Happy Beltane!

Today is a day of fertility. When I lived in the north, May is the month that last frost dates begin and so we would begin getting the soil ready for planting by spreading compost and wood chips. We would begin planting annuals and waiting for the perennials to return. Many trees were already green by the first of May with little buds of leaves, but wild plants would be returning. In a month, the first plants would blossom. Birds would be making nests and preparing for chicks and our yard would be teeming with life.

The south is a little different. It’s been green here for months. We never had a winter, so it’s been green for a very long time. Allergies started earlier this year too. Without a good freeze, the trees began releasing pollen earlier than normal. Everywhere I look in the city, I see signs of life. It’s been raining lately, or at least trying. The grass is finally green where there are no sprinklers. Birds are beginning to court and build nests. I saw an English sparrow nest in one of the letters of my store this afternoon. Yesterday, I saw two hawks where I usually only see one. I hope that is fortuitous and I hope that means that there will be baby hawks soon.

I ask Freyja and Bragi for fertility this year. This is where I break with many pagans asking for the same thing. I ask that the energy my body would have used during gestation to be used in my creative pursuits. I ask that Freyja rekindles my passion for my love of art and music and all things creative. I ask that Bragi guide my hand and my tongue, that I may write beautiful words that inspire, enrage, captivate or transform my readers.

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Happy Ostara!

Happy Ostara and Vernal Equinox one day late! This is a festival of growth and fertility. The plants are returning, flowers are blooming and animals are horny little creatures. That could not be more evident around my home. The day before the equinox we had such a rain storm. The rain began around dinner and lasted well into the night. There was thunder and lightning and a good, soaking rain, the sort a dry southern state always desperately needs. The next day, the equinox, there was new life everywhere. The grass was greener than I had seen in a long time and flowers were beginning to bloom. Freyr has blessed us with an auspicious beginning of spring. I take it as a good sign for what is to come this season.

And look! A happy little egg to welcome the new spring!

Hail Freyr, most exalted of the Aesir courts
and husband to Gerd,
who makes no maiden weep,
who rides Gullinbursti
and wields no weapon!
I thank you for the rain
that was bestowed upon us.
May it increase the fertility
and encourage new growth.
May it bring life to a parched land.
May we all come to see water
as a precious gift
and work to revitalize the land
that was once so fertile.

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Meditation and Junk

I have a confession. I don’t like meditating. In fact, I’ve never liked it. Oh, I like the concept of finding a few minutes to escap the chaos of our lives and just have a moment to yourself. I just don’t like the practice. I’ve tried, many times. I’ve tried sitting quietly. I’ve tried playing ambient music or noise in the background. I’ve tried at home in a familiar setting and in the woods removed from civilization. The only thing I have discovered in all of this is that I really hate meditating.

What I do instead is craft. I’m knitting now, I have been for a few months. Before that, it was crocheting and before that cross-stitching. When I am focusing on something link,¬†even if it’s difficult and hard-to-see amigurumi, I forget about everything around me. I am quiet and centered and for a few minutes or a few hours, I am completely focused and grounded.

Sometimes, distractions show up. I have to rip out some stitches (or a lot); I have to untangle a knot in the floss or the yarn; I forget how to bind off or need to learn a new stitch. Whatever the reason, I have to stop what I am doing and it breaks into my zone. It’s a momentary lapse and then I’m focused once more.

I am truly honored to be able to be inspired by Frigg. She was the weaver of the clouds, who brought the rains, and a weaver of fate. While there doesn’t appear to be a deity associated with weaving wool, she is associated with the art and so I thank her for my talent. I dedicate my needles to her. I do not do the same for my yarn unless I know it will only stay in my hands. I am uncomfortable working my faith into anything I am giving away unless that is the point or the person receiving it is fine with it. I do not want to make people uncomfortable with my gods, especially when all I want to do is see them enjoy their gift.

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Happy Yule!

Warmest Yule wishes this season as we move quickly toward a new year. I have had the day off and to myself today. For once, I feel accomplished. I have spent some time cleaning and making everything feel clean and new as the world is poised to spend more time in the sunlight. I am not usually in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions, but I think today is an appropriate time to make one anyway. I resolve to reforge my connection with the gods. I will be a better pagan and I will honor my gods as best I can.

I do not have an altar set up because of space constraints, so I performed my ritual in the kitchen. It is the cleanest room in the house right now and I have just finished baking Saturnalia/Yule/Solstice cookies for my coworkers so it smells absolutely wonderful. The kitchen is where the, ahem, magic happens anyway. I do not practice magic like some of my pagan brethren, but I love to cook and I especially love to bake.

I decided to wing my Yule ritual, so I gathered water, sea salt and matches. They represented three of the four elements. The fourth, air, came from me gently blowing into my libation bowl. Air from my lungs. If the gift is good enough for the Doctor to give, it is good enough for me to offer. And, as a personal gift from me, a portion of hard cider. I honored my gods and made a promise like my resolution above. For those of you not heathen or versed in heathen ways, promises, especially before the gods, are considered sacred. You should never make one unless you are prepared to keep it. Doubly so if you invoke Tyr. I offered my libations to the gods. To the wights and land spirits, I left a fresh baked cookie and a generous portion of cider outside.

I feel confident and happy. For the first time in a very long time, I have presented myself to the gods. I don’t know if they will have me back, but I promise that I will work to prove myself to them, even if it takes my entire life.

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A green solstice

I moved to Texas from Michigan a few years ago. The political climate of West Michigan is almost identical to the political climate of the DFW area, so I didn’t really suffer a culture shock. What I did suffer was a climate shock. As you would expect, the weather is radically different.

Surprisingly, the last couple years I have seen snow in the winter. While I am not delusional to believe that the gods made it snow just for me, I did give thanks. It eased my homesickness and loneliness. I did not spend the holidays alone, but for as long as I can remember, my family has always gathered with my mother’s side of the family. I miss those get togethers and the food and the silly stories. Some how, seeing the snow brought me comfort instead of making me feel even more isolated.

This year, there will be no snow and no ice. The weather won’t even be that cold. It has a different feel to it and I keep forgetting that Christmas is at the end of the week.

I am still thankful. I have my health and a job. My schooling starts in a month and I am looking forward to the possibility of a real career. Bragi has blessed me with creativity and a fertile mind. I have a roof over my head and a wonderful Other Half. Perhaps the gods didn’t bless me, but I am thankful and I praise them every day for my wealth.

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Io Saturnalia!

I’ve always enjoyed giving gifts and I try to give them year round. The joy on another person’s face when they receive an unexpected gift is something that cannot be duplicated. This is the time of year when I make sure I donate to charities. I am grateful for my job and so I try to give presents that people will actually like and want instead of a “thought that counts” sort of gift.

I’ve decided that this year for Saturnalia, I am going to bake my coworkers cookies. Baked goods are always appreciated and there is no meat, so I don’t need to bring in a second dish for the vegetarians. They’re not going to be anything like what the Romans may have eaten and there won’t be a token inside one of them to mark a king or queen for a day, but they will be delicious.

I am not a Hellenic pagan, but I am using this as a focus to get back to my spirituality. See, every so often, I start questioning my faith and my path and my gods. Normally, that’s a good thing, but it discourages me. So I do my best to ignore Them until I can’t anymore. I am a bad pagan, but I hope to become a better one.

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