Author of The Dire Deeds, first of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits queer urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels, published August, 2022. The Witching Work (2nd book) and The Queerest Quest (3rd book) are with the publisher. The Perilous Past, 4th book, is in progress. Also, clinical sexologist, sexuality counselor, hypnotist, and hypnosis instructor. Preferred name: Avnas Mars. Ze/zir.
Today, August 12, 2022, is an astronomical milestone in my latitude: it marks the helical rising of the star, Sirius, also known as Lokabrenna (Loki’s Torch). “Helical” means the star rises just a moment before the sun. I can’t see this event from where I live, in a valley, surrounded by houses and trees, but I can celebrate this ancient stellar event even so. I am particularly fond of this time of year as it is linked to my beloved patron and muse, Loki Laufeyjarson, who had/has a significant impact on the third and fourth books in The Guild of Ornamental Hermits series.
Because August 12th is Lokabrenna, I chose the date for my online book release party for The Dire Deeds (of The Guild of Ornamental Hermits), a queer-saturated, urban fantasy novel published as an ebook on August 1st. But joy of joys, I woke up to a text from my publisher that the paperback edition is also available, as of this morning!
You can buy, read, enjoy, and review either paperback or ebook at this Amazon link. Thank you so much! (And hail Loki!)
Just a few days ago, well-known pagan author and practioner, John Beckett, posted in his Patheos blog about a “Seiðr oracular ritual at this year’s Mystic South.” Beckett witnessed a quite compelling incident involving the Norse deity Loki. In answer to an attendee’s question for Loki, “he [Loki] didn’t just whisper words to the Seeress in Helheim for her to relay. He took full control of the Seeress.”
Beckett wrote this blog post, called Three Messages from Loki to the World, as a “journalist.” He notes that he did not receive the revelations himself but observed what happened during the ritual and what was said and then later compared notes with the seeress. In essence, the three messages are (and I’m paraphrasing already existing paraphrasing from Beckett’s blog):
Seek and cultivate joy.
Build masks and create safety zones, as Loki apparently conveyed the sense that being a full-on, “out” pagan isn’t quite safe right now and we need to take care of ourselves and others.
And recognize that we are a destructive portion of a cycle, in the part that Beckett calls “Tower Time” and others call Ragnarök.
Loki’s three messages, as written and interpreted in Beckett’s post, are already sending ripples throughout many pagan and heathen circles. I have some thoughts.
According to Beckett’s blog post, Loki signaled his possession of the seeress by “laughing and dancing.” This is Loki at his most accessible. This is the “persona” he shows most often to those of us who encounter him and/or work with him. He’s a scamp, a trickster who trips the light fantastic and makes all things fantasical in turn. Sometimes he is even a delightfully shameless and irresistable seducer. But Loki is also a being who has suffered horribly himself. He knows firsthand how people near (and maybe even dear) to you can turn against you and inflict the most dire cruelties without even a “by your leave” or a chance at what we moderns call “relationship repair.”
Loki, bound to a rock with one son’s entrails and fearing that the other boy has fled in wolf shape to some unknown wilderness, endured poison dripping from a fanged serpent (except when dear Sigyn catches the poison in a bowl). He must have been hard put to scrape up any vestiges of joy during that time. And yet, my UPG is that he did. I imagine him composing Norse equivalents of rude limericks about the Aesir, exchanging tender memories with Sigyn, and perhaps even finding ways to turn his pain into pleasure. He was–he is–a potent, powerful, and clever being who possesses a knowledge of magic. He would not have let himself succumb wholly to despair.
“To nourish the desire to live, to make it burn: only this counted.” This is a phrase from Jacque Luseyran’s phenomenal essay, “Poetry in Buchenwald,” in Against the Pollution of the I. And if you have never read this essay, you should. Luseyran (1924-1971) was known as “the blind hero of the French resistance” and he did survive his time in Buchenwald, unlike many of the men he wrote about. These were men who warmed themselves with poetry in the bleakest, most dangerous circumstances, experiencing their voicing of it as “an act, an incantation, a kiss of peace, a medicine” even as they were dying–slowly of starvation or suddenly through Nazi violence.
Loki knows, better than we do, that small morsels of joy can be kindled in times of duress. They can make us burn for life and survival. And when times are good, we must revel in delight and let every glad feeling take hold in our bodies. We must dance. We must laugh. We can sing and declaim poetry. We can never have too much joy.
