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the Pagan Experience - Ansuz


Mouth is the chieftain / of all speech, / the mainstay of wisdom / and a comfort to the wise ones, / for every noble warrior / hope and happiness.- Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem

This is not going to be a rune primer, but it is relevant to what I want to talk about today, which is speech and silence. Once upon a time, when I was studying runes, Odin went out of His way to tell me that Ansuz was a signifier rune for me, much in the way that a court card can be in the Tarot. At the time that He said this to me, I assumed it was because I’m a writer, or perhaps because Loki wants me to talk about Him publicly. And some of that is true; some of it is tied up in apotheosis, and some in personal work. Trigger Warning: Frank Discussion of Rape


When I was raped, my assailant put his hand over my mouth and told me that even if I yelled, no one would hear me. Anything that I said wouldn’t matter. I could scream all I wanted to, no one cared.

Anything you say won’t matter, not even if you scream.

That has stayed with me all my life. Name your desire, He says to me, but naming involves speech. It means I have to open my mouth. It doesn’t help that rape survivors have to justify in some fashion that they didn’t ask for it in order for them to be taken seriously. We are silenced. We are shamed. Even women who aren’t rape survivors are vilified for their desires. It’s not a healthy place for us to be.

There is healthy silence. Meditation is chosen silence, the peace of waiting for seeds to germinate. But I’ve noticed that because many of us experience so much unhealthy silence that choosing to be silent is difficult. It’s too reminiscent of the hand over the mouth, of the silencing of desire. It’s work to overcome that reaction, to choose silence when you need it, and speak of desire. Longing is vulnerability. It hurts, but it’s also where love lives.

Be seen. Be heard. Be silent, but only when it is your desire.

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Lokean nun, writer, swamp witch. Heather is a Pagan monastic, writer, editor, and mother. She has written and edited for a variety of publications and social media, including science journals, romance novels, and technology blogs. She also holds degrees in education and speech-language pathology, and has a passion for historical linguistics.


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