Day 341: Hagal’s Aett, Elhaz

As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes

ELHAZ
Pronunciation:  “EL-hazh”
Meaning:  Elk
Supporting Meanings:  Protection, linking divine and natural worlds

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the Anglo-Saxon rune poem is the only one to include this rune, and it does so by aligning it with a plant, “Eolh-secg” which some translate as elk sedge, eelgrass, or holy place edge.  This grass (or the edge of a holy place” is found mostly in fens and grows in water, but it causes stinging wounds to any brave soul who tries to hold on to it.  Whether this is protective or harmful, I suppose, depends upon your perspective:  are you using the grass as a defensive shield, or are you trying to work your way through it?

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson describes elhaz as a sign of protection, calling to mind the horned elk that feeds upon the Worldtree.  It could also stand for the link between man and his spirit guide.  He says that its protection comes from one’s relationship with his or her own personal divinity.  Peterson finds elements of hunt magic in the rune.  Osborn and Longland point out the danger of eelgrass, but note that knowledge of one’s environment would allow you to operate safely and ward off danger.  Freya Aswynn belives that its use as a termination in language makes it primarily magical in function.  For her, this rune can be upright or upside down and can be feminine and masculine:  therefore, when combined together in a bindrune, they can represent marriage.  She does, however, also agree that the rune is a force for connection and protection.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  I like to think of the rune as protective, defensive antlers.  But it also looks like a man with his arms raised to the sky in worship and channeling.  It’s protection comes from increased connection with the Gods.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In a reading, this rune almost certainly means protection, possibly by means of drawing on natural powers or allowing suppressed aspects of personality to operate.  It indicates a beneficent new influence, willing sacrifice, or an exchange of lesser for greater good.  It can be dangerous to the untrained, and can be used to turn back an attack so that it wounds the attacker.  Combined with other runes in bind runes, it invokes their force for protection.  The Elk rune is used to protect or hallow in situations where Wiccans would use the pentagram.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Elhaz:  To raise elhaz energy, ground and center while standing, reaching deeply for power.  When you have a strong sense of the energy, slowly stand with hands at your sides and draw the power upward.  As it fills you, lift your arms, extend them at an angle, and project the energy out through the crown of your head and the tips of your fingers in offering, or bring your arms downward again so that the energy forms a protective sphere.  As you do this, meditate on your guardian spirit.  Protection is intensified by drawn the rune with a fingernail on your forehead, chest, or the palms of your hands.

Day 340: Hagal’s Aett, Perthro

As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

PERTHRO
Pronunciation:  “PER-thro”
Meaning:  Lot, Cup, Game Piece
Supporting Meanings:  Good-natured cheer, camraderie, high stakes, fate, divination

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, perthro is an odd rune since the ‘p’ letter is pretty rare.  In the Younger Futhark, berkano serves for both ‘b’ and ‘p’ sounds, and the ‘p’ rarely appears in Old Norse, and very few instances of the letter are found in the Anglo-Saxon poems.  The name comes from old Germanic, and it is interpreted as a device for casting lots.  This looks oddly specific, but playing at dice was serious business among the German tribes:  when players had lost all else, they would even gamble with their freedom.  The Anglo-Saxon rune poem gives this sign the name “Peorth” and translates it as a chess or a gaming piece, a thing that causes laughter and brings comrades together in happiness.  The games provide friendly and intellectual combat, and is a pursuit of peace.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson finds perthro to be a rune of fate’s mysteries; it governs the laws of cause and effect and of synchronicity.  It is at one the well and the cup in which runes are tossed, so it is the power of becoming, consistency and change.  Gundarsson specifically describes it as a rune of divination, and sees it as “the embodiment of the self-awareness of the cosmos”.  Frey Aswynn agrees, but also sees perthro as a rune of the Womb of Space and as a repository of ancestral memory of the collective unconscious.  Osborn and Longland, however, translate it as “tune” and think it indicates happiness and recreation.  Peterson thinks it means something unknown; a mystery that will be revealed in due time.  Paxon notes that it is definitely a rune whose ambiguity is a source of frustration and an opportunity:  since historical evidence is thin, one must seek illumination in the insights of more contemporary writers and from one’s own intuition.  She says that it can be interpreted as the rune of the Runes themselves, the womb into which Yggdrasil drops its berries to stimulate the birth of destiny.  It is the cauldron of transformation.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  There are elements of divination and fate here, but with a connotation of cheer.  Its revelations may involve fate, but this isn’t necessarily set in stone.  There are ways to twist an outcome around:  you can go into fate’s battle laughing.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In a reading, perthro is an omen that one should explore the implications of fate’s operations.  It could mean that forces set in motion are working themselves out, or than an unexpected factor will intervene.  Psychologically, it could involve needing to deal with uncertainty or taking risks.  In personal development, it may refer to the opportunities in which one was “fated” at birth.  It can also mean the disclosure of something previously hidden, and Gundarsson believes it can be used to speed up the actions of fate.  Upended, perthro is useful in bindrunes to “pour out” other runes into manifestation; upright, to contain them.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Perthro:  To experience perthro, you must work with concepts of (re)birth, fate and chance.  Playing any game involving dice casting prepares the mind to deal with concepts of change and chance.  Perthro can also be accessed by analyzing one’s own inheritance:  what physical traits have you gotten through your ancestors?  What where the personalities of your family?  What do you remember from your childhood?  What have these experiences and traits ‘locked’ into place for you, and how can you challenge them?

