I have received a large amount of new Heathens asking me to help them create bind runes, for either protective magical use, tattoos, cursing, and the manifestation of their desires.
I cannot stress the importance of deep understanding and self education of our Ancestral History to have a good understanding of creating bind runes!
This means you must understand the language the alphabet (Futharks)stems from, as well as the Mythos, history, Culture, and Traditions of the people who used them or it’s useless and inert.
To help you correctly you need to ask yourself what is your experience thus far, what is your goal, how much of the Lore have you read and really grasped; are you interested in Scandinavian, Saxon, Gaul or the Slav path, do you know seidr, *deep inhale,* real Galdr, have you been familiarized with the Sami, and finally what Ancestral Indo European Gods have you worked with thus far?
Without this base knowledge you cannot create nor utilize Futharks as bind runes that are actually effectual.
I , as some 21st century Heathen teachers, have spent years studying academia, anthropology and religious history to understand our Ancestral traditions, plus I’m a Volva (Norse Witch) and a Seidkonna (seidr practitioner) so I apply the occult to my Norse Pagan ways. I use much “UPG”, but ONLY after I have a solid education in the ways I am working, namely Old Norse Paganism.
In the old days we would have studied and been groomed under a tribal Gothi/Gythia for years before attempting to claim and walk the path of Volva/Vitki, Seidman or Seidkonna; but since the Christian conversion and 2000 years passing into a high tech modern world, it is up to each individual seeking Forn Sed to do their own diligent studies in reclaiming (with any vaild power and growth for future use)these ancient Ancestral Path Ways.
~side note: I am still shocked at the amount of seekers daily who ask me to help them create bind runes, yet they have never fully read the Eddas or the Sagas!
This Lore isn’t like the “holy books” of monotheistic paths, however it IS some of the only surviving manuscripts that describe the lives and thoughts of the Ancestors we are venerating!
So just as I wouldn’t begin to claim I’m now practicing the Australian Aboriginal Ways without being in steeped in their Traditions, History and language, this remains true for every Spiritual path, and Heathenism is no exception!
I suggest listening to Dr Jackson Crawfords audio books on the Eddas and Sagas, and then watching Maria kvilhaug’s YouTube series “The Lady of the Labyrinth ” (https://www.youtube.com/user/LadyoftheLabyrinth) as both of these scholars give in depth insights to Old Norse Mythology perfect for those seeking a firm base of understanding to base ones own practice upon.
Of course there are MANY more credible people who share their research, experience, and knowledge out there, (the above suggestions are merely a starting point) therefore below is a paper to aid those seriously interested in exploring the deep essence of old Norse and Icelandic linguistics and writing development.
I can’t overemphasize the importance of understanding, studying and honoring the still living vital and rich Sami (along with Finnish) aboriginal culture with its native people of Scandinavia to fully understand seidr.
Both of these magical peoples traditions formed (as well as influenced)much of how seidr was and is practiced, especially in Norway and Sweden.
“The overall conclusion of these texts and singer Boine’s songs is that Sámi culture is integral in contemporary Norwegian culture. Moreover, the Sámi practice of shamanism has an enthnogenic cousin in Norway, as finds on a Viking ship suggest that the Völva (Viking priestesses) used cannabis to attain trances.”
“Finnish paganism shows many similarities with the religious practices of related cultures, such as Mordvin, Mari, Sami and other Eurasian paganism. It shares some features with its neighbouring Baltic, Norse and Germanic paganisms.”
So after processing yesterday I came to a very deep understanding I wish to share.
It pertains to our very natures, and the Gods we serve.
I have been seeing that we cant escape our very nature, and I feel that equates with our Ego.
As I believe our Ancestral Gods were indeed living people once, how they lived is in our Natures.
For example the Jountun were the indigenous peoples of the early landscapes, then the Vanir were those who still revered the wild places, yet they learned to harness the land and animals for thier own use.
Then came the Aesir, the folk of civilization, domination and war, and it’s with them we began to loose our connection with our Nature which is why Odin saw the need to be taught that connection through Freyas Earth magic, as he saw that disconnect would ultimately bring about Ragnarok.
All of us reclaiming Forn Sed are approaching it from our very natures, our Egos, to remember the old ways as best we can through our Ancestral faction of Gods we descend from.
So if you being Odins kin, you will look to the cerebral way, the way of civilization and thought, where as I as Jountun kin must do things in a wild manner with much mud, sky, trees and sensations.
All factions were Warriors in thier own ways, as to survive we must learn to fight, however fighting for wild folk isn’t for the love of war as it is with the civilized ones.
That goes for our magics too; Jountun and Vanir blood knows how to work with the surrounding environment within our very nature, so our seidr is wild, dirty, and uses every once of us. Aesir descendants tend to use magics that have much pomp and ceremony, rich with man made tradition and theater.
One is not better than the other, and to let the dogma we are to kill our egos, our very natures, doesn’t sit right with me.
I realized I can no sooner superceded my wildness than I can lopp off my own arm.
Yes I can conform my nature to fit into society somewhat, but there lies the crux; how far can any human go, even adept seidr folk to try to control and change their very nature, but more importantly why should they?
The wounds and scars we hold must be healed and addressed as that is the point of human life, but to try to squash, hide, or escape our very natures due to societal pressures I cannot abide by.
I truly wonder if this simple thing is what’s so wrong with our world?
For 2000 years everyone is being asked to change their very natures to fit in a world wide civilization, and in doing so only the dominant society which rules at the time gets to say who we are, how we act, what we think or when we can behave in any situation.
