Gwdihŵ and I arrived early in the afternoon, and talked with a few friends before attending the Opening Ritual.
As always, it was short and sweet and to the point. Gwendolyn Reece and Michael Smith invoked the conference’s patrons, Athena and Djehuty. Then, as a group, we set our intentions for the conference via call and response, and we set aside the time and place of the conference as sacred space, under the rule of hospitality.
Neither of us went to a workshop in the first block, as we were busy moving our stuff into our room, since our roommates had arrived during the Opening Ritual.
“Five Souls, Three Voices, One Road: Orlaeg, Wyrd, and Soul Work in the Northern Tradition”, by Laurel Mendes
Having enjoyed the Oracular Seidh ritual last year with Laurel Mendes and Diana Paxson, I decided to attend this workshop with Laurel. It was part discussion of magic and pathworking in the Northern Tradition, and part actual pathworking. First she started by trying to describe how the Northern Kindred viewed time: now and not-now and cyclical, rather than the past-present-future linear model with which most of us are accustomed. That’s a complex topic and could easily be an entire workshop by itself, but she recommended the work of a physicist named Michio Kaku. Then she explained the differences between the two types of fate, wyrd and orlaeg, by explaining that wyrd is like your DNA: it’s what you’re born with, and you can’t really change it much. Orlaeg is more malleable, and is made of all of our daily choices, which restrict us to certain paths. When we speak of shifting our fate, in the Northern Tradition we’re mostly talking about orlaeg. Next Laurel discussed her understanding of the five souls each person has, and what each of them do for us. The first soul in her framework is the fylgja, also known as the follower or fetch, and it is something a bit like an internal spirit guide. The fylgja is often animal and sometimes humanoid, but when humanoid frequently the opposite gender of the human whose soul it is. The second soul is the hamingya, which Laurel calls the sender, a part of ourselves that we can send astral travelling, or send elsewhere in the world to check on other things for a while. The third soul is the hamr, which she calls the skin, the parts of your personality you show to the world. This is the most changeable soul, as it changes based on your environment and your interactions with others. The fourth soul in Laurel’s framework is the aus, what she calls the godmouth, or the voice of truth. This, she explained, is the voice we use when we need to be obeyed immediately: the voice you would use to tell a child to stop when they are about to hurt themselves unknowingly. The fifth and last soul is the dis-self, the divine ancestor, and the part of you that can understand and communicate with the gods, ancestors, and other spirits. While I’m not sure that I would classify all of these as parts of the soul, I found her framework intriguing. I also agree with her assertion that if you’re having a hard time making a major life decision, it is wise to try and speak with each part, in order to get their consensus before acting.
In the pathworking part of the class, she had us start with just that. Once we had consensus, she led us to the roots of the worldtree, where we were to seek out the norns, and find the places where the water from the wells pools when they pour it on the tree in order to read the runes left in the rime. The water, she found, pools in three places – one for each norn. The first pool, for things past, is dark, and shows things the seeker has forgotten. The second, for things present, is clear, and it shows you things as they are, though it will widen your perspective. The third pool is cloudy, and it shows things as they may become. After we looked in all three pools, she had us pour the water over ourselves, one dip from each pool, and then let it dry on ourselves, to show runes in our own rime. Then she had us call our fylgja, and to look through those eyes to read the runes written on our body, before bringing us back to ourselves in the present moment, seated in the conference room.
Global Spirits Service for the Spirits of Wisdom, by Firesong (Universal Temple of Spirits)
Gwdihŵ and I arrived late to this, after dinner, and found it to be similar to Caroline Kenner’s yearly Conjure Dance (see Day 2): deities and other spirits invited in via song and dance, in a trance-possessory rite reminiscent of the African Diaspora religions. I am not familiar with the organization that put on the rite, but they have a website. It was smaller than the Conjure Dance, but still pretty well attended. I had an interaction with the Morrigan while there – she had information for me about this spring equinox. I’d been having a feeling like something was a little unsettled, weather-wise, and that though the flowers were on schedule for spring to arrive as normal, something was still off. I’d been meaning to go talk to Morrigan, but she (They) came to me, instead (with a stern word about procrastination). And her (Their) message was basically: Blood will be spilled at the Changing of the Courts.
Sometimes this changing of the guard, Dark-to-Light, Unseelie-to-Seelie is really nothing more than a baton pass, and sometimes it’s a full scale war… From what I was shown, this one will probably play out more like a blood feud. What she showed me specifically was an Unseelie fae stabbing the Seelie King in the back as he was preparing for the coronation ritual… And he bled to death in the throne room. A relative (nephew?) pulled the knife out and pursued the attacker and everything descended into chaos, weather included. For humans I doubt it will be anything too intense, but even skirmishes can cause a lot of damage to humans caught in the crossfire. So I did a bit of magic to counter that: some protection stuff on behalf of friends and family who wanted it.
And it’s important to remember in times like these, that chaos in one world is mirrored in others. As the human world has issues in leadership, so does the fae – and their chaos becomes ours, too. So ground and center. Check your wards. Stay connected to friends and family. Heal what you can. Hex if you need to. Try to help the worlds re-balance.
That’s all for day 1! I’ll try to get day 2 up soon.