norse

Review: 2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

December, 2018

Review:

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

Rockpool Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-925682-13-7

List Price: $21.95 USD / £16.99 GBP

The 2019 Lunar and Seasonal Diary is a beautiful, spiral-bound calendar, richly illustrated with pleasing sepia color pages. As one would expect, it tracks the waxing and waning of the moon and the lunar eclipses of the coming year. It also provides the astrological house of each new and full moon and features the eight annual festivals of the wheel of the year.

I reviewed the Northern Hemisphere edition of the Seasonal Diary. Both Stacey DeMarco and Rockpool Publishing are based in Australia, which is why special care is made to tie the festivals to the seasons themselves instead of calendar dates. After all, our calendars follow the reality of the Earth and her seasons, not the other way around.

Especially well fitted to the new pagan, the diary has a well written introduction the hows and whys of spellcraft and the basics of working with crystals. The moon phases are introduced, as well as the elements, directions and the wheel of the year – not enough to complicate things, but enough guidance to use the daily and monthly prompts that follow. Each month features a specific deity, as well as an appropriate ritual or spell, drawing inspiration from traditions as varied as Slavic, Celtic, Hindu, Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and Shinto. I think the selection is broad enough to be interesting for almost any pagan.

I found the Lunar & Seasonal Diary a beautiful resource to keep me connected to the monthly rhythms of the earth. Each month begins with a page questioning “What am I devoted to?” – asking us to simultaneously reflect on what we have been wrapped up in the month just past as well as what we would aspire towards in the month ahead. Prompts are given for important dates and goals to focus on and manifest in the month ahead.

This monthly return to focus seems a positively recharging reset to our frame of reference, especially during those stressful times when we’re just happy to it through one calendar page to the next. It reminds us to recall what we are working for in the first place, reminding us that the daily grind is a process and not an end in itself. This monthly taking-stock can allow you to stay open to the living world around you, to stay fast with what is truly important to you, or to shift your focus and goals each month, working on different aspects of your life just as the energy of the earth changes through different phases around you.

With the space for taking notes, prompts for both reflective and aspirational record keeping, I think this is a great notebook for any pagan who sees the value of the occasional ritual to keep one in tune with the seasons, and it especially shines for those new to the pagan path.

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary: Northern Hemisphere on Amazon

GoodGod!

July, 2018

Meet the Gods: Heimdall

Merry meet.

The Norse god Heimdall was the watchman for the gods. Every hour of every day, every day of the year, he determined who could cross Bifrost, the rainbow bridge to Asgard, the land of the gods, one of the nine worlds held in the tree Yggdrasil.

Heimdall is said to have had nine mothers – all sisters, all giants and all virgins. He lived at the footing of the bridge. He was tall with teeth of gold, hearing so acute he could detect grass growing in the meadow; even at night he could see farther than a man could walk in 100 days and required less sleep than a bird. He was the god with the whitest skin, for which he was called the shining god.

Before he came to be the sentinel keeping Asgard safe from giants, he went by the name of Rig. Wandering the world and staying with three couples, he is said to have been the forefather of the three social classes: thralls (who served), peasants and freemen, and warriors and chieftains.

He and Loki kill each other fighting over a necklace.

According to NorthernPaganism.org, Heimdall can be of assistance with pragmatic wisdom for achieving a goal, considered helpful in academic and philosophical pursuits.

He took it upon himself to stand watch to protect Asgard. It was a lonely but important job. Let him serve as an example of duty, dependability, purpose, focus and awareness – traits that would benefit detectives, intelligence operatives, those providing military surveillance and protectors of others, as well as anyone who deals with unruly factions and needs to maintain good relations with all. Find ways to emulate him. Call on him for endurance.

Gjallarhorn was Heimdall’s horn, which could be heard in all nine worlds when he blew it – which was not often. You can dedicate a horn to him.

When seeking to honor Heimdall, be honest and know he valued actions above words.

Mead makes a good offering, so does coffee.

