Spiritual Growth

I was first introduced to the idea of Czernobog and Belobog from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I was immediately enthralled. I, personally, related them to the similarly dualistic duo of Balder and Hod, both of whom there is limited and conflicting information remaining from ancestral times but for whom new deities can grow from our modern reflection of ancient times.

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My children, in wanting to learn more about their Slavic spirituality and being enthralled with deities themselves, took quickly to the idea of Czernobog and Belobog, who would have been worshiped (if they were deities in that time period) in the times of their paternal ancestors in what is now modern-day Poland.

Day_and_Night_(Belobog_and_Chernobog)_--_Maxim_Sukharev

After reading Gaiman’s novel, and thinking about the duality, but letting go of the Christian mindset of good and evil, but rather thinking of a more natural and more primitive mindset of dark and light (literal dark and light) the way that I do with Balder and Hod, I felt a slightly stronger connection to them.

Czernobog is darkness in the way the winter nights are long and cold and dark- so very dark- without artificial light to illuminate our modern way of life. Belobog is light in the summer, on days when the sun is up longer than it is down and for the one special night when it never actually sets. Human activity is more productive in the light because there is more time to see and when we see, we can actually do. Czernobog is about survival against the narural cycle and Belobog is about thriving during the natural cycle.

crnobog-belobog

For quite a while, the Littles have gone to bed with a final prayer- actually, three strung together- rather than a guided meditation. It begins with a natural world blessing, a sleeping time blessing, and then a prayer of guidance and keeping to their respective deities.

For Witchlette, it has always been Skadi and Idunn. She has never wavered from her devotion to her two goddesses. Skadi’s presence is stronger in the winter and Idunn is stronger in the summer, but both are always around.

For Witchling, he took a strong liking to Ulr from the get go. The final deitic prayer has a place for two gods. Witchling wants to strike different from his sister and will not pray to either Skadi or Idunn. For a while, he filled both places with Ulr. Then, Odin in one and Ulr in the other. Then Heimdal and Ulr. For the last few months, he chose Hod.

“If the god of darkness is with me while I sleep, then the dark can’t hurt me because the dark is protecting me.”

He is way too profound for a 4 year old.

Last night, after we did our prayers, he noted that Hod doesn’t feel right anymore. He wants to try another god. Being only 4, I think everyone understands that he is figuring out the world and neither of my kids will take an actual oath to a deity until they are actually old enough to understand what that entails. 8th grade Confirmation in the Catholic church is far too young and meaningless to too may who go through it, myself included, that I am sure it is starting to rub Yaweh is Jesus the wrong way that so many are giving an oath to them when they don’t really want to, but someone somewhere made a rule a long time ago which decided the year before high school is a good time for all children to do so all at once… but I digress.

“Who do you want to pray to”

“Can you tell me all the gods again? But not <sister>’s gods. I don’t want to pray to them. But can you tell me all the other ones?”

I start to list off ten: Odin, Frigg, Thor, Sif, Heimdal, Tyr, Freyr, Freya, Njord, Loki

“You didn’t say Ulr”

“I only named 10”

“How many are there?”

“More than 10”

“Say the 10 again, but this time say Ulr”

“Ok…Ulr, Odin, Frigg, Thor, Sif, Heimdal, Tyr, Freyr, Njord, and Loki”

“You didn’t say Hod”

“I also didn’t say his brother Balder, or Nana, Forsetti, Freya, Kavasi…”

“That’s too many. … Oh! What about in anesthesia? The dark god…but not him. The light god at the end.” (Our dog recently had surgery, so he said anesthesia instead of Fantasia 🙂 )

“Belobog?”

“Yeah. Do my prayers again, but do Belobog instead of Hod.”

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray to Ulr my form to keep

Belobog hold me through the night

And wake me with the morning light

“Yeah….I like that one the best. Thanks Mom”

He is branching out to his own pantheon based on his own experiences and I couldn’t be prouder.

I will write later, at some point, how our own head-canon and our belief in gods is what makes them gods (a theme Gaiman touches on very well in American Gods).

Beltane part 2

Over the last week I made crochet curlies for us to dance and wave when we did our Fae dance break.

