New Story Out!

Originally posted on Strip Me Back To The Bone:

The 2014  Winter Solstice edition of Eternal Haunted Summer is out! You can find my short story A Song for a Goose, as well as my reviews for The One and Only World and Walking the HeartRoad.

Juli D. Revezzo has a new story in it as well, The Gift of the Stag Maiden. There’s a slew of poetry that I can’t wait to get into as well as some essays by Erin Lale that I’m looking forward to reading. (this is a review heavy issue, which is absolutely wonderful to see!) Take some time between the hustle and bustle of the season to treat yourself to some great reading — and don’t forget to let others know about this great resource we have with Eternal Haunted Summer! Support your pagan authors and poets (and editors!)

View original

And so it is Yuletide

IMG_3764

(Reblogged from my PaganSquare blog, Threads)

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.

This Yule has been interesting to me because, in addition to my spirit work (Odin and His Hunt are part of my hearth and home—no hiding from Them for me) I am also a business owner, and this is the first year I’ve had an actual “holiday rush season” in my little store. I’ve had several months of steadily increasing exhilaration and excitement (accompanied by exhaustion)–followed sharply by a sudden stillness, as people realize they can no longer get things through the mail in time for Christmas and turn to shopping locally instead. The drop-off was almost devastating at first; I was tempted to plunge into despair. But I suspect it is simply part of the natural cycle of operating a business, and in truth, I’m happy for the break. I have fibromyalgia, and I also work at another job in addition to my business, so I cannot keep up that pre-Christmas pace (however exhilarating) forever without risking burnout. Hopefully, the dead period will end after the holiday (when people have Christmas gift money to spend, perhaps, or when they begin looking towards Valentine’s Day). But in the meantime, instead of panicking about the lack of shop activity, I can take stock, work on my (financial) books for the shop, finish up some custom orders, enjoy Making at a slower pace as I build up inventory for the new year, get caught up on my blog posting (as I’m doing right now), and focus on my spiritual work, which largely consists of providing a sanctuary, a hearth and safe haven for Odin (who calls me His home) during these “rough nights.”

Cultivating a tranquil mindset during this season—which is a hectic one both energetically and in turns of human activity—is quite the challenge. I always find that lighting candles and burning incense helps me get my mindset into a more contemplating space, so I intend to do both this week, not only for meditation and trance work but as I read, write or Make. The book Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide by Christian Rätsch and Claudia Müller-Ebeling offers a few traditional recipes for “the smudging nights,” as the twelve nights of Yule were also called, after the custom of fumigating the home against the dangerous spirits that roamed the land during this time.

  • Nordic incense for the smudging nights: equal parts of juniper berries, mugwort, fir resin, and yew needles
  • Yule smoke: equal parts of juniper, pine resin, and cedar
  • Pagan Christmas incense: equal parts of juniper needles, mugwort, ground pine resin, and wild rosemary
  • Incense for the smudging nights: ground amber, fir resin, dried fir needles, juniper tops, dried fly agaric mushrooms, hemp blossoms, laurel leaves, mugwort

To make a loose incense for Yule, simply collect the ingredients for any recipes above (properly dried, of course) and burn on a charcoal disk. Unfortunately, a few of these ingredients are either poisonous or illegal. Yew needles—which have a strong association with Yggdrasil, referred to as a “needle-ash” in the Poetic Edda—are perfectly legal but I will warn you now: make sure to provide adequate ventilation if you use them, or better yet burn them outdoors, as all parts of the tree are poisonous except for the flesh of the berries. Fly agaric mushrooms (otherwise known as amanita; these are the classic “Christmas” mushrooms, red spotted with white) have a connection with Sleipnir, Odin’s steed; in their folkloric origin, they sprouted from his spittle that fell to earth as the Hunt rode past. They can be legally ordered by mail in many areas, but check your state laws first. Hemp blossoms are illegal in many states, though not all (thankfully). They are still illegal on the national level.

As you may notice, mugwort is a recurring ingredient. This plant, one of the “Nine Sacred Herbs” of Woden/Odin, plays a starring role in my own personal formulary and is the primary ingredient in anything I make for Odin, from fixed candles to incense to pre-ritual tea. Also called felon herb, naughty man, old man, and old Uncle Harry (after Harr or “High One,” one of Odin’s by-names), mugwort is a hedge-crossing herb; it promotes the transition of souls from the other worlds to earth and vice versa. Thus, it was used both as a childbirth aid and in graves, and burned on bonfires for the dead. It grows by roadsides, to signal its role as a boundary plant. It widens the passageways between the worlds, and makes an excellent base for any Yule incense blend. It was used by the Nordic peoples much the way white sage is used by Native Americans: to purify and consecrate sacred space. As a tea, it also calms anxiety and opens up the visionary faculties.

