Sunday, May 26, 2013




Appeal: Strength, Welder, Thunder, Electric, Courage, Protection, Trains, Weather, Military

In Norse mythology, Thor (T, Donnar, Thorr) is a God associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength and the protection of mankind.  Largely recorded in Iceland from traditional material stemming from Scandinavia, numerous tales and information about Thor are provided.  Thor is frequently referred to in place names, the day of the week Thursday (Thor's day) and names stemming from the pagan period containing his own continue to be used today.

One of the most beloved Gods of the Germanic people, he is often known as "God of the common man".  He is the son of Odin, the husband of the golden-haired Goddess Sif and is generally described as fire-eyed, red-haired and red-bearded.  Thor's hall in Asgard was Bilskirnir (lightning), which had 540 rooms.  He rides in a cart pulled by two goats, Tanngrisni (tooth gnasher) and Tanngnost (tooth grinder).

Generally good-natured, Thor had a hot temper and his anger was dreadful to behold.  Thor wields the mountain-crushing hammer, Mjolnir, wears the belt Megingjard and the iron gloves Jarngreipr.  Thor's deeds including his relentless slaughter of his foes and fierce battles with the monstrous serpent Jormungand are recorded throughout sources for Norse mythology.

Thor was known for protecting both Gods and mortals from the powers of evil.  Although Thor is sometimes shown as being slow-witted in comparison with Odin or Loki, he is a practical God whose solutions to problems are usually swift, effective and show the common sense the other Gods sometimes lack.  In one Eddic poem, he outwits the clever dwarf Alviss by engaging him in a riddle contest until dawn turns the dwarf to stone. 
According to one well-known myth about Thor, Thrym, king of the giants, came into possession of Mjolnir and declared that he would give it back to Thor only if the beautiful Goddess Freyja agreed to marry him. She angrily refused and the trickster God Loki came up with a clever plan to recover Mjolnir. Using women's clothing and a bridal veil to disguise Thor as Freyja.  When the time came for a hammer to be placed in the bride's lap according to custom, Thor grabbed Mjolnir and threw off his disguise. Then he used the hammer to smash the giants and their hall.

Thor’s Journey to Utgard is another one of the best known of the Norse myths. It is also one of the longest and most richly told myths.  He is challenged to three tasks and fails.  Well, he was actually tricked.  The drinking horn was anchored in the seas of the world.  No one can drain the oceans, but from then on, the tides would ebb and flow.  The cat was Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, who is so big that he encircles the world.  And Elli was Old Age and no one had wrestled with her better than Thor.  Although in this myth macho Thor is upstaged, he is not totally humiliated.  He returned home with his head high.  A search online should bring up the full long tale or more on Thor's wedding (or I have a copy if someone would like one).

At Ragnarok, the end of the world, Thor killed Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, his ancient enemy, but himself was killed by the poisonous venom of the dying serpent.

In modern times, Thor continues to be referenced in popular culture.  Depictions of Mjolnir became popular adornment for warriors during the age of the Vikings and it is still seen today among adherents of some forms of Asatru, Norse Paganism and on National Headstones.  Thor has been the subject of various poems, including Adam Oehlenschlager's 1807 epic poem Thors reise til Jotunheim.  Artists have depicted Thor in painting and sculpture, including Henry Fuseli's 1780 painting Thor in Hymirs Boot bekämpft die Midgardschlange.  Swedish chemist Jons Berzelius discovered a chemical element that he named after Thor; thorium.  In 1962, American comic book writer Stan Lee created the Marvel Comics superhero Thor.  This character stars in the 2011 Marvel Studios film Thor and the upcoming Thor: The Dark World and also appears in the 2012 film The Avengers and its associated animated series.

Thurisaz T rune is a force of defense, the giants and their destruction. In ancient times, as well as in some places today, bramble or thorny bushes were used to fence and protect boundaries. One form of Norse execution was to throw criminals into thorns. Thor is the God that protects sacred enclosures in much the same way that the thorny hawthorn, blackberry or rose bush does.

I am the God Thor,
I am the War God,
I am the Thundered!
Here in my Northland,
my fastness and fortress,
reign I forever!

Here amid icebergs
rule I the nations;
This is my hammer,
Mjolnir the mighty;
Giants and sorcerers
cannot withstand it!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


The domestic goat is a subspecies from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the family Bovidae and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat. Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species and have been used for their milk, meat, hair and skins over much of the world.
Goats are considered small livestock animals, compared to bigger animals such as cattle.  recognized breed of goats has specific weight ranges, which vary from over 300 lbs for bucks (intact male) of larger breeds such as the Boer, to 45 to 60 lbs for smaller goat does (female goat).  Most goats naturally have two horns, of various shapes and sizes depending on the breed.  And both male and female goats have beards, and many types of goat (most commonly dairy goats) may have wattles, one dangling from each side of the neck.

