Single Rune

I awoke a little later than expected, and realized quickly that I’d turned my alarms off the day before because I’d woken up before they’d gone off – and then promptly forgot to turn them back on.

Fortunately I didn’t wake up so late that I was beyond the normal time frame I prefer to work within.

It’s getting cold in the desert, at least at night when there’s no clouds to keep the warmth from the day before against the ground. So I bundled up a little bit – the concrete of the patio is a little too cold for bare feet during this time of year. But I knelt and made my connection with the Earth with my hands, so I wasn’t fully disconnected.

After reaching out to Heimdall and opening the gates – and setting an offering outside of my ritual space for the Outdwellers (See? I told you I’d start to get into more details as things set into place) – I shared a round of hard cider with my People. Giving thanks for their time and patience and spending a little time bonding.

All my offerings were varying amounts of the hard cider. It’s something *I* can drink on an empty stomach without getting punchy, so when I mean to share in the offerings with my People I usually stick with it. (I’ll be honest, I could NOT drink an entire 12oz bottle of it on an empty stomach, but a few sips while honoring my People is doable. (I would connect with Norse gods while being a massive light weight)).

I usually use Moon of Dragon’s Blood incense from HEM when I’m doing my weekend devotionals, but today I’d went with Cinnamon which was a little distracting. It’s got a harsher and more pronounced scent to it than the other two, and those are much more calming for me. But Cinnamon kept me on task so I’ll not complain.

I admitted that I have something on the edges of my mind that’s bothering me. I can’t put a full finger on it – the medication I’m on (let’s be blunt here, I struggle with anxiety and am legit concerned about becoming a shut in, so I’m currently on two different meds – one daily, the other as needed – just to go out and brave crowds without panic attacks) seems to be affecting my drive to draw. Though I could just as well be in a natural slump that’s ill timed to the newly added assistance.

And the medications themselves, I don’t want to say dull, but lessen the sharpness of concern, so I don’t know if it’s stopping me from keying in on what’s around me. The daily regimen is still considered in the adjusting phase, so it’s been a lot of guess work on my – well – me-ness the last couple weeks.

So I requested some sign from my People – either reassurance that things were okay, or a warning if I needed to up my guard and that the medication was affecting me in ways that I’d need to be aware of. I.e. in a way that would mean talking to my doctor about alternatives, because I want to be able to leave the house without being on the edges of a panic attack, but I also want to continue drawing thank you very much.

When I cast the runes onto the mat I was taken aback by the outcome. Near to 15 runes had freed themselves from the bag, but only one was on the mat. (One even careened off the “table” and onto the floor.)

One rune. One. Out of all those that had come with it. After staring in disbelief for a few moments I thought maybe I should try again, that I might not have hit my usual relaxed groove because the cinnamon incense was so strong vs calming. Or that I was just that off that the first time wasn’t the right one.

But as I gathered up the runes that hadn’t fallen on the mat I got this sense that sometimes even complex inquiries can have a single word for their answer. So the lone rune wasn’t just acceptable, but it was all that was required.

It was also one I’d never seen before, so I wasn’t sure if it was a positive answer, or a negative one. (One day I’ll get these down pat).

After closing the ritual and coming back inside to my book, I learned the lone rune was

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Laguz – the 21st rune, meaning lake, life, leek. It can mean new creativity welling up from the unconscious mind, or a need to basically go with the flow. It can also be an unconscious tapping of psychic or spiritual aid/ability. In spellwork it allows for other runes to work in the background.

I get the distinct impression that Laguz is very behind-the-scenes, whatever it is that it’s actually doing. It also feels like a positive rune to me, that there’s help or growth being provided by the rune but it’s Subtle. I don’t do subtle well >.> But it explains why things felt like they were quiet, or out on the edge, because they were, and not nessicarily because of the change in medication.

Which is itself very reassuring.

Blessings,
Quin

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Giving Thanks

This mornings Devotional was a quiet one. No rune draw, no voicing concerns, no talking about my week. Not today, today I went over the holiday that many of us celebrated on Thursday.

