bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Category: personal

Followup to ‘Some Thoughts for Wednesday’

I received a comment on my post about Odin the other day.
In formulating my response to the comment, I realized I had a lot to say.

And what I wanted to say pushed well beyond the character limits of the comment box, so I decided to write this post instead.

To my commenter, please consider this post as my response to you.

Your words struck me deeply/profoundly in the sense that I had felt as you do about Odin for a long time.

The purpose of the post was to admit to the truth of my past beliefs about Odin – and based upon your comment, I realize I had succeeded in doing that.

I spent many years avoiding Odin, many years denying His presence, and yet, I also realize I had not completely conveyed the whole story in writing the post.

I had simply told you and any of my other readers only half of the story.

And for that I am sorry.

Your comment also highlighted the importance of making a followup to the post.

First of all, I wanted to clarify that in writing that post, I hadn’t meant to feed into stereotypes about Odin…and yet at the risk of sounding absolutely foolish, I realize that I’ve perpetuated/solidified the very stereotypes that I had hoped to dispel.

And that is a mistake on my part that I hope this post will rectify.

Years ago, the Odin person who mentioned the quality of His relentless nature, also made a stunning revelation about Odin that made me want to know more. As well, he challenged me to keep an open mind and allow Odin in; which, in effect, was meant to encourage me TO do what Odin seeks to do – to know more, to seek deeper knowledge about the unknown, to explore the darker corners of one’s own self,

This Odins-man – whose name was Bran – also said to me: I hope Odin shows you the faces and aspects that others often do not see… and he bade me keep an open mind.

Odin is a complex God, Bran continued, Who challenges us to know more about Him, about the world, about ourselves.

Though, as an Odinsperson/Asatru, Bran admitted to me that, up to that point, he’d been generally disinterested in engaging with Loki. And yet, through our discussions, he’d come to realize that there was a lot that he didn’t know – and never considered exploring – about Loki, and so, he challenged himself to know more.

In short, we ended up convincing/challenging each other about the preconceived notions that we’d each had about the other’s God.

And as a result of our many discussions, we both realized that Odin and Loki are incredibly similar in many ways: They seem to use the same means, the same tools, sometimes even the same faces/aspects to make Themselves understood to Their devotees, e.g I realized that Bran saw Odin with a similar sense of humor, passion, and creativity that I saw in Loki, and I saw in Loki a sense of relentless pragmatism and a penchant for self-innovation that he saw in Odin.

We saw the Other’s face in each other’s God, you see, as Loki and Odin are often mirrors of one another.

He thanked me for challenging him to see Loki in a different light, to examine Loki in a way he’d never been inspired to do so in the past.

And he wished the same for me in regards to Odin.

And thus I realize I have done a grave disservice to Odin in writing that last post. I have continued to perpetuate more than a few dangerous stereotypes about Odin.

Though I will admit that, yes, Odin did spit on me.

And yes, I did emotionally read that behavior as rising from disgust.

But it wasn’t until later -much later! – that I realized a possibility that particular behavior may not have been rooted in disgust.**

(And in the interest of full disclosure, while Odin did scare the shit out of me for several years, I’ve come to wonder if perhaps my fear was an unintended response rather than a tool of His intent or His means to an end. At the very least, I had had many conflicting emotional responses towards Odin that I hadn’t entirely understood much less critically examined until I consented to engage with Him.)

Odin is like a drill sergeant – tear you down to build you up.

Likewise, I’ve heard the same being said of Loki, as perhaps Both are well versed in world breaking.

As well I neglected to mention the symbolism that They are both well versed in.

Odin was the Ferryman and the Farmer and the Bridegroom – I have come to believe, like my friend Bran had so profoundly wished for me – these are masks that Odin used to ingratiate himself to me.

Perhaps some may see it all as a manipulation.

Or perhaps they are simply tools in the repertoire of symbolism: you will get the monster you expect.

But you may also get the bridegroom. The farmer. The Doctor who heals you with words and music and with the kindness that you never expected, in this flurried language of symbols you have only just learned how to read/understand/comprehend…and these symbols are as layered as the gods are layered.

You could say that Odin used my own preconceived notions against me.

He used vinegar and when it didn’t work — he used honey.

Odin uses the tools and it would seem he came at me from several angles to get my attention.

Yes, I see Bran’s wish for me as it is unfolding.

