tinder […]

AGF 105 – Thinky Thoughts

Patreon Topic 69: On Priesthood

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:

“Your experiences specifically with priesthood, what it means and how it has worked for you.”

Before I dig into this I think defining terms is a pretty necessary thing. Every time I have talked at length, even in polytheist, animist, and Pagan spaces, folks tend to mistake priesthood for clergyhood. I have spent time in previous posts on priesthood exploring this in depth. However, I think our recent in-person conversation illustrate the differences well, and briefly to boot: Priests face the Gods while clergy face the people. The needs and requirements of being a priest are different even if a person ends up having to wear both hats or more in service to their community.

Since I understand priesthood as facing the Gods and serving Them, my experience of being a priest for both Óðinn and Anpu reflect this.

What it means to be a polytheist priest is that you are a servant of a God or many Gods. In my case, I am an independent Heathen priest of Óðinn and an independent Kemetic priest of Anpu. I specify my independence for two reasons: one, most of my experiences of being called to and engaging in priesthood for these Gods is modern and two, disconnected from any mainstream polytheist religions that hold priesthood or clergy status with these Gods. Due to my background, my experiences and practices will likely differ from those who are in more mainstream religious practices. I was brought into these Gods’ service through direct experience and guidance by Their hands, and much of my journey in service with and to Them reflects this. While I have had Elders and such over the years, they have come and gone and much of the Work I engage in for my Gods remains regardless of this coming or going of the people in my life.

For me, this service to Óðinn as a priest has been to make cultus to Him, to teach others how to serve Him, and to engage with the mysteries He shares with me and the spiritual Work He assigns to me. It is working with and understanding the Runes as vaettir, and working with Them in magic. Much of my work over time of being a priest of His has merged with my work as a spiritworker. The bright line between my work as a priest and a spiritworker is that my work as a priest is, primarily, to and for Him. My work as a spiritworker, by contrast, tends to be connective between folks and the Ginnreginn, whether that is making prayers here on my blog, or doing Rune or spiritual consultation.

While the line between being a priest and being a spiritworker is fairly bright at times, there is also a lot of overlap between the two. Many of my acts of service beginning in my priestly service to Óðinn have brought me into spiritwork. Nowadays is there much of a difference?

I think the big difference is that my service as a priest and the focus of that role belongs to Óðinn alone. My work as a spiritworker may involve Him, and involve cultus to/with Him, but it is not solely for Him. Much of my spiritwork is connective for/to others, and much of my work as a spiritworker is in service to building connection, relationship, and/or spiritual consultation and spiritual troubleshooting with a variety of Ginnreginn. Some of these Ginnreginn, that is, Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, may not be part of my regular cultus at all. Many of the Ginnreginn I have made prayers for are not part of my hearth cultus or any of the specialized cultus I personally hold, yet that is part of my service as a spiritworker.

My priesthood with both Óðinn and Anpu may have spiritual skills that include spiritwork components, such as divination, hamfara (faring forth in my hamr or second skin), and/or the construction taufr or amulets, but these are not solely spiritworker skills. The skills certainly stack with each other quite well, even having similar if not the same utility to the user. In many ways being a priest it is far less demanding in its requirements than being a spiritworker. While the time I have devoted to studying the Runes has been involved, and likewise developing spiritual skills such as hamfara, there are less demands on my time by Him in my priest role than there is when I serve others as a a spiritworker. The focus of the skills and their provenance differ, though, from priest to spiritworker. Even if I worked with no physical human beings and only had a community of vaettir, spirits, to work with/for, I still understand the difference is my service as a priest and that of a spiritworker is my priest role’s focus belongs to Óðinn alone.