This advice to “mask up” is troubling. I have no problem at all with donning a mask for disease prevention or to avoid toxic chemical fumes, but it’s too late for me to go back into a “broom closet” and pretend to be something other than pagan, witchy, and Lokean. There’s this blog, for one thing, and my fantasy novels for another. Plus, I’ve got “other” marked on my Oregon driver’s license. Several years ago I decided to stop pretending to be other than I am (through omission rather than comission) and it’s this freedom that provides my life with meaning and joy. (Remember joy?)
And yes, I recognize that we (still) have “witch privilege” in this country. Other parts of the world are not so tolerant. People are killed for less than what I do on a semi-regular basis.
However, I had a shock yesterday. Someone that I once thought of as a colleague, and at one point even as a fledgling friend (until I realized he was a twump fan), sent me the most disturbing email. The gist was that “woke was wacked,” there is too much gender variety and any discussion of it “sexualizes” children, and that all this was a “Luciferian” plot. In other words, he was doing his best to justify a moral panic (and even a Satanic panic) about certain kinds of queer people and had even written an article about this, as a sexologist, in LinkedIn. I know people who are both queer and embarked on a Luciferian path and I could easily imagine this man (yes, of course he’s a cis-het white dude) boosting his own career trajectory at their expense, inciting others to violence against them.
And with Norse Loki still considered “the Norse Satan” in some circles (thanks in part to Snorri Sturleson), well then… I can begin to understand Loki’s second message quite easily.
Life After Turmoil
In many parts of the U.S., “turmoil” can seem (to a lucky few) like it’s something that happens somewhere else, to other people in other neighborhoods or countries, and that somehow sheltered existences (which are most often white and moneyed) will continue as they always have. Loki says otherwise and we can see this easily in so many ways.
This is perhaps the vaguest part of Loki’s message. Yeah, a lot sucks right now. What are we going to do about it? Perhaps the first two parts of his message provide clues? Joy and safe places. Mutual aid? If we can learn to provide these things, not just for ourselves but for others too, perhaps we will still have something worthwhile even if we find ourselves one day standing in the ruins of “civilization as we know it.”
Beckett interprets this as “life goes on.” After a catastrophe, it does, at least for some. The important thing is (and will be) the inner qualities and values of those post-catastrophe lives and the social changes that result. Will we have regenerated our planet’s soil? Dismantled racism, colonialism, sexism, all forms of queer phobia, ageism, ableism, and more? Will we each have the generous heart and robust will to accomplish even a small part of what needs to be done in our communities to bring a more just and equitable world into being?
Once Loki is freed from his fetters, this is one way I imagine him. I like this picture because I know that this stern figure (frowning so much yet wearing so little) could easily transform in the next nano-second into a gleaming Lord of the Dance, who invites us all to join in, even if our dance is on rubble and dust.
And it’s a luxury to be able to do so. This is a blog post about writing, and cancer, and life, written by a person with that luxury. Others are not so fortunate.
In the summer of 2017, a palm reader in Pahoa said to me, “Oh, I see you’ve had cancer.” We had hardly spoken ten words, I didn’t know her or anyone who knew her and she didn’t know me. She was staring at my hand, not my face. And she was right. I had been diagnosed with melanoma in 2009. No one in my family seemed to care very much about that or understand how scary that was for me. I went through that scare with no emotional support whatsoever. But why do I think that cancer happened?
In 2004 I had hiked for a week on Hawai’i Island. It was a huaka’i (spiritual journey) along the paths of na poe kahiko (people of old), led by cultural practitioners. We did ceremony on the summit of Mauna Kea and the next day we began our journey with a hike through part of Pohakuloa live-fire military area. (Don’t stray from the trail to shishi–live ordnance is a real danger!) Then we hiked across the saddle of the island, a place where the lava was so old and worn that it’s smooth and flat as bathroom tiles. We visited the sacred Ahu A ʻUmi Heiau and then crossed part of the Judd Trail. That night we camped in what was once known as Pine Trees Camp on Hualalai. We’d hiked about seventeen miles that day.
During that first day in the center of the island, among the three mountains of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Hualalai, a surprising thing happened to me–one of those truly inexplicable things–and others saw it happen too. I knew then that this journey was indeed a spiritual one, and it was going to be one of the most significant episodes of my life.
