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Open to Questions Year 2

June 29, 2014 4 comments

I am once again looking for topics to write on, so if you, or someone you know, wants me to dig into a topic let me know.

 

Ask questions!  It can be on anything related to my religion, Gods, vaettir, Ancestors, etc.

Question 10: Shaman vs. Priest

April 18, 2013 7 comments

Another question from Valiel Elantári:

What difference do you make between “shaman” and “priest” ?

I had defined a shaman in Question 9 as ‘an intercessor between humanity and the Worlds of the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits.’  A priest may be that as well.  Where I see a marked difference is the kind of relationship a priest has vs. what a shaman has in their community.  A priest is a worshiper of a God, Goddess, Ancestors, or spirit, and acts as an intercessor between humanity and the Gods.  When I use the word humanity, this can mean as small-scale as another person or small group or as large-scale as a congregation or worldwide religion.  A priest’s job is, in some way, shape, or form, to bring the message(s) of the Gods, the Gods Themselves, and/or teach and bring right relationship with the Gods to humanity.  A priest’s other jobs may serve the community in a larger fashion, such as performing certain services as intercessory work, like public festivals, public sacrifices, offerings, and the like, or more personal works like blessings at homes, births, funerals, and weddings.

Some of the Work of a priest I do see as dovetailing with the Work of a shaman.  There can be very direct parallels between the two jobs’ requirements.  Both, for instance, need people to be spiritually clean, firm in their religious foundations, knowledgeable in their cosmology and in particular the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits they work with and/or worship.  Depending on the needs of the community, the two jobs may place requirements on the shoulders of a priest and a shaman that are similar, if not the same, such as blessing a newly birthed baby, weddings, fields before or after planting, etc.  The requirements of a priest may be wildly divergent priest to priest, tradition to tradition, the same with shamans, so saying anything across the board means somewhere I am getting something wrong.  The palette has too many colors for me to accurately paint with a select few.

In my own work as a priest and a shaman, my work as Odin’s priest is different from being a shaman in that He may ask me to deliver messages on His behalf as a priest whereas in my role as a shaman I may be asked to do a ritual action instead.  In a way, it seems to me I am engaged more in action serving Him as a shaman than I am as a priest, in which I tend to act more in the role of a passive message-passer.  Then again, as I am both, sometimes the two blend together in terms of my service to Him.  So the only thing I can say for certain here, is that I serve Him as He asks or demands of me.

In my Work as a priest of Anubis this is a bit markedly different from my service as Odin’s priest.  For one, Anubis demands very little of my time nowadays, but I can feel Him starting to really come back to the fore now that I have a new altar to the Dead, rather than, say, just the Military Dead or my Ancestors.  For another, Anubis’ requirement have been to offer Him offerings on occasion, but nothing like the dedication of Ancient Egyptian temple priests.  I have a small statue of Him that I feed offerings to, put water before, and occasionally bathe in similar fashion to how temple priests might have done.  However, that is more or less the extent of my historically-based practice.  Much of my work with Anubis is pure UPG, and when He calls upon me to help a Lost Dead or to deliver a message on a spirit’s behalf on His behalf, I do, and my services are rendered, and I go on my way.  My service to Anubis is more haphazard and as He needs me then I imagine other priests might serve, i.e. those who have permanent temple space.  Some of my Work with Him dovetails well with the Work I do for Odin, for instance, the consistent cleaning, grounding, and centering rituals.  Keeping myself clean, as well as keeping the altars clean, are part and parcel of my Work with Him.  So too, making sure the altar to the Dead is kept well, that offerings are laid out.  I must also be sure that the Dead are not insulted or treated ill in rituals, another place where my Work as a shaman dovetails with my priest Work.

In this way, priests, as with shamans, are intercessors in that those who come to us will learn that there are certain rites to be observed, and taboos to be avoided.  One taboo I have as a shaman is that whenever I do for another I must in some way, shape, or form, have Gebo from the other party.  Another, in my role as Anubis’ priest, is that I must not let the Dead be insulted or poorly treated.  It is on me to establish what requirements and taboos there are to working with these spirits, especially the person in question is coming to me for help or training.  That is part of the Work of any intercessor: you are, in some way, shape, or form, establishing and reestablishing the proper boundaries of and engaging in right relationship with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits.  For those who know them, you are reinforcing the boundaries of and encouraging engagement in right relationship.

