Loki ritual cords now available at FiberWytch on Etsy!

The upload was somewhat delayed by an internet outage yesterday (the Hunt swept through Eugene in force, and we had a hailstorm), but at long last, they’re heeeeere..One of these would make the perfect Yule gift for yourself or for that Lokean on your gift list!

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Loki is the Norse/Germanic Trickster deity, blood brother of Odin, traveling companion of Thor and Bragi, shapeshifting mother of Sleipnir (Odin’s eight-legged steed), and father of Hela, Jormundangr, and Fenris. He is well known for being a catalyst and bringing needed change into the lives of His followers.

The cord is made from the finest hand dyed Merino and Cheviot wools, carded with hand dyed silk and lots of sparkle and then Navajo plied with a strand of gleaming metallic red mylar novelty yarn. The result is a fiery, shimmering furnace of orange, red, gold, copper, auburn and orange, punctuated with streaks of ashen black and accentuated by occasional glimpses of hot pink. (Loki is notoriously gender-fluid.)

Please be aware that each monitor shows color a bit differently. Since these are made in tiny batches by hand, the cord you receive may not be identical to the photographs, but it will be very close. Please allow for slight variations!

Blessed and consecrated with Loki’s energies (I am not a Loki spouse, but He is close to my heart and like a Brother to me) and rinsed with sage leaf, cranberry jade, and essential oils of nutmeg, sweet orange, cinnamon bark, and ginger. Galdred and charged with the runes Kenaz, Dagaz, and Laguz.

Two of the cords are adorned by a gorgeous antiqued silvertone horse (for Sleipnir),a  salmon (the disguise Loki took while fleeing from they gods after they discovered His role in Balder’s death), an antiqued bronzetone flaming heart milagro (for the witch Gulveig, whose heart Loki ate), and a genuine cranberry jade bead.

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The other two cords are adorned with all of the same charms except that there is a beautiful silvertoned fox (an animal many of Loki’s modern followers associate with Him) in place of the horse.

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One of the fox cords is a slightly shorter cord, coming in at two yards, 28 inches instead of the full three yards.  The other three cords are the usual three yards.

You can use this cord:

- To adorn an altar for Loki or for your shamanic or magickal work
– For connecting with any of Loki’s aspects
– As a prayer cord, for working with Loki
– For petitioning Loki
– For any ritual or spell having to do with magick, gender fluidity, shapeshifting, illusion, luck, catalyzing events (ie making stuff happen), and getting out of sticky situations
– For any ritual, prayer, or spell having to do with any other area in which Loki holds influence, or which falls within His domain
– To contact Loki in meditation or journeying
– As a dedication cord to Loki
– As a necklace lariat, belt, or hair tie to wear to a rite in honor of Loki
– For knot spell work
– To spread on the floor to mark out your ritual circle for working with Loki, or for astral travel, shapeshifting or magick
– As a portable altar/shrine to Loki, or a stealth shrine (for those who are unable to practice openly)
– To wear on any occasion when you want to around yourself with Loki’s protection

I have noticed that anything I make for either Loki or Odin tends to go pretty quickly, and there are only four of these cords, total, so if you need to have this cord I would suggest acting quickly!

As always, thank you for looking and for your support! I truly appreciate each and every one of you, even if all you can do is spread the word about my Work.

 

 

When Personal Myth Conflicts

Recently, Jo wrote about Personal Myth Cycles, and how she’s been coming to terms with the fact that some of her own personal myths regarding Poseidon don’t mesh with known “lore.” The material we come to accept as lore, as she points out, is nothing more or less than shared/peer-corroborated personal gnosis/doxa (PCPG) with the weight of years or tradition behind it. Given this understanding, it might be important that your own personal myths and beliefs about the gods (and let’s face it, we all have them) mesh with those of others if you’re Working within a group, but otherwise it doesn’t much matter.

