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Month for Loki, Twenty-Third: Kenning.

Hail Gammleið

bloodteethandflame

Inspired by Lokean Welcoming Committee’s outline of topics for Month for Loki, today’s post:

Find out some of Loki’s kennings, or other names, and what they mean. Which one(s) resonate with you the most?

Since many of Loki’s kennings resonate with me, it was difficult to choose one that resonated with me the most…but I think that there is one in particular that actually took me by surprise, and so, I am going to write about Gammleid today:

In July 2014, I took a course from Cherry Hill Seminary. This course dealt exclusively with studying the role of shapeshifting in the lore of several cultures. Though the course mainly focused on shapeshifting lore in South and Central America, the final project was to present how shapeshifting might feature in our personal spiritual practices.

Thus, I performed a personal meditation ritual in mid-July 2014 that was meant to introduce…

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The Call

Long time no read! I haven’t been posting lately for many reasons. One of them was that my child had taken my computer hostage, but that is sorted for now, I think. Quarantine has seriously impacted our routine, as in many people’s cases. Today I felt compelled to talk about “the call” or calling. I’m trying to put it in to words as I revisit extraordinary synchronicities and what I’ve heard or read from other people’s experiences. There’s a difference between having a notion of something and deep knowing. Before I can answer that and how it relates to the call let me digress a little bit (because I haven’t written anything in a long time)

In the Medieval period the process of appreciating an art piece from any discipline required readers/ listeners/observers to delve into different levels of symbolism. The art of interpretation had rules, from Biblical exegesis to theater audiences. Everything had a meaning, and Muslim philosophers like Ibn Rušd’s (Averroes) developed a three leveled method of interpretation based on Aristoteles, that corresponded to three discursive levels, as summarized by Wikipedia: “the rhetorical (based on persuasion) accessible to the common masses; the dialectical (based on debate) and often employed by theologians and the ulama (scholars), and the demonstrative (based on logical deduction)”. This deeper knowing I spoke of at the beginning has something to do with that, in the sense that it is only after we peel back the layers of the rhetorical and dialectical that we can access that last hidden and transcendental layer of meaning. In order to answer the call we need to go within, but it’s not only logical deduction that can get us there, as the philosophers stated.

This idea that some would interpret things in different ways, according to their capacity, was the core behind some 20th century theories that centered the reader/interpreter more than the text or artifact (like Jauss in the 60s). But unlike the present age (post deconstruction), in the Middle Ages there was an Absolute Truth, which in the Three Faiths of the Iberian Peninsula remitted back to the sacred texts of each tradition. For Averroes it was the Q’ran, for Bible Scholars the approved gospels from the New Testament (set around the 4th century) plus the Old Testament, and the Tanakh and Talmud of the Jewish faith. But what happens when you don’t follow a faith that has a text you can look for the Ultimate Truth? Also, there were other ways of gaining knowledge back then as well, such as mystical experiences or Divine Union with God.

In Pagan faiths knowledge usually was shared as an oral tradition, and to make matters more complicated, any text that we have today is inevitably colored by the Christian perspective or written or compiled post facto by Christian hands (I’m thinking about 12th century Snorri in the Norse culture). So, what do pagans believe and how do they worship today? There are two trends, the reconstructionist and the revivalist. Both acknowledge these mystical experiences I mentioned before, and label them as UPG (unverified personal gnosis or knowledge), though not every UPG is of a mystical nature. In time, when enough people share the same UPG it becomes SPG (shared personal gnosis). An example of this would be the fact that Thor appreciates coffee offerings (like A LOT). This can be revealed by the god himself through divination (pendulum, runes, tarot, bibliomancy) or through direct communication (aka “godphone” for those blessed with clairaudience or the ability to hear things people usually can’t).

In some cases, you feel drawn to a faith or deity. You see them popping up everywhere. In other cases you might be propelled out of your body and into the astral realm to have a very healing experience. There is really no wrong way to go about it; sometimes it just happens. However you find your practice and your own personal truth, if it resonates with you, if your deeper sense of knowing is activated, then there’s really no wrong way about it.