Goats are among the earliest animals domesticated by humans.  Neolithic farmers began to herd wild goats for easy access to milk and meat, primarily, as well as for their dung, which was used as fuel, and their bones, hair, and sinew for clothing, building, and tools.  Historically, goat hide has been used for water and wine bottles in both traveling and transporting wine for sale. It has also been used to produce parchment.

Goats are extremely curious and intelligent. They are easily trained to pull carts and walk on leads.  Goats are very coordinated and can climb and hold their balance in the most precarious places. They are also widely known for their ability to climb trees, although the tree generally has to be on somewhat of an angle. The vocalization goats make is called bleating.
According to Norse mythology, the God of thunder, Thor, has a chariot that is pulled by the goats Tanngniostr (tooth-cracker) and Tanngrisnt (tooth-gnasher).  When Thor stopped his travels for the night, he would find a humble farm family.  Thor would eat and share the meat of the goats, but takes care that all bones remain whole.  Then he wraps the remains up and in the morning, the goats always come back to life to pull the chariot.  But once when a farmer's son who is invited to share the meal breaks one of the goats' leg bones to suck the marrow, the animal's leg remains broken in the morning and the boy is forced to serve Thor as a servant to compensate for the damage.

The Yule Goat is one of the oldest Scandinavian and Northern European Yule (Christmas) symbols and traditions.  Yule Goat originally denoted the goat that was slaughtered around Yule, but it may also indicate a goat figure made out of straw.  It is also used about the custom of going door-to-door singing carols and getting food and drinks in return, often fruit, cakes and sweets.

Pan is the most well known Greek Horned God who has the body of a man and the head of a goat. Pan, the bearded goat foot God leads a procession of dancing of satyrs and nymphs while he plays the pipes (flute) that bear his name.
The astrological sign of Capricorn is symbolized by the goat (December 22 - January 19). Capricorns are powerful philosophical signs and highly intelligent. They apply their knowledge to practical matters and strive to maintain stability and order.  They are patient and persevering; they know they can accomplish any task as long as they follow their plan step-by-step.

Perhaps the most poignant lesson of the goat is about sacrifice.  The term scapegoat is originally a Hebrew word used when the people would attempt to cast their sins upon the animal, who was then turned out into the wilderness. Often the goat has been wrongly symbolized with the wicked, when truly the treatment of the animal represents the guilt and cruelty of ignorant civilizations. 

Positive or negative, they have long been a part of human lives.  Goats are insatiably curious. They will poke and prod at everything within their environment.  Goats are a great symbol of faith, balance, nature, curiosity, sacrifice and independence.  For the Urban Pagan, use a trash compact or garbage person like a goat.  In the 20th century, they have gained popularity as pets.


The Goat
by Aaron Fogel
If you are a goat, do you believe
What people tell you about
Goats, and eat
Tin cans?
There’s no goat that foolish.
Or is there?
The goat of the universe believed
What people told him about universes
And came into existence.
Bang!  How naive can you get?
Even the scapegoat is not as naive
As (God help him) the universe that
Agreed to exist.
A word to the wise: Don’t eat tin cans.
Don’t listen. Don’t exist.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Coming Up: Three Supermoons!
by Farmers' Almanac Staff | Monday, May 13th, 2013 | From: Astronomy
Full moon lovers will be in for a treat this summer as the coming months bring not just one, but three full supermoons in a row.

A supermoon occurs when the Moon is at least 90% of the way to its closest approach to the Earth at the same time it is full or new. Supermoons are caused by the shape of the Moon’s orbit, which is not a perfect circle, but an ellipse, or oval, shape. The Moon orbits the Earth once each month, and each month reaches a point farthest from the Earth, called apogee, and closest to the Earth, called perigee.

The reason these two Moon phases are singled out is because each of them means that the Sun, Earth, and Moon are in alignment. When the Moon is full, it sits exactly on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. When the Moon is new, it sits between the Earth and the Sun. In both cases, the gravitational pull from these two bodies – the Moon and the Sun – combine to create larger than normal tides, called “spring tides,” on Earth. When the Moon is also at perigee at this time, the effect is magnified into what is called a “proxigean spring tide.”
According to NASA, a full moon at perigee is up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than one at its furthest point (apogee).  It has been claimed that the supermoon of March 19, 2011 was responsible for the grounding of five ships in the Solent in the UK.  And within 1 or 2 weeks of a supermoon a causal relationship with specific natural disasters such as the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
Of course, a new Moon at perigee isn’t very exciting to look at – because the new Moon does not reflect the Sun’s light, it is invisible – so full supermoons get much more attention than new supermoons. There are usually about four or five supermoon events each year, only about half of which tend to be full supermoons. This year is somewhat unusual in that there are only three supermoons, and all three are full.

