Patreon Topic 44: On Wolf Cultus

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From Maleck Odinsson comes this topic:

“What does Wolf Cultus look like to you?”

The short answer is that Wolf Cultus looks a lot like my other cultus does. I have places set aside on our family hearth Gods’ vé for the Wolf Gods, spaces on the Ancestors’ vé for the Wolf Ancestors, and spaces on the animalvaettir vé for Wolf and wolves. They each receive offerings, usually water, and occasionally food and/or alcohol like our other Ginnreginn.

I wear a large necklace of Úlfr, the Old Norse word for Wolf and a Míkilvaettr (Big/Mighty spirit) alongside my Valknut for Óðinn and my Mjölnir for Þórr. I carry representations of wolves and úlfheðinn on me otherwise, both as reminders of our relationship and as connection points with Them. I make regular prayers to Them, both in our home during our regular prayers and outside the home.

The way I engage with Wolf Cultus every day looks, acts, is lived, and is in relationship with the Wolf Ginnreginn in ways that are carried a lot like my others are. There are things that I do because of these relationships in addition to cultus. For instance, I donate and write on behalf of causes that specifically have to do with issues around wolves, such as the bullshit wolf hunts that have been called for in the Michigan legislature. A good number of the Gods that are part of my various cultus all tend to have wolf connections -Óðinn, Angrboða, Skaði, Ullr, Hela, Fenris, Lykeios, Lupa, Anpu, and Wepwawet. Small wonder that my hearth cultus does not change much then since so many are connected with or are wolves in some way Themselves!

Does Wolf Cultus involve howling? Sometimes. My son doesn’t like to, but my daughter sure does. So, when she and I do prayers specifically to the Wolf Ginnreginn on our own, we howl. A lot of the other more noticeably wolf-oriented things do not actually occur in the hearth cultus. A lot of that occurs for me in spiritual connection work, but most of that is not during regular cultus of prayers and offerings. Sometimes it occurs on its own. It might be hamfara (faring forth in hamr), or it might be some spiritual work with a group of vaettir, such as in Maleck’s own Pack Magic which you can read about here. So far as I practice Wolf Cultus it is distinct from spiritwork or magic since the point of cultus is to worship rather than to engage in spiritwork or magic.

Private Wolf Cultus rituals, though, look a bit different. I own and work with the vaettr of a wolf that was prepared by Lupa, a wonderful Pagan artist. You can find her work here, here, and here. This wolf and I have bonded on a fairly deep level over the years, and he reflects at least some my inward soul outwardly. He is in a place of honor most days underneath our Gods’ vé, and when I put him on the connection with my wolf self, the Wolf Gods, the Wolf Ancestors, and wolfvaettir is powerful, and fairly instant. Whether I am wearing him or not, when I engage in Wolf Cultus on my own we are engaged in it together. When I do not do Wolf Cultus with him present, sometimes I am engaging with one of the wolf items I carry on my person. It is sometimes hard to write about, not only because of how personal it is.

Sometimes it is hard to write about because of how visceral the connections are, how your senses light up with the power and impact of one of the Wolf Gods making Their Presence known in ways that hit you in every bit of your Soul Matrix. Sometimes it is hard to write about because you have Wolf Ancestors that you connect with, and there is such a feeling of elation, joy, pack that is hard to put into words that do it justice. Other times it is hard to write about because you really are just reaching for words to describe raw feelings, or experiences that are close to the chest and you keep private. Even here my cultus starts out the same: prayers, offerings, and a few moments to connect. Breathing slow, steady breaths at first, perhaps quickening or lengthening if getting into trance is called for. Whether the trance comes on, the Presences are felt, or if there is work to do, being thankful for the connection with Them. Then the prayers of thanks, and prepping to get on with the remainder of the day.

Patreon Topic 43: On Hel

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From Alexis comes this topic:

“I would really appreciate reading what you have to say about Hel, if you have cultus with her. I don’t see a lot of heathens talk about her.”

Hela is a Goddess I have worshiped for quite a while. I began to worship Her some time after I began to worship Loki, so it has been about thirteen years or so.

