Ullr’s Tag

We don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in this household. Being pagan, we do have other days to do that and we’ve done it. For me, Thanksgiving is forever soured because of the school day gloss of the the “happy Indians and Pilgrims” stories that were such lies for the most part.

This year in particular, as police use water canon to douse protestors at Standing Rock with icy water in sub-freezing temperatures while the White House sits silent in spite of many petitions begging Obama to act, I cannot bear the idea of feathers and pilgrim hats.

img_3581We celebrate “Wayland’s Day” on Thursday — or whenever in this week everyone is home at once. This year, it is Thursday. We bless the ironware of the house in memory of the legendary smith. But today? Today is, in the Nordic Tradition, called Ydalir — and celebrates the winter god, Ullr — master of skiing and archery. Some tales say that Ullr rules the world through winter, while Odin presumably spends the winter toasting and drinking in his Hall!

It is the day we begin decorating for the Winter Solstice — my favorite holiday of our year and the first since the formal end of the year at Samhain. So I began the decorating that will be completed by the weekend. I’ve been a bit under the weather of late, so my entire day was dedicated to planting daffodil bulbs and getting “Ullr’s Tree” up.

Let the snows begin!

Reclaimed! The Hexen Haus Awaits!

In 2001 my husband built an adorable house for my beekeeping, honey extraction, and candle-making.  We called it the Honey House.  (And in 2003, I built the Walk of the Fallen Labyrinth for those falling in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)  But about eight years ago, my last hives died off from Colony Collapse.  And in 2011 my marriages nearly collapsed in a PTSD crisis.

First, I robbed the Honey House of its double propane ring so I could cook in my exile haven.  I had no will or energy for days in the cold Honey House; even in late 2014 when we put the gas ring back and I moved back to my house and celebrated my youngest son’s return home from the Army.

The roof lifted and leaked, black mold grew in the Honey House ceiling.  And worse, hobo spiders moved in!  In dismay I finally begged my sons’ aid.  Two weeks ago, we bombed the spiders and tore off the rotting roof.  We put in new roof boards and tar paper.  Today in October drizzle, my young “Raptor” and I put new roofing atop the rain repellent black cover.

Inside, I cleaned and started music!  And a new corner cabinet of venerable age was carried from the house – the container of my magic practice!  Herbs, salts, oils, ribbons, pins – potions, lotions!

A battered old metal flash hood, recrafted with pretty mythic calendar images during my long exile was brought out to illuminate the battered old table snatched from yard sale oblivion, I sit by its light warming my wet, chilled self with coffee!

Curtains are in the wash, dishes will be cleaned of bug bomb-ishness and returned to their place here.  Books are back on shelves.  The counting strands on the center stone of the Walk of the Fallen will be dried and brought in for the winter!

Oh, and yes – the “honey” is gone.  This is now, officially, the “Hexen Haus” – the Witch’s House!  Just in time for Samhain to end my year and the beginning of a season of renewal for me and the Minotaur!

Altar or Shrine?

I am feeling peevish today; likely the effect of wearing pink for several hours yesterday. All the crystal lovers hate me — pink quartz makes me murderous, not peaceful.  As a humanistic pagan, that is scarcely my only peeve regarding modern paganism.  Some of those peeves are really not spiritual/religion related at all.

Watch-lightFor instance, people too stupid to know that to use “alter” as in “I put my goddess statuette on my alter with candles on either side!” instead of properly as in “I must alter the color of this dress before the pinkness drives me insane!” invites slaps and kicks.  Learn to spell or stay away for me, ok?  Dictionaries are available quite cheaply used, and it needn’t be the Oxford to tell you that the word the above mentioned twits are hunting for is ALTAR.  Some folks would call the image above an altar, for example.

I’ve been told I create extraordinary altars.

summoning of forcesThus, the wee dilemma of this post.  I don’t really create what I consider altars, although I have, for convenience, used that word to describe what I do create.  You see, to me, an altar is a workplace – a place where something happens, where work is done.  For me, the dark lady staring into the lamp of her world is not an altar, even with the candle lit.  An altar is where one works, creating not a static tableau – but magic – or at least the effort thereto. The picture to the right is of my only altar, a usually bare space on my fireplace hearth.  It is not bare in that photo because it is set up for a single working.

