For Polydeukion on His Festival Day During the Festival of the Trophimoi and Treiskouroi

Again, I want to thank P. Sufenas Virius Lupus for asking me to write this.  This prayer is for Polydeukion, and it was first said before His bust in the Kelsey Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the start of the Festival of the Trophimoi and Treiskouroi at PSVL’s request.

Khairete Polydeukion!
Hero of Herodes, Herodes’ Son,
Youthful One, Watcher of the Baths,
Overseer of Games
Whose eyes shine in blessings,
Whose body is strength and vigor
Whose hands and speech do honor unto the Gods’
Oh Roman Knight!
Most Pious!
Exalted Student!
Let us never forget the Wisdom of Youth.
Let us remember the brightness of intellect is kindled and tended well in the soul, the heart, and the mind of every youth.
Io Polydeukion!

Planting Seeds

In thinking on the last post and the centers Nicholas Haney brought up in God-centric?, is that one of the centers that tends to get left by the wayside in the larger polytheist and Pagan blogs is family, and in specific how we raise our kids in our religions.  It is something that has been on mind for a while.  There’s a host of questions I will tackle here that I hope will generate deeper dialogue in the Pagan and polytheist blogs and communities.  I believe these are really important questions, tied not just to the center of family, but to the health and well-being of all the centers.  Without children, all we have are new converts to sustain the traditions and religions.  In my view, that is a lot of people coming to understand a whole new way of being, whereas kids raised polytheist do not have that learning curve, or the need to decolonize, or remove as much of the dominant culture’s mindset.

Before I get to the questions, however, I think it is important to tackle some of the reasons that I have heard, in person and online, for why people do not raise their children in our religious traditions.  Chief among them is some variation of “I don’t want to force my kid to follow my religion” or “I don’t want to indoctrinate my child.”  I will be honest, these reasons make me want to pull out my hair.  The definition of indoctrination is:

to teach (someone) to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs

Raising our children in our religion(s) is simply not indoctrination.  Teaching them about our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, is not indoctrination.  Unless you are actively denying your child the ability to question concepts and people in the religion, not allowing them to explore the religion, or are actively denying your child’s ability to consider other points of view, you are not indoctrinating your child.  You are, rather, raising your child in the religion.  There is a gulf of difference between teaching a child “This is what the sagas say about Thor and these are my experiences with Him,” or “This is how we worship together as a family,” and “This is the only way to worship Thor” or “Only our way is the true way to worship Thor.”  Now, that is not to say that a given family will not have traditions, taboos specific to them, or certain ways they worship, but to entirely cut a child off from alternative views, and stunts the religious growth of a child.  My taboos are just that: mine.  We do not have taboos on offerings as a family.  What we do have are basic expectations of respect in religious space, how offerings that have been expended are disposed of, regular times for prayer, and guidelines and rules on handling altars, statues of our Gods, and various tools that may be on the altars.  For instance, on our Gods’ altar our son can dispose of the liquid (usually water, but sometimes beer or mead) offerings we make to Them.  He does not touch the offerings to Gods he does not have an active relationship with. Sylverleaf makes regular offerings to Frigga on this altar that our son is not to touch, as that is between her and Frigga.  He is not allowed to touch the swords or the hammer  on the altar without permission and an adult present.

How do we bring children into our religions?  Is it from birth?  If not from birth, when do they begin to learn, and what can they learn at what age?  How do we help our children understand religious phenomena?  If one has a very active religious life, how does one relate to a child that simply does not?  Vice versa?

The answers I have to these questions are lived by our son.  We brought our son into our religion by doing a baby blessing as soon as he was born, asking the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits to watch over him.  He was there as we prayed at our altar when we first brought him home, and has been raised with us praying and making offerings ever since.  Had we waited we would probably have started teaching him about our religion around age 3-5.  He has been raised with the prayers we make before he goes to school and before he goes to bed, and at each and every meal.  He is living polytheism.  He has been raised with a Dad who takes time out to explain religious concepts on his level, and who is not shy about being very blunt that “the Runes ask for blood in Gebo, and this is something you are not ready for yet, if you ever do pick Them up.”  He knows that if and when he does, it will be his choice and he will be able to make it on his own.

