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Monday, July 22, 2024

The Aesir and Vanir: An A to Z List of Norse Gods and Goddesses

The Aesir and Vanir: An A to Z List of Norse Gods and Goddesses

In Norse mythology, there are two distinct groups of deities spoken of in the Eddas: The Æsir/Ásynjur and Vanir. The Æsir (gods) and Ásynjur (goddesses) were the original inhabitants of Valhalla and are commonly viewed as the gods of battle and war. The Vanir, on the other hand, are typically viewed as nature gods, ruling over the sea, wind, forest, agriculture, and fertility. This, however, is an oversimplification, as there is plenty of overlap between the two groups. For example, both Odin and Thor (Æsir) are linked to fertility while Freyja (Vanir) is associated with war. 

Prior to the Æsir-Vanir War, the two groups remained relatively separate. However, after the Æsir tortured Gullveig, the Vanir demanded reparations and to be treated as equals. Instead, the Æsir waged war on the Vanir, and after multiple defeats, the Æsir finally agreed to grant the Vanir equality and the two have been at peace since.

There are numerous deities mentioned in the Eddas, a collection of Old Norse poems and stories recorded during the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Below is a list of many of these deities in alphabetical order. For each deity, I have included a basic description, weapon or domain of power, responsibility, symbols, associated animals, and preferred offerings. This is not a comprehensive list nor a comprehensive look at each deity, but instead a snapshot to be used in a pinch. As with any deity list, this list is an oversimplification and will likely look much different in practice. In the coming months, I plan to write more detailed posts exploring their myths through an analysis of the Eddas, cultural significance, invocations, and more, so keep an eye out for those. They will also be linked here for future readers to learn more.

A | B | D | E | F | G | H | I | K | L | M | N | O | R | S | T | U | V

A

Ægir
  • Primordial god of the sea
  • Weapon/Domain of Power: sea
  • Symbols: waves, trident, helm (Aegishjalmur)
  • Associated Animals: kraken
  • Preferred Offerings: fish, salt, polished stones, bread, wine, mead, shells, coins, craft beer

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    B 

      Baldur/Baldr
      • Æsir god of light, beauty, nobility, learning, and war
      • Weapon/Domain of Power: wisdom, grace
      • Symbols: Ships (Hringhorni), sun, light, mistletoe, bonfires
      • Associated Animals: golden eagle, swan
      • Preferred Offerings: chamomile, lit candles, meat, mead, honey, flowers, wine
      Beyla
      • Ásynjur goddess of agriculture
      • Weapon/Domain of Power: agriculture, bees
      • Symbols: bees, beans, cow, honey, hives
      • Associated Animals: bee
      • Preferred Offerings: mead, honey, flowers, water, wine, fruit, beans, milk, cheese, yogurt, sweets
      Bragi
      • Æsir god of verse and rhyme
      • Weapon/Domain of Power: words
      • Symbols: harp, book
      • Associated Animals: nine songbirds (a black-capped chickadee, a boreal chickadee, a purple finch, a snow bunting, a pine grosbeak, three different northern wood warblers, and a hermit thrush)
      • Preferred Offerings: music, poetry, mead, wine, honey
      Búri
      • Primordial god of creation, father of all gods
      • Weapon/Domain of Power: father of all
      • Symbols: circle, ice, all elements, seeds
      • Associated Animals: cow (Ginnagagap)
      • Preferred Offerings: milk, cheese, yogurt, salt, water, mead, meat

        D

        Dagr
        • Æsir god of day
        • Weapon/Domain of Power: day, light
        • Symbols: day, sun, light, sunflower, time, chariot
        • Associated Animals: horse (Skinfaxi)
        • Preferred Offerings: honey, mead, sunflowers, wheat, baked goods, grains, vegetables, meat, ale, beer, wine, gold, cheese, butter
        • Ásynjur goddess of healing
        • Weapon/Domain of Power: mortar and pestle, healing herbs
        • Symbols: mortar and pestle, healing instruments, bandages
        • Associated Animals: gray jay
        • Preferred Offerings: healing herbs and oils, honey

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          F

          Fjörgyn/Jörd
          • Personification of earth
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: stone, earth, and soil
          • Symbols: stone, soil, mountains, hills, wilderness, bees
          • Associated Animals: snapping turtle, toad, rock vole
          • Preferred Offerings: stones, water, milk, honey, mead, wine, dried berries, leaves, flowers
          Forseti
          • Æsir god of law and justice
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: double-headed axe, gold, silver
          • Symbols: scales, lute
          • Associated Animals: gray wolf, hawk
          • Preferred Offerings: savory foods, beer, mead, apples
          Freyja/Freya
          • Vanir goddess of destiny, fate, fertility, love, battle, and hunting
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: Brisingamen (her necklace), runes, falcon cloak, chariot drawn by two cats
          • Symbols: cats, chariot, jewelry, gold, 
          • Associated Animals: cats
          • Preferred Offerings: apples, mead, honey, cat figures, perfume, chocolate, amber, gold, beeswax
          Freyr
          • Vanir god of love, fertility, hunting, and harvest
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: Gullinborsti (golden-bristled boar), Skidbladnir (ship), magic sword
          • Symbols: phallus, Inguz/Ingwaz rune, boar, sickles, seeds, pollen, rain
          • Associated Animals: boar, feral pig
          • Preferred Offerings: apple, cider, gold, coins, grain
          Frigg(a)
          • Ásynjur goddess of love, fertility, wisdom, and war
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: foresight, wisdom
          • Symbols: spindle, spinning wheel, keys,
          • Associated Animals: great-horned owl
          • Preferred Offerings: wool, milk, mead, pastries, fruity wines
          Fulla
          • Ásynjur goddess of abundance and fertility
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: fertility, prosperity, abundance
          • Symbols: golden headband, shoes/sandals
          • Associated Animals: N/A
          • Preferred Offerings: preserved or dried foods, mead, sweet wines, chamomile
          Gefion/Gefjon/Gefjun
          • Vanir goddess of fertility, virginity, agriculture, virtue, and the unwed
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: shape-shifting, plow
          • Symbols: plow
          • Associated Animals: wood ducks, oxen
          • Preferred Offerings: grain, bread, potatoes, ankle bells, ale
          Gersemi/Semi
          • Ásynjur goddess of sisterhood, familial love, and treasure
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: sisterhood, friendship, love
          • Symbols: jewels, gold, treasure
          • Associated Animals: otter
          • Preferred Offerings: precious gems, gold, flowers, honey, mead, gems, anything you find beautiful
          Gullveig
          • Vanir goddess of magic
          • Weapon/Domain of Power: magic, witchcraft, second-sight, sorcery, seidr
          • Symbols: gold, fire
          • Associated Animals: serpent
          • Preferred Offerings: gold, cinnamon, ginger, spiced alcohol