May’s full Moon falls on the 25th, one day before the lunar perigee on the 26th. The May supermoon also coincides with a very minor partial lunar eclipse. The largest of this year’s supermoons will occur on June 23, within 22 minutes of the Moon’s perigee on the same day. June’s supermoon coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth until August 10, 2014. Finally, July’s full Moon will rise on July 22, one day after that month’s lunar perigee.

With two or three full supermoons each year, they may not be unusual events, but for those who love looking up at the night sky, any excuse will do.

Happy Moon gazing!

Friday, May 17, 2013



Appeal: Children, Garden, Youth, Health, Beauty, Maidens, Innocence
Idunn is the Norse Maiden Goddess of youth and springtime.  She was one of the lesser known Aesir Goddesses who lived in Asgard.  Idunn has golden hair and often seen with a box or basket of golden apples.  She is married to Bragi the God of poetry.

She is the keeper of the golden apples that give the Gods immortality.  The golden apples grew on a tree that could only be harvested or given to others by Idunn.  Since the Norse Gods are not immortal, the apples are considered very precious.  

When Loki arranges for the giant Thiassi to abduct her, all the Gods and Goddesses start to age and weaken.  Loki promises to return her and, in the form of a falcon, finds her alone at Thiassi's home.  Loki turns her into a nut and takes her back to Asgard. After Thiassi finds that Idunn is gone, he turns into an eagle and furiously chases after Loki. The Gods build a pyre fire in Asgard and, after a sudden stop by Loki, Thiassi's feathers catch fire, he falls and the Gods kill him.  Idunn is safely returned to her grove and the Gods renew their immortality and youth.

Because of the events of Ragnarok, Idunn is believed to suffer the same fate that befell the rest of the Asgardians.  Idunn's apples cannot stop death.                                         

She hides her apples

in a wooden box

sealed with magic.

She feeds them to those who have chosen

to let their souls grow.

So that their flesh

won't wither away.

She walks her garden silently

with the box

well hidden in her heart.

Watering the apple tree

with her tears.

So may it be.

Maiden Goddess

Maiden Goddess
Goddess History dates back to the earliest civilizations.  It’s well documented that ancient societies worshiped feminine forms of God - typically as mother, earth and nature, or as deities who personified feminine attributes.  In common Neopagan usage, the three female figures are frequently described as the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone (Triple Goddess).  For some pagans, there is a fourth Goddess aspect, the Dark Goddess (see Dark Goddess post in December for more info).  Each Goddess symbolizes both a separate stage in the female life cycle and a phase of the moon and often rules one of the realms of earth, underworld and the heavens.

The Maiden is the youngest aspect of the Goddess.  For male wiccans, the aspect is the son or warrior.  She is the innocence and lack of worries, the joy of living.  The Maiden is usually associated with the waxing moon G, the spring season, the colors white and pink and flowers, especially the wild or white ones.  The animals associated with her are the owl, deer or any other wild animal.

Sometimes the Maiden is perceived of as a child, but more often as a young woman.  She is the young Goddess of spring and new beginnings, dawn, youth, passion, fresh potential, art, creativity, self expression, beauty, intelligence and skill.  The Maiden represents purity and the innocence of childhood, where the soul’s dreams, magic and make believe still prevail. She is often called on for coming of age and handfasting rites. 

The Maiden reminds you to look after the magical child that lies within us all.  It reminds you to stay in touch with your childhood intuition and fantasies that are used to fulfill your dreams.  Hence you can still have the Maiden in you at any time of life.
The Maiden in Greek Mythology is Persephone, purity and a representation of new beginnings.  Other maiden goddesses include: Brigid, Nimue, Virgin Goddess or Idunn.

Idunn is the Norse Maiden Goddess of youth and springtime.  She is the keeper of the golden apples that give the Gods immortality.  The golden apples grew on a tree that could only be harvested or given to others by Idunn.  Since the Norse Gods are not immortal, the apples are considered very precious.  

