The mead brews
Little bubbles flow up
The honey-water froths
A month and Yuletide
A gift to loved ones
A raised glass
A raised horn
Cheer and warmth in Winter
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.
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!
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.
I want to thank P. Sufenas Virius Lupus for asking me to write this and the prayer that is forthcoming for Polydeukion. While I do not actively worship either of these Holy Powers as of yet, it has given me a new window into how we can cross between our religious communities, come to understand one another’s Gods, Heroes, Ancestors, and spirits, and give good honor to Them and one another. This, this is an aspect of interfaith/intrafaith work that any polytheist can come to. Thank you Sannion, for helping to inspire this exchange! I invite any of my readers who wish to do this as well, especially if you wish to share devotional cycles with one another, even if we are coming at this from completely different pantheons, to step through the door and share your devotion with me and I with you. If you do, please, let me know taboos, offerings, and so on that is important to living in good Gebo with your God(s), Heroes, Ancestors, and/or spirits so I do not give offense in offering.
Most-loved of Hadrian,
Whose lips sealed love in an Emperor,
Whose arms took up his care,
Whose feet walked in holiness,
Whose life is exulted in stone and verse,
Whose body sank into Sacred Waters,
Whose soul was lifted in holiness
O Antinous, hear my prayer,
Who is and lives in the House of Osiris
Whose body is clad in green and life
Whose eyes see the Dead,
Whose lips speak love and comfort to the Dead,
Whose arms soothe the Dead,
Whose feet are planted deep in the womb of the World,
May the Dead who loved, who lost, who suffered
May the Dead who were denied their love and joy and lust,
May all find comfort before You in Your Home,
O holy Antinous!
(What set this post off was eating a salmon patty and taking a moment out not only to really enjoy it, but contemplate where it came from, how it got to my table, and for whom I had to thank for the meal.)
Hail to the Nine Undine Goddesses!
Thank you for the bounty of the sea, of life that swims and strains
Thank you for the sweat of fishermen, the strong meat of the oceans
That raise up from the depths and nourish us
Thank you Holy Ones.
Hail to the Gods of the Seas, the Oceans, the Rivers, the Lakes, and the Streams!
Hail to the Gods of the Waters, great and small, known and unknown!
May They ever be hailed!
Hail to the throngs of the ocean!
Hail to the fish, the eel, the shark, the whale, the shrimp, the crab, the lobster
All you who we eat;
All of you who are threatened by our fishing;
All of your who are threatened by our pollution and trash:
Thank you for your lives.
I ask not for your patience; we owe you debts no one human could return.
Perhaps not even a generation can.
Yet we try. We will continue to try.
To do more than simply hail you; to stop the polluting and destruction
Wherever we can.
Hail to our cousins in the Waters; hail to the Watervaettir!
Hail to the fishers
Who risk life and limb to feed us and their families
Or who do the hard work of fisheries
Bless you who brave the waters
Who work the long hours
Who help to feed us
Hail to you!
I was asking around for something to write on, and my friend Rhyd Wildermuth of Paganarch asked me to write on the landvaettir.
Landvaettir are spirits of the land. They can be as large as a whole city, stretch as large as a valley, or be as grand as a mountain. They can be ancient trees and boulders, or small rocks and spots of land. They are the living spirits of the land itself. We share each inch and each moment of our lives with landvaettir. They are in the farms, the wild places, and the cities. They are our homes, and the wide variety of materials that went into them; I call these housevaettir.
I have found that landvaettir can present us with close, intimate interactions, such as through direct messages or omens. These I tend to get around my home and in local parks. Landvaettir may also be distant, barely noticing us or not desiring interaction with humans at all, which I have felt in a city and in a forest. They may also be more subtle than a direct message, such as a feeling of awe and presence that I felt standing on Mount Beacon in New York or standing beside an ancient oak tree on a friend’s property. The landvaettir on a single bit of land may be more or less inclined to interact with humans; on my friend’s land the ancient oak is quite friendly, whereas the old willow is not as much.
