Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘reading’

I got a new book this weekend. Or rather, I should say, one of my study group mates found someone who had a PDF of a book I’ve been looking for since I started down the path of working with Ing Frea, and that person was willing to share copies of the PDF with us.

This… bothers me a bit.

The book is Visions of Vanaheim, by Svartesol. It is out of print, was only in print for a very short time, and is nearly impossible to find. Yngvi and I have both worked at a used bookstore, and he’s been looking for it consistently for several years. I check all the usual hotspots for rare books online regularly, and have never seen a copy. (Not that I couldn’t afford it, I have literally never even SEEN it.)

Ethically, I am against pirating books. I think people who write books should be paid for their time and effort, because I like reading books, and I want people who write good books to write more good books for me to read.  So far, Visions of Vanaheim has been a treasure trove of information – good, well marked, sourced info from archaeological and literary sources, mixed with well marked UPG that I’ve found pretty enlightening. It’s matched up with some of my personal UPG, which is nifty (it’s fun to have someone else say “Hey, I have that same UPG!”) I haven’t gotten to the sections on Frey/Ing Frea yet, but I am eagerly reading towards them.

(This book alone has made me want to work more with the Vanir/Wans specifically as part of my practice, which is fun and exciting. To my knowledge, the Anglo-Saxons didn’t make a really clear distinction between Wans and Ases, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work with the Wanic group more in my own practice. Or at least, know more about them alongside their more popular Aseic counterparts. My attraction to the Vanir/Wans alone will probably keep me from ever being fully in the Anglo-Saxon camp, because there’s so much more information from other Norse/Scandinavian/Germanic sources.)

So this is me making a promise.

If Svartesol comes out with a second edition of Visions of Vanaheim (which is rumored that he will), I will purchase TWO copies of that book in print, if I can get them. (One for the new edition, and one to pay him for the first edition that I didn’t have to pay for.) If I could pay him for my current copy of his book, I would. But since I can’t, I am putting it out there that if he ever gives me the chance, I’ll pay for it.

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

I finished reading Alaric Albertsson’s Travels through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan last night, and I have to say, I am highly intrigued. This is an easy read, and a charming book, with solid information about the Anglo Saxon path (with common sense advice mixed in) as well as how to take that information and turn it into a modern practice. Albertsson is a member of ADF, so I shouldn’t be surprised to find the ritual structure is familiar, but the book just felt *right* while I was reading it.

This is, of course, especially interesting considering that while I do not have any (known) Norse direct ancestors (I have Germanic ones by marriage), I have ancestors in Britain – and with the usual speculation of how hard it is to date things back that far – to pre-Norman Britain. Granted those might have been Christian ancestors, I have no idea and no real way to tell – I didn’t do the research myself, but it’s likely that their names and records came from church record keeping, so it’s certainly likely.

Still, I felt a real connection to what I was reading. It’s very close to what I’ve already been working with in the Norse hearth (and I don’t know that I’d abandon that entirely), but I may add some Anglo-Saxon flavor into my ADF workings and see what happens. With Midsummer approaching, I’ve plenty of time to work in a ritual that would make sense.

On the other hand, I don’t know how hard a polytheist I am about it – the Gods of the Anglo-Saxons are certainly familiar to someone who has studied the Norse hearth. Do I think Woden and Odin, or Thunor and Thor, or Ing and Freyr, or Freyja and Freo are the same gods or different gods? They have both similarities and differences. The lack of knowledge about the Anglo Saxon culture also seems to lead to a good bit of borrowing from the Germanic myths, just so that there’s enough information to fill out a practice. In that light, I’ve ordered a copy of Brian Branston’s Lost Gods of England to see if I can fill out my knowledge a bit. It’s another approved ADF DP book, so its probably not a waste of time to read. Since it’s out of print, it’ll be a bit before it gets here (the best price for best quality book I could find is being sold by a bookseller in London, so it’s got a trip to make!).

