Norse pagan · Norse paganism · northern tradition · polytheist community

Do Pagan Women NEED Goddesses?

(A brief disclaimer: I’ve tried to make this clear within the post itself, but in case I’ve failed in that: when I refer to “women,” “men,”, “females,” or “males” within this post, I am in no way excluding trans or non-binary persons. As you were.)

One quibble I’ve always had with Heathenry is the notion of adhering to traditional gender roles–which I see from some of the newer Norse pagan channels on YouTube is very much still a thing. And part of this whole notion is the idea that men SHOULD naturally gravitate towards male gods, while women SHOULD gravitate towards goddesses.

It was partly for this reason–because I found this idea to be inherently sexist–that I fought for years against what I felt to be the expectation, within both my local community and my extended online community, that I needed to “find my goddess.” Especially since at the time I was so laser-focused on my relationship with Odin–something that I think made my co-religionists uncomfortable at best.

For the record, I still find this whole idea to be sexist. People should follow whatever deities they have the strongest connection with on a personal level, regardless of the gender of either the deity or the worshiper. (This also begs the question of what, exactly, we mean by gender when applied to deity in the first place–let alone the complexity of the gender issue when it comes to humans–but I digress.)

Now, I am aware that in elder pagan/heathen times there very much WERE traditional gender roles, consisting of the males leading war bands and raiding parties, while the females stayed behind to run the farms, bring in the crops, raise the children, preserve food, and produce textiles to be used in making clothing, ship sails, and shelter (via those “traditionally feminine” arts of spinning, sewing, and weaving).

Most of the above roles are no longer needed in our 21st century society, and others have altered dramatically. With women just as capable of working for a living as men, men just as capable of raising children and maintaining a home, and people of all genders shopping at Walmart rather than making their own clothes, most of the traditional chores are no longer practiced, or if they are, they’re done as hobbies rather than necessities. 

But I do find that the older I get, the more the traditional arts of the home and hearth appeal to me. This is not at all a gendered issue, but I have come to accept that I am a hearth witch at heart, and that the old world arts of spinning, weaving, knitting, sewing, and cooking are all very dear to me. Again, I am certain that there are people of all genders out there who feel the same! (And as a reminder, I say all of this as one half of a same-sex marriage, and with the awareness that just being allowed the time and tools to practice these arts is a privilege.)

Which brings me to Frige (aka Frija, aka Frigga–but I’ve always leaned towards the Anglo-Saxon side of heathenry, so I think I’ll call Her Frige, which is pronounced Free-ya). Years ago, as a baby heathen/Norse pagan, when older and wiser priestesses urged me to befriend one of Odin’s wives among the goddesses as a way to counterbalance the intensity of His influence in my life, I fought them. I dragged my heels. I protested that although they might need this, I most certainly did not. My ego was on high alert, ad in full feather. (And yet, with the benefit of hindsight years after the fact, which of us burned out and suffered a multi-year spiritual crisis? I know I did. I’m betting they didn’t.)

And because I recognized in Frige an introverted kindred soul not unlike myself–Someone who was very capable of running the kingdom of Asgard (Osgeard? aka the home turf of Her Husband’s war band) while Woden was away, but who preferred to sit and spin in Her marshy hall by the sea–I fought especially hard. Because who was I to identify myself with Her, even privately? And on the other hand, how dare anyone suggest that I needed an intermediary in my relationship with Woden? (Again, for the record, this was NOT what anyone suggested, nor was it what Frige Herself offered. It was what I, in my ego-fueled indignation, assumed.)

But the people who advised me to befriend one of Odin’s divine wives or girlfriends were not wrong. And I think it’s having taken up hand spinning again that’s led me to this conclusion.