Heimdall Ritual for Blessing a Guard” by Ari is offered on the website as a way to honor and appreciate those who hold often thankless guardian positions such as security guards, bodyguards and bouncers.

Ari calls for making a sigil – a round piece of wood painted sky blue, with the runes Dagaz and Algiz, for wakefulness and protection, on it. It should have a piece of rainbow ribbon tied to it, and a golden chain to hang so it can hang around your neck or a gold keychain for carrying it. A wooden staff, taller than the person being honored, is given to him or her. While holding the staff, the individual is smudged with smoke from dried angelica and cumin seed.

The person performing the ritual says:

Hail to Heimdall! Hear us, Hallinskihdi!

Gold-toothed guardian of Gjallarhorn,

Give this your guardian

Sire of many castes, stamina’s soldier,

See this your sentinel as s/he stands watch

And watch over him/her as well.

Bifrost’s border-watcher, bane of burglars,

Be with this your patient protector,

Let eyes close not, let ears shut not,

Let back bow not, let wakefulness flow,

Let wits be about in all ways, O Wave-Son,

Witness of a hundred leagues around.”

Then a drop of mead is touched to each eye, each ear, the center of the forehead, the top of the head, and the back of the neck, with the words:

See all above,

See all below,

Hear all above,

Hear all below,

Sharp to catch all,

Proud to stand tall,

Strong back never fall.”

The guard takes a sip of mead and pours out the rest as a libation to Heimdall with the words “Hail Rainbow’s Guardian.” The guard hands the staff over, and is given the sigil in trade, with the words: “This staff stays in your spine; this sigil stays at your side.” Then the guard should, ideally, go straight to work, with Heimdall’s blessing.

More poems, prayers and writings about Heimdall can be found here http://www.northernpaganism.org/shrines/heimdall/writing.html.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

The Road to Runes

June, 2018

The Road to Runes: Ansuz, Woden’s Rune

For this stage in my journey with runes, I decided to do a little divination for myself. I’m wanting to begin working from home within the next year, hopefully within a few months. I’m at home with the six-month-old baby at the moment, but will have to return to the ‘day job’ by October, and everything in me rails against it. I want to be at home with my family, and I already write all the time anyway, so why not make a career out of it? Having already made steps in this direction, I was interested to know what the runes would make of this decision.

I pulled out a single rune for this particular piece of divination. This rune (pictured) was Ansuz, which literally means ‘God’. It’s normally associated with either Odin or Woden, the runes having come from Norse and Germanic origins. Esoterically, this rune is complex but tends to mean ‘inspiration’, which as a writer, is definitely one of my favourite words. Ansuz is also linked to communication and answers, something I was definitely hoping to get, so how does this rune translate into an answer to my query?

Ansuz is the rune of air, specifically breath. It is the breath of the universe, and the first breath that takes the spirit into the body, and the last breath that allows the spirit to escape. It is intrinsically linked to words and the power of words, particularly names. Words develop from and into concepts and creativity, and are often the focus of communication. As a writer wanting to make a career from my words, this rune tells me to listen to my inner voice, to embrace my creativity and use the talents I have to make this step.

Ansuz is also a rune of order. It indicates that even when the path is unclear, or times are difficult, that the universe has a plan and that ultimately, order will prevail. Ansuz encourages us to find patterns within chaos, and to trust that all will be as it is supposed to be. To me, this encourages me to take a leap of faith. Even if I have doubts, if I trust in the divine energies of the universe (and work hard!), I will find myself in a place that is good for me and my family.

Ansuz also reminds us to listen. Breath comes from the universe, from Odin, from ourselves but also from others. We must acknowledge that their breath, words and ideas are as potent and important as ours. We should take care with our words and not use them for manipulation or menace.

