Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Jotunheim is the "home of the Jotun" is the realm of the giants, the Jotun, who are a kind of primal giant. It is the counter balance to the realm of Vanaheim, the home of the Vanir - the ancestral home of the Vanir gods, the ancient gods and goddesses of the natural world, of fertility and of human sexuality and is the realm of of evolutive power and organic growth, where there is no decay or death. All is fertile, prosperous and abundant. In Jotunheim there is constant change. The vital power of Jotunheim is that of dissolution or of break down of form to its base elements and the inhabitants of this realm seek to change anything that they come across.

The realm of Jotunheim should not be viewed from a moralistic perspective; it is a necessary force within the natural realm. It is only when the force of dissolution is placed out of its natural bounds that it becomes a danger to life. In its balanced form it is an intrinsic quality of physical existence, without this force nothing would ever change or evolve to more advanced and intricate forms.

Raw untamed primal forces of nature, steep rocky valleys, high mountain ranges, snow covered land, unstable extremes of climate, barren fields of rock and stone, impenetrable rocky faces and wild turbulent seas are all typical of the appearance of Jotunheim.

We heathens believe that it is the interplay of the energy from Jotunheim with that of Vanaheim upon the physical reality of Midgard (the world upon which we live) that creates the constant cycle of evolution, of birth, life death and rebirth.  All coming together brings the balance of the elements and also the clash of the elements when needed.


This is cheating a bit as I work with the Anglo Saxon runes, so I use Ger instead of Jera but Jera is how this rune is commonly known, the twelfth in the runic alphabet.  It means a good year, Season, Harvest.  <

The Anglo Saxon rune poem states "Year is the hope of men when god lets the holy kingdom let go of its fruits."

Harvest time is the most important time for our ancestors. They have tilled the soil and allowed nature to unfold. The crops are strong and ripe. The year was calculated on a seasonal or yearly basis and embodies the mysteries of the cyclical nature of life and wyrd.

Jera charts how we change and transform through different periods of our life. It is the spiral journey of self knowledge, like the journey of the rune, our learning goes on for ever. Jera shows us the holistic  nature of the universe.

Jera shows us the importance of our actions. You shall reap what you sow. Our actions along the web will shape wyrd and change how things flow. It is also the rune of optimism looking to the future, where the god allows the earth mother to give up her bounty.

Magical Uses of Jera:
- Help bring a project to a positive outcome;
- Achievement and enthusiasm;
- Plan forward towards final outcome;
- Can help in learning other runes;
- Understanding what we want to achieve;
- Instil patience;
- Help see larger picture;
- Help in divination;
- See underlying structure of a situation and know when to act.

- Write a list of projects or plans you'd like to accomplish;
- Become aware of the seasons around you;
- Take a walk in the full moon;
- Go through your wardrobe or music collection and see how your tastes have changed;
- Create a harvest harrow (altar) or harrow of the cycles, possibly to the god Frey.
- Try and go naturally through the day without clocks.

Friday, 4 May 2012


As I'm a week behind with my blogging I thought I'd do two together to bring me up to date and I thought if I chose two runes beginning with 'I' that might make it flow better. Isa and Inguz are both powerful runes for me and I often wear a bindrune of the two symbols.


ISA was the inevitable rune to be chosen as it's also shaped like the letter I. In Anglo Saxon it is IS, in the Younger Futhark it is ISS. All meaning Ice, the time of severe cold and darkness. It is one of two runes of creation. It is containment, introspection, introversion, stillness and preservation.

In the Anglo Saxon rune poem is says "Ice is very cold and exceedingly slippy. The Icelandic power reads "Ice is the rind of the river... danger for fey men."

Isa is a particularly powerful rune in the northern hemisphere. We have had Hagalaz for disruption and Nyd for need. ISA is the instinctive response to the the arrival of wintertime, of hibernation. We go from focussing on the outside to focus on thing inside. This leads to transformation

It is the preserving of the old ways and traditions - even in Christian teachings the old ways are preserved.  Art, Photography etc area also a visual preservation for the future and thus an expression of ISA.

ISA stops. It stops evolutive and dissolutive forces equally evolving and disintegrating. It is the power of the law to keep things in its place, the ability to hold society together, the power to maintain order. 

It is the I in I AM, the sense of personality and self, what constitutes the self. It can help us maintain our sense of stability when all around is disintegrating into chaos. It brings the power to enable clarity of though (like the Hermit in the Tarot).

When we are stuck in a rut and there is the inability to see any other viewpoint than our own, ISA helps us out of that rut.

ISA also is for slowing down the pace, chilling out, destressing at work.

Magical uses of Isa

- Freezes all forms of magic instantly;
- Stills the mind;
- Binds others;
- Controls actions of others;
- Refocusses mind when journeying;
- Halts unwanted actions;
- Curse others;
- Strengthen self esteem;
- Stop relationships falling apart;
- Control bad weather.

Healing Uses of Isa

- Halt progress of illness;
- Calm down, hyperactivity;
- Reduce fever;
- Strengthen muscles in body;
- Reduce high blood pressure;

Some possible tasks to do with ISA

- Write down everything that makes you a unique individual. Put a rune against each one and make a bind rune.
- Take up a winter sport.
- Holiday in a cold country (come to England!).
- Take part in an archaeology event.
- Write a short essay on your life.
- Create a timeline of your life with pictures of yourself or make a short video about yourself;
- Take more photos.


The shape of Inguz is two X's, one on top of each other.   Key concepts are replication, creation, inner-child, wholeness, symmetry, isolation, incubation, gestation, seed.

INGUZ represents a simple, but complex idea, that of the seed. Inguz points to the cosmic law that governs the essential creativity inherent to the fabric of existence.

INGUZ is in our language today. We use 'ing' when we speak of 'doing', 'sitting', 'running' , active processes. Adopting the secrets of INGUZ allows us to focus on the process. With regards the generation of ideas it helps us in the doing following the thinking.

INGUZ is the very process by which creation occurs, including the incubation and gestation of the seed, its germination and subsequent development and growth. When the process has come to a peak, the being generated by the seed in turn actively produces new seeds. In time this could change the shape of the world around us and the universe.

Harnassing the energies of INGUZ for our purposes requires that we become conscious of the ways in which a small seed can be planted in the right environment, or nurtured into a powerful new mode of being. We open up room for INGUZ energy through the deliberate act of creating time and space for ourselves and for th people and events we wish to effect.

So INGUZ unlocks the energy of continuation and generation but also the magic of discovering the very essence of a thing, the simple algorithm that will most ensure its spread and growth into the universe. It is the cosmic law of the minutely small and its symmetry with the infinitely large.