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            H

            Heimdall
            • Æsir god of guardianship, vigilance, protection, and light
            • Weapon/Domain of Power: Gjallarhorn (horn), watcher of the Bifrost
            • Symbols: horn, horses, eyes, sirens, alarms
            • Associated Animals: horse (Gulltoppr)
            • Preferred Offerings: lamb, mutton, coffee, caffeinated drinks, mead
            Hel
            • Ásynjur goddess of death and the netherworld
            • Weapon/Domain of Power: life and death, Helheim
            • Symbols: dark horses, ravens, graveyards, corpses, tombs, brooms, rakes
            • Associated Animals: black hound (Garm)
            • Preferred Offerings: tea, chocolate, dried meats, preserved flowers, mead, raw honey
            Hermóðr
            • Æsir messenger for the gods
            • Weapon/Domain of Power: honor, bravery, messages
            • Symbols: winged scroll, horses
            • Associated Animals: Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse
            • Preferred Offerings: incense, feathers, mead, meat, honey
            Hlin
            • Ásynjur goddess of consolation and compassion
            • Weapon/Domain of Power: compassion, mercy
            • Symbols: shield, wooden bucket and ladle, water scoop
            • Associated Animals: red-tailed hawk
            • Preferred Offerings: water, flowers, candles, coffee, mead
            Hnoss
            • Vanir goddess of beauty, love, lust, desire, sisterhood, and treasure
            • Weapon/Domain of Power: beauty, charisma
            • Symbols: jewels, gold, treasure
            • Associated Animals: otter
            • Preferred Offerings: precious gems, gold, flowers, honey, mead, gems, anything you find beautiful
            Höðr/Hodur
            • Æsir god of darkness and winter
            • Weapon/Domain of Power: mistletoe dart, tragedy, winter
            • Symbols: blindfolds, closed eyes, darkness, shadows, cold, mistletoe
            • Associated Animals: bat
            • Preferred Offerings: whole grains, bread, nuts, beer, mead, cheese, butter, hearty meals, root vegetables
            Hœnir
            • Æsir god of reason, honor, holiness, and sanctity
            • Weapon/Domain of Power: silence, omens
            • Symbols: stork, silence, ash, elm
            • Associated Animals: stork, walrus
            • Preferred Offerings: mead, dark beer, honey, iron

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              I

              Iðunn/Idunna
              • Ásynjur goddess of youth, immortality, and rejuvenation
              • Weapon/Domain of Power: basket of life-giving apples
              • Symbols: apples, fountains, spring, dawn
              • Associated Animals: owl
              • Preferred Offerings: apples, cider, anything made from apples

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                K

                  Kvasir
                  • Born from the spit of both Vanir and Æsir
                  • Weapon/Domain of Power: wisdom, intelligence, creative inspiration
                  • Symbols: books, writing utensils, cups, chalices, poems, mead, saliva/spit
                  • Associated Animals: N/A
                  • Preferred Offerings: saliva/spit, mead, bread, honey, milk, meat, water, poetry, blood
                  • Ásynjur goddess of forbidden love
                  • Weapon/Domain of Power: affairs, adultery, and secret unions
                  • Symbols: key, open doorway, archway, rose
                  • Associated Animals: pair of wood ducks
                  • Preferred Offerings: sweet wine, milk and honey, roses, baked goods, flowers
                  Loki
                  • Æsir god of chaos, fire, destruction, lies, deceit, and misfortune
                  • Weapon/Domain of Power: trickery, shape-shifting, lies, deception
                  • Symbols: snakes intertwined to form an S, fire, torches
                  • Associated Animals: snake, serpent, wyrm
                  • Preferred Offerings: cinnamon, mulled wine, coffee with sugar, tobacco, sweets (especially sour ones)

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                    M

                    Magni/Magnur
                    • Æsir god of brotherhood and strength
                    • Weapon/Domain of Power: strength
                    • Symbols: mountain, sword, hammer
                    • Associated Animals: weasel, pine marten
                    • Preferred Offerings: bread, mead, strong beer, tobacco, meat, blood
                    Meili
                    • Æsir god of travel
                    • Weapon/Domain of Power: travel
                    • Symbols: ships, vehicles 
                    • Associated Animals: N/A
                    • Preferred Offerings: incense, bread, mead, water, 
                    Mimir/Mim
                    • Æsir god of wisdom, friendship, and good counsel
                    • Weapon/Domain of Power: Well of Knowledge
                    • Symbols: well, fountains, pool of water
                    • Associated Animals: mockingbird
                    • Preferred Offerings: prayer, secrets, stories, blood, water, dark beer, bread, meat
                    Móði/Modin
                    • Æsir god of brotherhood and strength
                    • Weapon/Domain of Power: family loyalty, brotherhood
                    • Symbols: shield, helm, weapons
                    • Associated Animals: pine marten
                    • Preferred Offerings: blood, meat, mead, beer, bread

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                      N

                      Nanna
                      • Ásynjur goddess of heavenly beauty, joy, and peace
                      • Weapon/Domain of Power: devotional love
                      • Symbols: sunflower, wedding rings, moon
                      • Associated Animals: mourning dove
                      • Preferred Offerings: sunflowers, mead, honey, gold, dried fruits, flowers, rings, jewelry
                      Njörðr/Njord
                      • Vanir god of the sea, wealth, fair weather, summertime, and fertility
                      • Weapon/Domain of Power: sea, sea travel
                      • Symbols: ships, ports, seashells, fishing nets, silver, gold
                      • Associated Animals: gull
                      • Preferred Offerings: dark beer, seafood, poke, gold, shells, tobacco
                      Nótt
                      • Vanir goddess of the night
                      • Weapon/Domain of Power: night
                      • Symbols: darkness, shadow, stars, moon
                      • Associated Animals: nocturnal animals
                      • Preferred Offerings: root vegetables, dark ale, beer, honey, meat, incense, nocturnal flowers, bonfires,

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                        O

                        Odin
                        • Æsir god of creation, wisdom, magic, healing, war, and the king of gods
                        • Weapon/Domain of Power: All-father, wisdom
                        • Symbols: triple horn, ravens, spear, horned helmet
                        • Associated Animals: ravens Muninn and Huginn, wolves Freki and Geri, steed Sleipnir
                        • Preferred Offerings: meat, red wine, poetry, asparagus, rye bread
                        Óðr
                        • Vanir god of divine madness, ecstasy, frenzy, love, desire, and inspiration
                        • Weapon/Domain of Power: desire, wishes
                        • Symbols: sun, gold, 
                        • Associated Animals: bluejay
                        • Preferred Offerings: mead, honey, blood, pork, baked goods, rum

                          R

                          Ran
                          • Ásynjur goddess of lakes, springs, and rivers
                          • Weapon/Domain of Power: freshwater
                          • Symbols: lakes, rivers, springs, ships, sailors, nets
                          • Associated Animals: water birds, blue heron
                          • Preferred Offerings: fish, shells, wine, coins, jewelry, wine, honey

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                            S