I’m a bit taken aback that for a question about writing and a big change in my life, I’m given a rune that focuses intensely on words, inspiration and creativity. I’m also reminded of the power of my own voice, and that words can do great harm, as well as great good. At the very least, this has inspired me to take the step I was tempted to take anyway, and see where the path takes me. The best interpretation is that this is definitely the right choice for me, and that if I trust the universe and my own inner voice, I will end up on the path that is truly best for me.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

The Road to Runes

May, 2018

The Road to Runes: Hagalaz, the Coming of Hail

So, it was the turn of a different friend to pull a rune this time, and I wasn’t expecting it. On the spot divination, she pulled out the polished, burnt piece of hazel and looked at me quizzically. I had to admit to her that my studies had not taken me this far, and thus, my latest article was born. Pictured is the rune she pulled: Hagalaz, also known as Haglaz or Hagala. This rune literally means ‘hail’, and by what I have learnt, is a pretty fierce and somewhat scary rune to see in any divination.

The Elder Futhark (the group of runes I am working with and believed to be the oldest Germanic runic alphabet) is split into 3 Aett, or groups of 8 runes. Hagalaz is the first rune of the second Aett, or Aettir. There are so many variants of the terms used to describe the runes and their alphabetic structure, and while I am still learning I am keeping myself open to all of these words, so forgive me if I chop and change. The second Aettir is sometimes known as Hel’s Aetirr, which sounds pretty ominous. Hel is the daughter of Loki, and therefore at least part giant, and she reigns over the realm of Hel, one of the dwelling places of the dead in Norse mythology. She is fairly indifferent to the trials and sufferings of humankind, if not actually cruel, and that aspect seems to be reflected in the hail rune. Hail is out of our control. It doesn’t care if we get cold, or wet, or stung. It has no pity for our misery; it simply is, and it is up to us to deal with it; get out of the cold or battle on through the storm.

Hail is the coldest of seeds… (Viking Rune Poem)

Hail is often described in runic inscriptions as a seed, and perhaps this is simply due to its appearance, as if someone high above was casting ice cold grain onto the earth, in the vain hope of it sprouting into some bizarre crop. However, there is more to the seed aspect than simple appearances. If we are tested, and we follow through with the test, whether we pass or fail, we grow as people. Each new challenge we face changes us in some way, usually for the better. Even bad experiences teach us something. Hagalaz is a seed rune because although hard times may be coming, there is the chance for great personal transformation; to be the sprouting wheat after the grain is cast.

Hail is whitest of grains. It whirls from the sky

whipped by the wind, then as water it trickles away. (Old English Rune Poem, translation Marijane Osborn)

This is a reminder that hard times don’t last forever; just as the icy hail turns to water and trickles away, so will our hardships eventually come to an end. We may be whipped into shape by the storms that buffet us, by the challenges that are sent to test us, but ultimately, calm will come, and a time to take stock and see what we have learnt, gained, or been left with. Also, it could be that we are about to lose something, but perhaps that is something we should have let go of long ago. Are we holding on to something that does not help us achieve our highest goals? Are we clinging to a relationship that prevents us being the best we can be? Hagalaz warns that it may be a tough time, but something different is coming, and it’s up to us to make the best of the new situation.

Hagala who breaks helmets… (Runic Inscription on the Kragehul Lance)

So far, I’ve concentrated on the more positive aspects of Hagalaz, but I can’t avoid the simple fact that this is a rune associated with destruction, turmoil, conflict and crisis. Hail is coming and you’re going to be caught out in the storm. If you’re already having a tough time, it’s possible it could get worse before it gets better. Are you ready to be tested? Be prepared, have your wits sharp, don’t be complacent about any potentially upsetting or risky situation and muster your inner strength. Yes, transformation and growth might be just around the corner, but you’re going to have to turn your face into the cold wind and really push hard before you feel the benefits.