Most of my early exposure to Her worship when I became a Heathen and Northern Tradition Pagan was through Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova and their books. Few Heathens have talked about Her worship in most forms of media I have engaged with, though thankfully that is changing. Recently I saw Wolf the Red’s Youtube video on Her. If you browse the tags here on my blog you will run into no small amount of content for Her.

Given I worshiped Anpu prior to Hela, a lot of my experiences with Him prepared me for those with Her. In particular was the development of my Ancestor cultus, though that definitely grew in size and complexity when I became a Heathen. Unlike my experience with Anpu I did not become Her priest nor do I do much in the way of spiritual work with Her. While Anpu assigned me work and we still have ongoing spiritual work that I do about once a week to do with the Dead, most of my interactions with Hela are purely devotional in nature.

She is part of my family’s hearth cultus, as well as that of my Kindred so all of us make prayers and offerings to Her. Our most common offerings to Her are the same as our other Norse Gods: water, alcohol, herbs, and food. They are disposed of in the same way, which is usually under a tree, or into the sink respectfully poured out if they are liquid offerings and going outside is not an option.

She can be incredibly compassionate while also being incredibly strict, and of the two I have found that She tends to offer the Dead Her compassionate side whereas the strict side tends to be towards the living. Given Hers is the realm where most of our Ancestors end up I do not understand the aversion to Her worship. It seems to me that if Ancestors are important so too should the worship of the Goddess whose realm most of Them will be occupying.

I have had interactions with Her through other means beyond our home hearth cultus. The most frequent, even in the dead of Winter, is taking the compost to Her and Níðhöggr’s shrine. I wrote about that awhile back here in 2014. We have still kept up the traditions of making prayers and the offering of compost each time the bucket gets full.

She has featured in my adult life at every loss of a loved one. Our cats Aoshi and Kuro, my Grandpa, my Great Aunt. In times of grief I have turned to Her. She has never turned me away, as surely as She has never turned away our Dead.

She is a Goddess that receives. She receives grief, our loved ones, and in turn She gives Them a place to be, and contact with us. She is a powerful Goddess that, in Her cold compassionate ways, smooths the paths so we can heal not only within ourselves but across generations. She provides the place and time to our Dead and Ancestors necessary for Them to heal, to restore, to get ready for whatever may be next, and when They are ready to commune with us and share in our lives. Hail Hela, may You ever be hailed!

Patreon Topic 31: On Burnout

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From Kate comes this topic:

“I’m very new to following my current path, and was interested on ways to prevent burnout and becoming overwhelmed while opening up to what the Gods are teaching me.”

The first thing to keep is boundaries. Remember, the Gods do not necessarily have our perspective/experience in mind when They give us things to do. Because our relationships are a two-way street we need to be clear about what our boundaries are. Some Gods, such as Óðinn, might push you hard on moving your boundaries back. My advice, earned through no small amount of doing this, is to not do that. You still need to be able to live well in this world. In my case Óðinn pushed me to the breaking point before I finally exercised my right to enforce my boundaries. He did not do this out of callousness, but to teach me, especially because a vaettr with an agenda might take advantage of that zeal.

Boundaries, such as right relationship with a God, Goddess, Ancestors, and/or vaettir may be personally as well as communally negotiated. Our various sources of information, such as myths and archaeology, can help us to see where the boundaries used to lie between the Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and Their worshipers at one time. Having this as an idea of where to start can help. Again, “the past gets a vote, not a veto.” In the end, we are the living carriers of these religions and it is our relationships that we are engaging in with the Ginnreginn. Right relationship with our communities is something we each need to decide on what that looks like.

The second thing to keep are the things that bring us contentment, joy, and relaxation. Rituals to and with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir should be things we enjoy. They do not need to be overly complex or too simplistic unless such is a requirement from Them. Likewise, how we live our lives needs to involve periods where we can take care of our obligations, ourselves, and those we love. Schedule them if you need to.

