Tuesday, 18 October 2016


At hyggjandi sinni skyli-t maðr hræsinn vera, 
heldr gætinn at geði; þá er horskr ok þögull kemr heimisgarða til, 
sjaldan verðr víti vörum,
 því at óbrigðra vin fær maðr aldregi en mannvit mikit. 

 A man shall not boast | of his keenness of mind, 
But keep it close in his breast; 
To the silent and wise | does ill come seldom 
When he goes as guest to a house; 
(For a faster friend | one never finds Than wisdom tried and true.) 
 Havamal (6) 

 Boasting only causes trouble and lowers your reputation. A Wise man/woman who shows their strength through actions and deeds and does not need to boast. Boasting distracts you from the time at hand and it lowers your guard. It is not wise to share everything with others because most people will betray you if they face pressure, so it's always best to be prudent. 

Decisions made with emotions are never wise.

Wisdom comes from a calm place, a reflecting place, and a strong place. How often have you faced a choice and got angry because someone disagreed with you? I find that anger often comes because I made the choice from my emotions and not my inner wise self. When you make choices from that inner wise place, you do not care what other's think. You do not take it personally. There is no bluster and no explaining. 

 If you find that too many emotions rise to the surface when making a decision, just pause...breathe...meditate...THINK. 

Always be a skeptic, always find out the answer for yourself. Never fully trust another person's opinion (even if you love them...ESPECIALLY if you love them) If you don't believe me, try talking about your decision with another person and keep you BPM under 80. For an even greater test, have another person disagree with you and debate your decision keeping your BPM under 80. 

Our bodies and minds are our greatest tools. If you want to test yourself, learn to listen to the responses of the body as you go through the day. Learn to understand when your emotional ego self is making decisions or your wiser and more reflective self is choosing.

 Always ask yourself...What is the path of wisdom?

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Spear Gift

Ósnjallr maðr hyggsk munu ey lifa,
ef hann við víg varask;
en elli gefr hánum engi frið,
þótt hánum geirar gefi.

Hávamal 16

The unwise man lives with fear in his heart
If he hesitates to run towards battle
But old age gives him no peace
Thinks he on Spear-Gift.

 I turned to translate this verse from the Hávamal in a recent struggle. I was reading in blogs about epigenetics and Ancestral wounds that can manifest in our bodies at certain times in our lives. I always thought it was interesting that the age my grandmother was when she moved across country away from her dust-bowl torn town in Kansas was the same age I struck off from my family with not a cent to my name. The same age my father had an ankle surgery, I fell and hurt my ankle (same foot). The list goes on, even the patterns of being drawn to abusive relationships, bad monetary decisions, religious conversions, and mental break-downs. Reading about these patterns that run in families made me seek for answers to heal such ancient wounds.

Ancestral Wounds often surface when we least expect it. Body wounds, phantom pains from the past. Heart wounds, heartbreaks on ancestral anniversaries. 

What I have learned as a Witch and Shaman is that these wounds are not to be feared, but to be explored. Pain can be a great teacher. Heart sickness can challenge and strengthen us...it can also give us the chance to heal the past in us so that future generations do not have such burdens. There is Honor in pain and Glory in challenge.

Sometimes when I meditate, I see the madness that runs in my family. I feel the anguish and anger of poverty. I feel the cycles of abuse and addiction. This gives me the chance to stand as a courageous warrior and face the darkness with ecstatic joy. It becomes my time to dance in the darkness.

When I translated this verse from the Hávamal, I was struck by the last line. Normally it's translated "Though spears may spare his life", but þótt is not "though", in fact it means Thought or mindset. It is where we get the English word for Thoughts. It is what our mind turns to, what makes us our disposition and sometimes obsessions. The verse literally translates as: Thinks he Spear Gift. Geirar coming from the word Geirr meaning "spear" and Gefi meaning "gift". (A name for Oðinn being Geir-ríðr....Spear Rider.)

This turned me to Oðinn and the spear that he carries...The Spear Gungnir..a spear that never missed it's target..a spear that pierced him as he hung from Yggðrasil for nine nights...a spear that started and ended wars. A spear that represented the pain of war, but also it's victory.

