Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Second Merseburg Charm and Moving

We're moving, again. This is nothing really new for my husband and I, of course this time, we have a baby (as well as our menagerie), but all in all, it's pretty much par for the course. We're quite nomadic people, rarely staying for longer than three years in one place, and despite all the work and craziness this causes, we like it. This is just who we are. We've made some very good friends in this area, people that we'll miss, but we're not moving so far that we'll never see them again.

Some of those people were supposed to also be moving from the area (until a job offer came up), and so my husband was approached about the possibility of having a pre-move offering ritual. Those of us that move a lot are very very aware of the luck aspects of a move. The whole process of moving and getting set up in a new place is so very very dependent on luck, be that luck the kind you get from wights, ancestors, or your deeds. It can be the difference between a successful move, and one that is nothing short of a disaster.

So on Saturday, we gathered at a local nature preserve to make offerings to Wodan and Thunor.

It's hard having a young baby and being back at work, it's hard finding the time to come up with a ritual format, or what kind of offerings to give, and in truth, the ritual hovered in the back of my mind until the last minute. I was totally uninspired, and wasn't even sure what the relevance was (truth be told).

However inspiration comes from the oddest of places. A few weeks ago, a replica of the Oberwerschen bracteate that ostensibly depicts Frija (or at least a spinning goddess) came out (available from here ). It's two-sided and depicts a replica of another bracteate depicting the same figure that was found in Welschingen. I got it, it was nothing short of a compulsion for me, and I wasn't alone. At least three other ladies that I know bought it. They were sold out within a couple of days of it coming out onto the market - mostly due to the growing popularity of the Holle-Frija cult. As I mostly offer to Frija and Wodan, I then began to wonder about similar representations of Wodan, of the Wodan that I know as opposed to the Scandinavian Odin. See, I don't see the god of Kings, warriors, and skalds that most people think of when they think of the Allfather. I think of the Wodan of the 9 herbs charm, the wanderer, the magician, the healer, the language-giver of the AS rune poem, the lore-giving word-smith, the husband of Frija, the benevolent Allfather of the Neubuerg myth, and yes, the Herela that leads the hunt.

In my enthusiasm for the Spinning goddess bracteate, I posted links to the online store on pretty much every group I participate in. On one of them, a UK-based group, one of the replies I got gave me a great clue to my inspiration. It was a request for identification of a bracteate pendant - one of the Darum/Ribe hoard that is thought to depict the scene from the second Merseburg charm in which Wodan heals Balder's foal's leg. I was then offered the bracteate by the posted that had requested identification, and being conscious of my current inability to exchange gift for a gift, turned it down. However, the seed of inspiration had been planted.

The second Merseburg charm is what we might call a narrative charm in that it relates a story in which the problem the charm seeks to heal occurs, and is healed.

Phol ende uuodan uuorun zi holza.
du uuart demo balderes uolon sin uuoz birenkit.
thu biguol en sinthgunt, sunna era suister;
thu biguol en friia, uolla era suister;
thu biguol en uuodan, so he uuola conda:
sose benrenki, sose bluotrenki, sose lidirenki:
ben zi bena, bluot si bluoda,
lid zi geliden, sose gelimida sin!

Phol and Wodan were riding to the woods,
and the foot of Balder's foal was sprained
So Sinthgunt, Sunna's sister, conjured it.
and Frija, Volla's sister, conjured.
and Wodan conjured it, as well he could:
Like bone-sprain, so blood-sprain,
so joint-sprain:
Bone to bone, blood to blood,
joints to joints, so may they be glued!

The parallels seemed clear to me, healing and luck are one and the same, and a spell of healing that overcomes a travel setback might be a spell of luck to avoid travel setbacks (or at least give us the luck to overcome any setbacks). And so I scribbled the prayer/charm/poem that was to be my travel/move offering/charm/prayer. As I was at work, it was rough and hurried, scribbled on pieces of paper hidden in my pockets. Like the charm that inspired it, I wanted it to be at least semi-narrative in nature, but changing the narration somewhat to fit my purposes and the side of Wodan I wished to call to mind, the wanderer that I have worshipped for years, myself as a wanderer. I also wanted to include something of the original charm, to 'borrow' some of its power and tradition. The original scribbles (albeit eventually copied nicely onto nice paper), was thrown to the flames.

"Once the High One went a-riding
Phol ende Uuodan uuorun zi holza
Foal leg break hindered their course
Under leafy canopies, the Holy ones wondered
How they might fare forth
When stepping forward, the Wodnes-father
Ecstatic and crazed one, his knowledge to share
The pained steed's ears opened
To receive the galdored charm

Ben zi bena
Bluot si bluoda
lid si geliden
sose gelimda sin!

As bone was to bone
Keep us whole
As blood was to blood
Keep us hael
As limb was to limb
Keep us strong

God of knowledge
Os god of language
God of luck

Watch over and inspire our travel."

And the ritual was beautiful :).