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Friends, let us be frank in admitting that we are weak and vulnerable, if only some of the time, and marketers get paid very good money to encourage you to make purchasing decisions at those times. And can we also agree that we are entering into a period of high-pressure opportunities to spend, spend, spend away our shortcomings?
This period of gift-giving, for all its ancient roots and cultural value, can exert terrible pressure to dip into our savings -- let's call it "borrowing." By any euphemism, the pictured pile of cash could be taken from me faster by a retail clerk than a thug, if I am not careful. That's one of the benefits of my choice to save in the smallest bills possible -- it's annoying to make big purchases with large piles of notes -- but there are other safeguards to consider....
In the Gaelic language, Cailleach translates as old woman or hag. In Goddess mythology Cailleach is the Celtic Goddess of weather and storms. As a crone Goddess she is associated with the season of Winter, bringing brutal cold, biting winds and snow. She is fierce and, sometimes unforgiving.
The most predominate tale tells of Cailleach capturing the beautiful Maiden Goddess and holding her captive in a mountain cave until the arrival of spring....
Years ago, when my friend Nornoriel's writings on the Vanir as a tribe were first starting to become popular (he was Svartesol at the time; make sure to give him credit if you quote his older work!), I felt a pull towards attempting to write about the Aesir as a people, as a collective, and was urged to do so by Odin (as doing PR for Asgard in general, and not just for Him personally, is supposed to be part of my Job). But I ran into a few challenges, the first one being one of an assumed entitlement: why do the Aesir need PR in the first place, when all of the myths are supposedly written from our/Their perspective, and when the most well-known modern religion established for the gods of the north (Asatru) is literally named for Them?
And yet, Asatru is not specifically about the Aesir per se, as a tribe or a culture (a culture that encompasses more than just the known Aesic deities); it is a religion that also takes in the Vanir-- basically a catch-all for the worship of the northern gods in general. So clearly, the fact that Asatru exists is not a substitute for what I was being asked to do. Also, regarding the myths being from an Aesic perspective, I don't think that's necessarily the case either; they were written from a human perspective, and to a large extent the people who recorded them (the skalds of the Viking era) were not interested in differentiating between the tribes of the gods, so much as in telling a good story. And as much as I find Nornoriel's explorations of the Vanir to be important, engrossing, and long-overdue, they do leave something of a gap. In celebrating the Vanir as the gods of nature, agriculture, passion, and creativity, the Aesir become relegated, in contrast, to what I personally consider the “boring” categories: civilization, laws and their enforcement, teaching—in other words, strictly human concerns. (Both tribes have an equal claim on warfare though, it seems.)
Warning: Contains material some readers may find offensive.
You've heard the stories. Do you know what those wacky-ass witches do at their sabbats? They actually kiss the Devil's hairy bung-hole: the Kiss in tergo, as the chroniclers coyly put it.
Ah, yes: the osculum infame, “the notorious kiss,” as it's known. You might think that this is one of the parts of medieval witchery that didn't quite make it to the modern witchcraft revival, but I think that you'd be wrong on that count. Twelve'll get you thirteen that the good old Kiss from Behind is ancestral to the Book of Shadows' Fivefold Kiss. Breathes there a Wiccan who would admit it, though?
Of the Vanic virtues, passion has been the hardest one for me to embrace and express in my own life.
It's not for lack of passion... it is precisely because I feel things so deeply, am so passionate about so many things (love and hate, enjoyment and displeasure), that I have a harder time with this virtue than the others....
Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, I continued to learn various magical basics, not exclusively heathen. During the early 1990s, I studied the book The Way of the Shaman, and met a lynx.
A quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts:
“I worked through the exercises in a little paperback book called the Way of the Shaman. From it I learned to read auras. At first I had difficulty with the concept of aura reading, but then I figured out what it really was. Learning aura reading is training one’s intuition to give information in visual form. The color spectrum is capable of carrying more shades of meaning in a single data point than is a gut feeling. It’s like trading Morse code for a videophone. After that it was only a matter of practice, and in a few weeks I went on to the next exercise in the book.”
I had already connected to a spirit animal, cats of various species, but after reading that book, I went on a trip to Montana and connected powerfully with a lynx. The excuse for the trip was wildlife photography. I connected profoundly with an animal spirit that united the Native totem spirits, the Eastern martial arts animals, and the heathen bersarkrgangr animals, although I would not know about the martial of bersarkrgangr for another few years yet.
I photographed the lynx jumping over a log. The photo accompanying this post is one of the pictures of that very lynx, which I took on 35mm slide film.
A quote from my memoir:
“The lynx got tired and sat in the shade a while, panting, its cream and red-brown fur a liability in the summer sun. It was not much bigger than my own cat at home, and I had to remind myself that it was not in fact a domestic cat and I should not pet it, despite the temptation. As I stood watching the lynx, it looked back at me with spring green eyes. I did not let myself physically move to touch it, but my feelings went out to it, to her, I realized, perfect hunter, emblem of every cat spirit I had ever known, from the lion roar of shenai practice to the little house cat spirit in the field on my first day at college. She united the big cats and the small, the tiger of martial arts with the sweet kitten who comforted me when my father died. I forged a connection with Lynx, not just this lynx but the archetypal Lynx. She united within me all the cat spirits I had seen and heard, every catlike instinct I possessed, and something more, something hidden deep within.”