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The House of the Turtle

Being a lost chapter of the voyages of Odysseus, on his journey homeward after the Trojan War.

I. The Woman in the Flames

O Muse! I beg thee, Calliope, come hither, hear my cry;

Give grace to my tongue, and gift unto me the fire you bring;

Let no line of this, my tale, stumble inelegantly

And let not the spirit of the story desert me until it reaches its proper end.

Adrift for so many months after the departure from Troy;

They wandered, clever Odysseus and his crew:

At the mercy of Poseidon in his fury, blown hither at the sea-god’s command.

Escaping the land of those who devour the flower, faring out from the cave of the one-eyed giant,

Braving flesh-eaters and the sorceress with her magic and metamorphosis,

Deaf to the alluring song of the winged singers, they sailed.

At last coming to a tiny island which bore no terrors nor dangers.

There, becamped on the sands of the isle’s broad and beatific sands

They built a fire, heaped high with wood cast upon that shore by wind and wave.

And there, within the flames of that blaze, they saw shadows dancing,

Moving, twisting sinuously, suggesting form and shape unfamiliar

Yet somehow known and gladdening to their hearts.

Within those flames they saw the visage of their own captain, he who stood

Upon the sands of that isle begirt by waves, wind ruffling through

The tangles that crowned his brow, and swirling down to stir the sand on which they sat,

Scattering it into their eyes until he thought he saw

The fair form and face of one he’d loved, long before that cursed voyage.

At clever Odysseus’ side another stood: the shade of a warrior bold and brave,

Weary survivor of many a battle, skilled with sword and spear and shield,

His companion from Troy and survivor of the terrible quest to gain the Golden Fleece,

Nestor, transported there from Pylos by the whim of the gods.

One among had been entertaining his fellows with tales of home,

But ere he or any other could raise his voice to call out to either man there,

A sound echoed across the sands, clashing with the roaring waves: the creak

Of a door opening, and there within the fire did open a door,

And from its haunted space a girl appeared, and all gathered there did marvel.

Her eyes shone with the luster of the dawn, and the silken locks round her fair face gleamed;

No man but looked upon her that did not find her fairer than any ever he had seen before.

Even Helen, over whom so many men had died, did not seem more beauteous in their eyes,

And without a word or sound, she cast into the leaping flames the fan of feathers

She held in one slim hand.

“Which man here, to gain my company, would not brave the terrors of Hades’ realm itself?

For I shall name as coward any who fears to take the chance.”

Odysseus, beguiled by face and form so lovely, stepped forward to claim his chance;

Nestor, having grown wise after decades of battles, deigned to risk the few years he had left,

Nor would he anger Hera by spurning the wife he had at home, sweet Eurydice; he knew

That tactics and strategy were his greatest strength, not the folly of disaster.

And so the captain stepped forth; the maiden, with the grace of one

Of the stags of wild Artemis at her rest in Delos, rushed to meet him,

Wrapping her alabaster arms round his broad shoulders;

As when he had been seduced by Circe, and Calypso, so now he succumbed to her charms.

And if such a choice was wise, it is for lesser mortals to say.

For the teller of tales may not make that decision; his tongue falls silent,

And no more will the audience hear the tale.  For is it not his task

To enlighten, and lead those who listen to ponder, and not by more blunt words

Force the answers upon them, rather than letting them come to those truths of their own accord?

The end of this tale is left unsung; gold we gift to the teller of tales, in hopes that

He will return to end the story, or to share another; but such a gift cannot be purchased

With mere coin; and now, O Muse, I beg you, listen on, for I continue the tale

That I have been commanded to recount.

II. The House of the Turtle

Within me, let insight and passion combine, O Muse, I beg of thee:

With every hue let me paint the tale, and with all parts of order and glory

Bring charm to the words I offer up to you;

Let your will be as a shield to hold back the grey dull chains

Of grief and desolation and gloom; no greater gift, nor any

Further art will I beg of you, though within the telling of this tale

I confront the unknown, so immense and shadowy that all words

Seem inadequate to paint the picture I have been told to tell.

