Patreon Topic 11: Venerating Linked Gods

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

From my 3rd Raiðo patron comes this topic idea:

“Perhaps you could talk about venerating Deities Who are closely linked jointly, and how that can be different from worshiping a single Deity. I am a Freysman, but increasingly called by Nerthus, and I am starting to feel pulled towards venerating them jointly as Mother and Son–and how that feels like a Mystery unto itself, quite different from the Mysteries proper to a single Deity.”

In my experience and talking with other polytheists this seems to be a feature of Heathenry and sometimes Kemeticism. Generally speaking when you start worship one God They might introduce you to Their Family, and how we come to know our Gods can be keys to a Mystery or group of Mysteries as surely as beginning to know Them.

My relationships with all the Heathen Gods have filtered through Óðinn, and much of the worship and Work I have done is filtered through my relationship with Him in some way. I have seen other Heathens who came to Norse Heathenry and the Heathen Gods through Loki and it is a whole different experience than my own. It also depends on which particular heiti a God, Goddess, or other Being approaches us through. My experience of Óðinn as Rúnatýr is very different from Óðinn as Óðinn.

Worship of Óðinn alone was very focused when I first began as a Heathen. I would make offerings about once every other or every third day, and would do about 5-20 minutes of meditation on Him a day, or, if I was particularly busy, would carve out time on the offering days and dedicate more time to Him in addition to my usual prayers and offerings. I was also intensely studying the Runes, so all told I would spend upwards of an hour to two hours in prayer, offering, contemplation, meditation, and spiritual work.

When He began having me reach out to His Family, first to Loki and Frigg, then to Thor and other Aesir, it took some time to get the placement of Who to pray to first right. There were definitely Gods that bristled at the notion of being ‘next to’ each other in prayer, and others that did not particularly care. Loki eventually brought me to His Family, and incorporating Them in prayers also had to be done. I found as more Gods came into my worship and that I did Work with and for, the less time I had for the kind of intense focus as often as I did for Óðinn alone. This was not necessarily a bad thing, though. I actually needed the breathing room and was pretty bad at holding those boundaries with Him initially, something He was teaching and working on with me through this.

A Mystery that Óðinn brought me into quite early was understanding His relationship with Loki as Blood Brother. From then on I knew that not only was making offerings to Óðinn and not Loki wrong, it was something I could not do. Now, this is not to say that each and every offering I give to Óðinn is Loki’s as well, or vice versa. Each have Their own preferences of offerings as I and others have come to understand, eg Óðinn prefers whiskey whereas Loki like Fireball or ‘spicy’ drinks, and both enjoy mead and other wines. However, when it is more general offerings and prayers, such as night prayers at our Gods’ vé, They are both worshiped, prayed to, and water is offered to both of Them.

Exploring the Mystery of Their connection has deepened my relationship with both Gods, and I find that connection a beautiful and multifaceted one. Consider, too, that since we are looking at the Gods through the lens of mythic time that each event has, will, is going to, and is happening. Loki and Óðinn are slaying Ymir as recounted in the Vóluspá, and sitting across from one another in Ægir’s hall as recounted in the Lokasenna. Just thinking on and exploring Their Blood Brother connection through this understanding is powerful alone.

The Mysteries Óðinn brought me into that are His alone, such as bringing me into working with the Runevaettir, are not better or worse, just different from those of other Gods. The relationships that I have with other Gods unfolded differently when They passed through His hands vs another. This interrelationship also adds to the relationship as I experience it with Him, eg understanding Óðinn through His relationship with Frigg and vice versa.

My relationship with Frigg developed out of my relationship with Óðinn. I had a mix of formal and informal relationship starting with Óðinn, but with Her much of my relationship has been quite formal, especially when I worship Them together as the Chieftains of Asgarð. My address to Them is quite similar, usually something to the effect of “Hail, Chieftains of Asgarð, I make this offering of mead to You!” and many of the offerings are the same, eg water, mead, beer, wine, and the like. Worshiping Them together is different from worshiping Them apart. I tend to use more personal appelations and heiti with Óðinn, while I tend towards more formal address even in personal worship with Frigg. Maybe that will change over time, and maybe not.