I think this hits on another aspect of the difference between being a shaman and being a priest.  As a shaman I am often required to traverse boundaries, whether my own personal ones, or in journey work, or in transgressing some unspoken cultural boundary, i.e. Ancestor worship.  A shaman is often a boundary crosser, may be an ambassador of some kind to other communities including other Worlds, and puts hirself at risk so they, their community, and the relationships they hold can flourish.  A priest is often one who reinforces the boundaries, who stays within the boundaries and teaches from that place of power on how to live well, to live in right relationship, and establish communities in the teachings from their God(s) or Goddess(es).

To put it another way: a shaman often must journey to the útgarð for their Work whereas a priest’s main place and Work is done in the innangarð.

 

Question 8: Balancing

March 14, 2013 Leave a comment

This is the last of the Questions I have in my queue; if you or anyone you know has a question just let me know and I’ll do my best to answer it.  Thank you Dreaming in Smoke and Fire, James Two Snakes, and Lokisbruid for contributing questions!

From Dreaming in Smoke and Fire:

How do you balance being priests of Gods of two widely different pantheons?

It is interesting at times how this works out.  While I was Anubis’ priest first, Odin takes precedence.  Anubis led me to Odin when I had my eyes and ears tight shut regarding the Norse/Germanic Gods.  I was very happy being a priest of Anubis, a ceremonial magician, and helper to the Lost Dead.  Worshiping the Norse really hadn’t come into my head until Anubis drug me over to Odin, said “You’re following Him and we will be in touch” and away He went.  That was about four years ago.

This does not mean that Anubis has totally left my life, that His priesthood is unimportant, or that I have stopped worshiping Him.  Quite the contrary.  I do still work with the Dead, but much closer with Them than what I did while working under Anubis.  When I was working with Him I kept the Dead as best I could at arms length.  I cannot do that anymore.  I am very connected to my Ancestors now, much more so than when I was Anubis’ priest full time, and my Work now includes not just the general Dead and the Lost Dead; it also includes the Military Dead.

Most of the way I balance working with these Gods is that I am careful in my ethics.  Given I am Northern Tradition I tend towards those ethics and values, most of which in some way, shape, or form mesh with the Kemetic ones.  I do my best to follow the Negative Confession, reading it every night and reflecting upon it whenever I am able.  It has proven a good guide for me.  An area I struggle with is “cursing another in thought, word, or deed” as I see this to mean magically cursing a person as well as saying things like “I hope that person fucking crashes” when I get cut off in traffic because words take on power.  To speak and write is to engage heka.  So I make effort to avoid speaking ill, literally or figuratively, of people, places, and things.  To speak is to engage my önd.  Much of the ethics I approached Anubis with translated well into my Work with Odin.

Anubis has given me many blessings in the time I have been His priest, going on six years.  I still pray and give offerings to Him, and He has a place of honor among the Gods on my Gods’ altar.  I still carry a brass wand my former teachers helped me put together in service to Him, and it comes with me when I work with the Lost Dead, or to help direct the Dead where they need to go.  Anubis has been the Opener of Ways not just in my Work with the Dead, but in my life in general.  When things were hard He opened doors for me, though sometimes I refused to walk through them.  Four years ago He opened the door to Odin, and in that alone He has given me no small measure of blessing.  He has never left me, despite my intense Work with Odin and He remains a patient, powerful force in my life.

As far as balancing relationships between these two Gods go, as I wrote in my Question 5 post, being owned by Odin as I am, He is first and foremost above all others.  My Work is with Odin, primarily, and as Anubis desires things, whether it is my attention, Work to be done, or certain offerings, He makes it known to me.  He and Odin have an understanding in this regard.  The balance in my life is inherently skewed toward Odin, but much of my Work with the Dead dovetails nicely with where my Work with Anubis has been, and is evolving.  Anubis introduced me to Working with the Dead, setting boundaries, and giving me hard lessons in that sometimes there is nothing I can do for another as a priest, for the Dead or the Living.  Odin took me into working with my Ancestors and the Military Dead.

In Their own ways Anubis and Odin keep me in Their balance.  Being in that balance requires me to listen, above all else, to Them and those They point me to, and where I am called to act or speak, to do so.  The Work I do with the Dead is Their Work.  Sometimes it is to clean graves for the Dead, sometimes it is to speak prayers, and other times it is to sit while a long-Dead spirit talks about hir trouble in moving on.  Other times it may be to speak to someone’s descendant or to deliver a message.  Sometimes it requires I stop everything I am doing to help bury a forgotten pet.  Whatever the Gods need of me, it is my job to be available for that work as a priest.  The balance I find between these Gods is in the service I give to Them.

