Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
A Visit with the Asynjur

A Visit with the Asynjur: Frigga’s Handmaidens

I have been delving deeper into seeking out lesser-known goddesses for this little project of mine, and decided that the Asynjur, also known as the Handmaidens of the Norse Goddess Frigga were certainly deserving of attention. I began to try and read through Snorri Sturluson and the Eddas as my first source for Norse lore, however it because abundantly clear that something was probably missing. Anyone who has tried to view these ancient writings with a modern eye can discern that most of these stories were re-told by Christian monks with an eye to selling them as pre-cursors to Christianity. Naturally, preserving the stories of female characters was not at the forefront of their minds. I do not consider myself Asatru, nor do I consider myself a reconstructionist of any kind, so I will apologize in advance for any unintended offenses I may make in my own re-interpretation of these Goddesses. I have a love for deities whose stories are not fully known or told, and as such, I am also open to UPG. As I create my own images of the Goddesses, please know I do so with utter respect and love for the cultures from which they came.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    For further study on the Handmaidens, I recommend Norse Goddess Magic by Alice Karlsdottir. That's a new edition of the book previ
  • Helena
    Helena says #
    Thank you!
  • d Kate dooley
    d Kate dooley says #
    I you offer prints, I want them for my ritual space.
  • d Kate dooley
    d Kate dooley says #
    This makes me so happy. I love your work. I wrote book for Frigga and the Handmaidens and have been their devotee for sixteen year
  • Helena
    Helena says #
    Thank you so much! I will definitely check out your blog. And I will definitely let you know about prints. Finding time to make t

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Charm for Weaving

Weaving has long been a winter activity. As the last vestiges of the cold hang on hereabouts, the thought of spring still seems distant. But friends have been sharing pictures of their new lambs so it's coming nonetheless. The whole cycle from wool to woven begins again.

There has long been an association of magic with weaving. While dismissed as 'women's work' often, its intricacies inspire wonder at its mysteries. If you don't know how to do a thing, the process can look like magic. Indeed the association goes back to the Moirai, the Parcae, the Norns and even Macbeth's three witches. The threads they weave, measure and cut -- how do they affect our fates? And what are the incantations they mutter over the threads?

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Saying Goodbye in the Spring

I have been meaning to write a blog post on Goddesses.... lots of blog posts on lots of Goddesses, but that annoying nuisance known as real life has interrupted me numerous times. Today I slowed down. I slowed down a lot, and in so doing, I thought I was going to finish a much delayed post about the Norse Asynjur, but my heart is not in it today. I need to write about loss instead.

My beautiful 17 year old cat Bella is leaving us. Bella does indeed live up to her name as the many photos my husband and I have taken of her over the years will show anyone. 

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  • Jamie Okulam
    Jamie Okulam says #
    Oh, we know what it is to loose a cat! We have lost two in the last two years. I miss them so much. My partner and I were unfairly
  • Helena
    Helena says #
    Thank you! I am so sorry you had to leave your home!

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Lighted Hearth

The hearth. The center of the home, the center of domestic life. For our ancestors, it was where food was made, stories were shared, textiles were crafted and mended. Eminent scholar of medieval traditions and folklore Claude Lecouteux writes: "Hearth is a generic term for designating the place where fire burns. The hearth can mean different things depending on the era and the region; it ranges from the simple fire pit of primitive dwellings to the more modern earthenware and cast-iron stove, and includes the open chimney, the fireplace, the oven, or the furnace" (The Tradition of Household Spirits, 69). So when I refer to the hearth, I mean the place where the fire dwells and provides warmth and sustenance.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Open The Door Softly

Over the last several years, I have noticed more people expressing that they are encountering a thinning of the veils, openings between the worlds, crossings to and from the neighboring realms, and so on. These reports have been increasing in number and the intervals between reports have been decreasing. Significantly, these encounters and observations are less linked to the times and places that are traditionally thought of as naturally liminal or during the times in the changes of the seasons of the Sun and Moon when these passages are expected. I have read and heard a variety of suggestions to explain this phenomenon, and many of them are reasonable and plausible. I’d like to propose that there is also a slow and steady shift in the Astrological tides that is also one of the root causes of this change. There will be just enough Astrology in this post to offer an explanation without bogging down in a lesson in Astrology.

 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
A Headache in Medieval Scotland

The long history of headaches and their relief could doubtless fill many volumes. Although at the forefront of medicine in many ways (at least for the tenth century) Ali ibn Isa al-Kahhal seemed to have run out of practical solutions when he suggested lashing a mole to your head (then again have you tried it?). Hildegard of Bingen might suggest a need for more viriditas or 'greening' in your life, for "green is useful and mellow" as we know.

But sometimes there was only the suffering. Medieval Scots poet William Dunbar captures that pain well in his short poem:

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
To Be A Pagan Chaplain: Compassion

I field many questions about what I do as a chaplain from people who are curious, but who also are under the misconception that as a Pagan I don't actually have a faith tradition (or my faith tradition is not acceptable). A large reason I am pursuing this path is to do the work of representing my faith group at the table with other groups--to do the work of "legitimacy" if you will. We have a long way to go in this battle, as I will demonstrate in the example I will leave here. As I do this work, I am beginning to realize people need to understand why Pagan chaplaincy is necessary. It isn't just the interfaith work, though that is important too. But for every Pagan who is in the hospital and wants a chaplain of their faith to be there with them, for every Pagan in prison, or the military, or in universities, there will need to be someone willing to do the work of fighting this battle of legitimacy.

**Note: For those who are familiar with what verbatims looks like, this format will be familiar. This was an actual encounter with someone I work with, recollected to the best of my ability and presented to my group for processing. This is the reality I live with everyday.** 

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Thanks for sharing your experience and insights. Respectfully, I'd like to offer some variations on your replies. FWIW, I've bee

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