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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Seeing My Own Death in the Runes

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, in college I discovered that I could advise other people with rune readings, but when I read for myself, all I ever saw was my own death. I was still a teenager the first time I foresaw my death, and it scared me. At the time, I was studying Russian Studies and Soviet Political Analysis at UC-Santa Cruz. I wanted to be an intelligence officer after I got my degree. Actually I wanted a military career, but my eyesight and asthma precluded that, and I thought the closest thing I could achieve would be to become an intelligence analyst. I had already been a freelance writer for several years, and those were the two career paths I asked about when I tried to read the runes for myself.

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

     “I did a lot of rune readings for myself, friends, and people I met at parties.  Acquaintances brought people to me to read runes for them.  One evening I decided to read for myself and ask about future courses of action.  Was I on the right road?  I asked the runes, “What will happen if I join CIA?” and they said, You will die.  I was frightened, so I asked, “What will happen if I become a writer?”  You will die.  “What will happen if I take some third course of action?”  You will die.

     My fear evaporated.  I laughed out loud.  “Of course.  Of course.  Whatever I do, I will eventually die.  I am not a god.  Of course I will die.  It doesn’t matter what I do, the end is the same for everyone.  So I should just do what I want to do, and let the end take care of itself.”  I resolved to make my decisions based on what I really wanted, and never again ask the runes for advice in deciding a course of action.  In the coming years I would sometimes think of asking for advice making decisions, but I always remembered this lesson, and chose without the runes.”

In a way, knowing about my own death since my late teens has been a positive experience, because it has allowed me to act fearlessly. It's not comfortable knowledge, though. Most of the time I ignore it. What I ignore tends to become an unconscious issue that comes back in my fiction writing, and the question of what prophecy is and what it's for and whether it can be changed is one I'm currently exploring in the heathen mythology based novel I'm currently writing.

About 20 years after seeing my death for the first time, after I had been teaching my Rune Seminar for many years, I decided to make a Rune Seminar video and include sample readings. I got several people I know to be in it, with me doing readings for them. I also figured I might as well do a sample self-reading. I had not tried to read for myself since college, but I thought I was prepared for what I would see, since I knew I would see my own death again. This time I saw more than that. This time I saw past my death, and caught a glimpse of my own afterlife.

Since I became a sworn priestess of Freya in 1989, I had expected to go to Freya when I die. When I read for myself again in my 40s, I saw the face of Odin. I only saw it briefly, but it was unmistakable. There was a light like a white cloud in front of the sun, and his white-grey hair and beard were made of that cloud. He had one eye with a light in it like the sun piercing through the cloudy sky.

I was frightened again. Odin had been my original patron and was the god I had actually intended to swear myself to the day I went out in the woods and ended up with Freya instead. But by this time I had been hers for decades, and I associated an Odin-centric afterlife with death in battle, which is not what I foresaw for myself. Even if I did die in battle, Freya takes half the slain so I could still end up with her. But I saw Odin. I was disturbed thinking I had my vision all wrong all this time and I was with the wrong god or things were not going to happen the way I had foreseen after all. I decided to edit that whole sequence out of the video, and just ignore the whole vision, and file that glimpse of Odin in the place where I file experiences I can't explain and don't want to think about too hard.

Link to Rune Seminar video: http://www.amazon.com/Rune-Seminar-Magicalrealist-Gallery/dp/B003KZ5UGG

I don't have any of my self-reading in the video, I cut the entire thing, because the video is supposed to be an upbeat teaching tool and I didn't want to show myself having a negative experience on it. I actively ignored what I had seen and went back to expected to go to Freya after death. Only very recently have I come home to Odin and know that I saw the truth that day. But that's getting ahead of my story. Returning to the chronological order of my journey, next time I'll write about the day in 1989 when I went out in the woods to dedicate myself to Odin and ended up a Priestess of Freya.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
On Fibromyalgia and Spiritual Emergency
Having an illness is not a weakness. It’s not something to be ashamed of. Seeking out help is a show of strength. And there’s a certain grace to the person who finds themselves having to do this over and over again in an attempt to find the key that will unlock relief for them.

 

Let’s stop romanticizing the dangers of things like shaman sickness sending a person out into the wild to freeze to death. Or, at the very least, if we’re going to pretend that we’d be better off in tribal society, let’s look at how our society, our little religious community, treats those who are sick… We still send them out into the cold to freeze to death. Only we do it with shame and perpetuating the myths that modern medicine is never the answer. We do it with turning our eyes away and not speaking up when we’re worried about a friend who seems to be having a particularly hard time…

 

On Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mental Illness, Therapy, and Anti-Psychiatry Sentiment in the General Pagan/Polytheist Community | Foxglove and Firmitas

 

I wanted to share this quote (and the entire post) because it’s important for the pagan/polytheist community as a whole to read.  But I’m coming at this from a somewhat different perspective, that of someone whose shaman sickness/spiritual emergency took the form of a chronic physical illness (fibromyalgia) instead of a mental one.  Except, I don’t know if I can even properly make that distinction, since many doctors refuse to see fibro as a physical illness, even with its primarily physical symptoms; many of them see it as a mental illness, a case of wires being crossed in the brain so that a person experiences pain where there shouldn’t be any.  I understand their reasoning for this: they don’t understand fibro because although there are parameters for identifying it, it doesn’t show up in blood tests or any other sot of laboratory-provable way.  Therefore, they shove it into that great abyss wherein resides all other things that they do not understand: the brain. (This begs the question of whether or not it even matters if fibro actually resides in the brain or in the myofascial tissues, since both are still part of the body.)

