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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Honoring Mani Part 2: More Q&A

So since I will be honoring Mani this weekend, it seemed good impetus and good timing for posting part two of my Q&A for Him. I've gotten lots of questions from my readers and as with the questions I receive on devotion and polytheism, I'll be answering them weekly in the order in which I receive them (more or less. I copied them all into a file so it's really more like the order in which I slapped them into a Word doc!). 

Today, Rede Seeker asks: "Can you give more insight to Mani's relationship with Unn, the Tide-Maiden? I feel their relationship as a dance - Her surge and ebb, His wax and wane. They fit together like the Yin-Yang icon."

I'll preface my response by noting upfront that everything I'm about to say is my own personal UPG, or unverified personal gnosis…except that it has been verified independently by many others who honor both Unn and Mani. We call that PCPG: peer confirmed personal gnosis. I personally detest both terms -- all religious experience is at its heart personal gnosis and the public expressions of those religions form in those spaces where the majority of peoples' experiences overlap. Still, for those who all but piss themselves when someone starts talking from the authority of experience instead of the authority of lore, I disclaim: UPG warning, folks. There. Now I shall begin. 

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  • Tannim Wolfkin
    Tannim Wolfkin says #
    I have just started working with Mani and there is one question that is burning in my mind right now. In many cultures there is a

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Devotional Q&A #1

 

Last week, I promised my readers that if you sent me questions about devotional work or polytheism I would answer them to the best of my ability. Well, you haven't disappointed and I have at least a dozen or so questions (maybe more---I haven't actually counted) sitting in my inbox. They're' all good questions and thought-provoking so over the next few weeks I am going to take them one by one in the order in which they were received and answer them here (or maybe on my other blog depending on my mood). 

Today, my first question comes from V.M. who asks:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

House Sankofa is a mixed House. I think from what I've already shared about our House that it's pretty clear what that might mean, but to be fair I'll explain. In the founding of the House, our goal was to create a sanctuary, a welcoming devotional space where all the Gods and ancestors were welcome, and where They would each be venerated and honored according to the customs and protocols They preferred. To date, we have very strong Norse, African, and Mediterranean lines. What that means in actual practice is that slowly but surely we're all growing fluent and, i hope, fluid in moving from one religious language and set of protocols to another. I am purposely avoiding the use of the word 'eclectic.' It's come to have such a pejorative sense in the various Pagan communities that I do not think it furthers dialogue and, as we've already established in previous debates, words and their meanings are important. Rather, let's call this polytheism as our ancestors would have done it. 

Were I living several centuries before Christianity was a blip on the timeline of religious history, I would have naturally been polytheistic. I would have lived in a society, a community, a culture that was also polytheistic. It would have been the default setting for how we all viewed, engaged with, and processed our world. I would have honored my ancestors in whatever way was customary in my native culture; I would have honored my ancestral Gods, the Gods of my forefathers and foremothers.  I would also very likely have honored other Gods, possibly foreign ones, whose cultus were popular in my city. Were I to visit neighboring tribes, villages, or cities, it is not inconceivable that I would participate in foreign religious rites as well, honoring the Gods of the land in which i lived and moved. Then of course, there were whatever mystery cultus I may have initiated into. All in all, my personal practices and devotions may very well have been a diverse patchwork based on a number of factors. Ancient polytheisms were, in many ways, defined by their diversity. 

Now I don't mean that they lacked protocol and even some measure of exclusivity. Certainly one would not honor say Sekhmet in a temple of Vesta. There were civic and cultural constructs and protocols that were respectfully maintained within the individual temples. Preserving the cultus of that country's Gods was essential to preserving the country. Within the bounds of one's own personal practice, however, there was fluidity and a remarkable blending of practices. Polytheism meant and means 'many Gods' and that's exactly what people had. 

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  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    Great article!
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    I would definitely like that.
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    I hope one day to do Communalia with House Sankofa on behalf of the Ekklesía Antínoou.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Devotion 101

In response to this post here: http://thehouseofvines.com/2013/08/08/polytheism-without-borders/, and as a result of several recent conversations that I've been having with various folks, I've decided that once a week (provided I get enough questions), I"ll be posting a 'Devotion 101' series. What does this mean? 

Well, I will answer questions, no matter how simple they may be, on devotion: how to do it, why we do it, how to get started. Readers can ask me "am i doing X right?" or "how can I honor Deity X better' and I'll do my best to answer. So long as I get questions from people, I'll keep this series running, maybe not every week (my academic term is starting soon after all) but as close to it as possible. 

