Tag Archives: tradition

Recommended Resources for New Pagans

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While I wouldn’t exactly call myself an expert, I have been a Pagan for about 30 years. These are a few resources I would endorse for Pagans just starting out, especially those on a Celtic and/or Norse path.

BOOKS

GENERAL
Anything by the late great Isaac Bonewits
Real Magic, Real Energy, Neopagan Rites… all great stuff to start out with.

People of the Earth: The New Pagans Speak Out by Ellen Evert Hopman and Lawrence Bond
Including interviews across the spectrum, this book is a great way to compare the various Pagan paths (even though now it has become a little outdated, as new paths have arisen over the years). Many of the interviews are with founders of traditions, making this compilation of great historical significance as well. A similarly good source is Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler.

Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic by Scott Cunningham
This book has stuck with me through the years. These simple techniques in natural magic are of benefit to anyone of any Pagan path. The earliest editions of this book have beautiful art nouveau illustrations.

CELTIC
Celtic Rituals by Alexei Kondratiev
I recommend this not for the ritual style, but for the deep insights and ritual themes Alexei had for the holy days.

The Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings by Caitlin Matthews
Recommended especially for soft polytheists or duotheists, this little book is a treasure trove of beautiful of prayers and blessings.

Kindling the Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman
A nice source and light read for customs and themes of various holidays throughout the year.

Myth, Legend, and Romance: An Encyclopaedia of Irish Folk Tradition by Daithi O Hogain
A good solid reference.

NORSE
The Poetic Edda by Carolyne Larrington
A clear and readable translation of the Elder Edda.

The Children of Odin by Padraic Colum
Yes, this is a children’s mythology book, but a great read and easy introduction to Norse mythology for adults as well. It’s a good place to start if you’re not ready to tackle the Eddas.

The Seed of Yggdrasill- Deciphering the Hidden Messages in Old Norse Myths by Maria Christina Kvilhaug
Maria has some really mind-blowing amazing insights into Norse mythology. If you can’t find her book at a reasonable price, check out her youtube channel: Lady of the Labyrinth.

WAINCRAFT
Sea Sky Soil: An Introduction to Waincraft by Nicanthiel Hrafnhild
If you lean more toward soft/squishy polytheism, and want to combine Norse and Celtic pantheons, this book will provide a lot of ideas and inspiration for it. However, does not include any guidelines on forming Waincraft ritual.

WEBSITES

GENERAL
The Witch’s Voice (Witchvox)
A great source for descriptions of Pagan paths, articles, and finding local Pagan events and groups (not just for Witches/Wiccans).

The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum
Message boards and articles, basically a ton of information. Check out their page titled A Pagan Primer.

Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship
A great organization and a great resource for rituals, chants, articles, and Indo-European Paganism.

CELTIC
The CR FAQ
A good place to start if interested in Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism.

Imbas
The organization is no longer active, but the website is a great source of articles and information.

Ghaol Naofa
Their name means “sacred kinship”. A great source for Gaelic polytheism.

NORSE
Temple of Our Heathen Gods
So much information and resources. So. Much.

Asaerich’s Domain
Ásatrú basics, very informative for beginners.

Odin’s Gift
A wonderful online source for Norse poetry, invocations, and especially- song.

WAINCRAFT
Waincraft – Following the Call of the Land
The main online source for this fairly new tradition.

The Compleat Waincraft
Waincraft on tumblr.

recommended resources

moving house

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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.

moving house - Ozark Pagan Mamma

The 3rd Night of Yule

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The third night of our 12 night celebrations is the High Feast of Yule! This occasion is in honor of the gods Thor and Frey. Stories are told of them from either D’aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, or Brian Branston’s Gods & Heroes from Viking Mythology. Beautiful poetry and songs for Lords Frey and Thor can be found on The Heathen Songbook Online.

For gods of power and fertility, it is fitting to serve foods both hearty and sumptuous. So for this feast, it is our custom to have Spiced Roast with Rutabagas and Carrots, Rotkohl, Solstice buns, and Black Forest Cake. We read about Viking feasts in the book How to Be a Viking by Ari Berk.

