I just realized that I never uploaded last year’s PSG handout. How silly of me. The workshop dealt with how to perform astragalomancy (‘knuckle bone’ divination) within a Classical context. For anyone curious, my blog banner features sheep/goat astragali in their various positions and numerical designations! Enjoy, and as always, citing is caring.
This year I presented two workshops at PSG, one on libanomancy and another as a joint presentation on historical and modern necromancy with my good friend Tamilia Reed, aka Wandering Woman (link to her blog in my blogroll). For interested folks, here is a copy of my libanomancy handout. Citing is caring!
Ah…semi-random post here: I love artist Derrick Jefferies’ “mineral” sculptures, especially the ones that fuse bone and crystal together. In my dreams, the bones of old spirits look like these…
It’s a beautiful sunny day and while walking outside I knew that I shouldn’t put off my offering to Odin any longer. I’d participated in sumbel with my fellow Catskin Sisters and I had promised to graduate this spring. How foolish! Delay after delay happened and I was stuck waiting for my thesis samples to be analyzed by a third party. I’ve learned my lesson and will choose the words I cast into the Well of Wyrd more carefully in the future. For Odin I burned pine resin incense blends while I offered up a full bottle of White Winter Winery’s Dry Mead. Delicious and fragrant, yet simple, gifts.
I drew runes to ask HIm if the offerings had been well received. His answer: Naudhiz. Consdering today is my last day of the semester (and it’s a Wednesday to boot!) I couldn’t have delayed the offering any longer without breaking my oaths. He was direct and to the point. I also made sure to ask if the offerings were sufficient enough so that my actions would not negatively impact the wyrd of those I sumbeled with. His answer: wunjo. (Catskins reading this post, you guys are in the clear!).
I drew further runes to ask personal questions about the nature of Our work together and where we are headed next. After closing the mead’s portal to the Well, I had a sudden inspiration on how to finish offering the mead to Odin. I live on the third floor and was performing this rite on my balcony that overlooks tall pine trees. Instead of going downstairs and pouring out the mead at the base of the trees, I instead, grabbed the handle of the stein, raised the mead in salute, sang out an Ansuz galdr, and flung it over the balcony railing in a wide arc (after first making sure there weren’t any random folks walking around down below). The moment was perfect. The bright sunshine reflected off of the droplets of falling mead, creating a glittering rainbow that brushed the pine boughs while smoke from the pine incense curled around my arms. It was a moment filled with grace. Simple and beautiful.
Trance Journey Diary:
So last night I made an unexpected trip–to Asgard of all places. It was about 8:30 last night when I had a rushed feeling, a pressure building up, a sense that I really needed to take a journey. Now. As I was not in the middle of anything else, I followed up on that feeling and here is what happened…
I got the understanding that I didn’t have “time” to take a full shower so I cleaned up a bit– brushed teeth, washed face, feet, and hands so I didn’t feel distracted by any bodily dirt. I then proceeded to put on my silver bear claw necklace (awesomely made by my talented friend Cindy, author of “The Dreaming Wood” blog), grab my rune set of bear phalanges, and [lightly] slather myself in Lawless’s Henbane ointment, astral travel oil, Yggdrasil oil, and Saining oil. Yeah. Lots of oils. I wasn’t sure how they’d mix and I was alone in my apartment so I was being relatively careful…I wanted the extra entheogenic push because I figured that if this trip was that important I might be there awhile and sure enough…I was right!
First things first. Draw a rune. Mannaz. Yep, I’m not going to be alone on this journey…
Lay back down. Damn. Too much henbane? I’m unfocused, having trouble piercing through the worlds. Cast a bindrune. An intricate combination of elhaz, wunjo, and naudhiz [made up on the spot…not sure if others have used that combination of runes for similar effect]. It phased me through with no problem and I ended up at the base of Yggdrasil itself where my fetch was waiting for me. We greeted one another and I found out the hard way that solar energy in super concentrated form is not a very digestible offering for one’s fetch–don’t worry, he wasn’t harmed, it was more like he had indigestion. He also bit me in impatience because we had places to go and people to see and apparently he was keeping a much tighter schedule than I was.
I climbed onto his back and we set off at a breakneck pace at a 45 degree angle. As we’d never traveled this way before I was a little apprehensive. We also got a bit too close to a “no fly zone” near Asgard and we totally got a warning arrow over our shoulders. Nice of them not to shoot to kill, right? I of course start freaking out and asking if we’re supposed to be going to Asgard and if so, why didn’t I know about it earlier, I could have brought some nice gifts, etc. etc. For the first time. Ever. The bear spoke to me out loud. A baritone voice said, “It’s not that kind of visit”. Eeesh, that sounded ominous. So I suggested that we head over to Bifröst if that led to where we needed to go. The Bear gave me a look that said “I’m sure you could find a shortcut” but after what happened in Svartalfheim and because I’d have Heimdall to answer to (plus, who wants to be know as that “girl who trespasses all the time”?) I quickly ended that train of thought.