And yet. And yet. Occasions when personal myths conflict is one of the number one things I have seen polytheists (myself included) get bent out of shape over. As an example, I have set forth some of my own personal myths regarding Odin in two books that were published by Wild Hunt Press several years back. These volumes are both collections of short stories, some of them retellings of myths from Norse “lore” from a fresh perspective (such as “Blood, Sex, Honey,” my take on the Mead of Poetry story), some of them completely new myths showing Odin’s impact on individuals in modern times. As with the stories Jo is including in her current work in progress (Poseidon: A Narrative), the stories are of varying “weight.” In other words, some of them were told to me directly by Odin or other Powers, some were based on my own personal UPG/doxa of how things may have happened but were not direct downloads from entities, and a few were just a result of my playing the writer’s classic “What if____?” game. (For example, asking “What if a Heathen woman devoted to Odin was in a fatal car accident on her way home from a blot and He had to help her come to terms with dying and leaving her daughter behind?” led to the story “Last Journey.”)

Because I knew full well that many lore-based Heathens would object strongly to some of the content in these stories (and interestingly, the stories people found most objectionable—such as “They Speak to Me,” in which Gunnlod, now in Hela’s realm, turns out to be the volva who warns Odin about Ragnarok—were the ones with the greatest weight behind them), I became extremely protective of my UPG as depicted in them and would bristle whenever someone told me bluntly that they didn’t agree with my perspective. I’m a lot less prickly about these things now—at least in general.

As an example of this, the other day my friend Nono mentioned in his blog that “most people” feel Odin took up the runes relatively late in Asgard’s history, after the death of Balder. In my own personal mythology, I had originally understood the timing of this event to fall a lot earlier, after the Mead of Poetry episode and after Odin’s marriage to Frigga, but before Balder’s death. (In fact, I understood it as a direct consequence of the events in “Blood, Sex, Honey.”) However, after I thought about it, I could equally see this happening as a consequence of the events in “They Speak to Me,” when Odin learns that Asgard is under dire threat. One action He is forced to take as a result of this threat is the sacrifice of His son, Balder, as a stand-in for Himself, the Sacred King. (If you want to see another example of this classic trope of the stand-in, enacted for similar reasons to the ones in my story, watch the original “Wicker Man” movie. Historically, choosing a substitute to die in place of the King, when this sort of sacrifice was called for, was a thing that happened. A lot of people are extremely uncomfortable with this interpretation because it means Odin sacrificed His own son—but, well, Odin is Odin. He does what needs to be done, which doesn’t always coincide with what He wants to do.) But another action stemming from this threat could well have been His quest for the runes, for the mysteries that would give Him the power needed to protect His kingdom. Having come to this conclusion after a few moments of pondering, I was able to respond to Nono that I had heard the story differently but “eh, weebly wobbly, timey wimey.” To which he replied, “Godly wodly.” And no hurt feelings on either side.

Ah, but. Insert yourself into your personal myth cycle, and suddenly everything changes, and people (again, myself included) become a lot more sensitive. We all (or at least, most of us who are godspouses, or in some other type of close relationship with Them) have our stories that we treasure about our relationships with our Beloveds. Some of these stories were gleaned from visions or journeys, or imparted to us directly by Them; some were cobbled together through study and reading; some consist of all of the above, and have been corroborated by one or more other people, and confirmed by signs and omens through the years. Whatever the source and provenance, we all have stories of our past with Them, Their role in our lives, the nuances of the relationship, and perhaps our role in Their lives as well. I’ve talked, on this blog, about some of my own stories, my shared history with Odin, and have at least alluded to my how my spirit work Job/s connect to that. Away from this blog, I’ve occasionally talked more in depth about it with people who had similar—yet different—stories of their own regarding their own (different) Beloveds, stories that would definitely fall on the other side of That Line of Crazy in the eyes of most polytheists, which is why we ended up talking to each other about them, stories wound together with apotheosis, sacred queenship, divine avatars and goddess fragments, and other forbidden topics. All of these stories, taken together, are the kinds of thing that make up our personal myth cycles, for each of us. And each of us has had to (at least to some extent) let go of the Fear of Being Crazy in order to explore our personal myth more deeply and allow it to nourish our individual Work.

