Threads: Musings of a Wodenic Cunning Woman

A twisting (and sometimes twisted) exploration of devotion, seership, hearth witchery, and spirit work.

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Beth Lynch

Beth Lynch

Wife of Odin, sacred artist, cunning woman. I spin spells and visions amidst the wild wights of the Pacific Northwest, in a household shared with gods, spirits and animals both living and dead. My handcrafted business, Fiberwytch on Etsy, offers ritual cords spun from hand dyed fleece and charged and blessed using traditional methods, handspun yarn, and other arcane goodies to enrich your practice and pamper your soul. My books Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin's Journeys, and Water from the Well and Other Wyrd Tales of Odin and both available in my Etsy shop in PDF format, as well as on Amazon, and my work has also appeared in Idunna, Hex, and the now-defunct newWitch. I offer rune, Tarot and Lenormand readings by appointment.

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On Fibromyalgia and Spiritual Emergency
Having an illness is not a weakness. It’s not something to be ashamed of. Seeking out help is a show of strength. And there’s a certain grace to the person who finds themselves having to do this over and over again in an attempt to find the key that will unlock relief for them.

 

Let’s stop romanticizing the dangers of things like shaman sickness sending a person out into the wild to freeze to death. Or, at the very least, if we’re going to pretend that we’d be better off in tribal society, let’s look at how our society, our little religious community, treats those who are sick… We still send them out into the cold to freeze to death. Only we do it with shame and perpetuating the myths that modern medicine is never the answer. We do it with turning our eyes away and not speaking up when we’re worried about a friend who seems to be having a particularly hard time…

 

On Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mental Illness, Therapy, and Anti-Psychiatry Sentiment in the General Pagan/Polytheist Community | Foxglove and Firmitas

 

I wanted to share this quote (and the entire post) because it’s important for the pagan/polytheist community as a whole to read.  But I’m coming at this from a somewhat different perspective, that of someone whose shaman sickness/spiritual emergency took the form of a chronic physical illness (fibromyalgia) instead of a mental one.  Except, I don’t know if I can even properly make that distinction, since many doctors refuse to see fibro as a physical illness, even with its primarily physical symptoms; many of them see it as a mental illness, a case of wires being crossed in the brain so that a person experiences pain where there shouldn’t be any.  I understand their reasoning for this: they don’t understand fibro because although there are parameters for identifying it, it doesn’t show up in blood tests or any other sot of laboratory-provable way.  Therefore, they shove it into that great abyss wherein resides all other things that they do not understand: the brain. (This begs the question of whether or not it even matters if fibro actually resides in the brain or in the myofascial tissues, since both are still part of the body.)

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  • MoonWillow
    MoonWillow says #
    well said...
  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers says #
    As a spiritual person with chronic fatigue syndrome, I greatly appreciate this post!
Call for Submissions: Masks of the High One - a Devotional Anthology for Odin

A little more than a year ago, I put out a call for submissions for Prayers to the Allfather, a book of prayers and rituals for Odin. Well, despite a number of people being kind enough to share my CFS across the internet, I received exactly three submissions. Due to various factors in my life at the time, I just wasn’t feeling equal to writing the bulk of a book of prayers on my own (since when I think prayers, I think poetry, and I am not primarily a poet), so I reluctantly shelved the project for a while.

Then I got to thinking: maybe a prayer book is too limiting. Maybe most other pagans, witches and polytheists out there also shy away from writing prayers for public consumption, either because they feel too personal, or because (like me) they associate them with poetry and feel unequal to the task. Maybe I pigeonholed my own project into the remainder bin.

And then it occurred to me: no one (to my knowledge) has yet to come forth with a devotional anthology for and about Odin. All of my initial foot-dragging on the notion of such a project aside, I finally had to ask myself whether I wanted to be the one to step up to the plate and do this, or whether I wanted to wait until someone else did it, and have to live with the regret.

And so, here we are. Today, on August 30th 2014, I am opening submissions for Masks of the High One: A Devotional Anthology for Odin. Submissions will close on May 1st, 2015.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I don't usually work with Odin but your blog inspired me this morning and I couldn't stop thinking about it during lunch so I wro

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On Frigga

 

She is not the most beautiful woman at the court of the Aesir, nor the most glamorous, not the most vivacious and charming. Those roles are held by Freyja, said by some to be Her rival, by others to be another, earlier, side of Herself. (In mainland Germany, there was no Frigga and no Freyja—only Frija, apparently an amalgam of the two goddesses.) There is no contest: Freyja is the star who draws all eyes in Asgard.

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I had an interesting personal lesson this week that I thought I would share with you all.  (I had a couple, actually, but I’m only going to share one in this post…the second one later on, perhaps.)

One of Odin’s overarching and ongoing themes in our relationship (going on 12 years now) has been “Take care of My wife.” (With “I will provide for your needs, and even some of your wants, if you but let Me” being a close second.)

The reason this is a constant theme with Him is that I don’t take care of myself, really. And I ask quite a lot of myself, and especially of my physical being, considering that I am a person with physical challenges.  I go to an outside job (25 hours per week), I help take care of our household of animals, I keep up a devotional and spirit work practice, and I run a growing business, FiberWytch.  Do I make sure I fit in the activities–such as yoga and meditation–that I KNOW help my physical condition, on a daily basis? Not really. Do I make sure I provide work breaks and days off for myself? Um…maybe.  I do take work breaks (and stretching breaks whenever I need them) but I don’t make sure they’re 15 minutes long, as they have to be according to law at my day job, and I certainly don’t allow myself days when I am freed from any activities whatsoever regarding FiberWytch.  Why not? Because I can only run my business part time (at the most; how much time I can devote to it depends on how I’m feeling that particular day, or week), so I figure my time spent at my day job IS my time off. I guess that makes my day job a better boss of me than I am of myself.