High Feast

The night’s rite need not be a formal and defined ceremony (see my “No-ritual” plan). Feasting, toasting, offering, and libating are the central activities on this night of Yule. Later, little paper cornucopias full of goodies are exchanged.

3rd night of Yule

The 1st Night of Yule

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The first night of Yule, Mothers Night (Modranecht), is one of my most cherished rites of the year. It is not only a time that I honor my patron goddess Frigga, but also the ancestral mothers and female guardians of my family, my Dísir. Earlier in the day we set up and decorate a Modranecht altar, in their honor.
(We start our 12 nights of Yule on a set date, Dec. 20th, regardless of the date of the Solstice.)
For our commemoration of the first night of Yule, we use a simple blót format such as “A Heathen Kitchen Witch’s Blót“.

Our Call:
“Hail mother Frigga, beloved Great Mother of hearth and home.
May you keep our household whole and safe.
May our family receive prosperity in the coming year.
To our family’s Mothers, our Dísir, going back in a line to the beginning,
You who have watched over us and loved us always. Bless us in the coming year!
We remember you with love and honor you this night.”

Blessings, toasts, and libations are made. Then we extinguish all other lights and light the candles on the Yule log. We have a simple meal of Golden Cream Soup in honor of the Mothers and the reborn sun.

modranechtOur song list for the night (from Michaela Macha’s Heathen Songbook) is:
Song for Mothers´ Night
Hymn to Holla
The Mothers´ Night of Yule
The Holly and the Ivy: Song for Mothernight
Merry Yule and Mothers’ Night
and Merry Yuletide.

Later, we enjoy individual little round Yule cakes (Julekage) and read “Frigg and the Goddesses” from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, and “Grandmother Winter” by Phyllis Root.

1st Night of Yule

Crafts for the 12 Days of Yule

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On the 1st Day of Yule, Modranicht, make Yule Hearts in honor of the Mothers.

On the 2nd Day of Yule, the Night of the Wild Hunt, make a craft stick model of Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse.

On the 3rd Day of Yule, the High Feast of Yule, make paper cornucopias to fill with treats and hang on your Yule tree.

On the 4th Day of Yule, sacred to Ægir, Njörðr, and Freya, make a Vanir treasure box.

On the 5th Day of Yule, sacred to community, make a community wreath.

On the 6th Day of Yule, sacred to the goddess Eir and Healing, make healing bath crystals.

On the 7th Day of Yule, Sacred to Thor, make a craft-stick Mjölnir to hang on your Yule tree.

On the 8th Day of Yule, Sacred to Skadi & Ullr, make Skaði and Ullr figurines.

On the 9th Day of Yule, Sacred to Odin, make an Odin the Wanderer craft.

On the 10th Day of Yule, sacred to Sunna & the Ancestors, make paper sun crafts and ancestor yarn dolls.

On the 11th Day of Yule, sacred to the Goddesses & Valkyrie, make paper valkyrie & goddess ornaments.

On the 12th Day of Yule, Oath Night, make marzipan pigs for good luck in the new year.

*For most Heathens, the 12 days of Yule starts on the eve of the Winter Solstice. The date of the Solstice changes from year to year, but usually falls somewhere between the 20th and 22nd of December.
However, at my house we start our 12 day celebration on the 20th every year– even when it doesn’t fall on the eve of the Solstice. This is because when one is celebrating Yuletide as a 12 night event, starting on the 20th means the last night of the celebration ends up being on our modern culture’s New Year’s Eve. This holds special significance because the 12th night is Oath Night.

12 days of Yule crafts

salt-dough hog’s head

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Long ago, people made their First Night oaths while placing a hand over a hog’s head at the last of the Yule feasts of the year. Modern Asatrúar usually use a ceremonial ring or hammer these days. However, I thought it would be fun to sculpt a hog’s head from salt dough to use in such a way, or at least use as an altar piece or table setting to remind us of our ancestors. Here is how I made it:

salt dough hog's head

1. First, I mixed up a batch of salt dough. To make the dough go further, and dry faster, I wadded up a piece of aluminum foil to go in the middle and wrapped the dough around it.

