Monday, 9 July 2018

In the land of the Gods

It's been (as usual) longer than I intended.

In June, my family and I - my wife, my mother, and my two dearest friends and I, flew to Iceland for a week. Four of the five of us are pagan, and three are heathen or heathen-ish. 



We spent the Summer Solstice in the land of the midnight sun, and saw a legitimate 24 hours of daylight on the Solstice day. 

Being in a land which doesn't see real darkness is a really bizarre head game on your sense of time. At 11:30PM, it is easy to be outside casually walking around, not realizing it is 11:30PM. 

We spent the first two nights in a house literally beside the sea, at the beginnings of the Westfjords. We saw more sheep than people, and saw some of the most wondrous, bizarre, barren but beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. We spent a night nearer to the south of Iceland, with a beautiful endless field for a backyard. We spent our last three nights in the capital, driving around to various places of interest, and parking the car and exploring the downtown areas on foot. From a purely tourist perspective, Iceland is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and the horses are wonderful creatures (coming from someone not overly used to horses.) The air is clean and fresh, our accommodations were all absolutely lovely. 

On the spiritual side...that is a whole other level. 

The spirit of this country is alive like I've never felt before.

For the Solstice, we went to Þhingvellir--it's a national park, the historic seat of the Alþing, and a very powerful place, having been there now. It was wildly windy and rainy for most of our time there, but we - inclusive of my mother - found a flat rock to use as an altar, and placed on it what things we'd thought to bring with us, and did several rounds of a blöt with a bottle of Brennevin. 

A waterfall at Þhingvellir

A very dear and very sacred-seeming encounter with Goose
I of course loved birding in Iceland, and was especially excited by the possibility of seeing Greylag geese "in real life". Goose is my totem, the greylag specifically - while we sometimes get the odd stowaway here in winter with the flocks of Canada geese, the odds of seeing them are rare. We saw them in Iceland almost right away, but never up close and never within photography range.

After our ritual, we continued down the path for a ways, and there they were. A few geese settling in for the night ("night" being relative - it was after 10pm but the only dark was cloud cover.) We watched for a bit and I crept a little closer for photos - and the geese were kind enough to let me in on their little secret - goslings! 

I'd see them again later at a pond in Reykjavik, and closer up, but that night at Þhingvellir there was magic at play. 

It's a pretty surreal feeling now to wear my Mjolnir pendant, knowing it's been in the sea of the Westfjords, and has laid upon a rock as an altar at Þhingvellir. I've been wearing it practically nonstop since I got it as an iniation gift from my wife so many years ago - the silver is starting to show the sort of deep worn tarnish that can't be polished away. And now it's been on this amazing trip with me.

In other news, I lost my grandmother last week to a long battle with Alzheimer's. It was thankfully very quick when the time came - she did not have to linger or suffer too long. As I've been puttering in the garden this past week, I've been thinking of her a lot. 

It's good to be back - maybe sometime soon I'll get back into posting more than every 6 months, perhaps? 






Sunday, 28 January 2018

Coming back around

I'm familiar with the expression "the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions". I've always taken it to mean, no matter how virtuous your intentions may be, ultimately it is your actions that matter most. Causing harm is still causing harm even if you don't mean to.

Sometimes I wonder if another twist on that expression is that great intentions themselves send us on spirals downward, if we overlook our limitations.

The last six months have felt a lot like, two steps forward, two steps back, though I know that's an unfair assessment.

My mental health took a blow at the end of last summer. My team at work has been consistently understaffed, and promises to bring on more people, alleviate some of the load, etc - have taken too long, and been too little on arrival. There was a brief respite in the fall, a few sweet weeks of having my feet under me, before it all spiralled out of control again.

I'm out of touch with myself. I thought I had a handle on things. I had a decent amount of time off over the holidays, and thought that I could keep it together, day by day, just getting over each hurdle as it came. Turns out I was further down the rabbit hole than I thought.

I've been off work since the new year, but going back at the beginning of February. I feel ready - I miss people, I miss a reason to get up in the morning and DO things. I've been pretty good at not completely succumbing to laziness, and moping around the house in my pyjamas, but it's hard to get up early in the dark when I don't NEED to. It's hard to get out of the house when it's freezing or too mild for January and raining, when I don't HAVE to go anywhere. Laziness is easy.  Especially in winter.

But I've been needle felting and colouring and keeping the house clean and seeing my therapist and my medication got upped, just a little - so I'm trying to focus on that, that I'm still growing gods damnit, I have not been stagnant simply letting my mind go empty. I've also been doing a lot of winter birding, which has been lovely on my head - out in the fresh air whenever it's a few degrees above "I can't feel my fucking face".

My favourite band (Florence + the Machine) has a book club which I mentioned briefly before -- it's nice to be reading again, and reading things that are outside my usual scope of interest.

At the same time, I'm plodding through Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (HR Ellis Davidson). It's actually a more enjoyable read than I was led to expect - not as scholarly or dry as I feared, it's just competing with a lot of other brainspace right now. It has given me an unexpected new attachment to Thor, who surprisingly has been a god I haven't worked much with, but plan to start.

