Been so wrapped up in personal stuff today–which has been mostly trivial time-wasting crap, I have to admit–I just now got wind of the Boston explosions.

For lack of knowing anything better to do, I have a candle burning for those affected.

 

It’s been a quiet one.  I’ve spent the day doing odds’n ends of things; much ado about nothing, really.  This late evening I’ve been studying the meanings of the Anglo-Saxon runes, by recording a couple different translations of the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, and recording the meanings per different sources, to give myself a solid grounding to build from.

Also spent the evening attempting to install The Witcher 2, and ultimately the entire venture has been a complete waste of the past six hours.  I suppose I should take this as a sign that I oughtn’t be wasting time with video games, but….

I’ve finished reading Travels Through Middle-Earth, and eventually I hope to read the other books in the Anglo-Saxon Hearth Culture section of ADF’s Recommended books, but I’ve started on a title for general Indo-European Studies & Overview.

I chose Mallory’s In Search of the Indo-Europeans, and let me say, by all that’s holy, this is a dense-ass book.  Waaay over my head, to the point I’m wondering why the hell I willfully chose to do this to myself…!

Thus far I’ve completed two of the eleven sections of the required coursework to the Dedicant Program, specifically the Nine Virtues and an essay with photos on my home shrine.

I’ve read one of the books of the three required for book reviews, though I’ll probably go back through it again before writing a review.  I’ve acquired the other one, though in retrospect I think I might’ve bitten off quite a lot more than I can chew.

Working my way through the meditation/mental discipline requirement, which has a built-in timeframe of five months, so will be a while on that.
What frightens me the most, actually, more than reading and making sense of a dense book, is coming up with an acceptably ADF-centric celebration for each Holy Tide.  I already marked Eostre, though it was most assuredly not acceptable by ADF’s guidelines, due to lack of timing and, let’s be honest, not having a clue what I’m doing.  May is quickly approaching and I don’t know where to even begin without having a Grove celebration I can attend, which is one of the things that absolutely sucks about living where I do.

I was supposed to go over to a friend’s home yesterday and help her figure out her new laptop as she is totally unused to Windows 7, but she called about mid-morning to say she wasn’t feeling well and that we’d see about trying it today.  Well, by about one o’clock it became apparent she was not going to call me, so I took it to mean she wasn’t feeling well.  (I rarely call her unless I know ahead of time what she’ll be doing when, as her health problems tend to keep her in bed and she has enough trouble sleeping that I avoid the risk of waking her up).

So I finally kicked my own ass and spent the past six hours cleaning up my home.  Also got a load of clothes washed.  And now I look at my home, and I feel so….cleansed!  Mind, I’ve still got a ways to go yet: the kitchen needs to be re-vacuumed and all the floors could stand a good mopping, plus my bathroom tub needs to be wiped out again.  But I had piles and piles of crap just…piling up, especially in my bedroom.  The past few weeks when I’ve cleaned I’ve mostly focused on the kitchen and living room, because the pile o’crap in my bedroom was too daunting to think about.  So I’ve had a reasonably clean outer area that I didn’t feel too embarrassed about having guests in to see, but my bedroom was just getting worse, as it was turning into my catch-all trash pile.  But today I sat down and went through all the junk and spent the day first sorting everything into piles, then going through each pile and hauling a lot of stuff to the trash, setting other piles aside to donate, and, most important of all, stacking all my important paperwork together into a single pile, which was then put into a box for more sorting later.  I even got my closet cleaned of all its junk.
So, yeah…there’s a lot more to do, but most it involves organizing my knitting and my books.  The point is, I got ALL the trash out, and what was left was either put away into its proper place, or put into an acceptable temporary place all neat-like, rather than just moving the mess from one corner to another.  Then I got the bedroom floor vacuumed…still more to do, but what’s left falls into the “regular upkeep” category, so long as I do make myself keep at it and don’t let it pile up again.

Ye Gods, my home looks downright respectable now…!

Part of what finally enabled me to get off my ass and clean up this pigsty actually was some thinking I did on the Nine Virtues of ADF.  If I want to invite the Kindreds into my home, I can’t very well let the place go to pot, now can I?  Especially since my bedroom is where I keep my home shrine, and also is where my ancestral shrine will be, and that had turned out to be the worst room of all.

Even better, in the midst of cleaning, I found the old copy of the Dedicant Manual that came with my New Member packet back in 2005.  Of course, it’s out of date now and I’m working by the requirements of the 2009 version, but it’s nice to have.  I also found the hard copies I made of several ADF publications about two years ago or so, around the last time I tried to make myself go through the DP.

In more DP news, I’m trying a new tack on the whole Mental Discipline thing.  I just can’t do any guided meditations, and I suck at it too much to do the Two Powers–or the Passing the Mist, for that matter–on my own right now.  But I think I have noticed some slight improvement: in that I now understand, I think, what it means to simply observe one’s thoughts.  I’m also perceptibly better at recognizing when my focus has slipped and bringing it back on track, as opposed to going off the rails thoughtwise and not noticing for a while.  I can only do this successfully for a brief spell, but hey, progress is progress.  And, for now at least, I work best with the visual focus of a lit candle.  So for the several weeks I’m going to practice the technique at my shrine during my morning and evening devotionals, starting with an aim of two minutes and working my way up to five.  When I’ve managed that, I’ll assess my progress overall and go from there.

