One-Eyed Cat: Slavic Paganism / Heathenry

Exploring the wider Eurasian influences on central and northern European religion, including Norse, Slavic, Celtic, Baltic, Siberian, Mediterranean and ancient Indo-European beliefs and applying them to contemporary practice.

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Shirl Sazynski

Shirl Sazynski

Illustrator. Writer. Wife of the Norse God Frey. A spaekona (a seer/shaman) for over a decade, Shirl Sazynski paints icons and tells stories revolving around myth. She also performs divination, consulting the Gods at staffandcup.com.

A frequent contributor to the pagan literary magazine Eternal Haunted Summer, her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in volumes from Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Idunna magazine, Witches and Pagans, Sagewoman, Odin's Gift, several galleries and literary magazines, and a launched computer game.

More information about her art and writing can be found at: shirlsazynski.com.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Much has been said eloquently elsewhere by others about a recent tragedy and what Heathenry is actually based upon. I thought it best, in my case, rather than repeating their fine words, to simply write about what Odin is like as a person.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Albuquerque-from-the-air_wikipedia.jpg
Central Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. Seen from the sky. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

"Look wide, and look far. Look upon your city. This is your community. These are your people, all of them. The people you know and the people you will never meet. Even the ones you don't like. Good or bad, rich or poor, status and class and family don't matter. Politics don't matter. They're still all your people.

"You are a part of this, and your wyrd is tied together, for as long as you live here..."

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Thanks. I enjoyed the description of wandering in the hills near Albuquerque. I spent several years there and have hiked extensiv
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks, Kimberly! I'd love to read those if you decide to share.
  • Kimberly Glaser
    Kimberly Glaser says #
    So beautiful! Makes me think of my own journal entries about Cerridwyn

This poetic essay originally appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer Magazine 2011

I.

 The restaurant — hole-in-the-wall with age-darkened brick wallpaper, old-lady peony-pink damask table cloths, the color my Chicago adopted grandmother used to like in homemade church blouses, eyelet white lace curtains festooned with paper ribbons in the ceiling, entwined with silk flower vines, glitter easter-eggs, feather butterflies in “old-lady chic” the guidebook calls it, ribbons hanging from the trophy animals, dusty green-red pheasant I can’t see his tail, two deer heads with gold mardi gras beads wrapped ’round dead necks and antlers, soft orange carrot salad a feast of hunter’s stew between potato pancakes plump meat chunks tucked in a surprise the old man with Andy Warhol hair arguing cheerfully with the middle-aged waiter reading a conservative fantasy novel, this food is better than your mother’s he says with a straight face, expecting the rejoinder as my husband checks out, tart herbaceous currant juice, the color of crushed berries — it tastes like secrets –

 

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks, Courtney! Unfortunately I don't live in the Metro area anymore-- I miss the Polish food, Central Park and the Met-- but I
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    I love this! I've had those same thoughts about the 168th subway tunnel--glad I'm not the only one who noticed. I live in the ci

Sigyn: Loki's wife by Shirl Sazynski
This essay first appeared at Eternal Haunted Summer last year and is part of an illustrated book on Norse Goddesses I am creating from my journeys as a spaekona (Norse seer).


Butterflies: A Meditation on Sigyn

Motion and color. Orange-flecked wings— flickering, flowing, flying, flexing. So many of them that you cannot see what they rest upon, simply that there is life, a whirr of scaled wings.

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  • Cara Freyasdaughter
    Cara Freyasdaughter says #
    Hi Shirl! This is a lovely picture of Sigyn. It's so nice to see her get some attention. This is a great teaser; I'm really lookin
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    And if more of us talked about these sorts of experiences, the process would be easier on everyone. While all of these encounters
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Hi Kara! Thanks for your response and the compliments. It's why I'm writing things like this; I want to bring humans and the Gods

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Odin / Lugh as the Yule King by Shirl Sazynski A past December:

It's the season of mistletoe and holly, when bells are ring-jing-jing-a-ling and the year-round Northern outdoor signs that say, "Beware of Falling Ice" finally have meaning. The night is hushed in a way it only gets when there is a blanket of snow, on the eve before a holiday, when everything is closed. Snuggled in a hotel room in upstate New York, red and blue-foil snowflakes covering presents gleam out of the corner of my eye, while real ones slowly fall, dancing over the parking lot.

               It's almost midnight. Drowsy with hot cider, lying on my husband's chest and listening to his heartbeat, there's nowhere else I'd rather be…

               I feel, rather than hear, the Yule King's call at first: a pull like I'm standing in a river, and then his voice flows across my mind.