In this way INGUZ is a rune of wholeness. When we summon up INGUZ as energy and understand its teachings, it signals the integration of the physical, emotionsl, mental and spiritual into one centred being, that of our inner child self, the being most aligned with rampant creativity and originality.

So go play and go create!


Friday, 27 April 2012

H is for the rune Haegl, Hagalaz or Hagall

I mentioned a bit about the rune Haegl or Hagalaz (meaning 'hail' in my last H post, saying it was one of the more ancient symbols, predating the runic system as it has been found carved in older archaeological locations, in the shape of a snowflake - and so, I believe being connected to the ancient winter goddess, Holda.

In the Anglo Saxon rune poem:
"Hail is the whitest of grains,
it comes from heigh in heaven,
showers of wind hurl it
then it turns to water."

Haegl is the ninth rune and so is the first of the second Aettir, the second lot of runes in the system.  It translates as "hail", the unexpected hailstorm arising from nowhere and shattering the joy and harmony we had just established with the previous rune, Wynn or Wynjo.  It is out of control, it has no prelude. It comes from nowhere and goes back to nowhere, bringing chaos, misery and upset.

Haegl is a rune of disruption and it throws us off route, like many episodes in our lives. It overshaddows all aspects of our life with intense power. In the full force of the storm it feels like it will go on for ever. But what is interesting is that in reality it is over rapidly. However, its implications can last a lifetime. It signifies the sudden disruptive, often devastating, things that happen unexpectedly in your life.

In ancient times, it could be even more devastating as the hail could smash crops and ruin a harvest, often kill livestock and could be fatal in the community. Haegl is at its core is that which we cannot change. It is us who change.  It is the past that haunts us and the present that locks us into this moment. It could even represent nuclear war or catastrophic global cliimate change brought about by human actions.

The events that are the hallmark of Haegl are always dramatic, even if only just to us personally. A breakup with a loved one, a death in the family, a turn of luck that brings radical change for good or bad. These events give us tremendous pause and sometimes we must begin again from the beginning, embracing the opportunity to have a clean slate, no matter how painful

Gaining power over this energy lies in accepting that which we cannot change, adapting where we can and surrendering where we cannot. It means courage and defiance in the face of the impossible.

Haegl is a reminder to us that certain things, as catastrophic and devastating as they may be, are not worth worrying about. Let go, forgive, forgive yourself. You can do nothing about what happened, only what will happen now. The forgiving of the unalterable is the secret that Haegl reveals to us. When we stop repressing the dark site, the negative, stop living according to our past and fearing the future we then actually become whole and face the future through new, changed eyes.

Friday, 20 April 2012

H is for the goddess HOLDA - Ancient Lady of the Sacred Land, Queen of the 'other folk'

Thrilling wild-haired Goddess of
        sexual love
Bringer of generative power to our
Hag Goddess of Winter whom we know
        as Mother Goose and Dame Holle -
Riding high through leaden December
        skies, scattering white feathers
                across the land.
Dark Goddess of the Underworld and
        spectral rider in the Wild Hunt
Galloping beside Odin through the
Goddess of the wild creatures
Roaming snow-clad mountain tops and
        dwelling deep in crystal caverns,
                forever surounded by your beloved
                        animals -
Be with us.
                                                    HAIL HOLDA!
(Courtesy of Jack Gale)

Many pagans have heard of Diana, Cerridwen, Brighid etc. Relatively few are familiar with with the ancient goddess Holda, if they have ever heard of her at all. But after centuries of obscurity,  Holda seems to be returning to the land and with it her power and magic.

Identified witht he fairy godmother of the original Cinderella story by the Brothers Grimm, with the nursery rhyme figure of Mother Goods, and with the sexy Venus in the Tannhauser story popularised by Wagner, the ancient Germanice Goddess Holda (or Hulda) was once honoured across Northern and Eastern Europe.  ("The Goddess Holda" - Jack Gale, 1995, self-published).

Of great antiquity, Holda predates the Northern tradition deities Hella and Freya, who both inherited some of her characteristics. Holda passed on her dynamic sexuality to Freya, a Goddess who traditionally takes mortal men as her lovers and who may be found at the ancient burial grounds of the Northern people. Freya also inherited the role of the witch's goddess from Holda; the prototype of the dark Lady riding a broomstick through the night sky accompanied by her cat. Cats are sacred to Freya and to Holda, along with other animals.

Holda passed on the the role of Underworld goddess to Hella, collector of the souls of the newly-dead. Hella is seen as a half-beautiful and half rotting and hideous woman - half-maiden and half-crone. Holda also appears to have these aspects. Neither Holda nor Hella fit the triple-aspected Goddess embraced by many wiccan traditions.  Holda is both a Hag Goddess of winter, an underworld goddess, and a queen of sexuality who is bestower of gifts, sexual and othewise.

In her book, "Leaves of Yggdrasil", Freya Aswynn attributes to Holda the Hagalaz rune. This ancient symbol is thought by some to predate the runic system and its snowflake structure would link well to a Winter goddess..

Some linguists studying Old German, Norse and Icelandic (and old Welsh)  have claimed that the roots of the word huldu, such as in huldu-folk meaning  'the good people' and is often linked to the elves and dwarves. Holda or Huldra is queen of the huldrefolk, so queen of the otherworldy beings, a fairy queen.  I intend to carry out further research into this aspect of Holda.

To contact Holda is to begin a relationship.  It is a commitment you need to really decide whether you want to make. You could start by offering her some music or visiting one of her holy places. Then bit by bit build up a picture of her in your mind, visualise a journey to meet her and start to communicate with this very special, very ancient, very powerful goddess.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

G is for Galdr- Heathen Magic

Galdr is an Old Norse term meaning 'sung spell' or 'magic chant' which employ sound vibrations or 'sonics', said to derive from ancient Sanskrit mantra and before that probably Indo-European language groups. The word may derive from the term 'gala', to crow and 'gala', mad or obsessed.

Galdrs are sung and chanted, often crafted poetically or simply repetition of runes sing over and over again to create a trance-like state, in order to create magic. They are used to set in motion the magical powers which the person in question wants to bring into reality on this plane either fir his/her own use or for the service of someone else.

Underlying these is the concept of shamanism (Seidr) being used to in OKE the presence of the gods, ancestors or other spirit beings or animals. Some Seidr workers actually assume a god form, as by 'becoming' the god/spirit they can avail themselves of the power.

Whence comes the galdr? In the Ynglinga Saga Snorri writes that Odin brought the magical power with him when he came to the north lands.

