Monday, October 29, 2012


Runes are magic.

Now, I know many people out there use runes with little to know actual knowledge of what they're doing. And I hope and pray that that lack of knowledge means they can't access the energy of the runes. Because to me - to many Heathens - the runes are big, big, powerful energies. They are Mysteries. 

You can tap into them, and use that energy, but you should be careful as it's not the same as energy you raise in yourself in a spell or a circle. It's an outside energy. A separate energy. It's not a part of you. But you can tap into it, and direct it, so long as you understand what you're accessing. There are some runes in particular that are very dangerous and very destructive, and even the "nicer" ones can overwhelm you. Carve an inlet and you can direct the sea to a degree, but you cannot hold back the tides.

Oðinn won us the runes. There's a general feeling, I think, that He won the runes for all people, not just Heathens, so there's nothing to say the non-Heathens out there can't use them. But I'm guilty, as are others, of occasionally resenting their use, because.... because of Ralph Blum and Sirona Knight, because of people who don't see that they are sacred, because of people who think "Fehu means cattle" is the end of it. So I get resentful, and wish people would leave them alone. But Oðinn didn't win them just for us. 

And sometimes, that.... that bothers me. Non-Heathens can worship Oðinn and many do and fine. But I am always confused, very confused, when non-Heathens with no connection to Oðinn at all pick up the runes. Why would you bother? They're so much work. There's so much study to do. And He won them for us, through His sacrifice. His sacrifice of Himself, hanging for nine days and nights, impaled on His own spear. He won them for us; if you have no connection to Him, no desire to thank Him for that sacrifice, why would you use them?

Some say they are just a writing system. That they're not really Mysteries or energies or anything so who cares. And some don't believe in Oðinn, so they don't care about His sacrifice. And if they're not magic, some will say, who cares if He won them for us or not? They're just a writing system. They're not important.

But the thing about runes. The real thing, really. The thing is, they were a writing system. A writing system, in a place where there hadn't been one. A writing system, for people for whom remembering those who lived before was important. A writing system means everything. With a writing system you can read the name of someone who died a thousand years ago carved into a rock. Someone who died a thousand years ago, of whom every memory has long vanished from the earth - but someone can come along and read his name, and for the first time in a thousand years it can be heard aloud.

And how can you say that's not magic.

This post brought to you by Carl Sagan.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lessons, and Teachers, and Visual Metaphors

Sometimes, when it's been a while since I've felt.... religiousy, I guess, I develop this attachment to the idea of a lesson plan, or program, or structure or something. I suppose it's something of a normal pattern: you lose your drive for a while for whatever reason, your religious practice suffers, and you come back to it with something of a desire to start, if not back at the beginning, then with some sort of program.

Part of it is probably related to some innate feeling that if I have a lesson plan, I'll follow it, I'll get shit done. Which is ridiculous because I've always procrastinated with studying and essays and I never did any of my readings. It's part of the whole "This semester, things will be different!" that you always get at the beginning of the year. Things aren't going to be different. Things will be the same. You'll buy the textbooks in a paroxysm of optimism and never take it out of the plastic wrapping. 

So here I am again, come full circle. Or almost. And despite knowing I probably wouldn't go through with it the way I should, readings and rituals and everything, I still crave the "lesson plan". I've never yet found a system or anything that I actually like. They all seem to be geared for a different sort of person. I had high hopes for the "A Witch Alone" one, but.... it is not a good book, and I think it assumes you live in Britain. And the instructions for the exercises are incredibly lacking. 

It makes me think back to the Pagan Blog Project. In a way (before I got bored of it like 6 months ago) that sort of thing is a good project for new Pagans. You can set yourself a subject each week and research it. Part of it, I think, was just me getting tired of some of what other people were writing. It stuns me that there are Pagans out there who hear the word "faerie" and genuinely think about small sparkly things at the bottom of the garden. Seriously. They'll talk about setting up little houses and so forth, as if faeries were endearing, as if they were something you wanted all up in your shit. No. 

It's been a long time since I posted one of those 30 Days of Paganism entries, too. I should get on that.