Much of my work as a priest to Anpu has dropped away over the years. When Óðinn hit my life Anpu intentionally backed away. Much of the intense Work I did with Anpu, including tending His shrine weekly, traveling in spirit to with Him and doing Work He assigned me, and ongoing work with the Dead either stopped or changed forms in my more primary Heathen path and relationship with Óðinn that had come to the fore. My aesthetics changed along with it. I traded in white muslin cloth ritual robes for linen, wool, and fur ritual clothes. I traded in mostly copper and bronze ritual tools for iron and steel ritual tools. Whereas I had few ritual weapons in my priesthood to Anpu, I have many with Óðinn, some of which are shared with my spiritwork. Another large difference is in how my priesthoods are expressed. Anpu’s priesthood was highly regimented and often I encountered it in a strict ritual space, including ritual cleanliness requirements. While I do encounter Óðinn in regimented ritual space, and do keep myself ritually clean, it is not as exacting as Anpu’s, and much of Óðinn’s priesthood is like an ongoing experience where He walks beside me. While both Gods have emphasized ritual protocol of varying kinds over the year, the way They have done so is very different to one another.

In my experience being an independent priest of Óðinn is fulfilling work in and of itself. What I do regularly in service to Him is relatively straightforward: namely I perform cultus, which includes making offerings and prayers to Him. I keep oaths and obligations to Him. I perform other spiritual work as He brings it to me to be done. Sometimes this overlaps with my spiritworker role, and sometimes it does not. The work of a priest is service to and for Him.

On the Need for Deeper Conversations

An issue I have seen come to the fore a few times around now as a polytheist, animist, Pagan, and Heathen, is the idea of 100, 200, and 300-level discourse. I touched on this with my post on being a teacher in the Heathen communities, but not as in depth as I will go into here. I have had an issue with these various communities for quite a while: so much of the material out there is 100-level material, and what material does make it to 200 or 300+ often does not get discussed or receives much in the way of support. What is worse, is that because folks are constantly reinventing the wheel, proverbially or mythologically take your pick, we never really progress far beyond 100 or 200-level in our writing or experiences.

The posts I have been writing on spiritual politics have been fairly cathartic for me because it is digging into deeper stuff than 100 or 200-level. To be frank, I find the spiritual politics discussions to be 300-level or better for the most part. While there is nothing wrong with most folks stopping after 100 or 200-level, we as collective communities need to be more engaged in deeper discussions if we hope to develop them further. For the most part this takes us away from the well-worn path of the written and archaeological sources.


Because our useful information stops. At some point there is not any more information to reconstruct from unless we are willing to look at other sources. In the case for Heathens this is tends toward looking to folklore, and Lacouteaux is one of our best English-translated resources for this. Once you hit a certain period though, the folklore either stops being relevant or the descriptions of concepts or Beings, like particular vaettir like the dvergar and álfar, tend to blend together. The information just stops being relevant to Heathenry after a certain point. This takes a lot of Heathens out of their comfort zone because from here on out everything is based in personal and communal experience, knowledge, and experimentation.

This unwillingness within large parts of the community to work beyond the bounds of the source material of the home culture(s) our Heathen worldview is based in cuts us off from considering and then exploring both the heights and depths that are possible within Heathenry. If all we ever consider is what is essentially 100 and 200 material at most then we cannot develop much as communities. We also cannot develop expertise in various fields within them, or even individually. If we limit ourselves to what has been found in the written sources we are mostly limiting ourselves to what the elites wanted written down and what has been filtered through Christian lenses in both the sources we have and most of their interpretation. Even if we include what we have through archaeological investigation we have precious little to go on outside of certain better-represented time periods and classes of people. Common people are woefully underrepresented in both written and archaeological sources. It is hard to overstate how much physical material is completely lost to time.

This overreliance on written and archaeological academia to act as an arbiter for our religious communities keeps us from the full range of Heathen religious expressions, understandings, and experiences because we have limited our options of what is possible. In so doing we cut off our ability to innovate, to develop new ways of living with our Ginnreginn, and to bring our experiences into the accepted customs and expression. In short, we cut off our ability to form living cultures. To be clear, reconstructionism is a methodology that relies on good data from academia to both keep the process honest and be useful to the projects we have. However, written and archaeological sources are the maps and not the territory of our lived religions. We cannot be bound not to see a mountain or valley because the map is out of date.

