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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Frigga

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
On spinning and magic

Why do I spin? The question comes often enough from non-crafty people—which probably includes most people out there--who don't really even understand that there's a difference between spinning and weaving, and who just can't see the point of knitting a sweater or scarf (much less spinning the yarn in order to knit one) when you can buy one a lot cheaper at Walmart or the local mall. But I'm sure there are also a lot of spiritual types out there who read my blog and wonder why I—a spirit worker, and married to Odin for crying out loud—spend so much of my time spinning and prepping wool for spinning.

Not that I am equating myself with Her, but the question sort of begs me to invoke Frigga's name. Because, after all, She is married to Odin, and She spins—and actually, it was partly Her influence that prompted my obsession with the fiber arts in the first place. So, why does She do it? The reason She is so closely associated with spinning (and the Norns and Valkyries with weaving) has to be partly a mundane and culturally influenced one: in the past, as the majority of Walmart shoppers probably don't realize, spinning was not just an odd pastime for middle aged women, it was a necessity of life. There were no stores in which to buy clothing, but there were sheep, and flax, and nettles, and other sources of fiber, and one day people discovered that this fiber could to be twisted to form a strong thread that could then be woven into cloth to make garments and other useful items. (Knitting came much, much later.) But you needed a lot of thread to weave enough cloth for even a single garment, so spinners spent virtually every spare moment of their lives spinning, and because spinning is something that can be easily set down in order to tend a baby, and is not a dangerous activity to practice around children, spinning (and to a lesser extent, weaving) naturally fell into the domain of women.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Eric Crouse
    Eric Crouse says #
    I've been spinning since 2010. It calls to me like no other. I have started to be more on the look out for stories regarding spi
  • Cathleen M. Collett
    Cathleen M. Collett says #
    I have been diagnosed (at sixty-five!) with the entity formerly know as Asperger's Syndrome. One characteristic of this is "stimm
  • Julia Glassman
    Julia Glassman says #
    Thanks for this wonderful article! I'm a passionate knitter and aspiring spinner, and I love learning about the connections betwee

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Celebrating the Sheep

While most pagans were celebrating Imbolc this past weekend, in my household we were doing something a little different. Neither my partner nor I has any connection with Brigid, and while we might be okay honoring a less-than-familiar goddess as guests in a larger group setting, as hard polytheists in our own small rituals at home we tend to stick with deities we have a personal history and relationship with. Since we are also (more or less) Heathen, in our own two-person tradition the beginning of February is time for Ewemeolc. This is an Anglo-Saxon holiday whose name means exactly what it sounds like. That's right: it celebrates the annual lactation of the ewes.

In Anglo-Saxon England, the agricultural year began on or around the beginning of February (a tradition that lingered into medieval times and became Plough Monday, the official resumption of farming work after Christmas). The 7th century English scholar Bede referred to February as “Solmonath,” or “the month of cakes, which in that month the English offered to their gods.” This most likely referred to the AEcerbot (“Field Remedy”) Charm (which we know in a Christianized form from the 10th century Anglo-Saxon manuscript Lacnunga), a ritual to bless the fields for the planting season ahead. It may also help explain why pancakes seem to be a traditional meal for this holiday.

Then as now, however, English agriculture was hugely dependent on sheep, dairy production, and wool, and for the Anglo-Saxons it's likely that the primary significance of this holiday was that it marked the beginning of lambing season. As a handspinner who honors Frigga, this of course suits me just fine and meshes very nicely with both my spiritual and artistic priorities. We first began celebrating Ewemeolc as essentially a celebration of the lambs and their gifts a few years back, and it clicked so well that we even added a second sheep-and-Frigga focused holiday later in the year (in June, to coincide with our local sheep and wool festival).

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Hoofbeats of the Hunt

The weather is turning crisp here and the falling leaves are brilliant shades of orange, red and gold. The afternoons are still warm but evening is coming earlier.   The rains have not started yet, but winter's shadow is on the land.  We are finally in October, which for me means the onset of the busiest season in my spiritual year: the season of the Wild Hunt, which begins now and reaches its height at Yule.  Samhain forms a major milestone along the way, but for me (and among Heathens in general) the time when the veil is at its thinnest, and the Hunt at its most active, falls during the twelve nights of Yule.  After January 1st, things calm down somewhat, although there are still occasionally forays during the springtime, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, where our springs are often stormier than our winters.

As some of you may be aware, the story of how Odin claimed me is all bound up with the Hunt.  Although I am not a hunter myself in an in-this-world way, the Furious Host seems to have lodged itself in my blood somehow, and two years ago around this time of year I formally agreed to ally myself with them and act as a doorway for them into this world.  

