Monday, September 29, 2014

Personal Practice Writeup

I first began my work on the Dedicant's Path in 2012, when I originally joined ADF. I had been Pagan for years or so prior to that, but I had never felt called to a particular pantheon or group of deities; instead my spirituality was largely centered around nature spirits and the Earth Mother, and a reverence for the mythology of JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion. I stayed in this place for a long time, trying to reconcile my generalized understanding of deity with ADF's emphasis on treating the gods as individuals. In July of 2013, uncertain of whether or not ADF was truly for me, I posted a question about Tolkien's mythology on the general facebook page. It engendered a wonderful discussion, and set me on a path to develop a new way of thinking about the gods and spirits; and also encouraged me in the pursuit of study with ADF.

One particular piece of advice I received was to look to the cultures and mythology that Tolkien was inspired by. I decided to pursue this idea, and ended up studying the Germanic deities, eventually arriving at the conclusion that my Earth Mother who I had honored for so long was Nerthus. I also began flamekeeping for Brigid with a group on the forum eCauldron, and pursued a relationship with Manannán mac Lir. As I continued to study and practice, I also began forming relationships with Frige (Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Frigga) and Thunor (Anglo-Saxon Thor) by offering to Them in both traditional and non-traditional ways: usually beer for Thunor and time spend crocheting for Frige. As I learned more about traditional Germanic views of land wights through reading Kvedulf Gundarsson's Elves, Wights, and Trolls, I also began honoring my local landvaettir in a more traditional way; pouring offerings over a stone in my backyard once per week. I did a great deal of genealogy work, learning about my ancestors and my past, talking to my grandmother about how she was raised and all the people she loved and remembered who were now passed; and working to build relationships with them through offerings as well.

As the summer unfolded into winter, and winter to spring, I continued to feel called to honor more deities of both the Irish, Anglo-Saxon, and other Germanic pantheons; to the point where my devotional and ritual schedule got a little crazy. I would offer to the Germanic, the Irish and the land wights as separate groups once a week, and also add in individual offerings to those deities I particularly honored, which had now grown to include the Cailleach, Danu, Oghma, Skadhi, Frey and Freyja, Eostre, and Hreda. It was an incredibly busy schedule, and soon began to be unsustainable while also caring for my three children and keeping up with the housework (usually as an offering to the house wights)!

Near the end of May of this year, my computer suddenly went caput, putting me out of contact with most of my Pagan friends and cutting off my primary avenue of research (not to mention completely arresting my progress on the DP). Getting a new one right away was not financially feasible, so I made do with what I had, and as the weather grew warmer and the sunshine stronger I spent more and more time out of doors connecting with Nerthus and the landvaettir. Now, I do not possess a 'god-phone' as some call it who hear the deities speak directly to them or can easily meet the gods on otherworld journeys. But I spent a great deal of time this summer just sensing, and meditating on the nature of the gods.

Later that month, my grandfather died. I withdrew from almost everything around me, stopped offering to most of the deities I had honored before, and focused my attention on what I knew I needed to get through my grief: the spirit of my grandfather, Nerthus, and the land. A few weeks after his passing, I went to the place where his ashes were scattered (the graves of my great-grandparents), and performed my own version of the ritual 'sitting-out' of the Germanic peoples. I kept vigil on the graves through the night, meditating and sharing offerings of Crown Royale, asking the spirit of my grandfather to visit me. And eventually, he did. Not in a physical or even auditory manifestation, but as a presence I could sense was him, just as you'd know without looking if your mother walked into a room. I told him I missed him, and then felt there was no need, because he would be with me as long as I remembered him. I came out of the cemetery that morning knowing just where to go next.

Later that week, I made time for a ritual devoted to communicating with Nerthus through divination. I asked Her, with the runes, how I should steer my personal practice going forward; since the way I had been doing things was unsustainable for me. Her message was very clear: I have always loved Her and loved the land, and my focus should rest on Her and the gods of the land, Her children and the gods of Her pantheon.

