Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bardic Inspiration: Awen Defined: Winter trees

Since it was the middle of winter, I waited for a “January thaw day,” to listen to a tree. Behind my garden condo is a small stream with a grove of trees. My balcony faces an ancient twin oak in this grove. In fact, this oak’s branches extend to the roof of my building. I decided to listen to the twin oak, who has been my friend for many years. The oak is two males who often finish each other sentences. On this day, they were sleepy, having just woken up for the warm day.

Devoid of leaves, the oak’s branches swayed in the slight breeze. Nuthatches were searching for bugs on the trunk, while the titmice were flitting from branch to branch. A flock of geese flew overhead, honking a greeting to the tree. Sleepily, the twin oak acknowledged the geese’s calls.

A few days before a storm had blown through taking with it, the large squirrel nest from the main branches of the oak. Upset at this, the oak felt sad that the squirrels had to build a new home elsewhere. Since they were asleep at the time, the twin oak could not save the nest. Regarding themselves as a protector of life, they wanted the squirrels to feel secure with them.

As I sat with the twin oak, a squirrel jumped up on a branch near my balcony. The upset animal angrily “cheeed” at me, screaming that I was bothering the oak. Before the oak settled back down to their slumber, they said that the squirrels do like to guard them. This particular squirrel (Cut Ear) warned me not to disturb the tree again. I have no idea what this squirrel would do to me, but I certainly did not want to find out. So I went inside.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Divination: Norse Runes: Consecration Ritual write-up

 In order to consecrate my Rune set, I first researched how to conduct a Norse ritual. I also looked up what Gods governed the Runes and divination (in general). Afterwards, I wrote a simple ritual to ask the Gods to consecrate my Runes.

 To prepare for the ritual, I first took a bath. (As a Roman Pagan, I believe that ritual purity is important. For me, it is a part of showing piety to the Gods.) Then I cleansed the area where I would do the ritual. While preparing my ritual space, I laid out my divination cloth and Runes. Setting up an incense burner and lighting a candle, I then played several pieces of classical music to appease the Gods. (Roman Pagans play music to cover any imperfections during the ritual.)

 When I was finished setting up my sacred space, I hallowed the ritual space using the Hammer Sign. Calling on Thunor (Thor), the God of Thunder, I asked Him to protect the space for the duration of the ritual. Offering incense to Sibb (Sif), the Wife of Thunor, I asked Her to sanctify the space. (My relations with the Gods of the Runes are with the Anglo-Saxon Gods.)

 After doing that, I hailed the Anglo-Saxon Gods who govern the Runes and divination. They are Woden (Odin), who brought the Runes to the Worlds, Frige (Frigga), who read the Runes but kept her own counsel, and Freo (Freya), who is a Seidhkona (a Norse shaman). Freo is, also, noted for unraveling the Wyrd (fate) of people.

I regard the Norns (Fates) to be the most important for consecrating the Runes and for guiding their use in divination. These “Weavers of the Wyrd” are Urahr (what has become), Verdhandi (what is becoming), and Skuld (what shall be). For the Norse and Germanic peoples, They are the Weavers of our fates (Wyrd). To honor Them, I read a verse from the “Voluspa,” of the “Poetic Eddas.”

 Since for me, the Runes are drawn from the essence of all Nine Worlds, I, also, wanted to dedicate them to the Worlds. During the ritual, I hailed each of the Worlds and asked them to imbue their essence into my Runes. As I did, I could feel the energy of each world flow into my tiles.

 Then I consecrated each Rune, one by one. To do so, I first traced the Rune letter over each tile. As I chanting their name, I held each in the air to be blessed. After saying the meaning for each Rune, I asked that the Gods  that it would be “read right” and be worthy of the Well of the Wyrd (Fate).

 To finish the ritual, I bid farewell to each of the Gods. Then I asked Sibb and Thunor to return my ritual space back to ordinary use. Blowing out the candle, I ended the ritual and put everything away. While putting the Runes back into their bag, I could feel their renewed connection to the Well of the Wyrd.

