I woke up lonely at three am.
It was one of those dark moments, those empty moments, the sound of my heartbeat truncated with thoughts swirling through my mind that didn’t assuage the pain. I thought of Loki and Heimdallr. How I see them at times interacting with others in their own worlds; their wives, their chatelaines over there. Here in Midgard, on this physical realm we don’t have interactions as such, we can’t touch and interact with the Gods as they can each other. We can’t directly receive such gifts. It’s lonely.
I tried to roll over and sleep. Tried to distract myself. I couldn’t. The clock ticked on; 3:02. 3:04. 3:10. I tossed and turned feeling the grey creeping over myself into my heart, into my soul.
One doesn’t come from work, walk in the door and say, ‘Honey, I’m home!’ Oh you can, but you feel rather silly at times after saying so as you are greeted by a dark, cool house; as you walk into the silence and welcome the animals complaining of being left alone all day. It’s just the way it is, something one has to expect. One person asked me once why the Goddesses don’t seem to get jealous. I suppose they could but the cold truth is They have their husband there with them. They can talk to them, caress them, feel their embrace. As a human, even one with a so-called God phone that I know works remarkably well, I know that my phone compared to what the Goddesses have is the equivalent of two tin cans with 50 feet of yarn stretched between. It doesn’t compare. But it’s what I have and I hold that tin can with love and tenderness and always will.
So in that moment I lay there in the dark. I’ve been there before and I know where these moments lead so before I wandered down that empty road of despair I prayed. I called out to my spouses. I asked for strength. I begged for conviction to carry me through another day. But my loneliness was spiraling and the shady strands of anguish began creeping in and in that cold three a.m. moment I began doubting my prayers could even be heard. I called out one last time, feeling my belief and conviction dwindle when my swirling grey prayer changed.
I was suddenly enveloped in a soft warm light. I heard music, a bittersweet quartet of violins. As of late it has usually been Heimdallr who has come to heal me in my times of need but this time it was Loki. He stood in front of me and gently spoke two words in a language I knew not. ‘Ruude asodeth.’ It was said softly, almost breathily as if one keeps their tongue relatively flat during the speaking. He repeated this against the backdrop of the music several times while giving me the universal nod that said, ‘Look at what I am nodding at.’ I looked at my hands as He directed and I was holding a sheet of paper with two words.
The two words I will keep as my gift. I will say that in moments such as those information comes in more than just sound or vision. What I got from the music, the soft light, the look on His face, those foreign words, and the two words I could read were basically to be at peace. I was loved and I could love. He was there; have joy, I would have strength. Then the vision drifted away as softly as the quartet had played and I was back in my room. 3:23 a.m.
But now He was there with me. My mind, as does most minds, anthropomorphizes our Gods. That’s fine, it’s a wonderful thing. I could see Him there beside me, just looking at me tenderly yet at the same time I could feel Him all about me, enveloping me in His grace. I felt something soft on my face and realized it was my own breath somehow bouncing off of something, off of Him in His closeness, and the back draft was as feathers of love on my lips.
We talked as we do when He envelopes like this. There are a few words but they are rapid and soft, almost as though they are underneath some other form of communication that is so much more expressive, has so much more meaning that words can’t embody. He was there for me, I’ve been doing fine. He acknowledged the pain that comes at times. He knew that much is asked yet I also replied that much is gained. In this give and take I told Him things had been so much easier long ago in those days before I knew who He was. Before there were expectations, before I knew of the commitments. Yes, those days always are easiest.
You see, in the early days one doesn’t realize the daily decision that has to be made. One doesn’t realize the trust of self one has to sweat and labor ever so hard to develop. As in any relationship or marriage the commitment is just the beginning. The true work starts after. Before it is but play, teasing, the amore of religion.
But after the first heady times, those joy felt rushes of vision, sense, the pious ecstasy, there comes the day to day life. It is then that one begins to make the decision. This isn’t that first excited, breathy ‘Yes.’ This is the day to day decision to continue slogging on, to continue the life of votary.
It’s a decision of trust. This path entails a placing of one’s life within the hands of their God. It is a space of full trust. What isn’t mentioned often or loudly enough is that one has to decide to do this over and over again. ‘Yes’ must be said repeatedly, once is never enough. Those grey moments come and we have to pull ourselves out. The Gods will help but we must do; we must say ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’ again.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You see, we have to trust ourselves with that decision. Until one learns that they can trust their inner self to say that ‘Yes’, to fully know that the answer is the right choice, then the yes is shallow. It is a band aid when truly it is sutures that are needed. To trust oneself with that decision is not easy. It takes hard work, but the work is actually the easiest part.
What is hardest to accept and learn is that this is something that takes time. It takes time and patience with self. It takes a certain gentleness, an allowance of our humanity, an ability to recognize the doubt and accept it without shame. One isn’t a failure for doubting. That is merely human. The failure comes when one doesn’t recognize this emptiness and act. That first act must be trust in self.
