Dark Moon Offerings

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…


Pagan Spirit Gathering 2012!

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….

Gin and Candles

This evening I was fixing dinner when I got the nagging feeling that I should make an offering.  While the water was heating on the stove, I cracked open my bottle of Death’s Door gin that I’d been saving a poured a shot for Askalaphus.  I then rummaged around in my witchy supplies and found a green chime candle that I thought would be appropriate color for Hades’ gardener, and proceeded to dress with the Shades oil I’d purchased from Stang and Cauldron.  I created an impromptu altar with a few large quartz pieces, the segment of honey locust thorn, the shot, and the candle. 

As I’ve been reading Schulke’s Viridarium Umbris, the notion of delving into the shadow side of plant spiritwork has been increasingly attractive.  I’ve read Ross Heaven’s Plant Spirit Shamanism which is very helpful, but very focused on South American shamans (which I have no connection to, though their work is very inspiring) and the plants of the Amazon and Peruvian highlands.  Wanting to start a bit closer to home (and the local plants that I can easily access) I am hoping that my studies help me in forging a stronger bond not only with the local land wights, but also with the Spirits of particular plant species so I can (as a result of a mutually beneficial relationship between myself and the plant spirits) learn how better to use them to strengthen my knowledge of the herbal side of the Witching Arts.

Where does Askalaphus fit into all of this?  As the spirit in charge of the orchards of Hades, I figured He is one of the prime candidates to ask for advice in this venture into the “Shadowy Garden”.  He firmly accepted my offerings this evening and even consented to answer three questions I posed to him a la oracle cards regarding my future endeavors in plant spiritwork, our relationship, and if I am ready to have my first familiar.  Basically, signs point to “yes” for the spiritwork, I need to know why and in what direction I’d like to further a relationship with Him, and I need to work on my “art” more before I even need a familiar (boo).  He’s a pretty blunt and honest guy, but he speaks Truth.  Guess I can’t ask for more in my deity contacts!

The Borders of Helheim

During the week of my spring break I decided to try and visit areas in the astral that I’d previously not had the proper time for and to get a healthy dose of rituals in as well. 🙂 Here is one of my adventures:

When broaching the subject of a trip to Helheim, my fetch (The Bear) had been very wary and reluctant about the idea.  Since I felt like I would be missing my usual “backup” protection, I wanted to visit this realm while I had access to a human spotter that could make sure I came back out of my trance state without any complications.  During spring break, I was able to make the journey while at the home of my good friend, Wandering Woman.  She kindly agreed to chaperone and I was able to make the journey with an added peace of mind.

The offerings: Black skull candle dressed with Oleum of Shades (Stang and Cauldron blend).  A mug of hot mugwort tea (based on suggestions from the “Northern Tradition for Solitary Practitioner” by Galina Krasskova), and Samhain incense from Beads ‘n Botanicals of Urbana, IL.

I anointed myself with Oleum of Saining and Oleum of Blackthorn (both are also Stang and Cauldron products…love that stuff!) before journeying for added protection and proceeded to don the cream silk veil I normally use for oracular work.

I usually start my journeys by traveling to my cottage in Midgard and meeting up with my fetch to discuss the travel plans.  Since I knew that my fetch was going to be taking a diminished role for this trip, I decided to journey straight to Helheim if possible.  I laid out the offerings for Hela and announced my intention to visit Her realm as a traveler of the worlds, one who seeks knowledge and insight where it is gladly given.  There was a slight hesitation, a moment of flux and resistance, and then an acceptance of the offerings and a portal into the realm was dimly visible to me…much like looking through a grimy windowpane and deciphering what is on the other side.