I went into the ugly side of it, the dishonor in it, the ignorance around it and the things that it meant to me and mine now, centuries after the ignoble massacre.

It’s not a day to celebrating pilgrims and natives gathering in peace, as the school books would have us believe. For many it is a day of remembrance and mourning for the massacre of an entire native village at the hands of pilgrims – likely too haughty, arrogant and full of useless fear to even consider asking for succor vs taking it.

What it has become for many of us, and a modernization I can get behind, is a day of reflection. Of being thankful for what we have, having humility in that, and having compassion and generosity toward those with less. It is a time, day, week, or month if you prefer, to give thanks for friends, family (be they blood or not), accomplishments, love, life, etc.

Which is not to say that these attributes and graces shouldn’t be year round. It’s more that this is a time for reflection on them with conscious effort.

My offering to my People was some of the bounty of Thursday. My particular brand of slow cooked teriyaki turkey – which is fast becoming a tradition between me and my significant other. Next year I will set a plate for those lost on that holiday, that they may know honor and peace and that they may not be forgotten, or re-written, out of time.

November’s celebration is not one of the high holidays, but it is a time of reflection and of being grateful. No omen was drawn, no runes are being interpreted, nothing was asked for in return for the bounty and offerings provided. I gave my thanks for their time, their patience, and their knowledge as I walk slowly down this road and  gather to myself the things that will make me better.

The hope is always to be able to return some of that as well. That for every step forward I take I am able to bring more honor and more joy to ADF and her kin.

To better the world, one need only better oneself, and that is a journey that has no end.

Blessings,
Quin

Afraid

I’m going to write this a bit out of the usual order for one of my devotionals, and backtrack a bit as I cover the runes I drew. I’ll end by summarizing the purpose of the ritual, and hopefully it’s not so disconnected as to be intelligible.

Before I drew these runes I did not ask for anything, I asked that whoever was listening say to me what they wanted to say. Because I didn’t ask a question I wasn’t sure that what I drew would make sense to me. All three runes came out together, and so my intent was to read them in no particular order and go from there. Moving around sentences and concepts until something jumped out and said Yes! This is what we said.

For its worth, that happened while I was looking them up.

Ansuz – The rune of Odin, of words, of mouth. A rune, specifically in this case, of communication. Ansuz is a welcome rune to me, a good sign and one that I feel close too – it’s spiritual, creative, and if I’m being honest it’s hard not to preen a little when you draw Odin’s rune. Even if Odin kind of intimidates the piss out of me…

Hagalaz – The rune of hail, change, chaos. In reading, depending on what else surrounds this rune it can mean disaster or act as a warning to brace for a change. Positivity resides on either side of Hagalaz when I drew these, the rune was literally sandwiched in between the other two.

Hagalaz is a warning, and even surrounded by positivity I don’t mean to take that warning lightly. Be it in regards to my love, my passion or my job, I don’t want to be blindsided in anything.

I think, however, in this case the change is internal.

I spent a portion of the devotional admitting that I didn’t understand my being drawn to a Norse hearth-culture. I am not fierce, I’m not brash or a warrior. I’m more a cup runneth over with kindness and sheer terror towards just about everything from Outside to Bugs.

But I had to admit I can be fierce, I can be a warrior. I have planted my feet on a few occasions in my life that were important enough to me that despite a spinning head, pounding heart, or knotting stomach, I knew I needed to not back down. I sobbed during the ritual, asserting that I wasn’t weak, but that I wanted to be stronger, I wanted to be more assertive, I wanted to be more – but I wanted to stay me.

I cannot emulate my Norse gods and goddesses, that is not who I am from head to toe, but I want to be able to honor them better in words and actions and I need to change to be able to do that.

Elhaz – let’s just pull this from the book directly. “[..] almost certainly means protection […] possibly by means of drawing natural powers or allowing previously suppressed aspects of the personality to operate.

I have a fire in me, I know I do. I’ve seen it blaze and shine on a few occasions in my life. But that fire is scary at times, because I don’t tap into it often, so when I do it’s like wrestling with a part of me that could just splash out and light everything around me. Sometimes I don’t want to catch things on fire, sometimes I’m afraid of losing control if I do ignite something in others.

