A Heathen at Disney World

My trip to Disney a few weeks ago was eye opening. I ate too much, drank too much, and was way too hot (92F and humid every day!)  But I did have fun despite of it. One of my favorite parts of the trip (unsurprisingly) was visiting Norway at Epcot Center. I hadn’t realized that Disney had put so much effort into the authenticity of their “country” areas at the World Showcase. Needless to say, I was surprised to find a small, authentic wooden stave church (shipped directly from Norway) as well as an homage to many of our Norse Gods. Here is what Disney World has waiting for us Heathens at Epcot:

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Election Day Self-Care

Tomorrow is Election Day for the USA. Those of us in the US have been dealing with an onslaught of–to put it gently–bad policy decisions, mostly targeted at the already powerless and disenfranchised among us, and many of us would like nothing more than to vote all of the politicians out of office. It’s a stressful day, because if nothing changes with these elections, we’re stuck with 1) evidence that the majority of the active voters don’t care about the BS that’s been happening in DC, and 2) increasingly less likelihood anything will get better until the next presidential election.

If tomorrow will be anything like 2016’s election day, many of us will spend it watching the election results like a hawk. While important, this is actually not helpful and only increases everyone’s anxiety. With this in mind, I’ve made a Self-Care Plan for surviving tomorrow.

Step 1: Vote, and send up a prayer to your Gods for your chosen politicians. That’s the only thing I, personally, can do tomorrow. (If you have more directly useful actions you can do in your area–such as protecting polling places or driving people to the polls–and have the skills to do them, do them!)

Step 2: Unplug, and put the election results out of your mind.

Here’s my plan: I’m lucky in that my work gives us the day off for election day. I plan to hit the local apple orchard for lunch with my parents, grab some fresh apple donuts and cider to go, and then go to dinner and a movie with my beau. If I have time, I plan to chat with my sister in California. A great day spent with people I love!

What will you do? Need some suggestions?

How about:

  • get together with friends and loved ones
  • cook
  • play with your animals
  • make art
  • game
  • Netflix and chill
  • garden
  • bowl
  • hit a spa
  • hike
  • ANYTHING THAT REQUIRES YOU TO UNPLUG

Just do it.  The world will still be there on Wednesday no matter what happens. Rest and recharge as much as you can while you wait.

Disney World Musings

This past week my  partner and I went to Disney World for our first real vacation. It was fun for the most part, though it’s not a vacation I would have chosen to go on on my own. I’m not a big Disney fan myself, but he is, and he and his friends own property at one of the resorts there, which made it a (relatively) cheap vacation. Despite the fact that I adored having a break from work and being pampered, I have to say that I spent most of the trip in deep ambivalence, mainly due to the fact that the Disney experience is so heavily consumerist. I work in public aid, and I regularly deal with people who work 2-3 jobs and can barely provide for their families, much less even consider being able to take their family to Disney. Also, though there are exceptions, the whole purpose of anything you do at Disney is to spend unnecessarily large amounts of money, which goes against pretty much every budget-shopping urge I have. If you’ve never been to any of the Disney parks, imagine having to spend movie theater prices all day long, every day, on everything you buy. As everything essentially takes place on Disney property (Disney apparently owns a large chunk of central FL), there is no way around this. Once I accepted this, though, I was able to enjoy myself.

Here’s a breakdown of our Disney experiences.

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Seasonal Musings: A Cycle of Freyrs

Summer

A few weeks ago, I ran a camping event in honor of one of my main deities, Freyr. It was meant to be a Fall Equinox last hurrah kind of ritual, as my personal experience of Him is that he goes dark sometime after August 1 and the Summer Sun Freyr, who brings the life-giving gifts of sunlight and warm rain, heads off to sleep. In the course of the ritual, in this liminal Freyr-time when He is not really one or the other, there was space for trancing any and all of his aspects. For a number of reasons, I did not end up carrying Him that night, and it was lovely to once again see Him brought though others. One aspect I almost never see tranced is my original experience of Freyr—that of primal nature: the deep, wild forest; the Stag that is hunted; a true Lord of the Wood. And I realized in interacting with this facet of Freyr for the first time in a long time, that this side of Him is integral to my understanding of what Freyr is.

Fall

I often describe Freyr as sunny and generous and warm, full of randy blessings of prosperity and wise leadership, and that’s often the energy of His that I carry when I am out doing His work. Hand in hand with that experience of him, however, is my acknowledgement of His darkness. Dark Freyr is nothing is like the wise summer ruler I also know and love, who comforts me and reassures me that dark times do pass and that we can thrive again. This Freyr only comes out in the liminal times, for me: Spring and Fall, twilight and dawn. The stillness after a heavy storm, before anything living has yet ventured out. Wild or abandoned places.