Spinning is a slow art. It requires patience, a cool head, and steady but nimble fingers, as you scour the dirt and grease out of the wool, wait for it to dry (a lot of fiber processing consists of “hurry up and wait”), comb and card the fibers to recombine and reorganize them, twist and smooth them to give them form, all the while keeping the strands in order, untangled, so that they can, finally, be wrapped into a skein or a ball to be used in the creation of fabric (whatever may be your preferred method of doing that). Spinning is no longer a necessary art or craft; it is a privileged one–but doing it successfully still takes a certain temperament, a certain kind of person. It is tedious, requiring long hours spent alone or with like-minded and similarly-occupied people. It is repetitive, downright boring at times; it requires a love of the feeling of the fiber moving between your fingers, of the way the wool smells, of the way it looks when, having been soaked to set the twist after spinning, the original crimp of the sheep’s fleece reveals itself once again. And when you have mastered the process to the point that your fingers and hands move through it on their own without input from your conscious mind–well, that’s when the magic comes in. That’s when, as pagan writers have fantasized and as some of us who have practiced the art can attest to, Woden Himself looks on in wonder as Frige spins the threads that keep the universe turning.

Again, spinning is not a gendered art; let me be clear, none of the traditional household arts are. But they do require a certain temperament, and it is NOT that of the person who needs to claim the spotlight, who needs to be the center of attention. By and large, these are not arts for the extroverted, the charismatic folks whose mere presence draws the rapt attention of crowds. This is, in brief, why Woden does not spin, but Frige does. They are not gendered arts, but I believe that in past ages society assigned what we now call extroversion to men, and what we now refer to as introversion to women. To be fair, people didn’t know any better, and were laboring under thousands of years of misguided tradition. 

So, do women NEED to worship a goddess? No, absolutely not. But, depending on the other influences in your spiritual life, and depending on your own temperament, you may find, as I am finding now, that it’s helpful to have a counterbalancing influence, Someone who can act as a tether for you, an anchor, a mooring. Much as Frige Herself does for Her wandering Husband, Woden.

divination · Etsy · Tarot

Introducing the Two Paths Reading

This new reading is designed to compare and contrast two competing paths that lie before you, with the goal of helping you decide which path is best for you. These two paths might be spiritual traditions, relationships, or even two job offers–any situation in which you have two alternatives before you and need to make a decision.

In this reading, I draw four cards for each of the two competing paths (eight cards in all). These cards address the following questions for each potential path:

1. What does this path offer me?

2. What does this path NOT offer me?

3. Where will this path ultimately lead me?

4. A message from Spirit concerning this path.

This reading is conducted in a trance state and may involve my drawing additional cards if I feel they’re needed for clarification. I may also draw runes or use my pendulum during the reading if I feel this is needed.

You will receive an email with a downloadable pdf of your reading including a clear color photo of your spread. I will email your reading to you within 3-5 business days of your purchase.

You can book your reading in my Etsy shop!

divination

It’s back! My new and improved Deity Communication Reading!

This is a brand new version of the Deity Communication Reading I used to offer a couple of years back. This original spread, designed by me in the summer of 2020, consists of six cards and addresses the following questions:

1. What does this deity want from me?

2. What can They offer me?

3. How can we best work together?

4. What should I NOT expect from Them?

5. What can be negotiated with Them?

6. What is the most likely prognosis/probably future of the relationship?

This reading is conducted in a trance state and may involve my drawing additional cards if I feel they’re needed for clarification. I may also draw runes or use my pendulum during the reading if I feel this is needed. Prior to the reading, I make an offering to your deity and request Their assistance in supplying you with the above answers.

You will receive an email with a downloadable pdf of your reading including a clear color photo of your spread. I will email your reading to you within 3-5 business days of your purchase.

When purchasing your reading, please include the following in your “note to seller”:

– Your name and email address
– The name of the deity you would like the reading to focus on. (ONE deity per reading please.)
– Any background information you think is needed or that that you would like me to keep in mind while reading.

You can book a reading with me in my Etsy shop here.

YouTube

Jo and I have a new podcast!

Introducing Beth and Jo Makes: a Knitting, Spinning, and Crafting Podcast!

Just like the name suggests, the podcast will focus on the fiber and needle arts, but will also expand into other areas such as bullet journaling and cooking/food prep. Since I’ve been out of work since I was laid off in March due to COVID, and we are currently trying to save money to move back east, the channel’s emphasis will be on making do with the supplies you have on hand while still finding ways to do creative work that feeds your spirit. It’s a crafty hearth witch on a budget sort of thing.