The many spaces around my house that others often call altars are more what I would consider to be shrines.  Static, sometimes seasonable, arrangements meant to evoke a particular mood, memory, action/reaction.  For me, even though some may contain images of divinities, they are primarily psychological “activators” – not devotional sites.

I attempted theism for a number of decades – beginning with the dominant paradigm of monotheism.  I found it highly unsatisfying and the patriarchal sexism annoyed and infuriated me.  Let me be clear, all jokes aside.  I do not consider myself an atheist pagan.  More of an agnostic polydeist, I’d say.  I don’t KNOW, of course, whether any/all gods/goddesses exist – though I do insist it is either they ALL exist or NONE exist.  I do think they are not vastly obsessively consumed with human events, especially not with things like who is bedding whom and what bathroom any of us choose to use.  I believe human life requires human choice, not divine intervention.  So why are there divinities on any of my shrines?  Well, because of what they represented in their time and to me.

dazzle shrine My first “goddess” was the Blessed Virgin Mary.  For the first time, I felt I had touched something real, something vital, something affecting and effective!  Thus, a lovely wood carving from a master in Oberammergau, Germany still adorns what I sometimes call my “Lady Shrine”.  Other times, I call it the “Dazzle Shrine” because the white marble of the tiny copy of Athena from the Greek Parthenon IS dazzling.   Mary is there because she is compassion incarnate to me.  Athena is there because she was the patroness of the Women’s Army Corps, also an emblem of wisdom and oddly, domesticity.  That tall bullet beside her reminds me she is the war counselor, too.  The Navaho-made (and repaired by me) Hopi kachina Crow Mother is there because she represents initiations – and I believe in constant learning/initiations in life.  The much adorned little Cretan figure represents the Great Mother to me — the idea that in spite of what the monotheists say about a “father” god — women are equally worthy of divine attributes.  It is all highly personal, even the little brazen serpent speaks to me of seeing clues and symbols that help me on my way.  (No, it does not speak of freaking out at every wee annoyance in life and screaming “I’ve been cursed!”)  The hearts remind me to keep mine open to experience, to life, to loving even in difficulties.  A broken clock (out of picture) is eternally three minutes after five o’clock — offering to remind me that the bar CAN be open to minimize pain or stress or to celebrate joys and comradeship.  The Galileo thermometer prompts me to “take the temperature” of my life and choices.  We humans are pattern makers, we see through symbols — I load my shrines with things that make me LOOK correctly to see what best keeps me going though my life.

woozle shrineThat doesn’t mean I can’t be playful.  I often say I may not have learned everything I needed to know about life from kindergarten.  But I did learn much I needed to know from 20+ years of owning/rescuing ferrets.  So part of one shrine is dedicated to the joyousness that is woozleness.  I miss my pet ferrets, that I have no more of now, with an intensity that never lessens.  All things of the weasel family charm and delight me — wild weasels, otters, fishers, martins, and wolverines!  If I were to say I had a personal animal totem?  I’d say it would be something weasel-like/woozle-ish.

content shrineMy more public “altar” as all call it, is likewise a shrine — bits and pieces of memories, crafts, beauty encapsulated.  It dawns on me that for years I considered my life a kind of no-kill “safari” to capture what I called “beauty that feeds me”.  But what I was really doing was stealing moments of consciousness to keep for the value they had to sustain me in difficult physical/emotional or mental times.  These are the items that adorn my shrines.  The black stone statuette of a round, smiling content woman speaks to me of self-love and satisfaction.  The pendulum made of a beloved broken bracelet and shimmering crystal tells me to mind my choices and know why I make them.  The shells speak of a dozen beaches where the ocean roar drowns the dissenting voices in my head…and so on.

Half of what people call magic, is precisely what Sir Terry Pratchett’s immortal character, Granny Weatherwax, called “headology”!  We humans have the power to both enchant and disenchant ourselves, you see?  We need both processes.  I, personally, often think of myself as more of a Disenchantress – I like to strip away the harm, the apathy, the fear that freezes us in place as surely as the storied Medusa’s glare*.  I don’t want to take the will of others away to accord with my will.  I want to take away what prevents them from acting in accord with their own will and best interests.

My shrines keep ME on my track.  At my altar I work to alter other tracks.  If magic is the changing of reality in accord with one’s will?  It is certainly vital to know that Will precisely, wouldn’t you agree?