Hail Odin and Anubis!

Question 6: Offerings to Odin

March 10, 2013 4 comments

Question 6: Offerings to Odin

From Dreaming in Smoke and Fire:

What types of offerings does Odin like? Do you think he prefers smoked salmon or strong whiskey?
— Do you prefer smoked salmon or strong whiskey?
— Do you like pina coladas?

I’m sure He likes pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, eating salmon, drinking strong whiskey, and making love after midnight, but I am unsure if that is all at once or in stages.

All jokes aside, a good number of my offerings to Him are alcoholic drinks.  Among the drinks I offer to Him He seems to particularly enjoy mead and the strong alcohol such as whiskey, vodka, etc.  He especially likes mead, and from me He likes Viking Blod where I can afford it.  Sometimes He prefers local varieties, and I find He especially likes good homemade mead.

For me, I am sure He would rather have strong whiskey than salmon.  I am not practiced at cooking fish, and I would not give Him an offering if I doubt my family would eat it.  That said, I love salmon, especially salmon steak, but I have only cooked it all of one time, and that was with help.  I have not had pina coladas in awhile; might be time to again.

What types of offerings does Odin like?  He has accepted water and crackers where I could not afford much, hard drinks when I could, and a cup of coffee when I made a pot for my Gods and Ancestors.  He appreciates time, time spent not just praying to Him, but talking with Him.  I asked Him once why, if He could sit on Hlidskjalf and see all, and have Hunin and Munin bring Him news the Worlds over, did He want me to tell Him about my day?

His answer was something akin to this: is it better to talk to your father through your mother or friend, or is it better to talk with your father?

The offerings we give are intimate to our relationship with the Gods.  We may have lists of traditional offerings, but unless I slaughter and butcher a horse, or order horse meat from a specialty butcher, the likelihood is that Odin will not have an offerings of horse meat from me.  So I give what I have at hand, whether that is water, mead, or beer, crackers, bread, or cake.  I give offerings of incense somewhat frequently because leaving out food offerings sometimes is not possible, not appropriate at the time.  The same goes for offerings of food and/or water.  When I lived in a dorm room I frequently left offerings at trees’ feet since I could not have fires in the room.  There is always singing and/or talking with my Gods, and especially listening to Them.

Sometimes He wants something special, or I am inspired to give Him special offerings.  Sometimes it is the spontaneous nudge in the wine aisle, and sometimes it is a month of devotional poetry written to Him.  It may be that some weeks all He wants is regular contact at the altar, the usual prayers, and not much more.  Some times He wants intense devotional work, intense communication during a trance session where it is less about me speaking with Him, but listening very intently to Him.  At other times it may be hailing Odin during a public ceremony, especially where the ritualist gives space to call to our Gods.

So there are a great any ways to give offerings to Odin, certainly more than I have listed here.  I hope that this post has helped others find new ways to offer to Odin, or to their own Gods.  Regardless of how you offer, may Odin, and the Gods, always be hailed!

Question 5: Relationships and Being a Godatheow

March 10, 2013 2 comments

From Dreaming in Smoke and Fire:

How does being a godatheow affect your relationships with your family? partner? child? employment?

Being a godatheow puts my God at the top of my list.  Given how most people feel about children, and how much I love my son, that is not an easy thing to admit.  Mercifully, it is an understanding with Him that my partner understands, and much of my family at home understands.  As for my employment, well, this is may sound odd, but I did not get regular employment until after I became a godatheow.

I had a temporary job in the drought of four years of unemployment.  When I was laid off from that job after about two months, ironically while I was at Etinmoot, where I was told I by Odin that I was His godatheow, it was another year or so before another job so much as reared its head at me.  I worked for the Great Golden Arches for a few months under a wonderful, understanding manager, and now work doing respite care and direct support.   The pay and hours are better, and I am getting practical experience in my degree.  So while there was upheaval in my life from the impact of becoming a godatheow, once I got with the program and started walk with the leash instead of against it, my life, and that of those around me, got easier by several degrees.  I have a budget now, and by and large, have stuck to it.

So much is going right in my life since Odin took me under His leash.  My relationship with my partner has never been better, to the point where she, along with our son, now live with me.  My relationship with my Gods, Ancestors, spirits, and landvaettir has never been stronger, or so deep in my life.  If anything, becoming His godatheow has been a stabilizing force in my life.