I firmly believe in raising children in our religions.  Without our children learning our religion, and co-religionists teaching their religion, there is no way for the religions to continue.  Teaching kids only a little bit about the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, and not making daily prayers, devotion, etc. is giving a little soil to the seed and expecting a tree to grow to its full height.  Not teaching one’s children at all about the Gods is denying soil to a tree entirely.  Without a firm grounding in religion, the soil is loose and is blown away in the wind, or swept aside in the rain.  If we desire good religious communities that will last beyond us, we need to raise the children in our communities.  Indeed, we must do far better by them than has been done by us.

So how do I relate to our son when I have a very active religious life?  Some of the explanations we work with him on are helped along because we have taught our son how to interpret the Holy Powers’ messages, whether he has a reading done, asks Them to work with him through his intuition, or look for omens.  A good chunk of this work has been to encourage him to trust his intuition, to admit when his signal clarity is not where it needs to be, and to ask for help when he needs it.  He is encouraged to admit when he does not know.  We regularly talk on our religion, on the religious work I do, how it feels, and how it affects me.  I bring my son along when I do certain religious work, such as tending the graveyards I have been called to do, teaching him how to respectfully make offerings at the gate, to ask permission from the Dead before tending Their graves, and why we leave offerings of tobacco, or why I blow smoke on graves when I smoke a pipe as we clean.

The biggest link between all the religious work I do, and explaining it to our son, and in some cases involving our son, is the concept of Gebo: gift-for-a-gift.  Reciprocity.  That word opens up the larger world of animism and polytheism because it places us not at the center, but in relationships with all things, all Beings.  It is why we leave or make offerings to the Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, landvaettir, housevaettir, and so on.  It is that recognition and/or fulfillment of reciprocity.  It is sometimes asking for help, which may be a form of reciprocity in and of itself.  Bringing our son to rituals, performing them with him, helping him develop as a polytheist, in and of itself is a form of reciprocity with our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, as it ensures that the religion, and the Gebo engendered between the Holy Powers and ourselves, and our communities does not die with us.  It allows us to pass on the maegen and hamingja of these relationships between our communities, and the generations that follow on with, and after us.

Helping our children develop their own understanding of the Gods, their intuition, and communication with Them is, to us, part and parcel of raising a child in a polytheist home.  It is the hope that when they raise their own family they will have a well-developed understanding of how to understand the Gods even if they never engage in ecstatic spiritual techniques or do trance work.  Sylverleaf, for instance, does not do much in the way of ecstatic work at all.  It is simply not a part of her religious life.  A simple divination technique she uses when she asks Frigga questions is to hold two of Her sacred keys in her hands, and the hand which is heavier is the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  If there are more complex questions she may ask me to read the Runes.  If she needs to get answers from her Ancestors, she may work with an oracle deck dedicated to Them.  Having two very different parents in this regard gives our son more models of polytheist life to understand, recognize, and live himself.  Raising our children as polytheists, then, is more than simply teaching and explaining.  It is modeling good Gebo, and the ways we do things by actively living in relationship with our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir.  We are living examples to our children.

What age should we bring our children into animism or polytheism?  It is my belief that it is never too early nor too late to begin a lived animist/polytheist life.  Regardless of our age or the age of our children, sharing our religion is an important bond that we share between our communities, our families, and our generations.  It is the lattice-work that makes a strong bridge between the Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and one another.

