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Archive for the ‘Ing Frea’ Category

I’ve started and stopped this post three or four times today, so I’m going to give it one more go and see how it turns out. If it’s terrible, I’ll just delete back to this point and say “yup, still trying to do this stuff” and post it.

So I’ve been in this rebuilding phase, and it’s worked out pretty well for me. I’ve done some magical work, plus some ritual work, and all told I feel like I’m a little better grounded than I have been in awhile. (Which is good, because this is week seven of practice, and I only have to journal for four months, so it’d be a real shame if I got through all four months and never figured out my practice.)

This week was my lunar retreat week, and I got the following runes:

  • Eoh – the Yew: something reliable, but that is easily overlooked. (All that is gold does not glitter)
  • Mann – Man/Mankind/Humanity: Community, other people, support and strength in numbers, relationships (can be positive or negative)
  • Rad – the Journey: the journey is always hardest when you’re actually doing it, and seems easy to the people who are not actually there with you

I haven’t put them in my spreadsheet yet, but I’m feeling like they’re pretty pertinent to where I am on this spiritual journey right now. I do know that my tribe has been a huge source of strength, and that this does feel like a journey.

Part of me wonders if the overlooked part of this has been my relationship with my gods – while I’ve done some small things for them, I haven’t been nearly as connected as I was in the past. Some of this is due to not really knowing how my relationship with them will continue to work, especially Frige. As a goddess of hearth and home, it’s weird to be living in an apartment I don’t own, as well as to be in the process of getting divorced. It’s an odd dichotomy to the life I used to live, and I’m finding that I don’t know how to relate to her like I did when I was “running a home”. (Even though I still work from home, it doesn’t feel the same as it did when I was more domestically focused.)

Same goes, to some extent, for Ing-Frea, though he has seemed closer lately. Without my garden, it’s harder to connect to the earth (and I’m on the third floor, so pots on the porch are literally the best I can do). He was the first deity to “knock on my door”, so to speak, and so it’s always easy to just lay things out for him, but it doesn’t feel the same after all that I’ve been through.

My relationship with Hela has been very much an as-needed one, unlike the other two, and I have not felt called to her work so much lately – which is odd, as you would think she would welcome this level of life transformation. But the connection is not really there either.

The change doesn’t seem to be on *their* parts so much as it is on mine though, hence my thinking this is the part of my practice that I’ve overlooked. Hopefully I can begin working on that over the next few weeks, add some meditation back into my weekly routine, and see whether those relationships are going to continue or if that aspect of my life is going to change again.

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If I had to pick, I would say I operate in a Vanic-influenced Anglo-Saxon hearth. My rituals draw on Anglo-Saxon symbolism most strongly, but I work primarily with the Vanir/Wanes – the gods and goddesses of the land and fertility, using their Anglo-Saxon names where they are attested (So (usually) Ing Frea and Freo, but also Njord and Nerthus and Frau Holda. And Hela, who kind of is her own category.). It’s an interesting little mishmash, but it suits me well, and seems to work well in practice. There is considerably more information about Scandinavian paganism in particular, but since they’re essentially sister cultures, I don’t mind borrowing too much. I try to stick to Anglo-Saxon myths where they exist, and branch out from there.

That said, I also do a lot that is “ADF” flavored. I love a lot of the ADF language – Fire and Well and Sacred Tree, flow and flame and grow in me, that kind of stuff. Generic and Neopagan, I am drawn to the poetry because it is easy to remember and it rhymes. (Simple, I know, but it works.) My everyday practice isn’t particularly hearth flavored anymore – it revolves more around fire/well/tree and less around specific hearth practices. I’d like to build more hearth flavor into that practice, but it feels odd to combine the two. I need to find a happy medium. (Perhaps just adding runes would be a good start.) Right now I do Anglo-Saxon “influenced” ADF rituals for the high days, and my personal practice is much more Neopagan Druidry. I’m a bit conflicted about this, because … well, I’m not sure why. There’s no rules against doing this (at least in my personal practice) and if it’s working, hey, why not? I would like to do more personal rituals and not just queue them up for the high days though.

I can’t really explain why I’m so drawn to the Anglo-Saxon hearth over just going with the (better documented, more common, more easily accessible) Norse/Scandinavian one, but for some reason the Anglo-Saxons just clicked with me. I blame Alaric Albertsson’s Travels through Middle Earth book primarily, as it resonated so strongly I pretty much immediately started working in an Anglo-Saxon paradigm.

