Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rune Post #16: Algiz

Happy Wednesday! Today's focus will be on Algiz, the fiftteenth rune of the Elder Futhark, and seventh in the second aett.

Algiz's (also called Elhaz) literal meaning is "elk," and it connects to themes of protection, connection to the divine, the higher self, and inner strength.
As it intersects with the connection to divine forces at work in our lives, Algiz is often connected to Valkyries, who in lore are said to at times take the form of swans.

An Anglo-Saxon rune poem reads:

The Elk-sedge usually lives in the fen,
growing in the water. It wounds severely,
staining with blood any man
who makes a grab at it.


1) What other meanings do you attribute to Algid?

2) How do you utilize this rune in your practice?

3) If Algiz has presented itself in your rune work or castings, how have you seen its energy manifested, or experienced its impact?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Cup Overflowing

Note: this post is all about menstruation, so if that's not your cup of tea then you may not want to continue reading ;)

I feel like I've been mentioning this topic quite a bit lately, and that's probably because any mention of it at all is more than I ever usually discuss my cycle in public! But in some ways it feels larger than me - relevant to all women, in some way or another. I'm also realizing that I've been feeling a bit "activisty" about it all.

A short time ago I wrote a poem about my decision to stop taking the contraceptive Pill (you can click here to read that post) and this past Tuesday marked the start of the first period free of chemical influence. It did come as a small surprise since for many years it all ran like clockwork: I stopped the Pill on a Tuesday, and by Friday I was bleeding. I started the Pill again the following Wednesday, and so forth. Cramps were minimal, and the duration of my periods was fairly short. Without a pill pack my periods will be reestablishing their own rhythm (though to slightly reduce the guess work related to when I can expect it to begin, I may download a "period tracker" app). Ah well, who needs an app when those subtle-yet-unmistakeable physio-emotional signs serve as useful alert? I was sending a voice message to my sister on Tuesday morning about how irritable I was - how I felt a little "premenstrual" and was finding myself reacting more strongly than usual to small annoyances. I didn't think that enough time had passed from my last period, so I chalked it up to my own hormones going through a shifting and resettling process. But lo and behold, that afternoon at a quick bathroom stop I found that it was indeed that time.

Wednesday morning (the next day) I pulled the Ace of Cups as my daily draw from the Morgan Greer  deck:
Morgan Greer Tarot - US Games
My first thought was: oh look! My cup is overflowing!... not in the way we tend to think... symbolic love and emotion... no, no.... that morning it was quite literal. In fact, upon waking up I had run directly to the bathroom after a torrent of blood overwhelmed just about everything I was wearing from my waist down. This period is not messing around. And just look at that lotus situation happening at the bottom of the card: that is clearly a uterus and ovaries! ;)

Emotionally I have been feeling quite prickly for a few days, and rather than easing up, it seems to be settling in and getting comfortable. Today is day three, and my disposition is quite like a cat with flattened ears (you cat people know what I'm talking about). Today is just not the day to be having any kind of conversations with people. It could go terribly wrong. It's not even noon yet and I've already had to stop myself from sending a couple of emails that my superego (thankfully) deemed entirely unnecessary.

While some of this is rather uncomfortable (emotionally and physically, and even logistically), there is another part of it that feels satisfying, and very welcome. I feel like my body is sighing with relief, as if I've finally given it the tools it needs to conduct a major deep cleaning. I'm giving it back its agency and sovereignty. And that feels profoundly nourishing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rune Post #15: Perthro

Happy Wednesday! Today's focus will be on Perthro, the fourteenth rune of the Elder Futhark, and sixth in the second aett.

Perthro's literal meaning is largely considered a mystery (which is pretty fitting, really!), though some translate it to something akin to a "dice throwing cup." Perthro connects to themes of mystery, the unknown, örlog and wyrd, chance, unconscious knowledge, and even joyful fellowship (sharing cups).

Perthro is often associated with Frigg and the Norns, and there is an element of the "feminine mysteries" to this rune.
Power of the Runes - Voenix (US Games)
As a personal anecdote: today's rune coincides nicely with the fact that this is the first full day of a natural "flow" following my stopping the Pill several weeks ago. I wanted to rid my body of the hormonal influence, and allow it to resume its natural rhythms after so many years. I wasn't quite sure what that would feel like, or look like, and so it is quite like a rediscovery of myself, in a way.

An Old English rune poem reads:

(Perthro) is always
play and laughter
among bold men,
where the warriors sit
in the beer hall,
happily together.


1) What other meanings do you attribute to Perthro?

2) How do you utilize this rune in your practice?