Perhaps I’m delusional, but being a self sovereign Heathen Volva means to me I have become one with my true Nature and I dont seek to quite my inner voice and understanding of self known as Ego.
I will always work to be a better human and leave the place better than when I found it, however I will never again apologize, or feel less than or weakened, simply because I do as I was born to do; which is to live fully within my nature and do it with honor to my Ancestral Gods and my very core self.
I got off the phone last night with one of my grad students in Australia, and he is going to give a paper on how we need to be co creators with Jord as listening participants in sustainable change, not the continued species of destructive domination and greed for our single drive of self centered gain for our own selfish “creature comforts.”
WE CANNOT go back to thinking human wealth and ease of living is “Normal, ” and our continued raping of the entire ecosystem with reckless disregard for all other life forms at the cost of our blind consumption is maintainable, BECAUSE IT IS NOT.
EARTH is a living entity, and even though via being 150 years deep into our human dominant creations of non organic living seems “natural;” it is this very ARTIFICIAL way of human living that has become the DEATH of us all.
We have literally became the industrial monsters we’ve become because we accept sloth and blatant disregard for anything other than ourselves, and we have forgotten how to be holistic Stewards in a wilderness setting which originally WAS OUR HOME IN WHICH WE THRIVED. (Think the movie Fern Gully)
I am writing this post as a Rallying Cry, to ask anyone who will to join this new Revolution that isn’t chained to a human political agenda, nor any homo sapien self serving entity. In our ranks, we have Matthew Sargent who is teaching eco farming, we have a Biology major Nichole Dawn Rose who builds community gardens to educate urban trouble teens to awaken to thier place in our biosphere, and Will Elrick, our Aussie Brother who is writing a paper of sustainability within our environment; -these Norse Shamans will become the first of Many Revolutionists of our time.
We saw this coming, and now we must be revolutionary in our Warriorship to Jord.
WE must be the front line to teach and give voice to all the voiceless creatures great and small.
WE must take back the planet and Rage against the Machine.
And as much as the collective energy, fear and stress has been draining to many, more of what I feel is this surge… a need to commit to the work; to be better prepared for healing the world.
I see posts all over “we can’t return to normal because normal wasn’t working”… and we all know that but most of the world is sitting and waiting for someone to tell them what to do to fix it. For world leaders to have a plan.
But it’s us. It’s WE the people. It’s the healers, the warriors of spirit, the shamans, those of us who feel moved and called that are supposed to be and make the change.
Good morning lovely Heathens. Today I want to share a thought on the sacrifices we each make on this path, as well as the notion each new path we set out upon will have its trails and tempering.
The more “Adept’ one becomes in the role of Healer or Priest (usually both) the more personal and sublime the tests of ability to hold such power becomes. There is no failure, nor success, there is only Authenticity in growth and adjustment to our Wyrd that we co create every waking moment of everyday. To wield the powers we are gifted with requires humble, yet noble and regal, respect.
Respect for ourselves, our intentions, our Gods, our magics, and how we go about our daily interface with the world at large.
Know you will have many failures, and some of them will be so grand you will doubt everything you feel is your truth-but here lies the crux of the matter: To fail miserably as an Adept Seidkonna, or Seidman is your sacrifice that you will give over and over again. But to continue to grow, learn, forge ahead and use magic to turn rotten lemons into the sweetest lemonade you’ve ever drank is in turn our Gift of Authenticity.
I’m going to share a story I think really happened, but in the end the Authenticity of this story that matters isn’t in if it really happened, but instead what will lye in the growth afterwards.
“I was locked in an in between place, not asleep in trance anylonger but not fully awake.
The past few months of endless revisits of old demons and the relentless attempts of endless purification and healing brought me to new levels of occult activity and “gifts” I was suddenly able to accomplish, but in doing so I began to question my sanity, my competence, and my right to wield such knowing.
I was told to seek She who Guards The Dead, a cousin of sorts, but She is a being I avoided as I didn’t fully understand Her Power.
Death can be quite subtle you see.
And life can be carelessly ignored; as at times we grow used to living with our eyes shut, our hearts locked away, and the magics we spin become a commonplace event to us.
I sat up at midnight, my heart hammering in my chest as I tried to adjust my eyes to the darkness.
I knew She was there before she spoke.
“You called to a hugr today, yet you’ve never even stepped foot in my hall in this incarnation.
What gave you this right? Did you not consider some kennings are not for even a Witch to speak? Your boldness is you strength but is also your demise.
You are blind to much that is underfoot, yet you seek those things that can only be sought through TRADITION.
I choose who speaks with Those I Hold, for everyone who must will return to their Heaths after spending time in my mound.What they know and remember are the deepest of mystery and are not allowed to be plucked out of hiding simply because its possible.
Earn your way to these gifts, do not be prideful and just demand them. Some will respond to loud demands, but I will not.
You must now pay sacrifice for the power you recklessly took, and these lessons will be your most trying yet.
Learn to control your nature, and keep the Sacred Silence. Don’t deny your Nature, work within it, fully. I can’t be moved by love, sorrow, regret, or shame; it’s not my Nature to do so.
It is in your nature to be moved by these things and much more. Choose wisely the power that moves you in your Nature. All can be allies, but some can at best make you loose your way, and at worst bring you to my Hall for a time when perhaps you are not wanting the Silence of The Mound.”
I never said a word, I just listened to Her voice that sounded like shadows moving within the dark spaces of a grave, and I nodded.