Day 339: Hagal’s Aett, Eihwaz

As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

EIHWAZ
Pronunciation:  “AY-wahz”
Meaning:  Yew Tree
Supporting Meanings:  Protection, eternal life, domestic warmth, martial protection, linking opposites, carrying energy

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, eihwaz means ‘yew’ in all three of the rune poems.  In the Anglo-Saxon verses, the tree’s rough bark and deep roots are emphasized, which gives yew the connotation of protection.  Additionally, this tree is noted to burn well, which gives joy to the home.  Therefore, yew gains an overall connotation of a warm, domestic protection.  The Norse poem, however, focuses on the fact that yew is “the greenest of trees in winter’ and that it sputters when it burns; together, these qualities seem to give it a connotation of life in spite of all obstacles.  The Icelandic poem diverts widely from either of these and associates yew with weaponry, calling it a “bent bow” and “brittle iron” and the giant of the arrow.  This sort of aligns it with the protection noted in the Anglo-Saxon verse, but gives it a far more martial protection.

Modern Meanings:  Thorsson associates eihwaz with Yggdrasil, saying that another name for yew is “needle-ash”, which is the sort of ash tree described in the Eddas.  He also notes that the yew, like Yggdrasil, is an evergreen and among the longest-lived of the European trees.  In Europe, this has made yew a symbol of eternal life and was planted in graveyards (which, perversely, has also made it a symbol of death).  However, Thorsson prefers to think of eihwaz/Yggdrasil as linking opposing forces and creating pathways between the worlds.  Aswynn has a similar interpretation, linking eihwaz and Yggdrasil with the human spine, the conduit of Kundalini’s fire, and sees it as a link between worlds.  Gundarsson also interprets it as linking opposites and carrying energy between them, noting that the yew can act as a poison which can either kill or facilitate an initiation (birth).  Osborn and Longland focus on the paradox between yew’s rough exterior and inner fire, which continues by noting that although the tree is a life-filled evergreen, it is poisonous, and its wood can make a bow that protects or kills.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Eihwaz is a bridging rune, pulling together opposites and paradoxes, and brings energy between them.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Eihwaz can be a rune of paradox or the connections between opposites.  It might indicate spiritual exploration, or an apparently difficult situation that can turn to an advantage.  It notes a need to look at the connections between things, and the root of any matter.  Willis notes that it can mean a situation that looks bad on its surface, but can turn favorable.  Aswynn points out Eihwaz’s usefulness as a “backbone” for bindrunes.  It can be used in healing back problems.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Eihwaz:  Since eihwaz is associated with the yew tree and of connecting opposites, a nice practice to try with it is to effectively ground and center next to a tree.  Sit with your backbone against a tree, and press as much of your body as you can next to its trunk.  Ground yourself, allowing your awareness to sink through your body and into the earth, focusing on the points of your body where you are in contact with the tree and the ground.  Seek to follow the roots of the tree as they spread through the ground, anchoring it and you.  When you awareness is fully rooted follow your awareness upward until it spreads into the branches and you sense the free movement of energy in the sky.  Then send your consciousness downward again.  Practice manipulating the movement of consciousness with the aid of the tree until you can sense the flow of energy in yourself and in the tree trunk.  Allow yourself to participate in the tree’s interaction with wind and water and soil.  Thank the tree when you have finished meditating.

