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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Day I Swore Myself to Freya

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, 1989 was the year when everything happened: my formal dedication to Freya, my father’s death, my study abroad in the Soviet Union, and finally the earthquake. I went out in the woods that day fully intending to swear myself to Odin. Since I was drawn to heathenry via rune magic and he was the patron of the runes, it seemed natural. Also, although I had not yet encountered the idea of sacred wounds, I felt close to Odin because of growing up visually impaired. When I was ready to dedicate myself to a patron god, Freya showed up instead. It would take many years before I understood why. I believe now that I was opened to Freya by sacred wounds, also, but at the time I could not even remember what had happened to me as a child.

I’m going to lump all the stuff about my dad into my next post, even though some of it happened the summer before my junior year and some of it happened at the end of my junior year. At the time, I didn't associate my father's death with becoming dedicated to Freya; now I wonder if she removed him from my life so that I could heal in time.

The dedication ritual I designed for myself was rather crudely made, since I had never met another heathen at that point in my life, and the only things I knew specifically about heathenry, as distinct from general paganism, came from books: Futhark, the book of rune magic I had been given for my 17th birthday, and academic works on mythology and other heathen related disciplines from the UC-Santa Cruz library. This was long before the time when one could simply look up what one wanted to know on Google. The ritual I designed was the best I could do at the time, and it was enough. I know now that the gods respond to sincere desire for contact, and whether in magic or in relationships with holy powers, what's going on inside is more important than the outward forms of ritual.

A quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts:

     “Since there was no ready group practicing Asatru that I knew about, except for the one I’d written to years before and which had never written back to me, I decided I would design my own initiation, borrowing from what I knew of Native American shamanism, Wiccan solitary practice, and the runic model of the creation of a rune tine, or magical talisman.

     I decided I would fast, since that was common to all the practices of which I knew, though it was dangerous for me.  In acknowledgment of that danger, I prepared hiker-style cakes to bring with me and incorporated them into the ritual, and decided my fast would just be overnight, the ritual taking place in the early morning.  That sounded safe enough.  I did not want to pass out in the middle of one of the most important occasions of my life.

     I wrote an oath to speak, at the point in the tine-style ritual where the tine is generally given its purpose in poetic form, and then “born” from its dark wrappings.  I promised to follow “the road of the runes”, and since rune means mystery, it was an oath to seek knowledge, in imitation of the chief god of Asatru, Odin.

     I rose early that day.  Dawn pink shone gently down on the redwood forest.  I walked far north and east into the campus reserve, toward that area the students called Elfland.  Each time I came to a branching of ways, I looked for a stick on the ground which pointed one way or the other.  Soon I turned from people trails down a rabbit run, dropping to hands and knees to get through the brush and silvery spider webs.  I emerged in a little clearing and set up to meditate.  I lit incense, and the smell was a taste of manzanita blossoms, and then blood, and then redwood dust, and then steak grilling over mesquite, but it didn’t make me hungry.  I appreciated the sensation for itself.

     A sunbeam touched my face.  The rest of me shivered in the morning chill.  The light transformed me.  I felt my cheeks begin to shift.  There was such an outpouring of love, even I, a poet, cannot describe it.

     I stepped fully into the light, and was dissolved.  [I became a series of ancestors stretching back to early primates.] Then I had no body at all.  All the universe was warm and bright.  I visited the Nine Worlds of Asatru, places of the dead and of otherworldly entities.  Then I saw that all such myths were but approximations.  Words, just words.  No name, no legend could capture this feeling.  I could call this love Freya, which is not a name but a title, meaning Lady.  I experienced the light as female.  Yet even this name could not encompass what I saw and knew.

     I was a being of light, transparent to the light shining through me.  The ultimate truth was this:  “I love all life and all life loves me.”

     Then my body reconstituted.  It was a pattern of light and power, nothing more.  I knew substance for an illusion.  All was a dance of energy.  I saw my arm, bright in the sunlight, and knew it for a temporary pattern of collected energy, no different at its most basic level from the trees, or the caterpillar on the branch, or the sunlight shining on me.

     Later I would say to other pagans, “The Goddess Freya came to me at my initiation, and claimed me for her own.  I am dedicated to her in her solar aspect.”  But I always knew how inadequate that description was for this all-light, all-love, all-peace.