Within this tale, heroes strive and fail, and in their endeavors also win

For themselves and for others a more lasting glory

As they set out on the journey

To the House of the Turtle.

At night, with no more radiance than the flame of one small tallow lamp,

He counts the stars that glimmer in the vast sky above;

Though most are too weak to recognize, one alone shines down from its accustomed place:

The brilliance of the clearest diamond in Aphrodite’s gleaming crown

That appears first closest to that moment

When Helios’ chariot first appears in the sky, and which outshines all others.

In that portion of the sky, past the light of the dog’s tail,

By which all mariners set their course, we hear the song of insects,

Their sweet voices rising in a melody never before known.

The House of the Turtle lies within the shadow of the moon,

And it is to that distant destination, by that road we travel,

And which we shall arrive at, when the journey is finished.

The captain cannot understand the Turtle’s Lord,

Though he has been guided by that friend of man many times before;

Clever Odysseus, for all his wiles, is as a child before He who stands at the final gate,

And the captain knows not if this road marks the beginning of a new journey

Or the end of an old one.

The Lord of the Turtle beckons; the ship lies waiting,

And the ocean stretches before the sailors as dawn comes

And the ship’s sails boom as the wind rises to fill them,

And the sun rises to show the way.

III. The Last Stop Before Journey’s Beginning

Penelope understands:

There is no place, while her lord and love is away from his home,

That knows the light that he carries about him when he is present.

Instead, even the tiniest of corners and doorways

Is shrouded with darkness, as if Helios’ chariot had fallen from the sky,

And one had come to collect the shade of the deceased

For the final journey.

Even the plainest fact is forgotten, or secreted away,

In the absence of Ithaca’s lord; with no firm ground on which to stand,

Or truth to cling to, only one last comfort remains:

The star that points to the House of the Turtle.

The wings of the Moirae echo like the crack of Zeus’ thunderbold,

Heralding the storm;

And in her heart, she knows: clever Odysseus will return home

Only if he first finds his way to the House of the Turtle.

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Poetry: Persephone’s Choice

Neither choice was mine.

Put yourself in my shoes:

I wasn’t precisely a child,

No matter how the stories paint things.

Sure, all the living things my mother tended

Needed the help of bees and butterflies to breed,

But I wasn’t wholly ignorant of sex,

Not with all those nymphs around.

That was passion, yes: the grunting of satyrs

Rutting in the bushes.

Birds and bees? Hah! Goats and trees.

(And streams and rocks and hills —

Every naiad, oread, and dryad had a fling

with the furry little wretches.)

But love? I knew only the love

Of a daughter for her mother,

And knew not how ardently I was desired.

My mother turned away all who would woo me:

The thief, the warrior, the smith, and the musician,

Keeping me to herself,

Keeping me safe,

Keeping my innocence pristine,

Like an ancient flower faded to grey,

dry and brittle where it lays pressed between the pages of a book.

Like the child I was, all decisions were made for me:

What and when to eat, what to wear, where to walk,

And given as much respect as might be given any powerless child:

A satisfied smile, a chaste kiss on my brow, a pat on the head.

No more had I earned for myself,

Not knowing in my ignorance that more was even possible,

And no more was I due.

But He did not ask my mother’s permission to court me,

Knowing she would refuse

The Lord of the Dead as she had refused all others.

No, He came without warning

(A foreshadowing, if you will),

Bursting up out of the earth

with all the violence and vigor

of a spear’s tip, emerging from a soldier’s chest

After it has been plunged into his back,

Ending his life.

And thus He ended my life —

The old life of pastoral play

and picking anemones under Helios’ bright gaze.

He bore me down in His arms,

Raining kisses on my face,

Strangely warm, for all that He is considered cold,

And strangely gentle, for all that so many of the ways

that life ends are brutal.