Where’s Melissa Been?

Me (in the hat) and my best mate (in the awesome scarf) mugging for a post-beach selfie.

Me (in the hat) and my best mate (in the awesome scarf) mugging for a post-beach selfie.

While I’ve been posting a few tidbits here and there since the last 366 update, I’ve been pretty darn quiet. Where have I been and what have I been up to?

Well, dear readers, much of the radio silence has been due to the fact that I’ve started full time work again. Do not cheer. This isn’t something that will advance my career. It’s just a job to pay the bills. And it is not exactly great. In fact, the company is pretty terrible in acknowledging the fact that its workers are human beings. My supervisor has actually called me a “profitable commodity” to my face. Worse, I was hired on without the company disclosing the fact that they have mandatory overtime…so what I thought would be a 40-hour work week is actually about 48 hours. Yup, that’s right. Over the course of five days, they squeeze a whole extra day of work out of me. I basically have enough leisure time to come home, make a quick dinner, clean up from cooking, and then collapse into bed. It’s pretty soul-crushing. Body-crushing, too. It’s such sedentary work, my muscles actually ache from disuse.

I’ve also been working a slew of 10-day long stints in order to arrange for enough consecutive days off around this past Thanksgiving to actually have some fun. One of my best friends from college, S., flew out from Minnesota to spend the holiday with me. It was a blast. I picked her up at Sea-Tac at like 2 am on Wednesday, then we drove down to Olympia, had breakfast and a nap, then drove to Portland, had a second breakfast, toured the Japanese Gardens, met up with my best male friend J. for dinner at Pok Pok, then drove to Cannon Beach that night where we spent a couple days just tooling around the Oregon coast, playing around on Cannon Beach, and touring the quaint little town (on Black Friday). Then it was back to Portland for some Voodoo Doughnuts, then we drove back to Olympia to have dinner with S.’s aunt, uncle, and cousins who live nearby in Shelton. We then spent all day that Saturday lazing about at a Korean Spa, being all naked and relaxed and getting massages and body scrubs. Then we met up with sorority sisters and assorted college friends in Seattle for dinner…then back to Oly. That last Sunday, we stuck around town while S. did some homework (and generated an amazing Ph.D.-level research idea), had lunch, then buzzed back to Seattle to do a blitz-tour of Public Market before I had to drop her off at Sea-Tac once more.

S. on Cannon Beach.  That's Haystack Rock there in the distance.

S. on Cannon Beach. That’s Haystack Rock there in the distance.

Honestly, I felt like I did more living in those 5 days than I had in the past 5 months. Not that I haven’t been living. I’ve done some right grown-up things such as *finally* getting the title to my 2005 Ford Taurus. Folks, this has been a battle I’d been waging since moving to the PNW back in 2008. Essentially, this was the issue: my dad bought the car from a dealership in 2006, but never bothered to file the title work. When he gave the car to me in 2008, the car was still titled to the dealership. That dealership went out of business in 2007. I finally put the pieces together in 2009 after badgering my dad for months to get me the title. So 2009-2013 was spent writing to every state agency I could trying to get a title from the defunct dealership, filing court cases, etc. As it turned out, all I had to do was have a judge issue a court order…no lawsuits, nothing. I had the title in under a month once I sent out the application for that court order…but it was pretty much 4 years of the Indiana BMV, Ford Motor Company, the Indiana Secretary of State, the Indiana Attorney General, and my own private legal counsel all telling me to do different things before I finally got in touch with the right person…a simple clerk in the District 3 Court back in Madison County, Indiana. I thank the Gods that they got me in touch with her before I gave up and drove the car off a cliff.

My old Taurus and my new (to me!) Element.  I love my new car!

My old Taurus and my new (to me!) Element. I love my new car!

