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This World is not Conclusion.
A Sequel stands beyond –
Invisible, as Music –
But positive, as Sound –
It beckons, and it baffles –
Philosophy, don’t know –
And through a Riddle, at the last –
Sagacity, must go –
To guess it, puzzles scholars –
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown –
Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies –
Blushes, if any see –
Plucks at a twig of Evidence –
And asks a Vane, the way –
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit –
Strong Hallelujahs roll –
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul –

Emily Dickinson, LXXXIII

To call this final, capstone essay “Discipline” is oddly suited to the journey I have been on since beginning the clergy student discipline. In fact, over the course of this work, I have changed nearly every facet of my mundane life, including completely reinventing my personal practice, and yet still maintained the disciplines set before me – to pray, to take retreat time. Even in the fallow times, I knew that this practice would sustain me. It sustained me through a new job in a new field, moving, numerous mental health challenges, the death of my 10 year marriage and subsequent divorce, and the reinventing of myself that is ongoing as I step forward into the world unfettered by my previous expectations of myself.

This is not to say I never faltered – in the darkest days of my divorce, there was certainly not a lot of incentive to pray beyond knowing that I needed to pray. But I did it anyway, and coming out the other side of it I find myself having grown and changed in ways that seem both miniscule and radical at the same time.

So what have I done, or come to do over the course of my time as a clergy student?

I have a daily practice – one that has now expanded to include the practice of a daily office. My decision to pray every day, three times a day, has been hugely rewarding to my devotional practices and to my closeness to my gods and spirits. I have a (mostly) weekly practice, where I do a larger ritual that encompasses divination, usually a full core order, though usually improvised. I maintain a once-monthly retreat day, finding solace in my practices according to the clergy student discipline. I keep the high days, often with multiple rituals, both private and with my grove.

I also lead weekly study sessions on various topics, provide care and advice and spiritual counseling to my grove, and provide divination and mentorship to my grove and to a small cadre of new pagans online from all around the world. I’ve given presentations at festivals, written articles for Oak Leaves and for publication in other online spaces, and generally turned from a solitary, sheltered pagan into a public face in my community and online.

In short, I have started “priesting” – to coin the present participle of the noun.

I find it fitting that the rune that has followed me throughout my time as a clergy student is Gyfu – the gift, the rune of hospitality and reciprocity. Through it I have continued to find my space in the community, online, and with the spirits – through the giving and receiving of gifts. I have given good gifts, such as are within my power, and I have received blessings abundantly in return.

My relationship with the Earth Mother and the Gatekeeper has grown as well. They are part of my daily devotions, each receiving a prayer every morning, as well as at my monthly longer rituals.

As an Anglo-Saxon druid, I have an easy connection to the Earth Mother, as we know the Anglo-Saxons revered her. I simply call her Eorþan Modor, which just means Mother Earth. She is the ground on which I walk, and I honor her both in the green spaces around my apartment and in the garden that I grow on my small balcony. I find there is nothing so fitting as growing some of my own food and herbs, that I can enjoy – and then give back as offerings themselves. But she is also a challenging goddess to serve. I see in her remnants of Nerthus, from whom she descends, veiled and mysterious, a peacekeeper, but also demanding of sacrifice. I say to her “may I learn the meaning of true grace through your guidance,” but she is enigmatic at times. Other times she is simply the fertile ground of agriculture, which is so prevalent only half an hour’s drive from where I live.

Finding my gatekeeper was more challenging. There is always Woden to ask for the task, but he remains distant from me. Hama – the cognate to the Norse Heimdall – is another easy deity to ask, but though I work with him closely as the patron of Nine Waves, he never felt right in my personal rituals. I went so far as to ask Modgud – the giantess who guards the gates of Hel – but she was completely unresponsive. So I started looking for unconventional gatekeepers, and realized that the essence of a gatekeeper is their liminality – their ability to exist both in one world and the next, to traverse the worlds and cross the boundaries. So I reached out to Eostre – the Anglo-Saxon goddess who is honored in the early spring, usually celebrated by modern pagans at the Equinox. Her name is cognate with many other goddesses – Ostara, Eos, Aurora, Usas, and the Proto-Indo European *Hausos – in meaning East, and in being associated with the dawn. Her reaction to being asked to walk with me through the gates can only be described as joyful, and so with her help, I speak into the worlds. She is the Guardian of the Gates of Dawn, the radiant maiden of the East, who dances upon the boundary between night and day.