Some of you are likely sputtering by now, reading this; I hope you haven't spilled your drinks on the keyboard!  For those whose keyboards are safe (and are thus, I assume, unfamiliar with the Wild Hunt), the core of the legend is that a spectral band of creatures in hunting garb (be they dead, undead, never human, or all of the above) rampages through the night sky at a certain time of year (see above).    This story seems to be deeply rooted in Indo-European culture, and most European countries have their own version of it; it is unaccountably ancient, and just as with the roots of Yggdrasil itself it's impossible to say exactly where or how it began.  What this band is hunting is never completely clear in the folk tales, and can range from a woman, to a troll, to a kind of half-woman, half-forest creature known as a moss maiden.  The leader ascribed to this band of ghostly riders varies with the country, but in Scandinavia, England and Germany the leader is traditionally Odin, and the Hunt includes, in this particular incarnation, the spirits of long-dead heroes and Odin's dead in general.   The Hunt is accompanied by black dogs with red eyes, undead noblemen, and Odin's gigantic eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.  Jagermeister, Wilde Jaeger (Wild Hunter), Draugrdrottin (Lord of Ghosts), Valfather (Lord of the Slain)--these are all among Odin's many names that have to do with His function as Leader of the Furious Host.  Most of the stories agree that it is dangerous for humans to see the Hunt or be seen by it.   Some of the tales advise throwing oneself face down onto the path when the sound of the hunting horns is heard, others suggest various offerings--a piece of steel, a sprig of parsley--that might be useful in deterring the Hunt, or at least distracting it while you get to safety.  At first glance and at last, this is a story to frighten not only small children but sensible adults too.  The Hunt (along with the frigid Scandinavian winter) is the reason why Yule is traditionally a time for family to gather together behind closed doors by the fire, and to not go out after dark, and to allow the hospitality of one's home to visitors without question, especially during the twelve nights of Yule, when madness reigns in the skies.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    I'm so glad some people could relate to this post! It's honestly such a personal topic for me that I hesitated to post it here rat
  • Natalie Reed
    Natalie Reed says #
    Interesting post - I am familar with the tales of Gwynn ap Nudd and King Arthur with regard to the Hunt - nice to hear the Heathen
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Hurrah! I love this post. I've been thinking about the Hunt for a week now and have been drafting a post about it for my blog. Spe

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Hearth Witchery

It has come as a surprise to me, considering my relationship with Odin (the  Wanderer and hedge-crosser extraordinaire), but I have been discovering lately that I am far more of a hearth witch than a hedge witch.  Don't get me wrong; I do love wandering through the dark woods at night, threading my way through cemeteries, or exploring the Eugene wetlands.  I love to explore these liminal places in a light trance state, letting the already-fragile boundaries between the worlds blur so that I can commune with the spirits there.  This is part of my practice, and it always will be.  (And in the case of the wetlands, I do this every morning on my walk to work, in the early hours when the human world is still barely stirring but the land wights--or land spirits--are awake and going about their day.) But at the heart of my practice, I am a Doorway for my gods and spirits, and to fulfill that function I must be anchored in this world, even as I work at blurring its edges.  

I just had an entire week off from my day job, for the first time in years, and found myself spending much of it at my spinning wheel, or gathering supplies to make prayer beads, or in my kitchen learning to make salted caramels, or planning what I will need to begin producing candles and other non-yarn goodies for my Etsy shop.   When given a choice between wandering outdoors and busying myself with activities at home, I nearly always choose the latter.  Perhaps my physical condition pays a part in this (I have moderate to severe fibromyalgia, and at this point I still work full time so that saps a lot of my energy), but most of the time I find that I would rather be at home, tending a hearth for my gods and for the spirits I honor, rather than out in the world.  My trips out in the world fortify and help to shape my hearth; they feed it and strengthen my center.  In this I am like Frigga, who puts Her apron aside and rides with Her Husband in the Hunt during the dark half of the year, but the rest of the time concentrates Her efforts on creating a welcoming home for Him to return to after His wanderings.

To get back to the topic of setting up a hearth in your own home if you do not already have one, despite my previous definition of the hearth as a place of fire, there is always the option of interpreting "fire" symbolically.  Along these lines, your hearth can be that place that anchors and nourishes your home, that feeds what you love most about it, the "flame" that makes your home a welcoming place.  For some people, it would clearly be the kitchen table where the family gathers for dinner to share stories of their day.  For some, it might be a place of literal fire, such as the woodburning stove (and do I ever wish I had one!) where herbal oils and brews are prepared.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Mysteries of the Hearth

Finally, autumn has come to the Willamette Valley here in Oregon.  I say "finally," although summer is brief enough here and most Oregonians would probably wish for a few more weeks of it.  Autumn, however, is my favorite time of year and I look forward to it year-round.  The early morning crispness has changed to a genuine chill that lingers through more of the day, the acorns have started to fall and the squirrels scamper after them, eager to begin fortifying their nests against the winter.  The leaves have begun to turn color and soon their branches will become a canopy of gold, scarlet and pumpkin orange.  It is September, and my thoughts turn to my home, my own nest, and to what fortifications I might make now to make it a welcoming and nourishing place in the months to come.

