Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Pagan & Polytheist Monasticism Discussion Group and LANMIPP   8 comments

lanmipp-imageIf you’re on Facebook and interested in Pagan and Polytheist monasticism, there’s a brand new discussion group that I can highly recommend, for which I am a co-admin.

The group is turning out to be so fantastic – so full of brilliant and prolific writers, and so supportive and community-driven – that it has consumed nearly all of my available online time for the past week, and I don’t regret it for a minute.  Our guidelines were inspired by the My Polytheism project founded by Jolene Dawe, which is a space of sacred hospitality focused on celebrating diversity in polytheism.  The project was recently featured in The Wild Hunt in a piece by Crystal Blanton – I was interviewed alongside Alley Valkyrie, Celestine, and Yvonne Aburrow for this piece.

About the new discussion group, founder and co-admin Merri-Todd Webster writes: “It’s like people have just been dying to talk about this stuff.  Starting the group was definitely the best idea I’ve had in years. I think my gods must have been nudging me.

I’ve certainly wished for such a group for many years. I often thought of starting one myself, but kept hesitating for all kinds of reasons.  I’m so glad Merri-Todd took the initiative!

Almost as soon as the virtual doors of the place were opened a week ago, the outpouring started.  We were expecting there to be a just a handful of us, so we’ve been floored by the level of interest and enthusiasm.  We had over 50 members within the first 48 hours, and as of this writing we have 70. Apparently there’s a need out there that we hadn’t known about.

A discussion among MGW attendees that followed the founding of this monastic discussion group also led to the creation of LANMIPP, a Loosely Affiliated Network of Monastically Inclined Polytheist Pagans.  (Thanks to Silence Maestas of the Virtual Temple Project for the name and acronym!)  Since there are no established monastic traditions within modern paganism and polytheism, and it’s clear that the need for such traditions is growing, this will be a way for us to gather together fellowship groups (online and in person) to further the discussions.

There is talk of a “Tea With LANMIPP” roundtable being planned for Many Gods West 2017.  In the meantime, if you are interested in Pagan and Polytheist monasticism, feel free to join the Facebook discussion group.

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A Black Tent Temple by Gerrie Ordaz   Leave a comment

Over the past couple of years, interest has been growing in the Black Tent Temple concept I put forth on the Hermitage blog back in 2012. I’ve received quite a few inquiries about it. I encouraged anyone who was interested to take the idea and run with it, and invited them to share their results with me in words, photos, video, or whatever medium best suited them. In August of 2015, Priestess Gerrie Ordaz put together the first Black Tent Temple space outside the one at my Hermitage.

Last month, Gerrie built a Black Tent Temple space for the second year in a row at the Oasis event by Earth Traditions, a Pagan church in Chicago. I’m delighted to share her new post about it, complete with photos and the lines from the opening rite she performed. These lines were influenced by the rites of the Order of the Black Madonna:

“To the Vastness of the Holy Dark we bow down.
To the Fierce and Compassionate Darkness we bow again.”

I am also intrigued that Gerrie writes “There was a small black cauldron in which was placed black stones for people to take back home with them the blessings of the Black Tent,” as this is exactly what I have done with my own Black Tent Temple space at the Hermitage, but it’s something Gerrie and I had not discussed in advance. And I noted with similar intrigue that the Healing Shrine of Asclepios at Many Gods West last month also had a bowl of small, magically charged stones for visitors to take with them.

Check out Gerrie’s wonderful work, and if it inspires you, why not get creative and build one yourself? A basement, backyard, or even a walk-in closet (like the one I’ve used at the Hermitage for the psychomanteum/darkroom meditation space) could be a great place to start!

I am gathering material for a future website featuring Black Tent Temple spaces, so if you decide to build one and would like to share the results with me, please do!

(Photos shared here with Gerrie’s permission.)

Ritual for Skaði by Ingrid Kincaid   2 comments

Recently I attended a lovely and moving public ritual for Skaði by Ingrid Kincaid, The Rune Woman, held in Portland, OR. About twenty of us were there to pay Her tribute.  The beautiful altar featured two enormous raw femur bones, along with evergreen bows, firewood, a bow and arrows, fresh blood, vodka, and more. Attendees all wore head coverings in winter white, blood red, and evergreen colors.  I wore the white burnout velvet shawl I got in 2006 when I started my Shrine of Skaði ritual dance project.  It was the first piece of bellydance costume gear I ever owned, and to this day I use it only for devotional dances for Her.

