Thursday, May 29, 2014

Clean Air Day

The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity.  The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention, and reducing temperature extremes between day and night.  Nearly all Earth beings need air to live, both animals and plants.
Air is the element of the East, connected to the soul and the breath of life.  If you’re doing a working related to communication, wisdom or the powers of the mind, Air is the element to focus on.  Air carries away your troubles, blows away strife and carries positive thoughts to those who are far away.  Air is associated with the colors yellow and white.  It's supposed fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire and spirit.

Doves and birds are connected to the element of Air.  They represent peace, tranquility, and the calm that wind can bring.  Willow boughs are also used as symbols of the air; their supple nature and slender, wind-blown leaves seem fitting to represent the gentle supple motion of the wind.  Flutes and other wind music, with their high pitching notes that often sound like the whining of the wind in the branches of trees, is often used to depict the wind.

As soon as we call to mind the air element within the body — the air in our lungs and other body cavities, even the gases dissolved in our blood — we’re immediately aware of the breathing, aware that air is flowing rhythmically in and out of the body.  So almost simultaneously we recall the air element outside of us — the air surrounding us and touching the skin in this very moment, the winds and clouds and breezes that we see and hear moving branches and grasses.  In truth your life is a sacred gift of enchantment to this Earth.  Having this direct sense of interconnectedness is enlivening and empowering.


Clean Air Day 2014 is Wednesday, June 4th.  Clean Air Day aims to increase public awareness of two key environmental priorities: clean air and climate change, as well as to encourage the public to take action in these sectors.  In the winter of 1998, representatives from five environmental NGO's met with the Minister of the Environment to request that June be officially declared "clean air month" in Canada.

Clean air, is air which has a natural balance of gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.  Clean air does not contain pollutants or allergens.  Toxic air pollution is linked to serious conditions such as cancer and chronic bronchitis.  Air pollution can exacerbate pre-existing conditions such as asthma.
Clean Air Month is a time for many states to celebrate the impact the Clean Air Act has had on the way people think about the environment and on the overall health of its people.  For example, in Wisconsin, the Clean Air Act influenced legislation to be passed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from state power stations; and sulfur dioxide emissions has fallen by 46 percent.

The transportation sector is a major contributor of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.  For Clean Air Day, why not renew or begin a commitment to sustainable transportation?  When you use public transit, cycle, walk and rollerblade, you can reduce your personal emissions, save money used on fuel, contribute to your personal health and much more.

The Clean Air Day Commuter Challenge gives schools a special chance to encourage students to walk, bike or skate to school.  Clean Air Day is a chance to celebrate our environment by keeping our air clean, to share walking safety skills with children, to bring safety to our neighborhoods and reduce crime, to address traffic congestion, pollution and speed around our schools, and to spend valuable time with one another.  All great reasons to get your school and community involved!

·       Bike to Work

·       Go for a Nature Walk

·       Walk to School

·       Recycle

·       Quit Smoking

·       Put up a Birdhouse

·       Cut the Carbon Footprint

·       Plant a Tree


Start your new clean air lifestyle today!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014



Appeal: Joy, Light, Guidance Counseling, Love, Happiness

Balder (also Baldr, Baldur) is a God of light and purity in Norse mythology, and a son of the God Odin and the Goddess Frigg.  He has numerous brothers, such as Thor and Vali.  Balder's wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti.  He is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him.  He had a good character, was friendly, wise and eloquent.

Compiled in Iceland in the 13th century, but based on much older Old Norse poetry, the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda contain numerous references to the death of Balder as both a great tragedy to the Aesir and a harbinger of Ragnarok.  In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Balder had the greatest ship ever built, named Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breidablik.

He had a dream of his own death and his mother had the same dreams.  Since dreams were usually prophetic, this depressed him, so his mother Frigg made every object in every realm vow never to hurt Balder.  All objects made this vow except mistletoe.  Frigg had thought it too unimportant and nonthreatening to bother asking it to make the vow.

When Loki, the mischief-maker, heard of this, he made a magical spear from this plant (or arrow).  He hurried to the place where the Gods were indulging in their new pastime of hurling objects at Balder, which would bounce off without harming him.  Loki gave the spear to Balder's brother, the blind God Hodr, who then inadvertently killed his brother with it.

Loki did not escape punishment for his crime and Hodr was put to death by Vali, son of Odin.  Vali had been born for just that purpose.  Loki was bound in a cave with venom dripping onto his body, which caused him to writhe in pain - until the world's end in Ragnarok.

