Despite the more obvious practices of Seidhr, spells, enchantments, divination and shapeshifting, there is another powerful magic in the Iron Wood: the women Themselves.
The women are the fiercer, more powerful sex among the Jotnar – think of Angerboda and Skadi, of Groa and Gerda. But this strength isn’t just physical, and nor is it purely ‘magical’. Their true power lies in Their personal power, Their Sovreignty, Their sacred expression of Their Selves. They are empowered women, the Ones Who stand up for Their needs and desires, standing Their ground, asserting Their boundaries.
To the writers of the time these powerful, self-assured women must have been seen as a real threat to the ‘way of the world’. These are independent Goddesses who know Their needs and magics and are respected for it. How much of the ‘terrible and terrifying’ description of Them is really true, and how much is the filter of the writer?
While these amazingly strong Goddesses can be fierce and awe-inspiring, is there a chance They have been somewhat misrepresented? How much of Their true nature has been rewritten or lost? Just as Sigyn is reduced to the long-suffering wife of Loki in the Eddas, with the gift of her magic as galdr fetter hinted at in just one epithet, how much of the Jotnar and Iron Wood has been lost?
In being drawn back to the ways of nature, the Earth and the crystal, plant and animal kingdoms I feel my inner ‘wild woman’ calling. This is part of me I have been too afraid to claim, but now I’m tentatively curious. Whereas Angerboda used to terrify me I can now be in Her presence with a great deal of respect for Her power. I know She values physical strength, but She also values strength of will and heart.
Beside Her more obvious Iron Wood connections, to me She is a Goddess of empowerment. Part of Her gift is bringing us into our own power. While this manifests differently in each of us – due to different personalities, abilities and paths to follow – She is the embodied Powerful Feminine.
Although Hers can be a tough love, She does love… and fiercely. She is loyal and true to Her Self and to those She loves. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
At Beltane cattle were often herded between two fires to cleanse them. It’s also believed the heat killed off the insects, and that the cattle were blessed by the process.
One way we could take advantage of this custom ourselves is to do a meditation asking a particular God or Goddess to safely surround and suffuse you with Their flames. You can ask for help to cleanse any negativity or release any ties that you need to let go of. Deities aren’t limited to the way Their energies and healing can work, but they may have a particular speciality you can call upon.
For those of us with limited energy reserves or physical capabilities it can sometimes be difficult to do devotions. So I thought I’d share a few things that have helped in my own practice.
- Have some sort of visible ritual calendar so you don’t forget important dates. If your calendar has large enough daily sections write the dates on in a different colour to normal entries. A wipe-board is also useful for this purpose, especially if you want to write notes of supplies or ideas for rituals and prayers. If you have to be in bed a lot have this where you can see it clearly.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do the devotions! Just talk to Them, apologise for not being able to do the devotions, but tell Them that you still honour and love Them.
- Say good morning and goodnight to Them. It’s a simple greeting but brings Them into your daily life even if you’re not able to do devotions.
- Usually cleansing of some sort is appropriate when entering the sacred space of the shrine or devotional area. If you don’t have the energy to wash, or the focus to mentally cleanse, make up an aura spray for that purpose. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just water and some salt in a spray bottle is a good start. You can add more ingredients if you wish to. Use before devotions or when you want to talk to Them about anything specific or important.
- If you can manage nothing else try to put a glass of water out for Them. It is a basic offering but shows you’re committed and making an effort.
Today I’m going to write about something that has become very close to my heart. I’ve been a member of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)for over a year now, and every time I receive one of the magazines it breaks my heart to see how many beautiful creatures are on the brink of extinction or population collapse.
I originally joined for Sigyn, because she has a deep love of her ‘birdies’, and I thought it would be a suitable way to honour her, and Loki. In fact, if you honour any Deity with an avian form or connection joining a wildlife trust, or making regular donations, is not only a devotional offering, but also ensuring their legacy lives on. This is something lasting, not something temporary, and can make a huge difference if enough people gather behind a cause.
Just today I have also decided to ‘adopt’ a Puffin by making regular monthly donations. Besides Penguins (of which the Rockhopper Penguin is now on the global endangered list), Puffins are a favourite of mine, and I would be devastated if they went extinct.
I’m not necessarily asking you to donate to the RSPB, but I’d like to highlight some of their appeals in the hope that it makes others think more about the beautiful creatures we share our planet with. In the majority of cases it is because of human intervention that these appeals have to exist. Please click on the bold underlined links if you wish to learn more. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago we were sorting out the garage and mum and I came across all my old Barbies. The last couple of days I’ve been washing their clothes and wondering how many of them I’ll keep. I gave up Barbies a loooong time ago, but I came across a couple I thought would make a good Freyja and Sigyn, as well as a John Smith (from Pocahontas) who would probably make a good Loki, and another perhaps for Freyr, and I thought I wonder whether many people use them as God/Goddess substitutes instead of statues… Quite a few, it would seem, going by the wonders of a well-known search engine. Apart from the custom ones, some of which were very beautiful, I came across some actually made by Mattel that I would be tempted to buy if they had them over here for a decent price. Anyways, I thought I’d share a couple of the pics with a suggestion for a few of them:
If I could have any it would be this one, ‘Fantasy Goddess of the Americas’. Look at that costume! I’ve always been fascinated by costumes, sometimes I watch films for that reason alone.
Faraway Forest Elf Barbie – good Celtic vibe to her, plus I love Elves.
Queen of the Constellations Barbie – Hella in Gothic getup?
The Blonds: Blond Gold Barbie – Gullveig – She of the lust for gold.
Goddess of Widsom Barbie – A lovely one of Athena; and I love the owl.