Being a good ally and neighbor with the landvaettir is in our best interests. When we live well in and on the land, we live well with the landvaettir, and so, the environment and our lives are better for it. Living well with the landvaettir can be as simple as keeping the land clean of things like harsh chemicals and trash, or more complicated such as the regular offerings I give to the housevaettir. Just as each person’s relationship will be different with a given God, so too with landvaettir. They may more readily like or interact or bless certain people, especially those who live well on Them and live well with Them.
When I enter a city I try to find the central vaettr or vaettir (spirit or spirits respectively) and make an offering. Sometimes it is something small, such as a pinch of tobacco or mugwort, and others a bit of a drink if I visit a local coffee shop. This is not only polite, as a guest within the vaettir’s home, but it also means I am living in conscious awareness that when I walk within the city, I am walking within a vaettr, and that It is as alive as a forest, or my home’s land. There is also a practical side to a good relationship with landvaettir: They can give us a head’s up, even if it is something small like hairs standing up on the back of our neck or a sense of foreboding if we should not go down this street or to that area. I once found myself lost in a city local to me, and after about an hour of wandering, I made an offering of some coffee to the city’s landvaettir. Shortly after I found my way. By opening myself up to a good relationship with the city’s vaettir, and then following through and listening I was able to find my way.
I live in a semi-rural area; the blessings of the landvaettir are not only apparent on the farms I pass, but in our own backyard. The asparagus season has started, and the first week of May many stalks have grown large and tall enough to cut. Before I go to harvest I make a small prayer, saying: “Thank you landvaettir. Thank you Freyr. Thank you for this harvest.” Then I might say “Ves heil!” or “Hail!” before or as I cut. The landvaettir allowed my family to eat well last night, and provided enough that I could eat tonight at work. As I associate the asparagus with Freyr I hail Him as well, for He has blessed the asparagus as the landvaettir have, helping them grow well.
The old maxim of ‘politics is local’ very much applies to my politics in regards to the landvaettir. Because the landvaettir are not given a voice in today’s mainstream society, part of our role as people is to be their voice, advocate, and/or activist. That’s right, everyone that works with the landvaettir signed up to become the Lorax. How could you not? If these vaettir, these partners in our lives, are to perpetuate and grow, and keep on being living ecosystems it is on us to help protect them from ourselves, whether it is picking up trash in a park, keeping chemicals off of our lawns, growing native plants wherever we can, and/or direct action to protect the wild landvaettir. In reshaping our relationship with the land itself as not only ecosystem and habitat, but also a very real relationship with the land as one between us and other very real and present spiritual beings, such a relationship requires action to maintain and grow well.
This relationship extends, when you unfold it, to everyday decisions such as what we purchase, and how we treat the remains of what we buy and consume. When I began living at home again and really working with the landvaettir a few years ago, I began composting all the organic waste that I could in our home. It is amazing how much of it there is, and how it enriches the soil, this loamy black soil, that then helps the plants grow. What is also amazing about it, is how it makes me feel when I take the 5 gallon bucket out to the compost and hail the landvaettir, Niðogg, and Hela. It makes me happy, it makes the landvaettir happy, and it helps my family become more self-sufficient. Now that I have my own vehicle, because of how many animals I see by the side of the road unable to be eaten by carrion eaters, I am preparing to pick up animal carcasses and save and use the hide and bones wherever I can. I am just learning how to do leatherworking and rather than buy from a provider, where I can I would like to produce my own. There are a lot of miles for the leather alone (not to mention the transport, slaughter, and so on of a cow) to come from a distributor like Jo-Ann Fabrics or direct from Tandy just so I can make a bag. Just as the compost heap we have began with a single bucket, so every decision we make to better our relationship with the landvaettir grows.