The ninth rune in the Elder Futhark, just as Yggdrasil holds nine worlds, Hagalaz is a powerful and crucial rune in any reading. I think it’s important not to panic if you do pull this rune for a client. I’ll admit, when my friend pulled the rune and I read the meaning, I was startled and worried at first, but thinking about her personal situation (private, sorry!) it makes sense. She’s been through a tough time, it’s not over yet, and we’d already spoken about certain things probably not being resolved to satisfaction until Samhain. A gifted practitioner herself, it doesn’t surprise me that she pulled the rune that almost exactly describes the situation she is in and where she appears to be going. And it gave me the chance to learn about a formidable rune; one more step along the road.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

Click Images for Amazon Information

Book Review: Encyclopedia of NORSE and GERMANIC FOLKLORE MYTHOLOGY and MAGIC By Claude Lecouteux

December, 2017

As a teacher of Norse Shamanism and Germanic mythology this is one book I was delighted to receive and hold in my hands! It is a beautiful hardback book with many illustrations.

As an encyclopedia it is not so much a book most people will read from A – Z (quite literally as it is organised alphabetically!) but it is a book to dip into when you are checking a reference. Maybe the name of an obscure god, or a symbol you cannot quite place … and so forth. Who were Hvedrungr or Eyrgfjava for instance?!

A few decades ago, in secondary school, I had a teacher of Latin and Greek who was an absolute stickler for accuracy and for using faithful reproductions and spellings of names or words from foreign languages. He taught in Dutch, in the Netherlands, where I grew up. His attitude ignited something in me that has stuck with me for life and today I suspect I sometimes bore my own students with authentic if inaccessible spellings of names taken from Old Norse or classical Greek!!

For that reason I was pleased to see that the publisher and editor have taken great care to honour original orthography (fancy word for spelling!) There is even a note on correct pronunciation of letters from Old Norse and contemporary Icelandic.

What I did next was leafing through the book to check entries on terminology and more obscure figures (in Germanic mythology and folklore) where I have been disappointed in other reference type books I have consulted. That was the “litmus test” for me and this book passed with flying colours. It is obvious that a lot of scholarship and research has gone into compiling this. The author has not just taken entries from other sources and reproduced them uncritically.

Before the actual encyclopedia part there is a lengthy introduction of Norse and Germanic Mythology and Folklore. The sources are explained, the gods are introduced, the historical context is provided, even the runic letters are introduced and reproduced.

The author takes great pains to explain that the various Germanic or Nordic countries did not all share the same course of historical development over time. This is very important because, as a teacher of this material, I know that many students arrive looking for a “correct spelling” or “historical accuracy” on various matters – and this simply does not exist. I always reply with a question, when people press me on this: what language are we in? What location are we talking about? What period are you referring to?! – This is material from a vast geographical area (with many local tribes and sub cultures) stretching across centuries (where material continued to evolve over time).

I have not yet read all entries from A – Z. (I am working on that!) but I am thrilled to say that I am very impressed by all I have read so far. This is a book I will keep at hand and make available to my students of Norse mythology, Germanic folklore and shamanism!

 

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

Imelda Almqvist, 4 November 2017, London UK

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. 

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

YEAR OF CEREMONY

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

Book Review: Baldr’s Magic – The Power of Norse Shamanism and Ecstatic Trance by Nicholas Brink

October, 2017

Baldr’s Magic –

The Power of Norse Shamanism and Ecstatic Trance

By Nicholas Brink

 

 

 

I agreed to review this book because Baldr (or Balder/Baldur) is a Norse god I have a strong personal connection to.

 

On the positive side I will say that anyone seeking a strong connection to their ancestors and ancestral faith and traditions needs encouragement – in whatever way they decide to do this. The author certainly describes a very personal quest and invites others to make a similar journey into the past (even the ancient undocumented past of Early Europe).

 

He works for the Cuyamunge Institute which promotes the original research and findings of Dr. Felicitas Goodman. The core of this body of work evolves around the use of certain postures and practices for deep trance meditation. So far so good! I am always open to learning and exploring something new and trance postures certainly are not part of my own repertoire as an international teacher of shamanism.

 

Where this book “nose dives” in my perception is that the author commits sins of both commission and omission to use a concept from my Roman Catholic upbringing – and my Roman Catholic period ended at age 19 when the god Baldr took me in hand and changed my life forever.

 

Using trance postures to map your personal past (leaving open whether that is personal previous lifetimes on earth or lifetimes of personal ancestors whose memories of events remain preserved in the morphogenetic or knowing field) – OK! Great!!