Now as morning dawns I look out at grey sky and with a gentle rain falling I smile at my understanding I have so much more to learn.
Change and growth are as much a part of Life as Death Herself is, and how we face our Nature is what all the Sagas sing about.
~I decided I want to leave behind a catchy tune based on honoring Tradition that folks can tap their toes to while they whistle along, and I am willing to make the necessary Sacrifice to know my Saga is told, and told authentically.
When my students become serious in their practice, the need to quite the mind to receive sometimes obscure kennings become very evident early on in the reclaiming process. When the need to implement a “meditative discipline” arrives, the question I get is: “What is Utiseta, and what good will it add to my seiðr practice?? ~I mean, what is it even used for and why?!”
In Svipdagsmal (Poetic Edda, Hollander) young Svipdag is given a terrible task by his stepmother.
To find help and to have the ability to be “Spirit-led”, (as well as learn how he can complete his grim task) Svipdag goes and sits outside on his mother Groa’s grave, a practice called utiseta or “out-sitting”.
During this sitting-out experience; Groa comes through for Svipdag, and he not only learns how to complete his terrible task, but also is granted nine other magical spells.
Utiseta as a means of guidance and connection to Ancestral memories was also used up until the conversion of Iceland to Christianity, when Thorgeirr (who was chosen to moderate the conflict between the Pagan Icelanders and the Christian forces from Norway) sits out for a day and a night under a skin in order to determine the fate of religion in Iceland.
This practice of out-sitting as mentioned above is both a form of meditation with stilling the mind (while simultaneously opening to the receptivity of incoming messages, imagery or kennings) but also as a way of placing focus on the way of receiving the sacred information and help, often specifically from the Ancestors, then divining the future with their aid.
Moreover, as shown by Thorgeirr, Utiseta also draws power from the very essence of the land itself to help humans make decisions that will affect the Well of Urd, and all the powers of life co-habiting there. So how does this process actually work?
WARNING!! ~Incoming UPG:
Let me explain; every life force on this planet comes from and returns to the organic matter that it is created from.
When living; we are as we are- living, breathing, moving, thinking. Just as humans who are in bodies will tend to do.
At the same time Earth Herself (from her soil, water and air) is living, breathing, moving, and thinking. Just as a Planet that can sustain life will tend to do.
Oh, and let’s not forget every other microbe or life force living with us on Jord that has life, a vibrancy and an intelligence specific to that life force. Everything living out its existence on this planet returns to the soil carrying all the experience and interactions it has experienced throughout its lifetime in that location. Just as all living things tend to do.
Now after all the millennial cycles of living and dying, the soil, rocks, streams, plants, and trees hums with a vast encoded intelligence, and when we need a deeper understanding beyond our frail human plastic-coated limitations; the answer ( for me) is to go deep into Earths wild spaces to sit upon it, within it; to connect, expand, open up, touch, absorb and listen for the message (or kenning) of organic life well beyond my own limited understanding.
That to me is the meaning of animism expounded.
But what of death?
Decay and Rot??
Once something or someone dies, doesn’t it become inert?
Based on my own personal experiences, I can happily report Death does not make any acquired lifetime(s) of kennings or awareness inert; it simply modifies their form and accessibility.
I follow a more shamanistic approach to Asatru than many of my contemporaries, and above all things I am an animist. In my own spiritual ventures, I’ve discovered three types of spiritual consciousness ventured through meditation/trance/seiðr which is called Utiseta, and animism (IMHO) is pivotal to each approach.
Below I will share more detail on the three types of out-sitting “styles.” I wish to share my understanding of HOW sitting on a grave or powerful spot in nature would still be a viable practice to do on a regular basis.
I feel since nothing dies and just disappears to be reformed; all particles, atoms, and the “consciousness” of once living things, upon dying, are imbued directly back into the rocks and mud. I also have come to discover not just their blood and flesh are reabsorbed; but also the being’s intelligence, awareness, life experience, emotions, and even traumas morph back into the soil once again. I personally feel when a sentient being dies and is returned to Jord’s body, that beings power/intelligence will remain in the very soil where the life AND body spent its corporal (and deceased) existence.
Utiseta works because the life experienced by any creature great and small took place from beginning to end on the very spot of dirt you are trying to reach out to for guidance. The living creature who is now dead has its DNA become affixed and amended into the very soil it is buried within.
In other words, when a Völva goes out to perform a Utiseta, she is seeking to meditate by quieting the mind and receiving guidance from ‘somewhere.”
That “somewhere” is the residual energy marker of the Dead (human or otherwise) mixed with the compounds of the substance that comprises the very elemental building blocks of all original life forms on Earth: building blocks we call dirt.
Since Earth has Her own Intelligence, when someone/thing dies and its corporal body becomes one with the very soil a Volva is doing out-sitting upon, the magic happens due to the Alchemy of Jord holding Her dead close and transmuting many life images stained into her soil with those of the interacting seer who silently seeks understanding with hidden kennings.
Utiseta becomes successful because the seer is absorbing the blood-stained memories of the soil she is sitting upon. The magical imprint of intelligence and problem solving is compounded and held within the living particles of the soil itself.
Through the soil absorbing any creature’s living and dying experience, these impressions left within the topography of the land is relayed back to the Völva almost trans-dermally if you will.
This concept works with thedeceased people….and, well; for this article, especially dead people! Then compound the notion that the dead being sought for guidance was a Human sentient being who was a steward of his tribe, the Earth, and was a forbearer of Original indigenous spiritual connectiveness to the world of Nature and organic life.