My personal devotional practice is, as began in my Dedicant work, dominated by my relationship with Ing Frea (Freyr/Ingui/Yngvi). As much as this path has been one of becoming a public priest, it has also included the trials and tribulations of becoming his devotional priest as well. I do not know yet what that will entail fully, but I trust in him and his guidance and advice. He is the sacrifice and sacrificer, death and rebirth, the golden god of the grain, the harvest lord, providence and the sacrificial king. In him, my practice is rooted deeply. (Though strangely, his rune almost never shows up in my readings, and when it does, it often indicates harvests rather than Himself.)

Journaling has never been a strong suit of mine, and my omen records are extremely intermittent, unfortunately, due to having lost some of my documentation when my apartment was struck by lightning last May, which took out part of my hard drive – a lesson in backing up your documents to the cloud, certainly. I do know that my journals – most of which are published on my blog – have given me a chance to go deeper into this practice, to own it, and to come into my ownership of it.

This discipline has become a part of my practice of sovereignty, and through it I express myself in the world. I stand at the precipice, having finished the coursework, but not yet applied for ordination, and I find myself returning to the words of Emily Dickinson – this has been a great adventure, one that has been hard, at times exhausting, but always rewarding. It is with much anticipation that I step forward into the sequel, and get to see what lies beyond.

VSLM

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(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

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Introduction:

This course is the first of two intended to provide an introduction to the practice of liturgical writing. Topics covered in this first course are primarily foundational: the purposes of ritual; the use of source materials; and the nature and forms of heightened language (or, for the purposes of this course, poetics) applied to writing liturgical material, such as prayers.

This course also assumes a familiarity with the ADF order of ritual and completion of the ADF Dedicant Program. While much of the content of this study guide is couched in general terms, the student will be asked to apply those general concepts to a consideration of how they are exemplified by ADF liturgical practices and having those practices in mind while reading the material will be helpful.

Course Objectives

  • Students will analyze and discuss a variety of purposes fulfilled by the ADF Core Order of Ritual.
  • Students will identify techniques utilized within effective poetic expression and begin to incorporate these techniques within their liturgical writing.
  • Students will be able to create a prayer appropriate for use in high day ritual and select an appropriate offering to accompany the prayer.

1.    Describe how ADF’s order of ritual expresses the following concepts: “Serving the people”; “Reaffirming shared beliefs”; “Reestablishing the cosmic order”; “Building enthusiasm”. (Min. 500 words)

  “Serving the People”

ADF’s Core Order of Ritual is a type of service in and of itself, for it was designed to be a shared, public Neopagan liturgy. Isaac’s vision was one where ADF groves held rituals in public, for their entire communities, in a way that was normal and affirming to all who might come and worship the kindreds with us. Public ritual is a service that groves provide, and a service that ADF clergy provides at festivals, to the various communities that they serve and are a part of.  This service allows people to strengthen their ties to the kindreds and to their gods and spirits through offerings and receiving the blessings, and it facilitates the building of social structures as well, which are ever more and more important in today’s often frantic society.

“Reaffirming Shared Beliefs”

The first steps of the Core Order are about reaffirming shared beliefs. We process into the space together, often in song, as a show of solidarity of spirit and purpose. Each member is purified, but then we create the group mind, often through the Two Powers meditation, establishing our connection to each other, to the powers of the Earth and Sky, and maintaining our sacred space within the worlds. We then state our purpose for being in ritual, a step that is both about reaffirming our shared purpose and beliefs and that teaches newcomers what to expect in the ritual. These steps form the “set up” at the beginning of any Core Order ritual and provide a shared system of belief and a feeling of community that pervades the rest of the ritual. As each offering is made, the community responds in kind – “Accept this offering” and “Accept this sacrifice” – as each offering is both personal and communal. Our shared beliefs are upheld when we make offerings together. (Newburg)

“Reestablishing the cosmic order”

The cosmic order is maintained through our ritual actions each time we do ritual, in the “middle” of the setup of a Core Order ritual, after the affirmation of shared beliefs and the introductory parts of the ritual.