Developing a relationship with a given God or Goddess depends on what avenues we come to Them through, how we engage in relationship with Them, and how we are introduced to any other Gods that They associate with or are associated with can differ person to person. This also comes into play in how we develop relationships with Gods linked to one another, whether by familial or other ties. When we relate to our Gods through another, as in the case here with my Patreon patron’s relationship with Mother/Son regarding Nerthus and Frey, it can be an invitation to a Mystery because of how the relationships with these Gods is being framed, or in this case, possibly reframed. That does not necessarily mean the old relationship and ways of relating with Frey are gone. It may be, or it may be affected in powerful ways as this new way of relating to Him through His Mother and vice versa comes forward. It is difficult to say anything for certain when we are talking about individual or even communal avenues of relationships of worshiping and relating to our Gods. Time and experience will tell. I am deeply curious to see how it goes for you!

 

Patreon Song/Poem/Prayer 10 -For Týr

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 my first Raiðo patron for Týr.

 

Your quiet countenance takes in the court

Machinations and movements laid bare

Like the sword and spear you wield

Truth cuts through and carves its path

 

Weregild and woe You witness

Wrong repaid and recompense made

Speech You give to the good heart

Who makes clear their case

 

Resolute, You are revered by the lawgiver

Honorable, You are worshiped by warriors

Gentle, You are requested by the wronged

Fierce, You are hailed in the holmgang

 

Your sacrifice saved the Nine Worlds

Your hand for Fenris given as gift for gift

Hýmir and Óðinn’s holy Son

May hails ever be heard by You

Patreon Topic 10: Being Gods’ Children

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

From my first Raiðo supporter comes this topic:

“What advice would you give to those who are the children of gods? I know you’ve talked about what it’s like being a son of Odin in your blog before. But if you had to give advice on how to deal with being a God’s child, what would you say?”

First, that you are not a better person, a better Heathen, a better polytheist, etc than those who do not have this connection with the Gods. Second, that you likely get more, not less responsibilities from such a connection. Third, you may have the capacity to become a useful resource to the community but you likely will not start out that way. You need to do the spiritual preparation (eg cleansing, grounding, centering, shielding, etc) and devotional work same as anyone else in the religion(s). Fourth, this does not make you more or less useful than those who do not have this intimate a connection with certain Gods. It may mean you can make connections with certain Gods, Ancestors, or vaettir easier, and/or do certain spirit work easier, but that does not make you more useful, worthy, etc than another.

Óðinn is still one of three Gods who helped fashion humans after the creation of Midgard. As I attribute the God of the Rigsðula to Óðinn and not Heimdall, potentially everyone is a child of Óðinn. Still, if you take the opposite tack, then Heimdall potentially is related to every human being. In the broad strokes we are all children of the Gods. They are the ground of our Being, the very world beneath our feet, the water of our blood and the rains, in the air we breathe, the ice that keeps us cool and the fires that keep us warm. They are bound up in and part of the Cosmos.

Being a child of a God or Goddess ties you tighter to a God, Goddess, divine pairing, etc. through these connections. These can bring with it uncomfortable obligations, Work, and so on. There may be certain parts of your life much harder or easier in some areas due to the odd wiring of Gods into your soul’s makeup compared to others. Deeper ties of Urðr bring with it can bring opportunities. As we are unfolding in time with our Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and communities in the weaving of Urðr, we may be called upon to a hundred different callings. One of the best we may be Heathens, whether we are called to it or not by our parent God, is to be a good Ancestor whether we have kids or not, and to be an example in the conduct of our life.

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 8 -For An Morrígan

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 my first Ansuz patron for An Morrígan.

 

Your croaking voice fills the expanse

Echoing across field and in the forest

The waters that wend speak of You

The ground and grave bow below You

 

The poet’s tongue is loosened in Your sight

The warrior’s sword slides from its sheath

The seer’s senses are true

Following the flight of the Phantom Queen

 

The home and the hearth know You

Protector and Purpose-bringer

Ember-eyed and Byre-blesser

Babe-Guardian and Foe-Bane

 

Raven-haired river-maker

Glorious Goddess of gun and grave

Whose hands help Her people

Standing strong in strife and sorrow

 

May our gifts be gladly made

Our offerings given in good worth

In turn may we receive well

Bond unbroken, beautiful and blessed

 

Wind and flame warn of war’s path

Sharpen wit, weapon, and work

Prepare and gather in power and perseverance

So the Sovereign speaks in crows’ song

Patreon Topic 7: Jotun Worship

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

It looks like I missed this last month and for that I apologize. From my first Raiðo supporter comes this topic:

“Jotun worship and how it is reviled by the heathen community at large. Would be interesting to explore from your perspective about this contentious issue.”