This gating off conversations to mostly 100-level subjects serves another purpose: it keeps a captive audience for books and other forms of media creation in its easiest-to-market niche. 100-level books tend to generate the most revenue in part because they are the only ones available to the everyday person, seeing both the widest distribution and marketing. The religion sections for most bookstores are vanishingly small, and most tend to be full of Christian books with a smattering of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish books. I have to look elsewhere for anything related to our religions, often in the New Age or similar sections, and these tend to be mostly 100-level books on witchcraft like Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham.

This trend also exists in other forms of media, including my own. I spent 19 YouTube videos exploring The Basics of Heathenry. While it did take a bit of time and work to script, record, and edit, it is information I already knew, have taught in other contexts like workshops, and required no deep vulnerability on my part to impart to others. I am fortunate in that I am not bound to this, either for purposes of income or interest, and that both 3 Pagans on Tap and Around Grandfather Fire have a lot of leeway to dig deeper and reach higher. With the initial Basics of Heathenry project finished, I can explore other topics relevant to Heathens. This takes more work, not in terms of gathering information, but willingness to be vulnerable and talk about my experiences, views, and how the shape my Heathen exoteric and esoteric practice has been changed by these.

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.

What information you get and what one does with the information can hit depths most folks are uncomfortable talking with. Perhaps the vaettir have touched on sensitive areas like trauma, or just subjects we are unfamliar with. Perhaps the vaettir are contravening written or archaeological evidence or including information simply not found in them. Even setting aside the esoteric side of things, developing theology, praxis, and structures beyond the basics requires us to be open to scrutiny, our methods to be open to examination, and our conclusions to be disagreed with unless we are determined to share nothing with one another.

Let me say this as clearly as possible: cultural appropriation should be condemned. Note, that I am not saying cultural appreciation or exchange should be condemned; appropriation should be. With this in mind I think it is worth us looking at what it is folks are looking for when they are reaching for pathways that are not open to them. In other words, are they reaching for something they ought not to because their own path(s) are lacking something essential they see within that culture, cultural practice, spiritual technology, etc? To be sure, some folks are reaching because they want what cannot be theirs out of a sense of entitlement. I find for those who are not, especially with white polytheists, Pagans, witches, and others in our communities who do this reaching, is that the majority of them are looking for authenticity and connection. While the desire for authenticity and connection are good things to pursue, this desire needs to be turned towards the pathways that are open to us.

If our conversations only stay in the 100, 200, or 300-level range then not only do our conversations never deepen, our experiments, experiences, and development as communities stay here as well. If we do not face our lack of resources and the new territory before us with bravery, then we condemn many of us to hunger for authenticity and connections that cannot be made without them. Rather than making a kind of Heathenry which only grasps at, or for, the spiritual technology, perspectives, information, and living wisdom of other paths, we Heathens need to dig deeper, carve surer, and explore even further with our Ginnreginn into our own forms of spiritwork, magic, folklore, and relationships with the Ginnreginn. We need to be brave enough to develop our spiritual technologies, perspectives, information, and lived wisdom with our Ginnreginn. Let us do the work to improve the soil of Heathenry for everyone as we settle our roots, communally and individually, even deeper into our Heathen religions, practices, and spiritwork.

It is easy to say “We need to talk more about x or y” or “we need to dig in deeper into a topic at such-and-such a level”. How, though, do we do that?  For starters we need to be really clear on what we mean by 100, 200, 300, and above. Are we talking for exoteric only? What about esoteric topics? Do we put exoteric and esoteric topics together, or try our best to keep them separate? I cannot answer this for everyone, I can only make my thoughts on the subject known, and hope to further dialogue. It might be that thinking of things in this way is completely backwards, or just the wrong way to go as a model. However, we do need to begin to have some dialogue about it and this is using models of experience and expertise that we have. Wherever we can, we should develop our own ways of understanding and reckoning our ideas, experiences, and expertise as animists, as polytheists, and as Heathens.