I neglected to post a preview to my Patreons before publishing on YouTube (sorry about that!) but will do better in the future. I also didn’t realize my camera was going to split the file into two parts, so part 2 is here.

The podcast is on a brand new YouTube channel, and there will be more videos coming soon, including some solo ones from me. If you enjoy them, please help us out by spreading the word, liking, and subscribing.

book reviews · Norse paganism · odin

Spiritual Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese? | Advice on Dealing with Change in Your Spiritual Path

I purchased “Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Life and Work” by Dr. Spencer Johnson because I’d heard it could help me pivot in my business. But in addition to that–as a veteran Odinswoman who’s been through a shattering spiritual crisis during the past few years–I found some surprising and badly needed insights for my spiritual path.

You can watch the video on my YouTube channel here. (I am really trying to start building up my channel, and I have a lot of great material planned for it!)

The blog post I mention in the video is, of course, this one

About me · Norse pagan · odin

A confession, in story form

Once upon a time, there was a woman who pledged herself to Odin. She promised herself to Him for life and beyond, without having any idea what that meant.

She had heard whispers that He was a dark god, a dangerous god, that He would turn her life upside down–and in response to that, she smiled and said “Okay.” She felt that, at the time, her life was long overdue for some radical change.

And besides, she had felt the overwhelming charisma, the heavy presence, the unwavering love of a god who–for the first time in her life–had stepped into her world and truly awakened her spirit. Why would she not follow Him wherever He might lead her?

And for a time–for quite a long time–follow Him she did. She became a champion of her god, a defender, a priestess. She hailed His name and deeds far and wide, and did all that she could–as a relatively young mother, and a recently single one at that–to serve His people in His name.

After years had passed, something within her began to break and crumble, and her faith slowly began to erode away, one tiny fragment at a time. The requests for help that came her way from the people began to feel like an impossible task that she could not possibly fulfill. Worse, she couldn’t stop comparing herself with the other priests and leaders who were also helping the followers of her god. She compared herself and continually found herself lacking. She wondered whether, with all she was continually giving to her god and to His people, there would be anything left of her own self. She wondered whether anything she had to give had been any good in the first place. Why had He ever chosen her, when there were so many other, better people available? But she gritted her teeth, and tried her best to believe, and plowed onward.

At about the same time, when she asked her god to take her deeper into His mysteries, He–as the Wanderer He is–began to show her other traditions, other cultures, other gods He had encountered in His long journeys.  Misunderstanding, she thought He was handing her over to these other gods, abdicating her to these other cultures. Abandoning her.

It was this that finally broke her. She had been an adopted child, abandoned and handed over by her birth mother, and this was the one thing she had begged Him, under any circumstances, not to do.

To protect herself, she began to erect walls against Him. She forgot their history together and focused on the pain, the anger, she was feeling. She cast Him as her enemy, her betrayer. And her heart shattered into a million pieces.

After that, she wandered for a time–a time that was merely a few years but felt like far longer, because she felt she had been cast adrift, without her faith and with only an empty place where it had once lived. And in her anger and her grief, she forgot that this separation was of her own doing. She forgot that, in the countless stories told of her god throughout the ages, this was one of the ways in which He broke his people down before rebuilding them into better, truer, stronger versions of themselves. She forgot that should she ever call out the name of her god and ask Him to return, He would. Because He had promised her so.

And then one day, the longing for her god overflowed to the point where she could no longer contain it, and she did call out. Her anger had diminished, to be replaced with only loneliness and yearning. She couldn’t remember, even, why she had been so angry in the first place. Her resentment and envy of others in her god’s wider human community had also ebbed away into dust. All that was left was the desire to reconnect, to reclaim what she had spent years building with her god and with her community, and to rebuild and continue on her mission as His priestess.

And this is the story of how she came to this day, to this moment, to these words.

Hail to thee, Odin, and hail to thee, people of Odin and people of the Norse gods. As I’m sure readers of these words have realized, I am the woman in this story. My wanderings have changed me, even as Odin’s have changed Him. But I am finally ready to go home, And this only means that I have brought back new knowledge, new experiences, and new gifts to offer to Him and to you–which, of course, is what He intended all along.

To be continued…