I also brought along a wooden plaque for the altar made by Deb’s Den (shown in this photo of my previous shrine for Her), and a small bit of deer hide which had been donated by hunter and fellow devotee Nicholas Haney for Skaði’s shrine room at Many Gods West which I built last summer.

Through my Chthonic Cathedral project, I consulted with Ingrid to provide a dark ambient musical playlist for this ritual.  Her selections were some of my all-time favorites:

Wake Skadi by Hagalaz’ Runedance
Nordvinterögon by Ulf Söderberg
Morgonmåne by Ulf Söderberg
Vargskymning by Ulf Söderberg

Some bits that spoke deeply to me from the text of the ritual:

“In winter it is truly evident that life can only exist because of death.”

“Skaði, the taste and smell of blood are your sacraments, bright red against the white of snow. You truly understand what it means to take life in order to live.”

“I call upon you, Skaði, to remind me that I must find focus in order to take aim and hit the target.”

What a blessing it was to be able to attend my first public ritual for Her, and to have the unprecedented opportunity to consult with the organizer to provide the music for it.  What a powerful form of service it was for me, especially after ten years of serving Her through my home-based practice.  I am so grateful for this collaboration and for the magic we made.  Thank you to Ingrid, to my friends Ilana and Fjothr who attended at my invitation, and to all who honor Her as She so richly deserves.

Hail, beloved mighty Huntress of the North!

Hermitage Support Strategy Update   6 comments

Henry Meynell Rheam, The Sorceress, 1898

Henry Meynell Rheam, The Sorceress, 1898

In recent posts, I’ve discussed staying job-free so that I might have sufficient free time to devote most of my time and energy to my writing, and to other Work for the gods, spirits, and my community. I’ve planned to support this work through a multiple-sources-of-income strategy. Toward that end, I recently launched a new Patreon account, and have been investigating other potential income sources (e.g., paid proofreading clients, taking on more short-term gigs, negotiating a publisher advance for my book manuscript, and taking in a roommate.)

Over the past two months, however, several things have changed, and as a result it’s become clear that my strategy will need to be adjusted accordingly.

First, it turns out the roommate situation I had discussed with Lo of the rotwork blog will not be happening. I certainly enjoyed hosting Lo at the Hermitage, however, and greatly appreciate the words of praise on their blog about what I do here:

“…how amazing the Hermitage, as a concept, and a physical place, really is. It’s hard to really get it from reading about it online; truthfully, I had to be there to appreciate all of what she’s trying to accomplish and how well she’s doing it given the limitations of apartment living.

“The Black Stone Hermitage consists of many different spaces: a good many beautiful shrines, the Black Tent Temple, a Psychomanteum, an altar for meditation, and even the equipment to provide ritualized tea service.

“Every square inch of the place was painstakingly planned and curated to cultivate an atmosphere of darkness, introspection, and hibernation, from the smallest accouterment to the largest piece of furniture. She lives, breathes, and exudes monasticism; she lives her service to the Gods. And the Hermitage is a rare place that has been built to serve both Them and us – though it is also her home, it is a space for our community to visit and utilize. They’re going to get something powerful there that they can’t anywhere else right now, I guarantee that.”

Second, it’s become clear that, for the foreseeable future, my Patreon account will be a secondary source of support rather than a main source. Thus, I am now back in the job market. My hope is to find a job that will allow me to work part-time hours eventually, and perhaps allow for remote work also, to save on commute time. I’ve had no luck getting into web development so far, so I’m looking at web content editor jobs, and also at bookkeeping/accounting clerk work, since I have a post-bac certificate (the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree) in accounting. If I can’t stay job-free, maybe I can at least minimize the commute and the hours such that I will have more time available for the work I do at the Hermitage. I will certainly need to scale back my community service offerings once I have a job, but that can’t be helped. If I can’t pay rent, eventually I won’t have a Hermitage to do this Work in at all!

