Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Twenty-Four Knots on the Wheel

We are currently sitting half way between Christmas and Twelfth Night and Epiphany.  In musing about this, some patterns began to emerge.

Epiphany is of course Twelfth Day, and the Eve of Epiphany Twelfth Night. Twelfth days from Christmas, or in the older calendar, from the Solstice.

Traditionally, Jan 6 is both the day Christ was presented in the temple (hence the name Epiphany) and the day the Kings arrived, or, more accurately, they arrived the night before but were present during the day as well. Interestingly, the presentation of Christ is also connected to Candlemas, which is 40 days from Christmas, and Epiphany is also called the Day of Lights, with direct relation to the candles of Candlemas. The 40 day times in traditional usage are important, Ash Wednesday 40 days before Easter, etc. The lore of Bride's Day and Candlemas bring interesting light (no pun intended) to Twelfth Night/Day, Epiphany, and Three Kings Day.  But that's a side point.

In the Eastern Church, Epiphany is the baptism of Christ, the descent (fall?) of the Holy Spirit upon him, his manifestation as the Son of God. This is very much an initiatory event, the baptism a ritual death, the spirit descending much like the Fall of the Watchers and the settling on him as a dove much like later stories of witches and familiar spirits. This is followed, of course, by 40 days in the Wilderness/Wasteland to be tempted, an ordeal, fasting, harsh conditions. The type of thing you return dead, mad, or a poet, in the British Isles. 40 days places it on my birthday, February 15, which is Lupercalia in Rome, the Wolf Festival, a festival to Faunus/Pan, for the protection of flocks. A sacrifice was made in the cave where legend said Romulus and Remus were suckled by the wolf. The rites were said to have been brought from Arcadia (all things tie back to Acadia), the homeland of Pan. Twelve days before the Lupercalia is of course Candlemas.

That's of course using the Gregorian placement of January 6. In the Eastern Church, they use the Julian, so it lands on our January 19, and 40 days is February 28 in the Gregorian.  This places Christmas, of course, on the 6th or 7th of January, so our Epiphany is essentially their Christmas.  The shift obscures, just as the shift from the actual Solstice to what is December 25, where Christmas is celebrated and things are measured.

The 25 of December being Solstice places the 20th or 21st depending on the year as Christmas, so January 1st of 2nd as Epiphany. New Years becomes Epiphany, New Years Eve Twelfth Night. Lupercalia becomes February 10th in our calendar, Candlemas January 29th.

But in effect, the Solstice is the important date, Epiphany 12 days hence, then Bride's Day with Lupercalia 12 days hence, then the Equinox with Easter 12 days hence, then Beltaine, with Pentacost 12 days hence, then the Summer Solstice with the Fourth of July 12 days hence, then Lugh's Day, with Assumption 12 days hence, then the Equinox, with Michaelmas 12 days hence, the Samhain with Feroniae 12 days hence. Approximately. Kalends and Ides.

But, of course, that's only eight. Not the ten months of the early Roman Calendar or the later twelve months that became our own.

The 12 days of course count from the day after, to the Eve. This means approximately 14 days counting the actual days, two weeks, approximately half a moon. 28 days, you get 13 moons, 364 days. A year and a day making 365. 28 and 12 is of course 40 days, so if you take a complete moon cycle from each of the major dates, then 12 before the secondary dates, you get 40 days. So, Solstice + 12, 13 is Epiphany, Epiphany + 28 is Candlemas. Candlemas + 12, 13 is Lupercalia, and so forth. Which means 2 weeks, then 4 weeks, 2 weeks, then 4 weeks, and so forth. 6 weeks, eight majors, you have 48 weeks, 336 days. Which of course is four weeks short, one moon. But this is because it isn't exactly what I implied.

If you add one week before each of the Solstices and Equinoxes, between them and the last marked Ides, you hit real close to the right dates, and get 364 days, 52 weeks, 13 moons.

Going backwards around, 12 days before Christmas (Solstice) is Lucie, my wife's birthday. 12 days before the Autumn Equinox, Holyrood. 12 days before the Nativity of John the Baptist (Solstice) is Whitsun. And 12 days before the Spring Equinox, Lent. The four Ember Days. 40 days before those, Samhain, Lugh's Day, Beltain, and Bride's Day. Approximately, anyway.

12 days before Bride's Day, Beltain, Samhain, Lugh's Day, and Samhain are approximately cusps of Capricorn/Aquarius, Aries/Taurus, Cancer/Leo, and Libra/Scorpio. These are one week after the Ides, and while there are rustic Roman festivals celebrated on these, they are more obscure and doing lend much.

So, Solstice, plus two weeks, Epiphany, plus two weeks, Cusp, plus two weeks, Candlemas, plus two weeks, Lupercalia, plus one week, Lent, plus two weeks, Equinox, plus two weeks, Easter, plus two weeks, Cusp, plus two weeks, Beltain, plus two weeks, Pentecost, plus one week, Whitsun, plus two weeks, Solstice, plus two weeks, the Fourth of July, plus two weeks, Cusp, plus two weeks, Lugh's Day, plus two weeks, Assumption, plus one week, Holyrood, plus two weeks, Equinox, plus two weeks, Michaelmas, plus two weeks, Cusp, plus two weeks, Samhain, plus two weeks, Feroniae, plus one week, Lucie, plus two weeks, Solstice.

Eight days (Solstices, Equinoxes, Bride's, Beltain, Lugh's, and Samhain), with a day twelve days before and twelve after. 24 days.

There are 24 knots in my year, not modeled after these, but it ties in nicely to mine, which are the Bright and Dark Moons closest to each 15 degrees of the Zodiac, the custs and the midpoints.  But the above is close enough to these that I think I need to work through the these and see how they relate to my own cycle, and what lore will come out of it.

~Muninn's Kiss

Sunday, 22 December 2013

That One Is More Important: A look at buildings, history, and learning to ask the right questons

"That one is more important."
"Why do I know that?"

It is important to learn to observe.  And it is important to learn to listen.  Especially when it is ourself talking.  And it is important to learn to ask the right questions.  Buildings are important.  Locations are important.  Names are important.  History is important.  Learn to observe.  Learn to listen.  Learn to ask the right questions.

On Friday, I drove into Denver with the intent to go on a tour of the Governor's Residence.  They were doing tours through that day, from 10am-2pm each week day.  This was in  relation to the Christmas decorations that were done this year by the Colorado Interior Design Coalition.  It was supposed to be beautiful.

Governor's Residence at the Boettcher Mansion
Governor's Residence at the Boettcher Mansion
The Governor's Residence is more properly called the Governor's Residence at the Boettcher Mansion.  Previously, it was referred to as the Governor's Mansion.  It was completed in 1908 by Walter Cheesman.  Cheesman was a druggist from Long Island originally and growing up in Chicago, working with his brother to provide the necessities in early Denver.  He made his fortune in real estate and built himself a mansion, which his widow sold to Claude Boettcher in 1923.  Boettcher came from a pioneering family who started with a hardware store selling to miners and built a fortune in many areas including sugar and cement.  The Boettcher Foundation donated the mansion as the residence for the governor in 1959.

I ran into slow traffic on my way from Longmont to Denver, and got there too late.  The tours were until 2pm, and I got to the closed gate at 2:10.  I only got to see it from the road, but it is a gorgeous building.  I walked around it and down the hill past the carriage house, then across Governor's Park below it.  I proceeded up the hill on the other side in the park, and say another mansion to the east of Boettcher Mansion.  My mind spoke, saying, "That one is more important."  I then asked the obvious next question, "Why do I know that?"  "Because it's higher" came the answer.  And I wondered why that was the reason.

High places have always been important.  As are low places.  Study many cultures and peoples in history, and this is quite evident.  There are different reasons for this, in regard to high places.  One is the military element.  A high place sees more of the surrounding area, so gives you more warning of an attack.  Build a tower or raised platform and it becomes more so.  A high place is also easier to defend.  Being above your enemy gives you the advantage, whether you are shooting (shooting arrows, throwing spears, later, shooting guns or cannons, are easier to kill with using gravity to draw them down from a height) or fighting with a melee weapon (you have an advantage swinging down, with gravity helping, over someone swinging up).  Second, there is a power and government element.  Being higher than someone by definition is superior, and this implies power over those below.  Whoever is on the hill above is easily seen as more powerful and more affluentual.  There is also a spiritual aspect, when dealing with sky gods or spirits, the high place is closest to them, just as when dealing with chthonic gods and spirits, the low place is closest, like caves and pits.

So, this second mansion is higher.  So what?  Does the idea above hold water?  Is this second mansion, which is not the Governor's, more important?  It is most definitely higher.  From the atrium of Boettcher Mansion, you can see Pike's Peak on a clear day, which is way south near Colorado Springs.  Boettcher Mansion has an amazing view.  But the balcony on the highest floor of the second mansion is a good fifty feet higher, and looks out above the roof of Boettcher Mansion.  In fact, before the much more recent apartment complexes around it were built, and before the sky scrapers in the Upper Downtown area were built, it would have been the highest point in Denver, with a view incorporating everything to the west of it all the way to the Frontrange, for an amazing panorama.  So it has the height, but was it really more important?  Is it now?

Grant-Humphreys Mansion
Grant-Humphreys Mansion
The second mansion is the Grant-Humphreys Mansion.  It was completed six years before the Boettcher Mansion, in 1902, for $35,000, which was a very large sum at the time.  The original building had 30 rooms and was much bigger than the Boettcher Mansion.  It was built by James Benton Grant.  Grant Street in downtown Denver is not named for the president as I presumed, but for this Grant.  Grant was a plantation owner in Alabama who was impoverished by the Civil War and decided to try to make it back in the mining industry.  He studied in Germany and moved to Leadville, Colorado where he made a fortune with a smelting company.  In 1917, his widow sold the mansion to Albert E. Humphreys.  Humphreys made a fortune three times, only sustaining it on the third.  One was in logging, then in mining, and finally in oil.  The mansion came under the stewardship of the Colorado Historical Society in 1976.