In this mode of awareness, we begin to fathom the ancient sacredness of awakening throughTradtional out-sitting.
This means to me Utiseta as described in the Voluspa is possible because the human in the grave was someone of great honor and power, such as a Leader/Queen/King, a great Warrior, a revered Priest/ess or a renowned Healer. To go sit upon their essence and gain a snippet of their deep wisdom is priceless and holy by any utiseta standards!
To sit on an Ancient known burial mound of such a person for utiseta was THE most powerful way of doing it. If we place animism into the equation, we can fully understand the power, wisdom and draw of Traditional Utiseta to the Völva’s and seiðkona’s of old.
Viewed through the lens of Animism, the Earth is alive and singing with the eons of life and death lived out and recycled through Jord’s very skin and bones: The Mud, the Stones, the Trees, and the Plants who rise and fall.
When we sit out upon Jord, we are opening ourselves to the voices that sing within the leaf mold and dirt from the beginning of time.
We are sitting in an open surrender; withholding our own mind chatter and limited sight telling our ancestors we trust they are still with us, and their wisdom can be re-gained by simply opening our awareness, going physically outside to meet with them, and then committing to intently listening and carry forth without hesitation our ability to access Ancient Wisdom while suspending modern day incredulousness, suspicion and disbelief.
Below are the three main ways I use utiseta in my 21st century practice:
1. Wisdom-Seeking through Omen taking at your hörgr, Vé or Hof. This is the type of Utiseta is light meditation centered via out-sitting where one concentrates on a sigil, omen or one of the other mysteries of Spa for the sake of gaining divination knowledge either from inward sub-conscious revelation of Ancestral memory or through animistic natural organic influence within the object itself, like bones, coins, cards or runes. Here the Völva or vitki is simply connecting to the animism of the object appearing in front of them as a kenning. The collective energy any living consciousness has programmed that object or “sign” with is alive with animistic kenning, and via Utiseta and actually seeking physical connection with the physical representation of the seers intention, the current of magic is turned on and the seer understands.
2. Utiseta in Nature. A form of sitting-out whenever the seer is seeking Organic Earth Root Work and or Medicine/Holistic healing via attempts to communicate with the most ancient and primal Landvaettir, fylgja, or the original ancestors (we are talking PRIMAL humans here) of that specific land topography you are attempting to communicate with. This Utiseta reaches out to any primordial spiritual beings that have roamed Midgard and died there. As mentioned above; through life, death and the return process of Earths absorption/transmutation of all Her creatures great and small we can access that intelligence simply by placing our bodies within the environment and becoming united with the very substance that not only are we made of; but will also return to someday-adding our personal wyrd seep into the soil via our blood and body material returning to our mother through rot. Nature being sought as a collective intelligence through Utiseta is possible because each life that lived and died on your out-sitting spot became one with the soil and inhabit the place you are seeking to draw power/wisdom through. It is the true meaning of animism for me, so if not on an ancestral grave looking for a specific person’s guidance; the only place to practice Utiseta for me is in the outdoors, preferably in a secluded place like an old growth forest.
3. Ancestor Guidance and Spiritual Reclaiming. When I need to get solid answers about how things need to be done via indigenous evolutionary Ancestral knowledge, I go to a grave of either a family Ancestor, or the oldest grave I can find, if it’s not my most desired out-sitting spot: a monolithic burial mound.
For this most classic form of utiseta, we are reaching out to the specific animism of the Noble/person of power buried there, thinking whomever was buried there was an important member of the community and probably dedicated not just their life to their people; but their afterlife as well. (Leaders tend to want to protect their Kin even generations down the road.)
For this most powerful form of utiseta, I’m fully submersing my consciousness to the spiritual realm to explore the mysteries of Ancestral Knowing in a trance-like state while sitting upon and uniting with the essence of the person buried there-absorbing the kenning of a portion of their wisdom, success and failures. I’ve seen some powerful visions that always proved true when using this kind of utiseta. In this form of out-sitting, I use intense singing/chanting and drumming. Some have likened this style of utiseta to astral projection.
Whatever reason or “style” you choose for out-sitting, make sure to make it a regular part of your seiðr practice. With diligence you will come to find as I have, utiseta is one of my most powerful ways of accessing ancestral wisdom along with Earth wisdom to aid in living a complete and meaningful Heathen life as Völva.
I was given this last night on the final dark Moon of 2019; a commanding and very important Oath to uphold as a Volva and as a Priestess of the Old Ways: ~share Only GRACE this wheel turn,[Gratitude/Relationship/Authenticity/Compassion/Engagement] and try to unite this very special and divinely ignited 21st Century world-wide community of self-sovereign seiðr practitioners to come together as a UNITED kindred of solitary Tribes, working towards the same thing: Developing genuine, authentic support and kinship within each individual, thereby spreading GRACE as a cohesive intention and force of collective will.
In other words, I am NOT my Sisters keeper, nor her Spiritual police. I can only commit to support her exploratory and courageous experimental work and effort in this reclaiming process of Heathenry and seiðr. My oath required I can and WILL help any Brethren at every turn, whether she knows my name or not.
