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

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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.

From Many, One.

A book was delivered to me today, titled Drawing Down the Moon – recommended by two very good friends. The basic idea of this book is a over-arcing view point of modern paganism.

But Quin, Pagans are ancient!

Well, yes, so’s Christianity in the strictest sense, but it’s certainly changed and become modern – albeit a little slower than I think it needs to catch up to the times – over the course of its history.

Paganism is the same way. What was valid thousands of years ago, just isn’t today. If a belief can’t keep up with the changes of society and technology it will fall by the wayside and be fully forgotten. Because details aside, all religions offer pretty much the same basic things.

They provide a meaning to living, hope of a peaceful end, and security of help beyond that of mortal people. They teach morality and other lessons of life through various stories, concepts, etc. How they go about it can vary wildly from one to the other, but those basics are found within every religion.

Some people don’t need these assurances to live a full life. Some don’t want them. Some can’t find peace without them to the point of fanaticism. Maybe they throw their life fully to devotion – a nun, monk, devotee, etc. Maybe they throw their life fully to some mis-interpreted version of their religion – often to the detriment of those around them.

I’ve studied quite a few “popular” religions, and Drawing Down the Moon gives me a chance to learn the paths of those less popular. Nothing before now has connected with me fully – some have come close, and some have offered a way of looking at things I had not considered before. Mostly I learned that it’s a bit silly to deem a religion/philosophy more or less correct than another. At their core, they are all alarmingly similar.

The failing, I think, in any faith, is in the believer, not the religion. It’s a disconnect between the words and the person hearing them. Such misunderstandings are also exacerbated by those who are not truly devout  – but who seek to twist a religion and its followers to some end. Usually in a way that lifts them to more power/money/fame, and in the process belittles some other group of people.

Faith is, to me, a personal experience. It’s not meant to decide fates of the masses, it’s not meant to reside over entire countries. It’s for the home, the hearth, the heart – the person, not the culture, and not the governing body (be they kings, queens, or elected officials).

Maybe this book will help me find that one path. Or at least help me better define the path which I mean to walk.

Importance

I think the thing that usually kicks me in the ass when it comes to maintaining a blog is that I always feel like every post I make has to be important.

I run into this with my artwork too. I constantly feel like the only work I should post is the stuff that’s the best I could do at the time that I did it – and as such my posts of art are far and few between.

It’s really hard to continue to tell myself that I am doing this for me, and whoever else stumbles along for the ride then by all means you’re welcome here. But I’m not doing this to draw views, or clicks or traffic. This is a journey, one I did decide to have on what is essentially a public forum, but not one I overtly mean to share with the world.

Speaking of art, however, I mean to only post pieces here that are part of my journey, or part of someone else’s journey that’s helped me on mine. (I get inspired at random times). So don’t be surprised if the art I do post here is even more sparse than what I post anywhere else ( and seriously, I linked my stuff to this blog, you can like, go forth and visit those other places if you want XD )

Thoughts: The Egg

I think the most comforting thing about Andy Weir’s short story The Egg, is that it really puts into perspective the absurdity of gender, age, race, religion, income, etc. To be every life is to finish your journey understanding how the victim feels, how the perfect criminal feels, how the officer feels – the burden of the judge, the fractured mind of the grieving parents, the perfect calm of the enlightened mind.

By the time your journey was done you’d know the reasoning behind every decision, every choice. You’d understand regret, and pride, and shame, and love – You’d know them from  the eyes of a child, teenager, woman, man, disabled, sick, mental, successful, downtrodden life to ever live. You’d know the world from nobility – from assigned love, to finding and connecting with someone within seconds. You’d know the world from poverty.

You’d experience starvation, opulence, death while in the womb, and life after the turn of two centuries. You’d know the pleasure of advanced technology and knowledge, and the pleasures of living slower in solitude barely aware of the existence of others.

You’d be connected, and spurned. Filled with rage, and spilling over with love.

But as essentially the same person – the same soul – then you’d never be apart from the ones you love and care for. You would hug and comfort every part of yourself and support you as you grew.

 

But I think, best of all, you’d live – once born – without fear. You would have faced every fear, every concern, every possibility. Nothing would be extreme as you would’ve been the extremist on both sides of all the debates. There’s a comfort in that, that is to me almost more comfortable than the idea that we’re connected molecularly – that the only person you’ve harmed is yourself.

Which, in that thought, wouldn’t you stop?