One for each of us, though eventually the Littles each got two.

Well, I was so busy gathering Magickal essentials I straight up forgot. Forgot I even made them!

Super proud of myself, instead of self-hating, I said oh well, next year. Thought I was disappointed I let it go.

Leave it to Witchlette, the amazing human she is. Before getting ready for bed, she handed each of us one and we did a Fae dance party in the hallway. We got to use my curlies on Beltane to dance with the Fae. Yay!!!!

Beltane Success

This afternoon, the Littles and I held our first *real* ritual for a Sabbat. Usually, we hold them like a Seder, doing a blessing with a meal and not much more. Perhaps a craft, but nothing specific.

I really wanted to change that. And in order to make something change, something which I have control over, I have to put forth the energy and effort to make that change a reality.

Enter Beltane 2020, a roaring success!

We gathered our materials: two beverage cartons with cutouts for feathered friends, bird seed, sturdy sticks to make roosting poles, my five Elemental candle jars, bells for the Littles to ring as we called in each Element, and all three of our Wands, with which to cast our Circle.

After finding Frigg, then Frija, and Thor, and trying to find myself as a “Heathen”, I found myself giving up much of the Magick practice that I had done for so long. This came to a head when a leader in the Heathen community made a comment within earshot of me, but which I likely wasn’t meant to hear, that my Heathen rituals were not at all Heathen. I wasn’t Heathen enough. Spiral sadness questioning myself and my roots and what I’m doing and why I’m not enough.

This ritual, however, proves without a shadow of a doubt that I am more than enough. I am an overflowing cup of Magick. I combined my Heathen glamour with a traditional quarter call and a Circle casting. Putting it all together felt amazing and I am so glad I am coming back into my own power.

Fuck that guy. I’m awesome.

Anyway, on to the ritual!

I cut out the holes in our feeders while the Littles found sticks.

We assembled the feeders and brought them outside empty.

We set up our ritual space, with a jar candle holder in each of the quarters in half the yard. Standing in the middle of the yard, Witchling said the lines for Fire, Witchlette for Ice, and I spoke for Mist. We then walked around to each candle and welcomed the elements. The kids rang their bells as I lit each candle. We then raised our wands and walked around the Circle 3 times. We spoke about Beltane.

We poured seed into the feeders and hung them. Witchlette spoke a blessing from the heart at each feeder.

We each took a handful of seeds as an offering to the Fae. We danced with the Fae and the Elements. Then we closed the Circle and bid farewell to the Elements, and condensed the mist. After putting away all of our ritual tools, Witchlette and Witchling offered me a gift of gem stones, to thank  me for giving them such a great ritual. Be still my heart.

 

My ritual write up is below, for anyone who would like to use in in light and love.

 

Beltane

Fire:

Heat from the south

Ice:

Cold from the north

Fire:

Heat from the south

Ice:

Cold from the north

Fire:

Heat from the south

Ice:

Cold from the North

Mist:

Fire melts the ice. The water mixes with the heat to make steam. The ice cools the steam to make mist. The mist fills the gap between fire and ice, there there was nothing. Mist of the world from where all life springs.

Fire, ice, mist together:

We are hidden now in the mist, no longer in this world yet not wholly in the otherworld. We walk the space between, in the mist, blessed by fire and ice.

North:

We call upon the Guardians of the North, the heart of the land. Bless us with your patience and ground us in this moment. Hail and welcome Spirits if Earth.

East:

We call upon the Guardians of the East, the wisdom of the wind. Bless us with your open communication, that we may be present to hear your message. Hail and welcome Spirits of Air.

South:

We call upon the Guardians of the South, the purifying flame. Bless us with your passion, balancing that we go after our dreams but to not become so consumed we lose ourselves. Hail and welcome Spirits of Fire.

West:

We call upon the Guardians of the West, the cleansing droplets. Bless us with your refreshing waves and help us to feel and heal our gamut of emotions. Hail and welcome Spirits of Water.

Song Earth my Body

I cast this Circle all around

Consecrating sacred ground

Ground below and sky above

Bless us now with light and love

Water Sprite and Fire Griffin

As without so within

We say it again times 3

As we will it so mote it be.