I always come back to lessons. I liked university, and the way it was taught compared to college (what Americans call high school). Maybe it's related to how much I enjoy documentaries. And I've always been academia-oriented, to a point. So I always come back to pushing and searching and wondering who or what is out there to give me some structure to get back into things. I tried a mentor once; it didn't work out. He moved too slowly for me mentally, and I had to explain everything, and I didn't give him enough personally (some people just don't understand when others are private individuals), and I think he thought I was unintelligent by way of being younger than he is. He put himself on a pedestal. He would speak to me in a way I wouldn't speak to a small child. I was willing to give him respect as a mentor just as a matter of course, but his manner grew quickly tiresome, and I hated having to slow down to wait for him to catch up, and all other things being equal, he failed me as a teacher. Which was more irritating than disappointing. But in some ways it was as much my fault as his. I came into it with expectations that were possibly too high, and didn't properly inform him of those expectations before we started. So he never had the chance to tell me what he was prepared to do and not to do. And we were a bad match. That's life.

I'm not really a mentorry person, anyway. I knew that before I started. But I set that aside, because it's important to try things out and challenge one's preconceptions. It was right to do it, at least so far as personal growth and personal knowledge go. At least I can say I tried.

I guess that's another problem with teaching programs and lessons generally. The teachers don't always know what they're doing. Particularly if they never had a proper teacher themselves. I think, for part of what I do, at least, a teacher misses the point. In my Hedgecraft, a lot of it is about finding your own way. Exploring the shadows. Looking and listening. The concept of a teacher, especially at this point along the path, is counter to the whole idea of the thing. You'd end up following someone down the wrong way, and have to find your way back. 

In my spirituality, and in some other things, I understand concepts in a very visual way. Not visual learning, or anything - I mean I interpret them through visual metaphor. The path through the woods is a good one, and a common one. Sometimes I think of the path through the woods to see and understand where I am. Once upon a time, I stood in a clearing at the edge of a wood, surrounded by long grass. I knew I would have to set out in some direction or other, and take a well-worn path. There were paths to left and right. I set out through the long grass, and made my own path between them. When things go well, the path through the woods is wide and clear, and the sun filters down through the leaves. When things are hard, when I feel like the Gods aren't listening and I cannot find my way, the path is dark - it is night, or the sky is filled with storm-clouds - and I can barely see my way. The path is very narrow, and roots reach up to trip me, and branches smack me in the face. I stumble often. Now I'm past the woods. I'm in a big, wide clearing. I've been in the clearing for a while. The sun has been shining, but clouds travel across its face. There are more woods on the other side, but I don't know if I will ever enter them. I stand in the middle with my stick, and look at the sky. The path in the woods metaphor is fairly straight-forward, but I'm not sure what the clearing means. That bothers me, because I've been there a while. Am I meant to pick a direction again? Are there other places to go, than through the woods? Do I wait? I guess I wait. I wonder who I'm waiting for. 

And how long I'll be waiting.

It took a long time to travel through the woods. Years. But I walked the whole way by myself. I enjoyed the walk overall, though sometimes it was frightening, and upsetting, and it was dark and I was cold. But I think if I'd followed someone else, ironically, I would have gotten lost. And how difficult it would have been, through the bracken and the mud, to find my way back to the way I'd been going. All paths might, really, be going to the same place, but there are some paths you have to walk alone. And if you choose that one in particular, if you chose mine, for example, I couldn't lead you through it. The point of it is to walk it alone. That's part of the lesson.

At least, to begin with. Now, I'm not sure. Who am I waiting for? Or perhaps it's a what. Perhaps there's something to see, up there in the sky where I've turned my eyes. You can't see the sky in the woods. Not properly. 

I like my visual metaphor. It teaches me things. I guess I'll wait.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On Random Things and Admin Stuff

A non-specific post today. 

I've reached my personal limit insofar as Marvel-related images on tumblr and downloaded tumblr savior to keep them away from my dashboard. I've nothing against those who enjoy the Avengers or anything - I mean, I know it's funny and action-packed and interesting and all that. It's just for me, it makes me uncomfortable, and enough of those pictures of Tom Hiddleston and I begin to find it upsetting. 