Balder was ceremonially burnt upon his ship, Hringhorni, the largest of all ships.  Nanna, Balder's wife, died of grief and was burned with him.  Balder's horse, with all its trappings, was also burned on the pyre.
Upon Frigg's pleas, delivered through the messenger Hermod, Goddess Hela promised to release Balder from the underworld if all objects alive and dead would weep for him.  All did, except a giantess, often presumed to be the God Loki in disguise, who refused to mourn the slain God.  Thus Balder had to remain in the underworld, not to emerge until after Ragnarok, when he and his brother Hodr would be reconciled and rule the new Earth together.


Baldr appears in the Supernatural episode "Hammer of the Gods" played by Adam Croasdell.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Tegner's Drapa" dealt with Baldr's death.  In the Japanese anime, Kamigami No Asobi, Baldr in one of the main characters.  And in Copenhagen, there is also a Baldersgade, or "Balder's Street."


Blameless Balder, shining God,
let your goodness and your reconciliation smooth my path on Earth.
When my days here are over, light up death's darkness with the promise of rebirth.
Help me to avoid evil and seek the good.
Inspired by you, I will keep my reputation spotless,
that my life will be proclaimed a victory of the spirit,
and my leaving it, a tragedy.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Long ago when the world was young there lived in the forest of Midgard a small fox named Rav who was as black as night.  He was a sly little fox who liked to play jokes on the other animals of the forest.  Needless to say, he didn't have many friends in the forest.
One day he was confronted by some rabbits that wanted to make fun of his abnormal black fur.  He ran past them and swiped his tail over the grass in passing, lighting it into flames.  The scared rabbits bound off in fear and hasted deep into the forest to escape the flames.

The land wright of the forest lake got upset with Rav and scolded the fox for causing such trouble.  Rav tried to lie to the forest lake, telling her that he would not do such a thing again.  But the forest lake knew better than to trust a fox and sent him from Midgard across Yggdrasil to Jotunheim, the land of giants and trolls.

Jotunheim is a cold, icy land, and there the fox found his lovely black coat had gone arctic white.  Worse than that, now the little arctic fox was all alone and had to constantly flee from the giants and the trolls of the wild north.  He did well at protecting only his own hide and the years passed before he knew it.

Then on a bitter cold day he spied a small fire where two travelers were eating.  One had red hair and a beard and carried a mighty hammer.  The other had black hair and seemed, to Rav, to be very cunning and fair.  But as he was watching, the giants played a trick on the travelers by making the snow storm so hard the travelers could not find their way.  Rav knew the lost travelers would come under attack by the giants soon.

It was then Rav felt regret for his own actions in the past and felt sympathy for the bold travelers.  Running ahead, he swept his tail over the snow, sending up a whirl of fire into the sky making it like day.  It was enough to startle the giants as he lit a path to the Bifrost bridge for the travelers.
At the top of the bridge one of the travelers companions could make out what was going on far below.  He quickly alerted all in Asgard of the danger of the trouble making giants.  So it was that in the end the travelers made it back to their land safely despite the snow storm.

Impressed with the little arctic fox they made Rav a small home at the base of the Bifrost bridge where it meets the frigid snow of the north.  It would be the little arctic fox's duty to send up flames nightly so that anyone lost could see and find their way back home.  He was so good at making his northern lights that they became known as the Foxfires or the Revontulet.

~Don Fowler




Sunday, May 18, 2014


Memorial Day is a US federal holiday wherein the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces are remembered.  The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.  By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.  Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service.  Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon.  It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country.  At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.


In 2007, after a decade-long struggle, Pagan and Wiccan organizations succeeded in getting the Pentacle approved for military veteran headstones and markers.  After that victory, in July of 2007, a rally was held to start the push for two more symbols: the Druid Awen and the Heathen Thor’s Hammer.  After a six-year journey which included some inter-organizational tensions within the Heathen community and a U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs rule change, the symbol has finally been approved.
Circle Sanctuary (in Wisconsin USA) provides a variety of services free of charge to Wiccan and other Pagan veterans and those presently serving in the United States Military. 


In Norse mythology, the einherjar (Old Norse 'lone or once fighters') are those that have died in battle and are brought to Valhalla by valkyries.  In Valhalla, the einherjar eat their fill of the nightly-resurrecting beast Saehrimnir and are brought their fill of mead. 

It should perhaps be noted at this point that the lore does mention that not everyone who dies in battle automatically goes to join Odin in Valhalla.  Freya is also described as getting half of those slain in battle.  However, the image of the slain warriors feasting in Valhalla is a vivid and enduring one, and there is no corresponding detailed description of the warriors in Freya's hall, so there has definitely been a tendency to concentrate on Valhalla when speaking about the war-dead.

