A Quick Post Regarding Rune Sets

Traditionally a set of runes is crafted by the practioner themself.

Using such woods like Ash or Rowan, they’re risted/carved, and then reddened with blood. (Or maybe red paint/ink with a bit of blood added.)

Although I am aware that nowadays run stones  or rune sets are available for purchase.  This maybe a good option for those who maybe do not live in a geographic region where they have access to such trees or wood. Or may not have the means to craft their own.

The key here of course is to assure that regardless you have properly sained and connected to your runes.  Even if the set did not come  about to you in a traditional manner or traditional materials it is important that ones is still mindful of the symbolism and reasoning of the traditional methods.

Earlier this year I actually decided to purchase a set of runes that were crafted from black obsidian.

I of course charged and sained the set in accordance: by honouring and making sacrifice/offering to Odin, and “reddened” them with the “sacrifice” substance which had my own sacred  Blut added to it.

The idea here is that the blood/red gives the runes “life hue” your blood is the substance that symbolically and spiritually represent gives them connection or rather binds them to you. Those of who are familiar with working with Galdr stav or bindrunes will know that most often the work is coloured with red.   The red being the blood the component which activates/charges the work.

The idea is that you’re bringing them into being spiritually you as one of Alfather’s children who was given the gift of the runes when he “sacrificed himself unto himself.”

So regarding as mentioned above using purchased or otherwise runes that are crafted out of non-traditional means and/or materials?

Although, I find that there is something sacred and special in the process of working and crafting with the traditional woods and means I have found that the otherwise set works and can be used fine.  And as mentioned maybe a good means for those who may not have access to the materials or means to do a traditional crafting.

The key here being keeping in mind the significance and the symbolism used in the traditional crafting method of risting, reddening, and saining.  As long as the charging ritual is done in accordance to this concept.  Just as how in some Galdr work if the stav is reddened with red paint/ink or colouring as opposed to actual blood, it is important to keep in mind why the red colour is used. To represent the blood the “scared life hue.”

Keeping this in mind and working in accordance wih such will allow you to still bring them to be spiritually.  Utilizing them as such working and strengthening your bound  with the sacred runic forces.

Walpurgisnacht “The Night of The Witches” and The Lore of The Harz

Walpurgis or rather Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night) the eve of May day.  A seasonal high or holy tide that has been present in the customs in traditions of many European cultures from ancient times to even today.

In the Celtic world April 30-May 1 this was known as Beltane. For the ancient Celts this was one of the most sacred tides of the year.  For their two main tides were: “The end summer and the coming of winter.” Samhain which is now more commonly known as “Halloween” or “Hallow’s Eve.”   Along with the high-tide at the opposite end of the year  “The end of winter and the coming of summer.” Which was Beltane.  So as we can see Walpurgis or May Day is at the opposite end of the yearly wheel from Samhain or Winternachten as Midwinter and Midsummer solstices are to each other, the equinoxes, etc…

In the Nordic and Deutsch world May eve is known as Walpurgisnacht.  It’s interesting to note that in  modern Deutschland the holiday known as Halloween is not as a popular or widely celebrated as it is in maybe Western Europe or North America.                                   However, Walpurgisnacht and May Day seem to be virtually unknown (or not really communally observed on a large scale) in places like North America. However, it is without a doubt celebrated in Deutschland and in nearby regions.    In-fact throughout much of Europe the day holds much significance.   For example:  in modern Finland the day is known as Vappu. Vappu is one of the largest annual festivities in the nation.  Modern day Vappu celebrations in Finland mostly stem from the 1800’s more in theme of a “Labor day”  a holiday for university students and workers. Being one of those where typically everyone gets the day off work to enjoy carnival like celebrations.

Vappu (May Day) picnic in FinlandKaivopuisto_Vappu_picnic_2008

Although aside from the aspects of the contemporary Finish holiday which as a “Labor day” it’s roots only seem to go back to the 1800’s. Keep in mind this is only regarding the more contemporary aspects of it.   One thing to note is that “Vappu” essentially means or rather is the Finish word for Walpurgisnacht!

Getting it’s name from a Saint Walburga we can see how this is one of those examples of holidays that originated in heathen times but persisted throughout history.  The role and titles of ancient heathen deities taking on “Saint” titles.  It becomes rather obvious that this is a re-branding of a very old Germanic rite as such lore around Walburga and Walpurgisnacht carries heavy pre-Christian symbolism and overtones. Such as: Walburga being “chased” by The Wild Hunt.

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The wild hunt: Asgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo       *The Wild Hunt is a belief from pre-Christian Germanic era. Said to be lead by Wotan himself. As well in other versions the Germanic Goddess Frau Hold.*

Another major traditional and historic custom of this time is that of the Maypole. A large decorated wooden pole, decorated according to the seasonal tide a theme akin to what we see such things like the Weihnachtenbaum or Osterbaum. The tradition going back to ancient heathen times.  One that is very much still upheld in the present day in places like Bayern (Bavaria.)  In the there annual holiday literally known as “Maypole Day”  As I have observed myself having Bayerische in-laws the “Maibaum” is an old Germanic custom that is very well perserved in Bavarian culture.   Maypole day is considered a very important annual occasion.  You will not find a Bavarian village without this spring festivity. The Maibaum is typically made from a large tall pine tree.

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More about the customs and traditions surrounding the Maibaum in Bavaria here: http://www.bavaria.by/maypole-day-in-bavaria-germany

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Common Walpurgis and Mayday rituals and superstitions: 

Walpurgis like many other such seasonal tides is steeped in superstition and rituals pertaining to this day.  Some examples of such are:

~Washing one’s face in the morning dew on the first of May assured beauty.

