winter ritual

‘Morning Coffee’

Even in modern au, Cullen is an early riser. Up before the sun, he sets out and acquires his fuel, his go-to, his blessed morning coffee. There’s nothing quite like the first cup of the day.

He’s at the door when the shop opens, always the first in line. The baristas know him by name and have his drink ready when he walks to the counter. There’s a quaint little park near the cafe he’ll often find himself strolling through just as the sun is rising. He takes a sip, watching as the first rays of light peek just over the horizon. It’s reliable, reassuring even. His morning ritual that he wouldn’t have any other way.

Left Hand of Darkness final thoughts: the fantastical thing that LeGuin posits in this book - like, the way way out SF concept - is the idea of a colonizer that listens to the people it colonizes and thereby becomes wiser, which – now, wait a second, youngsters, I know it’s important that we yell at other white people for wearing kimonos, but just try to imagine a world where the transmission of cultural imperialism is two-way, and the ethos of the colonizer is affected by the ethos of the colonized, and that at the price of destroying the “purity” or authenticity of a given culture something is ultimately gained by all parties involved.   The Vietnamese get baguettes, California gets Zen; India teaches us non-violence, we teach them hot yoga.

The book is willing to entertain this concept, but concludes that while appealing it is simply too far-fetched, or is at the very least vulnerable to the problem of asking the wrong question.  Genly thinks that the thing the Ekumen can get from Winter is the foretelling ritual, just like they got telepathy from Rocannon.   He’s being short-sightedly utilitarian in this – typical male behavior – because the foretelling is just the flashiest and most visible outgrowth of a larger technology that the Ekumen lacks. He sees a tank and he wants the tank, not the underlying knowledge that will allow him to make many tanks.  The tragedy of the book is that he gets so close – he almost recognizes the basic principle at play, identifying it as “mastery of the hunch”, but for once in the entire narrative he doesn’t take the opportunity to use a clunky gendered descriptor, which might have gotten him closer to the root concept.  He doesn’t say “feminine intuition”. He doesn’t recognize the principle in himself.  This novel is a lament.  This could have been an equal exchange, but he was too wrapped up in his masculine bullshit to make sweet metaphorical love to the integrated feminine.

The great gift that Winter has to offer the Ekumen isn’t augury.  It’s the secret formula for respect women juice.   Genly is finally able to recognize the integrated feminine in Esvehan (thereby dooming him/her to the death all subaltern collaborators earn for teaching life lessons to the great white vacationer), but when he looks at that sketched-out yin-and-yang Esvehan is the only one he sees.  It’s a picture of you, too, doofus!  As it is he misses out on his shot at integration, doesn’t even get it after Esvehan commits suicide by cop.  In the he end he sits there thinking lazy gendered thoughts about Esvehan’s kid as the Ekumen bears cluelessly down on Winter, unable to ask who the grail serves.   It’s a massive missed opportunity, as all these colonial interactions must be – our chauvinism, our pride, our power, and the certainty that we’re serving the greater good [an aside: do you find yourself beginning to miss neoliberalism?  At least they believed in something] prevent us from seeing the human being across the table.  If Genly really saw Esvehan for what he was in the tent that night he would have got his dick out and done him a solid.   As it is, Winter and the Ekumen are just going to have to roll down that mountain together, talking past each other, trying to stay ahead of an accelerating avalanche of mistakes.

The thing Le Guin wrestles with is this: even though we can’t allow ourselves to pretend that we’re Captain Picard, moving to expand our power not selfishly or venally but with infinite delicacy and tact and for the greater glory of god – Picardhood has to be the ultimate goal, right, because we’re doing this colonization thing, it’s done.  Integrating it all into a better humanity has to be the goal, even as we accidentally kill entire cultures by giving them televisions or heroin or free-market principles, because there’s no undoing it.  The ideal of a wise and just humanity is the only way to retroactively justify everything we’ve laid waste to.  And Le Guin, because she likes to see us suffer, is over there reminding us that even when we think we’re at our best and most enlightened and least Manifest Destiny-y we can still overlook things as simple as the fact that women are people, and that the ideas of manhood and womanhood are at play in all of us, and maybe that one tribe could have taught us how to work through that but we didn’t know the right question to ask, and anyway cheap labor seems like a more immediate plus so guess who’s gonna make us some shoes

Slavic gods described by Stanisław Jakubowski, part 12/20:

Marzanna / Morana / Morena

Marzanna is the goddess of the night, winter, death and pestilence. The old Slavs in Poland began their new year in March when the winter was escaping under the rays of the Sun and when the warm spring was coming. In a ritual of the turn of the seasons, a straw effigy of Marzanna is made in each village, clothed, and carried out to a river where she is put on fire and thrown to the river in a symbolic ‘drowning’ ceremony. If there’s no river flowing nearby, deep enough to let the effigy swim down with the flow, she is then burnt on a pile. The ritual shows elements of pre-Christian funerary customs - a symbolic annual death of Marzanna as goddess of winter. The ritual is performed with ceremonial songs including chants like: “We are carrying the death out of our village, bringing summer into it”. After that ritual a pine-branch decorated with colorful ribbons is brought to the village - that part of the ritual was called 'new summer’ or 'grove holiday’.