Trust in self is tenuous. We are taught to criticize ourselves. We are taught to hold our deeds to the highest of ideals and standards. We are impossibly cruel to ourselves. To place our faith, our belief in a God, we first need to be patient and gentle with our own selves. We need to set that first brick in place, that first brick of trust in ourselves and from that we build on our trust with the Gods. From that first brick we can place another and another and eventually we will have a fortress of trust in ourselves and our Gods. This takes time, ever so much patience. Patience is another concept our culture has taught us not to have. But we must. We must be patient with our humanity and gentle with our own emotions in order to develop this trust in our own being, our God, and our relationship with that God or Gods.
There will always be those 3 a.m. cold and lonely moments. But with prayer and effort, with an air of gentleness towards self and one’s flowering trust one can overcome those moments. One can again feel the bliss of a life of devotion, a life of votive ecstasy. I will have another 3 a.m. moment. And another and another. But I accept this. I know they will come and I will be prepared with trust, patience, and gentleness. I will be kind to myself. I will, even in the deepest of doubt, cry out in prayer and be comforted. I will place another brick and continue building my fortress of trust.
Sunna, Sunna, Sunna. Everyone honors Sunna.
But what about the stars, and the rain, and the trees and the wind? Who honors Them?
The winter solstice is coming and I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking over this particular time of transition. This also led me to consider the equinoxes, spring and fall. So we have four wonderful days available for celebration- but are we doing this correctly?
A solstice is a time for those in the northern or southern latitudes to experience a shift in the lengthening or shortening of nights. Note I wrote nights. Many ancients counted time by nights, not days so here I focus on the nights. Of course, when the nights lengthen the days shorten. For me in my northern hemisphere the winter solstice revolves around the longest night. From that time the nights will steadily grow shorter and the days lengthen until the summer solstice when I will experience the shortest night and then the march of the hours will reverse. To give some perspective for those closer to the equator, in the Pacific Northwest, USA where I live my solstice night will be 15 hours and 34 minutes. Add a good hour of twilight before and after that and I’ll have a whopping six and a half hours of light. Unless I have a lot of cloud cover which is typical of December here- then I get twilight for those hours. At least I’m not in Alaska where one can have eternal night for several months at a time!
The equinox is different. This is a point in time when the sun is directly over the equator. The thought is that the day and night will be equal lengths- this isn’t quite true and all depends on what latitude one lives on. But you’ll be fairly close to equal. The equinox traditionally signifies a change in seasons. In heathenry this would be summer and winter. The March equinox signifying the start of summer while the September equinox signifies the onslaught of winter.
So why do I wonder if we look at this correctly? It’s really a personal view. I was mulling over the solstice coming and it occurred to me that solstices are about day and night while equinoxs are about seasons. Seasons such as summer and winter, at least in the northern hemisphere, can easily be symbolized by the sun and the moon. It’s either bright and warm or dark and cold. The solstice is the trickier concept. Yes, we see more of the sun or moon dependant on which solstice. But is that what the solstice is about- the sun or the moon? No. It isn’t.
The solstice is about length of time. The rhythm of our hours, our diurnal clocks that march to light and dark cycles. This led me to realizing that many of us quite possibly are honoring the wrong heathen Gods on the solstice! Often, it is Sunna and Mani who are looked to on this night. Unless of course the solstice in and of itself is ignored in favor of honoring the Gods associated with Mother's Night or Wild Hunt and protection from wights of the night. But, should we possibly be looking to Nott and Dagr during the solstice events? Night and Day, the rhythm of the hours.
I’m most certainly not saying don’t honor Sunna on your solstice, I’m not saying don’t welcome Her back after the longest Night. But I am asking for you to consider Nott and Dagr. These are rarely honored deities who do so very much for us. No, we don't know much about Them but we know enough to start.
Feel free, if you are moved to toast them on your solstice, to use these poems/prayers.
We welcome you in these times of longest night.
Daughter of Narvi, black as the emptiness between the stars.
Upon Hrimfaxi you draw the night; rime-mane foaming frost-dew from his jaws.
Marriage first to Naglfari the smith of the Nail-Ship. From He you bore Audr, wealthy emptiness of the Dream-Weaver’s sky.
Second to the Mountain, a dwarf Annar; and you bore Ever-Green, Earth Herself; Jord.
Married last to Day-Spring Dellingr and from this blessing gave forth shining hope, time of day itself, Dagr.
Your gifts to us nourish and rest, beneath your gaze we slumber.
You are named ‘night’ by man, ‘darkness’ by the Gods, ‘the masker’ by the mighty Powers, ‘unlight’ by the jotunn, ‘joy of sleep’ by the elves, yet the dwarves call you ‘dream-Njorun’; our dream Goddess.