He wrapped me in fine silk, garlanded me with gold and rubies,

Sat me on the throne next to His own,

And in one breath,

Called me both “beloved” and “queen”.

Well.

Upset as I was, frightened as I was,

It was enough to make any girl’s head turn,

Enough to take my breath away.

How many times had I listened

to the nymphs and the satyrs,

And wished I had arms to hold me tight, as they did?

How many times had I dreamed of hearing a dark voice

choke out my name in yearning?

How many times had I wished to pass my own hand

over the roughness of a bearded cheek?

And then there was the power to think of, of course.

My mother’s bourne is life:

Trees, flowers, grain bursting golden in ripeness,

Feeding the hungry.

Apollo has music and light and prophecy and healing,

Dionysus the vine,

Hephaestus his forge,

Hermes his messages and his sly ways,

Ares his battles.

And though each and every one of them excels at his field,

Those fields are limited in scope,

Ending where they jut up against another’s.

But everything must die —

Trees and flowers and grain,

Cattle and swine and goats,

Hounds and stags,

Man,

the Titans who came before us,

And yes —

Even though man calls those who dwell on Olympus “the Deathless”

— Yes, even gods, too, may die.

How could I resist?

I knew, sooner or later, my mother

would come for me, tear me away from His side,

Take me back to the fields of flowers above,

Make me once again that little girl —

without the power of choice,

without the agency of free will,

without He who loved me.

Neither of the first two choices were mine:

Not mine, the choice to sit in that meadow,

crowned with flowers, surrounded by nymphs.

Not mine, the choice to be torn from that meadow,

borne into the depths of the earth, worshiped by He

who rules over everything when its time has ended.

But mine was the choice to stay or to go: this much power, I could seize.

I knew the rules: to eat would mean I must stay.

I knew watchful Helios had seen my Lord carry me away,

And what Helios knew, my mother would eventually know, as well.

The pomegranate shone like a promise.

When Hermes came to bear me back, I confessed:

these seeds, I have eaten.

And thereby bought the best of both worlds:

The joy and beauty of the meadows above, and a mother’s love.

And the embraces below, caught fast in the arms of

He whom I adore,

And that black throne.

See me now: I have made my choice,

And from that choice came all that followed.

Child no longer,

Maiden no longer,

But a woman grown, and queen:

Not just beloved, but a power in my own right,

And worthy of respect.

Give me my due.

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64 Adorations for Hermes

 

 

64 Adorations for Hermes

 