3) If Perthro has presented itself in your rune work or castings, how have you seen its energy manifested, or experienced its impact?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Rune Post #14: Eihwaz

Happy Wednesday! Today's focus will be on Eihwaz, the thirteenth rune of the Elder Futhark, and fifth in the second aett.

Eihwaz translates to "Yew," and connects to themes of initiation, death mysteries, protection, and transformation.

Eihwaz is typically associated with Ullr, and the wood of the Yew was favored for bow-making due to its strength, flexibility, and magical protective qualities.
An Anglo Saxon rune poem reads:

The yew is a tree with rough bark,
hard and fast in the earth,
supported by its roots,
a guardian of flame and a joy
upon an estate.

Interestingly, an Old Icelandic rune poem reads:

Yew is a strung bow
and brittle iron
and Fárbauti of the arrow.

The latter portion is a reference to Loki's father, "cruel striker." The early Swedish philologist, Axel Kock, theorized that Fárbauti represented lightning (and his "arrow" set Laufey to flame, thus birthing wild fire = Loki). Both poems, then, have this reference to fire or flame. Thoughts?


1) What other meanings do you attribute to Eihwaz?

2) How do you utilize this rune in your practice?

3) If Eihwaz has presented itself in your rune work or castings, how have you seen its energy manifested, or experienced its impact?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Don't "Connect" With Your Deck? Be More Specific!

Tarot enthusiasts are wont to make the following sorts of statements about decks in their collection:

I really love the artwork, but I just don't connect with it.

I tried reading with it a few times but I couldn't seem to connect with it, so I gave it away.

I'd like to encourage the use of more specific language rather than the common refrain: I don't "connect" with it. What does that mean? It certainly doesn't mean the same thing for everyone who uses the phrase.
Golden Tarot - Liz Dean
When people talk about not "connecting" with a deck, they usually mean one (or a combination) of the following:

  • They feel uncomfortable with the deck's theme
  • They don't like the artwork
  • They like the artwork but find it doesn't represent the card essences clearly or accurately enough
  • They like the artwork but find each card too "busy" or the images too fine/detailed to read with easily
  • They find non-scenic Minor cards a challenge to interpret 

Why does specific language matter? Well, speaking as a writer and language professional, I strongly believe in cultivating accuracy in expression. I also feel that working to be as clear and detailed as possible about our experiences is a wonderful exercise in mindfulness and self-awareness. And of course understanding exactly why someone else doesn't "connect" with a deck might help us to empathize more profoundly with their experience, and hence allow us to commiserate and/or offer better feedback.

There is some wisdom in not being overly quick to rid ourselves of decks that don't seem to do it for us in the moment: those that don't call to us now may call quite powerfully to us later. Sometimes particular decks seem to complement a particular phase of our journey, and thus make the ideal companion, even if only for a while.

And then there are decks that may collect dust for years, but are worth hanging on to anyway, such as....

My copy of the Prisma Visions Tarot - a beautiful deck, and a solid part of my collection, but one I rarely feel called to read with. Why? The artwork on some cards (ahem, Wands courts) is simply a bit "messy," which is not aesthetically pleasing to me, and in some cases has me examining a card up close muttering, "What the hell is happening in this picture??" I also think that in the creation of the suit storylines, aspects of each individual card's composition and unique meaning was sacrificed. Still, it's a lovely and extremely creative work of art.
Prisma Visions - James R. Eads
So, here's to clarity in articulation - may it serve us well!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Circle Is Complete: Bleeding Time

#MayYouWriteLikeTheFool Day 4
Prompt: "We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete." 

Navigators Tarot of the Mystic SEA
One day I decided: no more Pill. 
After so many years of 
(what essentially boils down to) 
hormone therapy 
(three kids are a blessing, and also enough)
I started to feel like my body
my emotions
were no longer my own. 
My last contraception-induced period 
wound its way to
the end
and I responded by 
not swallowing the next pill.

Far longer than what had once been "normal" 
my body continued to expel rusty debris 
a deep purging
a restoration in the works
a sigh of relief.
Nothing was different, not from the outside.
And yet I kept stretching my body
examining my hands
watching the curves of my hips
searching for signs of what I was 
feeling inside:
an opening and release.

One day that familiar ache 
in my abdomen
announced the return of 
my blood
-now fresh, unencumbered 
by chemical constraints.
We met again
at last
The circle complete.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

An Orange Comet Blazes Across the Sky

#MayYouWriteLikeTheFool day three
Prompt: An orange comet blazes across the sky
Notes: This prompt brought forth a vivid memory I had as a young teenager, and as I considered it, and rolled it around in my mind, I realized just how much significance and emotion charged that moment...