I don’t think Odin was disgusted with me as much as he used my own expectations of Him to open the door to deeper perceptions of myself and of Him.

~~~

**The spitting? Perhaps that was an act of marking couched in antiquity.

Perhaps this was the way Odin sought to mark me just as Loki kept that tooth of mine – that bit of blood and bone to remember me by so many years ago.

These are markers that old Gods understand, couched in beliefs our ancestors perhaps understood better than we do today.

Some thoughts for Wednesday.

(otherwise known as ‘On Loki and Odin: A Personal Perspective’)

I’ve come to realize that Odin and Loki are much more alike than they are different.

…and yet if you are in any way familiar with my journey, you may recall that I spent at least four years of the last eight of my devotional practice

rejecting Odin.

Perhaps my reaction was borne of listening to hype/gossip of others – including some Odinspeople themselves – who painted Odin as a stern taskmaster, a grumpy Old Man, a mystical instructor who is impossible to please much less work with…and yes, I believed all those things about Odin.

(Perhaps, in that regard, I was rejecting many aspects of the Work with a capital W.)

But I soon realized that I rejected Odin with the same hypocrisy that some Asatruar reject Loki:

He is untrustworthy.

He is impossible.

He is a monster who is out for the ruin/destruction of the order of my life.

He exists to cause (me) pain.

And thus, I did not call upon Him…. ever.

But He showed up anyway.

Much like Loki, Odin didn’t seem to take to being banished or ignored.

(Perhaps it may have energized Him even more to haunt me….who knows?)

Sometimes I have wondered if He fed upon my rage and anger.

It definitely seemed as if He enjoyed my stubborn reluctance to engage Him.

One particular Odins-man remarked to me that

perhaps the reason why Odin seemed so relentless

was due to His nature as the consummate Huntsman:

How could I expect that He would not hunger for the thrill of the chase?

~~

You see, I dreamt of Odin consistently beginning in 2011 or so.

He was at the center of many a nightmare I’d had of being pursued through the darkness.

Whether I had dreamt of the unease of walking home alone, only to be followed by a shadowy stranger

to the feeling that I was being actively hunted as frightened prey,

I dreamt of this…terrifying being.

During one particularly repetitive nightmare, I dreamt that I was a child again, playing hide and seek in the New England woods outside my childhood home.

Though in this situation, there was this sly aggressive adult stranger who was ‘It’, and somehow he could always convince the others in the dream to help him find me.

And what always followed was a pulse-pounding chase – with the help of my own childhood companions! – and whenever he would come upon my hiding-place, he would make it abundantly clear that he sought to kill me.

He would then order me to run for my life, and so I would run…. night after night.

At one point, I realized I must have had this dream nearly a dozen times.

Though one night, I did something different:

As usual, I was in the midst of the usual terrifying nightmare spent running in terror…and I felt exhausted.

Tired of running. Tired of hiding. Tired of trying to outwit and outmaneuver him throughout various terrifying situations.

I felt resigned to my death.

I begged him to finish me quickly.

Just get it over with, I’d muttered.

However, in response, he spat on me, before he strode away.

And thankfully soon after, those nightmares stopped.

~~~

Though something strange happened next.

A Being whom I’d wanted to assume was Loki began to appear in my dreams with many different faces and guises.

I dreamt of a clever Doctor.

Twice, I dreamt of a ferryman.

An unfamiliar but graciously attentive bridegroom.

A laughing farmer who labored in the fields,

who would not enter my house unless I intentionally invited him inside.

A young blond man with eyes that appeared to be made of glass

who insisted that I refrain from looking too intently at his face

who wanted to talk to me about runes!

Perhaps I had been foolish

enough to have convinced myself that

if this or that face was not Loki’s

then the face of that stranger had to have belonged to Freyr,

or Thor

or even Baldur.

Who was that laughing blond gentlemen with the courtly demeanor, with those strange blurry eyes, and a voice like honeyed silk?

I never dared assume that that Being could be Odin.

And what’s more, whenever Loki would come to me in dreams and meditative visions

to ask me if I could bring myself to engage with Odin – I would immediately and emphatically refuse.

Perhaps you already have, He’d chuckle, even though the concept of engaging with Odin horrified me.

I was certain that if I had engaged with Odin, I would have known it.

(After all, I was confident that all those years of nightmares had taught me that Odin’s presence had always been signified by that familiar onrush of fear and the rise of nausea in my body.)

Until I started to wonder…..

Had I?

And six years later, here we are.

Well. I suppose that this was bound to happen at some point.

As many of you are aware, I have been running an Etsy shop since August 2017* – so that comes out to just about a year now.

I had been planning on writing some sort of ‘shop anniversary’ post to that effect on my shop blog, along with promoting some new product offerings.