I adore you, friend of man,

I adore you, traveler and guardian of travelers,

I adore you, silver-tongued speaker,

I adore you, guide to the final destination,

I adore you, swift-footed,

I adore you, who carries the kerykeion,

I adore you, mountain-born,

I adore you, Maia’s son,

I adore you, who restored Persephone to her mother’s side,

I adore you, light-fingered,

I adore you, who lent pédila to Perseus,

I adore you, father of Pan,

I adore you, whom no lock may resist,

I adore you, master of ravens,

I adore you, given to playing tricks,

I adore you, who led away Apollo’s cattle,

I adore you, who waits at the crossroads,

I adore you, who stands outside every door,

I adore you, whose scepter brings sleep,

I adore you, thief at the gates,

I adore you, patron of wrestlers,

I adore you, escort for the dead,

I adore you, creator of the lyre,

I adore you, who gave moly to Odysseus,

I adore you, represented by piles of stones,

I adore you, Apollo’s brother,

I adore you, lucky one,

I adore you, who brings the word of Zeus to man,

I adore you, doom of Argus,

I adore you, foe of watchdogs,

I adore you, who proclaimed his own innocence,

I adore you, thoughtful one,

I adore you, who wins every race,

I adore you, most cunning,

I adore you, who knows every language,

I adore you, speaker with bees,

I adore you, deathless one,

I adore you, who receives the sacrifices of travelers,

I adore you, son of Zeus,

I adore you, who marks every boundary,

I adore you, who guided Priam to safety,

I adore you, who sang of his own cleverness,

I adore you, who watches over the markets,

I adore you, protector of shepherds,

I adore you, who bestows charm,

I adore you, arbiter and interpreter,

I adore you, great-grandfather to Odysseus,

I adore you, creator of fire,

I adore you, who enters and leaves Hades’ realm at will,

I adore you, lord of Arcadia,

I adore you, who gives luck to the luckless,

I adore you, patron of public speakers,

I adore you, who excels at every contest,

I adore you, who sends prophecy in dreams,

I adore you, who turned Battos to stone,

I adore you, whose voice is echoed in the rooster’s crow,

I adore you, who transformed the tortoise,

I adore you, who gifted Pandora with lies,

I adore you, who speaks in dreams,

I adore you, crafty one,

I adore you, who maps out the stars,

I adore you, wanderer along every road,

I adore you, who spoke before his first day ended,

I adore you, my lord and friend.

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The Yule ritual for my Grove, Wild Onion Grove, was scheduled for Sunday, December 18th at 2 PM; originally, it was being held at the Life Force Arts Center, but a conflict required it to be relocated to a member’s home.  Potluck to follow the ritual.

I arrived at the house with my husband at 2, only to find we were early because the ritual had been rescheduled to 3 PM and I hadn’t heard. But our hosts were exceptionally gracious, and we sat on the couch and watched TV (a program on the History Channel about Egypt and archaeology) as they finished getting ready.

The deity of the occasion was, of course, All-Father Odin; my husband is normally present at these rituals (I have never learned how to drive, or had a license, and we live a good hour outside of Chicago proper), but doesn’t much take part.  However, heathen that he is, he actually ended up participating in this one, which made me happy.

People began to trickle in right around 3 — the other three regular members of the Grove who I know fairly well, two others that had been at the Samhain rite (one of whom brought her young son), Joan (the owner of the Life Force Arts Center), and several others I met for the first time.

Gatekeeper for the ritual was Heimdall; bardic deity was Bragi.  As with the Samhain ritual most recently, and at least one other before that one, I was asked to take that part of the rite; our host had asked well beforehand, and as I’d recently finished writing a poem about Bragi to submit to a devotional anthology in honor of Bragi and Idunn, I found it fairly easy to write something for the rite (which I’ll reproduce below).  I also took the slot for one of the Three Kindreds, that of the nature spirits (who I am building an increasing connection to, but that’s for a future post).

Invocation to Bragi as Bardic:

Hail unto Bragi, whose name has given meaning

To the tales we tell of our deeds and our creations!

We ask that you join us here today if you are willing,

Kindle the bright spark in our spirits that

Gives the beginning to such deeds and creations,

Under your guidance, let us be bold;

Under your watch, let us be inspired;

And with the spark you kindle,

Bring depth, passion, and wisdom to

All we say and do here today.

Hail!

I thought the ritual went very well.  As part of the praise offerings, I brought a poem I’d written for Odin (which has been published in the Troth’s magazine, Idunna) titled “Odin’s Call”:

Like the spider spinning his web in a high wind,

You were persistent, tapping again and again

At the door to my heart and head, until I listened,

Opened the door, and let you in.

I thought I had nothing to do with the gods of the North,

Preferring to walk another path, thinking my life

Already too complicated and confused to warrant

Following any others.

But you would not accept my refusal, sending

Little signs and omens: two ravens following

My car, a gray cat adopted on Wednesday who wanders

And will not shut up: so like you.

What need had I for your guidance?  I was stubborn,

Did not want to take the steps to meet you,

Knowing how much you would demand of me,

Not knowing whether I could give it.

After a hard lifetime, I tend to think myself unworthy

Of such attention, and you confused me, chasing after

Me so relentlessly; I preferred to think I only imagined it,

Because what would you want with one such as myself?