The third thing to keep is mindfulness. Since we are largely reviving our religions, I will share a quote I love from Ocean Keltoi: “The past gets a vote not a veto.” We can take inspiration, quite a bit from our religions’ forebears, but this path now is ours to live. Mindfulness keeps us connected with our worldview, and from there how we relate to everything in the Worlds. Mindfulness may involve meditation, simply observing our thoughts on a thing we are going to do and correcting or affirming it, or just taking a step back from a situation. Mindfulness helps to prevent burnout because it helps us to recognize when we are becoming overwhelmed or burnt out. It helps us to keep our boundaries, or to let us know when they’re being too rigidly enforced. Sometimes the boundaries we make can turn into prisons with enough worry or strictures around how we think. Without boundaries we have no structure into which our relationships and spiritual experiences go, and so they can lose meaning or any anchoring in our lives. So, questioning boundaries or being willing to let them move or tighten up can be helpful.

The fourth thing to keep is community. Whether online or off, a good community can help to keep us grounded, evaluate information, and develop discernment. In the case of this topic suggestion, just asking the question and the responses I give here has the potential to help someone, and so not only are you potentially helping yourself, you may also be helping other folks you will never personally meet. The boundaries advice was first, though, because sometimes communities can be unhelpful, whether they are misled, toxic, or just not communicating well. So, keeping your boundaries, your contentment, joy, and relaxation, and your mindfulness helps when interfacing with communities so you have the grounds on which to judge whether a given community can or will be helpful to you. A community that asks too much or gives too little back will definitely contribute to stress, burnout, and overwhelm. Likewise, a community that has a good balance with you and one another can contribute to each member facing these things.

It is totally acceptable and good to just have a simple devotional relationship with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. There is no race, no competition, no need to go any faster or slower than what your needs require. You are just beginning your journey, and it may take a short while or as long as  years to find if you have a niche, and if you do have one, what that niche is. So, how to apply all of this?

Developing a daily practice is an excellent boundary to keep, both because it allows for a period of our lives to be given over to our religious obligations and because it gives us space to be able to enjoy contact with our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. Daily practice can start quite small, say five minutes a day. The kicker here is to do it regularly. This discipline can help quite a bit in giving us a place to have contact with our Ginnreginn (Mighty/Holy Powers) in an ordered space that allows us to shed every other thing except the time we give over to be with Them. Keeping this boundary, both with myself and others, has allowed me no small amount of peace, contentment, and joy. It has allowed me to bring mindfulness into my everyday life in a lot of profound ways, and it has deepened my involvement with community, both through platforms like these and through the work I am ble to do because my bases are covered, and my baseline obligations are taken care of.

Intentionally setting aside time to engage in things that make you happy, that bring on contenment, joy, and relaxation, helps us not only handle our everyday stress, it also helps us in our spiritual pursuits too. By providing that down-time we won’t be as tempted to eat into the time we give to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. It also allows us to unwind and if we are in a places where we can, to reflect on our experiences and find ways to integrate them into our lives. Whether it is reading, listening to music, playing video games, socializing, whatever gets you there, we make the choice to not divorce our spirituality from the rest of our lives. We are able to bring our religions right into what we enjoy there too. Folks, myself included, have made playlists to Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir that include songs we deeply enjoy that tie those bond with Them tighter through sharing more of our lives with Them. By going beyond some boundaries, eg a strict separation of religion from the rest of one’s life, we can encourage a more integrated and deeper bond with our Ginnreginn that spans our lives. Sometimes, though, we do need to have clear boundaries on our time and to just do things for ourselves.

There are a lot of resources on how to develop mindfulness. One of the best tools for me is a series of questions I still use: “What does it do? How well does it do it?” This can be applied to tools as to devotional work, eg making offerings. It can also be applied to whether some activity is me keeping myself busy vs something that actually allows me to relax. Being mindful takes practice, and as your skill in it grows it can be applied to more things in your life. How you shop and what you shop for can be informed by mindful consideration, eg “Does this thing comport with the values of my worldview? If yes, how well? If no, do I still need this or want this bad enough that I can justify it to my worldview? Is there another way to get this thing/result?” How you enjoy certain things for relaxation may change over time as well, eg “This music used to be soothing but since using it in ritual I have this association now and need to find new music.” Your boundaries and tastes and so much more can change over time, so adaptability paired with mindfulness can help things to flow to some useful, powerful places.