Minor points of conflict are generally not too much of a problem, when you discuss things like this with like-minded people, because there is (as noted above in my anecdote about the timing of Odin’s ordeal on the Tree) generally at least a bit of wiggle room when discussing the divine. I mean, let’s face it, even the bits of this that fall into the realm of PCPG are still subjective, personal, not subject to any kind of scientific proof. But then, religion is not about scientific proof, and insisting on it is a good way to kill a mystical experience. And discussing experiences in a group of people who have had similar experiences is not the same as being in a Working group; there is no need to come to a consensus (although people still tend to try to do so, anyway; that seems to be part of human nature).

And yet. What happens when one of your core, central UPGs comes into direct conflict with that of another person? I don’t mean encountering someone else also married to or romantically involved with your Beloved, because that’s common enough, and I tend to take this perspective on it.  No, what I’m talking about is something that lies at the very core of your personal mythology–your story of your life with your Beloved, and your unique role and importance to Them. Be honest, we all have these bits—or again, I’m assuming that most of the people reading this post will, even if it’s something you’ve never confided to anyone. It’s generally something that you cling to pretty tightly and feel protective of, something you won’t surrender easily and may not even be willing to compromise on at all. It may even lie at the core of what makes you, you.

What happens when someone else also claims this particular story, in conjunction with your particular god, in such a way that a conflict is created? We’re all human (to one extent or another, anyhow); isn’t it natural to feel territorial about something so integral to our personal identity—to not only who we are, but who we are together with Them? (And yes, I know that the Make a Wish post I just linked to means that this kind of thing does not necessarily have to create an unworkable conflict. But depending on the people involved, and their willingness—or lack thereof–to respect boundaries as discussed below, it might do so, anyway.)

There are, in my experience, three ways you can choose to react when this kind of conflict ensues:

  1. Agree to disagree. This could be the easiest solution if you want to preserve the (human) relationship, but might only work if both of you agree to refrain from discussing the conflicting point of UPG. And if one of you insists on talking about it anyway, we move on to…
  2. Come to a compromise, or change/expand your own UPG so that it can now encompass the other person’s as well. My adoption of this perspective , in which we are each dealing with a distinct and individual version of our particular god (go read the post already) is one example of how I’ve personally done this. If Odin repeatedly and insistently tells me a thing that conflicts with what He seems to be telling other people, how can I reconcile this? By recognizing that my Odin (even though He shares a name, powers, and a job description with all of the other Odins out there) is His own distinct individual; They are all equally Odin, yet each one is different. (Really, go read the other post already, because someone else wrote the original and you need to read it to understand. I’ll be waiting when you get back.) This is what I mean when I say that my Odin is idiosyncratic, and that I see a face of Him that no one else sees—literally, no one else. (Well, except for Jo; we share an Odin.) It’s also why my Odin may be the same as Mercurius Rex (the Romans certainly thought so, after all), and other people’s Odins may not be.

    Humans being community-centric animals, compromise is the solution most people seem to opt for, but it can also be a dangerous one. There are so many areas in which we’re asked to compromise in order to “get along”; at school while growing up, in the workplace as adults, at home if we have families, in friendships. “That’s life,” some of you may respond, but especially for women, it can begin to seem as though there is nothing we’re allowed to keep for ourselves, nothing we can keep as our One Defining Thing without having to share it and include others in it. For some people, this may be just fine; for someone as territorial and introverted as I am, it can be a problem, depending on how important the thing I’m being asked to compromise on is to me. I compromise plenty in my day to day life, but I’ve also set up my life to be a mostly solitary one centered around and devoted to my gods and spirits. There is tremendous pressure, within our various spiritual communities, to compromise and change when conflicts such as this occur, and the person who refuses to do so often becomes an outcast. Especially concerning Odin, people have the tendency to say things such as “His path isn’t about comfort” and “If you aren’t willing to be pushed out of your comfort zone, you shouldn’t be involved with Him in the first place.” Well, frankly, who the fuck are you to say that? (Says the woman who’s been married to Him for a dozen years, left her mortal spouse for Him, and has gone through a cross-country move—only one so far, but who’s counting?–at His behest.) If your god says to you “This is yours, you may keep it, this is at the core of who We are together, trust Me on this” while in the process of stripping everything else in your life away (yes, this happened to me), then who the fuck are you to imply, basically, “If you won’t compromise on this one thing, it’s because you’re selfish and blocked and won’t leave your comfort zone?” What you are doing in saying this is basically telling me that your UPG, your understanding of my god and my relationship with Him, is clearer and more true than my own. And by the way, fuck you for that.Ahem. Which brings me to:

  3. Decide to cut off contact with the other person and keep your UPG intact. This is a last resort, since we all enjoy having friends, but it has so far proven necessary to me twice in my life and I will do it again if need be. For many people, this would be unthinkable; after all, shouldn’t human relationships be more important than something as arcane as a point of UPG? Yes, for the vast majority of humanity. But no, if you really view Them as actual People and treat Them as such, if you don’t relegate Them to a lower level of importance than the humans in your life, if you actually place your relationship with Them at the core of your life to the extent that it is more important than your human relationships. If you, like me, fall into the latter category, this may end up being the only possible choice–if indeed your god is saying to you, “What I’ve told you is true and I want you to cling to it.”

I’ve written here, quite recently, about the trust issues I’ve had with Odin over the course of our relationship and about His insistence on having my trust, on my placing my trust in Him above and beyond anyone and anything else. I came to a turning point in this, at long last, in October, when He said “Trust Me” and then one weekend’s sales in the store generated enough money for me to buy the e-spinner I needed to enable me to keep spinning. (With my physical issues, it was becoming increasingly painful to treadle at a traditional wheel for long periods of time.)

Once I passed that turning point, it became easier and easier to trust Him as a matter of default, and there was—not surprisingly–a major test of this only a couple of weeks later, on Halloween itself, when the situation I’ve written about here happened to me. I’m not going to go into the specifics, but my response to this could have been #1 if I’d thought the other person was able to comply with that. (The circumstances in which this came about, and my history of asking this person to respect my Odin-approved boundaries and then repeatedly having them not respected, led me to believe this was not a possibility. Just the fact that I was made aware of the conflict was an example of those boundaries having been violated—and on more than one level.) #2 was never a possibility for me, because it went against everything Odin has been asking me to trust Him in for going on twelve years, and after having finally made some headway in that, I wasn’t willing to simply give it away. As mentioned, I lead a rather solitary life. I have my partner Jolene, but she is also a godspouse and we keep a rather cloistered household, centered on our gods. I have a grown daughter, but she lives back east. I don’t have a mortal husband, parents, brothers and sisters, or local friends I hang out with. My life revolves around Odin, and He and Jo (and the animals and other gods/spirits who comprise our household) are basically all I have.

I’m also not a young woman just starting out on this path who doesn’t yet know who she is or what she wants in life. I know I look young for my age, but I’m going on 50, and I’ve spent the last 12 years wrestling with a god as my life exploded around me and then the pieces began to fall back into place, one by one, into an entirely new and different pattern than the one I had known before. I’m not the person I was fifteen or twenty years ago (literally, not the same)—or even five or ten years ago, for that matter. When you belong to Odin, you live at the center of a storm, with hurricane winds whipping around you and destruction continually being laid at your feet. Surrendering to Him and giving Him your trust means you get to live in the eye of that storm rather than being battered by its winds, and believe me, that isn’t a state of affairs I’m willing to give up again. You think I should step outside my comfort zone? Sorry, this is the comfort zone Odin Himself shoved me into (while I was fighting to stay in the winds the whole time). You fucking deal with those winds. I’d rather be in here, with Him, where I belong.

