Threads: Musings of a Wodenic Cunning Woman

A twisting (and sometimes twisted) exploration of devotion, seership, hearth witchery, and spirit work.

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Beth Wodandis

Beth Wodandis

Wife of Odin, sacred artist, cunning woman. I spin spells and visions amidst the wild wights of the Pacific Northwest, in a household shared with gods, spirits and animals both living and dead. My handcrafted business, Fiberwytch on Etsy, offers ritual cords spun from hand dyed fleece and charged and blessed using traditional methods, handspun yarn, and other arcane goodies to enrich your practice and pamper your soul. My books Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin's Journeys, and Water from the Well and Other Wyrd Tales of Odin and both available in my Etsy shop in PDF format, as well as on Amazon, and my work has also appeared in Idunna, Hex, and the now-defunct newWitch. I offer rune, Tarot and Lenormand readings by appointment.

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So, last week I skipped my Pagan Experience post. Partly because I was in full production mode over at FiberWytch (still am, in fact), which tends to make me feel overwhelmed; as I still work at an outside job part time, and I have invisible illnesses, multitasking can be a challenge. I also have a tendency to become nonverbal when working full steam ahead on crafting projects. But if I’m going to be honest, a bigger reason I skipped it was that my reaction on reading the prompt was more or less “meh.” Because as a godspouse and spirit worker, I’m a spirit-centered pagan, not an earth-centered one. Or so I told myself.

Well then. A day or two later (while I was in the shower, as it happens), Odin set me straight on this notion. “Not earth-centered, is it? What about the Making? What about all of the plant oils and herbs you work with? Those plant spirits have a home, you know, and it isn’t out in the ether somewhere.”

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Godspouse? Say What?

(February Week 1 prompt for The Pagan Experience - Humanity)

What is your contribution to the collective space of humanity? How does your spiritual path support this definition and contributions?

Hi, I'm Beth, and I'm a godspouse! I live in the (urban) wilds of Oregon with another godpouse, in what can best be described as a DIY nunnery situation; we both work outside the home, and I work on my business AT home in addition to that. (As I am disabled, I'm trying very hard to morph my business into being my primary, or even only, job.) But other than that, we lead a semi-secluded, more-or-less monastic lifestyle with our respective gods and a houseful of animals (both living and dead).

Now, you can sneer at the “godspouse phenomenon” all you want—and plenty of people do—but it's not a fad, or at the very least not a new one; it's been going on for at least the twelve years I've been married to Odin. And although I am an old-timer at this particular gig, I think there were a handful of people doing it even before me. So, what is a “godpouse”? Basically, it is one the most common terms used to describe a person who self-identifies as the mortal consort of a god. (There are also spirit spouses—people married to spirits who may lack “official deity” status.)

One of the first things the skeptical ask when they learn that I'm a godspouse is “Why would the gods even want human spouses? They already have divine ones, don't they?” Yes, They do, and we are not a replacement for Them. But the notion that a god would not want a human woman for a wife when He already has a goddess-wife makes the assumption that the gods see humanity in the same way we do—as inherently lesser than They are—and I don't think that's true. Yes, without question They are bigger, and They have more power—and, of course, there's that fringe benefit of not being mortal. (Although, some of the gods do manage to die even despite this; witness Balder, as one example.) But my experiences and interactions with Odin, as well as His teachings, have led me to see all of u/Us—humans, gods, spirits, ancestors, and other races of beings such as Alfar, Duergar, Jotnar, etc.--simply as spirits in different stages of our own personal journeys towards self-actualization (or, towards our own personal “Great Work,” if you prefer). Clearly, some of us are further along in that journey than others; Odin, for example, is much further along than I am, but He recognizes in me a kindred spirit who, rather than being inherently inferior to Him, simply has different challenges to deal with in this current phase of my existence. It has become something of a cliché to say “I am not a body that has a spirit, but a spirit that has a body”--however, that's more or less it, in a nutshell. In my own philosophy (which—with a nod to my friend Nornoriel Lokason—is decidedly a Left Handed one), some of us began our soul's journeys with incarnations as beings other-than-human (as giants or elves, for example, or even as what we would now call “gods”), and some of us will end them as other-than-human.

