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Why Valkyries shouldn’t hang pictures. Oops.

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Yule 2012- Post Game Recap

Yule was lovely, an amazing time. The table was beautiful, we served leek and potato vichyssoise, spinach salad with tamari pumpkin seeds and goat cheese, duck confit, smoked pork ribs, butternut squash gratin, honeyed brussel sprouts in a sherry sauce, and mashed potatoes. For dessert we had a home made Yule log and I made hazelnut gelato. For my toast, I did a dramatic recitation of “Der Erlkönig” in German. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. My ex (who’s mother was German) was in attendance and said my pronunciation was spot on, and a friend of ours who lived in German for 3 years said I sounded very natural.  So, yay Team German! Everyone had a blast, the food was incredible, and I ended up getting very drunk. The last of our house guests just left after a solid 2 days of drinking, eating, and revelry, and I am beat to hell. Here are some photos:

Yule 2012: Pre-Game Show

Today is the big ritual! We set up the table yesterday, which was an all-day undertaking. Ryan did an AMAZING job, everybody pitched in and created something that is going to be so magical tonight!

The Lockpicker

I am known far and wide for my strange and prodigious dreams. Tonight, on the longest night of the year, was no exception.

I’m in a high-rise apartment full of tiny, Japanese style apartments. It is nighttime. There is a small gathering of boys in their late teens/early 20s having an argument. Apparently, several of them are amateur  computer hackers and have done wrong to the one laying on the bed. He swears his revenge, gets into the bed, and starts to summon something. We hear a noise out in the hall, a slow, quiet ticking, like someone gently rattling their keys. The sound grows in volume and intensity, becoming faster and faster. We start to become afraid. I peep through the crack under the door into the hall and see the main door vibrating and and changing, becoming eerily translucent. I can see a short, squat figure, wearing a floppy, wide brimmed English farmers hat and dirty peasant jerkin, doing something to the door from the other side. It is The Lockpicker, an entity that takes gruesome vengeance on people who break into things or steal. The boys scatter down the hall to their own apartments. I stay on the floor, peeking under the door. The Lockpicker enters, with a creepy half-smile on his face. He casually starts walking down the hall to one of the boy’s apartments. He stops by the door I am hiding behind. I know that nothing, NOTHING, in this world can hide me from him, no door can keep him out, no lock, no wall, nothing. He looks directly at me with his creepy smile… and then continues down the hall while the boys scream in the face of their inevitable fate…

Happy Anniversary

Happy 200th anniversary to the Brothers Grimm, folklorists, linguists, historians, and scholars! Google has a very cute animation to commemorate the publication of one of the most influential books in Western civilization, so check it out. If you are anything like me, you were raised on a steady diet of little girls lost in the woods, swan maidens, and brave shepherds tromping their way through dark forests filled with talking bears and gingerbread houses. Do yourself a favor and spend some time today reading these incredible tales of yore.

Meh and Other Statements

If all goes according to plan, my posts will be somewhat sporadic for the next 2 weeks. I have a lot of Yule prep to do this week, then The Husband will be off work next week, and I’d kind of like to spend some time with him. I am also working on the 35* ADF essays I have to write. You’d think writing 9 essays about the 9 virtues in the context of Dumezil’s trifunctional hypothesis as it pertains to modern Druidry would be a snap. Go figure. I am also still hard at work on “Der Erlkönig” and trying not to forget all the German I have learned.

In other news, we saw “The Hobbit” on Saturday. It was fairly good. Peter Jackson makes a pretty film, Martin Freeman is nerdgasmingly hot, and the movie is very charming. I must be the only Heathen on Earth who isn’t obsessed with Tolkien. I mean, I love what he’s done with the mythos and the language, but I just find his work to be one big sausage fest. I find I have zero interest in stories without any significant female presence. And if you say “what about Arwen, Eowyn, and Galadriel?” I will poke you with a stick. Bit parts, supporting cast, whatever. Meh.

In other (completely unrelated) news my acupuncturist gave me a new topical herbal medication that makes me smell like rhubarb and maple syrup. And not in a good way. This statement serves no purpose other than the fact that the smell is so pervasive it is taking over my brain. Being a perpetual patient is tiresome.

So it goes.**

*That is, indeed, 35 essays. I counted.

**My reliance on this Vonnegut quote becomes more and more constant as I get older. Some people fight middle age, some people embrace it, I seem to face it with a weary eye-roll.

12 Letters That Didn’t Make the Alphabet

You know the alphabet. It’s one of the first things you’re taught in school. But did you know that they’re not teaching you all of the alphabet? There are quite a few letters we tossed aside as our language grew, and you probably never even knew they existed…

Read the full text here

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Pagans often discuss how they have been “called” to their spiritual path. Most of us can point to a specific moment where this calling was revealed to us, where something from the great Never Never flagged us down on the highway of life to hitch a ride. I’d like to think that this is common for a reason, that we are actually being tapped on the shoulder by the gods with a playful, “Psst! Hey, remember me?”.