                            Saga

                            • Ásynjur goddess of history, poetry, records, and stories
                            • Weapon/Domain of Power: books, knowledge, recordkeeping
                            • Symbols: books, poetry, records, parchment
                            • Associated Animals: owl
                            • Preferred Offerings: dried meat, porridge, nuts, mead, aster, bread, incense, stories, poetry
                            Sif
                            • Ásynjur goddess of earth, beauty, strength, family, marriage, autumn, harvest, peace-keeping, and civil discourse
                            • Weapon/Domain of Power: Migard, peace-keeping, family
                            • Symbols: golden hair, gold, wheat
                            • Associated Animals: pair of swans
                            • Preferred Offerings: wheat, beer, honey, mead, gold, wine, corn, amber
                            Sigyn
                            • Ásynjur goddess of compassion, kindness, and loyalty
                            • Weapon/Domain of Power: loyalty, devotion
                            • Symbols: key, bowl, cup, heart, star
                            • Associated Animals: red fox
                            • Preferred Offerings: sweets, cakes, cookies, chocolate, sweet wines, honey, mead, yogurt, cheese
                            Sjöfn
                            • Ásynjur goddess of romance, love, missives, communication, and law
                            • Weapon/Domain of Power: matchmaking, courtship
                            • Symbols: heart
                            • Associated Animals: pair of wood ducks
                            • Preferred Offerings: cookies, milk and honey, roses, lilies, hearts
                            Skaði
                            • Vanir goddess of hunting, winter, and skiing
                            • Weapon/Domain of Power: winter, untamed nature
                            • Symbols: bow, arrow, skis, snow, pine, mountains, snowshoes
                            • Associated Animals: silver fox, wolf
                            • Preferred Offerings: raw meat, jerky, wild berries, vodka
                            Snotra/Syn
                            • Ásynjur goddess of lawful war, guardianship, thresholds, protection, and law
                            • Weapon/Domain of Power: thresholds, law, upholding the truth
                            • Symbols: doorways, thresholds, archways, scales 
                            • Associated Animals: red-tailed hawk
                            • Preferred Offerings: bread, wine, mead, honey, meat, the truth, keys

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                              T

                              Thor

                              • Æsir god of thunder, storms, lightning, strength, and war
                              • Weapon/Domain of Power: thunder, lightning, power
                              • Symbols: Mjolnir (hammer), lightning
                              • Associated Animals: goats
                              • Preferred Offerings: goat, pork, cookies, dark beers, goat's milk, mead, hammer, anything struck by lightning
                              Thrud/Þrúðr
                              • Ásynjur goddess of storms, beauty, and battle
                              • Weapon/Domain of Power: storms, hurricanes
                              • Symbols: sword, mace
                              • Associated Animals: black bear
                              • Preferred Offerings: mead, flowers, honey, beeswax, oak leaves, meat
                              Týr/Tiw
                              • Æsir god of lawful conflict, righteous battle, order, justice, and rule of law
                              • Weapon/Domain of Power: victory and justice
                              • Symbols: sword, shield, chains, scales
                              • Associated Animals: wolf
                              • Preferred Offerings: beef, pork, red wine, port, dark ale

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                                U

                                Ull(r)
                                • Æsir god of friendly competition, athletic ability, good sport, oaths, promises, and contracts
                                • Weapon/Domain of Power: sports, games, hunter and archery
                                • Symbols: ring, bow, arrow, snow, skis, snowshoes
                                • Associated Animals: polar bear
                                • Preferred Offerings: meal, ale, mead, dried berries, blood, arrow heads

                                Váli

                                • Æsir god of vengeance, war, and regret
                                • Weapon/Domain of Power: vengeance
                                • Symbols: bow and arrow, knife, warriors
                                • Associated Animals: northern shrike
                                • Preferred Offerings: meat, dark ale, mead, bread, tobacco, blood
                                Vár
                                • Ásynjur goddess of oaths, promises, and agreements
                                • Weapon/Domain of Power: oaths and agreements
                                • Symbols: oath-ring
                                • Associated Animals: Moose
                                • Preferred Offerings: promises, wine, fruit, bread, milk, honey, mead

                                • Æsir god of creation
                                • Weapon/Domain of Power: creation, world-building, construction of the Nine Realms
                                • Symbols: axe, helm, seeds, world tree
                                • Associated Animals: walrus
                                • Preferred Offerings: meat, cheese, milk, honey, dried berries, mead, beer, ale, wine, seeds, grain
                                Víðarr
                                • Æsir god of silence, retribution, anger, war, and revenge
                                • Weapon/Domain of Power: retribution, avenge Odin's death
                                • Symbols: boot, iron shoe, silence
                                • Associated Animals: wolverine, wolf
                                • Preferred Offerings: leather, iron, mead, beer, meat, bread, a sacrifice
                                Vili/Lothur
                                • Æsir god of sworn agreements, loyalty to friends and family, oaths, and promises
                                • Weapon/Domain of Power: oaths and pacts
                                • Symbols: helm, mace, double-headed axe
                                • Associated Animals: caribou
                                • Preferred Offerings: meat, cheese, milk, honey, dried berries, mead, beer, ale, wine, seeds, grain

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                                ***

                                Again, this is by no means a complete list or guide to these deities. Correspondence lists, like this one, show a very superficial and surface-level understanding. Truly understanding them requires an in-depth study of the Eddas as well as building a relationship with them. For example, while Skaði is often reduced to a huntress, she is so much more. Reading her story and working with her, you will find she is also a goddess of feminine strength and rage. She is a protector of women and a survivor, even in the worst of conditions. This is something you will not learn from a correspondence list.



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                                Thursday, July 18, 2024

                                Magical Properties of Blue Lace Agate

                                Magical Properties of Blue Lace Agate



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                                Monday, July 15, 2024

                                Magical and Medicinal Uses of Hibiscus

                                Magical and Medicinal Uses of Hibiscus
                                Gender: Feminine
                                Planet: Venus
                                Element: Water
                                Powers: Change, Loyalty, Love, Lust, Protection, Resilience, Resistance
                                Magical Uses and History: Often viewed as synonymous with the tropics, the hibiscus has long been revered by tropical civilizations for its sweet scent and flavor. The name hibiscus comes from the Greek hibiskos meaning marsh mallow or white mallow, a reference to plants with pink flowers and a stem with fine hairs including cotton and okra. Native to Asia and Africa, the hibiscus made its way to the Caribbean via trade and quickly became a symbol of resilience and strength among slave communities. While not cultivated as a production crop in the Americas, hibiscus was often grown in subsistence gardens created by the enslaved to continue perpetuating their indigenous African knowledge where it was mainly consumed as an herbal beverage. Other species of hibiscus made their way to the Americas via indentured servants from across Asia who brought the flower with them for worship, animal fodder, and toothpaste. As such, the hibiscus became associated with the expression of identity for non-natives, appearing in art and literature, especially as an expression of human suffering, resilience, and resistance. In Kendel Hippolyte's poem "Abstract #1" the hibiscus symbolizes the blood of his ancestors and the suffering they faced due to colonial violence. As such, hibiscus can be used by marginalized groups in spells and rituals for resistance, strength, and resilience, especially regarding spiritual activism.

                                In India, the hibiscus has long been associated with Kali, the goddess of time, change, creation, destruction, and death. Kali is often depicted wearing a crown of hibiscus, a symbol of her femininity as well as her strength. The flower is frequently left as an offering to Kali as its bright, fiery color represents the intense passion and power embodied by the goddess. The hibiscus is also used to ward off negativity and protect those making the offering as it's believed the hibiscus invokes Kali's protection while simultaneously removing obstacles so transformation can occur. As such, the hibiscus can be used in spells and rituals for protection and change. Place around entryways to prevent negativity from entering, add to road opening spells, or burn as incense for the same purpose.