I pushed through into this opening and found myself upon a dirt road in a rolling countryside setting.  There were tall broad deciduous trees of some kind (I’m not great at tree identification) that were still fully crowned with leaves, though they were the bright yellow color that indicates autumn.  The sun was shining patchily through the clouds so that there was a sense of a crisp, cool, beautiful autumn morning and simultaneously a grey, chilly, dank, foggy day.  These trees lined the dirt road on both sides and the road stretched on as far as the eye could see, gently rising and falling with the hilly terrain.  I was dressed in a heavy cloak over my usual traveling garb, and was surprised to note that I was riding a pale grey horse (instead of riding my fetch as I normally do).  An brown owl flew ahead of me down the road, seeming to indicate to me that I should follow it.  I took the owl’s presence to be the that of Askalaphus, guiding me for this initial venture as he’d said he would.

I rode the horse, following the owl, for sometime before I realized that the road was literally endless because it was a kind of repeating loop.  Something to distract the casual visitor who did not have a specific place to visit in Helheim…perhaps this section was intended to be a kind of anteroom for the living that stumble into Helheim?

I spoke aloud my intention to want to visit Hela’s garden and speak with Her, and immediately a smaller dirt path branching off to my right appeared, only this time lined with wizened apple trees.  I steered the horse down this new path, noting that the owl was flying in and among the apple branches, pausing on them to wait for me to catch up.  Once further down the path I saw a black wrought iron gate attached to a low grey stone wall.  A single white rook was perched upon the top of the gate and looked at me expectantly with bright and inquisitive eyes.  I dismounted and approached the gate. (sillyness warning) I looked down to see a warm mug of tea (the essence of my offering?) in my hands…feeling a bit awkward and foolish, I held the mug of tea out and commented, “It’s quite chilly here in the morning…would you like some [the tea]?”  The rook cocked his head to the side and pondered me for a second (probably wondering what my thought process is) and then hopped onto my arm and proceeded to dip his beak into the tea.  He drank a bit, and then hopped down to the ground and almost instantly changed his shape into a bizarre roughly humanoid form (complete with patchy feathers and large black eyes) and quickly took off.

(*interesting that I’ve used “he”…hadn’t thought about the gender of the bird until now…I guess that’s what I intuitively decided).

The gate swung open and I took that as my cue to head inside.  I’d asked to see Hela’s garden, but I looked inside the walled area to find rows and clumps of raised box tombs, the stone slabs on the top of each were ornately carved with the images of different plants and plant symbols.  The “garden” of Helheim indeed.  I noticed what appeared to be a young woman sitting on top of the garden wall at the end of the garden with her back facing me.  Long, pale blond braids peeked out from beneath a cream hood that matched her cream cloak.  I slowly walked toward Her and as I approached Her from the side, I saw a basket of apples laying in Her lap, being simultaneously the picture of ripe delicious red apples and that of the most rotten and decayed fruit.  She lifted Her head to look at me and I saw the face of a beautiful young woman, palest white skin, and much like the apples, the skin was both flush with the blush of life and the purple/black stain of death.  Her eyes appeared as sunken black voids, rotted inwards so one looked into the empty sockets.  The owl perched upon one of the apple trees that bordered the outside of the garden walls.  Hela looked up at the owl and nodded at Him once in recognition.

She didn’t not speak aloud, but I heard a voice in my mind clearly.  She said that I ‘did not belong’ in Her realm.  I indicated that I knew that, but I wished to grow as a seeress and wanted to strengthen my ability to speak with the spirits and ancestors.  I told Her I wanted to learn from any of my disir that had magical (and otherwise) knowledge to impart.  She nodded when I asked Her if I would be welcome to return again.  Four runes flashed into my mind, after this point.  I know that they are important, but have not worked out exactly how I will use them in my journeys to Helheim.

