At the Right Hand of the King

“Lovers find secret places
inside this violent world
where they make transactions
with beauty.”
—Rumi

January.

I am leaning over the bathroom sink, fighting the ache in my arms as I go through the repetitive motions. Weave in, tuck under, weave out. I tie off the five-inch braid with a tiny elastic band and pin it to my head. The bobby pins pop out in mere seconds, the true thickness of my hair defiantly revealing itself. For those brief seconds, though, my chest fills with a strange mix of emotions: pride (I have not braided my hair since I was six years old), but also an unfamiliar contentment. Satisfaction. Correctness.

I undo the braid and comb out my hair until it’s straight again. The contentment fades. I leave the bathroom unsettled.

♔♔♔

He puts His hand over my heart, and I am undone.

♔♔♔

May.

I am leaning back in my stylist’s seat, concentrating on stillness as her shears roam my head. She’s cut my hair short (and shorter) for the past five years, and when I tell her I want to grow it long, she reassures me it will be long in a year. I don’t tell her why, though, and she doesn’t ask. She knows better than to ask.

While she works, she whispers me a spell: regular trimmings, daily supplements, plenty of sleep. She leaves me with my head mostly intact.

I wonder if I can wait a year.

♔♔♔

We walk together down a grassy hill, a wide river snaking in the distance, its surface glistening with sunlight. He carries a round shield on His back and a sword at His hip. The cool breeze ruffles my hair.

Then I remember the purpose of my visit. “Did You talk with Anubis?” I ask.

Tyr looks over His shoulder at me. Suddenly, we are sitting on the grass of the riverbank, a modest lunch spread between us. He is gnawing thoughtfully on a piece of jerk meat, and I hold a half-loaf of bread in my hands. His shield and sword lie within easy reach. I take in the change in scenery, then repeat my question. Tyr looks over at me again, this time with a guilty, apologetic kind of smile.

I understand. “He said no,” I observe quietly.

“He said no.”

♔♔♔

Three days after Midsummer.

I am sitting in a small café, a hot mug of chamomile tea cradled in my hands. Across from me sits an elder in my faith, a woman with granite hair that falls long down her back, swept away from her face and tied off at the base of her skull. We talk about ourselves — our pasts, our practices, our families, and our gods. When she brings Him up, I bite my tongue before the words come out. I could tell her. I could tell her about the jerk meat and the bread. The quiet laughter and the subdued joy. The sword in hand. The dark hay-color of His hair in the sunlight.

When we part ways, she leaves none the wiser.

♔♔♔

“I love You,” I whisper.

He looks at me, and through me, at whatever it is gods see and mortals can never comprehend. All parts of me lay bare before His eyes.

“I know.”

♔♔♔

Tuesday.

I pull a rune. Jera. Peace, happiness, and reward after a period of great patience and effort.

Smiling, I add more pictures of cute braids to my Pinterest board.

Heathenry Musings Pt. 2: Frith

I started reading Vilhelm Grønbech’s The Culture of the Teutons in an effort to further my study of Heathenry. It is one of the most highly commended books for understanding the Heathen worldview. It’s a long, dry, dense read, so it’s recommended to read a chapter, then discuss and contemplate it. Here, on this blog, I will organize my notes into thoughts.

Chapter 1 is about frith, which is, understandably, a difficult concept. It is not merely a state of the relationship between two people; it is a mindset that has been lost now thanks to the tide of Christianity. In the same way Americans value our own independence and individuality, to the point where such characteristics are ingrained onto our souls as our necessary rights, so too was frith so ubiquitous and ingrained into the arch-Heathen’s soul. Grønbech argues, actually, that frith formed the basis of the arch-Heathen soul, and all words and deeds sprang forth from it. The arch-Heathen did not choose to act in order to bring about frith; instead, frith willed the arch-Heathen into action.

But what is frith? I’ll start with the definition Grønbech gives: that is, reciprocal inviolability.

Continue reading “Heathenry Musings Pt. 2: Frith”

Anubis on Spá/Seiðr

tl;dr — It’s fine for me to do it, but I must take care not to overburden myself. It will require a lot of sacrifice (of time, energy, etc.) and I may be prone to giving up on it too quickly. I may experience unnecessary anxiety regarding this project as I start out, but ultimately, it’s a good idea.

Heathenry Musings Pt. 1

I’ve been reading, studying, lurking in online groups, and thinking a lot about Heathenry since my last post about it. The complexity of the concepts mentioned — frith, worth, wyrd, örlög — as well as others, has put me in an unfamiliar state of mind. I have this intense urge to discuss my studies and my thoughts on them, especially with other Heathens, but I don’t yet know what it is I’m trying to say. I don’t know why I want to discuss it. So instead, I am going to just write my thoughts here, disjointed as they may be.

I want to provide context for my thoughts first, though. So recently, I have read these books:

  • The Road to Hel by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson
  • A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Ásatrú by Patricia M. Lafayllve

…and I am currently reading The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion by Daniel McCoy. Of the three, I’ve found the first and third to be valuable, while the second one is mostly information I already know and otherwise useless to me, being more Wicca-influenced.

I have also been lurking on a Facebook group called HEATHENRY, which is honestly one of the most abrasive discussion groups I’ve ever observed. And yet the information presented through the discussions is exactly what’s put me in this state of intense contemplation. The most vocal members of the Facebook group — and the individuals doing most of the teaching — are primarily followers of Theodish Belief, which is a particular flavor of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry. Theodsmen, as they are called, follow a rigid, hierarchical structure and are brought into their kindreds after a rigorous process called “worthing” that occurs during a year of “thralldom.” They claim that doing this builds exceptionally strong bonds between kinsmen and also helps everyone decide if these thralls, these prospective members, are good fits for their theods or not. So, suffice to say, the ideas I’ve learned from this group have a strong Theodish leaning.

