Invocation can be a magickal act unto itself, meant to bring strength, healing and attunement. Invocation can also be an important part of a ceremony.
Tarot cards can strengthen the magick of your invocation....
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The variously-named February cross-quarter festival draws near, and in covensteads all over Witchdom they're polishing up the candle-crowns.
Often called a Lucia Crown, from its association with the Swedish pre-Yule feast of St. Lucy, the candle-crown would seem to have its origins in the late Medieval period. At least one Byzantine emperor is said to have worn one during audiences. One guesses that the crown's haloing effect was not lost on envoys.
We next find the crown of lights in early modern (16th-17th century) Germany, where it is worn by the Christkindl. Protestant Reformers eager to dethrone the gift-giving St. Nicholas from his December 6 feast and the hearts of children, replaced him with a Christ Child figure who brought gifts on Christmas Eve. (The custom of Yule gifts goes back no further than this.) In folklore, the Christkindl became a fairy-like character, generally personified in real life by a young girl. Early illustrations often show her dressed in white, wearing a crown of candles, distributing gifts to children.
Not so long ago, at the height of December’s retail busy season—which also happened to be the height of Wild Hunt season—I had a dream. Okay, let’s call it what it was: a nightmare. In it, I was asleep in our bedroom and thought I heard Jo talking in her sleep from her own bed. Then I realized it was actually my mother—who used to talk in her sleep a fair amount and who has been dead for twenty years (although that detail didn’t occur to me in the dream). I called out something about trying to sleep, but she kept talking.
And then I realized that it wasn’t my mother speaking at all; the voice was harder, unfamiliar, while still female. I realized she was telling a story, in a somewhat sing-song voice, a horrible story that I was certain I didn’t want to hear the end of. (No, I don’t remember what the story was—although in retrospect, I have my suspicions, of which I won’t speak.) As she neared the end of it, she rose from her bed and approached mine, not asleep at all. I wanted to move or scream but was utterly paralyzed. I tried to call for help—from Odin, from the Hunt—but no help appeared. The woman—a farm wife in dress and apron–smiled down at me with her hard face and glittering, hard eyes, smiling into my eyes as she spoke the final words of the story. And then she reached into my mouth and down my throat and into my chest—just rammed her entire hand and arm in.
I awoke. I rose and went to my shrine, lit a candle, not wanting to go back to sleep. I’m not sure I slept any more that night at all. I had an ache in the general area of my heart chakra for the next several days.
Only the next day did I being to realize who the dream-woman had been. The clues were simple: 1) she had been menacing, but had not actually harmed me (although she had done something—something that was Allowed, apparently; 2) neither Odin nor the Hunt had volunteered any help; thus, no matter how scary she had been, she didn’t actually intend any harm to me; 3) the warding Odin has placed on me and our house—which is quite thorough—did not keep her away, and 4) in the dream, I had at first identified her with my mother, then realized that was almost correct, but not quite. I struggled with what my intuition was telling me for hours before sheepishly asking Odin if I was right. He confirmed that I was.
My dream visitor was none other than my mother-in-law, the Queen Mother of Asgard: Bestla. And the next night when I saw Her in the Hunt, She flashed Her dream disguise at me briefly before transforming back into Her usual glamorous self, and winked.
Most of the Vanatruar I know, myself included, are not reconstructionists - each of us seems to have our own idiosyncratic way of relating to the Powers, much like bio-regions differ from region to region, the Vanic path will vary from person to person. I do not believe that reconstructionism is superior, nor do I believe that modernism is superior: in Vanatru, there is no one true way of doing things, we recognize that diversity is organic and natural, responding to the needs of different situations and relationships. With that caveat...
One of the questions I am often asked is "where do I start? how do I begin?" If you are new to Vanatru, you may feel overwhelmed by the very do-it-yourself approach found among much of Vanatruar. Sometimes people need a point in some direction, even if they choose later on to do things differently. In my book Visions of Vanaheim (paperback | PDF), I look at some older practices connected with the Vanic cultus - such as the wain processions of Frey and Nerthus - and how one might adapt these practices for the modern day. One of the rites of the elder Heathen that we know about is a ritual called blót. This word means "blood" (ETA: see clarification in comments re: the meaning of the word)...
I was skeptical about American Horror Story: Freak Show. The first two seasons of AHS were riveting, but the franchise seemed to lose its luster during the third season. I felt that AHS: Coven was a convoluted mess of limp storylines and uninteresting characters that couldn’t seem to decide if it wanted to be a gritty thriller or a witchy cross between Frankenstein and Mean Girls. Freak Show had promise, but I was worried about it as the fall season started.
The moments that really matter, are the ones where our hearts change. I recently heard a former lawyer involved in fighting racism saying that she had been trained to think you can’t change people’s hearts, so you’d better focus on changing the laws. Then she discovered Theory U, a new business framework that acually fits like a glove to the sacred feminine- yes, a new tide is here! She discovered that in fact you can change people’s hearts, and those are the moments that really matter. Changing hearts is even more important than changing laws. Every time our heart changes, that will have a lasting imprint on our lives- and on the lives of those around us.
For me this gave words to something that has been happening in my trainings but that i never quite could pin down. Now I see: moments that hearts have changed! There have been so many of those! I challenged myself to remember them, and to start writing about them. So here is the first... the most powerful of all... and it was with... my dog!