Update: devotional art now available to buy

Devotional icon art for Wōden, by me. Available to buy here.

As I’ve written about before, over the last months I’ve been inspired and moved to create devotional art for my Gods. I’ve developed prayers and ritual around this, and it’s become a meaningful part of my practice. After giving it a fair amount of consideration, I have now opened a Redbubble store so that anyone who may wish to can buy prints of my work for their altars, shrines, etc.

Also (as outlined on my new page about this), if you would like to commission a piece, I am open to discussions, so get in touch. I am busy and I wouldn’t want to take on anything I didn’t feel I could do justice to, so I don’t make promises, but I’m always happy to chat if you have ideas, suggestions, or commissions.

Reflections on recent travels

A view of brightly coloured houses in Nuuk, with mountains in the background and a blue sky. There is about a foot of snow on the ground.
Nuuk, capital city of Greenland.

Recently I was lucky enough to spend five days in Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland, for work. This was an incredible opportunity for many reasons (and I can highly recommend a trip to anyone interested!) but it also influenced some of my thinking around heathenry, which I wanted to reflect on a little here.

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Fulla

Fulla icon art by me. Available to buy on Redbubble.

Fulla is described in the Prose Edda [1] as a maiden Goddess, with free-flowing hair bound by a gold band. She carries Frigga’s ash box, looks after her footwear, and Frigga confides secrets in her. In the Grimnismal [2], Fulla acts as Frigga’s agent in Her wager with Odin. She warns Frigga’s favourite that a magician (Odin in disguise) is coming to trick him, and how to detect him, thus throwing the contest in Frigga’s favour. Fulla is also cited in kennings for gold [3]. A counterpart of Fulla, Volla, is mentioned in the Old High German “horse cure” Merseburg Charm [4]. She is one of several Gods stated to sing charms to heal Balder’s horse, and is said to be the sister of Friia, the counterpart of Frigga and Frīg.

Fulla, translated as Bountiful, is one of those ON words that translates directly into OE. In OE it may simply be translated as fullness, though the Bosworth Toller [5] gives an appealing definition including “the highest stage reached by anything, the perfection, perfect specimen of a kind or class“. This gives Fulla’s name a connotation not just of fullness, bounty and fertility, but highness and perfection. This fits with my idea of the Handmaidens as exemplifying different virtues or ways of living.

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On abundance, blessings, and ānanda

The cornucopia: blessings enough to feed not just oneself, but a family, a community. Photo by Brad West on Unsplash.

Recently, I’ve been focusing on Gods traditionally associated with ideas of abundance, wealth, and prosperity, such as Fulla, Geofen and Ingui. For me this is a sphere that I’ve often felt uncomfortable with or unsure about, and as I deepen my understanding of these Gods, I’ve been deepening my understanding of this area, and accordingly wanted to unpack a little.

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Hlēowen (Hlín)

Icon art for Hlēowen, by me. Available to buy on Redbubble.

Hlēowen is the ASH counterpart of Hlín. In the Prose Edda, it is stated that She has the role of protecting those Frigga wishes to save from danger [1]. The Voluspa describes the death of Odin at Ragnarok as a hurt or sorrow for Hlín [2].

Hlín’s name is said to mean Protector, deriving from an obscure ON verb hleina, with a related noun hleinir, which means something like “refuge” or “peace and quiet”. This is related to OE hlinian, to lean, lie down, rest [3]. That is to say, She is one who others lean on, who provides refuge, peace and protection, who comforts those in grief and hardship. My name for Her [4] comes not from hlinian, but hlēonian, meaning to shelter, protect, or take care (hlēow) of – meaning something like Protection-Woman, or poetically, She Who Shelters.

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Handmaidens Project Introduction

Soft focus photograph of books, a cup of tea and a vase of flowers laid out on a table.
My process of working on this project: reading, writing and contemplation. Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Over the last weeks and months I have been working on (and will doubtless continue to work on over the coming weeks and months) a primer and devotional to the group of twelve Goddesses known sometimes in Norse Heathenry as Frigga’s Handmaidens. As I finish segments of this, I will be posting them here, and plan eventually to collate them into a downloadable format. As such, I want to begin with an introduction to these Goddesses, what this project is about, and why I embarked on it.

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Reflections on Mōdraniht

Photograph of a pot of steaming hot soup.
Ceremony has its place, and so does praying over a hot stove. Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Mōdraniht is an Old English holiday that comes to us from Bede, who recounts [1] that it was celebrated by the pre-Christian heathens on the night before Christmas. The name means Mothers’ Night, though there are (naturally) a variety of views among modern heathens as to Who precisely these Mothers are and how They should be honoured, though it is common practice to observe Mōdraniht the night before celebrating Gēol.

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Swords & Plough-shares: reflections on the Wild Hunt

Image of a wild stag.
Deer, especially stags, are a key element of Wild Hunt imagery for me. Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen from Pexels

The Wild Hunt is one name for a folkloric/mythic motif that crops up in different guises across North & Western Europe: a phantom hunt that rides through the night sky, often seeking out evildoers and dangerous to behold. A full explanation of the Hunt and its various forms and leaders is beyond me; for a quick introduction see Wikipedia, for a full treatment see Lecouteux’s Phantom Armies of the Night. Suffice to say that from a poly-centric polytheist perspective, there are many possible interpretations of the Hunt, all of which are valid, and in this post I will only be discussing my own interpretation and experiences.

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There is no destination

Photo by Ricardo Alfaro on Unsplash. There is no true North, no destination, only the path.

Three months ago, I got married. Approximately nine years ago I became a heathen. These are two disparate events but I want to talk about what I see as a commonality between them: we may think of them as a destination or an endpoint but they are not. They are only the beginning of the journey.

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Why Simone Biles made me cry

A gymnast wearing protective hand grips coats their hands in chalk.
Photo by Nima Sarram on Unsplash. I never learnt any skills on the bars as a child because we were forced to go without grips to “toughen us up”.

Whenever I can, I watch gymnastics competitions. This week, watching Simone Biles withdraw from the team and individual all-around events, and watching the ensuing social media fallout, I have been – how to say? – in my feelings. Sad, disappointed, furious. Reliving trauma. So let’s get into it.

(Content warning for discussion of child abuse, sexual assault, victim-blaming and wince-worthy injuries)

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