Recognize that there are going to be times in your life where you need to drop back in some of your practices, take stock of where you are, and do the minimum so you can keep on keeping on. This does not make you a failure or a bad Pagan. Everyone has times in their life that will make them take a huge step back from whatever they are used to or think that they have to do, and parse your priorities, needs, obligations, and what you can do right now.

It is my hope that this helps you and that I have given you some good starting points.

Patreon Topic 26: On Regional Cultus

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From Maleck Odinsson comes this topic:

“Regional Cultus. Not just in the realm of honoring the local spirits, but also in how the gods are reflected differently in different times and places.”

When I first started writing on this I was approaching this purely from an academic perspective, noting the resources we have available to us are mostly coming after conversion and almost all the earliest sources through Christian writers. The scholars and academics who later gave us interpretation and understanding of these sources, and even the archaelogists, all are operating within a Protestant Christian dominated background.

Generally, our Gods in the academic fields are not being approached as Gods. We have living, dynamic relationships with Them. Even over the course of my life my cultus with Óðinn has gone through changes, so I would hardly expect in a generation other Heathens to carry anything like the same relationship as I. When I began to worship Him, He came to me sometimes as Father, but mostly as Rúnatýr, and Yggr primarily. He was fierce, harsh, and a taskmaster in the early times. He still is at times.

How the Gods are reflected differently in different times and places depends on how the Gods fit into the landscape/environment we live in now, and the relationships we hold with Them. I would have a far harder time relating to Skaði if I lived in a place without snow, and relating to the Gods of the ocean is a lot harder for me here in the Great Lakes than it is when I visited the ocean. I still hold cultus for the Gods of the ocean, but it is a more remote one, less in-my-face than that of the Great Lakes Goddesses.

A big difference in regional cultus I can confidently point to is mine with Jörð, Freya, Freyr, and Gerða. I relate to Jörð through the Earth I stand on, and while Jörð is still Jörð wherever in Miðgarð I go on Her, I relate to Her differently here, especially in my home, vs a hotel room. The difference between worshiping Her on land I have helped cultivate vs a hotel room is quite stark. I have no relationship to the land in a hotel room beyond a place to rest my head. My thanks to Her is much more general, eg She is of the place, and I am grateful for Her being the floor and eventually the ground beneath my feet. Contrast this with the relationship I hold with Her being the good, black Earth I helped to till and plant in that our good harvest has grown from. My cultus with Freya, Freyr, and Gerða is embedded in no small part in that same gardening. It is not that I cannot relate to Them outside of the home, the hearth, or the garden, but that it lacks the specific ways in which our relationships flow as they do there.

The asparagus plant is one group of vaettir in which I relate quite a bit to these Gods locally. As before, I associate Jörð with the garden it grows in. The plant itself clearly associated with Freyr given its virility, fertility, and phallic shape. It is also associated with Gerða in that to harvest it, it must be cut down, and this fits in with my understanding of Freyr as a Sacrificed God whose blood renews the fertility of the Earth. Freya I associate with the pollinators, especially the bees and their sweetness, and the preparation work that must go on so the plants can prosper. It is not just through the garden and all the vaettir within it that I relate to these Gods. I relate to these Gods through the actions I take with the land. Tilling, planting, gardening, weeding, harvesting, all of this is done in relationship with the landvaettir, with Jörð, with Freya, with Freyr, with Gerða, and with the Ancestors, especially those who farmed and/or gardened. All of this with just one kind of plant. How much more so with a garden! How much more so with a biome!

Regional cultus grows from our living relationship with the environment, and if I can find that much connection in and through a single plant then we can certainly make them through the land we live on. It is worth pointing out that Yggdrasil holds the Worlds, and the Worlds are also in relationship with one another. Asgarðr and Jötunheimr are across a river, Ífingr, from each other. Jotunheimen is the name of a range of mountains in Norway. The Worlds are said to be in different direction, eg Niflheim to the North, Muspelheim to the South. We can likewise locate our relationship with the Nine Worlds in such ways, much as our forebears did with regard to directions and the landscape. Perhaps rather than strictly in the East, Jötunheimr is in or has connections to the World in the far more wild forest behind the home. A special rock becomes a hörgr, a stand of trees a vé, and from there perhaps new relationships form with Jötun Gods.

