Happy Vanadis Day!

Here it is Vanadis Day again, and this year I decided to give the Lady a gift for her day.

As I’ve mentioned here before, lately, I’ve been lately taking ugly old clothes from the thrift store and turning them into cute clothes. Which, in general, I think is more up Sif’s alley than Freyja’s, what with Sif turning the mind to love and getting beautiful hair out of losing it all and all that. But Freyja would obviously never turn down a pretty dress. 

So the other day, I went to the thrift store with the express purpose of purchasing the ugliest red dress I could find to make Freyja’s dress out of. And boy, did the thrift store ever deliver on that.

red dress before front

red dress back beforeOh, where to start? The ugly sleeves, the weird womb triangle, the pleats around the womb triangle. 

We had a couple of snow days this week (Hey, Holda!), and so I spent one of them taking apart almost every piece of this dress except the neckline and making a whole new dress, which of course makes me feel like dancing for Freyja in a dress for Freyja:

red dress after 1 red dress after 2 red dress after 3 red dress back after

Hail Freyja, the wife of Odh, the beautiful Vanadis!

Hail to she who makes tears sparkle with her magic!

Hail Freyja, falcon-flier, who grants passion and beauty in all of our days, who gave me my husband and my faith, enjoy this dress on this day filled with the lovers’ embrace.

Happy Vanadis Day!

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On the Coming of Spring and Her Inspiration

Last weekend we celebrated Vanadis Day, the coming of the spring and the love that held us through the winter and the joy and beauty the world has to offer. Freyja’s beauty and passion and the hope for flowers.

This week the weather was so wonderful–so much better than last year’s historic snowfalls the week of Vanadis Day. It was 65 degrees and sunny and beautiful. I walked outside without a coat and drove with the window open. And I began to shed the baggage of winter.

Winter is so internal, a time of deep thoughts and just getting by. It is not a time of inspiration for me, except on those beautiful nights when the snow has fallen and the city is paved in the sparkling pearls of the sky, when all has been covered by that dangerous harmony of the snow.

But the blanket of the snow has now melted, and the warmth of spring has come begun to come and embrace us with her warmth. The sunlight has brought her dancing inspiration to me, and reminded me to hope for the daffodils that will be coming in only a few short weeks, marking spring as being really and truly here.

Philadelphia has the most beautiful spring I have ever seen. Almost all of the trees here are flowering trees, and the city explodes with these pink puffballs attached to the tops of treetrunks. We decorated our house for Vanadis Day and to celebrate the flowering trees.

And I’ve been inspired. It’s cold again, but the momentum has begun building and I don’t need to keep hunting for it. The spring cleaning of my life has begun.

This sudden shift in weather has been difficult. I’ve been having to deal with the things I don’t like–like Philly’s litter problem and how bored I am at my job. I think I’m a little sick from it all.

I’ve begun producing my own dance performance. It will be performed in the Fringe Festival this fall. A friend of mine from college and I are collaborating on the performance, which is going to be on the subject of water. And I’m so inspired I can’t sleep. All I can think of is ideas for how my collection of dances about the water cycle is going to go. I spent an entire day planning the musical choices for my ballet, and finding the poems to inspire each section. The dance is boiling inside me, and it can hardly wait until rehearsals start in May. The bubbles are beginning to come out in my soul, and the ideas are spewing out of me.

The fire of the sun and the dance have come out and reminded me of what I came to this city for, the career I seek for myself. I want to be a dancer and a choreographer, and the determination to do so has sprung up out of nowhere like this beautiful February weather and the soon-to-be daffodils. I am surprising myself.

Autumnal Equinox

Oh, boy has September been an intense month for me! The parents visited, which knocked everything off balance, there was the Fringe Fest, which meant three different performances three weekends in a row, and we had a rough week at work, so I’ve been working very long days, every day.

The equinox was a really great holiday for re-grounding myself in my life and my faith. Summer is my low-religious season, so I can feel my devotion picking up as the air is cooling–though not as much as I feel it should. We had a heat storm on Wednesday night!