"When Odin/Asa came to the north lands, and with him Lady Diar, it was truly said that they practised and taught arts which human beings have used since. Odin was the noblest of them all and from him they learned all arts, as he first knew them all and the most... he could change shape and appearance as he willed... He always spoke in verse, as is done today and this is called the Art of the Skalds. He and his priests are often called 'song-smiths', as from them the art spread through the north lands.

Odin could make that in battle his enemies became blind, deaf and terrified and that their weapons cut no more than twigs....Odin could change his shape; his body would rest as in sleep or death but he became bird or beast, fish or worm, to travel instantly to far countries ,in his own or other people's interest.

With simple words he could do this: extinguish fire, calm the sea, and turn the wind however he willed... Through these things he became very knowing. He taught all these arts through runes and songs, which are called 'Galdrar', and this is why the Aesir are called 'Galdrar-Smidir' (sorcery-smiths)."

The great Ginnungagap ( the eternal yawning void from the beginning of time) is the place or space into which the Galdr are pushed.

You can carry out galdr or your own or in a group. When our group gathers for galdr we often use them as part of or a culmination of a shamanic journey, where we journey to one of the nine worlds for a specific purpose. We draw the runes in the other world and bring them back to manifest in this world. We then chant the runes, usually in groups of three, creating harmonies (or just spoken for those who don't want to sing!).

For example, to manifest some abundance into your life we would use Fehu for the material abundance, Isa to fix it onto the earth plane and Uruz to ground it here, each one chanted or sung three times. You might even want to draw them into the air or the space around you onto the walls. You can draw them over a person you are doing the magic or healing for
(Runic Reiki!).

There is also Stadr Galdr where you make the shapes of the runes with your body, so you become the rune on the outside while bringing it inside yourself through the chanting.

Galdr is very very powerful spell working and magic. Try it. It won't let you down!

Monday, 2 April 2012

G is for Gebo, Gif, Gyfu - the Rune of giving and receiving

X X. X

Gebo, Gif, Gifu,(from now on) Gyfu is the rune of gifting, giving, receiving, positive bonds, balance, unspoken debt, inborn talents and sacred marriage, among other attributes. It often appears in prosperity charms.

The Anglo Saxon rune poem states:
"Gyfu is for every man a pride and a praise, help and worthiness. State and subset acne for those who have nothing."

Gyfu is the rune of the goddess, Gefion or Gefn. Gefion was the name of the goddess worshipped at the royal centre of Leire in Denmark (Diana Paxson "Taking Up the Runes, 2005)who may have been a goddess of agriculture.

Gyfu is not all about giving. It's also about receiving, exchange and reciprocity, bringing the act of giving into consciousness, gifts becoming creations freely accessible to all, to improve the world. It raises the higher self, like Odin sacrificing his eye to gain the knowledge of the runes.

In the Norse and Germanic cultures exchange was important at all levels to maintain a balance in society. The Poetic Edda tells that the two tribes of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir, fought a great war. When peace was (sort of) agreed there were hostages, an exchange of families to create balance.

Gyfu is concerned with the sacrifices we must incur in order to give something valuable to the world. So it also has a sacrificial aspect - such as giving the self completely to one another in a relationship.

Gyfu rules over all forms of sacrifices. It is a rune of swearing allegiances, like blood brothers.

Gyfu teaches us we have a mysterious gift, a part of ourselves that must be discovered, a talent that must be turned into a skill before we can effectively take control of our destiny. If we neglect or reject this gift we ignore the debt we have to the gods for giving us the talent.It governs the more esoteric exchanges, especially exchanges of energy or magical power, whether between individuals or between humans and the gods.

We need to focus on the positive rather than the negative to draw the gifts towards us.

Gyfu is also used in many bindrunes.

Magical Uses of Gyfu:

- Binding people to tasks, to their word;
- Strengthening bonds and maintaining relationships;
- Finding a new house, getting a job;
- Sealing oaths;
- Buying and selling;
- To counter selfish behaviour;
- Instilling loyalty in others;
- Sex magic;
- Spells for prosperity,integration or balance

Healing Uses of Gyfu:

- Counsellin;
- Releasing tension and stress;
- Balancing the flow of energies;
- Breathing difficulties, asthma;
- Liver conditions;
- Digestive and circulation problems


- Create something to give as a gift to the god. Bury, burn or cast it.
- Hold a meal in honour of the gods and goddesses or ancestors. Lay a place for therm.
Perform a ceremony, open the door and welcome them in
- Write a list of people influential in your life. Write them a letter or invite them for
a meal.
- Leave food outside for small animals.
- Read the Havamal, the Sayings of Odin, the High One, which has lots of advice on
generosity in it.
- Go through your clothes and books to give away.
- Meditate on the concept of giving.
- Carve or paint the Gyfu rune. Wear it or put iton your altar/Harrow.
- Make runic good wish cards.
- Give something to the homeless.
- Contact a friend you've lost contact with.
- Donate to a charity.
- Give yourself a day off.
- Do some magic for a friend.
- Make some Gyfu runes as jewellery and give them to friends.

The XXX at the end of a letter indicates love and kisses, invoking the luck of the Aesir and Vanir. So ......................

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

F is for FYLGJA

Last week I had an email from a Wiccan friend asking me whether the heathen 'Fylgja' is similar to the 'Fetch'. Not really knowing what a Fetch is but knowing about the Fylgja, I did some research into the difference.

It seems some people (who know what the word Fylgja is!) are under the misconception that the Fylgja is the same as a 'power animal' which you find in other shamanic traditions, or like the 'fetch' in the Wicca tradition. In heathenry we can acquire any number of animal helpers ('Deor helpan' in Old English) but the Fylgja is different. It is " a transpersonal aspect of the self" ("A Book of Seidr", Runic John, Capall Bann Publishers, 2004). This means that while being part of us, it is also an individual being with its own personality. Some say that the Fylgja has 3 aspects: a human of the opposite gender, a shape and an animal. I'm not sure if this is the case, as I've only ever worked with the animal aspect.

So to me the Fylgja is an animal that is part of us but also acts as an individual being. It could be seen as our 'guardian animal' Runic John also writes of it as "the primal aspect of our deepest self, existing as a transpersonal being that expresses our most innate and primal animal personality."

The Fygja expresses our animal nature, the wild subconscious part of our inner self, like when people are described as "being strong as an ox" or "cunning as a fox". This could be seen as a deeper truth that might be a manifestation of our Fylgja.

The Fylgja can be any animal type. You might find yourself having a particular liking for an animal without explanation or have certain traits (cats for me all the way!).

