All that is known of Ymir is that he was born from the fires of Muspelheim and the ice of Niflheim when they collided in a “great bang” in Ginnungagap. In this way, he can be seen as the anthropomorphize iteration of the chaotic but endless creative potential of the Ginnungagap. He took nourishment by nursing the primeval cow Auðumbla, who also came out of Ginnungagap. He also reproduced asexually, and as such became the ancestor of all the giants and many of the Æsir as well. Due to his asexual reproduction, many consider him to be hermaphroditic. His descendants in the form of Odin, Vili, and Ve slaughtered Ymir and from his remains (the pure, primordial stuff of creation) fashioned the world. His has at least three other possible names, Brimir, Blain, and Aurgelmir. Though he is described as being “evil,” there is no textual evidence for this and the concept may be of Christian influence, as there’s little to no evidence that the pagan worldview of the Norse really had a place for the binary construct of “good” and “evil,” though “chaos” and “order” may be more likely, amoral counterparts.
Due to the nature of Ymir’s state in the mythology, this ritual will be much more about honoring the memory of a great and beloved ancestor, one who gave rise to all life on Earth (for without the pure, primal, creative force of his body, life could not have thrived). Nonetheless, bring an offering of milk to this ritual—if possible, the freshest and locally sourced milk you can find, but it’s okay if you need to stick to the basics. This ritual should be conducted outside with direct contact with the earth.
Pour your offering into a favored mug and set the mug directly on the earth. If your practice involves circle casting, cast your circle. I like to call on Jord for Earth, Ran and Aegir for Water, Surt for Fire, and Hræsvelgr for Wind/Air, and in addition I typically call on Angrboda (my patron, whom I view as a goddess of witches and völvar) to oversee my working. When you have centered yourself and are prepared:
“Hail Ymir/ Brimir/ Blain/ Aurgelmir
Hail Ymir, Mountain’s Bones
Hail Ymir, Earth’s Flesh
Hail Ymir, Sea’s Blood
Hail Ymir, Tree’s Locks
Hail Ymir, Skull Dome of the Sky
Hail Ymir, Ginnungagap’s Mirror
Hail Ymir, Element of Creation
Hail Ymir, Progenitor of Jötnar
Hail Ymir, First Ancestor…
”From you we have all come, to you we will all return. I honor you and all your names, Aurgelmir, Blain, Brimir. You, First Ancestor of Earth and all her progeny; first ancestor of all jötnar and of Æsir; you whose primal creative force enabled us to be—I offer you my greatest gratitude, honor, and love.”
Lift the mug or cup of milk toward the sky, head bowed.
“Though I can give you nothing which does not already originate with you, I bring you this offering in loving spirit and gratitude for your unwilling and unknowing sacrifice at the hands of your grandchildren.
“Hail Ymir, Whose Bones are the Mountains!
Hail Ymir, Whose Flesh is the Earth!
Hail Ymir, First of Ancestors!”
Lower the milk, and pour it out directly onto the earth. If you are near a body of water, feel free to pour the milk out into this as well. If you are unable to conduct this ritual outside, I recommend simply pouring the milk onto the ground after the ritual when you are able to go outside, or otherwise leaving it on an altar for a day or so.
“And so I honor your spirit and your sacrifice today, Ymir, First of All Ancestors. I thank you, I honor you, and I bless your name.”
Set aside the mug and bow to the earth, laying your forehead directly against the soil with your arms stretched forward and palms face-down on the soil. If you’ve raised any energy during this working, ground it out into the earth as a final offering. Again, if you’re unable to do this outside, that’s okay — you can do this indoors as well, and just focus on sending that excess energy down to the earth below your home.
Sit up and thank Ymir for receiving your offering and being with you on this day, and bid farewell to his spirit. If you have cast a circle, begin to take it up now, or do anything else appropriate to your practice to close out the ritual.
Prepare three offerings, or to make three offerings. Ideally this would be a piece of fiber-art handiwork of your own creation to sacrifice in a ritual fire or traditional tools of the Nornir to consecrate and dedicate to them in the ritual. Alternatively, a bonsai tree to dedicate to them, including dedicating every act of caring for the tree to them, in representation of their care for Yggdrasil (this would mean an ongoing conscientious, mindful care of the bonsai tree, including watering it only with naturally collected water, not tap water). Yet another option would be to ritually clean your home—dust, sweep, mop, etc—and dedicate that time and energy to them as an offering. If all else fails, an offering of mead or wine and buttered bread is always a safe offering.
Ensure that you will not be disturbed during this working.
Bring at least three offerings—one for each of the Nornir. Optional: bring a fourth offering for the Nornir as a collective. Set up your ritual altar in your selected space. If casting a circle is part of your ritual practice, do so in whatever means suit your practice. I like to call on Jord for Earth, Ran and Aegir for Water, Surt for Fire, and Hræsvelgr for Wind/Air, and in addition I typically call on Angrboda (my patron, whom I view as a goddess of witches and völvar) to oversee my working.
Kneel at your altar and bow your head. Bring your hands and arms into a position of reverence which feels correct to you, and begin to call upon the Nornir to join you and be honored in your ritual. To do this, begin with calling Urðr by name, then chant nine kennings for her.
“Hail Urðr, Keeper of the Well
Hail Urðr, Spinner of Thread
Hail Urðr, Life Alotter
Hail Urðr, Crafter of Fate
Hail Urðr, Eldest of the Nornir
Hail Urðr, Most Mysterious Sister of Wyrd
Hail Urðr, Progenitor of History
Hail Urðr, Knower of All That Has Been
Hail Urðr, Overseer of All That Has Transpired…
“I hail you and call you to receive my reverence. May you be ever honored, Urðr, Spinner of Wyrd.” Place your offering for Urðr on left side of the altar. “I bring to you a humble offering of ________, and pray that you sit it fit to accept.”
Repeat with Verðandi:
“Hail Verðandi, Maker of Laws
Hail Verðandi, Weaver of Threads
Hail Verðandi, Setter of Fates
Hail Verðandi, Constantly Becoming
Hail Verðandi, In the Making
Hail Verðandi, Knower of All In Making
Hail Verðandi, Keeper of What Is
Hail Verðandi, Ever Present
Hail Verðandi, Who Precedes and Overtakes the Immediate…”
“I hail you and call you to receive my reverence. May you be ever honored, Verðandi, Weaver of Wyrd.” Place your offering for Verðandi in the center of the altar. “I bring to you a humble offering of ________, and pray that you sit it fit to accept.”
“Hail Skuld, Claimer of All Debts
Hail Skuld, Snipper of Threads
Hail Skuld, Holder of Shields
Hail Skuld, Decider of Battle
Hail Skuld, Who Will Claim the Dead
Hail Skuld, Who Numbers Among the Valkyrie
Hail Skuld, Youngest of the Nornir
Hail Skuld, Seer of All Futures
Hail Skuld, Knower of All Fates…
“I hail you and call you to receive my reverence. May you be ever honored, Skuld, Who Cuts the Threads of Wyrd.” Place your offering for Skuld in the center of the altar. “I bring to you a humble offering of ________, and pray that you sit it fit to accept.”
Depending on what you have brought to offer, either dedicate the items to them (a simple process of cleansing the items within the ritual in whatever manner best suits your practice, followed by engraving the items [or pot, if it’s a bonsai tree] with the name(s) of the Nornir the item is to be dedicated to, and a statement of dedication. If it’s a bonsai tree, this statement should include the specific dedication of each action of care as a dedicated offering to the Nornir), burn them in a ritual fire if this option is available to you, or move to the next part of the ritual. If your offering is an action, such as cleaning, do that now, and return to the altar when you are finished.
When your offerings have been appropriately made, next hail all three Nornir as a collective:
“Hail the Nornir
Hail The Fates
Hail the Wyrd Sisters
Hail That Which Has Been, Is Becoming, and Will Be
Hail Keepers of Yggdrasil
Hail Tenders of the Tree
Hail Those Who Carve Runes in Yggdrasil’s Bark
Hail Measurers of Destinies
Hail Most Powerful Jötunn Maids
Hail Those Who Have Ended, Are Ending, and Will End Ages…
“I hail you, Sisters of Wyrd and Weavers of Fate. I call on you to receive my reverence and be honored.” If you have brought a fourth, physical offering, place it at the top of the altar now and say: “In gratitude, I humbly offer you this ________ and pray that it pleases you well, you Keepers of the Threads.” If you intend to dedicate a non-physical offering, such as the energy and time of cleaning house, wait to do this until after you have stated the intention of your ritual.
