Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 72: For The Saginaw River

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 The Saginaw River.

Hail to the Sagniaw River

Who the Alongquin peoples call Sagenog, the place of the outlet

Who I call Vatnausastaðr, the place where the water flows

May Your waters ever shine

May Your banks ever hold

May Your path ever be clear

Fed by the Tittabawasee and the Shiawassee rivers

Who feeds the mighty Lake Huron in turn

May You ever flow, beautiful river

You, Who has ever seen boats up and down Your length

You, Who have carried canoe, steamer, and industrial ships

You, Who have carried generations on generations of fish

Hail to You, O Blessed One

Whose Waters quench, transport, cleanse, and bless

Whose Waters are holy and full of good megin

Mighty Goddess, may we live in good Gebo

Authenticity

In the Around Grandfather Fire Discord server we were asked questions about authenticity by Robin.

“What does authenticity mean to you? How do you relate to authenticity? Do you think you are authentic most of the time? Mentally, emotionally, physically?

Who do you share the most authentic version of yourself to? Do you live your authentic self? Do you care for an nurture your authenticity? Why or why not? What stage of the journey do you feel you are in?

You don’t have to answer this one out loud, but: What do you wish deeply that you could share, or what way do you wish you could live, and you feel you can’t? Why is that?”

What is authenticity?

The OED has a number of definitions:

1. not false or copied; genuine; real:an authentic antique.

2. having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified:an authentic document of the Middle Ages; an authentic work of the old master.

3. representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified:a story told in the authentic voice of a Midwestern farmer; a senator’s speech that sounded authentic.

4. entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy:an authentic report on poverty in Africa.

5. Law. executed with all due formalities:an authentic deed.

6. Music.

  1. (of a church mode) having a range extending from the final to the octave above.Compare plagal.
  2. (of a cadence) consisting of a dominant harmony followed by a tonic.

7. Obsolete. authoritative.

Authentic from Dictionary.com accessed 1/30/2023

When most folks are talking about authenticity, they are talking about being true to who and what you are, the third definition. However, I think there is a great deal of utility in some of these other definitions, namely 1, 2, 4, and 7.

In Heathenry, we are often looking at resources in the effort to reconstruct and revive our religious and spiritual concepts. Being able to evaluate and differentiate solid sourcing vs compromised or flat wrong interpretations of the evidence before us, in other words seeing whether or not something is genuine to historical evidence and interpretation by experts, is part of the methodology of reconstruction and dictates its usefulness to us. If we comes across a unique experience or idea we can evaluate it against what we know to be true and discern whether or not we accept it into our Heathen practice. Its historicity may be unknowable, particularly if the idea or experience was a personal revelation. History gives us one of many jumping-off points to evaluate what is useful to our religion. So, in this evaluation we are actively working with definitions 1, 2, and 4, in how we construct what is authentic. Together with the 3rd definition we develop the 7th, that which is authoritative.

The pitfalls of this approach can be evident when you have folks who repeat misinformation, refuse to take in new information, construct false narratives that they refuse to let go of, or who, for one reason or another, actively reject expert testimony, advice, or interpretation. This becomes even more difficult when there is no evidence to be had of an idea in history and folks fill in information from other sources. A simple example of this comes from Freyja’s cats. There is no source that gives Their Names. The names Bygul and Trjegul,  or Beegold and Treegold in Old Norse, which are often accepted as Their Names, comes from Diana Paxson’s short story Brisingamen. The problem is that these two  names have been assumed by so many to be these two cats that now many simply assume they are. So, authenticity is a dance between what has come before, what is relevant to our experiences and understanding, and what is important to our relationships with the Ginnreginn.

“What does authenticity mean to you? How do you relate to authenticity? Do you think you are authentic most of the time? Mentally, emotionally, physically?

Authenticity, to me,  is the dance between what has come before to determine what is true and genuine, what is true and useful to us now in practical terms of getting things done, and honesty and clarity with what is based in what has come before, what is our own and works now, and where we want to see things go. Sometimes what has come before no longer works, sometimes what we are doing is not true or authentic to what we need, and sometimes where we want to see things go is not where they need to or will go. So, honesty with ourselves and one another is necessary. I am authentic almost all of the time in these regards. Sometimes I put aside what feels right for what is practical, eg I may feel strong disagreements over politics at work but tanking relationships with coworkers over political differences is not a long-term viable strategy for getting things done. Even that is living authentically because ideological purity tests may be useful in some degrees. That said, purity tests are extreme in and of themselves, and the likelihood for failure to measure up to them increases the more stringent it becomes.

