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

I am an artist and spirit worker living in Oregon with my god-husband, human partner, and a variety of spirits and animal companions both living and dead. My business, Beth Wodandis Designs, offers artisan pagan jewelry and devotional tools hand crafted with intent, meticulous attention to detail, and a heaping wallop of energy. I am the author of Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin's Journeys, and Water from the Well and Other Wyrd Tales of Odin, both of which are available in my Etsy shop in PDF format, as well as on Amazon.
Assuming the Mantle: The Lessons of Anne Boleyn

This post by Heather Freysdottir on female sovereignty, and male attempts to erase it from the historical record, reminded me that about a year ago I wrote a related piece (a meaty 7,200 word article) that was published in the Walking the Worlds journal’s very first issue, which focused on ancestor worship. Galina Krasskova approached me to write the piece because she had heard about my work with Queen Anne Boleyn and was curious about the contributions a Christian Queen might make to a polytheist devotional practice. The journal buys one-time rights, with the understanding that after six months all rights to republication would revert to me. I have held the rights since June or July, and because I felt it deserved a wider audience than the people I was able to reach through the journal, I had intended to put it out as a short ebook–but then I got busy with the store and forgot to release it.

And then Heather’s post on forgotten queens (or queens who are remembered for the wrong reasons) reminded me that interest in Anne is growing among polytheist women. True, she was Christian, but her ardent belief in the importance of having a direct and intimate connection with her god (which was a new and startling notion in the 16th century, when she lived) is not so different from our own devotion to our deities. And even more than that, queens are part of our cultural and spiritual inheritance as women; studying examples of female power proves to us that such power is not only possible but within our own grasp–which is exactly why men have tried so hard to hide this evidence. It is beyond tragic that popular culture mostly remembers Anne as a sex kitten; this is one of the ways in which men love to paint clever women who have gotten the better of them, minimizing them by reducing them to the sum of their sexual parts. Anne was a scholar (her father used his clout as French ambassador to arrange for her to have an education mainly reserved for the children of royalty), a better musician than her husband Henry VIII, a good mother to her only daughter (the future Queen Elizabeth I), a devout evangelist, and a champion of the poor. (She wanted the funds from the dissolution of the monasteries to go to health care and food for the underprivileged; the king’s minister Cromwell used them to enrich the royal treasuries instead. Their power struggle over this is partly why he turned against her, and why he felt he HAD to vilify her.)

My ebook discusses why her remarkable life is more important than her violent and horrific death, how she came to matter so much to me, and why she should matter to ALL of us, as polytheist women, godspouses, and spirit workers.  

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The Deepening Dark

This has been a strange year for me; a lot of things have shifted, and a lot of things have fallen into place. In May, I was finally able to leave my day job and become a full-time businesswoman. At the same time as this was going on, I had to cope with the sudden terminal illness of my ten-year-old cat, Grim Greyling. This event has colored much of the rest of my year, because when he passed into spirit he became such a palpable, immediate presence in our household that I had to recalibrate my ability to perceive and interact with my god-husband, Odin. Yes, having Grim around has made it harder for me to maintain awareness of having my husband around, and I've had to rebuild those muscles almost from the ground up. It hasn't been easy, though the process been helped by the firm knowledge that Odin hasn't gone anywhere, and that at the end of the this process He will be more solidly present than ever before. And I wouldn't trade having Grim around for making this easier on me—because no one ever said these relationships were supposed to be easy, anyhow.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The combination of Gallo-Roman with Norse deities sounds like your growing spiritual roots in Normandy France. I think your still
  • Beth Wodandis
    Beth Wodandis says #
    Hi Anthony! I don't think I've shared that here yet, but I have written about it a little here and there on my personal blog, Wytc
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Have you already shared the story of how Mercurius Rex and Rosmerta made their way into your life or is that a story for another d

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My Odin, and Other People's Odins

I’ve gone on record in the past as speculating that we all might very well get our own individual version of a particular deity—that my Odin, the Odin I’m married to, may literally not be the same Odin another wife of His is married to (or that another devotee of His is involved with in whatever capacity). This is a complicated and thorny topic, and can very easily spark misunderstandings. So let me start out by saying point-blank that I am NOT saying my Odin is necessarily THE Odin (as in, the One True Odin). There is simply no way I (or any of His other spouses or lovers) can know that with absolute certainty, so any argument one way or another is pointless. But I recently came up with yet another way to think about this.