To be blunt if I cared about the Heathen community at large there would be a great many things I would be doing -or not doing, sometimes week-by-week as the communities can rarely agree on anything across the board. When it comes right down to it, our own cultus is just that. No one’s cultus is going to look like another’s. Even for those of us in the Mímisbrunnr Kindred, our hearth cultus looks quite different from each other. This is a necessary and good thing. Each of us carry different relationships with our Gods, even Those Gods we each worship.

To some degree the revulsion expressed in many places in the Heathen communities towards the worship of Jötnar is Christian baggage. To another degree in some Heathen religions, namely here thinking of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry as I understand it, these Beings are not in any way understood as positive. However, these are not Jötnar, but Etins, and while They may be related Beings/concepts, the way each religion relates to Them is not. I am primarily a Norse/Icelandic-based Heathen, so my understanding of Jötnar is nuanced whereas I have only seen a rather black-and-white understanding of Etins from the Anglo-Saxon Heathen perspective. I am happy to be corrected on this.

I will not spill much digital ink to whether reactions to/against either Jötnar is Christian baggage. I have done that plenty enough in other posts. My perspective is that worship of the Jötnar is supported by the lore given the few instances of worship recounted in our sources includes at least a Jötun and Her Sister, even if we ignore that Jörð Herself is the Earth. Even if we did not have this evidence in the lore, given how little evidence we have of cultus for Gods aside from Óðinn, Þórr, and Freyr, I would worry very little about it. I am not living in ancient Norse times, and my course within my religion is largely driven from interaction with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. The lore and archaeology serve as maps. They are not my relationships with the Holy Powers or the work I have done and answers I have gained from divination and direct experience with Them.

Since I am a Universalist Tribalist Heathen, while I believe anyone can come to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir regardless of race, background, ethnicity, etc, I also care little for opinions of those outside of my hearth, Kindred, or tribe, aka my innangarð. Part and parcel of my worldview is that Jötnar are, broadly speaking, one of three sacred tribes, the other two being Æsir and Vanir.

Regional cultus has always been an active component of polytheist religions, and I have no interest in policing others’ religion or practice within it. If others do not worship Jötnar then I feel they could be casting aside or denying quite beautiful, powerful, and deep relationships, but that is their call to make. That being said, I find it hard to hear praise for Odin out of one side of a Heathen’s mouth and hate for His Blood-Brother out the other, but they can take that up with Odin. If I hear it in my presence that is one thing; I cannot abide it, and it is frið-breaking for me to be in a place where my Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir are unwelcome or reviled. Otherwise, I will generally have a live and let live attitude, as my ways are just that.

Patreon Topic 6: New Generations and Rising Gods

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

From my first Raiðo supporter comes this topic:

“Topic idea would be about the rise of the old religions, and the increase in activity from the Old Gods, especially among Millenials and Zoomers. What’s your take on why the Gods have chosen this time to rise again? Do you think something is going to happen in the future?”

Before digging into the question, it’s important to note that the Gods have been around and receiving active cultus for longer than just the 60s. It is just that the 60s was when a large chunk of modern revival occured. 

When it comes to why the Gods have chosen this time to rise again? I do not think the Gods waste an opportunity. So many folks are open to the very idea of the Gods, let alone worshiping Them, and resources are easier than ever to access. When I first made a Wiccan friend my first year of high school there was very little on Paganism online, and to find anything useful I had to wade through a lot of bullshit to find it. Fast forward a few years to when I became a Pagan in 2004 and books were easier to access than ever before, while reputable sources were coming online and engaging in ongoing blogging. Livejournal was in full swing, and Blogger and WordPress were being developed and would unleash the next generation of polytheist and Pagan writing. To be sure, there is still bullshit to wade through, but it is far easier to have open dialogue with our coreligionists on what is ice cream, what is bullshit, and how to separate one from the other.