~It was believed that if one wished to make contact with any sort of mystical spirit or being (like elves, trolls, ghosts, or even witches.) Walpurgis was one of those times to do it.  One such very practical method involved putting one’s clothes on inside out, walking to a crossroads backwards on midnight of Walpurgisnacht.

~As this was a time that was believed that spirits and spectres would be most active it was common custom to light bonfires on hill tops and various prominent points on the land to protect the area.

~The German tradition of the  Ankenschnitt is an offering of bread covered in butter and honey left out on Walpurgisnacht as a offering to the “Wind Hounds” as an offering of appeasement to assure the “howling hounds” of the winds would not damage one’s homestead or place throughout the year.

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~An Ankenschnitt offering of my own from a couple of years past. Left out on the balcony of the third-floor apartment I was residing in at the time. (Which was often subject to very intense winds during summer storms and seasonal changes.) Along with the Ankenschnitt offering is a glass enclosed candle that I crafted used as a luminary. The candle featured a depiction of  Frau Holle riding a goose (an animal sacred to her) through the skies.~

*As shown here:

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Mount Brocken or “The Blocksberg” and the Hexentanzplatz

And of course what article about Walpurgisnacht would be complete without the mention of the famed legendary Mt Brocken!

The Brocken is the highest peak of the Harz mountain range, as well as the highest peak in all of Northern Germany.

The Harz mountain range most specfically The Blocksberg (Brocken) is a place of many great legends of heathen-time themes and superstitions  ecspecially those regarding witchcraft and ecspecially pertaining to the tide of Walpurgisnacht or as it is also known as:  “Hexennacht”

According to legend Mt Brocken was said to be the place that witches flew to and congregated at annually on Walpurgisnacht.  As those of you who recall my blogpost about Easter Witches probably notice the similarity between this and the Swedish legend of witches flying to a mystical place known as Blåkulla.

However, where as the Blåkulla (a place that according to Swedish legend witches congregated at on “Maundy Thursday” ) is said to be a “mystical valley that can only be reached be magical flight.” The Blocksberg where the German legend of the Walpurgis congregation is a very literal and tangible place.

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Among the lore  regarding the Harz mountain range and Walpurgisnacht is as well a plateau in the range which is called the “Hexentanzplatz.”

Hexentanzplatz literally means “Witches Dance Floor.” According to German legends and folktales the coming of the warm season was marked “Frau Holda and her witches dancing away the snow.”  As well on the night of Walpurgis this witches congregated, danced, and had all manner of festivities in the Harz mountain range to celebrate the changing of the seasonal tide.

When further studying the history of the Hexentanzplatz we learn that this plateau was said to be an Old Saxon cult site.  At which on or around the night of May 1 the Saxon heathens gathered to celebrate and as well honour  a forest and mountain goddess known as the Hagedisen.

So essentially the night and tide known as Walpurgis!  So know we see and begin to understand: When observing and noticing the festivities of Deutsch people today, the Sachsen people who dress up as “witches” celebrating the Hexennacht which is now  known as The Night of Walpurgis we see that this is really a modern remnant of something much deeper and ancient that has been a part of their folk culture since always.  The pagan/heathen rites of their people have certainly not gone anywhere! Maybe changed names through the ages as well as themes. But the roots remain.

Where does this idea of witches “dancing away the snow” on Walpurgisnacht come from? Or rather who were the witches?  This idea comes from the seasonal rites of the ancient Saxon ancestors honouring the mountain forest goddess (Hagedisen) at the changing of tides into the warm spring and summer season. The witches? One could say:  These are the “spirits” of or rather how their most ancient ancestors are remembered and continue to be honoured.