I am getting ready to leave when I feel a tugging on my long skirt.  Something grabbing at the hem insistently.  I look down and see a hand grasping a bunch of the cloth, one emerging from the soil below.  I could have had a moment of panic, could have screamed and ran, but that’s just not polite.  I reached down and firmly gripped the hand, pulling the entity upwards so I could face it better.  It was human shaped, but the features were very indistinct.  I got the impression that this deceased person had been dead a long time, that there ability to hold a strong crisp outline was diminished.  They made motion to speak, but no words came out.  I tried to indicate that I did not understand, to convey my apologies, but the spirit was insistent.  It wanted something from me, perhaps to hitch a ride, or maybe to impart a message.  At any rate, I needed to leave and get back out of my trance state soon and I knew that I would have to come back at a future time to talk with the spirits in-depth.  After unsuccessfully attempting to talk with the spirit, I noticed that a crowd of other spirits had started to gather around me, drawing in closer and closer, pressing me, demanding attention.  That was about my limit of what I could reasonably handle on my first visit, so I attempted to withdraw, promising to come back later.  The spirits followed me and in a moment of panic, I cast a six pointed Hagalaz rune to ward behind me.  The dead fell back away from the rune…not injured, but dissuaded from pressing on.  It was an unexpected move, but got the intended results.  After a slow process of carefully retracing my steps, I was able to fall back into our “normal” realm, open my eyes, and pull off the veil.

**Strange…many individuals see Hela as a woman with one side of her body appearing skeletal and the other half as that of a living woman.  My brain decided to translate Her and Helheim’s dual-nature in an almost holographic fashion, being simultaneously in both states at once, rather than split down the middle…

Owls and a Preparation for Helheim


, ,

This morning, I was laying in bed and pondering how I was going to travel to Helheim…I was fully awake, but kept feeling like I was on the edge of slipping into trance–the back of my neck was tingling and my eyes would unfocus. Since I didn’t have to get ready for another hour or so, I decided to let go and let the trance happen. Here is what happened…

I slip into trance and am nowhere in particular (realm wise). I call the Bear to me to greet him and say hi. I fed him salmon strips (partially because they sounded tasty to me at the time) and we took a few moments to enjoy each others company. I explained that I was thinking about traveling to Helheim but that I wasn’t sure how to go about visiting Hela and wanted to know if the Bear had any advice for me. Immediately, the Bear’s demeanor changed to a troubled look and his fur bristled. This confused me, so I knelt down in front of him to try to read his expression better. He unhinged his jaw and began to swallow me whole. **Note: at this point, I was thoroughly confused and mildly irritated. I explained to him that I didn’t have time for that process this morning and would appreciate it if he returned me back to my “normal” state. He regurgitated me promptly and I removed the energetic “gunk” aka bear spit from my astral self.

I decided for lack of a better plan to travel to my house in Midgard with the Bear. I entered into Midgard via my usual spot and the Bear and I traveled a short distance toward my home. Upon entering, I decided to sit upon a couch that I’d never noticed before (red, upholstered, and overstuffed) that was placed behind a wooden (oak?) coffee table. After sitting down on the couch as the Bear sat nearby I felt incredibly sleepy and started to fight the urge to lay down and nap…I remembered what happened when I took a nap in Vanaheim so I stopped fighting it and stretched out on the couch…

I awoke to the Bear yanking my hair between his teeth, trying to get my attention. I roll over and am greeted to the sight of a man covered in an owl feather cloak, with bird-like facial features standing on top of my coffee table. He let his feathered cloak fall to the ground, revealing that he had a man’s body beneath it with bronze skin peppered with small feathers protruding from his flesh in a random fashion. His eyes were solemn and bright, piercing yellow but alternately abysmally dark.

Ever the sparkling hostess, my startled self managed to squeak out a “Welcome! I have no idea who you are though…” I rise up off of the couch and in my awkward confusion, I pick up his feathered cloak and attempt to lay it smoothly across the table. Two feathers fall from the cloak in the process (oops).

When he spoke, his words were measured and his voice deep and precise, “Askalaphus.” (cue my “no shit!” face) “Really, it was you all along?” I ask.