My first encounter with the divine was when I was 7. Here in the Northwest, we are blessed with these lovely late sunsets and early sunrises in the spring and summer months. Sometimes the last vestiges of light linger until close to 11pm during the longest days, only to creep back in as early as 4am. These late evenings are cherished by children here (or at least they used to be, when children still played outside), since back in the Decade of No Parental Guidance Called the 70s we were often allowed to stay up during summer vacation until “dark”. The area where I lived was a rural suburb north of Seattle, surrounded by woodlands and pastures. Our house was in the center of the block, encircled by other houses and trees with a long driveway to the street. One late spring evening, I was out in front of the house after sunset jumping rope by myself. My school was having a jump rope marathon fund raiser for the American Heart Association, and being an asthmatic indoor kid, I felt I needed practice. I remember I was setting unrealistic goals for myself at the time, as I usually do, challenging myself to keep jumping rope even though I wasn’t particularly fond of it, when I heard an owl in a nearby tree.

Now, owls are not uncommon in this area. I had heard owls many times before. I grew up camping, hiking, fishing, and playing in the woods. I knew my animals. But there was something… different about this one. I stopped jumping rope and froze in my place, my face turned upward toward the tree. The owl called again. It felt like it was telling me something, something I couldn’t understand, and not in the kooky Dr. Doolittle way kids normally try to talk to animals, this was something raw and profound. I had no experience with religion or spirituality at this point in my life, other than the vacation bible day camp at the church across the street we would sometimes go to to get out of my mother’s hair. Even then, I had no understanding of what the devil these people were talking about, I just liked making sand candles and singing songs. All I knew was this owl was not an owl. I wanted to run into the non-existent forest before me, run as fast as my chubby, asthmatic legs could carry me. I felt a surge of emotion overcome me, something close to ecstasy or elation. I stood there, jump rope slack and forgotten in my hands, staring at that tree, listening to the owl for an unknown period of time. Eventually, the “spell” broke, and I found myself standing in front of the garage in the dark, dazed and cold. I remember wandering back into the house, feeling weird and a little guilty, as if I had been doing something I shouldn’t have, like playing “I’ll show you mine” with the neighbor boy. I never said anything to anyone about it, I didn’t understand what had happened and I was certain no one would believe me. The memory of this event never left me, and many other similar events were to follow…

Odin

For our Yule celebration, and as ADF dedicants, we decided our sacred tree should be Yggdrasil. Originally, we were going to hang a small Odin/Wotan figure on the tree, but time constraints required a bit of flexibility. I bought a couple of thrift store Father Christmases and cannibalized them for parts. Here is my Odin/Wotan (sans eye patch, I need the right material for that):

odin
odinback

The mess of crap on his hat looks better in person. Note the addition of the “ashen faggot” on his back. The gays and I are deeply amused by the name of that particular tradition.

“Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?”

Yesterday was my German final, and rather than being relieved I just feel a little bummed. We reconvene after the first of the year (and I am also taking my German instructor’s music appreciation class, which I am SUPER STOKED about), but I am enjoying going to school, so the idea of being stuck at home for 3 weeks with nothing but a massive pile of 800 year old reading and mythology analysis to do makes me groan like a teenager being asked to clean her room. That, and the fact that I won’t get to give the ol’ swoony moon-eyes to my totally pounce-worthy German teacher that whole time. The guy is the World’s Most Fuckable Hobbit. Seriously, he makes me twitterpated hardcore. I want to put that man in my mouth like a toddler with a shiny object… er, um, sorry. I digress.

I have decided to try and keep my German skills from atrophying during the break by memorizing poetry. Poetry has always had a strange place in my world. As I have mentioned, my mother would read us poetry almost every evening, either before bed or after dinner. She would read us Tennyson, Longfellow, Keats, Yeats, Poe, Shelley, Byron, Rossetti, Wordsworth, and Coleridge. My sister and I would sit with rapt attention as she would give us dramatic and intense recitations of the English Romantics and High Victorian verse, many of which I can still recite today. This seeded my love and appreciation for language and formed my world view in innumerable ways, and it is one of the few truly fond memories I have of my mother from my childhood. Poetry helps associate strong emotion with the words you are learning, it gives you a sense of rhythm and timing, and is a great way to learn how a language is meant to be felt and experienced. I tend to be less entranced with modern poetry, for the most part I find a lot of it forced and cynical, lacking any real attempt to connect the reader with the passions and vulnerability of the writer.

I have 3 weeks. I intend on memorizing 3 poems. First up is “Erlkönig” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The other two I am considering are Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode an die Freude” (mostly because it is more or less the lyrics to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony- and who doesn’t want to be able to bust THAT out at parties. Well, I guess it depends on what kind parties you go to. I go to nerdy parties), and Friedrich Hölderlin’s “Mnemosyne“, because I like it. Both of those are rather long, so I may need to scale back my ambitions. We shall see as the break progresses…

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