 

~~~”We know that our forefathers very generally kept the beginning of May as a great festival, and it is still regarded as the trysting time of witches, i.e. once of wise-women and fays; who can doubt that heathen sacrifices blazed that day?” (Grimm v. II, p. 614)~~~

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Remedy and Medicinal Uses of The Nine Herbs

An area that I am very passionate and enjoy studying that of herblore. Both the folklore and superstition associated with given herbs or plants but as well actual remedies that are tried and true and even used to this very day. One example of such is one I am sure many of you are familiar with is ginger being used in supplements to help calm nausea or any such ailments pertaining to an upset stomach.  Such things are handy to research for the modern leechcrafter both for obvious practical reasons and as well this gives one insight into what some of a plant’s “magical” correspondences maybe.

This is an area that I wasn’t really sure “where to begin with.” So of course I took inspiration from the lore of the ancestors and folk for guidance. I decided to introduce the subject by starting with the category of  “The Nine Herbs Charm.”

Here I will focus on and discuss how each of these herbs are used medicinally and as remedies in the modern day.  More so focusing on this area. Now of course each of the herbs as well as the Nine Herbs Charm in itself has many esoteric and “magical” lore attached to it and how it can be utilized as such. Which this in and of itself could have it’s own post/s dedicated to this alone.

However, here today I would like to focus on an area that will surely spark interest to many. Whether folk magicians or not.  Focusing on how such herbs are utilized as a simple remedies even in contemporary times.

*DISCLAIMER:  Any such info given here on in one uses at their own discretion! Please keep in mind your unique requirements, allergies, etc… This is general educational information! 

With that being said! Let’s begin….

~Remember, Mugwort, what you made known,
What you arranged at the Great proclamation.
You were called Una, the oldest of herbs,
you have power against three and against thirty,
you have power against poison and against infection,
you have power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.~

mugwort

Just it’s passage in the poem alludes to; Mugwort has been in use both as an herbal charm and medicine for a very long time thousand of years!

Mugwort is said to be beneficial for the female reproductive organs. Specifically for women who are not pregnant it is said to assist in bringing on a delayed menstrual cycle, as well as helping a woman’s cycles be regular.

As well a very good digestive stimulant.   In-fact mugwort tea has been quite popular through the ages. Drinking this tea is said to help alleviate and treat gas and bloating. Which may also add to the benefits for menstruating women as these are common ailments that occur at this time.

Much like it’s close relative Wormwood ; Mugwort can be used to help “get rid of worms” or rather getting rid of certain parasites.

Mugwort is also one of those plants that is fantastic for keeping pesky mosquitoes at bay. You can combine mugowort with other such herbs and flowers known to repel such pests like: lavender, lemongrass, and of course citronella (to name a few) to make an effective mosquito repellent.

Along with burning the herb mugwort is often used to “clear the air” or purify a space.

***

 

~And you, Plantain, mother of herbs,
Open from the east, mighty inside.
over you chariots creaked, over you queens rode,
over you brides cried out, over you bulls snorted.
You withstood all of them, you dashed against them.
May you likewise withstand poison and infection
and the loathsome foe roving through the land.~

Plantain1

Plantain is a fantastic herb with a distinctly beautiful appearance. Native to and found growing throughout most of Europe, Plantain is also quite abundant in North America as well. In-fact I recall seeing this stuff everywhere in Canada. Even finding it growing in plenty out of the cracks of sidewalks in even the most urban areas during the summer months.

Plantain has many soothing  topical qualities. The leaves work great in poultices to help treat and alleviate many types of skin irritations from rashes, insect bites, to sunburn.  These poultices can also be used to help alleviate sore or swollen joints and muscles as well sprains. Any sort of ailment that requires treating irritation or inflammation.

Taken internally Plantain can be consumed as a tea to help with digestive issues, heartburn, and other such irritated and inflamed issues like Urinary Tract Infections.

Also a plant rich in nutrients! Such as vitamins A, C, and K as well as magnesium. Parts of the plantain can be added to foods to get such nutritional benefits.

***

Lambs Crest

lamb cress

The herb known as “Lambs Crest” is know more commonly known as  “Bittercress” or “Harry Bittercress.” Another one of those lovely little plants that often go unappreciated by many modern folk, often being seen as a “weed.” Although this tiny little intricate plant is actually among that are mostly edible. It contains many such essential and beneficial nutrients such as  Vitamin C and Beta Carotene. Thus it is often added to many edible dishes to help incorporate such things into one’s diet.

***

~‘Stune’ is the name of this herb, it grew on a stone,
it stands up against poison, it dashes against poison
Nettle (?) it is called, it attacks against poison,
it drives out the hostile one, it casts out poison.
This is the herb that fought against the serpent,
it has power against poison,  it has power against infection,
it has power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.
Put to flight now, Venom-loather, the greater poisons,
though you are the lesser, until he is cured of both.~

***

nettle_flower_full

Nettle or as it mar also be knows as “Stinging Nettle” is a plant with wonderful benefits. Rich in iron nettle is great for those who maybe needing to build this up in their system.

Nettle also has diuretic properties.  Helping with urinary tract issues as well as water retention.

To get the internal benefits nettles can be cooked and added to food or the easiest way is Nettle tea. Which can then have many other herbs incorporated into the recipe. For flavor or to boost and reinforce certain benefits.

It’s also one of the many plants with properties that help with inflammation. Best incorporated in with other anti-inflammatory topical treatments.  As a tincture it has astringent properties used to treat certain skin ailments. Topical tincture can also be used to help with bleeding, cuts, and scrapes.

***

~Remember, Chamomile, what you made known,
what you accomplished at Alorford,
that never a man should lose his life from infection
after Chamomile was prepared for his food.~

chamomile

Chamomile, among one of the very popular and “staple” herbs even in modern times. Very popular in teas, as chamomile as a delicious taste. Good for treating indigestion, as well very reputed for it’s “calming” effects. Of course with this it makes a great drink for times when needing to relax, like unwinding for sleep.  Chamomile can be used in a “bed time” tea help induce sleep. An example of this is combining equal parts of: Chamomile, Lavender, and Valerian. Chamomile and lavender both having relaxing qualities and a very pleasant taste! Along with the Valerian having  sedating properties this combination makes for a very good night time tea.