I don’t ask those questions any more—or if I do, I know

That, while I might not be able to answer them, you must

Have your reasons.  Better, then, to serve you best as I can,

Though what gifts I have to offer are little enough.

These verses will win me no friends.  Your followers are a

Bold and boasting lot, whereas I have always striven to be

Meek and mild, hiding my lights away, better to go unnoticed,

Better to avoid strife, sorrow, and conflict.

But hiding from you did not work, and so I am here,

Hoping that some day I will understand why you wanted me,

Knowing because you did that there must be more that I can offer

Than the nothing I believe myself to be.

I also brought a feast of cookies — some for the potluck, and some (mead cookies and Swedish butter cookies) as part of the praise offerings.

Almost everyone present shared stories of how they got involved with Odin, or encounters with him; I told the story of how I’d finally accepted him and the Norse pantheon, which I’ve told here in an earlier post, and was pleased and surprised when even my normally-reticent and taciturn husband shared some of his own moments with the All-Father.

Me (in the white blouse) next to my husband Doug in the black Germany hoodie. I don't know everyone's name, but the white-haired lady speaking is Joan Forest Mage, and the gentleman in the red top is Chris, our senior druid.

 

(Picture by Caroline Farrow.)

The takeaway from the ritual were hand-painted rune cards done by one of the Grove members.  There were enough present for everyone to take two; I was utterly unsurprised to see that the first card I chose (they were all face-down so no one could tell what card they were going to draw) was the rune Ansuz, which is Odin’s rune.  As if I needed reminding that He had claimed me (even though He has to share me with the other deities I worship).  The second card I drew was Fehu, which tends to mean wealth, money, and riches.  (Something I don’t think any of us would mind having a little more of, heh!)

After the ritual had completed — with a fairly good, if somewhat ambiguous oracle (but then, Odin’s like that…prone to more than one meaning in the messages he gives) — we had dinner.  There was lasagna with garlic bread, a veggie plate, lots of munchies and snacks, my own cookies, homemade oatmeal-raisin bars and gingerbread, and plenty more.  There was wonderful conversation, jokes and more stories of past pagan and ADF festivals (which cemented the desire I have to attend Wellspring, eventually…some day…)

We weren’t the first to leave, but we weren’t the last; it was an hour’s drive back, and alas, my husband had work in the morning.  I would have liked to stay longer, but I’ll see my Grove-mates again in a few weeks, when we have the planning meeting for our Imbolc ritual.

And this year’s Imbolc ritual will mark the completion of the circle, because 2011’s Imbolc ritual was the first ADF gathering I attended. More than ever, I feel like I belong among these people who started out as friendly strangers and have ended up as friends. And although I’m still a good long way from completing my DP work, I feel like I belong here.

Later edit: here is the link for my grove’s blog entry about the Yule ritual:

http://wild-onion-grove.blogspot.com/2012/02/wild-onion-yule-2012.html?spref=fb

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As I intend to apply to the Bardic Guild (and the Scholars’ Guild) after I’ve completed my Dedicant Path work, I’ve compiled a list of pagan writing I’ve done, both poetic and scholarly, and I’m leaving it here for easy access; I’ll update it as updates become necessary.

Gaming material:

Scion Companion. Stone Mountain, GA: White Wolf Publishing. 2009. Print.

Scion: Seeds of Tomorrow. Stone Mountain, GA: White Wolf Publishing. 2009. Web.

(These consisted of adaptation of mythological material – mostly Irish and Greek – for a mythology-based game by White Wolf; I know of more than one pagan who had their first taste of pagan religion through games.)

Short Fiction:

“Three Arrows.” Unbound: A Devotional Anthology for Artemis. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. 2009. Print.

“Washerwoman.” The Phantom Queen Awakes. Norrkoping, Sweden: Morrigan Books. 2010. Print.

Poetry:

“Pomegranate.” He Epistole, #4. Neokoroi. Autumn 2004. Web.

“Pomegranate.” He Epistole, A Collection of Issues #1 – 12. 2007. Neokoroi: CafePress.com. Print.