Last, I think we could all benefit from trying to go past rethoric (how things sound, or look, if we are present in visual heavy social media), past dialectic (endless debate, even within ourselves) and just flow. Going into that hidden place that just feels right, even without labeling it or naming it, because when we reach that we can actually impact our lives and the lives of those around us. Getting into that space guarantees we’re living into our highest purpose (whatever that may be) and in line with everything in the Universe.

Holding on to old stories

Stone Sea Water - Free photo on Pixabay

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write anything. I was sick for a while, then I got wrapped up in other commitments and I sort of dropped it.

Lately I’ve been trying to let go, but to really let go of the past. Synchronicities in the form of visions, messages and quotes on social media have reassured me this is the case. That is what I’m supposed to be doing now. So, I started learning Reiki and trying to get my certificate for it. My teacher performed a long distance attunement ceremony three weeks ago, and advised everyone to take it easy and perform daily self healings. She assured us it was going to be a period of “spiritual detox”, and while I didn’t feel much different at first, as the days progressed my feelings have been all over the place. But it’s different. It’s not my usual pattern of riding the hormonal waves and the consequent dysphoria inducing cycles. It’s the release of a scab that just fell off and the new skin is raw against the wind and the sun.

During this time I finally got the final permission to delve into Andean spirituality, so I’ve allowed myself to research and contact the spirits of that tradition via my ancestors. It felt like coming home. At the same time, I harbor a deep sadness for not being able to experience and grow up into this tradition, this ancestral knowledge. My parents removed me from my culture at a young age, and I lost my loving extended family and my connection to the land I grew up in simultaneously. I grieve for the time lost, but rejoice in the time I regained.

***

There are many similarities with the Norse path that I’ve found. In a conversation with a friend the topic came up, and it’s not unthinkable, since many pagan faiths are rooted in land based worship and beliefs and in honoring the ancestors. The one point of convergence I’m focusing on right now is the role stones hold in both paths.

When I first started reading up on paganism I started collecting lots of stones and sticks wherever I went. I had this inexplicable urge, this crow brain of sorts, to collect, collect, collect. Last time I went to the beach I collected so many pretty stones and pebbles that I kept and arranged in different patterns on my altar outside. Then I learned about the hörgar, piles of stones that were used for worship. Many Norse pagans&heathens I’ve met leave their offerings (pour liquor, for example) on theirs.

In Iceland there are historical hörgar or cairns (from Scottish Gaelic) that mark the way during hikes through trails that remind me of apachitas (Aymara and Quechua). They marked the way for travelers, while also being devotional shrines.

Right now I’m focusing on working with a set of stones that represent the four cardinal directions. My ultimate purpose is to heal myself and others with the knowledge I’m acquiring during this time.

****

I don’t want to keep holding on to old stories or past hurts. Things that happened in the way they happened hurt, and I choose to acknowledge them to find the lessons they hold.

Here’s to new beginnings.

On fever as a sign

I have not written in a long time. I spent about a week and a half recovering from an illness that came out of nowhere. We suspected tonsillitis, but I had to get tested for COVID twice before my doctor would prescribe antibiotics. I spent that time in bed feeling sorry for myself. Most of all, I was anxious to get back on my feet to resume my devotional practice, and it seemed like even the most basic prayer would knock me out afterwards.

My body was telling me I needed a hard reset. There have been a few instances in my life where fevers have communicated the need to purify emotional baggage.

The first time in my adult life that this symptom manifested, I had just said goodbye for the summer to my boyfriend at the time (who would become my husband in later years). His family lived in Mexico, and he was studying in Chile (where I was), so we were going to be separated for three months over the break, after spending almost every waking hour together for six months. Back then my family situation SUCKED, so I really thought I was missing a part of me with him leaving… it really brought back separation anxiety. I think our relationship never recovered from that break, even though we spent the next seven years together.