(Gungnir Bindrune)

What a fitting metaphor for dealing with our own inner selves, dealing with the Spear-Gifts of Ancestral pain, the Spear-Gifts of our own weaknesses, the Spear-Gifts of our own fears and limitations. 

Oðinn, the Geir-ríðr calls to us to not fear such battles. He calls to us to delight in facing our darkness and weaknesses: to face the wounds of the past and the failings of the present.

He is not a passive God that will make everything all better, but a battle-ecstatic God that runs towards conflict and delights in overcoming adversity. If anything, Oðinn Geir-ríðr is the antidote to apathy and complacency. 

We are heading into the time of what many in the Northern tribes called the Wild Hunt. The time when we face our Ancestors, our own darkness, the impending winter, and the glorious triumph of our own willpower and courage.

It is a perfect time to call upon the spirit of Oðinn, Geir-ríðr to inspire us to looks towards that which we fear instead of running from it.

(The wild hunt: Asgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Healer, Heal Thyself

The morning is quiet. I wake up with fever and the cats are crying to be let out into the garden. I wrap a warm shawl around me as I softly walk outside to sing to the sun...but today I cannot sing loud, so I whisper softly as I welcome the warm rays of Sunna's light on my face. Afterwards, I search the garden for healing herbs, munching on fresh mint and lemon balm to soothe my throat. After I gather enough plants, I go inside and put on the kettle. As the water boils, I am softly singing to Brigid as I chop herbs and crush spices in the mortar:

Vreeshey, Vreeshey, tar gys my thie,
Tar gys y thie aym noght.
Vreeshey, Vreeshey, tar, o tar,
Gys y thie aym noght.
O foshil jee y dorrys da Vreeshey,
Lhig da Vreeshey çheet stiagh.
Vreeshey, Vreeshey, tar oo
Gys y thie aym noght

The kettle sings with me and I fill the teapot, as fragrant steam fills the kitchen. This is a small ritual, a simple ritual....one that countless healers have done over the ages, but today, it seems more potent, more bright. I am seeing threads of tradition and magic in my actions...the sacred connections between human, gods, and plants....

Green Cardamom, Smoked Chilis, Black Pepper, Ginger, Garlic, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Basil, Coriander, Fennel, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cumin, Bay, Pine Sap, Cedar Oil, Mint, Tulsi, Marshmallow, Nettles, Rosehips, Sarsparilla, Blackberry, Lemon, and Lime...

These are just a cursory look at the plants I have consumed and communed with this week while I nursed myself with the flu. For so long, I took these things for granted, in my spice mixes, in my teas, and in salads....but these are ancient powers that have history and sentience. They are spirits that the ancients knew how to communicate with.

In my journey into studying Forn þrefa (the Ancient Healing Arts), I have learned to slow down, to notice things under the surface... to see magic in the mundane and look to the origins of things. Sometimes, this can be a humbling experience and one hard to share with others. I think our culture is prone to seeking sensational and dramatic power...but what if we could tap into what we call the simple things in life? What if we could make great magic with a plant, a teapot, and a song? It is in these simple things that I find great power, as of late.
The Ancient healers had many healing Gods to call upon: Brigid, Eir, Gerð, and Menglöð, to name a few. They had songs that often contained sacred healing herbs and practices within them. They used every tool they had to help their families and community. They were scholars and botanists, mystics and singers...understanding that a well sung song that helped to heal a wounded heart was just as important as a poultice to heal a sore limb. 

And the biggest lessons of all was for the healer themselves....learning to heal oneself, learning to have a healthy body and mind, to understand one's limits and nourishing practices. For to know how to heal other's, we must learn to heal ourselves. It is an ancient and very wise saying.

This week, as I mended and healed from a bout of the flu, I took this as a lesson to heal myself, to look into the healing traditions that work, and to see first hand how to make healing practices practical. I realized that there are things that soothe and help a flu: like getting into the sunlight, drinking teas, and munching on lemon and mint before eating breakfast, then spicy soups at night and lots of sleep. All the while, listening to my heart urges and feeding my mind with kind and loving thoughts. This is all very simple but profound magic.

