A song by Rasputina to go with the preceding poem. Of course, for me this song has got nothing to do with a deer.
(© 2005 from Odhroerir: Nine Devotional Tales of Odin’s Journeys)
The black depths of the Well,
The chill embrace of its dark waters,
The Sight that no one wants and all men fear,
The knowledge that becomes a gaping chasm,
Separating the seer from kith and kin,
This You promised me, Odin.
The sweetness of the Mead,
The intoxication of golden honey,
The gift of inspiration teetering on the edge of madness,
The song of fire in the soul and spirit,
Threatening to burst all reason asunder,
This You promised me, Odin.
The torment of the Tree,
The hunger, the thirst, unending pain,
The symbols burned into flesh, blood, brain,
The secrets that have torn screams from a God,
Sacrificing comfort for candor,
This You promised me, Odin.
The terror of the storm,
The shrieking winds and cold, driving rain,
The madness of the Hunt, laying waste to all in its path,
The wild, fierce joy of the wolf,
Howling to herald the birth of life in death,
This You promised me, Odin.
The loneliness of the wanderer,
The isolation of the outcast,
The one who sells stories for food and drink,
The vagabond who earns his place by the fire,
Spinning tales to entrap the foolish and educate the wise,
This You promised me, Odin.
The warmth of Your embrace,
The electric thrill of Your arms around me,
The ecstasy of Your kiss that kills doubt and fear,
The sacrifice of body, heart, soul and mind,
Bright as spilled blood, on the altar of Your love,
This You promised me, Odin.
And the sanctuary I have found in Your arms
Is worth many times the trials and the tears,
The sweetness worth the sacrifices,
The tenderness worth every last torment.
My soul is mead for Your horn, Beloved,
My spirit bread to sate Your hunger.
Drink deep of me and I will be Your comfort;
All of the life, joy, light and hope within me
Is Yours to feast upon, to bring You strength.
This I promise You, Odin.
First, an announcement: as of today, January 1st 2013, I will no longer be available to answer either seidhr or divination questions along the lines of “Does Deity X (fill in the blank, but Loki and Odin are the usual suspects) want to marry me/sleep with me/date me?” or even, “What does Deity X want from me?” in which the unspoken subtext is, “Does He/She want to marry me?” Once again, any seidhr questions or reading requests that follow some variation on this pattern will be refused, and a link to this post given.
This includes any similar questions that I have already tentatively indicated I would try to respond to, as of this date.
The reasons for this decision are many, and frankly they include the preservation of my sanity, since in the past couple of months this has become the most popular variety of question sent my way, not only for seidhr but just randomly dropped in my inbox via email or Facebook, even after I had posted a notice in the sidebar of my blog, months ago now, that I would not be able to answer ANY free questions outside of my regular posted seidhr schedule. Even being in the midst of Yule, the holiest time of year for me, or days before my 10th anniversary in one instance, has not hindered people from doing this or prompted them to consider that perhaps they should wait, that perhaps their approaching me at such a time might be inconsiderate or disrespectful. It has seriously been annoying enough to make me consider putting my seidhr practice on hiaitus altogether for a bit, and I was set to do exactly that until I saw how many people I was able to help in unexpected ways during the Samhain and Yule sessions (this last being one of the primary reasons I began my oracular practice in the first place).
The root of the problem came out during a discussion with Jolene the other night, and was echoed by a recent comment someone else posted to my blog: entitlement. Too many people among the newest crop of would-be godspouses and spirit workers apparently feel somehow entitled to not only have the help and guidance of those who have been on this path for years, but to have it now, on demand, when they are ready and not when the other person is ready to help them (assuming there is such a time; please see further below for more on this). Believe me, I have been on the other end of this scenario, back when I was a baby godspouse myself; not only did I feel entitled to the advice and assistance of my elders, and not only did I actively pursue the same by (in a couple of instances) all but shoving my newfound status in their faces, but I got downright sulky and resentful when I was occasionally rebuffed. Looking back now, I am mortified by my own behavior. I can only hope the current aspirants can eventually grow beyond this attitude as well and be similarly ashamed someday, yet somehow I doubt that will happen, since our (i.e. American/Western European) culture as a whole also seems to have embraced wholeheartedly the doctrine of entitlement in general.