**Side note, I asked Dver from the “A Forest Door” blog to ask a question for me in this month’s oracular divination session. I had been plagued with the feeling that a male deity had been trying to contact me (he felt like a psychopomp, but I didn’t feel 100% positive that it was Hermes). I asked Dver to see if she could divine the identity of this deity. She emailed me back saying:

[“He is a great owl, overshadowing you. He wants to find a perch.”
Dver continues with: “I had a very strong vision of something like a great horned owl, but larger than real life, swooping down and casting a shadow over you, coming down perhaps to land on your shoulders (which wouldn’t be easy).”]
After receiving this message, I was furiously researching owl deities/spirits associated with the dead. What I found was that Askalaphus was Hades’ gardener in that tended the orchards, ended up “tattling” that Persephone ate the pomegranate seeds, and was turned into an owl by an angry Demeter. Somewhere in the back of my mind as I read about him, a tiny lightbulb lit up…

Back to the story…

“This whole time I’ve been confused about who was contacting me. My brain kept thinking it was Hermes, but something didn’t seem right…if you were contacting me, it isn’t Hermes?” I asked.

“No, it is. We have an arrangement” was his short reply.
“Oh. Please tell me as much as you can then.”
“You wish to work with the dead?” He queried.
“Yes, I feel called to do so.”
“Then you must sacrifice to us on the dark moon for three months. Then we will have more to discuss.”
I nodded my understanding at him as he started to gather his feathered cloak around himself. As he started to rise up, floating off of the coffee table, I remembered to ask,
“Wait! Will I be protected in Hela’s realm?” (I’d secretly been hoping that my mysterious owl would guide me through Helheim since the Bear had been so reluctant)
Askalaphus reaches under his cloak and pulls out an large and ancient looking tarnished silver coin that was struck with the image of an owl perched in a side view. The surface of the coin was scored with deep scratches and gouges and was large and heavy in my hand. It appeared to be about the size of a Kennedy half-dollar. (Perhaps the scratches were from owl talons?)

“Wear this around your neck and no harm will come to you.” He told me as he handed over the coin. The coin attached itself around my neck like a pendant. I suspect that he and Hermes have some kind of relationship with Hela…maybe the death deities kick it on the weekends? Who knows.

“One last thing, how should I enter her realm?” I ask as Askalaphus rises higher toward the ceiling of my astral home.
“That is between you and her.” After those last words, he vanishes completely, though the two feathers from his cloak still lay upon the table. I noticed a small wooden box covered in strange symbols that looked like a dense collection of sigils, witch runes, etc. (not just futhark) that looked as though it could be activated to achieve different purposes. I placed the two feathers inside of this box and intentioned the box to protect them (no clue what I can use them for, but I figured they wouldn’t have been left behind by accident).

After Askalaphus left, I decided to go back to my body and leave a trance state. I went back through the same rift I’d entered through and saw my physical body resting on the bed. I managed to squeeze back into this side of the astral and fell into my physical body and open my eyes immediately. Strange stuff. At least I have some sort of protective token to take with me on my journey to Helheim, but I’d still like to do some mediation on Hela before I go. Also, it will be interesting to see what happens after three months have gone by…I’ll update afterwards!

Discretion…and Common Sense

So, I learned a valuable lesson this past Monday evening…as you might have guessed from this post’s title, it regards being discreet in magical endeavors, but is also about having the common sense to take things seriously.

To summarize (and not give away details that aren’t mine to give) a “magical” classmate of mine and fellow mage had been severely harassed by a group of entities for some time now.  The “why” isn’t as important as the “who” in this story.  Being at his wit’s end (and understandably so) he asked the head of our teaching group for some help in figuring out who these entities were and what *exactly* was going on.  I should clarify that I’m just newer student in this group and am still considered a “newbie” in pretty much all aspects of the teaching program.

The advanced students/head teachers were doing some discreet (the key word here) scouting of a couple of them from a safe distance and properly masked from detection.  I erroneously assumed that because I was a “newbie” I couldn’t actually trace the energetic connection between my classmate and this less-than-friendly group.  I got close enough to accurately pick up on characteristics of one of these entities in particular.  That should have been my wake-up call to back off and leave the situation alone, but I still didn’t believe that I had truly “found” them.  So I reached out a little more (stupid, stupid, stupid) and ran smack dab into one of them astrally, energetically, or use your favorite term for it.  I was very much out-classed in terms of power and by stumbling into the situation I made myself an easy target.  That entity latched on to one of the energetic openings of the body and immediately began draining me of energy and attempting to drain knowledge from me as well.  It was hardly subtle about it and I was flipping out and calling for metaphysical back-up to help me lift it off and also had to notify the teaching group about my blunder.  Needless to say, this is the type of lesson you only have to learn once.  They were very nice about it and there was minimal scolding (though I was braced for the worst)…actually the embarrassment I felt over the situation was punishment enough for my stupidity.  The teachers had to help me remove the energetic tethers (and sub-tethers) that had been embedded into my body and thankfully the damage was minimal since they were removed pretty much immediately.

