Landvættir, Nisser, and Ghosts . . . Oh My!

This post is long overdue as it’s a requested topic from my awesome friend P. She asked me to talk about the landvættir/honoring land wights quite some time ago, but as I’ve admitted before, they’ve never been a huge part of my practice because I don’t notice or sense/feel them the way I do the gods and my grandfather. So for the last few months, I’ve been at a loss for words and had no reflections on the matter brewing in my brain.

Clearly, that’s changed. A little back and forth with E the other week changed my perspective entirely as she inadvertently pointed out the ways I actually do honor them. So here we are, finally. This one’s for you, P!

In Norse heathenry, nature spirits and protectors of the home and hearth are landvættir (also known as wights). Being of Norwegian descent, I grew up calling them nisser/nisse. My most treasured family relic is my grandfather’s porridge bowl and cup he brought with him from Drammen; it’s painted with nisser dancing around the edge, and I’ve got a note in his handwriting offering both the literal and idiomatic translations of the inscription inside the cup. wp-1590613002145.jpg “Vi Nisser, Vi Nisser, Vi Gjöre Hvad Vi Kan,” or “We elves, we elves, we do our best.” The folk tales on which I cut my teeth focused around nisser and their kin, yet I rarely felt too much of a connection with the spirits of the land. I noticed them frequently in Iceland, but often remark that in the United States, the energy (to me) is much weaker and much more confused and jumbled, which makes it incredibly difficult to pick up on things. And to be utterly honest, I’ve always felt silly leaving out a bowl of porridge with a slab of butter melting into it. I’ve obviously got no problems feeling dopey leaving out offerings of sweets and snackrifices, so being weirded out and embarrassed by a bowl of porridge says quite a lot about my relationship with the nisser (or tomte, for you Swedes). 

Continue reading “Landvættir, Nisser, and Ghosts . . . Oh My!”

Possum Peculiarities

Still alive! Still sick, but on the upward swing at last. I should be in bed. I was honestly getting ready for bed, but then A Thing happened and it’s too good to keep to myself.

Possums are a creature I associate with Loki for no reason in particular. The vague association was reinforced some months back when Auz, heathen memer extraordinaire, posted a silly cartoon possum with a joke about them pulling Loki’s chariot. While scrolling the ol’ FB before setting my alarm, I chuckled at a new possum-based meme he’d just shared and I unwittingly shared his Loki-chariot possum meme right back at him (cutting myself some slack on that one, my brain is mush from plague. Seriously, this virus is awful). I then remembered the lime cupcake baked with Corona beer that a colleague shared with me, and a bit of Inca Kola that had been gifted as well.

[Side note: if you’ve never had Inca Kola, get you some. It’s a soda from Peru, and I developed an addiction to it when I dated a guy from Peru some dozen years ago. I swear, I only stuck around in that relationship for as long as I did for the endless supply of The Golden Kola in his family’s fridge. It’s the color of piss and tastes like bubble gum: in my experience, it’s Loki’s favorite sugar water.]

Continue reading “Possum Peculiarities”

Humbled

Got this message from my British Trad friend, and I’m so humbled I don’t even know how to respond except with a very misty-eyed Thank You.

Holding steady, no better, no worse (except for the anxiety-desire for a goddamn cigarette). I wish testing was available in my city so I’d know one way or the other for sure, but this is definitely a combination of symptoms I’ve never had before. It’s just… different. It’s exhausting and painful, and I’m not keen on getting winded from walking downstairs (down stairs! I’m a hiker! I’m part mountain goat on steep rocky scrabbles! I hate losing my wind going down a single flight of stairs!) to feed my cats, but I haven’t gotten worse, so huzzah. Enjoying a dip in the fever right now, so I feel a touch more okay mentally. This means I’m cringing wildly at my last post, which seems to have veered off into rage about needing a smoke and ended rather abruptly. Ah, well.

The point right now, that I want to make before I drop off again into sleep, is that once again, I’m supremely grateful for my community. This means you, too, witches! This Lokian nun is thrilled to be connected with all of you BTW beauties! Today was rough and miserable, as was yesterday, but the gods are here, my kindred is a text away, and my friends are checking in and keeping tabs. I’m in good hands all around, and knowing there’s a wider community of people sending energy on my behalf is as reassuring as it is humbling.

Loki and Sigyn are never subtle, and right now, in this blissful moment of lucidity, I’m reveling in their reminder that I’m not alone in the world.