2. To the ball shape, I added a snout.

3. I used my thumb to indent eyes on either side of the head, and inserted blue marbles for eyes.

4. The end of a fork made a nice tool for creating a bit of fur texture.

5. I used a butter knife to create ridges on top of the snout.

6. The butter knife was just the right size for making the nostrils as well.

7. For the tusks, I made little indentions in the sides with the end of a wooden spoon and attached little tapered coils of dough. (Remember to lightly wet dough when joining pieces.) I used the same method to make the ears.

8. To add more dimension to the fur texture, I snipped lightly into the dough all over, from front to back, with scissors.

Later, I cut a slit in the mouth and inserted a ball of dough to resemble an apple. When the project was completely dry, I painted it with water-based antiquing medium, and painted the apple barn red.

Hog's Head

the importance of worship

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I write this mainly for new Pagans, but we all need reminders now and then…

Beliefs are only ideas floating around in your head, unless put them into practice. It is important to practice your spirituality through worship. Now, don’t misunderstand… when I say “worship” I mean it in the Pagan sense; hailing to, offering libations, and praising with arms raised, talking to the gods and spirits… not bending down with clasped hands and pleading prayers. Its important to practice your beliefs through worship even if (or especially if) you’re feeling a bit agnostic about the existence of the gods/spirits. Many Pagans struggle with feelings of agnosticism. If this is you, tell yourself that the gods are a metaphor for life and practice worship as an act of connection and comfort (or even psychological experiment). Many people who have done this have experienced dreams, visions, and other mystical experiences that have enriched their spirituality.

Some would say that worship strengthens the gods. Others say that the gods are powerful and do not in any way need our worship. But even gods desire the give and take of “social interaction” that worship provides. Think of it as being like a social call to elder family members. If you don’t ever visit your kinfolks, they will be like strangers to you. If you stay away, never visit nor call, over the years you will lose contact and not even know if they are still alive. So it is with the gods, and it is up to us to make first contact and to keep it going. We are strengthened by worship; it gives us a feeling of well being and connection and builds upon our relationship with the spirit kindred.

Worship doesn’t have to be elaborate rituals. It can be as simple as hailing a deity, pouring libations or lighting incense, and giving thanks or sharing a joy. If you’re not comfortable with spontaneous prayers, you can memorize something simple (like Sigrdrifa’s Prayer) and use it often. Do the gods tire of hearing the same prayer over and over? I think not any more that we would tire of a loved ones voice reciting a favorite poem.

To get things going, or revive your practice, see these articles: A Heathen Kitchen Witch’s Blót, Celtic Pagan Daily Spirituality – when there’s no time for ritual, and Celtic Paganism in daily practice. Many of the ideas listed there could apply to other cultures as well, with a few adaptations. If you cook often, see my article Stovetop Hearth Rites to bring worship into your time spent in the kitchen. If you think you’d like using prayer beads, see my system of Druid Prayer Beads. The prayers from it can be used individually, and are actually a song.

So get out there and practice, and keep at it. If you tire of one way of worship, change it up. Good worship should leave you feeling energized and whole. The options are as plentiful as the spirits.

revering nature

Hallow Keepers

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The Hallow Keepers is a system of roles for participation in ADF group rituals. It makes it easy to remember who is in charge of what (and takes some pressure off the host/officiant if it’s usually just one person doing everything). Plus it’s just fun, so it’s good to use in family rituals as well, if you have participants mature enough (and willing) to take on such roles. The host of the ritual can choose to also be a Hallow Keeper, if need be, but will have plenty to do without taking a Hallow Keeper role.

The Well Keeper is in charge of…

  • water purification
  • Well Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Well
  • Ancestor invocations and their offerings, and thanking Ancestors at the end of ritual
  • the waters of life; filling cup, blessing it, passing it around the circle

The Tree Keeper is in charge of…

  • the Two Powers meditation
  • Earth Mother prayer
  • Tree Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Tree
  • Nature Spirit invocations and their offerings, and thanking Nature Spirits at the end of ritual

