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Mindful Monday: Hagalaz-Nauthiz-Isa-Jera

 

I’ve been working my way through a twenty-seven night runic initiation.  The first nine nights consisted of working through Freyja’s aett (Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kenaz, Gebo, Wunjo), but I have now begun working with Heimdall’s aett (Hagalaz, Nauthiz, Isa, Jera, Eihwaz, Perdhro, Algiz, Sowilo).  Some would consider nine nights working with those particular runes to be a weighty–possibly even a profoundly negative–exercise.  However, I am finding a peace within Heimdall’s runes that I never might have expected.  

My ultimate guideline for the study of each rune has been stanza 143 of the Havamal (literally: “Sayings of the High One”; the sayings of Odin, Codex Regius, 13th century):  

Do you know how to carve them?
Do you know how to use them to advise?
Do you know how to paint them?
Do you know how to prove them?
Do you know how to pray them?
Do you know how to blot them?
Do you know how to send them?
Do you know how to destroy them?

–Translation Mine

And within those first four runes of Heimdall’s aett, I have found a “recipe”, if you will, for getting through the more stressful times in life:

Hagalaz:

  • Deity: Heimdall
  • Rune of destruction and controlled chaos; of testing and trial which lead to harmony.
  • Advises against catastrophe, stagnation, suffering, and pain.
  • Proven by accepting those things which are beyond one’s control.
  • Prayed: Help
  • Sent forth as harmony in the face of opposition

Nauthiz:

  • Deity: Sigyn
  • Rune of resistance leading to strength; of delays and restrictions; of endurance, survival, determination, self-reliance, and the will to overcome.
  • Advises against deprivation, imprisonment, and distress.
  • Proven by standing fast in the face of trials and via innovation born of strength of will.
  • Prayed: Overcome
  • Sent forth as strength and compassionate endurance.

Isa:

  • Deity: Skadi
  • Rune of challenges and frustrations; of standstills and times for introspection and/or turning inward; of holding fast.
  • Advises against treachery, illusion, deceit, and betrayal.
  • Proven by standing still and seeking clarity.
  • Prayed: Be Still.
  • Sent forth as stillness and the ability to hold fast.

Jera:

  • Deity: Gerdha
  • Rune of reaped rewards and fruitful seasons; of peace and happiness; of cycles and of change; of hopes, expectations, and successes earned.
  • Advises against bad timing, conflict, and reversals of fortune.
  • Proven by hoping and dreaming; by accepting and understanding the cycles of life in the Universe; by working hard to manifest one’s dreams.
  • Prayed: Bring.
  • Sent forth as peace and good seasons.

When faced with the stresses of life, it is all too easy to get caught up in them; to cling needlessly to the suffering and pain that they cause (Hagalaz).  However, if we follow the example inherent in the runes Nauthiz and Isa, we may learn to turn tragedy into triumph by quieting our minds and hearts, and, as we endure, using the force of our will to fuel innovation.  Jera promises that if we do this–accept and understand the cycles of the Universe–we will be gifted with reaped rewards and fruitful seasons. 

Last night, as I sang the galdr for Heimdall’s aett, I was gifted with the bind-rune, depicted in the upper left of the image above, as well as the accompanying galdr and prayer.  For those among our audience who are not working from a Norse base, I have also included Christian and Celtic-based cognates for the prayer.  I hope it will help others have a little less-Monday Monday.

Norse Version:

Heimdall, Help;
Sigyn, show me how to Overcome;
Gerdha, Grant Peace and Good Seasons,
That Skadi may show me how to Be Still.

Celtic Version:

Manannan, Help;
Rhiannon, show me how to Overcome;
Taillte, Grant Peace and Good Seasons,
That the Cailleach may show me now to Be Still.

Christian Version:

Archangel Gabriel, Help;
Mother Mary, show me how to Overcome;
Saint Ruth, Grant Peace and Good Seasons,
That Saint Elizabeth may show me how to Be Still.

 

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Finding Freyja

Original digital painting by Connla Freyjason (working under the pseudonym “The Warrior”), April, 2016. Available as wall art via clicking this link.

 

Every Friday, without fail, I pour blot to Freyja. I began this weekly ritual in April of 2016, after She came to me in a dream, and claimed me as Her own. Those first few weeks, I knew Her only as “Freyja, Queen of Cats”; a gentle presence, not unlike the huge felines who pull Her chariot, or even our own family cat, Kili, who could creep into a room quite unnoticed, yet fill the entire place with reverberating love, and passion that was quick to rise, sometimes even baring claws. With my whole heart, I poured a sweet red wine blend for Her, and I spoke the few kennings I knew, as well as the one She had, in fact, taught me: “Freyja, Queen of Cats”. And then I poured out my heart to Her. Every Friday, without fail.