In speaking with Sylverleaf on this, she has said it has been far harder for her to keep with regular prayers and offerings in contrast to me because she was raised in a largely non-religious household.  Lacking a background in any religion made it that much harder for her when she did find the Gods and became a Pagan, as she had no models to follow except those in books, and no community to speak of for quite a long time.  Living a religion does have a learning curve, and she hit this hard because until we met she did not have regular time for prayer, any rote prayers to draw upon, or regular times for making offerings.  In talking this over coffee and pancakes, it hit me that she was denied a lot of things that I took for granted in my religious studies as a child.  For one, pondering the nature of God was probably something very hard to tackle in a home that either did not think much on God or thought the subject of God was a non-starter where conversation was concerned.  I was able to talk with priests who were more than happy to answer whatever questions I threw at them, digging into the meat of theology with me and explaining as best they could their understanding of Scripture, the nature of God, and where we fit into the Catholic cosmology.  That grounding is absent when religion is not lived.  The hunger of curiosity cannot be sated when the entire subject of religion is off the table.  It also cannot be sated when the religious community one belongs to has a piss-poor grounding in its own theology, as she discovered her youth ministers had, during the short time she attended a church.  This is why our children need not only parents grounded in good relationships with their Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, but communities, and their leaders, priests, spiritual specialists, etc. need this too.  We cannot support the centers of our communities without them all doing the necessary work of living the religion.

Cleansing and Changing the Altars and Shrines for Yule

Continuing the series of posts on altars and shrines, we come to how our shrines look like now, just before Yule.  The altars and shrines are more than just a place to leave offerings; these are places where we can devote ourselves wholly and fully to worship, to good relationships.  In my own case I am doing my best to make sure I spend at least 10 minutes a day with my Ancestors.  Much of the family’s altar and shrine times are when we pray.  Our lives are hectic, and our schedules are up and down.  In my own case I work midnight shifts and Sylverleaf morning and evening shifts, and our son goes to school.  These altars and shrines give us places, even for a few moments, to slow down, remember our blessings, pray, and give offerings for all we have.

These altars and shrines, as I have mentioned, change throughout the year.  Much of the decorations, and the altars and shrines themselves were gifts or bought from thrift stores and garage sales.  The cloths come from our local JoAnn Fabrics when we cannot find the right colors/patterns in thrift stores.  There’s nothing saying you cannot buy good/expensive things for your altars or shrines any more than cheap.  We take care in selecting what goes on our altars and shrines, regardless of where it comes from.  We listen to the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits for what They want on our altars and shrines, what offerings They want, and so on.  What matters, in the end, is the care you put into crafting your altars and shrines.

Cleaning and Preparing Altars and Shrines

What also matters is the prep work done before making an altar or shrine, and/or when transitioning between set up and take down.  When we make a new shrine we first clean the area, vacuuming, dusting, the works.  We then will clean the shrine inside (if there is an inside) and out physically with water and soap, if needed.  We will then cleanse the altar or shrine with blessed water and/or Florida Water, and may use this water in lieu of soap and water, using fresh towels when needed.  Whenever we transition the altars and shrines, we clean all their cloths.  We also clean any new cloths prior to their use.  While those are in the washer and then dryer, we will clean every piece of the altars and shrines that we can, bathing the statues, if we can, and scrubbing everything that can be scrubbed clean with fresh towels.  We then dry with fresh towels, and they usually wait on my bed until the cloths are ready.

When the cloths are ready and we have all the items we need for the shrine, we will take some time and ask the Gods, Ancestors, and/or spirits for whom the altar/shrine will be made, what color altar cloth They would like.  We usually do this well ahead of time for new shrines, but with transitions between seasons and/or cleanings, we will not know until we the cloths are clean.  When we have an answer, or if we are left by Them to suss that out, we will lay the selected cloth on the surface and adjust until it looks/feels right.  Then we decorate the altar, first with the direct representations of the altar or shrine itself, such as the Gods for the Gods’ altar, the Ancestor for Their shrine, and so on.  We generally start in the middle and work our way out, so the main Gods with whom we work are in the center of the altar and those who we give honor to are on the outside.  This does not always follow, though, as sometimes Gods we have had long relationships with, such as Sunna and Mani below, end up outside of the granite tile and on one of the sides of the Gods’ altar.