Living with the landvaettir is not just the giving of offerings or planting native plants, it is the entire mindset in which one approaches Them, the land we live on, and the way in which we live our lives. This is why I mention earlier people who live on the land and people who live with the land. Living with the landvaettir requires us to engage these beings on Their level, physically and spiritually. It is to enter into a living relationship, one in which there may be a push and pull, and one which will definitely require Gebo, gift-for-a-gift. The landvaettir offers Their bounty with the asparagus harvest; what gift can I give Them in kind? How best can I give the gift in return for Their gift of good food? When my ability to live comes out of the ground, for both water and food (we have a well system) what gifts can I give in return for all that sustains my life? If I were only living well on the land these questions would be straightforward and practical, such as taking care of the soil, using natural means of pest control, keeping the water clean, etc. Since I am living with the landvaettir these points still matter, and carry additional meaning and spiritual weight. I also have to consider, in living with the landvaettir, what They want. So far They are happy with the composting, the prayers, and the offerings we leave by Their trees. They may have more requirements in the future, and in maintaining a good relationship with Them we will do our best to meet Them. After all, we are guests on what has been and always will be Theirs, and Them.
We belong to the landvaettir rather than They belong to us. They are the Beings by whose bodies and partnership we are able to eat, breathe, drink, shelter ourselves, and live well. We live upon Them and within Them; Their bodies are the means by which we clothe ourselves and build our homes. Their spirits resonate all around us, whether from beneath our feet from the carpet, concrete or dirt, the wind in the willows, the pages of a book, or the plastics and metals that form your computer or mobile device and allow you to see this post.
In understanding this, we can understand too, that we are Ancestors in the making, as well as landvaettir in the making. The lich (the body) is a part of our soul, and it stays behind while other parts of the soul matrix move on. Our body then becomes part of the land, wherever it eventually ends up. What land we become part of, how we become part of that land, what we do to that land when we become part of it should be something we think about. When we die we become embodied in the land we are put on and/or within.
Becoming one with the landvaettir is unavoidable; how we live and if we die well with Them is up to us.
On days like today I make prayers and offerings not only to the Sons and Daughters of Muspelheim, but the Sons and Daughters of Nifelheim. I smoke to the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits to keep me safe as I go to work. To keep me on the road. To keep me safe from harm. For the snow to be gentle with me, to work with my car. I smoke for my car, that it carries me well, and gets me safely to my destination.
This is where my metaphoric rubber meets the road. When I engage with the world I engage with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits. There is no, can be no separation. If there was, then the cold Ice around me as I walk to my car would not touch me nor inspire equal worship to the Fire I cradle in my hand as I light my pipe when inside it. If there was truly separation the cold could not touch me in heart, or body, inspiring words that praise the pristine beauty and fierce bite, and the heat would not inspire words or prayer to praise the warmth in my hands or the small flame I put to tobacco to say my prayers. There can be no separation because the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits are all around me.
Yes, even in something so mundane as starting my car there are spirits: the spirit of my car, the spirits of all those that fill its tank, the spirit of Fire that makes the engine go, the spirits of Earth that form the car, the spirits of Water that lubricate the car, the spirits of animals whose bodies line the cars’ various innards, the tires themselves made from rubber with spirits of their own, the spirits of Ice that keep the car cool in the summer, and the spirits of Air that help to warm my car. There are Gods and spirits of roads and crossroads, local and large, great and small. There are Gods to pray to, to worship everywhere one turns, if one but pays the mind and chooses to. I could split myself into a million millions of me and still not have enough of me to pray to, offer to, worship all the spirits great and small that surround me. So, I do what I can. I light the tobacco after a prayer to It and Fire, and smoke and pray to all Who wish to hear to my words, praying to my Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, speaking to the breathing, living Jörð and all Who share this time and space with me upon Her. I pray to Odin, my Father, through His heiti Gangleri the Wanderer and Traveler to help keep me safe and keep me keen, first among the many Gods I will pray to quickly before I pull out of the drive.
There are the landvaettir all over, some I would call local Gods, such as the rivers that run near town, and Others that live in the heart of parks and Others that live with humans, landvaettir and housevaettir. There are spirits, vaettir, all around, and though I may not worship Them all (how could I, They are so many?) They all are due my respect as I pass through Their homes, territories, holy places. I pass what I view as a herme each and every day on the way to work; one of my neighbors has 3 large stones set one upon the other, and there is a spirit there that, when it catches my eye, I nod to in respect as I drive past it. The ground I walk on is full of life, covered in snow. The sky is alive with little spirits that twinkle in my headlights, some landing on my windshield, melting from the heat of my car.