Now, as you can guess, smelting, in a time where mining was the biggest industry in the Frontrange, was a bit more important than, say, drugstores and hardware stores.  Likewise, an oil baron was a bit more influential than the owners of the Boettcher Mansion.  There's a reason the second mansion is larger, higher, and older than the first.

So, I observed.  I looked at two mansions and noted what I could with my senses.  I listened.  I listened to my internal voice, took note when I told myself the second mansion was more important.  And I asked the right questions.  I asked, and through those questions identified why it was so.

And named are important.  They leave legacies, and the places and streets and locations bearing the names lend clues to understanding the history, the impact, and the importance of those that bore the names.  The four names above, each to different degrees, were important in the Denver area and the history of the area.  One of the major roads in Denver was named for Grant, who served as Colorado's third governor, did much for Colorado's trade and commerce industries, and contributed to great extent to education in the state.  The neighbourhood to the east of Capital Hill, on which these two mansions are built, is named for Cheesman, including a park named for him, with many tales of being haunted and a colourful history.  Walter Cheesman has instrumental in developing Denver's water system, and was well known for using his money to help people.  The Boettcher Foundation has been responsible for aiding in many endeavors to improve Colorado, including building projects and educational scholarships.

~Muninn's Kiss

Friday, 6 December 2013

Lord of Serpents

Now this is interesting.

From Skáldskaparmál:

These are names of serpents: Dragon, Fáfnir, Mighty Monster, Adder, Nídhöggr, Lindworm, She-Adder, Góinn, Móinn, Grafvitnir, Grábakr, Ófnir, Sváfnir, Hooded One.

Þessi eru orma heiti: dreki, Fáfnir, Jörmungandr, naðr, Níðhöggr, linnr, naðra, Góinn, Móinn, Grafvitnir, Grábakr, Ófnir, Sváfnir, grímr.

This is interesting because of this, from the Grimnismol:

Now am I Othin, | Ygg was I once,
Ere that did they call me Thund;
Vak and Skilfing, | Vofuth and Hroptatyr,
Gaut and Jalk midst the gods;
Ofnir and Svafnir, | and all, methinks,
Are names for none but me.

Óðinn ek nú heiti,
Yggr ek áðan hét,
hétomk Þundr fyrir þat,
Vakr ok Skilfingr,
Váfuðr ok Hroptatýr,
Gautr ok Iálkr með goðom,
Ofnir ok Svafnir,
er ek hygg at orðnir sé
allir af einom mér.

You'll note Svafnir and Ofnir in both lists, with Odin saying in the second that they are names for none but him.  Grímr, also, is used for him in another place, though for other things as well.  The list definitely starts with serpents, Jörmungandr being Loki's son, the World Serpent that circles Midgard, Níðhöggr being the serpent in the Roaring Cauldron who chews on the roots of Yggdrasil, and Fáfnir being the dwarf in the Volsunga Saga that turns to a dragon from greed.  Odin himself, also in the Grimnismol, gives a list:

More serpents there are | beneath the ash
Than an unwise ape would think;
Goin and Moin, | Grafvitnir's sons,
Grabak and Grafvolluth,
Ofnir and Svafnir | shall ever, methinks,
Gnaw at the twigs of the tree.

Ormar fleiri
liggia under aski Yggdrasils
en þat uf hyggi hverr ósviðra apa:
Góinn ok Móinn,
þeir ero Grafvitnis synir,
Grábakr ok Grafvölluðr,
Ofnir ok Svafnir
hygg ek at æ skyli
meiðs kvisto má.

His list has some in common, also including the two he names later as names for himself.
Ofnir means inciter, Svafnir means sleep bringer, or closer.  Doesn't take much thought to see them as opposites, Ofnir inciting to action, Svafnir bringing an end to action.  Catalyst and Nexus.

It's easy to see these as names for Odin, what's harder is to understand why Odin himself says they are names only for him, and and that they will forever gnaw on the tree.  Scholars figure there is likely corruption, that the two names weren't in both lists originally, but this is conjecture, unknown for sure.  If he is calling himself a serpent, there may be a mystery in those names.

~Muninn's Kiss

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Thirteen Points of Advice for Those Starting on the Path

The following are thirteen points of advice and guidance I'd give to anyone starting out of the path.  They aren't exclusive, there are other things to know.  And they aren't original, they are drawn from many sources.  And they are from my point of view, so should not be taken as gospel.  I hope they help some who read them.  Before getting into them, four books I'd recommend before most others, and I have a very long recommended reading list, are the following:

And that being said, here are the thirteen points of advice that are my intention if sharing this:

  1. Mutual respect is essential. Respect the spirits, and expect respect in return. If you don't receive it, they're out, burnt, or cut off.
  2. All things have a spirit, and that spirit can be worked with and learned from. Some work with them as servants, or worship them and become servants. I prefer to work with them as partners. There is an authority in knowing you are equal with all things.
  3. People (and spirits) see what they expect to see. Open your eyes, then open them again. Observe. Perceive. Understand.
  4. What conceals also reveals. Look beneath the surface, both in of what your senses (physical or otherwise) tell you and what teachings, lore, and myth tell you. What they hide is as important as what they say.
  5. Learn to ask the right questions. Asking the wrong question will send you in the wrong direction. There are no bad questions, but often looking at the question in the right way opens doors. And always ask the next question, don't let the answer be the end of the question.
  6. When all else fails, cheat. Don't assume that the traditional way to do something, the way everyone does it, or the way you've always done it is the only approach. If it doesn't work, do something else.
  7. Divide and conquer. If something is baffling or seems to be concealing something you can't quite grasp or see, break it down, look at each part of it separately, determine where something is missing, concealed, or not working, and focus there.
  8. Only you are responsible for your actions and words, no one else, and you aren't responsible for anyone else's. Do what is necessary, but accept the responsibility for it. Own what you say and what you do, regardless of the consequences or what you think of them later. Don't pass blame, and don't take it on.
  9. Learn from all things. All beings, objects, persons, spirits, circumstances, lore, teachings, regardless of the source or pain or issues, contain beauty, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, and can be learned from, if you ask the right questions, look beneath the surface, and separate what has value from what doesn't. There's a saying in Hawai'i that not all knowledge is found in one shed.
  10. Be willing to consider any idea, no matter how different from your own. Examine it, understand it, but don't just accept it in you process. Hold on firmly to what you know, and only change it if there is good reason to do so.
  11. Everybody lies, misrepresents, and hides things. This goes for spirits as well as living humans, and all things. Never assume you are being told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We all speak through our filters, understand based on our experiences, hide what we don't want seen, and mislead when it will gain us something. Make no assumptions about the truth of, completeness of, or accuracy of anything you are told. This goes for what you tell yourself as well. Look deeper, examine. Observe. Perceive. Understand.
  12. What is yours, you need to hold, protect, defend. As Cochrane said, "What I have--I hold!" You are guardian and keeper of what is yours. Find what that is, and keep it against the storm.
  13. What you put in, you get out. As we say in computers, garbage in, garbage out. Only you control what you get from the path. No effort, no result. No danger, no gain. Victor Anderson said anything worth doing is dangerous, and Cochrane said take all you are given, give all of yourself. Huna teaches that where your attention goes, the mana goes, and Taoist thought teaches similar, where the mind goes, the chi follows. Where you focus, that's where your energy is, what you think about and contemplate, that is where you will learn. It's all about you. You hold the reins. Make the most of it.

Hope these are helpful for some.


~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Gifting of Wisdom: A New Look at the Book of Job and the Grímnismál

So, while I was making dinner, the smell of sauteed mushrooms filling the air, I chanced to be re-reading the Grímnismál.

Most of the time, we focus on Odin's monologue and the details of mythology included. It is an excellent source for these, it is true. But we seldom look at the narrative it is set within, and this was my focus on this reading.

The story is simple.

There is a king with two sons, Agnar and Geirröth, who are ten and eight respectively. The are out fishing and the boat wrecks. They just happen to wreck near a peasant's house, who takes them in for the winter. The peasant raises Geirröth and his wife raises Agnar. It doesn't say when the wife teaches, but the peasant teaches Geirröth wisdom. In the spring, the peasant gives Geirröth a boat and the brothers sail back. On landing, Geirröth pushes the boat out to sea, and the two return home. They find that their father has died, and Geirröth is made king.

The peasant of course was Odin, his wife Frigg. The two are sitting in their tower looking upon all the worlds, and Odin nudges Frigg. "You see there, the boy you raised, Agnar, he is living in a cave with a giantess who bore his children, he's made nothing of himself. But not so with Geirröth, see how he is king." And Frigg, always submissive, did what any submissive wife would do, she egged him. "Ah, but Geirröth is so miserly that he tortures his guests if too many come." And, not to be out done, Odin, always able to walk away from a bet, follows suit. "That's the biggest lie you've ever told! I wager you're wrong." And Frigg, knowing a sure thing when she sees it, agrees, then sends a servant to make sure Geirröth knew a magician was coming to trick him, and gave him a sign to look for, someone even the most vicious dogs would not attack. For, of course, she wouldn't want her husband to be tortured.

So Odin goes to the home of Geirröth in disguise as Grimnir, the Masked One, a name fitting for one in disguise, who would guess? And, as the dogs didn't attack him, Geirröth strung him up between two fires and tortured him with the heat.

And Geirröth had a son, named after his brother Agnar. No one in the hall did anything, just letting Odin, um, Grimnir, suffer for eight days (note that on the ninth day hanging on the tree suffering, Odin received wisdom). Then young Agnar felt pity and brought him a horn of wine to drink. Odin, refreshed (for he says in his monologue he forever lives on nothing but wine), hails the young boy, says he will rule long, and gives him a gift of his wisdom, the monologue of mythology, for the gift the boy gave. Interesting this was the same he gave to young Geirröth earlier. At the end of the monologue, Odin notes that Geirröth had drawn his sword. He says as much, and that Geirröth would die. Geirröth rises to release Odin, but it's too late, the damage is done. His sword slips from his hand, lands point up, and he trips and the sword drives through him. Odin vanishes, and young Agnar lives a long life and rules long.