Mostly, I’m just afraid.

A lot.

I’m afraid of making people angry, I’m afraid of letting down my family, I’m afraid of being a disappointment to my mother and father, I’m afraid of losing the love of my life, I’m afraid of not being successful, I’m afraid of crashing and burning with my art, I’m afraid of bugs, I’m afraid of people, I’m afraid of my own MIND.

But for the hour of my ritual, for the time of my devotion, when I’m speaking to gods and spirits and kindred, when I’m making myself a beacon for all things in all worlds and reaching out beyond the Gates, I’m not afraid. I can feel the boughs of Yggdrasil protect me, I can feel the warmth and see the light of the flames of fire that guides me, I can feel the cool life-giving flow of water at my feet.

Looping back to the runes I can almost see the words before me from the draw, something like “I am communicating with you, that change is coming and to brace, but be not afraid for it is change that you want and it will be welcome.”

I don’t know who “I” is in this case. It felt assertive and powerful, but neither maternal/fraternal.

I don’t know, it’s just that it so strongly feels like a single statement.

The main purpose of today’s devotional was to use the tree I’d received from a dear friend at least once before the high day celebration I plan to do either tonight, or very very early tomorrow. From there it kind of spontaneously turned into its own thing, but I feel confident in the transfer, and now I can use my stand in tree as the journal I’d intended it for and leave the other with the alter.

Blessings,
~Quin

Odd Omen

Today’s ritual started off with a knotted back, sore legs, and a tangle inside my own soul to be perfectly honest. I’d had a rough week at work, and my last devotional had gone south, which probably lent itself to the clunky week. I even ended up calling off on Wednesday – not a thing I do – because I felt ill at the idea of even going into work that day.

So today’s ritual was just as much about reconnecting with my gods and goddesses as it was strengthening myself and unknotting things internally. At first I wasn’t sure it was going to work, but as the ritual went on I realized I was relaxed.

When I first got my current job I was pretty excited. It was a decent jump in pay, plus a couple extra holidays and a LOT of vacation time for a new job. (15 days, vs ten.) On top of that I knew I was going to learn a ton of new things in my field and the vibe of the office was a lot more friendly and casual than my last position had been.

Lately though, things are hinky, and I’m realizing that there are, sadly, quite a few phobic-toward-anyone-not-white-and-straight-and-Christian types in my immediate vicinity. The amount of racism, transphobic and homophobic thoughts are unsettling. And they’re subtle too – for the most part, which makes it very difficult to report on, or even talk about directly to the persons involved.

Top on a little good old fashioned technophobia and office favoritism, and barely 9 months after I started, I’m ready to leave.

So, yeah, internally, very knotted up. =/

But, as I said, the ritual went well, it had the intended effect I had been hoping for. I shared a drink with my ancestors, the Kindred, and the gods/goddesses. It was, perhaps, not the wisest of me to share hard apple cider with my faith first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, massive light weight that I am, but someone was looking out for me, because I don’t even feel the tiniest bit woozy.

At some point I was compelled to draw an omen. I asked for signs about my job, but backpedaled on that – my mind is made up, I already know what I’m doing in regards to that, and it feels right, even if it’s scary. So instead I just asked for whatever omen they desired to give me, and if they were so inclined, some kind of hint as to who was reaching out to me.

Someone listened, but since I’ll be looking these up as I’m writing this, right at this moment I don’t know who. I just I know that I usually draw three runes. Today, I drew 5. The first two came out easy as you please, but the last three came out all at once, there was just no separating them while my hand was in the bag. There’s plenty of room in there for my tiny hand, so it wasn’t for lack of trying.

I’m not 100% sure what to do with it, but it feels like those three should be considered very strongly connected when I do decipher them.

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First is ELHAZ, for which there is a very repetitive theme of protection. Be it from an animal-spirit guide, in general, from one’s own spiritual power, and/or as a sign of good luck. There’s a warning against grasping Elhaz, that while it offers protection it can cut those that are rough toward it. I’ll take this as a sign of being protected, we’ll see how it holds up against the rest of the reading, as it could be an introduction to whomever has their eye on me.

