Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 69: For Angrboða

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 Angrboða.

Great Wolf, I hail You

Ferocious and mauling-mouthed Mother

Who leads the Ironwood with care

Taufr-strong, I hail You

Calculating and megin-mighty Magician

Who keeps Her loved ones safe

Bloodhand, I hail You

Sacrificer and woe-wielding Witch

Who knows the secret Ways

Motherwort, I hail You

Leader and hale-whole Healer

Who mends Her peoples’ wounds

Gyðja, I hail You

Leader and hamingja-holding Host

Who guides Her peoples well

Angrbóða, I hail You

Angrbóða, I hail You

Angrbóða, I hail You

Ves þu heil

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!

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 68: For Feasting

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 Feasting.

Thank You Gods and Goddesses

Thank You Auðumla*

Thank You Gulinkambi*

Thank You Gullinbursti*

Thank You Heiðrun*

Thank You vaettir

Thank You farmer and field

Thank You animals and plants

Thank You landvaettir

Thank You Ancestors

Thank You to those who gather here together

Thank You to those who have gathered, cooked, and share this meal

Thank You for your heart, your work, and your presence here

We gather here in frið today

We gather in respect for guest and host alike

We gather in sacred feast

May each of us be nourished

May each of us who wishes to be heard, seen, and known be so

May each of us leave in frið

The first of the meal is for the Ginnreginn

The first of the drink is for the Ginnreginn

The first of the good words is for the Ginnreginn:

May each of You be held in good Gebo, Ginnreginn

May each of You be respected and honored

May each of You be full of joy at this feast

Ves þu heil!

Let the feast begin!

*If the animal is present in the meal, whether the animal’s meat itself or products produced from the animal such as cheese, butter, or lard. Where a suitable animal name is not known from the sources, a close equivalent is used. When we eat turkey we tend to pray to Gullinkambi. If another animal were found, given, or revealed to us as more appropriate we would pray to Them.

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 67: For Safe Travels

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 Safe Travels.

Blessed Earth and blessed ground

Walking beneath my feet

Rolling beneath my tires

Hold me up, hold me up

Bless my journey

Blessed vaettir all around

Walking with me

Journeying around me

Know me, oh know me

Blessing each others’ ways

Blessed Gods of traveling

Watching me

Guiding me

Help me, oh help me

Safely finding my way

Blessed Ancestors who wandered

Wandering with me

Protecting me

Guide me, oh guide me

Coming home in joy

Blessed walkers and road-wise

Crossing paths with me

Seeing me

Speak with me, oh speak with me

Sharing wisdom and stories

Blessed keepers and sentinels

Guarding the roads and passages

Watching me

Sheltering me

Bless me, oh bless me

Securing the journey I make

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 66: For The Pack

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 Pack.

We are countless billions of voices

Canidae, Wolf, Dog

Jackal, Coyote, Fox

Pup, Juvenile, Adult

We are the Ones who found your first Fires

Our first shared Ancestors

We are the proud guard and misshapen pets

We are the ‘yotes living on the fringes and dark places of your cities

We are the haunters of graves and crossroads

We are the salvation of humanity and we are its outstretched hands

We are feared and beloved

We are hunters and warriors

We are carriers and seekers

We are predator and sentinel of prey

We are the snapping jaws

We are the slathering tongues

We are the steady paws

We are the howling maw

We are Magic

We are of the Wild Hunt

We are beloved of Gods

We are Gods

We are Ancestors

We are Spirits

We are Ancient and New

We are Many and Whole

We ARE The Pack

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 64: For Garm

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 Josie for Garm.

Your bloodied muzzle moves before Gnipahellir

Cleaning the faces of the fallen

Who pass the Helgrindr

Great Wolf Who Guards the Gate

Whose Tongue cleanses and comforts

The newly-arrived Dead

You lead the good Ancestors to the Gjallarbrú

To greet Their seeking scions

Who wait outside

You herd the harmful Dead back to Hel

Éljúðnir welcomes the wanderers

Whose hearthfires glow warmly

Hail to You Garm, Worthiest of Wolves

Praise and gifts to You, Holy Hound

Hel’s beloved companion!

Patreon Topic 63: On Being a Teacher in the Community

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

From Maleck comes this topic:

“What’s it like being a teacher in the community?”

It depends on the subject at hand, if I am teaching students or peers, and who the larger audience receiving the information may be. Whether it is here on the blog through topics, at conventions like ConVocation, MI Paganfest, or Ann Arbor Pagan Pride Day teaching through workshops, or direct teaching, I generally find teaching a rewarding and powerful experience. There are few things as gratifying as getting a good question from someone who has real engagement in the subject, or a question or comment that makes you sit back, go “huh” and plumb your own knowledge or the crowd’s for an answer. I enjoy teaching, and I enjoy the opportunity to learn while doing it, and to share what I learn wrapped up in that.