     The oath I had written previously seemed hollow as an old dry snakeskin.  No words could embody the communication, the communion, I had experienced.  I gathered my things and headed south toward civilization...

     In the coming weeks and years, I tried to recapture that experience of light.  I could see it but I couldn’t really touch it, not the way I had.  I became resigned to that, figuring that initiation was supposed to be a powerful experience and I should not expect to be able to call up that feeling at will.  Still, the joy remained with me.  I felt Goddess as a living presence any time I cared to look.  She was the leaves stirring in the breeze, and the taste of bitter chocolate, and the way the sand on the beach sparkled, and the trumpeting of elephant seals, and the color indigo from a light across the water, and a silk pillowcase against my skin, and the purring of cats, and the solar wind in the dark between the stars.”

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Ahhhhh, October


Ahh yes, October, my favorite time of year. Samhain and Beltane drive me crazy, I 'feel' so much more, and 'see' everything around me, I hear the voices of the otherworld and experience the knowing that I'm out of place on this plane. Perhaps it's my past lives filtering into this world, or maybe a more powerful connection with the goddesses and gods of old, the ancient ones, or my kith and kin from a life one can easily view as being, or one out of a fairy tale. But in reality, whether you believe in past lives, or the 'otherkin' or multiple universes stacked atop one another, reaching out to the possibility of being something more. something magical at this time of year can be seen as a healthy expression of empowerment. Halloween is a great time for allowing adults to play "dress up". To pretend to be someone else, to gather with others of like mind and play at being a swashbuckling pirate, a mermaid, a witch, vampire, mummy or even a successful baseball or football player. It gives us a chance to touch the child in us that acted out bits from our favorite movies, or re-enacted circus acts after watching the Ringling Bros, Barnum and Bailey circus on TV, or becoming a ballerina in Swan Lake, or knowing the bears invited to your tea party ARE real.

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PaganNewsBeagle Watery Wednesday Community News October 1

Howdy, Beagle fans! In today's Watery Wednesday we have both (literal) water news and news from our many diverse Pagan+ communities. In the "water" category: a record fall run of Chinook salmon and sea turtle hatchlings run to the sea; and in community news we have a Pagan artist's exhibition in Minneapolis, an active discussion of Pagan elderhood; and no "three-fold law" in Gardnerian Wicca?

There's a record run of Chinook salmon in the Pacific Northwest this fall and fisheries managers are happy -- but puzzled.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
2014 October TarotCopes

b2ap3_thumbnail_ZirkusMagi002.jpgI've been doing a monthly podcast for over seven years now. It's the same thing over and over. GRIN! Well maybe it changes a bit. I pull a card for each sign of the Zodiac to offer my interpretation of the upcoming month. Recently I've added a card of the month as well.

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Post-Apocalypse Pagan Fiction II: The 70s, 80s, and 90s

Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin, Masters of Solitude (1978)

After an invasion from China destroys the US, the megalopolis that covers the East Coast walls itself off from the wilderness to the West, where deer-like witches breed for psychic skills and create a genuine American witchery. Part of the fun is seeing what witch vocabulary might turn into in a few hundred years or so. (I don't need lep or a thammy to wish you a happy Grannog.) But those nasty coal-digging Kriss just keep cooking up toxic bugs to kill off the evil devil-worshipers. What to do?

Favorite line: “Who you callin' 'cowan'?”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Keeper of the Samhain List

Each year, sometime in the early part of November, a scrap of paper appears on my home altar.  On it is a single name of someone I know--or the parent or partner or child or sibling of someone I know. It's the first and last name, usually. 

That's the beginning of the Samhain list.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Possession in the Pillar Crypt

Up to now my blog posts here have been mostly about research I've done - information about Minoan deities and spiritual practices, with a few notes from my own practice thrown in for good measure. Today I'm sharing something very different with you. Something very personal.

I've spent a lot of time meditating and doing shamanic journeywork to piece together what I can of Minoan religious practice. Usually I get a few glimpses of something they might have done in the big temples or at the little shrines in their homes. A few days ago I got something I hadn't bargained for - a full-blown vision of an oracular priestess doing her thing. It has taken me some time to process this experience and reach the point that I can comfortably share it with you.

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