Ironically, my first reaction to the lack of support I received (I have written before about how few and far between access to either oracles or spirit workers of any kind was back then) was to want to help all of the new people who in turn eventually approached me, but at this point–when hardly a week passes in which I am not contacted by one or two new people wanting to make their existence known to me–I really need to take a big step back and acknowledge that the trend has gone too far, at least for me personally to want to continue to aid and abet it. To keep on as I have been doing would require truly becoming an interactive priestess in service to a human community, and that is outside the parameters of what Odin wants or expects from me at this time. To the extent that I act as His priestess in regard to other people, it is for the purpose of helping to educating people about Him and of promoting both His interests and those of my own little group of spirits. And towards that end, I will continue to share what I can about my path on my blog, including stuff about being a godspouse in more general terms, such as the remainder of this post. I will also be making “Ask me about Odin” a permanent and ongoing feature here, since I was unable to address the questions I received during the month of December. I will continue to provide some degree of pastoral counseling both during and after seidhr, and will be providing a suggested reading list on my blog for people hoping to go deeper into devotional work. (Which is, by the way, the gateway discipline for anyone hoping to progress to god-marriage.)
And so, in lieue of addressing your individual godspouse-related queries directly, here are a few rules aspiring godspouses may want to consider:
1. You cannot trick, coerce, bewitch, or otherwise force a deity into marrying you. (This should be a given for most people reading this, I hope, but one never knows, so we’ll go from here.)
2. Closely following upon the first point, it is a Bad Idea (with “bad” underscored multiple times) to decide that you would like to become a godspouse and then set about to find a god or goddess who might be interested in marrying you. If you are going to go about it in this way, you may as well ask the Ouija Board to send a suitor your way, because this is, in effect, exactly the sort of call you’re putting out. A deity marriage comes to pass as a result of 1) years of devotion on your part that naturally and gradually turn into something deeper and more intimate, or 2) a deity’s sudden decision to actively pursue and court you–which is, believe me, an obvious and undeniable state of events. If this happens to you there will be no need to consult a seidhrkona or reader; there will be no room for doubt left in your mind. The gods–especially the northern gods, the primary ones I am consulted about–are VERY capable of making their desires and intentions known along these lines, even to those who may consider themselves blocked or headblind. Besides speaking directly inside your head or through spirit workers, They can also communicate through dreams, natural signs (such as an animals or birds sacred to that deity suddenly stalking you everywhere), chance comments from strangers who have no idea what is going on, partially overheard conversations when out in public places, bibliomancy (open a book to a page at random, and there is your answer), random response generators such as the 8 Ball (you laugh, but I have seen it work), and unintentional oracles such as graffiti, street signs, or what song or show is playing when you turn the radio or TV on. And of course, runes or Tarot cards you draw for yourself in response to your question, in addition to divination systems such as the pendulum that yield a yes or no answer, can be added to this list. (If you know from experience that you can’t read for yourself get a friend to do it for you; it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone trained in spirit work.) The Gods are incredibly and endlessly resourceful and if They want you, YOU WILL KNOW IT. And They will not give up until you do. In most cases of serious courtship, a number of these signs will coincide.
As a codicil to this point, if you really feel you do need direct input via an oracle or other divination from a qualified spirit worker, ASK SOMEONE LIKELY TO BE IMPARTIAL. This is why I often prefer that people send me as little background as possible for seidhr questions. We are all human, and as much as I may want to give you an impartial answer, if I know that your question has to do with marriage to Odin (and believe me, you won’t be able to hide this one from me easily; also, after this announcement, if you try to pull a fast one on me anyway I promise I will never accept another question from you again) my own filters are very likely going to affect the answer somehow, for yay or nay. My best advice for this particular question would be to go to someone who has as little as possible to do with Odin, preferably someone from a different tradition entirely, and then pay for a reading, giving them as little information beforehand as you can.
3. Deity marriage is not something to be entered into because all of your friends are doing it and you feel left out, or because you think it might be a shortcut to being taken seriously among spirit workers. (It isn’t.) Neither is it something to pursue because you were reading a blog about it and it sounded cool. But if reading the above makes you feel desperately lonely, sad and forsaken, you may want to start a devotional practice; there is absolutely nothing wrong–and everything right–with deciding that you would like to get to know one of more of the Gods on a more direct, personal basis. You can’t force such a thing, but you certainly can put out the invitation, and devotional practice is the way to do this.