But I still definitely am a modern Pagan and Druid – I have never been and will (probably) never be a reconstructionist. I’m too firmly rooted in working in a modern context for that. I don’t pretend to be reconstructing anything, only using the history and lore as a way to inform and deepen my practice. So I’m a bit of a hybrid, and that seems to be working out just fine for me.

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I celebrated my Lammas ritual at around 5pm on Saturday, July 27. Normally I try to do my rituals when I have time alone in the house, and I had extra time this weekend where I was by myself, so I did my ritual then. This was a solitary ADF style ritual that followed the COoR. I used the Solitary Norse Ritual template found here as the basis for my ritual, and added in special sections in honor of Freyr, as he was the god of the occasion, being that his is the sacrifice that goes with the first harvest. I honored Nerthus as the Earth Mother and Heimdallr as the gatekeeper. I brought incense for the fire and silver for the well, whiskey for Bragi and Heimdallr, a can of soda for the outdwellers, and shared a bottle of ginger beer as my primary offering. I also baked a loaf of corn bread to offer Freyr, which I then placed around the corners of my house as a blessing.

I liked this ritual template better for this ritual than I did when I used it for Ewemeolc. I still stumbled over the words some, which a practice run would have helped alleviate. I had real trouble getting the Two Powers to feel present, though I didn’t have much trouble feeling distracted – which is miraculous, as I forgot to feed the cat before my ritual, and he interrupted it. I made a cat-food offering at the same time as I offered (outside) to the outdwellers, and that worked fairly well. I used some of my own poetry to Freyr, as well as other published poems that I had collected, and used that as my primary offering and the centerpiece of the rite.

I wonder, in hindsight, if I shouldn’t have saved the loaf of bread for a magical working, after receiving the blessings. The loaf of bread was a sacrifice, but it was also used to bless my home afterwards (with chunks of the bread placed at each corner of the house).

After making my offerings, I asked the Kindreds to “give to me of your blessings” and drew the following runes:

  • Hagalaz: Hail – Destruction, death, an early Winter.
  • Mannaz: Man/Mortality – The self. A sense of resignation, of orlog, or fate. The way of the world, an inescapable cycle of events. The power of humans together to attempt to make a difference, to take control of things within their power.
  • Nauthiz: Need/Lessons Learned – work without reward, oppressive forces that cannot be avoided, hardship. Lessons can be learned from this situation, but they are hard won.

Yikes. I noted that this was decidedly less of a glowing review of my ritual, made some extra offerings of incense to the fire, and closed out the ritual without much further ado.

This is the first time I’ve gotten three “doom-y” runes in a row, and the first time I’ve ever pulled hagalaz as an omen in a ritual, so I’m a little shaken up. I find Hagalaz to be particularly disturbing at this, the first harvest festival, since a late hailstorm can totally ruin a year’s worth of work.

I also noted that in this ritual I gave alcohol to the first offerings (Bragi and Heimdallr) but since I usually make my offerings to the kindreds from my own cup (because I like that symbolism) offered them a non-alcoholic beverage. I am currently on a medication that has some SERIOUS side effects if combined with alcohol, so I can’t drink. This is sad, because I really would like to offer more mead. And maybe I can skip my medication on the days I do ritual so I can share mead with my Kindreds (it’s the type of medicine that skipping a day is OK, I take it as I need it. I just had already taken some today). I wonder if that got me the really negative reaction, or if I’m in for a world of hurt for the next short while.

I’ve done a lot of pondering on this rune drawing in the week since my ritual, as well as asked for help from more experienced rune readers, and while the general consensus is that things are probably not good (either now or in the future), there are more positive ways to look at this reading, or ways to look at it that place it into context as more than just DOOM AND DESTRUCTION. For one thing, it could simply be that the destruction is of something that is standing in my way – which might be painful to let go of, but would be a positive-outcome in the end. Nauthiz can be the lessons I learn from that clearing away (or the fact that it really needs to happen), and Mannaz can simply mean that it has to do with me personally, as part of my self (which could be a direct reference to the fall being a time that I generally struggle with my bipolar disorder, and that this fall I’ll make some breakthroughs through hard inner work done). This could also reference the instability of my job right now, which would also make sense.

This type of nuance is something I’m not very good at with the runes, and so I intend to use future studies to really try to get a better read on how to use them well and wisely.

