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On the language of Patrons

Because it keeps coming up:

The feminine form of patron is patroness.

matron is motherly, typically a woman who has borne children.

It is unlikely that your virgin dawn goddess is particularly motherly, but she might still be your patroness.

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For U-bar-U, which has neither lake nor sentineled firs, but whose darkness is just as filled with the sounds of the spirits.

The Skater of Ghost Lake 
By William Rose Benet

Ghost Lake’s a dark lake, a deep lake and cold:
Ice black as ebony, frostily scrolled;
Far in its shadows a faint sound whirs;
Steep stand the sentineled deep, dark firs.

A brisk sound, a swift sound, a ring-tinkle-ring;
Flit-flit,–a shadow with a stoop and a swing,
Flies from the shadow through the crackling cold.
Ghost Lake’s a deep lake, a dark lake and old!

Leaning and leaning with a stride and a stride,
hands locked behind him, scarf blowing wide,
Jeremy Randall skates, skates late,
Star for a candle, moon for a mate.

Black is the clear glass now that he glides,
Crisp is the whisper of long lean strides,
Swift is his swaying–but pricked ears hark.
None comes to Ghost lake late after dark!

Cecily only–yes it is she!
Stealing to Ghost Lake, tree after tree,
Kneeling in snow by the still lake side,
Rising with feet winged, gleaming, to glide.

Dust of the ice swirls. Here is his hand.
Brilliant his eyes burn. Now, as was planned,
Arm across arm twined, laced to his side,
Out on the dark lake lightly they glide.

Dance of the dim moon, a rhythmical reel,
A swaying, a swift tune–skurr of the steel;
Moon for a candle, maid for a mate,
Jeremy Randall skates, skates late.

Black as if lacquered the wide lake lies;
Breath as a frost-fume, eyes seek eyes;
Souls are a sword edge tasting the cold.
Ghost Lake’s a deep lake, a dark lake and old!

Far in the shadows hear faintly begin
Like a string pluck-plucked of a violin,
Muffled in mist on the lake’s far bound,
Swifter and swifter, a low singing sound!

Far in the shadows and faint on the verge
Of blue cloudy moonlight, see it emerge,
Flit-flit,–a phantom, with a stoop and a swing . . .
Ah, it’s a night bird burdened of wing!

Pressed close to Jeremy, laced to his side,
Cecily Culver, dizzy you glide.
Jeremy Randall sweepingly veers
Out on the dark ice far from the piers.

“Jeremy!” “Sweetheart?” “What do you fear?”
“Nothing my darling,–nothing is here!”
“Jeremy!” “Sweetheart?” “What do you flee?”
“Something–I know not; something I see!”

Swayed to a swift stride, brisker of pace,
Leaning and leaning, they race and they race;
Ever that whirring, that crisp sound thin
Like a string pluck-plucked of a violin;

Ever that swifter and low singing sound
Sweeping behind them, winding them round;
Gasp of their breath now that chill flakes fret;
Ice black as ebony–blacker–like jet!

Ice shooting fangs forth–sudden–like spears;
Crackling of lightning–a roar in their ears!
Shadowy, a phantom swerves off its prey . . .
No, it’s a night bird flit-flits away!

Low-winging moth-owl, home to your sleep!
Ghost Lake’s a still lake, a cold lake and deep.
Faint in its shadows a far sound whirs.
Black stand the ranks of its sentineled firs.

Prayer, T.I.D.*

So I’ve always been a praying person. For a long time I only did extemporaneous prayers, like a good little Protestant kid, even though I really hated my wordy, fumbly, formulaic prayers that all seemed kind of pointless. (I was fortunate enough to grow up in a praying home, and my grandfather is a beautiful pray-er, so I had good role models at least.) Then I found Catholicism, and a whole new world of prayers opened up for me. Though I’ve (obviously) left that behind, I’m finding myself a praying pagan more and more.

Recent devotions have brought up the idea that I need to be keeping a sort of horarium – an office of the hours. My days run together; they can be pretty unstructured as someone who works from home. Earlier this year John Beckett, who is becoming a dear friend as well as being someone whose opinion I respect in the pagan world, challenged his readers to have a “contemplative season” between Yule and Imbolc. I took his challenge and ran with it, and came up with a little daily office to say during the day.