In the meantime I think I’m going to read Albertsson’s other book Wyrdworking, and possibly Diana Paxston’s Trance-portation. (Both of which arrived yesterday! Yay books!) I’ve got a lot to learn, and I tend to read a lot in the summer – it’s quite hot, and I enjoy sitting in the sun with a book and a cool, tasty drink in the afternoons. Bonus points if I drive down to the beach to do it.

Read Full Post »

I have always been a fairly avid reader, and I’ve completed my three “required” books for the Dedicant Path, so I’ve moved on to reading other Druidic things (among reading some not-so-Druidic things). ADF encourages study and scholarship, but not all of these books are scholarly – some of them are pagan brain candy, things to keep me interested and maybe make me think a bit, without having to wade through serious scholarly references.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been reading recently, and some thoughts about them!

Recently Read:

Frey, God of the World (Ann Groa Sheffield) – an overview of all the attested sources referencing Ing/Ingvi/Frey/Freyr, organized by sphere of influence. This is a fairly scholarly work, but if you want a solid overview of the mythology and of Frey’s spheres of influence in the days of Northern Paganism, this is a good place to start. It does not contain any “translation” to modern worship, however. For me, this book was about knowledge building – getting a solid mythological basis for my devotions to Freyr, and in what associations he would have influence.

Freyja, Lady, Vanadis (Patricia M Lafayllve) – Similar to Frey, this book contains the attested sources referencing Freya/Freyja to build a picture of her as she would have been seen in the days of her original worship. This book also contains some modern interpretations for building a devotion to Freyja. Similar to Frey, this book was, for me, about building my scholarship base for working with Freyja. The poems and prayers in the back are also quite nice.

Elves, Wights and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry (Kvedulf Gundarsson) – A fairly dense, but still accessible overview of all the OTHER kinds of spirits that enhabited the Northern Pagan world, from different types of wights, to house spirits, to dwarves, to Jotuns and Ettins. Gundarsson puts these all into direct practice in the modern world, from simple instructions on what to do when you meet a Wight, to different rituals to help you find them where you live. The magic is somewhat advanced, especially in its use of runes, but this was a highly practical book. It also includes an essay on the “Earth mother” concept in Norse paganism that I found extremely interesting. Gundarsson sets out a “hierarchy” of spirits, saying that most people would deal with the land spirits and wights on a daily basis (much like neighbors), the Gods for larger and more important needs (like a Chieftain), and a spirit like Jord/The Earthmother only for things of enormous importance.

Sunna’s Journey (Nicholas Egelhoff) An ADF centric book with a Norse focus, Sunna’s Journey is a book primarily of rituals to take a Norse flavored Druid through the Wheel of the Year, with bonus devotionals to Sunna and Mani. It’s a highly practical sort of book, and one I’m reading piecemeal as I go through the year. The rituals are a little more involved than I usually do for my solitary practice, but they’re quite well done, and I find them inspiring as I put together my High Day celebrations.

Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner (Galina Krasskova) This book was recommended to me, but to be honest, I didn’t like it much. I liked the section of prayers a LOT, however, and have made use of several of them. In general, I just don’t think I’m ever going to be a recon, so recon-flavored books (even ones with a lot of UPG in them) aren’t as appealing to me. I will definitely make use of the section on prayers though. I’m not sure what I think about the tables of correspondences, but that’s not something I’ll use a lot either way.

Currently Reading:

Travels Through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan (Alaric Albertsson) Recommended on the Dedicants list, this is a different take on Northern Paganism, focusing on the Anglo-Saxon/Saxon pagans and their beliefs. While there is some overlap to the more frequently studied Norse paganism, there are other bits that are distinctly Saxon. I’m about 1/3 of the way through this book, and enjoying it. It’s a quick read, and extremely practically minded. It’s a great “Hearth Culture” book for the Dedicant Path, as its generally introductory in nature. I’m looking forward to reading Albertsson’s other book – Wyrdworking – which is about Saxon magic working.

