Tuesday, June 26, 2012


So tonight I deactivated my account. Over the past few weeks I've been getting increasingly annoyed at people in general and the fact that interacting with these people takes up so much of my time. This isn't living, this isn't hael. I realised the other day that I don't remember the last time I sat and read a book from cover to cover for enjoyment and the last time I wrote a story was only because I'd forgotten my phone and couldn't get onto FB. I had started to plan my life around Facebook, each task I had to do for the day was scheduled around looking at FB. I've begun to care too much about the words of others that I don't know. But most of all, I'm done with the effect that FB is having on my Heathenism. I'm sick of feeling like there are always views I have to conform to, like somehow I'm doing it all wrong. I look back at the person I was, that mound-sitting, crazy chick, and I wonder where the fuck she went. It's not reconstructionism, I have no problems in my real life community, it's FB, it's the worst manifestation of internet Heathenry. It turns us all into assholes. It's time to be me again, to set my priorities in order and to ignore the noise.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oaths and Blot

Last week, spinning didn't come easily. I didn't like the colour, it didn't seem as easy the green (which I'd really likes but finished spinning up), and it even began to spin worse, or at least seemed to.

Every single day, I forced myself to pick up the spindle and spin my allotted amount for the week and it *sucked*.

When I created this taboo, this promise to a deity, I knew there would be those days, in which spinning would be the last thing I wanted to do. But although I never so much as said it, I'd essentially made an oath.

As Heathens, we don't, or at least we *shouldn't* oath easily. American Heathens oath much easier than Heathens in other places, the oathed kindred model so prevalent here didn't take to the same degree in Europe. Instead, people have groups that they worship with, but there's no pretense of kin. Kinship takes years to build, it goes beyond friendship, it's family. Without that background, any oaths made around kinship are doomed to fail.

Ultimately though, the oaths that we tend to make are selfish in nature; maybe we need a push to do something that we'd otherwise slip from, maybe we've gotten into a rut or slipped. Oaths, with the public accountability they provide, are a perfect way for us to do those things.

Some weeks, completing my spinning is a close run thing. I'm like the limping runner, just making it over the finish line right before they take it down and pack it all away. I hate every second that I'm spinning. Other weeks I finish comfortably and love my work.

This past week, I loved my work. I loved the light brown corriedale that I spun up, the work is relatively even and it's just beautiful - the perfect preclude to a perfect weekend.

This weekend was the Oak Ridge midsummer blot. Oak Ridge is a Heathen fellowship based in NJ but that invite a core group of people to worship with them at the main tides. That worship involves swineblot. My husband and I feel so honoured and blessed to have been invited to both this and Yule, we love hanging out with the Oak Ridge, Laerad and other associated folks, there's a comfort there. Like we've all known each other for much longer than we actually have. We talk, we laugh, we debate and some of us bait each other like siblings. After a day of storms and further storm warnings for the weekend, the weather was perfect too. It was all very fitting. After days of preparation for things like our contribution to the feast, getting supplies for some of the activities we were planning, getting together our camping supplies and working on a stand of sorts for our Wodan godpost, we packed the car and were finally off.

The Oak Ridge Fellowship keeps and maintains an amazing grove on the land of their gothi, it's a place that has this most incredible sense of peace and holiness. The godposts stand tall, the wights are content. The whole area is so fertile and lush, inhabited by deer and bear. It is an honour every time we step foot in that grove.

And yes, there is also blood.

This swineblot was to Thor and it went very very well. The pig was nicely drunk and the kill was very quick and clean. Oak Ridge fellowship was officially brought into being and the posts and ourselves asperged. It's not an easy thing to do, to sacrifice in this way, just like oaths aren't easy to keep, but for those of us that do this and experience it, it's so very holy and we've all seen gains in terms of our luck.

After the rite was ended and the pig butchered and roasting, another devotee of Holle and myself spun an amount of yarn that will be offered to the waters of that lovely lady's bog. Spinning is also luck. We sat and talked about spinning, women in Heathenry and of course about the blot just gone. Another lady sitting there, had just experienced her first blot and whereas I have struggled to define what I feel at blot and how to convey it to people that have never experienced it, she nailed it. It's a huge welling of emotion that you can't really name. It's not sadness, hurt, anger or even happiness. It's literally no emotion you can name, and yet it is so strong and you feel it in every cell of your being. And the omens...this time they were so clear and quick in the coming.