Next, state the specific intent of the ritual. Write this out beforehand so you can word it precisely and recite it when the time is right. This may simply be, “I bring you here to honor you, to remember your names, and to pay you homage,” or it may be a request such as, “I bring you here to humbly request [whatever it is you seek].” These are only examples—the intent can be whatever you need it to be, just be certain—as with any ritual or magical working—that you are thoughtful and precise in your wording.
If you are dedicating time/energy/or some other non-physical offering, conduct this offering in a mindful, meditative state now, stating, “In gratitude, I humbly offer you this ________ and pray that it pleases you well, you Keepers of the Threads.”
Once all offerings have been appropriately made, take this opportunity to conduct a divination is this is a part of your practice, otherwise meditate mindfully and listen to/feel your environment. Take note of any thoughts or emotions that seem to impress themselves upon you rather than to originate from within, and record these or the results of your divination when you are done.
When you are ready close the ritual, raise your face to the sky and call:
Spinner of Wyrd!
Weaver of Wyrd!
Who Cuts the Threads of Wyrd!
Hail the Nornir
Wyrd Sisters and Weavers of Fate!”
Bow your head and hold your hands/arms in a position of reverence that feels right to you.
“I offer you my sincerest gratitude
And I thank you for your presence here.
I pray these humble offerings have pleased you
[And await what wisdom you might share]*
And now I bid you farewell
So much as one can to those
Who weave all Fate and Time.
Honor and Blessings to your names—
*Modify/change this to acknowledge your request, if you made a request. Otherwise, you may leave this line out if you so choose.
Place your hands and forehead to the altar or to the ground and let any excess energy that may have built up in you through the ritual flow out of you and into the altar/earth as an closing offering. Once you have grounded out that energy, stand and close the circle if you cast one, or otherwise “close down” the ritual space. If you have laid out offerings such as drink and food, leave them on the altar for at least 24 hours before burying them or otherwise disposing them according to your practice. If you have dedicated specific objects to the Nornir, place these on an altar (either a general altar or one specific to the Nornir, but preferably not on an altar that is already dedicated to another, specific deity) or another place of reverence. If applicable/appropriate, you may consider designing the ritual altar with the intention of it being a permanent fixture, but this is up to what feels right for you.
When you’re all done, have a snack, hydrate, journal about the ritual, and take a little rest.
As part of the greater project that is this blog, I have begun doing my best to catalogue the jötnar in order to provide a comprehensive list with information on them gleaned from historical sources and community verified personal gnosis, as is applicable. As I’m still working on this, my current spiritual journey/the time and isolation of the pandemic has taken me in yet another direction: writing and conducting a minor ritual of honor and reverence for each of the named jötnar. I figured this is a good place to share those rituals.
Due to some of the other things I’m doing in my spiritual life right now, I’m writing rituals for some of the jötnar sooner than I might have otherwise. Once I have completed the rituals necessary for my current trajectory, I will move to writing and publishing these rituals in alphabetical order.
Without further ado, the first of these rituals was written for Hyndla.
Attested in Hyndluljóð (The Song of Hyndla). She is a keeper of knowledge of ancestral lines. Freyja attempts to flatter her, calling her “sister.” She seems uninterested in helping Freyja and her chosen, Ottar, chastising her for lying about the identity of the boar (Ottar) and then refusing to give Ottar “the memory-beer” Freyja requests until she is coerced by Freyja summoning a ring of fire around her. Even then, she stipulates that the draught given is laced with venom that will bring Ottar an ill-fate.
Based on this, it is very advisable to approach Hyndla with humility and the utmost honesty. Be clear on what your intentions and motivations are with yourself before you go to Hyndla, so that you may be as honest and direct with her as is possible to be.
Prepare for the ritual by reflecting on your intentions and purpose, and the motivations behind them. Write this all out on a piece of paper, and fold it up nice and tight. Prepare an offering as well—I am fond of offering drink, or a share of a meal. Hyndla has wolves, and through this association meat is likely a safe offering. Mead or beer is often a safe offering for the gods of the north. Staples that would have represented vital resources in the days of our ancestors, such as butter, bread, and milk are always good offerings as well.
Determine whether you will set up a ritual altar or simply lay your offerings on the ground/floor/earth, and prepare accordingly. This can be as elaborate as you want, or as simple as an offering bowl placed upon the earth—though I do suggest considering finding a stone to utilize as a ritual altar, symbolizing her home “in the rock and the cave.”
Once you have your reflections written down and folded and your offering selected and a place picked out to conduct the ritual, cast your circle if this is an element of your practice, and as you see fit. (I call on Jord for Earth, Ran and Aegir for Water, Surt for Fire, and Hræsvelgr for Wind/Air.) Place the folded paper in the bottom of a bowl and place the offering on top of it (if your offering is a liquid of any kind, you may pour it directly onto the paper).
Kneel before your altar/offering. Prick your finger or otherwise extract a drop of blood or a hair to add to the offering (either of which both symbolizes your bloodlines and offers a tangible sample of your genetic heritage). As you are pricking or plucking, (when you are done, lift your arms or hands into a gesture of reverence) begin to chant:
“Hail Hyndla who lives in the rock and the cave
Hail Hyndla, Keeper of the Memory-Beer
Hail Hyndla, Völva of the Mountains and the North
Hail Hyndla, Rider of Wolves
Hail Hyndla, Guardian of Knowledge of the Ancestors
Hail Hyndla, Keeper of Bloodlines
Hail Hyndla, Overseer of Family Groves
Hail Hyndla, Accuser of Freyja and of Ottar
Hail Hyndla, Who Sees the Webs the Nornir Weave.
“In awe and reverence Hyndla, I bring to you this offering of ________. I hope in this way to honor you.
“I come to you with this intent and purpose, Hyndla, not only to honor you but to find my way to my ancestors that I might [state your purpose/intention/motivation].
“I ask that you be with me Hyndla, as I undertake these endeavors. I ask [state your petition or petitions].” Place your hands on either side of the bowl with the offering and paper in it, and bow over or to the offering. “Please accept these humble offerings I gladly and in gratitude give.
“Thank you, Hyndla, for hearing my call.
Thank you, Hyndla, for receiving my offerings.
Thank you, Hyndla, and may you be ever honored.
With gratitude and reverence I leave this offering to you, and bid you farewell.
Place your hands and forehead to the altar or to the ground and let any excess energy that may have built up in you through the ritual flow out of you and into the altar/earth as an closing offering.
If it is appropriate to your practice, close your circle. If you have a particular way of disposing of offerings, do so. If not, I recommend leaving it in a safe place (where pets or other animals won’t get into it and potentially make themselves ill) for at least a full day before burying it in a similarly safe place. Bury the folded paper with it as well.
When you’re all done, have a snack, hydrate, journal about the ritual, and take a little rest.
The Establishment of the Celestial Cow or “Moomas” as it is lovingly known is a light hearted Kemetic holiday celebrated this time of year. The holiday was established thousands of years ago to commemorate the story of Ra rising into the heavens on Hathor’s back. In the shape of the Celestial Cow She takes off into the sky.
The holiday has both a humorous and serious side. On one hand the image of the sun god riding into the sky on the back of a cow is funny to imagine. We celebrate this time of year with gift giving cards and the burning of candles. On the other hand however, the reason for Ra’s departure is to get as far away from the evils of mankind as possible.
In this way we are reminded that cruelty and evil separate us from the divine. The other major theme is that of forgiveness. When Ra reached the top of the sky He was able to find some peace. Away from the chaos of the world He was able to think clearly and realized that despite our deep flaws He still loved humanity.
Ra decided that He would remain on high in order to watch over us forever. Hathor asked Ra to make Her powerful enough to withstand such a great height. He obliged by transforming Her into the starry vault of space itself.