Saturday, 1 October 2016


This week has been about me getting a more rigorous schedule for doing art. I was having a hard time getting my projects finished this summer, so I decided to setup a rigorous schedule and stick to it. One if the things I wanted, was to make sure I drew or painted every day, to keep my skills up... I even got a head cold this week, but I still stuck to the schedule even though I've been quite miserable. 

Last night I had a dream of the Tomte who lives in the back yard. I was trying to clean up the yard and he kept throwing pine cones at me. I finally got fed up and asked him why and he picked up a cone, hugged it, and smiled at me. I looked up pine later, out of curiosity...and wouldn't you know it, boiling pine sap in water and inhaling it is an old remedy for head colds!!!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Forn Seidr, Fermentation, and Witchways

I was pulling out my motherdough this morning to prepare for baking this evening. The nights are getting cooler and they hearken to warm pots of soup and fresh bread. As I pulled the lid off this mass of living material I have been nurturing for a year, I was struck by the magic of it and it made me think about some mysteries I have discovered about Seidr.

While I am just a student now, so I cannot profess to know a great deal about this feral and beautiful practice, I'm starting to see some interesting patterns in lore and in Seidr practice. Let me start with lore:

The following is an excerpt on some notes I took about the Auðhumla and Ymir:

Then said Gangleri: "Where dwelt Ymir, or wherein did he find sustenance?" Hárr answered: "Straightway after the rime dripped, there sprang from it the cow called Audumla; four streams of milk ran from her udders, and she nourished Ymir." Then asked Gangleri: "Wherewithal was the cow nourished?" And Hárr made answer:

"She licked the ice-blocks, which were salty; and the first day that she licked the blocks, there came forth from the blocks in the evening a man's hair; the second day, a man's head; the third day the whole man was there. He is named Búri: he was fair of feature, great and mighty. He begat a son called Borr, who wedded the woman named Bestla, daughter of Bölthorn the giant; and they had three sons: one was Odin, the second Vili, the third Vé. And this is my belief, that he, Odin, with his brothers, must be ruler of heaven and earth; we hold that he must be so called; so is that man called whom we know to be mightiest and most worthy of honor, and ye do well to let him be so called." - (Gylfaginning.CH.6) 

What I noticed when researching Auðhumla was that she emerged from the poisonous rime of Nifelheim...she also sustained herself on it. Auðhumla fed upon the world of the dead to feed the living. I looked up the origins of her name and Auð means abundant and humla - which is an old word for Wild Hops. The "abundant wild-hops" which led me to the brewing of ale and how ale and mead run throughout all the Norse myths as these life-giving and wisdom-giving symbols. I just couldn't shake this connection between feeding from the world of the dead to nourish the living. It made me think of how the decay of trees becomes the food for it's saplings. Then there is the case of how for three days (interesting number here) she licked Buri free from the world of the Dead. While Ymir formed, Buri was already formed in the ice of Nifelheim: The ancestor of Odin, Vili, and Ve. Also, I noticed that Ymir was formed of what is called "yeast drops" (kvikudropum) and Auðhumla is also a name for abundant wild hops (there is a lot about brewing in this metaphor!!) In fact, we see the juice from the hops (Auðhumla's milk) merging with the formation of yeast (Ymir) and both together create the known universe...Ymir's body becoming our world. I'm wondering if there is a hidden meaning here, about the power of brewing ale and the transformation from death into life. I had always saw Auðhumla as a being of nourishment, but now I think she might also have to do with the transformation of death into life...the reincarnation of souls and the ability for life to spring from death.

Furthering the brewing metaphor, when I was working on my translation of the Völuspá  I noticed that a common translation for Gullveig, the seeress as "Gold Draught" or Golden Drink, referring to mead or ale. 

Knowing that the Heathen people loved their metaphors, I don't think it was coincidence that all of these brewing and fermenting metaphors got associated with the creation of the cosmos as well as with the most powerful Seidrkona in our myths. 

We also have the word Seidr which can be translated as "seething" or "bubbling...and if you have ever fermented anything, there is a magic in the seething mass of fermented dough or mash. 

Since the brewing of ale and mead and the making of bread would have been performed by women , here we see another point to the culture around Seidr...that it was mostly performed by women.