Now there are many interesting elements to the narrative, and even more to the monologue, but on this reading, another story came to mind, that of Job. Now, as the versions of the Grímnismál we have were penned in the Christian era in Iceland, the parallels may have been intentional, but it bares looking at the old in light of the new, a look at Job as a parallel story to the Grímnismál.

First, we have the set up. In the Grímnismál, we have a narrative setting the stage, followed by Odin and Frigg talking, Odin pointing out some people, and a wager. In Job, we have a narrative setting the stage, followed by a discussion between G-d and HaSatan. No wager is mentioned, but the feeling is the same. G-d knows the outcome, just as Frigg does. There are differences of course. Job simply states why Job is a good choice to consider, whereas the Grímnismál describes a scenario where Odin and Frigg played a direct role in setting up the board. G-d does the prompting in Job, and is the one knowing the outcome, HaSatan disagrees with the premise, then goes to do the testing. Odin does the prompting in Grímnismál, but Frigg knows the outcome, Frigg disagrees with the premise, but Odin goes to do the testing. But very similar nonetheless.

And of course, Frigg stacks the deck and Geirröth fails the test, and young Agnar passes the test, and is given wisdom in the form of a monologue on the mythology in exchange. The monologue is important to look at not just as poetic or mystic or mythic history, but for the wisdom it points toward, for the gift isn't just the history, it's what is hidden in it. That which conceals also reveals. So anyone interested in learning wisdom should read it with that in mind, and ask, what is contained herein?

But with the similarities in the two texts, we are struck with the last portion of Job. After the time of testing, and all the friends weighing in, G-d shows up, tells the friends they are folly, then gives a monologue about creation and the world. And at the end, Job gets back more than he had and lives a long life, just as Agnar did. This would point to Job passing the test.

Now one statement in the Grímnismál is interesting here:
Small heed didst thou take | to all that I told,
And false were the words of thy friends;
For now the sword | of my friend I see,
That waits all wet with blood.*
There is no other mention of anyone else except Geirröth and young Agnar. Only other reference is that no one else helped the stranger. Which friends, and which words? But in Job, we find:
After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eli′phaz the Te′manite: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."**
This is likely a parallel, the context missing in the Grímnismál.

But this leaves us with the monologue. Most Christian interpretations is that the goal was to humble Job, for though he didn't sin, he presumed to understand God. But the text does not actually say that. G-d speaks from "the whirlwind" or storm, סַעַר, ca'ar, tempest, storm, whirlwind. There is no mention of this ca'ar previously in the book, but it is the same word for the whirlwind that took Elijah bodily from the world. Job's replies to G-d seem more like admittance of ignorance rather than apologies for what he has said before.

What if the long monologue isn't a chastisement but a giving of Wisdom after a passed test?  The questions asked take on a new meaning if this is the case.  What truth, what piece of wisdom, does each question carry and point to?  The book becomes a book of application, pointing to wisdom, rather than the warning many take it as.

Consider this well, and think on it.

~Muninn's Kiss

* Grímnismál 52, Henry Adams Bellows translation.
** Job 42:7 RSV

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

On Worry Dolls and Poppets

When I was quite young, I think seven or so, we visited my grand parents in Mexico over Christmas.  While there, we saw worry dolls for the first time.  This was Northern Mexico, Guaymas, in Sonora, far from Guatemala* where everywhere online now locates them.  They were used there, not sure if they migrated there or not.

They are essentially little dolls made of sticks (or similar) with string or twine or thread wrapped around them to make them into tiny figures, maybe an inch tall.  Faces were draw on them, and each doll was different from the rest.  Typically, a child will have a small box with multiple worry dolls in it, sitting by their bed.

The tradition is, the child who can't sleep because of worrying whispers the worry to a doll.  If they have multiple worries, they whisper one to each doll.  The dolls are placed under their pillow, worrying for the child so the child can sleep.

These fascinated us, and we made our own, bigger, about two inches tall.  We used tooth picks and embroidery thread, gluing them with white glue, one toothpick as the spine, one cut in half then shortened for the arms, one cut in half for the legs.  Unlike the worry dolls, ours had no facial features drawn on, just plain thread.  They had hair and clothes.  The arms and legs, we left wood where there was no clothing, instead of all the wood concealed on the worry dolls.

We didn't use them like the traditional ones, just made them for fun, but they held the imagination, each with its own personality, each known.  A few of mine moved a bit past that into the realm of representing something I wanted, just short of a poppet or wish doll, but close.

In many ways, worry dolls are miniature and specific purpose poppets.  The application is temporary, the worry tied to it banished in the night, returned to the box no longer distinct from its fellows.  The act of whispering the worry to the doll transfers the worry from the child to the doll, allowing the child to sleep.

It is an interesting custom, one that would likely help with many child related issues if it was common place in the United States, as a way to set aside worries would likely improve both behavior that comes from anxiety and worry, and help with health issues that grow out of the same.

These dolls could also be used on place of traditional poppets.  They are small, easily made, and versatile.  Hair and similar could be woven in or placed inside the wrap.  The act of wrapping the doll with thread or string is a binding, tying the doll to that it represents.

Once the doll is created, there are many options that it could be used for just as with a traditional poppet.  It addition, because of the size, it can be placed in a pouch or bottle for purposes not typically possible with a poppet.

One idea would be making two dolls representing two people and tying them together in something like a mojo bag with things typically used for love workings.  Another would be a curse by placing a doll in a bag with pepper flakes or in a bottle with hot sauce.  The limit is only your ability to think.

~Muninn's Kiss

*Here is one version of the legend of how worry dolls got started in Guatamala: http://www.sciencejoywagon.com/kwirt/mayan/

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Time of the Lost

We now enter the Time of the Lost, and the Time of the Found.  The Keeper of the Lost rises, rises to Regency, as the Keeper of Secrets falls.  The Time of the Lost has come.  And the Time of the Found.

The Lost aren't those that don't know salvation, or those who don't know their way.  For there are those who know the way but are lost, and those that can't see the way who are found.  No, the Lost are not these.  The Lost are many, who can count?  Only their Keeper.

The Lost are those who don't see the way, not because they are blind or unable, but because they don't choose to.

The Lost are those that have forgotten.  Forgotten the way, forgotten they know the way, have no vision.

The Lost are those who are forgotten, who no one sees, no one remembers.  The dead that are not remembered, the living who are ignored or not seen.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish..." ~Proverbs 29:18a*

The Lost are those who wander, crossing the worlds while not knowing it, wandering forevermore, unaware.

The Lost are those living on the streets, unnoticed by passersby, or ignored, avoided by them.

The Lost are those spending every night in the bar, drinking to forget.

The Lost are those working three jobs or tons of overtime to pay bills for things they have no time to enjoy, not living, just surviving, though they appear to be successful.

The Lost are those living alone in a house or apartment, afraid to go outside for reasons only they know.

The Lost are those who die alone, no one knowing until the smell draws attention.

The Lost are those living in nursing homes, with no family to visit, or no family that does visit.

The Lost are those who die on the streets, with a body tag saying John or Jane Doe, no one morning, no one claiming the body, no one naming the name.

The Lost are those who are forgotten shortly after their death, their families and friends going about their business, their stories and life ending with their death, never to be recalled again.

The Lost are those searching but not looking, wanting to find a path, but afraid they actually will.  Running from their past, afraid of their future, they move aimlessly, lost but not sure they want to be found.

The Lost are those who make the logical choices in life, the ones that will bring what seems like success, stability, security, but ignore the calling they hear, not taking the risk to follow desire, necessity, or destiny.

The Lost are those who think themselves in full control of their destiny, believe they see the path before them clearly, all laid bare, but are really only seeing swirling mists, not even their own feet, inventing pictures in the mist thinking them visions, when all they are are wistful dreams.

The Time of the Lost has come.  And the Time of the Found.

The Keeper of the Lost is also the Keeper of the Found.  Just as the Builder of Storms is also the Builder of Stillness, and the Bringer of Tears brings both tears of sorrow and joy.

What was Lost shall be found, but what was Found can be lost.  Fortunes change, conditions change, there is sudden gain and there is sudden lose.  Winter's Mistress is harsh and unforgiving, the Left and the Right Hand of Fate.  Nothing is certain, nothing stays the same.




What do you see?  What do you hear?  What do you perceive?

The line it is drawn
And the curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast

As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'

And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'
~The Times They Are A-Changin' by Bob Dylan

The Lost can be Found, the Found can be Lost.  We sit in the Abyss, the year has ended, but the new year doesn't begin.  Waiting.  A time when anything can happen, and likely will.

The Wild Hunt rides.

Can you hear it?  Can you feel it?

Do you here winds blowing between worlds?




Change.  Sudden and unexpected.

What was Lost shall be found, but what was Found can be lost.

We now enter the Time of the Lost, and the Time of the Found.  The Keeper of the Lost rises, rises to Regency, as the Keeper of Secrets falls.  The Time of the Lost has come.  And the Time of the Found.

Can you feel it?

~Muninn's Kiss

*For context, the entire verse is "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Importance of Horror

This time of year, with Halloween approaching, there are a lot more horror films watched, more horror elements in television shows, and more horror books read than any other part of the year.  There is a marked focus in this direction, both in those pursuing watching and reading, and in those speaking against the genre.  Many of these elements spill into daily life, in costumes worn to work, parties, bars, and anywhere else people can get away with it by using the season as an excuse.

Supernatural horror the only mainstream place where the elements that are often a part of more occult and esoteric interest appear.  The very fact the genre (both in film and in literature, and also in art of many other forms) exists is interesting in itself.

The reason for the absence elsewhere is that people don't want to consider the monstrous and strange, preferring to pretend everything is safe and normal and predictable.  So it's pushed to the edges.  On the edges, we don't have to look at it.  We can pretend it's not there and go about life feeling safe.

But the presence of the supernatural horror genre in all mediums means that while it's pushed the edges, it's not pushed out completely.  People don't want to confront it in a "normal" context, but they also can't completely ignore or forget it either.  The genre persists because there is always a part of us that knows that the "normal" by itself is not the whole story, that there would be a lacking if the Other is completely gone.

