Odin’s Ordeal

The Hanged Man tarot card, drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith
The Hanged Man tarot card, drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith

Odin is one of the Norse Gods, a warrior king who becomes a magician through ordeal and personal sacrifice. I didn’t know very much about him before last October, when I attended Hecate’s Sickle pagan festival in the U.S..

Odin is the Allfather, not the Somefather

Except, I knew enough to spout off on facebook that he would smite Soldiers of Odin, a white supremacist group using Norse imagery, who had started chapters in Vancouver, where I live. I said things like Odin is the Allfather not the Somefather, and that as a Norse person (I have Norwegian heritage) and a lifelong Pagan, I oppose and resent the usage of my mythology and gods to promote hatred.

Someone was listening. And it probably wasn’t the white supremacists. Continue reading “Odin’s Ordeal”

Imbolc, Music and Priestessing a Song

On how sacred attention is everything

Crosóg Bríde: Drumnalost (Bridgid's cross)
Crosóg Bríde: Drumnalost, (c) Louise Price

The Pagan choir I lead was working on a new song for Imbolc a few weeks ago, Lisa Thiel’s Imbolc, from the album Circle of the Seasons. It’s a song for Brigid (pronounced Bridjid or Breed) with the following lyrics:

Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
Bless this house, and all of our kin
Protect this house and all within

Blessed Bridget come into thy bed
With a gem at thy heart and a crown on thy head
Awaken the fire within our souls
Awaken the fire that makes us whole

Blessed Bridget, queen of the fire
Help us to manifest our desire
May we bring forth all that’s good and fine
May we give birth to our dreams in time

Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
From the source of Infinite Light
Kindle the flame of our spirits tonight

There are several different kinds of Pagans in the choir I lead. Some are experienced singers with little experience priestessing, some are experienced priestesses with little experience singing and performing and some are less  experienced in either.

However, all are game for an experiment, and Pagan music being a largely oral music tradition, we do a lot of experiments with different ways of arranging and mixing the songs to make them more layered and interesting. However, this most recent experiment was quite powerful.

I paired up the members including myself set us each to sing the song in pairs, at our own speed, as if it was (and is) and invocation of Bridgid.

Myself and one other singer, who is a professional singer, very experienced as a singer but less as a priestess,  went into a separate room, grounded and began to sing it, trusting Bridgid to guide us. I asked my partner to sing the song as if she was calling directly to Brigid and invoking the song as a spell. And magic happened. We connected to the energy of the song and inprovised a winding, tight, almost Baltic harmony as we sang the song. I could feel the power of Her flow through both of us an we just followed it.

Encouraged by this success, I went back into the choir room, and we all switched singing partners. My second partner was an experienced priestess whose singing is understandably quite a bit less polished than my first partner. For her my direction to sing the song as an invocation had a quite different flavour. A dedicated and devout priestess, the instruction to sing the song as an invocation to the Goddess Bridgid had the effect of pulling her deeper into the song, making the song real and rich and deep, as if it had been in one dimension before but now was in three.  Her tone was better, her volume and tone varied with the meaning of the song, and it had the meaning she brought to it by her devotion. It was transformed by the presence she brought to it.

I think the lesson in this, from Bridgid, Goddess of Bards after all, is that sacred presence makes everything better, and that when songs (and life) mean something and you really attend to that meaning and connection with the sacred, it transforms what you do.

After we finished singing, we thanked and devoked Bridgid, because She was definitely present.

Imbolc Blessings Everyone.

 

Magic is a perilous art – practical prosperity magic part 2

I realized today my prosperity spell  has taken effect in yet another unforeseen way.  I was doing a tarot reading about a dilemma I have  and received the following cards.

Tarot reading with Magician card in hopes and fears position

In the ‘hopes and fears’ position of this reading, which is notable for it’s long series of major arcana cards, there is the magician card. I was taught to read a major arcana card in this position as fact rather than hope or fear.  I was also taught to read the magician as a card signifying the results of a spell.

The reading is about the proposed sale of my house to developers, for about $900,000 more than it’s assessed value, and about $700,000 more than it’s usual market value.  Because of some recent zoning changes in my area, the land my house sits on has become much more valuable.  No offer has yet been made, but potential purchasers have been expressing interest.