The Fire Keeper is in charge of…

  • lighting the Fire and keeping it burning safely
  • fire/incense purification
  • Fire Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Fire
  • Patron of Occasion invocations and their offerings, and thanking Patrons at the end of ritual

hallow keepers

magical decorating on the cheap

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A person’s home (or apartment) is an extension of ones-self, and if you’re Pagan, you may want your home to subtly reflect that aspect of your personality. When first starting out on your own, you may lament your bare walls and long for a non-existent decorating budget. It’s been many years, but I’ve been there. Through necessity I learned the beauty of simplicity and developed a love for junk chic. So if you’re just starting out and are dirt poor, embrace the eclectic look.

furniture
You will be surprised at what you can find for free if you know the right time and place. Go dumpster diving when school lets out in a college town. (Okay, you don’t have to actually “dive in”, most folks put their unwanted furniture on the pavement outside the dumpster.) Rich college kids don’t want to bring their furniture home with them for the summer. Keep an open mind. Found an otherwise perfectly good dresser, but it has a missing drawer? Use a large basket in place of the drawer, or put a board in the bottom of the empty drawer space and use it as a bookshelf. Old entertainment centers can be converted to bookshelves as well. Check for sturdiness, that’s what counts, then paint or sand to get the look you want, if necessary. But remember- rustic goes along nicely with a Pagan-ish theme. Find a nice strong table and miss-matched chairs if you have a dining area. Find what you can for free first, then look in thrift stores and yard sales for everything else. Or if you’re handy with tools, and have access to free or cheap pallets, make pallet furniture. The more items you can make or find with built-in storage, the better, especially if you’re living in a small space. Don’t over do it with the furniture, though. Make sure you pick things that suit the size of your space.

Some things you probably don’t need…
If your only computer is a laptop, you probably don’t need a desk. Use the kitchen counter or table for such things as paperwork and put it all away in a storage box or shelf when finished. You may not need a coffee table unless you think it would be handy for storage, and in that case, consider using a storage trunk for a coffee table. If you watch movies and shows on your computer, or other device, you don’t need a TV. That will free up space on your wall for other things, such as…

DIY faux fireplace
True, you don’t need a fireplace, but they are so classic and appealing, and you’ve made room by not getting a desk or TV, so why not? If you can’t have the real thing, at least you can have some of the beauty of one. Making your own fake fireplace can be a simple or elaborate project. One way to make one is to fit a smaller wooden box into a larger wooden box, cut a sheet of plywood to cover the space between, attach it, add molding, then paint the entire thing and tile the inside. Another way would be to take all the shelves out of an large heavy bookshelf and attach a board or wide molding to the front just under the top, and on the front sides. Still another method could be to attach a heavy shelf or mantle to the wall, and place thick boards under it on either side to help support it. In the center, place a cluster of flame-less candles, logs wrapped in string lights, or other decorative items. Use the top mantle-shelf as your household altar/shrine. The good thing about this kind of “fireplace”, is that you can take it with you when you move, or even move it when you rearrange furniture.

cinder blocks and boards
Did you use your only bookshelf to make a faux fireplace? Don’t worry, cinder blocks and boards make cheap, versatile shelving. (Just make sure your floor is sturdy and level.) You can vary the length of your boards to any size shelving system you need, and use for not only books, but for shoe racks, pantry shelving, and other kinds of storage. Cinder blocks come in a variety of styles now (and you can paint them, if you like). If you place the blocks with the holes facing out, you can place holiday string lights inside the hole in the block, or little nature collections.
If you later decide you don’t need the shelves, use the boards and blocks to make patio furniture; stack the blocks upright, and lay one down over the top of them both (with holes facing to the sides), then repeat with another set of blocks at the other end of what will be a bench. Thread 4X4s through the top holes. Cinder blocks also make nice planters, raised bed gardens, and fire pit/grill bases.

small shrines
In addition to (or instead of) using shelves or a faux fireplace for altars or shrines, you could use small hanging shelves or boxes for shrines to your deities, house spirit, or hearth spirit. Just attach a small crate to the wall, and fill it with devotional objects. You can wrap string lights around it, or seasonal greenery. You can also use a cardboard school box or cigar box for a portable shrine. Keep you ritual supplies inside and paint or decoupage your deity imagery (or tree hallow) on the inside of the lid and just open it up to have your ritual or devotions. You can make several for different purposes.