While world-creating aspects of liturgy “are sometimes present just to commemorate the creation… more often they are also meant to orient the ritual participants to other parts of the universe and to all the other beings in it” (Bonewits 31). Bonewits says that the first step of this part of the ritual is “defining a ritual center,” which ADF does through creating the sacred center in the Fire, the Well, and the Tree, as well as the three “worlds” of Land, Sea, and Sky. This requires creating a “center of the world” (Eliade, in Bonewits 31), which is the place where the deities created everything and a place where you can have access to anywhere in the various worlds. This is usually represented by the axis mundi – the Tree in ADF’s cosmology, which can be represented by any number of axes, including Yggdrasil, Irminsul, Omphalos, and Bile.

ADF then completes this sacred center by opening up a gate, with the aid of a Gatekeeper spirit (or spirits), through which all of the energy of the ritual will flow, both inwards to the other realms and then back outwards to the participants in the ritual.

“Building Enthusiasm”

Building enthusiasm is the creation of energy that is raised for the benefit of the spirit or spirits that are the central focus of the ritual itself. This preliminary power raising can be done by “singing or chanting, by a sacred dance, or by formal evocations or invocations” (Bonewits 33). In ADF ritual this is typically done through a combination of song and evocative prayers, where calls are made and energy is raised through offerings that are poured into the fire. Drama is key here, and a boring evocation with no poetry or ‘magic’ will often fall flat, where the same or similar evocation given with oomph and a flair for the poetry of the situation can be truly inspiring. The peak of this power-raising is the Prayer of Sacrifice, where all of the good intent, offerings, energy, love, and praise of the community is focused through the gates in a big final push to the gathered spirits (Newburg).

ADF ritual also builds another kind of enthusiasm – the enthusiasm for community and shared experience. Often if a group is feeling flat or dull, performing ritual together can spark life and energy back into the core of the group. This enthusiasm is built through our ritual structures, and brings us back full circle on this question, as it feeds back into the idea of serving the people.

(772)

2.    Create a prayer of praise, offering, or thanksgiving to a deity modeled on a mythic, folkloric, or other literary source of at least 75 words. Include a summary of what your sources were and how you utilized them (summary at least 150 words).

Hail Frey, Lord of the fields!
Beautiful lord of the Vanir
Golden of hair as the fields of wheat and corn,
Bringing riches of heart and hearth to the folk.

We hail you with the grain that springs forth
And falls again to nourish us.
We hail you, mighty boar in flight,
Lord of Frith that is bound to land,
You who can warm the cold heart,
Warrior without a weapon
Who give your prosperity to all of your kin,
You guide and sustain your descendants.

Lord Ing, Providing god,
God of the bees and the barley,
You who make the grain spring forth,
We sacrifice this, our first loaf,  to you
As the grains are sacrificed for us each year.

I have an ever deepening relationship with Frey, and have since I was working on my Mental Discipline requirement for my Dedicant work in 2012. Over the years, I’ve collected a number of books about him, and read all of his myths multiple times, but I’ve found that in popular culture this multi-faceted deity gets flattened to only be about fertility.  Ann Sheffield, in her Frey: God of the World, summarizes the kennings that are used to describe Frey in the Poetic and Prose Eddas. I consulted this list extensively. Some of 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 Sturlusun, or poets that he quotes (Sheffield 2-3). I noted that most of these references are to Frey as a giver of wealth and prosperity, and thus made that the focus of this prayer of offering, which references as well the first-loaves that were a common offering around this time of year (early August). I also make reference to Gullinbursti – Frey’s boar of golden bristles – which also comes from the Skaldskaparmal section of the Prose Edda. The reference to Bee and Barley is a reference to Beyla and Byggvir, Frey’s servants as quoted in the Lokasenna portion of the Prose Edda. The reference to warming the cold heart is to the story in Skirnismal where Frey sends his servant Skirnir to woo the Jotun-maid Gerda, who then becomes his wife.

