And breathe…

Ok, I’ve calmed down a bit since I did that tarot and rune reading regarding whether Freyja was trying to get my attention or not. I’d actually calmed down to around this level by the Sunday afterwards, but I haven’t had the time to sit down, organise my thoughts, and write a proper post about it until now.

The lovely Ember over at the Vanic Conspiracy has been offering me a lot of advice, which I’m very grateful for as she’s given me some very good pointers as to where to start. I emailled Ember just after I posted my rune and tarot readings, and her replies were what really calmed me down. The first thing she told me to do was breathe, as my brain had been running in a hamster wheel, and the second thing was that jumping in the deep end would be the best way forward considering the cards I got, but that I should ‘dive in relative to how you usually do things’. Ember also said that Freyja does respect boundaries and tends to be fairly gentle with new seekers, which also took a fair weight off my mind as I’ve got a certain amount of fear regarding taking steps in a new direction as far as my spiritual path goes.

So I did the Vixxia version of jumping in at the deep end. Last Tuesday I stopped off at my local metaphysical shop (which is now definitely local as opposed to being up in town) and picked up teo red candles and a couple of sticks of amber incense. Eventually I’m hoping to get solid-coloured red beeswax candles instead of the overdipped paraffin ones, but that will have to wait until I get paid this month. So my altar is now slightly Freyja-ified with red altar candles as standard rather than white and I’ve started making offerings to Her, mostly incense. After I’d put the candles up and lit the first stick of incense I sat in front of my altar and talked to Freyja. Most of it was pauses, ums, and me feeling nervous, but it’s a start. I explained how this was all new and scary territory to me, how I was very surprised and grateful for the attention, and to bear with me while I got used to this whole thing. Not much I agree, but it’s a start.

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The latest incarnation of my altar, with Freyja candles and an incense offering.

Ember also suggested that ‘if dressing up a bit more often is on the table, consider acquiring or making a Freyja necklace that, when you wear it, you feel beautiful, and you are reminded of Freyja. Wearing it can itself be an offering’. Which works well with what I think is one of the things Freyja’s trying to teach me, which is to do with my lack of self-esteem and how I see myself. I’m an archaeologist, so my work outfit is neither flattering or attractive – layers, combat trousers, clothes that are comfortable and that I can move easily in. So I’ve never felt beautiful or even pretty while at work, and feeling unattractive for five days out of every seven hasn’t done anything for my confidence in my own looks. Now while I could try my hand at making my own necklace, I know that no necklace I make will look that good, and as Beth is the first person I think of when it comes to Deity-related jewellery, checking her shop was an obvious next step. And then I did divination and bought jewellery.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors including tiredness and mood on Valentine’s Day I never did get around to wrapping myself in my Freyja cord and meditating, but I’m hoping that will either happen tonight or tomorrow evening. Baby steps, but I can now say I have a budding devotional relationship with Freyja. Eep!

How to use Pagan prayer beads

This is a reblogged comment that Jo made on a post that Lucy wrote on prayer beads, which I’m sharing here because I believe more Pagans and people exploring Pagan paths need to hear this – it’s certainly helped me.

I need to jump in, because I read a lot of people talking about “using them properly” and this phrase always catches me up. It took me forever to get around to designing (with Beth’s help, of course) and making (that is, making Beth make) my set of prayer beads (which need to be replaced, because my charm broke 😦 ), and they were such a boon to my connecting with Poseidon, that I hate the idea of anyone not using a potential tool in because they don’t know what they’re doing.

I can’t speak for traditional use of malas, but I will speak for strands of beads used at touchstones, and to that I say, loudly, so loudly, oh the loudest: There is no doing it wrong.

Recite prayers as you let your fingers fly over the beads.

Hold them and think of your deity in question.

See them as a representation of your deity’s presence in your life.

