What Odin doesn’t stand for

Odin is a god of many, many things: wisdom, inspiration, exploration, shamanism, prophecy, kingship, rune magic, language and expression, expanding and altering consciousness, creativity, death, blood magic, self-sacrifice, and yes, even warfare, savagery and bloodshed at times.  But do you know one thing He does not stand for?  Racial hate crimes.  Seriously people, I defy you to find anything–anything at all–in the northern lore that supports this kind of atrocity.  As my friend Heather Freysdottir posted today, hate is not a Heathen value–not in any way, shape or form, and I for one am thoroughly sick and tired of having my God’s name used as an excuse for racist violence.

You know why I don’t primarily identify as Heathen?  Know why I am not able to call myself an “Odinist witch” or “Odinic witch” (the way some of my friends will refer to themselves as “Lokean witches”)?  This.  This is why.  Because, thanks to assholes like this (and others like him in the past 100 years or so of history), my God’s name is now identified with racially motivated violence.  And from these maniacs, the poisonous notion that Odinism=white supremacy and racial hatred seeps into the community, until you can’t hold an “Asatru meet-up” without having one or two white-supremacist-leaning individuals show up. (Yes, this truly was my experience when I was still trying to organize meet-ups back east.)

You want to bring up Viking slash and burn raids, blood-eagling, and mass-hangings at the Temple of Uppsala?  Yes, those things happened, and many of them even happened in Odin’s name. He is not always a nice god, is not easy on His followers, and blah blah blah; all that stuff is true, but in this context it’s also irrelevant.  Because guess what? We’re not back in the year 1,000, and we have to live peaceably in this century, in this society, now, among a much more diverse population than existed around the turn of the last millennium.  It’s a different world, and although our Gods have adapted beautifully, many of us don’t seem capable of doing the same.  This is why you won’t see a lot of glorification of Odin’s more violent side on my blog: most people absolutely lack the skill of discernment (another Odinic value) and are not able to tell what is appropriate from what is not.  I am not about to give such individuals further grist for their mill.

I do not know whether this vile individual actually considered himself an Odinist, or whether that’s simply more propaganda slapped onto this from those factions that are always eager to tar and feather us by any means that comes to hand, but what I do know is that Odin does not support or approve of this, and neither do any true Heathens I know of.  Heathenry is about worshipping the old gods of northern Europe, not pretending we’re berserkers in the year 900, or Nazis in the 1940s.  Figure out the difference, or shut the fuck up about my Gods.  And if you are a hate criminal, I have it on good authority that there’s a special place in Helheim waiting just for you.

Want to donate to help the families of the victims of the Kansas City shootings? If you’re able, please do!  And regardless, please go and sign this petition.  And help us spread the message that hate is not a Heathen value.

Coming up for Air

This year so far has been a flurry of activity for me, with my attempt to juggle two courses (The Journey to the Golden Fleece and the Greystone Path–lots of color in those names!) in addition to keeping my Etsy shop stocked and working at a day job part time.  Keeping the shop stocked has been a bit of a challenge because business has been picking up since last fall–about which, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but it does result in my spending a lot of time doing and not a lot of time writing about what I’m doing.  (I even seem to have fallen out of doing the Pagan Blog Project, and unfortunately I think that may be too much to add to my plate this year.) But yesterday I was reminded (by a couple of outside occurrences) that not only do I need to talk about my Work more, but I also need to finally and truly admit that my Work is what it is, it isn’t going to change, and it isn’t inferior to anyone else’s Work.  And while I have intellectually accepted that concept, truly embracing it is another matter entirely; truly embracing it requires, for example, that I give up once and for all the idea of establishing a separate blog and website for FiberWytch because it is not separate from my spiritual life in any way; Making is my Work and my spiritual path is that of a Maker.