On the twenty-seventh of February in 2017, I finally realized that I should take the plunge, and dedicate myself to the service She had already chosen for me. Two nights prior, I had participated in a Dark Moon Ritual at Enchanted Shop in Salem, Massachusetts, led by Priestess Renee Des Anges. During the meditation portion of that ritual, I was gifted a bind rune by The Lady: Algiz, Sowilo, Wunjo.

Algiz is a warrior’s rune. I wouldn’t fully understand the depth of Her gifting it me until two months later, when it finally dawned on me the form in which She had first chosen to visit: Valfreyja. For several years, I worked under the pen name “The Warrior” as an artist; my Beloved, Suzanne, in fact calls me “Her Warrior” as a pet-name. So it’s quite appropriate that Freyja first made Herself known to me as Valfreyja; it’s not Her fault that I’m more than a little slow on the uptake! Algiz is also the rune repeated on the Helm of Awe, a galdrastafir to which I have been heavily drawn from the first moment I saw one over a year ago. It is a rune of protection. It is also a rune of friendship with the gods, and of communication with Higher Powers. Message received.

Sowilo is a rune of promise, strength, warmth, and joy. It is the sun melting the snow with the promise of Spring; success, when we think all hope has otherwise been lost. These are the very things She had come to be to me over the course of the preceding year: when things were at their absolute darkest, Freyja always was there. And She reminded me to hope; She reminded me constantly that I am an artist, and that the Way of the Artist has never been easy, but has always been worthwhile. Message received.

Wunjo is as close as a rune can come to true bliss; a rune of “happily ever afters”. It is a rune of fulfillment, but it is also a rune of bonds forged: the bond of a friend to a friend; of lover to lover; of Goddess to Dedicant. It brings transformations of the best kind; the kind where one stops feeling like an outsider and becomes a part of something greater than themselves. Message received.

It was time; She had told me so. Now the question became: how does one “perform” a dedication to a Deity in the Norse Tradition? I had no clue. Certainly, I had read about others who had done so—Cara Freyasdaughter had written some wonderful articles on the topic at Huginn’s Heathen Hof—and I knew that there was a certain measure of “contractual deal making” that took place within a ritual context when “finally taking the plunge” with a Norse Deity, but that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge on the subject, apart from my previous experience as a Welsh Druid. Still, I wasn’t exactly “going in blind”: I had, after all, spent the last year getting to know Her better, both in a ritual setting (during our Friday blot), and in a research capacity. So I did what I almost always do with everything that I’m passionate about in my life: I jumped in with both feet.

Rather than use a simple white candle as I normally do when creating sacred space, I chose a lavender chime candle from my “stash”, and with my ritual dagger, I carved upon it the bind rune which She had given me. I then placed it in the small holder which I keep within the cast iron cauldron (which I also use as my hlaut-boll) on my altar, and set about creating sacred space. It isn’t often anymore that I do the full rite before my altar: as I’ve said before, I’ve called sacred space into being so many times in that area that it’s practically a permanently liminal space. But that night, I felt driven to do so. She told me to do it; and I did as I was told.

How do you know when the gods are telling you to do something? Sometimes it may come as it does when any physical person tells you to do something: in the form of an audible voice. Other times, like that night, it may come in the form of a burning need. Suddenly, you feel driven to do something, with every fiber of your being, often to the point of actually feeling physically ill if that thing is not done. That night was like that: if I had not called the space with the full rite, I knew instantly that I was going to suffer for not having done. There would be a definite headache. There might also be nausea. So I went for it. Like I said: I did as I was told.

I centered myself. I laid the fence—every movement purposeful and driven. And then I lit the lavender candle which I had inscribed with the bind-rune, and I stared deeply into it, letting my mind go blank as one typically does with candle-scrying. And She stood there, in the flame. I saw Her again, as I had that night a year past, in my dreams. And I apologized for being “a little bit slow” mentally, and then I told Her what She already knew:

I belong to you.

And then my promises to Her—the conditions of my service to Her—flowed out of me, not in some makeshift version of a legalese contract, but in poetry:

I am the
Walker Between The Worlds;
I am the Raven
On the wing,
And I sing the
Song without the
Words,
For I have no
Voice to bring.
Yet still with this
Voice
That is
Mine-not-mine,
I raise that
Voice
And sing.

All elements and words, Connla Freyjason for Iaconagraphy. Digital painting featured at center is available on a host of products at Red Bubble, via clicking this link.

My “adventures in galdr” began the very next day, and I’ve been on that song-filled journey ever since. She chose me to be Her servant; I take no titles for myself, except those She might give to me in future. It doesn’t seem to matter at all to Her that my singing voice is very much like that of the raven that is my fylgja: I squawk to the glory of the gods now on a regular basis! And I know that each time I do, I am doing right. Singing for Her fills me up as few things ever have.

