As my name implies, I am dedicated to the Vanic Goddess Freya and consider myself Her daughter. My spiritual path has always been guided by a desire for a direct, personal relationship with deity (not unlike that of the Christian or Sufi mystics), so my relationship with Freya is as close as, if not closer than, my relationships with my family members and my partner.
However, my relationship with Her is also closer than my relationship with Her brother Freyr, to whom I’m also dedicated. My relationship with Him is much newer and less intense, and fills a different role in my spiritual life. There are a wide range of levels of devotion and types of devotion among devotional polytheists. (I would argue that this kind of relationship, by default, has to be one of our most idiosyncratic of practices.) Just like relationships between humans, relationships between humans and deities–even devotional or dedicated relationships–can vary greatly. Just as you can be involved in a many different friendships for a variety of reasons, so can people be devoted with the Gods in many different ways. The experiences and opinions I share here are really only reflective of me and my relationship with Freya, who has been my primary Goddess.
When I first started working for her, I was full of zeal and love for Her and I couldn’t really figure out why everyone did not want to honor Her and devote themselves to Her. (Laine deLaney of The Lady’s Quill wrote a lovely description of Her here.) ….
Kitty has been following an alternative spiritual path for seventeen years. She encourages others to follow their souls’ calling.
You’ve found your god or goddess, but now what?
Paganism and the Gods
You’re new to paganism, and maybe you just recently discovered your god or goddess. Maybe both. While there are many forms of paganism and having a god or goddess in your religious practice isn’t required, for many it is something that comforts and helps them through troubling times. It also gives them a sense of peace and hope knowing their god and goddess are in their corner. Protecting them. Healing them. Working favors for them.
Having a god or goddess in your life is the same as a Christian having Jesus or God in their lives; however, you don’t have to “worship” your pagan deities. More often than not, pagans say they “work with” their gods and goddesses. Your relationship with your god or goddess will be more like a friendship or a working relationship, but can also feel like they are your father or mother too. The point is that the old gods and goddesses don’t need us to worship them. They have everything they need and don’t need people bowing down before them. They’d rather have you smiling at them as a friend would instead.
So you’ve found your god and goddess, but now you’re left wondering what’s next? How do I start this relationship with my god and goddess? Everyone’s relationship with their gods will be different and special in their own ways. Don’t feel like you have to follow a strict set of rules to work with your god or goddess. Do what you feel is right and true to you.
When setting up an altar it is nice but not necessary to have a lot of magickal tools.
A basic altar can be set up using different colored tea lights or candles to represent the five elements, Spirit, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. To make the candle burn a little longer and drip less keep them in your freezer until you are ready to use them. You can put your personal candle back into your freezer after it has cooled down for at one hour after use. Place your elemental candle in the shape of a pentagram. You can use a piece of chalk to draw the outline of a pentagram wherever you are setting up your altar. When you are done with the circle and have removed all things off wherever your atar was set up just use a wet paper towel to wipe off the chalk. It may take more than one depending on how hard use pressed with the chalk when drawing the pentagram. When I to this I either bury the paper towel in one of my gardens or burn it in my outdoor fireplace as a sign of respect for the remains of the pentagram it holds.
A few other ideas to use for the elements are:
SPIRIT: A statue or picture of an angel or a picture of ancestor
AIR: A feather or incense stick or cone or windchimes
FIRE: A book of matches or lighter or wooden matches
WATER: A seashell or any type of aquatic wildlife statue or picture or a small container of water
EARTH: A stick or some rocks or a small container of dirt or salt (not sea salt but regular table salt)
The Goddess and God you wish to have present can also be done by using a candle or tea light. Some other objects you could use are:
GODDESS: Eggshell or birds nest or a statute of a woman of any size or a picture of a Goddess
GODS: A pine cone or small tree branch with leaves or a statute of a man any size or a picture of a God
You can take a glass r cup and a small plate of some kind from your kitchen that you rarely use to consecrate for use as your chalice and offering dish.