Chamomile tea also being great for treating internal irritants such as any sort of cramping and bloating in the abdominal and digestive area. Or anywhere these is irritation or tension in the digestive tract.

Topically chamomile helps treat a number of skin ailments issues. Having calming and soothing effects it helps with such irritations caused by wounds, rashes, or scrapes.  As well as minor burns such as sunburn.  Along with helping any sort of skin inflammation caused by the skin being irritated, as well as issues related to eczema.  Chamomile works wonderfully added into lotions, ointments, and salves for the skin specifically to help soothe and moisturize.

Cooled chamomile teas also makes a good compress for irritated or puffy eyes.

***

~This is the herb that is called ‘Wergulu’.
A seal sent it across the sea-right,
a vexation to poison, a help to others.
it stands against pain, it dashes against poison,

A worm came crawling, it killed nothing.
For Woden took nine glory-twigs,
he smote the the adder that it flew apart into nine parts.
There the Apple accomplished it against poison
that she [the loathsome serpent] would never dwell in the house.~

 

content_crabapples.u

Crab Apples like many other variants in the apple family well known in the culinary world is used in a plethora of delicious recipes. Such as:  jellies, jams, pie and pastry fillings, and fruit sauces just to name a few.  Being an apple it is rich in pectin of course.

The fruit can also be consumed as a partial laxative. It has a long reputed of being a remedy for constipation.   Helping with digestion, it digests well and also helps with the digestion of other foods.

Topically it can be used in poultices to help with scrapes and inflammation.

***

Chervil

Chervil11

 

*Although some translations speak of Thyme and others Chervil. I will give a brief over-view of both.

Chervil was believed to help with blood pressure issues. It said to help with circulation and hemorrhages.

Assists with treating respiratory ailments by helping to remove mucous and and alleviate prevent coughs. Also, can be used as or added to remedies for the cold and flu.

Chervil also has diuretic properties and said to help with constipation as well. With this it helps with preventing and treating retention and bloating. Also, helping with such menstrual issues that maybe associated with this.

***

Thyme

Thyme-300x199

Thyme is a wonderfully aromatic herb!  Like chervil it has properties that assists with water retention and bloating, as well as diuretic properties. Thyme is good for stimulating  digestion and processing in the body.  Helping to get the body to remove waste by expulsion. Whether that be by excretion or sweat.

Helps in treating things such as fever or pain associated with fever. By means of getting the body to “cleanse” out the root issue.
As well like Chervil it works great as a remedy for repository ailments and as a cold and flu remedy.

Thyme is of course also a powerful antiseptic.

***

~Chervil and Fennell, two of much might,
They were created by the wise Lord,
holy in heaven as He hung;
He set and sent them to the seven worlds,
to the wretched and the fortunate, as a help to all.
It stands against pain, it fights against poison,
it avails against 3 and against 30,
against foe´s hand and against noble scheming,
against enchantment of vile creatures. ~

***

Fennel

fennel-plant

Fennel most commonly the seeds have a long history of wide use in the culinary world.

As a remedy fennel is good for treating indigestion and various digestive issues. Everything from gas, bloating to heartburn.  An example of a good tea to help alleviate an upset stomach consists of  combining: Peppermint, Ginger, and Fennel.  This mixture is also good for helping to deal with cramps and bloating that may accompany nausea or digestive issues.  The ratio of each ingredients will depend on your personal taste, as well as what maybe your main ailment. Example: if nausea which is your main concern the predominant ingredients would probably be best as ginger or peppermint. If it’s more of a bloating issue, retention or constipation? The fennel.

Fennel also can assist with increasing in breast milk. (Like anything check with your healthcare provider/practitioner.)  Fennel typically is a great herb for women. Helping to deal with “breast ailments” like soreness by stimulating production.

***

Betony

Betony

*There are variations on the translations. Some saying that it was “Cockspur Grass” being referred others saying “Betony.” I have chosen to list Betony in this post.

Betony is another herb that can also be used in poultices to help alleviate such ailments like swelling, inflammation, sore muscles, hemorrhaging (like in the form of varicose veins.)            Was also once the remedy to “treat all maladies of the head” in times past.

Thus with this along with it’s reputation of treating sore muscles it is a good remedy for headaches or even nerve, back, or neck pain.

As well good for assisting in issues related to stress or anxiety. Or rather when anxiety has also induced such ailments along with it like head or muscle tension and pain. In the case of anxiety a tea that incorporates other such “calming” or “soothing” herbs like chamomile, lavender, and/or peppermint (if stomach issues are accompanying along with it helping headaches for some.) Combined with Betony is a comforting remedy for some.

***

~Now there nine herbs have power against nine evil spirits,
against nine poisons and against nine infections:
Against the red poison, against the foul poison,
against the white poison, against the pale blue poison,
against the yellow poison, against the green poison,
against the black poison, against the blue poison,
against the brown poison, against the crimson poison,
against worm-blister, against water-blister,
against thorn-blister, against thistle-blister,
against ice-blister, against poison-blister~

………

~I alone know a running stream,
and the nine adders beware of it.
May all the weeds spring up from their roots,
the seas slip apart, all salt water,
when I blow this poison from you.~

“Knowing Thy Roots” : The Foundational Step of Ancestral Worship

One of the very cornerstones and foundations of my own craft and spiritual path is working with the dead, or rather most importantly and mainly the ancestors.

Often when speaking with or giving advice to others who show interest in “working with the dead” my response usually is: “Well start with your ancestors. This will give you a general idea of which spirits are around and are most likely to work with you, and understand you the best.”

This also is my advice not only regarding specifically “working with the dead” but also those who come to me inquiring about “wanting to find their spiritual path.”

Often many modern folks get caught up in titles, or over-analyzing philosophies of any given group. Which in itself is also an important step in searching and finding. However, questions about pursuing the spiritual aspect? Often those who find themselves with the burning question or drive of “but what am I? what is relevant to me?”

My advice is always in the first to forget (or rather not over-fixate on) “titles” which typically stems from a craving in modern society and it’s fascination with identity politics.     Stemming from the innate human desire we all have wanting to find a “sense of belonging.” We then naturally ponder “where do I really belong?” to find this take a moment to forget about a title or fitting into a mold but rather realizing the mold from which you came. Take a moment to contemplate on and think about: “Where do I come from? Who are my ancestors?”