Outside of the grove is an Odin godpost with a well before it and it's surrounded by mugwort. For me, one of the best moments of this weekend was seeing people realise this and collecting handfuls of mugwort to take home. More people seem to be getting interested in the Anglo Saxon and Continental Germanic traditions and it was so good to discuss things like the 9 Herbs Charm, the medicinal uses of mugwort and concepts like haelu.

There was also a 'Laeradnerok' with padded swords, kubb, American football and general shenanigans.

Oh and the pig was delicious :).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Giants and Health

Yesterday, the theme of Raven Radio was that of giants, more specifically a paper on giants and worship by Gro Steinsland. I personally didn't really care for the paper, it felt like he was trying to be more...I don't know...more complex than he needed to be to make the same point.

Of course, he used the examples of Skadhi and Gerd as being examples of members of the giant race that received worship. He pointed out that Skadhi was still referred to as a giantess where as Gerd wasn't. He talked about potential hieros gamos type rituals with Gerd and Freyr being the focus, and of course he talked about the term Mornir and the Volsi.

Throughout the entire paper, I couldn't help but shake my head at how he consistently ignored the simplest explanations for his observations. For example, the observation about Skadhi still being referred to as a giantess vs Gerd who doesn't seem to be after marriage.

For me, Skadhi is kind of like the cool aunt by marriage whose marriage didn't quite work out but things are still amicable and there is an alliance there. She maybe takes her maiden name again but still, she's considered family for all intents and purposes. Her actions demonstrate this, the family knows that this aunt is on their side, even if she's no longer technically family.
Gerd is simply the aunt that stays married. There is no ambiguity there, she's definitely family, she doesn't have that 'outer' aspect like Skadhi does.

And for me, the crux of this entire argument as to whether or not giants should be offered to, is right there: alliances, deeds and worth. Giants are simply another race that live in the outer-yard; like people, some are destructive assholes, some are good people, some are indifferent. Is the human world solely populated by 'good' or 'bad' people? Can we apply such a dichotomy to an entire race? No, we're all multi-faceted beings that fall somewhere along a spectrum, or potentially many spectra of 'good' and 'bad' (the terms 'good' and 'bad' are subjective terms, one man's 'good' is another's 'bad'). Why would we not assume that the plethora of wights and giants are also multi-faceted? As a Heathen, I judge a person by their deeds, why wouldn't I apply that same criteria to other beings? They are their deeds just as much as we are ours.

I've often heard the justification for offering to the more destructive giants as being that of appeasement. A kind of 'you'd better offer to ___ or you're going to have a rough time of it' sentiment. While I disagree with the sentiment, I can at least understand it. Folktales are full of examples of this kind of thing.
It's a little like the giant version of a Yakuza protection racket, but at least it's understandable from the POV of the worldview.

However I will *never* understand the sucking up to destructive giants thing. It's one thing to pay them off so that they'd leave your community alone, but it's quite another to try and gain some kind of favour. It's very reminiscent of Grima Wormtongue sucking up to Sauron in 'The Lord of the Rings'. Sauron doesn't care for Grima, Grima is just a tool for him to get what he wants and Sauron will use him accordingly. There is no reciprocal relationship, just exploitation, with Grima believing that he'll be elevated in status for his adherence to Sauron. These beings aren't misunderstood, the only misunderstanding that exists in this is that which leads to the kind of apologetics you often see online, the 'Oh, he didn't mean to do that', or the 'But the gods were sooooo mean to him and so that's why he conspired to kill Baldur'...ad nauseum. It's all apologetics for what essentially comes down to (at least in Loki's case), poor impulse control.

Although, having written that, I'm almost dreading coming across blog posts of 'UPG' that Loki has tourettes or autism and just can't help himself...

I grew up in a moorland area, where the hills often look like sleeping forms of giants, and as a kid it wasn't a huge leap to imagine those moors as being where you might come across a giant. Along with the myriad of other folktales I grew up with, it wasn't hard to image yet another type of being populating the wild fells along side the black 'demon' dogs, boggarts, Granny Greenteeth and barrow wights.

Giants have never been a problem for me, neither has living in a world populated by beings both seen and unseen. But I would no more seek out the destructive giants than I would a crack den, and that's all there is to it for me.


In other news, my breathing seems to have gotten better and I'm much relieved.

And the catalyst for this turnaround?

The inclusion of locally picked elderflowers in my iced green tea. The irony isn't lost on me either, that after all the medication, a plant that's linked to Frau Holle has helped me, a woman that worships Holle, turn the corner and get back on the road to health and haelu again.

I went running again for the first time in almost two months last week :).