Thank you, my friends. Be safe, be well, and may your gods bless you the way mine have blessed me.

Limbo

It’s been a while since I’ve written, and it’s going to be a while longer. Don’t want to leave you hanging, so quick update: I’m sick, I’ve been sick since Saturday, and symptoms worsened enough today that I did an e-visit with the hospital. Tests are still very limited in my state, so the doctor said, “in otherwise healthy individuals under 65 that are symptom positive we are presuming they are positive. Your symptoms are consistent with COVID.”

So is COVID-19 the reason for the fever, chills, and full body aches that make moving painful? I hope not. I was hoping it was allergies and/or the crappy weather teaming up with my usual stress and anxiety, but today I’ve been having trouble catching my breath, and it currently feels like a tank is sitting on my chest, so who knows. It’s only presumed because there aren’t enough tests for people in my area. It’s one way to quit smoking, but thing is, I don’t want to quit smoking. Especially since I’m even more stressed and anxious because I don’t know how my employer is going to handle the quarantine the doctor imposed. We’ve been on skeleton crew for the past month. Hasn’t stopped the steady stream of customers coming up to my desk. If it is COVID, I’m not surprised. I’ve been waiting for it to hit me because of work. Still, I don’t want it to be COVID. It would be nice to know one way or the other. It would be nice to have a smoke right now. I’m an extremely fatigued, achy, sweaty ball of nerves right now. I’m already counting down the days til I can take a deep breath and unwind with a whisky-laced coffee and a cigarette. Here’s to hoping that’s sooner rather than later.

Gebo, Gebo, Gebo

Last night was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, one of laughter and frustration and relief and rage. At the end of it all, I was left feeling so astoundingly grateful for — you guessed it — my family, friends, and community. The compassion and love and laughter we share is the greatest gift possible, and it’s one I’m privileged to receive and honored to repay.

One of the conversations I had last night was about the very concept of the gifting cycle. Evidently, someone on the internet who proclaims themselves to be a “proud heathen” spouted off about how “gift for a gift” shouldn’t really be a thing. This baffled us, because it’s the most basic, foundational aspect of the whole damn religion. It’s how relationships are developed between human and human, human and god, and god and god: without extending and receiving the gift of hospitality, bonds cannot be forged and communities cannot be built. The concept of the gifting cycle is echoed repeatedly throughout the Havamal and sagas. It’s kind of a big deal. Telling a heathen that “gift for a gift” should be reevaluated is like telling a Christian that “love your neighbor as yourself” is one of Christ’s teachings that needs to be toned down.

The gifting cycle isn’t necessarily comprised of physical goods being exchanged. Yes, it’s usually a tangible offering, particularly when giving to the gods, but the concept goes far beyond that. Friendship is a gift, love is a gift, reaching out to check on someone is a gift, making time to be there for and with one another is a gift. Prayers, poems, art, music, a dance: these things are all gifts we create and share with the gods and with each other. The energy and intent we devote to these things is what makes these gifts valuable. Continue reading “Gebo, Gebo, Gebo”

Sigyn’s Joy

“Sigyn’s Joy” is one of Loki’s kennings, just as one of hers is “Loki’s Joy.” I’m particularly fond of those names because of what they say about their relationship. Loki is the trickster figure with a quick wit and wry, infectious grin, and Sigyn is the steadfast companion whose love brings comfort. They each inspire joy in each other in their own way and it’s something we desperately need these days. One of the easiest ways for me personally to find joy is by honoring the gods, whether it be through offerings/meditation/mindfulness, making art, or collecting art to adorn their sacred spaces. Sacred spaces are everywhere, and they’re invaluable for feeling connected, feeling comforted, and feeling joy.

Over the weekend, I was writing a post in which I described my mounting struggle to reconcile my tremendous faith in the gods with my rapidly declining faith in humanity. It’s a tricky prospect given the way our gods are so thoroughly entwined with humanity, but hey, when I’m dealing with foolish customers all day at work who aren’t taking pandemic precautions seriously, it’s hard to stay positive. More than anything, I’m supremely frustrated with the owner of the dealership group for keeping us open and trying to lure people out of their homes for non-essential services. I’m on standby to help local funeral homes when they get overwhelmed in the next few weeks (living in an urban area halfway between NYC and Philly means my colleagues in funeral service will get overwhelmed), and the constant exposure I’m getting from bored customers wheezing in my face is making it less and less likely I’ll be in any shape to help my fellow funeral directors. So, I’m irritated. That post’s draft is best summed up as “If I’m to be a sacrifice, I’d rather it be in service to the gods and my community rather than as a lamb to feed an already overstuffed corporate overlord.”  Continue reading “Sigyn’s Joy”

All the Thanks! And All the Love!

