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the spectrum, this book is a great way to compare the various Pagan paths (even though now it has become a little outdated, as new paths have arisen over the years).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 Beef 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