An interesting thing to keep in mind for those like myself that would be called “heathen” is that first and foremost many folks when first becoming familiar with the path/s and lore of such respective cultures is becoming familiar with “the gods.” However, we must keep in mind that one’s own immediate ancestors are typically among those that are foremost revered in general daily life. Also, how we will find which “gods” call to us and are most intimately connected with our wyrd/Orlog or “fate” (if you will) is knowing your personal roots and ancestors.  Another important thing to keep in mind is that (keeping in mind our most ancient ancestors) is that they did not see themselves or what they did as a religious persuasion perse (or at least not in the modern sense of the term.)  They more so perceived themselves as just simply being. They were but folk living their ways.            A spirituality with rituals and rites closely entwined and in a way symbiotic with the work and deeds of their daily so called “mundane” life.     Much of their concept of what was “sacred” and what was “mundane” were not really separate things.     We can observe this in certain items that are symbolic or that have deep spiritual associations. Such as the drinking horn being an iconic emblem or tool used in rites. This item was to our ancient ancestors at the same time  a common-place utensil . Or such as how the cauldron has certain “Occult” connotations. Originally being a common household item. Or as the hearth/fireplace has a very sacred/magical association (being an example of an ideal spot to have a household altar.)

Keeping in mind that the greatest example/s of what our ancient ancestors  saw as “spiritual rites” or “religion” is found in what we call folk-tales “folk beliefs.” This just simply meaning “people.” These are the ways of the folk/volk the ways of the “people.” This gives a good idea of how they saw their spiritual practices or “religion.” They were folk following the ways of their “people.”  If we want to tap into the spiritual practices of those most ancient ancestors we must have a grasp of their mindset regarding the subject.

So with that being said: How would your ancient ancestors conduct things or form rituals if they lived  in the contemporary world that you do? What would they be like? Well the answer to that is really not that complex.  To have the best idea of what they would “be like” in today’s world?  Is you! From the spiritual/folk way perspective you are them, and they are you!   You are them in today’s cultural context as they were you within another. Once one truly becomes aware of this the ancestors become less of a impersonal and distant force and become something that is a very personal and real part of your life. (after all they are your kin.)  Which is how our oldest ancestors who followed the original way of any respective culture that you belong to would have seen it.

 

Getting practical:
Moving on from just discussing this and shedding perspective let’s move on to practical practice:  How can you begin to work with the ancestors? Well, of course I could tell you a bit about what I do or some examples of how certain peoples venerate ancestors and spirits.  But first, what I would like you to do is not learn “somebody else’s spirits” but rather get to know your own.

Start by thinking to yourself: Who are my ancestors, who are some of my deceased loved ones, where are they from, what were they like?

Once you have answered these this may give a good idea of how to revere them.             An example of this with myself: Is that I recall when I was a child on Weihnachten the night of the Heiligabend (This is Jul/Christmas eve December 24) the night we would have dinner and exchange gifts another ritual we did was visit the graves of dead family members. We would light candles for them and leave gifts and offerings.  This ritual as a child laid a part of the foundation and gave me insight into what some of my recent and ancient ancestors like.  When I recall back on these memories it fills me with a feeling of great joy and beauty, looking back and thinking how when I was a child some of the very elders in my family who have since passed away, giving praise to our departed family were also giving me a gift/showing me what to do for them or how to find them.

Another example could be: Do you come from a German background? Do you recall having “cake and coffee” with the family every Sunday evening? Are some of your fondest memories having these goodies with your “Oma and Opa”?

Well maybe a great idea for is to continue this on. On Sunday evening leave some cake or coffee for those relatives who have no passed on. Or I am sure what would really make them happy is if you continued this tradition, of inviting friends and loved ones over. Even set aside an extra place in honor of them. 😉

Or maybe another example could be if you’re also wondering which Aesir or Vanir god is most closely entwined with you? Maybe you have background that is predominately Swedish, if this is the case? Perhaps this gives a good idea of the close bound your lineage has with Freyr Ingvy.  And perhaps you would find working with him quite beneficial.

And of course ethnic Deutsch folks whether they be in the homeland or of diaspora like the PA Deitsch Frau Holle is surely to be of great influence to some extent. (To say the least.)

Other general examples of how you can practice ancestral worship in your daily life? Take note of any certain seasonal tides that are associated with honoring the dead within your culture or the culture in which you live. For example: Anyone living in western Europe or North America knows about Halloween or as it was originally called by the Celtic people of which it came Samhain.  You can set aside or observe other rituals that are very simple. Like every Sunday or Monday just simply lighting a candle stating that you do so in honor of your ancestors and that you make them welcome with it. Also, if you like set aside an offering of a drink or something for them.  Or even sit and have a drink “with them.”

Another thing that can be done is creating an ancestral shrine or altar. Remember how this should be set up will depend on you and your ancestors. Do you have heirlooms, relics, or even photos of deceased loved ones and family? Those can go on there. Think of some things they would like.  Did your deceased grandmother like a certain type of flower? Put that on there in honor of her. Also, going into deeper parts or rather your “deepest roots” did you have many family members that fought in or died in wars? Did much of their blood feed the soil on which your family lived  for many generations? This could be an indication that symbols like the Othala rune or the Valknut would be good additives to your ancestral altar to honor and bring the presence of some of your most ancient forefathers or rather the collective of the ones who were warriors both recent and ancient.

 

 

~This is just an introduction for beginning to work with the ancestors.  To give you an idea of how you can do this for yourself, and for your ancestors. I hope this post serves as a great catalyst of inspiration and motivation for the reader.