So people seek out the monstrous and strange and dangerous on occasion, as a reminder not to forget, then return to their "normal" world, content that the stuff they push to the edges is still at the edges, so not hidden closer and waiting.

This is the place not just of the genre, but of the edges themselves.  Edges and boundaries define what is part and what is not, what is Self and what is Other, what is society and what is savage, what is cultivated and what is Wasteland or Wilderness.  By dividing, they define.  There is no boundary or edge if there isn't something beyond it.  There is no Self without Other.  There is no civilized without the Monster.  If what we don't like or are afraid of isn't at the edge, or across the boundary, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, it means it has no place to be but here, where I am.  If there is no monster out there, the monster is here, or the monster is me.

The separation of worlds, the Edge and the Veil, is a separation of perception, not a gap or abyss between worlds.  Our world, our Dreaming, must be safe to us, so we push what isn't safe to the edge, make it Other, make it the otherworld.  And those that live in the otherworld, at the edges by our perception, push what isn't safe to them to the edge, to their Other, making it the otherworld for them, our world.  All things not safe for us, or that we don't want, is there.  All things not safe for them, or that they don't want, is here.  Two worlds mutually populating each other with their monsters, monsters who populate their world with monsters.

But those who walk between are monsters to both worlds, Other to all Selfs.  Because they can be either, so are monsters that appear as normal, no matter which world they walk.  And appearing normal in both, they also see both as normal, the accept the monstrous and strange as every day, as part of what makes up the whole.  They have no edges, no borders, no law, no limits.

Because edges imply two sides, boundaries and borders are between two things.  Laws define what can happen and cannot, or, what can happen without being pushed to the edges.  Limits define what is possible, but if you approach a limit long enough, you can't perceive where you are from where it is, and in effect reach it.  And once you realize the limit, what stops you from passing it?

~Muninn's Kiss

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Practical Magic

Philosophy period, whether about magic or any other subject, is essentially useless.  It's an entertaining diversion among others that enjoy it.  And it is great to confuse the masses if you are trying to create a new political system, or make people think economics is predictable.  But it's useless in practice.

When I cook, I cook by instinct and feel, "what will do what I want to do", rather than "what does the recipe say".  I understand what each ingredient is used for, and how the proportions interact, which is the theory, but when I have them there, I put what seems right.  Egg thickens, yeast rises with enough time and sugar, baking powder rises was the acid and base in it react when being cooked, baking powder rises in reaction to acid in what it's added to while rising.  Acid, especially citric acid, brings out flavour.  Salt lowers the heat of spicy food.  Honey or sugar makes a smoother taste.  But the theory isn't what matters, it's the instinct and intuition as you combine the ingredients.  Knowing when it is done cooking based on how it looks, smells, feels, rather than a timer.  If you bake exactly to a recipe written for sea level, you'll fail a mile higher in Denver, or even higher at 7220 feet above sea level in Laramie, WY.

Magic based on theory is cookie cutter magic and is lifeless and it's luck if it works.  Magic based on intuition and instinct is living and changing.  The theory helps build instinct, but it's training wheels.  Circumstances change things.  The same spell or working or charm doesn't work the same way when circumstances change.  They must be adapted and changed as the need changes.

And the best way to cook is to use what's on hand, or to buy based on what's available, especially if you can get it locally.  Look at a piece of meet, or a vegetable or a type of bean or rice.  Ask yourself, what would taste good with this?  Add that.  What would taste good with both of these?  Add that.  Build or craft the meal, don't just go by rote.

Likewise with magic.  Use what's on hand.  You don't have to order something from half way across the world that's rare and expensive and hard to get a hold of just because it's used traditionally for something or you have a description from the 1800s or 1900s describing its use.  Local ingredients, tools, and objects tend to work better for where you're working anyway.  The theory is in the questions, why does that object work, the application of that theory is to look at what do I have in my house, my yard, the areas around me, local stores, that would do the same?  Or what if I changed other things in the method so I don't need that thing?  Adapt the working to your needs, your location, what you have on hand, the purpose you are after.  If you often need something that's not native and can't find an alternative, see what it would take to grow or raise it yourself.  Start a garden for herbs and plants you use often.  If you have no place for one, look into renting a plot in a community garden (being aware of what is safe to grow there).  Get your hands dirty.  Do.  Act.  Practice.

I enjoy the intellectualism, but if it becomes the point instead of a pass time, the work doesn't get done.

My dad is a geotechical engineer and can design the best bridges, dams, and retaining walls that will do exactly what they need to do and stand up for long time without modifications. Those designs are useless if they are never built, and those building them don't need to know where the weight will be applied and where it is transferred, all they need is, place a beam here, pour concrete here, etc.

My grandpa used to say that if you're going to be a ditch digger, be the best damn ditch digger you can be.

Put action to your words.  If you commit to something, don't just think about it, put in the effort, sweat, blood, and tears.  Magic no less than anything else.

When I go to do a working, I don't worry about the theory at all, typically I just do it on the fly, with whatever is on hand.  Later, I will sometimes say, ok, why did I do what I did, and why did it work that way? As Victor Anderson said, perceive first, understand after.

~Muninn's Kiss

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Age of Aquarius

The words of a song echo, a song that came out of the New Age movement, a movement looking to a new age as the answer, as a Utopian time of peace and love.  The song is Age of Aquarius but 5th Dimension:

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age
Of a Aquarius, the age of Aquarius
Aquarius, Aquarius
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the minds true liberation
Aquarius, Aquarius
When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age
Of a Aquarius, the age of Aquarius
Aquarius, Aquarius

The Age of Aquarius is of course based on the progression of equinoxes, Plato's Great Year, which I've discussed before.  Twelve ages of 2200 years, give or take 100 years.  And one theory, based on Vedic astronomy subdivides each age into sub ages, about 180 years each, with the first subage being of similar nature to the current age, and last sub age in an age having similar nature to the next Age.  This would imply that the last subage in a given age is a taste of what the next will be.

The idea that the Age of Aquarius would be peace and harmony and everyone loving everyone is a misconception, as anyone born in Aquarius, or anyone who has known one can attest.  Aquarius likes to the be a peacemaker, but is more a leveler.  We're not talking peaceful cooperation and everyone getting along.  Aquarius disrupts and brings chaos and complication.  It is the destruction of hierarchy and differences, but doesn't present a solution or restructure.  If you are looking for that, that is Capricorn, the age after.  Aquarius isn't described by the verse "he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." (Revelations 21:4 RSV)  It is described by these verses:

Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
~Isaiah 40:4 RSV

See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.
~Jeremiah 1:10 RSV

It's important to realise that the Age of Pisces isn't just defined by the Fish, but by the Virgin, Virgo, across the sky from Pisces.  The Fish is the Son of the Virgin, Pisces is the Son of Virgo.  When the sun is in Pisces, at midnight Virgo is at height, Pisces occulted and concealed, Virgo plain to see in the night sky.  Pisces has no boundaries, no firm borders, it runs over all it encounters, flowing like a flood over the ground.  Pisces is the Conqueror, conquering all.  "And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." (Revelations 6:2 RSV)  And while the age we've seen does reflect this, the building of empires through conquest, there is another aspect, the restriction, the restraint, the control.  This comes not from Pisces, who would move on to the next thing.  It comes instead from the Mother of Pisces, from Virgo, the Virgin.  The Water of Pisces brings change, but when the Flood is past, it is the Earth of Virgo that settles, with teh restraint only she can bring.  She marks the midpoint, half way through the Age.

Which brings us to Aquarius.  While Aquarius does want peace and harmony, it doesn't know how to bring it.  It uproots old orders, like the Fall of the Tower, it brings down the haughty and mighty, the mountains and hills, and raises up the humble and downtrodden, the valleys, but it doesn't know what to do next and looks for the next injustice or inequality to fix, not leaving a structure.  The result isn't peace but rebellion and disorder, people turning on each other.  "And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword." (Revelations 6:4 RSV)  We are in the subage of Aquarius, and it has had and will have a taste of peace and harmony, this isn't the main trait.  Watch how empires and nations have, are, and will crumble, how Super Powers fail, hierarchies fall, economies splinter.  This subage has not been one of piece, but of breakdown, breakdown that takes away peace.  This is a taste of the Age of Aquarius.

But once again, that isn't the whole story.  Look across the wheel.  Aquarius is the Son of Leo, the Son of Fire.  This is the key to understand the Age of Aquarius.

"Son of Fire"

Let he who has ears to hear hear, let she who has eyes to see see.

~Muninn's Kiss

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Thought on the government shutdown

My thoughts, which I think in this case are touched at least some with the Sight, though I could be looking the wrong direction.

I'm fairly certain a compromise, extension, or some other last minute reprieve will occur, both sides are trying to make a point, but it seems unlikely they will let the US go the way of Greece.

But I think the damage has been done, not in the financial realm or in the ability of the two parties to work together (all the could do on that front is contrast each other anyway, work together for a gridlock that guarantied no successful third party teaching power).  The political damage occurred long before I was born.

And on the financial level, we weren't that far off from this brink during the furloughs in the 70s and 80s or the shutdown in the 90s that didn't include furlough.  The total debt is higher, but when you can't pay it off, doesn't much matter if you double or triple it.  You're already screwed if you default.  When you've spent everything, defaulting on a 3 million dollar house or a 30 thousand dollar house isn't much different in the end.  You're homeless either way.

The damage they did this time around is more subtle and much deeper and wide reaching.  They've washed away the last illusion of the people that the government is worth keeping.

Unless I'm looking the wrong direction with the Sight and misunderstanding what I'm seeing, it has begun, the death pangs of the last super power are in progress.

The people have been sleeping in apathy.  Speaking and grumbling, but never waking, never voting or rising up for change, true change, instead of a pendulum between two sides that only exist because the other opposes them.

There are some who take action, who try for change, of course.  There always is, and there has to be for those in power to remain.  No government can long stand without a healthy opposition.

But those sleeping are stirring, the sleeping giant Washington has succeeded in waking is for greater than the one Japan woke with the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This sleeping giant, this sleeping Serpent, is relentless and unpredictable, and is hard to subdue once she awakes.