“Then the majesty of this god looked into Her, and She said: “Make me into a multitude!” And stars came into being.”
Because the stars represent akhu (our ancestors) in Kemeticsm this story reminds us that Hathor watches over all of our loved ones who have passed over. This time of year is a testament to the love our gods have for us and that even the days are short and cold now, they will be long and warm soon.
Moomas is celebrated by modern Kemetics on or around the Winter Solstice. Since many of us have Christian family and ancestors it makes sense for us to have our own understanding and religious celebrations concerning this time of year and the return of the sun into our lives.
The Meaning Of Moomas|http://tamarasiuda.com/2012/12/16/winter-holidays-this-one-goes-up-to-eleven/
Like many people I found myself struggling as COVID altered the reality that I found myself living. I do not handle change well and I had friends leaving the area, a school semester that didn’t end well, the fact that transitioning from school to work is coming up, clubs not meeting in person (and I’m a person that does better getting to know people face to face), and classes going from in-person to a weird combination of online and in-person. In October however I got a reminder about how when we work with the Divine they will always make their presence known.
To simplify the story: when I was struggling the most the opportunity to get a cat came into my life. And she got me thinking about the relationships between people and Gods.
I had been feeding a stray cat in the parking lot of my apartment complex since late summer. My hope was to eventually get them to the humane society (a no kill shelter). My apartment was not pet friendly and I had no way to afford the start up costs of a pet of any kind. One night I went outside to check on the moon (a school assignment, actually). It was also one of the hardest days for myself mentally. And there under my car was a set of yellow eyes looking at me. It had been a few weeks since I had seen the cat around and immediately went to get it food. The cat came pretty close to eat although they were skittish and not wanting me to touch them. I talked to them and felt myself feel better than I had in days. Later that week my mother mentioned that she thought an ESA animal could be beneficial and that she was willing to help me with start up costs. My therapist agreed a cat could be useful and I got the letter and things sorted with the managers. And that cat literally walked into my apartment. Something I didn’t think was possible or feasible happened. I was grateful (still am) and knew that God was involved. I could practically hear Him say “I got you”.
I found out her gender and got her fixed and vaccinated (yay humane society). Then there was adjusting to living in a space with another living creature again. Something I have not done in over 3 years. Looking around my apartment to see what I could do to make the cat more comfortable. Moving around an apartment with a shadow of a cat that, when up, is constantly around my feet. No matter how many times I accidentally start to kick her or actually stumble over her. Figuring out why she went from eating and drinking happily to not. Turned out she prefers wide mouthed dishes (okay, not prefers- requires). Adjusting that I want far more physical contact than she would prefer.
But one day I found myself contemplating something. How does my cat view this relationship? Does she see us as equals? Does she understand that I want to protect her? Does she see me as a food dispenser that is generally non-functioning? Am I a weird cat to her or does she understand that I’m not a cat?
That lead to me wondering how much is this dynamic like the ones with God and myself? To clarify, I don’t see myself as a pet of God or vice versa. But how much are the emotions involved alike? Assuming deities feel emotions. My feelings of love and affection for her when she is being cute. Joy when I pull out a cat wand and her pupils immediately go wide. The wave of delight when we have a breakthrough moment (the latest one being she went back to sleep and didn’t move away when I nestled my hand next to her in her cat bed). Exasperation when she nags me for food when I just fed her and I’m making my own meal or when she hisses at me because I about fell over her AGAIN because she insists on diving ahead of me into any room. Frustration when I struggle to communicate with her, like when she gets her claw stuck, starts to panic, and just panics more when I try to help.
In terms of power alone I get the owner is more like a deity. Does my cat view me as having a bunch of power? I know she gets I’m larger than her and a potential danger. I’m sure she also struggles to figure out how to interpret my behavior at times. She works to communicate with me and get me do do what she wants (meowing, purring, rubbing against me at times when food is conveniently involved). She knows that much comes from me: the wand only seems to fly when I’m around, I dispense food and treats-frustratingly not on command. I want to protect her, make sure she feels safe, keep her stimulated, and I want her to be healthy. So, fairly parental in feeling. Which fits with much of my relationship with God that I do feel it is quite parental in nature. In terms of her rights and privileges I consider her to be equal in deserving of respect. This means I do not get to touch her whenever I want or how I would like to touch her. I do not get to fall asleep with a ball of fur and purrs next to me. At least not yet. When leaving the door open to air out the apartment freaked her out significantly I closed the door. I have the power to change the environment in which she lives.
But to think that she views me with the awe that people generally view deities with I think would be inaccurate. To think that she understands things like that fact that I have the ability to utterly change her environment is a bit of a stretch. I mean, I have done that. I closed the door when she walked into my apartment. And she did not like that at all. Gave me a demanding, angry, meow at the door that I’m sure would translate along the lines of “Open it back up right now!” (I resisted a pun there, you are welcome). Ironically, now she is terrified of the outdoors. I have forced and tricked her into her crate multiple times for visits to the humane society and the vets office. But I don’t think many animals have the capacity to understand how another creature may affect their environment, let alone few creatures are able to exert significant change on their environment.
Basically the longer I contemplated it the more I saw some overlap between that of God/devotee and owner/pet. They are not the same in many ways of course. But there are some similarities. A connection formed with varying amounts of choice and enthusiasm. A connection between two different beings. A power dynamic that is not equal. A good relationship involves the development of trust and respect between both parties. This is done by the actions of both sides. Attempts from both sides to communicate clearly. Events that seem scary or possibly harmful but that have larger picture implications (having to repeat classes, vet visits, unhooking stuck claws, COVID). Implications which may never be comprehensible by one party (me with God or the cat with me).
When it comes to spiritwork and magic, there is a lot of misinformation. Misinformation on both spiritwork and magic abounds in both published books and online platforms. It takes experienced spiritworkers and magic workers to discern what is good and bad information within books, which is really unfortunate for those starting down spiritworking and magical paths.
Spiritwork and magic both adhere to certain rules, just like the physical world adheres to certain rules. The fact that many authors and online influencers promote methods of spiritwork and magic that often ignore the rules of the spirit world and magical workings is problematic on many levels and has a range of harmful effects.
At the least harmful level, ignoring those rules leads to a failure to connect to spirit or prevents magic from working altogether. In situations where some rules are followed but others ignored, there may be limited results that then unfortunately encourage the practitioner to continue using methods that leave holes that spirits may eventually notice and take advantage of. At the most harmful level, it is possible for someone to do spiritwork or magic using techniques that draw the attention of malignant spirits or work in ways other than those intended by the practitioner.
There is danger in assuming that any/every approach to spiritwork and magic will work perfectly. Even chaos magicians use a system that adheres to certain rules, and the two fundamental rules of magic applies to all magicians. The laws of sympathetic magic – that of contagion and similarity – are in operation at all levels of magic.
The law of contagion, simply expressed, is “once connected, always connected,” while the law of similarity is “the image equals the object.” Taken together, these are the unbreakable laws of magic; they are as unyielding as the physical reality of gravity. At a deeper level, these two laws of magic explain why magical correspondences are vital to magical workings.
It is easy for a beginner to pick up a book or go to a website that discusses magical correspondences and assume that the author knows what they are talking about – we live in a world that privileges the written word and there is an unspoken assumption that books with bad information won’t be published. The reality is that misinformation abounds both in published books and on online platforms within all spheres of life, magical and mundane.
That is why discernment is such a critical tool to develop, and to develop discernment requires a commitment to critical analysis. With my background as a historian, I can say with confidence that there are even published history books that are factually inaccurate and misleading. Assessing books for accuracy requires a commitment to fact-checking information across several sources, and it can be a time-consuming process.
The same is true when it comes to fact-checking information found in books about spiritwork and magic. There are tons of books on spiritwork that ignore the importance of developing relationships with spirits, which is critical in spiritwork. There are a handful of books on spiritwork that are incredibly well-researched and accurate, but finding them can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
The same is true for work on magic. It is well-known by experienced practitioners that books published by Llewellyn are hit-and-miss, with the majority of books being huge misses. There are authors like Silver Ravenwolf who still have huge following, even though any experienced practitioner worth their weight will tell you that none of her magical techniques make much sense.