I’d also intended to spotlight my custom work option, as I had received my very first custom order back in June

Aside from it being my very first custom order, I was very excited for several other reasons –

  • The custom order was going to feature runes! (Runes are – and have always been – one of my favorite subjects to embroider onto cloth, and my hand-embroidered rune cloths have continually garnered me a lot of compliments and have always sold well in the shop.)
  • As well, the custom order was going to give me an opportunity to use my highest quality variegated threads, as the customer insisted that the item be hand-stitched entirely in organic cotton.
  • And finally, in further discussion with the customer, I was told that this item – an embroidered altar cloth featuring a bindrune/sigil bordered by Elder Futhark runes – was being created at the request of a small Heathen kindred. The customer, it turned out, was not a Heathen himself; he informed me that he was a chaplain who claimed to be speaking in their stead, as this group of Heathen men wanted this devotional item to be created for their small worship space….in a halfway house in Kentucky.  As a result, he implied that he was not familiar with their practices, he admitted to simply wanting to help ‘these fine men’ by finding ‘a skilled artisan to create something for their practice.’

 

So I emailed the chaplain the breakdown of my prices.

He had mentioned that he would be paying for the cloth ‘as a gift for them,’ as he implied that the men may not have their own means, so he was very concerned with keeping prices ‘affordable.’ He thanked me for understanding his position.

Having just gotten an embroidery machine, I offered him a deal that it might be cheaper – and a lot faster – to machine embroider the design on a cloth to keep the costs down.

But he insisted that ‘that they had insisted on everything being entirely hand-embroidered’ as ‘the men’ had especially liked [my] hand-embroidery work’.

In an effort to do this, he suggested that I simply customize an altar cloth with a hand-embroidered EF border that was already posted for sale in my shop (for $15 USD) by hand-stitching ‘the rune symbols [he’d] get from the men’ in the center.

So I told him that it would take me some time (about a week) to complete the hand-embroidering of an image of the size he’d specified (6″x6″) on the cloth, and I would charge him $25 for that, bringing the total cost to $40.  I thought I was being fair

He said nothing regarding that price one way or the other, but he again reiterated ‘[his] position [that he] was ‘doing a favor for these men,’ and seemed to imply that I should see it as I’m doing a favor for them too, i.e ‘You are doing such a favor for these men – perhaps you will do me a favor too?’

Of course, I didn’t – and I still do not – have a problem with creating something for other Heathens to use.

So I asked him about thread colors and type – and he checked with the men – and responded that they’d specified that it should only be 100 organic cotton, in variegated blues, to match the border.

I told him that I would have to order a spool of 100% organic cotton in variegated blue…and reminded him that the already existing cloth he’d indicated that I customize was stitched in poly-cotton.

And I suggested that he might purchase that altar cloth for $15 as a start, or he could pay the $40 for it outright, and I would stitch the whole thing in 100% cotton once I received the thread (which would take another few days to arrive.)

And he seemed pleased with that. The custom order seemed a go, so far.

As a matter of fact, after going back and forth with the customer over the next few days after, his open-minded optimism was contagious, and I will admit that his rhetoric became more and more flattering. He thanked me for my ‘graciousness in taking on the custom order’, and he thanked me several times ‘on behalf of these grateful men,’ and he forwarded me the bindrune sigil that the men had requested be handstitched in the center.

I looked at it, seeing that Othala was the most prominent rune in the center of the bindrune

Now, while I know that Othala is referenced on the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Symbols Database, the website does recognize that runes are, by themselves, not racist symbols – but cautions that ‘the Nazis adopted this rune, among others, into their symbology, causing it to be a favorite symbol among white supremacists.‘ Therefore, the site does caution that many of the runic symbols should be considered in context with other symbols and phrases.

But, as Othala is a rune that is featured in the spelling of both Loki and Odin’s names – and I wear runic jewelry featuring their names – I would be hypocrite to be offended by Othala now, wouldn’t I?

(Actually, the central bindune itself struck me as possibly an attempt at making an almost-bindrune of Odin’s name, as it could almost pick out a Nauthiz in the angle on the left side – and of course, Isa as a straight vertical line could be said to appear in many other runes! – but I could find neither Thurisaz or Dagaz, so…hmmm)

So I looked at the phrase – for context – that arched over the bindrune.

It was in German.

How lucky of me to have been learning German, eh?

(I mean, I had just been winding my way through a module on ‘Spirituality words’ on Duolingo.)

It read Ehre und Treue

Upon Googling ‘Ehre‘….