My felted creations will be going up on my Etsy soon, and I have lots more planned once I can get my mitts on more wool.

I am not going to promise to be vastly more active, because I'm certainly not out of the woods yet, but my intention, hell-bound though it may leave me, is to be more active here, to pick up where I left off and really make something of this again.

Because no matter where I end up, one thing is certain: without intention I won't go anywhere.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

A brief update

Hey everybody!

I know it's been awhile - our Samhain was lovely, and I've been feeling a lot better since the summer. My mental health went through a rocky patch, but I spent a few sessions with an amazing psychologist and have myself back on track.

Mental illness is truly a chronic condition, that will always come with ups and downs - I am proud to say though that I am in a place where I reach out for help readily when I know I need it.

I've also been reading, a lot - I missed it so much it's not even funny. I finally finished reading American Gods, and read a totally out-of-the-norm for me book called The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, on suggestion of a book club I've followed for awhile on Instagram/FB.

I hope to pop back soon with a longer post, but I wanted to share some exciting news - I now have an Etsy Shop!

Back in the early fall I started making sets of little leather pocket runes, and I finally have them listed for sale!

There will be more goodies to come, so please keep an eye on it :)

My Shop

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Season of Spirit - Part I

Hello friends!

I meant to check in before this, but...well. I guess I can commit to being good at at least one thing at a time.

For anyone following me on Facebook, I committed, back on June 21st, that I'd do one spiritual activity once, every single day, from Midsummer to Lammas.

So here is my first checkin, of sorts!

I am LOVING this so far and am so glad I've been pushing myself to it.

I did miss one day, very shortly after I started. I had been working in the yard all afternoon, and come 10:30PM, went to do something and just was so damn exhausted I couldn't even dream of it. I know myself well - I would have fallen asleep the minute my ass hit the meditation cushion. But I did spend the day working my land and my garden, so I gave myself a pass that day.

A few things I'm taking from this experience:

- I can very so varied in the types of spiritual experiences I have. I have done meditations, I've done offerings of water and smoke to the gods, I've done brief meditations at work. One night I sorta forgot until it was almost bed time, so my spiritual practice for that night was to try and induce a specific sort of dream as I was falling asleep. (It didn't quite work, but I'd try it again!) I spent some time polishing my drinking horn, decorating its wooden stand and fancying up the leather adornments on it. There was a day at work that I also spent outside, staring at a patch of grass and weeds, trying to pick out how many different species I could find among the plant life. (A LOT)

- I've known my guide most of my teen/adult life, and yet there are things I've never known about her, things I never noticed. It was wonderful to take some time to reconnect.

- I've been smudging SO SO MUCH. One of the first things I've been doing at the start of my meditations is a quick Smudge of myself, my altar space, I let the smoke waft over my deity spaces, etc. It's nice to feel so energetically clean!

-   I met with an old friend in a space I used to know very well. It made me sad to know it's been left abandoned, like an afterthought. We cleansed and healed the space and it felt worlds beyond better.

Tonight I got a random phone call from someone looking for members of my family for a family reunion - he lives on the land my ancestors lived on when they came here from Germany in the 1700s. I'd love to go if somehow that can happen - and maybe it's a sign that tonight's practice should be an offering of sorts to my ancestors.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Glorious Staycation

Our Beltane ritual went a little...off. My wife took a tumble down our back stairs and sprained her ankle, so our ritual was set aside for something a lot more simplistic.

After Beltane, the weather was largely chilly, wet, constant rain, and I've been a bit blah.

But this past week was hot (HOT!), sunny, and a wonderful time to get out and work in the garden.

Over the long weekend in May, I got out and built the first of our raised vegetable beds.




Finally working the earth in our yard - not just cleaning, raking and fixing, but actually getting in there and adding, building, planting - is such a wonderful feeling. 


I'll be the first to admit my spiritual life has been pretty slack, aside from the spiritual feelings of working the land and being a steward to our space.

This was meant to be a longer update - but I've got some pretty cool projects on the go and the starts of some plans to get this blog off the ground again. 

Merry meet again! 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Spring Ahead

Long time no talk, friends!

I am just coming off a lovely sushi dinner at our favourite restaurant for my birthday, surrounded by wonderful friends (and plum wine. Mmm....)

The latter part of winter has knocked me around a little bit. Our work has been bizarrely busy in a way I haven't experienced in a good few years - and that sort of constant balls-to-the-wall nonstop repetitive sort of business gets draining on me very quickly, and our team has felt splintered and not very efficient.

So my plan to get deeper into practice and into reading again hasn't really worked. Thankfully, even when I am not seeking the spiritual, it finds me, these days.  So I haven't been bereft of my spiritual life, even when I'm not actively seeking it out as I want to.

Ostara was lovely fun, dying eggs like we did last year - and feasting on roast rabbit. Winter is still overly present, with snow and freezing rain all this past week, and miserable temperatures. I've had a cold, my wife has a cold, Garm and Nootl have been under the weather.

 My fingers are itching to get out and clean up the blown in trash in the yard, bag up last year's leaves, get planting. But that has to wait until there's at least no snow!