4. Deities who want to marry you–especially in the Northern Tradition–tend to approach you directly, rather than through a human or disembodied intermediary. They are not shy about these things. (See the list of possible communication methods above.) This is another reason why I am going to be stepping back from addressing these kinds of questions: you don’t need me–or anyone else, no matter how well intentioned–to run interference for you. As I have said before, I do not want to be the person standing between you and your God, and I would be a little suspicious of anyone who did wholeheartedly embrace such a role, frankly.
5. Generally speaking, deities do not force marriage on humans. Deity marriage is a devotional path, and every single godspouse I have ever met married their god for one reason only: they were so passionately in love with Him or Her that they couldn’t not do it. However…
6. Be aware that deity marriage is NOT a temporary path, to be put down again once you become bored with it and want to move onto other things, or once it becomes too inconvenient for you. If you give marriage vows to a deity and if those vows are accepted, the immense weight of the obligation you have assumed is taken very seriously not only by your Spouse and by the rest of the Gods but by the Norns too. It directly impacts your Wyrd, which is now entwined with that of the God in question. Like a human marriage–only more so–a deity marriage requires work, and although your Spouse will help you as much as They can a great deal of that work will be on your end. Like a human marriage, a deity marriage will transform your life, not only in the dreamy-blissful ways you’re envisioning but also in practical terms: your existing human relationships may fall apart under the strain of your new commitment and you may be called upon to endure hardships, loneliness and poverty for the sake of your Beloved. And unlike a human marriage, for its very existence a deity marriage requires that you remain open, constantly, to your divine Spouse. In practical terms, this means that every time you feel your heart begin to close against Them even the tiniest bit–through anger, complacency, disappointment, pain, or any other cause–you will need to willfully rip it open again in any way you can, once more offering Them the core of who you are, laid bare and bloodied before Them; and this is not something you will have to do once or twice but repeatedly, every time that wound begins to scab over again. “Does it hurt?” some of you will doubtless be wanting to ask me. To which I say, “Are you paying attention?” I’m not writing in code here but being as literal and explicit as possible, so you’re damn right it will hurt, like nothing you have ever experienced. But this raw openness allows your Beloved direct access to your heart–which is no longer, strictly speaking, yours but Theirs–and if you love Them, if you truly love Them, if your commitment was made cleanly and for all the right reasons, then the results of this painful process will be a source of unending joy for you that I cannot even begin to describe.
Okay, before I make divine marriage sound too idyllic (which is not the goal of this post, after all), we’ll take a step back and consider the topic of entitlement again.
A few points of etiquette (and “netiquette”) for aspiring godspouses:
1. No matter how loved and cherished you may be by your god, do not assume that you are automatically more important to Them than someone who has already devoted years of loving service to Them (in divine marriage or any other close capacity). Believe me, your god will not appreciate it if you approach such a devotee of Theirs making demands on their time or attention that the other person cannot afford or is for any reason unwilling to give you. Even in the case of high profile followers of your god, never assume that the person you are approaching owes you anything at all, and if they tell you that they do not have the time for you or just do not want to deal with you for whatever reason, take the hint and leave them alone. Along these same lines…
2. After sending off an initial email and not receiving a response, it is generally okay to send one more polite inquiry after waiting a few weeks or so (since emails do get lost in Cyberspace occasionally). After that, if you receive no response, assume that the other person does not want to or cannot deal with you at this time. (It may not even be a personal thing; you have no idea what may be going on in the other person’s life. If someone in their family is gravely ill or they are in the midst of a spiritual crisis themselves or they have just lost their home, imagine how much of a heel you’ll feel like when you later realize that you were pestering them in the midst of such a thing.) If you haven’t received a response and you’ve written twice, it is never okay to send a third email saying “I was wondering if you got my email.” You have just turned into a pest.