There is something to be said about having a standard prayer that you say, that over time becomes automatic, and I would suggest trying that, but I hate the idea of people shying away from a potential tool for fear of doing it wrong. Take them. Hold them. Talk to them. Carry them in your pocket. Use words. Don’t use words. Whatever you feel inclined to do. There is no doing this wrong. There is no wrong way to draw closer to the Powers in your life — unless They say so. If you want to explore them, do it! You’ll find what you prefer through the doing, anyway.

Pagan prayer beads: if you see a set that you fall in love with and that fits you/your path/your Deity but have no idea how you’d use them – buy them now, work out how you’re going to use them later. Touchstones are important.

Look what came in the post!

I got my shinies from Beth today! They actually arrived on Wednesday, but as there was a Customs charge that needed paying the earliest I could get to the sorting office was this morning. I would have posted this earlier, but I had to paint the spare room while there was daylight.

I had a lot of fun opening the parcel, especially when the first thing that hit me was the scent. I can’t describe it very well, it was a mix of flowers but not floral, spicy but no spices that were identifiable, and something almost smokey that wasn’t woodsmoke. Now some of this I knew was from my Freyja cord, as it had been rinsed in amber, cacao, and rosa damascena, but also from a surprise gift from Beth in the form of two sticks of her Queen of Hearts incense – thankies Beth! Even my Yggdrasil beads smelled wonderful, although that’s wearing off now.

I’ve actually got my Yggdrasil beads looped over my wrist as I type this, they’re not heavy but there’s enough weight to make their presence felt and I like how it feels as if they’re trying to bring my hand closer to the earth. The difference between the wood and the glass beads is really noticable as I move my fingers over them; to start with there’s a temperature difference helped along by the slightly cold temperature in my flat, but even when the beads warm up from contact with my skin there’s a very subtle texture difference as well. But the obvious difference is the size of the beads, and even though the 10mm glass ones are larger than on any of my other prayer beads they don’t feel too big, and I find I don’t notice the faceted spacer beads at all touch-wise, but they throw off a lovely sparkle as the chaplet moves, and shine even when it’s sitting on the arm of the sofa (I may have been playing with them constantly while a friend and I watched The Martian this evening). They’re exceptionally well-made, and the only issue I’ve had was one of the wire ends poking out slightly from between two of the beads on the drop leading to the pendant, which probably popped out during transit and was easily fixed with one of my yarn needles.

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Aside from when I was painting or eating, this has lived on my wrist all day. Please try and ignore the hideous mess that is currently my living room.

My Freyja cord is currently hanging off my bedpost, and I love it. The colours are deeper and richer than the photo Beth took was able to show, and I hadn’t realised how much sparkle was in the cord – there’s gold spun into it, and pink, and a pale bluey-purple, and flashes of green. Wherever you look it shimmers, and the cord itself is soft and chunky and squooshy and snugglesome and smells divine. A lot of the reviews I’ve read of Beth’s work talk about the energy that her pieces radiate, and I really wish I could say something similar about my cord (and the beads, which she consecrated to Yggdrasil and Earth for me) but due to me being ridiculously energy-blind I can’t feel any of Freyja’s energies that the cord is infused with, which makes me feel bad for all the work Beth put into it. However, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so after putting the next coat of paint up in the spare room I’m planning on spending time meditating in front of my altar with the cord wrapped around me and a Queen of Hearts incense stick burning, which I’m hoping will help. And even though the gold charms and the amber bead don’t weigh much individually the ends of the cords have a definite heft to them, and that plus the knots that the charms are sewn into make the whole thing feel like an object in its own right, as opposed to a gorgeous piece of handspun art yarn.

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Between the gold and the colours and the shimmer I swear it just glows.

From endless browsing of her shop on Etsy I know Beth’s work is amazing, but now I have concrete proof sitting in my hands that she is an excellent jeweller and spinner, and I’ve already got two more of her pieces set up on layaway. And if her Freyja incense smells anything like my cord does then I’ll definitely be ordering some of that as well.

Divination for Freyja resulting in *FLAILING*

I am now sitting on my sofa resisting the urge to rock back and forth going ‘aargh aargh how do I deal with this?! Aargh’.

