Again I have been silent. No, I haven’t forgotten about you all, I have merely retreated for a bit to take care of myself. Times are rough, emotionally. But I’m hanging in there, so don’t worry. I’ll climb back out of the hole again. Hopefully with some fresh insights after lessons learned, but for now I’d settle for just being able to go through a day without chest pains and tears.
I’ll be alright.
My greatest sadness is the strain it all puts on my beloved husband. I so wish I could be a normal, happy, rock steady wife for him, but instead I am this. That is what hurts the most. It is worse than all the rest, and it is not rare for me to think those horrid thoughts – that he would be better off without me.
But, there are also still moments of joy. It’s in the scent and warmth of my husband as I hold him close. It’s in the deeply satisfying realization that I’ve learned something new. It’s in being able to help a friend, and put a smile on another’s face.
If you are lost in the woods, who would you rather have guide you? One who has never been in those woods themselves, only seen it from the outside, or one who has walked the paths herself, and found the way out? Or perhaps even she who has made the woods her home. No longer lost, but safe and happy right where she is? I don’t know, I am still wandering.
I am awake.
How long I have slept, I can’t tell.
Rising from bed I come to face a mirror.
Tracks across my bare skin, I see them there.
Footprints, paw prints, bird prints,
prints of unknown beasts.
With a careful finger I follow the tracks,
trying to make sense of what can not be.
More, there is more.
Pictures emerging, figures and faces,
beings of this world and the next.
I marvel at the sight.
Fading, they are fading quick.
Record them, photograph them,
commit them to memory
before they are gone.
In rainwater soak
Leaves of birch chopped fine
Into it coarse salt pour and
Mix with almond oil
Strip down bare
Even if cold
Leave not a thread
Even if cold
As thorough as ever then
Wash your limbs
Wash your body
Wash your hair
Rinse in running water
With salted birch and oil you then
Scrub your limbs
Scrub your body
Scrub your hair
Rinse in running water
Clean new clothes
Chamomile and honey tea
Sleep and be reborn
The flame of Odin’s candle flickered, thrown back and forth as if in agony. I took a breath but found no air. I closed my eyes but found no solace. Guide me, I asked. Please, guide me.
The writhing flame only screamed.
Please, I asked. Please.
Every twist of the sacred flame charred my intentions. Please, I cried.
Not when word of self loathing mark your body. Why would I speak to one who is worthless, one who is no one?
The flame crackled and twisted around its own self as I reached for my blade. My hands were steady even as my heart trembled. Sharp, so very sharp, against skin.
Words of self loathing, I scraped them off. Words of self degradation, removed from my flesh.
When not a trace of shame remained, the flame grew silent.
Such words are not easily erased. The naked eye might not see the hateful lines, but still they are there.
He did not speak to me. No booming voice nor gentle whisper. Only agony.
Do not approach me so tainted.
A child’s mind is not the easiest thing to comprehend. Her frames of reference, her sense of logic and reason, it is something else.
Before I knew the runes, one came to me. To me and my cousin, who was of the same age. It was before we had begun at school, before we had learned the proper ways of modern living.
I don’t know where it came from. I didn’t know then either. We just knew that this, this was important. And powerful. It meant protection. It meant hope. It meant a way out for he who is trapped, and a way in for he who is locked out. We could not put to words why, but this we knew.
We called it Norrombergen. A name that made sense to a child’s mind, though to you it may seem strange. Norrombergen, we knew, consisted of one vertical line, splitting into three at the top. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I learned it had another name – Algiz.
No one taught us. This was secret knowledge that we had stumbled on, and we told no one. For years and years, we told no one. Norrombergen was a secret, and it was ours.
I wrote a poem for Rán today. It will be read as I offer Her drops of snaps and a little package of Fisherman’s Friend. And I will plead with Her to soften the blow for all those who suffer due to the recent storm related flooding. Because as a voice called out, imploring his fellow Heathens to ask Rán for help, people would say: No. Ask Thor!
And yes, ask Thor, the master of storms. But let it not be said I would deny Rán, when honestly asked.
May She keep a calm sea even as storm rages above!
May Her daughters safely carry those lost back to land!
May those unescapably caught in Her nets fare well in Her halls!
Be safe, all!
Our house lies in between two big old rowan trees. You can see one of them in the picture above, in bloom as they are in the earlier days of summer. Today there are no flowers, but plenty of bright red berries.
The rowan, in Swedish is called rönn, may not be the grandest of trees – often it grows to be no more than a shrub. Nonetheless it has a mighty powerful place in folklore, ancient mythology, and yes, magic. Protective as well as runic magic, most of all. According to an old myth a rowan tree once even saved the life of Thor himself, which is no small feat.
The young leaves can be used for tea, and the berries are edible. Not particularly tasty, but edible. They are completely packed full of vitamin C, so much that three a day will cover what you need. Luckily you don’t have to eat them raw, they can be made into jelly or jam, or even wine. Or you can dry them and add a bit in bread baking, or use in your müsli or whatnot. The birds love them too, and for good reason – rowan berries, or rönnbär, makes up their most important food source in wintertime, at least up here.
One day the two mighty rowan trees by our house will wither and die. It’s alright, there are already young shoots coming up to take their place. We will take care of them, and perhaps they will take care of us.