In the final analysis, I will note that this entire issue is a rather strange one, peculiar to our own time and place in history in which technology has enabled us to form “communities” with people from around the globe and to communicate with them instantaneously. For the past few thousand years, if two spirit workers had conflicting UPG of this type, they would probably never even have found out about it. This fact underscores a lesson I thought I had learned a few years back when a different relationship imploded, but which I apparently need to keep learning: while you may occasionally find one or two people you can share things with (Jo would be one example of this, since we share the same Odin but have very different relationships with Him; Nono is another, as we have some important things in common but in such as way that we will never come into the type of conflict described here), but as a rule mystics and spirit workers do not naturally or comfortably fall into communities. They can get together and talk shop once in a while, or they can attempt to hold a community together through continual compromise, but at some point, if you are really doing the Work, it will isolate you. Or at the very least, you will come to realize that, at the core of things, you are alone in this with Them. If you’re really cut out for this type of Work, you need to find a way to be okay with that, because sooner or later, it will happen.

A bit of clarification, and what’s coming next

For anyone who missed yesterday’s post, my fixed mason jar candles are coming OFF Beta this weekend, as I am now satisfied with them functionally as well as magickally and energetically.  I am doing a big pour this weekend and will be posting jarred candles for the shop next week at their new regular price of $22 , but in the meantime you still have a few days to place a custom order at the reduced price of $18. (The new custom order price will be $25, which is reasonable for an 8 oz beeswax candle, let alone a fixed one.)

I also need to clarify, in regard to my last post, that it is the MASON JAR CANDLES only that are going off Beta.  While I am sure they will continue to improve as I become a more skilled chandler, they are at this point a professional-quality product.  The votive candles are still in the research and development phase.  So, if you ordered a set of fixed votives yesterday, under the impression that they are now off-Beta: I expect my next pour to be their last Beta pour, since I have new, non-paper core wicks coming in (hopefully today) that my research has led me to believe will work better.  However, I WILL be testing the results before sending your orders. Votive candle orders may lag a week or so behind the mason jar candle orders for this reason.

That said, even my last Beta batch for the votives (using a different sized paper core wick as an experiment) came out pretty well, so I am optimistic that this weekend will see the votives going off Beta, too.

I’d like to thank the people who contributed candle advice in response to my last post.  Although I’m grateful for the input, I unfortunately don’t have time to respond to everyone individually and I’m not going to be approving technical crafty comments because they don’t really fit the flavor of this blog. (Which is a spiritual blog primarily, and secondarily a marketing vehicle for my business.)  Please know that if you did comment and your comment wasn’t published, it isn’t anything personal, and I do thank you for taking the time to offer suggestions.

Alex remarked about the fact that the glass becoming cloudy or sooty in a fixed candle isn’t necessarily a defect in the Making, but may have messages for the user.  This is true, but I want to clarify that what I meant when I said that the candles burn clear is that there is no more tunneling, and thus no more wax clinging to the sides of the glass as the candle burns.  This actually makes it possible to receive messages via soot or cloudiness, which would not be the case if the sides were coated with wax.

Black Friday is headed our way this week, and it’s a great time to show your support for craftspeople and small businesses as opposed to shopping at the big box stores if at all possible, since every sale makes a difference to us.  Especially to me, as I continue to struggle to get FiberWitch off the ground so I can quit my office job and work from home.  This would be MUCH better for my body, as I deal with Fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s, arthritis, IBS, and other conditions that make it challenging to have to go into an office everyday, even with my reduced schedule. But in addition to myself, there are other small businesses and craftspeople out there I’d like to give a shout-out of support to, so I will be posting a FiberWytch shopping guide at some point next week.

And of course, I will be working hard to load the shop up with goodies for you, not only for Black Friday but throughout December (and on a continuing basis thereafter).  In addition to candles, candles, candles, there will be Loki ritual cords (yes, you read that right–and they’re almost ready!), Odin prayer beads, Yule Odin cords, wood-burned juniper wood pendants on handspun silk cords, and more! And after the holidays, my big Seekrit plan is to learn soapmaking, so that I can offer a full range of deity and magickal soaps for you in the shop.  I think this will be a perfect complement to the ritual cords, candles, yarn, and prayer beads/devotional jewelry.