It is our Fylgja that often acts as our second sense, warning us of dangers ahead. It can help us on our inner journeys by acting as a guide through the otherworld and sometimes as a guardian.

In the Otherworld we can shape shift into the shape of our Fylgja to travel in its form in the otherworld or we can send it to perform some particular task. The Fylgja may also be left to protect and guide our body when we journey.

To meet our Fylgja we need to prepare to journey shamanically To meet it,maybe by contemplating it for a few days before. Find a comfortable space where you won't be disturbed. Spend some time contemplating your journey. Ask your Fylgja either out loud or silently to meet you in the otherworld. Your Fylgja might appear immediately or you might need some time searching it out. Call for it to appear and search around until you find it and make contact.

When you find your Fylgja greet it with joy and thank it for appearing. Ask it if it has a name and wait for a response. Ask if there's anything it wants to tell you and tell it that you would like to spend time with it and work with it in your shamanic or magical practice.

When you are ready to return tell the Fylgja and say you'll take it with you. If you receive a positive response and if so list the Fylgja to your chest and see if it merges with your body.

When you return you could dance the power of the Fylgja to bring it alive here on this plane through the movement of your body.

A very powerful and special ally indeed both in this world and the otherworld. My Fylgja is me. I am my Fylgja.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

FULLA - The Sister, Bringer of Abundance and Fertility

In Snorri's "Prose Edda" he list twelve attendants to Frigg/a who live with her in her hall, Fensalir.
Frigga is called first among the asynjur (the goddesses). She is the All-Mother (to contrast with Odin's All-Father) overseeing her attendant goddesses. These twelve lesser goddesses who attend her at Fensalir are seen by some as aspects of Frigga, so not individual beings, who represent the moons.
They can in fact be viewed either as separate figures or as hypostases, or aspects of the goddess Herself– personae which she adopts in order to play a more active role. As a polytheist, I see all the twelve goddesses as separate individuals, with their own personalities, roles and life cycles.

In the list of goddesses Fulla is described as the fifth, although one of the most important and having the closest relationship with Frigga, hence the word Sister, which Alice Karlsdottir names her in her "Magic of the Norse Goddesses".  Her name means "full" - usually taken to mean fullness or abundance.

Fulla is seen in several myths as one of the goddesses seated as judges in the high seats in the great halls of Asgard. Fulla often appears as a goddess of rank and stature and is names among the lawgivers in the 'Skaldskaparmal'. She seems to be a favoured and constant companion of Frigg. In the "Second Meresburn Charm", Fulla (Volla) is called the Sister of Frigg.

Jakob Grimm suggests that Fulla might have been linked to the full moon, because her name is similar to the Gothic word 'fullips' and the Lithuanian Pilnatis - and because Frigg is often connected with the constellation of Orion. This is interesting as in the heathen tradition the moon is often seen as a male deity.

Fulla is described as a beautiful maiden wearing her long golden hair loose, restrained only by a golden band, circlet or snood. The unbound hair will probably be a sign that Fulla is unmarried in old Norse society and the golden circlet a sign of nobility. Karlsdottir likens her long flowing hair to that of Sif and says the band could link her to the binding of the harvested sheaf, so it is possible Fulla represents the fullness and bounty of the earth.

Grimm compares her to the German fertility figure, Dame Habonde or Abundia.

Fulla's primary role seems to be as Frigg's main companion, confidante and advisor.  Fulla has custody of the Queen of the Aesir's ashen casket, which mythologically (according to Karlsdottir again) could symbolise the container of "the divine mother's blessings, prosperity and fertility" and Fulla would be the one in charge of preserving this power until Frigg is ready to dispense it.

In the Grimnismal in the Elder Edda, Fulla is used by Frigg to pass on some misinformation in order to confuse the king, Geirrod, as Odin had been taunting Frigg over Geirrod, thus leading him to have favours revoked by Odin. In Saxo's "Gesta Danorum", Fulla enlists the aid of a dwarf to help Frigg prevent Odin from finding out that Frigg had stolen a piece of gold from one of his statues to make a necklace. A true friend and confidance indeed!

It is also written that Fulla has charge of Frigg's shoes. In those days, shoes were a symbol of wealth and prestige. The foot also has connotation of fertility - both in Germanic and Celtic folklore the foot was often used to indicate the penis. The Jera rune (rune of harvest) is linked to her.

In the 'Gisla saga Surssonar' the hero states just before his death:
          "My Fulla, fair-faced, the goddess of stories, who gladdens me much, shall hear of her friend
            standing straight, unafraid in the rain or the spears."

When we do a sumbel (small ritual involving toasting and drinking) to Fulla we would prepare the harrow (altar) with things to do with abundance and fertility, such as sheafs of corn, some gold or golden objects, a casket and a small shoe.  We then toast her and call to her.


Fulla, Volla, Fylla, Abundia -
Sister of Frigg, Maid of Honour, Hail!

Lady of the chamber,
Mistress of wealth,
Guardian of treasures -
Bring us abundance.

Weaver of the ribbon,
Lady of the ash,
Keeper of the casket,
Adorn our lives.

Keeper of jewels,
Keeper of shoes
Keeper of secrets,
Ward well our dreams.

Come with gift and greeting
Come with fun and folly
Come with lore and laughter -
Sweet sister of the gods - come!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Eostre and Eostrefest

If you type Easter into a search engine or read about it in any number of popular mainstream or pagan press books, you will find reference to the goddess Eostre or Ostara after whom the festival of Easter is named. These potted histories tend to contain a number of speculations about the goddess, often presented as fact with no references to any sources of information.

So what actual primary historical sources do we have that mention the goddess Eostre? Only one. It's in the 'Temporum Ratione' - the Reckoning of Time by the Venerable Bede, a Northumbrian monk and scholar who lived between 673 and 735 CE. This is an interesting book (in translation!) that covers the solar and lunar cycles, the basis for various calendars, and how to calculate the date of the Christian Easter ceremony and including a chapter called The English Months, that details the calculations of the lunar months. In it he writes:
"The first month, which the Latins call January, is Giuli; February is called Solmonath; March Hrethmonath; April Eosturmonath ..."

And that's all, no description of the goddess or of any feasts for her.

In Grimm's "Teutonic Mythology", he tells us that the Anglo-Saxon name Eostre is related to Old High German adverb ostar expressing movement toward the rising sun.
"Ostara, Eostre seems therefore to have been a divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted to the resurrection day of the Christian's God."