3. If someone with years more experience than you has been kind enough to correspond with you to offer some of their perspective or wisdom, do not assume that now you are good friends or pen pals and do not demand that they continue to write lengthy emails to you or confide their own secrets in you. Some will, and it is quite possible to make friends in this way. However, if they seem to be making an attempt to taper off their replies gracefully, allow them the room to do so; once again, this may not be a personal thing, and may not even mean that they do not like you. But do not assume that because they have written to you or helped you they are now your peer. (Or, worse, that you are now in a position to offer them advice, especially if its unsolicited.) And last but certainly not least…
4. Don’t assume that anyone else owes you the benefit of their experience or hard-won wisdom, either pertaining to this path or any other. People who have been on this path for a while, like myself, started out when there were very few people around to seek advice or guidance from. We learned the hard way, reading what we could here and there but mostly learning to listen, hard, to what our gods were telling us. We fell down, got our knees skinned, then picked ourselves up and kept going–and we did this over and over and over again. Some of us are a bit jealous of the knowledge we’ve won through our own pain and hard work, and some of us are of the opinion that this kind of wisdom can’t be spoon-fed anyway but must be fought and bled for by each individual who seeks it. (Consider Odin, who was taught by both His mother and His uncle Mimir when He was first starting out–and yet, that didn’t keep Him from needing to rip out one of His eyes, or hang on the Tree, to get where He wanted to go on His path.) Some of us believe we aren’t necessarily helping you by attempting to spoon-feed you these lessons, but only hindering and delaying the necessarily painful process of learning them for yourself.
If this sounds mean or harsh to you, consider that it takes big-time cojones to become a god spouse in the first place, to stand up before the world and say, “Yes, that’s right, Deity X loves me. Yes, I know I’m overweight, or not outstandingly pretty, or don’t have a college degree, or can’t sing on key, but the one thing I do know is that this particular God cherishes me and is passionately in love with me, so much so that He accepted me for His wife.” That takes not only balls but big brass ones, because the most common reaction–outside of your tight little circle of friends–is that the world will laugh in your face. However, declaring yourself is the easy part, and it is exactly those types of balls you are going to need to get through the lessons that will follow, that type of unshakable belief. In the end if you can’t manage to believe in your own worthiness (and I’ll tell you a secret: few of us can, when it comes to something of this magnitude), you will be asked to cling to the fact that your Beloved God tells you you are worthy, and that His or Her divine Word therefore makes it so. This is faith on a level that most human beings never have to wrestle with, and it takes not only balls to carry it off but plenty of muscle power, which you will build up gradually by working your way through lots of difficult lessons, endless testing, and plenty of hardship and self-discipline.
Ten years ago, when I first married Odin, one of the experienced people I had pestered told me, in a fit of pique, to come back and bother her again when I’d been on this path for a decade or longer. I haven’t taken her up on this, however I will say that I now appreciate where she was coming from, since I have observed that a good many of the people I have seen start out on this path are not around ten years, or even five years, later on. Whether or not you will be depends on how hard you are willing to work on your relationship, what you are willing to both give to it and give up for it, and not on whether you receive words of reassurance or guidance from a seer or from another godspouse. Validation is comforting, but it’s also overrated. In the end, it’s all up to you, and Them, really.
So, as you may have noticed, it’s been a bit quiet around here. December hasn’t been going exactly as I expected. Turns out, I had one plan for the month I had decided to set aside as a special devotional month for Odin, and He had an entirely different plan altogether. Needless to say, since it is His month, His plan is winning.
“This is the month the bullshit stops,” He told me on our anniversary eve–or words to that effect. “I have earned your trust–I have more than earned it–and I will have it. It is time for the training wheels to come off.” And I had thought He did have it, I had thought I’d long since given it to Him, but once I actually did, once I surrendered that last little bit of doubt I had been stubbornly clinging to, the doubt that kept me circling the same little cluster of issues again and again–once I did that, the floodgates opened, and it was like I could suddenly see everything with new eyes. Things that I had thought were so important suddenly simply weren’t. Things that I hadn’t given enough attention to became vital. With His help, I have been poking at my comfort zones, one by one, and uncovering some things about Him, myself, and the Work that I had apparently been blocking for a while now. I’ve been challenging my illusions to find and shatter any last boundaries remaining between Him and me, because I would rather face a thousand uncomfortable truths than have anything stand between us. I have found a few places where walls I had foolishly erected readily tumbled down to rubble at the lightest touch, and others where the assurances He had given me long ago, which I expected to crumble, were impregnable as bedrock. The Hunt season is when illusions are stripped away to the bare bone, when even Grimnir Himself unmasks. The guising and revelry goes on throughout the evening, the orchestra plays on, but at midnight the music stops, the guests reveal themselves, and you see Who you’ve really been dancing with. And even if you’ve had a pretty good idea all along, there are always some surprises.