Beltane is the halfway point between spring and summer. It is a celebration of fire, of the sun. We continue to get more and more light. The fields and forests are growing more and more alive. Crops are growing bigger and farm animals are growing fatter.

We give thanks to Sunna and Dagr, for the growing light and longer days. For the warmth of the sun and all we get from it. Without the sun, we would not have the earth we have. Hail Sunna, Hail Dagr, Hail Sun.

We give thanks to Mani and Nott, for the cooling darkness and break from the heat. We give thanks for the beauty of the night and the peace of the dark, to allow us to always have a balance.

We hear the growing birdsong and welcome the fledglings learning to fly, the adult birds continuing the cycle.

(Hang feeders)

We honor and welcome the Fae.

(Dancing)

West:

Thank you Water for joining us today. May we continue to embrace all of our emotions. Hail and farewell.

South:

Thank you Fire for joining us today. May we continue to have balance in all we do. Hail and farewell.

East:

Thank you Air for joining us today. May we continue to listen to your messages, whether sent on wind or wing. Hail and farewell.

North:

Thank you Earth for joining us today. May we continue to be grounded and present in all we do. Hail and welcome Spirits if Earth.

Song May the Circle be Open

Mist:

As the mist condenses, we see the land from flesh, the mountains from bone, the rivers from blood, and the stones from teeth. As the mist recedes, we are harkened back to the garden in the middle of Yggdrasil. When the mist evaporates, we are once again fully in our world and no longer between worlds.

Fire: The fire returns to Muspelheim

Ice: The ice returns to Niflheim

The Intersection of Pop-Culture Paganism and Pagan Parenting

Spoiler alert: The Venn Diagram is almost a complete circle.

Media is everywhere and influences everything we do. Children are little sponges and soak up everything. Just watch a parent accidentally slip and say a swear word before their 2 year old. Now that word is in the 2 yo’s vocabulary (at least for a short while).

If we think about our own adult intake of media, we know our favorite characters and story lines influence our everyday actions. Life influences art influences life influences art…

It is the same for children. My great grandparents had basic character-less toys. My parents had those as well, but also some characters. By the time we get to Gen X, Xennials, and Millennials, almost all toys are tied to a movie and/or film. We watch a movie with our doll whom stars in the movie. I clearly remember having the Care Bears movie in the background while playing with my Care Bears city on the floor. I mimicked the movie, then went off on a tangent adventure. And adventures beyond.

As media continues to get more and more accessible- films were originally only seen in theaters, but now everyone has some kind of screen within their homes to take in media. Now, with the continued rise of streaming media and most folks in urban and suburban America having immediate access to a variety of media platforms, the blend between our media intake and our personal perspective is becoming more and more blurry.

When media is based on a historical event, we see art being inspired by life. When we see people connecting with a character or a setting or a theme, we see life being inspired by art.

How often were statues and paintings in the Renaissance made modeled after actual people or events. And then the more fantastical paintings influence interior and fashion design.

When Witchlette was three, we were listening to Pagan music and she made a realization that her favorite show could align with the elements: there are 4 Ninja Turtles, plus Splinter as Spirit, makes a whole Circle.

turtles

Donny easily takes on Air as Raph easily takes on Fire. Mikey is Water, as he is emotional and playful. Leo is Earth, grounded and serious.

Witchling recently brought new pilgrims with him to my altar to do some divination with him. He decided his favorite characters needed to get to know the Elements and the Gods as well.

star wars

Purposefully facing in, as good pilgrims should.

Finally, Disney has provided my Pagan kids with representation. Thank you, Frozen!

Frozen (1) includes a May Pole celebration before the adventure starts. Coronation day is also done on Beltane!

may pole

In Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, we see Thor’s goats, including a classic representation of a Julbock and two goat carvings guarding the holiday bell.

frozen goatsfrozen yul block

In Frozen 2, things really started to take off! We have Elemental spirits and representations that impact the lives of others and need to have balance and respect, with a bit of reverence as well.

frozen elementalsfrozen elementals 2frozen 1

By the end of the movie, we have the four Elements uniting with a 5th Element, Spirit.