I am going to propose a structure so that we can get to deeper conversations. It is not the do-all end-all, but my hope is that it can be a good place to start. Exoteric is defined as “suitable for or communicated to the general public. not belonging, limited, or pertaining to the inner or select circle, as of disciples or intimates. popularsimplecommonplace. pertaining to the outside; exteriorexternal.” Exoteric practices, then, are those that are obvious, that anyone in a given religion can do. For Heathens these are things like hearth cultus, prayer, making offerings, and doing basic divination, such as a simple yes/no to see if an offering or sacrifice was accepted. Whatever these practices are requires no special knowledge, training, expertise, or study to do right or well.

Esoteric is defined as “understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest; recondite:poetry full of esoteric allusions. belonging to the select few. private; secret; confidential. (of a philosophical doctrine or the like) intended to be revealed only to the initiates of a group:the esoteric doctrines of Pythagoras.” Where exoteric practices are those that anyone can do, esoteric practiced are generally only regularly practiced by a handful of individuals. For Heathens, among these folks would, among many possible practices, be those who engage in Runework, seiðr, spá, and/or those who work to cultivate direct encounters with the Ginnreginn.

Now, if this last part seems like it is a mainstay of modern Pagan religions, including Heathenry, it is. A lot of modern Pagan religions in America can trace their start to the influence of Wicca. It was not and is not unusual for a lot of American animists, polytheists, Heathens, and Pagans in general to get their start in various Wiccan or Wiccan-derived religions. At some point folks in this circumstance may bring in additional religious identities or transition out of the Wiccan/Wicca-derived religion. Since Heathenry is not doctrinally exclusivist most folks bring their practices and experiences that worked from previous religions with them into it.

There are plenty of other reasons for why folks in modern Heathenry have or are incorporating esoteric practices. Some folks come into Heathenry through direct experience of the Ginnreginn and develop an exoteric practice in response to that. Other folks in modern times are actively moving away from religions which are primarily exoteric or have few accessible/desirable esoteric practies. Whatever the reason, a significant amount of folks in modern American Heathenry have religious practices that are a blend of exoteric and esoteric.

For purposes of our conversation, and to deepen it, I will put forward that most esoteric discussion is going to be 300-level for the most part. Why?

100-level subjects are the rudiments and baselines of Heathen practice. This is how to start and engage in the absolute basics of the religion. Among 100-level subjects would be about Who the Ginnreginn are, the particular Heathen cosmology one is part of and how we fit into it, how to begin and maintain a hearth cult, how to pray, how to offer, and how to maintain right relationship with the Ginnreginn.

200-level subjects build on the rudiments and baseline. This includes many of the ‘why’ for why we do a thing at the 100-level. Some folks may find it odd that I put the most of the ‘why’ behind the 200-level and not 100. The reason for that is the practice of Heathenry is something that can be understood in its basic forms by most anyone who engages in it. My young kid does not understand all the ins and outs of the religion. At the 100-level understanding the why we do a thing is simpler or is less pressing than understanding the what or how of doing something. When we make prayers at the stalli, she knows the expectation is to look at the Ginnreginn when we do so, and to bow when we are finished. It will be some time before she has the capacity to understand all the “whys” for why we do what we do.

Examples of 200-level subjects would be: connecting with Gods in ritual through the use of particular heiti, beginning reconstruction and revival work in general, and the use of basic liturgical language in ritual. I consider developing or working with liturgical language beyond some basic phrases or words, such as those used to greet Ginnreginn, to be higher than 200. It requires specialized knowledge and experience to do well. Other examples of 200-level practices would be applying genealogical resources to Ancestor cultus, engaging in more specialized cultus than the hearth like an athletic cultus or a cultus based in a field of study,  and producing religious artwork, prayers, and rituals. Using 200-level courses in college as our basis here, 200s are often the applications of the basic subjects you learned about into specialized ways that deepen your knowledge, understanding, and expertise of the subject.

300-level subjects are about building expertise from the previous levels, generally towards an object of study. In college level courses these tend to go towards Bachelor and Master degrees, and the focus is a lot narrower than the previous courses. In my experience, specific forms of psychology were covered as part of getting through my BS in Psychology program. The higher the number the more specialized and nuanced the topic, eg the lower 300s were broader like Abnormal Psychology and the higher 300s were courses like Statistics in Psychology. 400-level courses were mostly relegated to Master degrees, 600 to PhD, and 700 to postdoc courses.