Why am I telling you a story that makes me look like a fool? Well, if anyone who reads this can take away the message that just because *you* don’t always take your abilities seriously, it doesn’t mean that they don’t work.  Prepare as though they will, and you’ll save yourself having to learn the hard way, like I did.  Also, be discrete when approaching any entity for the first time (especially those with a nasty reputation) and you may avoid becoming a target.

The Mourning Dove

So I looked just out of my kitchen window to see a beady little eye belonging to (what I believe to be) a mourning dove (not 100% on my bird species identification, but I found lots of reference pictures) staring back at me from a flimsy looking nest wedged on top of my balcony partition.  It being the end of August, I thought it a bit strange to see a bird nesting so late in the season.  A quick search of the internet let me know that mourning doves have up to six broods during breeding season, so this must be one of the last ones for this mated pair.  I couldn’t help but want to see the message inherent in the type of bird that chose to call my balcony home.  This is my second year living in my apartment, but this is the first time any bird has decided to nest on my third floor apartment balcony.

Doves in all forms are sacred to Aphrodite, and being that She and I have a complicated relationship (well, it’s only complicated on my end) I immediately thought of Her.  I have thought of Her more and where our relationship would lead to.  I’m still not at the stage where I’m doing weekly devotional services and offerings to Her as I’d like to.  Perhaps it seems cheap, but I’d really just like to open a bottle of white (or a sweeter red) wine and have a glass with her once a week.  I’m sure as a busy grad student, this devotional time will also help me relax a bit as well.  In an insomniac fit of research this past summer, I discovered an aspect of Aphrodite that I was not previously familiar with:  Aphrodite Epitymbia, or Aphrodite of the Tombs or She Upon the Tombs depending on your translation source.  Once I stumbled across this information at oh-dark-thirty in the morning, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head: THIS. THIS IS IMPORTANT.  As I continued to research, I found references to doves and cemeteries in the Roman practice of calling their receptacles of cremated human ashes, columbaria, or “dovecoates”.  Hence the correspondence of Venus Columba with a death aspect.  **Not that I’m conflating Aphrodite and Venus…but, as my friend Tamilia once said on the difference between Mercury and Hermes: “they’re like identical twins…similar in appearances, but definitely not to be considered the same person” (I’m paraphrasing of course, apologies to her if I somehow completely mangled the quote).  So began my delighted exploration of Aphrodite in her role as a Death Goddess.  Not sure why I decided to capitalize that…

I’m still trying to figure Her different aspects and which ones I will be able to work with most successfully.  So far, Epitymbia, Ourania, and Praxis have really caught my eye…three aspects…three is a good number, an especially magical number, but that still leaves out her marine aspect which I like as well.  I’m sure I will settle on what to do soon.  Gods know, I’ve been terribly awkward and slow about which approach to take with Her.  Seeing the dove outside my balcony has given me an extra nudge to start this process with increased energy.  Also, I found it very reassuring that She hadn’t completely given up on me, as I have been in a really grumpy mood lately about my job and the stresses of the upcoming school semester.

**Nerd alert:  having found several different spellings of “Epitymbia” throughout my research, I wanted to make sure I found the grammatically correct version according to Ancient Greek linguistic rules.  Thanks to the help of my boyfriend, and former Classics major, we found the entry we were looking for on the Perseus database provided by Tufts.  In Ancient Greek, She is known as “Ἀφροδίτη ἐπιτυμβία”, where the -bidia ending is also considered an acceptable variant of the word.  Any cases where you see “Epitymbria” floating around on the internet is most likely incorrect.  Not being a well-versed enough in Ancient Greek, I couldn’t say that with too much conviction, but I think it’s a safe bet.  For any of you reading that want a random bit of trivia, Aphrodite Epitymbia is linked to Venus Libitina!  There is also a pretty keen epithet of Aphrodite, Tymborykhos, or Grave Robber, which alludes to Her necromantic powers.