“Herne.” Eternal Haunted Summer, Winter Solstice 2009. Web.

“Lady of the Cedars” and “The Death of Actaeon”. Unbound: A Devotional Anthology for Artemis. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. 2009. Print.

“Apology to Hekate.” Bearing Torches: A Devotional Anthology for Hekate. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. 2009. Print.

“Pomegranate.” Jabberwocky 4. Prime Books. 2009. Print.

“Odin’s Call.” Idunna #81. New Haven, CT: The Troth. Autumn 2009. Print.

“In Utgard-Loki’s Hall.” Idunna #83. New Haven, CT: The Troth. Spring 2010. Print.

“Gudrun’s Lament on Her Death-Bed.” Idunna #85. New Haven, CT: The Troth. Autumn 2010. Print.

“A Solstice Carol.” Chicago Pagan Pride Newsletter. December 2010. Web.

“Herne.” Hoofprints in the Wildwood: A Devotional for the Horned Lord. Morrisville, NC: Gullinbursti Books. 2011. Print.

“Song to Brigid at Imbolc.” Oak Leaves: the Quarterly Journal of Ár nDraíocht Féin, Issue #55. Tucson, AZ: ADF.  Winter 2011-2012. Print.

“Sun-God’s Crown”. Eternal Haunted Summer, Winter Solstice 2011. Web.

“Written on the Waves.” He Epistole, #25 (Winter 2012). Web.

“Homecoming.” Oak Leaves: the Quarterly Journal of Ár nDraíocht Féin, Issue #56. Tucson, AZ: ADF.  Spring 2012. Print. (Forthcoming.)

“Persephone’s Dilemma.” Queen of the Sacred Way: A Devotional Anthology for Persephone. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. 2012. Print. (Forthcoming.)

“Hermes at the Gate”, “Hermes in America”, “To Hermes Enodios”, and “All Your Faces”. Guardian of the Road: A Devotional Anthology for Hermes. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. 2012. Print. (Forthcoming.)

“Hard Lessons” and “More Than Enough”. Shield of Wisdom: A Devotional Anthology for Athena. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. 2012. Print. (Forthcoming.)

“Golden Delicious” and “Immortality”. As-Yet-Untitled Devotional Anthology for Idunn and Bragi. Hubbardston, MA: Asphodel Press. 2012. Print. (Forthcoming.)

“Adamant.” Harnessing Fire: A Devotional Anthology for Hephaestus. Bibliotheca Alexandrina. 2012. Print. (Forthcoming.)

“Helios Grieves”. Mandragora. United Kingdom: Scarlet Imprint. 2012. Print. (Forthcoming.)

Nonfiction (articles):

“The Nine Herbs Charm: Mugwort.” Idunna #88. New Haven, CT: The Troth. Summer 2011. Print.

“The Nine Herbs Charm: Plantain.” Idunna #89. New Haven, CT: The Troth. Autumn 2011. Print.

“The Nine Herbs Charm: Cress.” Idunna #90. New Haven, CT: The Troth. Winter 2011. Print.

“The Nine Herbs Charm: Nettle.” Idunna #91. New Haven, CT: The Troth. Spring 2012. Print. (Forthcoming.)

“Herbal Pest Control”, “Herbs During Pregnancy”, “Urban Herbalism”, and “Interview with the High Steward”. 2012 Troth Almanac. Idunna #90. New Haven, CT: The Troth. Winter 2011. Print.

Note: some of the works for 2012 marked “Forthcoming” have not been confirmed yet, most notably the Hermes anthology.

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RE: Oak Leaves submission: Spring issue

FROM:
TO:
Tuesday, November 8, 2011 9:41 AM

Thank  you for your submission. I’ve put it in the hopper for the Spring issue. Your list of published works is quite impressive; we don’t require any such background for publishing in OL, but may I suggest you join the Bardic Guild. They published a songbook a few years ago and I don’t see why they couldn’t also publish a poetry anthology as well. You may even wish to contact the Chronicler (adf-chronicler@adf.org) about publishing books with ADF Publishing.