In other news, I have not had as much time for writing this month as I had hoped, so there has been no NaNoWriMo participation in the true sense of that word, but I have begun filtering through some of my older blog posts that will go into the spirit work book I mentioned, and I may share some of them here. (They’re already on the blog, but I know people don’t have time to go digging for older stuff as a general rule.) In 2015, I am also planning to blog more about Asgard and the Aesir (possibly on my Pagan Square blog, Threads), in addition to taking another stab at the Pagan Blog Project–though I may leave those posts as free-range, since I have noticed that I tend not to do as well with them when I try to stick to a theme too closely. I also have a couple of other book projects I’d like to get going on in the next year, and am hoping my concentration on products such as soap and candles will help free up some more time for that.

And that’s all the news I’ve got for this moment.  Happy Friday, everyone!

 

 

Spirit Touched excerpt

Beth:

There’s still time to get in on Spirit Touched, Jo’s COMPLETE 10 K + story that she’s offering in December as part of her Story Subscription service. I have had the privilege of reading this one already, and if you love pagan fantasy you won’t want to miss it!

Originally posted on Strip Me Back To The Bone:

reminder: it’s mine, all mine, not yours, all mine! That said, here’s an excerpt:

Cloaking myself was a small matter. Shadows lent themselves to me, borrowed from the hardapple trees, from the clouds overhead that blocked the sun. Cloaking myself in my own shadow would have been easier yet, but I couldn’t wait for her to return to me. I stole away from Henny’s house, heading for the outskirts of the village. I trusted my feet while I used my eyes to be sure no one spotted me. My feet brought me to the midden, and what I found there made me wish longingly for blood-sickle brambles.

He stood in a stockade, head lowered and looking miserable. His shadow hung from his neck, caught in a witches bottle. His knees were bent as though his legs could not support his weight, and I winced, knowing how bruised his collarbones must…

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Let the fun begin

Beth:

I “cheated” and looked at page one…and omgs you do NOT want to miss a chance at these shinies. They’re simply spectacular!!

Originally posted on The Serpent's Labyrinth:

So, it is time to make an admin note.

Two weeks from today, as I think most of you know, I will be moving to the east coast (with demon-troll and cat in tow), specifically back to New England, where I’m from originally.  I have a lot going on right now, a lot of last-minute little things to take care of (most of the big things are out of the way, the last big thing remaining is my final shipping-the-last-of-my-personal-stuff run, and then the flight day itself).

Next week is Black Friday, the day after US Thanksgiving which is the busiest retail day of the year.  Over the last few years it has become a trend to forego shopping in chain retail stores that day and instead support Etsy sellers and other small business owners. Naturally, being the proprietor of an Etsy shop, I support this trend.

My sales…

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Candle success!

Last weekend, instead of doing a big candle pour, I decided to devote a day to research and development for the fixed mason jar candles. My objective: to make this a high-quality, kick-ass product, functionally as well as magickally, because the better a candle burns, the more magickal oomph it can lend to your rites.

I’ve been listening to your feedback on these, as well as testing them myself, and the issues with them seemed to boil down to (sorry) the wick size not being right for the jar.  I had already tried several different sizes, with none of them working quite to my satisfaction.  Apparently this can be a very challenging thing to determine with candles; there are tons of blog posts and charts out there (many of the latter from manufacturers trying to sell you their wicks–and the sizing systems are not universal), so there was a lot of information for me to wade through.  Finally I decided to ditch the paper core wicks altogether, since the consensus seems to be that they burn too hot, which can lead to tunneling.  (Tunneling is when a pool around the wick burns, leaving lots of wax around the sides; it leads to a candle not lasting nearly as long as it should.) At the other extreme, if you use too small or too cool a wick, the candle won’t stay lit consistently.

