Minimalist, Small-space & Travel Altar Ideas – 03

Not everyone has space for a large altar setup, and if you have to share the space with others, if you’re visiting (or have visitors), or if you’re on the move, having an elaborate setup isn’t always possible. In this series I’m going to be sharing little ideas and photos to inspire you for your own devotional space. Use them as general inspiration, adapting them to suit your needs, the items you own, and your Deities.

They’re highly portable, and you can put them in a pouch for when you’re on the move. If you have guests they shouldn’t freak them out too much, or you can quickly put them away for the duration of their visit. If you’re away from home they’re easy to pop into a draw while you’re not using the room.

This week I’m talking about symbolism. Items of a symbolic nature draw on the myths and associations of a Deity to add a more personalised setup. Animals, different forms a Deity takes, items they use or are known for, elements connected to Them, and items representing Their nature can all be drawn on. Below I give some personal examples so you can gain some inspiration for your own sacred space.

For Loki I made a mini Snaptun Stone. Not only is this one of the few depictions we have of Him, but it represents His connection to fire, and reminds us of the story of how His lips were sewn shut by Brokk the Dwarf. The Fool’s Gold is a play on his modern nickname of Trickster, and the mythological parallels between Loki and other Trickster figures. In the words of J.R.R.Tolkien, Loki teaches us that, “Not all that glitters is gold.” Finally, the fox is another modern association with Loki, but due to their reputation for being wily, sly, sneaky but intelligent opportunists I really feel they are a good fit for Himself. This fox pendant is one I bought on Etsy from TheNatureJourneyist.

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For Sigyn we have the eponymous bowl. It is made of Moss Agate, and I have written before about the connection I feel Sigyn has to this stone. I also have some little paper and wire Roses. Roses speak of love and the heart chakra; both attributes associated with Sigyn in Her role as a Goddess of devotion and compassion. The Rose Quartz heart I have for similar reasons. I also have a dove because there is something about the ‘pure’ and ‘good’ symbolism of doves that I associate with this Beloved Goddess. There’s also a strong energy of Hope around Sigyn, and I believe the dove represents that too. There’s a purity and goodness in Her nature, and I personally have also found her not only to love birds, but to also have strong connections to them.

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The final example I have is for Hella, Jormungand and Fenrir. All are pretty obvious if you know about Their symbolism and mythology, but at the same time they are effective. The drinks coaster has Medieval inspired wolf decoration, the beaded lariat is very snakelike, and the skull represents Hella’s Underworld and death connections perfectly.

(c) Michelle G, Northern Tamarisk, 2018

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Deck Review – Flower Petals: Blossoming guidance from the garden by Cheralyn Darcey

I bought these cards to work with Sigyn, as to me She has a strong connection to flowers and nature. I have to say I have found them a beautiful way of working with Her.

The cards themselves aren’t that big but they have a good thickness to them, similar to most oracle decks. They come in a hard box which has a magnet fastening to keep it closed.

There are 40 cards in total, which “contain the wisdom of the traditional Language of Flowers“. The back of each card has the same watercolour in pinks and purples. This makes up the border on the main face of the cards. The main section is white with a delicate watercolour painting of each flower, their names and their message.

They can be used like a traditional oracle deck or in conjunction with flower essences, herbs and aromatherapy. As part of a wider holistic healing therapy they would make a wonderful addition to any therapist or healer’s practice.
As I have said, I am using them to connect with Sigyn. They could be used to connect in with other Deities too, especially Those associated with flowers and healing.

Flowers are wonderful healers, in many different ways, and I believe these cards can really open up a new aspect of working with them.

As a final note, I have asked Sigyn for a card to end this review on:

(c) Michelle G, Northern Tamarisk, 2018

Sigyn and Daisies + worry dolls

Recently I have written about how I associate Sigyn with Roses, and also about making a Daisy tincture for Inner Child healing work. Others have experienced Sigyn as a Goddess for helping heal the Inner Child, and I believe one way She does so is through Daisies.

On the day my Daisy tincture post went live I had a parcel arrive – a handmade worry doll. I went on the site originally because a friend had liked her tarot and ribbon-reading page on Facebook and it piqued my curiosity. While browsing the online shop I saw the worry doll and felt such a strong ‘Sigyn’ vibe that I bought her. Pink, pretty, girly, flowery things often (but don’t always) mean ‘Sigyn’ to me. There’s a side to Her (that others have written about too) that is almost like this beautiful, innocent, sweet, open-hearted young girl. And that part of Her is the one I associate with the pink, girly, flowery stuff. Things I used to actively avoid, but the last year or so I’ve been more drawn to.