I think in part there is a new surge of interest from our side and the Gods are hopping on that with both proverbial feet. I also think that there are times of upheaval we are in the middle of, plain to see now, but years ago if you posited something, eg that the Just in Time (JIT) logistics/delivery systems were incredibly vulnerable and all it would take would be a trade war, disease, or a small series of disruptions to see major disruption in economic and supply markets, you would have been laughed at, called a doomer, or (Gods forfend with pearls a-clutched) against Progress.

Right now a lot of folks are looking to the Gods. Some are looking to Them because something about a Marvel movie hit just the right way, but a little off. Some are looking to Them because they were looking into their ancestry and found something powerful there. Some are taken up by the Gods. Others find the Gods because they find Them fascinating, mysterious, powerful. Others are found by the Gods and rather than deny the relationship, choose to engage in it wholeheartedly.

I do not think that it is so much that ‘something is going to happen’, but that something is always happening and that it is up to people to listen to their Holy Powers and to one another, to think, and then to act. There is always a war over the horizon. Indeed, the United States of America has been embroiled in an official war for the last 20 years coming up this September in 2021. Out of the 244 years it has been around we have been at war or at conflict for around 219. Do I think larger global occurrences are going to occur? Of course. The COVID-19 virus is a major global pandemic. It will not be the last. I think we have the opportunity now to decide the course of how generations will live by how we, individually and communally choose to live now. This decision is made from each person, each community, each State/province, each country, and globally by the outcomes, the consequences, of all these choices. Each moment we make a choice to live well we have a choice to live as well as we can within the interconnected web of Being, Úrðr. It is up to us to live well within the life that we have, to live well with our Holy Powers, to live well within our communities, and to encourage those communities to good action that they may ripple outwards.

Patreon Topic 5: Working With Wildly Different Paths

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

From my first Ansuz supporter comes this topic:

“So how might you work with a student or a client from a wildly different path? How do you, or do you at all, incorporate your own experience with Celtic deities, with Anubis, and with ceremonial magic into your current work and path? To what degree is that breadth helpful, to what degree is it harmful?”

The problem in speaking in generalities is that there’s likely to be some time down the road where something will come my way to challenge it. That being said, if someone is coming to me with a Heathen or Northern Tradition Pagan specific issue at hand I will generally stick to Heathen and NT specific responses. Likewise, if someone comes to me with Celtic or Kemetic-specific questions I will direct them to resources there. My worship of and experiences with Celtic and Kemetic Gods are part of my everyday life. I have worshiped Gods from these culture groups longer than I have the Heathen and NT Gods. My ceremonial magic background generally shows up in some forms of how I do galdr, and sometimes how I approach things relating to magic.

My experiences with Celtic Gods are primarily devotional, and except for Anubis and a little bit with Bast, so are my experiences with the Kemetic Gods. Most of my work history with Anubis is specific to the work He has given me to do as His priest. Since so much of that is one-on-one with the Dead, usually the general Dead than Ancestors, it does not come up a lot with others. Likewise, my work with ceremonial magic was quite specific to working especially hand-in-hand with Michael at first and then with planetary intelligences for the most part. Most of the things I have learned and experienced from my time before Heathenry are background now, or show up in certain ways, eg a galdr method I work with is similar to how I was taught to intone during LBRP and similar ceremonial magic rites.

The way I might work with a student or client from a wildly different path is:

1. Is the person solidly committed to learning about or committed to this wildly different path? If someone is just trying to find solid ground I could be useful to them. The person may be fully new to a given path and just need a guiding hand, even if it is to someone that isn’t me but is a good person for them within a given religious or magical community.

2. Have they followed up with a spiritual specialist within the tradition or path that they want to study? Are there any people within that tradition or path that could do this job better than me? Some folks are being put on wholly new paths and need direction from a useful source, so as a diviner sometimes I get folks who do not really have a religious, magical, or even spiritual community to interact with because building that is actually their project.