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What Odin doesn't stand for

Odin is a god of many, many things: wisdom, inspiration, exploration, shamanism, prophecy, kingship, rune magic, language and expression, expanding and altering consciousness, creativity, death, blood magic, self-sacrifice, and yes, even warfare, savagery and bloodshed at times.  But do you know one thing He does not stand for?  Racial hate crimes.  Seriously people, I defy you to find anything–anything at all–in the northern lore that supports this kind of atrocity.  As my friend Heather Freysdottir posted today, hate is not a Heathen value–not in any way, shape or form, and I for one am thoroughly sick and tired of having my God’s name used as an excuse for racist violence.

You know why I don’t primarily identify as Heathen?  Know why I am not able to call myself an “Odinist witch” or “Odinic witch” (the way some of my friends will refer to themselves as “Lokean witches”)?  This.  This is why.  Because, thanks to assholes like this (and others like him in the past 100 years or so of history), my God’s name is now identified with racially motivated violence.  And from these maniacs, the poisonous notion that Odinism=white supremacy and racial hatred seeps into the community, until you can’t hold an “Asatru meet-up” without having one or two white-supremacist-leaning individuals show up. (Yes, this truly was my experience when I was still trying to organize meet-ups back east.)

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  • wayne bates
    wayne bates says #
    i was told i was not a heathen because i choose to worship the British celtic deities as well as the Anglosaxon/Norse and i truly
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    I should add that (as it says in the title of this blog) I usually do loosely self-identify as Heathen when I am among a more gene
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    Mike, this was meant to be more a response to the shootings than about what I call myself, or don't. But since you asked about th
  • Mike C.
    Mike C. says #
    I have a lot of feelings about people honouring Germanic gods, but declining the label. How will perceptions change, unless people
  • Soli
    Soli says #
    I have never called myself Odinist due to its association with this kind of poison. And I hate that honoring some of the Gods I do
Customer Care Etiquette 101 for the Pagan Artisan

(For anyone who might be wondering, yes, this is a rant. However, it is not aimed at any one specific person; it is more about a general trend I have been witnessing. Accordingly, the examples given below have all been either doctored or entirely made up, and I am not calling anyone out; names have been withheld to protect the guilty.) 

A couple of years back, overwhelmed by the depth and range of talent I saw around me in the pagan community, I made a resolution to myself: that I would support my fellow pagan artisans whenever possible by commissioning spiritual items directly from them, rather than going outside of the community or attempting to make everything myself. Yes, there are a number of different crafts and art forms I am passingly good at, and others I could probably learn, but why take time away from my fiber arts to produce something fair to middling for myself in oils, or clay, or metal (or herbal salves, for that matter) when I could pay someone with more skill to produce something amazing? After all, the only way any of us are going to make it in our respective highly competitive fields is if we support each other in some way, and the most immediately useful way we can do that is with our pocketbooks.

For the most part, this arrangement has worked out pretty well. But on those occasions when it fails, it seems to fail spectacularly, and to do so for reasons I would not even have believed possible if you had warned me about them beforehand. As a part-time customer service representative by day, in addition to being an artisan myself, customer care matters to me and I am seeing it ignored or shoved aside in favor of the artisan’s own urges in too many cases. This is not good business practice, because without your customers, you don’t have a business. Sadly, many artists (and pagan ones in particular, for some reason) tend to be self-centered and to consider their customers rarely, if at all; this is one reason why many artistic start-up businesses fail. And so, this brief list of integrity guidelines is designed not only as a public service announcement of sorts to my fellow artisans, but also as a list of reminders for myself to adhere to, and lastly as a courtesy for the general pagan consumer public: caveat emptor, as they say (let the buyer beware).

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  • Linette
    Linette says #
    Thanks for this article! I've been on both sides of this. I have learned that as an artist, I have to be brutally honest with my

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Draugadrottin

Continuing with my exploration of the Names of Odin in alphabetical order, He doesn’t have many heiti, or by-names, beginning with the letter D.  However, the one we'll be discussing today is among my favorites of all of His names anyway because it tells us so much about the essence of who and what He is.  It is generally translated as meaning “Lord of the Dead.”  Lets break it down, though, and see if we can learn more from it than that.

The drottin part of the name means chieftain, or lord, and has a cognate in the Anglo-Saxon drihten. The particular connotation here is that of a military lord, the leader of a war band (from Proto-Germanic *druti). This implies the sort of kingship portrayed in Beowulf, for example; not necessarily a hereditary role, but one decreed by merit and ability, the man who is elevated to kingship because other men look to him and trust in his abilities, the ring giver and keeper of the web of oaths that tie a war band, a tribe, or a people together.

The other half of the name, drauga, means the dead, but here again a particular type of dead person is implied.  In Germanic belief, the “ordinary” dead go to Helheim, where they are perhaps reunited with their loved ones and have a period of rest and rejuvenation prior to being reborn or going on about whatever work lies before them between lifetimes.  Some dead, in my belief, go to the abodes of the gods they have served during life if those connections are strong enough and if the god desires their continued service and companionship.  The Poetic Edda and Snorri’s Edda alike tell us that the battlefield dead are divided between Odin and Freyja, with Frejya getting first pick.  (Ladies first, after all.)

But the draugr (singular) is in a category all his own.  As depicted again and again in the Icelandic sagas, the draugar (plural) are “walkers” or “those who walk again after death.” 

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