Next, RAIDHO, the rune of traveling. When paired with Elhaz it implies protected travel. Raidho is often considered to be a statement of the “right way to go” or that one is on horseback (a mode of transportation, i.e. Raidho) and that it is leading one along the Way. I personally struggle with accepting the idea of fate, and that our lives are predetermined before us – but I do believe that we have a series of paths available to us. With varying degrees of the correct path vs essentially having gone off the path. Elhaz and Raidho back to back like this, feel to me like an assurance that the choices I’ve made regarding my career is the correct path and all I have left to do now is follow through assertively with that change.

Then the inseparable three. PERTHRO – DAGAZ – OTHALA

Perthro is, as far as I can gather, the unknowable rune. It can be tied to luck, to fate, to Figg and the Norns. It is the cup and the well, the caster of dice and the caster of runes. It implies fate, luck or chance in a reading and I’m left with the distinct impression that I’ll not know what this implies until I’ve looked at the other runes.

Dagaz the sun, a rune of positivity and hope. Dagaz in a reading often lends itself to a positive outcome, a kind of stay strong and things will get better sort of vibe. Possibly it means slow and measured progress vs sudden outcomes, and/or a clarifying rune to bring things to “light” as it were.

Finally, Othala. The rune of family, homeland, inheritance, of connection both with past lives and current spirits. “As the final rune of the Futhark, OTHALA “Contains” the power of all the other runes, our mystical heritage.”

My initial feeling on this, even after sitting here for long moments and contemplating things which has left said initial feeling unchanged, has me feeling that it’s the runes themselves that are calling to me. Which is kind of an odd feeling, and not at all what was expected. There’s a fringe assumption that in line with that it does include Frigg, with whom herself and the Norns are closely tied to the divination portion of the runes.

But then as well, Odin himself is very closely tied with the runes, and the utilization of them in magical ways. To be perfectly fair, Odin kind of scares the sprinkles out of me, and I’m not sure how I’d react if it was him who took to me. I suppose I’d need to begin construction of an actual functional backbone quite immediately.

Through the runes as well, is a pathway to connecting with my ancestors, and Kindred and all the gods and goddesses. Very family-esque, very connected and protected. Which is rather indicative of this and previous readings.

At this rate I may have to face my fears, and make from scratch my own runes, though I still say that fashioning tangible items is far and away not a skill I possess.

Devotion Gone South

I’m sure it happens to Pagans of all varieties from time to time, but to have a morning ritual just go utterly south feels so disappointing.

I’ve read of similar instances from my dear friend – and the primary reason I started into ADF – the Druid in the Swamp, that it /does/ happen.

As she states in her Trance and Liturgy Journal:

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“Murphy’s Law of Wells

If:

  • You are already close to running late
  • Your well didn’t get water in it yesterday because you forgot to fill the cup
  • You do your devotional at 5:30 am before caffeine
  • You are trying to establish a regular practice but still get to work on time
  • Your well is a beautiful wooden bowl made of pieced woods in different colors that was a gift you can never replace

Then:

  • Your wooden well will have cracked along a seam in the bottom from having water left in it the last time you did ritual
  • You will not notice this until half the well has emptied out the crack in the bottom, soaking the entire top of your altar
  • You will be out of paper towels in your altar room, and will have to make a mad dash to the kitchen to get some
  • Your old ceramic well will be full of wine corks, which have no other place to go, so you will have to leave them in a pile on the counter
  • When you empty your old well, it will be full of cork dust, so you will need to wash it

And then:

  • By the time you finally get back to your devotional, you will have forgotten what steps you did and have to start over
  • Making you at least 10 minutes late getting out the door”

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Granted, it’s the weekend, so time wasn’t really my issue, so much as the disruption of my offering bowl sliding off one side of the stand and pouring my gift to the Ancestors on the porch. My first was flickering so I emptied some of the excess wax away from the wick and got paraffin all over my fingers and the votive holding the candle. Then I poured out the Outdweller’s beer near where I’d returned the other offerings to the earth, vs on the other side of the porch like I’d been doing.