Blut und Ehre‘ is the first entry to come up: “Blut und Ehre (English: Blood and Honor) is a German National Socialist (Nazi) political slogan used by Hitler Youth, among others.’

Um… there is no getting around that, I suppose. Ehre is always defined as honor... and it does seem to feature in a lot of white supremacist slogans, at least, according to Google.

(I double-checked with a few German speakers, just to make sure, and was told by a few that the exact words in that phrase, above -either spoken or written in German – are definitely frowned upon to a great degree.)

So. Honor and….

Now, Duolingo tags treue as translating to English as ‘faith’ as a primary definition in many of the word-lessons in the ‘Spirituality’

But again, Google has other ideas.

Treue is translated as loyalty.

Honor and loyalty.

*sigh*

First Google entry for German phrase containing ehre und treue?

*cross-references to a Wikipedia page about slogans pertaining to the SS*

Second entry?

*The ADL’s hate-symbols page – referencing variations on German phrases associated with the Waffen SS (the military wing of the SS) *

*sigh*

So that first custom order I was excited about?

Yeah.

Not so much.

Does the chaplain know?

He denies it. He denies knowing anything about the possibility that these men…could be white supremacists.

After all, he doesn’t know runes….and remember, he only wanted to ‘help these fine men.’

Perhaps I should be glad that he was reluctant to discuss payment.

He positively avoided it.

I think he might have been trying to convince me that I should give him a break and create this altar cloth for free, as a favor to him and as a favor to them.

Because they’re such fine men who like my work.  And they don’t…have means of their own. Isn’t that enough?

But it’s just as well.

Because I’ll say it again:

I didn’t – and I still do not – have a problem with creating devotional items for other Heathens.

But some might take issue with the fact that, if given the choice, I am not keen on making devotional items for white supremacists.

~~~

1395 words later…thanks for reading!

~~~

* In case you did not know, I offer hand-embroidered (and now some machine embroidered) altar cloths and other devotional items, such as tarot bags, altar tokens, rune sets and the like.

Interview question….


Yes, I am a hard worker who happens to make almost everything harder than it has to be.

And that unfortunate bit of personal truth functions in me much to the dismay of damned near everyone.

Month for Loki, Day 28: Celebration.

(Psst…I am aware I am a wee bit behind, but here we go…)

So!

Did you know that July 28th is Peruvian Independence Day?

Well, I did not.

So, this past Saturday, my husband and I were invited to the home of the parents of my son’s (Peruvian) fiancee -to celebrate! 🙂

Much like Fourth of July in the US – Peruvian Independence Day is celebrated with much food, drink, and revelry in the form of dancing, music, and singing.

Yes, we drank and ate some great barbecue.

And, as it is a tradition in her family, both my husband and I were persuaded into not only singing karaoke, but dancing.

(As for anyone who has been following me for a while – the reason why this experience may fall under the auspices of an offering for Loki, is that I am prone to social anxiety. This sort of situation – a large social gathering that most non-socially anxious folks would consider an enjoyable party – is a one-way ticket to a panic attack for me.  The added aspect regarding family and hospitality was a not-so-surprising feature of the day, and the importance of that was not lost on me as well. Besides, one might recall that I have been promising Him that I would dance and/or sing at a social event for years.)

And so, I finally did just that.

I danced several rounds and I sang not one but several songs, much to the surprise of my husband and children.

There was such an air of joyful celebration throughout the day.

My husband and I felt honored to be invited to share in that joy, and I can honestly say that the hours (yes, hours!) flew by.

It was truly an amazing day.

 

And one of the most delightful surprises of the day was in the traditional drinking of a particular cocktail – the Pisco Sour:

It consists of Pisco – a clear brandy made of fermented grapes which originate from Peru.

The traditional form of the Pisco Sour contains a shot and a half of Pisco, an egg white, a dash of simple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Or, in the case of a quick fix  – a shot of high-quality Pisco, a splash of ginger ale, and a few lime slices.

It was rather tasty – and the ‘quick version’ as you might imagine, is deliciously similar to another of my favorite drinks -the Irish Buck 🙂

 

Month for Loki, Day 16: Change

(no dime like the present, eh?)

Why is there a pile of loose coins on Loki’s altar?

Many devotees see Loki as a God of Change – both in terms of money and in transformation.

Loki has provided me with both forms of much-needed ‘change’ many times in my life – whether it be a random quarter or two to make a call on a pay phone (I know I’m dating myself there) or nudging me towards the Thing I Thought I Could Not Do.

It makes perfect sense to me, on several levels.