Usually, when I talk about my Work here, I am referring to seidhr, or divination, or sacred queenship–and yes, all of those things are my Work too; the point I seem unable to grasp on a deep level is how interconnected they all are.  Of course, prophecy and fiber arts (along with the brewing and serving of sacred drink) are firmly interwoven (see what I did right there?) in the Germanic concept of queenship.  When I say that I spin with intent, what I mean is that I spin in the awareness that the act of spinning itself is an act of magic, that it connects me both to my Gods and to my Disir, and that spinning and weaving are tools used by the Norns and by Frigga to shape Wyrd.  What this means for me on a practical level is that when I spin, for example, a ritual cord for the Dark Moon, not only has the fiber been prepared and dyed and blended with the intent of imbuing it with those specific energies, but every rotation of my wheel, every twist of the fiber, fixes and seals that intention into the yarn, and the finished item is then bathed with herbs, stones and essential oils that further reinforce this energy.  All of this is a simple matter of knowing how to work Wyrd using fiber.  I say simple because the process is not complicated, but learning to do it is not easy by any means, any more than learning to spin (well) is easy.  Both require a lot of practice.

Many people would naturally assume that Frigga has been my primary teacher in this, but that is not the case; She has certainly assisted, but my first spinning teacher was Bestla, Odin’s mother, who (surprisingly to some, though not to me, knowing how extremely pragmatic my Husband is) also taught the art to Her eldest son.  (And if you’re having trouble believing this, imagine, for just a second, there being a powerful magical technique Odin would have ready access to but disdain to learn, on the basis of it being considered too feminine or for any other reason.  Yeah, I thought not.)  Odin Himself is, of course, firmly connected with Making, although He is more often thought of as a Destroyer–and this is not inappropriate.  Solve et coalgula: in any true act of magic, something must be broken down to its most basic elements so that it can then be brought together and transmuted to form a new thing.  This is the process by which Odin broke down the corpse of the primordial giant Ymir to use His parts as the building blocks of creation.  To be the agent of creation, a Maker, is also to be a Destroyer; when wool is prepared for spinning, a lot of times (though not always) the structure of the individual locks of wool is destroyed to create a smooth length of spinnable roving.  The original color is destroyed by infusing it with dyes, and the finished yarn bears little resemblance (in most cases) to the original wool as it looked on the back of a sheep.  Creating and Destroying are both needed for Making.  Bringing Odin fully into that Work, allowing Him to be my primary teacher and guide (with Frigga of course still having an honored place), as He is in seidhr and divination, is not an anomaly; nothing could be more appropriate.  By letting Him guide my hand, He can also help direct me to the other deities/spirits/energies that may need to be included in my Work.  (And besides, He says He can spin better than any of the rest of us, anyway.  As those of you who watch Once Upon a Time are aware, the sight of a Man at a spinning wheel is dead sexy.)

What brought on these realizations?  They aren’t new; they’re just coming up for air right now and (hopefully) being digested more thoroughly this time.  A couple of different events catalyzed them: learning that a dear friend is making a Frigga statue for me as a gift (and as a result, thinking about setting up a shrine for Her, which will inevitably be heavy on the spinning and sheep imagery), finding out that the Odin statue I’ve been awaiting for a year and a half may finally be completed sometime “soon”, and a blog I happened upon at random by someone else whose Work involves the fiber arts (sorry, I’m not going to link to it here for Reasons)–all of these things were influences.  But I think possibly the most influential factor is that we’re studying Air right now on the Greystone Path, and truly embracing this Element–Odin’s primary Element–always results in self-discovery, or (usually) things I have already discovered but not paid enough conscious attention to coming to the service again. Coming up for air.  Air also brings with it the drive to communicate, which I haven’t being doing enough of lately.  So there it is.  A long, deep breath of air and going forth refreshed.

New Ritual Cords: Solar Magic and Dark Moon

Two new ritual cords have landed in the shop!   The first is a redesigned Solar cord; there are three of these available, each cord unique.

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I have charged this handspun planetary cord with the glorious, golden energies of the sun, who rules the power of life, health, prosperity, creativity, and manifestation. Solar magic can be used for healing, to increase vitality and power, to attract fame and admiration. and to bring success to all of your undertakings. Gods attuned to solar energy include Apollon, Ra, Sunna, Freyr and Freyja, Bast, Horus, Lugh, and the Archangel Michael. Animals sacred to the sun or to solar deities include lions, cats, snakes, insects such as dragonflies and butterflies, and the rooster, who heralds the sunrise each morning.