And remember one of the other greatest things that you can honor your ancestors  and gods of your folk with is through your deeds, and keeping their memory alive. For they are the very reason you are here!

An Introduction to Glücksbringer: Part 2

Carrying  on from  “Part 1” where I discussed common Gluck themes, symbols and motifs such as: The~ Glücksschwein (Lucky Pig) ~ Glückspilz (Lucky Mushroom/Toadstool) ~ The Rabbit/Hare ~ Glückskäfer (“Lucky Beetle”/The Ladybug)  ~ Rauchfangkehrer (The Chimney Sweep)

Here I will now continue on with common Deutsch Glücksbringer but as well added in a few that my not be particularly German in origin (or where they are most popular) but none the less have the same basic theme or function, and are just as useful and in the same category for the practioner utilizing them in terms of folk magick or hexerei.

 

The Black Cat

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Despite the negative associations and superstitions the black cat has around it (ecspecially in America) traditionally in many other western countries it’s quite the opposite. For example: traditionally in England the black cat was considered lucky. As well, a common belief of the Scots folk was that a black cat visiting one’s home was a sign of incoming prosperity.

In cultures where the black cat has a negative association the main superstition usually revolves around it being unlucky for a “black cat to cross one’s path.”  However, orginally in folk belief it was said that for a black cat to cross the path from right to left was an ill-omen. But for the cat to be crossing the path from left to right? This is actually a beneficial omen!

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The black cat in contemporary western society is the animal most associated with being the familiar of witches.  Although, traditionally there were several (as mentioned about the hare in part 1.)

And although despite that in America the black cat has sadly mostly negative connotation (in terms of popular superstion.) Still today in many American curio and occult shops there are “Back Cat” items that are associated with casting off “jinxes” and bringing in luck.

 

The Hakenkreuz

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The Hakenkreuz or as it as called in English speaking countries the “swastika”which etymologically comes from the Sankskrit word for the Hindu version of the symbol. (I always personally found it interesting how in English they use the Hindu term for it.)  This symbol much like the many variations of the solar cross appears in various cultures in various forms throughout the world and throughout history. The east having a version of this symbol called the “Swastika” and the Anglo-Saxon “Fyflot.”

However, the Germanic/Nordic version is knows as the Hakrnkreuz (meaning angled-cross.) Having been a most sacred to symbol to the Germanic peoples since ancient times.  Even appearing on ancient artifacts of Nordic peoples such as the Oseberg tapestries.

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*Detail from the Oseberg tapestries depicting two women and Hakenkreuz* 

This symbol being a most scared and ancient symbol to the Germanic peoples the Hakenkreuz is a most potent Gluck bringer sigil. Along with horseshoes and clovers the Hakenkreuz or Swastika was a common motif on postcards even in countries such as America up into the 20th century.

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Glücksklee

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The Four Leaf Clover a most iconic lucky charm produced by nature even has it’s reputation among the Deutsch as the “Glücksklee.”

From what I can gather this charm of course originally stems from Celtic peoples of Western Europe.  It’s history as a charm most likely stemming back to the Druids who saw the shamrock as a sacred plant. Where it was used as a talisman and charm in some form or another throughout the ages.

The most popular and reputable one being that of the clover with four leaves. Because the clover typically produces three coming across one of four leaves is a rarity and considered a lucky find.

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And of course the Glücksklee is often shown with the lucky pig.

Glückscent

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Glückscent or the “Lucky penny” I am sure many of you remember the old nursery rhyme of:

~”Find a penny, pick it up,

Then all day you’ll have good luck.”~

Of course this custom relates to an old tradition which is found throughout many cultures. The utilizing of coins as charms and talismans.

The lucky penny not only having an obvious prosperity associations could also be used as a warding charm. Said to also protect the carrier from black magick. Also, the tradition of nailing or somehow placing pennies above doors to protect a dwelling.  I even observed or discovered a variation of such a charm myself  while visiting a small town in western Canada, which had a history of a large German immigrant community. Above one of the old pubs I observed that they had created a certain makeshift container that contained three pennies, nailed above the establishment entrance.

Such copper pennies could also be used in charms regarding strengthening love. This association most likely comes from how copper was the metal attributed to Venus the planet and Roman goddess of love.

There is also the old wedding rhyme made popular in the Victorian era that went:

~”Something old, something new,

something burrowed, something blue,

and a sixpence/penny in your shoe.” ~

Variations of the rhyme either said a penny or a sixpence. In many cultures it was customary for the bride to save the coin and pass it on to her daughter on her wedding day.

The idea behind this penny charm was to ensure wealth and prosperity for the couple.

Those are just but a a few of how the penny charm has been worked among various cultures,

 

Hufeisen

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Many of course are familiar with the Horseshoe. One charm that is most iconic among many cultures. In German it is called “Hufeisen” meaning “iron-hoof.”

The horsehoe’s lore is extensive and it’s history among many rich.  Not only is it used as a Gluck charm, but also it is employed as a warding charm. Ecspecially that of iron horseshoes. Or rather it is most likely the fact that they are crafted from iron that gives them most of their warding charm associations and properties. As iron was believed to keep away “evil spirits ” and ill-intentions.  In-fact many warding charms were crafted of or incorporated iron.

The most common place for the horsehoe to be found being utilized as a luck and warding charm is nailed above doorways.

And remember to always nail your Hufeisen points upwards! Lest you risk having your luck “fall/run out.”

 

The Acorn

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One very old and natural charm is that of the oak acorn. Although the acorn in contemporary culture is often not as a popular of an ornamental motif it very much is a very common and traditional charm ecspecially among many cultures of the European continent.