Third, a bit of excellent news: there is someone new in my life! As in, I have fallen madly in love, and am now in a relationship with a fellow queer feminist nerd. Apparently the gods and spirits decided They wanted me to be a partnered monastic rather than a single one. It’s certainly an unexpected development, given that I have been single for a long time and wasn’t even looking to date. In any case, I think this development bodes well for the future of my writing career and the Hermitage in general, especially given my partner’s many complementary skills: photography, writing, digital audio, DJ sets, IT (tech support), music, homesteading/camping…and that’s just a start.

Fourth, I’ve decided not to submit a proposal for Many Gods West this year. Much as I would love to attend, I’ve received no guidance whatsoever from Those I serve about my idea to build a Black Tent Temple there. The deadline for proposals is March 1st, and it’s not looking likely that I will be able to make that deadline even if I did receive divine guidance at this late date. So I’m taking this as a sign that I should plan to attend as a guest rather than as a presenter this year. (Assuming I can afford to attend at all, that is. The entry fee is higher this year, and my income is lower, and I will have another huge and punitive self-employment tax bill to pay in April, plus some other out-of-the-ordinary expenses. So it’s looking iffy.)

And lastly, my next post here will feature a tracklist and photos from a recent ritual I attended for Skadi – the very first public ritual I’ve heard about that was organized just for Her. I provided the dark ambient music for the ritual through my Chthonic Cathedral music consultancy project, and it turned out beautifully. Stay tuned – update coming soon!

 

Contributions to Skaði’s Shrine Room Prayer Box at Many Gods West 2015   1 comment

MGW Skadi shrine 7RAs promised, here are the written prayers and petitions that were left in the prayer box (pictured) by visitors to Skaði’s Shrine Room at Many Gods West.

I copied these over as carefully as I could – I did my best to preserve the original titles, formatting, and spelling. There was one contribution with a signature in runic script that I was unable to reproduce as written, but the rest of the piece is included here.

Be sure not to miss “Snow in Summer” – a write-up by Fjothr Lokakvan, who was my roommate at MGW, about her personal experience meeting Skaði in the shrine room.

These are so beautiful. It’s such a blessing for me to receive and share these. Thank you kindly to everyone who contributed!

————————-

Dark cave

Torch light

Wind whistling

Narrow passage

Cold earth

Leading up

Into starlight

Upon snow

Hail Skadi

~ Rose Gwiniolen

————————-

Please, Holy Huntress,

help me learn how to hunt.

Help me learn how to survive and thrive well,

with good teachers.

Help me learn, that I may fulfill my

obligations to You.

Ves ðú hál!

S.

————————-

Hail Skadi!

Endless gratitude for loving my sister & guiding her path.

And for joining us last September.

Hail!

+ love

KellyO

————————-

Dear Skaði,

Thank you for what you’ve done.

Best,

Silence Maestas

————————-

Scathe!

Slash your way through

cold’s cares

Drive your prey

give it no rest

Unbending thews

let arrow fly

Strike unerring

heart pierced through breast

————————-

Autumn Haiku

(Contributed by Rose Gwiniolen)

People have gone

lanterns have died…

one leaf remains

~Issa

————————–

X I

it is a gift for me

this ice

this stasis

this stability

self-reliance

is the key.

Thank you Skaði!

————————-

I received one other wonderful contribution which was communicated to me verbally at the conference from someone who had lengthy meditation time in Her shrine room.  I took notes and reproduced it as best I can.  Here is a close approximation of it:

“I asked Her to warm me up, and then thought that She was the wrong One to ask.  But She corrected me, and said that just because She lives in the cold North doesn’t mean that She Herself is cold.  If you remain true to yourself regardless of external circumstances, then you remain flexible and whole, not brittle.”

“Then I asked Her about how to be a good warrior – how to stop fighting myself, and direct my aggression outward to my enemies instead.  She said:

There are no enemies.  I am a huntress, and the relationship I have with my prey is one of love.

A relationship of love between huntress and prey.  I sense in my bones the truth of this, but I don’t understand it.  I suspect I will be pondering it for many years.

Reflections on the Many Gods West conference   12 comments

MGW Skadi shrine 1RThe Many Gods West conference, and the shrine room I built in my hotel room there for Skaði, were both successful far beyond anything I had imagined. And I’m so grateful that I hardly even know where to begin.

