Recently, I finished a series of seven Norse deity tiles for my altar. There were some long gaps in time between making each one, and originally I aimed only to make tiles of the gods, and as for the goddesses, I made flat-backed figurines to hang on the wall in between the god tiles. However, at some point I thought it would look nicer to have them all be tiles.
My seventh tile was also my first craft project done in the new place. The inspiration for my Frigga tile was an illustration of Frigga from “Myths of Northern Lands” by Hélène Adeline Guerber.
In all my tiles, I’ve tried to include a specific feature so that each may be easily recognized as the deity they represent. So for Frigga, it was her distaff. It was actually harder to get the arm and hand shaped the way I wanted it than it was to form the distaff.
But the hardest part of the entire project for me was the face. Overall, I’d say my style of sculpting is “primitive”, though I have achieved much more detail than I ever thought I could with salt dough.
After the dough was completely air dried, I gave the tile a good coat of blue acrylic paint, them after that was dry, I sponged on light blue, mainly just getting the color onto the raised parts of the tile, letting the deeper lines and indentions remain the darker color. I let it dry for several days before I sprayed on a protective acrylic clear coat.
The tiles are roughly five and a half inches square. This one was made with regular salt dough, though most of the other ones were made with a stronger formula. All of them have a tack hole pressed into the back for hanging, although now I use plate hangers instead of hanging them from a tack since late last summer the humidity caused most of the ones I had made at that time to fall and break. (Don’t worry, I glued them all back- good as new, and gave them a clear coat.)
EXPLANATION & INFORMATION
- “The Cailleach of the Snows” from the book “Celtic Memories” by Caitlin Matthews (for ages 8 and up).
- Make candles with beeswax sheets.
- Make candle holders with salt dough.
- Look for early signs of Spring. What is the first flower to make its way through the thawing soil? What kinds of birds and other wildlife do you see? This is a good time to start a nature journal.
- Do a Spring cleaning of your room, as well as helping the grown-ups clean the rest of the house.
- With a grown-up’s help, make juniper room spray with a few drops of juniper oil (or a sprig of juniper) in a small spray bottle of distilled water. Use this as a spiritual cleanse on Pagan holidays.
- Decorate a nature table with an Imbolc nature scene; put down a white cloth for snow, some green cloth for the greening land, a doll dressed like the goddess Brigit, and some of her animals (swan, cow, sheep, hibernating animals…).
The last few weeks have been pretty busy. We moved at the first of the month, and about a week ago we decided to have a house warming/blessing party and set a date for it this month. I’ve never had a lot of get-togethers at my home. I’m not naturally outgoing or extroverted, so I rarely entertain or even have friends over. However, I feel that my nature is changing as I grow older, and as a result of leading an active Pagan group. So I look forward with more excitement than nervousness, I suppose.
We settled in and unpacked rather quickly because I don’t work outside the home, so I was able to get a lot more done. Then began all the little home improvement projects and decorating. I really enjoy this type of work, and I started picking up the pace on it when we set a date for the housewarming, because I wanted everything to look nice for the party. There are many things that won’t be done on time though. There are things that we will have to put off for the sake of finances, or because warmer weather is needed, or just because things like painting the concrete den floor would need a lot of drying time, etc. So we will be having our housewarming with our house in sort of an unfinished state. But I think that’s exactly the right way to do it. Housewarmings need to be soon after the move in date, when the transition still seems fresh.
We chose an older house to live in, just like we chose so many imperfect things in our lives deliberately. There is something about imperfection that makes me live more fully, to dig deeper into the work of life. It just makes everything more interesting. Also, it lets me be more relaxed and comfortable. I want my friends to feel relaxed and comfortable too when they come over. I think sometimes I give the impression that I’m some kind of Pagan homemaker-craftster-supreme. While I have had a lot of neat ideas that I’m proud of, I’ve also had a lot of inactive days and not-so-successful projects. Sometimes I plan out things and blog about it, and then in real life it doesn’t come to fruition, or at least not in the kind of detail I aimed for. But that’s okay. I accept that life isn’t perfect and that the idea of perfection is unreal.
I’ve always rooted for the underdog. It occurred to me recently that maybe the reason is because celebrating and choosing imperfection in others (and in things/situations) is a way of fully and lovingly accepting my own inner imperfections.
My little family has started out the new year with a big change. We’ve bought a house! It’s not a new house, it’s over fifty years old, has had a bit of updates done already, and will need more over time. We are excited about the change, for we’ve been living in apartments for far too long.