Trees being sacred to many such peoples since ancient times and the oak being one of the most sacred and revered trees among Western and Northern European peoples. Known as the “King of Trees” throughout England Ireland, and it is also said that the Druids utilized or consumed oak acorns in divinatory work to help them commune with the Dryads.  In Nordic culture the oak was among the trees often used in crafting warding charms, placing acorns on the windowsill was said to protect the stead from lightning.  These warding associations clearly relate to how the oak was seen as a tree scared to Thor.   As well let’s not forget to mention the scared “Donar Oak” of the Germanic people.  Due to this history the oak has rich lore and powerful magick!  A most sacred tree that was utilized as a vessel in communing with the mighty guardian of the Midgard folk the thunder God Thor/Donar.

As well the oak acorns being an abundant and plentiful from the tree gives it powerful prosperity, abundance and fertility associations.

Oak acorn images or details were also often popular embellishments on Victorian era jewellery, furniture and decor due to it’s lucky associations.

As well in the Victorian era oak symbolism become a part of gravestone art and symbolism to signify longevity.  When oak art is found on a grave it indicates that the deceased person lived a very long and full life.

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viel Glück!

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An Introduction to Glücksbringer: Part 1

German culture is full of interesting superstitions and curious beliefs. One subject that nearly anyone even the average folk will be familiar with is that of Glücksbringer or the German charms of luck. Surely most of us are familiar with the common motifs of gleefully looking pigs, rabbits, and how often those interesting decorations of mushrooms (you know the fly agaric ones ) seem to be a common decorative piece in many holiday ornaments and gift cards.

As anyone who is familiar with folk magic (in any form) knows that such emblems or icons that have a certain association within one’s given culture can make for powerful items or images worked in charms having potent symbolism.

Here I would like to explore and share some general items or symbols prominent within the folk customs of the Germanic and other similar European peoples.

I will be breaking this up into a two or three part series. As almost every Glücksbringer that I can think of has a very rich history and could very well all each of an extensive blog post dedicated to them in and of themselves.

So with that being said we shall begin with part one:

 

Glücksschwein

image Or “lucky pig” I figured what better way to start off this list and series than with one of the most  prominent of lucky animals for Germanic peoples the Glücksschwein.  A common custom that many from German backgrounds are familiar with are those lovely marzipan pig confections often handed out during the Weihnachten or Jul tide.  It’s a traditional and customary to consume your marzipan Glücksschwein on the Neujahr (New Year.)  As I am sure many of who are familiar with Nordic/Germanic heathen tradition can see the parallel between this and the custom of the Yule ham which stems from the ancient tradition known as Sonargöltr The sacrificing of a boar at Jultide in honour of Freyr.

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Along with and stemming from this is the fact that the pig has always been animal with positive connotations for peoples of Germanic cultures. The idea of the swine having a negative connotation or being used as a derogatory is very much concept brought in by the influences of foreign cultures who saw the pig as a so called “taboo” animal.

However for the Germanic folk the pig is a symbol of wealth and abundance. Surely a sign of good blessings.

 

Glückspilz

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The “Lucky mushroom” these appear everywhere throughout whimsical German artwork and holiday ornaments of all sorts.  And of course those of us who are well versed in our roots and wortcunning will know that this is the somewhat infamous Fly Agaric.  It is believed that it’s history as an emblem and ornament in Germanic lore stems back to very ancient customs and practices.   This very visually striking toadstool mushroom was often known to form or grow under fir or spruce trees ( such evergreens are among the many tree species that are considered sacred to Germanic people.)  It’s also interesting to not that it is believed that the custom of “gifts under the tree” stems from ancient practices of leaving offerings to the elves and tree wights beneath the sacred trees.  Possibly this was associated with the idea of returning gifts to the land spirits for the gifts that they give us.

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As well it is said that Fly Agaric was used in ancient shamanic rituals of many from the Germanic, Siberians and even Asiatic peoples.  Although we should keep in mind that such rituals were sacred and drastically different than the often use/abuse of such substances that frequently takes place in hour contemporary societies. Such substances of nature were not used simply just to “have fun” or numb one’s self from a deeper psychological issue we maybe facing.  In-fact from a shamanic or magician’s perspective such behaviour or abuse would be the trait of an inept as opposed to an adept.

With that being said please keep in mind that one utilizing the spirit or symbolic energy of the Glückspilz that this fungi is in-fact psychoactive and even toxic! So please approach with care!  Or better yet best work with this is in the form of emblems and symbols as opposed to the actual mushroom if you’re not well versed in proper handling!

 

The Hare or Rabbit

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As I am sure many folks are familiar with the lucky “rabbit’s foot” or even such traditions as the “Easter Bunny” the rabbit/hare has a very interseting and prominent role in Germanic lore. Aside from the obvious and well known associations of the rabbit as a symbol of fertility it is also an animal closely associated with witchcraft.  As many old folk legends tell tales of huntsmen attempting to shoot a hare that seemed to be too crafty to catch! But maybe on one instance a skilled shot would be able to wound the animal? Only for it to reveal that the next day a local elderly women from the village would have a limp or wound in the same area!  This of course would allude to the idea that this woman was in-fact a shape shifting witch!

Such old tales reveal to us the hare’s association as a magical allie, fetch or even familiar.  It was a creature often associated with hedge-crossing and travel to the “underworld.”  It was believed that seeing a hare at night was actually a witch in disguise.  It was also a common German folk belief that because of this a hare could hex a person by staring at them. The only way to counter such hexerei? Was to obtain a rabbit’s foot and utilize it as a charm.

 

The Chimney Sweep

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Another traditional German item of good luck that is quite uncommon among other outside cultures is that of the chimney sweep.

The reason for it’s association as a Gluck charm mostly pertains to practical associations. A similiar idea we see happen with many other folk charms (ex: items associated with cleaning or sweeping becoming magical tools of spiritual cleansing rituals.) As in earlier times the hearth or fire place being a central and most important part of the homestead and assuring all functions well with in an unclean or clogged chimney wood surely be a bane to our ancestors. Thus a chimney sweeper would be perceived as doing something “magical” by clearing the chimney so that the hearth was in good order. A bringer of luck and remover of what could cause havoc.

 