It's become glaringly apparent recently that people are hungry for basic knowledge. One of the things that a good priest, a good spiritworker can be is a resource for this type of thing. So ask away. Post your questions here or send to krasskova at gmail.com and I'll do my best to answer them. 

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  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Why would i dillydally? A question --particularly one on devotion--deserves a clear, concise answer. I've always equated dillydall
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    thanks for acknowledging my comment/question - i appreciate the simplicity and straightforward reply. there is no dillydallying wi
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    I will answer this and all questions in forthcoming blogs here. I'll admit though, I find your question rather confusing. I tru

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
All About Mani: the Norse Moon God

I love the Norse Moon God. There isn't very much information on Him in the surviving lore, and yet slowly but surely over the past decade His cultus has been restoring and rebuilding itself. This is a joy to see and it's an equal joy to be a part of such growing devotion. I've found He is a very hard God not to love. His Presence evokes longing and brings with it aching beauty twinned with the hint of ancient power. He touches the heart like no other Deity, and it often seems He moves with an exquisitely calculated sensuality throughout our world. Mani is mystery and in like fashion evokes the hunger for mystery. 

We don't actually have very much concrete information on Him. He's the God of the moon and guides the moon across the night sky, always chased by the wolf Hati. His sisters are Sunna and Sinthgunt and He is of the House of Mundilfari, the Time Turner. He is sometimes said to travel with two children, a boy Hjuki and and girl Bil whom He rescued from neglectful parents. He is the nephew of Nott, or Night. That's what we know from lore. From direct experience of Him, not just by me, but by many of His devotees, we know that He is fascinated by humanity and the process of embodiment. He watches over abused children and notes every tear, every wound, every scar. He is a special protector of those affected by emotional pain and mental illness, and once, He was very fierce. 

It might seem odd, for folks coming from a Wiccan background, to approach the moon Deity as a God, rather than a Goddess but the Norse are not the only Indo-European cultures to have this particular division of divine power. You find the same in the indigenous religions of Lithuania, Sumer, Japan, and ancient Kemet to name but a few.  For this reason, and also because there's been so little written about Him, prior to my sabbatical, I asked folks to email me their questions about this magnificent Deity. It's one thing for me to wax poetic about Mani, which I can happily do, but i was interested in what my readers wanted to know about Him and you all did not disappoint. I received some really good questions and I'm going to do my best to answer them here. 

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  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    Hail Máni! Thank you for this series. I'm really looking forward to it.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Warrior Medicine

 

There is a desperation in how I fight the Filter now. I am aware of that. There didn't used to be. There was grit, determination, focus, but not vicious desperation. Over the past few months it changed, something in me changed and quite recently someone asked me what that was. It's simple really. My ancestors threw me into the direct experience of the sundering of our traditions. I stood in the flow of it and shared their experience and emotions. Then at the same time that was happening, the blogosphere erupted into a volcanic debate between polytheists and non-theistic pagans. why was this so significant to me personally? Why did it impact the place from which I fight the Filter? Because it showed me how bad off we truly are. It showed me the lay of the land and how deeply the damage went. It showed me how far we were from any coherent foundational roots. Until this past May and June, I had truly thought that more people were in ongoing devotional relationship with their Gods and dead, that more people were doing the work. My eyes have been opened.  I see well now why the Havamal warns that no man is happy who is over-wise. 

This epiphany hit me hard, harder than I care to admit. I came very close to seeing the restoration of our ancestral traditions as hopeless. So I did what I try always to do when I am in such a painful and demoralizing place: i took it to my ancestors, my Gods, and the Orisha. You see, it was becoming difficult for me to think of even the idea of 'community' with anything but contempt. Community? Really? I kept thinking "It's people like we have in our "community" who are the reason our traditions were destroyed in the first place and obviously not much has changed." Such bitter anger is not good for the work. It may be justified. It may be understandable but it prevents coherent strategizing and makes it hard to keep one's work clean, and it's so important that the Work be clean. Not to mention, it's difficult not to alienate allies and friends when one is in such bad headspace. So I stepped back and put it before my ancestors and Powers. 

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  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    Loved this article and I honor and appreciate the work you do, Ashe!
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    Hi Galina just want to say i really and deeply appreciate your posts - i may not be where your at personally but nevertheless i'm
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Good to see you back. I had a small lesson today to cause me to realize the small daily devotions I make in the morning are more

b2ap3_thumbnail_569px-Lokasenna_by_Lorenz_Frlich.jpg

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  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    Joseph seems to use a typical bully attack, attack person first off. Shirl got my respect the moment she admitted doing it herse
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thank you, sir.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I think part of the reason for internet bullying in anonymity. Bullying and trolling both often come from fake names. Also there i

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I love the Norse Gods, and I love stories. Whether you think they are people or think they are characters in stories, I'd like to share that sense of wonder with you, exploring ethics in the thorny places where beauty and brutality interweave to speak eloquently about the human condition in all its flaws and grandeur.