When I do workshops, I find that I tend to have a really good time because the folks that come to them want to learn, and/or have a good grasp of the subject and want to compare notes. That was definitely my experience at the recent Ann Arbor Pagan Pride Day September 10th, for both my Basics of Heathen Magic and Polytheism 101 workshops. Folks who turned out for them had really excellent questions, solid engagement, and abiding interest in the topic at hand.

I would say a good chunk of what is challenging about being a teacher in the Heathen communities has nothing to do immediately with my students, peers, or folks that come to learn from me. Rather, it is the overall cultural currents we swim in, both in terms of the overculture and that of the general Heathen communities, that makes the work of being a teacher so hard. On the one hand folks want to be taught and to have spiritual experts available, and on the other, there is not a lot of support for us doing that work in a reliable way. Many Pagan communities eschew paying folks for their work, whether that work is divination, teaching, developing training materials, etc, yet the demand is still there for that work.

The need for teachers becomes fairly obvious in the dialogue that still happens around concepts like orthodoxy and orthopraxy, terms that describe right thought and right action. Often, because of how terms like orthodoxy are used and weaponized in Christian theology and communities, Pagan and polytheist folks tend to have reactions against the use of the term. I have also seen similar reactions to direct translations of the term, eg right relationship. Some of these objections are based in the notion that someone is trying to mediate their relationship with the Ginnreginn, and some are based in a rejection of anything that smacks of authority. Because of these prevailing views in the polytheist and Pagan communities, it makes deeper discussion of these concepts harder, if not impossible. I have found that presenting these as the neutral, descriptive terms that they are, as opposed to the often prescriptivist way they are used in Christian theology and communities, is a good counteractive to this. That requires us to be open to education, to communicating well, to deconstructing Christian theology and use of terms, and no small amount of patience.

Much of the reason for the two workshops I put on for Ann Arbor Pagan Pride is not only because those subjects are really useful in the context of being part of a Pagan Pride event, being 101 workshops, but because the sources we do have for solid historically-based information, especially with regard to modern and updated texts, are expensive and difficult to parse at times. Even in more approachable texts, like Dr. Price’s The Viking Way, they tend to be dense/hard to get through, and terms need to be broken down and made meaningful for a modern Heathen context. The meaningfulness here not only needs to be meaningful in regards to being able to be understood in a Heathen context, it also needs to be able to be applied to Heathen practice.

For an example of this, from Price:

“Besides the magic used by Óðinn, we also find the fifth category of ‘general’ sorcery. One aspect of this has a vocabulary of terms that appear to mean simply ‘magic’ in the same vague sense as we use the word today. The most common of these was fjolkyngi, which seems to have been especially well-used. In the Old Norse sources we also find fróðleikr, and slightly later, trolldómr (cf. Raudvere 2001: 88ff). The latter concept became increasingly common through the Middle Ages, and together with galdr it continued as one of the generic words for ‘witchcraft’ long into post-medieval times (see Hastrup 1987: 331–6 for Icelandic terminologies of magic during this period). There were also other terms which were used as collectives. These include gerningar, ljóð and taufr – all apparently kinds of chant or charm – and the complexities of runic lore as set out in Eddic poems such as Sigrdrífomál and Rígsþula. Another group of terms refers to various forms of unspecified magical knowledge, and include affixes implying this on the part of people or supernatural beings. Thus we find vísenda-, kúnatta- and similar words used for ‘those who know’, a relatively common perception of sorcerous power that occurs in many cultures.” (Price 33)

“The fabric of religious belief and practice in Viking-Age Scandinavia can be seen to have been nuanced, multi-scalar and far from static, with a degree of regional variation and change over time.” (Price 33)

I had to break down these terms and suggest ways we may use them in a modern Heathen context. In this way we continue to change the fabric of religious belief, nuance, and the application of these terms in a descriptive rather than prescriptive way for ourselves in our own time. For instance, while I often combine galdr (I tie this into singing/intoning the Runes) with the formation of taufr (physical charms) and other forms of magic techniques such as gerningar (chanting, sometimes mumbled under the breath) and ljóð (chanting or incantation which I interpret as being in verse, whether alliterative or rhyming), each stands on their own as a magical technique in its own right. Clearly definining and then applying these terms gives us a wider array of words, and in doing so, ways, of understanding magic.