For this is a Serpent born of rebellion, that will not rest as long as one block remains upon another in Washington. And in some parts of the country, the state and local governments will fair no better, though I suspect the Mountain States will respond with, well we can survive like we always do, and firm the borders and carry on.  Other states, the people will tear to shreds.

It's like a blog post I posted not long ago, the foundations are being shaken.  We'll see what stands when the quakes and death rattles have ended.

Welcome to the Age of Aquarius, or at least a taste, the fall of hierarchies and structure, and the chaos, uncertainty, and confusion that results.  The Son of the Virgin fades, the Son of Lion's time approaches.

Just my bleak and troubled thoughts at the moment, take them or leave them.

~Muninn's Kiss

Friday, 11 October 2013

Samhain Dumb Supper or Other Get Together

Anyone interested in a dumb supper or other get together around Samhain, in the Northern Frontrange area?

I.E., Denver, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Golden, Ft.Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Castle Rock, and surrounding areas, and those within driving distance that are interested.

Feel free to comment if you're interested, or email me at muninnskiss @ grimr.org.

~Muninn's Kiss

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Name of the Dreamer

I walk in the night that is not the night, the darkness that is not the darkness.  Dusk was long ago, fading and vanishing, twilight has come and gone, I can hardly see.  But this is not night.  The clouds hang high in the sky, lit by the city lights.  No wind blows.  All is stillness as I move away from the places of people, still in the Dreaming, yet not in it, a part but apart, walking the edges, far from the edges.

And I walked, and I crossed a threshold, a gate, a gate in a fence.  And I spoke the names of the Guardians of the Edges, the Keepers, the Builders, the Bringers.  I spoke them starting with her that wanders the North, the Keeper of the Lost, the Builder of Storms, the Bringer of Tears.  I spoke the name of the North, then the East, then the South, then the West.  And the First Gate was open.

The Storm Gate stands open,
The Keeper stands aside,
The North Gate is open,
The Stone is moved aside.

And I walked on, and I called the wind, the Wind, the Wind Between Worlds.  There is a wind that blows between the worlds.  It is a strange wind, like no others.  It is all others.  Between worlds it blows, and when you feel it, you know.  A flag flapped in the wind, straight out, taut.  Just before it had hung limp, now a strong wind whipped it.

And I walked, and I crossed a threshold, a boundary, the boundary of a field.  And I spoke the names of the Guardians of the Edges, the Keepers, the Builders, the Bringers.  I spoke them starting with he that wanders the East, the Keeper of Ways, the Builder of Paths, the Bringer of Dawn.  I spoke the name of the East, then the South, then the West, then the North.  And the Second Gate was open.

The Dawn Gate stands open,
The Keeper stands aside,
The East Gate is open,
The Stone is moved aside.

And I walked on, and I thought of the Lost.  There are those that wander the Veil, those lost in the mist.  They have lost themselves, the world has become too strange.  They wander the Veil, and in and out of the Dreaming, in and out of the Gleam.  You encounter them sometimes, odd encounters, odd conversation, surreal and strange.  You're not sure what you experienced, aren't sure who they were.  Nor are they, for they have lost themselves, these Lost have.  I've encountered them from time to time, but saw none this night.

And I walked, and I crossed a threshold, an edge, an edge between human fields and wild fields.  And I spoke the names of the Guardians of the Edges, the Keepers, the Builders, the Bringers.  I spoke them starting with he that wanders the South, the Keeper of Treasure, the Builder of Pleasure, the Bringer of Laughter.  I spoke the name of the South, then the West, then the North, then the East.  And the Third Gate was open.

The Pleasure Gate stands open,
The Keeper stands aside,
The South Gate is open,
The Stone is moved aside.

And I walked on, and the world was strange, half in, half out, like walking through mist but seeing clearly, like bright sunshine in a rain storm. like dreaming while you're awake, or waking but still being asleep.  Half in, half out.  An in between place.  Liminal.  The Edge of the Veil.

And I walked and crossed a threshold, half wild places to something more, something on the verge of the Gleam, or just on the edge of the Veil.  And I spoke the names of the Guardians of the Edges, the Keepers, the Builders, the Bringers.  I spoke them starting with she that wanders the West, the Keeper of Secrets, the Builder of Foundations, the Bringer of Dusk.  I spoke the name of the West, then the North, then the East, then the South.  And the Fourth Gate was open.

The Dusk Gate stand open,
The Keeper stands aside,
The West Gate is open,
The Stone is moved aside.

And I wandered across ground that could be foot thick dry moss, or could be sagebrush, or could be brittle dry bones crumpling under my feet.  I wander across dry places and wet, dust and mud.

And I wonder about a name.  What is the Name of the Dreamer?  What is the Name of the Spinner of Dreams.  That young girl who is the oldest of all.  What is the Name?  How is the Fifth Gate opened?  How do you find that path past the Dream Gate, that Gate of Horn and Bone, past the Dream Gate to that Black Altar that sits before the Gate of Life and Death?

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Highs and Lows of Magic: A Look at the Terms High Magic and Low Magic and Their Usefulness as Labels

There are two terms tossed around a lot in the occult, esoteric, and pagan communities, sometimes with derision, sometimes in an attempt to explain differences.  Sometimes they are used descriptively, to define what is observed, sometimes prescriptively, to try to force a designation and discourage the practice of one or the other.  As with all labels, these terms can be restrictive or insulting if used that way, or useful in understanding used a different way.  While I discourage the use of any label to restrict or insult another, I find labels useful if they are used to better understand the subject without restricting it.  You get a bit of the wave or particle issue in quantum physics.  Can you apply the label without changing that which you are applying it to?  Can you observe that which you are labeling without changing it?

For a label to be useful, we must first understand the label itself.  What is meant by it?  The labels in question here are High Magic and Low Magic.  What do we mean by them?  They can also be called Superior Magic and Inferior Magic, but these terms have even more loaded meaning due to current understanding of the terms.  Superior means "above", inferior "below".  These have taking a meaning of above or below in value or in social power or in strength, but this was not the original meaning.  I'd point out a maximum used often at both ends of the spectrum.  "As above, so below, as below, so above."  High Magic and Low Magic are different in form, and often in goal, but not in essence, not in principle.

The meanings have changed since the original usage. High/superior does not necessarily mean better or more advanced, nor low/inferior mean lesser or more savage. Those meanings can be blamed on the Victorians. Consider a similar pair of terms (and actually having the same meaning as here), High Church and Low Church.

High Church (n)
(Christianity / Anglicanism) the party or movement within the Church of England stressing continuity with Catholic Christendom, the authority of bishops, and the importance of sacraments, rituals, and ceremonies

Low Church (n)
A group in the Anglican Church that minimizes the episcopacy, priesthood, and sacraments and favors evangelical doctrines, polity, and usages.

Basically, High Church is religion focused around set ritual and ceremony, with a priesthood and hierarchy. Low Church is religion minimizing those aspects, more ab lib and unstructured, more focus on the laity and non-ritualized worship.

Same goes for High Magic and Low Magic. High Magic is ceremonial magic, with set ritual and form, passed down through structured teaching. Low Magic is the more non-structured folk magic.

Another similar set of terms is High Fantasy and Low Fantasy. High Fantasy is a fantasy sub-genre where the events or characters can't exist in what is considered the laws of physics in our world. Elements like magic, dragons, elves, etc. Lord of the Rings is High Fantasy, as are the Mists of Avalon. Low Fantasy is fantasy that fits within the "real world", usually historical with minimized supernatural elements. Both Mary Stewart's Merlin books and Stephen Lawhead's King Arthur series are closer to the Low Fantasy end of the spectrum. I'm not saying High Magic is impossible fantasy. High Fantasy is more airy, Low Fantasy more earthy. High Fantasy typically uses the fantastic elements to facilitate the story, like High Magic and High Church using ritual to facilitate the worship or magic (and there's a fine line there), often focusing on inner transformation and more abstract gains and goals. Low Fantasy typically relies less on the fantastic and more on the day-to-day of living, like Low Magic and Low Church rely more of folk belief and practice, more on magic or religion for addressing mundane needs.

High Magic is an expression of ritual form and hierarchy, not a value judgement.  Low Magic is an expression of more every-day and less ritualistic practice, not a value judgement.  While many might use them as judgement, they are useful designators of two ends of a spectrum of form within magic and occult and esoteric practice.

~Muninn's Kiss

*Definitions from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Toward a Local Diet

I realized not too long ago that it is important to my practice to eat more local.  I am bound to this part of Colorado, and it is bound to me, through my agreements with the local spirits.  If it is the land I am called to and connected to, it seems logical that it would be the source of my food, that I would eat food grown in and on the same soil I am now planted in.

There are several caveats that make this important.

First, those that work the land feed the land, so it's important that I support them doing so as much as possible.  Helping support local agriculture helps the land, and I have sworn to help the land of this area as my abilities and opportunities allow.  In supporting local agriculture, be it produce or meat or anything else, I am aiding in the process that feeds and strengthens the land.

Second, is a concept I've recently come to.  The bedrock and foundation of an area breaks down into dirt.  Hardy plants that don't need much grow in that dirt, and are built from that dirt.  They are of the stuff of that dirt, so of the stuff of the bedrock and foundation.  As they live and as they die, they add nutrients to the dirt, as the process of life changes what is taken in into something else.  The end process of growth, life, death, and decay is that the dirt becomes soil, able to support plants that need more than those initial plants.  These new plants grow, made of the stuff of the soil, which is made of the stuff of the early plants, which is made of the dirt, which is made of the bedrock and foundation.  And these plants grow and live and die and decay as well, adding to the soil.  And animals eat the plants, and grow and live and die and decay, adding to the soil.  And other animals eat them, and so on. All things in the area are essentially made of the stuff of the bedrock and foundation, and part of the spirit of it.  This means, if I eat mostly stuff from other parts of the world or country or region or state, I am becoming part of those areas, but the more I eat local, the more of me is local and the stuff of the bedrock and foundation.  By eating local, I become more and more part of the land.