Since that time, I have kept up my offerings to my Ancestors (especially my grandfather) and my offerings to the local land wights. I also continue to offer specifically to Nerthus, by thanking Her for each meal and leaving a small bit of it to be composted. I have begun a new weekly practice of ritual and offering to specific members of Germanic pantheons: Frey and Freyja, Thunor, Sunne, Njordh, Gerda, and Jord – which is still a rather long list, but having one ritual of offering to all simplifies things greatly. I also honor Sunne, Eostre, and Earendel (possibly an Anglo-Saxon god of the morning star, but that's largely my UPG) with a quick prayer to the dawn every morning. It's certainly possible that in the future the scope of deities that I honor will once again widen further; but for now, this is where Nerthus wants me to be – and I believe that in pursuing this goal, I will be able to form an even deeper relationship with the Kindred that I honor.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Winterfinding Ritual

As the daylight begins to wane, cooler nights settle over the land and cause all sorts of changes in the world around us. Many ancient Germanic peoples held sacrifices or festivals to honor this time of the year and to give thanks for a good harvest - and when building a relationship with the land, it is always good to say thanks.

Swain Wodening’s reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon calendar, unfortunately no longer available online, sets today as the start of the month Winterfylleð. According to the Venerable Bede this translates to ‘winter full moon’. Called Haustblót in Icelandic (autumn sacrifice) or Álfablót (elves’ sacrifice) in Scandinavian sources, the end of autumn was a good time to offer to the land and the spirits. Whether you’d like to try it today, on the full moon, or at a seasonally appropriate time for your locale, this is a simple but powerful ritual to acknowledge the gifts of the harvest and the coming of winter.

Things to gather: representation of Frey, locally harvested produce that can be made into a meal or left fresh, mead or other celebratory drink

Carry the representation of Frey around the space set out for the ritual, whether that be your home, yard, or other area, saying “Frey, who blessed the fields and gives bounty to humankind, we thank you and offer you gifts now in return for your kindness.”

Set the image of Frey before you, and walk the edge of the space again, noticing the changes that are coming over the land. Use your own words that resonate with your local land, or say “Trees that have begun blazing with color, squirrels that are hastily gathering nuts, cold earth ready and waiting to rest: you herald the coming of winter. Landvaettir, wights, alfar that surround this place, I thank you for your bounty, and offer you gifts now to see you through the coming cold.”

Come back to the center or your altar, and lift the cup of drink in a toast. After each hail, pour out some drink, drink some yourself, and offer a portion of the produce.
“Hail my ancestors who prepared well for the dark of winter! Watch over me in these days of coming cold. Feast and drink with me, in thanks for your protection!”
“Hail the alfar and wights of the land, fertile soil and growing food! Feast and drink with me, in thanks for your harvest!”
“Hail Frey, Lord of Alfheim, who blessed the fields to grow! Feast and drink with me, in thanks for your bounty!”

If you have some things in particular to be thankful for this season, you should also toast the gods or wights responsible and share with them as well. When you are finished, pour out the rest of the drink and leave the produce to be composted or where it will be found by wild things.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Earthy Heathen: A Blog Experiment

Oh, Tumblr.  I have to admit there's no love lost there.  I'm not a huge fan of the format or the controls, but as a blogger it's time for me to admit that there is definitely more of an audience on Tumblr.  And so, to reach out and try to get some interest in the idea of Earth-centered Heathenry going, I'm starting up a small blog there that I'll be posting a prayer, ritual, or some information to every week.  I will also be cross-posting those things here; but if you're more inclined to Tumblr and interested in Earth-centered Heathenry, come follow me at!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Those Pesky Pagan Holiday Names

I read an amazing article The Triumph of Mabon on Jason Mankey's Patheos blog Raise the Horns this morning, and it got me thinking about a topic that has always bugged me just a little bit - the naming of the 'standard' Pagan holidays.  When I was the kind of Pagan who wasn't much bothered about specific cultures or history, they didn't get to me too much; though I must admit I've never been overly fond of the pseudo-historical feel.  Even as a newbie Pagan, I much preferred referring to solstices and equinoxes than I did to Mabon or even Yule.

Now that I am working within a specific cultural framework, and writing for even more for Prairie Shadow Protogrove's rituals, it's become even more complicated.  I just don't feel comfortable inviting people to an Ostara rite that honors Demeter and Persephone, for example - it just feels culturally wrong.  I don't feel like I'm being authentic when I tell my daughters about Samhain, a sacred day when we honor our Ancestors; our traditions are very Heathen, and to call the holiday by a Celtic name just seems disingenuous to me.