Keep in mind these workshops are just at the 101 level. Being a teacher in the communities I am part of requires a recognition that folks are at wherever they are at when we come together. Some will have an excellent grounding in exoteric and esoteric Heathenry, whereas some will have a poor grounding in the exoteric parts of the religion, and others will have a poor grounding in esoteric religion. Sometimes folks will just be inexperienced with polytheist religion in general, or not have a good grounding in either exoteric or esoteric Heathenry. Having a mix of exoteric and esoteric practice in and of itself would not be at issue if it were grounded firmly in the Heathen worldview, experience, and understanding. So, I have to establish where we are. I often do this in my 101 workshops by starting off defining terms so we have a foundation to build conversation on. Unless we make these firm foundations deeper conversations are almost impossible to have. Once we have a shared language around the subject we can dig into it.

Part of the work of being a teacher is to ensure, as much as I can, that those I teach have a firm grounding in the material and its meaning. So long as folks are coming into our various polytheist and Pagan communities with these ideas grounded in worldviews other than our own this basic education will be necessary. To be clear: A lot of this I do not have to explain to my kids, who are second generation Heathens. It is a part of how they live their lives. This education is, by and large, necessary for those who were not raised in the religion.

Some of the reason for that lack of need to educate them is that my kids are only practicing exoteric Heathenry. My oldest has not expressed interest in learning esoteric practices, and my youngest is way too young to learn at the moment. Gods help me, though, she loves the Runes. When we go to have breakfast, she often picks ‘coffee Runes’ from my arms (I have tattoos on my forearms displaying all the Runes) that she has me ‘takes off’ my arm, puts them into my coffee, and than has me galdr the Rune. Then, I drink the coffee. It’s a fun way to share the Runes with her and empower myself for a full day. What esoteric practices my kids have learned are immediately applicable to exoteric practice and everyday life, namely cleansing by deep breathing. They have learned prayers and proper respect to show with the hearth, Sacred Fires, and other places the exoteric and esoteric tend to cross.

Teaching a workshop or even over the course of a weekend is one thing, but teaching folks in an ongoing way is a lot different. My Kindred started as a Rune study group, and eventually transormed into a Heathe Kindred, Mimisbrunnr Kindred, over about a year or two. Some folks from here asked for training in different areas, and delved into spirtwork in their own ways. Just being available has been a good part of my work with one-on-one work. Being available to answer questions, guide, or ask questions to help folks find their own answers, it is less the way we think of teaching in terms of a professor and student and more of a “I’ve walked this path and I’m here to help guide”.

Being a teacher, I get invited to help folks with their journey wherever they are when they come forward. Seeing folks really dig into their religion, whatever their experience with it, and getting to understand how it works and where they are within it is a gratifying thing. If I happen to get to help along that journey, if I can make a material impact on how they learn, what they learn, and make that easier or more involved or both, so much the better. The reason I teach is because the Ginnreginn call me to do it. On its own that is enough. What makes my work all the more gratifying is being able to see the folks I teach make progress as part of taking a workshop, watching a video, or asking me questions through email or Discord. Sometimes I have had folks come back to me a few weeks, months, or in some cases, years later, and share some of the absolutely amazing things they were able to do because of the time we shared. It really is an honor to do this work.

I have tried writing more on this but not much more is coming forward right now, so if you or other readers have more specific questions down this line please ask them!

Hail Dísir!

The Blessed Women

Who guard and guide the lines

Of blood, adoption, spirit, lineage, intiation

Blessed Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives, Aunts, Grandmothers

Blessed Childbearers and Childless

Goddesses and family Nornir

Embla in Her might

Jörðmoðir beneath our feet and all around us, Miðgarðr Herself

Vísendakonur, Vitkar, Vólur, Seiðkonur, Spáknour, Reginnkonur

Bless us! Teach us! Walk with us!

Gyðjar, teach us to lead!

Læknar, teach us to heal!

Drengir, teach us to fight!

Eldrvórðr, teach us to tend!

Vísendakonur, teach us to learn!

Hail Dísir, Who organize the Ancestors!

Hail Dísir, Who bring magic and blessings!

Hail Dísir, Who ever walk with us!

Hail Dísir!

Hail Dísir!

Hail Dísir!

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 63: For Prey, Partners in the Great Cycle

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 Prey, Partners in the Great Cycle.

The grass guides Us

Waving in the cooling air

Strands of hair we shave down with soft bites

Chewing, chewing, chewing

We have walked ahead

Far behind you lope

Wind hides your scent with wary steps

Padding, padding, padding

No sign betrays you

The hunt is on

Fear grips the herd with furious panic

Running, running, running

One stumbles down

The Pack descends

Death brings life in dragging bites

Eating, eating, eating

This is the Cycle

Each balances the other

Prey eats of the Earth, Pack of Us

Dancing, dancing, dancing