 

However, to then take it upon yourself to publish certain “Lays” that do not appear in the ancient texts of the Nordic Tradition (meaning The Poetic Edda or Prose Edda) is taking matters quite far – by contemporary Neo-Pagan or shamanic standards.

 

As a teacher of shamanism I keep reminding my students that much information we receive in shamanic journeys (“the core shamanism version of trance posture meditations”) is profoundly personal. You received it because your spirit allies designed the message for you. It is what you most need to hear at this time!! It is not necessarily of great interest to others (though some selected pieces of it may well be and resonate deeply with others) but you edit down what you share bearing in mind: “is this truly of interest and importance to others than myself?”

 

This author has essentially filled a whole book with what we could call journey work, path-workings, trance posture discoveries – whatever you wish to call it. There is no mention of consulting people known for their innovative work in Norse Shamanism today – and also sharing their take on the material – or indeed following their guidance on what to publish and what to turn into a journal or document for private family use.

 

I do not wish to use the word arrogance – but there is definitely a lot of ignorance here around contemporary standards in publishing new material. Publishing your own Lost of Edda of the Vanir and many Lays (such as the Power of Idunn’s Plants or The Goddess’s Power of Intuition) is breath-taking (audacious). I invite you to view this in the context of contemporary practitioners of Norse (and other) shamanism agonising and debating about the use of what is called UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) in meetings, ceremonies and publications. I cannot help but wonder what Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera, the authors of Talking To The Spirits – Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion would say about this book. I‘d certainly recommend you read both books for comparison and serious reflect on such issues!!

 

In my opinion this author ought to have done way more research – what is out there? How do other authors handle the issue of both UPG and PCPG (Peer Corroborated Personal Gnosis). He should have edited down the book to a DIY manual for accessing ancestral information through trance posture work – inviting others to make their own discoveries (as opposed to sharing all and only your own discoveries). At least mentioning and acknowledging the ramifications of UPG would have been welcome. Instead the author states he has a gift for accessing intuitive formation in the now – and then extrapolates that gift right back to Ancient Europe, without providing corroborating (or indeed conflicting) material by others working in the same field.

 

For me this book falls in the gap between 21st century academic standards and contemporary practices for recovering ancient traditions and material.

 

Last but not least – I had hoped to learn more about Baldr in this book but found nothing in this book that I do not know already (as a teacher of Norse Shamanism).

 

By all means do this work and use the techniques (postures) offered by this author. I ask all my students (of shamanism) to use every means available to them to connect with their ancestors and learn about their ancestral traditions – but I do not encourage every student who does this (and many do work of astounding beauty!) to type up all their journey notes and publish them as a book for others to read. If they decided to do so I would recommend heavy editing and asking some very critical questions indeed. I also encourage all my students to seek second (or even third) opinions from others on issues of great importance or emotive issues.

 

Then again, if using trance postures is “your thing” and you have Norse ancestry you have not yet explored – you may well enjoy this book….

 

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

 

 

Imelda Almqvist, Pittsburgh – USA, 29 September 2017

 

***

About the author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the USA as well) please visit the following webpages

FORNSED IN SWEDEN

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=211324

2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=224450

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

YEAR OF CEREMONY

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

GoodGod!

September, 2017

Meet the Gods: Tyr

 

 

 

 

Merry meet.

 

This month we get to know Tyr (pronounced like “tier” or “tear”). Despite being the god of honor and justice, and showing courage by sacrificing his hand to save the gods and uphold the law, he came to be considered one of the lesser gods.

 

According to “Norse Mythology for Smart People,” more than any other god, Tyr presided over matters of law and justice, but was also a Norse god of war. At one time, he is thought to have been one of the three most important gods, along with Odin and Thor.

 

Mars, the Roman’s principal war god, was a remake of Tyr. Being connected to Mars centuries ago indicates Tyr was significant. The connection continues today with Tuesday, which comes from the Day of Tyr (also Tiw).