This ritual can be found at : Runic Consecration Ritual

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Divination: Norse Runes: Consecration Ritual

Runic Consecration Ritual
1.      Hallow space with Hammer Sign +
“Hammer in the North, Hold and hallow this stead”
(Directions: east, south, west, above, and below)
Hail Thunor (Thor), the Thunderer, protect this space.
2.      Cleanse space.
Hail Sibb (Sif), Wife of Thunor, may this space be sanctified.
Offer incense
3.      Greet the Gods and Others
Hail, Woden, the All Father!, May I honor your Gift and Sacrifice of the Runes
Hail Frige, Shining Lady of Asgard, May I show discernment in reading the Runes
Hail Freo (Freya), Shining Lady of the Vanir, May I be deft at understanding the Wyrd.

 Hail, Urdhr, Norn of What has become
Hail, Verdhandi, Norn of What is becoming
Hail, Skuld, Norn of What shall be.

“From there come the maidens
With knowledge of many things
Three from that sea,
Which stands beneath the tree;
One is called Urdhr,
The other Verdhandi,
They carved on sticks,
Skuld the third.
They laid down the law,
They choose the lives
Of the children of men,
The fates of men.”
Voluspa” Verse 20
4.      Consecrate the Runes by tracing a figure over them, and saying each out loud.
5. Working May these Runes draw from each of the Nine Worlds,
Midgard, the World of men,
Muspellheim, the World of raging fire, Niflheim, the World of freezing cold,
Asgard, the World of the Shining Ones, Vanaheim, the World of the Fertile Ones,
Jotunheim, the World of the Giants, Svartalfheim, the World of the Dark Elves, Ljossalfheim, the World of the Light Elves,
and Hel, the World of the Dead.

May these Runes be worthy of the Well of the Wyrd.
May these Runes read right!
6.      Open space to ordinary time and place
Hail and Farewell All!
Hail and Farewell, Woden, the Wise One
Hail and Farewell, Frige, the Frith Weaver
Hail and Farewell, Freo, the Seidhkona
Hail and Farewell the Norns, the Weavers of the Wyrd.

Hail and Farewell Sibb, Lady of the Golden Hair, may this space be ordinary
Hail and Farewell Thunor, Son of the Earth, may this space be ordinary
Please note that I use the Anglo-Saxon names of the Gods since They are the Ones I am most familiar with.
Works Used:
Aswynn, Freya, “Northern Mysteries & Magick,” Llewellyn, Woodbury, MN, 1998.
Kaldera, Raven, “The Pathfinder’s Guide to the Nine Worlds,” Asphodel, Hubbardston, MA, 2007.
---, “Voluspo,” “The Poetic Edda,” Sacred Texts, http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe03.htm.
Krasskova, Galina, “Exploring the Northern Tradition,” New Page Press, Franklin Lakes, N.J., 2005.
Wild, Sean, “The Runes Workbook,” Thunder Bay, San Diego, CA, 2004.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Mythical Animals: Simurgh (Simorgh) of Persia (Iran)

When I read translated excerpts of the Persian epic, “The Shahnameh (Shahnama): The Book of Kings,” by Abu’I-Qasim Firdawsi (Ferdowsi) (d. 1020-21), I encountered the mystical Simurgh (Simorgh). What drew me to this beast was that she had survived the destruction and rebirth of the world three times. I pondered what sort of wondrous beast could do this. In his writings, Joseph Nig, noted chronicler of mythical beasts, called this beast “the Wise Old Bird of the Ages.”

Described by the Persian as a beast of two natures (mammal and bird), the Simurgh was a devoted mother who both nurtured her young and several Kings of Persia. Mostly resembling an eagle, this beast also had the head of a dog, claws of a lion, and the tail of a peacock. In addition, her feathers had special healing properties.

From her perch on the Tree of Knowledge, the Simurgh would observe the affairs of humans in the world. Whenever she left the Tree, this beast would send out the seeds of goodness and wisdom. And when she landed back on the tree, the Simurgh would spread the seeds of life throughout the world.