Just like there are authors like Ravenwolf whose works are full of inaccuracies, there are online platforms that cause misinformation to circulate. There are people who use TikTok as a platform whose magical teachings confuse basic correspondences, and confusing those correspondences is a blatant disregard of the two fundamental rules of sympathetic magic.
As an example, there are many TikTok performers who suggest adding salt to any type of bottle spell, regardless of the intention behind the spell. This is an example of a harmless type of misinformation because the worst thing that adding salt to a spell is going to do is neutralize the spell. Salt is a purifying and protective substance – there is documentation for this that goes back centuries, and it is a well-known fact in the larger magical community.
Adding salt to protection or purification spells makes sense. Adding salt to spells for love or attracting wealth does not. Salt purifies and protects. It does not attract. To use it in a spell that has attraction as its core purpose makes no logical sense. Magic is unfailingly logical, and the correspondences of the components used in any spell or ritual is incredibly important.
While certain types of magicians, particularly chaos magicians, are able to develop their own systems of magic replete with their own correspondences, they do so most adeptly by learning the traditional systems and adapting what works for them into their own approaches. Chaos magicians operate on a “use what works, discard what doesn’t,” basis, and I have met only a handful of truly capable chaos magicians. Those few always operate within systems that acknowledge and use the two fundamental laws of sympathetic magic.
A lot of people on online platforms, especially TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter, are beginners attempting to teach other beginners. That is why so much of the information on those platforms tends to be misinformation. Most experienced practitioners will not teach through social media platforms. Some magical and spiritworking information is inherently dangerous, and online platforms do not allow experienced practitioners to determine who views/uses their teachings.
The misuse of magic and the abuse of spirits are difficult problems that circulate within the magical community at large, and few experienced practitioners are going to engage in any action that may potentially increase those problems.
I have seen these problems both online and in-person. I have read stories about people working with spirits who do so in abusive and exploitative ways. I have seen people form relationships with malignant spirits out of ignorance and pay a heavy price for their mistakes. Spirits have their own agency; they are capable of being both benign and malignant. Even benign spirits can turn malignant if they are abused or exploited. Attempting to coerce or control spirits can easily backfire. Approaching spirits carelessly, especially gods, can lead to deadly phenomena.
The spirit world is diverse, full of a plethora of beings. Many are benign but many are malignant. There are certain spirits that all traditions and religions have agreed are malignant towards humans, such as the succubi, incubi, and nightmare spirits. Some spirits are assumed to be malignant but may not be depending on the tradition followed. The entities considered to be demonic and malignant by Abrahamic religions may be benign spirits to those who work in the Goetic or demonaltry traditions. How spirits are approached and whether they act in a benign or malignant manner often depends on a specific tradition’s approach to those spirits. Traditions create spiritual patterns that echo throughout generations; rituals tap into collective remembering.
That is why so many experienced practitioners tell newcomers to find a magical or spiritual tradition and steep themselves in it for at least a year. Learn the patterns, the rituals, the approaches taken by one specific tradition. Magical approaches differ depending on the tradition. Ceremonial magicians do rituals differently than Druids who do rituals differently than Wiccans who do rituals differently than Conjure workers. Each system is complete in itself, and mixing/matching magical techniques is not something that can be done with ease.
Perhaps the most pressing issue caused by the proliferation of misinformation is the growing impression newcomers seem to have that magic and spiritwork is easy, when that is far from the truth. The people who are strongest in magic and spiritwork draw their strength from the years – usually in terms of decades – of experience they have working in their respective fields.
While I work closely with spirits today, that did not happen overnight. I did not wake up one day and decide to become a spiritworker and have everything immediately go well. I spent the first decade of my magical journey wishing I could communicate with spirits because I couldn’t easily connect with them. I had to reshape my entire way of thinking about the world, let go of patterns of monotheistic thought shaped by the environment I grew up in, and learn to sit and listen with intent. It took a decade of work for me to even get started on my path as a spiritworker, despite being raised in a tradition that acknowledged the existence and prevalence of spirits.
Spirit work is not easy. Neither is magic. Magic is willpower made manifest. A person must learn to understand themselves and their own will to create strong magic. They must also make the commitment to learn magic at a serious level and dedicate themselves to the process.
Unfortunately, social media platforms have beginners posing as experts and spreading misinformation about magic, and the younger generations are so used to getting information through social media that they rarely stop to question the validity of the information they are receiving.
It isn’t easy to find experienced teachers, since the majority of us only teach in person for reasons I’ve already explained, so many people have to become self-taught practitioners. That is possible to do, but taking that path requires more dedication because it requires more experimentation and more guesswork than learning from someone directly entails.
There are good resources out there, but most of them aren’t going to be found on social media. Some of the best resources may be hidden in local or university libraries. Often, popular books contain the least accurate information (though that is not always true). There are certain authors that can be trusted and others that can be ignored. It takes dedication to discernment and critical analysis to determine which books are good resources and which ones aren’t, and learning to do that is in and of itself a way to create a solid foundation for discernment in both magic and spiritwork.
ChristoPaganism is a word sometimes used to describe the blending of Christian and Pagan beliefs. I myself blend the two in my understanding of God. Get comfortable because this is going to be a long one.
It occurs to me that any conversation about God is going to run into problems unless we explain exactly what we mean. God has gotten a bad rep because of some of the truly atrocious things done by organized religions. So many have been taught to believe that God is an angry, vengeful old man with a beard Who chooses favorites and punishes those He doesn’t like. The thing is though, this could not possibly be further from the truth.
Since time immemorial mankind has looked to the heavens and wondered. Wondered why we are here, how did this world come to exist and how we came to live upon it. In answer to these questions humans have invariably come to a consensus, there is some higher power at work. A conscious intelligence that creates, maintains and destroys.
This higher power has been conceived of as spirits, a plethora of deities or one deity depending on the individual belief system yet one thing remains almost universally consistent: humanity recognizes a Creator and feels the need to know said Creator. Religion came to exist out of this need, the word describes a system of beliefs and practices invented by humans in order to honor and seek the higher power.
Throughout time people have adapted their beliefs based on personal experiences, contact with the beliefs of others, progression of thought and direct experience with the Divine. It was only with more recent thought that religion and spirituality were considered rigid, the ancient peoples blended whatever beliefs made sense to them with no fear that their Creator would punish them for it.
Even among the early Christians there was blending of beliefs and practices. The Bible even seems to suggest the existence of multiple gods. Genesis 1:26 states: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”(KJV). Jesus Himself spoke out against the rigid and intolerant views of religious authorities of the time. Furthermore the prophet Micah proclaimed a time when all people would be at peace, worshiping their gods in a brilliant example of religious freedom. “Micah 4:3-5 “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hat spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” (KJV)
So too did the Pagans show tolerance and respect to the early Christians: “Acts 28:30-31 “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Also, according to the Bible many early Christians taught that you didn’t need to be a Christian in order to enter Heaven: “Romans 2:14-16: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another; In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” In other words, The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus taught His disciples to be good people and if you are a good person (regardless of your religious beliefs) you will go to Heaven. Lastly the Bible warns that we should take care not to be offensive to other religions but to treat them with respect: “1 Corinthians 10:31-32 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, orwhatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:”.
Not only this but the Roman governor Pilate’s own wife (who in later tradition is named Claudia Procula) was said to receive a dream from her gods that Jesus was a good man. If Jesus and the Pagans were so at odds then why this acceptance of Jesus on the part of Pagan deities? The maligned but simple answer seems to be that there is no contention between Christianity and Paganism other than what later religious leaders with an axe to grind created.
God isn’t purely masculine either. Remember, Genesis told us that God made us male and female in God’s image. Hosea 13:8 compares God to a mother bear: “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”. Deuteronomy 32:18 refers to God “giving birth” and Isaiah 49:15 has God asking: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” In Isaiah 42:14 God says: ““For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant”. Again in Isaiah 66:13 God proclaims: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem”.
These are but a handful of the occasions in which God is described as feminine in the Bible. Other times God is considered masculine. In the Bible John explains that God is a spiritual being and does not literally possess gender. Instead, God has the ability to appear to us as masculine or feminine (or genderless) depending on what will bring us comfort and understanding.
