Flowers for Freyja

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Spring has definitely arrived and is heading towards summer; this weekend and the week just gone we’ve had hot sunny weather, blue skies, all the trees are covered in green and shedding blossom, and flowers are blooming in the flower beds and the grass.

Just outside the gates to my building are grass banks covered in daisies, and as I was walking past on my way to the supermarket I thought about making a daisy-chain when I got back and putting it on my altar as an offering for Freyja that was different from my usual incense and occasional chocolate and alcohol, as well as seasonally appropriate. However, when I got to Sainsbury’s I saw that among the flowers they have for sale just inside the door there were a few bunches of tulips. Tulips are probably my favourite flower, or at least my favourite that’s available commercially, and I decided to buy some. I wouldn’t normally have chosen pink ones, but it was only as I was reaching for them that I realised they would make a lovely present for Freyja, as mid-to-dark pink is one of the colours I associate with Her.

As you can probably tell they’re sitting on my dining table as opposed to my altar, for several reasons. One is simply there’s not enough space on my altar for a vase that size, another that I spend most of my evenings in the living room and would therefore enjoy the flowers more if they were on display there, and I wanted my flatmate to be able to enjoy looking at the flowers, even if he doesn’t know the underlying reason why I bought them. I think there was also a feeling of wanting to bring Freyja’s influence into the rest of the house instead of just my room, and of wanting to remind myself that one of the things I want to/should work on is bringing Deity into my everyday life more – not just Freyja, but Christos and Sophia as well. I’ll have to look out for some colour-appropriate tulips for Them as well.

Reblog – Happily Heathen: Offerings For The Gods – Part One – The Vanir

I am one of those people that Cara Freyasdaughter refers to in her article as those who are ‘uncertain what to offer to the Gods’. With Christos and Sophia it’s easy, as while a Christian can offer time and energy by volunteering to help with the running of their local church or for a charity, for those of us who lack enough free time or energy to do so our physical offerings, as opposed to things like prayer or intent (I have a friend who offers the effort she puts into her day job to God), generally take the form of money donated to the work of the church (for things like mission, building upkeep, soup kitchens etc.). But when I realised Freyja wanted my attention I didn’t have a clue how to deal with offerings. My first thought was incense, which seems to have worked well so far, but my devotions don’t always happen at the same time of day and I don’t wish, for example, to fumigate the house just before my lodger wants to go to sleep. The lovely Ember gave me some good pointers, but I wanted to do something more than just burn appropreately-scented incense and light candles, as I do the same for Christos and Sophia and also make other offerings.

Now I could have just improvised with libations and suchlike and probably been fine, but I was flailing enough as it was without having to worry that I was offering the wrong thing as well. So finding Cara’s article on offerings to the Vanir posted on the Agora in Patheos Pagan was a godsend (pun possibly intended?). So far I’ve offered Freyja pieces of chocolate and cake, and shots of mead and the first batch of apple rumtopf, and while I probably won’t find out how She feels until I do another divination I’m feeling happy about how things are progressing with my devotional relationship.

As a practicing Heathen, a key cornerstone of my spiritual practice is the offering of gifts. The Havamal has a lot to say about gift giving and fostering reciprocal relationships. Though in the Havamal Odin focuses more on building relationships between humans, I think the same advice can be applied equally well to our relationships with the Gods.

Source: Happily Heathen: Offerings For The Gods – Part One – The Vanir

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…

Am I being called by Freyja?

I honestly can’t tell. I’ve written before on the reason why I bought my Freyja cord from Beth Wodandis Designs, but there’s been a few other things that have made me wonder whether a certain lady is trying to get my attention.