Your personal candle you will want to use a bigger candle so you do not have to dedicate and personalize one every time you use it in a circle. I have a 12-inch (30.48 cm) taper candle works very well for my personal candle and lasts about 2 to 4 months depending on how often I make a circle.
As for your Book of Shadows being on your altar or not is up to you. I keep a couple of pieces of paper and a pen on my altar when doing a circle, especially if it is a circle meditation, just in case something happens during the circle I want to remember. My BOS is a three-ring binder with lots of empty pages in it so I do not have to cleanse them before using them on my altar or placing them back into my BOS.
WAND: Your do not absolutely have to have a wand to do a basic altar. But if you live near a park, forest or have trees in your yard look on the ground for a fallen branch. Ask the tree if you can have it for your personal use as a wand and leave a small token of appreciation such as a little water, a small stone or whatever else you feel might be appropriate.
SIDE NOTE: Left handed people sometimes put their Personal Candle on the left and BOS on the right.
Spring is a time of great celebration in many cultures. It’s the time of year when the planting begins, people begin to once more enjoy the fresh air, and we can reconnect with the earth again after the long, cold winter. A number of different gods and goddesses from different pantheons are connected with the themes of Spring and Ostara. Lets take a look at some of the many deities associated with spring, rebirth, and new life each year.
Now, this question has been with me for a while; what do the Gods consider offerings??? What do I do with them afterwards? Do not panic! All is perfectly well, you are safe. The Gods will not smite you because you have not offered them lavish riches or a tasty treat; they love you far too much.
What Do The Gods Consider Offerings
A number of things! You can give them food, you can burn incense, you can play music for them if you worship a God of music, put fresh water for those who preside over water, a beautiful and lovely scented candle, practically anything. EXCEPT FLESH! DO NOT SACRIFICE! DO NOT OFFER ANYTHING WITH FLESH AND A SOUL AS AN OFFERING! I…
Enclosed are the plot summaries of love tales from ancient and modern cultures. After a unit on Classical mythology you may want to have your students compare the Greek and Roman stories to tales from cultures around the world. Students will be interested to find many parallels such as transformations, trips to the Underworld, impossible tasks, and magic charms. This booklet contains only brief samples, so there is plenty of room for further research as well as creative projects to portray similarities and differences in myths. Students can also do further research on the culture in order to relate the elements of the myth to their cultural context.
Here we are for the sixth part of Norse 101. I hope that those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful one! This week, we’ll talk about two more deities: Freyr and Freyja. They’re brother and sister, and of the Vanir. Their father is Njord, a God of the Sea. And though Their mother is never named, it’s suspected that she is Nerthus, a Goddess of the Earth. There was once a war between the Aesir and the Vanir, and part of the peace treaty between them was that some of the Vanir would come live in Asgard while some of the Aesir would move to Vanaheim. Freyja and Freyr were part of that treaty.
Freyr is a God of fertility, both of land and body. He was a pretty popular God back in the old times, and it’s said that He was “hated by none.” He even had priests and priestesses that traveled around the countryside with a chariot, carrying a statue of Him around from village to village in processions. He has a golden boar named Gullinbursti, and a ship that He can fold up and fit into His pocket. Pretty handy, right? He also had a sword that could fight on its own, but He gave it up to show His future wife, Gerda, that He was serious about wanting to marry Her. She is a jotun, very gifted in knowledge of herbs and healing. (See? Not all jotnar are bad news!) Freyr is a very kind and warm God. It’s nearly impossible to be in a bad mood when He’s around. As a God of fertility, He isn’t limited to just fertile land and bodies. Creativity and a fertile mind are also in His realm!