To Read Soon:

Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World (Philip A Shaw) I’ve not started this one yet, but it looks to be an interesting book. I’ll let you know what I think. It isn’t very long, so hopefully it will be fairly quick read. From the blurb:

This book considers evidence for Germanic goddesses in England and on the Continent, and argues on the basis of linguistic and onomastic evidence that modern scholarship has tended to focus too heavily on the notion of divine functions or spheres of activity, such as fertility or warfare, rather than considering the extent to which goddesses are rooted in localities and social structures. Such local religious manifestations are, it is suggested, more important to Germanic paganisms than is often supposed, and should caution us against assumptions of pan-Germanic traditional beliefs. Linguistic and onomastic evidence is not always well integrated into discussions of historical developments in the early Middle Ages, and this book provides both an introduction to the models and methods employed throughout, and a model for further research into the linguistic evidence for traditional beliefs among the Germanic-speaking communities of early medieval Europe.

The Solitary Druid (Skip Ellison) This one is out of print, but a friend of mine is letting me borrow it. It’s Celtic centric, but I thought I should read it, with all the references to it in the Wheel of the Year book. If nothing else, it’ll get me more familiar with ADF and working as a solitary.

The Prose and Poetic Eddas are definitely on the “to read soon” list as well! I am not sure yet which translations I want to run with, or just borrow them from the library. As well, I’ve purchased e-books of Ian Corrigan’s Book of Nine Moons, Sacred Fire, Holy Well, and Beginning Practical Magic. I know several of those are also Celtic focused, but I’m not against using things that work, and I’m not so tied into the Norse hearth that I don’t want to learn things about other ways of Druiding.

What’s on your bookshelf this week?

Read Full Post »

I read this article on The Wild Hunt this morning, and it just made my skin crawl. The short summary is that (infamous) psychic Sylvia Browne, on the Montel Williams show, told a mother that her child was dead, and implied that the child was murdered. That child turned out to be Amanda Berry, one of three women rescued from being held captive in a house for the last ten years.

I know little or nothing about Sylvia Browne, though I hold a healthy degree of skepticism against out of the blue psychics who claim to communicate with spirits and the like, especially for high publicity jobs like those on “reality” TV shows. I hold this skepticism at the same time as I actively read tarot cards for others online (for friends and through forums, and not usually for pay) and am attempting to learn runes. I am large, and contain multitudes, I guess.

Granted, I think there’s a difference between “psychics” and performing divination – especially in the Druidic sense. When I am asking the Kindreds for their guidance, I’m specifically asking other beings that I trust to give me guidance in the form of cards or runes. I also tend to run those guidances through my own personal filters of “does this make sense”, and ask my teachers and other people whose opinions I trust if those guidances make sense. That’s for religious matters, but I do tarot readings for non-religious questions as well, and for people for whom a card reading is just a card reading, not an encounter with the divine.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, when it comes to reading for other people, it’s that I have to set boundaries. There are subjects about which I won’t read, because it is just too fuzzy, too ambiguous, and too likely to be incredibly damaging if I’m wrong. A teacher I once had called these things the “Three D’s”: Death, Disease, and Divorce. I won’t do a reading to tell you if you have cancer (go to a doctor), I won’t do a reading to tell you if you’re going to get a divorce (go to a counselor, or see a lawyer), and I won’t do a reading to tell you if someone is or is not going to die/has already died.

I also won’t do readings for people who aren’t actually there to hear them. If you want me to do a reading to look into your relationship with your mother-in-law, I’ll do that, but it will be focused on you, your actions, and how you contribute to that relationship (and whether or not your taking steps might mend or break that relationship). I will not do a reading to see how your sister is getting along with her husband, because a) that’s a huge breach of privacy – she may not want you to know that, and b) why don’t you just ask your sister? If you’re estranged from your sister, see above about a reading about mending a relationship.

And I always couch these readings with the strong statement that the cards I’m reading are only looking into how the situation looks right now. I strongly believe that even a ‘future outcome’ spread has the potential to change drastically based on how you respond to it, and that a tarot reading is never set in stone. For me, divination serves two functions – it serves as a tool for communicating with specific Gods and spirits that I trust, and it serves as a way to look into current situations and attempt to bring unseen aspects of those to light, for consideration and reflection.