Dearest Maiden, Goddess of Spring,
Please bring illumination in early morning.
As you awaken at your hour,
Let me feel your energy and power.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Rites of Passage: Marriage

These rituals were connected to the change of status and transitions in life a person experiences, such as birth, marriage and death.
Spring is here and love is in the air!  For many people of Pagan and Wiccan faiths, this is the time of year for a handfasting ceremony.  A couple who wishes to be married in a Wiccan or Pagan ceremony is handfasted.  A handfasting is not a legally binding ceremony and traditionally either member of the couple may choose to end the partnership at any time.  More and more Wiccan and Pagan clergy are becoming licensed ministers, however, so a handfasting may be accompanied by a legal marriage license if the couple chooses.
You’ve probably heard someone refer to marriage as “tying the knot” or “giving one’s hand.”  Originally the word handfast came into English from Old Norse languages and meant the act of sealing any bargain by taking hands.  From the 12th to the 17th century handfasting in England referred to a ceremony, usually about a month prior to a church wedding, at which the marrying couple formally declared that each accepted the other as spouse.  The Scottish also showed some records of a handfast or 'left-handed' marriage taking place as recently as the late 1600s.  In rural areas, it could be weeks or even months before a clergyman happened to stop by your village, so couples learned to make allowances.  Some would use grape vines, ribbon or knotted fabrics to symbolize the giving of each other's hand.  Generally this was done in the presence of witnesses.

After the beginning of the 17th century gradual changes in English law meant the presence of an officiating priest or magistrate became necessary for a marriage to be legal.  The word handfasting fell by the wayside for many centuries.  In the 1950s, when the witchcraft laws were repealed in England, various occultists and witches - including Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente - searched for a non-Christian term for their wedding ceremonies.  They settled on handfasting and the concept was resurrected within the Neopagan movement.
Dormant for so long, the idea of the handfasting ceremony has enjoyed a huge rise in popularity.  Prince William and Kate Middleton had a handfasting incorporated into their marriage.  One benefit of having a handfasting ceremony is it's not the same as a legal wedding, there are more options available to people in non-traditional relationships.  Anyone can have a handfasting -- same-sex couples, polygamous families, transgender couples, etc.  Either way, it's becoming more and more popular, as Pagan and Wiccan couples are seeing that there is indeed an alternative for non-Christians who want more than just a courthouse wedding.

Handfastings are usually done outdoors, as pagans feel that nature is the most appropriate place to celebrate a ritual of life, love and fertility.  For this reason, handfastings are most commonly performed in the warmer months and especially at Beltane, the Pagan holy day dedicated to growth, sexual union and the start of summer.  It is also often at sunrise or sunset, when both the Sun and Moon are present. 

Pagan handfastings are most often conducted with guests and witnesses standing in a circle around the couple. The circle symbolizes the womb of the Goddess and this ritual area can be marked out ritually either by the couple or by the officiating priestess/priest prior to the actual handfasting.  In the center of the circle is a small table with the four basic elements (bowl of earth/soil to the north, bowl of water/seashells to the west, bowl of air/feathers to the east and a bowl of oil/candle to the south).  It is also usual at this point for Divinity to be invoked, often in the form of the Goddess and the God.

Some handfastings have a bonfire or coincide with a sabbat.  Others jump a broom or mix in other religion vows into the ceremony.  In some versions of the tradition, the couple is tied at the wrist for the entire ceremony.  In many pagan ceremonies, the bride and groom cross arms and join hands, creating the infinity symbol (¥) with the hands.  The clergyperson performing the ceremony will join the couple's hands with a cord or ribbon during the ritual.  With the couple's hands bound together with cord, symbolizing their union, they speak their vows, trade rings or other tokens may be exchanged.  Other tokens might be the man coming to the ceremony wearing a hammer of Thor to place around his bride's neck to ensure her protection.  In some versions the couple's hands are untied once they have kissed, but in others one hand remains bound until the union has been physically consummated in private.  While some people may choose to have their handfasting be a permanent bond, others might declare it to be valid for "a year and a day", at which point they will re-evaluate the relationship and determine whether to continue or not.  And of course, some sort of party or feast ends the handfasting day. 

As with marriages between non-Pagans, sometimes Pagan marriages don't work out. Pagans have the same separation options as non-Pagans. They recognize that ending a marriage is as serious an undertaking as getting married and some choose to hold a separation ceremony to formally end their spiritual union, handparting.
Separation ceremonies are also usually written by the couple, but they don't need to be presided over by a legally recognized officiate even if the couple is receiving a legal divorce.  The ceremonies are sometimes performed before the couple's coven, kindred, grove, friends and families, but can also be performed in private.  The ceremonies are designed to help couples amicably end their relationship and ease the emotional pain that accompanies breakups.  In many rituals, the knotted ribbon from the handfasting is cut in two and burned to symbolize the handparting. 
Frigg was the wife of the all-powerful Odin and was considered a Goddess of fertility and marriage within the Norse pantheon.  A couple devoted to Norse and Anglo-Saxon deities might choose a Friday as their handfast day, the day sacred to the Goddess Frigg, protector of marriage and childbirth.