Dark Freyr teaches many things, most of which are the basic laws of nature. Everything dies—sometimes as an old and quiet sigh, sometimes in a raw terror that scythes through the night. Nothing is soft and fuzzy, except perhaps the dead baby rabbit at your feet that will feed you and help keep you warm. Everything is either predator or prey; hunt or be hunted. The cycle of life and death is neither good nor bad; it just is the reality of things. For tomorrow’s crops to grow, the previous year’s growth has to be destroyed, subsumed, and absorbed back into the earth, else there will be no nutrients to feed the new seed. Nothing is wasted.

Winter Freyr

Once Winter fully hits and I feel Him go under the mound for good, my senses used to go radio silent. However, in recent years a new God has come to take his place during this season, which has knocked the legs out from my “Norse mythology doesn’t have a Summer King/Winter King” duality. The past two winters I’ve been seeing Ullr step up while Freyr is below. When winter comes in most parts of the world (not looking at you, CA), the crops die, and the ground freezes. What do you do when you can’t farm? You hunt. For me, Forest God Freyr + the winter Hunt = Ullr.

Maybe it’s just me, but I switch in the winter, too. I become less outgoing, less warm and fuzzy, less social. Despite the holiday feasting, I feel leaner, emotionally and spiritually speaking—like everything’s been pared down to just the essentials. Calmer, and stiller. And I feel like going … hunting.

Spring

And so it goes until Spring starts making its presence known, usually early February in my neck of the woods. Days are noticeably longer and the growing-things energy begins to kick back up, even if nothing is showing yet on the surface. This period starts to increase in pressure until it starts to get really irritating–a pressure in my heart and head and body. Itt literally feels to me like I have a full-body scab that’s just itching to be ripped off. Anybody else get this?) I get the added bonus of tuning in to Gerd as she essentially does her Spring cleaning, clearing the way for His arrival. And finally the Inexorable Coming of Freyr, in all the ways that anything can come, happens. Usually in May, depending on the year, there’s a release and big shift in energy, and the happy, horny, warm and giving Freyr is back. And it all begins again.

The joys of being tied to seasonal deities.

Initiation, retrospection

I came across some of my writings from around the time of my initiation with Freya in 2013. Looking back on that whole process, it occurred to me that it was all very organic.

Me, after a random public journey:

“Hmm, Freya wants me to come visit a lot?”

<I visit every day for two weeks straight. Freya shows me X, Y, and Z insights about myself and the universe as a whole>

“Cool! Now I have to thank Her! How shall I do that?”

<Series of conversations with her telling me to have a public celebration honoring myself and Her. Which I did; it was lovely.>

Me, five years later: If someone had tried to design that entire initiatory and revelatory experience for me and I had to follow along, or if I had to wait for a specific teacher that I clicked with and trusted enough to tell me how and what I should experience and when, well…. it would not have gone nearly so well. First off, I don’t do well with people telling me what I can or can’t do. I will do what I want, thank you very much. (Yes, my pride is a known character defect that hinders much as much as it helps.) Secondly, I get in my own way so often that if even if there had been an external, clearly laid out plan, likely I would have found a way to procrastinate or talk myself out of it. Who am I but some mere human? Smart, sure; sensitive, sure; but also kind of hapless, overly idealistic and often depressed. I’m just one of billions of such people walking the earth today. This way, there were no expectations because it was, quite literally, being revealed to me bit by bit. I was given exactly what I needed as I needed it and as I was able to handle it. Despite the challenges that came later, for that alone, I’m very grateful. The process was graceful and loving, though often strenuous and painful. The experience forever changed how I interact with the world around me.

Life is painful, and growth even more so. Still, I was carried then, and I have faith that I will be carried again when the time arises. Until then–

Hail and thanks to all of the powers that are greater than ourselves–those who know us more deeply than we ever can and who love us more powerfully than we can begin to imagine. Hail to my Lady, Freya!

A firestorm of Freyas….

Todays’ Facebook fun included a long thread on naming groups of deities, along the lines of “a murder of crows” or “a gaggle of geese”. My favorite creations:

  • A firestorm of Freyas
  • A disdain of Gerds
  • A suspension of Odins
  • A harvest of Freyrs (all my other ideas were not safe for work)
  • A cascade of Skadis (Andrea)
  • A competition of Ullrs
  • A whisper of Friggas (Mary)
  • A thunderstorm of Thors
  • An observation of Heimdals
  • A racket of Ratatosks (Becky)
  • A judgement of Tyrs
  • A revelation of volvas….