To start with, I’ve ended up with connections to aspects of Freya’s divinity; I do HEMA and historical battle re-enactment, and my LARP and RPG characters are all warriors as well. Yes, I’m a geek. I’ve also been reading tarot cards for over eight years and runes on and off for longer, I’m very much a cat person, and aside from the whole libido-not-always-awake-when-I’d-like-it-to-be thing, I’m happy and comfortable with my sexuality. I’ve also been fascinated by the battle-woman/lover mix since I was aged eleven, through reading a pair of books by Susan Price – Elfgift and Elfking – which I would highly recommend and should probably do a review of at some point. As a re-enactor and Living Historian I go to re-enactment markets about twice a year to restock and upgrade my kit, and buy new shinies. One of the stalls that’s there frequently is Viking Crafts, and while I don’t do Viking re-enactment I love the miniature god figures they sell; so much so that I bought two of them years ago – Odin and what’s listed on the website as ‘Large Valkyrie’. I also now have a Heimdall sitting above my front door. Anyway, I bought the large valkyrie figure as she was closer to Odin’s height than the other female statues, and Mike pointed out when I was looking at her that she was an alternative Freyja figurine in her Valkyrie aspect. So I have a small amount of history/association with the goddess, but it’s a one-way thing – I do things that fall under her spheres of influence, and now own two devotional items associated with Freyja.

However, recent events that have led to my wondering whether these associations are becoming more two-way, or at least have the potential to become so. Unfortunately for my discernment, everything returns to Beth’s Etsy shop. The first ping I got was when I saw the listing for a Freyja God-in-a-Box shrine last year, and while the other portable shrines that were listed at the same time were beautiful and very well-made, I didn’t think any of them held a candle to Freyja’s. Photos of the shrines that were available (including Freyja’s) can be found here under the custom listing, and I’m not sure if it was the gold detailling on her feather cloak, the coppery-gold glow of her hair and body, the simple elegance of the sculpture, or all three, but I couldn’t stop looking. So that was ping one. Ping two was the sudden sense of ‘this would be good for you’ which led to me buying my cord, and ping three led on from that when I began to notice the other Freyja-related items in Beth’s shop. The one that stands out in particular is a Freyja spirit communication talisman made from ruby-in-zoisite – I love the dark, bold colours, and again, keep going back to look. Now there have been plenty of other things that Beth’s made that I’ve gone back to look at several times, but they’ve been items that weren’t connected at all. So there’d be a necklace for Hera, Odin prayer beads, a Cernunnos pendulum, a Sacred Queens crown, but I’d just be admiring the beauty and aesthetics and the devotion that Beth puts into her work. The items I talked about above are the only ones which I’ve had the sense of ‘I could own that’ with (aside from a couple of the Yule cords), without too much of the ‘I’d be taking it away from someone who actually derserves it/has the right to own it’ feeling.

This could all just be my brain going ‘lookit pretties’, which is entirely possible, but it’s the concentration of ‘lookit Freyja pretties’ and buying the cord that has got me wondering whether there’s something more to all this. I said in a previous post of mine that ‘I can’t feel energy; for example, I’ve handed a sachet I’d made during a ritual in circle to two pagan friends of mine at different times, and they gave me nearly identical answers when I asked what the energy felt like. Me? Felt no different than when I’m holding a box of tissues or a jar of jam’, so the likelihood of me picking up any kind of message is very low. To use a word I’ve seen used a fair bit in the Pagan areas of the internet, I don’t think I even own a godphone. But I am an Earth personality, grounded in the physical world of things I can touch, so I can see how trying to get my attention through the medium of objects could work – subtle pressure from a deity to buy/own a thing which would help bring me closer to that deity. Rinse, repeat, and in using the things I might finally become aware enough to notice I’m being talked to. And in writing that I’ve just realised that this might be why I’ve collected so many different sets of Christian prayer beads over the past ten years. If that is the case it’s been a long and subtle process from the Christian side, while the Freyja thing has happened all of a sudden.

Now I know I could meditate on the Freyja question, or I could cast a circle, use my rattle to raise some energy and invite Freyja in and see if she comes (and if I notice anything because I am useless at sensing energy), or I could just sit in front of my altar, clear my mind, and say ‘speak Lady, I’m listening’, in the same way that Samuel did, and see what happens. Except I know I won’t. Some of it is due to my Christianity, as while I don’t deny the existence of other divine beings outside of the Trinity, there’s a part of me that’s worried that I’d be doing Christo-Paganism wrong (even though I’m reasonably sure that’s not possible), and God would be pissed off at me if I tried to include other deities in my religious practice as a result. I know that sounds silly, and I have no fears that I will burn in Hell if I do (Methodist theology for the win!), it’s just this niggling concern that it would be disapproved of somehow. But the main overriding reason I’m avoiding anything direct is down to my relationship with the Divine.