Although I arrived home after the event exhausted from the summer heat and two nights of fitful sleep, as well as socially overloaded (this introvert isn’t used to cramming that much great conversation into three days!), it was a blissful kind of exhaustion filled with gratitude and appreciation. I started hatching plans for next year before I had even finished unpacking.

Never before have I been to an event where I, as a devotional Pagan polytheist and animist, felt so free to be who I actually am in a religious sense as well as a social, cultural, and political one. How refreshing to be in a such an accepting, respectful, affirming space with other polytheists of various gender identities, ages, class backgrounds, sex/relationship orientations, and abilities. It gave rise to an exuberance I’ve never experienced before in any kind of community space anywhere. Not in Heathen groups, magical orders, UU churches, goddess spirituality circles, deep ecology groups, or any other pagan or ‘alternative’ spirituality gatherings.

I once described myself to a friend as “basically, a radical left Pagan polytheist feminist mystic who feels trapped in a right-wing Christian corporate capitalist racist patriarchy.” To find that there is a place to gather where I don’t feel even the slightest smidgen of pressure to hide any of my religious beliefs and practice, my intersectional feminism, my opposition to coercive wage labour and support of unconditional basic income, or ANY of the work I do for that matter, is heady stuff indeed.

I once kept a fairly strict separation between my work with Rethinking the Job Culture and my Pagan polytheist/dance-related/artistic work. In retrospect I’m not entirely sure why. But for whatever reason, I went to a fair bit of trouble to maintain this separation – including using different variations on my name for each project (D. JoAnne Swanson for RJC, Danica Swanson for the dark Pagan polytheist and arts stuff.) A few years back, when I started my own business and became much less worried about what potential employers might learn about me, I finally decided I was done with all that, and began using the same author bio for each of my blogs, cross-linking all my online work, etc. Because all of these things ARE linked, for me.

So to learn that there are so many other gods-and-radicals folks out there is deeply affirming.

It was also a nice surprise to learn that there were several people I respect at the conference who had been following my blogs closely for quite awhile. I am not particularly well-known in the Pagan community and have no interest in becoming a Big Name Pagan – what introvert would want that?   But it’s great that as a blogger I can work completely in solitude, yet still easily reach folks who appreciate the work I have to offer.

And not a single person asked me what I do for a living! Not one. (This may have been because some folks already knew me as the founder of Rethinking the Job Culture and the no-longer-updated whywork.org site, but still.)

The location of the conference was convenient – just two hours from Portland by car or train. And as a non-driver who enjoys walking, I appreciated the walkability of the area around the Governor Hotel.

My only frustration was related to the summer heat, and the woefully insufficient air conditioning. The A/C in the rooms was underwhelming at best even though I kept it on its highest setting around the clock, and it was non-existent in the meeting rooms. I did request a room on the east side of the hotel in the hopes of avoiding the late afternoon sun in the west, but in the end I got assigned to a west-facing room. I am easily overwhelmed by heat, so I was uncomfortable for pretty much the whole weekend. On the second day of the shrine room I was too hot to even wear my draped layers of shrine keeper garb during the open hours – I opted for a t-shirt instead. (At least the t-shirt had Skaði’s name on it, though. And that t-shirt drew several compliments and started some great conversations, so it certainly counts for something.)

Skadi fish t-shirt

If the conference will be held at the same hotel next year (there WILL be a next year, right?), I’d love to see it scheduled at a cooler time of year, where the lack of sufficient A/C won’t be so problematic. October, maybe? Just an idea.

The other glitch I encountered was that the rooms weren’t ready at the promised time on Friday (1:00). I had arrived early in the hopes of having a leisurely lunch and getting assigned to a room well before the official opening of the conference at 1:30. My plan was to get everything unpacked and set up early for Skaði’s shrine room so that I might be free to attend either the opening ritual or Tony Rella’s 3:30 presentation on psychological support for polytheists (something I had very much wanted to attend.) As it turned out, I was unable to attend either one. I didn’t get the key to my room until 2:00, and it took me until 5:30 to get everything unpacked and set up properly for the shrine room which opened at 6:00. I barely even had enough time to eat dinner. Fortunately I had friends who were kind enough to bring me some food so I didn’t have to go out in my shrine keeper garb to get it.