The Gods’ Altar

At this time of year since our families are coming together we put our Gods together on the Gods’ altar by families wherever we could.  So Odin and Frigga are together, Brigid and Bres, Mani and Sunna, Freyr, and Freya, and so on.  The green altar cloth was laid down in reflection of the evergreens.  The Gods our family actively worships are in the center, with many Gods whom we have connections to have prayer cards, such as Sekhmet and Hermes below the two paintings of the Valkyries.  On the opposite side is a sword I received at this last year’s Renfaire from a Michigan-based blacksmith.  The glass crystal chalice was a gift from a dear friend, someone I count as a Sister. In the corner are my journey staff, a sword I’ve had for about 7 years I used in evocation work, and a spear I received as a gift from a dear, old friend for work I did with him.

The Gods' Altar Yule 2013 Pre-decoratiion

The Gods’ Altar Yule 2013 Pre-decoratiion

The Prayer Pillow for the Gods' Altar Yule 2013.

The Prayer Pillow for the Gods’ Altar Yule 2013.

The Gods' Altar for Yule 2013.

The Gods’ Altar for Yule 2013.

The left side of the Gods' Altar Yule 2013.  On top are the two Valkyries.  To Their left are Odin with His offering bowl.  To His Right are Frigga's Keys.  Below the Keys are two Brigid's Crosses representing Brigid and Bres.  To Their right is Mjolnir, Thor's Hammer.  Two of the four prayer cards are Sekhmet's,  Mani and Hermes prayer cards are to the right beside Them.  Sunna's symbols, a golden coin surrounded by four metal suns, are placed next to Her Brother Mani.

The left side of the Gods’ Altar Yule 2013. On top are the two Valkyries. To Their left are Odin with His offering bowl. To His Right are Frigga’s Keys. Below the Keys are two Brigid’s Crosses representing Brigid and Bres. To Their right is Mjolnir, Thor’s Hammer. Two of the four prayer cards are Sekhmet’s, Mani and Hermes prayer cards are to the right beside Them. Sunna’s symbols, a golden coin surrounded by four metal suns, are placed next to Her Brother Mani.

Right side of the Gods' Altar Yule 2013.  A sword, whose study I dedicate to Odin, is waiting for its scabbard.  To its left is the drinking horn.  Behind the offering chalice is the Negative Confession.  To the left is Freya.  Left of Her is Bast and Anubis.  Before Them is Freyr as the Green Man.  The Earth Goddess represent Nerthus and Jord on this altar.

Right side of the Gods’ Altar Yule 2013. A sword, whose use and study I dedicate to Odin, is waiting for its scabbard. To its left is the drinking horn. Behind the offering chalice is the Negative Confession. To the left is Freya. Left of Her is Bast and Anubis. Before Them is Freyr as the Green Man. The Earth Goddess represent Nerthus and Jord on this altar.

The Disir’s and Väter’s Shrine

This shrine is relatively new.  This was made in the Fall after we picked up the table at a garage sale, and the batik patterned cloths at JoAnn Fabrics.  The batik patterns struck us as being perfect for each set of powerful Ancestors.  The two ceramic pieces we picked up at our local thrift store.  The left part of the shrine is for the Disir, and the right, for the Väter.   The plastic container has my necklace for the Disir, bought from an excellent craftsperson at ConVocation, which broken recently.  The necklace on the left was made by a good friend of mine, made while she meditated on all the men who had an impact on her spirituality.

Disir's and Väter's Yule 2013 shrine pre-decoration.

Disir’s and Väter’s Yule 2013 shrine pre-decoration.

Disir's and Väter's Yule 2013 shrine.

Disir’s and Väter’s Yule 2013 shrine.