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Didn’t get a post written yesterday (ever have THOSE days? Yesterday was one of THOSE days) so here’s a Meditation Tuesday post instead.

I’ve been strugging with meditation recently, especially meditation intended to bring me closer to the Kindreds – especially Freyr. A lot of the reasons for that are pretty personal, so I won’t go into that here, but I asked a blogging friend to do some divination and she agreed. The results were very comforting, and so far very helpful.

One of the things she suggested was taking my meditation practice outside. Now – keep in mind that I live in southeast Texas, and it is nearly July. It was 85 degrees this morning at 6am on my drive in to work – and it’s been extremely humid. As such, it’s also high mosquito season. So I’ve opted for an in-between until things are not so blasted uncomfortable to be outside (it’s hard to settle into meditation with sweat pouring off of you). I’ve been meditating in my screen porch – it’s not quite as good as actually sitting on the ground, and the Cult of The Eternal Yard Work has been noisily disruptive, as usual, but it HAS helped some. I’ve been doing these meditations after I exercise (so I’m already hot and sweaty) and it’s been fairly productive at helping me re-make some connections.

I do my stress-reducing meditation inside though. Those are done after a shower, and I’m not wasting a perfectly good shower by then immediately returning outside where the heat index is over 115F.

Usually the summer is a reflective time for me – in the way that Winter is for a lot of people. It really is pretty inhospitable here in summer, and so while I do GET outside, I’m not as eager to stay outside like I am the other nine months of the year. (For reference, my wedding anniversary is in January, and it was sunny and 75 degrees outside that day this year (and on the day we got married!)).

I’ll definitely be doing more outside meditations as we start approaching Lammas and the Fall Equinox. These are big holidays for me, especially in my worship of Freyr (who is the God of the grain cycle, so the grain harvest is a good day to specifically honor Him). I want to try making some kind of loaves to offer as a sacrifice, and I want to deepen my connection to Him in preparation for that time of his sacrifice. The ADF Norse interpretation of this holiday is typically celebrated as the wedding of Thor and Sif (and of comunity coming together for the Thing, so the bounds of community and laws), but I haven’t decided if I will try to split my Lammas rite into two sections, or if I will just honor Freyr as Lord of the Grain Harvest (or if I’ll move my celebration of Freyr back to the Fall Equinox, as a more general Harvest festival, which would correspond more closely to what was going on in my garden). Things to ponder as summer progresses.

(I will also be finishing my “Wheel of the Year” at the Fall Equinox, so I have some big decisions to make about oaths and dedicating myself to Druidry as the ending of the Dedicant Path. I’d like to submit by Samhain, if possible, so I need to get all my ducks in a row with my essays before the Fall Equinox.)

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I’ve not been so good about two parts of my practice recently – both blogging and my meditation time have suffered as my commitments in life have ramped up. Those two things are related, since they both represent time I spend in thought and contemplation about my path (or just about my breath), and I’ve not been doing a lot of that recently. Quite frankly, I think it’s time to swing back that direction. My meditation practice is directly tied in with my daily offerings, so you can imagine that those have been less as well, and frequently have been getting skipped.

I’m not sure exactly where the balance is, but I know right now I’m not on it. I have some health issues going on that are taking up more time than usual, and that means rebalancing my time to make sure I’m making time to do the things I need to do. I’ve also had some personal issues getting in the way of my devotional practice. They’re intensely personal, so I’m not sure I will talk about them much here, but suffice to say it’s been very difficult to maintain a devotional practice with regards to Ingvi Frey lately. I am hoping to get some guidance on that front, but it’s been challenging. I’m hoping that with a bit of guidance I can find a way to do those devotions in a way that is also protective of and safe for me mentally.

My ancestor devotions are about where they were – I’m definitely going through a lot more candles in the kitchen on my hearth lately!

As well, the two books I ordered on Anglo-Saxon paganism have come in, so I am anxious to get started reading them. I think it’ll be good to read something more scholarly after having immersed myself in fiction with the Iron Druid Chronicles. Those were fun – and spiritually interesting – but as with all things, balance is good.

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It seems disasters are not far from our communities this year. Yesterday a massive tornado outbreak stormed through Oklahoma and other parts of the midwest, with the worst damage coming in the town of Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Reports of many dead are already coming in, with predictions of more to be found. The destruction there is terrible – and that was only one of the many tornadoes that spawned yesterday afternoon. Like in previous disasters, it will take some time for the full story to be uncovered, though the worst of these tornadoes seems to be fairly well documented.