I'm certainly not trying to tell anyone else how to practice or what to call holidays - it doesn't matter to me!  But this is how I personally feel when using the 'traditional' Pagan names, so I've tried to come up with some a bit more modern.  Though I am very much a Heathen and very inspired by history and research at this point, I want to help my children see with a wider view; should they want to follow a different path of Paganism or even leave the religion but still remember special traditions from their youth.  I'll still refer to the solstices and equinoxes by their scientific names, that's what makes those days so special, after all.  We've always called Beltane 'May Day', which it is - we just celebrate it a whole lot more than other people here in the midwest.  Lughnasadh has always been simply 'Harvest Festival', easy-peasy but a tad confusing when compared to the Autumnal Equinox.  The difficult ones so far have been Samhain and Imbolc - I'm just not sure what language to use to describe honoring the Ancestors or praying for the spring without resorting to silly and trite-seeming epithets like 'Ancestor Day'.  I have always liked the name 'Candlemas' for Imbolc, and connects it back to my youth, but I'm not sure that stealing Catholic holiday-names is the best way to go.

I think this will always be a tricky topic as Paganism as a whole continues to diversify; with some wanting to retain the standard holidays but wanting them to be more culturally appropriate.  I continue to hope for the wide-spread adoption of more neutral terms, but understand that for many that compromises part of the magic of these names.  Like so much of the work of building a religion, I imagine that as time goes on, these things will be figured out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Feeding Your Fire

Photo by Dirk Beyer
After coming home from Pagan Pride Day, I was exhausted.  That next morning, I didn't have the energy to get up and attend my local UU church with my children, and quickly realized as the day progressed that I didn't have the energy to go out and do much of anything.  After discovering my daughter was sick and taking her to Urgent Care, I honestly really didn't want to attend ritual with my local coven that night.  But I had said I would go, and so I wearily trudged out and attempted to make conversation and engage in my normal cheery attitude.

We talked about the dark time of the year, and the things that keep us going through the darkness.  We talked about those things singular to us, that make us who we are.  I'm not Wiccan, and though I enjoy both the company of those others in the coven and the inter-connectedness of our midwest Pagan community, it's sometimes tricky for me to pull meaning from the metaphors and language so common to Wiccan dialogue.  For instance, the concepts of Maiden, Mother and Crone are not powerful archetypes for me, and discussion of them and their relations to the season can sometimes go over my head.  But at these rituals, there are almost always powerful moments of community relation or introspection that are not specific to Wicca, that go straight through denominational lines and relate a message that is both needed and helpful.

During last night's ritual, we built a fire together as a community.  And together, we discovered within ourselves the things which keep our fire going during the times of darkness, when the sun diminishes and many people naturally feel a little more down, a little more tired.  For me, that thing is a joyful attitude.  Growing up as a sad little kid, my mother always taught me to 'fake it til you make it'; to smile at others no matter what you're feeling inside.  Though I know this can often be a very harmful message, it has ultimately proven to be a good one for me.  I don't talk about it much because of that same childhood conditioning, but I get depressed.  Often, and seriously.  But my smile, and cheerful attitude around others - something that people have often complimented me on throughout my life - often actually helps to lift the fog a bit.  It's so ingrained in me that I honestly can't not be cheerful with people I don't know extremely well; but my smiles spread smiles.  And the more I can brighten others' days, the more mine is brightened in return.  This is why getting out and doing social things can be so difficult sometimes - it's hard to prepare myself to be cheerful when I'm feeling awful or completely apathetic - but once I get out there, the light of others energizes my own heart.  Inspiring happiness in others feeds my fire.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pagan Pride Day and an ADF Equinox Ritual

Pagan Pride Day Altar
This past Saturday, the Pagan Pride Day I'd spent the better part of my summer and fall helping to plan for was finally in full-swing.  We had about 120 people stop by, a good number of vendors and workshops, and overall I considered it a great success.  But it was also incredibly draining for me.  This actually is a fairly rare phenomenon - usually I get energy from events, even ones that I put a lot of work into planning and executing.  But Sunday, the day after, I was just exhausted both physically and emotionally.  Leading two rituals, giving a workshop, and generally schmoozing all day just wore me out - not to mention being out in the sun for 11 hours.

Our closing ritual was an ADF one, led by Prairie Shadow Protogrove, honoring the spirits of the harvest as the beings of occasion.  I wrote this one awhile ago, actually sitting at the park location for some of my writing.  I think it's one of the best rituals I've ever written, actually; and it's one of the most participated in rituals we've ever held.  Everyone came up and gave praise offerings, all in a line - it was almost like watching communion at a church, except this was people who were giving to the gods.  While reading the welcoming phrases, I felt I was truly connecting with the spirits of that lovely place; a place I'd spent a few years living near, spirits I had grown up loving and honoring.  When I called to the spirits of the shoreline to aid in the opening of the Gates, I remembered being a little girl exploring the icy edges of that lake, falling through a weak spot and ending up soaked up to my knees.  When I called to the spirits of the treeline, I remembered climbing high up in the branches of the pines, hands sticky with sap, waving in the wind.  These spirits were my friends from long ago.  It was incredibly powerful.