                                Other cultures and myths associated the hibiscus with love and lust. In some versions of the Greek myth, Adnois turns into a hibiscus flower to strop Aphrodite and Persephone from fighting and later reborn from Aphrodite's love. This version of the myth suggests the hibiscus is a symbol of love and lust with the power to attract lovers. In Hawaii, the hibiscus flower is used by women to attract or repel a lover. If worn behind the left ear, the woman is looking for a lover, while worn behind the right ear suggests she is already claimed. In China, the hibiscus is found in several myths about love and loyalty. The most famous of these is Song and Ming, which tells of a beautiful woman who enchanted everyone she met. Despite multiple attempts, no man could win her away from her husband, who she remained consistently loyal to, despite him being blind. One day a wealthy lord rode through town and was so enchanted with the woman he declared his love on the spot and asked her to marry him. Despite his sincerity, the woman refused and in a fit of anger, he kidnapped her. Day in and day out he tried to win the woman's love, but she remained steadfast in her loyalty to her husband. Eventually, he grew tired of her and killed her. Having heard of her death, the townspeople retrieved her body and buried her outside her home so she could be with her heartbroken husband upon which hibiscus flowers later sprouted. Like other red flowers, hibiscus can be used in spells and rituals for love and lust. Hibiscus petals can be added to teas to attract a lover, promote sexuality, or induce lust. Add to baths, face washes, or cleansers to attract love or wear for the same purpose. Hibiscus flowers can also be burned during love spells, added to love oils, or added to spell bags to attract love. To ensure loyalty and fidelity in marriage, add to wedding arrangements and bouquets.

                                Hibiscus can be used in a number of spells including:
                                    Love Spells
                                    Lust Magic
                                    Spiritual Activism
                                    Protection Spells
                                    Fidelity Magic
                                    Road Opener Spells

                                Medicinal Uses: The whole plant of hibiscus, from flower to roots to seeds, can be used to treat a variety of ailments. Some studies have shown hibiscus to have anti-insulin-resistant properties, decreasing blood sugar and insulin levels. Hibiscus also contains high levels of polyphenols and flavonoids which can decrease the accumulation of fat and thus aid in weight loss or maintenance in certain doses. Due to its antibacterial properties, hibiscus can be used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections and improve renal function. Most often, however, hibiscus is used to promote hair and skin health with high levels of antioxidants helping to protect against free radicals and glycerine acting as a moisturizer. 

                                Preparation and Dosage: To create an infusion, combine 1 tablespoon of dried hibiscus with 1 cup of warm water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes before drinking. Drink up to three times a day. To create a hair rinse, boil 1/4 cup of dried hibiscus flowers with 1.5 cups of water. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. Once cooled pour the mixture directly onto the scalp or add to a spray bottle and work the mixture through your hair. To create a cleansing hibiscus conditioner, blend hibiscus flowers with a small amount of water until a fine paste forms. Smear the paste onto the scalp and leave for at least 15 minutes before rinsing off with warm water. To create a face mask, combine 1 teaspoon of hibiscus flower powder with 1 teaspoon of kaolin clay or brown rice flour with a small amount of water or aloe vera to form a paste. Apply to your face, being sure to avoid your eyes and mouth. Allow the mask to dry for 10-15 minutes before removing with warm water.



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                                Magical and Medicinal Uses of Hibiscus



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                                Monday, July 8, 2024

                                Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Summon Rain During Times of Drought

                                Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Rain During Times of Drought

                                I'm not sure about everyone else, but we are experiencing a pretty severe drought in my area. My grass is almost completely dead and if it wasn't for me watering my garden, none of my flowers would have survived the season. Even with watering, they are barely blooming because it's so hot and dry. We desperately need rain, and what better way to try and coax it here than with a little bit of magic?

                                Rain and weather spells are well documented throughout history, especially among pastoral communities that relied heavily on the weather to ensure they could survive through the winter. One bad growing season could spell disaster for everyone. While the methods vary across cultures, most rain spells incorporate water, including the one I present today.

                                What You'll Need

                                • Bowl of water, preferably rainwater
                                • Broom or herb bundle (options include heather, fern, henbane, and pansy)
                                • Ingwaz rune
                                • Offering for Freyr such as apple, apple cider, coins, grains, barely, or ale.

                                What to Do

                                Begin by going outside with your materials. Take a few deep breaths to ground and center yourself, connecting with the earth below you and the sky above. Holding the Ingwaz rune in your hand, raise your arms toward the heavens and say, "Freyr, mighty Vanir lord, Bringer of growth, rain, and sword, Hear my plea, this land is dry, Send your waters from the sky. By the power of Ingwaz, fertile seed, Let the heavens open, and fulfill this need. Gentle rain, come forth and fall, Nourish the earth, heed my call." Dip the rune into the bowl of water and sprinkle the water onto the land, symbolizing the rain you wish to bring.

                                Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Rain During Times of Drought

                                Still holding the rune, dip your broom or herb bundle into the water and begin sprinkling it around your home or chosen area, walking in a clockwise direction. As you do so, chant "Rain, rain bless this land. Gentle and quick come again." or continue invoking Freyr using the previous incantation. Visualize dark clouds heavy with rain forming above you and gently raining down, quenching the earth's thirst. Smell and feel the rain's gentle touch. Continue walking, sprinkling, chanting, and visualizing until you have walked completely around your home (or wherever you are walking) or until you feel you raised enough power to be released.

                                Raise your hands back into the air with the rune in one hand and the broom/herb bundle in the other and tip your face towards the heavens. Release the energy you have built up. I usually do this by taking a deep breath and then exhaling until all the air has been pushed from my lungs. Close the ritual by thanking Freyr by saying, "Thank you, Freyr, for hearing my plea, For rain and blessing cast upon me. By your power, let the land be drenched, Rain shall fall until all is quenched. Please accept this offering of [insert offering here] as thanks."

                                Modifications/Alternatives:
                                Not everyone can walk, practice openly, work with deities (or Norse ones), or lives in a home with walkable property. As such, here are some suggestions to modify this spell to suit your own needs.
                                • Use a map of your area if you cannot go outside, walk, etc. Pull up a satellite image of your home and print it, or use your smartphone, iPad, or other electronic device that can lie flat. Cover any electronic devices with clear plastic or place them in a clear plastic baggy to avoid damaging the device. I know many are water-resistant so if you are comfortable sprinkling a few drops of water on it, then go right ahead. Just be sure not to soak the device or try to charge it until it's completely dry. Perform the ritual as intended, sprinkling the water over your printed map or device.
                                • If you don't work with deities or don't work with Norse ones, you can call upon the Universe or other rain deities such as Zeus or Taranis. Substitute the offering to correspond with the deity of your choice, or use honey or your spit (both are universal offerings).

                                Why You Did It

                                Understanding the whys of a spell (or recipe) is just as important as performing it. It helps you understand the process so you can modify the spell or ritual to suit your needs and helps guide you to write your own. It's my intention that by providing these explanations, you can build a better understanding of how spells are written and executed so you can modify and build your own spells (the goal of my Spellcrafting Series). 