However, this, although it may be right, is based purely on romantic speculation. Eostre/Ostara could equally well be a goddess who, in the mythology of some ancient Germanic tribe, simply came from the east.

What about modern myths being spread on the net and elsewhere?

There are no Norwegian, Icelandic or other Scandinavian primary sources mentions Ostara. In fact, the name Ostara isn't found anywhere in connection with a goddess. Ostara is simply the Old High German name for the Christian festival of Easter. Because the word is cognate with Anglo-Saxon 'Eostre', and because we have Bede's evidence that Eostre was a goddess, Grimm concluded that:
"This Ostara, like the Anglo-Saxon, Eastre, must in the heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries."

The theory that ancient Europeans worshipped a single 'Great Mother Goddess' has long since been rejected by academics but continues to be spouted in popular books.  All we know from Bede that Eostre was worshipped sometimes in April, Bede also mentions another Anglo-Saxon goddess, Hredhe, who was honoured in March, and for whom the month of March was named. If the heathen Anglo-Saxons actually did worship a goddess at the vernal equinox, then according to the only historical source we have available it would have been Hredhe, not Eostre.

The myths of the hare, eggs, hot-cross buns and chocolate are firmly rooted in modern, post-pagn mythology. There is no evidence for any of these practices, even in folklore, in the pre-Christian west.

In my own heathen tradition, I see Eostre as a joyful goddess associated with spring and new growth, through personal experience and communication. We hold festivals and a ritual/sumbel outdoors if weather permits. We make offerings to the wights of the place and welcome Eostre, usually with mead! We make toasts to Eostre, to spring and to new growth.
I'm pretty sure this wasn't how Eostre was celebrated by our ancestors, but it feels right to celebrate her in this way now. And that, in my opinion, is what is most important to her and all the other gods/goddesses.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

E is for Eddas - the handbooks for heathens!

"At home a man should be cheerful and merry with his guest,
he should be shrewd about himself,
with a good memory and eloquent, if he wants to
be very wise,
often should he speak of good things,
a nincompoop that man is called, who can's say much for himself
That is the hallmark of a fool."

So says Odin, the All-Father in the Havamal, one of many of the sayings of the High One, one of the chapters in the "Poetic Edda", a 13th century collection of Norse-Icelandic mythological and heroic poetry, containing all the great narratives of the creation of the world and the coming of Ragnarok, the end of the world.
These mythological poems explore the wisdom of the heathen gods and giants and narrate, amongst other stories, the adventures of Thor agains the hostile giants and the gods' rivalries amongst themselves. The poems also trace the exploits of the hero Helgi and his valkyrie bride, the tale of Sighurd and Brynhild's doomed love and the drama of Gudrum and her children.

One-eyes Odin hangs nine days and nine nights on the windswept ash tree, Yggdrasil, sacrificing himself to himself; the red-beared Thor swings his hammer against the enemy; the wolf Fenrir leaps forward to sieze Odin in his jaws ............. all these would make fantastic pieces of TV or film drama today!

Frorm the creation of the world out of Ginnungagap, the endless void, to the destruction of the gods in Ragnarok, the poetry of the Edda gives some of the best evidence for the religious beliefs and the heroic ethics of the pagan north before its conversion to Christianity in 1000 CE.

Most of the poems in the "Poetic Edda" exist in a single manuscript written in Iceland around 1270, known as the Codex Regius, but many of them pre-date the conversion of Scandinavia to Christianity, so gives us a glimpse into the Pagan north. The 'Lay of Hamdir' and the 'Lay of Alti' are believed to be the earliest Eddic poems. The manuscript is now kept in the Arnamagnaen Institute in Raykjavik, Iceland.

The other book of Edda is the 'Prose Edda' written/compiled by Icelandic author and historian, Snorri Sturluson, who lived between 1174 and 1241. He wrote a treatise on Norse poetry that he called the Edda and has since become known as the 'Prose Edda' in a manuscript known as the Uppsala Codex, a parchment from around 1320. In this he explains the cosmology of the heathen creation myth, with the world formed out of the body of the giant, Ymir. The first part is about the Aesir (one of the sets of gods) and Ymir and is known as the 'Gylfanginning', the Deluding of Gylfi. The second part consists of a series of 'kennings' (expressions and sayings of various kinds).

So what does Edda mean? Opinions differ greatly. The more usual opinion is that the word relates to Odr, meaning poetry or poem and may be translated as 'poetics'.

For heathens, like myself, the Eddas are handbooks of how our ancestors lived, which we can translate into how we can live today (particularly through texts like the Havamal). It also tells us about how our ancestors worshipped and carried out their religious practices. It is true that Snorri, who was a Christian, always wrote from a Christian perspective. So, for example, in the conclusion of the first chapter of the 'Poetic Diction' (second half of Prose Edda), he wrote: "Christians, however, must not believe in pagan gods or that these tales are true in any other way than is indicated in the beginning of the book." However, Snorri was criticised by many narrow minded clergy for bringing the stories of the heathen gods back to life and back into the consciousness of the people. Clergy in Iceland at that time had gone so far as to banish the names of the old gods from the days of the week, so Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday became Third Day, Midweek Day, Fifth Day and Fast Day. They considered the poetry in the Edda sinful as it included the mythology of the old gods. In some cases Snorri was surprisingly supportive. At one point he asked: "What reason can there be for hating and despising a faith which, after all, served our forefathers as a guide to a life full of courage and achievement?"

Whenever the criticism has been labelled against paganism, in particular heathenism, that we have no sacred texts, nor ethical guidelines on life and that paganism has no creation myth, so is not a fully-formed religion, I always point them to the Eddas. In these manuscripts we have a fully-formed creation myth - as bizarre and interesting as the Christian one, but in my opinion, a lot funnier, with men being born out of the sweaty armpits of a giant who was being licked by a cow! We have stories of our gods and goddesses, how they lived, loved, fought and died and we have great sayings by Odin that are still relevant for us today. For example:

"To his friend a man should be a friend
and to his friend's friend too;
But a friend no man should be
To the friend of his enemy."

And finally ...

"No better burden can a man carry on the road
than a store of common sense;
a worse journey, provisioning he couldn't carry over the land
than to be too drunk on ale".

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

D is for Disir - the female ancestors

None of us come into this world alone. We come with a line of ancestors, forefathers and mothers, stretching back many, many generations. In the heathen tradition we are constantly connected to our Alfar (male ancestors) and Disir (female ancestors), who always maintain an interest in their family line. We believe the dead k ow their children.