It is really hard predict how regional cultus will develop over time. After all, my family has only lived in Michigan for five generations, including myself and my children. Between major predicaments like climate change and peak oil, the unfolding of the next election and the consequences from that, our unique land here in Michigan, and the unfolding relationships we hold right now, it is anyone’s guess how it will develop. Given the ongoing Work and relationship I have with Óðinn, our strong commitment to direct experiences of our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir on the land we live, and our work on the land, we will have many avenues to understand our Gods and develop relationships through.

Patreon Topic 20: On Worshiping vs Working With

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From Maleck Odinsson comes this topic:

“Working with vs worship. Where is the line, is there a line, how does this dichotomy play into a layperson’s spirituality vs a spiritual specialist’s practice from your perspective?”

I am going to start with the basic definitions of the words and work out from there. I also want folks to bear in mind that the answers I am going to give come from my perspective as a Heathen. In my experiences with Wicca there is a lot more blending of worship and spiritwork vs that of Heathenry, especially for laypeople.

Work is “1 Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result…2 A task or tasks to be undertaken.”

Worship is “1 The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. 1.1 Religious rites or ceremonies, constituting a formal expression of reverence for a deity.”

The fairly bright line between these two is the purpose for which a spiritual activity is engaged in. Is the work with a God a religious rite or ceremony ‘constituting a formal expression of reverence for a deity’, or is it ‘effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result?” Where that line gets a lot less bright is in the shades of gray where a God may have us do work in service to Them. Even so, unless the worship of my God is the point of the activity at hand, then it is work of some kind of work I am undertaking for Them rather than worshiping Them. Work can, of course, be done as a devotional activity, “Of or used in religious worship”, such as dedicating the sweat of one’s exercise as an offering, or the money one earn’s going to a monthly donation to a water preservation effort in one’s State as an offering to the watervaettir.

Can working with the Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir involve worshiping Them? Certainly. Every time I engage in Runework I am making prayers of worship and thanks to Óðinn and the Runevaettir, my Dísir, Väter, Ergi, Þverr, other Ancestors, fylgja, kinfylgja, and other vaettir who may work with me during the Runework. I make offerings before and/or after the Runework. However, the overall focus of the Runework is in the name: it is to do work with the Runes. Likewise, spiritwork of all kinds (including Runework obviously) can involve worship even if the worship itself is not the sole focus.

So we could be very stark and say ‘this is work and this is worship and never the twain shall meet’ and just a cursory look at my own practice would not bear this out. I explored this a bit in my August 2020 Q&A 1 where Elfwort asked me about magic.

I think where the dichotomy comes into a layperson’s spirituality is if they choose to engage in spiritwork. My wife very rarely engages in spiritwork, and when she does, it is usually because Frigg or Brighid, has called her to do it. Most of her expression and experiences, religiously speaking, are those of worship. I would say that unless a layperson is regularly choosing to engage in spiritwork this is also their experience.

A spiritual specialist does tend to blend the two, especially in work they are called to do. My work as a spiritworker are areas where I tend to blend a lot of worship and work together. In order to do a Rune reading well I need to have had a developed relationship with Runatýr and the Runevaettir, have studied the Runes, and experience reading the Runes. Initiation into working with Runatýr and the Runevaettir was part of this for me. The set up for doing this work well is to have a good relationship with Runatýr and the Runevaettir, and so this requires to make prayers and offerings. Spiritwork and worship come together into a whole relationship.

Is it necessary for every spiritual relationship in spiritwork to combine worship and work? No. There are some spirits that I may have to work with, eg the spirits of disease, for whom I have no desire to have a worship relationship with. I just want them gone or handled. Here, the line is fairly bright since I have a goal in mind for working with (or working on, as the case may be) a spirit. A spiritual relationship can also be quite different depending on context. My work with Yggr has been “We have things to work on” rather than a worship relationship. Yggr is Óðinn, to be sure, but this heiti generally comes forward when something needs to be done or worked on.