Algiz: Lightning Storm


**Okay, this is basically a stream of consciousness wherein I am trying to reason somethings out…

This evening, an impressive thunderstorm has been going on for the past four hours.  There is quite a bit of lightning and unusually large amounts of loud thunderclaps.  The perfect kind of storm to watch from the balcony.  While I stood near the railing and witnessed the storm, I tuned into the storm energy (cautiously, I’ll admit).   While doing so, I had the urge to hum and chant three runes: Algiz, Ansuz, Thurisaz. One rune made sense to me (Thurisaz with it’s Thor/Thunderstorm/Lightning connections), Ansuz, I connect with Odin, magic, poetry–perhaps the storm was one was for me to feel strongly connected with Him?  As to why I chanted “Algiz”, I know it is a protective rune (and I’m sure I was subconsciously wondering if I’d get hit by lightning) but I felt like that rune was somehow connected to lightning in combination with Thurisaz (a bindrune perhaps? maybe that’s it…).

The shape of the Algiz rune kind of reminds me of the way lightning branches out.  I also felt that through the chanting, I was able to connect with the storm in a way I had not tried before. Gods, I am clueless when it comes to rune work.  There is so much power in them and so much that is hidden–knowledge to be coaxed out or won by determination and dedication.

Haindl Rune Oracle: A Reading

After purchasing the oh-so-rare and out of print Haindl Rune Oracle deck (it was a steal!!!) from a merchant at Pagan Spirit Gathering, I could hardly wait to break open the new deck and do a reading.  I decided to cleanse each of the cards thoroughly first, which entailed using some “Frankincense and Myrrh” incense that I purchased some months ago from the Beads n Botanicals shop in Urbana, IL (best incense I’ve come across yet).  I let the smoke waft over the surface of each card while I chanted intentions of blessing, saining, charging, and purpose.  In retrospect, it did the job as well as any other cleansing method (appropriate to small pieces of cardstock) and it “felt” successful.

I first asked some little three card spread questions, one about the nature of the relationship between myself and the deck, the next focused in on any messages from Odin.  I don’t have a formal relationship with Him, but he sort of “showed up” and started talking at me as I was starting to work with the deck.  Baby steps…I’ll eventually get my feelings and thoughts regarding Him sorted out.

The highlight of the evening was a question I asked on behalf of myself and two others regarding a joint future prospect that we had been toying with.  This was such a positive reading, I wanted to share it with you…complete with pictures.  I finished reading Nigel Pennick’s book discussing the various meanings of each of the cards in the Haindl Rune Oracle set.  From that book, I selected the “Vé” layout, which is a seven-card spread in the shape of a “V”.  For my friends (one in particular since she already has this deck)…here are the cards.  As a beginner to using this deck, let me know how you might have interpreted the outcomes.  And yes, I prefer the Old German names for the runes…it’s what I learned in the beginning of my studies…spread interpretations are coming from a conglomeration of Pennick’s written material.

Card 1: Gebo: Past Influences: “Gifts of the Gods” used in a responsible manner to the best advantage.

Card 2: Uruz: Current Influences:  “Our” collective power to fashioning events through the conscious will.  Ability to   bring forth successful ventures through hard work and perseverance.

Card 3: Kenaz: General Future Prospects: Starting something new through transformative acts.  Having strength and clarity of thought.  Positive actions leading to positive outcomes.  Learning and growing from one another and through collective efforts.

Card 4: Raidho: Best Course of Action: Performing “right action” without hesitation, channeling energies to produce desired results, determination of actions, trust in one’s own judgements.

Card 5: Dagaz: Feelings and Attitudes of Surrounding Parties:  Bringing about unity, integration, and necessary balance.  Acknowledging a self-motivated positive attitude.