So, tonight I used a couple of divination techniques to try and find out whether or not Freyja is trying to get my attention. I actually put a lot of effort into this compared to my usual tarot readings which are very laid-back and low-key. Usually I just put on what I refer to as my ‘tarot CD’, lay out the cloth, shuffle, spread, interpret, make notes, put everything away. But as I was reading cards and drawing runes with questions regarding Deity (which I’ve never done before) I thought I’d better do some extra prep.

To start with I had a shower and washed my hair, which is a normal Friday night activity for me, but as I’d been planning to do this divination today also meant I had the phrase ‘ritual bathing’ floating around in my head. So there was a purification aspect, somewhat increased by the fact I was using different shower gel – I’d run out of my usual teatree and was using one a friend bought me for Christmas about a year ago from Lush called ‘Happy Happy’, so I was surrounded by citrus and grapefruit which are the scents I prefer for my household cleaning products. I then braided my hair (still damp), changed into my nightclothes (comfortable and have cats on), and put on perfume as I’d been on a shopping trip to Penhaligon’s yesterday and a) wanted to open my bottle of Levantium and b) thought that if Freyja was calling me then wearing a scent that makes me feel female and attractive would be appropreate, considering the aspect of her that’s been pinging at my brain recently.

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The candle holder I use during divination, with my pewter Freyja figurine, Third Eye chakra stone (I need all the help I can get with that), quartz point, piece of rose quartz, and two chocolates I got in my Penhaligon’s goody bag – one I ate afterwards and the other I plan to unwrap and leave outside as a kind of thank-you offering thingy.

I set up the dining table for divination, with my ‘scrying statue’ that has ended up with a whole story behind it, Mediaeval Cat tarot deck (it’s the most Freyja-appropreate one I’ve got) and reading cloth, runes and rune-casting cloth, incense, gemstones, my Freyja-as-Valkyrie figurine, a notebook and pen, and I also remembered to wear the necklace I bought specifically to wear for ritual and similar things (which I totally forgot to do for Imbolc).
I started by lighting the candle held in the statue’s scrying bowl, lighting the incense and offering it to ‘that aspect of Deity avatarised by Freyja’, and drinking the salt water in my chalice left over from the Imbolc ritual (time for more purification!). I jotted down the questions I wanted answers to in the notebook, decided to use my tarot cards first, shuffled the deck while meditating on the topic, and cut the deck ready to turn over the top card. Here’s what I dealt:

Is Freyja trying to talk to me? King of Wands
Wands is the suit of passion, fire, will, and I got the impression of warmth as well. King cards represent authority over the suit’s aspects, so a figure who oversees or controls those things. Freyja’s most well known as the goddess of sex and love, so I’m going to go with a tentative ‘yes’.
(Note: for this I dealt one card at a time, interpreted it, then dealt the next one)

If yes, what do I do next? Temperance reversed
Don’t be temperate! Go with the flow, stop trying to make the waters still. Jump in at the deep end and avoid moderation.

I then reshuffled the deck and pulled a clarifying card for Temperance rx
Clarifier – Eight of Cups
Represents emotional longing and dissatisfaction. The figure on the card is tipping a tray of cups into a well, so I could be throwing away my emotional side and needing to embrace reversed Temperance because my emotions are dropping away. Which kinda ties in with my current relationships – after my last boyfriend dumped me I’ve avoided getting emotionally close to anyone like the plague, so I’ve been taking advantage of the fact that a fair few of my friends are polyamorous (and apparently find me attractive).

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The cards I pulled for my questions, with the overall clarifier on the far right.