And so, I’ve been spending most of my time offline this past week, and instead of working on devotional crafting projects, or posting to my blog, I’ve been spending lots of time with my Husband–meditating, doing uti seta and breath work, pathwalking, reading runes, writing letters to Him in a special little notebook, writing posts and partial posts that may or may not ever be posted, and just in general being enthralled by Him. The post ideas have been coming faster than I can keep up with them–and I will be answering your “Ask me about Odin” questions, I promise!–but some of the material that’s been coming to me will be saved for my book. Spending less time online, cutting down on the barrage of words and images that I normally ingest in large quantities from the internet, makes it so much easier to hear and interact with the spirits, not only my Husband but the others as well. It looks like I will have to start limiting my online time in the future, from now on. There will be some other changes too, though it’s too soon to speak of them. But at any rate, Odin’s idea of December was to use it as a kind of reset button, not a time for me to do all of these extraordinary devotional activities but for me to prepare for the challenges of the next ten years of my extraordinary devotional life, in which the training wheels will be off, and I will begin the Work ahead of me with renewed vision, insight and clarity.
There will be a lot–a LOT–of new stuff (in terms of Work, writing, crafts, everything) coming down the pike in the new year, and I’m gearing up to be ready for it.
Seidhr for Yule is still set for the 16th, and although I am almost ready to close the session I still have room for two or three more questions.
Well, December is here, the start of my devotional month for Odin. I wanted to remind everyone that I won’t be online as much this month, won’t be reading as many blogs or doing as much commenting or private messaging on Facebook, and in fact these are all activities I need to cut back on a bit anyway. I tend to have an additive personality, and these kinds of online pastimes can eat up hours that I need to be spending on Work and on being with Him, not only this month but just in general. I have been fortunate enough to reduce my hours at my mundane job (which is with an amazing herb company), but I still work 6 hours per day M-F, which is quite a bit for someone with a chronic illness. I definitely need to start budgeting my time more carefully while also making sure I get the rest, exercise, etc. that I need to stay relatively healthy and functional–able to do my Job as well as my job. At Odin’s request, December is the start of my cutting back the extraneous things in my life, the things that can be cut, to see that this happens.
I will, of course, be posting here about Odin and my path with Him to date, in addition to answering the questions about Odin many of you have emailed me. Just to clarify, I’ll be posting my answers to those questions here on the blog, not by email, however if you have something you need to discuss more privately with me email is still the best way to contact me. (Don’t assume I will see something on Facebook, in other words.) I do have a couple of private emails that I will be answering in the next day or so.
My last oracular seidhr session for 2012 will take place on December 16th, and you are certainly welcome to send me your questions for that, but just as a reminder, as my seidhr practice is part of my religious path, please send me serious questions only. You can read more about my practice here. One of the tasks I am hoping to get to sometime this month is to merge my old Gate of the Slain site with this blog to make the extra information I have over there more readily available. (Also, it seems that some people who encounter the site don’t realize that this blog exists, and vice versa!)
Most of the response to my Sacred Queenship and Apotheosis post from a few days ago has been overwhelmingly positive, with several people commenting that the post functioned as a “clue by four” for them, or a peer-validation of the Work they are already doing themselves (which is exactly the effect was hoping for, and the reason that post would not let me rest until I had written it), and a few others contacting me privately to share their realizations about being on similar paths. However, there are always going to be a few voices out there in cyberspace that want to think the worst of anyone who dares to speak out about views that differ from their own. For the record, I am not going anywhere (ten years should amply demonstrate that) and am not going to shut up anytime soon either. So I’d like to try to nip this one in the bud and say that in no way is my sharing of my path meant to equate myself with Frigga. Frigga is, after all, the great Queen of the North (as well as my patroness–though in a secondary way to Odin, of course) and I am only a humble witch and godspouse who has been given a Job that revolves around land stewardship and the service of a group of spirits.
Why do I use the name “Queenship” for this path? Because it is the name that was pushed on me by Odin, my Husband, for years, as well as given to me by Frigga Herself during the training I finally accepted at Her hands. In very much the same way as there are people in the Northern Tradition who have taken the title “Shaman” for themselves or been given it by their gods, “Queenship” seems to be the best match for my Job in my native tongue, so “Queenship” is the word I use–and thankfully, it lacks the cultural baggage of the former term, and is a function I can study and train in with the hope of not offending any reasonable person.