When we saw this movie in the theaters, Witchlette was excited to share with her friends that *this* is her religion- Elements and Nature and Magick. Fun fact- Frozen is based on “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. Hans Christian Andersen based The Snow Queen off the Nordic goddess Skadi. Witchlette worshiped Skadi before she saw Frozen 1.

Skadi - Smite by Sciamano240 on DeviantArt

(And Elsa’s mom is named Idunn, the other goddess Witchlette closely works with!)

Monthly goals?

Hey! I made another post before the end of April! Woot!

My last post, about coming back to my spiritual practice, was in late February. My next post, about wanting to do the thing but not actually, yet, doing the thing, was in early March.

Good news: I’ve been so busy doing life that I haven’t stopped to make time to share my progress on doing the thing!

So, I took a step back from CotE. I still love and appreciate all of the people there, and it is with gratitude that I reflect on my regular time with them. I needed to not have FOMO when it came to my children. Better to have FOMO on other things. Adult relationships will always be there. Even if the previous people have gone, new people will come. But childhood only happens once. Turns out, these deep adult relationships only happen once as well. And to know that through this amazing organization I have found friends who love me enough to know why I step away sometimes and are patient with me in-between, to say that I am blessed in an understatement.

When I took a step back from CotE, it seemed I took a step back from all spiritual practice. I was in deep mourning for M, my trusted companion and my definite familiar. I wasn’t able to regularly practice because she wasn’t there. Where she had been for so many years was not negative space. The emptiness was tangible and it took away all focus and all drive and desire. Once I realized this, I was able to work through it and begin slowly practicing again.

We said goodbye to M in April of last year. We brought home S in January of this year. One of those dear, patient people named above assisted me in doing a FaceTime blessing of S. Since that time, she has started gently coming into my sacred space. She doesn’t have that same grounding energy that M a had and, if I’m completely honest, I don’t expect her to. I don’t expect to ever replace M. I don’t expect to ever have that level of familiar again. It’s scary to say, but it’s true. I was beyond lucky to have the level of spiritual connection that I had with M. She was my grounding source through some really, really difficult times. She was my protector and companion through midnight nursing sessions. She was my guarding through beginning relationships with deities I had never worked with before. She literally had my back, sitting at my 6 facing out. Untrained. She just…knew what to do.

E is still going strong as well, just as aloof as always, but happy with a packmate

Two Saturdays ago, I informed the Littles I would be doing Magick and they were beyond welcome to join if they pleased. So they did. We opened a Circle and sang together. We said my expansion of Brunhilde’s Prayer

Hail Day, Hail sons of Day

Hail Night and her daughter

Gaze on my gently standing here

And grant me your blessing on my battles

Hail Asir, Asynjur, Vanir

Hail to the all-giving Earth

Give me wisdom, intelligent speech, and healing hands life-long

Hail to the local wights and my ancestors

Hail to the gods and goddesses of my folk

Give to me strength, courage, health, and happiness

For all the days that I live

Before calling in  Thor and Frija, I asked if the Littles would like to bring in their deities as well. Before I knew it, all of the totems from all around the house were sitting on my altar. We called in Thor and Frija with their specific candles and prayers then we blessed and communed with everyone.

The kids and I pulled some Runes. It should be noted that up to this point, Witchlette was struggling some with the bits of news about COVID that she does pick up. She pulled Runes asking what the end result of the virus will be. Her reading: Laguz- life. She has been much better since this reading.

We ended our Magick time by thanking everyone who came and closing our quarters, then we sang again. This time with the kids reminded me of the fond memories I have with my mom at church. None of them have anything to do with Yahweh or J-man; not directly anyway. They are all she and I singing together. They are all based in music.

I will be doing more Magick time with my kiddos at home. Witchlette likes it a lot, especially because she has a lot of say. For Witchling, he not only has a say, but he also can come and go as he pleases. And we will incorporate more music. We can do as we please, because we are doing it for no one but ourselves.

Defying mom-law

Mom-law, like martial law, but mother to child(ren) rather than tyrant to civilians.