Wow that was a rambling Oath eh? ~Blame Gramps! But in all seriousness, I was shown CLEARLY that when we collectively as contemporary heathens (and/or especially Norse occult workers) choose to become an accepting, united, Tribal community of Indo European Ancestral magic-workers, [which includes: seiðkona/seiðmann, Heathen root doctors, and medicine folk] we will come to step fully into our personal power via collective support and admiration, respect and cooperation. (We all are drawing from the same well of Urd remember! ~If one Witch spits poison in the well, she contaminates the entire well for other practitioners who come to the well for a drink.)
My Oath for this Year looks to unite us as a world wide Tribe; quietly attending to our own solitary personal work and our local tribes needs, while simualtaionsly we gain power via engaging in community practitioner support; meaning each practitioner authentically shares genuine peace, empathy, awareness, aid and joy with other practitioners they meet-on line or in person.
The theroy is by knowing in our shared awakening we each [almost a million strong!] are applying GRACE to each other; thereby giving life and voice to the Ancestral Kennings of Those Whom Dwelled Upon the Heaths. This is accomplished through SHARED understanding, authenticity, honor, community, Sister/brotherhood, power and integrity. Only when we find this personal grace to share with others in our very special tribe can the Old Songs be sung loudly once again, and then the Earth and all her Children [great and small] heals and changes with our evolution.
Like a giant Forest of Ancient trees, our roots run deep and are deeply intertwined-ALL OF US- to ensure the magic never gets forgotten, lost, or worst; destroyed forever.
We must stop and bury within Jord those things/false fears bent on division and distraction of creating a organic holistic life lived by many communal tribes of Mavericks and Earth Stewards.
Being a Volva, Vitki, Heathen or Pagan has NOTHING to do with feeling one is involved in a competition sport: Each soul is unique and important within the great web of life.
It has EVERYTHING to do with living fully, boldly, and in a Indigenous, Spiritual manner, leaving a place better than when you found it-then showing your family and friends, your peers and co-walkers; just how wonderous it is to live in close connection to your very life’s ONLY source and each other.
~Please know without the shadow of doubt; you have many kindred souls [human and otherwise] who are your sacred brethren in this awakening. Simply call and they will come.~
I would like to share a passage from a wonderful re-wilding book I read early in 2019 that changed my entire vision of my place not only in Midgard; but what importance Midgard really means to the rest of the nine or so worlds because I have traversed these lands REAL time, as well as in my dreams.
I was also shown to simply supply GRACE to everyone I know or meet, and they too will discover the power of community and how intregal community is to heal our world.
Create healing, change, and a powerful life lived well and lived with honor. It’s why we do what we do!
Join me won’t you in manifesting Grace? We need it now more than ever…….
Book excerpt “Introduction The Journey of the Soulscapes” from Mary Thompson’s book; “Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness.” Wild Roots Press. Kindle Edition.
Remember the earth whose skin you are . . . –Joy Harjo
“Every spiritual journey is at its heart a quest for wholeness. We long to feel a part of the vast and unfolding mystery of life. We yearn to feel alive, engaged. We are seeking our place and purpose. But how do we proceed? How do we remember who we are? What path will carry us home? This book maps a journey into the wild environs of the soul through five archetypal landscapes: deserts, forests, oceans and rivers, mountains, and grasslands. I call these “soulscapes,” for they are the merging of inner and outer nature—the meeting place of self and Earth. As you enter their depths, you will awaken the metaphors of the landscapes within you and lay claim to the wild wisdom and power at the core of your being. Humans, after all, weren’t placed on Earth; we emerged out of the Earth. Every day, we consume part of the Earth in order to stay alive. The great landscapes of the planet are our ancestors; they arose from the Earth just as we did, and their energies evoke deep feelings and potentialities within us at both conscious and unconscious levels. Since the remarkable appearance of self-reflective consciousness around 200,000 years ago, we have been primed to connect with these regions—they are resident in our collective unconscious, part of our primal birth matrix. The cultural historian Thomas Berry puts it this way in Dream of the Earth: “Beyond our genetic coding, we need to go to the earth, as the source whence we came, and ask for her guidance, for the earth carries the psychic structure as well as the physical form of every living being upon the planet.”1 Today, as concern grows about how far we have distanced ourselves from the natural world, we are encouraged to spend more time outdoors, walking, gardening, or simply being in nature. These things are hugely important. But this book asks something more: it invites you to awaken to the ancient Earth-consciousness that resides within you—within us all—that you can access at any time, in any place, even in the midst of the busiest city. The landscapes you will explore in this book are not external or extrinsic to who you are; they are woven into the core of your being as surely as elements from the stars or the salty depths of the oceans. For this is the amazing truth: four billion years of Earth wisdom are embedded in your cells. It is time to awaken to the whole magnificent geography of your soul.