3. Do I have the information, guidance, etc that they need? “Is this actually my stuff to teach, to pass or guide them on?” is a good question to ask. I’m not a Celtic-oriented person, and while I am a priest of Anubis, most of my knowledge in Kemetic religion is oriented around Him and Bast. I have not done ceremonial magic on a regular basis in years. I know enough to know I am not an expert in Celtic reconstructionist/revivalist religions, and that so far as a Kemetic priest is concerned, I have only have expert level experience in very specific areas. My knowledge and experience has limits and I need to respect them for the good of the person and myself.

The breadth of my experience is useful in that I at least have a decent enough grasp of resources within the community to guide folks to solid sources of information. I know what I am and am not qualified to teach or give instruction on. So, in this way it is quite helpful because I know where my boundaries lie.

If a student or client in a wildly different religion or path from mine needed to work with me, specifically me, for whatever reason, it would likely be with me as a kind of helpmeet providing input as requested or needed. As a diviner I have little issue working with folks regardless of their path because the client knows going in that what I am doing is facilitating communication between them, the Runes, and Whoever the client wants information from, for, or about.

I would not really say that this is harmful from my angle, but from a student looking for a teacher to give more broad lessons it might not be as helpful as they would like. Since I generally do not teach about Celtic or Kemetic religion, or Kemetic or ceremonial magic, I do not worry too much about it. Given the divination systems I work with most are the Runes and tarot, along with the occasional other divination method, eg smoke/fire scrying, my methods are usually flexible or useful enough to other Gods that They will work with the system I am most comfortable with and give accurate and useful answers through them. The harm would be is if I misrepresented my knowledge, understanding, sources, and so on. The harm would be if I knew I wasn’t an expert or even well versed in a given subject and tried teaching on it anyhow.

Patreon Topic 4: Commercialization, Commodification, and Gentrification of Magic and Spirituality

If you want to submit a topic for me to explore on my blog, sign up at the Uruz level or above on my Patreon.

From my first Ansuz level Patron comes this topic:

“You might’ve written on this before, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the commercialization, commodification, and especially on the gentrification of spirituality. Magic is the tool of the oppressed, what happens when that tool is turned into yet another weapon used against the poor, as I see all around me now?”

I would say that magic is not only the tool of the oppressed. It is accessible to anyone of any class. Look at ceremonial magic vs kitchen witchery, for instance. How hard is it to pick up and make the traditional materials for those workings? Brass, copper, silver, gold? Those cost a lot of money, resources, and/or training. Meanwhile kitchen witchery may need time, and training, but if the point is to do kitchen witchcraft (in my understanding) with items out of your pantry those are going to be accessible at whatever your income level is right then.

This means that certain kinds of magic, (or at least in their traditional forms) are, by dint of cost of time, materials, training, accessibility, etc, cut off from folks beneath a certain income level. For what it is worth I did ceremonial magic when I was unemployed in college. I used a lot of paper substitutes, printouts, sooo much salt, cheap incense, and the like, becauses there is no way in hell I could afford things like a magic ring or magic tools made out of copper, silver, or gold.

On the commercialization of magic: If the definition we are working with is, as the OED puts it “The process of managing or running something principally for financial gain” then I think that there can be quite a bit lost when we are talking about only working with magic to that end. That loss can be healthy connection between communities. That loss can be between a person and the Gods, Ancestors, or vaettir. That loss can be a healthy connection with money and/or the moneyvaettir itself. If the lust of result of financial gain or the desire itself for financial gain overcomes the reason for laying down a piece of magic, depending on the magic being deployed, it can be hugely detrimental to any working one does.

There is nothing inherently wrong with working or using magic to financially or otherwise benefit your community or yourself. I have a far healthier relationship with money and the moneyvaettir, and carry a good relationship with Andvari thanks in no small part to my Elder. I had no idea when Galina introduced me to Andvari what a powerful, dynamic impact it would have on the course of my life to come into better relationship with the Dvergar, let alone the moneyvaettir and through all of this, a better future for my family. I have made plenty of magical and spiritual items for money, among them bindrune mandalas burnt into leather, woodburnt Runes, and woodburnt bindrunes. I have done plenty of money workings for my family, Kindred, tribemates, and I. My family and I keep a healthy devotional relationship with Andvari and the moneyvaettir that extends into our daily night prayers and offerings that we make.