Domestic Rambouillet, Columbia and Corriedale top were hand dyed, carded with locally sourced kid Mohair, Angelina and Firestar, then spun with intent and healing Reiki energy and infused with solar energies. The result is a shimmering bright cord that sparkles like sunlight on water. Rinsed with sunflower petals, sunstone, citrine, and essential oils of cinnamon, ylang ylang, orange, and frankincense. The cord ends are adorned with two charms: an ornate sun in antiqued silvertone, and a gleaming goldtone Celtic knot. Soft enough for the most sensitive skin to wear comfortably!

You can use this cord:

- To adorn your altar for a solar festival
- For any ritual or spell having to do with healing, creativity, prosperity, attracting fame or success
- As a dedication cord to a deity attuned to the sun
- For the altar of a goddess (or god) aligned with solar energies
- For a handfasting cord
- As a necklace lariat, belt, or hair tie to wear to a solar festival circle
- For knot spell work
- To spread on the floor to mark out your ritual circle
- To wear on any occasion when you want to bask in solar energy

Each Solar cord is adorned with an antiqued silvertone sun charm, and your choice of three additional charms: a painted clay rooster, a goldtone Celtic cross, and a goldtone butterfly.

And the second new cord is a brand new one for the shop, a Dark Moon cord!

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The dark moon is a psychically heavy time of the month; the veil between the worlds is thin, and contact with the dead and otherworldly beings becomes easier. It is a time for deep reflection, banishing and binding magic, protecting secrets, warding, seeking justice, and working to rid yourself of bad habits (or of anything else that needs to go). The dark moon is sacred to gods who know Their way in the dark, such as Odin, Hela, Hades, Nepthys, and Hekate, as well as animals traditionally associated with witches, such as black cats, ravens, and bats.

Domestic Rambouillet, Columbia and Corriedale top were hand dyed, carded with locally sourced kid Mohair, Angelina and Firestar, then spun with intent and healing Reiki energy and infused with dark moon energies. The result is a darkly shimmering cord filled with subtle pops of color that remind us that even the darkest nights can be filled with hidden radiance. Rinsed with mugwort, dulse seaweed, moonstone, smoky quartz, and essential oils of ravensara, vetiver, myrrh, rose, anise, and valerian. The cord ends are adorned with two charms: an ornate crescent moon in antiqued silvertone, and a gunmetal raven’s wing to help you fly with the ravens.

You can use this cord:

- To adorn your altar for the dark moon
- For any ritual or spell having to do with binding, banishing, otherworldy communication, warding, justice, ridding yourself of something, or deep soul work
- To set your intentions for the new moon
- As a dedication cord to a deity attuned to the dark moon
- For the altar of a goddess (or god) aligned with dark moon energies
- For a handfasting cord
- As a necklace lariat, belt, or hair tie to wear to a dark moon circle
- For knot spell work
- To spread on the floor to mark out your ritual circle for the dark moon
- To wear on any occasion when you want to surround yourself with an aura of mystery or feel in need of protection

Each Dark Moon cord features an ornate antiqued silvertone crescent moon charm, as well as your choice of two additional charms: a gunmetal raven’s wing and a gunmetal skeleton key.

See all of the new cords at Fiberwytch on Etsy!

Ritual Cords Clearance Sale!