Third, the money I spend on what I eat stays in the local economy.  While I have no problem supporting farmers or ranchers in any part of the country, my priority needs to be here, and as much of my money that can stay in the local economy, the more I support the local economy, which is a major part of the human aspect of what I am committed to.

Fourth, local food is fresher and better for me.  Because it doesn't have to be shipped as far, it doesn't sit as long, so is closer to how it is fresh off the plant or right after slaughter.  If it is shipped across the country or world, it doesn't just sit longer, but has to be harvested or slaughtered with the distance in mind.  This means fruits and vegetables have to be picked before they are ripe, so that by the time they get to me, they have ripened to the expected point, not past it.  Who would buy over ripe fruits or vegetables?  But anyone who has grown their own or got them fresh knows that vine or plant ripened tastes better than shelf ripened.  Meat has similar issues, as it has to be kept cold or frozen to ship it, and sits longer.  This increases the health risk of bacteria, and decreases the taste.  And I have no idea what happens for sure during those trips, or what the growing conditions were.

There are other reasons as well, but I'll leave it at those four.

I started with honey, as I already knew I could get Clark's honey at Sprout's, a health food chain.  Clark's honey comes from Fort Luptin, on the eastern edge of the area I call home, and definitely local.  I got a bottle of their wildflower honey, which is quite strong in taste compared to most honey, and made from the nectar gathered from local wildflowers by the bees.  I add honey to a lot of things instead of sugar, and quite often eat it in peanut butter on a spoon, so it seemed a good place to start.

A few days later, I did checking at the local grocery store chains.  I was told they all have local suppliers, so I figured I'd check what they had.

I started with Sprouts.  I figured a chain that totes being health food and has organic and similar type products would also have a lot of local food as well.  Wrong.  The only thing I could find that was local was Clark's honey.  There was a pamphlet for a local beef farm in Northglenn, but none of the meat had any labels saying that farm's name, and the only labels on them gave country names (I saw United States, Uruguay, and I thin Ecuador).  I asked one of the people at the butcher counter, and he said he has no idea where the meat is from beyond what's on the label, that they aren't told where anything is produced or grown.  Maybe some of it is local, but they have no idea which, if any.  Not helpful.

At Safeway, I had a little better luck.  I found a few items in the produce section marked as Colorado grown, and a fair amount of meat marked as such.  I talked to a person in the produce section, and while they try to mark the fruits and vegetables, they are only required to give the country of origin, not any more specific.  He said there is other local produce, unmarked, but he wasn't sure which.  Also, there was no method to determine if it was truly local or from a different part of the state.  Local just meant somewhere in Colorado.  More helpful, but not enough.

King Soopers was better.  They had a lot of local produce, and they label everything that is from Colorado with Colorado Proud.  In addition, almost all the produce that is from Colorado doesn't just have that, but a sign giving the town it's from.  Unfortunately, almost all of these were outside the Northern Frontrange area.  Meat is also always marked, but sparse.  I've only ever seen one or two items at a time, if that.  Safeway has much more.

Walmart uses Colorado Proud labels, as well, but had very few items.

Target, for meat, only had sausage.  For produce, they had one end cap of local vegetables, good stuff but not much.

So, basically, for grocery store chains, at least in this area, King Soopers seems best for local produce and Safeway for local meat.  But neither completely fit what I was looking for.

I decided that it would be better buying straight from the producers.  I figured the farmer's market was the best place to go to identify which producers I could contact.

I have been used to the farmer's market in Laramie.  It lasts for three months, from the first Friday of July to the last Friday of September.  It is only on Fridays, and only for two hours each Friday.  I was surprised to find that Longmont's farmer's market lasts from the first Saturday of April to the first Saturday of November, seven months.  In addition, it is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, five hours instead of two.  Boulder's farmer's market is even longer, covering the same span but 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and having a second time, from May until October on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Quite impressive times for both compared to Laramie.

That Saturday, I went down the the farmer's market in Longmont, which occurs in the Boulder County Fair Grounds.  These grounds are huge compared to any county fairgrounds I have seen in Wyoming.  It seemed odd to me at first that the county fair grounds would not be in the county seat.  I found a sign that told the history, and found out it started out in Boulder, but the county fair grew so big, they looked for a larger location and it moved to Longmont.  Thinking about the county, I realised this makes sense on another level.  While Boulder is definitely the political and administrative heart of the county, Longmont is definitely the agricultural heart.  Boulder started as a gold mining town, and the hills above and Boulder Creek define it.  From there, it grew into a university town and the administrative centre.  Longmont began life as a farming town, with the Chicago-Colorado Colony.  When the railroad came through, it became the place crops were loaded onto the train, so all the grain and produce came into Longmont.  It's never fully lost that character.  County fairs, at least in the Mountain West, are primarily agricultural fairs.  So the location of the fair grounds makes a lot of sense.

The day I decided to go to the farmer's market was the day of the 4H Fair.  There were a lot of people everywhere.  I finally found the farmer's market on the northern end of the grounds.  It was quite a bit larger than Laramie's, at least in number of stalls.  Everything was packed close together, each stall touching, unlike Laramie's where there is typically a fair amount of space between.  But it covered almost the same area total.  There was a lot of local farms and ranches represented.  I walked through, talked to a fair number of them, got business cards and pamphlet, and bought a bag of basil.  It was a lot more fresh basil for only $2 than I had spent $4 for in the store, and fresher and stronger.  Pleased with my purchase and the literature I had collected, I went home.

I used the basil that night to make bruschetta.  I had had everything I needed for it, but had waited too long and the basil had gone bad.  This basil was better basil, cheaper, and local, grown in local soil by locals.  the rest of the meal wasn't local, but it was a step.

It was a lot of basil, so I had a lot left.  I cut it up and put it in ice cube trays and added water and froze it.  Little basil cubes, perfect for dropping in sauce or soup.  No good for things like bruschetta, but available for most other applications without the fear of it going bad.  After it was froze, I popped them out and put them in a zip lock bag in the freezer.

Basil Set to Freeze
Basil Set to Freeze

The next Friday, I decided to go visit some places.

The person I bought the basil from had said to come by the farm, Frog Belly Farm, sometime, so I decided to start there.  I got out there and it was a beautiful area.  There was a field near the gate with a sign saying Parking, so I parked there and walked the rest of the way in.  I was amused to see a pepper plant growing beside the road, obviously a volunteer, likely from a pepper that fell off a truck, or similar.  I talked briefly with a lady who seemed to be the crew chief or similar and she said to go ahead and wander around and see what they do.  They have several areas of rows of vegetables, several greenhouses, a potting area, a barn and other buildings, a corral with swine in it, and likely other things in areas I didn't see.  People were weeding and picking, and there were tractors that were doing something near the barn.  Over all, a nice looking farm, well run, well organized.  Only thing I saw that my grandpa who was a farmer would have taken issue with was there was a lot of morning glory entwining many plants.  He hated the stuff, because once it got into a field it was very hard to remove.  One thing I really loved was a domed greenhouse with herbs growing inside.  What I wouldn't give for a greenhouse like that for herbs!

It was interesting walking on soil that has been worked for a long time, soil producing food, grown locally and and in local soil.  There is power in that, and I could feel it in the land.  This was living land, land that partnered with the people that worked it.  Walking that land and feeling it was a treat.

After I finished wandering and looking, I talked to the woman I had at the beginning again.  I asked her about buying, and found out it's a CSA farm, that they were preparing for the delivery to their share holders.  They sell at market what doesn't go to the holders, and sometimes sell at the farm if there's excess.  So I found out going out there wasn't the best way to buy.

From there, I drove toward a cattle ranch.  It was out near Hygiene, I forget the exact name.  It sells grass fed beef.  When I got there, there was a mailbox with the address, but no sign advertising it, and a cattle gate closed at the road in.  This isn't abnormal for a ranch, but the lack of a sign made me second guess if it was a place to visit.  I drove by, then pulled over and parked a bit up the road and pulled up their website.  It did talk about coming by, but when I looked at the prices, it was talking price per pound and weights in the 500 pond range, and telling what size freezer is needed for that.  I realised buying there would require buying much larger bulk than I could use, so buying there wasn't the best way either.

I got out of the car and walked back up the road.  The ranch was separated from the road by a creek.  I took a look at it, and thought about the fact that this was definitely a cattle ranch, not a cattle farm.  I've mused about this, and talked about ti to a couple people including a friend who grew up on a ranch.  My grandpa was a farmer.  When i was a kid, he lived on and worked a cattle farm.  It felt like a farm.  Grass fed, not feed lot, pasture and grazing, but definitely a farm.  My friend's family ranch feels like a ranch to me, not like a farm, and this one I went to visit also did.  So what's the difference?  I came to the conclusion that a farm is cultivated and set, domesticated, whereas a ranch is more wild, more changing.  My grandpa's farm was four sections, one with the house, outbuildings, containerizes, barns, sheds, and corrals, one with barley growing, one with hay growing, and one for grazing.  I believe he rotated the three without buildings.  The cattle were let out into the pasture to graze, but typically spent the night in the corral, in the three sided sheds that backed it.  When they were fed hay or oats, it was in feeding troughs build into the corral fence.  The ranches I've been on, the cattle spend the night in the field, or in open range, not corrals and sheds.  Hay is brought out and given in the field, not in troughs.  The only crop besides cattle is hay to feed the cattle.  Quite a bit different, and the land feels different.  A ranch, the land feels wild, barely different from open range.  The land on a farm feels domesticated, working with the farmer, but farmland, defined, set.

As I drove back to town, I thought of what I had seen and learned.  I realised the farmer's market was the best bet for local produce and meat, and realised that in times before refrigeration, you likely bought food at a market when you needed it, and that farmers would bring things in to the town where people would buy it.  A much different system than we have today, at least in this part of the world with supermarkets and grocery store chains.  And everything would have been local, or most everything.  The farmer's market was exactly what I needed and where I needed to find local food items.

The next day, on Saturday, I went to the farmer's market with the intent to make a meal.  I started with meat, looking at what was available and the prices, as more expensive meat would limit the produce I could buy to use with it.  I settled on lamb shanks.  In addition, I bought garlic, a yellow onion, rosemary, and shiitake and oyster mushrooms.  Total came to about $18.