As a result, a lot of the loose coin change I find in the course of the day will often find its way onto His altar…especially dimes and quarters.

Month for Loki, Day 1: Altar

Today is the 1st of July!

 

 Since 2012, Lokeans all over the world have been devoting the month of July to Loki.

Would you like to join me?

Hail Loki!

 

Writing, rituals, prayer beads, and ‘fidget cubes.’

Otherwise known as ritual distractions.

I know it’s been a while, but isn’t it always?

I cannot say that I haven’t been writing – because I have – but as usual, I haven’t been posting as often as I’d intend.

There’s something about the ritual of sitting in this chair and writing that works for me, and yet, posting rarely seems part of that process.  I have been thinking a lot about processes and rituals as I am currently overthinking..er, writing…a small collection of rituals.

Perhaps it is more of a devotional, as much of what I’ve written leans more towards personal devotional rituals for the solitary practitioner.

At any rate, it is as it has always been…though I have been writing, I have not been posting in this blog.

It occurred to me that I have been dragging my feet lately, as I resolved in the new year to focus more upon not just writing but organizing my devotional practice into something much more coherent than it has been.  Long have I been getting the nudge to consolidate the jumble of notebooks and computer files into a consistent organized whole.

I know that my life could benefit from a more structured approach…and yet, the more I focus upon the task of collection and consolidation, the more scatterbrained I feel.  I feel like a student all over again, hunched over my desk, busily compiling five years’ worth of devotional writing from the stack of notebooks, the relevant pages clinched by paper clips with worn covers peppered with Post-It notes.

In an attempt to help, my son suggested that I try using a ‘fidget cube’ – a desk ‘toy’ designed to help one focus – as he claims that being allowed to use one in class has improved his ability to focus while writing.

So, I held the fidget cube in my left hand while I transcribed my notes on Anglo-Saxon runes and a Beltane bonfire ritual into my laptop.

~~~

Later that evening, when I was sitting in front of my altar, attempting to meditate, my mind kept wandering toward other things.

Distracted by thoughts of runes, bonfires and masks, I struggled to push those thoughts and attendant vivid imagery aside.

I opened my eyes, and my gaze settled upon the mala beads that lay atop the cigar box in the center of my altar.

Recalling how this mala had helped me focus in the past, I reached for them, closed my eyes, and settled into the words of the prayer that I had created for them.  While the prayer I created for them is simple and almost repetitive in its rhythm – as that is exactly what I need when I have difficulty focusing – I have said this prayer so regularly… that it suddenly became clear that something wasn’t working.

My breathing felt off, and my thoughts kept trailing off in strange ways so much so that I kept losing track of the words.

Disturbed, I opened my eyes, and looked down at the beads in my right hand…as if the beads were the problem.

Funny that…because I know better.

But it definitely occurred to me that I needed to do something else to focus.

I thought about that fidget cube on my desk in the other room.

And it got me to thinking of the similarities between this mala and the idea of fidget cubes as the concept is perhaps the same:

It seems to have always been true of me that in order to force my mind to be still, I have to be doing something.

I have to be moving in some way, however small or slight.

And so I reached for the fidget cube.

It has six sides – each side requiring a different movements of the fingers: pressing a button, flicking a switch, rolling the thumb over a ball bearing, or spinning a small dial that makes a satisfying clicking sound…

(Yes, that one….)

Clickity. Clickity. Click.

And so I settled into that.

Odd…but it *worked*

Hm.

So here’s to a different technology, I guess.

 

Though now that I think about it…it did sound a lot like typing.

Huh.

 

 

 

 

 

Six.

On the 29th of May 2012, I signed up with WordPress, deciding to keep a blog.

Though I didn’t know exactly what I was going to actually write about

nor did I expect much of an audience

(though to be honest, for the first year or two, it was an audience of only 2-3 folks who commented regularly)

Today, the folks at WP informed me that I have been keeping this blog

for six years now.

All I can say is…

Wow. Time flies!

So…

Thank you to all my readers

and followers

and commenters

for your love

your support

and in some cases,

some challenging food for thought

Happy Anniversary

to

this

blog!

Fragment.

They’ll take you places you didn’t want to go,
and see things you never wanted to see,
but be not afraid,
for they are there with you,
for everything.

~~~

Years ago – quite possibly more than 10 years ago – I found the above (unattributed) quote on a blog.

So I wrote that quote down in the daily paper journal I kept, as I did not have my own blog at that time.

And though I could not put my finger on why this quote resonated with me so long ago

it occurred to me this morning that it pretty much sums up

what

spirit-work

feels like.