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Yule King Freyr

A Prayer to Ingvi

I.
Because I could not kiss your lips
I kissed my lover instead;
Because he never danced with me
I dance with you instead,
here on the far side of midnight
where sun hides
and moon cannot be jealous.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Day-spring_finds_Mengld--Svipdagsmal_Collingwood.jpg
"Power to me is displayed by the peacemaker.

I understand there is a level of excitement in those stories of being held by a man’s man for a moment, but that is a rickety banister to hold on to as you step onto the stairway of romantic bliss. There is another whole level of connection and white-out passion when you realize you are with someone who has opened up their heart so fully that you can feel the circle of blood through their arteries and veins almost as if it is your own..."

--from "An Unapologetic Look at Romance" by Dominique Jones

This is one of the wisest essays I have read, on love or anything else (click on it, please), and it drives home several points about Freyr:

We stereotype the peoples of Northern Europe as aggressive, looting, sea-faring warriors, hauling back pillaged booty or trade goods from abroad. We stereotype Odin (blame Wagner and his Victorian romanticism for this) as the stern, grim king: father of war. Thor as big-hearted, lustily drinking smiter of evil. While attitudes have recently begun changing, portraying the Vikings' "softer side", that aggressive image sticks-- both inside and outside of Heathenry.

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Freyr altar with offerings- Shirl Sazynski

Americans still haven't celebrated our secular harvest holiday yet (Thanksgiving)-- which  marks the unofficial change from autumn to winter, even if the official shift falls on the Solstice. So I think it's still appropriate to honor Freyr, especially at lower latitudes.

Some seasonal-appropriate offerings:  

  • alcohol (mead or honey wine, barley liquor, and golden wines work nicely)
  • honey or maple syrup (raw honey with pollen is more potent)
  • grain (barley, cracked wheat, oats, a prepared bowl of oatmeal or a sheaf of grain)
  • late harvest fruits (such as apples or persimmons)
  • bread or baked goods
  • incense (masculine and earthy, can be slightly sweet; cedar and piñon work well)
  • beeswax candles
  • yellow flowers (chrysanthemums, late roses or sunflowers)
  • a "corn dolly", wheat weaving or wreath (golden ribbons are excellent)

Offerings that you've grown or made yourself work best; if you can't grow flowers, potted ones that you can plant later are appreciated. To dedicate an offering, you can simply place it on an altar or private place outdoors and say, "I dedicate this offering of [x] to [x]."

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Autumn Hymn to Freyr

Hail Freyr, golden King
Lord of green and growing things!

He who gives us rain and sun,
life and peace for everyone

Son of Njordh and Nerthus, too
Gerda's love, we welcome you!

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Freyr icon by Shirl Sazynski
 

A Heathen Prayer

The Lord is not my shepherd.
He teaches not submission but resilience.
In the face of the impossible, there are no guarantees. Not even for Him.
But victory was never born without valor. Even love has a sacred price:
nothing worth striving for is easily won.
Trickster, sage, lover, father, brother, husband, nephew, son;
warrior and peace-maker, hunter and grower, slayer and slain:
Wise-one, show me the way
Not to follow but to be inspired
To both grow in worthiness and to recognize the abundant worth in others.
I am not a sheep, nor was I bred for docility:
I am a falcon, a hart, a wolf.

 

Freyr is literally one of the words for 'Lord' in old Norse. In other words, it's not just a well-known God's name but his title. One of Odin's many heiti (by-names and titles) is Herran-- also another word for 'Lord' with a warrior connotation. While both Gods are associated with kingship in Scandinavia, Freyr is mythically attributed inYnglinga Saga as the ancestor of the royal house of Sweden (much as Egyptian pharoahs claimed descent from or symbolic right to rule as inherited from Osiris-- which also means 'Sire').

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Cool picture, Shirl. It took me over half a century to realize that the 23rd Psalm only tells half the truth - the Good Shepherd m
  • Cynthia Savage
    Cynthia Savage says #
    Or to be fleeced.....maybe the televangelists have a point!
Heathen Gods and Sacrifice (and Transformation)

Norse Gods bear famous wounds: an eye traded for wisdom, an ear given to hear the approach of danger, a hand to bind and slow the dire wolf of ultimate destruction. Each sacrifice is an emblem of their power: mighty Odin, who sees all in his high seat, is half-blinded; Heimdall the guardian of Asgard, the Gods' realm, left half-deaf; Tyr the God of justice unable, forevermore, to swear by his severed right hand in court.

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  • Alfar
    Alfar says #
    Thank you.... I know the ladies will enjoy this... the fellas as well... but the ladies especially. They love when another female
  • Alfar
    Alfar says #
    Great work. I am an Asatru Gothi and work with prison ministry / education. There are a great number of fine heathen men and women
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thank you, Alfar. I am happy that my writings can make a difference in other peoples' lives, including those who are trying to mak

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

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