 

According to a story written by Brandon L. Parsons in 2015, “Tyr actually didn’t begin life as a Norse god, but started off as a god of the grizzled war-like Germanic tribes that lived in the deep, dark forests of ancient northern Europe. Back in those days, he went as Tiwaz; it wasn’t until much later that the Norse up in Scandinavia adopted him as one of their own and give him the name Tyr.

 

Tyr is shown to be the son of Odin, the one-eyed Allfather, the head dude of the Norse pantheon. If one goes back to the beginning, it might even be possible that at one time, Tyr was the head of the gods and was later overtaken by Odin in popularity and had to take a back-seat in all of the stories.”

 

 

 

 

The name of the rune that looks like an arrow pointed upwards is Tiwaz, from the god Tiwaz, later called Tyr. The rune denotes victory and honor.

 

While considered a war god, Tyr’s primary role was upholding the law and assuring justice.

 

He was courageous and sometimes thought to be the boldest to the Norse gods.

 

The one surviving tale to feature him prominently comes from “The Binding of Fenrir” (also known as Fenris) – a giant immortal wolf who would consume everything, including gods. No chains would hold him, so, according to Parsons’ story, the gods turned to dwarves who used their magic to make what looked like a silk ribbon – using the sound of a cat’s footsteps, a woman’s beard and bear sinews, among other things – but was unbreakable.

 

Suspecting trickery, Fenris refused to allow it to be placed on him unless one of the gods agreed to put his hand into his fang-filled mouth. Only the courageous Tyr accepted the challenge. Upon realizing he could not get free, Fenris bit off Tyr’s hand.

 

Much later, Fenris later goes on to swallow Odin whole, and Tyr kills and was killed by Hel’s guard dog, Garm.

 

While it may seem odd that the god of war was also the god of law and justice, Norse Mythology for Smart People” notes, “For the ancient Germanic peoples, war and law were profoundly related to each other – even indissolubly intertwined.” Words would be used in place of swords in a metaphorical battle, with the victor being the side the gods felt was most just.

 

Tyr might be a god you would want to call upon in legal matters and other battles. Like the Norse warriors who provided him with plenty of fresh meat, red blood and his favorite alcoholic drink – mead – to give them an extra edge, you can do something similar with offerings. They often carved his rune on their weapons for added power and you can do the same with your tools.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

***

 

About the Author:

 

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GoodGod!

July, 2017

Meet the Gods: Thor

 

 

(art by Samantha Sullivan)

 

Merry meet.

Thor is the hammer-welding Norse God of Thunder. He is the son of Odin, the primary god of all the Nordic gods, and the earth goddess Jord (also reported as Fyorgyn). He is one of the most important and well-known gods in the Norse pantheon, also said to be a sun god, the god of stormy weather, and a fertility god. His wife is also associated with fertility: the goddess Sif. Together they live in Thrudheim (“Place of Might”), the largest house in Asgard with more than 500 rooms. They have two children. Thor also adopted a stepson and had a son with a giantess.

Thor is described as massive and mighty, with a red beard, red hair and red eyes. The large hammer he carries is named Mjollnir or Mjoinir, which means the destroyer; it sends out lightening bolts. Crafted by dwarves, it can kill and destroy or it can protect. It magickally returns to his right hand after he throws it.

The Norse believed that thunderstorms were Thor riding his chariot across the sky and swinging his hammer. His chariot was pulled by two giant, magickal goats. If he were away overnight, he would eat the goats but by morning, they would have regenerated providing their bones were undisturbed.

According to an article by Cristian Violate published in 2014 and found online on the Ancient History Encyclopedia, “He also had iron gloves and a belt named Megingjard that doubled Thor’s strength once buckled on. There were also some other less destructive aspects of Thor. As a weather god he was associated with the fertility of the earth. He was also regarded as a guide for those travelling [sic] over the sea because of his power over storms and wind.”

Among the many tales involving Thor are his attempts to kill the World Serpent that lives in the ocean surrounding Midgard, the earth world in Yggdrasil. He also slayed dragons and giants – and anything else that got in his way.