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  • MoonWillow
    MoonWillow says #
    well said...
  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers says #
    As a spiritual person with chronic fatigue syndrome, I greatly appreciate this post!
Call for Submissions: Masks of the High One - a Devotional Anthology for Odin

A little more than a year ago, I put out a call for submissions for Prayers to the Allfather, a book of prayers and rituals for Odin. Well, despite a number of people being kind enough to share my CFS across the internet, I received exactly three submissions. Due to various factors in my life at the time, I just wasn’t feeling equal to writing the bulk of a book of prayers on my own (since when I think prayers, I think poetry, and I am not primarily a poet), so I reluctantly shelved the project for a while.

Then I got to thinking: maybe a prayer book is too limiting. Maybe most other pagans, witches and polytheists out there also shy away from writing prayers for public consumption, either because they feel too personal, or because (like me) they associate them with poetry and feel unequal to the task. Maybe I pigeonholed my own project into the remainder bin.

And then it occurred to me: no one (to my knowledge) has yet to come forth with a devotional anthology for and about Odin. All of my initial foot-dragging on the notion of such a project aside, I finally had to ask myself whether I wanted to be the one to step up to the plate and do this, or whether I wanted to wait until someone else did it, and have to live with the regret.

And so, here we are. Today, on August 30th 2014, I am opening submissions for Masks of the High One: A Devotional Anthology for Odin. Submissions will close on May 1st, 2015.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I don't usually work with Odin but your blog inspired me this morning and I couldn't stop thinking about it during lunch so I wro

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
On Frigga

 

She is not the most beautiful woman at the court of the Aesir, nor the most glamorous, not the most vivacious and charming. Those roles are held by Freyja, said by some to be Her rival, by others to be another, earlier, side of Herself. (In mainland Germany, there was no Frigga and no Freyja—only Frija, apparently an amalgam of the two goddesses.) There is no contest: Freyja is the star who draws all eyes in Asgard.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I had an interesting personal lesson this week that I thought I would share with you all.  (I had a couple, actually, but I’m only going to share one in this post…the second one later on, perhaps.)

One of Odin’s overarching and ongoing themes in our relationship (going on 12 years now) has been “Take care of My wife.” (With “I will provide for your needs, and even some of your wants, if you but let Me” being a close second.)

The reason this is a constant theme with Him is that I don’t take care of myself, really. And I ask quite a lot of myself, and especially of my physical being, considering that I am a person with physical challenges.  I go to an outside job (25 hours per week), I help take care of our household of animals, I keep up a devotional and spirit work practice, and I run a growing business, FiberWytch.  Do I make sure I fit in the activities–such as yoga and meditation–that I KNOW help my physical condition, on a daily basis? Not really. Do I make sure I provide work breaks and days off for myself? Um…maybe.  I do take work breaks (and stretching breaks whenever I need them) but I don’t make sure they’re 15 minutes long, as they have to be according to law at my day job, and I certainly don’t allow myself days when I am freed from any activities whatsoever regarding FiberWytch.  Why not? Because I can only run my business part time (at the most; how much time I can devote to it depends on how I’m feeling that particular day, or week), so I figure my time spent at my day job IS my time off. I guess that makes my day job a better boss of me than I am of myself.

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Please note that this is not a treatise on how all Gods are One God/dess— in Norse myth or otherwise. Norse myth contains distinct deified ancestors, locally-specific Gods and many other members of the pantheon such as Njordh, Mani, Baldr and Thor.

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    And Simek's Dictionary of Norse Mythology, where relevant.
  • Douglas Lange
    Douglas Lange says #
    Can't wait to see more of this piece. This article is kinda like being invited to read someone's notes on their personal practices
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thank you, Douglas. I'll be using primary sources from The Tain to the Eddas, and work from Hilda Ellis Davidson, Jan Puhvel, some
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    While it is true that this is only an introductory post (and she stated as much), I think it might have gone over a little better
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    I look forward to seeing more on this. I am ashamed at my peers for pointing out so much to correct in what is only an introductor

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

This blog post also appears in print with more photos in Sacred Hoop Issue #85.

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.

...
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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • 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 #
    You're welcome. Thanks for responding. Sounds like a fun wedding, Greybeard! And Jemez is gorgeous.
  • 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

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