Right after I got the title to the Taurus, though, I sold the car. It was something I needed to do. Every time I looked at it, I got angry at my father all over again for everything he put my family through. I also really wanted a Honda Element. The way I saw it, the Element would be perfect for helping defray moving costs in the future (since I’d just need to rent a small trailer instead of a huge U-Haul) and it’s so big that I would be able to fill a new place with lots of furniture. Also, I really love camping but I hate pitching tents. I can pretty much “car camp” in lots of comfort with the Element. So I found one at an incredibly reasonable price for the Pacific Northwest and bought it. It’s been pretty solid ever since. I have had to sink some repair costs into new tires, a new lock actuator, a remote, and a bevy of windshield repairs (it’s a rock magnet!)…and I have a few more repairs slated for future paychecks. But I love my Ellie. And when I see it I feel hope for my future rather than despair over my past. It even makes working the terrible job worth it.

So that’s been the crazy in my life recently. Thankfully we’re well into the Dark Times between Samhain and Imbolc, a time where we spiritually take a bit of a breather and take inspiration from all the resting seeds below our feet. We need to rest, too, before we can flower anew and bear fruit once more.

Yule Ornament Idea: Simple Felt Santa Drops

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Aren’t these little drops darling? And they’re so easy to make, too!

After the year I made a million Christmas mice, I definitely warmed up to the idea of using felt in making Christmas ornaments.  It’s really easy stuff to work with, and–if you buy wool felt and stuffing–pretty darn eco-friendly.  I decided to whip out my felt reserves again this year with this incredibly simple collection of teardrop Santas (or Oak and Holly Kings, if you want to be so inclined).  All you do is cut out a couple tear drop shapes, some flesh-toned circles, and some white beards, glue (or sew) the circles onto one tear drop and tack down the beard with a few red stitches.  Add a cute little button to the belly, and sew two drops together, and you’re done!  Should these little fellows appeal to you, here’s what you’ll need:

  • This Santa Pattern, which is a printable .pdf.  All the words are in German, but it’s easy to figure out what is what.
  • A few scraps of felt in an assortment of colors.  Shades of red, green, and blue will all be especially ‘holiday’ themed.  Darker greens don’t show up very well in trees, though.
  • Thread to match the body colors
  • A few scraps of felt in flesh tones
  • A few white scraps of felt
  • Bright red embroidery floss
  • Black embroidery floss
  • Fabri-tac fabric adhesive
  • Fabric paint OR blush for cheeks
  • Batting
  • A chopstick
  • An assortment of small buttons
If using a sewing machine, you might find it more convenient to stuff the ornament while it's still on the machine.

If using a sewing machine, you might find it more convenient to stuff the ornament while it’s still on the machine.

To begin, cut out all your body shapes, faces, and beards.  Glue the faces to half of the body shapes using Fabri-tac or sew them into place, either with a straight stitch on a sewing machine or hand sewing with a blanket stitch.  Give the face red cheeks either by wetting a scrap of fabric or a Q-tip, dabbing it in a drop of red fabric paint, blotting off the excess, and dabbing the scrap onto the cheeks or by carefully working a little bit of blusher into the fabric with a Q-tip.  Using black embroidery thread, sew eyes onto the face.  I think using 1-3 parallel stitches here gives a cuter look than using french knots, but do whatever you like.  Using red embroidery thread, affix the beard to the face with 3-4 to form a smile  Sew on a button below the beard.

Using a straight stitch on a sewing machine or hand sewing with a running stitch, sew two teardrops together, right side out, leaving a chopstick-sized hole.  Use a chop stick to push batting through the teardrop layers, then sew up the hole.

Thread an embroidery needle with ribbon or red embroidery floss and push it through the top of the tear drop in order to create a hanger.  Knot off the thread, then put the ornament on your tree.

Yule Ornament Idea: Birdseed Ornaments

The woodland creatures need Yuletide decor, too!

The woodland creatures need Yuletide decor, too!

While we’re in the habit of creating holiday bits and baubles to decorate our homes, it’s also a good time to think of things we can do for the other creatures in our community.  Winter is a harsh time for all the animals in our ecosystem.  Cruelly, they need more food to fuel their metabolisms and stay warm when there’s not as much food available.  It’s a simple thing to set out salt licks for deer and maintain birdfeeders for our feathered friends, but–if you’re feeling crafty–you can find ways to make attractive, edible ‘ornaments’ for the creatures, too.