In my last post, I begged for help getting supplies and PPE for a funeral director friend of mine being deployed by D-MORT. The last few days have left me in awe at how many people have contacted me with offers to help. Thank you, thank you, thank you, there are honestly no words to express my gratitude and love for you all. My friend is going to be (happily) overwhelmed with the amount of care packages that will be hitting her doorstep in the next few days. We have masks, gloves, vitamins, and basic essentials heading her way, as well as a few bonus items and treats to help her and her team through the hell this assignment is sure to cast them into.

She’s also going to be getting a Tyvek coverall suit from me that’s been decorated to look like a cow costume, complete with a pink tissue paper udder, tail, and cardboard ears. Not special to this occasion, but something I made for a goofy event over 10 years ago. It’s been hanging just inside my basement door for a decade, because I do so get a kick out of the reaction I get from people who have to go down there to service the furnace and clean the chimney. Ideally, I’d have sent her fresh, unused, normal coveralls, but those are pretty much impossible to come by these days, even more impossible than masks and sanitizer. Lucky for her I’m a hoarder with a strange sense of decor, so she’ll be doing her badass federal mortician thing in a splash-resistant cow suit. COWvid-19 don’t stand a chance against her. Continue reading “All the Thanks! And All the Love!”

URGENT PLEA: PPE NEEDED

One of my funeral director friends is being deployed with her D-MORT team. D-MORT is the federal response team comprised of funeral directors/emblamers, medical examiners, coroners, forensic anthropologists, etc, called to scenes of mass casualties and other scenarios when death care providers are needed (such as cemetery floods). They don’t have enough PPE for everyone – it was allocated by lottery. My friend is high risk with a compromised immune system situation. She needs PPE.

If anyone reading is in the mortuary field or any health care-adjacent field and have any kind of PPE that can be donated, PLEASE email me at vanitas1918@gmail.com.

Please please please help our D-MORT personnel – my friend and her colleagues all – get the best possible chance to return safely home to their families. They’re being given federal orders to serve their states, but in this crisis there isn’t enough protective gear available for issue.

Please remember that your local funeral directors and death care workers are also on the front lines of this pandemic. In late January/early February I got concerned when I heard embalming supply companies were limiting orders for PPE in case state and federal governments needed it. Now D-MORT is being called up and their teams are not equipped. Please help if at all possible – deployment is happening by the end of this week.

Much love to you all.

Irreverence is a Coping Mechanism

For years, whenever people would talk about their Zombie Apocalypse Plans (or any apocalypse plans), I’d half-joke that I plan to be one of the first wave killed because I’m too lazy to rebuild society, especially if there’s no Dunkin iced coffee available.  The addiction is real with my iced Dunkin; last year, upon my return from Iceland (aka the Land of No Dunkin), my stepfather met me at the airport with a hug and a “Welcome back, there’s a Dunkin downstairs.” When I was coming out of anesthesia from my hysterectomy, I’m told my drug-fogged brain wouldn’t stop running my mouth about how many Dunkins we’d passed on the way to the hospital and how massively unfair it was that I wasn’t allowed to have coffee before surgery. There’s a reason it was so especially poetic when the surprise napkin to unfurl in the mead at the Loki blot was a Dunkin napkin.

I run on Dunkin, is what I’m saying. I practically mainline the stuff.

Today, on the way to work, my usual Dunkin was closed because of the pandemic. So I went to another location. It, too, was closed.

This is it, I realized. The apocalypse is real, and my time is up.

Continue reading “Irreverence is a Coping Mechanism”

Pandemic Log: It’s Getting Weird

Day whatever of reporting to work as an essential employee: we’re devolving into anarchy. Uniform guidelines have fallen by the wayside. I’m at my desk in leggings and plaid Doc Martens. They have dinosaur laces. I’m making everyone look at the dinosaur laces.

I’ve resurrected my mascara and burgundy lipstick. Gals who are fortunate enough to stay at home are in PJs and bare-faced; we at the dealership have started wearing makeup, just to drive home to the techs how upside down and freakish the world has become. The veil has been shed in order to let my deathhawk fly in all its punkass glory.

We’re shuffling around in a post apocalyptic wasteland of a service center.

There are no rules, save one: Wash your hands.

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