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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

Greed & Rapacity: Loki BoundIn my last article I proposed to discuss an expression of Loki which tries to avoid the pitfall of declaring to be either for or against this complex and provocative figure. Unfortunately this will entail a bit of self-promotion on my part, because I intend to present and discuss the lyrics to a musical release called Loki Bound, which was released by Milam Records earlier in 2012. Loki Bound was performed by Greed & Rapacity, a band of which I am one half.

Loki Bound is a one-song 30-minute funeral doom metal descent into Loki’s stream of consciousness during his imprisonment by the Aesir, the primary Norse pantheon, for misdeeds real and (possibly) imagined. He lies chained by his son’s intestines to a deeply buried boulder, while a serpent drips venom upon him. His loyal wife, Sigyn, catches the poison in a cup, but when she goes to empty the cup, the poison falls on Loki’s skin. His agonized convulsions are the root of earthquakes, and it is fair to say that Loki is a deity of psychological tectonics.

Loki Bound is not easy listening. Yet the project was born out of a spirit of empathy – not, it must be said, sympathy. Empathy.

...
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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Henry Lauer
    Henry Lauer says #
    Think of me as a perennial weed
  • Robin Clear
    Robin Clear says #
    Wow, Everywhere I go there you are.
  • Michele Briere
    Michele Briere says #
    Your thoughts on Loki are very interesting. My path is Sumerian (actual Sumerian, not that Sitchen-Necro crap), and I have always

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Chancleta Deficit Disorder Part II

"The Case of the Consulting Shaman and the Crusty Client."

 

Consider the subtitle a nod to the BBC series “Sherlock.” I’ve recently become a fan after being introduced to the series by one of my friends. I swear, British television has ruined me, just ruined me, but in all the best ways, of course. This particular series is brilliantly written and quite inspiring to anyone who deals regularly with clients of any sort. It’s hilarious. But, before I digress too badly, where did I leave off my last post? Ah yes, with exhortations that my readers arm themselves with a good stiff drink before proceeding further. Ready? Drink in hand? Good, then I shall begin.

...
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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    *gurgle* Just ... Wow ....
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am... completely shell-shocked by this case. I've read it thrice now and still I can't wrap my head around it. This really happe
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    This is really a most extraordinary blog. There is so much information here and serious reminders about at the very least showing

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat: Like Elani, you are articulating one of the major cutting edges of contemporary Paganism -- what *do* we believe? I, for one,
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Wonderful post. I think about the Gods in general, and my patron/matron Gods, all the time. But too often I forget to stop, liste

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

How is it with Loki? In a previous article I proposed that “part of the challenge [of life] is learning to be comfortable with the discomfort of uncertainty.” And then I suggested that this challenge is connected to Loki. What did I mean by that?

Loki is a classic shadow figure – the bearer of everything disowned and rejected. He stands out as a challenge and a dare to each of us – can we accept the destructiveness, the chaos, within ourselves? Or do we deny it and blame it on some external figure or figures?

This is a basic test for every human being, and no one passes all the time. Some people fail dramatically, and in some cases these individuals cause war, hatred, and destruction on a mass scale.

...
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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Torcyr Stormgull
    Torcyr Stormgull says #
    If you are truly interested in this you should read "Trickster makes this world" . You will gain a deeper understanding of this is
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    I've always identified with the "shake it up" Trickster archetype (and am an admitted Jesus lover, too). Those like Jesus who have
  • Henry Lauer
    Henry Lauer says #
    Thanks Anne and Steven for your kind words. Anne: I think your Loki-Jesus comparison is awesome! What fun! I hope you don't mind

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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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • 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

“Spirit is the life that itself cuts life.” This Nietzchean statement puzzles and challenges. What does a spirituality that cuts life – rather than just skimming over its surface – look like?

In an era where stated beliefs and actual deeds tend to fall far apart, we are pressed by the question of a spirituality that finds purchase in the world’s flesh. Expansive though it is, the question is also personal. I propose to explore it through my own metaphors and filters: Heathenry, runes, chaos magic, alchemy, psychology, philosophy, music, history, art, and the gods only know what else.

I use words as a tool for transformation. They’re powerful things; Heidegger assures us that “language is the house of Being,” and the Old Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem advises that “[the divine] is the chief of speech.” So much of culture, belief, and action is possible only through the pre-figuring power of words, lending order and structure to our perception, telling us where to attend and how to act.

Yet we all too easy fall into an abyss, one which lies between speech and action. We need metaphors with flesh, sinew, bone, and blood – else be stranded in the drought-stricken plains of empty intention. The purpose of my writing for “Spirit Cuts Life” is, therefore, to arm myself with words that can propel me across the chasm of irony and hypocrisy, a chasm which doggedly haunts the human condition. In the process I hope to share sentiments that help others to do the same.

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Last time we looked at diagnosis of symptoms in Anglo-Saxon magic: now onto materials!

Once the culprit was identified it was essential to gather the materials for the charm. In most cases this meant herbs. Potions and poultices were the central part of charm remedies. One needed to remember the properties of all the herb, the best time for harvesting them, and the extent of the their interactions. Poems like the "Nine Herbs Charm" helped people memorize the properties of the most common healing herbs. In addition to herbs, there were bodily fluids like blood and spit and—well, other less charming substances.

Breath too proved an important component in charms, representing of course the substance of life itself. The church supplied additional helpful items such as communion wafers and holy water (though some church fathers might have frowned at their use in these charms).

More homey materials like milk and honey showed up in charms as well; honey is especially important because it is the basis of mead, the favorite drink of the Anglo-Saxons. Mead itself—along with wine and ale—provided a better tasting concoction with which to drink down the herbs. Of course if the herbs were made into a poultice or salve, you would need oil or wax to bind the materials together. Naturally, you would need bowls and other utensils to mix all the items together, and sometimes bandages to apply the mixture.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Brilliant, brilliant! It's just what I do--ah, well, with some exceptions. I'm working up my own (Appalachian) version of the Ni
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Grand to hear that! I look forward to hearing a regional version of a classic. A living history is magic, one that will continue.

The charms of Anglo-Saxon England consisted of words, herbs and actions. The folks who lived in the period after the Roman era and before the Norman Invasion of 1066 believed that words had a magic of their own especially when spoken aloud, but that the application of the right herbs would help the healing processes along, too. Sometimes other actions were required to create the right atmosphere or to move bad luck along to someone else. All three techniques used together was simply magic.

Among the most common uses for magic was for healing. Lacking any kind of organized medical care system, they pieced together charms and poultices to take care of the common health problems. But they also used charms to protect, both themselves and their belongings. Chief amongst their property was cattle. The Anglo-Saxon word for "cattle" (feoh) is the same as the word for "wealth" which shows how important cattle were. Charms also came in handy to enhance good luck and increase one's bounty.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    At the risk of being pedantic, the Ango-Saxon for cattle and movable property is "feoh". "Fé" is the Old Norse version of the word
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    You're right, of course! I go back and forth between OE and ON so much, I slip up on words from time to time. Good to know I've go
  • mary widner
    mary widner says #
    i enjoy reading this

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