In many traditional pre-Christian cultures, including the Norse and Germanic cultures, it was generally believed that the living had obligations to the dead. Where these obligations were properly carried out the family would receive luck, abundance and wealth. One of the most difficult things that happened with the spread of Christianity was the severing of those ties to the ancestors and the vilification and demonisation of these practices. Heathenry honours the dead and we set out feasts to them, include them in family decisions, communicate with them and call upon them for wisdom and advice. One doesn't have to be a blood relative to be honoured as an ancestor. The heathen connection to the ancestors becomes part and parcel of our daily consciousness. Especially, the Disir, the female ancestors, were influential in the life of the living family and there are many stories of the Disir warning their descendants of danger and sharing wisdom. They often appeared in dreams to give warnings. The Disir usually connected a family. They could be protective. Apparently a man could send his Disir with someone else to protect them. Celebrations often took place in a private home, but there were also 'Disarsalir' - halls of the Disir.

In the times when the Christians were sending missionaries to convert, one group of women were burned alive in a house rather than give up celebrating the Disir's feast. In 'Viga-Gum's Saga', the friends and relations of a householder gather in his home and celebrate the feast together.

Disir also tended to be used as a plural for all the goddesses as well as individual special goddesses, such as Freya and Skadhi, who were both called 'dis'.

The last month of the old year and the first of the new were together called Giulli or Yule. The most sacred and important of all the Heathen celebrations falls within this period - Mother's Night or Modraniht. This is a celebration honouring the tribal goddesses and one's own Disir. Mother's Night is on or around the Winter Solstice. In my hearth, we meet and chant the runes and beat out the old year and in with the new with tree branches and we celebrate with mead. Winters Nights, in October, around Haloween, is also a time to honour the Disir. Heathens make offerings to the dead and remember Kur ancestors. We tell the stories of the Alfar and the Disir, they are given offerings and are hailed with mead. Winters Night is seen as the day of the dead, a time when the veil is thin between the two worlds.

So with this blog I honour the Disir, my female ancestors, those of my bloodlines, those of my tribe, those of my clan and those of my land. Hail.

PS. This isn't pagan related, but I want to note the passing to the spirit realm of a D, Davy Jones of The Monkees. I'm devastated as it's the end of an era. Rest you well in the otherworld. Get banging that tambourine!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Dagaz rune

I tried unsuccessfully to copy an image of Dagaz rune but obviously still don't know how to use Blogger properly.

Dagaz is the 24th rune in the Elder Futhark and in the Anglo Saxon poem:

"Day is the Drighten's (God's) herald, dear to men
Great Metod's light, a joy and a hope
To rich and poor - for all to use."

Because of its shape which looks like 2 triangles with the top points touching, it looks like the shape of a double axe, and so celebrates the double axe which was a sacred weapon both for the megalithic cultures and the Indonesia-Europeans. This is also the shaped of Mjollnir, Thor's hammer.

Dagaz symbolises consciousness, awakening, conceptual, realisation, enlightenment, non-duality, synthesis, transmutation, awareness, paradigm shift, faith, reason, safety and justice, shedding all confusion in favour of clarity.

The meaning of the rune is "day". It is like the light of day. It is the sunrise of consciousness, that hazy moment when out of the night emerges the light of day. A new reality dawns on us and we are refreshed, infused with rested energy and excitement for the day ahead. It indicates that good things are coming, though possibly slow and measured.

It is the rune of spiritual awakening and brings inspiration of hope. It signifies a powerful and important deep shift in perspective if we can realise it within ourselves.
Using the magic of Dagaz we can transmute ourselves powerfully into increasingly awakened beings, shedding all confusion in favour of clarity.

Osborn and Langland (1964, "Rune Games") see Dagaz as the light of strength and comfort that comes from the creator, the sun. Thorsson states that Dagaz is the rune of daylight, especially at dawn or twilight, and of awakening. It is the mystical moment of paradox and liminality. Diana Paxson says Dagaz is the midwinter rebirth of the sun.

This can be backed up by the fact that Dagaz symbols were found carved by some later Viking visitor at the entrance to the ancient monument of Newgrange in Ireland by a later Viking visitor, where the light of midwinter's dawning strikes down the
Assays to the centre of the mound.

Freya Aswynn writes that she finds it particularly useful in transmuting consciousness by linking the activity of left and right brain by drawing Dagaz from one eye to the other so that the line crosses over the 3rd eye in the centre of the forehead.

Drawing the rune across yourself nine times for nine days and nine nights (9 is very sacred to the Norse people's and modern day heathens) will initiate powerful changes within yourself and circumstances around you, that will slowly unfold over the coming months. Let me know how it works for you.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

C is for Choices and Connection - Chrysalis and Community!

How many Cs can one pagan write about? I was going to write about cats but lots of people wrote about that. What else? Charms, crystals (I did that last week), Celts (as I'm Irish), Chronicles (of the Anglo Saxon variety), casting the runes, chanting (lots of people did that too), crone, Cailleach, Chaos, Chrysalis, candles, community, Christianity, Catholicism... So many choices. Choices. That's it.

Becoming pagan and being pagan involves so many choices. When I first left Catholicism ( that dreaded C-word) I looked into a variety of alternative paths - Spiritualism, New Agey stuff, Wicca, hedge witchery, goddess spirituality... and after dabbling in bit of each of them I finally discovered the perfect meld of shamanism and gods and goddesses which is the heathen shamanic tradition of Seidr. Ever since becoming a heathen I know I've made the right choice for me.

One of the things I found hard about leaving Catholicism is that it provided a sense of community. You were born a Catholic, you went to a Catholic school, you met the same people at mass every Sunday. In particular growing up in Ireland, the whole village or town would have that sense if community or belonging. When I was really involved in Charismatic Catholicism I went on something called a Choice Weekend, which I then subsequently helped to run as part of the team. I see now that these were structured to bring you down to a low point in laying bare your emotions and becoming aware of yourself and your needs - and sins - and then brought you back up again to realise how much you were all part of the Catholic family, which was aimed to bring you a sense of belonging and keep you there!

 I think all of us search for that sense of belonging, to family, to people, to places and to a religion or spiritual path. At that point in my life it was Catholicism, along with habit and guilty fear of letting go of those deep-rooted beliefs.

Whatever path we choose in paganism, once it fits and feels right, it's like coming home. The deep sense of connection to the land, the gods, the wights, the ancestors gives that feeling of finding that which we have been looking for all our lives - and even better when we find a supportive and loving pagan community to belong to.