THE WOUNDED WILD
You may be understandably keen to get started down your personal path, but it is important to take a moment to grasp the relationship between your inner nature and the natural world. For it is this relationship that lies at the heart of the journey we will take together in this book. When we consider how embedded we are in the Earth, how we are literally made of the same stuff as rivers, rocks, and roots, we can see how separating from this beautiful, fecund world might be damaging to our psyches. Have you ever suffered a terrible accident, betrayal, or loss? Then you know you can be left depleted, depressed, perhaps even cast adrift. It is as if some part of your soul leaves you. As if you aren’t quite whole. In losing our intimate relationship with the Earth, we modern humans have suffered a particular trauma that has caused our wild souls to split off. We may not always be fully aware of what is happening, so accustomed have we become to our high-speed, high-tech, built-up lives. Yet even if we remain unconscious of the source of our pain, we experience the symptoms of separation in a sense of alienation and a lack of aliveness. Modernity, with its mechanistic mind-set, excels at certain things: expediency, efficiency, uniformity. But the wild soul—who you really are—gets its sense of power and imagination from the natural world, and thrives on an altogether different set of values: creativity, authenticity, diversity. Exiled from Earth, like a wounded animal the wild soul goes into hiding. And we are left feeling off balance and incomplete. Our psyches then look for any available means to experience a sense of wild freedom. Addiction, to everything from alcohol and shopping to technology and pharmaceutical mood enhancers, is a frequent symptom of the soul’s desire to break free of the deadening aspects of modernity. This default approach—what I term living the “shadow wild”—only takes us further from our source. In the end, we find ourselves trapped, tamed, and unfulfilled. So how do we heal the wounded wild? How do we reclaim our wild souls? The answer lies within each of us. Are you able to recall a moment when as a child you lay in the branches of a tree, or idled the day away watching clouds dance by? Do you remember how alive your senses were? How peaceful or full of possibilities you felt? How the Earth held and supported you? Even now, something as simple as the gentle brush of a breeze or the sight of a beautiful sunset can remind you that, beyond the confines of your everyday reality, Earth is calling to you. It holds wisdom for your life and points toward something vaster and more vibrant within you. There is something fierce, free, and genuine that longs to find expression through your one particular and wild life. But these moments pass too quickly. Subsumed back into our hyperrational, fast-paced existences, our sense of interconnectedness becomes, like so many holiday snapshots, a pleasant but ineffective memory. The awareness of our oneness with the natural world can no longer be allowed to recede into the background. If we are to ensure a vibrant future not only for ourselves but for the entire Earth community, it must become the guiding principle of our life and times. At this precise moment in human history, it is vital that we bridge the false divide between the human and nonhuman worlds lest we risk losing the wild beauty that is our deepest nature and greatest hope. Reclaiming our identity as part of the wild and evolving Earth is both the journey and the ultimate purpose of this book. This is what the human soul longs for: to become itself a force of nature by liberating its instinctive, creative expression through each of us. In this way lies wholeness. In the following sections, I’ll lay out the essential foundation for the journey we are about to embark upon—explaining how we arrived at this point and providing a map of where we are going and how we can navigate the terrain. But first a question: how did this split between Earth and self come about, and what does it tell us about our own journey?
HOW WE GOT HERE
For many hundreds of generations, humanity’s primary relationship was with the Earth. Our ancestors engaged with the land, the water, and the creatures around them in a direct and intimate way. Looking skyward at the night stars, they told stories of their place in the great scheme of things. Life was hard, brutally so at times, but they never questioned their sense of belonging to a community of life with which they were inextricably entwined. About 10,000 years ago, we began the transformation from hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists, thus shifting our primary social form of organization. Increasingly adept at cultivating the soil and no longer nomadic, we settled down and began to build civilizations; sprawling cities gave rise to progressively more complex political structures, art, music, and drama. As language migrated from the spoken to the written word, we began to seek wisdom in books rather than in the shifting constellations, the rustle of a tree branch, the paw print on the path. In the seventeenth century, with its heightened emphasis on reason, intellect, and science, Earth came to be viewed not as a source of spiritual nurture and wisdom but as a resource. Perceiving ourselves as separate from and superior to the Earth, neither restrained by her laws nor beholden to her bounty, we began to exploit the planet in ever more devastating ways. And our Western religious practices supported us in doing so. What was sacred was no longer sought in the great spread of prairies, forests, and oceans, but relegated to an unearthly realm called Paradise. Even so, throughout the nineteenth century and during the initial years of the twentieth, we still lived in a largely wild world. There were still places teeming with wildlife and devoid of human settlement. Oceans still churned with large fish and remained empty of plastic. Large rivers still ran free in the main, and thick pelts of forests covered vast swathes of the planet. Most humans still lived close to the land rather than in cities, as they had done for all of human history. Our current century presents a very different picture. Rivers and prairies, mountaintops and oceans—every part of Earth is under siege. Unspoiled, wild nature is disappearing all around us. It becomes harder and harder to feel a part of what Gary Snyder calls “the whole mountains-and-rivers mandala universe.”2 While it is vital that we acknowledge the grief of this loss, becoming paralyzed by pain serves neither us nor the greater world. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the challenges that confront us. But what if the process of rewilding rewilding the Earth began with rewilding our souls? If we truly grasp the interconnectedness between all living things, doesn’t it follow that every change within us will be reflected in the whole? If we reroot ourselves in the rhythms, wisdom, and patterns that created this planet and our own flesh and feelings, what might be possible for the Earth and all her inhabitants? What if healing the world really does start from within? And so we begin by taking a journey deep into the heart of the soulscapes. Following the path inward, we enter the stillness of deserts, the mystery of forests, the flow of rivers and oceans, the strength of mountains, and the vast openness of grasslands that reside within us. In so doing, we uncover a truth that has the power to change the way we live, act, and dream: when we awaken to our oneness with the Earth, we tap into a wealth of resources and wisdom that enable us to live fully and passionately, as cocreators in the great and evolving story of this planet. In reclaiming our wild souls, we discover a way for all of life to flourish and thrive, ourselves included.
WILD SOUL WISDOM MODEL
In our journey through the soulscapes, we evolve. We transform from the small egocentric self, separate from the Earth and other beings, to the wilder and more encompassing ecocentric self, an integral part of an ensouled planet.