Maybe I’m having too strong of a “squick” reaction to this case simply because it’s so egregiously bad. I know or know of several intuitive readers who have strong ethics and aren’t out for sensationalism. But this is just bothering me on a lot of levels.

I certainly don’t expect that everyone who reads cards or does divination work will have the same sets of boundaries and guidelines that I do – I know that kind of thing is very personal. I just really hope that people who take on this kind of responsibility will do so ethically and responsibly – in a way that suits their own boundaries and is beneficial to the person for whom they are reading. It just strikes me as highly irresponsible to tell someone that their missing loved one is dead and murdered, on national TV, and then say “well I’ve helped lots of other people, so I guess I was just wrong about that one” when it comes up as wrong.

Read Full Post »

Since I’ve been thinking about where I fit into ADF, and what my future paths will be and how those are or aren’t affected by ADF, I thought I’d try doing a more introspective sort of Rune drawing. Normally I use a set of cedar runes that I got from The Magical Druid, but I had the inspiration while I was away from home, so I tried a drawing with the app Runes, by Netistry.

I thought for awhile on how to phrase a question. What I want is insight into where I am on this path, and where I’m supposed to be going. So I ended up doing just that – asking the runes for insight into my spiritual path. It’s not the most specific of questions, but I couldn’t find anything more focused that still had the same feeling to it. I guess I wanted to leave the question a bit open ended and see what happened.

These are the runes that I drew:

  • Jera – Year, the harvest, hard work – Each is given their proper due in full measure, good or ill. The golden crop, sown in the past, has come to fruition and is now the full harvest; the results of earlier efforts are realized. Natural cycles will always spin, and the year will always turn again, but for now all is well. The order of the cosmos is maintained, and everyone reaps the benefits of hard work and has a chance to build a new harvest for next year.
  • Ehwaz – The horse, transportation, an easy journey – Mind your connection to animal spirits as helpers and partners. Successful partnerships require care and respect – neglect your allies at your peril. Keep a level head and do not be reckless – gradual change and continued progress is at hand, and will lead you to your goals. Remember that you travel with help, and those allies can make the journey easy for you.
  • Sowilo – The sun – Energy, clarity, and satisfaction. In the absence of obstacles and distractions, realize that your sustained, focused efforts have resulted in success. In the light of the sun, you can see to the horizon. The Sun’s power is available to you to make changes that will lead to renewed life and victory. Wholeness; all is right with the world.

I’ll be honest, getting such an unabashedly positive reading startled me at this point. I’ve been floundering a little with regards to what path I should take and where I should go, and I’ve not had hugely positive readings when I’ve asked similar questions over the last year or so. I try not to do this reading too often, so I don’t get weird results, but every few months or so I’m trying to check in and see what I’m missing, or need to be paying attention to, or how I’m doing. This is the first time I’ve drawn an entirely positive spread for this, which hopefully means that things are looking up, and I’ll be able to get some clarity and sense of feeling settled in.

If I apply a “past, present, future” template to this reading, it actually makes a lot of sense.

You did a lot of spiritual work in the past, it was very good, and it has allowed you to move on into a new “harvest” for the future. Use your allies and those around you to help you and guide you on this path, and all of your efforts will be successful in the end.

Of course, there’s no definite answer to what success actually IS in this situation, being that I asked a really open ended question, but for now I’m content with the idea that I’m moving in the right direction, and that the work I’m doing isn’t going unnoticed. I can’t say for sure that this reading is ADF specific, since I didn’t ask the question that way, but I think it suggests good things to come, and that I’m doing the right thing (for now) in studying and working on this path.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been rather at odds with myself on the question of hearth cultures. I started this druidic journey pretty firmly convinced that I was going to stay in the Celtic pantheon that I was already familiar with. Unfortunately I’ve not felt myself overly connected to that pantheon in my devotions, to the point of not really finding that I like my options for devotional rituals. It just doesn’t “feel” right. I love keeping a hearth in my kitchen, but working with Brigit just doesn’t seem like it’s working out, for example. I’m not feeling any return energy.