I’m in the process of rolling in new ritual cords for spring, and to make room in my inventory I’ve reduced all of last season’s cords to $8! Get them while they last; there are only a few left and I won’t be remaking many of these.

ritual cords sale

Choose from:

  • Jupiter and Jupiter II: two different styles of spinning, but both consecrated with the same herbs and charged with the expansive energies of Jupiter. Use this cord as a talisman to bring you into alignment with your true will and higher purpose, in magic to expand your luck, prosperity and spiritual understanding, and to banish anger, fear and sadness. Place it on your altar during ritual for a sky god, storm god, or wise divine king, wear it as a symbol of your magical intent, use it as a handfasting cord, or simply enjoy it as a fiber art lariat to remind to you focus on your higher self!
  • Solar II:  with the glorious, golden energies of the sun: the power of life, health, prosperity, creativity, and manifestation. Use it in cord magic for healing, to increase vitality and power, and to bring success to all of your undertakings. Place it on your altar during ritual for a solar deity, wear it as a symbol of your magical intent, use it as a handfasting cord, or simply enjoy it as a fiber art lariat to bathe yourself in solar energy everyday!
  • Venus II: Charged with the energies of love, fertility, romance, erotica, and attraction! Venus rules personal magnetism; use her cord to attract sex, money, luxury–whatever you truly desire. Place it on your altar during ritual for a goddess of love or of the sea, wear it as a symbol of your magical intent, use it as a handfasting cord, or simply enjoy it as a fiber art lariat to enhance your own beauty and magnetism everyday!
  • Conversation Hearts:  Charged by me with romance, love and attraction magic, and was inspired by the pastel-colored Conversation Heart candies traditionally exchanged on Valentine’s Day. It would make a lovely handfasting cord for your pagan wedding!

And one art yarn lariat cord, Dolphin’s Journey: a stunning handspun art yarn accessory imbued with the comforting, protective energies of dolphins. These can be worn as skinny scarves, lariats, belts or even headbands! Worn as a lariat on a cool day, they provide just enough warmth around the neck when a scarf would be too much.

Get them now, before they disappear forever!

And somehow it got left out, but I also have one Pluto cord left, also reduced to $8 on clearance:

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Pluto is the planet of transformation, sex, death, and higher will. It is the planet of the seeker of mysteries and the ruler of the astrological sign Scorpio.

Use this cord to:

- Bring yourself into alignment with divine will and the true will of your soul, as opposed to the will of your ego
- Destroy things that no longer serve a useful purpose to make room for what is needed
- Rituals for the dead and the ancestors
- Add a power boost to any ritual or working.
- Place it on your altar during ritual for an underworld king or a horned god
- Wear it as a symbol of your magical intent (without anyone needing to know it’s a magical item!)

Customer Care Etiquette 101 for the Pagan Artisan

(For anyone who might be wondering, yes, this is a rant. However, it is not aimed at any one specific person; it is more about a general trend I have been witnessing. Accordingly, the examples given below have all been either doctored or entirely made up, and I am not calling anyone out; names have been withheld to protect the guilty.) 

A couple of years back, overwhelmed by the depth and range of talent I saw around me in the pagan community, I made a resolution to myself: that I would support my fellow pagan artisans whenever possible by commissioning spiritual items directly from them, rather than going outside of the community or attempting to make everything myself. Yes, there are a number of different crafts and art forms I am passingly good at, and others I could probably learn, but why take time away from my fiber arts to produce something fair to middling for myself in oils, or clay, or metal (or herbal salves, for that matter) when I could pay someone with more skill to produce something amazing? After all, the only way any of us are going to make it in our respective highly competitive fields is if we support each other in some way, and the most immediately useful way we can do that is with our pocketbooks.

For the most part, this arrangement has worked out pretty well. But on those occasions when it fails, it seems to fail spectacularly, and to do so for reasons I would not even have believed possible if you had warned me about them beforehand. As a part-time customer service representative by day, in addition to being an artisan myself, customer care matters to me and I am seeing it ignored or shoved aside in favor of the artisan’s own urges in too many cases. This is not good business practice, because without your customers, you don’t have a business. Sadly, many artists (and pagan ones in particular, for some reason) tend to be self-centered and to consider their customers rarely, if at all; this is one reason why many artistic start-up businesses fail. And so, this brief list of integrity guidelines is designed not only as a public service announcement of sorts to my fellow artisans, but also as a list of reminders for myself to adhere to, and lastly as a courtesy for the general pagan consumer public: caveat emptor, as they say (let the buyer beware).

