Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Personal Perceptions of Eir (so far)

A lot of folks know that I'm training to be a home birth midwife. The treatment I received (and in some instances, did not receive) from my ob-gyn and the hospital staff was despicable and sadistic. Wanting to give that pain a purpose. I took training for Mother Massage, and now I'm training to serve as a midwife, fulfilling an oath taken in sumble this past Yule (2010). 

I took another oath earlier in the day, privately, to dedicate this year to Eir. My daughter happened to have a very bad respiratory infection, a terrible cough, and was prescribed a nebulizer to help her breathing. There was a moment during blot before the swine was sent forth to the gods (later consumed in the feast), when we had the opportunity to go up to it, say a prayer if we wished, ask it to carry any messages with it. etc. Silently, as I touched the beast, I asked for Eir's intercession on my daughter's behalf, and swore an oath to dedicate this year to honoring Eir. (Incidentally, my daughter recovered both completely and swiftly.)

In my mind, this meant creating altar/shrine dedicated to her, leaving offerings, learning as many aspects of health and healing as possible, fulfilling the related oath of going to midwifery school, and etc. I also saw this as naturally requiring a lot of meditation and contemplation, since there is next to nothing in the lore about Eir, beyond her being the "best of leeches" (best of physicians). This also means that anything thing I believe I know about her is pure UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis), and is only my perception of her. 

I perceive Eir to be purposeful, focused, and capable of handling any emergency without getting frazzled. She is the calm in the middle of a storm, able to balance necessity (which is not always pleasant) with deep compassion. This surprised me, as I have heard others describe her "bedside manner" as being cold and aloof. I suppose this is why UPGs must come with the caveat of "Your mileage may vary". However, I wonder if that perception of her by some is somewhat a subconscious reflection of preconceived notions based on the often cold and sometimes cruel and dehumanizing treatment patients receive in many (certainly not all) hospitals by all levels of hospital staff from CNAs to physicians. 

What does being "best of leeches" mean? I understand Eir to be an expert in any and all forms of health care and wellness. She will use whatever the best method to heal someone, no matter what type/form of medicine or from what culture may have developed it. That may bump some folks, and people are free to disagree. However, my interpretation of what kind of philosophy Eir may have is this: the more a skills a healer can have, the better for the patients. I don't know a single health and/or wellness provider that would avoid a viable therapy because it came from a culture other than their own. These methods would include (but are not limited to):
  1. Modern medicine (surgical procedures, diagnostics, prescription pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, etc.)
  2. Natural and traditional health care (herbal medicines, midwifery,natropathy, massage, nutrition, chiropractic, etc.)
  3. Emotional and mental health (counseling, grief process, depression, mood disorders, self-esteen, self-help, etc.)
  4. Energy medicine (accupressure/accupuncture, reiki, vibrational and sound healing, etc)
I have had to rely on imagination for ideas for offerings, as there is little lore to go on. Often, I chose to have white roses at my Eir shrine. When people are in the hospital, it's common to bring flowers to cheer them up. I chose white as it is reminiscent to me of clean, white bed linens, traditional nurse's uniforms, and doctor's coats. However, at other times, I would place fresh herbs or burn dried herbs.  

There have also been many unexpected things that have happened since dedicating this year to Eir. I have been in just the right places and just the right times to face a lot of old issues, angers, and old hurts that I didn't even know I held. I was forced to come face to face with parts of myself I have ignored and avoided. I have been stressed to the point that I broke down into tears. I cried and cried, in a way I haven't ever done before. I screamed, punched pillows, and just surrendered to the moment and let the tears come. Afterwards. there was a much deeper understanding of myself and a stillness. I felt empty, but in a good way. After a few days to feel more settled, it was time to fill the emptiness, but with ideas and beliefs of my choosing.  

I'm still in that process, choosing the thoughts and beliefs that help and not hurt me. I feel different, but exactly how is hard to describe. I feel like myself. Not "I feel like myself, again." Rather, "I feel like myself, finally." My values and priorities haven't changed, but I approach my life and goals from a different starting point. That starting point is still in flux, there are still things shifting inside, and probably more layers of old thinking to replace. Feeling like myself "finally" isn't final. Free of fetters, I can now be myself. Only time will tell what that might turn out to be.