And I basically just spent the entire ritual and the few minutes after it, apologizing over and over, and was really glad that I hadn’t intended to ask for anything from the start. I just wanted to give and it felt like I’d fumbled the wrapping on the gifts, forgotten to remove the price stickers, and then tripped and dropped everything on my way to give them.

I’m sure it’s all part of the learning process, especially since I’ve never been the ritual type, so almost all of this is completely new to me. But until today the devotionals had been, well, very calming, even though I wasn’t getting the words right and was probably doing a lot of stuff out of order. Today it feels a bit more like I went into it nicely dressed and came out with my hair in a muss and dirt and wax everywhere.

Fortunately I have two solid weeks to work the kinks out of things before celebrating Ancestor’s Night, so that’ll be a good thing.

~Blessings
Quin

Gift of the Grandmother

I had a third Devotional, technically speaking, that I did right at sunrise and something about it felt wrong to write about, so I didn’t. I also kind of realized that instead of counting these, as though some growing numerical tally would lend itself to some odd sense of credibility or wisdom on my part, it was best to just date them. But then it dawned on me that the blog site does that for me and perhaps even better would be to summarize in the title. (Seriously, I’ll get a system eventually).

This morning’s devotional was more of working my way up to the upcoming High Holiday this 31st. While my hearth culture is definitely Norse, my surroundings are the desert, not the most ideal place to welcome in Winter Nights. It gets cold around here at night during the winter, but as I was born much farther north than this, it doesn’t get that cold.

Besides, I am close to my family, and wanting to be closer to my ancestors is one of the many reasons I’ve sought this way of worship. I don’t know if it’s selfish of me, but I mean to honor my grandmother primarily, and then work my way along from there. These rituals aren’t her rituals, and these gods weren’t her gods, but if ever there was someone to watch over me, it was her, and I want the chance to talk about things and to honor her and those who came before me.

So today I went through a little more detail, today I gave an extra offering, and today I asked for nothing in particular in return as I drew the runes. Once I’m more comfortable in my rituals I will actually detail out what I do during them. It still feels like crawling at this point, but I’ll get there.

Again, the message was positive. Either I’m projecting my natural optimism on these rune readings OR they’re legitimately continually good signs. My statistical brain is still struggling against this, and expects that probability will come back to haunt me at some point. But in that statement is the assumption that the runes are drawn in a scientifically random way, vs occurring via the will of the ancestors, gods and whoever else is paying me heed during these devotionals.

As I’ve mentioned before this journey is, in part, to help me reconcile two sides of the same thing inside my own brain. For to me there is no science without magic and no magic without science, and I can’t see how you could revere one and not the other. The idea is to do so in equal measure, for ultimately balance is the importance of it.

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Well, what a start for this! Thor, then Odin – Thurisaz and Ansuz.

Thurisaz has some heavy meanings to it, believed to cover both Thor and the Thurs that he fought against. (Believe me I’ll never look at Thursday the same way again.) It’s a powerful run in magic, but in this instance – as for a reading – it’s meaning is more dependent upon what follows. As it can be greater luck and greater good, or advise caution for tiding that aren’t as positive. Since it’s followed immediately by Odin’s Rune – Ansuz – which is very strong in a spiritual sense, and even in a more practical reading refers to old knowledge.

Like the kind one would receive from one’s Ancestors.

Normally in a reading – I say normally, like I’ve done this a thousand times, ha! – it feels like the three runes together are giving me an insight over all. Like reading a sentence or a paragraph; there’s a connection between the three that tell a definite story.

In this morning’s reading it feels less like reading a sentence, and more like watching the first two runes infuse and strength the final. Like a line of people with buckets of water, moving a higher volume of water with their bucket line than would be possible by merely running back and forth.

And both lead to Wunjo – the rune of joy and bliss.  Taking Up the Runes by Paxson, has a lot to say about Wunjo. Joy in friendship, in strong family bonds, in spirituality, in gifts and life. It cautions fleetingly against complacency in these gifts (Don’t get too fat on the hog, one day you may need to run to save yourself!), but to not worry overmuch and enjoy them, give thanks, etc.