Freya had the privilege of taking the first half of the souls of those warriors who had been slain in battle, while the remaining souls of the dead warriors belonged to Odin.  As leader of the Valkyries, she had considerable power.  Actually going onto the battlefield, Freya would gather them up and take them back with her to spend the after-life in her home (Folkvang, “Field of the Folk”) in perpetual rest and recreation.  As a sweet and generous woman, she always invited their wives or lovers to come and live with them.

Odin would gather heroes and warriors who were slain in battle and bring them to Valhalla so they would fight alongside the Gods, in an attempt to strengthen and save the Gods in the final battle at the time of Ragnarok.  The einherjar prepare daily for the events of Ragnarok.  During the day they train and fight, until they cut each other to pieces.  At night they feast at Odin's side and their wounds are miraculously healed.
The Einherjar could be best described as some sort of 'elite' troops, and that going to Valhalla was not necessarily the fate of the common soldier.  Odin was traditionally followed by members of the ruling classes, not by ordinary folk.  Adding to this the idea of the Einherjar fighting day after day, and enjoying it immensely does seem more in line with an elite unit; it seems likely that an ordinary draftee might get a little tired of day after day of fighting.

Where you ended up after your death seemed reliant on which Gods you followed in life, and what sort of person you were.  In modern-day practice, Einherjar blot has tended to become a day to honor all of those who die in wars, and to a lesser extent, veterans in general.  It has also been speculated recently by some that those in various professions that involve voluntarily going into danger (police, firefighting) and who die while performing their duty perhaps join the ranks of the Einherjar. 


Hail to the fallen dead!
Hail to the brave ones
Who fought to the end,
Whether the enemy was disease
Or failure of the body
Or weariness of soul
Or the hate of another.
Hail to those who fell
Guarding the helpless and weak!
Hail to those who fell
Defending the land of their ancestors!
Hail to those who fell
Righting great wrongs!
Hail to those who fell
Succumbing to the powers
Of the creeping deaths
And their dark cousins.
Show us the truth, legions of Valhalla!
The only straw death,
The only dishonorable death,
Is one where Death is met
Not as an honorable opponent
Or a welcome bridegroom
But as a fearsome master
To be groveled before.
Give us your courage, legions of Valhalla!

To my 8th Great Grandfather of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment, my 5th Great Grandfather killed in the American Revolutionary War, my 3rd Great Grandfather Civil War Private on Union Side, my Great Grandfather Private in World War I, my Grandfather Private in World War II, my Father Seabee in Vietnam War, my Sister War in Afghanistan and all those who died in service - Thank You!

Hail the Einherjar! May they feast and make merry in Valhalla for they deserve it! Hail the brave dead! Hail!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Thor's Hammer

How Thor Got His Hammer

Sif's Hair

Thor loved Sif without limits and was especially proud of her hair.  Before he left, he kissed his wife goodbye.  That night Sif slept alone in their bedroom, in Thor’s magnificent hall, Bilskirnir.

No one noticed a lone figure creeping through and into Bilskirnir that night.  The Shape-Changer Loki pulled out a knife and bent over Sif.  She continued to sleep, breathing deeply, unaware of the evil that the Trickster was about to perform upon her.  He ever so gently took the strands of hair in one and with the other, he quickly cut the locks from Sif’s head.  By the time he was done, Sif was bald.

Thor gasped in horror at the sight of his beloved Sif.  Raising his head to the roof and with arms stretched wide, he let out a cry of anguish so terrible that all the Gods and Goddesses throughout Asgard could hear it.  Her sorrow now pained him more than the lost of her hair that he loved so much, for he loved his wife more than life itself.

Loki heard Thor’s cries and tried to hide from him by changing his shape, but no matter what shape he took, there was no way he could hide from the anger.  Thor soon overtook the Evil-doer, and grabbing him by the throat he lift him off his feet.

With feet dangling in mid-air Loki begged for forgiveness.  "A harmless prank," Loki cried, as he tried to loosen Thor’s grip around his neck.  "Please, Thor, it was only a joke.  I meant no harm."

Loki looked at Sif for a moment.  His tongue licked his lips and his fertile mind search for a solution.  "I will replace the hair with hair that is even more noble and graceful,"  Loki finally said.

Thor loosened his grip.  "How?" he asked.