He left, and I was at the beach spending a few days with a group of girl friends. I discovered that time that I have (had?) an allergic reaction to the ocean, because after the first day I got really sick. My temperature was extremely elevated and I was hallucinating. I was stuck in bed at the house, and the owner of the house (or rather, the granddaughter of the owner of the house, my friend S) was pissed at me for being sick. I received close to zero empathy from her, and the other three friends didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I contacted my parents who insisted I take a bus back to the capital and S dropped me off at the bus terminal, worried and annoyed. That friendship ended a few years later.

Cut to the next time I was extremely feverish: two days before my wedding. Once again, we had gone swimming in the ocean at the gulf of Mexico, before heading back to Monterrey to get hitched again (same man, we “married” twice because his extended family hadn’t been able to go to Chile the previous year). I was left alone in a hotel room because my then husband wanted to be with his family, so they went to dinner and swimming, and I was by myself for hours. I was sad and lonely, and spent most of those two days in bed, not eating much and trying to stay awake to watch TV (Shawn of the Dead saved me). Thanks to the fact that my then brother-in-law’s in laws were doctors and had antibiotics with them, I recovered before the wedding. Again, that relationship ended quite dramatically years later.

And now, this time it caught me feeling low about myself. I’ve been struggling in my day to day, feeling low about being unemployed, about my transition, about identity stuff and unresolved baggage. I keep dreaming about packing frantically and making it to the airport in the nick of time, or missing the train that will take me to the airport, or… And it’s always travel and baggage. So this time I’m focusing on what I want to bring with me to the next part of my life. There have been many changes between last year and this year. And between 2020 and 2019. It’s time to honor the person I was, the person I thought I’d be by now, and myself. Only after truly grieving and honoring that will I be able to move forward.

What’s changed is now I feel protected and held by a higher power, so I choose to listen.

On discoveries, big and small

Art source: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1260343054

I began reading Wayland Skallagrimsson’s book “Odin’s Way in the Modern World” (2013) because someone somewhere recommended it. While it was very interesting, and very short, I had to put it down to consult other books (my ADHD brain jumps a lot from topic to topic). I’m certainly a Jack of all trades, master of none in that respect. But!

The book kept falling out of my bookshelf, for no reason. It happened often enough that one of my friends told me, “yeah, you should read that one”. And because I am a dumbass I still didn’t read it.

Cue a visit from Himself, telling me that it’s not optional, that I must sit down and finish the godsdamned book. And while that visit was interesting, it’s the book that finds me writing an entry at 1 am on a school night. I knew it was going to be important, yet I did not know how important it would be.

While I appreciate Skallagrimsson’s views on modern practices, and his summary of the old conceptions of Odin, it wasn’t until he starts recounting his own experience that I understood why He was so insistent on me reading it.

To summarize some of the author’s strongest or main points, he recognizes three different ways to commune with Odin (not Óðinn, Odhinn, or Wod, but the present day god): a) the path of the martial artist/poet, b) the mystic/seidh-worker/vitki, and c) the berserker. He argues that a rigorous and disciplined practice of martial arts brings the person closer to the Divine, and encourages picking up any creative/intellectual endeavor to elevate the physical aspect of the practice, so poetry is encouraged. I will now discuss the other two.

Personally, as I was reading the arguments, I felt mostly connected to the mystic path. I seemed to be wired in a way that makes me extremely receptive. I can’t control it yet, as I’ve only begun developing it, and with extreme caution. I don’t have a formal teacher (yet) and the instruction I get for now comes from either books or visionary journeys. It is something precious to me and I acknowledge that it comes with a great responsibility. I believe it was given to me for a reason, and that reason is to be of service to my community.