Of course, being the unstructured hooligan that I am, I don’t have set times for anything, but I have three prayers to say each day. One in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night.

This is all great.

Except that while I can regularly say a prayer in the morning, and regularly say a prayer at night before bed, praying in the afternoon is making me bonkers.

Either I remember at 10am, and it’s too early, or I just flat forget the damn thing until it’s 10pm and I’m going to bed. I have a prayer for when I’ve forgotten a prayer, and I think I’m using it most days right now because of the stupid afternoon prayer that I can’t make myself remember to pray, even with a phone alarm going off at 2:30.

And yet.

My calling has never been stronger. I’ve had one of the most intense Imbolc seasons I’ve ever had, with spiritual experiences that will shape my life, possibly for years to come. Prayer changes things. I’ve heard it said that prayer isn’t something you do, it’s something the gods do that you are part of. While I don’t know that my middling, fairly ineffective devotions count as something as powerful as all that, I can’t deny that this practice has deepened into something I want to keep doing.

So I will. You can come too, if you like. We can be bad at praying together. I promise, once you get used to it, it’s not so bad.

*From the Latin for “three times daily”, as typically seen on a prescription for medication.

The size of the Universe

“The universe is exactly the size that your soul can encompass. Some people live in extremely small worlds, and some live in a world of infinite possibilities. you have just received some sensory input that suggest its bigger than you previously thought. What are you going to do with that information? Will you deny it or embrace it?”

― Atticus, Hounded – The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

(Reposted from Jan 25, when this was originally written.)

Sometimes your deities get on your case to the point where you think you’re going to explode. Today is one of those days. Be warned that this is not fully formed – I’m working through this by writing about it, because today I can’t not write about it, so bear with me.

Let’s talk about Ing. Ing Frea. Yngvi. You may know him better as Freyr. Some have related him to Herne. He is Anglo-Saxon. Germanic. Norse. Maybe English.

When you see statues at Uppsala of the Norse gods, Odin has his spear, Thor has his hammer, and Freyr has a giant penis.

And somehow, over the last millennia, I guess because that’s the original statuary that we have, everyone seems to think that Frey begins and ends with his giant phallus. As a devotee of his, I often get people who are like “yeah, but his dick?” when they find out that I am His. Because I’m a survivor of sexual abuse and assault, people assume that because of that – and because one of the surviving stories we have about Freyr is coercive and uncomfortable – I could never relate to this deity. People try to warn me about Him, especially about His penis. “You know he’s the big-penis god right?”

So let’s look at the lore for a minute, and talk about all the things that Ing has been called. Ann Sheffield, in her Frey: God of the World, summarizes the kennings that are used to describe Frey in the Poetic and Prose Eddas. The kennings that Sheffield quotes include:

  • Most renowned, most glorious among gods
  • Harvest-god, god of prosperity
  • Foremost, best of gods
  • Beli’s bane
  • Bright
  • Sacrifice-priest
  • Freyja’s brother
  • Battle-wise
  • Wealth-giver
  • (one who) guides, governs the people
  • People’s ruler of the gods
  • Fair, beautiful
  • Wise
  • Temple-priest
  • Chieftain
  • Mighty
  • Providing
  • Shining
  • Njordh’s son
  • Vanir-god
  • God of the world
  • Weaponless, unarmed

These kennings and bynames come from the Skirnismal, Gylfaginning, Ynglinga Saga, Grimnismal, Skaldskaparmal sections of the Poetic and Prose Eddas, by Snorri Sturluson, or poets that he quotes. You’ll notice that they are about a warrior god, a priest god, a chieftain, a ruler, a wise god, a giver of wealth and prosperity, a harvest god. And yes, penises throughout history have been associated with prosperity and the harvest and wealth, but there’s more here than just a big dick.