With what leads up to Wunjo I feel like I get bombarded with a lot of meanings for this final rune. I have a strong sense of approval toward how I intend to celebrate the upcoming Ancestor’s Night, and that I mean to begin – officially – my Dedicant’s Path on that day is seen positively as well. I can almost feel my Grandmother’s embrace coming to me through Wunjo, and it feels like a blessing.

The after thought, the feeling that lingers quietly after the initial impressions however, is one that I should focus on the runes and reading them, and utilizing them more often. It’s this wispy kind of tug, like soft spider threads in the back of my mind, and I’m just beginning to know enough to recognize them. That while the news, gifts, and omens they impart may not always be positive, that I will find personal bliss in being a scholar in their meanings.

But, I worry about arrogance too – that maybe my own desires are bouncing back at me in those small little wisps and that they are small because they’re not really part of the gift. For better or worse, time will tell! All I can do is walk the path I feel is the best, and pay the consequences if I’m wrong.

Blessings,
~Quin.

Second Devotional

I felt a little bit more like I had some idea of what I was doing. The awkwardness wasn’t nearly as heavy this morning as I was setting everything up. (I did have to go back and forth a couple times, I need a better system for getting going. i.e. I don’t have a set altar area yet, because of space constraints and the two deviously wonderful kittens I live with)

I still don’t have an outline printed out to go along with, but that’s okay. I incorporated some of the things I’d picked up spending hours reading the ADF.org website. I did my best to follow the general steps and even remembered to give thanks and not rush my offerings.

Fire, Tree, and Well were set, an offering to the Outdwellers was provided outside the ritual space (I’m kind of lucky at the moment the patio I utilize has a deep dividing line between one portion and the other). I asked for Heimdall’s help in opening the gate – this time I remembered some of his titles, and thanked for the help offering some incense for his time.

I spoke – babbled – again for a while, trying to find myself well enough to provide the right honor and devotion in return. I shared water with the Ancestors and the ritual began to feel more right.

I meditated – rudimentary I’m sure – for a few moments. I saw myself as a featureless grey human shape, sitting on a slightly different grey plane. Stars began to fill in the upper part of what I could see in a blue-purple streak. Something about it felt like a rush of … wind, water, I’m not sure, but it was enough to cause my eyes to open and my body to flinch.

I was a little sad because it felt like I was close to touching on something, but I couldn’t find the moment again even though I tried. I gave thanks for the vision(?) and then began to focus on what I wanted or was hoping for from the runes.

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Othala was the first run I pulled when I got to that part of the devotional. I didn’t remember its name when I pulled it, but I recognized it from my First Devotional and took it as a good sign. Family. I had been asking about family before I pulled from the bag, and in a spiritual sense, no less. I lost my grandmother a couple years back and I was – am – hoping she’ll be available to me for guidance. ADF isn’t something she even knew of, but she was a devoted and pious woman in life – open and non-judgmental, caring, giving, and quiet in her reverence. If ever there is a soul I hope to honor and resonant with, it is hers. So  softly strong and defiantly voracious.

Next was Ehwaz, which I’d not pulled before, so I was fully clueless at the time. Change or movement – travel or development either spiritually or physically or an increase in capacity in the spiritual or physical realms as a result of cooperation with another.
Instinctively I know that change is hard. Even when it’s good it never seems to be easy or simple, but it’s a transition that we face constantly. I want this change, I’m ready to face this challenge – I need a challenge. Too often do I find a rut and slip into it peacefully. I’m aware of this flaw and I know I’ll need help in moving forward. This is a thing I want to grow in, and this rune feels like acknowledgement that I will have help. Maybe not from my grandmother, or maybe not just from her, but I’ll take whatever help I can get.

Finally, Ansuz, and… I don’t know. I’ve read the passages in the book several times. It’s muddy and clouded and it’s not making sense to me right now. Something about planes and creativity and I can appreciate both of those, but the connection feels like smoke and I don’t know what to do with it right now.