And then on Sunday, I had to start packing up the shrine room right after breakfast in order to finish by the 11 AM check-out time, so I missed the morning presentation on the state of Heathenry, too.

Of course, the whole reason I was at MGW was to serve Skaði by building Her a shrine room. Everything else, I reminded myself, was icing on the cake. And there was, indeed, a lot of tasty icing on this cake: I got to see a talk on Heathen Cosmology by Heimlich A. Laguz, an ancestor workshop by Sarenth Odinsson, a talk on devotional polytheist practice by Silence Maestas, and part of Anomalous Thracian‘s talk on Religions of Relation.

So even though I missed several of the presentations I would have liked to attend (I’m especially sad that I missed John Beckett), I’m still very happy about the event in general, because I accomplished what I came there to do: host Skaði’s shrine room. And Morpheus Ravenna’s brilliant keynote address was made available in writing after the conference, which I very much appreciated since I missed out on that one too due to my shrine room service hours.

Somehow – and I’m not sure how – it managed to escape my attention that, even if I couldn’t make it to the opening ritual, I could have left an image of Skaði on the communal shrine at any point during the weekend. I regret that I was unaware of that.

I had planned to record a video tour of the shrine room, and I brought my video camera for that purpose. Unfortunately, just before I was about to pack up the shrine materials and prepare to check out of the hotel, I noticed that I had forgotten to charge the battery. And there was no time to wait for it to recharge. Wish I had thought of that earlier. Oh well. At least I managed to get some photos!  (My apologies for the poor quality of some of the photos; I chose the best one I managed to get for each angle, and some just didn’t turn out so well.  I felt it was worth including them anyway, since this was a temporary shrine and this is the only record that it even existed.)

MGW Skadi shrine 2R

MGW Skadi shrine 3R

MGW Skadi shrine 5R

MGW Skadi shrine 11R

MGW Skadi shrine 7R

MGW Skadi shrine 4R

MGW Skadi shrine 10R

A few comments about the shrine room from conference attendees:

“This is so, so beautiful…”

~ Niki Whiting

“The shrine was incredible…I was there for about 45 minutes, and really only left so I could make the keynote. It was simply a beautiful thing to have at this event.”

~ L. Phaedrus

“The shrine room was amazing to be in. It was beautiful, and I found it very restful…I think it would be fantastic if the next MGW has more such spaces! I would totally visit them. […] I did end up meeting Skadi…”

~ Fjothr Odinsdottir Lokakvan

“I was very impressed at how you managed to create the exact same atmosphere of The Black Stone Hermitage in this hotel room. I recognized the intense yet simultaneously peaceful feeling immediately. You are a powerful conductor! The shrine was beautiful, you did an amazing job.”

~ Valerie Herron

When I do the devotional work of putting together a shrine space, it’s all about atmosphere. My intent is to create an emotionally evocative atmosphere to honour the deity or spirit by combining visual and auditory elements, and sometimes olfactory elements, too, although that didn’t apply in this case. So all of the feedback is very much appreciated. (I’m open to suggestions for improvement, too!)

There were a number of plans I had for the shrine room that I was unable to implement due to the physical limitations of the hotel room space (e.g., I couldn’t move the beds to make more room in front of the shrines for people to meditate, nor could I hang curtains to hide the beds). Fortunately I managed to disguise a few of the generic-looking hotel room things where appropriate, and thus conscript them into shrine service. I draped a long blue bellydance veil and white hip scarf over the flat-screen TV, for example, which transformed it into a lovely backdrop for the main shrine.

I’m so pleased that I had the opportunity to do this shrine room. It was an honour and a privilege.  Building shrines is one of the most satisfying forms of service for me.