Her ancient age and wisdom of being a mother, first attracted me to the Simurgh, since I was entering my “Cronehood.” My immediate impression of the Simurgh was of a wise old mother who cared for abandoned children and healed wounded people. Furthermore, she would guide people and teach them the ways of goodness. These aspects of the Simurgh helped me to settle into being a “Crone,” and accept my new role in life.

Later I read a translation of “The Parliament of Birds (Mantiq ut-Tayr)” by Farid ud-Din Attar (12th Century), a Persian Sufi poet. The focus of this mystical poem was the journey of several birds searching for the Simurgh, the Ruler of the Birds. As they travelled over seven valleys, some of the birds shed their undesirable qualities, while others went home. (These valleys were called “yearning,” “love,” “gnosis,” “detachment,” “unity of God,” “bewilderment,” and “selflessness and oblivion of God.”) Finally when they arrived at the place they believed that the Simurgh lived, only thirty birds remained. Now purified, these birds encountered the Divine in the being of the Simurgh. Afterwards, the birds realized that they were all the Simurgh, which also means (thirty (Si) birds (murgh)).

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak (Professor at University of Maryland) writes that the birds were in the “all-embracing presence, a transcendent majesty speaking not just in silence but through silence.” He explains that “The Parliament of Birds,” expresses the heart of Sufism, when the individual merges into the “ocean of eternity,” the mystical ecstasy of the Divine. In this poem, the Simurgh becomes the catalyst for the transcendence of divinity.

For me, the Simurgh evolves from being a dispenser of wisdom to a being who sends life out into the world. Finally the Simurgh becomes the immutable essence of the Divine. As a Crone I would like to evolve like the Simurgh, though I could never be Divine. At the end of my days, I hope to be like the thirty birds. After the end of their mystic journey, they merged into the “ocean of eternity.” I hope to do the same after my journey to meet the Simurgh.
Please note that since Iranian (Persian) does not have a Latin-based alphabet, I found several spellings for the same Iranian word. I used both the spellings used by Iranians and those more common to English speakers.

Works Used:

Allan, Tony, “The Mythic Bestiary,” Duncan Baird: London, 2008.

Karimi-Hakkak, Ahmad, “At the Sign of Simorgh: Mythical Birds and the Mystical Discourse in Persian Poetry,” Foundation for Iranian Studies, http://fis-iran.org/en/programs/noruzlectures/simorgh-hakkak,  2012.

Nigg, Joseph, “The Book of Dragons and Other Mythical Beasts,” Quarto: London, 2002.

---, “Simorgh, A Fabulous Mythological Bird,” “Tehran Times,” 27 June 2012, http://www.tehrantimes.com/highlights/99516-simorgh-a-fabulous-mythological-bird.

Vinao, Ezequiel, “El Simurgh for Piano and Electronics,” 1991-1992.


Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon and Ash DeKirk, “A Wizard’s Bestiary,” New Page Press: Franklin Lakes, NJ, 2007.

Saturday, February 01, 2014


Dromedary Camel is well adapted for extreme climates and harsh terrains. His hairy ears and heavy eyebrows with long eyelashes protect Dromedary Camel’s face from the sun and blowing sand. He eats vegetation that other desert animals cannot tolerate. Since He sweats very little, Dromedary Camel can go long periods without drinking.

Dromedary Camel’s hump stores fat for times when food is scarce. When food is plentiful, He overeats and stores the excess in his hump. Full of excess fat, his hump is erect and plump. When food is scarce, Dromedary Camel lives off the stored fat in his hump. As the fat is used up, his hump shrinks and flops over to one side.

Contrary to popular belief, Dromedary Camel is not bad-tempered and stubborn. He is actually patient and intelligent. What people account for stubbornness is Dromedary Camel saying, “NO!” When his load is too heavy or unbalanced, He will refuse to stand up. Only when the pack loader readjusts his pack will Dromedary Camel rise.

Dromedary Camel teaches the value of saying No. He is willing to help people except when He believes that He will get hurt. Then, Dromedary Camel says “NO!” He refuses to budge until it is safe to do so. From Dromedary Camel, learn that saying No can save your life.