FINDING OUR WAY BACK HOME
When I first began to live in a way that honored my own wild soul, I felt removed from friends and family. I was like a lone king penguin I once encountered on Gable Island, off the tip of Tierra del Fuego. He stood very still on a pebbly beach beside the Beagle Channel, his round black eyes set off by yolk-yellow markings and his body covered in a scrubby set of feathers. Cut off from his community because his new feathers were still in the process of growing in, he couldn’t yet brave the icy waters; he hadn’t the proper insulation. As the new feathers thrust through his skin, I would later learn, they caused him pain. Transformation is rarely easy. At times, you may long to retreat to a less vital and more domesticated vision of yourself. But remember: the strength of the Earth resides within you, supporting you in your quest for wholeness. This became very clear to me in a dream I had when I first began to write this book. I am floating miles above the planet, looking down at what appear to be ants emerging from the Earth’s fiery core. Drifting closer, I realize they are women. They stream out from the center of the Earth to encircle the globe, pounding tall sticks, beating a rhythmic pulse, straight-backed, sinewy. Closing ranks around the Earth, they form a protective circle of love and healing. They are fierce warriors, strong beyond belief. These women represent all of us who are in touch with our wild souls. They illustrate the strength that comes when we claim the “I am-ness” of a mountain or a forest. In owning our birthright as beings of the Earth, we emerge as purposeful, passionate, filled with molten power. Whether you’re drawn to take this journey because you want to throw off the constraints of modernity, or you’re a dedicated Earth lover and long to be supported in your efforts to make the world a better place, or you simply yearn for a wildness that brings you more creativity, freedom, and bravery—regardless of your starting point, this journey will carry you home. In your willingness to pick up this book, you have already taken a step toward embracing a more passionate and fully realized existence. My belief is that you can already glimpse your wild soul returning.”
The Heathen tradition is unique in many ways to other branches of Paganism. Not only do Heathens have varying camps or groups who opinion vary as to the way they view our faith should be practiced (i.e. Folkish, Universalist or Tribal) We also get into various discussions as to the authenticity, viability, and methodology of our faction of Mystic practitioners, or Spa(e) Workers, of which I am a member: the Seidr and the Volva.
In every other culture, the professional Witch, Shaman, Healer, and Energy worker has someone, somewhere, who can offer training and validity to pass along to the up- in- coming Medicine root-workers. Skills, as well as methods, are then able to be shared and quantified by the Adept Master; thereby making sure the new apprentices are competent and able to aid and assist the community, spirits and Gods they are called to serve.
In the Pagan path, especially in Heathenism, we have no where to turn expect for a scant few modern authors and Spa workers who have been trying to revive and reconstruct this newly reemerging form of Norse mysticism. (The Norse path of Paganism wasn’t even a recognized or commonly heard of path in the US until the Reconstructionist movement of Heathenism that began in the late 1960;s)
You see, thousands of years ago we had elders of this profession who trained others in their local village to carry on this tradition of traveling seer and healer, because the Folk understood the importance of a Seidkonna or Volva’s work.
Spa(e) Work wasn’t a ‘solitary’ art that the practitioner learned as some form of self help. These people were the town healers, who helped sing songs to aid in the birthing process (plus I have little doubt they were probably actual midwives/doctors/herbalists) and were called upon to aid the ill, the injured, and the dying; as well as called forth in sending off the dead.
It was also the Volva and or the Seidkonna who were called on to help stop droughts, and to win the land and safety from warring tribes. Unfortunately, with the onset of Christianity; our Ancestral Elders, ~the Mystic professionals of their time (as well as their knowledge of what and HOW they performed Spa work) was pretty much lost to the annuals of time, rock and mud.
I am writing this post to answer the challenge of those who say the path of the Seidr and Volva is lost, can’t be taught, or is just a path of total UPG with its benefits and mysteries only useful to the person trying to re-learn it. Think again.
Traditions of Shamanism and Mysticism from the Norse cousins and neighbors still survive today. If you are a student of such studies in anthropology as I am; you will see (especially with the Sami, the Mongolians, the Slavic peoples and the Druids) cultures all over the European landscape still have traditions of practice handed down that are not only very similar in structure, disciplines and working procedures, they are still in use (but more importantly) effectual, to this day.
If one gets tutoring in these other Indo-European or Eur-Asia cultural traditions and methods of practice, one sees the universal actions ALL shamans and mystics use~ the only difference lays in the terminology, tribal culture, topography, and demography of the practicing peoples.
Our ancestors originally learned to further their arts of healing, faring forth and magic wielding from some one, some where, in some neighboring tribe, from some other tradition.
This is the way of human kind; we learn and share from others.
I dare to say in today’s 21st century world, those of us who have undergone training in Shamanic skills from non-Heathen cultures and are seeking to bring these skill sets as gap filling techniques into our Norse Pagan Practice; come with the belief that Seidr and Volva’s can re-form a credible modern day practice that is teachable, learnable ~ but most importantly~ USEFUL for our community of Heathen Pagans.
Through contact and immersion within a viable, working, still alive, Shamanic or Mystical traditions of Ancient Europe, along with the help of our guiding Disir and Gods; (and of course by the use of what scant Lore we have to go by) we CAN apply those practical skills, techniques, and knowledge to the art of Spa reconstruction as a Modern-meets-ancient livelihood that can (in my opinion) become a credible and honorable profession in today’s 21st Century World..
As we approach the winter season, the natural pull is for us to focus on those deep needs of self mastery that began in the active warm summer season.