Throughout history deities have been male, female or any combination of gender or sex. That this concept continued into early Christian belief is a testament to the fact that Christianity was inspired in large part by other spiritualities. This is not a criticism of the belief but rather evidence of a living, thriving spirituality that is capable of growing over time. Without some growth and change it would become stagnant and lifeless.
The Bible is not an ineffable source, we know as a historical fact that it was written by human beings over a long period of time. However it is useful as are all spiritual writings because it helps us to understand the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of the people who wrote it. When we look to the world today we see violence, cruelty and death. In the face of this it can be difficult to see the good in the world. I would argue though that there is still more good than bad. Every single day new advances in medicine allow people to live longer and healthier lives. Every moment of every day there are good people engaging in acts of kindness and new love blossoming upon the earth. We are so used to these things that we tune them out, only paying attention to the ills of this world. I am in no way attempting to make light of the problems facing our planet but instead to point out that we are capable of greatness and goodness if we set our minds to it. God is love, pure and simple. When you read the Bible or any other account of our Creator read it through the lens of love. If it makes our God out to be some cruel and manipulative being then you can be assured what you are reading is purely of human origin. Only humans are capable of such mindless cruelty.
So countless deities or one almighty God, which is it? That ultimately depends on your own personal beliefs. I have been taught through my own experiences that there is one God and that all of the gods and goddesses throughout the world are aspects of this God while also being individual personalities. This belief is known as Monolatry and will be covered in detail later on this book. Your mileage however will vary and it is not my place to tell you what to believe. I can only hope that this book provides helpful guidance and validation for all of us who walk a blended path. May God bless you.
Many (though not all) of us who practice some from of Christian Wicca or Christian Paganism also practice witchcraft. There is no single definition of witchcraft but in modern spiritual circles a witch is typically seen as a person who works with natural spiritual energies to manifest change in their physical reality. This can be as simple as lighting a pink candle with the intention to promote self love and acceptance or as complex as a long and elaborate ritual designed to protect one’s home. Witchcraft is ancient and has been practiced in nearly all societies before and alongside religion.
Witchcraft can be secular or religious, It is entirely dependent upon the practitioner. Christian Wiccans often practice Christian Witchcraft, essentially witchcraft performed within a Christian inspired framework. Some people question how Christian witchcraft can be practiced since the Bible forbids any form of witchcraft. Or does it?
If you are at all familiar with the argument against Christian Witchcraft then you’ve likely read the passage from Exodus (22:18) that reads: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Now, there’s some serious debate about the translation here with some suggesting the word is actually “poisoner” and not witch. Others claim that it is truly the word witch in this translation. Personally I am of the stance that it doesn’t matter either way. Here me out for just a moment. Over the course of history words change their meaning. What a witch was to people in biblical times is most definitely not what the word witchcraft means to modern witches.
The people of those times had every reason to be wary of those who practiced magic “tricks”, consorted with malicious spirits and used their knowledge of the natural world to inflict suffering upon people. While it’s true that the Bible warns against the use of such “witchcraft” we must remember two things. First, we have already covered how the Bible was written by humans who lived in a certain point in history and in a certain culture. Due to this it is only rational that their writing be influenced by the society they lived in. Secondly, Jesus was quite explicit in saying that He came to Earth to form a new covenant between mankind and God. In the same way the old Jewish laws do not apply to Christians it is reasonable to say that the prohibition against witchcraft no longer applies as long as we practice in the name of God and the highest good. This is more clear in the cases of those Bible verses in Leviticus that condemn witchcraft. These same verses contain the lists of old Jewish laws, laws that Christians are free from having to follow because of Christ. Not only that but if you begin reading these verses condemning “witchcraft” you will notice a common theme, the lack of God in the act. Typically these “magic users” were petty thieves and frauds who preyed on people’s emotions to con them out of their money. There is nothing wrong with using our own innate, God given spiritual power in order to better our lives and to help those around us.
The charge of witch was levied against people In order to discredit their magic by claiming it had an impure source. The same tactic was even used against Jesus as His miracles were labeled “witchcraft” by His enemies. The idea was to at best paint him as a quack and at worst a wicked man who spoke with impure spirits.
That makes sense until you think about what Source Jesus was drawing His magic from. God is the purest source of magic from which anyone could draw. Modern witchcraft is often used for healing and we see Jesus doing just that in the stories of His life. He made the lame to walk and healed people from various physical and mental disabilities. He spoke with angels, turned water into wine, performed weather magic, provided an otherwise impossible amount of food to feed the hungry, restored a severed body part and more.
Many early church leaders took great pains to state that what Jesus did were miracles and not magic. However, with our modern understanding of witchcraft as a potential force for good and, if we take the source of our magic to be God then my stance on “miracles vs. magic is this: tomatoes, tamahtos. What it all basically comes down to is this: the “witchcraft” described in the Bible refers to one specific culture’s idea of what witchcraft was at one point in history. That “witchcraft” has nothing to do with the witchcraft practiced by modern witches.
Obviously as the son of God, Christ’s magic is on a more grand level then ours but we too have the ability to use magic. Think about it, God made us in God’s image, God is a creator. Doesn’t it make sense then that we have some power to create? Some Christian Witches have gone so far as to refer to Jesus as the greatest witch Who ever lived.
Jesus and Mary
I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to write about both of the famous Marys In the Bible and their relationship with Jesus Christ. I’d like to talk about the Virgin Mary first simply because as His mother She was chronologically first in His life. She has been known by many titles and honorifics including: St. Mary the Virgin, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Mary, and Mary Mother of God. She is considered by some Christians to be the greatest of the saints and it is said that after Her Son She is exalted by divine grace above all angels and men.
Tradition holds that She is the daughter of Sts. Joachim and Anne and that She was born in Jerusalem. After taking a vow of virginity at the Temple She was visited by Archangel Gabriel with the news that She would become the Mother of Jesus. She was then betrothed to Saint Joseph and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was giving birth to John the Baptist. Saint Joseph’s lineage was through the house of David, a wealthy and powerful family.
After giving birth to Jesus, Mary presented Him in the Temple. After receiving a warning of King Herod’s fury from an angel the family escaped to Egypt. While we don’t get much information on the Holy Family during this time There are various traditions regarding what happened. The Church of St Sergius in Cairo is held by many believers to mark the spot where They resided. Coptic Christians believe that the Holy Family visited many places in Egypt including: Al Adaweya (a church in a suburb of Cairo, believed to be the spot where the Holy Family began their journey up the Nile River) and Deir al-Adrah (a sacred place for Coptic Christians, it is built near a cave the Holy Family was thought to have stayed in. Eventually They returned to Jerusalem after learning that Herod had died.
The Bible is essentially silent about Mary’s life during the next few years except for a visit to the Temple in Jerusalem where Jesus learned from the Temple elders. This is another important thing to note. Again according to “The mystical life of Jesus” this is more compelling evidence of the prestige associated with Jesus’s lineage. Jesus was still a child at the time, to not only let Him into the Temple but to allow Him to speak with the Elders illustrates that He was not a poor man.
Mary played an important role in Christ’s first recorded miracle. During a wedding in Cana She explained to Jesus that there was no wine. It was at this point that Jesus magically transformed the water into wine. While this seems like a simple act we must note that having wine at a wedding was seen as a vital part of being a good host. In her book “The mystical life of Jesus Christ” gnostic Christian Sylvia Browne points out that the seemingly simple act of Mary telling Jesus that there was no wine suggests that Christ Himself may very well have been the host. Otherwise why point it out to Him and not whoever was hosting the wedding? This of course brings up the further question: If Jesus was hosting a wedding then who’s wedding was it? I’ll get back to this in a moment but keep it in mind.
Mary, Mother of Jesus was deemed pure enough to bear God’s Son. It’s amazing how often we forget this but it’s not surprising. The early church was extremely patriarchal and did it’s best to minimize or even completely cover up the place of the feminine in spirituality. Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Divine made flesh was born of a woman. That is a deeply powerful revelation because it tells us something profound about women in particular and humanity in general: while God wants us to become the best version of ourselves we are already good enough. Good enough for God to love us and include us in His/Her plans. Countless years of telling women that they are impure in the eyes of God is rendered absolute nonsense.