The Ancestors’ Shrine

The Elemental Ancestors have spaced out a bit since the last time I took photos.  They now are part of the four pillars of the shrine.  Sometimes the Elements switch places entirely.  At one point Earth and Air were in the front of the altar, and now They are in the back.  This is reflective of the relationships we have with the Elements as with the seasons we are in.  Earth and Air were in the front through the Summer, if memory serves, and come Fall we transitioned to the layout we have now.  This new layout brought with it important additions to the shrine.  The first that was placed on the shrine is the glass insulator my Brother gave to me.  It belonged to his grandmother, and now sits prominently on the shrine.  As with adoption, when I call someone Brother or Sister, and am called a Brother in return, our Ancestors mingle and become part of one another’s lives, part of our family as surely as we are.  With my adoption into the Thunderbird People I placed the Native American bust in the back, given to me a long while ago by my Mom, on the shrine.  Given my own tribemates have similar statuary, one on their own Ancestor shrine, I felt it was about time I did so too.

Ancestor Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

Ancestor Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

Ancestor Shrine Yule 2013

Ancestor Shrine Yule 2013

Ancestor Shrine Yule 2013 Top-down view.

Ancestor Shrine Yule 2013 Top-down view.

The Earthvaettir Shrine

The Earthvaettir Shrine has changed quite a bit.  Ramses II is now on the Warrior Dead shrine, per His request.  The shrine has new offering bowls, part of a set we bought from the local thrift store to replace the bronze ones.  While the bronze bowls would work for dry offerings, they got weird and green with liquid offerings, so we have switched them out for the time being.  The shrine to the Roadside Dead, which has been part of the Earthvaettir shrine for a while now, has a more prominent place.  A moonstone sits at the feet of its incense holder, which our son made.  At its top sits the offering bowl.  Behind it is the cairn, which, as mentioned in the last post, changes position and structure each time the Earthvaettir shrine is cleaned and remade.  In the center of the shrine behind the ceramic offering bowl is the Gebo stone on the left, the Earthvaettir stone on the right, and the large stone in the back is the Landvaettir’s stone.  On the right the Gnome and Dragon of Earth have more prominence, and before Them are the stone we have used in magical work and healing over the years.  At each of the four corners are stones, which change between them and other stones when the shrine is remade, symbolizing the four directions and the Four Dwarves who hold up the sky.

The Earthvaettir Shrine Yule 2013 Pre-decoration.

The Earthvaettir Shrine Yule 2013 Pre-decoration.

Long shot of the Earthvaettir Shrine Yule 2013.

Long shot of the Earthvaettir Shrine Yule 2013.

Left side of the Earthvaettir Shrine Yule 2013.

Left side of the Earthvaettir Shrine Yule 2013.

Right side of the Earthvaettir Shrine Yule 2013.

Right side of the Earthvaettir Shrine Yule 2013.

The Watervaettir Shrine

This is the newest shrine.  The table is a temporary one, given it is a wooden TV table and likes to wobble.  It sits between the two bookshelves on which the Earthvaettir, Housevaettir, and Moneyvaettir shrines sit.  This was almost exclusively made by our son; he insisted we make it one day, and all we did was buy the cloth and gave him a choice of containers for offerings.  The paper image he made at school, and while he has not explained to us what it is, he made it with a friend and told us “It is for the water spirits.”  While he is involved almost every time we clean and set up altars and shrines, this is the first he has made by himself.  We are very proud of him.

The Watervaettir Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

The Watervaettir Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

The Watervaettir Shrine Yule 2013.

The Watervaettir Shrine Yule 2013.

The Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Shrines

These two shrines have not changed much at all.  The Housevaettir now rests atop a woodburnt Ægishjálmur that I made here at home.  The Moneyvaettir Shrine has more shell and coins added to it, and some taken from it.  The coin jar has sheaves of coin holders in it, with the idea of ‘we hope to fill these’ and ‘we have a place for you’ in mind.  There was a point in the Fall where we emptied the coin jar of a good deal of coins to help pay for things.  That adding and taking from the coins is part of a good relationship with Moneyvaettir; sometimes you have a lot and sometimes you do not.  Every time we’ve needed coins on hand They have been there for us.

Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

Long view of the Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Yule 2013.

Long view of the Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Yule 2013.

Left side of the Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Yule 2013.

Left side of the Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Yule 2013.

Right side of the Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Yule 2013.

Right side of the Housevaettir and Moneyvaettir Yule 2013.

The Dead Shrine

This is a shrine that I set up this year as a priest of Anpu.  My work with the Dead as His priest had a long break, about 4 years.  When I started to do prayers for the Ancestors of my House, House Sankofa, I also felt called back to offerings prayers for the Dead, especially the lost Dead.  I was pushed by Anpu to go back to the work of helping lost Dead and whoever comes to the shrine cross to where They need to go, with His help.  The shrine has four candle holders around a censer in the middle.  The four fires are there to cast light and warmth to the four directions, inviting the Dead, and the censer as a gathering place where They can smell the sweet fragrances and be comforted by the frankincense, myrrh, and other offerings left there.  Anpu’s image is above His wand, which I use for Opening and Closing the Door every Sunday in the work.  There is a bowl of water below the censer to quench the Dead’s thirst, and a place for more incense and other offerings to the left.  On the right is a bell that I use in the weekly work to soothe the Dead, and call to those who wander.

The Dead Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

The Dead Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

Long view of The Dead Altar Yule 2013.

Long view of The Dead Altar Yule 2013.

Top-down view of The Dead Altar Yule 2013.

Top-down view of The Dead Altar Yule 2013.

The Warrior Dead Shrine

The Warrior Dead Shrine now has Ramses II on it in the back of the shrine with a stone star above His head.  The altar cloth is now white, and the placement of its items have been switched around a bit.  The last of the Ezra Brook is now in the flask, and the offering liquor is now Lauder’s Blended Scotch Whiskey.  The formerly white ceramic offering bowl now is stained with the offerings I have given despite my best attempts to get it back to white.  Given the candle-pot was both unwieldy and I could not light a candle in it, it was moved off of the altar.  The Warrior Dead did not seem all that attached to it, as it was.  The shrine is closer together and simpler, but feels better overall, and Ramses II has settled in well here.

The Warrior Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

The Warrior Shrine Yule 2013 pre-decoration.

The Warrior Shrine Yule 2013.

The Warrior Shrine Yule 2013.

Side view of The Warrior Shrine Yule 2013.

Side view of The Warrior Shrine Yule 2013.

Animal Spirits Shrine

Only the placement of things has changed on this shrine, but I thought it would be good for people to see how things can change even on altars that don’t change all that much throughout the year.  Aside from dusting on occasion, and cleaning Them as needed, the animal spirits prefer I not change out the altar cloth.

Long view of the Animal Spirits' Altar Yule 2013.

Long view of the Animal Spirits’ Altar Yule 2013.

Left view of Animal Spirits Shrine Yule 2013.  The left bone on the far right and the horns are a male buffalo nose bone.  To the right of the nose bone is a deer leg bone.  The black stone has a seal in it.  To its left is Turtle, Dragon, and Snake stone sculptures.  The snake skin in the jar is a gift from good friends.  The eagle bone ring and feathers both were gifts from good friends.

Left view of Animal Spirits Shrine Yule 2013. The left bone on the far right and the horns are a male buffalo nose bone. To the right of the nose bone is a deer leg bone. The black stone has a seal in it. To its left is Turtle, Dragon, and Snake stone sculptures. The snake skin in the jar is a gift from good friends. The eagle bone ring and feathers both were gifts from good friends.