At any rate, I am proud to announce that my latest test batch for the mason jar candles has conquered both of these issues, and they now burn brightly and steadily, producing a melt pool that goes all the way out to the sides of the jar, as it should. (In fact, the jar above the flame is crystal clear as the candle burns, because there is absolutely no wax left on it.)

But don’t take my word for it; here is the proof!

The candle when new and unburned (yes, of course I tested with Odin candles!):

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First burn session (after about an hour or so), with melt pool already forming:

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After several burn sessions. Not the evenness of the burn, and the clarity of the glass above the flame.

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On my shrine.  Just look at that sexy, sexy melt pool!

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The unlit surface of the candle after several burn sessions.  Note the even surface and the clarity of the glass.

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The wicks I am now using are 100% square braided cotton with no core. I’ve also changed my pour formula a bit, and the beeswax for these is blended with a small amount of extra virgin coconut oil to cool down the burn and prevent the glass from shattering.  (Besides the glitter and the organic herbs and essential oils, coconut oil and beeswax are the ONLY ingredients.) I’ve noticed that the coconut oil also enhances the base fragrance of the candles just slightly; imagine the honey scent of beeswax mingled with the island paradise fragrance of fresh coconut.

Fun fact: added to the magickal benefits, burning beexwax candles is healthier for you than paraffin, soy, or any other kind, and actually increases the air quality in your home. (This is one among many, many reasons why I love beeswax, and bees–and honey–so very much.)

And so, I’m happy to announce that the mason jar candles are coming OFF Beta!! (And I am now doing research and development to perfect the votives.) I will be doing a big pour of fixed mason jar candles this coming weekend, and those will be listed in the shop at the full price of $22.

However, if you have a special candle in mind (or you want to make sure you get your hands on one of the Odin or Loki ones–both of these disappear as soon they get listed!), if you place a custom order before this weekend you can still get your candle at the Custom Beta price of $18.  (The non-Beta custom order price will be going up to $25 after this weekend.)

As always, thank you so much for your support!

 

 

 

 

Do we need ritual tools? Do our gods need them?

First of all, let me note that yesterday morning, I posted three new prayer bead sets to the shop.  I didn’t have time to post about them here, and in the interim two of them have already sold still.  Still available is this pocket prayer bead set for Hekate:

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Hekate is the Greek/Hellenic Goddess of the underworld, the crossroads, sorcery. the night, the moon, entranceways, witchcraft, and necromancy.

Nine large golden obsidian beads (three sets of three, the number sacred to Hekate) are interposed with dark, silky patikan palm beads with spacers of pyrite and bronze hematite. There are three silvertone pendants, all symbols sacred to Hekate: a dog, a lantern, and a central skeleton key.

The beads are strung on 49-strand ultra-flexible Beadalon.

This compact set measures about 12 inches, with the side pendants measuring 1/2 inch and the skeleton key 2 inches. It is perfect for slipping into a pocket or purse compartment for use on-the-go, or for carrying while reciting your prayers as you walk, and the beads can be slipped comfortably over your wrist for convenience. (They are not meant to be worn as a regular bracelet though, as they are too large and will slip off your wrist.)

I have done my best to portray the colors accurately, but please be aware that each monitor shows color a bit differently.

You can use these beads:

- To count out prayers for Hekate or the Greek Cthonic (underworld) deities
– To adorn an altar for Hekate or for your magickal work
– For connecting with any of Hekate’s aspects
– As devotional beads, for working with Hekate
– For petitioning Hekate
– For any ritual or spell having to do with underworld journeying, psychopomp work, necromancy, herbs and poisonous plants, crossroads, entranceways, dogs, the moon
– For any ritual, prayer, or spell having to do with any other area in which Hekate holds influence, or which falls within Her domain
– To contact Hekate in meditation or journeying
– As a portable altar/shrine to Hekate, or a stealth shrine (for those who are unable to practice openly)

As I mentioned, there were also devotional necklaces for Loki and Dionysos, and both of those sold.  (The fact that the set for Dionysos sold almost immediately pleases me immensely. I have held off on making anything for this particular god due to past issues with some of His worshippers, and finally decided to put that behind me in terms of my dealings with the deity Himself, and stop conflating Him with His people.  The necklace was a gesture along these lines, a peace offering, and that it sold says to me that the offering was accepted.)

