Reblog

This is a very well written piece that breaks down exactly how we encounter the Gods in our daily lives.

Sex, Gods, and Rock Stars

Since “God Sex” has been a hugely popular post here on Sex, Gods, and Rock Stars, I thought I might start blogging about other aspects of spirit work that I am frequently asked about. It falls in line with a serious desire of mine – to leave behind some of the wisdom I’ve gained through my own processess – so I’ll dive into another subject that many people wonder aloud about.

As my mom puts it, I hear the voice of God(s).

However, it’s usually not as cut and dry as those words make it seem. Rarely do I actually hear words that come from an obviously external source. It does happen, but when it does, They’re usually pretty succinct. I may get a word or three, even more rarely a sentence, that I hear with my actual ears as though someone else in the room has said them. A…

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Yup, thats Odin, that sneaky sneaky God. Apparently he negotiated with Angrboda for me.

Not that this means I am free of Angrboda, but she plays more of a role in my ancestral foundation than my shamanic path. Plus she taught me a shortcut between Norse Worlds. Pretty sweet.

 

My path has taken a few interesting twists and turns lately. After the mundane, wedding filled summer, I realigned my life to my shamanic path, asked for the next step and reaffirmed my devotions to my Gods.

The next step is for me to return to school and complete my BA and then move on to a masters degree in counseling. I am counseling whomever comes to me, accepting them with open arms, utilizing divination where necessary. I’m taking the next step in my coven studies, as soon as I request an application.

As a side note, if you or anyone else you know is in need of counseling, spiritual or mundane, my email address is on the left side over there. My proverbial door is always open, I don’t charge, and I have yet to hear anything that would upset or freak me out. I offer counseling services as both a worker in the mental health field and as a shaman.

But another interesting development is the deepening of service I am experiencing. More Gods make themselves known to me. The Norns are teaching me how to grasp and read the threads of a persons Wyrd through rune and tarot. The guide who may or may not be Odin is going to assist me in learning galdr. And I am contemplating an appropriate sacrifice to Mímir, deep within his well.

Blessed be the Lady of Death, who graces us with life.

Pagan Blog Project: Sacrifice

Sacrifice comes to us from Latin, meaning “to make sacred”. In previous times, a sacrifice was a gift to the Gods. The more valuable the item offered, the bigger the sacrifice and the bigger the blessings from the Gods. Human life was seen as the biggest sacrifice, offered to the Divine as a last step or at the biggest festivals of the year. As modern neo-pagans, we tend to frown on human sacrifice. But how do we sacrifice or make sacred in our modern world?

As an animist, this is doubly complicated by the fact that everything is seen as having a soul or spirit and is therefore already sacred, without needing the human seal of approval. Each plant, animal, rock, area is engendered with a soul by the Gods. The act of being then becomes a sacred facet of the Divine that encompasses all of us.

So how do we make sacred that which is already sacred?

The answer lies inside of us. We sacrifice that which is sacred and holy, or has meaning, to us. What this ends up being changes from person to person.

I know that Sacrifice is a touchy subject. I have read the blogs that categorically state that the writer refuses to ever bow to another Deity. I have seen the knee-jerk reactions where sacrifice = blood and how dare we even think to discuss this topic. Yes, sacrifice used to mean blood. Hundreds of years ago, without refrigerators and mass-produced food, life was the biggest sacrifice one could offer. When my life and my family’s life depends on the animals in the field surviving until we slaughter them, making the choice to sacrifice one of those animals is literally offering up that which keeps us alive. And most sacrificial meat was (and still is, where animal sacrifice is still practiced) consumed afterwards by the community as a sacrament.

So why should we, as modern pagans, chose to discuss the idea of sacrifice? The ability to make the mundane sacred is something that we take for granted. In my life, as a hard polytheist, I strive to make the sacred all around me. This was always the point of the convents and monasteries. We don’t have that option, to remove ourselves from mundane life and drown in the esoteric. I know many people who are learning how to do this, but there is still much to learn and many years to go before we have that type of foundation in paganism. So instead we strive to surround ourselves with sacred reminders that move our head space into the sacred and keep us centered in our religious experiences. Below is a discussion of my own personal sacrifices and the way they interact with my daily life. Please keep in mind, this is a personal choice and a slightly sensitive subject at the moment.

I offer up my arrogance and pride and ego as a sacrifice to my Goddess. These are things that keep me from fully connecting to Her and being of service to her. These are things that tie me into my head and shut out my heart and soul.

I offer up my life as a sacrifice to the Spirits. I own nothing but what they grant and bless me with. I make decisions knowing that they have the final say.

I bow my head and know that in choosing the life path of shamanism, I sacrifice my fertility and any children I might have had. This is my blood sacrifice, written in rivets down my thighs as I walked the land of the Dead. This is my greatest sacrifice to date, that which I will always be conscious of and mourn. This is my constant reminder of my “otherness” as I walk this path.