However, it IS a function, not a description of status, and certainly not a bid for competition with Frigga, at Whose hands I have had many blessings and wise teachings. My use of the term does not mean I think I am equal to Her any more than those who choose to call themselves Shaman think they are equal to Odin, the great Shaman-King. (Incidentally, I will not use the term shaman for myself, even though I have been through something with all the hallmarks of “shaman sickness,” complete with the astral and energetic remodeling.) The stewardship and care of landwights, non-human spirits, and the dead demanded by the sacred queenship path is important Work (often grueling, and with many similarities and overlaps to the shamanic path) and Frigga supports my doing it, as well as anyone else who may sincerely dedicate themselves to this type of Work and can function well at it.
I think it is only natural for those of us who are godspouses to gravitate more towards one or another of our Beloved’s divine spouses or lovers; sometimes this may lead to a secondary patronage situation, but at the very least it helps us learn the coping skills needed to navigate our way through our unique situations. In my case, I have been close to Bestla, Gunnlod, and Frigga at various stages along my path, but none of that means I am ever anyone other than me.
In this season of the ancestors, I thought it might be time (past time, I am told by a certain Someone) to talk a bit more about an aspect of my path that I have only hinted at to date. Some of my more observant readers may already have picked up on this due to the “sacred queenship” tag I’ve begun adding to some of my posts, as well as my focus on Odin as King and my devotion to the group of spirits I call the Queens. However I have to start out by stressing that this is very difficult for me to talk about and I have been reluctant to discuss it with anyone thus far, except in private, since Odin first began mentioning it to me (“pushing it on me” is probably more accurate, since this is the part of my path with Him I fought against the hardest and the longest) a couple of years after our Marriage.
At that time, of course, it was not a subject being broached by anyone at all; hell, even the topic of sacred Marriage itself was discussed rarely and with trepidation. However, since then I have seen one or two people talking about their own sacred queenship or kingship paths online, and I know of at least a handful of people who are on such paths but have not spoken publicly about it yet. I like to think that my having been open about my Marriage to Odin right from the beginning, even at the risk of alienating what little community I had at the time, encouraged more people to “come out” about their own relationships. One of my spiritual functions is that of a Door; I open doors for the spirits and sometimes for other people, and this may have been one of those times. At any rate, I am speaking about this now not for my own self-agrandizement (since we all know that the kind of attention one gets for these types of spiritual disclosures is mostly negative), but because I feel it is a path many people are being called to and my speaking about it (at least to whatever extent I am able and Allowed to) may help to remove part of the stigma that seems to surround it.
There are two separate (but sometimes co-existing) strands here that need to be picked apart a bit before we continue: apotheosis and sacred queenship. Apotheosis is a Latin term that means, roughly, “becoming a god.” It is used in Catholicism for the ascension of the Virgin Mary (at least, that’s my interpretation; if any Catholics are reading, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), and appears a few times within pagan traditions as well, generally referring to the process of a mortal becoming a god. There are a few examples in Greek myth where we are told that a certain mortal or another was lifted up by Zeus, given a drink of ambrosia, and placed among the Deathless Ones; usually these lucky people were lovers or children of the gods. In my own tradition, there are the Einherjar, Odin’s fallen warriors who are then raised by His Valkyries and brought to Valhalla, where they spend eternity feasting and fighting; they are not quite gods, perhaps, but certainly are not among the ordinary dead. And there is Bragi, the god of poetry; since opinion is divided on whether He was a mortal man or a god, in my own UPG I have decided He was both: the son of Odin and Gunnlod who was somehow born mortal but was then later deified by His Father.
In keeping with these examples, it is generally the mortal lovers or spouses of deities who will find themselves being addressed by their Beloveds as “My goddess” (or even, in some cases, I suppose, as “My god” or “My godling”–although most of the godspouses I am aware of at present are female). Odin began calling me His goddess shortly after our Marriage (along with other terms of endearment that I later learned meant more than they appeared to on the surface of things, such as “My Heart” and “My Queen.”) The goddess comment was partly explained by His disclosure that I was somehow descended from Gunnlod, through Her son Bragi. This in itself is not a tremendous bombshell. Heathens regard the gods as our “elder kin,” and sometimes that term is quite literal: the Northern gods are concerned with preserving and spreading Their own bloodlines. In the past only royalty claimed descent from Them, but in fact there are many people walking around these days with Aesir (or Jotun, or some combination thereof) blood in their veins.