Mother Mary is loved the world over as an overflowing fount of mercy, compassion and love. Various traditions hold that She appears to humanity to comfort and issue prophecy. For many Christian Wiccans She is not simply a blessed human but a goddess. This may seem odd to some but it actually makes a great deal of sense. From the very beginning of belief humans have instinctively known that the higher power is both a father and a mother. There has always been sacred feminine in balance with sacred masculine.
According to tradition Mother Mary was living just outside of Ephesus, Turkey with John and Mary Magdalene in order to escape persecution. Ephesus has a long history of being especially sacred to the feminine Divine. It was a worship center for the goddess Artemis. It is no Coincidence that this center of goddess worship became an important hub for Mary veneration. The concept of a mother goddess is almost universal in the ancient world I and many others believe that God/dess ordained Mother Mary come into this world as a representative of God as Heavenly Mother.
As amazing and wonderful as Mother Mary is we must now move on to discuss Mary Magdalene. Sometimes She is simply referred to as The Magdalene. The first thing to point out about Mary Magdalene is that there is absolutely no evidence that she was ever a prostitute. This common but inaccurate idea arises from the fact that Mary was an extremely popular name in Biblical times. Mary was occasionally but unfortunately identified with various other women by that same name. It was only later and through careful scholarly work did people realize their error. The Catholic Church issued a public apology but even so the idea stuck.
Mary did however suffer from an unknown affliction which was cured by Jesus. After this She went on to have a special place among the disciples and was one of the few to remain with Jesus during his crucifixion. She was an incredibly intelligent and spirited woman who often traveled with Jesus, even preaching which in those days was not something women did. She was basically a one woman gender barrier smashing work of nature. Mary was also the first person to witness the resurrected Christ.
We don’t know that much about Mary’s early life except that she left her home in Magdala to follow Jesus. We do however know that She enjoyed an intimate relationship with Jesus. In some accounts this relationship included a physical aspect and kissing. It is due to this that some disciples actually expressed jealousy over the relationship. They believed that Jesus loved Mary more than them and even asked Him about it. Their concerns make sense in the light of how women were usually treated in the ancient world as opposed to the high status granted to Mary and Jesus’s other female disciples. Rather than treating them as “simple women” He treated them as equals to His male disciples.
The Magdalene and Mother Mary often traveled together with other female disciples. The fact that they were women allowed them to have special perspective when speaking with other women. Again, having such powerful women amongst Christ’s followers demonstrated the equality between men and women in God’s eyes. By having women remain at the crucifixion of Jesus and witnessing Christ’s resurrection the point is explicitly made that women are just as capable of participating in spiritual matters as men.
Just as with Mother Mary, The Magdalene is also considered by many Christian Wiccans to be a goddess. She too embodies an aspect of the feminine Divine. Often compared to the goddesses Isis and Venus She is considered by many to have been ordained by God/ess to demonstrate God’s aspect of strong and independent woman to Christians. She also embodies loyalty and dedication, having stayed at Christ’s side no matter what.
The trinity is a Christian concept which expresses the Divine as one God in three persons. Essentially it describes God as having three main forms. This is very similar to the Wiccan belief that Goddess is triple (Maiden, Mother and Crone). The three aspects of the Trinity are: The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost. Some Wiccan thought holds that God has three forms as well though they are typically not as well defined.
The Father of course represents the masculine and Fatherly side of God. The Son represents God as Jesus Christ, the sacred mixture of human and Divine. The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) is the feminine side of God, Goddess Herself. If that surprises you then you’ll be even more surprised to know that the Bible actually bears this out. Jesus used the term “Ruach” to describe the Spirit, Ruach is a feminine Aramaic term that is translated as Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost in English. It wasn’t until the later Romanization of Christianity that Ruach was changed to be masculine.
In an early collection of Gnostic Christian writings known as the Nag Hammadi gospels The Holy Spirit is specifically referred to as female. The Phillip Text reads: “Some said, “Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.” They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. Whenever has a female been impregnated by a female”? Revelation speaks of a woman in heaven “clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and crowned with twelve stars”. In the vision she is described as having bore a son who had taken up the throne of God. Furthermore this child was said to have been attacked by a red dragon but had escaped. Archangel Michael and his Warriors attacked the dragon and drove it from heaven. The dragon tried to revenge itself upon the woman but she was winged and flew from him into the desert. In it’s anger it attacked her other children. These other children were defined by John as those who bear testimony to Jesus (Revelation 12).
Now, Revelation is an extremely confusing book of the Bible and is highly metaphorical. If we take a moment to consider this mother in heaven who gave birth to a king (Jesus), was attacked by a dragon (a metaphor for the devil), was defended by angels and whose other children were Christians we can only arrive at one conclusion: She is The Holy Spirit, Queen of Heaven, The Goddess. Within a metaphysical context we can view Mother Mary and The Magdalene as embodying two of the three forms of Goddess. The Magdalene represents the Maiden, Mother Mary is of course the Mother and The Holy Spirit is the Crone.
If all of this sounds overly complicated then just keep in mind that these “aspects” or “phases” simply exist to help us to try and understand our Creator. No one system will ever have “the whole picture” but by putting them together we can benefit from the collective wisdom they provide. This I suspect, is the main reason most people have come to follow this blended path in the first place.
Earlier in this book I explained that I hold a belief known as monolatry. Monolatry Is a term that was coined to describe eastern religion’s conceptions of God, later it was applied to Egyptian religion (Kemeticism). Essentially it means that you believe in one all powerful being of Whom the other gods are considered aspects/manifestations as well as individuals in Their own right. To give an example of how this works one only needs to look at Hinduism. Hinduism describes an incredibly complex array of religious beliefs and practices that found their start in India. Monolatry is common in Hinduism in the sense that many consider it’s innumerable gods to be aspects of one almighty Creator. These deities still have personalities, likes and dislikes but They are all part of one God.
God is all things to all people so it only makes sense that our Creator would take on different forms in order to interact with us. People are different, we think differently and we process information and experiences differently. Perhaps to one person it makes sense for God to appear to them as Jesus and to another God appears as Anubis, Artemis, Buddha, Krishna or any other deity or deities.
However, because God is the ultimate creative source, God’s personality is infinitely complex. Think of a massive diamond, it is one stone but you’d be hard pressed to count all the facets. God is the diamond as a whole and the facets of the stone are the various gods and goddesses of the world. They all form one whole but still occupy Their own spaces and can be interacted with separately.
Sometimes monolatry is also referred to as modified polytheism or inclusive monotheism. It is often summed up by describing God as “the One and the Many”. There is a Hindu saying which explains Monolatry very well; God is huge, too indescribably complex for us to experience directly. In this way God is like the sun, we can’t look directly at the sun. Instead we experience it through it’s rays. God is the sun and all of the gods are the sun’s rays.
While it is certainly not the only school of belief in Christian Wicca it is a popular one and the one I hold in my heart.
Famous(or infamous depending on who you ask) the Amazons were described as a society of fierce warrior women who lived apart from men. They fought the most famous heroes of Greek mythology and captured the imagination of writers both ancient and modern.
The Amazons have always interested me, especially after stumbling upon the work of author Adrienne Mayor and her book simply titled “The Amazons”. In the book she dives into the histories of ancient nomads from the Steppes who may have inspired ancient authors as well as the myriad of Amazon legends themselves.
There are many misconceptions regarding the Amazons, one of the biggest being that they were only to be found in the Greek world. These fascinating heroines were also to be found in tales among the Persians, Romans,Syrians, Egyptians, and other ancient cultures. As someone who primarily identifies their religious beliefs as Kemetic the stories based in Egypt are of particular interest to me.
One myth tells of the Syrian Amazon Queen Serpot (“Blue Lotus”) who fought against the Egyptian Prince Pedikhons, the conflict eventually ending in single combat between the two rulers. However the two were evenly matched and ended up joining forces.
Another tale centers around Amazonian Queen Myrina who was famous for conquering the city of Cyrenê. After conflict with the famous Heracles, Queen Myrina found herself traveling through Egypt. This was far back in mythic times when the god Heru (Horus) was directly ruling the country as Pharaoh. Queen Myrina allied with the god and went on to conquer Libya and portions of Turkey.