This year's We'Moon diary has the theme of Chrysalis, by which is meant "a protected creative state of being resourced from within, that allows deep-rooted transformation to take place." "Chrysalis is both the birth-place and the death-place where old forms disintegrate. The old orders are in decline. The Chrysalis stage is a necessary precondition for total transformation, where life as we know it is completely overturned and we have to give up who we think we are to empower who we are becoming.  In the process of dissolving the structures that formerly contained our spirit, we enter intot he unknown, a formless state out of which a new form emerges."

This, I feel, sums up perfectly that process of change when we make the choice to move from one spiritual path to another. It's a difficult process to undergo, like the shamanic transformation into  new being, we emerge a new, stronger person, into a community where we have probably always belonged in this life and in many previous lifetimes. It just takes that awareness that we need to make the choice to change and connect to the old gods and goddesses and to the sacred landscape upon which we live.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

C is for Crystals

I've thought long and hard about what to do for C, as so many things I wanted to write about begins with a C, although not many of them related to my heathen path (not a lot of Germanic/ Norse things begin with C!). But I decided on Crystals as without encountering crystal healers and healing, I probably wouldn't be on the path I'm on now. When I first came out of Catholicism and was becoming more involved in more spiritual things, I met someone who had studied crystal healing so I went on a course and there I met so many different kinds of alternative people - Spiritualist, Reiki healers, New Agers and in particular, Pagans of different traditions. I was really sceptical about crystals at first, wondering how a piece of rock could heal or even have power. But when I learned to tune in and attune to them the energy and power I felt in my hands was so tangible it was amazing. I spent three years studying to be a crystal healer, a year doing a 'Masters' and another three years learning to teach crystal healing and awareness. I however never practises as a crystal healer as I didn't feel right making a living from it and also didn't want to buy and sell them. I wanted to work with them and bring the awareness to others.

Crystals are one of the oldest healing and power tools on earth. For thousands of years our ancestors have used them as actual tools or for healing and magic and wore them as symbols of power. There are over 200 references to crystals in the Christian bible, such ad the High priests wearing carnelian in their breastplates. Every culture and tradition has their lore with regards crystals. The Romans drank out of amethyst goblets to stop drunkenness, they exchanged moonstones between lovers as the symbol of Diana. The Egyptians buried their Pharoahs in ornate tombs adorned with lapis lazuli and other semi precious stones. The South American shaman would throw crystals such as sunstone into fires so that the would split and the shards go up to the gods. The Aborigines believe strongly in the power of the quartz crystal. And so it goes on. When I started to follow a heathen path I didn't come across many references to the heathen ancestors using crystals, until I noted the archaeological evidence of small crystal balls being found mainly in women's graves in England and pieces of agate, as well, of course, as the Amber and jet jewellery. And more recent hordes have uncovered more exotic crystals, possibly as spoils of war.

These days much of modern day technology uses crystals, often in its replicated silicone form - watches, computers, laser equipment at the hospital, TV sets and the latest equipment being used to send out waves into space with an oscillating quartz crystal at its centre.

Over the years I have accumulated large numbers of different crystals, buying them whenever I felt the energy surging through me. I also bought lots of crystal jewellery, probably too many to ever wear and many that I've hardly worn since. But I became aware of the unethical way many crystals are mined and that I didn't need to keep buying more. I've given quite a few away. I also became aware of a lot of the New Age twaddle that is spouted about crystal work, some of which contains grains of truth or fact, but much using pseudo scientific language about opening Multi dimensional portals or connecting with ascended masters. Don't get me started on New Age stuff, particularly after reading "New Age or Armageddon" by Monica Sjoo!

Finally, crystal work can lead on to working with ordinary stones and pebbles that lie around us. Once you learn and feel the energies in crystals you can sense the energy in all stones, albeit a duller, denser, slower 'throbbing' energy. We work with ordinary stones to connect to the wights and landscape around us, often asking the Wight (spirit) in a particular location, eg a stream or wood to enter into the stone thus bringing some of the energy of that particular location away with you.

The mineral kingdom is a special, important realm of energies and beings to be honoured and to be thanked for what it has given to our realm fr thousands if years, but most especially to be treated with reverence and care so that we do not damage the balance of the planet more than we already have.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

B is for Baldr the Beautiful

Baldr the Beautiful is an interesting god to me as he seems to hark to an older shamanic tradition, as do many of the Germanic myths and deities.

Baldr is the second son of Odin. He is the most beautiful and wisest of all the gods.the Prose Edda states:
"There is nothing but good to be told of him. He is the best of him. He is the best of them (the gods)and everyone sings his praises. He is so fair of face and bright that a splendour radiates from him, and there is one flower so white that it is likened to Baldr's brow; it is the whitest of flowers from that you can tell how beautiful his body is and how bright his hair. He is the wisest of the gods and the sweetest spoken, and the most merciful, but it is a characteristic of his that once he has pronounced a judgement it can never be altered. He lives in a place in heaven called Breithablik; nothing impure can be there..."

The story of Baldr contains some interesting elements.

Baldr had been having some terrible dreams about his death. As he was so precious to the gods, the Aesir decided to seek protection for him. Odin journeyed to the other world to discover the reason for Baldr's dreams. There, he awakens a Volva (prophetess, seeress) from the dead who told him about his death. To prevent this, Frigga
made sure he was protected against fire, water, metals, iron, stones, earth, trees, ailments, beasts, birds, poison, serpents... everything except mistletoe as they didn't think it important enough because there was only one small young bush. Loki, as ever the mischief-maker, took a piece of the mistletoe and went to the assembly where, bizarrely the other gods had taken to playing the game of trying to kill Baldr by a variety of means, knowing they couldn't. Only one god, the blind Hodur, wasn't joining in. Like gave him the mistletoe and directed him to throw it, which he did. The dart went through him and Baldr fell down dead. The Aesir were grief-stricken. As Baldr hadn't died in battle he was taken to Hel's realm.

Baldr's body was cremated on a funeral ship which was launched to sea. Many gods, goddesses, giants and nature spirits attended the ceremony to honour the much-loved god. As Baldr lay on the funeral pyre Odin whispered a secret in his son's ear and gave him Draupnir, his ring of power. It was said that Baldr's wife, Nanna, accompanied him into death.

At the request of the gods, Hermod, volunteered to go to Helheim to get him back. Hel said that if everyone in the world wept for Baldr he could return. However, a giantess, Thokk, thought to have been Loki (once again)in disguise, refused to weep, so Baldr was condemned to stay in Helheim. Later, Loki was punished for eternity for this. The Voluspa, another ancient Heathen text, states that after Ragnarok ( the story of the end of the world) Baldr will return to the earth and reign in a new, green fertile land. "A new world will rise, fruitful and green and Hodur and Baldr will dwell again in Valhalla's sacred Walls."