I am thirteen years old. We've come to spend a week in a rented cottage along North Carolina's southern shores for the second time in two years. Red is an old college friend of dad's, and his kids are about the same age as me and Jessica. They grew up on the southern coast, and I admire the way their pale blonde hair contrasts with the brownness of their skin, tanned after hours and days and weeks and months of being outdoors.

My half sister is here, too, and her husband. They are fun to be around; they like to play drinking games, and the raucous laughter reaches into every corner of this sandy, beach-side house. I don't know where I fit, exactly. Partly that is because my mother isn't here. In the long stretches of the year that led up to this visit my life changed quite a lot: my parents divorced; my father remarried someone new and unfamiliar. Last year when we visited this same house, my parents were together, and suddenly this year they are not. I watch as my dad and his new wife laugh comfortably together, making jokes and small talk with other couples, as if it has always been this way. I watch from the edge of the room, uncertain and quiet.
Gaian Tarot ~ Joanna Powell Colbert
It is night, and I call my mother. She is far away, but through the phone her voice is warm and comforting. She feels close. She tells me that there will be a meteor shower this very night, and that I should examine the sky for its evidence. After we hang up I make my way to the back door of the house, to the steps that lead out into the inky blackness where the beach meets the ocean waves. I sit down and wait, and gaze up at the stars.

Just then, an orange comet blazes across the sky. I am filled with deep delight, and cry out in surprise. I leap to my feet and run into the house, its inner cavern lit up with lanterns and the shining eyes of semi-intoxicated adults in the midst of alcoholic antics. I am usually soft spoken, but this time I shout loudly into the crowd: "There is a meteor shower happening right now!" Most don't register my presence, but there is one woman who listens, and follows me outside to see for herself. She watches the sky light up with moving stars, and runs back into the house to gather the others.

A few moments later we are all gathered outside in the deep dark. We are ageless. We sit transfixed, the rush of waves a backdrop as golden slashes of light cross the sky, again, and again.

I am happy. It is more than the happiness of this breathtaking celestial show. I am happy because I can feel my mother's presence here. Though she and my father are no longer together, though a stranger has taken her place in this vacation house, it is my mother that quieted the revelry. It is the mysterious, palpable, subtle, profound power of my mother that ushered these gregarious personalities out into the awe-filled breath of night to bear witness to this shower of fire and light.

Rune Study Post #13: Jera

Happy Wednesday! Today's focus will be on Jera, the twelfth rune of the Elder Futhark, and fourth in the second aett.

Jera translates to "year," and connects to themes of harvest, the turn of the seasons, patience, peace, cycles, cause-and-effect, and harmonious movement with the flow of time.
Though Ingwaz is directly associated with Freyr, I have seen correlations made between Freyr and Jera due to the harvest/peace/abundance aspects of the rune. However, some connect Sif to Jera, for similar reasons.


1) What other meanings do you attribute to Jera?

2) How do you utilize this rune in your practice?

3) If Jera has presented itself in your rune work or castings, how have you seen its energy manifested, or experienced its impact?

4) What deities do you connect with Jera?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Smile That Is A Thinly Veiled Frown

This month I'm participating in a writing-oriented Instagram challenge hosted by Alaina @exploringlyyours and Dianna @unearthing_the_gift_ called "May You Write Like the Fool." Each day a prompt is provided to serve as a creative launching point. Pieces can take the form of haiku or other poetry, prose, blog posts, fiction, short essays, streams of consciousness.

Day one featured the prompt: A smile that is a thinly veiled frown. This is what unfolded:
Pagan Otherworlds Tarot - Uusi
"A smile that is a thinly veiled frown" / what is the price of insincerity?

I asked the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot about the social mores that ask us to keep our true feelings disguised (when someone asks you how you are, they usually don't really want to know, and such). King of Cups (inverted) was the response....

This is my significator, which was interesting to see. I recall vividly the last time I wore a thinly veiled frown. There was absolutely no way I could have shown my anger and sorrow and embarrassment without losing serious face. I kept my cool, went home, closed myself in my room and bawled for two hours. Then, I channeled my fury into rising far higher than I might have if the situation had been different. Not "I want" - but "I will." (And I did).

I see obvious value in running a tight ship as far as emotions go. Still, sometimes I wish I could speak my truth openly all of the time. I feel most free and authentic when I express myself in Spanish. I don't feel limited by the socio-linguistic constraints of English that filter my feelings into tidy boxes. And sometimes I say things I probably shouldn't. But it feels good.

Monday, May 1, 2017

SHEathenry Podcast: Conference of Heathen Women, Your Questions Answered

The 1st Conference of Heathen Women is taking place this July 28-30th in Asheville, North Carolina, and this past Saturday morning I had the chance to join a co-organizer, Hilary Wehrle, and host Alvilldr Infägra, to chat about the conference details - click here to listen!