I've always had a close connection with the natural world, ever since my Grandmother took me out walking and talking to trees as a little girl.  I know I've written about it here before.  I heard someone say at Midnight Flame, an ADF festival I attended recently, that in ADF there are many people who feel drawn largely towards one of the specific Kindred, and I think that I am one of those people.  I honor the Gods, I love my Ancestors, and make regular sacrifices to both - but there is something so immediate, so material about the oak in my backyard when compared to those beings.  I can touch it, feel it, understand what it wants.  The squirrels that run through my yard and feast on acorns chat with me, look at me, engage with me - just as I engage with them.  I have always loved them, because they have always been there.  The land wights are not an abstract concept that I learned about later in my life, but a presence that I grew up with, that I ran to for refuge when people felt too difficult.  This is not to say that those who are deity- or ancestor-centered are wrong for connecting more with those Kindred - it's just a difference that helps make up the diverse tapestry of ADF.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Winterfinding, Nebraska Heathens United, and Growth

painted in 1847 by Oluf Olufsen Bagge
I've written before about how much I love Nebraska Heathens United.  A local, but all-inclusive Heathen group that doesn't care if you're hailing Loki, Frigga, or Njordh at sumbel?  Sign me up!  And I did, more than a year ago now.  I've been to sumbels and bloats with these wonderful people, hailed their gods and ancestors, listened to their boasts and their oaths.  

NHU is an open, public group, allowing all who'd like to attend a chance to see what Heathenry is about.  But there is a need in the community for a closer relationship, for a group that comes together more frequently and more privately.  Now that, too, is coming together - NHU's leadership has initiated a plan to build an innangarth, so that the Heathens in Nebraska can have community of their own.

I'm so excited for NHU, the founders, and this next stage of their growth.  I'll be right there, too - there's something about a small group of people sitting around a fire toasting the gods and spirits of Germanic origin that kindles its own fire in me.  These are people who honor that which I also honor.  The tradition of it thrills something inside of me.  

For the Winterfinding bloat, we hailed Odin and each drew a rune that told of His gifts to us.  Now, I don't have much of a relationship with Odin - more standoff-ish nods when our paths happen to cross - but the rune I drew really struck me.  It was Gebo, the Gift.  It speaks of reciprocity, a building of relationships through mutual giving; in some ways, it describes the group dynamic of a Heathen gathering perfectly.  I showed up on the front porch of one of the leaders bearing a bottle of mead and a tupperware full of sweet potatoes, and in return I received community, fellowship with the deities and spirits, and a hearty dinner.  As a group, we showed up before the altar and around the fire bearing alcohol and words of praise for the gods and ancestors, and in return Odin gives me the benefit of those group dynamics.  A gift for a gift.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Doing the Work

Druids at Stonehenge
I know that for many this phrase - "doing the work" - is difficult, conjuring up images and memories of accidentally abandoned plans and waylaid dreams.  For me, it's probably my favorite part of being religious.

Let me back up for a moment.  When I was a child, my mother, an evangelical Christian with the highest of ideals, did her very best to imprint her religion on our hearts and minds.  We prayed five times a day (morning, meals, and bed-time), memorized bible verses, attended Sunday school on weekends and youth-group meetings Wednesday nights; I spent five years in Catholic school and four at a fundie Lutheran institution.  Unfortunately for her, we were born with an innate skeptical outlook; unwilling to accept the contradictions of the Bible we were taught as infallible fact - but that's a story to be told another time.  The point is, I was raised with a great deal of religion, taught from birth that spirituality is something necessary, essential to a well-lived life - and that ideal has stayed with me ever since.  I often tell people that my mother instilled all the religion in me she dreamed of - from her perspective, it just ended up being the wrong one.

So when I make a habit like hailing the sun each morning, or thanking the spirits of nature that helped provide or sacrifice for the food I'm making, it feels right to me.  Natural.  As if I'm slipping back into a familiar, warm territory where the sun of my childhood shines.  It's why I sometimes have difficulty empathizing with others who are having trouble starting up a daily or weekly practice - to me it's like a balm that just makes all of life better.  Then I remember my own difficulty starting up a workout routine, and suddenly it all makes sense!