The rest of the week we hiked down along the Kona and Ka’u coastline, often using the old stepping stone trail made of rounded rocks carried by na poe kahiko, placed on top of the rugged ‘a‘ā and pahoehoe lava. We had many, many adventures that week. Some were actually frightening. Other results of that hike had a devastating, lasting impact on my personal life. I made some choices I now regret.
But back to cancer. I wore wire-framed sunglasses during that week-long hike. I wore sunscreen and prevented overall sunburn, but the Kona Coast sun was so hot that the frames heated enough to burn my cheekbones. No one ever told me wire-framed sunglasses could be a hazard on the Kona coast! I believe that the melanoma that showed up several years later was directly related to that burn, as it was on that exact spot. Fortunately, the dermatologist caught it early and while I now have twice-annual mole checks, and routinely have cryosurgery for keratosis spots, melanoma hasn’t come back. So, yes, the palm reader/psychic was completely correct. I’d had cancer.
Then she told me that I’d have another “cancer scare” in a few years, but to not worry. It would be only a scare. Yesterday, a medical procedure found that colon cancer was not part of my picture after all. So, a resounding “huzzah” for that. The scare was only a scare.
That palm reader had a lot of other things to say. For example, she saw I would be moving soon. True ‘dat! I was about to put my Pahoa house on the market. I’d been living there since January 2016 and it had been a mistake to move there. I was more than ready to get back to my (adult) kids and the friends I’d left behind in California. The palm reader had other odd, disconnected, and strangely precise facts and predictions for me, all of which were or have been true so far. She seemed genuinely talented in psychic arts. However, she did not comment on my writing.
By that time, I was at least nine months into the first of my Guild of Ornamental Hermits books, set in Hawai’i. I was deeply into my characters, who they were, what they did. They were becoming like family to me. And the setting of the book, Pahoa in the Puna District of Hawai’i Island, was like a farewell postcard to a place I’d truly loved, but also a place where I didn’t belong.
Writing this blog and my books (now there are four of them!) has been one of the primary reasons I’ve been able to endure a divorce; four household moves since 2016; a bad break-up with another significant other in Hawai’i; some horrible family turmoil (some still ongoing); the utter loneliness and isolation of the pandemic, living in a rural county with little to offer; a coming out that wasn’t entirely supported by certain members of my family (including a queer family member); worsening health; and the prospect of upcoming surgeries. If it weren’t for my cats and my kids, a few dear friends, and my books, I might not have made it to 2022. However, I was able to escape Lake County last August (thanks to the help of some wonderful friends) and living in a new home and community now has also helped immeasurably.
In fact, all would have been quite rosy this year except for (1) the cancer scare, (2) my upcoming surgery for a chronic condition, and (3) an estrangement that sits smack dab in the middle of my life like a bottomless pit. It is an estrangement of the cruelest kind, effected in a viciously callous and cowardly manner. Daily, and sometimes hourly, I have to navigate around it so as to not fall in. I’m at the point where I’m either going to have to build a bridge from one end of that yawning chasm to the other end, or put it all on display and start charging admission to The Pit as a gothy relic of despair.
There’s a huge sinkhole I visited once, part of a funky resort property in the Puna district, a place riddled by lava tubes and underground caverns. A part of the forest suddenly caved in, becoming an abyss with crumbling, unstable edges. In my book, I have just such a pit appearing suddenly in Hermitville. I wrote about the sinkhole, never imagining I’d acquire an (emotional) one of my own. In some ways, the books have been as prescient as the palm reader!
Even so, writing has been my respite from turmoil. My characters have been my medicine as well as the community I wish I had. They’ve also been my amusement and sometimes even my teachers. If I’d had a cancer diagnosis yesterday, I was prepared to barrel on through the last part of the fourth book no matter what. I still intend to do so, but now I’ll be doing it with a lighter lease on life, at least for now.
Aside from doing something about that horrid pit, there’s nothing I want more than to deliver my characters, as a literary midwife, and present them and their stories to the world. And I want to live with some joy now, alive to pluck the ripening figs and plums from my trees, in this summer’s harvest. And to live to write, even more than I am writing now.