(301)

3.    Discuss a poem of at least eight lines as to its use of poetic elements (as defined by Watkins): formulaics, metrics, and stylistics. Pay particular attention to use of meter and phonetic devices, such as rhyme and alliteration. (Minimum 100 words beyond the poem itself.)

Riddle Forty-three:

Ic wat indryhtne              aethelum deorne
giest in geardum,            tham se grimma ne maeg
hungor scethan                 ne se hata thurst,
yldo ne adle.                  Gif him arlice
esne thenath,               se the agan sceal
on tham sithfate,             hy gesunde aet ham
findath witode him         wiste ond blisse,
cnosles unrim,               care, gif se esne
his hlaforde                hyreth yfle,
frean on fore.                  Ne wile forth wesan
brothor othrum;              him thate bam scetheth
thonne hy from bearme          begen hweorfath
anre magan                       ellorfuse,
moddor on sweostor.    Mon, se the wille,
cythe cynewordum        hu se Cuma hatte,
edtha se esne,                 the ic her ymb sprice.

(Porter 74)

I know of a lofty stranger
in the yards, beloved by noblemen,
whom sharp hunger cannot harm,
nor hot thirst, old age or sickness.

If the servant serves him kindly,
who must go away on that journey —
they will find at home, certain
and unharmed, happiness
and a hot meal, countless children.
But sorrow, if the servants
obeys his lord poorly,
his master along their way.

Brother does not fear brother,
who injures them both,
when they both depart, eager for yonder
from the lap of a single kinsman,
mother and sister.

Let the one who wishes to
name this stranger in familiar words,
or else the servant,
who I’m talking about here.

(Hostetter)

John Porter calls the Anglo Saxon riddles a collection of “lyric poems”, and defines these riddles as “metaphor, transformation and analogy, poetic perception, verbal play, language under creative imagination, ‘making it new’” (Porter 7). These poems are the essence of Old English poetry, and provide classic examples of the highest valued portions of their poetic forms – primarily alliteration and rhythmic forms. I have included both the Anglo-Saxon original and a readable translation for the analysis here, since it’s hard to analyze alliteration in a translation.

Formulaics is the use of repeated words and phrases, sometimes across languages, which serve as a poetic cue to the reader and to the poet (Watkins 12-19). While Watkins primarily compares the Vedic and Greek poetry for shared words and phrases that share syntax and meaning, the Old English literature is not discussed – perhaps because by the time it was written down it had branched so far from the original languages as to only share formulas with closer, sister-languages such as Old Norse and other Germanic languages.

Even so, this riddle is an exercise in poetic formulas from top to bottom, and – in fact – is a sort of poetic formula by its very nature, being that a riddle is in some ways an elaborate kenning for a greater topic. As well, there are formulaic pieces within the riddle as well, the most prominent of which is part of the key to solving the riddle. John Porter says that the answer to this riddle is “the body and the soul” (the stranger and the servant). Thus would the “single kinsman, mother and sister” be the earth itself (Porter 135). The oral traditions of poetry that Watkins discusses were incredibly successful thanks to these formulas, and the Anglo-Saxon language is no exception. There is very little written in Anglo-Saxon, and what we do have was written post-conversion.

Metrics is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetic forms, as well as the use of pauses, or caesura, mid-line (Watkins 19-21). The basic pattern of the lines in Riddle Forty-three is two half lines that are connected by alliteration (consonants with consonants, vowels with vowels), where the alliterated words have more stress. Each line includes a caesura mid-line.