The Bear took me to the base of Bifröst and I stared at it for awhile. Yes, it is a rainbow, but a very odd one. For me it was iridescent glittering mist in a permanent prism of colors. Seemingly as insubstantial as a cloud. We took a moment to adjust to it and I had a feeling that our intentions were being tested. It was decided (by Heimdall or the bridge itself I am not sure) that we indeed “had business” in Asgard. Up we went. The mist of bridge coalesced under the feet of the Bear for brief moments only as he tore up this path. I was holding on for dear life and leaning forward to keep my balance–it felt like ascending a super high roller-coaster. The Bear never slowed down and I got the feeling that one does not dither on Bifröst lest they tumble or slide off with unpleasant consequences. I urgently wanted to be off the bridge as soon as possible and the gate of Asgard was a welcome sight–it jutted out toward the bridge, looking like small floating continent. As we stepped off the bridge, Heimdall stood before me and stared intensely at us. I bowed my head and greeted Him. I felt Him “scan” me and gruffly let me in. He had a brilliant white-gold shine to Him that hurt to look upon for any length of time. The Bear and I quickly moved on. We followed a large stream further into Asgard for quite awhile…it flowed past meadows and trees and emptied into a small lake at the edge of a clearing. The Bear stopped and indicated that I should dismount. “Wait here,” was all that he said before disappearing.
I was fidgety and nervous and sat down on the grass. I realized that my panicked feeling wasn’t going to be helpful so I took some deep breaths and calmed myself. Was I ready? Yes. Cue urge to turn around. It was Odin…wearing hunting leathers. So…unexpected. He was amused at my surprise and snapped his fingers to change his appearance to the dark grey/blue/black cloak and long robe that I’d encountered him in before. His cloak reminds me of the color of darkest storm cloud…and I have come to the conclusion that I really identify with the energy in his “Storm” aspect..he is Thor’s father after all! The two of us had our long overdue talk in that glade for what happened to be an hour in real time, but I was not really aware of time in Asgard. In that time we talked “business”, set some some parameters, and he imparted just a taste of his vast knowledge. As He plainly said to me, “words are binding,” and I’d made a promise to him that he was not going to let slide for any longer. “Sacrifice bears a gift” was also stated..knowing the double-meaning of the word “gift”, [“poison”] there is much to be gained but also much to endure…and thus this adventure unfolds…
Having one of those metaphysical “a-ha!” moments after reading Marcel Detienne’s “Apollo’s Slaughterhouse” and gaining some insight to Apollo’s role as both a killer and purifier (1986: 51-52).. A beginning glimpse into the god of bloody ash altars and healing springs is found in this small passage:
In archaic Greek, phoibos signifies pure and holy, like Ocean’s water or the sun’s brightness. In the religious vocabulary, according to Plutarch who was well versed in it, phoibos in composite form designated a state of segregated purity…to be phoibos is to be so rigorously separate that one becomes consecrated, as are, in effect, the priests which Apollo loves to surround himself with. It means to become consecrated like the Hosioi, the perpetually Pure of Delphi; but also like the suppliants of Cyrenus…personally tied to the god…and part of his property…among the latter are found the “decimated ones,” the dekatoi, homicides whose abominable pollution places them entirely on the side of the gods, on the side of phoibos. It is precisely here that the totally impure tends to merge itself with the pure. Apollo is fully phoibos. He is the untouchable in his two poles: murderer to the point of madness…[and] Apollo, the Hyperborean purifier, [the] emblem of a way of life so pure that it excludes the blood of death and the blood of birth.
The article goes on to tell about how at Delos, a site linked to Apollo’s birth, two altars were placed side by side: one “pure and pious” unsullied by blood, the other formed out of the entwined horns from previous sacrifice, upon which the “bloodiest sacrifices” were freely invited to take place. Acknowledgment of Apollo’s dual nature is something that I’ve found missing from a lot of introductory literature about Him…much of it focuses on his role as a healer, diviner, musician, poet, leader of the muses, archer, etc….while I desire to work with these aspects of Him, I also know that I personally need to give cult to both polarities of Phoibos Apollôn, the “Prince of Sacrificers”.