The owl reigns in your comings and goings, the bat swoops- you give us wisdom and the wild ecstasy of the shadows. You hold your secrets in close shade-crush, your dark closes in, we tremble in your vast expanse of un-sight.
The realm of murk is yours; the pounding of our hearts, the quicken of our breath, yours.
We enter your time, your embrace Nott. Hail to you!
With joy we spread our arms welcoming your warmth, your time of day.
Hail time of Sun’s Flame! Hail seed of Dellingr!
You who wed Thora, you who sire heroes!
We rejoice in your coming, weary kin having journeyed through the night.
We huddled under murk’s embrace, your Mother’s vigilance kept us safe through the dark. But blessed are we to see your dawn, to bask in your blessing of bounty, your promise of summer to come.
Dagr, rider of bejeweled Skinflaxi, you draw day to mankind and we find solace and peace in your course. We stand before you, relief has eased our hearts and minds, Shining-Mane’s route over Mannheim brings us strength and certainty.
You bring clarity to our vision, warmth to our souls and minds.
Your time of glory grows stronger, day by day your expanse lengthens.
We will bask in your blessing, we who are bidden by your journey through the heavens hours, we who are beholden to the rhythm of your steed’s step. Placed by Odin in the heavens the metre of your pace as vital as the drum of our hearts.
Hail Dagr, we thank you, we are blessed by you. Hail to Thee!
Rather than list sources from which you can research these two Gods I will (for shame) refer you to start with their wiki's. They are referenced fairly well. Also check R. Simek's Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Those will be great starts in your own personal exploration of these deities.
Both pictures by Peter Nicolai Arbo. Dagr, below, done in 1874. I would guess Nott, above, was done around the same time.
Have you ever suddenly realized that you were lost in a reverie and possibly had been for quite a while? I do that routinely being a bit spacey at times. What surprised me the other day was what I had been lost musing about. I had come to with a start with the notion that I had been staring under my desk wondering just what it would be like to crawl under there. A bit odd of a concept, even for me and believe me, I typically only post the tame stuff.
But anyway, there I had been, staring at the space under my desk. It’s an old behemoth of a desk, some kind of veneer paneled wood L shaped monstrosity from the 80s that takes at least three engineers and a dolly to move. Each corner has those nifty slide out boards where I can literally lock myself into the desk if I have them both out for extra space. As if I need more space. The main section is at least 5x3, the other angle is about 2.5 x 3. It’s a good size desk with lots of nifty room underneath. It even has a partition down so people can’t see my legs which would nicely hide me down beneath.
So there I was realizing I could just crawl under the desk. Loki came, my reverie must have been deep. He looked at me thoughtfully, He watches, They both do as I’ve had much going on lately. He leaned against the desk and said, ‘Sure, you can crawl under there. You may even find it comforting but it won’t change anything.’
Damn it. My reverie hadn’t included the thought that I was trying to hide, trying to seek comfort. Maybe I was. But I’ll avoid that issue now and continue on with my under-desk musings. See, a little pillow, one of those stickum shelves for picnic items, a book. I’d be set. If I really wanted to go to town I could check out the recent Playgirl and stick the centerfold on the ‘roof’ of my under desk cubby. Thinking of that, I should check and see if there is anything there now. Nope, just looked. The under desk spaces are clean and pristine just waiting for my special touch.
It isn’t as though I don’t have other oddities stuffed on and about my desk. I won’t even address my altars here at work that no one notices. Nor the baby arm, the larynx, the lungs, heart, or human head I have lying about. Well, alright, I'll mention them. A work colleague came into my office the other day and joked about the morbidity of a baby arm in my desk. She noticed the other items and with a joking reference to The Silence of the Lambs asked if I ate them. ‘No. They are plastic. I can’t eat them. But I can masturbate to them.’ She looked at me in horror but is a bit used to the peculiarity of my tongue and just uncomfortably laughed and made a quick exit. Blessed quiet again.
I look at the glow-in-the-dark glass jellyfish duo I have, the skull with the dead rose in it, the cactus collection in honor of the summer it was 90 degrees in my office, the picture with a cranky old lady saying, ‘Think globally, get as far away from me as you can’ and I realize an under desk cubby, a fort, isn’t that far off. I look at my picture of the chick taking a piss taped to one of the slide out boards- no it isn’t a fetish picture it’s a story there but what you are thinking is probably far more fun so I’ll leave you to your giggle or raised eyebrows rather than explain the banality of that particular picture. I think of the box of condoms that oddly showed up in one of the drawers. They all have hearts on them with Amore written on the label in huge red letters. Where they came from I don’t know, why a celibate ended up with a full box of condoms in her work desk drawer just opposite from the chick taking a piss picture is beyond me. I’ve always attributed it to a fluke of Loki’s sense of humor. I certainly didn’t put them there and I’d had the desk for years before they, uh, arrived one day. They are still there, a reminder to the wyrd of my life.