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  • m
    m says #
    “Why would the gods even want human spouses? Well....... the Fallen Angels wanted them too.
B is for Bestla (The Pagan Experience week 4)

Not so long ago, at the height of December’s retail busy season—which also happened to be the height of Wild Hunt season—I had a dream. Okay, let’s call it what it was: a nightmare. In it, I was asleep in our bedroom and thought I heard Jo talking in her sleep from her own bed. Then I realized it was actually my mother—who used to talk in her sleep a fair amount and who has been dead for twenty years (although that detail didn’t occur to me in the dream). I called out something about trying to sleep, but she kept talking.

And then I realized that it wasn’t my mother speaking at all; the voice was harder, unfamiliar, while still female. I realized she was telling a story, in a somewhat sing-song voice, a horrible story that I was certain I didn’t want to hear the end of. (No, I don’t remember what the story was—although in retrospect, I have my suspicions, of which I won’t speak.) As she neared the end of it, she rose from her bed and approached mine, not asleep at all. I wanted to move or scream but was utterly paralyzed. I tried to call for help—from Odin, from the Hunt—but no help appeared. The woman—a farm wife in dress and apron–smiled down at me with her hard face and glittering, hard eyes, smiling into my eyes as she spoke the final words of the story. And then she reached into my mouth and down my throat and into my chest—just rammed her entire hand and arm in.

I awoke. I rose and went to my shrine, lit a candle, not wanting to go back to sleep. I’m not sure I slept any more that night at all. I had an ache in the general area of my heart chakra for the next several days.

Only the next day did I being to realize who the dream-woman had been. The clues were simple: 1) she had been menacing, but had not actually harmed me (although she had done something—something that was Allowed, apparently; 2) neither Odin nor the Hunt had volunteered any help; thus, no matter how scary she had been, she didn’t actually intend any harm to me; 3) the warding Odin has placed on me and our house—which is quite thorough—did not keep her away, and 4) in the dream, I had at first identified her with my mother, then realized that was almost correct, but not quite. I struggled with what my intuition was telling me for hours before sheepishly asking Odin if I was right. He confirmed that I was.

My dream visitor was none other than my mother-in-law, the Queen Mother of Asgard: Bestla. And the next night when I saw Her in the Hunt, She flashed Her dream disguise at me briefly before transforming back into Her usual glamorous self, and winked.

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  • Miles Gerhardson
    Miles Gerhardson says #
    Interesting...
My Personal Pantheon (The Pagan Experience)

(For Week 3 for The Pagan Experience community blogging project, the theme is Deity and the Divine.)

For newer readers to my blog (and because I tend to forget to make occasional reintroductions like this one), hi, I’m Beth, and I’m a hard polytheist.  What this means for me is that the gods have firm, distinct edges to Them, just like mortal people do, and they are no less individuals than mortal people are. Very occasionally these distinct edges may overlap, but as a rule, in my own doxa and practice, syncretism is not a thing that happens.

I’ve also begun in the past year to self-identify as a Witch (the Traditional or Sabbatic type, not Wiccan) more so than Heathen (I realize that the two need not be mutually exclusive), but more about that in another post. Regardless of what category I fall into, I am a mortal wife of Odin (for more than twelve years now); I married Him back before “godspousery” was even a word, before there were very many pagan blogs at all, let alone “godspouse” ones, and He is the center of my practice and my life. (He does overlap nicely with the “Man in Black” figure of British Traditional Witchcraft–but again, more on that later.)

I live with a mortal wife of Poseidon (Jo), who is my life partner (though not in a romantic way) and sister; she and I support each other in living a monastic lifestyle in which our gods are the focus of our lives. We both have outside jobs, though mine is only part-time due to the fact that my chronic pain issues (fibromyalgia and arthritis, among other things) limit the amount of time I am able to spend sitting and working at a desk. I also run a currently part-time business offering my own handcrafted magickal items (ritual cords, candles, bath soaks, prayer beads, and soon soap, oils and incense), which I hope to grow into a full-time business. We are both writers, and are currently collaborating on a book about sacred marriage/godspousery.

But enough about me; back to my gods. As everyone who has worked with Norse deities no doubt knows, They tend to travel in packs, and if you have one around, there are usually others hiding in the woodwork, waiting to emerge. My own experience is no exception, and so here is a (fairly) brief rundown of the deities who make up my personal pantheon.