But that wasn’t what surprised me either. Going back to the author’s account of his life experiences, I was shocked to read that we had too many experiences in common. Not because we’re both Odinsmen, but because he’s a berserker and some of his experiences resonate far too much. Anyone that has met me in real life knows that I’m mostly quiet (until I warm up to people, I guess) and easygoing. I’m a very stereotypical Pisces in that sense. My closest friends and family know that I do have a temper, and when it boils it explodes and burns everything down. I have lost many friendships because of my inability to control it when it gets extremely bad. I have this pattern of pretending things are fine when my (almost nonexistent) boundaries get crossed over and over, and then one day…

(I’m ashamed and working on it).

Wayland also mentions he has always lived in emotional extremes, and has had episodes in his life when his wolf nature overtook him. He mentions this seething rage that lies just beneath the surface, and to me that makes perfect sense. In that respect I am like him. I admit I haven’t known peace since adolescence, not until I started taking testosterone. After that first shot I was able to finally settle down. The rage was gone. A year in, I decided to stop taking it. The reasons are too many to count. And thus, as soon as it was gone it came back. That unending emptiness at the pit of my stomach, wrath that boils just beneath the surface, drowning me.

But there is a lesson in this, and it is precisely this: hardship is a great teacher, and Wayland puts it more eloquently: the way to fight that rage, to really tame it, lies in joy. I have found joy in my dealings with dear Gangleri and I understand things more clearly now.

For now I must leave it, but remind me to tell you about the spar in the snow.

“I hide my name but seldom”

Imagine this: you are in a misty field, walking towards a shore. You do not know how you got there, only that you have to push on, lest the cold that bites at your ankles seep deeper into your bones. It’s starting to rain, and the sun is hiding behind heavy clouds.

Suddenly, a stream. You hear the torrent rushing past, knowing its waters are as treacherous as they are crystal clear. You need to get to the other side, urgently. There are people who need you on the shore. You have important business to conduct. You fumble through your pockets, trying to find anything to help: a spell, a charm, a song, three of more or less the same.

You don’t notice at first but throughout your exasperated show there are eyes upon you. He sees you cursing at your pockets, filled with sand from distant beaches, rocks picked up on a whim, little crystals everywhere. He lets out a rolling laugh, and you finally look up.

-“Hello there, traveler!”, he directs at you. You look towards the shadow on the other shore. A small boat holds a cloaked figure, and you see puffs of smoke rise up from what you guess is a pipe.

You grumble a hello, trying to assess the danger. It’s only one man, and though you are a traveler and he doesn’t know anything about you, you’re still weary from past experience. The last thing you need is a chatty Kathy or a snake oil dealer right now.

-“Seems like you could use some help getting across”, and now you’re certain he’s after your coin, or worse. You are polite, for maybe you will need his help, though you need to find out the price first.

Another puff of smoke rises from his pipe. There is a pause. He’s sizing you up. For some reason your cheeks are burning. You feel like his gaze cuts right through you.

-“How about it, traveler? The water’s cold and the torrent is deep. There is no other way across. You could try finding a bridge, but I see that you need to get to where you’re goin’ soon enough. Perhaps you don’t trust me.” He chuckles. Theres is a small breeze that makes you hold tighter onto your cloak. The hand that holds the staff is frozen in place. You try moving your fingers, but it seems as if they’re made of wood and your joints are stiff.

You ask for his name, next you ask him to name his price.

You hear the boat splashing through the water almost effortlessly, he’s closer and you can make out his face. It’s a face that has seen it all. His eye piercing and glad. And it dawns on you that you’re in more danger than you’ve ever been. It makes you want to turn around and say “Nevermind”, and go back home where it’s nice and warm.

-“I have nothing to offer you. I am no one. I just need to get to the other side to help whoever is calling me. They have been trying to get through for days and days, and I’m scared that I’m too late”. You almost let out a sob. He’s still looking at you, amused. There’s a spearpoint at your left rib, and you know there’s no way it’s really there, but you feel the cold metal against your skin. Just under your concealed breast. You fear he’s found you out, that your high-pitched voice has given you away and that now it’s not only death you might be facing. He probably already knows. Your height and build, your round and beardless face have given it away.