If there is a hard, bright line between worship and spiritwork, I do not often see it. Often my spiritwork is interwoven with worship, and my relationship as solidified through my worship is the backbone of how and why I can do work with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir in the first place. I think this can be equally true for laypeople, since laypeople are not spiritual specialists but can have entire swathes of spiritwork available to them. Where it plays into one’s life is where we choose to go with it, and where we are called to by our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir.

Patreon Song/Poem/Prayer 18 -For Narfi

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 prayer was requested from Streaking Fate for Narfi.

Too many know Your doom

Wrought by Aesir wrath

Few know You as You are and were

Gentle, strong hands

Beloved of Your Parents

Admired for Your boundless zeal

Your unfettered curiosity

Your joy in Life Itself

So I praise You, gentle Lord

I praise Your soft hands

I praise Your warm heart

I praise Your love for all You laid eyes on

I praise Your tenderness and trust

I praise Your sweet embraces

I praise Your soft kisses

I praise You for the joy of Your family

I praise You, O gentle God

May You ever be hailed!

Patreon Topic 11: Venerating Linked Gods

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From my 3rd Raiðo patron comes this topic idea:

“Perhaps you could talk about venerating Deities Who are closely linked jointly, and how that can be different from worshiping a single Deity. I am a Freysman, but increasingly called by Nerthus, and I am starting to feel pulled towards venerating them jointly as Mother and Son–and how that feels like a Mystery unto itself, quite different from the Mysteries proper to a single Deity.”

In my experience and talking with other polytheists this seems to be a feature of Heathenry and sometimes Kemeticism. Generally speaking when you start worship one God They might introduce you to Their Family, and how we come to know our Gods can be keys to a Mystery or group of Mysteries as surely as beginning to know Them.

My relationships with all the Heathen Gods have filtered through Óðinn, and much of the worship and Work I have done is filtered through my relationship with Him in some way. I have seen other Heathens who came to Norse Heathenry and the Heathen Gods through Loki and it is a whole different experience than my own. It also depends on which particular heiti a God, Goddess, or other Being approaches us through. My experience of Óðinn as Rúnatýr is very different from Óðinn as Óðinn.

Worship of Óðinn alone was very focused when I first began as a Heathen. I would make offerings about once every other or every third day, and would do about 5-20 minutes of meditation on Him a day, or, if I was particularly busy, would carve out time on the offering days and dedicate more time to Him in addition to my usual prayers and offerings. I was also intensely studying the Runes, so all told I would spend upwards of an hour to two hours in prayer, offering, contemplation, meditation, and spiritual work.

When He began having me reach out to His Family, first to Loki and Frigg, then to Thor and other Aesir, it took some time to get the placement of Who to pray to first right. There were definitely Gods that bristled at the notion of being ‘next to’ each other in prayer, and others that did not particularly care. Loki eventually brought me to His Family, and incorporating Them in prayers also had to be done. I found as more Gods came into my worship and that I did Work with and for, the less time I had for the kind of intense focus as often as I did for Óðinn alone. This was not necessarily a bad thing, though. I actually needed the breathing room and was pretty bad at holding those boundaries with Him initially, something He was teaching and working on with me through this.

A Mystery that Óðinn brought me into quite early was understanding His relationship with Loki as Blood Brother. From then on I knew that not only was making offerings to Óðinn and not Loki wrong, it was something I could not do. Now, this is not to say that each and every offering I give to Óðinn is Loki’s as well, or vice versa. Each have Their own preferences of offerings as I and others have come to understand, eg Óðinn prefers whiskey whereas Loki like Fireball or ‘spicy’ drinks, and both enjoy mead and other wines. However, when it is more general offerings and prayers, such as night prayers at our Gods’ vé, They are both worshiped, prayed to, and water is offered to both of Them.