I mean... it's just.... like, you wouldn't get Jesus and say he's an alien and shove him into a comic book with Spiderman. (I know there are probably a few weird Jesus comics around but I don't think they're the sort of thing that gets made into a movie by a giant studio.) I fall short of being offended most of the time, but I'm just so tired of it. I feel like in all the Hiddleston bullshit, the Gods are being lost and forgotten.

Not by us, of course. And maybe the Gods are happy just to hear Their names spoken. But when someone says "Thor" there's a whole bunch of people who think "blond guy in the Avengers" and never more than that. There are people who, when you talk of Oðinn's Brother, will correct you and say "actually he's his adopted son" and you're all wtf.

Like I say, I've just reached my limit today. And I've taken steps to avoid this sort of thing in the future, so all is well.

It was windy today. Like super fucking windy, like gusts at 120km/hr windy. It was awesome. I could feel the walls move when I was leaning up against them, and the roof rattled like it was about to lift off. Despite that it's well and truly late spring; the tuis have moved on, the blossoms are falling off the trees, and everything green is greener. At the same time, everyone on various social websites is going nuts about the leaves falling off the trees and their upcoming Hallowe'en. 

I love skulls and shit any time of the year, so it still makes me smile, even if it feels weird to see so many people celebrating it at this time of year. There's always the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror stuff, which is so much a part of my childhood whenever it comes on TV.

It's like Nightmare Before Christmas. That movie is like home to me, in some ways. I always come back to that. Whenever I see a particular scene... but anyway. That's neither here nor there.

I've been neglecting you lately, Dear Readers. I don't really know why. I haven't felt inspired to write about anything much. I've been feeling a bit anxious, too, but I've been stuffing myself with herbal helpers and I seem to be doing better. I tell you, Internet, I'll take depression over anxiety any day of the week. (I say that now, of course. It's easy to say that when you're Doin' Fine.)

But I'll make the effort to be around more, even if I don't have much to say. I've got an email address set up for this blog and I hardly ever check it, which is just silly, and unfair to anyone who has sent me an email.

On more of an admin-related note, I'm thinking of monetising this blog. There are a few of you, you see. I really appreciate that fact, by the way. Sometime last month when I wasn't paying attention we crossed 10,000 pageviews, which was incredibly exciting.  I keep thinking that even if 90% of you use adblocker (which I use myself, and fully recommend as an add-on) I could still make a bit of money here and there. Which would be nice. Because I'm poor. It's something I'm mulling over, but I'm unsure how the whole system works. At any rate, don't be too surprised if at some point ads appear on Hagstone. In the meantime if you like my writing and want to express as much through the medium of cold hard cash, you can do so via the tip jar over on the right or go through my affiliate links to the Book Depository next time you're in the mood to buy a book. I don't get much from 'em but every little bit, you know? Anyway, I know some people don't like ads, so I thought I'd let you all know I was considering it, and if I do end up sticking some ads up here, and you're not into that, there's always adblocker. It's a great program and I don't begrudge you using it in the slightest.

And, off-topic entirely, I notice there is some sort of election going on in the United States of America. I bet you're all sick of it by now, so I will just congratulate those of you who are now old enough to vote. It's always good fun watching the elections on the telly here. Bit of a farce, what? but still so exciting on election day.

Peace, lovelies! Later this week I'll write a bit about NaNoWriMo and I'll answer any emails I might have received.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pagan Insights #3

I'm making Disgruntled Face because blogger went and officially changed all their shit, got rid of the old templates etc. I do not like this new template. I am uncomfortable with it. It looks like a word processor or something and everything's in a different place and it takes extra clicks to check stats and everything sucks grr.

Like I want there to be a way bigger space between the top of the place where you write and where the actual typing appears. It looks super cramped and it makes me uncomfortable. Who the fuck do they have on their style team. I mean seriously, it wasn't broken, why did you have to go and fix it break it?

But anyway. For some reason, I didn't post much this month. That doesn't mean I'm not doing Pagany things, I've just been a little..... consumed by fandoms. Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire, specifically. Also I discovered the Sopranos a few weeks ago. The rumours were true: that is a fucking excellent show.