While we cannot be for sure on the birthplace of the Amazons, many ancient writers place it in North Africa particularly around Lake Tritonis (southern Tunisia today). The primary source of information regarding the “Libyan Amazons” seems to come from Greek historian Diodorus Siculus and places a great deal of importance upon the worship of a goddess known as Tannit among them.
Tannit was known to the Egyptians as Nit (Neith), Tanit to the Phoenicians and later identified as Athena to the Greeks (by Herodotus). The name Tannit was said to mean Ta-Nit, which translates as “the Land of Nit“, referring to North Africa as a whole. Nit’s major cult center amongst the Egyptians was the city of Tanis.
Now that I’ve established a little bit of a background and connection here it’s time to discuss the Amazons and modern Kemetics. Are these mythical warrior women relevant to modern day worshipers and if so, in what way? It’s important to note that the legends we have of Amazons in Egypt come primarily from Greek sources and not Egyptian. On the other hand, the Tannit-Amazon-Nit connection is a fascinating tidbit that could imply and older association.
The story of Queen Myrina is interesting because it places her life and rule rule during the earliest days of Egyptian mythical history, a time when gods and mortals walked side by side in the flesh.
I still have a lot to ponder and research but I will definitely be covering more of this subject in the future.
While there is minimal and non-conclusive evidence of the historical worship of most of the Rökkr, it is good to once again remember that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. While we may never find the conclusive smoking-gun evidence that many of us would enjoy, it continues to be valuable to dig deeper into the evidence that is available, continue critically assessing potentially outdated interpretations, and looking for further evidence to help us better understand the beliefs, practices, and cosmology of pre-Christian Nordic paganism. In the meantime, lack of historical evidence does not undermine the validity of worshiping the Rökkr within the new religious movement that is Norse neo-paganism and Rökkatru specifically.
There is one Rökkr for whom we have more evidence, however: the much-loved, much-hated, and always contentious Loki Laufeyson.
For those who love Loki, the love is fierce and passionate. For many LGBTQIA+ Heathens, Loki is embraced as representing genderqueerness, genderfluidity, or nonbinary gender due to his tendency for shifting not only form but gender. For those who have experienced degrees of abuse and trauma in their lifetimes, Loki as a deity of change is empowering, a source of strength and an assurance that while the good may not be forever, neither is the bad. Many who work with and honor Loki find a great degree of love and comfort in his lessons of self-honesty, speaking truth to power, and growing and learning through trial and ordeal.
Many who worship Loki see him as the vital instigator of change which prevents the entropy of stagnation, but just as many fear Loki for the chaos he is associated with and his role in Ragnarok. Those who fear, dislike, or mistrust Loki will point out the sheer number of times Loki creates trouble and mischief for the gods, while those who love him are quick to point out that Loki is the heart and spirit of much of the surviving lore and won the gods their treasures, including Thor’s hammer, through those same shenanigans.
To put it bluntly, Loki is a divisive deity—and he is one of the primary gods among the Rökkr. Just as Angrboda can be called the mother of the Rökkr, so too can Loki be called their father: of the primary Rökkr, Loki and Angrboda are parents to Hel, Jörmungandr, and Fenrir. A very contentious family within Heathenry to be certain, but also a very important one.
So let’s look at what evidence there is, starting with a ship burial uncovered in Bitterstad, Norway. A 2016 report from The Arctic University of Norway describes two pendants discovered in association with the burial. The pendants are nearly identical faces cast in silver depicting a man with a mustache, rounded eyes, and mouth that had been set with garnet, though most of the stone inlay no longer remains. “On the back of the two pieces of jewelry were a few remnants of preserved textiles, probably from the deceased’s clothing,” (1) suggesting that these pendants may have been worn as part of the finery in which the deceased was buried.
What is particularly interesting about this, is that the authors of the report put forward the theory that these pendants represent Loki, drawing a comparison to the Snaptun Stone:
“I will present here the not un-problematic idea that these face pendants from Bitterstad can represent Loki. There are two primary things that can point to this. First, the garnets themselves. These have, as we have mentioned several times, historically often related to fire. Fire is something that Loki is often connected with…The other interesting detail is the wrought stone from Snaptun Jutland which depicts Loki after he had his mouth sewn by the dwarf Brokk (Jørgensen 2010, pp. 149-150). Again, we find the relationship between fire and Loki to be interconnected…the images that are on the stone and on the jewelry from Bitterstad are relatively similar. Both figures have a strong mustache, round eyes, sharp marked nose and image of hair. This idea can of course not be proven but may be left as a speculative interpretation of the jewelry from Bitterstad.” (2)
This is only one of several pendants that have been purported to feature Loki, including one found among gravegoods near Härad, Sweden and another found in Vejen, Denmark. The Vejen artifact was originally reported in a press release from Denmark’s National Museet, but the link no longer works, and I’ve struggled to track down information on the Härad piece as well. Nonetheless, photos of both exist, and it can been seen that both images bear a striking resemblance to the Snaptun Stone and Bitterstad pendant, with a mustache and lines across the mouth that have been frequently interpreted as the stitches from the Brokk myth. And of course there is the Snaptun Stone itself, commonly identified as Loki due to the presentation of the mouth, which appears to be stitched. (3)
These and other similar depictions dating to the pre-Christian and conversion era would disprove the claims of some scholars and laypersons that Loki is little more than a literary figment created during pr shortly after the conversion. Furthermore there is evidence, albeit limited, of people and at least one place being named for Loki—something we wouldn’t expect to see if Loki were either a post-Christian figment or reviled in the pagan days of Scandinavia.
Let’s start with the people whose names appear to include Loki’s name. Axel Olrik, in his essay Loke in Younger Tradition, writes this:
“There is one thing that might surprise people who bear Loke from the ancient myths in mind…people actually have been named Loke or Lokke: Among the Norsemen in Northumberland in the 12th century, there was a man called Locchi. In Scandia, Lokkethorp (now Lockarp) was named after a man with a similar name. In Småland, Locke has been preserved as a hereditary surname. On a rune stone in Uppland, the name “Luki” (Loki?, Lokki?) appears…From Norway we know a settler called Þórbjørn loki, and a birkjebein called Þórðr loki.” (4)
Generally speaking Olrik makes the argument that regionally there may have been elemental or other supernatural spirits referred to with names deriving from Loki. Despite expressing the belief that these names likely refer to these spirits rather than the god, he does offer some thought to the contrary:
“In favour of the regard of the personal name as naming after the god Loke, we can mention, that contemporary with the birkjebein Þórðr loki, there lived a man called Auðunn býleistr (named after Loke’s brother). But if there is any connection between the two names (the form Loki isn’t quite certain here), it could be due to the fact that the nickname býleistr (he who is similar to or worse than Loke) was given to an opponent, just because the birkjebeins didn’t know the origin of the name.” (5)
In addition to this, the most common alternate name for Loki, Lopt, appears to show up in a very interesting place: the surname of Snorri Sturluson’s own foster-father. Jón Loptsson (6) was the son of Loptr Sæmundsson, who was born in the twelfth century. (7)
Due to the lateness of this name it cannot, in itself, be cited as evidence of naming conventions honoring Loki (this was more than a hundred years after the conversion of Norway, where he appears to have been born) it may well indicate that Lopt or Loptr may have had some history of use in Norwegian naming conventions. This is noteworthy given the name’s relative proximity to the official conversion of Scandinavia, as this would have been only about two generations removed from the official conversion and within a reasonable time span that we might expect to still find pockets of old worship.
Olrik also notes several place names that appear to be associated with Loki, in particular Lockbol or Lukabol, and Lockesta or Locastum. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to locate further information about these locations outside of Olrik’s references, but if anyone has any leads on these places I would love to hear them. There is one location I’ve been able to identify with more certainty, however, whose name bears a striking resemblance to Loki: Lokkafelli.