Ok, this makes sense and I can handle that. It’s not necessarily going to be a breeze to do, but it would explain why I got the feeling of ‘this would be good for you’ when I read about my Freyja cord in Beth’s shop. I could have left it at that (which would have meant no flailing), but I had another set of questions and wanted to use my runes as well as tarot cards as they are very much a Norse thing. I’m nowhere near good or confident enough to cast runes, so I decided to draw them out of a bag instead. Out of the blue Melissa Zupan recently gifted me with a bag made by her current High Priestess, which I was going to use to keep tarot cards in but looks like it’s going to be my rune bag now. Borrowing a technique used by Marietta I put a piece of clear quartz in the bag, shook it gently in my left hand, thought about my question, and drew a rune with my right hand. So far so good. I then spent the next few minutes moving between my dining table and the sofa (as my rune book still hasn’t appeared and I was making very heavy use of Melissa’s posts on the runes she made while working through her 366 project to interpret them) with a feeling of mild panic slowly rising.

Here’s why:

Is Freyja calling me? Eihwaz – yew
A rune of protection, domestic warmth, and energy carrying. It’s associated with Yggdrasil and can be seen as a bridging rune – bringing energy and linking opposites. Humans and gods are about as opposite as you can get, and feeling their energies is (from what I’ve read) one way to tell if a particualr deity is close by. The link with Yggdrasil suggests a need to look at the root of the matter and the connections between things, and considering my interpretation of the cards I got and the sudden influx of ‘look at the Freyja things’ recently meant I read this as another ‘yes’.

Ok, did not expect that, small amount of worry appearing…

Is Freyja offering me something? Sowilo – sun
A rune of illumination, guidance, clarification, enlightenment, hope, and inner light.

Fairly self-explanatory, but again unexpected (a sense of ‘why bother with me?’).

What do I do next? Halgalaz – hail
Stands for creation, destruction, patterns, and microcosm in macrocosm. It can be seen as the cosmic blending of fire and ice (hail stings like sparks), and can be a double-edged sword. This one confused me, but Melissa offers interpretations of needing to understand the situation you’re in in order to take action, and the heads-up of change is coming, so be aware.

As before, I wasn’t too sure how to translate this into suggestions for what to do next, so I drew a clarifying rune, and really wished I hadn’t…

Clarifying rune: Gebo – gift
Pretty much all of this is either paraphrased or lifted straight from Melissa’s post:
Meanings are: generosity, exchange, independence/dependence, marriage, equitable/inequitable. Gifting brings credit and honour, the gifter gains these qualities while the giftee gets estate and substance. There are different types of gift, such as sacrificial gifting, or an exchange where gifts are in balance. Giving is noble but can be soured by unwillingness, as generousity is good but should come from the heart. One should consider all implications of a gift both given and recieved, as it can also indicate a union, partnership, contract, agreement, or alliance.

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Yeah. Oh dear. However, at the top you can see the purple bag for my cards on the left, the black bag my runes came in on the right, and my lovely new rune-drawing bag in the middle.

So put gifts, Freyja, and drastic change together under the heading of ‘what should I do now?’ had me sat there mentally flailing with a voice in my head screaming ‘I don’t know how to handle this!’. So I reshuffled my tarot deck and drew an overall clarifier:

Is this a good idea? Ace of Coins
I hate pulling Aces in tarot. I find them really hard to interpret, but thankfully my tarot reference book of awesome came to the rescue. Sort of.
The Ace is the seed, the starting point, an opportunity, and Coins are related to health, wealth, practicality, and recieving. Suggested meanings are to appreciate what’s given, the perfect gift at the perfect time, and to be aware that when opportunity comes your way you should take advantage of it as something offered can always be withdrawn.

Well, shit.

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The aftermath. See the three-and-a-half pages of scribbled notes? My handwriting got steadily worse as time went on.

In a way I can’t complain. I asked questions, asked for advice relating to those questions, clarified those answers, and unless I’m completely misinterpreting the answers (seriously, am I misinterpreting the answers?) I have some pretty clear guidelines as to what I could do next regarding the situation. I’m glad I did this in a way, because the Freyja-pings were bugging/intriguing me, but right now most of me is wishing I hadn’t, because I did not expect these answers, do not know how to handle this, and could really use some help on how to deal with what’s just been dropped in my lap. Because I have a feeling that ignoring it may not be the best of ideas for me in the long-term…