What is the center of your home, its heart?  For most Americans, the answer would probably be "the television."  However, hopefully that is not the case with the average pagan, and a few of you have probably guessed where I'm going with this: in traditional European pagan cultures from Greece to Scandinavia, the center of a household was the hearth.  However, there is room for a little interpretation in what constitutes the hearth for you.

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  • Justin Patrick Moore
    Justin Patrick Moore says #
    Beth, I forgot to mention... I'll be following your series of posts with great interest!
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    Thank you, Justin! *g* Yes, I agree that we definitely need both Hearthkeepers and Husbandsman--and I love that term. It perfect
  • Justin Patrick Moore
    Justin Patrick Moore says #
    I always liked the meal prayer given by poet Gary Snyder ever since I first read it: "Thank you for this food, the work of many ha

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Covered: the Pagan veiling controversy

This post is a bit of a tangent from my central focus of Frigga, fiber and wyrd--but, as I hope you'll see, it's only a bit of one, since it does concern, rather closely, the values around which I've built my own spirituality, especially the very Heathen themes of choice and responsibility.

As you can tell from my profile photo, I am a pagan woman who chooses to wear some type of head covering at least some of the time.  I've gone into detail on my own blog about my reasons for doing so, but just to recap a bit: I initially flirted with veiling a couple of years back, mostly as an extension of the semi-modest form of dress I had adopted.  My partner had already started veiling daily by then as a devotional act for her God (long before the practice became trendy), and I wanted to see whether I too could enjoy some of the practical benefits she reported, mainly protection for the crown chakra and an additional buffer against the thoughts and emotions of others--something invaluable for psychically sensitive people such as we both are.

I also liked the fact that wearing a veil sends a visual signal to others that you are somehow different, set apart from mainstream society.  This is in part a cultural signal; nuns wear veils, after all, and as the bride of a God I consider myself to be the pagan equivalent of a nun, more or less.  (The "less" part of that statement being because pagans unfortunately have no established system or architecture in place to support this path.) True, most people walking down the street would never mistake a woman wearing a colorful veil, or a hat, or a kerchief, for a nun, but for me it acted as a tangible reminder of my path.

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  • Soli
    Soli says #
    As one of those "pre-trend" head covering women, led me add nicely said! There is definitely a call toward this, and I can point t
  • Kathleen Farmer
    Kathleen Farmer says #
    I see both Beth and Sandra's viewpoints as having validity. A lot of women (including my mother) felt that there was a time period
  • Sandra
    Sandra says #
    "Traditional feminine skills" were not devalued by the feminist movement. Skills like weaving and spinning have been downgraded fo

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Picture this, if you will: At the edge of a salt marsh--a place of migrating sea birds, violent weather, and windswept tall grasses--stands a castle. It is not a very grand place, not the shining palace in the clouds you might expect, but a rambling old dwelling with some of its rooms half-submerged in the sea. It is known in the old languages as Fensalir ("Marsh Halls"), or "Sokkvabek" ("Sunken Halls"). The one thing these names have in common is water, and they do not conjure up the abode of a celestial goddess in the mind's eye. The only clouds to be found in these rooms filled with brackish green light and bracing salt air are clouds of fluffy white roving. A great blue heron nests in the rafters, and it would be no surprise to find a random sheep wandering through a hallway. In one of the larger rooms, near the embers of a fireplace and a window overlooking the sea, a solitary woman sits spinning, a long, thick braid of auburn laced with grey trailing down her back. She plies a spindle, which whirls faster than the eye can follow in response to the barely perceptible motions of her fingers. Fluffy clouds of fiber are guided from the distaff standing at her elbow, caught up in the twist generated by the whorl, and wound swiftly by deft fingers onto the fat cop, or ball, of yarn forming on the spindle's midsection. Sparks fly from the woman's fingertips as she works, and there is an electric charge in the air, like the pressure that builds up before a storm.

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  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    @Soli Oh yeah, it's downright hysterical. Heh.
  • Soli
    Soli says #
    Oh look, another of my friends getting dragged into even more writing. Isn't it funny how that happens?

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