                                This spell begins by going outside (or using a map if you are modifying) so the Universe/spirits/deities know where you want it to rain. Being specific in our spells is incredibly important, and giving a specific location is crucial to this spell. You can ask for rain all day, and rain will fall, it just might not be where you want it to be. I can ask for rain in my city, but it spans 4 different counties so where it falls within the city limits may not include my house specifically.

                                Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Rain During Times of Drought

                                The Ingwaz rune was used in this spell because it represents Freyr, the god of rain, fertility, and agriculture. Ingwaz, like Freyr, is also associated with fertility and prosperity, as well as growth and potential. Because rain is nourishing, it was often viewed in a reproductive manner, being akin to sperm that falls and 'fertilizes' the land, allowing it to blossom. This is why many fertility gods are often associated with rain as well.

                                Historically, brooms have been used in many rain spells as it's believed the broom can stir up wind and clouds, bringing rain with them. By dipping the broom in water and sprinkling it upon the land, you are performing sympathetic magic, where like attracts like. Many herbs are also deeply associated with bringing rain, the most famous being heather. Heather is allied with mist and rain, preferring to grow in moist areas. It's the most commonly used herb to bring rain and has been used to sprinkle water upon the earth or in rain-bringing incense. One medieval incense recipe calls for henbane and fern, which are also associated with rain, to be combined with heather and burned to coax rain to put the fire out and save the rain-loving plants. A lesser-known rain herb is pansy. According to folklore, picking pansies will bring rain, or picking a pansy and dousing it in water will bring rain. Either way, it's associated with bringing rain, making it a great addition or alternative.

                                Summoning the Rain: A Weather Spell to Rain During Times of Drought

                                Finally, this spell was performed in a clockwise manner to draw the rain to you. Clockwise is associated with attracting things.

                                One common concern with weather spells is that once the rain starts, it may not stop. This is where our thanks come into play. I specifically included that rain will fall until "all is quenched" meaning that once the earth and plants have had their fill, the rain will stop. If for whatever reason the rain does not stop, you can perform a rain-stopping ritual by lighting a candle (fire is the opposite of water) and saying "Rain, rain go away. Come again another day." Yes, this old nursery rhyme is a traditional rain-stopping spell and works quite well.

                                Remember to record this recipe in your Book of Shadows or use my Spell/Ritual Worksheet for reference later.

                                ***

                                Since casting this spell, it has rained twice and we have 4 more days of rain predicted to come. Already my plants have perked up and several brown spots in my yard and filling in with some green. It will take several more days of rain to undo the damage that has been done, but I am hopeful.


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                                Thursday, July 4, 2024

                                13 Herbs To Induce an Altered State of Consciousness and Aid in Hedge Riding

                                13 Herbs To Induce an Altered State of Consciousness and Aid in Hedge Riding

                                Reaching an altered state of consciousness (ASOC) is necessary for hedge riding and other forms of astral travel as it allows your spirit to transcend our reality. Reaching an ASOC is often difficult for those with overactive minds, especially in today's society which suggests relaxing means you are lazy. Winding down enough to quiet the mind and focus on shifting your consciousness takes work, but it can be aided through breathwork, drumming, chanting, dancing, and even plants.

                                Entheogens are a psychoactive group of plants that help induce an ASOC, often in a religious or shamanic context. The term entheogen comes from the Greek entheos meaning "god within" and genesthe meaning "to generate." This roughly translates to "to generate god within" or creating the divine within one's self, referring to the transcendence of one's spirit while under the effects of an entheogen. In other words, entheogens produce visions and induce an ASOC.

                                Entheogens have been used across cultures in a variety of religious activities, especially among shamans, medicine men, diviners, oracles, seidhr, and witches, among others. Many entheogens that have been used historically, such as fly agaric, peyote, ayahuasca, opiates, datura, and belladonna are currently illegal in many parts of the world or dangerous if not used under the guidance of a licensed professional. There are, however, several other entheogens and non-entheogens that are legal and generally considered safe, even for novice herbalists, that you can use in your practice.

                                In today's post, I offer 13 plants and herbs you can use to reach an ASOC and aid you in your hedge riding journey. As with all plant use, use at your own risk. Some of these plants do not mix well with certain medications, can induce anxiety or panic, cause cancer if used long-term, or are not legal in all areas.

                                1. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

                                Mugwort is by far my favorite herb for just about everything, especially when it comes to hedge riding and spirit work. Sometimes referred to as the Witch Herb, mugwort is known for its ability to enhance psychic abilities and intuition, assist in lucid dreaming, and heighten awareness and focus. It is one of many plants commonly found in flying ointments, hallucinogenic salves/oils used to aid in hedge riding and other forms of astral travel.

                                Use

                                You can use dried leaves, stems, roots, or flowers of mugwort in a couple of different ways to induce an ASOC, but the best way is through smoking or inhaling incense smoke. It pairs well with tobacco in both instances. Mugwort can also be drunk as a tea. To make an infusion combine 1 teaspoon of dried mugwort with 1 cup of boiling water or try my Hedge Riding tea recipe. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes before drinking. Mugwort can also be used topically as an oil or ointment. Generally speaking, using mugwort topically is slower to induce an ASOC and can sometimes leave individuals feeling hung over. I have not experienced this with mugwort, but others have reported general fatigue, headache, and tiredness after use.

                                Do not use mugwort if you are:

                                • Allergic to ragweed, birch, celery, wild carrots, fennel, honey, hazelnuts, pine nuts, tobacco, or grass.
                                • Pregnant (causes uterine contractions)
                                • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)

                                2. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

                                While lavender is not an entheogen, it is relaxing, helping to calm the mind and shift your awareness away from the mundane. Historically, lavender has been used to enhance sleep and induce prophetic dreams as it helps regulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls bodily processes like breathing, heart rate, and hormone secretion. This is not the most potent of herbs on this list, but it is among the safest and also part of my Hedge Riding tea.

                                Use

                                The use of lavender is very diverse. The flowers can be drunk as an infusion, burned as incense, or used as an essential oil on pulse points, similar to how you would apply a flying ointment. To create an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried lavender with 1 cup of warm (not quite boiling) water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 5-10 minutes before enjoying. 

                                Do not use lavender if you are:

                                • Allergic to tea tree oil. Some individuals who are allergic to tea tree oil are also allergic to lavender oil.

                                3. Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis)

                                While you are probably most familiar with sage for its cleansing and protective qualities, garden sage can also be used to reach an ASOC. When burned, garden sage has been found to induce relaxation, enhance memory, and heighten awareness. Some report feeling lighter and having an elevated awareness when using garden sage. Like lavender, garden sage is not an entheogen and therefore not a potent as some other herbs on this list. That doesn't make it less effective though. 

                                Use

                                The best way to use garden sage is to smoke it or inhale incense smoke. It pairs well with tobacco and mugwort. It can also be drunk as an infusion although the effects are lessened significantly when used this way. To make an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried leaves with 1 cup boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes before enjoying.