I am pleased to share the covers for my forthcoming queer urban fantasy series, The Guild of Ornamental Hermits novels. Please go to the series website for information about the books, characters, sample audio chapters, and more! The first book in the series, The Dire Deeds, will be published as an eBook first on August 1, 2022. You can pre-order it now. Paperback and hardback editions will follow, as will the second book. The series is available through Amazon, FuturesPastEditions.com, and other fine purveyors of fantasy, as of Aug. 1st!
Meanwhile, you can also join The Guild of Ornamental Hermits fan and patron community through my Patreon. You’ll get some wonderful benefits and exclusive content!
These are whimsical, queer-saturated tales of “mid-life magic,” featuring a group of arty misfits known as the “Hermits of Hermitville,” Elves of The Realm, Norse Loki, and foes who are human, Wethrini, and Elsewherian, and many other characters besides.
The first two books, The Dire Deeds and The Witching Work, are set in the lush, volcanic, Puna District of Hawai’i Island. The third is set in Lake County, CA. The fourth takes place near Eugene, OR, as well as in 17th and 18th century England. Enjoy this video introduction!
I can’t wait to launch these books and have people fall in love with my characters, just like I have.
It’s been quite awhile since I actually blogged about my “most trusted one,” Loki Laufeyjarson. That’s because there hasn’t been much to say and that in itself is something to note. I’m not alone in this. In certain online communities where Lokeans gather, people are wondering where Loki went. The oft-repeated story is “He was all over me and now he’s not around any longer. What happened?” I think it’s just Life Happening, his and ours.
For example, I’ve spent the last several months adjusting to yet another set of huge, complex changes, and I’ve also been dealing with a gradual worsening of a chronic condition, soon to be fixed (I hope) with surgery. So I’ve been tired, sick, exhausted, often quite sad, a bit fearful, and busy. Consequently I’ve let things go with regard to my formerly daily practices and I have (at times) even forgotten to place the daily cup of cinnamon tea on his altar. In fact, there have been a few times when I’ve put the hot water and honey in the cup, and placed it on the altar, but forgotten the tea bag. A year ago this would have been unthinkable.
I know that it’s foolish to neglect regular spiritual practices and devotions in the very times when I need connection with my spirit allies the most. And yet that’s what’s happened. I can’t change it. I can only do better, starting now.
But I also feel that ebbs and flows of attention are a natural part of the process. Fallow times and growing times are a part of the cycles I observe in myself and in all that’s around me. So I don’t feel insecure about my relationship with Loki, just temporarily not that connected. But it’s really up to me to nurture that connection, or not. Free will and all that. I feel that Loki is understanding to some extent. And he is probably as hooked on “new relationship energy” as any human polyamorist. If I’m not active in my devotions and cultivations, he (she, they, ze) is happy to go where there’s more action. And I’m okay with this as I know that whenever I ramp up the energy, he will be there.
And he’s not entirely absent. One thing that will sound absurd is that Loki plays with the pair of battery operated candles on his altar. He turns them on and off. I am not kidding. In fact, a previous battery operated candle stayed on for almost a full year, on just one battery that was only supposed to last ten hours. Again, not kidding. So every day he will turn the candles on. He used to do this in the morning. Lately he does it at night and I see them when I come up the stairs to go to bed. I’ve been feeling it’s a hint that I could (should?) renew my evening meditation practice with Loki.
Instead, I’ve just let myself vegetate. I crawl under the covers with a heating pad held against my belly and binge-watch stuff until I fall asleep. This is more than simply lying fallow. It smells of composting! And I guess it’s what I’ve needed until now.
In another way, though, I’ve been very much engaged with Loki these last few months. This is with regard to his role in my life as a muse, particuarly as a muse for my Guild of Ornamental Hermits fantasy novels. (See “Meet Lucky LaFey.”) The first book is coming out any day now (I’ve been saying this for quite some time, but it IS true) and I’ve done a major make-over of my book website, using images of HeroForge figures that I created, based on each character. Loki had unexpectedly steamrolled his way into my third book in the series and he is now deeply entrenched as a “handsome drifter” named Lucky LaFey (human guise). I cannot wait for people to meet him!
This is another form of devotional work for me, honestly. And Loki is a consummate muse. He is quite happy to live in stories that we humans tell and in images we create. The more the better, actually. And those of us who are fortunate enough to engage with him (her/they/zir) in this way never seem to tire of it!