The Monday night, I made it.  I seared the lamb shanks in olive oil.  While it was searing, I browned the complete head of local garlic in olive oil, chopped up and added a whole local yellow onion, an Anaheim pepper and a jalapeño pepper (both non-local), a large pinch of local rosemary, and almost half a bottle of red Italian wine.  I cooked off half the wine, added the local mushrooms, poured the mixture in a pan, put in the shanks, half submerged, covered it with tin foil and baked it for 40 minutes, flipped shanks, 40 more minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes..  They were absolutely delicious and moist.  And the vegetable mixture, mostly mushroom as the onion, garlic, and peppers have shank while I was cooking off the wine, was to die for.  A bit too much rosemary in the vegetables, not in taste, but in number, as I had to pick it out, but very good.  A good first go at it.

Braised Lamb Shanks
Braised Lamb Shanks

This first experiment, and the process of getting to it, made me think of other, non-food related, ideas.  Where does my clothes, my paper products, all the things I get come from?  I went to Boulder to shop one day, and wandering around, I thought of all the focus that is put of fair trade and making sure products produces in other countries can be sold in the US at competitive prices, and how few places carry local products.  There are quite a few Tibetan, Chinese, and similar stores in the Pearl Street Mall, and several fair trade stores selling imports from Africa and South America and the like, but only one store that focuses on local craftsmen and the like.  It is easier to find products from across the world than those made right here where I live.  Interestingly, the farmer's markets are a source for that as well.  At the Longmont market are craft stands as well as the produce and meat and other food stands.

This weekend, I made my second mostly local meal from the farmer's market.  My plan is to do one each pay period, plus get as much local besides it as possible.  The meat I picked out was a two pound flatiron cut of steak.  A lot of meat for $12.  In addition, I bought three ears of corn, four small red onions, a head of garlic, a bag of basil, and a bunch of cilantro.  Total with the meat came to right around $20.  The cilantro wasn't for this meal, but to use in tacos, and the basil was primarily for bruschetta.

I heated up the grill.  It's one of those no-fire George Foreman grills.  While the meat thawed in water (ranches typically store and sell meat frozen), I cut up the onions, a few cloves of garlic, and some of the basil into a bowl.  I added some of the wine from the week before, some olive oil, and some Worcestershire sauce, plus cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt.  I mixed it all up and let the flavours mix, then when the meat was close to thawed, I poured it into a pan and moved the vegetables to the sides, so that the juice would settle in the middle.  I let ti drain a bit until it was about an eighth of an inch deep, and the meat was completely thawed and placed the meat in the juice.  Let it marinate for a few minutes, flipped it over, let it marinate for a few more, then took everything out to the grill.  I put the steak on, then dumped the vegetables on and spread them (this wouldn't have worked in a traditional grill, they would have fallen through), and put one ear of corn (which I had removed almost all the husk of, so only a thin layer still covered it) on.  Every so often, I stirred the vegetables, rotated the corn (using the stem as a handle), and flipped the steak, pouring a bit more of the juice from the pan on it.  I bet it took about fifteen minutes to cook everything.  It all tasted wonderful.  The thin parts of the steak were a bit over done, but the main bulk was perfect.  I put butter and salt on the corn and ate it off the cob, absolutely perfect.  And the vegetables were very good.  I ate all the corn, but only finished half of the steak and vegetables, putting the rest in the refrigerator.  Was definitely a successful meal.

Flatiron Steak and Corn on the Cob
Flatiron Steak and Corn on the Cob

Over all, it is progressing.  I'm eating more local than I did before, even if not every meal.  I feel more connected, and definitely more aware, because even what I don't eat local I think about that fact.  And I add bits of local things in, herbs, honey, garlic.

A few other things I've been considering.  I'd like to gather local cat tails, and back flour from them to use in baking.  I am contemplating a share in a farm next year, getting weekly or biweekly baskets of produce or meat.  I'm considering making an arrangement with one of the local dairies that deliver, for my milk.  I need to swing by the local butcher and see what they have for meat.  I'd love to find a source for local flour, presuming the cat tail experiment doesn't work well.  For my bruschetta this time, I'm going to make my own french bread, and I made banana bread yesterday and corn bread a few weeks before.  If I can use local flour or can use cat tails, these breads would be a good way to eat local.

Time will tell what all I end up doing, but the process and quest to eat more local is opening my eyes to what is around me in new ways and making me more conscious of what I put into my body.

~Muninn's Kiss

Saturday, 17 August 2013

When Pan Holds Court in the City Streets

Twilight comes early in Boulder, as it's so close to the mountains that the sun sets and twilight begins about two hours before it does out on the plains, eighty miles to the east.  It is an odd place at twilight, when street performers and panhandlers are every ten feet, and people are laying down their beds here and there in the bushes in parks and grounds.

If you walk Pearl Street at twilight, and have eyes to see and ears to hear, you'll be surprised at what is happening around you.  For the Old Gods walk the city streets, and Great Pan holds court in the twilight's light.  I saw him tonight, under the fading sky and almost full moon, I was him on Pearl Street in Boulder as I walked in twilight tonight as my other self.  He looked quite human, in human guise, and his dress the same, but his words were honey, and anyone with eyes could see if they watch that gait and sway as he walked on the balls of his bare feet that it was only glamour that hid the goats feet of his true form.  And walking behind him, the urge was strong to join his court among the merry throng that were gathered there, and follow him, to dance and ecstasy.

I saw young Artemis, down and out, her dog content but too small and too motivated to join the hunt.  She sat there on the sidewalk, it worn clothes, a boot in front of her with a sign, her pack beside her and her dog half snoozing on top of it.  I stopped and turned aside and talked to her a moment about her dog, and gave her a dollar before heading on my way.

I spotted Hermes upon a wall holding a sign.  He looked serious and like any other panhandler, but his sign was a bit different, and I read it, and couldn't help but grin.  "Slept with Lindsey Lohan, need help."  He spotted my grin and matched it with his own, his eyes passing from serious to mischievous in an instant.  He pointed at me and snapped his fingers, and said quite loud but too quiet for anyone but me to hear as I passed almost twenty feet from him, others closer, "Gotcha."  I went on my way.

I spotted Hephaestus, sitting on a bench as an old man, his eyes down, not noticing anyone, lost in his own thoughts and memories.  He seemed weak and feeble, but you could feel the strength and power.  A hard life, unsure what to make of it.

I saw Athena, sitting on a bench beneath a street light, the thick book in her lap more important than the street performers around her.

I saw Apollo standing on the edge, a guitar instead of his Lyre, his voice singing out an Alternative song from the '90s, load and clear, but smooth and glorious, a voice that can move the soul.

And I saw Neptune, walking the opposite way as me on a dark sidewalk, empty except the two of us.  He was a shadow of an old man, hidden in shadow.  He moved off the sidewalk as I passed, giving me room, and I saw a glimpse of his khaki trousers, his Hawaiian shirt, his thick grey beard, his straw hat, the cup of rum in his hands.  He didn't look at me, and we both continued on our way.

If you walk Pearl Street at twilight, and have eyes to see and ears to hear, you'll be surprised at what is happening around you.  For the Old Gods walk the city streets, and Great Pan holds court in the twilight's light.

Twilight comes early in Boulder, as it's so close to the mountains that the sun sets and twilight begins about two hours before it does out on the plains, eighty miles to the east.  It is an odd place at twilight, when street performers and panhandlers are every ten feet, and people are laying down their beds here and there in the bushes in parks and grounds.

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Mistress Over the Dead: a look at the "Witch of Endor" and related myths

The subject has come up often lately in various places online of the "Witch of Endor".  This is said as if it was title, and I read a discussion one place that said, was there's only one witch in Endor, and was there never a witch there before or after?  The very question implies not understanding the passage, so thought I'd dig into it a bit.  'Eyn Do'r, or, technically, b'Eyn Do'r, "in 'Eyn Do'r".

First off, in case people are confused, we're not talking about the moon called Endor in Star Wars.  :-)  This is in 1 Samuel in the Jewish Tanakh and Cristian Old Testament.  Endor is the way it's typically rendered in English, but it's two words in the Hebrew text.

Here's the whole verse, from the Revised Standard Version:

Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at Endor.” ~1 Samuel 28:7 RSV

And the Hebrew:

ז  וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל לַעֲבָדָיו בַּקְּשׁוּ-לִי אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב, וְאֵלְכָה אֵלֶיהָ וְאֶדְרְשָׁה-בָּהּ; וַיֹּאמְרוּ עֲבָדָיו אֵלָיו הִנֵּה אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר

The phrase that matters here is:

Behold, there is a medium at Endor.
אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר

Breaking it down:

אִשָּׁה - 'ishshah - woman, wife, female

בַּעֲלָה - ba'alah - mistress, female owner, sorceress, necromancer  From בַּעַל:
בַּעַל - ba'al - owner, husband, citizens, inhabitants, rulers, lords, master of <>, lord.  From בָּעַל:
בָּעַל - ba'al - to marry, rule over, possess, own
אוֹב - 'owb - water skin bottle, necromancer, one who evokes the dead, ghost, spirit of a dead one, practice of necromancy, one that has a familiar spirit.  From אָב:
אָב - 'ab - father of an individual, God as father of his people, head or founder of a household, group, family, or clan, ancestor, originator of patron of a class, profession, or art, producer, generator, benevolence and protection, term of respect adn honour, ruler or chief.
בְּעֵין דּוֹר - b 'eyn do'r - in 'Eyn Do'r
עֵין־דוֹר - 'Eyn-Do'r - Endor, Fountain of Dor
עַיִן - 'ayin - eye, spring, fountain
דּוֹר - dowr - period, generation, habitation, dwelling.  From דּוּר:
דּוּר - duwr - to heap up, pile, to dwell, to remain, to delay, to inhabit, to go around.
דּוּר - duwr - ball, circle

My translation:  "There is a woman that is mistress over the dead at the eye of the circle."