Where my being a godatheow may have the greatest impact is on potentials, such as where I might work, the next place I might live, relationships, and the like.

Odin owns me.  Odin owns me.

If He dictates to me, in a manner I cannot mistake as anything other than a command from Him (and I would do goo-gobs of double-checking, discernment, divination, talking with elders, friends, etc. just to be sure) to leave everything behind and to start wandering I would do that.  Not because I want to abandon my family, not because a roadtrip sure sounds swell, but because my God demanded it of me.  Would I try to get out of such a command?  No, but I might ask Him to delay that until, say, my son is out of school or we are in a better place financially.  I would ask He lay that burden on me, but not upon my family.  I cannot say whether He would accept such a request, but I know He loves His Sons and knows how deep I love mine.  The Gods are not without mercy; He has not asked such a thing of me, yet.

Thinking about this is not easy.  Not in the least.  Let no one tell you being a godatheow is easy, because these kinds of choices can loom over you.  I have to think down this line, and talk with my partner and loved ones about this because there is the possibility that someday I may be called to do something that society would deem ‘crazy’, like taking off for 9 days/weeks/months/years and then coming back.  Is that written in stone?  No, but then again I would be a fool not to look at that possibility, and at the least make people aware of it.

While being a godatheow has been one of the most stabilizing forces in my life, it also has the potential, at any given moment, to destabilize it.  It makes me thankful, even if I am not always as vocal as I ought to be in that thanks, for the stability I do have, for what I may have in the future.  It makes me treasure the moments where I have down time and I am not going here and there doing my God’s Work, or my other Gods’ Work for that matter.  It pushes me to be thankful and treasure the moments I have to be a father and a lover.  It makes me treasure the moments I have to relax.  At any moment Odin can say “Time to go this way” and there I will go.

It is not easy to have this kind of relationship.  It is far easier to brush it off, to self-sabotage, and say “I am not worthy” or “I cannot do this thing” and let the charge be.  That said, it is hard to argue with a leash about your throat and feeling a supreme tugging this way or that.  I will eventually get there, wherever He is leading me, but it is entirely incumbent upon me whether or not I make it harder.

Odin owns me, and in so doing, He has direct influence on my life.  My life is my service, and my service is my life.  In understanding this simple truth I have made my life a good deal easier.  Do I still have autonomy?  Yes, and choices  in my life are plentiful, but this autonomy and these choices are within the larger context of what He gives me to choose from.

With my life being Odin’s, doing well everywhere I can in my life is an offering to Him.  Parenting my son well, treating my partner with respect, love, and dignity, and doing well by my clients are all part and parcel of offering to Him.  My work with the communities, great and small, are part of my Work with Him.  There is no aspect of my life untouched by Him, no aspect of my life that cannot be offered to Him.  While being His godatheow may present challenges to me, my loved ones, and my communities, it is also one of the greatest blessings He has given me.

A Note

Being a godatheow is not for everyone, nor am I any better than one who has never ‘heard’ their God.  This is a wholly different way to live one’s life, to worship and to serve the Gods, a God or Goddess in particular.  I do not expect everyone to be a godatheow to have a deep level of commitment to their God/Goddess, nor godspousery, nor even to ‘hear, see, taste’, etc.  Each person’s relationship with their Gods is between them and their Gods, and while there may be community standards one needs to meet to be part of a community, this is not one of them in the Northern Tradition.  You do not need to be a shaman, a priest, a godatheow, a godspouse, or anything ‘called’ to love your Gods with everything you have.  You just need to give the Gods your time, attention, energy, and love wherever, whenever you can.

Question 4: Loki: Revulsion and Reconciliation

March 9, 2013 7 comments

From Dreaming in Smoke and Fire:

How do you feel about / reconcile the acceptance of Odin in most major Heathen / pagan circles alongside the revulsion held for Loki?
– What are your thoughts and have you / how do you help others make the transition into acceptance?

This is probably one of the hardest questions I have had to encounter in the Pagan communities, especially the Heathen ones where He is greeted with deep vitriol.

I am going to be blunt about how I feel.  I think that the revulsion held for Loki is despicable.  It is blasphemous.

Most any thing that has aided the Aesir or Vanir came through Loki’s hands.  The weapon that the Jotun were said to fear, Mjolnir, came from Loki’s work.  If He comes to you at all it is a blessing even if you cannot see it then.