This story contains aspects of shamanic journeying and necromancy. So it hearkens back to earlier pagan beliefs. Baldr travelled to live in Hel's realm. Hermod underwent a journey to the otherworld to ask for his return. Odin woke a prophetess from the dead. Loki changed into a variety of animals and beasts when he was trying to escape the wrath of the gods. There is no reference to a cult of Baldr (though that's not to say there isn't one as only this week evidence of a cult of Ullr has been discovered by archaeologists)though there is evidence of Baldr in songs and sagas. Baldr's death contains elements of the death and resurrection theme and provides reminders of shamanic initiation journeys to the land of the dead that many ancient cultures believed in. The presence of mistletoe provides reminders of vegetation cults. Some (eg Rudolph Steiner) see Baldr's death by Hodur's blindness signifies the loss of spiritual seers ip among Nordic-Germanic peoples.

No matter what is believed, to me it shows that the sagas and myths of the Germanic-Nordic people are not just medieval constructs. They contain much earlier pre-christian beliefs that couldn't be wiped out by the incoming Christian converters and even when written down by Christians like Snorri, the memories of the reality of the shamanic tradition and beliefs are still there. Those memories can't be eradicated. It also shows that there are some people, like Baldr, who are so precious that those who love them want to hold onto them beyond death and that this beauty even survives death. Even the gods feel the deep love for special beings.

Friday, 20 January 2012

B is for Berkano and Bindrune

Berkano is the eighteenth rune in the Elder Futhark and the third tree rune. It looks like a capital letter B with points or two triangles on their sides. It is seen as deriving from an archaic name for birch tree, which is reflected in the ancient poems, though the Anglo Saxon rune poem also refers to it as the poplar.
"Poplar/birch bears no fruit, bears without seed
suckers, for from its leaves it's generated.
Splendid are its branches, gloriously adorned
its lofty crown, lifting to the sky."

Both the Icelandic and Norwegian poems refer to it as birch: "leafy birch" and "greenest-leaved of branches".

The "Sigdrifumal" refers to Berkano as the healing rune.
"Branch-runes you must learn if you want to heal
And know how to treat wounds.
Cut them on the bark of forest trees
Whose branches bend eastward."

Birch is used quite a lot as a herbal oil as an antiseptic or for sore muscles, as a gargle for sore mouth and as a tea to calm nerves and induce sleep. It is useful in pain relief. In Holland a liquid is also used on the scalp against baldness!

Berkano is seen by some (Thorsson, Gundarsson) as the rune of the Earth Mother in her bright aspect as Nerthus and her dark aspect as Hella, as it's dual shape represents a pregnant belly with breasts. According to Thorsson it reveals the mystery of the perpetual cycle of birth, death and rebirth from the womb of the goddess. Gundarsson says Berkano is "the rune of the earth who receives the sacrifice/seed and holds it within herself, guarding and nourishing it until the time has come for it to return to the worlds outside again."

Berkano guards mothers and children, so because of this it can also be seen as the rune of Frigg/Frigga, the most motherly of the Northern goddesses.

In readings and divination it is a rune that turns up at significant passages in life. It indicates birth and becoming, the feminine, the "bringing into being". It is useful in fertility magic and women's mysteries. It is a rune of birth and suggests success for new enterprises or something beginning.

Berkano can be used on its own as a magical tool, through writing, chanting, standing the rune and journeying with the rune into the other worlds. But it can also be used effectively in bind rune magic. This is where a number of runes are written and overlaid to form different patterns that contain the runes. Berkano can initiate the power of the othe runes.

When I was starting out as a pagan I often tried out different kinds of magic, such as candle or crystal magic, as many people have. When I became a heathen I was sometimes disappointed to hear that some heathens don't practise magic. But when I discovered the heathen shamanic path of seidr I was really happy to discover a form of magic I could use which was really powerful and that is rune magic. When I write and sing and stand the runes the power is tangible, running throughout my body, into the earth and into the other realms. Rune magic is very very effective. If you want to give it a go Berkano is a good rune to start with as it is the rune of beginnings. Beginnings of new paths, new knowledge and new powerful magic.

Berkano is an ideal rune for the Pagan Blog project as so many people writing and reading these blogs will find many new beginnings which will change the course of their lives.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A is for Ansuz.

Ansuz is the fifth of the rune in both the the younger and elder Futharks and in the Anglo Saxon runes. It is probably the most powerful mind rune of all. It is the rune of Odin, the All Father and you can use thisnrune to connect to him to ask for the wisdom of the runes and spiritual and shamanic knowledge. The word Ansuz or As or Os, depending on the tradition, means god or mouth. It is a great rune for writers, like all of us who write blogs, and all creative people.

Ansuz represents consciousness, wisdom, knowledge, speech, poetry and shamanic wisdom.

The Anglo Saxon rune poem says "As is the chieftain of all speech, mainstay of wisdom, comfort to wise ones for evey noble earl hope and happiness.".

Ansuz can be chanted, inscribed or projected to stimulate eloquence and mental activity or to deepen spiritual communication. I often write the runes in the air while chanting them and feel the energy of the rune coming into me. You can also draw the runes over another person like some people do with Reiki symbols, though I find the runes more powerful.

With my hearth we often stand in a circle and stand the shapes of the runes. With Ansuz you stand sideways with both arms pointing downwards. We chant the sound of the runes and send the energy round the circle. So so powerful.

A is also for Ancestors. In heathenry the acknowledgement of the importance of ancestor
spirits in our lives is one of the main parts of our tradition. When we strata ritual or open a circle we welcome the "ancestors that dwell deep in Helheim" the realm of Hela, the guardian goddess of the dead. They walk with us always, particularly our Kin Fylgja, the ancestor who guides us when we journey to the other worlds.

I love being a heathen!

Friday, 6 January 2012

A is for ...

To start 2012 I will attempt to keep to the Pagan Blog project rules of working through the alphabet each week. So A. Many heathens consider themselves as adherents of Asatru, particularly in the US. But I just consider myself as a heathen. I honour all the gods and goddesses, the Aesir and the Vanir and the other and older gads whose names are long forgotten, I practise Seidr, Northern European shamanism. I belong to a hearth. We drum, journey to the nine worlds, chant the runes, do rune magic and divination (galdr) stand the shape of the runes (stadrgaldr) and welcome the gods, goddesses, ancestors and wights of the land. My resolution for this coming year is to do more, to make more of a connection with the gods and goddesses of the northern tribes and to landscape upon which I currently live. I love my path. I look forward to sharing this journey.