All jokes aside, what I'm trying to say is: the work is worth it.  Having a daily practice, offering to the Kindred or honoring Someone in particular, is incredibly beneficial.  My relationship to the Land, to my Ancestors, and to the Deities becomes stronger every day.  It helps me also to stay mindful - since I changed my morning devotional to one honoring the deities and spirits of the dawn, I find I am more aware and more appreciative of the work that the sun does in the world.  After acknowledging Sunne in the morning, I feel Her presence throughout the day - each time I look out the window and catch a glimpse of sun-dappled leaves, each time a ray of light enters the house and warms my skin, I remember Her - because I made the time to acknowledge Her.  It's the same with each and every spirit and deity that I make the time to honor.  My house spirit gets milk once a week, but the creek I walk over when I take my daughter to school is greeted twice a day - which spirit do you think I am closer to?  Do the work, relationships will come, and you will be rewarded.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Oath Rite

Nerthus by ErebusOdora
It's getting to be that time.  I've been working on my Dedicant Path documentation for ADF on and off for more than two years, and I'm finally nearing the finish line (still have to do a write-up on my meditation practice, but that's going to take some compressing).  I've spoken with Amber, the Grove Organizer for Prairie Shadow Protogrove, and we've scheduled my Oath Rite to take place during our Samhain ritual.  So here I am, desperately trying to write an oath that is simple, addresses all the points I feel are necessary, has the right gravitas, and yet doesn't drag our ritual out to twice its usual running length!  After more than a few drafts, I feel ready to present it for critique - please let me know your thoughts!

I stand here tonight that I may make an oath before the Kindred, my friends, and my Goddess. This oath is the result of more than two years of study and dedicated practice in the tradition of Ár nDraíocht Féin, and the culmination of more than ten years following a Goddess of the dark, still earth.

Today I Oath to my Ancestors, to my lineage that stretches back to the once dark and wild forests, my Disir who guide me wisely, to my great-grandparents and my Grandpa Lee.  Ancestors, accept this offering, and hear my oath.
Today I Oath to the Landvaettir, to the house spirit who dwells in my home, the tree spirits around us, the spirit of the wide prairie and the brown river Goddess that spreads across it.  Landvaettir, accept this offering, and hear my oath.
Today I Oath to my Gods, to Nerthus my patron, the dark Goddess of the fertile earth and the wild places, to Her children Freya and Frey the divine twins, to Thor who brings the rain.  Gods, accept this offering, and hear my oath.

I swear to seek the knowledge of the past, and bring what I find of value in my Ancestor's practice into this time.
I swear to cherish the Earth and the spirits of the earth, and do what I can to reduce and heal the damage caused by my people.
I swear to honor the Gods and Goddesses, to maintain the relationship of hospitality between us, and to continue in my commitment to the service of Nerthus.

These things I swear before the burning Fire that sends up sparks to the sky, the dark Well that flows in the deeps, the sacred Tree that bridges the worlds. These things I swear before my Ancestors, the landvaettir and wights, and my Deities. These things I swear before all those gathered here, on these beads that have long taken my prayers for the Kindred. As I swear, so be it!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Inspiration from the Midnight Flame

Mead Hall of the Grove of the Midnight Sun -
just amazing, right?
First, an admission - the first big Pagan event I attended was sort of a flop, for me.  I drove all the way up to Minneapolis to attend Paganicon, not knowing a soul except a few usernames on a forum I frequent.  It turns out that I'm probably a bit too shy to dive in and introduce myself in social situations like that; and so I ended up attending a few workshops that weren't really relevant to my path and driving back home pretty disappointed.  So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I decided to attend Midnight Flame, an ADF festival, with my friend and Grove Organizer.

I don't know if it's because the rituals were all fairly familiar and geared towards my personal spirituality, or because I recognized and knew people from ADF's facebook page and email lists, or because our Protogrove ended up bringing four people along (though I imagine it's the absolutely sweet and welcoming demeanor of the hosts, Flip and Deb Rutledge), but I had an incredible time.  Meeting people who's input I had only seen online was amazing, and seeing a large group of people do ADF ritual was so inspiring.