There is Wisdom. Guidance. Providence. Prosperity. This is not a god of carnal, unslaked lust. Of sexual prowess. This is about the land and the people who live there. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem says:

Ing was first seen by men among the East-Danes, till, followed by his chariot, he departed eastwards over the waves. So the Heardingas named the hero.

The Ingvaeones were a West Germanic peoples and were the precursors to the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes that settled in England – a tribe of people calling themselves the “children of Ing”. He is a progenitor of kings, an ancestor god, one who cares for the people who follow him. He is old, ancient, and sometimes alien.

I don’t know why I need to say this today. It wasn’t prompted by any conversations I’ve had recently. But the voice behind my head says it’s time for me to start saying this, so here it is. It’s not a fully formed “argument” yet – I know this. I also know that the Frey/Gerd story is problematic on lots of levels. (Cue the “all my faves are problematic” meme.)

But I also know, in a deep and personal and unexplainable way, that there is more here. There is depth, and warmth, and providence, and even maybe love. There is also death, and sacrifice, and the unfathomable service that is priesthood.

This isn’t middle school. Giggle about the big penis statue, sure – if anything, at least it’s calling a spade a spade (as opposed to Odin’s phallic spear and Thor’s phallic hammer). But then look deeper.

There’s way more to this than a dick.

VSLM

It is with both joy and trepidation that I announce here that I have accepted the nomination to run as Non-Officer Director this year’s ADF national elections.

For those curious, the Non-Officer Directors (NODs) are elected at large to positions on the Board of Directors (BOD). While these directors have no particular “jobs” to perform, they are responsible for taking part in BOD debates and votes. The term of office for a NOD is two years with no term limits for office holders. A NOD may perform any of those duties performed by a non-profit corporate Board member.

If you have questions for me, my vision for ADF, or anything else you’d like to see from me (especially in my ballet bio) please let me know! Also know that my email is always open to anyone who would like to talk druidry – theswampdruid@gmail.com

In service to the folk,

Lauren Mart

I’ve been working in trance/meditation lately, looking for a more active guide – I have a stable mental grove, and lots of things come to visit me there, but I am rarely led to leave the boundaries of that space, and I know I need to be able to do that kind of journeying as I work toward my Clergy vocation and eventually my Initiate’s work.

So I’m doing a lot of listening, and seeing who shows up, and I have an ancestor who seems interested (not surprising) but his work is very internally focused, so we often do work within my mental grove instead of going out into the Worlds. But I seem to have another spirit guide who wants to help, and this one is … uh … well. She’s showing up as a brindle and white French Bulldog. Which has got to be the most unimpressive spirit guide ever. But she keeps nudging me towards the boundaries of my space, so I’m going to try following her and seeing where we go.

I’ve always maintained that I was the worlds most dunderheaded trance/meditation spirit worker. Now, apparently, I am attracting adorable puppies as spirit guides.

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The part that I *didn’t* share on Facebook? And that makes me feel like I”m a total whackjob barking moonbat?

Is that this little french bulldog started showing up after I added Carrie Fisher to my regular ancestor offerings after Hallows. (It’s traditional to refrain from honoring the dead from the last year until Hallows, so I hadn’t been making offerings for her, but I did a big public one at Hallows, and then ordered an “icon” of her and have her up on my shrine.) I don’t think the bulldog _IS_ Carrie, but I’m kinda wondering if she sent me a puppy.

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It’s just weird and a big adjustment because I have longstanding relationships with rabbit, owl, rooster, and toad. So I always expected if I was going to have a spirit ally that was going to lead me into the worlds, it would be something like that. An animal I already have an affinity with, not one that I think is utterly ridiculous and silly and kind of … well, ridiculous. (And I’ve had plenty of experiences in my mental grove with ALL of those animals, but they clearly came THERE to VISIT me. Whereas this bulldog? she wants to GO PLACES. SEE ALL THE THINGS.)

So I have a new adventure buddy, and we’re gonna go explore all the things. I really do think she’s a good fit, because she’s quirky and inquisitive, and dogs make great companions – all things that I’ve needed in my spiritual life. I need an enthusiastic friend who will encourage me to take risks, and who will – if needed – be very protective if we get into trouble.

But I still feel pretty silly about it.