Examples of 300-level subjects would be the study of seiðr, spá, Runework, and in my view, any form of spiritwork I could think of. There is a need for foundation in and grounding in the basics and study of 100 and 200-level work in order to effectively understand what we are doing, why, how it works, and what the effects of a given action can entail. That grounding in the basics of Heathenry are necessary to troubleshoot and to determine when a given form of spiritwork would be effective, or if it would be called for at all. The grounding in 100 and 200-level work is necessary for discernment for ourselves, and especially if we hope to do any of this work for others. This grounding is also necessary for developing theonyms, toponyms, and related new infromation that we can bring to bear for our communities that may not require direct experience of the Ginnreginn, yet nonetheless it requires a firm foundation of knowledge to do well.

Suffice it to say, these metaphors for where we are, and where we hope to go, have limits. There is no certification process for a spiritworker beyond the Ginnreginn and maybe a teacher and/or a given community. If folks find the metaphor clunky to the point of being unwieldy, or even find the metaphor offensive, feel free to toss it and suggest another.

In no small part, why I feel so strongly on the need for deeper conversation is that they’re happening anyhow, and developing the means for understanding where we are, where we are going, and how we wish to develop ourselves individually and communally are well within our hands. Another reason is that these more esoteric questions and subjects of study, experience, and interaction with the Ginnreginn heavily impact our communities. There is direct good and harm that comes from entertaining these ideas, let alone engaging in the study and experience of the ideas here. Far better for us to take an active interest in developing the conversations for our own sakes than to find ourselves in situations where we have to make judgment calls we are not prepared for. By moving these conversations along we can better situate our communities for the future they will be coming into. My hope is that, looking back, we will see our efforts as turning points that brought needed dialogue and work to our communities that inform and empower both exoteric and esoteric expression within and between our communities far into the future.

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 Poem/Prayer/Song 58: For Howl, the Breath, Spark of Life

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 request was made by Maleck for Howl, the Breath, Spark of Life.

Draw Me in

Your lungs, your diaphram expand

Let Me out, slowly

Bring Me in

Deep as you can

Then out, just as swift

Gather Me in

Hold me there

Release, and I course through you

Feel the pounding of your veins

Hear the rush of inner wind

Taste the copper of blood

Smell the ozone around you

See the breathing Worlds

I breathe and burn in you

Sing with me

There are no wrong notes

I swell and move through you

Howl with me

Let your kýn hear

I am the first and last breath

Breathe with me

I will journey with you into Silence

I Ask You

Is this how you feel

Having watch the world turned,

The Worlds burned

In vision tortured

Without distortion?

Is this how you feel,

this deep-seated pain

like a knife when you see

the cycles ’round again?

Is this how you feel

As grief heaps up

And all that lies before

and behind, your son?

Is this how you feel

That your stand still must be made,

Before the mouth?

Is this how you feel

Melancholic resolve forged in pain of love?

Is this how you feel?

On a Threshold

I am waiting on a threshold

The door is cool and warm

Excitement rings through me

What is on the other side?

A new experience, a new path

Out of reach and aching close

Something sings to my heart there

Beautiful tones and throbbing bass

Shaking through my bones

I am scared, thrilled, intimidated

To hear a call, a beckoning

To walk through the portal

Not yet, not yet the singers call

The iron wood unyielding

Implacable and promising

Soon, soon the singers utter

The threshold’s sentinel waits

To open its arms in invitation

I stand waiting

Eager and attentive

Ready to cross the way

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.

Seiðr Song

Rocking, rocking

It begins small

In the seed, in the seiðr

It erupts from below

The power unleashed

In the seed, in the seiðr

It builds up through the middle

The being grows

From the seed, from the seiðr

It extends to the Worlds

The hamr is strong

From the seed, from the seiðr

It bears fruit to the Worlds

The megin is mighty

From the seed, from the seiðr

Its fruit leaves seeds

The cycle renews

From the seed, from the seiðr