  1. Everyone knows that custom orders take time, but for the love of all that’s holy, make sure you’re not only upfront about this with your customer beforehand, but also that you’re representing honestly the amount of time involved. Don’t, for example, say that your average wait time is 24 weeks and then take nearly two years to complete an item. If you are ill and know you may go months without being able to work on the commission, be up front about that. If you have a 3-5 year waiting list (like some spinning wheel craftsmen) be honest about that. Then the customer can make his/her own informed decision about whether they want to invest the time in waiting for the item, or would rather find another solution to their needs. Also, you’ll have fewer upset customers, and thus better word of mouth advertising. When you routinely take twice to three times as long for complete an order, word gets around, and it will damage your reputation; people will see you as being irresponsible and unprofessional. (I know this from personal experience, as in one case I was warned—not by the artisan but by a previous customer–that the artist in question had to be “continually reminded of his responsibilities.” Is this really what you want your customers telling people about you?) In the spirit of transparency, I will admit here that I myself have had a few custom orders that took me a lot longer than I had expected to complete, usually due to problems with my materials. (I had one fleece, for example that turned out to be so full of vegetable matter that prepping it for spinning was literally painful.) BUT I have never held up an order that a customer had already paid me for (in whole or part), which brings me to…

  2. As an addendum to the above, if money has already changed hands (in other words, you’ve received a down payment of some sort, or money to buy supplies, or even been paid in full) and you realize that the order is going to take much longer to complete than you had estimated, let the customer know this, and tell her what is holding the order up. Make sure she is informed of every delay that comes up and told how much longer it will take. Don’t wait until you start getting anxious (or angry) messages on your Facebook page asking about the order, six months down the road. And by the way, you should know that if money has changed hands it’s illegal to withhold the promised goods beyond a reasonable period of time without communicating that to the buyer and obtaining her consent; it’s called theft. (It’s just the same as if you had already given your customer the item and she then delayed or withheld payment.)

  3. If you have a pre-paid commission, or a whole list of them, awaiting completion, but you’re dragging your feet on them because THERE’S THIS NEW AND SHINY ART FORM OR MEDIUM OVER HERE that you’re feeling inspired by and you want to create only with that, not with the boring old art form you were commissioned to do, well, first of all you should never have accepted the commission. If you were paid to knit something, for example, but knitting is old hat (pun intended) and sort of boring to you, whereas weaving is new and shiny and look at all the things you can weave, wow, where has weaving been all your life…well, you should never have accepted money for knitting something. However, now that you have done so, it is spectacularly bad form to continually plaster your Facebook page with a series of your brilliant, inspired weaving projects, all the while not saying a single word about a knitting commission that was paid for in full weeks or even months ago. This says to your customer that her wishes and the money she paid you aren’t important, only your precious inspiration is—and since you’re an artiste, naturally that has to come first—right??? Wrong. Very, very bad form indeed. Again, if you are working on dozens of other projects and still haven’t finished your commissions, you need to tell your customer what the hold up is, instead of remaining silent in the knowledge that she will understand a creative genius such as yourself needs to follow her inspirations from the gods instead. Don’t want your genius to be constrained in any way? Don’t be in business.

    custom Woodland Faerie handfasting cord

    Custom Woodland Faerie handspun handfasting cord, completed exactly to my customer’s specifications

  4. And perhaps the most important rule of all when dealing with custom items that hold deep spiritual meaning for a buyer: do NOT, on the basis of “feeling called or pushed” by your customer’s deities (or even your own), decide to change something major about the end product you’re designing for her without her prior consent. Do not, without consulting the customer, decide to do a painting instead of a sculpted bust, or a necklace instead of a bracelet, or a green ritual garment instead of a red one. Do not decide to depict a deity seated if you both agreed He would be standing, or give Loki a beard if you both agreed He would be clean shaven, or add flowers (or whatever) if the client didn’t specifically request them. And if you DO feel that you are getting a strong push from a deity to paint instead of sculpt, or give Loki a green mohawk instead of red curls (for example–picking on Loki here because He’s not easily offended), then for the love of all that’s holy (once again), TALK to your client about your perceptions before you decide to go full steam ahead. Anything created for an intimate spiritual purpose also has the power to inflict deep, serious spiritual wounds, especially if it was linked to an initiation or other revelatory period in the customer’s life. You don’t want to trespass there, because to do so amounts to inserting yourself between the customer and his/her deities, and he/she has already deeply honored you and your craft by coming to you with the task of commemorating this feeling, this connection, or this event. Don’t shit on that trust by deciding to go your own way without consulting her first. And if you really feel you must manifest your own vision as a work of art (which I can certainly understand), do it later, when you’re on your own time; make the commissioned piece first, exactly as you were commissioned to do it.