I have a personal relationship with Deity. I don’t believe I need a priest or other intermediary (such as a saint) to talk to God for me, so when I pray I can just chat, or do ACTS (Christian acronym/mnemonic for structuring prayer – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication) if I’m being formal. I can communicate directly with God, I believe He has an interest in and cares for humanity, and that He listens to me.  What I don’t have, however, is an intimate relationship with Deity. The kind of relationship that at least two of my Christian friends have and that a lot of the Pagan blog authors that I read have, whether godspouse or not. The kind of relationship with the Divine where they feel the deity’s presence on a regular or daily basis, where they get messages from their deity (omens, dreams, internal certainty, strong feelings unconnected to how the person’s feeling etc.), where they have opened up their life to whatever deity it may be and essentially said ‘I’m in your hands now’. I don’t have that kind of relationship. Hell, I don’t consider myself to be a devotee (even a Christian one), because while I’d love to have that closeness the thought of it fucking terrifies me.

And that is why I’m wary of doing anything too direct with this ‘is Freyja trying to get my attention?’ thing. I’ve re-read Ember Cookes’s post titled ‘When Godphones Ring – discernment for Pagans‘, and while she gives very good advice I’m not how much of it I can apply to my situation – it’s not really a message, more a feeling of someone trying to get my attention. No, not even that, it’s mostly a sense of someone waiting to see if I notice them with occasional moments of trying to get my attention. It’s all very subtle, which is why I’m questioning whether it’s actually a thing or just my brain going ‘lookit pretties’, but it’s still there and still noticeable, and it’s bugging/intriguing me. So when I’m feeling less ‘thank God it’s Friday zzzzz’ I’ll do a tarot reading and rune draw and see if that helps, and much as it’s tempting to buy the Freyja spirit communication talisman in case it makes things clearer I’m going to be sensible and wait until my cord arrives and see what happens with that. Partly because of my bank balance (although layaway or the current Valentine’s Day sale are options) and partly because I don’t want to get it and then discover I was wrong, when a devotee of Freya could have purchased it instead. I figure that if I’m meant to have it, it will still be there if/when I have an answer. And if this is a thing I just hope my cynicism/skepticism doesn’t get in the way – I don’t deny or disbelieve that this sort of thing happens to other people, I’ve just always felt that it’s not a thing that’s ever going to happen to me.

The basics of Christo-Paganism and me

I could write an awful lot about what I believe, how I practice my faith, my definition of Christo-Paganism, and my attitude/s toward the concept of deity. However, for the moment I’m going to stick to the (hopefully) fairly easy-to-explain stuff.

I’ve defined my religious affiliation as ‘panentheistic eclectic Christo-Pagan’, and in my first post I stated that:

I was brought up Methodist … I still go to church, sing hymns, say prayers, and listen to sermons. I also light candles, use prayer beads, cross myself, and enjoy being in decorated churches with statues and stained glass – definitely not Methodist. I also cast circles, use crystals, herbs, and coloured spell candles, celebrate the eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year, and use divination methods such as Tarot cards – definitely not Christian.

There is some debate (and some heated argument) over whether Christo-Paganism is a syncretic religion in its own right, a synthesis of Christianity and Paganism, or even whether it’s a valid spiritual path at all. This is something I’m planning to address at a later date, so let’s ignore the theological implications for now and look at the basic definitions.

Christianity – one of the world’s major religions, with the largest number of followers across the globe. It dates back nearly 2,000 years, and contains a vast number of denominations and sects with differing beliefs and practices, but on the whole adhering to the same theology. This can be summed up in what is known as the Apostles’ Creed (given below) which is used by the three main branches of the Church – Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant.

