someone asked me once
if i could sense by scent
when You are near.
They wanted to know,
what the musk and aroma of a God
I had to stop.
How to put these things into words?
The vocabulary has not been invented yet.
You are so many things:
the smell of a place where many have died
the darkness of mystery - dank and bloodwarm,
the tang of the sky at the peak of a storm
and the howling of its winds if such sound
could carry with it keen-sharp scent.
you are steel in the cold,
the silent winter's night
when not even the fiercest of beasts
but all watch
with glittering eyes from their lairs:
They too are wary of Your passing.
yours is the smell of savagery
cunning, and an ecstasy
worlds were born
in the wake of its devastation.
I cannot hold it,
not even to craft a drop of its essence
You are the presence
on the battlefield
a century after the last man fell,
the savor of remembrance
the shattering laughter,
a roar in the void,
and the echo of its silence.
You are fury,
oh that monk was right:
you indeed are fury
the glorious, joyous savagery
at the moment two armies meet in battle
at the moment you penetrate hidden power
at the moment you seize the trail of your prey
at the moment, every moment
when that which is in you bubbles over
and burns into those who raise their lips
in adoration to You
and we drink
You are Master of the Hunt
and we are all Your prey
if we are fool enough
to stumble in the path
of Your desires.
As to scent,
forget what I have written here.
You will know when He comes
how poorly the senses translate
the vast joy-terror of His passing.
You will know
when you too
are marked with His scent.
You will know
when it is far, far too late
(artwork by L. Perkins)
I'm really happy to announce that there's a new online shrine to Odin available here.
There are a number of virtual shrines
active now. While it doesn't take the place of a physical shrine, given the amount of time most of us spend online today, it's nice to have sacred spaces, dedicated spaces where we can occasionally drop in to render a moment's devotion to our Gods.
If you want to see your virtual shrine listed, please shoot me an email. I'd be happy to add to the above list.
Usually I do major sacrifice for the Gods around the two solstices, but this year a windfall came unexpectedly into my lap: one of my colleagues had the opportunity to acquire two four-legged animals (what we tend to call sheep, goats, pigs, etc. -- any large farm animal with --you guessed it--four legs) for half the price they usually would cost. I jumped at it and arranged with that colleague--my friend A.T-- to do the actual offering.
Normally I would do my own sacrificing, but I'm recovering from a shoulder injury (which is seriously problematic when working with larger livestock) and my colleague A.T. is a *much* better sacrificial priest than I. I'm good but I have little to no rapport with animals. He has the gift of serious animal mojo. He can lull the most contentious or frightened animal to calm serenity. His ability to communicate with them is pure magic. For anything larger than a chicken, i am more than happy to cede to him the role of knife-carrier. It's more important to me that the animal not suffer, that the sacrifice be done cleanly, respectfully, and with all necessary protocol than that *I* be the one doing it. A.T. graciously agreed to do both sacrifices asking only that I provide the appropriate prayers and ritual structure, which I gladly did.
So over the past two days, House Sankofa gave one animal to Odin (it was sacrificed Wednesday night with all appropriate prayers and ritual, butchered properly and some of the meat given to the one on whose property the rite occurred. Usually He gets full immolation and nothing is shared, but He didn't require that this time) and today one animal was give to Dionysos.
Both rituals went beautifully (in fact, the one to Odin proceeded with what A.T. termed "almost mathematical efficiency") and the little four legged given to Dionysos today, all on his own accord, decided to nosh on a grape vine on the way to being sacrificed. I took this as a rather good omen given that he was being given to the God of the vine.
Sacrifice is important. It's one of the holiest and most sacred of our rituals. When we engage in sacrifice for our Gods, we are entering into the flow of a very ancient, very, very profound contract We are entering into something tremendously powerful, something that reaches to the very core of our traditions. This is what brings renewal. This is what brings grace and blessing to the community. This is one of the things that nourishes our Gods and in turn nourishes us. It completes a sacred cycle and there is very little if anything that may serve as a truly adequate substitute.