I attribute this purging of old hurts, this healing of old wounds, and consequently, this shifting within myself to Eir. I cannot prove it is her handiwork, but it's my interpretation of events that began 9 and a half months ago. The timing of these events, so far lasting a little over 9 months, should be plainly symbolic. In some ways, I do feel reborn, but still somewhat unsteady. I look forward to the remaining 3 months, and most likely will renew this oath at Yule this year.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Awesome Heathen Journal

Just a quick announcement, the first issue of  Óðrœrir is out now!  Please check it out.  Lots of good stuff!  Well researched articles, book reviews, impressive artwork... definitely a must read. A downloadable copy is available here:

Offering to Tyr

Yesterday, August 13, 2011, my husband and I made offerings to Tyr. While the toddler can be a bit of a distraction, we generally let the 3 year old watch and participate to the extant that a 3 year old's attention span will permit. Instead, we had the unusual experience of two small children that actually wanted to go to bed somewhat early. This left us with a quiet space to give our full focus to Tyr, and not to the child reaching for the hammer, or bowl, etc. 

After my husband prepared the area and started the ceremony, I read a call to Tyr, written especially for this offering. As sometimes happens, I get a bit of writer's block, and at the very last minute, the words come flooding out. This is precisely what happened, late in the afternoon yesterday (8/13/2011). In addition to a dry wine (my own personal intuition as to what Tyr may appreciate- nothing supported in the lore for that),Tyr was hailed with these words: 

Hail Tyr, the Victory-Giver!
One-Handed is the Wolf-Binder.
Tyr, who does what needs to be done,
When all others are fettered by fear.
The noble, steadfast, and shining star,
A cold, but guiding light you are, Sky Father.
Ancient God of Mists and Mountains- 
The Axis, Irminsul, straight and stern.
Like the tallest tree in the darkest forest,
Stands firm, always, the God of the Thing. 

Following these words, we spoke briefly about our concerns- the economy, the recent riots, our dwindling liberties, world affairs, etc. Corruption that our ancestors could not have fathomed seems to surround us all at every turn. It's all so out of control, and feels very much like a wolf that must be bound. That may seem an impossible task. May we have the sense of purpose, unwavering and unshakable, that we may prepare our family for leaner times. May we sacrifice only what is absolutely necessary, but have the wisdom and fortitude to sacrifice it when the time comes. May we spend more time doing and less time worrying. It is so easy to worry when you take a look at what is happening in our country and around the world. But, worrying just makes you feel like you are doing something, when all it is actually accomplishing is creating stress and exhaustion. 

To my understanding, Tyr is core values, valor, and doing what is right no matter what. Tyr's Justice is not one of slavishly adhering to codes and laws, because legislation is often a far cry from establishing protections for what is fair and Right. To be clear, I'm not advocating anyone breaking the law, but I say this to make the following points.

  • You cannot legislate morality. 
  • You cannot legislate what people think. 

Something else, something from inside a person, is what governs these things. No legislation can give a person that. Those values are instilled during childhood, in their families and their communities. You cannot legislate wisdom. Only experience brings that. And what experiences are we gaining for ourselves? Tyr was the God of the Thing, not because our ancestors called on him for understanding of legislation, but to reach wise, fair and equitable decisions that were in accordance to their way- to connect with that part of themselves that embody Tyr's commitment to what was right, not what was convenient.

Into the wine and into the well, our words were spoken. I chanted runes into the wine before my husband then poured it on the ground.

Looking around at the world today, the world needs a few more people who embody Tyr's commitment to do what is right. May Tyr's influence here in Midgard ever increase. Hail!

Monday, July 25, 2011

First Post

Well, this is the most difficult post- the FIRST post. 

For many Heathen folks, you may have seen me on various email lists, forums, social networking, etc., as Freyadora. It's not anything other than a cutsie name made up for ease of use on the internet. It's not any kind of alter-ego, or spiritual identity, or other such thing. But, since that may be familiar to folks, I included it in the name of my blog.

I'm a Heathen woman married to a Heathen man, with two beautiful children who are being raised as, your guessed it, Heathen. While I have spent many years honoring and making offerings to Freya, I only stepped onto this path of Asatru and Heathenry back in 2005. 

This may be a little odd among Heathens, but I've been rather private about my religious/spiritual pursuits. Community is a large part of Heathenry. Perhaps it's because since 2005, I went back to school, started a massage practice, had two kids, bought land to build our home, and a dozen other things. There just hasn't been a lot of time, opportunity, or resources for socializing and connecting with other Heathens. So, our Heathen activities have centered around the home, more than regional gatherings. We have, however, been very grateful to blot with other Heathens when the opportunity has presented itself.

On the chance that someone is, however, curious about Heathenry, Heathen life, or at least how our family lives it, it will be recorded here. I can't really even guess how frequently I might post here, as it will most likely be a "when the mood hits me" kind of thing.