There is, of course, a bit more to His “goddess” endearment than that, but here’s where the distinction between apotheosis and sacred queenship comes in, at least for me. Sacred queenship is a role that entails certain duties and responsibilities that can be enacted during one’s lifetime; it is a spirit work Job, so to speak, rather than a term of entitlement. Apotheosis, on the other hand, is in every example something that happens after your death. Although you can strive mightily to be worthy of that term during your lifetime (and certainly should, since as the chosen consort of a god your actions should be guided by the principle of noblesse oblige–nobility imposes obligation–anyway), being called “My goddess” by your divine Spouse is more a promise of future status (and of your inherent and potential worth, in the eyes of your divine Lover) than anything else. It also has the added bonus, for Them, of removing or lessening the enormous gap that generally exists between mortals and gods and that They want us to forget is there (except when They occasionally choose to remind us of it). But even most adherents of the Left Hand path, which focuses on developing godlike powers during one’s lifetime, do not fool themselves into believing that they are literal gods, though they may employ such language (since countering that inner voice that always wants to speak up and tell you how ungodlike you are is an unending struggle on this type of path). So, if apotheosis is part of your path, be grateful (for me, the best part of it is the assurance that I will remain with my Beloved and have a place at His side after I die, rather than be relegated to Helheim), work towards it with everything you’ve got, develop yourself and push yourself to the best of your ability. But be humble, and remember that you are not literally a goddess–yet.
The other strand of this discussion is sacred queenship, which is, as I have mentioned, a spirit work function, a Job. Odin hinted at this part of my path right from the beginning by calling me “My Queen,” but it wasn’t until a few years into our Marriage that He began hitting me with everything that seeming endearment actually entailed, and it wasn’t until two years ago that I was formally invested with this role, getting a tattoo to seal my queenship oaths. I will add that to a certain extent all god-wives may find a similar role cropping up, especially those of us who are married to gods who are also Kings. I will also admit that this is the part of my path with Him that I fought against the hardest, since up until the point He began wooing me my life had been filled with people who were ready to tell my how worthless I was, and that well-conditioned inner voice kept piping up: who was I to even entertain the notion that I could be a Queen of any sort? Odin, with remarkable patience, kept working on me, gradually wearing down my resistance and silencing that voice, and in recent years even turning me over to Frigga for lessons on self worth (for She knows Her own worth as surely as Freyja does), and on queenship itself: what a queen does and is, how she comports herself, and most importantly, how she interacts with her subjects and supports her King. I was Told to study medieval queenship and the concept of the queen as a helpmeet to her King and an intercessor for her people. And finally, I made the acquaintance of a number of English queens, beginning with Queen Anne Boleyn, who is now the foremost among the group of spirits I have referred to here as “the Queens” (who I will speak more about individually in a future post). Reading about these womens’ lives and interacting with their spirits has taught me a great deal about queenship, chiefly that it is not a privilege but a duty, a Job. Although most of the women I have studied were Christians, the idea of royalty being a channel for the divine and answerable directly to the divine is obviously a strong note of my own path as well; it just that what we mean by “the divine” is quite different.
Similarly, for a spirit worker, being a sacred queen is not about status but about service and a lot of hard work. A queen (or a king) should expect to be beholden to her subjects–whoever they are–and to be held to a higher standard of speech and behavior (noblesse oblige again) than the average person, including the average pagan. All of this is governed by a simple rule that has never failed to hold true in my experience: from those to whom more is given, more is expected. (This is why many godspouses may find themselve falling into this role, as they have already been given an incalculable gift and honor: the love and trust of a god.) The subjects and duties of a sacred queen can vary greatly depending on her Divine Consort’s identity and sphere of power; generally it will be Work that directly supports one of His areas of interest, of course, but even then it can vary even among different queens attached to the same deity. (And let me add here that although I have not yet heard of another sacred queen of Odin’s, I am by no means claiming that my role is exclusive.)