Source of image: Stanisław Jakubowski 'Bogowie Słowian’ ['Gods of the Slavs’], 1933. The text includes informations based on the same source.

Yule - Winter Solstice

↢ Back to Wheel of the Year

Yule is the first minor sabbat of the year, celebrated at Winter Solstice (which is on December 22nd in 2015), the longest night of the year. This day marks the return of the sun, as the days will start to get longer again from here on, and the rebirth of the Horned God, as well as the beginning reign of the Oak King, taking the Holly King’s place and bringing the light half of the year.

This is a day for introspection, peace, planning for the future and new beginnings and spending time with your family and friends. Parallels can be seen in Christmas, Hannukah and other festivals around this time of the year, all with the same motifs: light and joy. Giving gifts and decorating a Yule tree (I decorate mine with candied oranges and other handmade decor!) are popular activities, as is creating a Yule log and burning it in honour of the sun returning.

Other activities include caroling, wassailing, kissing under the mistletoe, making wreaths, storytelling, sending greetings, lighting a fire, as well as charity, donating food and clothing, volunteering or putting up bird feeders.

Edit: It’s that time of year again! I’ll be reposting this for the upcoming Sabbat but will probably be updating it as I go along. Not everything at the bottom is a link yet but the ones that are there should work. If you guys find any problems just let me know! 

Symbols: yule log, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, clove studded fruit, wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus

Altar decoration: mistletoe, holly, small Yule log, fairy lights, Yule/Christmas cards, a homemade wreath, presents wrapped in colorful paper

Incense: pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon

Herbs: ash, bay, bayberry, blessed thistle, chamomile, evergreen, frankincense, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, moss, oak, pine, pine cones, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, yew, laurel, yellow cedar

Food: roasted turkey, mulled wine, dried fruit, cranberries, eggnog, pork, beans, gingerbread, cookies, caraway cakes, roasted apples, nuts, hibiscus or ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail

Colours: red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange

Stones: rubies, bloodstone, garnet, emeralds, cat’s eye, diamonds

Animals: stag, wolf, hawk, squirrel, wren, robin, phoenix, troll

Deities: Brighid, Pandora, Tiamat, Isis, Demeter, Diana, Apollo, Balder, Ra, Saturn, Helios, Odin

Keep reading

frei-rancken  asked:

Hello again! I'm not sure if it's easy to answer what i'm about to ask but... Could yo either point m to bibliography or name a few pagan practices regarding small offerings or gestures "norse" peoples had. Talking about offering to elfs or stuff like that, or maybe things to do with the practising "witches" of the time. (i'm writing a thing and i'm in need of details from various cultures so i'm stuck between looking specifics between generalities, when authors focus on the later, usually. thxs

Komdu sæll og blessaður, vinir minn,
(Come happy and blessed, my friend,)

I must apologize for how long it has taken me to get back to you, and I do hope that you will be able to forgive me for the delayed response.

Magic and rituals are most definitely not my ‘specialty’ (I am no expert, and I do not know the intricacies of this subject like many others do), but I will do my best to help. I am much more familiar with medieval Icelandic society, law, and (more recently) gender studies (particularly the changing concepts of masculinity). That said, I am bound to miss vital resources for learning about these subjects in particular. If anyone else reading this knows of other helpful resources, please feel free to let them be known!

In regards to small offerings or gestures, I am going to focus on two types of spirits in particular: dísir and (land)vættir. (For a bit more detail about what those are exactly, check out this post). There are a few others that could be considered, but I think these would be what you would find the most interest in. Also, I know that you specifically requested álfar, but there is an unfortunate lack of information about them. In my opinion though (which is not much, since I have yet to carefully research this), I believe that the dísir and vættir are álfar, but simply taking on worldly roles rather than mythological ones. There is more complexity to it than that, of course, so take that for what it is worth. Regardless, they are all quite similar in nature. There is, however, much more information (in the sources that I am familiar with) about the other types.

I have actually already shared a few posts containing reading recommendations for dísir and vættir (as well as seiðr and völva). I will share those links with you in just a moment, but I will also be providing the information below (in a format more organized and convenient for you). Here, I am also expanding upon the previous list. Nonetheless, here are the past posts concerning this topic (or topics fairly similar):

  1. Víkingabók Database: Jól, Spirits, Magic, and Rituals. (Needs updating, and it will be sometime following this response).
  2. On Landvættir: An Exploration of Primary Source Examples and Suggestions for Further Reading.
  3. Details from Eiríks saga rauða about magic and magic rituals.
  4. A brief discussion about the term ‘seiðr’ in translation.