I got all the items on my house wish list: wood floors, fireplace, and a porch. However, I also got a lot of fix-up projects, but I’m excited about those as well. We were a bit disorganized with the move; we started moving stuff before completely packed, and not having gone through and organized/ thrown stuff out enough ahead of time. However, before moving anything, I did make a trip out to the house to clear and claim the space. This is what I did:
Before even going in, I stood at the front of the yard and lit a candle in a glass holder. I announced to the spirits of the land that this property is under new ownership, that I am the matron of the family, and that we seek to live in harmony with the landvettir of this place. I also announced that all baneful spirits must go in peace for we are under the protection of the gods. Then I walked sun-wise around the property with the candle singing the Anglo-Saxon Hallowing Charm.
At last it came time to go inside. I made sure that bread and salt were the first items to be carried across the threshold. I then repeated a similar announcement to the one I did outside, this time for the house spirits. I did the Hallowing Charm again, walking from room to room all around the house, this time with the candle and a bell. I went another round, censing with juniper and sage. At last I did a third round asperging with water. Thus completed the ritual cleansing and claiming. Further blessing is yet to come, and I hope to do it with friends.
Though our move was chaotic, we are all unpacked now and settling in rather quickly. It already feels like home, which tells me we’ve chosen well.
The twelfth night of Yule is sacred to all of the Gods and Goddesses especially the Æsir & Dísir. It’s time to gather together and have a feast of pork or ham, and break out the mead or make wassail.
It’s a time of beginnings and endings. The kids read “The Creation of the World” from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths and receive marzipan pigs for luck in the new year.
For those who are so inclined, it is a time for making oaths, swearing with one’s hand over a boar’s head, ceremonial hammer, or oath ring. This tradition is far from mandatory, and I mostly steer clear of making oaths myself. It is better to make no oaths, rather than ones you may not be able to keep. I find it better to simply reflect on the past year and think of what I might do in the next, and keep my own counsel.
Seldom do those who are silent make mistakes.
This is the last night of burning candles on you Yule log. If you are lucky enough to have a traditional large Yule log in a wood burning fireplace, save a coal or small portion of this year’s log to light next year’s Yule log. If using candle, you can have a similar tradition of saving a short length of candle from this year to light the next.
We have a good feast, praise all the gods, and ring in the new year at midnight. The chiming of the bells clears away any negative and stagnant energies, making way for the new.
The eleventh night of Yule is sacred to all the Goddesses and and the Valkyrie.
Favorite Valkyrie/goddess crafts are gathered or made to adorn the altar. If you’re not in the mood for crafts, bird ornaments and angel figurines can be used to represent the goddesses and Valkyrie, with beautiful results.
Our soundtrack for the night is Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen for it’s elegance and timelessness. For our ritual meal I like to include Himmel und Erde (heaven and earth), a German dish consisting of apples (from the heavens) and potatoes (from the earth).
Our simple dinner blót includes a Valkyrie invocation and a litany of goddess hails, along with praises of their blessings.
The tenth night of Yule is sacred to Sunna and the Ancestors. By now, if you have done rituals for every night, you have celebrated fully indeed! If so, you could give yourself a break and just do a low-key “no-ritual” plan that follows the basic theme of the night, with altar decorating and a special meal. If however, you are up for a more elaborate ritual, check out the Sunna Ritual for Yule over on the Northern Tradition Paganism website.
“The sun, the sister
of the moon, from the south
Her right hand cast
over heaven’s rim;
No knowledge she had
where her home should be,
The moon knew not
what might was his,
The stars knew not
where their stations were.”
– The Poetic Edda, Völuspá.
Making paper sun crafts or sun plaque and sun candles are a pleasant way to entertain the kids on this evening. Also, get out the salt dough skulls or Ancestor yarn dolls made at Samhain to place upon the altar.
One of my favorite Yule songs, which is very appropriate for tonight’s theme, is Sun Queen by Silver on the Tree. The song Morning Glory, by the same artist is beautiful and follows the sun goddess theme as well. Might as well listen to the entire Celtic-themed Morning Glory album; there are certainly enough commonalities between the Celtic and Norse. Many of the songs have a lovely repetitive mantra quality.
And let us not forget the Ancestors! Raise a glass to them, offer them remembrances and prayers, sweets of the season, and put a few bright candles or holiday lights on the family Ancestor altar.
May Sunna light our path, and the Ancestors watch over us in the year ahead.