But it is the Full Moon, and I promised myself a full moon tradition, being the taking-stockness of the PIP. So here we are. I've had thoughts, this month, like "oh I could mention this in the PIP" but I didn't actually take notes because I am a fool.

In Your Own Words
I need to get out more. I spend too much time inside, not enough touching the earth and the trees and feeling the wind and shit like that. I think that's part of why winter always seems to disappear so soon, and why, despite everything being covered in fucking blossoms and the weather warming, it doesn't feel to me like it's halfway through spring.

Post a Pic
This image of Iðun caught my eye this month. It fits my UPG of Her quite closely, particularly the apple in Her cheeks. I honour Iðun at Ostara, having formed the theory that Ostara could be a local regional name for Her. Her primary myth seems to be an allegory of winter and the return of spring, and after all the only details we have on Ostara are from Bede, so it works well enough for me, at least until more is known.

Musical Musings
More Amanda Palmer this month, because I've been listening to Theatre is Evil pretty much non-stop. This one is Lost. The first time I heard this song it caught me off-guard when the chorus changed at the end, turning the song into something quite moving. And once you've heard it once, the chorus will get you right in the feels every time. 
"Nothing's ever lost forever, 
it's just caught inside the cushions
of your couch and when you find it
you'll have such a nice surprise.
Nothing's ever lost forever,
it's just caught inside the recess
of your mind and when you need it
it will come to you at night - 
No one's ever lost forever,
when they die they go away,
but they will visit you occasionally,
do not be afraid.
No one's ever lost forever,
they are caught inside your heart,
if you garden them and water them
they make you what you are."
I don't hear many popular songs that reflect my views of "the hereafter", but this one does, in a way that's weirdly reassuring. As if she actually knows that's the way it is, no one's ever lost forever, so it's OK. And in some ways it reflects a Heathen mindset regarding the dead and the way they watch over us and contribute to us as people as we grow and as we live.
I miss my Grandad.

Action, Action
I held Ostara early, and Equinox late, but for some reason it didn't bother me to do so. My Ostara blót was far too short, and I'm not really happy - I think I owe Iðun something extra. But holding the Equinox ritual late felt rather right in a weird way. That is, the day I held it felt proper. I'm sure I had something specific I wanted to talk about but now I can't remember what it was, so quel dommage I guess.

OK OK so every shitting page of EW&T is like a fucking "no shit?!" moment for me. Every page I read, there's something that interests me, something to make me scribble down some thought or other. Gundarsson suggests Surtr is a by-name, and that his real name is Muspelli, but people didn't like to mention it, hence the use of the name "Surtr". It apparently pops up quite a bit as a personal name, does "Surtr", and since Surtr is like the Untamed Enemy of the World of Fire (Iceland must have been a fucking shock) it would be a bit weird if people were named after him. Etins are discussed as entities with individual natures, rather than a bunch of natural enemies to mankind - some receive worship (and Loki he lists among them), some are friendly, some are not friendly or unfriendly, some bargain in more of a business-like way, some have genuine reasons for their dislike of the Gods (and Fenrir he lists among these), some are just dicks. And water-wights having overall a different temperament to land-wights hadn't occurred to me. Aegir and Ran are listed among the water-wights and I am very much enjoying the discussion. I always take tons of notes when I read this book.

One idea I heard years ago, before I was a Heathen, was from an older man who served regularly in a Navy somewhere, who said he always carried gold with him to throw to Ran, just in case. This gets a mention in EW&T: apparently Ran liked offerings of gold, so you want some on you if you happen to drown. Apparently, if drowned men arrive to drink at their post-funeral booze-up, it's a sign they have been well-received by Ran (and nicely ties together with the song mentioned above).

That's all for this month. I hope you are enjoying these - I quite enjoy writing them, stopping to take stock, thinking of things through the month that I can mention and so on. I'll try to have more Eureka posts that are unrelated to "hey, check out this thing I read" or whatever, but honestly I'm not always inclined to share, so it may just be a place where I post interesting titbits I've come across.