*What did men see in her eyes that froze them to stone, eh?  But that is a whole ‘nother post, isn’t it?



ABCs – Agendas, Beliefs, and Consequences

coffee goldThere is an old saying about “the third time is the charm”. I certainly hope so, because I have now begun my  2016 “new year” three times: once at Samhain, once on January 1st, and most recently on Chinese New Year!  I’ve not been impressed with the 21st century, aka “age of Aquarius” thus far.  It brings up random dreads, glooms and dooms of various sorts that I’d be happier not dwelling upon over my morning coffee!

The level of apparent ignorance of our “politicians” about how our government is supposed to work, for instance?  (Politicians is in quotes because Trump is NOT one, he is the 21st century version of a Barnum and Bailly circus ringmaster.)  Makes me think none of them even TOOK civics class in high school.  The reaction from alleged citizens makes me think they never even heard of civics/American government class.  The Flint Michigan water debacle combined with this apparent latent idiocy reminds me of the theory that the Roman Empire finally failed because of lead poisoning rendering people too venal and dumb to properly react to what was happening to their world.

back tatts large_aSo, yes, I admit the century looks very dark to me just now.  I cannot really discuss politics any more.  I want Bernie Sanders in the White House. (Anyone telling me that makes me a “bad feminist” can expect a random hex tossed their way.  I don’t believe in lock-step ideologies of ANY sort, even if labeled feminist.  If Sarah Palin was running, nobody would be insisting I vote ‘as a woman, for a woman’, would they?)   I AM a woman (see photo above*) and I strongly advocate feminine power.  I want to SEE the “Nordic Model” at least attempted whole-heartedly before my nation rejects the idea and goes whole hog consumers-worshiping-the-rich.  I think our national anthem for the next five decades should be “Eat the Rich”, ok?  That is the limit of my political discussion these days. *Which is unduly large because WP won’t allow me the control to shrink it!

Now, about my little alphabet title.  Back when I took EMT training, it was “airway, bleeding, circulation” as the watchwords to keeping someone alive.  My socio-political-magical alphabet is a bit similar; my key to mental and social life and  guiding my actions towards keeping my nation and world alive!  Does agenda, beliefs, and consequences equate to the EMT alphabet of life?

Is an agenda similar to an airway?  It could be.  If you examine the seeming agenda of American economic systems – it does seem as important as breathing, doesn’t it?  But to my eyes, the agenda of fostering the very wealthy while ignoring the mass of society has a throttling, strangling effect.   When “corporations are people” and money is “free speech”?  That means speech is very much not free, it costs money the average American doesn’t have; if you are someone who likes those bumper stickers reading “Freedom isn’t free”?  Possibly we should admit that we now need one saying “Free $peech?

cyn & fireSo America’s current agenda is pretty counter-productive to the typical citizen, thus as a person who feels it just might be possible to affect change through magical action?  I need a countering agenda, don’t I?  Since Samhain last year?  I’ve given a great deal of thought to what that agenda might be.  I won’t lie,  I have largely focused on a tool I often regard as one chosen by those at last resort with no power in the social or political world they live in!  No, not terrorism, thank you very much.  Magic!   I have ever been inspired by the not-often-enough mentioned Magical Battle of Britain!

There is a reason women get accused of witchcraft, because historically women get deprived of power and must use what they can take for themselves.  No, this does not mean bowing to mystical escapism and prayer.  For me, it means experiencing and experimenting, as I often discussed at former blogs of mine.  It has been said that magic is only that which science has inadequately explained and I think that is likely true.  No, the picture of me at right doing sorcerer’s apprentice dramatics is ritual, not a magical working per se.  My agenda for the next year will be down in the dirt practical magic combined with mundane efforts like contacting elected officials, refusing to engage in certain social habits while espousing others.  I will work while magically focused and half-entranced, using actions like naming things for things I want destroyed (boko haram anyone?) and then I will destroy said objects.  Since for some reason “3” does seem to hold significance regarding effectiveness, I usually do this for three DAYS at a run.  So yes, I will work routinely this year for what you could call (or dismiss as) magical justice.