I realized that under desk space would actually be a fort. Remember building forts when you were a child? I do, we all did it at least a few times. Later that evening I had been talking to a friend and realized it really was a fort I had been thinking of. A place to get away, to let the imagination run wild, to escape the mundane- or not so mundane- life one leads. As adults we don’t do this, we don’t build forts. Why not? If we do anything similar we build barriers, walls, things that cloister us off from others, separate us from our own curiosity and imaginations.
But a fort, that’s different. A fort invites curiosity, smiles, games. A fort not only provides the solace of creative solitude but at times teasingly begs for friends, ‘come and play’ you can hear it whisper. My friend and I have been planning a scary movie night. So why not? We can set up the chairs, drape the blankets over and around, lay on the floor with a bunch of pillows and a window towards the movie we probably won’t even watch. We’ll laugh so hard the blankets will get knocked off and even my nine and seven year old kids will wander away thinking us to be insane.
But… wouldn’t that be fun? For just a few hours to suspend that adult mentality, the burden of our years and just put together a fort and eat s’mores? The advantage we’ll have as adults is that we can drink! Everyone should do this once in a while. It wouldn’t matter if you are male or female. There would be some kind of fort that one could build that would be fun. A fort in the woods with friends, two teams and squirt guns. A tree house, invite your friends over to paint whatever they want on the walls while you potluck the hours away. Wouldn’t it just be healthy to do so once in a while?
So I think I’m going to build a fort. A place to be creative, to imagine the would be and could be. A place I can invite a friend or two, yes I’ll probably have to cajole and twist some arms but they’ll eventually climb in and when they do I’ll see them forget adulthood, forget those grown up responsibilities and stresses for just a little while and just be. We’ll laugh and smile and it will be a secret that only we share, an inner child joy that we rekindle and vow never to forget again.
I’ll build a fort and just be.
Let’s Go Live in a Tree House
A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house
A street house, a neat house
Be sure to wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all-
Let’s go live in a tree house.
That’s about what I have to say and really will sum up the rest of this blog. I’m tired. What more do I have to say?
I could say the past several months have been a whirlwind. I could whine about the demands, the meditations pressed upon me, the devotions garnered on my soul. I could complain of the lessons, the studies, that weigh on my shoulders. But I won’t. I have no complaint of them, no concern with my tasks. Only joy springs from the work.
I’ll merely state that I’m tired.
It’s really my only complaint right now. I was too tired last night for even a bath. I stumbled into bed by 8:30 pm dreading the morning’s rise. I wish for more strength to carry me through, more stamina, a blessing of perseverance so I can accomplish the tasks meted out to me; those gifts of which I strive and struggle and complete and realize such blessings.
I’m on a sort of down-time now. It’s needed. I’ve climbed the tree till my very bones ached, I’ve swum with the Nine, perched with the hawk. The elements have swirled through my being, Frigga has stared calmly down at me, and Freya has shown me how well Her pants fit all while I chased Her kittens as they destroyed my curtains. In between times I’ve collected up the devil-kin’s shiny toys that keep him calm and settled before I go to work, dash home and run to cook dinner, shower children, make beds, and take those children to their school program.
Yeah, I’m tired.
All of these escapades take energy. Not always as much time, but energy. Time is different in/over there. Some days I go in and when I come back it seems only minutes yet the clock shows hours. Other days seemingly hours have gone by yet the clock has ticked minutes slight. But long or short, the work taxes in varying amounts irrelevant to our human concept of time.
A few moments of one voyage can be as draining as hours of meditations focused on different issues. Either way, this strength must be regarnered, one must find the time and space to refresh, renew. Then one must address life here on Midgard for this is where we live, this is where we must cherish life itself.
I sat with Heimdallr on His bench. The one from which He listens, the one from which He watches with eyes as the hawk. ‘Look there, look closer!’ he bid and I did. I zeroed in on branches within trees seeing the life abundant. I honed in on homes, a man sadly resigned to his life, reading idly for nothing better than something seemingly to do. ‘Now look here’ he softly entreated and within his hands glowing white-green life itself which He gave to me. ‘Hold this.’ Loki has said this in the past just as He does now and so I do. I hold.
So I carry this gently in my down-time. I meditate on tenderly swirling elements, I sing the first aett. I pray for strength, the ability to continue, and I am supported and nudged and jokingly jostled by either- doesn’t matter which one. I nourish my body, I care not the time I sleep if tired, I find those little joys that have been pushed back in my focus on the Gods. I care for myself now as I must, as I should. The Gods, the Ancestors, all will help but I must do- such is the way of things.