There is no place I, or anyone can go where the spirits are not. I am truly blessed.
Offering good, clean water can be one of the best offerings you can give. It is clean, life-giving, purifying, and cleansing. It can clean you within and without. I give water as an offering on a regular, everyday or every other day basis to all of the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits who I worship and work with. I appreciate Water as a Being unto Itself, a holy Being that helps to give us life. Yet, even having this mindset I became complacent with Water’s place in my life because it is all around me. I live in water-rich Michigan. I am literally surrounded by water. There’s ice outside, rainfall is excellent here most years, and our family has a well. I’ve never hurt for water. Till the water pump completely died on us.
For a few days we were without running water. If we wanted water to flush the toilets snow was brought in and melted. If we wanted it to drink we needed to melt down snow or do with bottled water. Dad affectionately called the process of melting snow for water Snow Soup, since he had to use the largest pot we had to get enough snow to melt for our needs. Until the well pump was completely replaced, a costly thing to have happen just before Yule and Christmas we could not shower, drink, boil pasta, or do many of the normal, necessary things we were used to. Water keeps us moving, keeps our parts lubricated and in good working order. It keeps us in balance. Water purifies, it enlivens. To be without it is to die, and quicker in that regard than going without food.
What I went through was small, but it made me think on things in a sharp contrast. Where my family was just a repair away from our steady, clean water supply, water scarcity is increasingly becoming a problem the world over. The situation for potable water is even worse. Several places are just starting to understand what much of the world, parts of the world that aren’t part of the G8, G20, and so on, go through. Indeed, many Southern States here in the U.S. know water scarcity firsthand as their crops withered and died from lack of water. Michigan, along with a good chunk of the country, went through a drought (with some places still feeling the effects) a few years ago that significantly hampered the growth of crops, especially our yearly well-known foods like cherries and apples. Couple that with nasty frosts at the beginning of planting time, and it has been a hard couple of years. The local farms and orchards (as in, a 5 minute drive from us at most) had poor yields and the costs for all their produce doubled or tripled. Fishing has been hard hit because of lower lake levels and the various algae blooms, chemical and oil spills, overfishing and invasive species. Then there’s fracking which is trying to sink its claws in here. In short: the stresses on water are immense.
There is hope. Species of fish are starting to make comebacks, and people are more turned on than ever to environment and the impacts on it. People are doing their level best to consume less. People are pushing the biggest institutions and companies which waste and use natural resources to then dump them in water, to amend their ways. People are pushing back against exploitation of our water sources for things like bottling companies to sell our sacred Lakes and other freshwater sources as bottled water. There is a growing awareness of resource scarcity, especially potable water. Could there be more, should there be more done and hoped for? Absolutely. This is just a start.
There a few ways I make Gebo with Water, even as I use water as a regular offering for other Gods, Ancestors, and spirits. I make regular offerings to the spirits of Water, such as taking garbage out of bodies of water or places near water when I find it. I also give offerings such as herbs or food, breath, song, and prayer. One of the offerings Water seems to appreciate most is prevention as an offering, such as not allowing people to throw garbage into a body of water, or being careful in the use of water.
If wine or mead are good offerings, so too is water. Without water containing the elements necessary for fermentation and delivery of the alcohol, all you would have is rotting fruit or a pool of honey. Water gives the medicines and powers of the plants, animals, and spirits ways to come into our body, to become one with us that is similar and yet different than eating a given plant or animal does. Soup to help a sufferer through a cold, a potion to ease nightmares, a drink to gain the gift of poetry, all given through water’s form. If blood is a good offering so too is water; without water our blood would not flow, life would not be.
So is water a good offering? Yes, especially provided you respect Water itself. Without this vital substance we are so much a branching skeleton and trace elements. When Water is offered, what is offered is what allows us to live. A cup of Water is a cup of life.