Freyja is a Goddess of love, beauty, and war. Yes, war. Remember how Odin takes His pick of the best fallen warriors? Well, He does that after Freyja has taken Her pick! She takes them to her hall, Sessrumnir, to be reunited with their families and lovers to spend eternity in loving embraces instead of endless training and sparring in Valhalla. Freyja is also adept in the art of seidhr, which a form of magick and shamanism. It is said that She taught this art to the Gods and also brought it to humanity. She rides a chariot pulled by two cats. Some say that these cats are the Norwegian Forest cat breed, which are large, long-haired cats equipped to live in the cold climates of the North. Freyja is very much a Goddess of love and beauty, including self-love. She isn’t just about outer beauty. She teaches you to embrace your inner beauty and see the beauty and light in others. And, as you all know, we get the word for ‘Friday’ from Her name!
Here we are again on Freyja’s Day for our fifth post in Norse 101. This week, I’m going to begin introducing you to some of the more well-known Gods and Goddesses.
Odin is the All-Father and king of Asgard. He’s a God of war, poetry, shamanism, wisdom, and even the dead. As a God of war, He concerns himself with the worthiest of warriors and the berserkers. When these warriors fall in a blaze of glory on the battlefield, He may choose them to become one of the Einherjar in Valhalla, hence the partial association as a death god. He stole the Mead of Poetry by having an affair with a giantess named Gunnlod, which bestowed the gift of verse upon Him, the Gods, and even mankind. As a God of shamanism, Odin hung for nine days and nights from Yggdrasil to learn the runes. He gave an eye in His search for wisdom and knowledge. He learned the art of seidhr, or magick, from Freyja. Some describe Odin as a cunning trickster as well.
Thor, the God of Thunder, is a son of Odin and a giantess named Jord. He possesses a hammer called Mjolnir that He uses to bring lightning and thunder. Thor is the protector of Asgard and humanity, using His hammer against the enemy giants. (Remember that not all giants, or jotnar, are seen as enemies.) His wife, Sif, is a Goddess of the harvest and grain, but He also has a giantess as a wife or consort named Jarnsaxa with whom He has two sons. The Old Norse associated Thor with storms, of course. But they also saw Him as a God of agriculture, since His storms and rain nurtured the crops. He was even called upon to bless weddings! As a protector, many Heathens perform the Hammer Rite to establish ritual space. I’d like to add a small personal note that Thor is a very good God to know. I experience Him to be very kind, encouraging, protective, and most times, in a good mood. I will say that YMMV (your mileage may vary) in the case of any deity, so if you’re interested in getting to know Him, offering a nice beer is a good start.
Loki is a God that can be somewhat controversial in some circles of Heathenry. He has people that love Him, but there are others who will not tolerate even the mention of His name. It is important to note that Loki and Odin are blood-brothers. In the lore, Odin once said that if anyone offers Him a drink that they are to offer one for Loki as well. He is a God of mischief, a trickster, and very clever. He is a master of magick and shapeshifting, and is gifted with a silver tongue. He does cause a ruckus from time to time, but without Loki, the Gods wouldn’t have many of Their tools. It’s because of Loki that Thor has Mjolnir. He brought the hammer to Thor, and He helped Thor get it back after it was stolen. That story is one of my favorite myths. A giant stole Mjolnir and refused to return it unless he was given Freyja as a bride. Well, Freyja had no wish to marry this brute of a giant, so Thor was out of luck. Or was He? To get the hammer back, Thor dressed as Freyja and Loki dressed as a bridesmaid. Thor presented Himself as Freyja to trick the giant into showing Him the hammer. Once the hammer was presented to Him, He proceeded to ‘bring the thunder’ down onto the giant. Again, time for a personal note. Being a godspouse of Loki’s, I obviously love Him dearly. Some people warn against asking Him for help with magick, and I will also, sort of. His style isn’t for everyone, but He can teach you a lot, if you’re prepared not to take yourself too seriously.
That’s all for today, lovelies. Next week, I’ll continue the introductions. And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Hope those of you in the U.S. have a lovely Thanksgiving on Thor’s Day Thursday! I’ll leave you with a fabulous rendering of Thor and Loki by captbexx on DeviantArt!