As an artist and writer, my work is steeped in mythology and ancient literature which I find surprisingly relevant to modern life. Human nature does not change much, but the way we explain it— through stories and the shifting values of our cultures— does.

Like the Gods I worship, I travel frequently. It's made me keenly aware of how similar people are beneath the surface differences, wherever (or whenever) you go. It's also shown me how much we influence one another, through our ideas and relationships, and of the value of face-to-face relationships and community during a time in which both our wilderness and connection to other life is rapidly eroding.

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    It's an intriguing way to raise awareness for a deity, and a lovely thought. Thank you for the compliment about my writing. He (an
  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir says #
    I don't know if this is of interest to you, but there's a Freyr spouse proposing a month for Him: http://shannonkotono.wordpress.c

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
See you Aug. 1

As I've already noted in a previous post, I will be taking July off as part of the polytheistic month of silence. I've got a number of good articles already planned for Aug 1, starting with one about the beloved Norse moon God Mani. I hadn't quite decided what to post as my final June article though. I wanted something a bit more useful than a class advertisement! In the end, since I plan on making strides in compiling my next Odin devotional during my internet sabbatical, I decided to leave with a prayer sequence to Odin, the God of my heart, Whom I adore above all Others. Enjoy and may my American readers have a wonderful (and safe) fourth of July. 

 

Adorations to Odin

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  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    This is beautiful, Galina. May Odin bring you wholeness during your respite.
  • Elaine Blakely
    Elaine Blakely says #
    Hail to the Master Gardener of Valhalla! You, Who Harvest the Best of Mankind at their peak of Might and Meghn, Thank You - For se
Online Course: Getting Started in Ancestor Work

I thought some of you might be interested in this: 

Online Course - Ancestor Work 101: Getting Started

Instructor: Galina Krasskova, krasskova@gmail.com

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  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    sounds great. Hopefully you will offer it again when I can afford it.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
In Praise of My Land

I sleep in the belly of the mountain: mount Beacon, whom the Native tribes here once called Mattewan. His eyes are old and wise, this great dragon of the mountain, and he has seen eons of human folly tumble past. Once he was the glory of this valley, he and his brothers and sisters; now he is crawled upon by tourists and hikers who don't even bother to learn his true name. he doesn't seem to mind though. I think he likes people. He's friendly and being of mountain etin stock, I can tell you that's not always the case with mountain spirits. I've met mountains, these ancient memory keepers, whose power, ferocity, and grim anger at man has driven me to my knees. They're right to be angry. 

Mount Beacon, for all his age, is kind to those who seek him out. He honestly seems to like people. I carry his bundle and when chance arises, as it often does with spiritworkers, I introduce him to other mountain spirits. I give other spiritworkers a token from his bundle to take to their mountains, to facilitate the connection, and they do the same for me in return. We tell our mountains about their kin in far away places. We facilitate the connection. This is what our ancestors did and its time that communication between powers was fostered again. 

I gift him often. I"m not able to ascend his peak. I am far too injured for that, but he does not mind. He accepted me as bundle carrier anyway. I sleep in his watershed and from my bedroom window, I can see his peak. There are lights there, some remnant of a trolley that used to run to the top of the mountain. Those lights wink at me. I love this mountain. 

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  • Daniel FitzGerald
    Daniel FitzGerald says #
    This article made me smile so much, expecially because I've got close ties to the Hudson Valley. My wife lived in Fishkill for ye
  • Elaine Blakely
    Elaine Blakely says #
    I am a Cliff Dweller by the Sea Ripped from the Woodlands by Wyrd; Cocooned that I may Heal from that ungentle surgery - Rootless
  • anita edmonds
    anita edmonds says #
    I am just outside Asheville, in the Blue Ridge mountains—an old, old land, filled with spirits and the most beautiful place I’ve e

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Another Ancestor Q&A

...When honoring the dead makes your skin crawl

 

"Every man is a quotion from all his ancestors." ----Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    I agree. There are Ancestors who are willing to help you with the toxic ones. I had to go back a few generations to find Them. Onc

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Day in the Life

 

Sannion has written a delightful post at http://thehouseofvines.com/2013/06/09/what-does-a-sannion-do/ about an average day in his devotional life. I know that I always find it interesting to know what my colleagues and friends do for their Gods, and how they both order and balance the demands of devotion but until reading this, it hadn't occurred to me to write anything about my own average devotional day (though I have occasionally been asked what I do).  Well, I"m going to do that now, stealing an idea from Sannion (whom I hope will not mind too much!). There is of course, one caveat to all of this (as Sannion also points out in his post): what i write here is what I do. It may not be what those of you reading are called to do. The thing here is to ask yourselves how you can deepen and better *your* practices. If this helps, then I'm glad. If not, let me know what you're doing devotionally--it might inspire me and others reading this. 