Exploring the Mystery of Their connection has deepened my relationship with both Gods, and I find that connection a beautiful and multifaceted one. Consider, too, that since we are looking at the Gods through the lens of mythic time that each event has, will, is going to, and is happening. Loki and Óðinn are slaying Ymir as recounted in the Vóluspá, and sitting across from one another in Ægir’s hall as recounted in the Lokasenna. Just thinking on and exploring Their Blood Brother connection through this understanding is powerful alone.

The Mysteries Óðinn brought me into that are His alone, such as bringing me into working with the Runevaettir, are not better or worse, just different from those of other Gods. The relationships that I have with other Gods unfolded differently when They passed through His hands vs another. This interrelationship also adds to the relationship as I experience it with Him, eg understanding Óðinn through His relationship with Frigg and vice versa.

My relationship with Frigg developed out of my relationship with Óðinn. I had a mix of formal and informal relationship starting with Óðinn, but with Her much of my relationship has been quite formal, especially when I worship Them together as the Chieftains of Asgarð. My address to Them is quite similar, usually something to the effect of “Hail, Chieftains of Asgarð, I make this offering of mead to You!” and many of the offerings are the same, eg water, mead, beer, wine, and the like. Worshiping Them together is different from worshiping Them apart. I tend to use more personal appelations and heiti with Óðinn, while I tend towards more formal address even in personal worship with Frigg. Maybe that will change over time, and maybe not.

Developing a relationship with a given God or Goddess depends on what avenues we come to Them through, how we engage in relationship with Them, and how we are introduced to any other Gods that They associate with or are associated with can differ person to person. This also comes into play in how we develop relationships with Gods linked to one another, whether by familial or other ties. When we relate to our Gods through another, as in the case here with my Patreon patron’s relationship with Mother/Son regarding Nerthus and Frey, it can be an invitation to a Mystery because of how the relationships with these Gods is being framed, or in this case, possibly reframed. That does not necessarily mean the old relationship and ways of relating with Frey are gone. It may be, or it may be affected in powerful ways as this new way of relating to Him through His Mother and vice versa comes forward. It is difficult to say anything for certain when we are talking about individual or even communal avenues of relationships of worshiping and relating to our Gods. Time and experience will tell. I am deeply curious to see how it goes for you!

 

Patreon Topic 7: Jotun Worship

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It looks like I missed this last month and for that I apologize. From my first Raiðo supporter comes this topic:

“Jotun worship and how it is reviled by the heathen community at large. Would be interesting to explore from your perspective about this contentious issue.”

To be blunt if I cared about the Heathen community at large there would be a great many things I would be doing -or not doing, sometimes week-by-week as the communities can rarely agree on anything across the board. When it comes right down to it, our own cultus is just that. No one’s cultus is going to look like another’s. Even for those of us in the Mímisbrunnr Kindred, our hearth cultus looks quite different from each other. This is a necessary and good thing. Each of us carry different relationships with our Gods, even Those Gods we each worship.

To some degree the revulsion expressed in many places in the Heathen communities towards the worship of Jötnar is Christian baggage. To another degree in some Heathen religions, namely here thinking of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry as I understand it, these Beings are not in any way understood as positive. However, these are not Jötnar, but Etins, and while They may be related Beings/concepts, the way each religion relates to Them is not. I am primarily a Norse/Icelandic-based Heathen, so my understanding of Jötnar is nuanced whereas I have only seen a rather black-and-white understanding of Etins from the Anglo-Saxon Heathen perspective. I am happy to be corrected on this.

I will not spill much digital ink to whether reactions to/against either Jötnar is Christian baggage. I have done that plenty enough in other posts. My perspective is that worship of the Jötnar is supported by the lore given the few instances of worship recounted in our sources includes at least a Jötun and Her Sister, even if we ignore that Jörð Herself is the Earth. Even if we did not have this evidence in the lore, given how little evidence we have of cultus for Gods aside from Óðinn, Þórr, and Freyr, I would worry very little about it. I am not living in ancient Norse times, and my course within my religion is largely driven from interaction with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. The lore and archaeology serve as maps. They are not my relationships with the Holy Powers or the work I have done and answers I have gained from divination and direct experience with Them.