-“Please”, you plead, “I haven’t slept in days. There’s omens everywhere I look. I know someone on the other side needs me”.

He smiles. -“I know, who do you think has been calling you?”. He lets out a final puff of smoke, a charm, a song, a spell. It’s in the air.

You sigh and step into the water.

On Sex and Sainthood, from a Pagan perspective

TRANSVERBERATION
Bernini’s Sculpture of Saint Theresa of Ávila
(1647–1652) during ecstasy. (https://aleteia.org/2019/06/25/st-teresa-of-avilas-heart-was-physically-pierced-by-an-arrow-of-gods-love/)

Why open a blog post with Saint Theresa, if this is supposed to be from a pagan perspective? For many reasons, but mainly because I think that an image speaks louder than words, and this is a well-known depiction of religious ecstasy or religious union with a Higher Power. This sculpture is in Rome, where it lies in darkness at Santa Maria della Vittoria (only becoming illuminated by a cheap “pay an euro to see it” mechanism) and yet it has become embedded in millions of people’s minds. Saint Theresa herself is the only woman to ever hold the title of Doctor of the Church, alongside other well known theologians and philosophers of the Middle Ages, like Saint Augustine or Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Let’s start right off the bat saying that gender does but also does not matter for sainthood. It was possible to be a woman and a saint but, as with any other experiences within a patriarchal society and religion, womanhood immediately became heavily policed and suspect. To be a Saint meant being a virgin, renouncing the body, and that’s what makes Saint Theresa an excellent example. Her religious experiences are fully embodied and orgasmic. Bernini himself chose one of her more transgressive mystical experiences to depict and immortalize. In Theresa we see the culmination of a joyous sexuality within a mystical context:

I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.During the days that this lasted, I went about as if beside myself. I wished to see, or speak with, no one, but only to cherish my pain, which was to me a greater bliss than all created things could give me.

On “Book of her Life”, Translation from https://aleteia.org/2019/06/25/st-teresa-of-avilas-heart-was-physically-pierced-by-an-arrow-of-gods-love/

From a theological perspective, however, the faithful/believer is a passive recipient of contact with the Divine, and so “feminine coded” within our binary views of gender. There were monks that were, like nuns, labeled as brides of Christ. Another Catholic mystic that used this theological concept of gender was San Juan de la Cruz (Saint John of the Cross). He used erotic imagery à la “Song of Songs” to teach difficult concepts to illiterate members of the clergy. Like Saint Theresa, Saint John was scrutinized by the Inquisition; both of them were under the watch of an emergent surveillance State that used the Inquisition to homogenize its population. I would like to expound more on Medieval and Early Modern Spanish bureaucracy, but I don’t want to digress too much… Back to Saint John.

The poetic voice he used was coded “feminine” to represent this passive or receptive soul in interaction with the male-coded Higher Power. Religious poetry and erotic poetry had been used in the Peninsula, borrowing from each other heavily. It was not unusual to have trobadours (the skalds of the Continent) praise their Lord’s lady in religious terms, transgressing into outright blasphemous territory. In the kingdoms of today’s Spain there was a tendency towards repurposing tradition in a shocking way. Thus, in this manner, the mystics’ use of erotic imagery and metaphor brings it back to source.

“Song of the Soul that Delights in Reaching the Supreme State”
San Juan de la Cruz (1598 – 1664)

Of perfection, that is, the union with God,

by the path of spiritual negation”

Upon a darkened night

on fire with all love’s longing

– O joyful flight! –

I left, none noticing,

my house, in silence, resting.

Secure, devoid of light,

by secret stairway, stealing

– O joyful flight! –

in darkness self-concealing,

my house, in silence, resting.

In the joy of night,

in secret so none saw me,

no object in my sight

no other light to guide me,

but what burned here inside me.

Which solely was my guide,

more surely than noon-glow,

to where he does abide,

one whom I deeply know,

a place where none did show.

O night, my guide!