Now, i'm essentially pretty lazy. So this is what I do on a general day, not a day where I have special ritual obligations, House rituals, oracle work, client appointments, or where i may have to go to school, etc. This is just a basic run of the mill day. I generally get up around eight am. Sometimes I have morning appointments so it might be later or a bit earlier. I greet the Gods, the Orisha, the house spirits and my ancestors. groggily. I bath and dress (and what i wear is dependent on what my ritual, Deity, and client obligations might be throughout the day) and head downstairs for coffee. I make my breakfast and also offerings to the ancestors. 

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  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    I read Sannion's and enjoyed it very much. I am so glad you added to it. It's good to know and hear how others "walk their talk" d

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Deity Centered Polytheism

 

I just returned from a creative retreat where I spent the better part of the week blade-smithing and oil painting and I intended to move on to issues other than the current 'pop culture vs. devotional polytheist' Pagan debate. Upon returning, however, I found this brilliant post: http://www.witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Paths-Blogs/gods-of-consequence.html by Anomalous Thracian, and realized that I wasn't done yet. In light of some of the comments there, I think that perhaps I need to articulate where I'm writing from a little more clearly. Because one thing that's getting lost (purposely, I think) in this debate is that what it really comes down to is those whose practices are devotionally centered on the Holy Powers (Gods and ancestors) and those for whom the human experience, human emotions, human society,  the human mind. and most of all human comfort is centric. I actually think that this is the heart of many of the misunderstandings that we're seeing. We're not speaking as one community. We will never speak as one community so long as devotion to the Gods is being marginalized. We will never speak as one community so long as devotional polytheists are expected to accept a certain homogenization of our beliefs, predicated on acceptance of attitudes and practices that to those of us who prioritize the Gods are objectionable. We're not speaking from the same place. We're not even speaking the same devotional language. Instead, we're each fighting to wrest the roots of our various traditions from out of the other's hands. 

I will begin by focusing briefly on my own spirituality, because it is not all that out of the ordinary to anyone actually rooted in any sense whatsoever of their own indigenous traditions. That's the kicker isn't it? Some of us are working as hard as possible to restore our traditions and some of us are working only to make themselves feel good. So let me get this out of the way from the start: My polytheism, which informs every aspect of my life, is not people-centric. It is not focused on making human beings feel better about themselves, or about fitting into a nice social group. It is not an excuse for intellectual masturbation, nor do I practice it for my own gratification. It is not always comfortable, and is quite often inconvenient. My polytheism, as I believe devotional polytheism by its very nature should be, is very, very Deity centric. I honor and serve the Gods because it is the right and proper thing to do as an intelligent, responsible adult. While my practice is in part about building community, that community is one centered in devotion to the Holy Powers. That is the only community in which I am interested. I would go so far as to say Paganism that isn't Deity centric isn't Pagan. It might be fun. It might be a intellectually entertaining. It might be a nice, accepting social gathering. It's not, however anything approaching polytheistic spirituality. 

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  • Marie Dees
    Marie Dees says #
    One of my teachers in my spiritual path was Hindu. I remember that he had a great devotion to the goddess Durga. Devotion is recog
  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    I support you and agree with you 100%. These people are just causing dissension because they have nothing better than to slander g
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Byron, thank you. That means a lot right now. thank you. and looking forward to chatting with you next Wed on the show.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Questions on Devotion

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to start writing about the basics, the real fundamentals of devotion, spiritual engagement, and polytheism as I see it, live it, and teach it. I've often lamented that I see way too many people coming to me lacking the basic foundation, a foundation that were we living in a polytheistic society, were we living in a community where our indigenous traditions were intact never having been sundered by monotheism, would have been taught by osmosis. We'd have learned by doing. We'd have learned by living in a community where our parents, our grandparents, our leaders, our friends, our neighbors all modeled these ideas and approaches. It would have been reinforced by the community in a way that simply doesn't happen today.

I've often complained about this to colleagues, but it wasn't until a few days ago that my partner said "why don't you write a series on the basics of devotional work as a way of providing something of that foundation. Gods know people have enough questions." Well, I know a good idea when I hear it, hence this post. 