I think the prayer I wrote for those searching for survivors in West, TX is applicable here, so I thought I’d repost it, in light of the ongoing search and rescue operations.

Great Freyja,
Who flew like a falcon over the whole earth in search of your lost husband,
Place your falcon cloak over the shoulders of those who search through destroyed homes and buildings
Bring them peace in their terrible work.

May your sharp eyes and swift wings speed their search
May they find those who yet live.
Strengthen their hearts, which are already full of care for the wounded,
And bless all those who would aid them.

May the dead be at peace, and their families comforted.
May the survivors be at peace, and their recovery swift.

© 2013 The Druid in the Swamp

As well, I’d like to add a prayer here to a less public side of this storm disaster – the farmers who lost crops, cattle, and horses (and are still trying to find those cattle and horses) in the wake of the tornado outbreak.

Mighty Freyr,
Lord of crops and grains and growing things,
Cast your powerful hand toward farmers and ranchers this day.
Bless their search, that they may find the livestock
On which their livelihood depends.
Aid them as they try to recover their crops
In the wake of the destruction that occurred yesterday.

Great Freyr,
Who knows well what it is to care for a great horse
And also the pain of losing him,
Help those who search for their horses
Find them and return them to safety.
Protect those horses from danger, keep them calm.
Speed their safe return.

© 2013 The Druid in the Swamp

And, since a little late is better than never, and the spring tornado season is far from being over (and hurricane season is just around the corner), a prayer to Thor for protection in a storm:

Wielder of the hammer,
red-bearded one,
Thor, protector,
to you I call.
I stand in the midst of a storm
and ask your protection.

Source: “A Book of Pagan Prayer” © 2002 Ceisiwr Serith.

An old folk blessing to help keep a storm from your home also involves squirting holy water out the front and back door in the shape of a holy symbol. I’ve seen this done with holy water used to make crosses and full moon blessed water to make pentagrams, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with a Druid sigil (or the Awen symbol, or the Hammer symbol) and some “holy” water – either natural water, water from three natural sources, or just water that you’ve blessed for this purpose. (Water blessed by the sun and moon would work too).

You just put some in a squirty bottle, like a bottle you’d get for liquid dish soap, open each of the doors of your house and squirt the water in your preferred pattern of blessing and protection, while saying a prayer for protection from storms.

It’s simple magic, but sometimes even the simplest magic can be powerful.

Finally, as a reminder to all of us with pets we love dearly, please have your pets microchipped. In the event of a horrible storm or other disaster, a microchip greatly increases the chances that you and your lost pet will be reunited. This is true whether there is a tornado or hurricane, a house fire, or your pet just gets loose from your home/yard.

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I did sitting meditation every day this week, as part of a re-set of my mindfulness practice and in an attempt to help with some mental health issues. I did 15-30 minute meditations, usually starting with 10 minutes seated and then moving to lying on my back on the floor. I’ve found I definitely have better luck meditating lying down than I do sitting up, at least when it comes to getting to that state of calm half-awareness.  I think partially this would be alleviated by sitting on a cushion instead of on the floor itself, so we’ll see if that helps this coming week.

I usually end my meditations with the Two Powers, which I’ve found feels very different lying down than it does standing up in ritual. Not sure that one is “better”, but I feel more grounded when I’m lying down for sure.

I continue to light incense to Freyr several times a week, and have started including a short prayer to him in my morning devotionals (beyond just saying “good morning”, as He asked).

I have also continued to see the Crane in my mental grove at night before I go to bed. In that light, I’ve downloaded some of the materials for the Order of the Crane and will be reading through them to see if this path is for me. I’d also like to do some focused meditations with Garanus in mind – he is not a Nature Spirit that I’ve worked with much in the past, though I have worked with and talked to local great blue herons and green herons in my area. The one major conversation I had was about the state of the waterway behind where I live, so it was not a devotional relationship like the Order is.

One noteworthy meditation this week had a little visitor. I was lying on the floor, in a sort of half-trance state, moving between my  breath and my mental grove, when something MOVED on my ARM. I looked down, and there was a tiny green anole lizard on my arm, apparently having let himself in through the open window. (I’m not sure how, there’s a screen) It definitely ended the meditation, as I then chased him around the room for 10 minutes before catching him and putting him outside.

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