Ostara is a sort of "new year" for me - it's the anniversary of my spiritual group coming together for the first time, as the four of us - and comes at a time where, last year, I purged my life of a lot of negativity and toxic influence, and learned how to breathe again. The past 12 months were spent in a glorious sort of lazy recovery period - wasting free time because I had the time to waste, in the best way. Just relaxing, playing video games, making art, colouring, making incense, taking strolls in the woods. Doing a lot of inner reflection, rediscovering parts of me that were buried beneath sickness and exhaustion.

But now I feel it's time to move again. Stretch out my brain and put it back to work. So I've taken up learning some things I didn't know. I asked my father to teach me a bit of guitar, since I miss making music and it gives us a chance to connect. I've got an ocarina ordered from a woman in quebec - I have a cheap one, but is severely out of tune and therefore hard to learn on. I want to be able to sit in the trees and play softly as a devotional to the wights and spirits around me and I've loved Ocarinas for years.  I've been using DuoLingo to try to learn some German. Even just enough to have a foundation to take a class later. I'm loving it, though I've noticed when I don't know a word my brain wants to interject with French almost immediately - so I'm probably going to end up speaking "Grench" or something. I am going to push myself this year to get outside and be more active - get back into birding and shoot for a "big year" (2016 was the first year in several that my species count didn't increase over the previous year!) I got a new book and a couple of phone apps on mushrooms, fungi and edible plants, so I want to get out and learn more about the nature around me.

I'm trying to think of a way to set myself goals - and make sure I stand to them. That was one thing that was so good about being in IDGAF - held to a standard other than my own, I stick to things a lot more solidly.

For now, I am going to hope to rework my altar for spring energy shortly (even if outside feels like anything but..) and post with some pictures!

Speak soon!




Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Glad Yule!

Hello everyone. I hope your various holidays have been treating you well!

I've been busy but also less busy than normal for this time of year - it's pretty awesome, actually.

We've had an abnormal month weather wise - with several small snowstorms back to back, with a lot of freezing and thawing. The past week has been our more typical mild rainy December - but it was weird to see snow and ice on the ground, and have minus double digit windchills, before mid-January.

Garm and I did our runic initiation - I pondered for awhile on "sacrifice", and what I could possibly offer to the Alfather in exchange for the knowledge of the runes -  what I could give up to Him, that I had not already given. And then I had a small epiphany - as Odin sacrificed himself to himself, so should we - not a sacrifice to him, but to ourselves.

I gave it some thought-- and decided to shave my head.


It may seem silly, but as a woman, a shaved head is an unusual thing, usually relegated to butch lesbians (and I am a lesbian but definitely not butch) and cancer patients. Women with shaved heads purely for the fuck of it are rare.  I also have a very strong attachment to my giant floofy mane of curly hair. But this is something I've always wanted to try, just to shatter expectations of me and embrace my femininity in a different way. Nootls did the honours.

It's already growing back a little (I may shave it again because the low-maintenance nature of it is lovely for the winter.)

Back at the middle of the month, I started mixing together some ingredients to make a kyphi-style incense. I say kyphi style, because the general proportions and amounts of things were more or less following this recipe, but used a pretty varied list of resins and herbs, trying to make a sort of "Northern Forest" scent - evergreen resin, birch and pine bark, and juniper berries. I just combined the wet and dry ingredients tonight, and since benzoin powder wasn't available, I rolled the little balls in ground gum arabic to help it set. I had way too much "wet" ingredients left, so I mixed up some other stuff on the fly to combine with it, just for the hell of it - waste not want not! We'll see how it turns out!


Tracking my recipes in a messy, scribbly fashion.
My winter altar, updated just a little with some red berries (dried multiflora rose hips)


My incense, all balled up and ready to cure for a bit before use! Fingers crossed! 



Yule was lovely - we had a small ritual with our friends, had a candle processional through the house, put up our tree, and drank warm mulled cider. Christmas, which I celebrate in secular fashion with my friends and family, was lovely also. 


Together my little pack and I will feast on roast goose for Old Christmas (otherwise known as Little Christmas) since our schedules didn't align well over the holidays and Yule fell in the middle of the week.

I got out for a good long forest hike today - it's been long overdue, and was delighted to confirm that wintergreen carpets the ground in my local woodsy park. It's harvest-able far enough off the main path that I feel safe using it.

Such a pretty little plant!
 I've taken to trying to understand my hamr - here in the concept of the shape one's soul takes if it wanders away from the body. I've taken the shape of a Grey Goose for over a year now - but another animal has also arisen as prevalent. I've mentioned her vaguely before - a creature with a rather snarly reputation perhaps being debunked by modern science. I'm not quite ready to talk about her yet - we're still learning to understand one another and her role as a fragment of my soul.

But winter brings with it many journeys inward.

I hope some brightness shines for you--in my part of the world, the worst of winter lays before us, with the heaviest snows and most treacherous ice and the cruelest of the cold winds-- but knowing that now each day will be a little longer and brighter than the last gives me hope.

May it for you as well.