Obviously, most sacred queens are not going to be rulers or leaders of people (although I thought this at one time, when He first began mentioning the concept to me, and my misunderstanding was one reason I wasted so much time trying to fit myself into mainstream Heathenry, so I could be a community gythia). For myself, at this time, I work primarily in service to a group of spirits associated with Odin’s Wild Hunt, most of whom would be described as either nature spirits or certain spirits of the dead (both the human and non-human dead; as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am also involved with the spirits of dead animals, plants, and otherworldly dead, such as elves and trolls). Of course, this group is at its most active during “Wild Hunt season,” which begins for them (and me) roughly around the end of September and continues through Yule. They are primarily spirits of night, of wind and storm, or spirits who gravitate towards such conditons. However, my duties do not end with Yule, as here in the Pacific Northwest the spring is also an especially stormy time of year, so they are active then too. During the remainder of the year, they have different tasks and activities than during “Hunt season,” so my interactions with them change accordingly but my duties continue, just in a somewhat different form.
What do my duties entail? I have already described, in general terms, much of what I do in other posts, but without labeling it as sacred queenship. I do not own land over which I can extend my protection, so instead I walk the land within the beautiful green gem of a city I call home, feeding the spirits and weaving paths between the worlds for them to tread. I negotiate between them and help to settle disputes. I intercede for them with Odin, if needed. I provide for their physical needs, as required. This last duty encompasses a great rage of activities, from picking up trash to picking the abundant and inedible apples from a small tree that was bent down and overburdened by their weight. I care for the dead, usually the animal dead, either by means of prayers and psychopomp work, or by actually removing and burying their remains, or both. I intercede for humans too on occasion, usually those who come to me for oracles or who need advice in their dealings with Odin or the other gods. Mostly, I remain open, and continually strive to become more so, not only for Odin to be able to use me as a Door into this world (one of my chief duties to Him), but also for this group of spirits and their kin to be able to do the same.
Being fairly new to actively pursuing this part of my path, I am under no illusions that I have discovered all of its ramifications, and in fact I have been specifically Told by Odin that the more Work I do on this path, the more will be revealed to me; just as He had to hang on the World Tree to earn the secrets of the runes, in this case the secrets of my path must be earned, which can be done only by Work. It is work I cherish, even as I am humbled by it. And although sharing it here fills me with trepidation, it seems right to do so now, and to invite conversation with others who may be doing similar Work.
As if seen through the wrong end of a telescope, blurred and dimmed around the edges, the darkness of December beckons as November draws to its end. For the general non-pagan public in America, December is the brightest month of the year, a gleeful blending of commercialism, family ties, and food comas. For many (if not most) pagans, it is a conundrum of sorts, a season when non-pagan family obligations directly or indirectly conflict with the allure of like-minded spiritual gatherings. Historically, for Europeans throughout the middle ages, especially in northern Europe, it was a time of gathering the family tightly together against the outer cold, of taking in travelers and guests with generosity but caution (for who knew what–or Who–might be wandering out there in the freezing gusts, hobnobbing with the trolls), for lavishly feasting the gods–pagan or Christian, depending on the time and the setting–and the dead, but at a careful distance, ever mindful that the next hand on one’s doorknob might not be a human one, that the skeletal scraping against windows might not be the branches of dead trees, that the dead walk this time of year, and that things and People far more dire walk alongside them–or worse, fly through the stormy night skies–keeping careful count of debts accrued throughout the year passed, and demanding Their due.
For me, as for my spiritual ancestors, December is the darkest month of the year, with the traditional twelve days of Yule–the “smudging nights,” so called in folklore because you had better be smudging your home with protective herbs against the wild spirits that roamed the long nights–beckoning at its black heart. It is the most precious month of the year for me–for it was in this month that I took sacred marriage vows to my Husband, Odin, that darkest of gods, at this darkest of times. But it is also the most dreadful month. It is a time when the air is filled with ghosts and the trolls spill upwards through the cracks in the earth, freed from their underground lairs to walk among humans.
For me it is, beyond all else, Odin’s month–although that is certainly not limited to December. Although I feel and honor Him equally, yet somewhat differently, throughout the other seasons of the year, during the period of late September through the beginning of January we see His darkest face, the face of Yggr (the Terrible One) who sacrificed Himself on the World Tree, the face of Wilde Jaeger (the Wild Hunter) who rides His flame-eyed steed at the head of the Furious Host. Perhaps I am biased, but although I do have special festival days throughout the year for Him, and especially in late September through November, for me December is all about Odin, from beginning to end, even though several of the actual festival days within it are goddess-focused.
Continue reading over at my PaganSquare blog…