-Steph Gooch
Editor-in-Chief
OakLeaves


Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2011 22:27:24 -0800
From: brigidsblest@yahoo.com
Subject: Oak Leaves submission: Spring issue
To: oak-leaves@adf.org

Hi!  My name is Jennifer Lawrence and I hope you will consider my poem “Homecoming”, on the myth of Demeter and Persephone, for submission in the upcoming Spring issue of Oak Leaves.  Previously, my poem “Song for Brigid at Imbolc” was published in the most recent issue (Winter).

I have been writing poetry since I was very young, and count myself fortunate that other people don’t think I suck at it.  🙂  Some of my published works include “Pomegranate”, a poem on the myth of Persephone, in the anthology Jabberwocky 4;  “Dahut’s Curse” (published in the September 2009 issue of Cabinet Des Fées); “Tam Lin’s Garden” (published in the Autumn 2009 issue of the webzine Goblin Fruit); “Diamonds and Toads” (published in the March 2009 issue of the webzine Aphelion); “Lady of the Cedars” and “The Death of Actaeon” in the anthology Unbound, published in May 2009 by Bibliotheca Alexandrina; “Apology to Hekate”, published in the devotional anthology “Bearing Torches”, published in 2009 by Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and the poem “Herne,” originally published by the webzine Eternal Haunted Summer for their Winter Solstice 2009 issue and then accepted for publication in the anthology “Hoofprints in the Wildwood” by Gullinbursti Press. My poem “Persephone’s Dilemma” won the 2009 Naukrateia writing contest held by Neos Alexandria. I have also recently had a run of poems published in The Troth’s magazine Idunna: “Odin’s Call” in issue #81, “In Utgard-Loki’s Hall” in issue #83, and “Gudrun’s Lament on Her Deathbed” in issue #85. (I have also begun writing a regular column on herbalism for that publication, beginning in issue #88.)

My thanks,

Jennifer Lawrence

————————————————————————–

Homecoming

 

The price of your return is this:

To know it is never permanent.

Still, I run to meet you as you emerge from the darkness,

Cloaked first in the shadows that seem to cling to you,

Loving, as he can never love you,

Adoring, as the whole world adored you,

Stubborn, as I have been stubborn,

Ready to destroy everything living

To have you by my side again.

I leap to embrace you,

One with the sun

(The sun which also leaps to embrace you,

As the grass around your ankles–

Newly sprouted–

Surges to hold the bare soles of your feet)

And whirl you into my arms.

The birds break into an epiphany of joy

Flowers bloom where your shadow passes

(As if even that brief whisper of darkness

Is fruitful, where His darkness is not)

And all the world rejoices with me.

Daughter, Kore, Spring child,

I can smell the scent of pomegranate on your lips

As I fold you to my bosom,

And it–sweet as no other sweetness

(Not honey,

Not apples,

Not the light of Helios himself)

–can ever be

Is all too bitter a reminder:

In six short months, I must lose you again.

Therefore, let us go now,

Down through the meadows,

Down to the riverbank,

Down where the fertile mud cakes between our toes

And wash away that darkness that clings to you

So I can pretend–at least for a little while–

That you are only and ever mine,

And I will never have to say good-bye again.

 

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As I mentioned in my first post on the gods a day or so ago, the Aesir and the Vanir were the last pantheon I added to my faith identity (for lack of a better term).  My husband has been heathen a little longer than me; I would say he converted from really lapsed Catholic in early 2006, and I added the heathen faith to the others I followed in, maybe, mid-2006 (June? July?  Not much later than that.)

 

A little after that, we began a tentative search for other heathens in the area; as things would have it, there are a great many heathens in Indiana, but most of them live far south of here, from central Indiana (the Indianapolis area) to southern Indiana.  A bit far for a regular commute for ritual and friendly get-togethers.