For this reason, I give thanks for those clergy, of all our various traditions who have dedicated themselves to the task of learning and restoring these rituals and protocols. I give thanks to the Gods and ancestors for those who teach and those who do, for those who take up the knife so that our Gods may have the offerings best suited to Their glory. I give thanks for our sacrificial priests (and yes, I am one, but I give thanks to those who taught me, to those from whom I continue to learn, and to the Gods for Their continued patience). I give thanks to the farmers who provide the feast for the Powers. I give thanks to the fire that carries the fullness of the sacrifice away via immolation and I give thanks to those who dress and prepare the sacrifices for feasting, when that is appropriate. I give thanks to the knife and the ones who craft it. I give thanks for the animals and I give thanks for the land that catches the blood as it is spilled. These things are sacred. The hands of the sacrificial priest are sacred, and the process and cycle itself. For these things, I am grateful. I know how they nourish wyrd. I know what it means to restore these rites after two thousand years of our ritual places lying fallow.
So yesterday and today were good days. They were blessed days and that is my wish: that Odin and Dionysos may each be pleased, each be nourished, each be reverenced and that through the process of sacrifice and veneration, Their blessings may flow.
My newest "Heathen Heretic" post is now available. In it I answer another reader's question on devotion.
this is part of my devotion 101 series that I"m running. If you have any questions, no matter how basic about devotion or polytheism, send them to me and I will add them to my queue of questions currently accrued and answer one or two each week until I've answered them all. Anyway, check out my article here.
My newest book on Odin: "He is Frenzy," a collection of everything (to the best of my ability) that I've written about Odin thus far, is now available. folks may order it directly through createspace here, or wait a few days, maybe a week, when it will be available on amazon.com. This book includes the complete texts of "Whisperings of Woden," and the English version of "Walking Toward Yggdrasil" as well as everything that I've written on the Old Man since then. It is the inaugural volume for Sanngetall Press, my new imprint which will be focusing on both general polytheistic and polytheological texts as well as more specific Heathen works.
I had initially planned to put out a devotional anthology to Odin this summer, and -- as many of you know--earlier in the year solicited contributions for this book. As things stand now, the focus of my work has changed a bit, and I will not be doing this anthology. I have other projects planned for Odin, including the pending release of my own omnibus "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings on Odin."
I want to thank everyone for some truly beautiful submissions. I received some amazing pieces, both written prayers and poetry and drawings. Thank you, everyone who sent me your work.
I would like to encourage folks to not let those pieces languish. Beth Lynch is currently compiling a prayer devotional to Odin and has put out a call for submissions here. I encourage everyone who was thinking about contributing to my anthology, or who had sent me pieces to seriously consider passing them onto her instead. I want to see every devotional for the Old Man be the best devotional it can possibly be and for that we need as many differing voices sharing ways of honoring and connecting to Him as possible.
Again, I want to thank everyone who sent me material. I considered holding out and pushing this project forward anyway at a later date, but right now my work is pulling me away from this type of anthology and I need to go with that.
Anyone with any questions can contact me at krasskova at gmail.com.
(I do not know who created the image; it was sent to me quite awhile ago by a colleague. Many of us keep an eye out and maintain personal folders of inspiring devotional images. If anyone knows the artist, please please please contact me at krasskova at gmail.com so I can give proper credit). (edit: two people were kind enough to email me the info for the image. The artist is named sin-eater. https://www.facebook.com/sineateruk. thank you Ashley and Anna B.)
Today's post is in answer to a question posed by Selena. She asks
"I'm really struggling to write a series of prayers to "say my beads" with. Thing is, the aspect of Odin that I know best, the Face of His that I know and love, that called me to be His priestess, isn't one that I hear much about from other Odinspeople. My God is the God of not just the wounded warrior, but "collateral damage": the non-combatants, like those hurt in explosions, or those poisoned in the womb because of chemical warfare their parent survived. Those indelibly touched by war, even if they never saw a battlefield.
I'm having trouble extrapolating from the lore and finding names that acknowledge this aspect. Yes, there are the einherjar, but , they are restored to health and wholeness and serve in a different way.