Lokkafelli is described as a point on Eysturoy, or “East Island,” in the Faroe Islands. It sits at an elevation of 281 meters above sea level and…that’s about all the information there is to be found about Lokkafelli. Even pictures are hard to come by. Nonetheless, paired with the fact that Loka Táttur, one of the most favorable of the tales about Loki, originates from the Faroe Islands, the apparent inclusion of Loki in a place-name is intriguing. Unfortunately the Loka Táttur is thought to date to the late middle ages, at least 300 years after the Islands were officially and forcibly Christianized. This does not, of course, mean that the ballad is not a remnant of an older tradition, but if that tradition existed we have no further information about it.
On that note, let’s turn to the written sources. Despite the heavy Christian influence of many of these sources, it is possible to glean information about old pagan beliefs from them with critical analysis, and there is no figure in Norse mythology more closely scrutinized than Loki.
One interesting piece of textual evidence to consider is Lóðurr. Lóðurr is an interesting figure who is identified in Völuspá as playing a role in the creation of man alongside Odin and Hœnir. He is said to have given the first men either blood or flesh (the translation is a bit troublesome) along with the color or hues of their skin. Aside from this, however, Lóðurr is only mentioned in original sources two other times: in Háleygjatal and Íslendingadrápa Odin is referred to as “Lóðurr’s friend.” The inscription logaþore / wodan / wigiþonar has been brought into discussions of Lóðurr as well, for while the second two names in this inscription have been cleanly identified as Odin and Thor, the first remain is elusive, and both Lóðurr and Loki have been proposed as possible translations. (8)
The reason this is important and intriguing is because, as some readers may already know, Lóðurr is sometimes identified as Loki. Cawley addresses this in his essay The Figure of Loki in Germanic Folklore, where he highlights an apparent “parallel with Loki and Lóðurr, which seems to be a byname of Loki in some Old Norse sources. This is corroborated by evidence from Germany in the name Logaþore on the Nordendrof brooch.” (9)
The identification of Loki with Lóðurr was proposed by Ursula Dronke in The Poetic Edda: Volume II: Mythological Poems. She argued that the occurrence of Odin, Hœnir, and Loki as a trio in the skaldic poem Haustlöng, the introduction of Reginsmál, and Loka Táttur establishes a sound basis for identifying Lóðurr, also paired with Odin and Hœnir, as Loki, and that the kenning “ Lóðurr’s friend” for Odin reinforces this interpretation. (10)
This is particularly important for those who work with and honor Loki, as his positive contribution to this creation myth flies in stark contrast to the depiction of Loki as a devilish or malicious figure. Here, under the name Lóðurr, he is credited for making a direct and vital contribution to the origin of man. This aligns him just as clearly with the forces of creation as his involvement in Ragnarok align him with forces of destruction.
Though in and of itself, this piece of evidence isn’t proof positive of historic cultic worship, it undercuts the narrative which poses Loki as a definitive enemy of the gods and of humanity. Loki has never been a definitive enemy of the gods, as is proved time and again in the Eddas, and here he is not only not an enemy of humanity, but part of the divine trio which gave humanity life. Historically and in religious traditions worldwide, such myths are typically associated with deities who are recipients of cultic worship. Even Prometheus, the Titan credited for creating humanity in Greek mythology and bound for giving humans fire—a figure Loki as often compared to and identified with—had some degree of cultic worship in Athens. (11)(12)
Another interesting piece of textual evidence comes from Saxo Grammaticus, who was writing in the same time period as Sturluson. In the eighth book of his Gesta Danorum, he records the story of a king named Gorm who worships a giant by the name of Útgarða-Loki. Though this name should in theory identify a giant known from Gylfaginning, in which he challenges Loki, Thjalfi, and Thor to a series of impossible challenges. However, the description of Útgarða-Loki’s “dwelling” in Gesta Danorum bears a striking resemblance not to the Útgarða-Loki of Gylfaginning, but rather to Loki after his binding by the Æsir:
“Then he made others bear a light before him, and stooped his body through the narrow jaws of the cavern, where he beheld a number of iron seats among a swarm of gliding serpents…a foul and gloomy room was disclosed to the visitors, wherein they saw Utgarda-Loki, laden hand and foot with enormous chains. Each of his reeking hairs was as large and stiff as a spear of cornel. Thorkill (his companions lending a hand), in order that his deeds might gain more credit, plucked one of these from the chin of Utgarda-Loki, who suffered it.” (13)
Útgarða-Loki is here depicted chained in a cave, paralleling Loki’s binding, and there are described to be venomous snakes nearby, evoking the image of the serpent fastened by Skadi above Loki’s head. The only detail here that doesn’t parallel Loki’s imprisonment is the attachment of “Útgarða,” a word meaning means “outside” or “outyard.” This means Útgarða-Loki is “Outsider Loki.” This distinguishes the giant of Gylfaginning from Loki, who is counted among the Æsir and therefor is an “insider,” while the other giant is an “outsider.” In Gesta Danorum, Útgarða-Loki could be interpreted be a Loki post-binding, who has been cast out from Asgard and thus rendered outsider or Útgarða.
If this is indeed Loki, it is important because this tale describes him receiving worship in the form of devotion, offerings, and prayers. The king Gorm is depicted making offerings and praying to Útgarða-Loki to smooth a disastrous passage by sea, and this succeeds. When the character of Thorkill brings him news of Útgarða-Loki and the chin hair he plucked from the giant’s chin, Útgarða-Loki is referred to as the king’s “own god” for whom he was “zealous” in his worship.
Gesta Danorum is generally considered as depicting, to some degree, Scandinavian history, and in particular the history of Denmark. Given that archaeological artifacts potentially pointing to the worship of Loki have predominantly been found in Denmark and southern Norway, this is notable. These items taken together could indicate that there was localized cultic worship centered around Loki in the pre-Christian era.
With the archaeological evidence and literary evidence taken together, what we have in favor of the worship of Loki is significant, if not definitive. On this front, Loki has confounded historians and scholars just as much as he has confounded them with regards to his basic nature and role in the Nordic pantheon and cosmology.
If I’ve taken anything from this portion of my studies, I find it unlikely that Loki received no worship in pagan Scandinavia, though perhaps it was limited and localized. What I do find likely is that Loki has always been and always will be an enigmatic figure, ever eluding definition. This seems just as much an aspect of Loki himself as his trickster aspect, his connection to fire, his gender-fluidity and pansexuality—it seems a vital core of Loki’s essence and being, and is certainly one of the things that draw so many people to his altar.
(1)Cerbing, M., Lend, K., & Niemi, A. R. (2016). Arkeologiska urgrävningar av båtgravnar och gravhögar, Bitterstad, Hadsel kommune, Nordland [PDF]. Trosmø: Norges Arktiske Universitet. p.p.72
(2)Cerbing. p.p. 86
(3)Madsen, Hans Jørgen (1990). “The god Loki from Snaptun”. Oldtidens Ansigt: Faces of the Past. Det kongelige Nordiske Oldskriftselskab.
(4) Olrik, A. (1908). Loke i Nyere Folkeoverlevering (917288899 720864290 A. Eli, Trans.). Danmarks Folkeminder. p.p 15.
Today’s self love reminder: Ancient Egyptian’s thought rolls were lovely and painstakingly drew and carved them.
In some ancient cultures being heavier was a symbol of power because it meant you could afford to eat.
Egypt was a little unusual in that regard. Being well fed was definitely a status symbol for higher class people. The pharaoh Akhenaten had a very large stomach and he flaunted it as a sign of the prosperity his reign would bring to Egypt. We know from physical remains that a large number of pharaohs were quite heavy.
That being said, the relative calm and predictable nature of the Nile’s flood meant that agriculture was fairly easy compared to what other cultures had to go through. We even have surviving art that shows farmers just chucking seeds behind them in a field.
Droughts and famine did happen and could be severe but they were the exception rather than the rule. Egyptians ate a diet mostly consisting of bread, beer, root vegetables, fish and fruit. They loved to drink and party and ate lots of red meat and waterfowl during festivals. They also made junk food sweetened with honey. Pharaohs ate lots of candy.
Because food and drink was plentiful compared to other societies you didn’t have to be upper class to eat well. We actually have art of heavyset peasants.
It’s fascinating because they would be so confused by our culture’s obsession with thinness. To them, rolls and plump stomachs were good things. There’s a reason that in hymns to Hapi He’s referred to as “fattening the land of Egypt” and that “every belly is made glad”.