So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments, and went, he and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit, and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” ~1 Samuel 28:8

ח  וַיִּתְחַפֵּשׂ שָׁאוּל וַיִּלְבַּשׁ בְּגָדִים אֲחֵרִים וַיֵּלֶךְ הוּא וּשְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים עִמּוֹ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה לָיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר קָסֳמִי-נָא לִי בָּאוֹב וְהַעֲלִי לִי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-אֹמַר אֵלָיִך

Divine for me by a spirit
קָסֳמִי-נָא לִי בָּאוֹב

קָסַם - qacam - to practice divination, divine.
נָא - na - please, if you please
לִי - li - to, for (first person singular)
בָּאוֹב - conjure up, invoke, in/with + אוֹב (see above)

My translation:  "Please divine by conjuring for me."

The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” ~1 Samuel 28:9

ט  וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֵלָיו הִנֵּה אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה שָׁאוּל אֲשֶׁר הִכְרִית אֶת-הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִי מִן-הָאָרֶץ וְלָמָה אַתָּה מִתְנַקֵּשׁ בְּנַפְשִׁי לַהֲמִיתֵנִי

cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land
הִכְרִית אֶת-הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִי מִן-הָאָרֶץ

הִכְרִית - hkarath - the + כָּרַת
כָּרַת - karath - to cut, cut off, eliminate, kill, cut a covenant, to hew, to be cut off, to be cut down, to be cut off, to be chewed, to fail, to destroy, to take away, to permit to perish.
אֶת - et - to, with
הָאֹבוֹת - havot - the + אֹבוֹת
אֹבוֹת - avot - plural of אֹב:
אֹב - av - father, male parent, ancestor, forefather, progenitor, originator, prototype
וְאֶת - 'owb - and + אוֹב (see above)
הַיִּדְּעֹנִי - hyidde'oni - the + יִּדְּעֹנִי
יִּדְּעֹנִי - yidde'oni - a knower, one who has a familiar spirit, soothsayer, necromancer.  From יָדַע:
יָדַע - yada' - to know, to perceive, to discriminate, to distinguish, to know by experience, to recognise, to consider, to be perceived, to be made known, to be revealed, to cause to know, to be known, to make oneself known, to declare, to reveal oneself.
מִן - men - from
הָאָרֶץ - haarets - the + אָרֶץ
אָרֶץ - erets - country, land, territory, district, earth, ground, soil

My translation:  "removed ancestors and spirit knowers from the ground"

The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” ~1 Samuel 28:13

יג  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמֶּלֶךְ אַל-תִּירְאִי כִּי מָה רָאִית וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל-שָׁאוּל אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ

a god coming up out of the earth.
אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ

אֱלֹהִים - 'elohiym - rulers, judges, divine ones, angels, gods, god/goddess, godlike one, works or special possessions of God, God
רָאִיתִי - raiti first person singular past tense of רָאָה:
רָאָה - raa - to see, to have vision, to observe, to look at
עֹלִים - 'alim - plural indefinite form of עָלֶה:
עָלֶה - 'alah - to go up, ascend, climb, meet, visit, follow, depart, retreat, spring up, grow, shoot forth, rise, excel, be superior to, be taken up, be brought up, be taken away, to take oneself away, to be exalted
מִן - men - (see above)
הָאָרֶץ - haarets - (see above)

My translation:  "a godlike one I See, rising up from the ground"

As Saul can't see the shade, raa here is vision, the Sight, not physical mundane sight.

He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. ~1 Samuel 28:14

יד  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַה-תָּאֳרוֹ, וַתֹּאמֶר אִישׁ זָקֵן עֹלֶה וְהוּא עֹטֶה מְעִיל וַיֵּדַע שָׁאוּל כִּי-שְׁמוּאֵל הוּא, וַיִּקֹּד אַפַּיִם אַרְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ

And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew
וַתֹּאמֶר אִישׁ זָקֵן עֹלֶה וְהוּא עֹטֶה מְעִיל וַיֵּדַע

וַתֹּאמֶר - vatomar - and + תֹּאמֶר
תֹּאמֶר - tomar - third-person singular imperfect of אָמַר:
אָמַר - amar - to say, think, pronounce, intend
אִישׁ - 'ish - man, husband, adult male
זָקֵן - zaqen - old, elderly, aged
עֹלֶה - 'alah - (see above)
וְהוּא - vakharash - and + הוּא
הוּא - hi - he, it, he is, it is
עֹטֶה - atah - to wrap, cover, veil, clothe, roll, array, be clad, cover, fill, put on, turn aside
מְעִיל - m'il - robe or coat worn over a tunic by men of rank
וַיֵּדַע - vayeda - and + יֵּדַע (see above)

My translation:  And she pronounced, "And an elderly man rises and he is wrapped in a obe" And he knew

Interesting her is that "knew" is the same "knew" from which "knowers" above is derived.  He knew it was Saul when she spoke in the same way that those who had been removed knew spirits.  Insight, intuition, the beginning of Sight.  His eyes were opened, through her words. The story continues with him and Samuel taking directly.  He appears to now be able to both see and hear him.

Then Saul fell at once full length upon the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. ~1 Samuel 28:20

I won't worry about the Hebrew here, as it doesn't reveal anything interesting to the discussion.  I will note that "ground" here, "earth" from which Samuel arose, and "land" from which the ancestral spirits and spirit knowers were removed are all the same word.

In summary, Saul asked for a medium and was told there was a mistress over the dead in the eye of the circle.  He seeks her out, and asks her to divine for him by conjuring a shade.  She is fearful because the king (whom she doesn't yet know is him) had all ancestral spirits and spirit knowers removed from the land/ground/earth.  He reassures her and she calls forth the one he asks for (ingress).  She sees it is a holy man and gets an inkling what is happened, and tells him what she sees.  He asks what the shade looks like and she describes him, and in that description, he Sees and Hears and has congress with him.  After he is gone (egress), Saul falls to the ground, with no strength left. Afterwards she feeds him so he can renew his strength.

This conjuring brings to mind Odin conjuring the volva in Baldrs Draumar (Baldr's Dreams).  Henry Adams Bellows' translation (found at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe13.htm) puts it thus:

1. Once were the gods | together met,
And the goddesses came | and council held,
And the far-famed ones | the truth would find,
Why baleful dreams | to Baldr had come.

2. Then Othin rose, | the enchanter old,
And the saddle he laid | on Sleipnir's back;
Thence rode he down | to Niflhel deep,
And the hound he met | that came from hell.

3. Bloody he was | on his breast before,
At the father of magic | he howled from afar;
Forward rode Othin, | the earth resounded
Till the house so high | of Hel he reached.

4. Then Othin rode | to the eastern door,
There, he knew well, | was the wise-woman's grave;
Magic he spoke | and mighty charms,
Till spell-bound she rose, | and in death she spoke:

5. "What is the man, | to me unknown,
That has made me travel | the troublous road?
I was snowed on with snow, | and smitten with rain,
And drenched with dew; | long was I dead."
Othin spake:

6. "Vegtam my name, | I am Valtam's son;
Speak thou of hell, | for of heaven I know:
For whom are the benches | bright with rings,
And the platforms gay | bedecked with gold?"
The Wise-Woman spake:

7. "Here for Baldr | the mead is brewed,
The shining drink, | and a shield lies o'er it;
But their hope is gone | from the mighty gods.
Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still."
Othin spake:

8. "Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee
All to know | that I fain would ask:
Who shall the bane | of Baldr become,
And steal the life | from Othin's son?"
The Wise-Woman spake:

9. "Hoth thither bears | the far-famed branch,
He shall the bane | of Baldr become,
And steal the life | from Othin's son.
Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still."
Othin spake:

10. "Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee
All to know | that I fain would ask:
Who shall vengeance win | for the evil work,
Or bring to the flames | the slayer of Baldr?"
The Wise-Woman spake:

11. "Rind bears Vali | in Vestrsalir,
And one night old | fights Othin's son;
His hands he shall wash not, | his hair he shall comb not,
Till the slayer of Baldr | he brings to the flames.
Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still."
Othin spake:

12. "Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee
All to know | that I fain would ask:
What maidens are they | who then shall weep,
And toss to the sky | the yards of the sails?"
The Wise-Woman spake:

13. "Vegtam thou art not, | as erstwhile I thought;
Othin thou art, | the enchanter old."
Othin spake:
"No wise-woman art thou, | nor wisdom hast;
Of giants three | the mother art thou."
The Wise-Woman spake:

14. "Home ride, Othin, | be ever proud;
For no one of men | shall seek me more
Till Loki wanders | loose from his bonds,
And to the last strife | the destroyers come."

We don't see the weakness at the end, as it ends with her parting speech.  But there's a feel to the conjuring much similar, with the spirit rising up from the ground, the spirit none to happy to be called and having a threatening tone.  Neither rose willingly, and neither could resist the call.

There is another tale we have of summoning the dead, that of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey.  Book Eleven says:

At the furthest edge of Ocean's stream is the land to which all journey when they die. Here their spirits endure a fleshless existence. They can't even talk unless re-animated with blood.

Accordingly, I did as Circe instructed, bleeding a sacrificed lamb into a pit. Tiresias, the blind prophet who had accompanied us to Troy, was the soul I had to talk to. So I held all the other shades at bay with my sword until he had drunk from the pit.

He gave me warnings about my journey home and told me what I must do to ensure a happy death when my time came. I met the shades of many famous women and heroes, including Achilles, best fighter of the Greeks at Troy
~Mythweb - http://www.mythweb.com/odyssey/Odyssey.pdf

While we don't have the patterns we saw before, no rising from the ground, no hostility, no weakness afterwards, there is a parallel with Odin's conjuring.  Odin road to just outside Hel to do the conjuring, the place of the dead.  Likewise Odysseus travels to the land of the dead before using blood to allow the dead to talk.

It is interesting to note that Odysseus' name comes from ὀδύσσομαι, "to be wroth against" or "hate", from μισώ.  The beginning of the name brings to mind Óð (as in Óðinn).  Many of Odin's names bring to mind hate or anger.  While it is unlikely there's a link between the two tales, it's interesting to entertain.

~Muninn's Kiss

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