I’ve enjoyed making HeroForge figures based on my book characters, but making images of Loki/Lucky is particularly amusing. Many members of his large family have also entered my books. In my third book I have it that Loki birthed seventeen witch daughters (“troll women”) as a result of eating the burnt woman’s heart (see Stanza 43). I’ve named them all and made HeroForge figures of them. Angrboda and Sigyn have “cameos” in the third book as well. However, of his children with Angrboda and Sigyn, only his missing son, Váli, has an actual role in the third book. Even so, I created figures for Jormungandr, Hel, and Fenrir, and Narfi. (No Sleipnir, though, as I can’t make eight-legged horses in HeroForge.)
A side note: As Zeus birthed Dionysus from his thigh, and Athena from his head, so I see Loki’s witch daughters emerging from various parts of his body in a similar fashion. Though as he’s a shape and gender-shifter, I suppose he could also have taken on a cis-female form for birthing them. (As for Sleipnir, I guess I assume Loki gave birth while still in mare shape.)
After writing this, now I see that I haven’t been as disengaged as I’d imagined at the start of this blog post. I’ve just been engaged in a different way, making images which are a new form of devotion, and preparing to launch yet another saga that will eventually feature Loki center-stage.
My uncle, David E.O. Rath, died May 6, 1986, in San Francisco at the age of 56, from complications of HIV/AIDS. He taught English at San Francisco City College. This is the quilt block we made for him. It includes a photo album and a book of his poems, which we published posthumously.
There are some contemporary pagans who, for one reason or another, cannot set up an altar in the place where they live. Perhaps they have family members or roommates who would object to having a place for even modest pagan rituals and observances. But satisfying “altars” can be made out of scrapbooking albums, kitchen matchboxes, and other small containers that hold miniature items, tiny figures, small significant objects, and replicas of offerings.
I’ve recently discovered the joys of HeroForge.com and Inkarnate.com. HeroForge allows you to design and buy custom miniatures for gaming and collecting. You can buy them in plain grey plastic and paint them yourselves or spend a lot more money to have them painted for you. (FYI: you are not allowed to re-sell these figures or use them for commercial purposes.) For altar backdrops, Inkarnate.com is a website for designing maps and fantasy scenes. These are just two of the many resources on the internet.
Combine your designs with paper, glue, scissors, and perhaps some cash to buy a miniature from HeroForge, and you have the makings of a tiny space for communing with your chosen spiritual helpers and allies. Print out the scenes, and even images of the figures you design, glue them to cereal box cardboard and then cut them out — in other words, make pagan paperdolls to use as altar pieces!
I used to do this when my oldest kid wanted every toy in the pernicious catalogs that used to arrive at the house when he was little, and since we didn’t have that kind of budget, I’d make paperdolls out of the catalog pictures and he could play with them. It worked while he was still a toddler. (Later, not so much.)
Since Loki is my most trusted one, I’ll share a few of the HeroForge images I’ve made in the last week. It’s hard to not want them all, in 3D form, but the images can still make nifty paperdolls.
Make your own versions of figures and altar backdrops, and have fun!
Last Monday morning I was inspired to create a #PysankyForPeace project, making Ukrainian decorated eggs to honor Ukraine’s fallen, and to honor Berehynia-Oranta, the ancient mother goddess of the region, as a protector of her land and people. As a contemporary pagan, I did the sorts of observances and rituals one does when making the acquaintance of a new deity or spirit ally. I was really charged up, inspired, and when I couldn’t find my old egg decorating kit, ordered new ones. I couldn’t wait to get into the wax and dyes.
But by Monday afternoon, I was embroiled in the newest installment of a very old trouble in my life: family matters of amazing ugliness. I don’t know if you’ve ever been troubled by a persistent, brooding malevolent figure (PBMF) in your own life, but if you have, you know how helpless, angry, and sad it can make you. Well, I’ve had someone playing this role for almost two decades–telling lies about me to family and friends and just generally not ever missing an opportunity to discredit and besmirch me, as well as to defraud me. This newest episode is pretty hateful and I lost my temper at first. But I didn’t lose my sense of irony. Here I was, trying to dedicate myself to peace and yet being swept up in some of the very same emotions that fuel war (emotions far short of homicidal rage, I will add).