                                Do not use garden sage if you are:

                                • Allergic to peppermint, oregano, or pollen
                                • Have seizures (contains thujone which can trigger seizures)
                                • Taking medication to manage diabetes (can interact with diabetes medication)

                                4. Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)

                                Tobacco has long been used to aid in spirit communication and has been seen as the connection between humans and spirits. As such, it is commonly found on ancestral altars, smoked during certain ceremonial rituals, or used to summon spirits. Nicotine is mildly hallucinogenic allowing you to reach an ASOC when smoked or chewed. Nicotine, however, is also very addicting, and therefore tobacco should be used sparingly and with caution. It pairs well with mugwort and garden sage.

                                Use

                                Tobacco is most effective when smoked or chewed. It can also be used as an incense and the smoke inhaled.

                                Do not use tobacco if you are:

                                • Have asthma
                                • Pregnant (can cause birth defects)

                                5. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

                                This one might be surprising to some, but I promise you it's here for a reason. Lemongrass is often used in rituals to cleanse and purify, but that's not its only use. It's also used to calm the spirit and mind, enhance psychic abilities and focus, dissolve obstacles, and promote openness, allowing you to slip into the astral plane more easily. Furthermore, lemongrass has been used to aid in shapeshifting, making it of particular use to those engaged in astral travel.

                                Use

                                Dried lemongrass can be burned as an incense or drank as an infusion to induce an ASOC. If burning as an incense, lemon grass pairs well with mugwort and lavender. To create an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried lemongrass with 1 cup of hot water (not boiling). Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes before enjoying.

                                Do not use lemongrass if you are:

                                • Allergic to wheat, rye, oats, or rice (in the same family but does not contain gluten)
                                • Pregnant (causes uterine contractions)

                                6. Damiana (Turnera diffusa)

                                While damiana is most often used in sex magic, it can also be used to increase psychic awareness, induce prophetic dreams, and promote clairvoyance by aiding in relaxation. In the 1950s, damiana was often used in lue of marijuana as it induces a slight "high." It helps quiet the mind, allowing you to enter an ASOC more easily, while simultaneously heightening your perception. This makes it a great herb for hedge riding, trancework, and other forms of astral travel.

                                Use

                                Dried leaves of damiana can be smoked, burned as incense, or drank as an infusion, while the essential oil can be applied to pulse points to induce an ASOC. If smoking, damiana pairs well with marijuana (they have a similar flavor) or tobacco. To create an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon of dried damiana with 1 cup boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes before enjoying.

                                Do not use damiana if you are:

                                • Hypoglycemic or taking medication to regulate diabetes (can lower blood sugar)
                                • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)

                                7. Blue Lotus (Nymphaea caerulea)

                                Blue lotus is an entheogen that contains three alkaloids, apomorphine, aporphine, and nuciferine, that have psychotropic effects similar to cannabis. It induces an opioid-like state, making you feel lightly euphoric, and helping to induce a trance-like state. As such it is often used to induce lucid dreaming and to enhance visionary experiences. Because it goes through periods of "waking" and "sleeping," the Egyptians associated it with life and death, thus providing a spiritual connection with the afterlife. Its magical correspondences in conjunction with its psychotropic effects make it a wonderful herb to use during hedge riding. In the US, blue lotus is not approved for human consumption, making it difficult to find, but it is legal in every state except Louisiana. 

                                Use

                                Blue lotus can be used in a variety of ways, most commonly through drinking tea, taking an extract, or smoking the dried flower petals. It pairs well with tobacco and cannabis if smoking. To make an infusion, combine 1 teaspoon dried blue lotus flower with 1 cup hot water (not boiling) and allow the mixture to infuse for 10-15 minutes before enjoying.

                                Do not use blue lotus if you are:

                                • Allergic to water lilies and other related plants
                                • In the US military (use of blue lotus is prohibited for all service members)
                                • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)

                                8. Wild Asparagus Root (Asparagus racemosus)

                                Also known as Tian Men Dong meaning "heavenly spirit herb," wild asparagus root has long been used by spiritual practitioners for its "heart-opening" effects. Taoist monks often used wild asparagus root to strengthen one's spirit and induce dreams, nicknaming it "the flying herb" because it would help the user fly through the universe during lucid dreaming. Wild asparagus root is listed as endangered in its natural habitat, so if you plan on using this root in your practice, be sure you purchase it from a reputable dealer who practices sustainable harvesting practices.

                                Use

                                Wild asparagus root is usually drank as a tea. To make an infusion, simmer 1 teaspoon of dried wild asparagus root with 1-1.5 cups of water for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour depending on how strong you want your infusion.

                                Do not use wild asparagus root if you are:

                                • Allergic to onions, leeks, garlic, or chives

                                9. African Dream Root (Silene capensis)

                                African dream root has been used by the Xhosa and Zulu people of South Africa to induce lucid dreaming and promote vivid dreams. African dream root contains triterpene saponins, which are known to stimulate vivid dreams and lucid dreaming to those sensitive to its effects. Furthermore, the alkaloids and diterpenoids in the root give it a mild psychoactive effect, making it perfect for reaching an ASOC. However, if you choose to work with African dream root, be mindful of the cultural heritage associated with it. Respecting and honoring the traditions, practices, and cultures surrounding African dream root is essential. When in doubt, don't work with it if you aren't going to respect the culture it originates from. 

                                Use

                                African dream root is traditionally consumed as a foam. 1/8 of a teaspoon or 200 milligrams of dried root powder is combined with water in a container and shaken until foam forms. The foam is then consumed and the container is shaken again. This is repeated until you feel full or feel you have had enough. Dosing is extremely important here. While African dream root is not toxic, too much can cause you to vomit.

                                Do not use African dream root if you are:

                                • Suffering from stomach issues, such as ulcers (saponins may irritate the lining of the stomach and digestive tract)
                                • Not going to honor its cultural heritage

                                10. African Dream Bean (Entada rheedii)

                                Despite its name, the African dream bean is also native to Asia, Australia, and Madagascar, growing in tropical areas as a climbing vine. In South Africa, the bean's tender flesh was consumed or smoked to connect with the spirit world and ancestors and induce lucid dreaming, similar to that of the African dream root. While the psychoactive effects of the African dream bean are not fully understood, it's suspected that the saponins and alkaloids found in the seeds contribute to its dream-inducing properties. Like the African dream root, be mindful of the cultural heritage associated with it. Respecting and honoring the traditions, practices, and cultures surrounding the African dream bean is essential. When in doubt, don't work with it if you aren't going to respect the culture it originates from. 

                                Use

                                Traditionally the inner meat is eaten directly or the meat is dried and smoked.

                                Do not use African dream bean if you are:

                                • Suffering from stomach issues, such as ulcers (saponins may irritate the lining of the stomach and digestive tract)
                                • Not going to honor its cultural heritage

                                11. Shrubby Yellowcrest/Sun Opener (Heimia salicifolia)

                                Also known as Sinicuichi by the Aztecs, shrubby yellowcrest was and is commonly used to induce trances as it contains mildly hallucinogenic alkaloids such as vertine and lythrine, although its psychoactive properties have not been medically confirmed. Either way, it is said to not only induce a trance-like state but also alter auditory perception and yellowing of the vision when consumed in large quantities, giving rise to its name "Sun Opener." Shurbby yellowcrest is still used among certain groups in Central America and South America, so be respectful of its cultural heritage if you choose to work with this plant.