Otherwise, here is an updated and more convenient list for you to explore. It is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it should be more than enough to get you started. (For a list of the Sagas and Tales of Icelanders and where to find them, see this post).


Íslendingasögur (Sagas of Icelanders):

  • Bard’s Saga:
    • all of it 
  • Egil’s Saga:
    • chapter 44 (dísablót (sacrifice ‘ritual’ for the dísir (female ancestral spirits), usually around veturnætur (‘winter nights’, a ‘ritual’ period associated with dísir, Freyr, and other spirits)))
    • chapter 58 (landvættir (land-spirits))
  • Erik the Red’s Saga:
    • chapter 4 (völva (seeress), seiðr (magic), varðlokkur (ward songs))
  • Gisli Surrson’s Saga:
    • chapters 14, 15, and 17 (ghosts and veturnætur)
  • Killer-Glum’s Saga:
    • chapter 6 (dísir, veturnætur)
  • Njal’s Saga:
    • chapter 96 (dísir)
    • chapters 101-102 (galdr (magic like seiðr, but different)
  • The Saga of the People of Eyri:
    • chapters 4, 50-55 (rituals and ghosts)

  • The Saga of the People of Laxardal:
    • chapters 35-37 (seiðr)

Íslendingaþættur (Tales of Icelanders):

  • The Tale of Thidrandi and Thorhall:
    • all (dísir)
  • The Tale of Thorvald the Far-Travelled:
    • chapter 3 (landvættir)

Landnámabók (Icelandic Book of Settlements):

  • Bjorn Gnupsson (Hafr-Bjorn):
    • chapter 329 of Sturlubók (Landvættir)
  • Olvir Eysteinsson:
    • chapter 330 of Sturlubók (Landvættir)
  • Thorstein Red-Nose (son of Hrolf Red-Beard):
    • chapter 329 of Sturlubók (Landvættir)

Heimskringla (I, II, III) (A History of the Kings of Norway):

  • The Saga of Harald Fair-hair:
    • chapter 36 (seiðr)
  • The Saga of Olaf Tryggvason:
    • chapter 33 (Landvættir)
    • chapter 62-63 (seiðr)
  • Ynglinga saga:
    • chapters 4, 7, 13, 14, and 22 (seiðr)
    • chapter 29 (dísablót)

A Few Secondary Sources:

I truly hope that this list proves to be helpful for you. As I have said, it is most definitely not a complete list. In fact, many of the sources above may not be worth you buying if for this purpose alone (especially since some of the sagas only refer to your concerns for brief moments). I highly recommend looking at the free versions that are available for each resource if that is the case. If you are to put any money into this research, I recommend the secondary sources that I have listed.

If there is anything else you may need, feel free to ask. I know that it took my a bit of time to respond, but I will be more than happy to continue helping you out. I am nearing summer, so I will have a relatively more open schedule for the next couple months.

Með vinsemd og virðingu,
(With friendliness and respect,)

Food Magic: Lemons

In celebration of the publication of my very first book the next few weeks will be dedicated to food magic. While I did cover the basics of what it is, I feel that my favorite branch of witchcraft ought to be covered more thoroughly.

So today I am going to cover one of the staples of your Food Magic Pantry! The Lemon. 

While it is unclear exactly where the lemon started off it’s historic life it is believed to be somewhere around Assam (northeast India). However there is some pretty convincing arguments that it was native to China as well. 

The word Lemon is actually a conjugation for the word for Lime. It should be noted that in any place where lemon is used (magical or otherwise) lime is also acceptable. 

The lemon gained popularity around the world for it’s ability to fend of scurvy, to act as a short term preservative, and as a cleaner. 

Magical Properties: 
Energy Type: Projective
Elemental Correlation: Water (primary) Earth (Secondary) 
Deities: Oshun (African Goddess of Sweet Waters and love. She belongs to the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin). The lemon is also sacred to any Solar Deity
Associations:  Sun, Cleansing, Happiness, Spring, Digestion, Secrets (happy ones), Hope, and Love

Magical Uses
Hundreds. No, seriously there are hundreds of uses for the lemon, which is what gives it a place in my magical pantry staples. Below are just my top favorites. 

-Use Lemon Juice and a paint brush to write invisible sigils or symbols on surfaces around your house (Note that Lemon juice does not stain walls, but using too much on a painted surface can cause it to crack and peel) 
-A little lemon juice in hot water can aid in digestion and fend off colds in the winter. 
-A lemon ritual bath is cleansing and uplifting. Simply cut six lemons in half and place them in water. Completely submerge yourself for ten-thirty seconds. 
-Lemon Cookies with a heart or other symbol of love make for a very simple love spell.