I sacrifice other things, things that go unspoken. The constant reminders of not fitting in, the knowing that the social circles will never feel comfortable or like home, the unspoken stench of “Death” that follows me and makes others look askew or shy away. The constant need to explain my life, my path, my choices and the constant knowledge that only another shaman or spirit worker will ever truly understand.

These are the big sacrifices, the things that make a distinct demarcation and which were necessary sacrifices on the altar of Her blessings. But there are smaller sacrifices as well that define the days or weeks rather than the lifetime.

The most recent is the order to make friends with my hunger. In Norse lore, Hel’s table, where she feeds the millions of dead souls in her care, is named Hunger. This order from Her lips is a sacrifice that will demand all of my ego and force me to confront the things I truly don’t like about myself. As someone who has suffered from bulimia for 8 years now, this is a direct challenge. Consider for a moment what bulimia entails. Bulimia is the constant intake and rejection of nourishment in the form of food. This gets combined with self esteem and ego and emotions and creates a sticky web almost impossible to remove yourself from. The cure rates of eating disorders are exceedingly low, lower than any other mental illness.

So the directive to “make friends with your hunger” becomes like a rubix cube we have to inspect. Making friends with hunger means facing the emotions and feelings of depression, boredom, low self esteem and anxiety that feed into my need to self-medicate. Making friends means that bulimia is not an excuse, not a safety net, not to be utilized. So bulimia becomes something I sacrifice, bow my head to her will.

But hunger is more than no bulimia. When I divined on the issue, to double-check my info, I pulled Nauthiz reversed, Uruz and Ehwaz. Nauthiz reversed means famine and poverty, which ties in to the path of austerity and ascetics that Hela has been talking to me about. Uruz is the rune of the bull, standing for hard work and effort. Ehwaz is the tune of steady progress and is also a confirmation rune, basically telling me to stop questioning the request. Poverty and hunger do not mean anorexia, which is the flip side of my bulimia coin. Anorexia plays into the ego, focusing on the physical and emotional ramifications of starvation and turning me away from my Gods. Instead, this directive makes the acts of making food and buying food and eating food an act of devotion. Nauthiz reversed is a direct order to always keep Hunger at my side, to not allow myself to get so full that Bulimia takes over, to not get so hungry that I no longer have control over what goes in my mouth.

In a monastic culture, each act and part of the day is meant to turn your head and heart to god. We eat three times a day, minimum, so that is three opportunities to contemplate the Divine and my role. So the act of self control, the will that is demanded of me in this sacrifice, means that I dine at Hunger with the Sacred dead and Lady Death each day.

I feel blessed by each sacrifice I make, each chance to connect deeper and more fully with the divine. While I might privately mourn the things I will never get to do or experience, I am also fully aware of where I could have ended up without Their intervention.

Pagan Blog Project: Ritual of Ancestor Veneration for Samhain

Ancestor veneration is as old as the earth itself, it roots us to our world and our work. Below is a ritual that I wrote with the help of my fellow coven students. Special thanks to S and L, who know who they are. Feel free to use this, change it, let it flow. I have changed it a bit to take out the stuff that is unique to our group.

Materials needed: Basket (with altar supplies), cakes and ale, plate for ancestors, drum and beaters

EVOCATION

    EAST:

      Brother Eagle of the morning skies,

      Who teaches us to dance upon the breezes and

      through the storms of life.

      Join with us and bear witness to our celebration this night.

    SOUTH:

      Brother Wolf, silver under the moon,

      Who blesses us with the fires of passion,

      that we might add our song to the night sky,

      Join with us and bear witness to our celebration this night.

   WEST:

      Sister Salmon, flashing light through the current of life,

      Who graces us with your gifts of wisdom

     and helps us learn from our dreams,

     Join with us and bear witness to our celebration this night.

    NORTH:

      Sister Bear, deep within the forests of memory,

      Who helps us to find and celebrate our roots

      so that we might connect the branches of our past

      to the new growth of our future,

      Join with us and bear witness to our celebration this night.

 EVOCATION OF DEITY

      Grandmother Earth,

      You give us shelter and food each day,

      You support us as we walk this earth

      and embrace us when we return with the setting sun.

      Please accept our prayers and blessings this night

      as we circle to remember our roots.

     Grandfather Sky,

      crowned by the sun and the moon and the stars,

      You watch over us as each day passes

      and grant us the gift of another sunrise and another sunset.

      Please accept our prayers and blessings this night

      as we circle to embrace our honored dead.
THE WORK

      HPS: The circle is now cast and we stand between the worlds. We gather here tonight to honor our ancestors, those of our blood and bones, and those of our passion and wisdom and freedom. We seek to renew our connection to the past, strengthening our community and nourishing our roots. Our ancestors are our foundation. They pass on knowledge and wisdom. They offer support and advice and they champion us through times both easy and challenging. Please join me tonight as we throw open the gates to the Otherworld and invite the spirits and ancestors to join our circle.