Wiccan Issues With Loki

I used to hear and say “Hail Loki” tongue-in-cheek when I was a Wiccan, frequently, when something in ritual went screwy.  When words garbled or something fell off the altar, a “Hail Loki” often followed.  To a certain extent I look at this humorously now; obviously it was not Loki holding my tongue and saying sing-song “What’s-a-matter? Can’t talk?” as I tried to speak.  However, it was not reverent.  He was spoken of in tones of ‘not welcome’, yet we were calling His Name.  All I knew at the time was that He was  Trickster, a God of Chaos and Fire.  I did not know much back then.

Much of the revulsion, at least from the Wiccan angle, came from a place of wanting everything “NEAT UND TIDY!”  Rituals have a certain flow, a certain way they are supposed to go, and accidents, interruptions, and garbled words screw with that.   So too, our relationships with the Gods.  There is comfort in such rituals, and comfort in The God and The Goddess encountered in Wicca, but Loki is a God Who often pushes past the comfy, the familiar, and the planned.  He can bare you to all your flaws in a moment, or give you that push with a giggle that, as you stumble to get back to your feet, you find yourself exactly where you need to be.

Heathen Issues With Loki

Where some Pagans, especially Heathens are in agreement, is that they would rather not worship a God who heads the Jotun armies at Ragnarok.  Leaving aside that Ragnarok may entirely be Christian invention or revision, it is said that the Dead who live in Helheim rise up to fight.  Which, if you think about, includes a good chunk of our Ancestors, as most died a ‘straw death’, death by disease, old age, etc.  Essentially anything but fighting.  When you think about it that number will probably include most anyone.  I digress.

Many Heathens take issue with the fluidity of Loki.  He changes sexes, shape, specie; He is a Father and a Mother.  He turned into a female horse and brought back Sleipnir, which He gave to Odin for His steed.  He is wed to two Goddesses, and has had children with both.  Fenris, the Wolf Who Devours Odin at Ragnarok, Jormungandr the World Serpent Who keeps Midgard’s borders, and Hel the Goddess of Death are His and Angrboda’s children.  His two sons with Sigyn are Narvi and Vali, both of Whom come to a tragic end at the hands of the Aesir.

Loki is outside and within the binaries of modern life.  He is within and without the innangarð.  He is Jotun and counted among the Aesir, He causes trouble and resolves conflict.  He is a victim of abuse, and a wrathful avenger.

There are those Heathens who simply see all Jotun as enemies.  In this black and white understanding of the Gods, the Aesir and Vanir are the forces of good, and the Jotun the forces of evil.  Or order and chaos.  Or whatever binary is handy at the time.

The reason I list all of this, well known to most of Loki’s worshipers, is for some of these people there is reconciliation with their understanding of Loki.  I used to really not be a fan of Him, until He came into my life through Odin.  Slowly I started to work with Him, and then, worship Him.

For those who say “None of the Jotun are due worship”, how can that be reconciled by me?  All I can do is provide an example of what a life touched by Loki looks like, and if the person wishes to change their mind, they will.  Odin Himself came from Jotun stock, as did Thor, Heimdall…many, if not most of the Aesir are, in some way, shape, or form related to Jotun or are Jotun Themselves, i.e. Loki and Skaði.  The Vanir are actually the odds one out in this.  They are, so far as I can tell from lore and personal experience, unrelated blood-wise to the Aesir and Jotun.  Even so, Freyr, a Vanir hostage to the Aesir, takes Gerda, a Jotnar Goddess (Gýgr, giantess) for His bride.

The Transition to Acceptance

So how do I help others make the transition into acceptance?  I am a responsible worshiper, to start with.  I do not blame my mistakes on Him, and do not allow abuse to be heaped upon Him.  I speak out when I need to, especially when His, or His brethren’s Names are being thrown in the mud.  I show people that a follower of Loki need not be an irresponsible person, or a person who uses the Gods as an excuse to get their kicks.

When people come to me, worried they may be getting the tap on the shoulder by Loki, I give the same advice I do to anyone worried about a God or Goddess coming their way: set up an altar, give Them offerings and time, and see where They lead you.  Ultimately any reconciliation is going to happen between the Gods and them.  I’m just a person who might help them in the journey.  Sometimes it is small words of encouragement, storytelling of my experiences with Him, or exegesis of the lore we have available to us.

The number one thing I have found that has served me best as a Pagan, whether it was as a layperson, a priest or a shaman, is shutting my mouth and listening.  Listening to peoples’ fears, concerns, worries, and listening to them, not just hearing their words.  It is no different here with reconciling worries and conflicts with the Gods.