So send me your questions on devotion, on living polytheism, on honoring the Gods, even on my own practices and I will do my best to answer them based on my own approach, my understanding of polytheism as a theologian, an active polytheist, and a historian, and as a priest and shaman. I'm going to break it down as I see it, to some very base-line concepts that someone in the dubious march of modernity we've lost, forgotten, or decided to ignore. 

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  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    Have you thought about covering the differences between shrines and altars?
  • Trine
    Trine says #
    I'd be really interested in a piece on that - from the p.o.v. of several traditions too, if there is a difference.
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Okay, here is a silly/serious question: how important do you think it is to pepper our everyday speech with references to the Gods

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
In Memoriam for Memorial Day

 

As I write this, it's early Friday afternoon and I'm just back from running errands and I'm about to start preparations for a House ritual tomorrow and my Memorial Day observances Monday.  When I was out and about today, several people wished me 'happy holiday' and you know, we all work hard, and I understand the anticipation of a three day weekend, or an unexpected day off, so I returned the greeting but I couldn't help but think "this isn't  a holiday. It's so much more than that." and I wonder if anyone gives any thought anymore to what Memorial Day is really about. 

Memorial Day is a big deal in my devotional world. For those who may not know, it's a day in the US  specifically set aside to honor all those who died while serving in the armed forces. It used to be called Decoration Day, and people would go to military cemeteries, or the section of cemeteries set aside for the military dead and decorate the tombstones with flags, wreaths, and flowers. Now, we have bar-b-qs and go shopping and maybe watch a parade. I find that sad. 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Are the Norse Gods Racist?

Today I was chatting with my colleague Ochani Lele (who will be appearing on Wyrd Ways Radio on June 5), author of "Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria: A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices," "Diloggun Tales of the Natural World," and several other books.  We were discussing our respective Holy Powers when he asked me a question that made me stop and, after answering it, ask him if he'd mind me using it as a question here.   During the course of our conversation, he said to me: 

"You know . . . having Jewish blood, I've always been a bit afraid of Norse religion. Just out of curiosity, how do you think your gods would react to someone with Jewish blood taking up their worship? Would they respond? Would they accept? What about an African, or an African American? How would the Norse gods respond to such a person? Are they beyond racial boundaries, like the Orishas? I'm assuming they would be . . . but assumptions often get me in trouble. What are your thoughts on that?"

 

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  • Alfar
    Alfar says #
    I will not debate this issue, and I myself am no raving racist. However, I believe we are being simplistic when we attempt to asse
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Fortunately, mainstream Asatru largely addressed these issues years ago, with the general consensus that "folkish" is not, in fact
General Deity Questions, Fandom Gone Wrong, and "Pray, Forrest, Pray!"

 

Well, the school term is finally, officially over, I've submitted my last essay exam, and now I am free and clear as a bird, almost. I'm at least free and clear enough that I can catch up on some of the Odin and/or Deity questions that have accrued while i've been battling through finals the last two weeks. As I know i've noted before, I'm really enjoying the questions that are coming in. I think these are conversations we need to be having. Moreover, I"m forced to really engage with my own practice, and think and analyze what I do and how i approach my practice much more consciously and I think that's a good thing. Nothing in devotion should ever become so rote that we forget why we're doing it!

 

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  • Danielle Aubenque
    Danielle Aubenque says #
    Thank you for clearly articulating a struggle I have had for years. It gives me hope that I am not alone in my feelings toward the
  • Ainslie
    Ainslie says #
    I suspect Paganism is being used as "Atheism lite" by many people who really need to become Atheists.
  • Tim Schneider
    Tim Schneider says #
    For me this is pretty simple. It is about having standards, not being elitist or mean. It is about demanding respect for the God
Yet Another Round of Odin Questions

 

People seem to be enjoying the Odin questions that I"ve been answering here. I'm happy to keep this Q&A series going as long as folks have questions. Many of these things, while I've thought about them and internalized them, I've never actually broken down and analyzed for anyone else, so this is making me look at my experience and my practices and the way i interact with the Gods in new ways too and that's useful to praxis. 

On that note, Liza asks: 

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  • Liza
    Liza says #
    Thank you for answering my questions here. I think that sometimes these are the things that people just don't talk about in genera
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Christine, I am glad this article was able to help. I know that when I went through my first fallow period with Odin it was withou
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Galina, thank you so much for this post. I am six months into the fallow period after last summer which was the period of intimat

Title: Iduna and the Magic Apples

Publisher: MacMillan

Writer: Marianna Mayer

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