getting crafty with nature
If you have access to the gifts of Mother Nature, and I hope you do, bring a little of the outdoors inside. Bend an old wire hanger into a circle shape and tie greenery to it in layers, working your way around the circle. Another way to make a wreath is to trim some excess honeysuckle or grape vines and shape it into a circle, twisting and weaving until you get the thickness you want. Change decorations on it with the seasons and hang on your front door. If you really liked making that, make some for inside too. Make garlands by layering and tying greenery in layers to a vine, rope or heavy string. Hang your garland from your mantlepiece or shelf. Arrange nature collections in clusters or small baskets.

more crafts
Though a not so permanent decoration (they will deteriorate if the weather is too humid for too long), salt dough sculptures can add life and dimension to your walls and shelves, and are very inexpensive to make. Check out some of my past salt dough projects for inspiration.

You’ll not find a decorative art cheaper than toilet paper roll crafts, which can range from looking very natural and rustic to looking like wrought iron.

If you have old Pagan magazines or calendars, cut out your favorite pictures and decoupage them to wood scraps or nice sturdy cardboard, using thin layers of modge podge. Prop them up on a shelf and change them out seasonally. Try decoupaging pictures onto blank seven day candles for use in magic and devotion. Decoupage works best with small pictures.

Check out some of my suggested kids’ crafts for the holidays, even if you don’t have kids. You’re never too old for such things, and the beauty of simple crafts can add a lot of warmth to a home.

kitchen
If you have a small kitchen, you’ll need to go vertical with storage. Hang your cooking utensils above the stove, and install a peg rack or cuphooks near the sink for coffee cups. Use raised thumbtacks for hanging light items like strainers and flat graters. (In fact, I use raised thumbtacks for hanging pictures all throughout the house. You only need a nail or screw if the object is heavy.) You can even use tacks to hang herbs for drying, and for garlic ropes. Keep the grain dolly you made in the fall, hanging in your kitchen.

window sills
Save your glass bottles, especially blue ones. To make your own blue bottles, mix together some white glue and blue food coloring and paint the bottles with this mixture. Set the bottles in the windowsills of your front-facing windows. Not only are they pretty, but haint blue is traditionally known to ward off evil spirits. Also, keep crystals or a jar of salt in your windowsill for the same purpose. If you break a mirror, put the shards in a jar and put that in your windowsill as well. All these things make an interesting and shiny arrangement but also serve a magical purpose.

mirrors
Strategically place small inexpensive mirrors in the dark corners of your home to dissipate any stagnant or negative energy that may collect there. You can buy tiny mirrors by the package-full at craft stores. Glue them back to back on filament string interspersed with beads and hang as mobiles. Glue tiny mirrors to vases, planters, or small boxes, as you would for making a tiled surface.

thrift store finds and finishing touches
Over time, you will find items to fill your walls at thrift stores and yard sales. You’ll find nice frames to fill with pictures of friends and family. You can update just about anything with a little paint, and sand it down a little for a vintage look. Don’t forget to look for a horseshoe to go over your front door.

magical decorating

Midsummer Flower Boat

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Making a Midsummer flower boat is a fun and memorable way to commemorate the Summer Solstice, that kids especially love. For your paper boat, you can use any kind of paper. Why not use something you were going to throw into the recycle bin anyway? Newspaper or what we call “good on one side paper” is fine. A rectangular shape works best.

paper boat instructions

1. Fold paper in half with the fold at the top.

2. Fold the top two corners down to meet in the center.

3. Fold one layer of the bottom strip of paper up.

4. Flip over and fold the back bottom strip of paper up to be even with the front. (Right now you have a hat!)

5. Open it up, turn it on it’s side, and press down flat.

6. Fold bottom point up to meet the top point.

7. Turn over and do the same to the back.

8. Open, turn on it’s side, and flatten again.

9. Open up into a boat!

Decorate the boat and dip the top of the sail and side ends in oil. Fill it with flowers (and prayer slips, if you like). Set it in a stream and light it on fire at the top and sides. Watch it sail it off, blazing like the summer sun, to carry your prayers and wishes to the realm of gods and spirits.

Green is Gold.
Fire is Wet.
Future’s Told.
Dragon’s Met.

Midsummer Flower BoatFor more Summer Solstice fun, see Kids’ Activities for Midsummer / Summer Solstice.