My personal Yule incense blend consists of three key ingredients: mugwort, rosemary (for remembrance of the dead, as Yule is a time for honoring and communing with the ancestors, some of whom may ride forth with the Hunt), and juniper berries, plus pine needles if I have them handy. Rosemary is a more southern plant in Europe, but plentiful in Oregon where I live. Juniper was often used as a northern frankincense, a purifying and sanctifying smoke that was believed effective against evil spirits as well as contagious diseases. And pine needles add that rich, resiny aroma that we all associate with the season. Mix these together in any proportions, sprinkle on a lit charcoal briquette (in an appropriate fire-safe holder) and sit back to enjoy.

Yule is also a time to perform divination for the coming year, and one thing I will often do is draw a rune on each night of Yule as a “forecast” for the corresponding month of the coming year. (For example, on the first night of Yule I will draw a rune as an omen for January, etc.) This can prove surprisingly accurate, if done with intent. The Twelve Nights are also an ideal time for taking stock of the year just passed. If you’re looking for a journaling exercise for this purpose, I offer this one that I wrote years ago, and have used for several Yule seasons since. If you meditate and journal on two runes per night, it will take you through to Twelfth Night, at which time you will have a solid basis for setting any intentions for the New Year.

Light a candle (and perhaps some Yule incense) and, going through the Futhark in order, meditate and journal on the following questions. (You can also put the appropriate rune tile, cards, etc. on your altar as focal points.) The questions can be altered as desired; the point of the exercise is to serve as a meditative/introspective stock-taking of the past year, through a runic lens.

1. Fehu and Uruz: How has abundance manifested in my life this year? Where is my strength?
2. Thurisaz and Ansuz: What obstacles stand in my way? What inspires me? How do I inspire others?
3. Raido and Kenaz: What journeys (either literal or spiritual) have I made this year? What have I crafted (in either a literal or figurative sense)?
4. Gebo and Wunjo: What gifts have I given and received? What has brought me joy?
5. Hagalaz and Nauthiz: What upheavals have I dealt with? What do I need?
6. Isa and Jera: Where do I need to slow down, show more caution? What have I harvested?
7. Eihwaz and Perthro: What initiations have I experienced? What time do I take for play? What preparations have I made for the coming year?
8. Algiz and Sowilo: How do I ward myself? What insights have come to me?
9. Tiwaz and Berkano: What victories have I achieved? What in me has died this year? What has been born?
10. Ehwaz and Mannaz: What has been confirmed for me this year? How do I relate to my community?
11. Laguz and Inguz: How do I work with my dreams? What seeds have I planted, and what have I sacrificed to nourish them?
12. Dagaz and Othala: What doors have opened for me? What doors have closed? Where is my true home?

To all of my readers, thank you for making me part of your life throughout 2014, and I hope you’ll continue to stick with me in the coming year (as I have a lot of exciting things planned, both for my writing and for my store). Have a blessed and safe Yule!

Image: Photograph by me, of a hand sculpted Odin icon I purchased from Lykeia’s Botanica, partially repainted by me.

Problems with cultural pride — if you’re white.

Beth:

I had intended to reblog this last weekend but was interrupted by a power outage and then (yay fibro brain!) kept forgetting to go back to it. Thank the gods, my daughter and her boyfriend got through the march safely, and I’m proud of her for going. Jo neglected to mention (I think?), but my daughter is of mixed race, and this is one reason why my own privilege is often invisible to me. While she was growing up, I lived in one of the most racially divided cities in the US (Philadelphia), and was married to a black man, her father. So I became used to being “othered” right along with them–treated more or less as though I too were black (at least when in their company). Even beyond that, my adoptive father was black, and I only found out I was adopted at the age of 18 (he was light-skinned, but even so, yes, I know it should have been obvious; I was a kid, what can I say?) So growing up, I didn’t think of myself as “white,” per se, despite the white face I saw in the mirror. But the fact that my privilege has remained largely invisible to me for most of my life doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or that it doesn’t need to be examined. When I found out that I was adopted I also learned that I most likely have English and Scandinavian heritage through my birth parents. Am I proud of that? Hell, yeah. And I don’t think being proud of it is wrong. However, any kind of cultural pride on the part of white people like myself needs to be handled with extreme sensitivity, recognizing that yes, we DO bear responsibility for the deeds of our ancestors, just as we bear their genes.