In addition to the organisers Niki, Rhyd, and PSVL, whose dedication and hard work made this conference possible, I would especially like to thank:

  • Arrowyn and Henry Lauer, two of my dearest friends, for hauling me and my two huge suitcases full of shrine supplies to and from the conference (and hoisting them into the car and up the stairs), for kindly bringing me dinner when it became apparent that I wouldn’t have enough time to go get it myself before the shrine room opened, and for all kinds of other logistical and emotional support throughout the conference. Not to mention consistently excellent company and conversation.  Arrowyn also told me she received some communications from Skaði during her meditation in the shrine room; with her permission, I’ll be sharing them in a separate post.
  • Heimlich A. Laguz, for a most brilliant, inspiring, and well-paced presentation of sketches toward a Heathen cosmology. The man is truly gifted. I can’t wait to read his upcoming book! In the meantime, you can read some of his Heathen mystic writings at the recently revived Elhaz Ablaze website.
  • Fjothr Odinsdottir Lokakvan, for being such a great roommate, for accommodating the shrine-space takeover of our shared hotel room so gracefully, for respectfully maintaining such a comfortable introvert-friendly silence in the mornings, for friendly and fascinating conversation throughout the rest of the conference, and for writing up such a wonderful blog post about her experience. She has many excellent writings on Gods & Radicals and her blog – be sure to check out her work, including “Snow in Summer,” her beautiful write-up about her experience of meeting Skadi through the shrine room!
  • Sarenth Odinsson (who happened to be the first person to enter Skaði’s shrine room after it opened), for bringing several thoughtful offerings for Skaði, including a small piece of deer hide sent by Nicholas Haney as an offering from the hunt. Though Nicholas had told me in advance that he’d be sending this, somehow I got distracted and forgot about it right up until the moment Sarenth showed up in the shrine room and gave it to me. When I realised what it was, I was so happy that I jumped up and gave Sarenth a big hug before I put it on Her shrine.  What a great way to start off the shrine room!
  • Nicholas Haney, not only for the aforementioned deer hide offering, but for the lovely devotional poem he wrote for Skaði, which was included in the binder of devotional art and writing placed in the alcove in Her shrine room.
  • Carl Bonebright, for another beautiful offering of devotional writing that was included in the binder for guests to read – an evocative short story called “Encounter in the Snow.”
  • Silence Maestas, for the lovely handmade necklace he gifted me (with black stones!) which now graces Her statue on my home shrine, for the excellent presentation he gave on devotional practice, and for lots of friendly conversation and camaraderie. His book Walking the Heartroad came into my life at just the right time.Skadi statue with necklace
  • Krei Obscura, for enthusiastically lending me her Skaði idol from Norway for display in Her shrine room. I loved it so much – it was just perfect!
  • Alley Valkyrie, for her many brilliant and inspiring writings (and for complimenting my Skadhi t-shirt). I’m glad we live in the same city, as I look forward to getting to know her.
  • L. Phaedrus, for joining Fjothr and I for breakfast both mornings for friendly and relaxed conversation.  I’m happy to hear that the class Phaedrus presented on working with Anonymous Beings will be turned into a blog post, as I had to miss it since it took place at the same time as Silence’s presentation on devotional practice.
  • Valerie Herron, for her encouraging words, all-around bad-ass-ness, and friendship, not to mention her helpful impromptu bindrune. The witchcraft worked!
  • Tempest and Anaar, who were so friendly and gracious when I approached them to introduce myself and thank them for their influential work in gothic bellydance, a.k.a. dark fusion dance.  I was so sad that I missed their sacred dance performance at Obsidian!  I think MGW needs a ritual dance workshop taught by these two talented dancers.  I’d be the first to sign up!
  • Alexander Leßwing, of the German dark ambient musical project named after Skadi, whose brilliant and evocative albums set the mood for the shrine room perfectly.
  • Abby Helasdottir of Gydja, whose generous donation of an exclusive track, “The Iron Pine Tree’s Daughter,” graced the shrine room so beautifully (and whom I interviewed for Heathen Harvest back in April.)
  • David Galli of the Portland Tea Enthusiasts’ Alliance, for the gift that made it possible for me to attend MGW, for bringing me a double-walled glass travel mug that was just what I needed to deliver my morning dose of lapsang souchong at the conference, and for our enduring friendship which is such a blessing and a mutual joy. David is one of my favourite people on the planet.
  • The wonderful person – I didn’t get her name, but in looking at the prayer box offerings I deduced that it may have been Rose – who spent more than an hour enjoying the shrine room, moving in that time through quiet sitting meditation to standing prayer, and then slowly morphing into beautiful improvisational dance. It was an honour to witness this process. It moved me so deeply that there were tears in my eyes, and even as I write this remembrance I am getting choked up.