What names would be appropriate (and where would I find proper pronunciation guides! :) ), and are there any (English) sources that mention this?"
Firstly, working with prayer beads in the way you are, is an opportunity to honor Odin by heiti upon which you would not normally call. He's quite often about pushing boundaries and pushing past our comfort zones and this is a tiny way to do that devotionally. So I would certainly not restrict myself solely to those facets of His nature, those names that represented aspects I already honored.
My own instinct is that any of His heiti that refer to Him as a God of war would comprehend the collateral damage, the horror of war, the wounded warrior. These things a warrior knows.
For non-combatants, well, while I'm not aware of anything in any of the requisite sources, when has that ever stopped me? The Gods gave me and you a brain, the capacity to reason, and the ability to experience Them through personal gnosis for a reason. I would look to the heiti of Odin that represent Him as healer and the main one (and his is attested to in the Merseburg charm and, if one looks between the lines, in at least one AS Source) is Woden.
Farmaguth, "Journey Empowerer" might be appropriate to call upon for those who either have a long journey back to wholeness, or those who have died as a result of war, but not as combatants, and must journey to Hela's realm.
I sometimes wonder if Grimnir wanders for knowledge or because of what He as lord of battle has seen.
There is Odin as Kjalar, nourisher. I might call upon Sigmundr, one who protects victory, to ensure that non combatants remain safe and one's victory does not turn Pyrric.
Valfodr, father of the slain is not an aspect to be neglected. While we assume that this is Odin as master of the valkyries, chooser of those who die in combat, it need not necessarily *only* be that. I would be just as comfortable calling upon Him to shepherd those killed as a result of other peoples' battles to the lands of the dead. I have actually called upon Him in this capacity before.
Finally, Vinr Lothurs…friend of Lothur, Lothur being one of the primal Gods who bestows warmth, the flowing of the blood, the beating of the heart. There is something here, at least so my experience and gnosis tells me, that speaks to restoration after such horrors as you describe.
These are simply a few of His heiti that leap out at me immediately. Perhaps this is something upon which to meditate, and to pray to Him about. It would make a powerful journey, a powerful task, a means of developing your relationship with Him, to go *to* Him to explore this.
In the meantime never doubt that He can heal, or that He knows the pain and anguish that so often accompanies battle. I'll leave you with the Second Merseburg Charm, one of the few surviving references we have to Odin being called as a Healer:
Phol and Wodan rode into the woods,
There Balder's foal sprained its foot.
It was charmed by Sinthgunt, her sister Sunna;
It was charmed by Frija, her sister Volla;
It was charmed by Wodan, as he well knew how:
Bone-sprain, like blood-sprain,
Bone to bone; blood to blood;
Limb to limb -- like they were glued.
He is a healer too, our God. Is there any knowledge He would allow Himself not to know?
I'm taking a leaf (no pun intended) from Sannion and his blog The House of Vines wherein he asks his readers to send him their questions about Dionysos, which he will then answer on his own "Blurring Boundaries" blog. I liked the interactiveness of this, the way the conversation could be stretched throughout various fora as well as the accessibility for the reader to join into that conversation. So I asked him if he'd mind me doing the same thing (obviously he told me to go for it).
Moreover, I recently asked readers of my Heathen Heretic blog to ask me their questions either about piety or my personal practice wherein piety might be a concern. I was delighted by the questions that a couple of folks asked. They were thoughtful and they made me think when I sat down to answer them.
ASK ME YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT ODIN. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT HIM? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE WAYS IN WHICH I HONOR HIM?
Ask your questions here in the comments section, and I will answer them, either here or more likely over at "Heathen Heretic."
Bring on the questions, folks.
For those who are interested, here are the links to all these blogs:
The House of Vines: http://thehouseofvines.com
Blurring Boundaries: http://www.witchesandpagans.com/Blurred-Boundaries/Blogger/Listings/sannion.html
Heathen Heretic: http://www.witchesandpagans.com/Heathen-Heretic/Blogger/Listings/tamyris.html