                                Use

                                Traditionally shrubby yellowcrest is used as an elixir that takes at least 24 hours to create. Fresh leaves are collected and allowed to wilt before being crushed and placed in a jar with cold water and placed in the sun. The mixture is left to ferment for at least 24 hours before being consumed. If you do not have access to fresh leaves, dried leaves can be used to create a non-traditional infusion by combining 1 teaspoon of dried leaves with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 15 minutes before enjoying.

                                Do not use shrubby yellowcrest if you are:

                                • Hypoglycemic or taking medication to regulate diabetes (may lower blood sugar)
                                • Pregnant or breastfeeding
                                • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)
                                • Not going to honor its cultural heritage

                                12. Mexican Dream Herb (Calea zacatechichi)

                                Mexican dream herb or bitter grass is one of the most well-known dream herbs, historically being used by the Chontal Maya to induce lucid dreaming and improve mental clarity and focus. Users commonly report this herb helping journeys, trances, and dreams to follow a more coherent narrative instead of abruptly shifting or ending before you want them to. While most individuals use it to improve dream recognition, it can produce a mild hallucinogenic effect while awake, lower blood pressure, even breathing, and relax the body, allowing the user to slip into an ASOC and detach from our realm.

                                Use

                                Mexican dream herb is commonly smoked or drunk as tea. To create an infusion, combine 3-5 grams of dried leaves with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10-15 minutes before enjoying.

                                Do not use Mexican dream herb if you are:

                                • Allergic to ragwed, daises, or chrysanthemums
                                • Hypoglycemic or taking medication to regulate diabetes (may lower blood sugar)
                                • Living in Lousiana (currently banned)
                                • Not going to honor its cultural heritage

                                13. Cannabis

                                Cannabis, like many other plants on this list, is an entheogen and it should surprise no one that I included it. When smoked or consumed, it induces an ASOC, allowing the user to slip between realms easily. It has long been used across multiple cultures with ritual uses being recorded in almost every civilization. Early Chinese occultists used cannabis to see into the future, while ancient Egyptians used it to induce visions and communicate with the gods. In the 15th century, a coven of witches in Germany was accused of using cannabis, among other herbs, in flying ointments. According to Christian Ratsch, cannabis was associated with Freya and ritually used to connect with the divine feminine. The history is endless, but the uses are remarkably similar: induce an ASOC or trance and increase psychic abilities. 

                                Use

                                Cannabis can be smoked or consumed through food in small doses. Moderation is key when using cannabis, especially if you have never used it before. Too much and you lose control of the high, ruining your chances of hedge riding successfully.

                                Do not use cannabis if you are:

                                • Allergic to almonds, apples, bananas, chestnuts, eggplant, grapefruit, peaches, or tomatoes
                                • Pregnant or breastfeeding
                                • Taking anticoagulants (decreases their effectiveness increasing the risk of bleeding)
                                • Taking SSRIs (interferes with effectiveness and can cause mania)
                                • Living in a state or country where it's currently illegal


                                This is by no means a complete list of plants you can use to induce an altered state of consciousness when wishing to engage in hedge riding, lucid dreaming, or other forms of astral travel. However, these are some of the most accessible and most often used for such purposes because they are generally safe and legal. As I mentioned earlier, always exercise caution when working with any plant. If you are new to trancework and hedge riding, have a friend watch over you while you experiment with dosing. Always start with less before working up to higher doses. The point is not to get high, but to relax enough to shift your consciousness. If in doubt, stick with mugwort, lavender, lemongrass, and garden sage.

                                Happy exploring!




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                                Monday, July 1, 2024

                                Crafting Your Own Heathen Wheel of the Year: A Guide to Nordic Celebrations

                                Crafting Your Own Heathen Wheel of the Year: A Guide to Nordic Celebrations

                                Earlier this year I mentioned that the modern Wheel of the Year no longer resonated with me. As the years drew on, I felt less and less connection with the sabbats and the celebrations tied to them. I continued to set up altars that felt forced and struggled to connect to the magic I once loved so dearly. After much contemplation, meditation, and conversations with my ancestors, I realized that this feeling arose from a lack of familial connection to these holidays. They weren't mine or my ancestors, at least most of them weren't anyway. 

                                The modern Wheel of the Year is an amalgamation of holidays from multiple cultures thrown together and presented as a cohesive truth. This is the unfortunate reality of modern paganism and witchcraft, despite what others may lead you to believe, simply because much of our history has been lost with time. I too once believed the Wheel of the Year was ancient and followed by pagans across Europe, but this simply isn't the truth. The Wheel of the Year was created by several Wiccan leaders in an attempt to legitimize their tradition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the Wheel of the Year as many, many witches, pagans, and occult practitioners do. It's important, however, to recognize the Wheel of the Year is a modern invention, and while many of the holidays did exist in the past, they were not necessarily celebrated together, inherently religious (but certainly cultural), given the exact dates we use today, or celebrated the way we celebrate today. This realization explained the disconnect I was feeling. I'm not Wiccan, and while many of my ancestors hail from Scotland, those Scottish ancestors were descendants of Scandinavian (think Viking) ancestry. I wasn't connecting with most of these holidays because they weren't mine to connect with. As such, I set out to find what I did feel connected to. Enter the Nordic or Heathen calendar.


                                What is the Nordic or Heathen Calendar?


                                Historical Evidence

                                Archaeological finds from the Viking Age have produced a number of runic calendars carved onto wood, bone, horns, and rocks known as a primstav in Norway and Denmark and a runstav in Sweden. Primstav is derived from prim meaning "new moon" in Old Norse while runstav means "rune staff." Both of these derivations hint at how the calendars were constructed. 

                                Photo: Ingvar Bohm / Nordic Museum, Stockholm Primstav from Setesdal, Norway, 1781.
                                Photo: Ingvar Bohm / Nordic Museum, Stockholm
                                Primstav from Setesdal, Norway, 1781.

                                Lines or notches were used to represent the days of the year while characters such as runes were used to denote the solstices, equinoxes, festivals, and holidays. Unlike our modern calendar, each month began on the new moon thus dividing the year into 12 months of 30 days. Four extra days were added to the third summer month and every seven years a week was added to the end of summer called Sumarauki ("summer addition") to account for leap years. Furthermore, the year was divided into two seasons: winter and summer. Each stav was two-sided with a season being represented on each side. The summer started on the full moon around April 14th while the winter side began around October 15th. As mentioned before, these dates shifted as the moons shifted from year to year. (Dr. Andreas Nordberg, the foremost expert on Nordic holidays and calendars, presents some evidence that the year may have been divided into quarters, but most scholars currently disagree.)

                                Currently, there are about 650 known Norweigan primstaves dating from the late 15th century to the early 19th century. The oldest documented stav was recorded in 876 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but this stav has never been recovered making a 13th-century stav found in Nyköping, Sweden the oldest recovered stav on record. The most famous stav and most used among Norse pagans, however, is Worm's Norwegian stav from 1643 which was carved into a large fish bone, possibly whale. Worm described the winter months in great detail in his book Fasti Danici, which included a drawing, but he neglected to document the summer side, making our record incomplete. Like the documented 876 stav, Worm's stav has never been recovered.