Glückskäfer

7-Spotted Ladybug - Coccinella septempunctata

The Ladybug or as she is known in Hochdeutsch: Marienkäfer.

Literally meaning Marion Beetle this name of course comes from the latter introduced biblical influences and the idea of taking on the Virgin Mary archetype as a sort of mother goddess type figure.  Although I strongly believe that the Marienkäfer gets it’s strong Gluck associations with the fact that not only is it a beautiful creature but a very beneficial one to have around. As the ladybug often feeds on certain pests like aphids!

The most so called auspicious or lucky of Marienkäfer is that of the seven spotted variety.  Which is also one of the most common sorts in Europe.  As well seven being the number associated with luck in German speaking countries.

It is also important to keep in mind that killing or harming of a ladybug is extremely ill-luck!  So always be gentle and kind with these most benevolent and beneficial creatures.

 

~This concludes my list for part one.

Stay patient still more to come 🙂

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The Birch and Her Lore

Tree lore always has been a central part of many cultures of the European content. Not just my own German and Scandinavian background but trees have played a central role in the lore and spirituality everywhere from the Druids to the Baltic and Slavic peoples.

As well because of the fact we see similar tree species throughout the European continent we see certain lore and belief regarding specific trees that seems to run throughout the various peoples of Europe. This is quite a lengthy subject with each tree deserving of it’s own post/s.

One thing that I had the blessing of growing up outside of my family’s native homeland in western Canada is that the climate here is quite akin to that of our place of origin and with this you can observe much of the same flora and tree life there as what my elders would call “back home.”

Here I would like to focus specifically on the Birch.  I find it a most appropriate time as spring begins to show it’s first signs, and winter releases it’s icy binds on the land. I cannot help but think of the birch. Even as a child I always saw the birch as a nurturing tree that gave me a beautiful maternal impression.    Fittingly so as  the Birch was the first to take root and grow after the ice age. Thus every spring the Birch reminds us of the cycles of nature. This Mother tree is the affirmation and symbol of the promise of renewal, and new life.

Hence the Birch has always had a strong association with both cleansing and fertility. And of course she is even represented in the Elder Futhark with  Berkana.  Whenever doing works of Galdr I find Birch wood ideal for crafting charms, stavs and bindrunes that relate to fertility, motherhood, femininity, protecting children, and all manner of working with the Disir.  The outer skin/bark is much like very thin paper hence where it gets it’s common nickname “paper birch.” I have found utilizing this as such to write out intentions or praise/Heils to the Disir (then ignited with flame to release) most useful.  As well birch ignites and burns very well making a fantastic firewood. So even in the cold of winter we can see how birch  served as a source of nurturing and warmth for our ancestors.

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Stripping away the outermost paper like skin and going to the inner-bark that is quite durable and flexible this can be heated (to make more malleable ) and bent/worked to fashion certain bowls or containers.  Which I have found most suitable for constructing implements items or bowls used in saining rights and offerings for the Disir and Wights.

 

Another aspect of Birch’s role is that it was associated with the witch’s broom. Traditionally the head or bristles on the besom or broom were fashioned from birch twigs.  With this another common tool in Hexerei is the “witch’s whisk” an item crafted from birch twigs in a bundle bound together to make a “whisk.” This is used in acts of purification  and blessing much like how the evergreen tine is used in blot.  I often use the “witch’s whisk” in all manner of Saining rites and rituals (especially of the hearth and home.)  Another way to implement  this is for the Volva or Hexe to have it as a piece which she attaches to her Stav or Stang so it may function both as this and a ritual broom.

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On the note of the birch “whisk” used in saining?

For those who are familiar with Alpine/Bavarian tradition (this is increasingly gaining attention and reverence throughout the western  world.)   A certain Weihnachten/Jultide monster/s probably come to mind. That being? Krampus and/or the Perchten.

This is in-fact a pre-Christian Alpine tradition.  However with the amalgamation of the Christian religion into the culture Krampus has surely lived on as a companion of St Nicholas.

Of course as we all know Krampus and Perchta are known to carry around a bundle of birch twigs used to flog the “ill-behaved.”

Which is rather interesting as birch twigs were often used to strike persons or things as this was believed to drive out or exorcise malevolent forces.  As well in Siberia they would often sweep the dead as a part of funerary rites to purify the deceased.

With this in mind we now see how the birch got it’s strong connotation in hexerei with the witch’s broom and exactly why it is birch that Krampus flogs “naughty children with!

The birch bundle also has strong matrimony and fertility associations.  Similar rituals to the above mentioned were also used to encourage fruitfulness and fertility.

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Both historically and today the birch provides many uses for those of us who are outdoors types. Birch tar or Birch pitch can be used as an adhesive and in the process of dressing and sealing leather with tanning.  Also is said to be an effective repellent against snails and slugs.   The oil from the pitch is highly flammable and can be used in the making  of a bushcraft lamp.

The essential oil obtained from the Birch has disinfectant, antiseptic, diuretic,  antirheumatic, as well insecticide and germicide properties (just to name a few.)

Tonics made of birch can also be used topically to help treat skin sores and irritations. Or be used in the making poultices for such.  Birch tincture or tea can make excellent rinse for sores in the mouth.

And of course a tea for general consumption can be made from the Birch.

This can be prepared by:  Obtaining the off-shoot twigs from the branch (look for twigs with buds) you want to assure that these are alive.  You can verify this by checking the branch or twigs consistency, if it is living and healthy it will be quite flexible. Where as dead branches or twigs will be more brittle and snap.

Then put your birch in a pot or kettle bring to boil, then let simmer for about ten minutes or so. (Depending on your liking.)  You can use this tea as a rinse, a wash, etc… or of course as a beverage.

These are just a few examples of the befits and uses of birch both as a folk-remedy and folk charm and just some of the history of this tree (one of many)  that is most sacred to many European peoples throughout history.

Our beloved Mutter Birke!

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