Physically I cannot be other than what I am no matter how I wish it otherwise. So, being authentic to myself physically means that I accept my physical limitations while working on what I am able to. It also means appreciating what I can do, to enjoy the skin I am in as much as I am able to, and to explore what it means to be a physical person.

Mental and emotional authenticity is to not hide my thoughts or feelings from myself, regardless of how extreme they are, and to give proper airing of those thoughts and feelings as they are needed. Authenticity is being internally consistent with my choices, whether those are how I think about myself, others, or what my worldview is. Authenticity is also being externally consistent with my internal thoughts wherever I can. However, I do recognize that authenticity within myself and authenticity outside of myself can be separate from one another. For instance, being Sarenth the Dad authentically is generally a separate mindset from being Sarenth the spiritworker. I am still genuinely Sarenth even when the outward expression of myself changes.

Who do you share the most authentic version of yourself to? Do you live your authentic self? Do you care for an nurture your authenticity? Why or why not? What stage of the journey do you feel you are in?

See, the thing with asking a questions like ‘most authentic version of myself’ is that it is a subjective value judgment. To a certain degree even I do not know. If I had to nail it down I share the most of myself with my partners. I know that I am most comfortable sharing more of myself in certain ways with my partners, and in others with my Kindred, and yet others with close friends. There are levels of intimacy and authenticity that do not need to cross, though, so both living and nurturing my authenticity happens in a variety of ways. I think though, now that I am out of adolesence and heading into what is often called middle age, that I am in a stage that can best be boiled down to “I am what I am -a work in progress.” I am not sure there is really an end goal besides just to live my life as authentically and well as I can.

You don’t have to answer this one out loud, but: What do you wish deeply that you could share, or what way do you wish you could live, and you feel you can’t? Why is that?”

Regarding the way I wish I could live and feel I can’t: I wish that I could live off the land more. That I could throw up solar panels, a wind turbine or two, generate my own electricity, and live more fully with the land itself. Why? To put it bluntly, I have a mortgage and limited energy and time to do things. There are a lot of things I would like to do that I will likely have to put offf until I have the time and energy to do them.

With regard to wishing what I could share: I wish that I could share more of the depths that I have experienced in my spiritwork. I share a decent amount of it, but there are still things I hang back on. Some of that is simply that some things are private. Some of it is that I have seen how folks react to certain spiritual experiences and I do not care to repeat the process again. Other times folks have to prove to me a certain amount of trust before I explore certain topics with them. Why?

I have been writing this blog for over thirteen years. In that time I have helped people I likely will never hear from or will ever meet. I have written prayers that have connected people with their Gods, Ancestors, and spirits. I have written posts that have helped folks rethink things, explore new ideas, and develop whole different ways of orienting their lives. I know my work helps people. I know it reaches people. It is part of why I write.

For me, authenticity is a lived thing rather than strictly a mental exploration. It is a living expression of worldview, values, ethics, and ideas about how we are to live. Authenticity takes so many forms that I believe it is impossible to nail down any one way of being a Heathen, a polytheist, an animist, and so on. Authenticity cannot be lived alone though. It is lived both individually and communally. We find depths to that authenticity in exploration on our own and in community with others. Sometimes, it is only through contrast between these approaches that we come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of who we are, and come to a great knowing of our authentic selves.

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 71: For Tyr

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This request was made by Emi for Tyr.

Flames lick the sky, Muspel burning bright

The hoary frost loosing the river’s run

Ýmir’s blood bloomed behind You

Your Name brings victory, twice signed on spear and sword

So too the Brothers’ blades were bloodied

Red-marked Runes wrought Their ruin

When the waters receded, rede You gave

Foundations were placed, great posts dug deep

Hófs and walls rose resolute

In council You sat among the Æsir

Your wisdom was worked in law and war

Blessing the holmgang rite and law-rock

Fierce and hungering was the Wolf whelp

By Your hands was He raised on red meat

Loving devotion to the Dire Wolf

When Fenris grew fear could not find You

Though His fangs grew long and maw mighty

You persevered in Your compassion and care

True You stayed to Your Son

Oathing hand given for the biting bind

Tears to the treachery

You teach the truths of legality and loyalty

To each test You bless with bravery

When choice is razor and rock

Yours is wisdom’s edge sliced in stone

Relentless, Your strop hones the hearty

Who seek Your guidance and gift

Týr is the name of surety and severity

Whose echo calls the weapon worthy in war

Who forges mind and magic in Fire and cools them by Ice

Patreon Topic 69: On Priesthood

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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.

Patreon Poem/Prayer Song 72: For Jörmungandr

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 Emi for Jörmungandr.