                                Worm’s Norwegian Viking Calendar
                                Worm’s Norwegian Runic Calendar, 1643 Fasti Danici


                                Months

                                Each month was believed to have begun on the new moon, creating 12 months similar to our modern calendar. The exact dates of each month shifted each year as the moon phases shifted and therefore do not easily align with our modern-day calendar. Ample archeological and historical evidence has allowed modern Norse pagans and heathens to reconstruct the Nordic calendar, which would have varied greatly between cultures. The calendar below is based on the work of Dr. Andreas Nordberg's 2006 work titled Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning.

                                Summer Months
                                The Summer months were also known as Náttleysi or nightless days and consisted of
                                • Góa (April-ish)- Góa Moon
                                • Einmánuður (May-ish)- One Moon
                                • Harpa (June-ish)- Harpa's Moon.
                                • Skerpla (July-ish)- Skarpla's Moon
                                • Heyannir (August-ish)- Hay Moon, referring to the cutting and drying of hay.
                                • Tvímánuður (September-ish)- Second Moon. Also known as Kornskurðarmánuðr meaning "time to reap grain."
                                Winter Months
                                The Winter months were also known as Skammdegi or the short days and consisted of
                                • Haustmánuður (October-ish)- Harvest Moon, a time to celebrate the final harvest of the season, the mending of fences, and the repair of walls for the winter to come.
                                • Gormánuður (November-ish)- Slaughter Moon, known for the annual slaughter that occurred here before winter completely set in.
                                • Jolmánuður (December-ish)- First Yule Moon. Also known as Frermánuðr or Frost Moon.
                                • Jolmánuður (January-ish)- Second Yule Moon
                                • Sunmánuður (February-ish)- Sun Moon
                                • Mörsugur (March-ish)- Fat Sucking Moon
                                This is just one interpretation of the Nordic calendar. Other practitioners start the Summer months with Harpa (April-ish) and end with Haustmánuður (September-ish), pushing the Winter months to be Gormánuður (October-ish) through Einmánuður (March-ish). This version shifts all the months to different dates, and while it's not necessarily incorrect, it's not the version I have chosen to use for my path. As I mentioned earlier, there are significant differences in calendar structure based on the culture from which the stav originated. Sometimes these calendars varied widely within the same territory depending on the town or village you were in. There was no uniform system used until Christianization began and even then it was hard to get people to agree.

                                Holidays and Celebrations

                                Knowing that the runic symbols represented solstices, equinoxes, festivals, and holidays and that these calendars were updated well into the 19th century, we can reconstruct when sumbels, ritualistic drinking and feasting, would have occurred. Sumbels sometimes occurred during a blót or ceremonial sacrifice. Based on this evidence important celebrations included:
                                • Sigurblót- Also known as Somarmál or Victory-blót which occurred during the full moon of Goa Moon (mid-April-ish) or the fourth full moon after the Winter Solstice.
                                • Midsommar (Midsummer)- Midsommer is a newer holiday that was not given a name or date until the 1700s, although variations of the holiday have been celebrated for longer. Midsommar is celebrated around the Summer Solstice.
                                • Vetrnætr- Also known as Winter Nights, this 3-day celebration begins on the first full moon of Haustmánuður, marking the first day of winter. 
                                • Alfablót- There is no known archeological evidence that supports the celebration of this holiday, but Alfablót is mentioned in verses 1-6 of the Austrfararvísur and in the Kormáks Saga which both suggested it was a celebration and sacrifice in honor of one's ancestors and Elves.
                                • Jol/Yule/Hökunótt- While most celebrate Yule on the Winter Solstice, it was historically celebrated on the first full moon after the new moon of the Winter Solstice, making it most often celebrated in January.


                                Creating My Heathen "Wheel of the Year"

                                Using historical documents, modern resources, and communication with my ancestors, I developed a Nordic calendar or Heathen "Wheel of the Year" that works for me. I like the wheel metaphor and therefore appropriate to design my calendar around.


                                This calendar or wheel includes all the modern months of the year as well as the approximate placement of the Nordic months. Four major holidays are also listed where I will celebrate them:
                                • Sigurblót during the Goa Moon (mid-April)- celebrated on the fourth full moon after the Winter Solstice.
                                • Midsommar (Midsummer) during Harpa (mid-June)- celebrated on the Summer Solstice.
                                • Vetrnætr or Winter Nights beginning on the Harvest Moon (mid to late October). This celebration includes 3 days, each day with its own celebration. I will discuss this in more detail below.
                                • Yule during Jolmánuður (mid-December)- celebrated on the Winter Solstice.

                                You may notice that Alfablót is not listed among the holidays. This is because there is some debate on when exactly Alfablót was celebrated. Some sources state it was celebrated as part of Vetrnætr while others suggest it was celebrated on the Slaughter Moon in Gormánuður (mid-November). I have decided to celebrate it as part of Vetrnætr, along with two other popular Nordic holidays commonly celebrated during Winter Nights, Disablót and Haustblót. The first night of Vetrnætr is Alfablót in which I will honor my masculine ancestors, spirits, and deities, followed by Disablót in which I will honor my feminine ancestors, spirits, and dísir (both similar to Samhain). The final night is Haustblót in which I will celebrate the harvest with a feast and make a sacrifice to ensure a good year to come, similar to Mabon or the American Thanksgiving.

                                The dates I have chosen correspond with historical documents and modern celebrations and will allow me to have some 'fixed' holidays as well as some moveable ones. Sigurblót and Vetrnætr will follow the moon cycle, while Midsommar and Yule will be celebrated on the solstices. I am currently toying with the idea of moving Vetrnætr to correspond with Samhain/Halloween/Day of the Dead but would like to see how this year goes first before I decide if I want to move things around. I think celebrating October 30th and 31st and November 1st would work very well and correspond with other holidays nicely. I already celebrate Halloween (it's a big deal in my house) so Winter Nights falling during this time would be perfect. Unfortunately, October's full moon doesn't always align with Halloween. This year the full moon falls on October 17th, two full weeks before the 31st. I plan to celebrate starting on the 17th this year and if I feel I need to modify my calendar, I will!

                                There are a variety of other holidays many modern Norse pagans and heathens celebrate, some of which are Wiccan or Celtic-inspired. None of those holidays resonated with me, and while I toyed with the idea of adding Walpurgisnacht or Walpurgis Night to my calendar, I ultimately didn't because of the deep Christian roots of the holiday. I may add it in the future, but for now, I am content with the calendar I have created. Four holidays, one of which lasts three nights, is more than enough for me, especially once you add other familial and cultural holidays, traditions, and celebrations. 

                                Again, this is my personal calendar, which I created with the help of my ancestors. I recognize not everyone will agree with it, and that's fine because it isn't yours. I encourage you to develop a calendar and system that works for you, despite what others may tell you. Personalized spirituality is always more fulfilling and powerful compared to a packaged version.


                                In the coming months, I will dive deeper into these holidays, explaining their historical significance, offering ways to celebrate, and sharing spells, rituals, and altars inspired by these celebrations. I am excited to begin this new journey with all of you and if you have any tips, suggestions, or topics you would like me to cover along the way, please drop them in the comments below.



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