Stylistics is all of the other linguistic features that distinguish poetry in a language, like alliteration, parallel structure, simile and metaphor, rhyme, repetition, and others (Watkins 21-27). As is typical of Old English poetry, there is no rhyme scheme in this 16 line riddle – and in fact there is no rhyme scheme in any of the riddles, which vary dramatically in length. Alliteration, however, there is in plenty – giest, geardum, grimma, maeg (line 2), his, hlaforde, hyreth (line 9), bearme, begen (line 12). The greater style of all of the riddles is one of extended metaphor – the subject of the riddle is compared to or described as many things in an attempt to get the listener to correctly guess the riddle’s subject.

(493)

4.    Create a prayer suitable for the main offering of a High Day rite which includes invocation of at least one deity suitable to the occasion, description of the offering and its suitability to the occasion, and the purpose of the offering, totaling at least 100 words. Any stage directions necessary for performance of the offering should be included.

This invocation was made to Sunna at Nine Waves’ Midsummer ritual in 2016 and 2017.

Radiant Sunna, whose rays wash the land in light,
All nature vibrates with your energies
And the Earth is bathed with warmth and life
Fire of sky and air, your brightness draws us forth.
You are called ever-glow, day-star, and all-bright seen
Daughter of Mundilfari, you mark our days,
And with your brother you tell the time for us

Shine brightly upon us, Sunna,
On this the feast of your strength and speed
Your longest journey is today,
Let your light shine upon the fields in our hearts and minds
And may the harvest grow strong and tall there
Let your light shine upon the land around us
And may the harvest grow strong and tall there

May your blessing fall on our homes and all the crops we have sown
Until the time of harvest draws near.

Shining Sunna, accept our sacrifice!

(Throw sunflowers into the fire.)

(163)

Works Consulted

–. Anglo-Saxon Riddles. Trans John Porter. Little Downham, Ely, Cambs: Anglo-Saxon Books, 2003. Print.

Bonewits, Isaac. Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2007. Print.

Dickins, Bruce. Runic and Heroic Poems. London: Cambridge University Press, 1915. Print.

Hostetter, Dr. Aaron K. “Exeter Book Riddles.” Rutgers University. Web. 1 August 2017.
<https://anglosaxonpoetry.camden.rutgers.edu/exeter-book-riddles/&gt;.

Newburg, Brandon. “Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites: A Core Order of Ritual Tutorial for Ár nDraíocht Féin.” ADF. Web. 1 August 2017. <https://www.adf.org/members/training/dedicant-path/articles/coortutorial/index.html&gt;.

–. The Poetic Edda. Trans. Carolyne Larrington. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

–. The Poetic Edda. Trans. Lee M Hollander. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1990. Print.

Sheffield, Ann Groa. Frey: God of the World. Lulu.com, 2007. Print.

Sturluson, Snorri. Edda. Trans. Anthony Faulkes. Clarendon, VT: Everyman Press, 1995.

Watkins, Calvert. How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.

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I spent a lot of time this last week in contemplation, just of things in general. I got back my Liturgical Writing 1 submission, which is exciting, and I’ll be sharing it here, but otherwise it was a quiet week of offerings, prayers, and a lot of mantra meditation. I’ve been working on my Trance practice (not journaling it on the blog because it’s been a lot more of a learning process, and I didn’t feel like I wanted that out in the open), and working on what it means, or will mean, to be an ADF Priest, and to be a priest in general.

There’s a lot of quiet, personal work that is being asked of me right now – a lot of divination, a lot of meditation and prayer. I feel like I’m being “geared up” to do something bigger in time, but for now I’m getting used to a deeper relationship with Ing Frey, and what it means to serve a god of frith, a god of prosperity, a god of protection, a god of harvest. I wrote a prayer to him for my LW submission that I think I’d like to share, because it’s encompassed so many aspects of this deity that has become the central focus of my practice. (House spirits and ancestors always get offerings, but right now He is demanding a lot of attention.)

Hail Frey, Lord of the fields!
Beautiful lord of the Vanir
Golden of hair as the fields of wheat and corn,
Bringing riches of heart and hearth to the folk.