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  • Soli
    Soli says #
    Coming back to this post again and taking it in, I am reminded of the end of American Gods when Shadow meets Odin in Iceland and W
  • Eilidh nic Sidheag
    Eilidh nic Sidheag says #
    I've come across a similar concept in Vodou, where everyone has an "escort" of spirits that take an interest in them. Its exact co
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Reminds me of the song Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode. I like the version by Johnny Cash best, I think it's more tuneful and easy

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The Strange Tale of Loki's Cat Children

It all started back in 2004. We were still living in Philadelphia at the time, in a not-so-great inner city neighborhood. Jo had recently moved into my house, and my now-ex was still living there but we were estranged; I had been married to Odin for two years. It was July and I was doing something outside (at this point I don’t remember what) when a redheaded boy with light mocha skin (and when I say redheaded, I mean neon-bright) came up to me from out of nowhere. I had never seen this boy in the neighborhood before that day, and I never saw him again afterwards; this alone was kind of strange, because in the inner city most people can be seen hanging out on the street outside their houses, especially in the summer. But then, we have since come to believe that the boy wasn’t human; he was Loki.

He had two black kittens—about 4-6 months old, one long-haired and one short—cradled under his arms. He approached me and asked if I wanted them.

Now, for me, asking me if I want kittens is a little like asking if I want chocolate; if there isn’t a pressing reason to refuse I’m going to say yes. At that time, there wasn’t a pressing reason; we only had one cat (my Maine Coon, Sassy—now deceased) and I owned the house. There was no one to tell me I couldn’t have them (I didn’t really care what my now-ex thought, and I doubted Jo would be upset) and they looked healthy enough. So (even though I sensed eye-rollage from Odin in the background) I said yes, and the boy handed the kittens over and quickly vanished whence he had appeared.

In retrospect, I can easily suss out all of the things Loki did not actually voice at the time: “This was an experiment; I know I shouldn’t have, but I really couldn’t help myself—you should have seen the cat, he was gorgeous! They might not be completely right; they might even come with expiration dates. But I know no one will love them like you will.”

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Appealing to your ancestors

In a recent reading I did for a client regarding a problematic spirit relationship, one of the potential solutions that came up for dealing with her situation was to appeal to her ancestors and the gods of her bloodline for assistance. Since she had questions about this, I’m thinking other people out there might, too.

Yes, I know the topic of ancestor work can be a controversial one in the pagan community, because so many of us have deceased family members we wouldn’t call on if it was the last option open to us. For example, if your late Uncle Mort was a child molester, chances are you don’t really want to be inviting him into your home. Also, as many of us are first generation pagans in monotheistic families, we might feel alienated by some of our immediate ancestors, feeling that they can’t possibly share very much with us and unsure why they would want to help with our relationships with pagan deities, demons, spirits, or what have you.

But we all have bloodlines that go back more than just the few generations we might know about. Whether you know it or not, whether you can trace it objectively or not, you have a bloodline that reaches back into the pagan past, into the depths of antiquity. Depending on what country your ancestors came from, what ethnicity you are, you have ancestors who worshiped Odin, or Cerridwen, or Isis, or Ogun. Some of our ancestors, granted, return to the “primordial soup” that provides a source for new souls at the birth of children. Of those who qualify as Mighty Dead—those who managed to distinguish themselves in life in some way—some may be reborn as themselves (with their individual spirit intact), in a new body; some may choose to dwell in the spirit realms and join groups of spirits such as the Wild Hunt. But every bloodline has one or two who qualify to be ranked among the Mighty Dead and who choose to remain attached to their own blood lineage, to watch over their descendants. These are the people to turn to when you get yourself into a sticky situation with a god, demon, or other entity who you seem to be stuck in an abusive relationship with (assuming you have tried to work things out directly with that entity and it has failed, or it isn’t possible or advisable to deal directly with them for whatever reason).

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  • kayly
    kayly says #
    Thank you for this post. It offers good insight into what a person might expect when they begin to work with ancestors and how to
My Personal Religious Calendar (The Pagan Experience)

(This post was written as part of The Pagan Experience, a community blogging project. You can find more information on the project and how to join in yourself here.)

I’ve been meaning to write this post for two or three weeks now, but unfortunately, the letter “C” came up in the posting prompts around the same time as my doctor changed my pain maintenance meds, which put me in withdrawal for two weeks. In that state, I ranged between low-grade fevers with chills, periods of complete exhaustion, and extreme mood swings, and while making stuff was okay, writing an actual content post was probably ill-advised, if even possible.

I wonder what my doctor would say if she knew that it was a Norse god who had mandated the change. My memory and critical thinking skills had been getting progressively worse over the past several years while taking Gabapentin, during the past year especially. I had become incredibly accident prone; I concussed myself pretty badly once, and overdosed the dog on his heart pills twice, but it wasn’t until I forgot that Pyrex gets hot in the microwave and ended up with first degree burns over a good portion of my right hand that Odin finally said “Enough, I want you OFF of that already, before you do irreparable damage to yourself.” My new doctor had already been saying that she didn’t know how I was even walking around with the dosage my old doctor had put me on. Going down from three pills a day to one came with pain and withdrawal as a trade-off, which a low-dose Prozac in the morning has helped to counter, and two weeks later I’m finally starting to feel better—more like myself, actually, than I have in years. (There is still some fibro fog, but the Gabapentin was making it much, much worse than it needed to be.)

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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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