Woman-0n-the-crossAnd “B” for “bleeding” or “beliefs”?  Everyone has beliefs.  I do think there is a profound difference between a belief and a fact.  I don’t care if you believe in Jesus or Buddha.  But if that means you don’t believe in a woman’s right to control her body and destiny?  Or global climate change due to human action and pollution?  If your beliefs give you some specially mandated right to deny facts and rights of others?   Well, then you and I are going to have a serious disagreement.  I am also going to be both angry with you and somewhat pitying because you are a deluded moron.  The only thing consistently crucified this century, if you ask me?  Not Jesus, but WOMEN.  You know, the half of humanity that does (apparently terrifyingly) BLEED monthly and yet live? I don’t think anyone’s beliefs should require the life blood of others without their permission.  I know I keep my beliefs aligned with this idea; it is why I have not personally sacrificed anyone screaming about patriotism while screwing over soldiers and veterans and never serving in harm’s way themselves!  (Oh, come ON, take a joke, You!  You know who you are — those of you who say horrid things to women and then claim it was mere humor?)  So check those beliefs at the door if the believer isn’t willing to bleed for it, but thinks other non-believers should bleed out for their satisfaction.  Or their “god’s” satisfaction.

yowe kachinaI am a humanist, not a theist.  I believe in human action on this human filled sphere of existence!  I posit the idea that gods/goddesses may exist, but if so?  They are beings with their own existence to be concerned about; I don’t believe they take an interest in us any more than we notice ants on a log.  I could be wrong, I’ve had experiences that often make me think I am wrong.  But I simply cannot wrap my mind around the idea of deities that need humans to enact their alleged will.  If your god needs you to go kill or die for him?  He’s a pretty piss poor god, in my opinion!  So I won’t be holding with anyone killing OR dying for god.  There it is my belief on THAT!  That Navaho kachina at right?  That is “Yowe, the Priest Killer” and I have him in my house for a reason: to remember that Pascal was wrong — beliefs DO have real life and death consequences that can be damned undesirable!  He holds a priest’s head in his left hand and a knife in his right.  Gruesome, yes?  And terribly reminiscent of ISIL actions on the alleged behalf of their god.  Take warning, America….

That brings us to “C” for “circulation” or “consequences”, right?  If you drop a grand piano on some dude’s leg, the consequence is going to be a crushed extremity with no circulation likely unless it is lifted off in a hurry.  I see so many people who seem to not be capable of seeing consequences.  Five members of the Supreme Court, for instance, more concerned with circulation of money in business instead of circulation of pollution in air.  The consequences to big business go to the bank; the consequences of that air pollution could be with the inhabitants of the planet for the next ten thousand years!

As a country, we seem too willing to believe our light-minded and fast-mouthed media.  They talk about ideas in circulation, sure enough; but they neglect serious discussion of consequences.  And money seems to buy a way out of many deserved consequences, too.  If the only “consequence” worthy of action in America has to do with bucks in Daddy Warbuck’s pockets?  How does that serve YOU, the ordinary citizen?  I promised myself on this new blog that I would not swear, nor use crude metaphors about things like what really trickles down; but I sometimes fear that a consequence to the dearth of intellectual circulation means that nothing save utter crudeness will reach the majority of American minds. It always deeply troubled me that my most profanely furious posts were the most popular, while carefully enunciated and considered writings were ignored.  What is the consequence of never thinking more deeply than the latest media “viral” thing?

cold war vetThe consequence of believing Communism was the most evil thing ever was the decades of the Cold War.  I was a Cold Warrior.  Yes, the wind across the Berlin Wall did, in fact, feel colder and deadlier, as I recall it.  But what really made it that way was nothing to do with Communism; it was that we were willing to use nuclear annihilation instead of examining what our beliefs were doing to us and to others.

We are a small planet, growing ever smaller and more connected.  Nearly every epidemic has a very good chance of becoming a pandemic these days.  What China puts in the air darkens the sky above me eventually, here on the Western edge of America.  Oil is running out, and worse, water is the next scarcity.  Shall we go on blowing each other up over scarce things necessary for life  — food, clean water, clean air, places to live, medical care?  Shall we go on buying lies and promises of pie in the sky while the very, very wealthy practice the age old crime of gluttony?  Shall mankind be a biological experiment of the natural world that fails without need of asteroid strikes?

Or can we grow up?  Can we talk about our SPECIES instead of our nationalities, our ethnicities, our religions, our genders?  I can take my beliefs and make and act upon my agenda to change the consequences I see even without a crystal ball.  What about you?