  5. If you have unwittingly committed any of the above offenses, MAKE RESTITUTION. For example, if you made a necklace instead of a bracelet (or a woven scarf instead of a knitted one) and the customer still wants the bracelet (or both scarves), offer to sell her both for less than the combined total price of both of them (especially if you have co-opted any of the customer’s private content, in the form of imagery or symbols she gave you for her own piece, but which you borrowed for your inspirational piece as well—and by the way, don’t do that either without asking first). Make this a substantial discount, enough to make the customer feel like you really might care about what she wants and what she paid you for in the first place.

And that’s about it. I guess what this list boils down to is “remember to respect your customer; remember that without your customer, you are not in business, you are simply amusing yourself with a hobby”–keep that in mind and make it the center of your operations, and you’ll be golden. Forget it, and you almost certainly won’t get repeat commissions, but even worse, you may end up leaving a trail of upset and possibly even hurt customers in your wake—and who wants that? After all, if you disappoint enough people, disgruntled pagan customers will begin turning to professional artisans outside the community for their religious images and cult objects (not to mention their necklaces and scarves)–and with all the talent right here in our own community, really, that would be a shame.

New Beltane Ritual Cords

Summer is a comin’ in, and these fabulous cords are here to help you celebrate!Cotswold and BFL/Gotland locks, hand processed from local fleece, were hand dyed in a mix of vibrant colors, then lightly carded with plenty of sparkle for a highly textured cord with bright pops of color to represent all of the passion and joy of the season. Spun with intent and healing Reiki energy, and infused with the magic of purification, passion, and fertility. Rinsed with meadowsweet flowers, rose absolute, and essential oils of blue yarrow, rosemary, and juniper.  (Click on the photo below to enlarge and see all the details!)
100_7537You can use these cords:- To adorn your altar for Beltane
- For any ritual or spell having to do with purification, passion, sex magic and/or fertility
- To set your intentions for the new moon or celebrate the full moon
- As a dedication cord to a deity
- For the altar of a goddess (or god) of purification, passion, sex, and/or fertility
- To begin a new project
- In magic designed to attract a new relationship, add some zest to an existing one, or encourage fertility either for yourself, for your garden, or for a creative project
- For a handfasting cord
- For a new mama (or soon to be mama) gift; would also make a thoughtful gift for a woman who is trying to conceive
- As a necklace lariat, belt, or hair tie to wear to a Beltane celebration
- For knot spell work
- To wear on any occasion when you want to surround yourself with an aura of sexual energy and appeal
Each cord features an antiqued silvertone pentacle charm as well as one of three additional charms: choose from dragonfly, butterfly, or ladybug.  Available at Fiberwytch on Etsy! 

 

Hiatus

Just a quick announcement, because people are already starting to send me questions for April: I am on hiatus from performing oracular seidhr for the general public for an unspecified period of time, per Odin. He is concerned about the impact this service is having on my health, and also wishes me to turn my energies to other matters for a while.  When I resume offering seidhr, it will be at less frequent intervals, and I will announce that here when the time comes.

In the meantime, I remain available to do rune or Tarot readings as a paid service; if you’re interested you can find the details here.  (Readings are currently $25, due in advance to my Paypal, for your choice of Tarot or runes.) I am also going to be expanding my offerings at some point in the future to include Lenormand readings, as well as various combinations of Lenormand, Tarot, and runes, and learning this new system is one of the reasons for the oracular seidhr hiatus.