This is one such craft.  You essentially bind birdseed together with flour, gelatin, and sugar and press it into attractive molds, then suspend the ‘ornaments’ from tree branches outside.

If you’ve got a collection of seasonal cookie cutters, feel free to use those.  Snowflakes, stars, and gingerbread men look adorable and catch a lot of attention.  Of course, a muffin tin will work, too.  My favorite is just to make thin circles using my canning jar rings, or thicker ones using old tuna fish cans (which I’ve repurposed for English Muffin molds).  See what you have lying about and how creative you can become.

You Will Need:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons corn syrup
4 cups birdseed
A variety of molds (muffin tin, cookie cutters, etc. I use a lot of canning jar rings.)
nonstick spray
drinking straw or thick nails
waxed paper
biodegradable twine or raffia

  1. Combine the flour, water, gelatin and corn syrup in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well-combined.
  2. Add the birdseed to the mixture, stir until well coated.
  3. Spray your molds with cooking spray, and spoon birdseed mixture into each mold. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack it down, and make the top smooth.
  4. Poke a hole through top of each birdseed mold using a drinking straw or nail, making sure it goes all the way through.  Leave the straw/nail in the
  5. Leave the birdseed mixture in the molds for two to three hours. Then, remove the straws/nails and lay out a sheet of waxed paper. Gently remove the hardened ornaments from the mold, and place them on the wax paper upside down. Allow them to dry for at least two to three more hours, or overnight
  6. Cut your twine and carefully put it through the hole, knotting the ends to form a loop.
  7. Hang your ornaments on an outdoor tree.

Yule Ornament Idea: Baby Sock Countdown Calendar

As I’ve done for the previous two years, I am posting Yule ornament and decoration ideas on each of the four Mondays before Yule (December 21st, 2013!). Enjoy the crafting!

A kid-friendly way to avoid the "When is Yule?!" interrogations.

A kid-friendly way to avoid the “When is Yule?!” interrogations.

Advent Calendars are pretty popular holiday traditions amongst our Christian friends.  I’ve never really seen the appeal of them before–despite growing up Catholic, my parents did not see the point in maintaining a countdown when my brothers and I were perfectly capable of looking at reading the family calendar.

However, this past year I visited some Christian friends and their very small, very excitable children.  These children have no patience at all.  I swear, whenever I’ve gone with this friend to any place, her toddlers spend the entire trip backseat asking “are we there yet?”  I positively dreaded staying with them for more than 20 minutes during the Christmas season, but the kiddos were perfect angels.  Their mom attributed their new patience to her adorable advent calendar.

Following Martha Stewart’s lead, my friend strung up a whole bunch of baby socks and tagged them with numbers.  She stuffed each sock with a couple treats–Hershey Kisses, novelty crayons, Dollar Store matchbox cars, stickers, Silly Putty, etc.–and every morning after breakfast, the kids got to ‘open’ a stocking.  It was just enough of a novelty for the kids to be satisfied, and it gave them a really strong visual (Mom took each sock away after it was unclipped) to show them how long it was until Christmas arrived.

Us Pagans could totally adopt this trend.  In my house, I can definitely see stringing up a bunch of little socks and treats the day after Thanksgiving with a countdown until the Solstice.  It would be so cute!

You Will Need:
Enough socks to go from your start date to the Solstice.  If beginning from December 1st, at least 22 (11 pairs).  If beginning from Thanksgiving, at least 30 (15 pairs).
Ribbon
Number stickers
Round stickers
Pushpins
Mini clothespins
Gifts and Candy

1. Gather up to 15 pairs of socks in colors that go well together (vary the sizes, if you like). Lay them out in the order you want to hang them, leaving spaces in between.

2. Cut the ribbon to the desired length; to find how long it should be, measure across the row of socks and add 12 inches.

3. Use number stickers to label each sock. If one has a busy pattern, place the number on top of a solid round sticker so that it’s easier to read.

4. Tack the ends of the ribbon to a railing or mantle with the pushpins; if you like, you can fasten the ribbon in several places to make a few swags.

5. Use mini clothespins to clip the socks to the ribbon; overlap them if you need to save space.

6. Tuck a gift inside each. If the item is heavy, use a larger clothespin to secure the sock.

Note: Gifts must be small enough to fit in tiny socks but safe for your child’s age.