The waves lap around me

Over me

Under me

Encircle, encircle, encircle

The enchantment drives my paths

Horses small as plankton gallop

Over me

To me

Running, running, running

Desperation nips their feet

Rán and Her Daughters play with me

Over me

With me

Surging, surging, surging

Laughter shared between us

Icy waters soothes me

Over me

In me

Caressing, caressing, caressing

Fiery pain quenches in the cool

Warm waters invigorate me

Over me

Around me

Rolling, rolling, rolling

Tension melts in the heat

Oceans flow about me

Against me

From me

Rocking, rocking, rocking

Waves roll across the waters by my might

Your waters flow from me

Along me

Beyond me

Flowing, flowing, flowing

Waters cross from ocean to river to tap

I flow across the waters

Along them

Throug them

Swimming, swimming, swimming

Miðarðr’s living protection at the oceans’ crossing

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 71: For Freyja Seiðkona

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 Freyja Seiðkona.

Freyja! Freyja! Freyja!

Seiðkona! Seiðkona! Seiðkona!

Varðlokkur-bearer! Seið-teacher! Gandr-wielder!

Teach me what I must do

To sing the varðlokkur songs that bring and ward

To work good and powerful seiðr

To take up and use gandr wisely

Teach me the ways to do

To call vaettir and make magic

To break and lay curses and boons

To bear power and use it with wisdom

Teach me the tools I must have

To wield megin well

To find and fetter my foes

To bless and empower my allies

Teach me the ways You will

To make taufr crafted with skill and megin

To make my Soul Parts strong and resilient

To make me Fjólkyngismaðr

Please, teach me Your Ways, Freyja Seiðkona!

Please, teach me the varðlokkur!

Please, teach me seiðr!

Please, teach me to work and wield gandr!

Hail! Hail! Hail!

Freyja Seiðkona!

Patreon Prayer/Poem/PrayerSong 70: For the Well Spirit

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This request was made by Cynnian for their Well Spirit.

Deep and dark, stone surrounds

Sweet and crisp, cold and clear

The waters collect within me

Buckets, once, and pipes now

Plunge deep into my body and bring up my blood

The water flows from me

Honor my gifts as you take them

To drink, to cook, to clean, to offer

Honor the waters that flow between us

Patreon Topic 67: On Building Modern Communities

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From Maleck comes this topic:

“How do you build community in the modern era?”

I think part of the issue with writing on this subject is that we have to define what kinds of communities we are looking to build. Kindreds are vastly different in structure, scope, and goals than that of a coalition of leftists, builders of a local mutual aid network, or more formal political structures. What we are trying to build and the focus we bring to it greatly differs even if there are some commonalities built into the idea of community building.

First, you have to figure out what kind of community you are going to build. In this, I would ask a series of questions.

What is the purpose of the community? Is this community oriented around religious, political, or hobby interests? Building a community is based on the foundation you are sharing.

How oriented around a worldview, ideology, or set of ideas does this community need to be in order to be considered a cohesive community with regards to its purpose? A Heathen Kindred or Wiccan coven requires a fairly tightly held set of beliefs, ideas, responsibilities, and expectations of each member in order to function and develop well. Communities oriented around hobbies need to have some set ideas about what hobbies they will be enjoying in their time together, but otherwise each member may have wildly different ideas of religion, politics, and other essential parts of their worldview.

How tight are the ties in this community? Is it a Kindred or a coven? Is it a religious community such as a Pagan or Heathen Discord? Is it a mutual aid network? Is it a hobby-based community? Each has its requirements for how tight those ties are to be included within a community, and the accompanying expectations for how one is to act.

What are the expectations, including responsibilities and obligations of each member to one another and the community as a whole? Are there administrative needs that must be met in order for the community to function well? What are the core fundamentals of organization of the community? Does the community operate under egalitarian, hierarchical, and/or other forms of organization? Even free apps have terms of service, and to leave this idea unaddressed is to leave gaps for serious inroads of issues to occur.

After these questions are answered, in a way, I think the overarching way you build community is quite similar. Whether you are looking to create a Kindred, coven, mutual aid network, political group, or hobbyist group, a community needs to know the fundamentals of what is required for in/out group, what level of buy-in/work is required to be an active member, and a good idea of what the active participation by each member looks like. While the ties may be looser or tighter depending on the obligations, responsibilities, roles, and worldview of the group, there has to be fundamental agreements on how things are done, what is being done, and why.