Card 6: Berkano: Possible Hindrances and Obstacles:  Be aware of the “growing pains” that accompany any new venture.  New concepts need nurturing–be prepared for avertable problems and seek practical means of evading them.

Card 7: InguzThe Likely Outcome: The “Astral Doorway”.  A great potential for growth and the releasing of harnessed energies.  A transition, progression, or completion of one set of projects to another (bigger and better things?).  Possible beneficial life-changing events.

All in all, it sounds like we’ve (the querents) been given the proverbial “go ahead” by the powers that be.  Of course I may just be wearing my rose-colored glasses, so it’s always nice to get that second opinion.  Also, the Haindl Rune Oracle is pretty awesome.  I got the feeling from these first few forays that it will convey any messages in a firm but constructive manner.  It’s not going to be unduly snarky about things, nor will it sugar-coat stuff for you.  I appreciate that.  I definitely have one deck (the Yoshitaka Amano deck) that doesn’t pull any punches…I also have a few friends that cringe when getting a reading from it…brutal honesty!  I also make it a point to always read the inverted cards with that deck, so that may have something to do with that phenomenon.

That about wraps it up…I may try to include a mini picture of other Haindl layouts in future posts.  It’s always nice to have a visual for stuff you’re reading about.

Post PSG 2011: What worked…what to improve

(to clarify– things *I* personally could improve upon)

I had an amazing time getting lost in a sea of friendly pagans for eight days.  It was a fairly surreal experience…for once, I’m not the weird one! (I say with affection).  I really appreciate the encouragement from Tamilia and Cindy for allowing me to feel confident enough to hold a workshop of my very own, as well as take part in facilitating a group-effort workshop with the two of them regarding our views on trance journeying.

For the future…the crystals workshop seemed to go really well.  People were amazingly patient with my need to insert geological facts and aspects into a workshop on the energy and metaphysics involved in working magically with crystals.  I received some positive feedback from a few of the attendees (at least those whom I was not already friends with beforehand).  If I were to hold the workshop again in the future, I would perhaps change it so that it was more of an energy-intensive workshop…as in: “bring your own crystals and get plenty of rest beforehand, ’cause we’re going to be trying some energy work firsthand!”  (of course, I’d probably need to have a back-up plan in case some one “injured” themselves trying a new concept out–gods know I have).  I  could always decide to split the workshop into two separate workshops and hold them on different days…hmmm.  Food for thought.

The other workshop on trance journeying, held by three-fifths of the Catskin Sisters group–go read more about the group at: http://catskinsisters.wordpress.com/

pretty much rocked!  We had tons of people coming up to us and thanking us for doing the workshop.  I really think the clincher was the live-and-in-person oracular session that my good friend, Cindy, did at the end of the workshop.  She took three questions from different attendees so we kept both the amount of time and the energetic strain to a minimum.  We did have one woman stop by our camp on Saturday (I think that’s right…) for a private, one question session.  This of course fueled our ideas for having a more formalized approach to doing oracular divination sessions that may end up in the creation of an “unofficial” camp at future PSGs.  Squee!  It would be pretty amazing if we can pull it off.

In other news, I received my first djembe drum at the PSG Magickal Gift Exchange.  I really felt like I needed a drum (no clue why) and made a bee-line for it when it was time to pick out our gifts.  Apparently I had my “game-face” on during the gift exchange since another woman (who ended up selecting the only other available drum) came up to me afterwards and admitted that she was afraid that I was going to snatch up the drum she wanted!  Ha! It’s true though, I probably did have a crazy look of determination on my face.  The little drum came in handy when I used drumming to ease Cindy into a trance state for the oracular sessions.  This may very well be the whole reason I needed a drum so badly at PSG!  I definitely plan on using it for future oracular div sessions.

Well…enough rambling out of me.  I have concluded that there will be more crystals workshops in my future and that as a group, the Catskin Sisters will be introducing more people to the wonders of seidh in the PSGs to come.  Can’t wait.