"With the help of my friends, the dwarfs," Loki said.  "If anyone has the skill to do it, it is the dwarfs."

"I hope so, for your sake," Thor said, as he dropped Loki to the ground.  "If you don’t make good on your promise," Thor growled, "I’ll hunt you down and crush every bone in your body with my bare hands."

Loki hid his fear and stood tall as he straightened his cloths and brushed off the dust.  "No need to worry," Loki said and winked at the Thunder God, and was off before Thor could say another word.

Loki wormed his way into the bowls of the Earth to Svartalfaheim until he found Ivaldi’s sons hard at work in their smith-shops.  "I immediately knew that only the sons of Ivaldi had the skill to help poor, dear Sif," Loki said in the most compassionate voice he could conjure up.  "I have come a long way to ask you if you would be so kind as to use your magical skills as smiths, to make such hair?" Loki said.

"But what will we get out of such a deed?" one of the dwarfs asked.

"Why, I’m sure you will receive the everlasting, undying appreciation of mighty Thor and his beautiful wife.  And, of course, I too will be in your debt.  "Then Loki smiled and with a twinkle in his eyes he said, "And everyone knows that the appreciation of three Gods is worth a hundred time more than all the gold in the nine worlds."

The dwarfs could see that though Loki was offering only promises, but they accepted to Loki’s request.

"But if you really want to win the good will of the great Gods of Asgard, you might want to consider a gift to the All-Father and Freyr as well," Loki said.  "It couldn’t hurt."

The dwarfs agreed once more and immediately went to work piling wood on their furnace deep in their cave.  When the dwarfs were finished, they placed the strands of gold hair over Loki’s outstretched hands.  So light and fine they were that even the slightest breath caused them to shimmer.

But the dwarfs did not stop when the hair was completed.  They continued to work the bellows and cause the fires to burn even brighter and hotter.  Loki was so pleased that he showered the dwarfs with a storm of thanks that seemed endless, even for the Master of Lies.  He declared the sons of Ivaldi the greatest smiths in all the nine worlds and promised to let all who he met know of their great gifts of magic and smith-working.

As Loki may his way through the underground passageways of Svartalfaheim a most wondrous idea popped into his nimble mind.  He quickly turned around and began to make his way through a long passageway that led to the hall of the two brother-dwarfs, Brokk and Eitri.

When the two dwarfs saw Loki they could see that he was holding three marvelous treasures, the golden hair, the ship and spear.  Loki could see into their hearts and knew they were filled with envy and jealousy at the marvelous craftsmanship with which they were fashioned.

"You have never see such exquisite workmanship as that which manufactured those items," Loki said, "because there is none that can come close to matching it."

"Not true," Brokk said.

"Oh?  Do you know of anyone who could match the skill that fashioned those treasures?" Loki asked.

"Yes, I do," Brook said.

"Who?" asked Loki.

"We can," Eitri said bluntly.

"Really?"  Loki said in a slow and methodical way, as if the thought was just now filling his mind.  "If your skill is greater, then you should be able to fashion treasures to equal - no, surpass these marvelous devices."

"We could," Brokk said.

"Easily," Eitri said.

"Then do so," Loki demanded.

"Why should we?" asked Brokk.

"To prove to the nine worlds that you two are the master craftsmen," Loki said shrewdly.

"Would you like to make a wager?" asked Brokk.

"Loki thought for a moment and then said.  "Yes.  I’ll wager my head against your heads that you could not possibly make three treasures the like of these."

The two dwarfs immediately accepted Loki’s wager.  They realized that if they were as good as their boost, they could not only rid themselves of Loki once and for all, but the treasures of the sons of Ivaldi would be their’s.

Brokk began piling wood into the furnace while Eitri place a lump of gold into the fire.  Brokk began pumping the bellows as hard as he could and the fires grew white hot.  Finally, Eitri finished his task and pulled Gullinbursti out of the forge.  Gullinbursti was a boar that possessed bristle of gold.

Next, Eitri fetched another block of gold, much larger than the first, and placed it on the forge.  Brokk continued to pump the bellows until heat made the gold was soft and malleable.  When Eitri finally pulled the treasure he was working on out of the fire, he held a gold arm-ring in his hand.

Finally, Eitri placed a large chunk of iron on the forge and told his brother to pump the fires until the iron was white hot.  Brokk did as he was instructed while Eitri hammered and pounded the iron, reshaping it over and over.  When Eitri finally pulled the iron from the fire he cried out in anger at what he saw.