In the old times, Thorrablot was known as the Feast of Thor. The festival was held in the latter half of January, that he might help people “weather” the severity of winter, and that he might bring about fertility with an early spring to let life begin again. Traditional feast foods included oats, pickled herring, sheep’s head meat, ram’s testicles and shark. Thor is said to have a ravenous appetite, so an offering of food today would still be appropriate, as would, I think, donating to a food bank.

It took strength and resilience to get through the storms of winter, and anytime you are faced with a difficult storm or situation requiring strength and resilience, you can call on Thor.

On ancient altars, he was placed in the center between Odin and Freyr. He was called upon during times of famine and disease. A bride would also call upon Thor to bless her by placing a replica of his hammer in her lap.

Today, people wear replicas of his hammer for protection and strength. Lighting a candle with the likeness of Mjoinir etched into it can empower any spell.

Thor’s Day came to be known at Thursday. You might light a candle representing lightening every week to honor him and get to know him better.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

She Who is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

April, 2017

SIF

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(Photo Credit – debsden.blogspot.com)

Sif is a Norse/Scandinavian Grain Goddess, associated with the Earth and its’ vegetation. One species of moss is named after Her, “haddr sifjar” or “Sif’s hair”, which is great praise, as her golden mane of hair was Her most striking feature. Her name possibly means “relation by marriage” which would be descriptive to Her role in Asgard.

Sif was a swan-maiden, similar to the Valkyries, in that she was able to take the form of a swan.

She is a Prophetess, as well as the Goddess of wheat, fertility and family. Some say She is also a Goddess of fidelity, but that title is debatable, as you will see later.

Her first husband was the Giant Orvandil, whom whom She had a son, Ullr the Magnificent, God of Winter.

Sif, then married Thor, the Great God of Thunder, which whom She had a daughter, Thrudr, Goddess of Storms and Clouds, and two sons, Magni (Might) and Modi (Brave).

Sif and Thor were happy for a time and loved to make love in the fields during the summer, the thunder from Thor and the lightning from Sif, could be seen for long distances on these occasions. With Thor being a Sky God and Sif being an Earth Goddess, this follows the path of many myths and legends whereupon their consummation symbolically gives life to the Earth.

Her symbols are the sun, gold, Her hair.

She is connected to the Rowan tree.

“The holy plant of Sif is the rowan,

The protective tree with its berries of sacred red.

The tree that is called Thors salvation.

It saved Thor from the anger of vengeful giantesses,

Let it save you too.

Pass beneath the rowan three times and receive Sifs blessing.“**

**By Thorskegga Thorn

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Sif’s hair was long, golden and beautiful. Once Loki, the Trickster, came and stole her hair. Thor was incensed. He forced Loki into the realm of the Dwarves. Their best craftsmen made Her new hair of spun gold which, when attached to Sif’s head, would grow as if it were Her own. It is believed that Her golden hair is a metaphor for the golden grain, with which She is connected.

More than one of the gods told Thor that Sif had a lover, which angered him and lends some doubt to Her being a Goddess of fideltity. Some would say that Her lover was Loki himself. In Stanzas 53 and 54 (below) of the Lokasenna, one of the poems of in Poetic Edda, a collection of old Norse poems.

When Sif went forward and poured out mead for Loki into a crystal cup and said:

Welcome now, Loki, and take the crystal cup

full of ancient mead,

you should admit, that of the children of the Æsir,

that I alone am blameless.

He took the horn and drank it down:

That indeed you would be, if you were so,

if you were shy and fierce towards men;

I alone know, as I think I do now,

your lover beside Thor,

and that was the wicked Loki.”

Bringing Sif into modern times, a moon on Venus was named, “Sif Mons” after Her.