Since I am a Universalist Tribalist Heathen, while I believe anyone can come to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir regardless of race, background, ethnicity, etc, I also care little for opinions of those outside of my hearth, Kindred, or tribe, aka my innangarð. Part and parcel of my worldview is that Jötnar are, broadly speaking, one of three sacred tribes, the other two being Æsir and Vanir.

Regional cultus has always been an active component of polytheist religions, and I have no interest in policing others’ religion or practice within it. If others do not worship Jötnar then I feel they could be casting aside or denying quite beautiful, powerful, and deep relationships, but that is their call to make. That being said, I find it hard to hear praise for Odin out of one side of a Heathen’s mouth and hate for His Blood-Brother out the other, but they can take that up with Odin. If I hear it in my presence that is one thing; I cannot abide it, and it is frið-breaking for me to be in a place where my Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir are unwelcome or reviled. Otherwise, I will generally have a live and let live attitude, as my ways are just that.

Patreon Topic 3: Jötun Worship

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From my first Raiðo-level Patreon supporter: “Jotun worship and how it is reviled by the heathen community at large.”

Jötun worship is, so far as how I practice, the same kind of cultus I give to the Aesir. Offerings of water, food, wine, sacred herbs, and so on as appropriate to the God.

How that cultus is expressed depends on what the context is. For our family prayers, we do not separate between the Aesir, Vanir, and Jötnar except that we tend to pray to Gods of the same tribe one after the other, and do not put Gods who are known to have animosity close together. For example, Loki is nowhere near Heimdall on our vé, though we worship both Gods. Neither are near each other in our rote prayers, either.

I think that, for a great many American Heathens who take issue with worship of Jötnar, there may be some basic issues at root. Keep in mind my views on things come primarily out of Norse sources with some bits from Anglo-Saxon and ancient Germanic. An Anglo-Saxon or Friisian Heathen is likely to have a very different cosmological outlook and placement for the Jötnar. Etin in Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, from what I gather, are looked at only as destructive or damaging. That being said, some of the roots at folks’ issue with worship of the Jotnar are:

1. The Jötnar are seen as enemies of the Gods. Jotnar, for those who see Them this way, are utterly opposed to cosmic order.

2. The Jötnar are looked at as agents of or embodying chaos, cosmic disorder, upon whom the Aesir and Vanir wage war to keep that at bay.

3. The Jötnar are believed to be too wild, raw, or alien to us to be trusted to be worshiped, honored, or proptiated.

For those for whom these root issues apply it follows as a matter of course you would not wish to worship, honor, or propitiate Beings opposed to your Gods not only in terms of allegiance, but existential threat to Them and thus, to humankind.

Given what we know of the Jötnar from the sources of lore we have Jötnar were at times openly worshiped. Even if They were not historically worshiped it would not be outside of reason to begin to worship Them. Many of the named Jotnar are or carry some aspect of the natural world with Them, while others are understood as rivaling the Aesir with Their power. Skaði, for instance, single-handedly marched on Asgarð to demand weregild for the death of Her Father Thjazi -and got it. She became part of the Aesir’s council and was wed to Njorðr. She is a Goddess who is Her own.

My view is that to not engage with the Jötnar is to completely cut out a third of the Gods. My life has been deeply blessed to have these Gods in my life and that of my family, Kindred, tribe, and people.

We Walked Among the Dead

We walked among the Dead today

We walked side by side

Before, beyond, behind, with broom in hand, we walked where They still lie

We came upon the Warrior Dead, those Who held the Line

We came upon the Straw-Death Dead, who peacefully reside

Yet came we upon the Head of Graves, of this great and powerful host

What gave us pause and tears to shed were the youngest that hurt her most

She could not say why she sobbed, only that she must go

And in her face, as I kept pace, I saw the place of fear and woe

It has been said that tears are gifts unto the Dead

Each drop acknowledges the life from the mortal coil it shed

We must each take our rest deep within the Earth

I can only hope I have been an Ancestor of worth

(I began writing this September 8, 2014 and finally found the words to finish it.)