We hail you with the grain that springs forth
And falls again to nourish us.
We hail you, on your mighty boar in flight,
Lord of Frith that is bound to land,
You who can warm the cold heart,
Warrior without a weapon
Who give your prosperity to all of your kin,
You guide and sustain your descendants.

Lord Ing, Providing god,
God of the bees and the barley,
You who make the grain spring forth,
We sacrifice this, our first loaf,  to you
As the grains are sacrificed for us each year.

It is late summer here, and my plants are spent – in need of pruning, fertilizing, and resetting for the autumn growing season. In many ways, I am preparing for the inward turn that winter brings – but also the outward turn that is being asked of me in my work in leading Nine Waves grove.

My rune readings for last week were:

  • Wynn – Joy – contentment, having enough, being fulfilled
  • Lagu – The Sea – an uncertain time, one that may feel unsettled and uprooted
  • Sigel – The Sun – victory, good advice

Find joy in this time in your life, despite the upheaval that surrounds you in your path. Look for those who can guide you and give good advice, for theirs is the way to victory.

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Sometimes, when you get asked to do something, you don’t always know the outcome, but you know that the answer is to say yes. So I did. We’ll see what shakes out from that decision.

On more seasonal subjects, my Lammas sacrifice was accepted – I drew the rune “Wynn” (Joy) when I made the offering. I hope that I can keep to it, but like any practice, I expect that it will be something that I struggle with and possibly will fail at sometimes. But I hope that it will be of benefit to me, and that my addition to the sacrifice will aid in the overall sacrifice of the year.

This year, the grove ritual was to Ing Frea, and I got to give the main offering, which was particularly nice. I celebrated at home as well, using a variation of the Core Order Ritual that I use in my monthly and weekly rituals. Obviously instead of the main offering being to the earth mother and gatekeeper, though, this ritual was for Ing Frea. I didn’t actually write down the invitation I used, choosing instead to speak improvisationally. It came out well, I think.

The omens for the ritual were as follows:

  • Have my offerings been accepted: Daeg – The Day – Light which shines upon everyone equally, with blessing and bounty.
  • What blessings do the ancestors offer me: Mann – Mankind – The ancestors offer community, which is the delight of community, and give us each other for strength. My voice was joined with all those who raised their voices to the Kindreds tonight, and our Wyrd was strengthened as a result.
  • What blessings do the nature spirits offer me: Ur – the aurochs – The nature spirits offer strength, the strength that charges, bull-headed towards an obstacle and forces its way through. It is stubborn strength and a hard fought victory.
  • What blessings do the deities offer me: Ior – the beaver – flexibility, adaptability. The beaver lives in the water, but forages on the land, and thus must I be willing to adapt to our situations to find the blessings and the victory to triumph.

I also, as was the custom for the Anglo-Saxons, baked cornbread, blessed it with the waters from the ritual, and placed it in the four corners of my home as a spell of protection for the next year. My “Loaf Fest” isn’t from the wheat harvest, because I don’t keep wheat flour in my home (celiac), but it still felt right to do. I’ve done a variation on this as part of my personal practice for several years now, and it always feels like “August” is really here when I do it.

My personal omen draw for the week is as follows:

  • Nyd – a need – I typically draw this rune in one of two ways – either there is a need that is unmet, and that I must seek to meet it, or a warning of impending hardship that can be avoided through careful work and planning.
  • Peordh – a dice cup/unknown – The rune poem reference in this one is of companions playing dice in a hall; a friendly game of chance. It is the rune of Luck, and of unknown outcomes, but often has positive connotations when I see it. If anything, it’s a surprise coming my way that I can’t really plan for.
  • Os – a mouth/a god – I typically read this rune as “wise speech”, as it is Woden’s rune, and cunning and cleverness are his hallmarks. It can also mean conversations, and inspiration.

I’ll be honest, this reading is a little troubling – I’m not usually one for cunning or wise speech – I’m a pretty straightforward person. And the runes of Need and Luck in the same reading… could mean things are about to go pear shaped. Or perhaps I’ll have a need and it will be met in an unexpected way.

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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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