I have no illusions that those who love Odin but hate Loki or His Kin will somehow ‘come to see the Light’ (or Fire, as the case may be) and give up that hate in a moment no matter how much I listen to them.  If they are to do something as radical as give up hate that has to come after a time of letting go of that.  If I help to be a catalyst for that change, I consider that holy Work.  My focus is more on those who are being bothered by Him or are just scared of Him.  He can evoke fear in people; He certainly did for me, and sometimes still does.

Where to Start

I start by listening, and seeing where the person is at.  If they are open to a deeper understanding of Loki beyond “He’s not just some monster” or “He’s not out to make your life hell” then we can go on.  If not, I do my best to correct misconceptions, and provide my own understanding of Loki.  I usually will talk about the sources of lore for Loki, if we have time/ability to do so.  If not, I recommend the person read the sources of lore for Loki, and keep up dialogue while they are doing so, especially where they find issues or questions popping up.  I’m no loremaster, and I cannot read the old tongues the works are originally recorded in, but I talk to people and can recommend sources I have read or have been recommended to me.  From there, as I mentioned before, I usually will recommend they set up an altar if they do not have one, and if they can, find a symbol of Loki.  From there, I recommend they give offerings, prayers, and time to Loki in whatever ways they feel called to so long as it is reverent.  After that it is really just being there for the person as I can be and as they need.

Almost all of the work is on the person in the end.  At best all I can do is help to facilitate a better relationship between themselves and Loki.  I can bring two or more people together in a space and say “Let’s try to be friends!” and after that point I really have little control over whether or not that ends up being the case.  So, to a good extent, letting go of the situation after I have done my part is one of the best things, aside from keeping my ears open, that I can do.  Their relationship with Loki is, in the end, theirs.  Loki never laid claim to Mjolnir once He gave it to Thor; indeed, He never laid claim to the Hammer in the first place.

How can I lay claim to something so powerful as another’s relationship with a God?

I pray that more people open their minds, hearts, and souls to the beautiful touch of this incredible God, and experience Him for Who and What He is.  May His Name come with the same love so many give to His fellows Gods and Goddesses.  May those who worship Him never take Him for granted.  May He always be hailed.

Hail Loki!

Question 2: Prayers, Rituals and My Son

March 2, 2013 3 comments

From James Two Snakes:

Tell me more about the rituals and prayers you do with your son.

When I first became a Dad I determined one thing I really wanted for my son was the gift my parents gave to me: an active, living religious tradition.  A good part of this was prayers for meals, and especially bedtime prayers.  Before he could do prayers, before he could speak I would pray with him.  In the last three we’ve really come together and now, they’re a daily part of our life.

The first prayer is usually the morning breakfast prayer.  Our meal prayers are all the same at this point, and rote, so that he connects on a regular basis with all the Gods, and is mindful of Them, the Ancestors, and the spirits.  From what he has told me, he says this prayer at school, and it makes me very proud.  All the prayers used to be call and response, but as he has learned them, my son has grown into saying them alongside his Mom and I on occasion.  Sometimes, when he is in the mood, he will ask to lead the call and response.  This latest development has happened recently, and I find it a good thing to lead as it is not just a prayer, but a time for him to take charge and do without having to follow his Mom or I.  He tends to have this huge smile on his face when he does it, and sometimes it is good to hang back and let someone else take the lead.  After all, I want him to have a relationship with the Gods, not just to do it because Mom and Dad are.

The Mealtime Prayer

Thank You Odin

Thank You Frigga

Thank You Freya

Thank You Freyr

Thank You Gerda

Thank You Loki

Thank You Angrboda

Thank You Sigyn

Thank You Brighid

Thank You Bres

Thank You Lycrous

Thank You Lupa

Thank You Bast

Thank You Anubis

Thank You Spirits

Thank You Farmer and Field

Thank You Animals and Plants

Thank You Landvaettir

and

Thank You Ancestors

Blessed Be, and Ves Heil!

At first it was just the Norse and Germanic Gods, but then slowly included all the Gods we worship.  Once he started memorizing the Norse and Germanic Gods They slowly had Themselves included.  At first he struggled remembering, but now, two years or so from when we started to say prayers together, he likes to lead prayers sometimes.