It’s been very difficult to regain my equilibrium, I will tell you. The old wounds never healed and the fresh ones, well, they’re currently playing havoc in my gut. Of course, this kind of reaction is exactly what my PBMF wants and enjoys. However in an effort to calm my frustration, I’ve taken refuge in legal advice. I think I have discovered exactly how to turn this situation around. I desire justice, truth, transparency, and an end to fraud. I may be in a position to work toward that. The PBMF’s own words provided the final key to unlock the strategy. Sometimes you have to wait a long time for a cocky adversary to reveal their strategy. I’ve waited nineteen years.
So, while I’m not in any way, shape, or form trying to compare my grief and anger to the violence taking place in Ukraine and elsewhere, I am observing how a set of well-placed triggers can cause individuals to do far worse things than they would have done otherwise. And when similar triggers are collective, well then… Add to that the Ruling Class’s manipulation of such triggers to consolidate their acquisition of yet more money and power, via domination and destruction, and you have the recipe for everything that makes for the worst in humanity. In microcosm, it’s kind of how my PBMF rolls.
Today, finally calmer (though still with a painful body), I will devote my thoughts once again to peace in Ukraine and elsewhere. I have my egg decorating kits now and am about to mix my dyes. I offer these efforts to the perennial struggle for peace at home and abroad.
I have been decorating eggs with ink and water color paints since I was a teenager. And when my children were young, I threw myself into creating Easter celebrations for them (though in the same pagan-esque way I have always celebrated other holidays). We decorated a lot of eggs during their childhoods. It was during this time that I began making the batik-style Pysanky eggs, using a kit for Ukrainian Easter Eggs from Luba. However, I wasn’t using traditional symbols and designs. (Hippy free-styling is always my downfall…)
Fast forward to now, the last days of February, 2022, with possibly a sort of end to the pandemic in sight. But wouldn’t ya know, here’s Russia unleashing carnage and war on their neighbor, Ukraine, and we’re all–those of us who are simply ordinary in scale along with the “leaders” of various things–wondering what to do. Nobody wants this shit except for a few crazy old men and their arms dealers. So ordinary sized people are praying for an end to this stupid aggression if they are religious and the witches…well, they are gathering for spell-making. I’m in the latter group, in case you haven’t figured that out.
Some of the first questions in the online witch communities are, who do we invoke/evoke? What fierce goddesses, gods, and deities of other genders, should we ask to join with us in focusing on the end of this war? I happened to see this article: “Pagans and witches offer prayers for peace in Ukraine” (Heather Greene, Religon News Service, Feb. 25, 2022. These paragraphs caught my eye:
Begin quote from article. <<In her call to action, [H. Byron] Ballard requested that those who join her in “energy work” focus on the Berehynia statue in Kyiv [l added this link]. The monument, standing in the city’s central square, was erected in 2001 as a symbol of Ukrainian independence. It depicts a woman holding up the Guelder Rose, another national symbol.
The statue, however, stands for more than just Ukraine’s political sovereignty, the reason Ballard specifically called attention to it.
Artist Anatoliy Kushch, inspired by Slavic mythology, based his female figure on Berehynia-Ornate [sic], the mother of all living things and the goddess of home and family. In that way, the statue is as much a spiritual protector and guardian as a secular symbol of the country’s strength.>> End quote from article.
I had never heard for Berehynia-Oranta before, but I began to research her. She’s an ancient mother goddess who also has a fierce aspect (like so many other mother goddesses). Berehynia’s ancient stance of upraised, open arms has apparently been enfolded into an image of “Mary Theotokos” in Orthodox Christianity. (The stance is called “orante” or “orans” in Christian tradition. I don’t know much more than this, so apologies for anything I’m getting wrong here.) The image below is a mosaic “in the vault of the St Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv in Ukraine. The icon has been in the cathedral since its foundation by Yaroslav I the Wise in the 11th century” (Wikipedia).
It is wonderful that in Kyiv there are two powerful protective images for the city, both female. One is pagan. One is Christian.
Interesting stuff–and yes, let’s do invoke or evoke these powerful spiritual figures on behalf of Ukraine, if we feel that calling–but what does this have to do with egg magic? Particularly with the batiked eggs known as “pysanky?” I’m getting to that!