Communities transform over time. When I started teaching at The Wandering Owl it was started to teach on the Runes. It then turned into a Northern Tradition study class. Then it turned into a working group, and finally, a Kindred. At each step there were discussions around expectations of each member, my role as the facilitator, what was changing in regards to the group, and how we were to be, and what the community was becoming at each step of the way. The Kindred has largely gone quiet in the last few years because of the masive amounts of difference in our schedules and obligations in our lives. Nonetheless, we carry love and care for one another. Much of my focus has shifted specifically from Mímisbrunnr Kindred to my work with the larger communities in Around Grandfather Fire, 3 Pagans on Tap, and the various Heathen, polytheist, and animist communities I am part of and serve.

Another example of change: I was involved as a member of a boards of directors for a nonprofit that handled millions of dollars of donations to help kids connect with technology, computers especially but also programming and basic robot work with Lego Mindstorm kits. Animation was my speciality at this point in time and I won a small award from the nonprofit before they approached me, asked me to join, and I had to stop participating in the competitions. I transitioned from a regular member to a board member, taking leadership classes and other training so I could be an effective youth liason and full voting member. I then began to teach kids how to animate, bringing basic visual design with basic animation as I had learned how to do it.

The various computer clubs in schools we partnered with then have carried on the work we started. Over time we went from a relatively small base of schools to a regional SE Michigan base of schools, and the competitions were bigger, more involved, and amazing to watch. We did excellent, needed work to bring kids into better working relationship with tech, computers, and building life skills.

We had to shut our doors because the donors stopped giving in 2004, the year I graduated. So, we finished out the year with a bang and had our largest competitions for animation and robots yet. Our transition out of the schools meant they had to source their own computers, their own funding, and bring more local focus to the work they did. Some did exceptionally well, and some did not. I am deeply proud of the work we did. If nothing else, we helped launch countless school computer clubs, tech clubs, and robot clubs, and helped teach a generation of students from middle through high school how to effectively work with computers and technology.

The current board of directors I am a part of, Crossing Hedgerows Sanctuary and Farm, is a growing, beautiful part of my life. I volunteer every other Wednesday, and as I can I make it out to various events we host on Saturdays.

Communities organize, live, and die for different reasons. In the case of Mímisbrunnr Kindred we yet live in a kind of holding pattern. In the case of the nonprofit I was part of as a teen, it died because funding ceased. Crossing Hedgerows Sanctuary and Farm lives because we are mimicking the environment we are building the sanctuary with: we are playing the long game, adjusting as we need to with regard to the energy and ability of our Board and volunteers.

Of these approaches I think that the approach of Mímisbrunnr Kindred and Crossing Hedgerows are the ones that last the longest and are most enduring because they are wholistically plugged into the members’ lives. They allow for changes in each member’s life while still having identity and direction around which they are oriented, providing guidance over time. They build on the experiences and contributions of each member. Perhaps the biggest weakness of the computer club nonprofit was its necessary reliance on big donors to keep the doors open, and so, those who were relied upon to provide the energy necessary to keep the projects going had no actual community buy-in. They were not part of the communities with direct stake in the projects. Their funding was a philanthropy project, likely more oriented around public relations and tax breaks than anything to do with closing the digital divide, and enabling the ongoing running of computer clubs, robot clubs, and animation clubs.

While far smaller in terms of focus, direction, and impact insofar as greater society is concerned, both Mímisbrunnr Kindred and Crossing Hedgerows have had major impact on their membership and all who come into each. Both of these communities have far outlived the computer club nonprofit. The focus, direction, and impact of these smaller, but tied-in community projects, are ongoing and directly affecting the wider communities they are situated within. Where the computer clubs we touched that were able to survive without us have thrived in different ways, many utterly failed once our support went away.

How do you build community in the modern era? In a variety of ways, and from the ground up its purpose needs to be consistent, shared by its members, and understood well to survive, thrive, and change. Otherwise, it risks being shut down once whatever used to fuel it is spent, whether that is money, people, volunteers, or passion. If you want me to tackle this in more detail, please let me know!

Anxiety

Joy-thief

Devourer of delight

Glad-foe

Curled at the base of my neck

Coiled in my guts

Gnawing at my heart

Remove your fangs, adder!

Let your poison course from me!

Let me be heil, let me be heil, let me be heil!

Ever-hungry

Feeder of fear

Heart-render

Tightening my limbs

Twisting my bones

Hammering my pulse

Stop your thrashing, troll!

Take your teeth off my mind!

Let me know peace, let me know peace, let me know peace!

Love-sapper

Tearer of ties

Mind-killer

Sat in the depths of my chest

Stirring my blood

Stealing my breath

I shatter the stabbing spear!