So many, too many, mom blog posts focus on what “what I regret doing today as a mother”.

I’ve had my fair share of those moments this summer. Witchling has his own world view and very strong opinions about how to do things. He’s gonna change the world.

But first, he has to help empty the dishwasher.

Not gonna lie, he and I struggled a bit this morning but I’m super proud of myself for how I handled it.

Plastic kid dishes and bowls are out and stacked by Witchlette. Witchling is on utensil duty. He takes out all the tablespoons, puts them away and then comes back for all the teaspoons, followed by forks and knives. A system he devised last week after becoming overwhelmed with a handful of mixed utensils he couldn’t sort on his own. Witchlette gloated she could go faster than him, and grabbed a handful of mixed utensils.

He carfully grabbed teaspoons. She put her first load away, as did he. She grabbed another mixed handful, and there wasn’t many left at this point, so he followed suit. She put her load away and he balked.

The bottom of the dishwasher was done, and I started unloading the glasses, Witchlette started unloading plastic kids cups. Witchling started screaming.

He screamed until he was red. I called him over and he ran away from me, hands still full of utensils. Still screaming. Twice around the table, screaming the whole while. I had him for a moment, but he broke off. Got him again and scooped him up. Together we walked over to the drawer.

Deep breath. Ready?

I took the utensils from him and handed them to him one by one. Chore done, big hug.

I put him down and he immediately ran away for the bathroom. Witchlette and I finished the cooking utensils basket. I dismissed her with thanks, and turned to this pan in the sink from breakfast.

Witchling returned, face still splotchy but no longer beat red. He enveloped me in a hug. I sank to the floor and just held him.

I’ve got you kid.

I know you wanted to do it on your own, your own way. But sometimes, we need help. And one of the bravest things you can do is ask for, and accept, help.

Modern witch’s momming life

Lammas/Lughnasadh

It’s the beginning of August, the winding home stretch of summer. It’s time to evaluate our summer bucket list and see what specifically we haven’t done and what we really want to do.

It’s the beginning of back to school preparation. Kids have grown taller and stronger and need bigger clothes to fit new frames. New school supplies have been acquired.

New-again interests continue to pique, as both Witchlette and Witchling watch/play/speak nothing but Pokémon. This is something Witchlette liked as a toddler, but fell out of favor with for a while. Now she’s back on the wagon in a big way. And she’s bringing Witchling for a ride, though he very much has his hands on at least half of the reigns.

Witchling still relies on meditation to help himself drift off to sleep. We often do “Rainbow” chakra meditations. He also enjoys going on visualization trips. Those trips started to incorporate visiting and bonding with some of his favorite Pokémon in the wild. He has shifted back to Rainbow meditation, but he carries his Pokémon with him.

Red light- ground like Diglett

Orange light- feel your emotions- happy like Chancey, grumpy like Snubble, excited like Mr. Mime, sad like Cubone

Yellow light- embrace your intuition and take hold of the total of your personal power like Drowsy and Hypno.

Green light- feel all the love from your family and friends float back and forth from you and to you on a Lovedisk (his insistence that it be a Lovedisk)

Light blue light- communicate your thoughts, wants and needs, honestly and openly, through words or song like Jigglypuff

Dark blue light- feel your third eye open, feel your connection to the other world and connect to Magick like Abra, Kadabra, and Alacazam

Purple light- feel your connection to the Divine, the whole of the Universe, as Mew is interconnected with the whole of the Universe.

So…this is what happiness looks like. Taking something you hold dear, mixing it with the interest of your beloved, and making something all your own.

The next evolution in SPP

Previous readings: SPP and SPP Revisited.

Witchlette has been functioning with biological terms for body parts for both males and females. She has been working with the metaphor for human reproduction that a dad has a seed that he gives to a mom, which she puts into her egg.

We have talked about how some families that have two dads use an egg from someone else and one of their own seeds. Likewise, families with two moms use a seed from someone else and one of their own eggs. Sometimes a mom doesn’t have eggs of her own and uses another woman’s egg. Same goes with a dad and his seed.

“But how does it work?”