The Pysanky Eggs
There is an incredible website called http://www.pysanky.info. What a rich source of information! And at this website I learned the connection between the ancient tradition of decorated eggs and Berehynia (see links below). Pysanky eggs are also an important part of the Orthodox Christian Church’s Easter celebrations and the symbols on the eggs we are most used to seeing are largely Christian. Both sets of symbols are fascinating, and I am beginning to see a link between my own history with and affinity for decorated eggs and the possibilities for egg magic spellworking now, as a loving gesture of solidarity for Ukraine–its lands, people, and creatures.
These decorated eggs are connected with both pagan and Christian female spiritual figures who protect Kyiv and the rest of Ukraine, and with blessings and renewal, so they seem to be ideal vehicles for peace spells. Pictures of completed eggs can also visually demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine’s people and lands. It is also interesting that the process of creating these jewel-like treasures is known as “writing” the egg, and that too seems to suggest a relationship with prayers and chants during the making of them.
Here’s One Way to Create Pysanky for Peace
First, look at then websites (below) and then watch as many instructional videos as you need. Then, gather the tools and materials to make these eggs: a kitska (pl. kistky)–the stylus which will contain heated wax; beeswax; white eggs; dyes (these are not food grade and may be toxic); papertowels and soft tissue for wiping eggs; a candle; water and white vinegar; lidded jars to make and store the dyes. (Search out instruction videos, please!) Unless you’ve got a really good art supply store, you may have to order materials online.
If you can’t work with hot wax, you can do an approximation using crayons and dyes on the eggs. Crayons would be a good option for children who want to participate. Let the kids know that these are NOT eggs to be eaten.
One last word, be fire safe. Keep your fire extinquisher near by. Make sure pets and children will not interrupt you while you are working with hot wax and the candle flame. Again, watch some instructional videos!
Suggestions for Rituals and Spellworking with the Eggs, As You Write Them
These eggs can be made as offerings to the goddess, to stop the war, for general peace and wellbeing in the area, and/or to honor the fallen. Your choice. And I am sure there are other choices as well. Do what feels right for you. Decide what you want to do.
Write your peace prayers, spells, invocations, etc. in advance. Research symbols or make a sigil to put on the egg. Whatever seems right to you. Blue and yellow are the colors of the Ukraine flag, so you might want to use candles and dyes in those colors. Or not. Again, it’s up to you.
Do whatever grounding, centering, protection, candle annointing, etc. that you usually do. Invite whoever you usually invite, including ancestors, if you feel this is appropriate. (I asked my ancestors if there was anyone in any of my four grandparent lines who had worked with Berehynia. My paternal grandmother’s line apparently had a connection.)
Bring your egg(s) to room temperature. Perhaps you’ve left them on your altar overnight, or just in a bowl in your kitchen. Dedicate your egg(s) to Berehynia-Oranta. Bless each egg and the life force it represents. It is sacrificial. Wash your hands before you begin, and also wash the egg with white vinegar and water before you begin. (FYI: You can empty the yolk and egg white after you write it, or just leave the contents to dry out inside the egg in perpetuity.)
After you complete your initial rituals, introduce yourself to the goddess, in whatever way seems right to you. Ask her if you can work with her and the eggs in this way, for peace, for continued independence for Ukraine and other nearby nations and regions, for healing, etc. etc. (I use a pendulum for questions and answers. Any other divination is up to you.)
Then do whatever spellwork, chants, prayers, etc. you wish while you write these eggs, using sigils and symbols, as well as the series of dyes (lightest to darkest). Remember, there are three groupings of pysanky symbols for Berehynia-Oranta. For those who also use Christian symbols, there is plenty of information about those as well.
For solidarity “signal boosting:” Take pictures of each egg and post on social media with the hashtag #PysankyForPeace, and #Ukraine, and any other hashtags that you want to use. I will also publish your egg pictures on this blog, if you like. (It has a somewhat international readership.) If you want to do this, please send jpgs of your eggs to email@example.com, as well as any information you want to share about yourself and your work with the egg.
For community efforts: Local libraries, schools, churches, covens, etc. could all participate in making Pysanky For Peace. Find ways to display the eggs,along with information about the war and why peace is so important, use them in peace rituals, whatever seems right to you. And if you have more ideas, please let me know.
Peace to the Ukraine, and to us all, always. Blessed be!