 I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
Who was concieved by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again,
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father,
From there he will come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* Church,
The communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

* In this sense catholic (small c) means ‘universal’ or ‘whole’, whereas Catholic (capital C) refers to the Roman Catholic Church. In the same way that we have Conservative (political party) and conservative (traditional or conventional).

Paganism – a word that defines both the oldest of the world’s religions, and some of its youngest. Traditionally a word that described any faith that wasn’t Abrahamic (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), but now used for historic and prehistoric religions around the world as well as an umbrella term for contemporary religious and spiritual movements either inspired by or based on the historical pagan faiths, sometimes referred to as neo-Paganism.

Like Christianity, there are many different paths and sects in modern Paganism, but with vastly different beliefs, practices, and theology. The most well-known path is probably Wicca, but even that can be devided into Gardnerian, Alexandrian, and Seax-Wicca, among others; and the line between modern and historical Paganism becomes blurred with Reconstructionist paths, whose followers try to accutately re-create the religions of past cultures such as Ancient Greece or Egypt.

Panentheism – the belief that the Divine, however one concieves of Deity, is part of everything in the universe, but also extends beyond the physical. Pantheists believe that the Divine and the universe are identical – All-is-God, whereas panenthiests hold that All-is-in-God, that Deity both animates the universe and transcends the universe.

Christo-Paganism – defined by Joyce and River Higginbotham as ‘a spirituality that combines beliefs and practices of Christianity with beliefs and practices of Paganism, or that observes them in parallel’. I use the hyphenated version, as Christopaganism is already used in academic terms to describe the blends of Christianity and various forms of historical paganism that occurred as the Church expanded.

So, how do these definitions fit into my faith? Well my theology is predominantly Christian – I believe in an omni-etc. God, and that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are part of this overarching God. However, in common with certain Gnostic branches of Christianity, I also believe the Holy Spook to be female and the Daughter of God, in the same way that Jesus is considered the Son. So I have the Christian Trinity, but with an equal male-female balance, as I believe God is neither male nor female but both, otherwise Genesis 1:27 makes no sense to me – ‘God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’

So already we have something that looks very much like the Lord and Lady balance that is the focus of belief in several pagan traditions, especially Wicca. Because I believe in panentheism, everything contains a part of the divine, from myself to a rock – so if I light a prayer candle at home I’ll use corresponding crystals and herbs to lend that spark of divine energy to help the prayer along, in the same way that I’d ask someone to pray for me/my friend/etc. As for my other pagan practices such as circle-casting and the tools I use, a lot of it comes from one of the reasons why I was drawn to Paganism in the first place (the subject of a future post) – I didn’t feel I could be very active in my private worship as a Christian, whereas my Pagan friends, who are all solitaries, could create their own sacred space and administer their own sacraments.

Overall then I follow the basic Christian beliefs, tempered by Gnostic and animist ideas, my physical practices are a mix of Catholic/High Church Anglican and Pagan, and my preferred style of worship is relatively simple, whether I’m celebrating at home, attending a regular church service, or reading the Tarot – I enjoy ritual, but my attitude is far more practical than mystical.

Encounter with the spirit of Loki

Despite having witnessed for years what happened after my friend named her cat Loki, I was reminded yesterday that Loki is, very definitely, a Trickster god.

I’ve been covering for our receptionist at lunchtime and in the evenings these past couple of weeks, which means I spend a lot of time operating the switchboard. As I can’t do any of my other work at this desk I usually end up reading a book or browsing the internet in between phonecalls. So yesterday afternoon I was reading about Loki when the phone rang…

Thankfully for my professional reputation the person on the other end was someone I had just spoken to who had been bounced back to Reception after I had transferred the call, as instead of answering with ‘good afternoon, [two-syllable name of company]’ I said ‘good afternoon, Loki … I mean [company]’.

It was the last phonecall I took before I went home, and as I was very tired and not feeling great it could just have been a Freudian slip on my part, or I could have been on the receiving end of a mild cosmic joke. Whether it was either, or both, it was an interesting reminder that humans aren’t the only ones with a sense of humour.