It’s not a sunflower seed and a chicken egg. Those are two terms used to describe microscopic cells that come together to make new life. They get put together and the two microscopic cells divide into two cells. Those each divide into four. Each of those divides and now there’s 8. And so on. They divide, and grow, and specialize to make all of our body parts and body systems.

“How do they get together? How does it work?”

I put it off as long as I could. I gave you biology, but I’m not ready for mechanics. I don’t know if you’re actually ready for mechanics yet.

The next day, from seemingly out of no where, “I’m so glad I’m your daughter. I love you so much Mommy…Can you please teach me how the egg and seed work?”

I found a 3d animation, that seems like something out of my own high school health class.

“Fertilization is human reproduction through sexual intercourse”.

No questions about what is sexual intercourse. Ok.

Sperm swim across the screen.

So, those are the seeds. The biological word for them is sperm. The metaphor is seed.

“The sperm swim through the cervix…”

“So, they go in the belly button?”

That’s not the belly button.

“Oh. Ok.”

“Here a large number of the sperm die.”

“Why do they die?”

Because only one will get to the egg, and that one seed, I mean sperm, and one egg make one baby.

That’s the egg

“That’s not an egg…”

Most people, even scientists call it an egg. Biology books will also call it an ovum. Ovum is the true scientific name.

“The tightly wrapped genetic material from the sperm unravels and prepares to pair up with the genetic material from the egg”

“Wow! That’s DNA?! So that’s how it works!”

Biology for the win.

I’ve still got at least two years before we have the discussion of mechanics.

Stronger than the Donut

It’s teacher appreciation week and my schools PTA has arranged for teachers to get goodies one day each week.

Today was donuts and I purposely did not partake.

It’s strange when I need to consider my infertility while I have two beautiful, healthy, active, kind, happy kids. My PCOS not only makes ovulation a thing that I don’t experience, but it also screws with my blood sugar. The blood sugar issues seem to be the main cause of my anovulation, as my endocrinologist wanted me to try diet changes to see if that kick started ovulation. It didn’t alone, but was necessary to continue for the modern medicine to work, which led to Witchlette.

After having Witchlette, I decided I needed to be mindful of what I ate, but not as strict as I was while trying to get pregnant.

After having Witchling, I decided to throw caution to the wind. Two hands, two kids. Yolo. Eat the cake.

Over the past few months, I have struggled more with my anxiety. I’ve struggled more with my self-esteem.

One of my self image issues has been my weight. Specifically, I carry all of my weight in my front. One of my students has made comments about my looking pregnant. Multiple times. A lot of the issue is her speaking negatively about others and not realizing when others speak that way about her she doesn’t like it. PCOS carries a lot of weight issues.

There are a lot of symptoms PCOS can present with. I don’t have all of them, but I do have quite a few.

Aside from hair issues, weight issues, actual cysts rupturing, anovulation, and blood sugar issues, anxiety and depression are a symptom of PCOS.

Sunday, after confessing to friends that I’m considering shape wear to appear trimmer, because I’m not an exerciser and YOLO-cake, I journaled about how wrong that felt. How awful it felt forming in my mind and leaving my lips. Sunday night I decided on baby steps of no dessert Sunday-Thursday.

By Tuesday morning, I was done craving sugar.

Wednesday morning, I was stronger than the donut.

YOLO-Health and Happiness (And the occasional slice of cake)

Bedtime affirmations

Witchling has been having a rough time going to sleep after taking long naps in bed. He also has an incredibly vivid imagination that allows him to have bad dreams while he’s wide awake.

Tonight, after his third time out of bed (I was in the shower for the first two), he shared with me that he had bad dreams while laying in bed. One was about a spider, the creature, not the hero, who tied him up in a web. The other was about an evil witch that tried to put a spell on him. A third was a skeleton that attacked him while he was in the stars.

Next time you have a bad dream, regain control. Big deep breath.

My mama’s a Witch, and so am I

My mama does Magick and so do I

I have the power within me

I have all the Magick I need

This is, I think, my Craft at the core. I use it in the most practical sense, and I feel it around me regularly. As often as I can in our modern going going existence. Stop and smell the roses, stop and feel the Divine.