At any rate, a question was raised as to whether we need devotional/ritual tools.  My personal answer? Absolutely not.  As a Witch, if there is anything I can’t do standing naked in my bathroom at 3 am, well, I just cannot do that thing.

However.

As a craftsperson, I know that the right tool can be immensely helpful when it comes to getting a job done.  For example, yes, you can spin without a spinning wheel or spindle, using just your fingers or a stick, but it will go a lot slower and you won’t enjoy it nearly as much, nor will the quality of your end result be comparable to what I can do with a wheel. One lesson Odin has driven (ahem) into me is an appreciation of the value of tools, and knowing what tool to apply to what situation; this is an Aesic value, along with an appreciation of artistry in general. (List of Aesic values as I perceive them will be forthcoming as soon as I’ve had a little time to extrapolate them all in my head.)

So not only is the right tool helpful, but the quality of the tool itself also matters, and as the skill of the Worker increases, he or she will naturally experience a growing desire for better tools. Another example: when I first began spinning, I used a simple wooden spindle, which was all I needed at the time, as I was barely able to produce yarn that held together.  Since then, I have acquired four wheels (including my Neo Lana), and for ritual purposes I also recently welcomed this lady into my home:

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This is a little spindle, but her whorl is made of dumortierite (one of my newer stones for Odin), and perfectly balanced; she has a long, graceful spin that makes her a joy to work with, and perfect for my use of spinning as both meditation and as preparation for Work.

And yet another example (because I want to show off some of my own tools); I walk with a cane to stabilize myself physically (due to fibro and other issues), but as a seidhkona I also find that having a cane/staff with me helps to anchor me to Yggdrasil energetically; it acts as a portable World Tree/stang for me when I need to center myself and call on power. (Yes, I could do this without the staff, but, as the cunning apes we are, we created tools in the first place to make it easier for us to do things, to extend our reach into the world/s. Again, this is an Aesic value for me because I believe this affinity for tools is something our gods passed on to us.)

At any rate, I could use any stick of wood for the above purpose, but recently I acquired this staff of black hawthorn, handcrafted by an artist I work with:

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And yes, walking with this staff makes me feel Witchier–thus enhancing its (non-physical) purpose.

The right tool, besides helping us get a job done, can also help get us in the mood to Work in the first place.  Having just the right candle, cingulum, prayer beads, or incense can enhance the mood for our prayers or workings, set the stage, and often boost our results (because if we start off in a better mindset for the Work, of course our results are going to be superior.)

Now, the next question: do our gods need these things?  Almost certainly not, in the strict sense of that word; They are certainly able to connect with us without our having physical tools. However, the tools help enhance our mindset, thus making it easier for Them to connect and communicate (since if we are able to meet Them at least partway, there are fewer barriers to contact for Them to overcome). And frankly, many deities enjoy having beautiful things on Their altars, or adorning Their devotees. In my own opinion, investing in a beautiful altar tool, piece of religious jewelry or cult object is an offering to the gods, especially if it was lovingly handcrafted for precisely that purpose, designed to help bring you closer to Them.

That is the whole focus of my Work as an artist: to design tools that widen the doorway for the Powers to walk through, and that thus bring Them further and more concretely into this world. If you don’t need that assistance, more power to you (no pun intended). I would agree that if and when spiritual tools become a crutch, they should be set aside until you have proven to yourself that you can Work without them.  However, if you already know you can Work without them, but are also aware that you Work better with them, the right tools can become partners in our path. Just as Odin has His spear, and Thor His hammer (and neither are dependent upon those things), I respect my tools, I value them, and I give them an honored place in my home and role in my Work.