Continue reading “Heathenry Musings Pt. 1”

What It Means to Be Heathen

Things to consider:

  • Frith. Study and explore this concept. It is obviously foreign to people living in a modern, Western society, and it seems it’s necessary to adjust to suit such a society. I have been reading threads on /r/asatru about frith and it seems the closest comparable modern relationship to ancient frith is what parents usually feel for their children. Sure, they may get mad at their kids, but no matter what, a parent wants to support and care for their child. It’s selflessness to a unique degree.
  • Related to frith: inner yard. Anyone in the inner yard is a person with whom I keep frith. So… who is that? To whom do I feel that selflessly obligated?
    • Immediate family… so my parents (as much as they piss me off) and siblings.
    • Maybe like two other people?
    • Extended family to a certain extent?
  • Worth. We are our deeds, good and bad. Deeds don’t get erased. Amends are made to the harmed community through restitution. People from your outer yard don’t determine your worth, and you do not calculate your own worth — but you have control over your own worth, i.e. you decide your own actions. This is not the same “worth” as the value intrinsic to human beings, as human beings.
  • Orlog is “fate-potential” and wyrd is how our past actions and future actions shape the kind of person we are. More detailed explanation. Orlog is a predetermined, finite block of clay, and wyrd is what we shape it into.

Psychopomp Workshop – Group Journey Class

Today, I had the opportunity to attend Monika’s first advanced group journey class. The topic was psychopomp work, which, as a death worker, is something that naturally interests me. It’s something I have always wanted to include in my death work repertoire, and this was the perfect way to learn that skill under the guidance of a practiced shaman and healer.

We gathered in the basement of Monika’s house and went on three journeys, each with a specific goal in mind.

Continue reading “Psychopomp Workshop – Group Journey Class”

The Human Filter

An important thought came to me yesterday morning as I drove to work: that our human minds, which can only comprehend so much, in so many ways, automatically filter new information through certain tropes and symbols based on how we, individually, perceive the world. In the case of malevolent spirits, for example, a Christian might experience them as demons with horns and barbed tails, but a Pagan might experience them as a nightmarish shadow (or anything specific to their individual path).

What if the same applies to experiences we have with gods and spirits? What if I experience Anubis as a father figure because He knows I respond well to compassionate authority? Perhaps Anubis knew, long before I realized it, that He had to establish that kind of relationship with me if He wanted me to serve Him. And what if a friend witnessed a god healing His devotee in a pool of water, like a parent tending to a child, because said friend will be a parent soon too, and she herself is a woman of healing waters? Perhaps that was the best way for that god to show my friend just how deeply He cares for His devotee.

Many different factors contribute to this phenomenon: personality, elemental composition, how one was raised, how one grew up, significant life experiences, preferred themes and tropes… Surely, the list goes on. In my case, I am a very literal person, a being of Earth and Fire. I respond best to directness, physicality, and action. Without a doubt, my gods take advantage of this. Not with any ill intentions, of course — but the gods operate on a much grander scale than any human does, and They see and know more than we are capable of comprehending. They will make demands of us, for both Their benefit and ours, and it behooves Them to know how to manipulate us in Their favor.

Despite how much of this sounds incredibly selfish of gods, it comforts me. What I experience with gods and spirits is valid because it’s just how my tiny, human brain is able to interpret interactions with them. And the fact that gods, especially, might purposefully choose certain themes, symbols, or tropes means that they care. They know what matters to us. They know what we consider important or meaningful.

Reiki I & II Lessons / Attunement

Yesterday, I traveled to Virginia to participate in a Reiki I workshop led by two friends of mine. I came out of it attuned at the Reiki II level, which is simultaneously awesome and kind of intimidating. But they encouraged me to take it slowly, get through my cleanse period, and practice every day. I took copious notes during the lecture, and they gave me a manual for further reading. Unfortunately, I was unable to practice after my attunement because I had to run to a dinner date, but I can practice at home for now and with my friends when we can schedule it. I should also look into reiki shares, but probably after I’ve practiced a little.

Some key things of note:

  • I have three reiki guides. One of them is Persephone in Her role of Queen of the Underworld; She specifically volunteered to be one of my guides. The other two are a female ancestor and my fylgja, which is an animal spirit intimately tied with one’s soul according to Norse mythology. People might see their fylgja in dreams, but if they ever saw them while awake, it was a portent of death. The exception is for völva, which appears to be what I am now.
  • During my attunement I felt a blockage in my throat but didn’t bother to do anything about it until I scanned myself today. I believe I have successfully removed the blockage with reiki at this point! For now. I recall having throat issues during my last healing session.

Relationships with the Divine

Brooke and I spoke earlier today about the feelings that our various gods evoke within us. I expressed confusion and inner conflict regarding my relationships with Anubis and Tyr. The reason is because I feel strongly about both gods, yet Anubis has felt more distant of late, while I feel I’ve grown closer and closer to Tyr. But I made an oath to Anubis almost five years ago that I would serve Him first and carry out His will in the world. That’s why it feels wrong to be so enraptured by another god.

But Brooke and I spoke, and I came to the understanding that I’m going to have fundamentally different relationships with these two gods. Anubis is, in the sense, my master, and I am His tool. A better metaphor would be that He is my boss, and as long as I’m doing His work, He will not be displeased. And as is the case in mundane matters, I can have a very separate personal life unaffected by my “job” as a death worker. That’s where my hearth culture and home pantheon — and Tyr — enter the picture.

This is a huge relief for me. I feared Tyr was encroaching into Anubis’ territory, but perhaps not. Perhaps it’s possible to love Them equally, in different ways, for different reasons.