Originally posted on Strip Me Back To The Bone:

As I write this, Beth’s daughter (again, my not-quite-step-daughter) is in NYC taking part of the protests going on there. I’ve got various news sites running in the background. I’ve touched base with her before the march began, and I’ve been up and down all night, sick to my stomach with worry. She’s with her boyfriend, whom we haven’t met, and whose skin color I do not know. I found myself torn between hoping she was with him — because the idea of her being with a man potentially provides her additional security that being with a bunch of girlfriends may not provide — and hoping she wasn’t — because what sort of attention may she receive if she’s with a black man? We are proud that she’s involving herself with these very important protests, but I still want to curl up and cry, I still want to vomit, I’m…

View original 1,305 more words

Did Odin inspire the Santa Claus legend? (Ask Me About Odin)

Beth:

Reblogging this for seasonal appropriateness; I see this question floating around every year and this is my take on it.

Originally posted on Wytch of the North:

I’ve been meaning to get back to the “Ask Me About Odin” questions, since I have a few of them saved up.  I spent most of November writing a book (which I am now about 40,000 words into–probably about halfway through the first draft) at the same time as I was trying to keep my little Etsy business going.  Sadly, this didn’t leave a lot of time for blogging.  Things are still crazy-busy around here (now, after really awesome sales throughout the month of November, I need to work on getting some inventory back in my shop again, plus I am taking two online courses–more about that in another post, perhaps).  But this landed in my inbox this morning and I figured, why not write a little something seasonal today?

I keep hearing from different sources that Odin is the inspiration for Santa Claus, but I hear the same thing…

View original 963 more words

Upgrades to Priority Mail at no additional charge now through Thursday December 18th at 5 pm

All of the orders that were guaranteed for holiday delivery have shipped, as of today! We are all caught up on shipping! Which enables me to make the following offer:

Place a new, in-stock order at FiberWytch now through Thursday December 18th at 5 pm and I will upgrade your shipping to Priority at no additional charge.  (This offer applies only within the continental US–sorry!) Mason jar candles already ship Priority, but anything else you order–cords, jewelry, votive candles, yarn, etc.–will also be upgraded to Priority Mail, at no added cost to you. The USPS Priority Mail deadline for delivery by December 24th is December 20th, so this means you WILL receive your order by the 24th, in time for holiday giving!

This is in addition to my 15% off sale which is running all month long for all new in-stock orders.  (Custom orders are exempted from this discount–sorry.) Enter the coupon code GLADYULE15 at checkout on Etsy to save 15% off all in-stock items.  There is NO minimum! And you can use the coupon as many times as you please.

And the shop is currently chock-full of goodies that would make great gifts for yourself or for someone special.  There are still some fixed soy mason jar candles left.  These are hand-poured candles with a cotton wick, made from Eco Soya wax, which is 100% vegetable, made with soybean and botanical oils.

•EcoSoya waxes are made using soy beans exclusively from U.S. farmers.
•Soy is a renewable resource and environmentally friendly.
•EcoSoya wax does not stain.
•All EcoSoya waxes are Kosher Certified.

Each candle is energetically charged and consecrated for the named deity, and dressed with herbs and essential oils favored by that deity with corresponding glitter colors. But in addition to being used as a devotional tool for the deity Themselves, they can also be used in magick that falls under the scope of that deity’s realm of influence,

Currently these are shipping to US locations only, including:

IMG_3567

Freyr candle, with calendula, cedar and patchouli; can be used for sex, fertility and wealth magick.

IMG_3540

Balder candle with chamomile and oakwood, for dreamwork, purification, and general blessings, as well as to honor the Beloved son of Odin and Frigga at this dark time of year.

IMG_3551

Hermes candle with clary sage and lavender, for luck, psychopomp work, and success in business

IMG_3491

Frigga candle with lavender and peppermint, for protection of children, families, and the hearth. The perfect candles for blessing your entire household at Yule!

IMG_3466Hera candle with roses, sweet orange and ylang ylang, for blessings on a marriage or on your children, especially new arrivals! (And there is also a magnificent and very queenly devotional necklace for Hera in the shop; what a perfect gift the necklace and matching candle would make for a woman devoted to Her–and they would both ship with a free upgrade to Priority mail!)

IMG_3475

Anubis candle with cinnamon and benzoin, for necromancy, funeral rites, and invoking the ancestors.

IMG_3186

Cernunnos candle, with Douglas fir, galbanum, and pine needles, for shamanism, fertility, wealth, and working witj the Wild Hunt.

IMG_3206

Lilith candle with ylang ylang, cedar and bergamot, for women’s rights, sex magick, freedom, and desire.