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Looking ahead to 2015 (The Pagan Experience)

I’ve decided to take part in The Pagan Experience, the community writing project that’s taking the place of the now-retired Pagan Blog Project, and am going to share selected posts here, as relevant.  (ALL of them will be posted to my personal blog, if you're interested!) This is my post from the first week (edited somewhat for this blog, and because a couple of weeks have passed since I first wrote it).  (Although I'm caught up now, I was late getting started with this because thus far in 2015, I’ve been so busy doing All of the Things that I haven’t had much of a chance to write about All of the Things.)

As I’ve seen others comment on this topic, I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions–not in the sense of promising or vowing to accomplish a list of goals for the year ahead. As a Witch, I am reluctant to put my word behind something unless I really mean to keep it, at any cost. Most of the goals I set don’t fall into this category because life happens, and as events unfold throughout the year some of the goals I had set at the beginning of it may become less important, while others I hadn’t even been aware of become vital. With this in mind, instead of putting my word behind most of the things on my list, I set intentions for what I would like to accomplish, what sort of year I intend to create (with the understanding that my gods may have something else in mind altogether).

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And so it is Yuletide

And so it is Yule. Unlike Christmas (and even unlike the Winter Solstice itself), Yule is not a single day, and its arrival is not determined by a single calendar date. It is a dark tide of energy that arises, generally on or around the Solstice, and Yule proper lasts for twelve nights, ending in Twelfth Night (which usually falls on or around Christmas Eve).

Its coming is not always predictable; one can plan for Yule and then feel the tide of energy arrive a day early, or a day late. In this modern era, most people are so harried by the commercialism of the Christmas season that they barely even notice when the tide comes in, if they notice at all. I own an online shop and my day job is in customer service, so I certainly am not immune to the hectic atmosphere that prevails. In the midst of the flurry of shopping and making, it can be difficult to feel the moment when the land whispers to you: “It is now.”

Our ancestors (in the Germanic countries) referred to Yule as Rauhnacht, the “rough nights” or “raw nights.” The Yuletide energy is not a gentle one; it is harsh, glaring, strident, echoing the energies of the Wild Hunt that rules this season. It actually meshes pretty well with the frantic shopping and feelings of desperation and often despair that surround Christmas. It can manifest in irritation and snappishness (tempers have been short in my household all week long), or in a surge of energy that one does not know how to channel. Many people respond to it by feeling the need to retreat from the world, to nest with books or movies—which is actually a wise choice. Traditionally, Yule was a time for gathering a home with families and friends—not just to celebrate the return of the sun, but because it was considered a dangerous time. The roads, the wildness, all of the in-between places were particularly dangerous; there was too much chance of encountering the Hunt, or even being taken by it. Only witches, seidhr folk, sorcerers, and other societal vagrants would choose to be out and about on these nights.

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Thoughts on the Aesir

Years ago, when my friend Nornoriel's writings on the Vanir as a tribe were first starting to become popular (he was Svartesol at the time; make sure to give him credit if you quote his older work!), I felt a pull towards attempting to write about the Aesir as a people, as a collective, and was urged to do so by Odin (as doing PR for Asgard in general, and not just for Him personally, is supposed to be part of my Job). But I ran into a few challenges, the first one being one of an assumed entitlement: why do the Aesir need PR in the first place, when all of the myths are supposedly written from our/Their perspective, and when the most well-known modern religion established for the gods of the north (Asatru) is literally named for Them?

And yet, Asatru is not specifically about the Aesir per se, as a tribe or a culture (a culture that encompasses more than just the known Aesic deities); it is a religion that also takes in the Vanir-- basically a catch-all for the worship of the northern gods in general. So clearly, the fact that Asatru exists is not a substitute for what I was being asked to do. Also, regarding the myths being from an Aesic perspective, I don't think that's necessarily the case either; they were written from a human perspective, and to a large extent the people who recorded them (the skalds of the Viking era) were not interested in differentiating between the tribes of the gods, so much as in telling a good story. And as much as I find Nornoriel's explorations of the Vanir to be important, engrossing, and long-overdue, they do leave something of a gap. In celebrating the Vanir as the gods of nature, agriculture, passion, and creativity, the Aesir become relegated, in contrast, to what I personally consider the “boring” categories: civilization, laws and their enforcement, teaching—in other words, strictly human concerns. (Both tribes have an equal claim on warfare though, it seems.)

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