I’ve been anxious about this prospect. Sure, it’s a lot of money, but houses in Vancouver are expensive, and what will I replace my home with? As well, I’m an orphan, and as a result of having lost my family at a young age, my homes take on extra importance, as I have no other anchors. This house has a lot of loving labour put into it, and a lot of memories. It’s the home I created and shared with my ex partner of 14 years, and selling it will let go of the physical space of that history. The contract I signed three days ago, one week after casting my spell, says that if my price is met by a potential buyer, I will sell the house. I have declared to the forces of life that I will harvest this fruit if it is ripe.

This is the perilous nature of magic. Once I have cast a spell, I do not know exactly how it will fall, and I have consented to it’s completion. “She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches, changes”. This is particularly true of spells, for they give consent to the Divine to speed up the natural forces of causation in your life.  A cast spell is like that William Hutchison Murray quote inspired by Goethe:

“the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

It is fall, when even the trees let go of what was once beautiful and full of life.

As witches, it is our job to make compost of it to nourish the new and the living.

Mabon – practical letting go of magical, symbolic and ritual objects

  • Date: Sept 20 1017
  • Moon phase: two days past new, waxing
  • Season: day before Mabon

When I attend a Pagan festival, a public or coven ritual and other events I often walk away with some sort of beautiful and hand made token. It’s something that either I or the organizers have imbued with a positive, hopeful or seasonal energy. Some of these items I keep as a reminder of the experiences I had, and and some I completely forget the context or purpose.  These items are sometimes on my altar for a short while, or they end up in a cabinet I store special treasures in.

But when is it time to let these magic pieces go? And how best to do it?

I came across the graphic at right about Mabon, also called fall Equinox, or harvest, which nicely summarized what the core magical work of the festival is.  Celebrating and enjoying what you have grown, surrendering those things whose time has past, as the trees do their leaves, and expressing gratitude.

And then, as we do, without really intending to, I found myself sorting through my little magical items, reaffirming the continuing need for some and finding a home for it, such as the iridescent marble I received the day I dedicated to Aphrodite, and releasing others.

At the end of my sorting, I had several tokens from various festivals and rituals along with some sacred art I’d made, and some broken shells that had been part of the water section of my altar for several years. Putting them in a cloth bag, today I decided to head down to a beachfront park to release them.

Before I left I checked the moon phase. Two days past new is not a great time for releasing anything. It’s the time of new growth and increase. So instead of focusing on the releasing aspect of what I was doing, I thought about all the good will, good intentions and good magic still contained within these items, and focused on releasing it into the world to act with gratitude.

As I was leaving my house, as often happens, I had an instinct to bring something else – a symbolic art piece I’d done to love and accept all the pieces of my life I felt I’d failed in some way or which represented a failure. I’d created a beautiful ‘nest’ for these puzzle pieces, to surround them with love. And now, apparently, it was time to let them fly free.

When I reached the park I walked along deosil along a path that encircled the space and which led me toward the water. When I reached the shoreline, I had an impulse to walk down the rocks and look at the water. It was there I left my nest.  I looked at all the pieces, and realized that the love and compassion I’d put into them as I’d placed them originally in this nest really had taken effect.  I realized that there were ways that these roles of partner, activist, musician, and family member are being reinvented since then and, outside my conscious fretting about them, are transforming.  So I left my biodegradable nest on the shore line and went on.

The rest of the items became a kind of decorative shrine at the base and branches of a tree I chose near the shore. The tokens on strings I hung in the branches  to twirl in the fall wind and the rest I placed around the base. I’d held some of these items for over twenty years, like the little canoe and bowl commemorating a Samhain ritual vision I’d had. I found myself feeling grateful for the memories and energies each item represented, as I laid it down at the base of the tree in blessing.

Then I continued walking around the park till I’d made one full circle, and then walked it briskly one more time to empower my intention, that the items I’d laid there with gratitude release their loving, hopeful and good energy into the world to increase in my life and the lives of others. And then I opened the circle.

It seemed like a very good way to celebrate Mabon.

Blessed be.

PS: What ways do you use to release magical or important objects well?

 

The ocean is my fierce mother

The ocean is my heartbreak place
my going home to momma place
to lick my wounds and fall safe
into the fierce mother

The ocean is my safe haven,
a more vast than my actions place,
of a magnitude equal to hold my sorrow and longing space
for too much to hold or understand

The ocean is my ‘it will be all right’ place
my ‘I will hold you tight’ place,
the place that judges me worthy,
equal to my struggles and sure to overcome them.

The ocean is my ‘you can rest a bit’ place
‘before you go on to conquer’ place,
a place where my largest self is held.