Commercialization is a problem with magic from a few different perspectives. From my perspective as an animist and polytheist when things are seen from a primarily commercial point of view it is far easier to depersonalize those we share the Worlds with. Rather than see a Being like a tree or its branches as part of a Being, commercialization encourages us to relate to Beings and things only in terms of “this branch can make me x amount as a wand, y amount as a bunch of Runes, z amount as Rune charms”. When money is the goal of holding a workshop on magic rather than teaching the magic then the Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir may be deeply disrespected in the process. This disrespect, not addressed and continuing to ripple out into the communities touched by it and engaging in it, can sour relationships between them and the Holy Powers.

From my perspective as a (mostly) former ceremonial magician the commercialization can harm magical operations themselves. Just having the lust of result of “I need money, this needs to work” can be interrupting to good flow of magic because rather than focus on the work at hand your focus is on the need you feel to get more money. Commercialization can also harm our relationships with spirits we might work with otherwise in a ceremonial magic setting.

If, for instance, you have partnered with/summoned/compelled a spirit of Jupiter to the end of enriching yourself but do not exercise good judgment, either in the choice of the spirit you contact or the details of how the money comes to you, you can land yourself fairly deep in debt to the spirit(s). This can go to the point where you are having to do some serious work to pay back what you owe to a spirit or spirits before you can get anything done for yourself. This takes away from your magic working for you and instead, you give both your sovereignty and your ability to do work over to someone else until you pay back your debt.

Commodification and commercialization often go hand-in-hand. Commodification is “The action or process of treating something as a mere commodity.”. A commodity is “A raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold, such as copper or coffee” or more simply “A useful or valuable thing.” Commercialization then further objectifies the thing at hand by treating that useful or valuable thing as a means of “managing or running something principally for financial gain”.

Commercialization/commodification can also hit the wider community by cutting entire sections of it out, either by a company or group of people producing cheap things like charms, Runes, and the like without any attachment to the actual processes to make them empowered/useful. Commercialization of magical items, for instance, can use processes to make those items that at least do nothing to help our relationship, and at worst produce ongoing harm to our relationships maintained with/through those items. A given company or group of people only wanting to make money can mass produce Rune sets and bindrunes without thought to the materials, and without offerings to the materials on which the Runes and bindrunes are made. They may make things more cheap and so, easier to access monetarily. They may also make connecting with a given God, Goddess, Ancestors, or vaettr harder by providing a barrier by not having set up the item to be receptive, or worse, if its construction is thoughtless to the relationship, to be an impediment to the relationship

For a contrasting example: if I make a Rune set from a branch my Runes come from pieces of deadfall, generally from trees where I am living and/or from trees I have good relationships with, that I have let season. I make offerings to the tree the branch comes from, and make offerings to the Runevaettir, both before the carving/burning of the Runes into the wood, and as part of my ongoing relationship with Them. I have a living relationship with Them, and the point of offering a Rune set to someone for sale is to establish a good relationship between that person and the Runes.

As I wrote before, there is nothing inherently wrong with earning money for doing magic or making magical and/or spiritual items. I have spilled a good deal of my own blood, dedicated an immense amount of time and work in my relationship with the Runes. This deserves reciprocity on its own. By being paid or exchanging gift for a gift, requiring Gebo for my sacrifices, I also ask for exchange as an honoring of my Elder in Gebo before me, and in honor to Odin as Gebo for His. This is part of continuing right relationship with Runatýr and the Runevaettir, my Elder, and my own relationships.

I understand and know magic as an animist and polytheist as being interwoven in relationship with Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, including our human communities. When magic and the ways we work with magic are themselves commodified and commercialized what this means is the very ways by which we may establish relationships, use power, and cause spiritual effects through those relationships and use of power, are used as sources of income. Often those income streams go out of our communities and into someone else’s pocket.

