Honoring Angrboda

As promised in my previous Deity and the Divine post, here are associations suggestions for honoring Angrboda. The majority of these are pulled from my own personal practice. Some has been corroborated with UPG shared by friends and fellow devotees.

Symbols and Icons:

The heart, the anatomical human heart, has become one of the symbols I most closely associate with Angrboda. Raven Kaldera re-tells the story here of how Angrboda, was burned three times and reborn, her heart stolen by Loki to bring her back to life.

This, of course, bears strong similarities to the story of Gullveig, who was speared, burned alive three times and reborn, and who’s heart was also consumed by Loki.

There is debate regarding the identity of Gullveig/Heidr in modern Heathenry – some see her as an aspect or another name of Frejya, some see her as a unique Goddess in her own right, and some see her as an aspect of or another name for Angrboda. Clearly, I fall in the latter camp, and as such, the heart and the eating of the heart in order to revive her/give birth is a significant symbol of her mysteries.

As you see in the photos below of Her shrine, the heart is a constant presence. The very first part of my altar to Angrboda was the painting on black wood of the anatomically correct heart. I had been trying to search for a visual representation of Her to have as a focus on my shrine, and nothing I found or created was suitable until I made this painting.

Sigurd’s eating of Fafnir’s heart in the Volsung saga is also a significant event in that saga, allowing the hero to gain knowledge he otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have found some ties between Angrboda and the Volsung line.

In The Lay of Hyndla, as mentioned in my previous post, there is a fragment at line 34:

Heith and Hrossthjof, | the children of Hrimnir

Heith (Heidr) being the reborn Gullveig’s name.

Hrimnir was also the father of Hljod, the giantess who brings Renir and his Queen the apple that impregnates her, and who later on weds the first Volsung

From the Volsung Saga, Ch II

“Much wealth won in war gat Rerir to himself, and wedded a wife withal, such as he deemed meet for him, and long they lived together, but had no child to take the heritage after them; and ill-content they both were with that, and prayed the Gods with heart and soul that they might get them a child. And so it is said that Odin hears their prayer, and Freyia no less hearkens wherewith they prayed unto her: so she, never lacking for all good counsel, calls to her her casket-bearing may, [1] the daughter of Hrimnir the giant, and sets an apple in her hand, and bids her bring it to the king. She took the apple, and did on her the gear of a crow, and went flying till she came whereas the king sat on a mound, and there she let the apple fall into the lap of the king; but he took the apple and deemed he knew whereto it would avail; so he goes home from the mound to his own folk, and came to the queen, and some deal of that apple she ate.
….
Now when he was fully come to man’s estate, Hrimnir the giant sends to him Ljod his daughter; she of whom the tale told, that she brought the apple to Rerir, Volsung’s father. So Volsung weds her withal; and long they abode together with good hap and great love. They had ten sons and one daughter, and their eldest son was hight Sigmund, and their daughter Signy; and these two were twins, and in all wise the foremost and the fairest of the children of Volsung the king, and mighty, as all his seed was; even as has been long told from ancient days, and in tales of long ago, with the greatest fame of all men, how that the Volsungs have been great men and high-minded and far above the most of men both in cunning and in prowess and all things high and mighty.”

The Rokkrbok identifies this giantess as Angrboda, and other sources/readings identify them as sisters. Either way, it should be noted that the Volsung line is decended in part from a Giantess (there are echos of this as a reflection of a Sacred Marriage between a king and and the land, as personified by a woman/Goddess/priestess.  We see echos of this in the marriage of Gerd and Frey, and the relationship between Odin and Jord (the Earth) to give birth to Thor. Both Gerd and Jord are Jotun women)

Another motif you will see on my altar are acorn and oak leaves. Angrboda is associated with the red oak trees – those with pointed leaves, whereas Thor, who is also associated with oaks, is associated with the white oak, those with rounded leaves.

Oak, as a hard wood, is also sometimes known as Ironwood. There are other woods that are popularly known as Ironwood as well, which I consider an acceptable connection to her.

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The rune Ac is also associated with Angrboda. Ac is the rune of the Oak Tree, and its pictograph is a person holding a stick: (Imagine and quote from Northern Shamanism.org)

The figure of Angrboda is that of a female Jotun, or giant; she is seen as tall, immensely strong, and very assertive. She also brings forth powerful children – Fenris, the great wolf who nearly ate the world; the Midgard Serpent that surrounds it, and Hel, the Goddess of Death. Unfortunately, she was secretly killed by Odin, who feared that she and Loki would populate the entire world with such creatures and thus overthrow his regime. It is said that all Loki found of her was her ashen heart, burnt like the heartwood of an oak tree.

To draw the rune Ac is to be the lightning rod for the fears and anger of others, whether or not it is deserved. You will have to stand as strong as the oak tree, and endure the blows and flames. If it does not kill you, it will make you stronger. Ac’s keyword is Endurance, as opposed to the other “strength” rune, Uruz/Ur. Ac is the rooted tree and the high mountain. Indeed, there is something very “masculine” about Ur’s strength, that of the wild charging buffalo, while there something more feminine (but not passive) about Ac’s strength. Consider one the irresistible force and the other the immovable object.

As well, Endurance is concept I strongly associate with Angrboda.

Family

As I touched on Angrboda’s father and potential sister above, reference should be made to the rest of her family, as the Jotuns are clannish to the extreme – I have representations of all Her children on her altar, and as folks who work with Jotuns soon learn, the family of their Fulltrui is part of the package.

It has been said before that while some of the nine worlds see Angrboda as Loki’s wife (or, gag, mistress), but that in the pecking order of the Ironwood, Loki is Angrboda’s husband/consort. Loki is the father of three of her most famous children, Hela, Fenrir and Jormungandr. These were not her only children, as she is believed to be the mother of Hati and Skoll, the solar wolves, whose father is likely Her own son, Fenrir.

Both the Rokkrbok and Gullveigarbok cite Aurboda as an aspect of Angrboda/Gullveig, and as such cite Gymir as one of her husbands and Gerda as a daughter. As well, some who hold to this also cite Gymir as being Ægir, and as such connecting Ran to Angrboda/Gullveig. I point this out not because I agree, as I do  not share this UPG, but for the point of sharing all the information I’ve collected.

Kaldera and other practitioners of Northern Tradition Paganism also cite Glut as both a wife of Loki and a (possibly adopted) sister of Angrboda. Again, this is a view I do not personally hold, but share for the sake of completion.

Other Beings associated with Angrboda

Angrboda does not generally seem to spend much time outside of the Ironwood or outside of Jotunheim.

Sigyn

Through Their relationship with Loki. As well some hold UPG that after Vali was transformed into a wolf, Angrboda took him in (Weregild),

Some folks feel very strongly that those that work with Angrboda don’t usually speak with Sigyn, and those that work with Sigyn don’t generally speak with Angrboda; I’ve heard this is a matter of respect between the two Ladies. I’ve never been told one way or another by Them.

Personally, I feel they must have got on fairly well if they ever did meet. I don’t experience Angrboda as particularly jealous and I doubt she was unaware that she married a fellow with flying shoes that liked to travel from bed to bed, nor was she particularly monogamous herself.

Odin and Freya

My own experience has led me to feel that She is connected to both Odin and Freya. All three know seidhr; all three are well versed in magic and martial skills; all three have associations with sex magic, and it could be argued that the three of them are each the respective ‘leaders’ (all were war leaders, and all could be considered religious leaders of their folks) of their tribes.

Odin

Obviously there are nuances to these relationship. The connection between Angrboda and Odin exists – they do not seem to be actively at war at this time, though They do seem to keep a wary eye on each other. As she is the mother of wolves, and Odin keeps wolves, I would not be surprised if this was not some sort of exchange of hostages, much like Frey and Njord’s presence in Asgard.

Freya

The connection to Freya is through Seidhr magic. It is my belief that much as Freya taught Odin, She also taught Angrboda this magic, As well, it was the Aesir’s treatment of Gullveig (Angrboda) which set off the first war. I feel that there was a strong relationship at that point between the Van and the Jotuns (who even in the lore seem to have gotten on rather well; Giant women were not uncommon brides. Both Njord and Frey married etinwomen.)

Tyr

When Fenrir was taken from Her and held hostage in Asgard, it was only Tyr who was brave enough to feed him, and play with him, and care for him in his gruff warrior way.  And it was Tyr who did what was necessary and scarified his hand to the Wolf when it was time for him to be bound. Tyr was of the Aesir, but like Loki, his parentage was Jotun.

Animals

Animals associated with Angrboda are the wolf (both through her connection as the mother of Fenrir and as Chieftess of the Wolf Clan (per UPG shared in the Jotunbok) as well as other canines, the snake (again through her connection to the World Serpent as their mother. As well, the giantess Hyrrokin was noted to ride a wolf using a snake as reins) and cats (as jotnar have been associated with cats, as were volva. Other personal aspects of my practice inform this as well.)

Correspondences and other associations
Colour: Red, particularly blood red, oranges/yellows, firey autumnal colours. Bronze and Copper. In Her aspect as Gullveig, gold and green. In her aspect as Hyrrokkin, black.

Metals and Minerals: copper, bronze, gold. Flint, jet. Dark red stones.

Herbs and Plants: red oak trees, mugwort, agrimony, henbane.

Items: images/representations of hearts, wolves, oak leaves and acorns, nine stones (for the nine Clans). Flint or copper knives.A staff or wand. Angrboda is often described as a seven-foot tall woman with waist length hair the colour of dried blood, tattooed, wearing men’s clothing.

Offerings

Incense: I have found that offers of strong almost ‘masculine’ incense have been well received. My personal ‘go-to’ is piñon incense, as well as dragon’s blood and mugwort.  I sometimes mix my own incense of oak leave, mugwort, and other herbs and items I gather. The Jotunbok cites agrimonny as sacred to her, and there is also a set of directions for an Angrboda incense located here which I have not yet tried.

Food and Drink: Whisky and other hard alcohol. I’ve given Her rum, vodka, beer.  My go-to is usually Jack Daniels. I once got Her a bottle of hard alcohol made of strawberry mash called “Sweet Revenge”; sometimes something strikes my fancy like that. I once found a local beer company that made a wolf themed beer where some profits went to a wolf sanctuary, so I brought her that as well. Water (everyone like a cool glass of water).  Meat (raw is better. Sometimes I offer it raw and then prepare it to share.). I find I like to try to bring her things I think She might not be able to get in Jotunheim or the Ironwood all the time – fresh bread and cheese, sweets, coffee. Chocolate, though sometimes I feel silly because of the canine connection. I have also found She enjoys Sriracha.

Service Offerings: its an awkward way to say it, but “Doing the Thing”, that is, the task put before you to do, unflinchingly. Learn a martial art or some kind of fighting skill (I often thing She feels very strongly about stick-fighting).  Support causes such as wolf and other wildlife protection, those that work with at risk women and children. Blood, sweat and tears (of all kinds – from fighting to fucking to agony).

Names and epithets

Angrboda – “Distress Bringer” “She Who Brings Sorrow” “Bringer of Woe” “Foreboding””the one who brings grief” or “she-who-offers-sorrow” as Angrboda, she is the Chief of the Ironwood Clans; Chief of Chiefs, Iárnvidia: ‘She of Iron-wood’; Mother of Monsters, Mother of Wolves, Mother of Death Hag of the Ironwood, Hagia, Hag of the Ironwood, Wolf Lady, She who Endures.

Hyrrokkin – “Fire Smoked”

Thokk – “Thanks” (Thokk is the Giantess who refused to weep for Baldur, thus denying his return)

Heidr –  adjective meaning “bright” or “clear”  or the noun meaning “honour” or “fame”

Gullveig – The current popular translation is ‘gold power’ ‘gold lust’ ‘gold intoxication’. Ekortu has a rather interesting breakdown of the name in Gullveigarbok, which is worth looking at, though I can’t speak to the scholarship behind it, not speaking any of the languages involved nor being much of a translator myself.

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Below are some photos of my current shrine/altar for Angrboda. The two paintings are “The Unlucky Family” By Hellanim and “I’m an Animal” by Jensine Eckwall

The first two images are close ups of the wall shelf and dresser top portion of the altar.

The altar started initially as just this shelf, and it kind of took up the whole area eventually. I’m an altar maker by nature. I like the way they look, and I love helping create them!

Up here you will see wolves, acorns, hearts. A pretty pine cone I found, the image of a tree.  There are a few cats.

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I keep some of my devotional jewelry on this altar as well. In the back right you see three little paintings I did of Her children. I hung them by putting command brand velcro strips on the back of the canvass and attaching them to the wall that way!

They are just the perfect size to fit in a little box, like the gold one below, which is my travel altar. I don’t actually carry those images in that box , but I plan to make a one just for Her in the future.

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Here are close up photos of the travel altar. I cut strips of water colour paper and folded them together to write prayers on, and I also found a tiny wolf figure recently that fits just right.  I sometimes take an electric tea light with me, as I generally take this with me traveling, and usually can’t light candles. The box was one dollar from a craft store. The pictures were from old Fables comics that had been damaged and salvaged for later use. The rhinestones were also random findings I happened to have around. I lined the inside and bottom of the box with felt, which had one side pre-glued.

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Deity and the Divine – Introduction to Angrboda

I think I shall be using the third week of each month’s Pagan Experience to talk about Angrboda, based solely on my own experiences with Her, and my research. This week I’ll talk a little bit about how I met Her and who she is.

I have been some sort of pagan or another most of my life – for the most part, after my initial dabblings in Wicca, I settled for the generic ‘eclectic pagan’. Nothing seemed to fit well.

About five years ago, after months of asking the Universe for guidance…Odin showed up on 6th Avenue. Cream coloured suit, nice hat. Big beard.  It was terrifying. I basically ran away screaming (not in that moment. He showed up three weeks in a row. On Wednesday. Dude. Be less subtle.) and asked him to come back later, when I was in a better position in my life. Eventually, He did.

That was the start of me as a Heathen – Odin showing up like “Y U Mad bro, you said come back later?” and since I’m a woman of my word, I started to figure out what He was doing there. I was bumbling along well enough for the first few months, figuring things out. Then, I asked Him to help me find the knowledge I needed.

I got exactly what I asked for, which was not fun. My entire life was shattered. I had already been teetering at the edge of a nasty depression (I had seen the signs coming, and found a therapist in Philly, finally, several months before this all happened), and He very kindly tipped me over the edge. By the time the dust settled, I’d lost both my partners, fell into the worst depression of my life, and had no idea what to do.

I joked, later on, that it was the tag team of Odin and Loki that got me where I needed to be – Odin took a giant hammer and shattered me, and Loki helped me painfully pull it back together. I mean, it involved throwing salt on it and shoving it in my face, but I am dense and it worked. I started in earnest doing all the shit I thought I’d been doing in my 20s. I made my first set of runes.  I studied. I prayed. I wasn’t, however, moving fast enough for my Lady – in fact, she wasn’t even in my field of view.

To be blunt, She pretty much showed up, grabbed me by the throat, and fucked me into submission.

It was one of those things that’s funny in hindsight – all the missed messages. There was a recurrent theme during some of my meditations the previous year – “The wolf is at the door.” I thought it referred to my partner at the time, who is rather lupine. I’d been getting woo by four smacked with signs like that, but it took a while to piece it together.

Our relationship started by me promising to set up altar space for her by a certain time, and I damn well did. I’ve kept every promise I’ve made to Her. Wolf-mamma is like that. You make a promise, you keep it. It’s not even ‘or else’. Or else what? If you can’t keep a promise to Her, you’re not worth Her time.  She has absolutely no patience for bullshit.

That was two years ago. I have been Hers ever since.

So. Who is She?

Angrboda, whose name means “She who brings sorrow”, “She who offers sorrow”, “She who brings grief” (which always makes me think of Ayesha, She who Must be Obeyed!) is known as the first wife, or mistress, of Loki.

She is attested to in Gylfaginning:

XXXIV. Yet more children had Loki. Angrboda was the name of a certain giantess in Jötunheim, with whom Loki gat three children: one was Fenris-Wolf, the second Jörmungandr–that is the Midgard Serpent,–the third is Hel. But when the gods learned that this kindred was nourished in Jötunheim, and when the gods perceived by prophecy that from this kindred great misfortune should befall them; and since it seemed to all that there was great prospect of ill–(first from the mother’s blood, and yet worse from the father’s)-then Allfather sent gods thither to take the children and bring them to him. When they came to him, straightway he cast the serpent into the deep sea, where he lies about all the land; and this serpent grew so greatly that he lies in the midst of the ocean encompassing all the land, and bites upon his own tail. Hel he cast into Niflheim, and gave to her power over nine worlds, to apportion all abodes among those that were sent to her: that is, men dead of sickness or of old age. She has great possessions there; her walls are exceeding high and her gates great. Her hall is called Sleet-Cold; her dish, Hunger; Famine is her knife; Idler, her thrall; Sloven, her maidservant; Pit of Stumbling, her threshold, by which one enters; Disease, her bed; Gleaming Bale, her bed-hangings. She is half blue-black and half flesh-color (by which she is easily recognized), and very lowering and fierce.

 

This is one of the very few mentions of Her by name. From here, we get very little, but very important information about Her: namely that she bore three monstrous children to Loki: Hel, Fenrir the Wolf, and Jormungandr. Based on this, we are able to pull further information from other sources to identify Angrboda in the lore.

In the Völuspá(The Prophecy of the Vǫlva), a volva is plying her craft, and sharing her memories of the start and end of the world. The identity of this woman is debated – from the first line of the poem, we can assume that she is a Jotun, or at least was raised by them (stz 2, line 1 I remember yet | the giants of yore, Who gave me bread | in the days gone by).  The prophetess ‘remembers’ many things; the creation of the world, the first war (Caused when the Aesir speared and burned the vǫlva Gullveig who was visiting them), and recounts the day of Ragnarok the doom of the gods and destruction of the world, as well as the eventual rebirth, including the fact that Baldur, who at this time will be dead, will return from Hel to lead the remaining children of the Gods in rebuilding the word.

The vǫlva in the Völuspá is generally considered the same as the one in Baldurs Draumer, where the story is very similar – Odin is consulting a wise woman to see whats going on with Baldur’s dreams.  Odin has gone to seek out the help of a dead vǫlva to interpret the disturbing dreams Baldur has been having (Baldurs Draumer).  He raises her from the dead, and she unwillingly prophecies for him. At the end of the poem, we have this exchange:

Othin spake:
12. “Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee
All to know | that I fain would ask:
What maidens are they | who then shall weep,
And toss to the sky | the yards of the sails?”

The Wise-Woman spake:
13. “Vegtam thou art not, | as erstwhile I thought;
Othin thou art, | the enchanter old.”

Othin spake:
“No wise-woman art thou, | nor wisdom hast;
Of giants three | the mother art thou.”

The Wise-Woman spake:
14. “Home ride, Othin, | be ever proud;
For no one of men | shall seek me more

Till Loki wanders | loose from his bonds,
And to the last strife | the destroyers come.”

I believe that when referring to the vǫlva as the mother of three giants, Odin is indicating that the vǫlva who has been raised is Angrboda, the only person in the lore thoroughly identified as the mother of three great monsters – it would be assumed the listener of the poem would make this conjecture (in my opinion, this identification of the vǫlva in Baldur’s Draumer as Angrboda; that along with the fact that the vǫlva in the Völuspá is generally considered the same as the one in Baldurs Draumer, where the story is very similarly told. There isn’t anything confirming or denying this aside from the text itself. That the Völuspá prophetess is often identified as Gullveig informs my UPG that Angrboda IS Gullveig – but more on that in another post!)

As well, tying her fate (“For no one of men | shall seek me more”) to the freedom of Loki, who by the end of the world is bound much like His son, Fenrir (“till Loki wanders | loose from his bonds”) also provide a link from the speaker to Loki…the father of the three monsters.

Tangentially, Odin is said to go to the east to raise this dead vǫlva in Baldur’s Draumer:

“Then Othin rode | to the eastern door,
There, he knew well, | was the wise-woman’s grave;
Magic he spoke | and mighty charms,
Till spell-bound she rose, | and in death she spoke:”

If it follows that he is raising Angrboda, dead in the well known grave in the east, placed Her grave in the east, where one would assume she dwelled as well. In the Völuspá, there is made mention of another location in the east

40. The giantess old | in Ironwood sat,
In the east, and bore | the brood of Fenrir;

It is generally accepted this refers to Angrboda – the brood of Fenrir either referring to a brood gotten with Fenrir which is the common assumption; I’ve also thought it could refer to the brood that Fenrir was part of – that is, himself, Hel and Jormungandr.

There is also an interpolation in the Hyndluljóð (The Lay of Hyndla) of a completely different poem called the “short Voluspo” which echos the Völuspá in telling the creation and destruction of the world and listing the Gods and their history. There are some fascinating bits of information in there (such as a single surviving line at stanza 34 “34. Heith and Hrossthjof, | the children of Hrimnir.” – which forms a crucial role in my Angrboda UPG, linking Her as Heith (Heidr, the name of Gullveig after she was burned) to Hrimnir as Her father…which ultimately links her to the Volsung line. But again. Another post.)

The short Voluspo makes some mention of Angrboda as well:

42. The wolf did Loki | with Angrbotha win,
And Sleipnir bore he | to Svathilfari;
The worst of marvels | seemed the one
That sprang from the brother | of Byleist then.

This stanza again refers to the children of Loki – the Wolf, Fenrir, born to Angrboda. Sleipnir was born of Loki’s body to the stallion Svathilfari.  The ‘worst of marvels’ is sometimes interpreted as Jormungandr, the World Serpent.

Another interesting stanza follows:

43. A heart ate Loki,– | in the embers it lay,
And half-cooked found he | the woman’s heart;–
With child from the woman | Lopt soon was,
And thence among men | came the monsters all.

It is generally assumed this heart belongs to Gullveig – whom as I have mentioned I connect with Angrboda.

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So from the lore sources, we know that Angrboda lived in the East, that she had three monstrous children with Loki (Hence the by name “Mother of Monsters” and “Mother of Wolves”) whom were stolen from Her by Odin (Hel banished to the Underworld, where She has power of all 9 Realms, as Death, Jormungandr thrown into the sea and ensorcelled to circle and Midgard, and Fenrir as hostage in Asgard, until he was bound. We know she is from Jotun stock. We can assume she was a volva, as well as infer that her home was in Jarnvidr – the Ironwood.  Some can infer that She is the same as Gullveig, which is harder to infer, but there are some that have UPG that confirm this, or can point to that, as well.

Now as for UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) and PCPG (Peer Corroborated Personal Gnosis) there have been some popular theories on this. The best known are those shared by Raven Kaldera on his site (see the link of his name) and in his published work on the Northern Tradition. He has a shrine to Angrboda which shares some of the stories he’s gleaned (many from the Jotunbok).  Along with UPG stories/new myths, the shrine contains quite a bit about Angrboda. It is from Kaldera that we know Her as the Chief of Chiefs the 9 Clans of the Ironwood. Personally, I find many of the tales he shares to ring true. Occasionally I disagree (see: my Gullveig-Angrboda feels), but overall its well worth your time to investigate the information he has gleaned as well.

Two other sources of UPG discuss Angrboda in-depth, and both are rather controversial for a variety of reasons.

The first is a grimoire called the Rokkrbok, which I believe was put out by folks in New Zealand. This book is not in print so far as I can find it, but you are able to obtain a PDF via nautical redistribution (pirating) on the internet, if that your thing. This book takes a rather dark approach, and promote the use of some rather dangerous entheogens, along with a ‘self dísablót’ rite that is essentially ritualistic suicide. I tracked down a copy of this book for my own personal interests, because I track down EVERYTHING related to Angrboda, but its not without its issues. There was some rather unpleasant racial stuff in there as well. (Racial issues as many of you know, being the constant battle in Heathenry. This is a good spot to point out that I am NOT FOLKISH nor do I tolerate racist fuckheads) The one thing I did notice – these are the folks who coined the Rokkr as a name, and the Rokkr system of worship. It is VASTLY different from what American practitioners, particularly on tumblr, call Rokkatru.

The other book that has a bit more popularity is a grimoire called the Gullveigarbok (this one is also out of print – I have not yet located a copy for sale for less than $200 on auction sites. This one is available via nautical redistribution as well. This is another I read cover to cover, because the author (Ekortu, formerly known as Vexior) shares some of the same UPG as me  – he too feels that Gullveig and Angrboda were one and the same, and shares some of the other names I feel she goes by, but in my opinion he goes too far. My personal gnosis equates Angrboda with Gullveig, Hyrokkin, Heidr and Thokk.  Ekortu also feels that Angrboda equates with Hyndla and Aurboda, points which I disagree. Ekortu also practices a system he calls Thursatru; it is essentially a Satanic/Luciferian/Anti-cosmic system wherein Gullveig and Loki are similar to Lilith and Lucifer – working against the demiurge (in this system, Odin) to bring about true freedom to their followers. However, surprisingly, we do share quite a bit of similar UPG and there is a lot of worthwhile material in this book. I recently purchased, but do not yet have in hand, Ekortu’s new Thursian grimoire, which I will discuss later on.

I would strongly, STRONGLY suggest holding off on reading Gullveigarbok and Rokkrbok and even the Jotunbok by Kaldera until one has spent some time enmeshed in the lore themselves – at least one solid reading of a good translation of the Eddas or at the bare minimum  Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Norse Myths.  Kaldera’s UPG is wonderful, but he is notoriously bad at indicating what is UPG and what is lore based/supported. Rokkrbok doesn’t cite much lore, and is largely UPG, and the Gullveigarbok is heavily based on the Ekortu’s research into the lore, and frankly all these books are what I would consider 200 level works – you need to have a firm grasp of the basics before jumping into the UPG pool.

Damn. So my short introduction to Angrboda turned into 3000 words! Over the next year, I will be posting at least once a month during this project regarding different parts of my experiences and perceptions of Mrs A. Next week when our topic is “A” I will follow up with some ‘How to’ Mrs A, along with correspondences, offerings, etc.

The First Lesson

By Maris Pái

The first lesson, She said, is to look at the path before you:
None of this eyes-downcasted fear. No more stomach-clenched dread
Of all the things you don’t and can’t know. Because, Little One,
all the things you don’t and can’t know are legion and I will not
have one of my own flinching at shadows. Look at your path
and do not cower. Square your shoulders and
lift your chin. Have you not realized your own strength by now?

There are as many paths to the Tree as there are stars in the sky:
it matters less which you choose than that you have chosen
and been chosen and that you continue to choose
to put one foot in front of the other and walk the road ahead of you.
Sometimes you will walk on razor-blades, each step an agonized trudge,
and sometimes you will run, eager to reach that which lies ahead, or
eager again to flee that which came before. The dragons you do not slay
may chase you down later and find you unguarded: Better to face them
the first time and not be tripped up later and find that the smoke ahead
is not a friendly bonfire or hearth but new immolation.

I am in the staff by your side and your backbone and your feet
and I am the falcon soaring high above, leading you to the rising sun
and dazzling your eyes when what your focus should be is the journey
and not the potholes.

 

The First Lesson: Maris Pái

HUGINN v1.2 Midsummer 2011; “The Work”

Sanity Canaries

One of my fears when it comes to spirit work is that I am crazy, that I am hearing things or seeing things that are not spiritual in nature, but all in my head. One of my constant battles, and part of the work I’m doing in making myself more useful to Angrboda, is learning to discern and process through these feelings.

Part of the reason for this is because I *am* a little of what you could call ‘crazy’. Until about two years ago, I was considered bipolar, and was taking medication to treat both BPD as well as an anti-psychotic to treat episodes of depersonalization; as well I have experience major bouts of depression and various anxiety issue – OCD particularly. 

Now, two years ago, we discovered that I am *not* in fact, bipolar at all, and that the birth control hormones I was on were making me completely insane. Once those were out of me, my crazy subsided, at least to an extent. I am still OCD; however it is much more manageable now. And I do occasionally get depressed, however again, this is more manageable.  The last, worst bout of depression I had started in late December off 2012, and started resolving later in 2013 after I left my husband. Its only been within the last few months that I have been happier more often than I have been sad.

So obviously, this all ties into and informs how I interact with both the material, and the spiritual world. One of the thing I have found that really helps me with my discernment are my Sanity Canaries.

A Sanity Canary is basically a person who, knowingly or not, is someone whom you can turn to to touch base with and ensure you are not crazy – much like a canary in the coal mine which alerts folks to dangerous gasses.

Now, coal miners only had one canary, but I, and you, can have several. Here are a few examples of my Sanity Canaries:

Therapist

The first, of course, is your therapist. I feel very strongly that a good therapist is in order for just about every – including, and maybe especially, spirit workers. My therapist is amazing – she is comfortable with all aspects of my life; kink, woo, polyamory, etcetera.

I think the best moment I had with her was when several weeks after I started talking about the Norse Gods showing up in my life, she comes into a session with “Well, I was at a conference this weekend, and you MUST look up this presenter I met!” and she was talking about Raven Kaldera.  Yup. 

She has also on more than one occasion said something like “Well, I see you’re addressing x issue with y actions, but have you done a ritual/magic/spell/talked to your priest/etc?” which is INVALUABLE, trust me.

While I see her less frequently than usual, she is someone who has known me for a long time, has a good handle on my issues and quirks, who knows me inside and out – so when she says something, I fucking listen. Ultimately, what her job is, is to help me maintain myself, just like my GP and what not. I have given her a certain amount of authority and cache in my life, and as such it is my responsibility to listen to her.

How do you find someone like her? Well….its not easy.  This is my nth round of therapy, but the longest lasting so far. It was years of trial and error, looking through Kink aware professional lists, making calls, and seeing terrible therapists before I found her.  Ultimately, I googled sex positive therapists in my area, found her office, and took a stab in the dark as to whom to see based on my days off. It took a while before I brought up spirituality, but as it came up, it was a natural progression and thankfully she rolled with it.

The flip side of this is that I have to be as honest as I possibly can in therapy. This isn’t happy fluffy fun time, it usually ends in tears. But it is good.

Friends and Family

Obviously, your friends and family are other great sources of Sanity Canaries – they know you very well! For me, the two most important are my housemate and my friend whom I will call the Eagle Scout, because he is one.

The Eagle Scout is a pretty damn good one, actually.  He’s one of my best friends – I joke that when we split, I got him in the divorce, because he was friendly with my STBX first and when we split, my ex just blew him off. We have lots in common, such as both having some anxiety issues, some wounds in our past, and a love of My Little Pony; but part of why I value him as a Sanity Canary are our differences.

See, The Eagle Scout is Christian. Not Catholic, Christian, and a very practical sort of one at that.  I always describe him as very dense. Not physically, not emotionally or intellectually, but kind of…solid? For him, religion is very private, quiet and not at all immanent.  If I had suddenly become a Christian Mystic, he would be looking at me exactly as askew as he is now. Its all equally as weird to him.

The Eagle is the person I called when I wanted to test my flying ointment for side effects. He’s the one who’ll watch a blót, 

My house-mate IS kind of woo – she offers to our housewight, she does a little magic and understands energy, but not so much Gods. But she also knows me well enough that if she voices concern about a thing, I’m likely to listen.

Another is a friend who is incredibly woo, who is involved with quite a bit of this stuff, but in a completely different tradition than my own, with different experiences and thoughts, but with whom I can discuss these things and get feedback.

Co-religionists

Another place to find Sanity Canaries, and another good place to have one, is with a co-religionist. There is a member of my kindred who was the person who first sparked the idea of a Sanity Canary. For me, this is a person who currently I don’t know well, and will get to know better, but whom I consider to be an upstanding ethical person who makes good choices and has a variety of responsibilities outside of the kindred.  I looked at them and said ‘If this person thinks shits crazy, its crazy. They will be my sanity canary.”

 

Sanity Canaries are a wonderful concept for helping you processes through your own shit, and help you learn to trust your instincts and your own feelings – my Sanity Canaries don’t generally get involved unless shit looks fucked up – in fact I can count on one hand minus a thumb the times anyone has pulled me aside with a “WTF, are you insane?” They are more for my own peace of mind than anything; two don’t even know that I consider them sanity canaries

One of the things you may notices – the one thing all these folks have in common is that we have a pre-existing, trust based relationship. Someone who doesn’t know you at all isn’t a good Sanity Canary. Someone who can look at you and go ‘You’re left eye is doing that twitchy thing. Did you eat today?” or what not. Someone who knows you well enough to know when you’re acting out of character – not someone who agrees with you all the time. The Eagle Scout, and my Therapist both know me well enough to know my basic characteristics and when I’m acting differently. Regardless of how they may personally feel about my practices, they love and care about me enough to notice when something is not just different, but when something is wrong.

Do you have a Sanity Canary? Did I leave anyone out? Feel free to comment and share your stories!