When the worry doll arrived (on the afternoon the Daisy tincture post went live) I saw she came with a little card:

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The worry doll’s name is Daisy! I didn’t even notice she had a name on the listing, and yet I felt so strongly that this little doll was for Sigyn that I bought her.

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Minimalist, Small-space & Travel Altar Ideas – 02

Not everyone has space for a large altar setup, and if you have to share the space with others, if you’re visiting (or have visitors), or if you’re on the move, having an elaborate setup isn’t always possible. In this series I’m going to be sharing little ideas and photos to inspire you for your own devotional space. Use them as general inspiration, adapting them to suit your needs, the items you own, and your Deities.

They’re highly portable, and you can put them in a pouch for when you’re on the move. If you have guests they shouldn’t freak them out too much, or you can quickly put them away for the duration of their visit. If you’re away from home they’re easy to pop into a draw while you’re not using the room.

This week I’m talking about jewellery. Pendants and brooches are multi-purpose, and can be used as decorative items as well as worn. Pick pieces rich in the symbolism associated with a particular Deity or pantheon. This ties in the personal aspect, and means that even if you don’t have much space for your altar, or it needs to be discreet, then you can still have a powerful energy present.

There are plenty of options with jewellery as to how you can use them. You can wear them and few will guess they’re a devotional piece. You can hang them from a hook, a pole, a picture rail or on a Deity statue. You can turn them into a little display. You can turn them into a keyring. They’re easy to pop onto a nightstand at a hotel or guest bedroom, and in the morning you’ll be wearing them again.

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With brooches you can be a bit more creative. As well as wearing them you can attach them to things you can’t with other pieces of jewellery. Want to encourage dreams of said Deity? Attach the brooch to your pillow. Want to be sneaky or playful? Add a brooch dedicated to Khepera (or another insect or ‘climbing’ Deity) to your curtains. You can also pin them to bags, scarves, cloaks, coats or wall hangings. Because of the pin on the back you may be able to add them as a detachable element on the end of prayer beads.

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(c) Michelle G, Northern Tamarisk, 2018

Minimalist, Small-space & Travel Altar Ideas – 01

This is part of a new series I’ll be sharing on alternate Tuesdays for the next couple of months. Not everyone has space for a large altar setup, and if you have to share the space with others, if you’re visiting (or have visitors), or if you’re on the move, having an elaborate setup isn’t always possible. In this series I’m going to be sharing little ideas and photos to inspire you for your own devotional space. Use them as general inspiration, adapting them to suit your needs, the items you own, and your Deities.

They’re highly portable, and you can put them in a pouch for when you’re on the move. If you have guests they shouldn’t freak them out too much, or you can quickly put them away for the duration of their visit. If you’re away from home they’re easy to pop into a draw while you’re not using the room.

First off I’m starting with one that’s super-simple and multi-functional – prayer beads. You can buy lots of lovely sets of prayer beads now, or you can make your own. Not only do they act as devotional tools, but they can be made into different shapes and act as a simple but effective mini altar setup. They also look nice, catch the light, and you can even wrap them around your wrist like a bracelet if you want to.

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(The prayer beads pictured are all made by me and are my personal sets. I have an Etsy shop and will be making up more prayer beads in the coming months.)

(c) Michelle G, Northern Tamarisk, 2018

Turning candle leftovers into wax melts

You know those annoying bits that always get left behind when you burn candles? Well, you can turn them into wax melts and save wasting those last bits of candle-goodness.

I usually buy soy or rapeseed wax candles, which are easier to do this with, but it can be done with paraffin or beeswax candles too.

Step one: Release the wax! Use a knife to loosen the wax in the bottom of the jar, then put the wax into a foil cake case.

Step two: Clean the candle container. I would suggest using a paper towel or rag you don’t want to use again for this part. Use the paper towel/ rag to wipe out as much leftover wax bits as possible, and then dispose of it. Next add some washing up liquid into the container, boil enough hot water in the kettle, and pour the water into the container. Leave it to sit for a while, then rinse out. This method is most effective with soy and rapeseed wax, and you may need to use a bit more elbow grease for paraffin and beeswax to get the glass fully cleaned. Re-use or recycle the container, depending on your preferences.

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Musings on the Goddesses of the Jotnar, Angerboda and Iron Wood Magic

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.

Beltane Fires ‘Release’ Ideas

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.
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Devotional tips for those with chronic illnesses and limited energy

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.p1050753
  • 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.

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The Work of the RSPB, and How We Can Help Make a Difference

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