Commodifying and commercializing spiritual practices, magic, the creation of magical and spiritual items takes from the communities they come from without giving back to them or their Holy Powers. It is a lack of Gebo, of reciprocity. I have no issues at all with buying prepared magical or spiritual items. I have bought prepared Florida Water as a backup cleanser and found it very effective. Likewise, I have bought plenty of sacred dried herbs I have not grown myself. I feel very strongly that I need to mark a big clear line between engaging in trade and transactions that are respectful and based in reciprocity as opposed to commodification and commercialization. Trade and transactions can be done in a way that respects all parties involved whereas commodification and commercialization depersonalize and disrespect the culture(s), the Being(s) that is part of or is the product being sold, and disrupts right relationship.

Diviners, magic workers, spirit workers, and the like should be compensated for their work. That is precisely what I am asking of everyone who contributes through my Patreon and who asks for services through the Shamanic Services section of this blog.

There is a stark contrast between a Rune set made by a person who holds good relationship with Them and a Rune set put together by a person without a relationship with the Runes only because it will sell well. There is a stark contrast between someone who requires a set amount to read the Runes as opposed to someone who is looking only to make money off of people looking for answers. There is a stark contrast between the rootworker or other spiritual specialist charging for a service and someone who is just taking clients for a ride.

Look at the dynamics of the relationships here: The commodification and commercialization of a spiritual practice, item, etc requires none. Commodification and commercialization of spiritual paths, items, work, and so on is nothing less than the appropriation of these things to make someone money. Gebo does not exist here between a commodifier/commercializer and the spiritual paths, traditions, and so on they take from to make money. It is even more heinous when a person within a community goes the way of commercialization and commodification. They are participating, willingly, in the strip-mining of their own religious community/ties and disrespecting their Holy Powers only to make money.

Gentrification goes hand-in-hand with commercialization and commodification. It is “The process of renovating and improving housing or a district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.” In America the default ‘middle-class taste’ is generally what is comfortable for WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). If the point is to sell a thing to make the most amount of money you appeal to those with the most money.

There is an additional wrinkle, at least for US citizens: In America the idea of the middle class and being part of it is so tied into ‘normality’ and ‘goodness’ that it is claimed by folks beneath the poverty line and so far above it that the very idea of a middle class is less an economic idea and more of a mutable ‘everyman’ that has served to flatten rather than serve as a useful highlight of economic/political class differences. So, appealing to ‘middle class’ in America through commercialization, commodification, and gentrification of religions, spiritual practices, initiations, spiritual and magical items, and so on, requires almost all the rough edges be scraped smooth and most of the teeth removed. Oh, there needs to be enough roughness for it to be edgy or off-center just enough so it is marketable, but not so much so that the person engaging in the religion, the spiritual practice, working with the item, etc is uncomfortable or challenged.

A gentrified spirituality is a wolf on display whose teeth have been ripped out. Robbed of its ability to feed itself, robbed of its ability to defend itself, robbed of being fed anything other than what mush it is given, producing only money or prestige for its displayer and shit otherwise. It exists to make the observer feel good about the wolf being on display, but the wolf makes no material impact in the world as it should. It is there at the whim of the displayer, and put away when it is embarassing or too much for the displayer or their onlookers.

This is not to say that a given religion, spiritual practice, or act of magic must absolutely be red in tooth and claw in all its aspects. Some of the most remarked upon forms that magic took in Heathen lore was with spinning, working with fabric, blacksmithing, things our modern society often look at as only crafts but that the home cultures understood to be sources of and ways to work with power. Some pretty famous pieces of magic involve food and drink. The seemingly innocuous or ordinary can hold great power.

When you understand things from a polytheist and animist perspective, from the Heathen and Northern Tradition Pagan perspective, the potential for magic is in everywhere and everything. That’s a pretty powerful antidote to the consumerist mindset that is encouraged by commercialization, commodification, and gentrification. When the whole world is alive with Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, and we understand that we truly own very little of the Worlds we walk in, it is also a humbling experience. Commercialization, commodification, and gentrification require people to absolutely ignore the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir in order for a thing to be done purely for profit. It requires a sundering of relationship, a one-sided using of a religion, religious community, spiritual techniques and/or tools in order for the profit motive to be the first priority. It is an inversion of priorities for a polytheist and animist: the Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and the relationships in which we are all interwoven.

A Prayer to Eir and Mengloth in the Midst of a Pandemic

Hail Eir, Aesir Goddess of health and healing!

Handmaiden Whose hands hold harm at bay

Whose apothecary keeps medicine and magic from every World!