O night, far kinder than the dawn!

O night that tied

the lover to the loved,

the loved in the lover there transformed!

On my flowering breast,

that breast I kept for him alone,

there he took his rest

while I regaled my own,

in lulling breezes from the cedars blown.

The breeze, from off the tower,

as I sieved through its windings

with calm hands, that hour,

my neck, in wounding,

left all my senses hanging.

Self abandoned, self forgot,

my face inclined to the beloved one:

all ceased, and I was not,

my cares now left behind, and gone:

there among the lilies all forgotten.

. Reader, if you are still with me, let us discuss this poem from a different perspective. Now you can see why Saint John was under watch. After the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and the Schism that separated the Protestants from Catholicism, any mystical experience became suspect. What Saint John describes is borderline heretic from the Church’s perspective. No only is there no renunciation of the body and its pleasures, but direct contact with the Divine, something that was frowned upon. Even Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order and inspiration for Cervantes’ Don Quixote, didn’t have an untroubled start due to his personal mystical experiences. Theresa’s confessor told her to verify whether it was really Christ in her visions, so the matter of discernment was heavily on these peoples’ minds…

So, today, as Pagans, we might find the mystics’ experiences of the Divine more relatable than in their time. The godhungry and the godbothered, to use Paxson’s terms, know too well what it feels like to be in contact with gods that have their own agency and desires. And relationships with the pagan gods is direct, since not all of us are blessed enough to have a regular congregation or access to a priest/ess. We become the priests of our small temple-homes, harboring the gods and goddesses within ourselves in our own inner temple. What that looks like is different for everybody, but possession is one of those possibilities; it gets a bad reputation from horror movies, and like any practice it needs to be controlled, but it is another way to be of service to our communities. I am not an expert on this practice, so I will leave it here and recommend this book instead. I’m mentioning it now because John’s description of dissolving into the Divine reminded me of it: “Self abandoned, self forgot, /my face inclined to the beloved one: /all ceased, and I was not”.

The Essential Guide to Possession, Depossession, and Divine Relationships

***

To end on a personal note and, I must admit the reason for this longer post, to tie it all in. I’m still learning and unlearning how to be free from previous programming. I was a staunch Catholic until college, became an agnostic and even an atheist for a while. I devoted my college years to Medieval and Early Modern Spain/Iberia and continued to learn all I could about culture, literature, and religion, which meant mainly Catholicism although I got to learn a bit about Judaism and Islam. I have lost a lot, and retained only the essentials, all the authors I have mentioned in this post. My takeaway from my very disorganized reading is that the mystic’s experience is universal, in the sense that transcending the ego and blending into the Divine can be found in different cultural matrixes.

Moving from fear of cosmic punishment or spiritual abandonment into bliss can be a life altering event. I can say it now, although I can’t go into much detail. I’m still trying to make sense of it and I don’t feel fully myself. All I know now is that when the Divine comes knocking and we don’t acknowledge them, they find different ways to make us listen.

Mother’s Night and the Hunt

I was beyond tired when I sat down to light the candles for the first day of Yuletide celebrations. This is my first year celebrating, so I was more focused on getting the prayer right and getting the altar set up nicely than in following the actual chronology… Celebrations are supposed to happen at sundown the day before, so technically I was a day late. To add further confusion I got mixed up with a Solstice ritual (which wouldn’t light until it was ripe and ready) and the preparation for it the day before. I was also obsessing over the Grand Conjunction and what it meant in my Natal chart.

Last night I opened with an offering to my dísir (or female ancestors), the goddesses I work with (Frigg, Sigyn, Hekate), and said a small prayer. I called upon their blessing to help me manifest what I need for the upcoming cycle, and wanted to end with a short divination session. I got really good cards that warned me against setting unnecessary impositions upon myself (The Devil card showed up yet again) and just finding balance and common ground. I closed the session and was preparing to go to bed, except something caught my eye and before I knew it was already 1 am. It started with a candle flame.