I’m glad I finally “bought a clue”. I’m glad I finally found Freyja. I’m glad She took the time to find me.

 

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Turning Balderdash Into Galdr-dash

Prayer and design by Connla; Background paper from Samsara (upcoming); photo mask from Notions: Masked 1: Ornate (upcoming); twine twizzle and jeweled bird skull from January Gathering: Winter Wonder: WinterTime (currently available); ravens from The Graphics Fairy; masked image Odin and Bifrost by John Bauer (open domain).

I’m writing this on a Wednesday, and as my keyword for the year is Mindful, I’m quite mindful of the fact that Wednesday is Odin’s Day, from the Old English Wodnesdaeg, meaning “Woden’s Day”.  Since one of his kennings is “Galdr Father”–“father of incantation”–I thought it would be very fitting today to talk about turning balderdash into galdr-dash.  In other words, I want to talk about the words we use, how often we talk, and our tendency as a race of beings to speak just to be heard, or in order to have something to say.

Face it, we’re living in a world right now where everybody has an opinion on something, and most people unabashedly do not keep those opinions to themselves.  Once opinions have been voiced, other people then feel the urgent need to vehemently express their own opposing opinions, and what started out as a snowball rolling down the proverbial hill quickly turns into an avalanche!  

While I try very hard to keep (political) opinion out of my social media marketing, and even my conversations, I do find myself having a tendency toward a constant need to say something (say anything, even, sometimes), just to keep the proverbial ball rolling, at all.  It’s the nature of the beast: if you don’t keep your Page updated, keep newsletters flowing, etc., not only your marketing but indeed your financial stream (such as it is or might be or become) comes grinding to a halt.  But ultimately, isn’t relationship-building far more important than any post reach, number of subscriptions, or even sales figure glaring back at us from our computer screens?

When we feel the need to talk just to be heard, or because we like the sound of our own voice, or even because we really like it when that post reach exceeds 1,000, the words we are speaking and the posts we are making are merely balderdash:

balderdash: senseless talk or writing; nonsense; foolish words or ideas.

Wouldn’t we build more relationships and accomplish more good in this world if they were galdr-dash instead?

galdr-dash: words of power, and with real meaning, intended as incantatory, while they may or may not maintain such a tone.

I don’t care what your faith-base is, words have power.  This is even acknowledged in the Christian Bible:

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse.  A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds.  A word out of the mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything–or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.  By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.  This is scary: you can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue. –James 3:3-7, The Message

The things you say–even when they’re typed–can change a person’s whole world in an instant, for good or for ill.  So what if we were all a little more mindful of how we use our words?  And what might it actually mean to intend them as incantatory?

incantatory: a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect.

To intend your words as incantatory means looking at their intended purpose–what they might bring into being in this world–rather than simply “spouting” them.  It breeds mindfulness.  For example, when I say “I love you” to my beloved, I’m not just saying three tiny words, off the cuff, the way most people say those words a thousand times a day to a spouse or lover: I’m saying them with the purpose of reaching her heart, and kindling something inside it, which then wells up into the outward sign of a smile on her face.  When I say “have a nice day”, it’s not just some off-handed nicety, but instead intended as a blessing which I hope will have the end effect of, in fact, causing the Powers-That-Be to bestow on the person that I am greeting a pleasant day.

Because I’m actively trying to put this into practice in my life (and urging you to do likewise!), I find myself quiet often, especially at social events.  If I don’t have something worthwhile to say that might actually bring some good into the worlds of the people with whom I’m communicating, I tend to keep my mouth shut. This may make me come across as shy, or perhaps even sometimes a bit stand-offish, but I promise you: I mean well.  And I am trying my best to bring this into practice in my social media interactions and marketing as well.  If something isn’t worthwhile, I simply don’t post it, numbers or no numbers.  So far, it seems to be working well.  This is also another reason for the newsletter becoming a monthly rather than a weekly offering:  if I don’t have truly worthwhile things to put into your inboxes, which are going to effectively make your worlds a better place, I have no right to be in your inboxes in the first place!

So, I urge you to give this a try in your own lives: before you speak, consider the purpose of your words.  Will they heal the person to whom you’re speaking? Will they bring more light into this world, or more darkness?  Might they lead to a firestorm of opposing opinions?  I’m not saying “don’t cause fights” or even “don’t fight”, because sometimes fighting is actually necessary to promote Light and Right in this world of ours, that’s a simple fact of life.  I’m not even saying “always be kind”, because too often kindness can be seen as weakness, and taken advantage of. What I am saying is to make sure your words count: that they be empowered, and intended to actually bring something Right into being.  If they can’t, won’t, or don’t do that, practice silence.  You never know what wisdom you might find there in that quiet space….