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Posts Tagged ‘norse’

This course is a further study of mythical themes and events in several Indo-European cultures. The goal is to deepen a student’s knowledge and understanding of I-E cultures’ mythologies such that s/he can understand elements and themes beyond the basic level, as well as usefully compare and contrast them. Some application of knowledge learned is required in this course.

The primary goal of this course is for students to conduct a detailed exploration of specified Indo-European mythic elements and events and apply this knowledge for the creation of original liturgical elements for ADF ritual.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will increase their knowledge of specified mythological themes and events by researching and analyzing these themes and events within several different Indo-European cultures.
  2. Students will utilize knowledge attained through research to compose an original piece of liturgy for the creation or (re)creation of the cosmos appropriate for use in ADF ritual and a piece describing the “winning of the waters” appropriate for use in ADF ritual.

(more…)

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Within the context of a single paleo-pagan Indo-European culture, discuss three different forms of divination or seership, and give an example of each. (minimum 100 words each)

Working from Tacitus, the Sagas, and the Poetic Edda, I’ve found three different forms of divination used by the Germanic culture group, which includes the Scandinavian and Icelandic cultures. While it could be argued that these three cultures are separated by both time and geography, their similar language, alphabet, cosmology and mythology is more than enough for me to be comfortable talking about them as a group together.

First, there’s a documented form of trance-like seership called seidhr. In Leif Eiriksson’s Saga (ch. 4) a seeress named Thorbjorg is featured who is highly honored by the farm she visits. She is brought there during a difficult time for the farm, and she spends a night there, honored by the various guests and given special food (milk porridge and animal hearts). After some reluctance (ostensibly due to being Christian) the women of the farm come and form a circle around her, and sing the ward songs, and she is visited by the spirits, who tell her that the hardship will last no longer. As well, she sees great reward for the woman who sang the ward songs. This type of divination is also seen in the Voluspa, and is perhaps the most formal and ritualistic type of seership among the Germanic and Norse cultures.

In Tacitus Germania, there is a reference to divination by something which sounds a great deal like it would be runecasting. A little bough is chopped off of a tree and cut into small pieces, which are given certain markings. They are thrown at random over a cloth, and then either the priest (or the head of the family) chooses three of them and finds meaning according to the marks. This is extremely similar to most modern practices of runecasting (Germania 10). Also, later sources (Egil’s Saga, Ch 44) show runes being used for magic, and Thorsson believes that runes were “born from a magical tradition, not a purely linguistic one” (5). Between the rune’s associations with magic and their predating Tacitus’ encountering them among the Germanic tribes (Thorsson states as early as 200 BCE (12)), I am comfortable considering runic divination, at least in terms of the casting of lots inscribed with magically meaningful marks, a divination tradition among the Germanic and related cultures.

In Svipdagsmal (Poetic Edda, Hollander) young Svipdag is given a terrible task by his evil step-mother (proving that Evil Stepmothers existed from quite a ways back). In order to get help and learn how he can complete his task, he goes and sits outside on his mother Groa’s grave, a practice called utiseta or “outsitting”. Groa comes through for Svipdag, and he not only learns how to complete his terrible task, but also is granted nine magical spells. This practice was also used in the conversion of Iceland to Christianity, when Thorgeirr (who was chosen to moderate the conflict between the Pagan Icelanders and the Christian forces from Norway) sits out for a day and a night under a skin in order to determine the fate of religion in Iceland. This practice of outsitting is a way of getting information and help, often specifically from the ancestors, and divining the future with their aid.

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My Imbolc/Ewemeolc ritual was performed on Friday, February 1 at 5:00 pm, just after I’d gotten home from work. This was a solitary ADF style rite, following the full CoOR. Using the published ritual template found here, I honored Nerthus as the Earth Mother and Heimdall as the Gatekeeper, and Frigga was the primary patron of the rite, as Queen of the Hearth. I may not use this association in the future, but it’s the one that seemed to fit as I was writing the ritual. I brought the following offerings:

  • Cornmeal for the Earth Mother
  • Milk for the Outdwellers, poured out in the back yard
  • Whiskey for Saga and Heimdall
  • Incense and my silver ring for the Fire/Well/Tree
  • A brownie for the Ancestors
  • Oats for the Nature Spirits
  • Whiskey for the Gods and for Frigga, as well as water shared from the pitcher I used for the waters of life

I offered whiskey even though I can’t drink it myself. All the offerings seemed well received, especially the brownie. Apparently my sweet-tooth is hereditary.