And that's the biggest thing I brought home from this festival.  The Midnight Flame that burned throughout the night lit a fire in my heart, and the wonderful people have filled me with ideas.  On the way home, I waxed poetic about the beautiful stoles of Three Cranes Grove, the amazing way that chants transported us to a sacred place in ritual, the value of a longer and more focused processional.. I could go on even now.  Our Protogrove is still very new compared to many of the groups we met up in Michigan, but that doesn't mean we can't borrow some ideas and traditions to improve the ritual that we do.  And the more we improve, the better and more cohesive our rituals feel - the easier each person there will be able to connect to the Kindred; and that is our ultimate goal.  Pagan Pride Day is coming up this weekend, and I've used the idea of humming tones as a building of a group mind, just as I saw it done last weekend.  Here's hoping we're half as successful!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Squirrel as Gatekeeper

US Fish and Wildlife Service, Public Domain
I've been thinking a lot about Gatekeepers lately.  In ADF ritual, the Gatekeeper is invited both as a spirit that aids the opening of the Gates to our Ancestors and the Shining Ones, and often also as a guardian that protects the ritual space from more malicious spirits.  Trying to establish relationships with more nature spirits and nature-oriented deities of the various Germanic pantheons, I've been having some trouble finding a deity that is interested in the job on a long-term basis.  Freyja helps out on occasion, and for our Grove's Norse rites I usually call on Heimdall, but He's pretty clear that it's a community duty for Him, and I am Not His.

I just returned from Midnight Flame, a wonderful ADF festival (more on this in another entry!) held in Michigan.  What struck me most about that land in contrast to my own was two fold: first, the trees are so skinny!  And perhaps because of this, I don't recall seeing a single squirrel, of the typical type that is found practically wherever one steps in eastern Nebraska.  Upon coming home, I was struck by the ubiquitous nature of this animal; and also by the connection that I'd built to them over my life.  I talk to them, and often they will chitter at me as I sit on the back porch invading "their" space.  They literally play with my children, scurrying up and down our trees like they invented hide-and-seek.  I thought of Ratatosk, the legendary squirrel mentioned in both the Poetic and Prose Eddas, traveling between the roots and the boughs of the World Tree to speak to the creatures dwelling there.  I thought of our squirrels, who build nests high up in our trees, and bury their nuts near their roots.  Of all the nature spirits who spend their lives with us in this suburban city, the squirrels seem like the most natural and obvious example of a Gatekeeper.

I was thinking on all this throughout my first morning back home; and that afternoon my husband asked if I would mow the lawn this time around.  I like to look around when I'm mowing and practice some nature awareness with at least one of my senses, so I did some quick centering and headed out.  It was in my front yard, underneath the giant maple that watches over our house, that I found pieces of a squirrel nest scattered.  Laying below were two small, probably adolescent squirrels; their flesh mostly eaten but their fur and bones remaining.  Their skulls were crushed, presumably damaged in the fall.  I wanted to lay them to rest by burying them beneath the tree that was their home, and as I picked up the second squirrel, the end of its small, furry tail came off in my hands.  It was totally free of flesh, and dried as if it had been tanned.  I consider it a gift of the nature spirits, an acknowledgement of my desire to pursue a relationship with the squirrel spirit.  After burying the dead and making my offerings, I brought the tail inside to freeze, to remove any mites or other stray creatures; after which it will sit on my altar next to the Tree - a fitting memory, and the beginning of a new journey.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Thoughts and a Morning Devotional

Wind Turbines at Sunrise, Emilian Robert Vicol, Public Domain Photos, CC by SA, 2.0
Over the past few months, I've been drawn deeper and deeper into my work with what I'm calling Earth-centered Heathenry.  Nerthus, my patron deity, led me to this place - but it's gone beyond just the Vanir (which may be a term and classification invented much later than anyone thought; see Rudolph Simek's The Vanir: An Obituary).  To me, Earth-centered means to be focused primarily on the natural world, which includes not only the Earth itself, but also the sky, the seas, all of nature that surrounds us.  Yesterday, I felt strongly led to alter my morning devotional, currently a very ADF standard acknowledging of Gods, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits.  

The morning star has always been special to me, and Eostre and Sunne since I began honoring Anglo-Saxon deities; but suddenly I felt strongly led to acknowledge these deities of the morning.  Taking inspiration from Cynewulf's 9th century poem Crist II, which contains beautiful verses about the morning star, I wrote a new morning prayer.

Hail Earendel, brightest of stars,
Herald of the coming dawn,
bright above the morning, every season
a perfect illuminated jewel.

Hail Eostre, the shining dawn,
brilliant beginning of the day,
rays of light crowning the East,
a bright and glorious birth.

Hail Sunne, bright bride of the heavens,
All-shining bringer of life,
flaming chariot riding through the sky,
the fire that feeds the world.

I kindle the sacred Fire
with the joy of dawning day;
may it bring light and life and warmth
to me and mine.