Before my girlfriend and I came back together, around the same time we started formulating the meal prayer, we made a bedtime prayer.  We lived in separate homes then, so around his bedtime they would call or I would call, and we would say the prayer together over the phone.  Back then this was call and response because of delays in the phone.  It was hard, at first, because sometimes our son did not want to say the prayer either because of shyness with the phone, or he had a rough day.  Still, it was good for her and I to pray, and it was a way for us not just to connect, but to share in prayer to the Gods.

Now that we live together the night prayers are huge.  Our son loves them, and asks as he is getting ready for bed what kind of prayers we’ll be doing.  There are three kinds of prayers we do at night: The longest we call Full Altar Prayers, the next is Sigdrifa’s Prayer, and the last, Night Prayers.  Before I go further I need to explain the altar situation in our home.

My son and I live in a room together on the upper floor of my folks’ home, and his Mom lives across from us upstairs.  All of the altars are in our room, as, until recently, the cats were not allowed in.  We were afraid they would knock the altars about, knock statues down, etc.  The one casualty we’ve had so far was an older wolf statue that I had too near an edge that was knocked over when one of the cats went exploring.  Aside from that, the altars themselves were undisturbed despite being left completely alone for four to six hours.

The Altars

Our son helped to set up all the altars except the Earth, House Spirit, and Military Dead altars which are too high for him to reach.  That alone is powerful, connective Work, and a good experience for me too.  Between learning to just hang back and let the Gods tell him where to place Their representations (and leave Them there!) to gently guiding him on why we put things like the Brighid crosses together, we get to learn and teach hand in hand, at times he guiding us, and vice versa.

The Gods’ Altar:  An altar to all of our Gods that sits before a window, behind which are growing two plants from a ritual with the Church we circle with.  There are things like a statue for Odin, Anubis and Freya, keys big and small for Frigga, a Sun disk for Sunna and a Moon disk for Mani, two Brighid’s crosses for Brighid and Bres with bottles of healing water blessed by Her behind them, and a Green Man for Freyr.  If I have forgotten anyone/anything I’ll update it.

The Ancestor Altar:  An altar to all of our Ancestors, including the Elements.  There is a bottle of rainwater and Florida Water for Water, a glazed clay bowl of stones and willow leaves for Earth, a harmonic from my Great-Grandpa and an incense holder for Air, a granite square with a pillar candle and a bowl of matches, lighters, and a sparking fire-starter for Fire, and for the Ancestors in the center is a four-person circle crafted out of clay holding one another, with a stone in the center in the offering bowl, and behind it on either side are tree-shaped candle holder for Ask and Embla.  When I am not wearing them I place my Ancestor necklaces on either side of the altar for the Disir and Vatter (Alfar), and my Ancestor prayer bead necklace before the four-person Ancestor circle statue.

The Earth Altar: An altar to the spirits of Earth, with three stones representing Gebo, the Earth, and the Landvaettir (with a stone from the property we live on), a representation of the Earth Dragon made out of ceramic, a Gnome similarly made out of ceramic, the moneyvaettir with a plate of money from different places and times and a large jar in the middle of the play containing spare change and change we felt should go in it.  On this altar is a tied off bunch of wheat that forms the bed for a representation of Ramses II, who, when I was a bit younger and mainly working with Anubis as His priest, after I saw his place had been desecrated, knowing what it meant that his bones lay out in the open and his rest disturbed, wrapped up a doll into muslin and did rituals, and invoked spells from the Book of the Dead.  He now has a place on the Earth altar, and it is my goal to eventually get him a gold-leaved box to put him in.

The House Spirit Altar: A simple altar with what was a wooden birdhouse, and an incense holder on a granite square.

The Military Dead Altar: An altar that sits on a filing cabinet for now, with an incense holder, a large vase-shaped candle holder, an earthenware pot of graveyard dirt, taken with Their permission, from Veterans’ graves.

Night Prayers

Full Altar Prayers

Full Altar Prayers are usually done on the weekends, as it takes anywhere from half an hour to forty-five minutes start to finish.  We start by kneeling at the Gods’ altar, taking the selenite and cleansing our energy bodies with it, doing the front of our bodies starting with the crown, then handing off the crystal to someone near and allowing them to get the back of our energy body.  Then, our son and I cover our heads with bandanas, he with a black one and I a white one.  He’s asked to get his own set, so when we get the opportunity next we’ll do some shopping for him so he can have his own white bandana rather than borrowing my black, all-purpose one.  The white bandana is specifically saved for night prayers, the red for Ancestor Work, the blue for Landvaettir, and black is, as mentioned, all-purpose.