He held a powerful iron hammer in his hand, but the handle was obviously too short.  He examined it carefully, and though he was disappointed by the misshapen handle, he was satisfied that the hammer was not entirely spoiled.  He called the hammer Mjollnir.  So massive and powerful it was, the two dwarfs stared at each other and nodded their approval that the hammer might be short in the handle, but it was still the most powerful weapon that anyone had ever created.

Loki and Brokk reached Asgard.  Word of their coming had reached Asgard before they arrived.  Brokk listened to Loki tell of how he was able to convince the dwarfs to create the gifts and finally said, "Talk it up, Loki, for soon you will lose your head and the power to speak."

"What do you mean?" asked Odin.

Brokk told the All-Father of his wager with Loki and it was agreed that the Gods, Odin, Thor and Freyr, would sit in judgement and decide which of the gifts were greater.  Loki began describing the gifts that the sons of Ivaldi created for the Gods.

"This spear is for you, Odin," Loki said.  "It is named Grungnir and when you throw it, it will always hit its mark."  Odin took the spear and examined it carefully.  "You can use the spear to stir up wars and make men keep their oaths."

Loki then turned to Freyr and gave him Skidbladnir.  "This is the most remarkable ship," Loki said.  "You can fold it small enough to place it in your pocket, and yet it is big enough to hold an entire army armed to the teeth.  As soon as you hoist its sail, it will sail over water and sky and never fail to find enough wind to propel it.

Finally, Loki turned to Sif.  "My third gift is the fulfillment of my promise to Sif and Thor."  He presented the long, flowing strands of gold hair to Sif.  "Place it to your head and it will take root and grow as if it were your own hair.  Your beauty will be restored and then some."

After Loki was finished presenting his gifts, Brokk stepped forward with his gifts.  "I have here a gold arm-ring," he said.  "It is a gift for the all-wise Odin.  It is known as Draupnir and it is not merely a ring made of gold.  Every ninth night, eight additional gold rings will drop from it."

Brokk next turned to Freyr and presented him with his gift.  "This boar of gold is named Gullinbursti.  He has the power to run faster than any horse or steed and he will never grow fatigued."

"My third treasure is for the mighty Thor," Brokk said "It is a hammer and its named is Mjollnir.  Within it is the power of the thunderbolt.  Nothing can break it and no weapon is as powerful as this hammer.  "The Storm God took the hammer and raised it.  It took all his strength to lift it.  "It will hit its mark every time you throw it," Brokk said.  "And it will always return to your hand, no matter how far you throw it."

Odin, Thor and Freyr did not need any time to consider their decision.  They were all of one mind and considered the hammer, Mjollnir, the most important gift of all.  It was more important than all the other gifts collectively because such a powerful weapon as the hammer could defend Asgard against any attack by the giants.

"We have decided in favor of Brokk," Odin said.  "Brokk has won the wager."

"Then I will have Loki’s head, just as we agreed," Brokk aid.

"Instead of my head, which is useless to you, I will give you its weight in gold," Loki said.

"I have all the gold I need and more," Brokk said.  "I will have your head."

"Then you will have to take it, if you can," Loki said, and he then raced away as fast as he could, running out of Gladsheim.  The Gods laughed at the way Loki tricked the dwarf.

Brokk turned to Thor.  "Where is the honor of the Gods?  I have been cheated by Loki and the Gods do nothing.  I thought honor was the essence of the Gods?"

Thor, who was still not pleased with Loki over what he did to Sif, agreed to bring Loki back to Asgard and make him pay the price he agreed to with Brokk.

It was not long after Thor stormed out of Gladsheim that he returned with Loki, dragging him by the neck.

"Now I will have his head," Brokk said.

"Wait just a moment," Loki said as Brokk reached for his knife.  "It’s true I agreed to surrender my head, and it now belongs to you, but my neck is still mine.  You may not touch any part of my neck."

The Gods laughed and nodded at Loki’s demand.  Brokk realized that Loki had tricked him once more.

"If your head is mine, then I will do with it as I please without touching you neck," Brokk said.  "If I can’t cut it off to stop your lies then I can as least sew your lying mouth shut."

Loki laughed at Brokk, but the dwarf was serious.  He then grabbed Loki by the head and began sewing up his lips with an awl.

~ Bilbo's World


Most practitioners of Germanic Neopagan faiths wear Mjollnir pendants as a symbol of that faith worldwide.  Renditions of Mjollnir are designed, crafted and sold by some Germanic Neopagan groups and individuals.  In May 2013 the "Hammer of Thor" was added to the list of United States Department of Veterans Affairs emblems for headstones and markers.