Whose skill in assessment and swift action saves lives

Hail Mengloth, Jotun Goddess of health and healing!

Whose mountain home holds every healing herb

Whose hands have healed every harm

Whose knowledge and wisdom is wide as the Worlds!

Holy Ones, help the medical teams to be careful in their work

Holy Ones, help the analysts to be diligent in their work

Holy Ones, help the communicators to be clear in thought, message, voice, and words

Holy Ones, may each person remember and be able to tend to their health

Holy Ones, may all who can help take care of one another’s health

Holy Ones, may we be cautious as we go forward. Let neither panic nor apathy rule us. Bless us that we may use our wits well, let us keep ourselves and one another safe, and let us make the changes we must make so we may each be healthy and whole.

Hail Eir!

Hail Mengloth!

Ves ðu heil!

Moving Beyond the Wound-Chasm

I recently listened to Episode 28 of Everyday Animism, Animism and the Broken Path. The hosts raised some good points, among them being the understanding that decolonization of and embracing authenticity within our religious lives is an ongoing process. They hit the idea of the breaking of our Ancestors’ ties with their Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir quite a bit.

Heathenry has faced and is continuing to face the same challenges as those they were speaking to as animists. As Heathenry came up from the 70s, there has been quite an effort expended to come up with our own words, our own understanding of ourselves. Reviving religions and eventually cultures takes work and time. As academic fields came up with new information we adjusted our understanding of where we stood and where we are going. As new understandings of the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir came forward many changed with them. Heathenry, like a lot of polytheist religions, does a lot of looking back.

Where I would like to see conversations like these move is beyond where our Ancestors’ wound-chasm lies, that place where our Ancestors destroyed or whose connection was destroyed to their culture and absorbed into Christian and Muslim cultures. We are not living there. It is important to look at it, to acknowledge it, and to work to heal it, but our point of view cannot live there. Likewise, I feel we need to shift the conversation away from cultural appropriation and into embracing our own cultures. Beyond surface-level idiocy, see the Coachella models wearing headdresses or the same at Burning Man, my understanding is that a lot of appropriation is a grasping for something. That grasping might be words to describe a thing, like when folks grasp onto the word smudging (which is a ritual in and of itself, not just waving around smoke to get rid of evil spirits) when we have reykr (Old Norse for smoke) or recan (Anglo-Saxon for cleansing something with smoke) as words for smoke cleansing. That grasping might be for ancestral spirits, where folks might grasp for totem (which is a corruption of the Ojibwe word doodem, itself being a noun needing a prefix) I would point them to kinfylgja (Old Norse for kin follower/helper spirits). Wherever we are grasping we should look to our religions, our cultures first.

This means that we need to embrace our own understanding of our Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and ourselves over that of outsiders to our religions. Academics and others external to our religious and cultural communities are fine and should be looked to so long as their studies, commentary, etc are useful to us. Rather than this being an anti-academic or anti-science approach, this is an approach that weighs the usefulness and relevancy of outsider views on us, our religions, and cultures. Dr. Jackson Crawford and Dr. Caroline Larrington are excellent academic sources on Old Norse texts. What neither are is Heathen. Their expertise is not in religious instruction, nor would I want to put them in such a position. Likewise, the texts they have translated, the books they have written, and lectures they produce are not meant to be religious instruction.

Part of decolonizing ourselves and our communities is to radically embrace our own living religious worldviews. Decolonizing cannot be accomplished without this. Indeed, part of the point of it is to stop drinking the poison and to drink good clean water. We do this by understanding and especially living within our worldview. For Heathens this is living in good Gebo, reciprocity, with our Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, communities, and within ourselves. We are going to develop neologisms and work with words and concepts in new forms. My own use of the word Mikilvaettir and use of Ergi to describe and honor our Powerful Queer Ancestors is evidence of this. I understand that writing here on my blog, resources such as The Longship, and the work of countless individuals and communities developing their own relationships, vocabulary and worldviews all are part of this work. Whether we live quiet lives doing devotion or busy ones full of spirit work, or whether we lie somewhere in between, by worshiping Them and fuIfilling our part of Urðr we do the work of rejecting poison and drinking good water.