This was the first time I’d tried to go directly from “work mode” into “ritual mode” and the transition could have gone more smoothly. I will give myself more time for meditation next time, as I never really settled into the ritual. Also, this particular ritual script, though I like it a lot, was difficult to say at first – lots of alliteration (which is why I like it) was a little tongue-twistery until I settled into the poetic pattern. I’ll definitely use the ritual outline again though, as I liked it a lot – especially the Norse flavor of the poetry.

I felt like opening the gates went particularly well, but I didn’t feel as well-connected to Frigga as I’d hoped in this particular rite. My ease with the CoOR was definitely more apparent though, as I moved through the various steps, easily anticipating what would come next.

One thing I did notice about this particular ritual template was that I spent a lot more time “setting up” than I did actually celebrating the particular reason for the High Day. In the future, I’ll put more into the “celebration” aspect, so that it will feel more balanced. I definitely feel less at home with the Norse celebrations, so I need to do more research into their associations with High Days (or just do standard Neo Pagan celebrations, which I’m much more comfortable with, and give them a Norse flavor).

All the offerings, once made into their various bowls, were spread in my gardens as part of the blessing of the coming spring. My lime tree is in full bloom, so hopefully we’ll have a bumper crop of limes this coming year.

I drew runes for the first time in a long time for this ritual, since I was honoring Frigga, and it seemed appropriate. I received the following when I asked for the blessing:

  • Uruz – Aurochs: strength, dross
  • Nauthiz – Need/Necessity: oppression, lessons learned
  • Inguz – Ing: fertility, ancestors

I’ll admit to being really unfamiliar with this particular divination tool, so the “textbook” keyword meanings don’t mean much yet. I’ve had to do some researching to find deeper meanings, both in the rune poems and in other sources. From the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, I found the following:

Ur
The aurochs is proud and has great horns;
it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns;
a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.
Nyd
Trouble is oppressive to the heart;
yet often it proves a source of help and salvation
to the children of men, to everyone who heeds it betimes.
Ing
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.

I found that just going to the Rune Poems helped a lot with finding a bigger meaning. From this, I get the following impression of the omen.

You will be given strength as you need it to overcome the coming troubles and trials, but that trouble will lead you toward fertility and peace.

This is, honestly, pretty similar to other omens I’ve been drawing on this Dedicant Path – that things are going to be rough at first, but that I just need to stick with it, and I’ll be glad for having made it through. I’m taking the similar omen to mean I’m not done with the troublesome part yet, which seems about right, as I’m still feeling a lot like I’m in the “action” part of “belief follows action”. Still, I am further along than I was, and I know this will take time.

This message is applicable to my personal life right now as well, which I can’t really discuss here.

It’s also a little trite, to be honest. It’s one of those divination messages that could apply to anyone at any time, and maybe that’s because I asked a very generic “What blessings do you give in return” question. As a blessing, it’s somewhat of a positive one, or at least has a positive outcome.

Either that or I’m totally barking up the wrong tree – a possibility that I’m not leaving behind, as almost every divination I’ve done (or had done) regarding ADF has said something about being troublesome and difficult but with a good outcome. We’ll see how the rest of this year goes.

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I did the Solitary Druid morning devotional this morning in my car. It was dark in the parking garage, and raining, so there wasn’t much sun to speak of, but I think I will continue doing them. I put together a little cauldron, a piece of orange fabric, and a tiny metal leaf for my traveling hallows – it’s not ideal, but they seem to work well in the car, and they all fit in a bag about the size of a pack of cards, which is perfect for keeping in the arm rest of my car. There fortunately aren’t very many people in the parking garage at 7am, so nobody will bother me!

Overall I like the devotion, though the “we are one in solitude” thing wears on me a little. I know it really appeals to some of the other solitaries, but for some reason I find it a bit… saccharine. If I don’t warm to it after doing it a few times, I may just skip that part and work only with the attunement to the hallows. Or edit it to be more to my liking.

I also definitely want to add a prayer to Sunna, and I found one that I like at NorthernPaganism.org

Morning Prayer to Sunna
by Galina Krasskova

Hail the rising of the Sun,
Great Goddess, Bestower of all good things,
Shining brightly, You traverse the heavens
Driving back the blanket of night.
Mighty Sunna, be my pace-setter.
Help me to structure my day rightly
With time to work, and play, and pray.
Let me not lose myself to the hammering call
Of all that has to be done.
Help me to follow Your rhythms,
For You are wise and practical
And Your presence blesses us all.

I’m going to write this up on an index card that I can keep in my car. Hopefully with a few repetitions I’ll have memorized it. (I may let my artsy side out and decorate the card a little too, since it will essentially be a prayer card, and that deserves to be pretty!) Even if I don’t get it memorized very quickly, I can add it to the end of my other morning devotions in the car.

Maybe I’ll make TWO index cards, one with the SDF devotional and one my prayer card to Sunna. That will be a fun little project.

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