Center of the Animal Spirits Shrine Yule 2013.  All of the statuary were gifts from my Mom, the wolf fur and bones from Shin Cynikos, and the mushroom from a former girlfriend.  The Raven stone I bought from Earthlore in Plymouth, MI.
Center of the Animal Spirits Shrine Yule 2013. All of the statuary were gifts from my Mom, the wolf fur and bones from Shin Cynikos, and the mushroom from a former girlfriend. The Raven stone I bought from Earthlore in Plymouth, MI.

Right side of the Animal Spirits Shrine Yule 2013.  The rightmost bones are male buffalo bones from the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve.  The two stone animals are a cat and pig, sacred animals to our Gods, and as spirits Themselves.

Right side of the Animal Spirits Shrine Yule 2013. The rightmost bones and fur are from male buffalo from the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve. The two stone animals are a cat and pig, sacred animals to our Gods, and as spirits Themselves.

Runevaettir Altar

The Runevaettir altar has not changed all that much.  It now has many Rune mandalas made with ink on paper, and holds the communion talisman, one of two I made for the 30 Days of Magic Talisman Challenge put on by Andrieh Vitimus.  The offering bowl now is in the back left corner where it can sit without blocking the mandalas when I use them or make another.

Runevaettir Altar Yule 2013.

Runevaettir Altar Yule 2013.

Come the Spring I will need to take photos and write about shrines we keep outside, since at least one of them cannot be seen well right now.  These shrines include the shrine to Hela and Niðhogg, the Landvaettir’s outdoor shrine, and the Air spirits.

A Simple Morning Prayer with my Son

There are plenty of ways to bring the Gods into our everyday life.  When my son and I wait for the bus we say a morning prayer.  It’s short, simple, and direct: we thank Sunna for the Sun’s light that it provides for the new day, and sometimes our warmth and/or the growth of our food, and Daeg for a new day.

First we face the East.

This is the prayer:

“Hail Sunna, Goddess of the Sun.

Hail Daeg, God of the Day.

Thank you for a new day.

Thank you for a fresh start.

Thank you, Sunna, for the warmth of the Sun.

Thank you, Daeg, for the promise of a new beginning.

Hail Sunna!  Hail Daeg!

Blessed be, and ves ðu heil!”

Then we salute with our hands pressed together at our forehead, and then bowing, with our hands over our hearts and/or solar plexus.  That’s it.  Well, we might play or tease each other, but it is a good way to get our day started.  Even if we both had a rotten morning we tend to feel a bit better if not refreshed.  He goes off to school with a prayer on his lips and primed for a good day.  I get to see my son off on the bus, and wave to him as he leaves, going to the same school I once did.  The blessings of the Gods are many, and the joy of seeing him off smiling is one I treasure.

Question 5: Relationships and Being a Godatheow

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 2: Prayers, Rituals and My Son

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


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.

Sigyn Project: Day 15

May I always be thankful, Gentle Lady

That I can hold my son

Tell him “I love you”

and hold him close


May I always be thankful, Holy Goddess

That I can watch my son

Tell him “I love you”

and watch him grow


May I always be thankful, Gracious One

That I can help my son

Tell him “I love you”

and be his proud father


May I always be thankful, Blessed Sigyn

That I can teach my son

Tell him “I love you”

and always be with him

Loki Project Day 17

I was thinking on how Loki is a shapeshifter today, and tried for a while to write a poem and nothing would come.  Then, as I sat back, I breathed in and heard a drum, and bam! inspiration!  A drum-song for Loki, calling on Him as the Shapeshifter, asking Him to guide me in shapeshifting.


O Holy One,

Set a Fire in my heart

That my skin might melt

Flowing between forms


Verse 1

Holy Mare

Mother of Sleipnir

Teach me the ways of Horse




Verse 2

Holy Salmon

Swimmer of Waters

Teach me the ways of Fish




Verse 3

Holy Seal

Hunter in the Water

Teach me the way of Seal



Verse 4

Holy Fly

Buzzer in the Air

Teach me the way of Insects




Verse 5

Holy One

Fire and Flesh

Teach me the way to change my human form