I’ve been worrying a lot about money, since my boyfriend is still (mostly) unemployed. He’s been finding a lot of side work to do, but I certainly don’t make enough money to “bring home the bacon” as it were.

On the equinox, my sister, my boyfriend and I went to our local park. We found a bench from which we had a good view of the full moon sitting in the sky over the church on the corner, and we shared a pomegranate. Pomegranates were the first fruit I ever knew were seasonal–my mom talked about loving fall because you could get pomegranates. Up until that point, I had always just assumed you could get whatever you want, whenever you want. I was probably six or seven at the time.

Since converting to paganism, I find that my tastes in food are much more seasonal. And so for the autumnal equinox, a pomegranate is the perfect symbol of fall to me.

After that, my sister went home, and I took my shoes off and walked around in the grass. And it all came rushing back to me–my love of the land, of the grass and the trees. And how very much I have been missing them since moving to the city and fearing to take my shoes off because of broken grass and dog poo. But I took them off, and I stood in the grass watching the moon and all of my worries came to the surface. Missing the country. Being poor. Missing my friends from college. Missing when I was a Wiccan and I went out and drew down the moon every month. Davin held me as I sobbed to the moon and its wolf.

I also cleaned out my temple, changed the altars around to make more sense in my new understanding. I expanded Holda’s, made room on Freyja’ for Bast, and put pictures of the universe on my ancestor altar, so that it is now an altar to the Unfolding of the Cosmos.

I feel better. I feel purged and cleaned and ready to come inside myself and my gods for winter.

Midsummer, Etc.

So I figured I’d make a post telling you all about my wonderful Midsummer festivities, as well as fill you in a little as to what I’ve been up to for the past month and a half.

So the biggest thing was that my boyfriend graduated from college. He’s going to be an architect, and I’m very proud of him.

After he graduated, he moved in with me, and we’ve been working on all kinds of projects we’ve been wanting to work on for the entire five years we’ve been long-distance. (OHMYGODSICAN’TBELIEVEIT’SREALLYOVER!!!!) We started a garden. We’re growing some flowers, which aren’t doing so well, and some herbs, which are growing like crazy. We’ve got basil, thyme, oregano, and lemon verbena. Please ignore how hideous our back patio is. We live in a cheap house in a city.

I got a very good omen from Freyja regarding our garden. Just as I was sweeping out all the dead leaves from last autumn and the previous tenants, I found an amber marble hidden beneath the leaves. And the garden has reinvigorated my love of life, which was lacking recently due to all the goings on in the news.

We’re making some lemon verbena infused vodka out of some of our lemon verbena leaves. Its smells delicious.

In other news, I have done some less-religiousy things as well. One of them is that Gent has me interested in the World Cup. I never knew I cared about sports at all, but what can I say? He’s so excited it’s been rubbing off.

I also began rehearsals for and performed in a burlesque show. It was fun because it was just barely outside my comfort zone. But I didn’t have to get too naked, and it was a good way to see a different side of my lady–the place where dancing and sex coincide. My pieces were really fun. I was in a girl fight against a serious boxer character. I won by “accidentally” tearing her clothes off and then swinging my hair in her face. And I was in a balloon dance, where we were dressed entirely in balloons, and then popped them all off ourselves. Here’s a picture of rehearsal for that piece.

Anyway, moving on to Midsummer. We have a tradition that’s started on the first anniversary of my oaths to my gods that’s three years old now. That means that this was also the third anniversary of my oaths. I’m a bit shocked it’s been so long already, and yet it seems like they’ve been a part of my life forever. Anyway, the tradition is summer solstice berry picking. We went and picked this many berries:

And then we made this out of some of them:

In addition, we also started brewing some mead that we plan to consume for Yule.

After all the baking, I went down to the basement to my new temple and made my prayers. I told my gods that I still love them and that I still am glad I made my oaths. I talked to them about how my relationship with them is important, but changing with all the ways that my devotions and sacrifices are becoming ever more fully in my day-to-day life with things like dancing getting so busy and the garden and the cooking we’ve been doing and my hair and skirts. And I love it. I’m finally living my faith. And having Gent with me has actually been quite spiritually transformative. I’ve been longing for so long for a family, a home. And now he’s here and I have him and my sister, and I live with my entire family.