So I’ve started looking around at other options, wondering if maybe my lack of connection to the Divine is a result of not trying to get in touch with the right Gods. I really enjoyed the Gaulish ritual I did for Yule, but resources are very thin about Gaulish paganism, and I’ve had trouble getting anything beyond a few web articles. I couldn’t do my hearth culture study book on Gaul, since I can’t actually find any books!

I’m getting to the point, though, where I’m going to have to face up to the possibility that I’m being drawn to the Norse culture. I keep running into things that make me feel like I should be looking there, even though I’m more than a little uncomfortable with some of the Norse gods. I especially seem to be running into mentions of Odin, which makes me nervous, for while I don’t know a ton about Odin, I do know that he can be a challenging patron.

On some levels, it doesn’t make any sense. My ancestry is Scottish and Italian, with a little bit of English and French thrown in. I don’t really have any Germanic cultures in my recent ancestry, and it seems like that’s a big pull for a lot of people who end up following the Norse Gods. I also know very little about their mythology (and what little I know seems dangerous!), and I’ve tried, quite unsuccessfully, to use Runes for divination in the past.

On the other hand, when you start seeing ravens (and other birds of prey), or realizing that your clueless dolt of an uncle gave you a set of runes for your birthday when you were 10 that you just can’t make yourself get rid of, or that you keep running into High Day rituals in the Norse Culture that look wonderful and strong and beautiful, or that your closest Pagan friend is an Asatruar… Maybe I’m just not getting the hint, you know?

I also have a much stronger relationship with the land spirits, and an increasing relationship with the Ancestors, things I’ve been told are very important in Norse Paganism, so that’s a welcome idea.

But I just… it doesn’t seem right, or something? I’m really resisting the idea that I should work in a Norse culture, for some reason I can’t yet put my finger on. Maybe it’s all of Asatru’s bad press bubbling up from my subconscious, or just the fact that I’ve never felt like it should be for me. Maybe I need to remember that I’m looking at the Norse part of ADF, and not giving up on this dedicant path, and that questions are what being on the DP are all about anyway.

Given my turmoil about it, I figured I should do a reading. I didn’t figure an ogham reading was the best bet, since they’re so strongly connected with the Celtic lore, so I decided to do a tarot reading instead. Of course, I thought of doing that reading while I was at work, so I used the tarot deck I have on my smartphone (Mystic Dreamer Tarot, if anyone’s curious), and did a little lunchbreak divination.

Three Card Spread: How Should I approach my search for a Hearth Culture?

  • The Heirophant – Learned Truth, a teacher, balance of belief with practice – can indicate that you know the solution but need to put it into practice. There are two ravens on this card, bringing messages to the Hierophant.
  • The Two of Cups – Strong, passionate relationship (not necessarily romantic). Two things that come together to create a third union that is strong, beautiful, and passionate
  • The Hermit – Self Knowledge, seeking the truth within yourself. Withdraw from outside sources and review all of your knowledge, understanding, and experience.

I didn’t set this card up as a past-present-future spread, and in fact I didn’t assign meanings to the placements at all, since I want an overview more than a specific set of answers. I prefer to look at how the cards interact with each other.

In this case, I think the Heirophant and the Hermit go together:

Learned truth and self truth provide the foundation for a profound and meaningful new relationship.

Hopefully the deep and meaningful relationship will be the relationship with the Divine that I’ve been looking to establish. It fits with the Dedicant Path as well, since both learned knowledge and self knowledge are goals of the DP. I also didn’t expect the cards to have a strong Norse symbolism (which isn’t something this deck is designed for), but with the two Ravens, I get a strongly Odinic feeling from The Heirophant card – even if the man in the card has both of his eyes.

I didn’t ask a particularly pointed question, so (as expected) I didn’t get a particularly pointed answer, but I think the reading is ultimately positive. In some ways, it’s a bit of a “duh” response, not anything I didn’t already know. I’ll keep searching though, and I’ve borrowed a copy of Gods and Myths in Northern Europe to start digging through. That’ll be the learned knowledge part, at least. And if nothing else, I can’t go wrong learning about it, and I’ll continue to do meditation and devotional rituals that attempt to suss this out.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »