My week off the internet for Walpurgisnacht was nice. I did a whole lot of dancing and thinking about the direction of my dancing career. And I spent a lot of time praying and making and finishing projects.
My first project was a set of prayer beads. The overall structure for the beads was somewhat inspired by the prayer beads Elizabeth made and discusses on her blog, Twilight and Fire.
The beads are as follows, beginning from the equal-armed cross pendant: Sigrdrifa’s prayer, Sunna, the Norns, Odin, Frigga, Thor, Sif, Idunna, Heimdall, the Norns, Freyja, Sjofn, Njord, Nerthus, Holda, Frey, the Norns, female ancestors, male ancestors, intellectual ancestors, landwights, the All, Yggdrasil, the Norns, Mani, and back to Sigrdrifa’s prayer.
I spent all day last Saturday choosing the beads, working on the prayers, and stringing them. While I was picking out the spacer beads, a Nun walked up to me and gave me a 20% off my purchase coupon, which I thought was awesome. The equal-armed cross pendant was also an interesting find–it was in a set of pirate-themed pendants. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be a doubloon, but nonetheless, I appreciate having actually culturally relevant symbolism, unlike the flowers and trees I was looking at otherwise.
I’ve been wanting prayer beads for a year or two now, and I LOVE them. I’ve been saying them each morning and evening, and it has really worked as a way to ground me in the mythology, to keep the gods I don’t normally worship in my mind, and to remind me that they are around and influencing my life.
The other thing I made was finishing up my string skirt, inspired by the Egtved girl and the bronze age dancing girl statues. I’ve been (kind of) working on it for months. It hasn’t been a primary project, though, so progress has been slow.
I hand-spun all of the yarn using a drop spindle. My skirt is purple because I happened to have a whole lot of purple fiber to spin up. The spinning isn’t all that even because I basically used this project to learn how to use a drop spindle. And I knit the skirt rather than weaving it like the original skirts were made. But I know how to knit and not how to weave. I rather like how it turned out, even though it ended up a bit too long. It’s supposed to wrap twice around the hips, and mine wraps about 2 3/4 ways around. But I think it’s lovely, and it’s really cool to have a skirt that’s in the style of what the old dancing priestesses would have worn.
I also put bells into the skirt, as I (and others) associate bells with the Vanir, due to Saxo’s reference to the “unmanly clatter of bells” in reference to Frey’s temple. But I also did it because there are little brass beads on the Egtved girl’s skirt, so I used the bells as a replacement for the beads. Plus, it’s really fun to dance in a sexy skirt that jingles when I dance. It makes dancing take on still another sense–not only does it feel kinesthetically wonderful, but the sounds of the movements are really nice. I really love watching belly dancing with their coin belts, or step with their smacking body parts and stomping, or tap or clogging.
I loved making this project. It really made me feel in touch with my ancestors. Women used to spin all the time, as evidenced by all of the references to spindles all over the place in the lore. So learning to use a drop spindle was kind of magical–something that we don’t do anymore, but that was a central part of life for so long. I also really appreciated making a historically inspired garment for similar reasons. I take spiritual inspiration from the Egtved girl, and now I have an outfit like she had.
Perhaps some would say that mine isn’t the same because it’s purple and knit rather than brown and woven. But our ancestors were practical people. If they had purple wool and knew how to knit and not weave, I’m sure their skirt would have looked like mine.
Anyway, that’s my little summation of the things I made this week. I also did an overnight vigil with Freyja that was really wonderful. I have been feeling quite disconnected with her since moving, but I went out and spent a lot of time in the park, and at her altar, and taking walks. I feel much closer to her than I have in a while.
On another note entirely, A Pagan’s Blog put up a post on Modern Pagans and Indigenous Religion that addresses many of the same issues as my last post, but more fully. He explores the various meanings of the word “indigenous”–cultural, religious, and political. And he comes up with a really great conclusion that is not far off from the conclusion I came to–that paganism as a whole is a religion indigenous to modernity. It’s a great post, you guys should go check it out.
Images of bronze figures from the National Museum of Denmark