And lastly, thank you to everyone who chatted with me about Skaði, visited the shrine room so respectfully, left offerings, sat in meditation and contemplation, and wrote prayers and petitions for Her. I was very moved by the whole experience, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to witness so many people paying their respects to the goddess Who stole my heart ten years ago and brought me into Heathenry.

The written offerings will be shared in a separate post.

This is long already, yet I wish I could write even more. In general I have so much writing I yearn to do, but so little time to do it, due to the many demands on my time. I’m happier when my schedule is less jam-packed, but for now it can’t be helped. At the moment I am in the midst of preparing for an upcoming tech hiring event that will mark a major career change for me, as I’ve recently finished my training coursework series in web development. Then in September I will have family visiting me at the Hermitage for the entire month. So this blog will probably be rather quiet until October.

And once I have a full-time day job – which I hope will be soon – it’s likely that progress on all of my creative projects, including the Endarkenment book manuscript, will slow down substantially. That’s fine for now, as it will permit me to focus on expanding my skills in web development, which I’m excited about…but I’m also hoping that one day, later on down the road, I will be able to do monastic community service work at the Hermitage full time, including writing, shrine keeping, geomantic divination, Earth grief work through ritual dance, psychomanteum sessions, tea meditations, and hosting spiritual incubation work via the Black Tent Temple project. I would like my religion and path of monastic service to be integrated into my daily life in a more fundamental and community-based way.

Right now the only legally recognised Pagan monastery I know about in the US is The Matreum of Cybele. There are many things about what they’ve done that inspire me. They are religious Pagans living in a convent, serving their community, and sharing the responsibilities of daily life and caring for one another in a way that (presumably) reduces the need for their members to have full-time jobs elsewhere to support the nunnery. While the plans I have for the future of the Hermitage are more focused on solitary and one-to-one service work, I do hope to integrate what I do into the community more deeply, and thereby come up with some kind of variation on the “traditional” models of monastic life that will provide a suitable shared context for the religious work I do over the long term. Community land trust? Some kind of permaculture co-op? This remains to be seen.

In any case, I may one day start a Patreon account to support this work. I love Patreon, both as a fan/supporter and as a creator. A number of my blog readers have already encouraged me to launch a Patreon account (thank you for the vote of confidence!), so it may be that by the time my life circumstances permit me to do so, the transition will proceed smoothly for the Hermitage. We will see.

One last thing I want to comment on before I close this. I met someone at the conference with whom I’d very much like to make contact again, as I really enjoyed our all-too-brief chat. She approached me outside room B in the Olympia Center after the talk by Heimlich A. Laguz on Sketches for a Heathen Cosmology, and asked if she could take a photo of the back of my t-shirt. I was wearing my Cyclic Law t-shirt – on the back it reads “obscure ambient & industrial soundscapes.” She identified herself as a goth/industrial music fan who likes to explore new music, and she wanted the URL of the Cyclic Law website handy so she could check it out later on.

Cyclic Law t-shirt

She appeared to be around my age, and she was dressed all in black with brightly dyed long-ish red hair. I complimented her on the unique serpent pendant she was wearing, and we briefly discussed dance, jewelry, the goth/industrial scene, and music.

A fellow polytheist, around my age, at a talk on Heathen philosophy, who has a history in the goth/industrial scene and likes to dance? Definitely sounds like someone I’d like to get to know.

Unfortunately I only got her first name, and none of her contact info. She may have mentioned where she was from, but my middle-aged memory is not what it used to be, so I don’t recall. And I’m not even sure about her name – I think it may have been Amanda? I did give her my card for the Black Stone Hermitage, so perhaps she will find me that way…but if you’re reading this and you happen to know who it is I’m talking about, would you point her to this post?

Thank you!  Oh, and if there is anyone else who had an experience with Skaði in the shrine room that they would like to share, I would be delighted to hear it – please comment here or e-mail me at shrine.of.skadi at gmail.

P.S. If I misspelled anyone’s name, applied any inappropriate pronouns, or botched the linking in any way, please correct me.  As I’ve mentioned, my memory is not as good as it once was.  Thanks!

P.P.S. I will be hosting a “MGW-outpost” meeting at the Hermitage in downtown Portland in the autumn, and possibly also a geomancy (divination) study group.  Feel free to contact me if interested!