In addition to the fixed mason jar candles (and a handful of fixed beeswax votive candles), there are hand burned rune pendants –fragrant juniper wood slices on handspun silk cords (Othala, Gebo, Ehwaz, Raido, Nauthiz, Wunjo, Ansuz, and a Valknut pendant are still available), plus devotional necklaces and prayer beads in stock (including one for Odin that hasn’t gotten snapped up yet), , ritual cords (including my newest one, Longest Night, which honors Odin as Wilde Jaeger or the Wild Hunter), pdf copies of my two Odin devotional books, rune and Tarot readings (this is the perfect time to purchase an Immersive Reading for the coming new year!), and of course handspun yarn.  All of which will ship out to you with a free upgrade to Priority Mail if you place your order before Thursday, December 18th at 5 pm! (And I will guarantee getting your packages in the mail on Friday December 19th to make sure they make it to you by December 24th!)

Once again, I would like to thank all of my blog readers and FiberWytch customers for a wonderful year! You’ve helped make 2014 a transformative year for my little business, and I can’t thank you enough. May you and yours be abundantly blessed by the gods this holiday season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The holiday shipping deadline at FiberWytch: tonight at midnight

The FiberWytch deadline for guaranteed holiday shipping (for all new, in-stock orders) is tonight at midnight. If you’re looking for last-minute gifts, I have some new goodies I just added to the shop this weekend: fixed mason jar soy wax candles for Balder, Freyr, Heimdall, Hermes, Anubis, Isis, Hera, and Frigga), along with a few leftover fixed beeswax votive candles for Odin and Loki. (I’m still working on perfecting the soy fixed votives before offering them.)

There is also this brand new, magnificent devotional necklace for Hera, Peacock Queen:

IMG_3590

IMG_3612

This truly regal, majestic necklace features an intricate relief portrait, in genuine black brass, of a beautiful bare-breasted woman wearing a peacock headdress. I thought of Hera as soon as I saw this pendant and just had to build a necklace around it. Genuine tiger ebony beads (which are a very dark brown,not quite black) alternate with grade A royal blue sodalite, grade A amethyst stick briolettes, and gold hematite and purple crystal faceted rondelle spacers. The necklace is 19 inches long, with the pendant measuring 1 1/2 inches. It features an easy-to-work goldtone toggle clasp.

I also still have a few other devotional necklaces and prayer beads in stock (including one for Odin that hasn’t gotten snapped up yet), in addition to rune pendants hand-burned on juniper slices, on handspun silk cords, ritual cords (including my newest one, Longest Night, which honors Odin as Wilde Jaeger or the Wild Hunter), pdf copies of my two Odin devotional books, rune and Tarot readings, and of course handspun yarn. If you place an order before midnight tonight for anything in stock in the entire shop, I will get your package to you before December 24th!

And don’t forget, you can still use the coupon code GLADYULE15  throughout the entire month to take 15% off all in-stock items! (It cannot be used towards custom orders, though!)

Thank you, as always, for your support, and I hope you’re keeping warm and having a blessed holiday season!

 

 

Mystic Love, Mystic Priorities

Beth:

This post is a must-read for godspouses (and other passionate devotees), but this part was especially relevant for me:
“Another significant set of challenges arise because the mystic has a fundamentally different set of priorities than everyone else. Negotiating and renegotiating these priorities with the circumstances imposed by the world, by the social context, and simply by the human condition an ongoing problem for mystics. Even those who successfully separate themselves from the priorities imposed by others (usually simply by just fucking off into the forest for decades at a time) face the deep consequences of that separation. It is quite rare to find a set of circumstances that allow for the material, psychological, emotional, and spiritual support of someone whose priorities are fixed on deep emotional connection with the divine. It does happen, but most mystics have to juggle their priorities without a full spectrum of meaningful support.”
This has been one of the defining challenges for me throughout my marriage to Odin; it keeps coming up, and decisively so during the last quarter of this year. If it weren’t for Jo, I would certainly have found a way to “fuck off into the forest” by now.

Originally posted on Exploring Devotional Practice in Polytheism:

Last night I had a long talk with some friends about some of the more prominent aspects of my private spiritual life. This conversation had been waiting to happen for a while but my private spiritual life isn’t something that I can just dump on unsuspecting acquaintances; you gotta work up to that level of disclosure. Even though I’ve known for a while that these people were safe to talk to about these things, the time had never been right for the conversation until now.

We talked about a lot of things but about the mystic’s path in particular. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and never was quite able to put it into words until now. Objectively I recognize that there is much of the mystic about me but it’s not really the path that I identify with. I am, perhaps, too aware of my functional capacities…

View original 531 more words