“A Sacrifice to Apollo” — Gayley 1893
In honor of the dark moon, and to fulfill a promise made to Hermes Khthonios and Askalaphus, I have made my offerings to each of them tonight. Tonight my intuition told me to do things a bit differently than I normally do. Instead of taking my usual shower like I would often do before rituals, I had an urge to scrub my hands with salt and water instead…after that was done, and the entire ritual area had been cleaned up and wiped down, I proceeded to gather my supplies. Offerings of incense and honeyed milk for Hermes, and a shot of Death’s Door gin again for Askalaphus. I did not light a candle for Them as I normally would, and instead of speaking, I wrote my petitions and thanks out on pieces of paper and folded them up underneath the glasses of liquid offerings. I did not pour out libations as I am doing this rite in my apartment and cannot dig a trench or tip the glasses over on to the ground directly. Instead I will leave the liquids in the glass for Them to partake of at Their leisure before disposing of them outside. Not as ideal as I would have liked, but apartment living comes with its own challenges…and nosy neighbors watching you ritual in the courtyard area isn’t my idea of sacred space…
I also left a little glass jar of water for the Dead on the altar. Traditionally, the Dead were offered water, wine, consecrated blood, milk, oil, or honey (or honeyed milk or water). In lieu of wine, I felt that honeyed milk, as drink of the gods and the Dead, was appropriate libation for shining Hermes Argeiphontes. Astragalomancy with a sheep’s anklebone confirmed the acceptance of the offering and indicated a positive outcome to my query. There was a noticeable burden lifted from me as the ritual drew to a close…I know now that I have missed my smaller rites at home and desperately need to revive them to feel more balanced in my day-to-day life.
Something important has been set in motion and will take another month to reveal itself fully…the suspense will be the end of me!
PS–Pomba Gira’s altar is close by where I was ritualing. I knew She’d feel left out somehow so I lit her red rose-scented candle and was going to find some rum for Her. Instead, She totally asked for some of the gin I’d offered to Askalaphus. I think She was curious and wanted to try it, so I poured her a shot. Gin isn’t traditionally Her “drink”, but just like us, I think the gods like to mix it up from time to time…
Whew. What a seriously intense festival! The heat and humidity were a trial during the first half of the week, but knowing that I had two workshops to give helped me to focus on something besides the weather and stay optimistic (if lethargic)…
So this year I gave a workshop entitled “Astragaloi: Greco-Roman Dice Oracles” that seemed to be a big hit. This workshop was very time-consuming to produce, not only was the handout 9 pages! Yup…couldn’t pare it down any smaller than that, but the processing of my first set of pig astragali was a smelly and frustrating endeavor—which will be addressed in a post devoted to that process alone.
Microsoft Word formatting and pig cartilage removal issues aside, I love the curiosity and questions that folks brought to the workshop session…since the weather was 90+ and super humid, I am touched that people showed up anyways. I also had ample opportunities to explain why “even-toed ungulates” are the best choice for creating the proper astragaloi set, though there was much teasing about my nerd-speak from my good friend Wandering Woman.
The other workshop that I gave was a joint presentation between myself and Wandering Woman on the topic of trance states and traveling the otherworlds. This talk was a reprisal of a workshop we’d done at last years’ PSG along with our friend, Cindy, though that talk touched more on the aspects of seidhr than we decided to do this year. Again, lots of good questions and folks that wanted to share “travel” stories. Wandering Woman and I are considering giving this workshop every year that there appears to be general public interest, probably taking a different slant on the topic each time.
As far as camping, we stayed in between Rainbow and Satyr camp, though I would love to get our own little Seeress Camp off of the ground at some point in the future, and do a public seidhr session for the PSG folks. Wandering Woman and I split the cost of buying a screened in canopy and tarp, so that will likely become an altar space and oracular divination setting for any future sessions at PSG. The planning is always the fun part, and oh there will indeed be a rockin’ hand-painted banner advertising the camp space. 🙂
Hmmm…what else to say….
During the festival I made the acquaintance of Pomba Gira in a big, big way. Wow, just wow. Where to start? After figuring out that it was “Her” on the other line (so to speak), I had a crazy intense desire to draw her veve upon myself. Realizing that yes, a veve is a crossroad and a gate, I was a bit apprehensive about the process. Divination ensued. “Courage, stranger” was the response from my dice oracle of sheep/goat bones. So…um…yikes! Twenty minutes later, I was down by the henna booth getting the image applied to my chest…and yes, don’t try it at home folks…not unless you’re ready to hang on with your tray table in the upright position until the ride has come to a complete stop. Whew. Wandering Woman and my friend Ms. Scorpio can attest to the power of that veve! I bought her a perfume while at the festival titled “Black Sudanese Rose” which seems to suit her quite nicely so it will be used on her altar that I am in the process of constructing…
Hmmm…those are the highlights…met some hilarious and awesome new pagan faces while there, and can’t wait until next year! Also, I am super geeked that one of my newfound friends will likely be doing a workshop on medieval flying ointments (he has a horticulture degree and a steam distiller in his basement…zomg so awesome!) Now to plan out my workshop for next year…I think something Greek and necromantic maybe in order….