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:

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."

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