 

So we turned our eyes toward Chicago.

 

As it so happens, we ended up meeting a handful of folks at our local Pagan Pride Day in Portage, Indiana that year (late September, IIRC).  Among these was Phyllis S., the steward for the Troth in Illinois.  She was giving a talk on Asatru at the gathering, and we sat and listened respectfully and approached her with questions afterward.

 

One thing led to another; around that time we attended a Skaldic Fest arranged by Steven Robinson (Piparskeggr), held at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.  We met a few more heathens and eventually were asked to join the newly-forming Lindred Oak Kindred that Phyllis was creating.  By then, we had gotten to know her better, and we gladly joined.

 

Linden Oak Kindred formed in April of 2007; not all the members who were with us originally still are, and two new members have since joined who were not with us from the very beginning.  The Kindred currently numbers five, and we meet once a month (circumstances willing).  For the last five years, the Kindred has also sponsored open meetings, attended the Chicago Asatru Meet-Up, held rituals (sumbl and blot), attended Troth Moot once, and for four years now, put on Illini Moot, held at Camp Wokonda in Illinois.  It generally attracts anywhere from a dozen to twenty guests, including smith Dean Rose and his wife, noted Seidrh-worker Winifred Rose-Hodge, and Joe and Vedis Koerner of Heilag-Skjold Hearth. We will hold it again in 2012, which will be our fifth anniversary of doing so.  Phyllis is now High Steward for the entire Troth, which generally helps us keep up to date on things going on there (all five of our Kindred members are also Troth members).

 

Last year in October, I took the initiative to hold a blót mid-month in honor of the Alfar.  It went well enough that when the time rolled around again this year, I held it for the Kindred again (same weekend, at the house Doug and I share), and proposed making it an annual tradition, which was accepted.

 

For the blót itself, I used a written ritual out of one of the books by the Troth; however, I vowed that when I performed the blót in 2012, I would be performing one I had written myself.  Both years so far, we have offered up sacrifices of home-brewed ale or mead, and my husband has used his battle-axe to split a pumpkin for the Alfar, who are kin to the land wights.  We also “sacrificed” pumpkin and reindeer Peeps to the fire we had kindled in our fire-pit (both “meat” and “fruits”, as it were).

 

Below are several pictures of the blót and our Kindred members who attended:

 

Rodney

 

 

Doug Freyburger, current steward for the Troth for North Illinois.

 

My husband, cleaving the pumpkin; half of it went to rest at the base of the dwarf apple tree at the far rear/left of the picture; the other half went to rest at the base of the maple tree in our front yard.  I am sure the nature spirits (aka squirrels) enjoyed the gift.

 

Myself, mid-ritual (with the wrappers from the Peeps boxes stuffed in my pocket so they wouldn’t blow away…how I hate litter!)

 

My husband handing me the half of the pumpkin to put at the base of the apple tree (he put the other half at the base of the maple tree).

 

We held our monthly meeting after the blót was complete, and the general consensus was that the ritual had gone very well (better than last year’s, when I was still very nervous about performing rituals on my own).  The weather turned bitterly cold the day after the ritual, as if to say that, whether we liked it or not, autumn was finally there for certain, and winter not far behind.

 

To finish: below I have copied a poem I wrote for the Alfar in 2010.

 

The Alfar

 

No prancing point-winged pastel pixies, we!

But warriors of the land, both wild and free!

With sword and spear, we fight at Volund’s side,

And with bright Freyr’s forces we shall ride.

There is no jotun, ettin, wyrm, or troll

That comes away from battle with us whole;

Of our halls’ hospitality, skalds sing;

Our mead is fit for hero, Aes, or king.

Across the farthest borders we can see

Our foes as endless as the ocean’s tide

And ready as the spider’s jaws, we bide

To scythe them all away for Hela’s fee.

Our fighters number as the blades of grass:

And while we stand, no foe shall ever pass.

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