So I'm brewing my morning tea and tending my dough and thinking about all these connections to fermentation and Seidr...to the way in which a kona would connect with the great Well of Memory (Urðrbrunner) of the Ancestors...and that is is somehow connected to this seething mass of dough in my hands, to the millions of little organisms eating the wheat, and giving my body nourishment.

Then I thought about my path and how I became obsessed after witnessing Seidr last year, which led me to finding teachers and new studies. Could Seidr be like fermentation itself, a type of organism where once we are exposed to it and if given the right food and nurturing, it could grow and "seethe" inside us? What if Seidr is like a spiritual living organism, that allows us to connect with the Dead and the Gods? What if, instead of elaborate rituals and special songs, all it takes is exposure and time to develop in us??

This whole year has been about me reclaiming Forn þreifa in my life, a returning to my roots of witchcraft that I learned in the Catskill mountains: herblore, land wight connection, honoring the dead, gardening, wildcrafting, baking, fermenting, spinning, and knitting....all of these are seen as simple domestic activities...but I wonder if they are something more old and more powerful than we give them credit.

As Pagans, I know we all seek to revive the ancient practices and keep them alive in our modern world. So often I see fellow pagans spending enormous amount of resources chasing after workshops, spiritual books, and pagan kitsch. What if all we need is in our local library and in our fields and rivers? What if we just need to make our own bread, brew our own ale and mead, and ferment our vegetables to learn the secrets of Seidr and Forn þreifa?

Last year, I was in Seidr, and one of the disturbing things that happened to me was I had all these voices in my head for about 12 hours afterwards. It was very disconcerting...so I figured I would just write what they said down and then figure out what it means later. I misplaced the journal after I got back home and didn't find it until last week. One of the interesting things I wrote was:


I didn't understand that until now...and I see that many of our ancient practices did not really get lost....they bent and formed into a way that could fit inside new religions, new eras, and new technologies....but they are all still there.

In fact, it is in the simple and the mundane things of this world, I am finding that have the most power.

What a beautiful lesson this is...this accessibility to ancient ways just by observing our world. It's all there, just look in your history books and woods!

Oh yes, and also, learn how to make your food straight from the Earth....you just might be surprised how much it teaches you.

Have a Blessed Autumnal Equinox!

Further reading:

"The Maiden with The Mead" by Maria Kvilhaug (University of Oslo Press)

"Forn þreifa: Ancient Healing Touch" by Valarie Wright

"Seidr As Wyrd Conciousness" by  Yngona Desmond

Monday, 19 September 2016

Betrayal of the Wild Self

I've been meditating on self-betrayal, lately. I've noticed that it makes challenges so much worse. So often we go against our own instincts to be liked by others, to get the job we want, to not be seen in a bad light. We give people what we think is "our best angle". We color the truth to be more palpable. We worry about what others think of us and we try to say and act to manipulate those around us. We sometimes even act more aggressive than we really are to show some illusion of force and violence...proving to others we are tough and not to be messed with.
I wonder at these small betrayals, how in the long run they can erode one's sense of self and confidence. Granted, there are times in our lives that we need to wear a mask to protect ourselves and those we love...but do we need to wear one all the time? Do we need to push ourselves to accept people in our lives just because "we should"? Do we need to consistently give up our own sense of who we are just to make others comfortable?
I have noticed that in times of chaos and hardship, the people who weather the storms are often the ones who do NOT betray themselves. They are those who are comfortable with who they are and who do not place so much importance on being accepted by others. They are those who stand up for those they care about, who are willing to and brave to be both vulnerable and fierce. They are often seen as wild and unpredictable and many people often talk ill of them. They often go about this world alone, but they have a center that is solid and when you are around them, you feel like you are free to be yourself. This freedom, this wildness is threatening to a lot of people...but it creates a powerful individual who knows their own worth.

Are you wild or are you tame?

Heckle Broom

A witch born with an in-turned eye;
Heckle broom, singing sigh
Dark moon rites under Ursula's sky
Orion Belt in her out-turned eye.

In a hare's warren a spell is placed
Bundle of Mallow, Mugwort, Milk Thistle
A waxen heart: sang over with a mother song
And in a nest it shall grow and grow.