   SPIRIT BLESSING

      “Tonight the veil is thin and the gateway open.

      Tonight we call out to those who came before,

      who bless us with our roots and wisdom.

      Tonight we honor our sacred dead.

      Spirits of our ancestors, we call out to you

      and we welcome you to join us for the night.

      We know you watch over us always,

      protecting us and guiding us on our paths

      and tonight we thank you.

      We invite you to join us in our celebration.

      We call out to those who are remembered

      and those who are forgotten,

      those who live on in their loved ones memories

      and those who have no loved ones left to remember them.

      We invite all who come in blessed spirit

      to join our celebration tonight.”

      HPS: From the circle around the fire to the family around the television, storytelling has always been one of the oldest forms of magic. We invite you to join in as we share stories from our ancestors. At the end, we welcome your stories as well, to add to the magic of the night.

(This is where the people running the ritual tell stories of ancestors, either their own or from around the world)

Energy raising

Cakes and Ale, plate for the ancestors

   SPIRIT BLESSING: LICENSE TO DEPART

      “Spirits and ancestors, both remembered and forgotten,

      We thank you for the time you have spent with us.

      Our memories are richer and our roots grow deeper

      with your guidance and wisdom.

      We bid you farewell, knowing that the gate closes once more

      and the veil falls back into place.

      We remain separate but never separated,

      as the Wheel turns once more.

      Blessed be.”
LICENSE TO DEPART

      We ask of Grandfather Sky

      the wisdom to live in peace with all peoples.

      We ask of Grandmother Earth

      the wisdom to live in harmony with all things in nature.

      Fill us with light, give us the strength to understand and the eyes to see.

      Teach us to walk the soft earth as relatives to all that live.

      Blessed Be.
   NORTH:

      Sister Bear, thank you for your presence this night.

      May we always have your roots to guide us.

      Blessed be.

    WEST:

      Sister Salmon, thank you for your presence this night.

      May we always have your currents to help us dream.

      Blessed be.

    SOUTH:

      Brother Wolf, thank you for your presence this night.

      May we always have your music to inspire us.

      Blessed be.

    EAST:

      Brother Eagle, thank you for your presence this night.

      May we always have your wind to move us to dance.

      Blessed be.

(This is where my group usually sings a song and then goes to eat)

I know, I spoil you guys with all these new posts. But I wanted to share something special. Do you know how hard it is to find statues of any of the lesser known Norse gods? I-M-Possible. So I made my own and I wanted to share the pictures with you guys.

 

This is Lady Hela. I think she looks better in person.

These are the Norns, the Norse Goddesses of Fate and Wyrd.

I am pretty proud of these. 🙂

Bored and a little lonely, I scour the web for heathen or Rokkatru blogs. I’m looking for mentions of Hela or Angrboda, anyone besides the usual litany of players: Odin, Loki, Freya, Frigga. I want connections, to know that others speak to the same Gods as I. I’m not heathen or Asatru. I don’t do blots or festivals as modern heathens do. I am not allowed (by order of Angrboda) to contact the All-father. The only time I speak to any of the Aesir or Vanir deities is when Freya tells me to yell at a friend of mine cause he isn’t listening to her. I am only a lowly shaman devoted to the Deities who chose me. But still I seek.

And all I find is silence. There are blogs devoted to Loki and Odin galore. But none that speak to my soul.

I’m not a god-spouse. My devotion comes from love but I have a mortal spouse. I am a tool of my Gods, a bridge between this world and theirs, a throat to speak their truths and a set of hands to do their work. That devotion comes from comes from the simple truth that I owe my life to them. They rebuilt me, brought me back from dead when they didn’t have to.

So if I want to find more devotional work dedicated to Hela and Angrboda, it has to start with me.

Lady Hela
Goddess of deep death
Face of compassion and decay
Bless me with your work
That I might make this world
A little better.
Strip me of my ego,
Of that which holds me back and hinders your voice
Deep in my soul.
Show me the compassion and freedom of the grave
That I might turn my face to the living in your grace.
Allow me to do your holy work
That my life might be an act
Of devotion to the Whisper of Silence.

Death is compassionate. That’s the first thing that crosses my mind when I think of my Lady. Not compassionate in a “let me save you from yourself” kind of way, but in a very clear way. She truly does care about humankind. Most of us (and more than in years past) will end up at her door, begging for sanctuary. She sees life as a sacrament, by honoring life we honor death and by honoring death we honor life.

She asks us most clearly to live our lives, to strip away the things that hold us back, the illusions that rob us of our sight and our dreams. She asks us to approach each other with “dispassionate compassion” and the knowledge that we each suffer and soar in our own unique balance.