...After my post last week wherein I talked about my deep love of the Pacific Northwest and feeling like I've come home here and intending to spend the rest of my life here... life threw me a curveball.
For reasons I won't get into here, I am having to move back to New England, and am looking at doing so before the end of 2014 (not immediately, but in the not too distant future). While this is not what I wanted, it also could be a lot worse, and I accept what is - there are also some serious pros to the situation, including being able to bring my cat with me, getting a chance to focus on my writing and art career, and I have a bigger support network on the east coast than I do out here.
This is my second fall in Oregon, and only the second "real" fall I've had in eight years. Last year, after I first moved here, the sight of the leaves changing color and falling to the ground made me cry. I knew I'd missed the big dramatic seasonal changes of New England, but didn't realize how much. Not experiencing "real" seasonal changes during my almost-seven years in SoCal (beyond rainy and really hot) really messed with my head, and contributed to my general sense of feeling out of place there. In a way, my life reflected that - I was stuck, and like much of the flora that is naturally suited for New England or the Pacific Northwest but not SoCal, I wasn't thriving there. I was perpetually dry, burned to a crisp.
When I moved here, it wasn't just that the beauty of fall foliage nourished my soul. I really like rain. (Which is good, because we have an abundance of that up here.) But even above and beyond that... it was like an internal clock that had stopped ticking, started ticking again.
I have known, over the years, some folks who identify as Vanatru where the only real distinction between them and Asatruar (or other cultural-specific branches of heathenry) is that they focus on the Vanir gods, and usually the most well-known - Frey, Freya, Njord, maybe Nerthus... but their practice otherwise looks like standard heathenry, doing blót ritual.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. This is actually how I got my start in Vanatru, back in 2004, and this was the way I did things for a number of years... and I still blót, on occasion.
As mentioned in my post Beyond The Powers: The World of Vanaheim, the realm of the Vanir is tribally structured - this has been corroborated by the doxa of multiple individuals from 2007 onward. In no particular order, here is a brief overview of each Vanic tribe and the service they perform:
Serpent The Serpent tribe is a small “tribe of introverts” and they live in a series of underground caves in the upper northwestern territory of Vanaheim, in a mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. They specialize in routine “maintenance” energy work as well as catastrophic, catalytic healing. They also serve as catalysts of wyrd, “seething” and creating subtle shifts that “grease the wheels” of change and create “sheddings” that need to happen.
As mentioned in my post Who are the Vanir?, the Vanir are more than the Big Name Deities, such as Frey, Freya, Njord, and Nerthus. Vanaheim is an entire realm, full of people, the overwhelming majority of whom were never named by lore. This doesn’t mean they’re unimportant, as we will revisit in a moment. I also understand the Vanir to be elves (corroborated by others), and in private conversations I prefer referring to them as elves (or Eshnahai, which is their own name for their people, “Vanir” is an outlander’s term), though they are not the same entities as the Ljossalfar and Dokkalfar (who are related, but ultimately their own people).
I am pleased to announce that as a gift to my readers (and to Frey himself) for the equinox, I have re-released my Frey devotional Peace and Good Seasons (previously published in 2009 under the name Svartesol), a revised, expanded, and updated version.
At the fall equinox in September is Selenestra Madonatal (seh-len-ES-trah mah-DOUGH-nah-tahl), which is Eshnesk (the language of the Eshnahai, the name the Vanir call themselves [via corroborated gnosis]) for the Festival of Gratitude. This is essentially the Vanic version of Thanksgiving, where people in Vanaheim feast with their families and count their blessings of the year. It is common for people to light lanterns or candles for each of their blessings and float lanterns down the rivers.