I take your shot from my souls!

I will be heil, I will be heil, I will be heil!

Patreon Topic 65: On Balancing Having Conversations vs Privacy

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:

“How do you personally balance the desire to have deeper conversations, 301 and above, with the need for both privacy and safety in these conversations? In a practical, “what do you do?” sense?”

Whether or not I choose to share something is based on a few factors. First among them are: is this something I feel safe in divulging? Second, am I cleared by oath, bond, obligation, and my own understanding of appropriateness if this is something I can speak with another person on? Third, is this a person I trust with my privacy and safety? Fourth, does this person have the depth to understand this subject on a 300+ level conversation?

If all of these are answered yes, I then ask more questions to determine whether or not a 300+ level conversation is warranted.

Does the person at hand understand what I am sharing? I mean this in a number of ways.

Intellectually. Do they understand the material(s) at hand? Do they have relevant backround to be informed in a discussion? If they do not, are they interested in learning or exchanging ideas? Will the conversation be stimulating to them?

Emotionally. Can they handle my emotions in sharing? Can they handle their own emotions that may arise in response to my sharing, the conversation, or ideas themselves being discussed? Are there triggers associated with the discussion topic that they cannot handle or will need time to work through? Will the conversation be satisfying for them to have?

Socially. Can they keep the conversation between us? Are they willing to suspend judgment/fixing/other responses unless asked? Do they understand the depth of meaning it holds? Would this person appreciate knowing this information? Is this information they have shown an interest in? Will the conversation deepen our relationship, add depth to it, or give us more areas to speak on?

Religiously. Do they understand the subject itself being discussed within the religion’s view? Are they part of the religion or adjacent to it, and if not, can they hold a respectful conversation on the topic? Do they understand the subject’s implications, and the ideas we are exchanging? Will the conversation be affirming, challenging, or both? Will the conversation add to their/my understanding of the religion(s), spiritual technique(s), etc?

Expertise. Do they or I have expertise and/or knowledge deep enough on the conversation topic to contribute, or is this a one-sided exchange? If it is a one-sided exchange is this one they wish to engage in? If one is teaching the other, does this exchange require Gebo? Is this an initate-only conversation? Does special care taken to avoid speaking on intiatory matters, or other considerations? Can the matter be talked about in enough depth for the conversation to be meaningful while avoiding initation-bound material, ideas, or experiences? Will the conversation deepen one or both of our expertise, or contribute to it in some way?

Gebo. Do you and they desire to have exchanges of ideas, techniques, opinions, experiences, and/or just to have comraderie in the exploration of a topic? Are you and they able to exchange well, in whatever capacity the conversation needs, whether it is 50/50, 10/90, etc? Is the conversation held respectfully, with care for the parties involved, and does it deepen understanding, appreciation, and/or lead to other experiences?

This might seem like a lot of consideration for conversations. Remember the points I raised in On The Need for Deeper Conversations:

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.

If the folks I am looking at having these deeper conversations with are those I feel safe with, trust, and have the relevant expertise/knoweledge/understanding to have the conversation with, generally I will have the conversation. The Heathen Spiritwork Discord I run, which is attached to my Patreon, is an ongoing example of this, especially with our biweekly meetings. We check in, talk about experiences and current projecs, and how things are going with spiritwork. These are folks I am in direct community with, and who have trusted me or trust me now to work with them in spiritual consultation, Rune readings, and the like. The Gebo goes both ways in terms of trust, vulnerability, and conversation.

There are some relationships with Ginnreginn I have that simply are not for public consumption. I have several relationships that I hold quite close to the chest, and have no need to explore with others beyond Them. Sometimes I am still working through the understanding I have of certain vaettir and I am not ready to share. Right now, I can say this about the Álfar. Here is a group of Beings I thought I would not hold much of a relationship with, and thanks to a patron and one of my partners, I am in far more deep with Them than I thought I would be. I am having ongoing interactions, and still experiencing things on my own and with my partner in this area that are still moving things around. Perhaps when things are more settled I will be ready to more publicly talk on them.

When I do find there is something I want to share and the other person is cool with it, then we decide on how and where we want to talk. If the conversation needs to be completely private then face-to-face is best. If the person wants to be able to refer back to the conversation, an app like Zoom, Marco Polo, and the like can be excellent ways to connect. They are among my most common. If privacy isn’t as big a concern or connection is just easier over text, Discord tends to be my choice. Does the conversation need to be public? Then, my first choice tends to be here on WordPress, and more recently, the Pagan.plus Mastodon server.

I hope that answered the question how you were hoping, Maleck!