I thought back on all the chaos from the day: the badly placed candle that left a black soot spot on the altar shelf, along with a burning smell that wouldn’t go away, and the shampoo snafu that left my bathroom tiles, hands and scalp bright pink. So I decided to devote some time to Loki as well. I tried a small prayer (I’d made copious offerings during the day) and a new divination method with dice, and received a few confusing but reassuring messages. Krasskova discusses her method with three dice on her Novena for Loki, which basically is a form of bibliomancy with dice. There are numerical combinations obtained with rolling dice that are then looked up, say “1-2-3”, and correspond with a phrase or small paragraph that answers a question asked before rolling.

Heart on Fire: A Novena for Loki

The fun thing about dice is that you can choose a pair, with each corresponding die meaning “YES” or “NO”, and the highest number gives you the answer. I used this with Loki to ask whether or not I could stop the divination session and got a response right away. If They answered “NO” I knew I had to ask another question, so I did, and this didn’t go on for too long. After I closed the session, I thanked Loki and tried to finish burning the offering that wouldn’t light and surprise, surprise, I had no trouble at all this time. A little gratitude and time spent with the Powers go a long way.

I was still feeling like I was forgetting something, so I gazed back into the flame at the Yule altar to find Óski’s (Odin’s) candle flame still dancing wildly, so I started praying before diving into divination to hear what He wanted to say. Loki was very polite and loving, but this was so different. And it’s very strange since Loki is my guardian, but not my patron, yet I have a more straightforward relationship with Them than with Óski.

He opened right away with a phrase about sacrifice, and reader, I shit you not, the tale of King Vikar was the first thing to come to mind. My blood ran cold. After a few questions, it became apparent that what He really wanted was beer, and that’s when He reminded me about my miscalculated calendar. So yesterday was the night dedicated to honoring the Wild Hunt. I quickly gathered the last Guinness from the fridge and left a small offering of apples and bread to the Riders and their steeds.

Illustration by August Malmström.

By then it was pretty late, and I could feel we were getting into trickier territory, so I was desperate to end the session and go to sleep, but I kept asking and getting an odd response, which meant basically “you are free to go, but you must remain”. After a series of YES-NO answers I asked what this was really about and was instructed to find the runes to cast. Only after I had appropriately interpreted the three runes He gave me was I free to call it a night, yet there are things that I’ll still be mulling over for the next few days.

It seems like Óski is subtly pushing me in a direction my dísir warn against going, so I’ll have to weigh the pros and cons and meditate on the matter some more. For now I know that I’m on the right path at this very moment and that things are unfolding as they should.

Don’t mind an open-mind

I’ve been working towards harnessing images, sounds, and sensations that come through during meditation, so I just recently started reading up on the more technical side of trance work. I picked up Trance-Portation (2008) by Diana L. Paxson and I really recommend it. This book really breaks it down into a series of practical exercises, and while it’s not exclusively oriented in the Norse pagan tradition it does touch on it. As an eclectic witch, I actually find that to be a pro rather than a con.

Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World: Diana L. Paxson:  9781578634057: Amazon.com: Books

I must admit to being very disorganized, not only in my everyday life but also in my spiritual practice (I blame Neptune in my chart). Somedays I just want to feel something, anything, so I open myself up to receive whatever comes through in the hopes that one of my gods shows up. That has proven to be not very effective, but also quite dangerous. Hence, the resources.

Things I wish I’d known back when I was just starting: how to ground, center, and ward/shield. This book covers all of those. My previous entry into this kind of headache-saving practices came from the book Spiritual Protection (2010) by Sophie Reicher.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have good results without all the precautions that I should have implemented, which I attribute to a mix of beginner’s luck and some skills I picked up during my formative years at a Jesuit school. While I no longer belong to the Catholic faith, I still recognize that some techniques created by Ignatius of Loyola, the famous “Spiritual Exercises” from the 16th century, did make my transit into a journeying-centered practice much easier. These exercises are based on work with the five senses, not only visualization, and, while they were created to instill the fear of God into the monks undergoing them and to remind them of their own mortality and sin, they work! Paxson’s book is a much nicer approach, focusing on bodily sensations (scanning) and nature based meditation (not focusing on the flames of Hell, for example). If you are interested in Catholicism though, check Ignatius of Loyola out. He’s the inspiration behind the character Don Quixote, but I’ll expand on that on a later post.