After we cover we do the Negative Confession.  While this is not the version we use, it gets the point across.  We read the Confession in the call-and-response style.  After this, we perform Sigdrifa’s Prayer.  Again, this is not exactly the prayer we use, but these are excellent sources, and for song music and the prayer in both the English and Old Norse available, they are available here.

When we say “Hail Day!  Hail Day’s Sons!” we open our hands and upraise our arms to Daeg, God of Day.  When we say “Look with love upon us here and bring victory to those sitting here” we bow to the window, to Nott, the Goddess of Night.  When we speak “Hail to the Gods!” and “Hail to the Goddesses!” we bow to each of Them in turn.  When we stand to hail the Earth, we go to the Earth altar, and say “Hail to the mighty, fecund Earth!” and then, turn to the Ancestor Altar which is next to it, and say “Eloquence and native wit bestow on us”, and return to the Gods’ altar, saying “And healing hands while we last!”  We end with “Blessed be, and Ves Heil!”  At the end of all this, we go to each of the altars, bowing, and say “Ves Heil!” to each, hailing all of the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits that work with us.

Sigdrifa’s Prayer

These are a lot like the Full Altar Prayers in that we do all the ritual actions for Sigdrifa’s Prayer described above, and we may or may not do the selenite cleansing, and we may or may not cover.  It’s a hard and fast thing that our son and I cover, though his Mom does not, for Full Altar Prayers.  Sometimes we do, and sometimes we do not for Sigdrifa’s Prayer.  The biggest change between these is that we do not do the Negative Confession.

Bedtime Prayer

This is a prayer his mother and I made  together.  At first it was a lot like the Mealtime Prayer and it branched out from there.  In it, we address each of the Gods, Goddesses, Ancestors, and spirits we worship, thanking Them for Their blessings on us, and our lives.

The Bedtime Prayer

Thank You Odin and Frigga for the World around us

Thank You Freya for the Love in our lives

Thank You Freyr and Gerda for the wonderful Food

Thank You Loki, Angrboda, and Sigyn for Laughter, Protection, and Perseverance

Thank You Brighid and Bres for Inspiration and Truth

Thank You Lycrous and Lupa for Ferocity and Kindness

Thank You Bast and Anubis for Pleasure and Opening of the Ways

Thank You Spirits for Your Friendship

Thank You Landvaettir for our Home

Thank You Ancestors for our Lives

Be with us when we sleep,

Be with us when we wake

Blessed be, and Ves Heil!

Other Prayers and Rituals

Prayers and rituals otherwise are rather spontaneous, things like taking out offerings to oak tree, and hailing the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits tend to happen about once a week.  If it is too cold we pour water offerings down the drain, and if they’ll go in the compost, that is where we put food offerings.  If we have nothing else we can afford to get for offerings we at least leave water on the altars and light incense.  Little prayers, like “Thank you Odin for wisdom” or “Thank You Freyr for this food” and similar prayers are said when the occasion hits us.  When we walk around the local parks, or we go to a new place, we hail the Landvaettir with a small prayer, such as “Hail Landvaettir; thank you for letting us walk on You and with You.”  We might walk up to a nearby tree, one that sticks out or is an oak or ash, bow, and give an offering of some kind.  Even if we have no offering to give right then, or if we’ve already given one, we’ll pick up trash as an offering to the landvaettir and the local spirits.

When I was first trying to communicate to my son why we hailed the Landvaettir, I had taken him to a park.  I did not know at the time that he had come out for our day (well before his Mom and I came back together) after watching My Neighbor Totoro.  So when I asked him if he knew why we hailed the Landvaettir, why we bowed, and prayed, he suddenly piped up “Because every tree has a spirit!  Just like Totoro!”  I damned near cried on him.  “Yes, son, that’s right, every tree, every rock, every thing has a spirit.”  He grinned ear to ear, and we bowed low to the large tree in front of us, and he, in his little voice called out and said “Hail Tree SPIRIT!”  So if you are having a hard time communicating a concept to your kids or to someone else’s, look at kids’ media.  My Neighbor Totoro, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and several amazing movies and shows communicate our concepts in a way that I have struggled at times to teach.

Every small prayer, every ritual, especially those done day after day, night after night, build up the foundation our children have in their religion to carry this special relationship into their lives.  Each and every day, each and every moment, I have found, is teachable if you let the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits in.  Giving this gift was the best thing my folks did for me, and I pray, fervently, it is the same for my son.

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