Probably most significant are the changes to Her within the Marvel Universe. She is sister to Heimdall, the Watchman of Asgard. In their telling, the Dwarves that spun her golden hair became Trolls. As Loki stole the hair without paying for it, the Trolls had not been able to bespell it, and so, over time, Her golden hair turned to ebony. As Sif was very vain about Her hair, Her parents sent her away to learn the ways of the Shield-Maiden. When Sif returned to Asgard, she was a highly skilled Warrior. She has a sword charmed by Odin that will forge pathways between dimensions, mostly between Asgard and Earth. Her fighting ability is only surpassed by the Valkyrie Brunnhilde.

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(Photo Credit: Writeups.org)

Odin chooses Sif to be wife to his son, Thor, as he recalled that they were childhood friends with strong feelings toward each other. They were happy together until the time that Thor preferred the mortal realm, while Sif preferred the immortal realm. They are still together, but marriage has been delayed. What the future will hold for them is unknown.

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(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

GoodGod!

November, 2016

Meet the Gods: Odin

Merry meet.

odin

You teach best what you most need to learn.”

Reading that in Richard Bach’s 1977 book, “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah,” made me realize a long time ago we are all teachers and we are all students. The women I’ve circled with for nine years honor only the Goddess, so my work with gods has fallen by the wayside. That’s precisely why I volunteered to begin writing a column about gods. Each month I plan to research another one and present a small biography, hopefully leaving some links to additional information.

I am partially of German descent, so the first god I chose is Wodan, Woden or Wotan. He is known by many other names. In Norse mythology he is Odin, and it is from here that most information about him is known.

Odin was always a war god and he’s protected heroes. He is also associated with healing, death, royalty, knowledge, battle, poetry, sorcery and the runic alphabet. He is the husband of the goddess Frigg, with whom he wagering the outcome of exploits.

He is mentioned throughout recorded history. The Germanic peoples referred to him as a founding figure. He created the world by slaying Ymir, a primordial being; and he gives the gift of life to Ask and Embla, the first two humans.

At the end of the pre-Christian period, Odin was Scandinavia’s principal god.

As told in Old Norse texts, Odin ruled Midgard. He was a tall, old man with a long beard and one eye – the other he gave to receive wisdom. He wears a cloak and a broad hat, and carries a spear named Gungnir. He rides the eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, who can gallop through the air and over the sea. Traveling with him are the wolves Geri and Freki, and the ravens Huginn and Muninn who bring him information.

A relentless seeker of knowledge and wisdom, Odin was the great magician among the gods and sometimes traveled in disguise. The runes and poetry are both attributed to him.

The runes are more than letters, they are powerful symbols with which cosmic forces can be harnessed. Odin sought them not for language, but for their potent magic. To get them, he sacrificed himself, hanging himself from a branch of Yggdrasil, the great tree that grows out of the Well of Urd in the center of the Norse cosmos. In its upper branches is Asgard, one of the Nine Worlds. In Asgard is Valhalla, which is ruled by Odin.

Odin proceeded to pierce himself with his spear and then peered down into the well where, among the powerful beings, were the Norns who had shaped destiny by carving runes into Yggdrasil’s trunk. Forbidding any of the other gods to help him, he hung day and night as he sought the runes. On the ninth night, he saw the shapes and they revealed their secrets to him.

It is stated on the Norse Mythology for Smart People website, that according to the ancient poem “Hávamál,” “Equipped with the knowledge of how to wield the runes, he became one of the mightiest and most accomplished beings in the cosmos. He learned chants that enabled him to heal emotional and bodily wounds, to bind his enemies and render their weapons worthless, to free himself from constraints, to put out fires, to expose and banish practitioners of malevolent magic, to protect his friends in battle, to wake the dead, to win and keep a lover, and to perform many other feats like these.”

He masters the art of communicating with the dead to gain their knowledge and to have as many warriors as possible on his side when he must face the wolf Fenrir, even though he knows he is doomed to die in that battle. Odin appears after his death as a leader of the wild hunt, a procession of ghosts across the winter sky.

Places are named after him; so is Wednesday (“Woden’s day”).

For more information about Odin online, you might consider beginning here:

http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-aesir-gods-and-goddesses/odin/

Merry part. And merry meet again.

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