Well, to make things less vague and book-reccy, I’ll share one of my recent experiences (I’m guessing that’s probably the most interesting thing I could share now). Now, I believe that my experiences have been inner-world journeys because of two reasons: a) I’m an effin beginner and b) I believe that the psyche is a microcosm for other realms/dimensions/however your want to call it. So while I might not have visited other realms because I can’t really control my astral body at this point, I firmly believe I encountered the Powers dear to me within myself. These encounters were very brief, mainly because I don’t have any uninterrupted time (the kid can only go without me for 15 minutes or so intervals due to his extreme attachment).

I usually proceed to visualize myself walking into a forest. I can see the light trickling down between the leaves. I feel and hear the crunch of the leaves on the forest floor, the thumping of my boots on the uneven terrain. I always carry a staff to steady myself. In the forest I find the largest tree that is a gateway into a descending path. As I go down each step I count, going deeper into myself. By the time I reach ten I know I am in a good mind space to ask any questions and receive answers. The bottom of the tree opens up into a small dark space where I see nine doors, each leading to a realm. That specific time I chose a door intuitively, and it led me to the end of the forest I was in. I walked down a slope and found a big fortress. I talked to the guardian at the gate, and could feel him sizing me up. After a brief moment he let me inside. I walked into the fortress, noticing a very intricate mosaic floor. There was light all around me, and I walked up a grand staircase, noticing all the rooms in a second floor. I couldn’t see very well, my eyes were only focused on a gilded door with minuscule carvings. I was noticing the golden patina on them when the door opened, and there she was, the Lady. Less primal than other times I’ve sensed her, wearing a flower crown and a white dress. Soft hands, her beautiful necklace shimmering, a cascade of gold falling off her shoulders. I asked for her guidance on some personal matters, and I remember the runes she gave me, and her explanation of each one.

'The Bridesmaid', Sir John Everett Millais
“The Bridesmaid” (1851) Sir John Everett Millais

After that encounter I swore an oath to her and Freyr, one that I intend to keep until the end of my days. And I breathe easier knowing that I have such powerful gods on my side.

Ways of knowing

I’ve recently discovered that He has been there for longer than I thought. The more I delve deeper into the mystical experience the more things start to make sense. I used to think that my thinking patterns were broken, fuzzy, not good enough. While I do think that some experiences have left me frazzled (which impacts my thinking), I also believe that I’ve been receiving guidance that sometimes interrupts my current train of thought. Case in point: I barely remember anything I wrote in my dissertation because I used to go into frenzied states when I could just write and write pages at a time and then have to rest for a few days. It felt like a dictation.

Same thing happened with my novel. I’d spend hours at a time writing, everyday, when my son was a baby and sleeping. There isn’t a greater satisfaction than what I feel when I sit down to write and the words just come, in waves, carrying me closer to meaning.

I get into a frenzy, and I can just write and write. After I’m done I feel empty, but in a good way. The one thing that I have noticed is that if I let too much time pass by between revisions, I can’t recognize my writing at all.

So lately I’ve been searching for a routine, not only for creative work, but also for devotion. I’ve been dedicating each day of the week to a deity of the pantheon, in addition to a small prayer and/or offering to Hekate. It’s been working so far, but sometimes I forget.

In order to help ground and center my practice I’ve started compiling prayers to the gods, because having something tangible could help my disperse mind (great for trance work,… Awful for everything else, haha).

I’m open to suggestions. So far I’ve only just begun with prayers to Odin, Loki, and Sigyn.

Until next time.