For the three years that I’ve been a heathen, every time I’ve done a rune reading about Gent, it’s read that we’re good for each other, but to wait. Always, always there was Jera. Every time. Telling me that my life was in my future, and that was where my joy was. And now he’s here, and last night, the runes said we’d be happy. And out came othila–the rune I’ve been waiting for for years. Telling me that I’m home with my family now.

So now, at the height of summer, when Sunna glows brightest on Earth, I have the greatest gift of my heathen years. I have the family and the home and the hearth that my faith has been seeking.

Valentine’s Day/ Vanadis Day

Happy Valentine’s/Vanadis’ Day everyone!

In my house, Valentine’s day is one of the most sacred holidays. It’s up there with Walpurgisnacht/May Day, Yule, and the Summer Solstice.

I don’t celebrate Imbolc. It doesn’t do anything for me. To me, February 2 is Groundhog Day, which is a very minor holiday that marks the fact that winter is halfway over. But there has been a whole lot more winter since then than there was before–we (and pretty much everyone on this coast) had record-breaking snowfall in the past week, so it does not feel like winter is wrapping up.

Here, in the doldrums of winter, I would much rather celebrate love and joy and sex. I know that Valentine’s Day was basically invented by the greeting card companies, and I hate how commercialized and gross it is. But what it celebrates is something that I WANT to celebrate, deep down at the core of my being. The thing that I care so much about that I worship two goddesses who rule over it. Love. Relationships. Those people who make the fight of life worth living, who make it worth it to get through winter until spring comes back again. The people who can make being stuck inside for days because there are four feet of snow falling outside into a joyous celebration of existence. Love and pink and flowers and joy. And Freyja and Sjofn.

And so, in my house, Valentine’s Day is the midwinter holiday of choice. And I call it Vanadis’ Day. I dedicate it to Freyja and Sjofn–the goddesses who have given me my loved ones.

We didn’t buy anything except food. For everything else, we did what love does–we made do with what we had, and we loved what was around us.

Here are some pictures:

My sister made us a candy heart wreath.

My boyfriend and I got dressed up. Here we are in between the paper heart garlands I made to decorate the kitchen. You may notice I am barefoot. This is because I hate shoes and love to feel the earth (even when it’s carpet) beneath my feet.

See look! We love each other! Thanks, Freyja and Sjofn!

We went on a walk through the snowy woods and discovered a meditating cave that I will use when it gets warmer out:

We made a dinner of aphrodisiacs in honor of Freyja and Sjofn. I gave a speech dedicating the food to them, and then we enjoyed it thoroughly. It was the first time my (Christian) boyfriend ever saw me make a formal dedication speech, and he was quite impressed. I cried tears of joy.

It was a very joyous meal. Afterward, we had danced and sang to the goddesses, and then had a private sex ritual together. Then we ate delicious chocolate cake and watched a chick flick.

It was our first Vanadis day together (we’ve been in a long-distance relationship for five years, and this is only the second year I’ve celebrated Valentine’s in honor of Freyja and Sjofn), and it was a truly wonderful experience. I have been working on getting my boyfriend more involved in my religion. He’s been wonderfully supportive, and he’s beginning to truly understand what it is that heathenry does for me, the joy that I get out of my goddesses and gods. It was my first time really celebrating with someone else, and I am very excited to do more. I was a bit nervous about making him uncomfortable, but there was nothing beyond love and joy here. I feel so very blessed to have him. I was a (bad) Christian when we started dating six and a half years ago. He’s been there with me all along, through three (or four, depending how you count) religions. And except for the first few weeks after I converted to paganism, he hasn’t been anything but supportive. He sees that heathenry is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me, and tells me that he wouldn’t change my religion for anything.  He is so open to my religion and knows now that my gods are real. He’s wonderful.

Hail Freyja! Hail Sjofn! Thank you for the love that you’ve given and the joy that you are! May we never fail to see you before us!