Many Heathens choose these quite, introspective seasonal times to learn more deeply the written history traditions and lore that teaches us much about our Ancestors and Gods, or perhaps they hone in a creative art, like weaving, blacksmithing or mead making.
But what about working on the most important part of ourselves we own?
Lyke means the actual physical body. When we get involved with higher spiritual pursuits it’s very easy to overlook this crucial soul part, and this month’s lesson is to remind you without it, we wouldn’t be! Your Lyke IS your most sacred vehicle, so it’s the most important ‘soul’ part you own!
(old Norse)Lyke is also spelled Lich. Lyke is pronounced lee-keh; where the old English name Lich is pronounced leekh.
Like all parts of us, it goes without saying our body is like, super necessary to do ANY work, spiritual or otherwise yes?
As a Heathen, one of the first things we are taught is to revere our physical selves, and its soul part with all its functions is sacred and Holy.
But with todays 21st century living and all its Modern marvels, to honor and use our bodies in the holistic way they are meant to be used can be a daunting task that requires much in the ways of self sacrifice, work, discipline and discomfort.
For me personally, I cant connect as well with my Ancestors and the Gods if my body isn’t used in the process as well; so that means dedicated daily time to keeping my Lyke strong, supple and fit by using it, training it and treating it with as much hospitality as I would a honored guest into my home.
I have learned to turn my workouts into a offering to the nine worlds-and I use the discomfort, pain, and power I experience as my proof I am prepared to face hardships; starting with the first interface I use for my connection to the Norse cosmology ~my Lyke.
*This morning before my workout, I read from one of my favorite fitness places on line (https://norsefitness.co/blogs/motivation/this-approach-to-hardship-will-change-your-life) this inspirational post which really captures the importance of us using our own self care and the PHYSICAL training of our Lykes is step #1 on how we face all the adversities in our lives:…….” Adversity is generally seen in a negative light. Hardship, setbacks, failures, and pain are things we all try to avoid. And when we inevitably are forced to face them, we look to for ways to stay distracted rather than learn from it.
Learn from these obstacles. What if these things were used to our benefit? What if times of weakness bring a new found level of strength?
Pain is meant to be embraced, not ignored. This does not mean condoning self-pity or accepting failure as a pattern. It means taking responsibility, and most importantly, taking control.
Strength requires a certain level of intensity to achieve. Pain, loss, and challenges are a gift. They give us the intensity needed to propel forward. Most of us don’t see strength as a life or death situation. But life – and a weak one at that – is the most threatening and serious situation of all. Is your life one that reflects strength, both mentally and physically? Or is it one that cowers away from adversity, avoids conflict, and seeks comfort?
Comfort is complacency. Comfort is weakness personified. No one has ever achieved anything worthwhile by staying in place, no matter how good their intentions. Comfort means accepting mediocrity, resigned to being average, and devoid of purpose. Your choices brought you here. Choose to do more.
Ask yourself, what would it really take to start chasing a better existence? Would you blame another person, or the situation itself, or how the world slighted you? You could, but you’d stay exactly where you are, and the world would keep going without you. The pain that you make every effort to avoid is THE EXACT LESSON you were meant to learn. Use it accordingly.
Pain is necessary for action. Embrace it, stop running from it. Use adversity as a reminder of where you never want to be again. Use it as a reason to keep fighting towards something better. The alternative means defeat. You’re not done, and you’ve rested enough. Pain is your reminder that it’s time to move forward. A better existence is out there, but you are the only one with the ability to find it.
And when you find more pain along the way, you’re going in the right direction.”
Very Powerful words, yes?
So for our total selves in the Norse tradition, I choose to honor the component parts of a living person as follows: 1) the physical body (lich); 2) the mind(hugr) 3) the etheric energy or energy field (aura) that surrounds our physical body (ham[r]); 4) personal awareness of consciousness or identification of self, sometimes called the ego (EK) ;5) our actual spirit self that is our astral ‘double’(Fylgja) 6) the higher “god” self (Disir) and 7)the breath of life or spirit (önd); 8) divine consciousness and inspiration (öðr)and finally; 9) our ‘luck’ or inherited traits and behaviors known as hamingja.
Each of these parts creates a working and cohesive whole; and if one is overlooked, we can’t know our full power in my opinion. That means much time and insight are needed via getting in touch with ALL your parts! This post it’s our bodies; and this outward manifestation of ourselves is the essential part of our being that has its own intelligence and provides us our interface with life and all things mystic!
The physical body, whose parts appear and function in the same way regardless where we hail from or what we believe, has its own kennings and instinctual ways of performing which allows us understanding of the world around us; both seen and unseen! As we have discovered thus far, the parts of the soul can be divided up in a number of ways, depending on cultural or (as in this case) personal preference, but as physical proof of our existence, the body itself must be approached as a scared and holy soul part.
In 1985, I read a book called “The Body Electric” Robert O. Becker, a pioneer in the field of regeneration and its relationship to electrical currents in living things, tells the fascinating story of our bioelectric selves., which in many ways challenges the established mechanistic understanding of the body. In his iconic book, Robert explores new pathways in our understanding of evolution, acupuncture, psychic phenomena, and healing.
It is through understanding the body (Lyke) as an organism that houses its own intelligence, its own muscle memories, it can repair itself, fight off microbial invasion, and it generates its own biomechanical energy and heat; we come to see our Bodies are miraculous self-sustaining entities in their own right. Our bodies are just as sacred as our Disir, our Fylgja, or any of our other 9 soul parts!