I see that my previous entry didn’t upload properly, and the dream I tried to describe got truncated.  I’ll get to fixing it later.

Today I had one of those “None of this is real, I’m too skeptical for this, I’d be better off admitting I’m an atheist” moments that routinely plague my existence.  In a way these random, not-frequent but still-not-uncommon thought processes are not very different from random infrequent bouts of depressive moods I’ve learned to deal with.  I don’t understand what really triggers them, though I have suspicions.

It started well into the day, long after my morning devotional.  Nonetheless I still made an offering to house elves today, placing milk- and honey-filled cups on top of my oak entertainment center (after cleaning it!) and promising any house spirits I may have that they’ll be given a proper place as soon as I can manage it, but that their current ‘altar’ is the best option I can currently provide.

A short while ago I decided it was time for some homemade chocolate milk.  I can’t drink the conventional stuff, because trying to follow the principles of Wheat Belly, most conventional hot chocolate is either loaded with sugar, or artificial crap, or a shitload of junk I don’t need.  So I make my own, heating either dairy, almond, or coconut milk over my gas stove, blending in a spoonful or two of cocoa powder, and sweetening it with stevia powder.  In the process of blending it, I got to thinking if it would make a nice offering, and quickly decided against it, for both selfish reasons and also for thinking that hot chocolate would be an offering more appropriate to South American spirits.

A few minutes after having that thought, I walked less than three feet from my stove to get into my fridge, and in the five seconds or so that took, the hot chocolate boiled over.  I didn’t lose much, just enough to make a huge mess.
Can’t decide if that was my own carelessness or an omen to which I should pay attention.  In the spirit of being hospitable–and not pissing Anyone off!–I threw in a dash of honey liqueur of the sort I bought for special occasions, and went around making offerings to the Kindreds, to any house Elves that may be in residence, and to Thunor because I’m trying to interest him in Patronage.  Found myself in a semi-festive spirit for no apparent reason, and gave a toast to Thunor and the others.  After all the offerings were done I had to make another batch for myself, but nothing wrong with that!

I’m slightly of a mind to make this a weekly tradition.  I feel more than a little eccentric here, but what the hell, honestly?

Spent several minutes at my personal shrine last night imploring all the Gods, but especially Thunor, for some help in figuring things out. Not sure if it is related to that or not, but some time rather early this morning I had a vividly detailed dream. I woke up sometime around sevenish, only to roll over and go back to sleep until about eight. The dream happened somewhere within that last hour of I-dun-wanna-get-up-yet.
Several minutes passed while I lay in bed mulling it over before it occurred to me to grab my notebook and write everything down, both because I always mean to do that to remember the most vivid dreams I have, and because it occurs to me that it would be pertinent to pay attention to my dreams if I’m hoping for a God or Goddess to communicate with me. Anyway, some of the details were lost during brief delay, but I was able to re-capture the majority of it, I think.

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Down the road came sooner than I thought…

I made a quickie set of runes yesterday with wood rounds purchased from a craft store and marked with a paint pen.  Not quite the same thing as truly hand-crafted runes, but still much more personalized than any pre-made items.
Then I found myself browsing Etsy and came across an absolutely beautiful set of hand-crafted runes of the very-difficult-to-find futhorc variety.  For a quite reasonable price, to boot.  So I grabbed ‘em, feeling more than a bit foolish for having spent the few bucks to make my own.

That said, I find myself not really caring overmuch.  This new set is beautiful, and when it comes in I’ll go through the steps to purify and hallow them, and mark them with my own power.

Went to my local JoAnn’s store today and bought some flat wood rounds to make my own set of futhorc runes, since it’s hard to find a rune set that isn’t the futhark, and it’s always a good idea to craft your own, anyway.  Was a bit disappointed, as I wanted a small set, but there weren’t enough packages to make all 29 (of 33 named runes, only 29 are described by the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem) runes, so I bought the much larger discs instead, and an oil paint Sharpie to inscribe them.  Turned out well, though, as having a larger set allowed me to write the names of the runes on each one, in both Anglo-Saxon and its modern English equivalent.  Not the most attractive runes in the world, by far, so perhaps down the road I’ll purchase more ‘proper’ runes, or find better materials–and develop the skills–to make a nicer set. But these will do nicely for learning.

Homemade Runes
These buggers are 3¼ inches in diameter, a bit large for
working with, though I did like being able to write the
Anglo-Saxon name and the English translation on them.

Went browsing at one of our local thrift stores today and found first a small wooden table, and then a small two-shelf nightstand, both very reasonably priced.  Just knew that one of them had to come home with me as a better choice for an altar than my existing one.  I actually was leaning heavily toward the nightstand for its added convenience of having two shelves in which to store offerings and season/tide specific altar furniture, but ultimately decided on the table instead.  Along with it I picked up three glass cups, because my practice has been to make a single offering to all the Kindreds, but I think it would be better to make three separate ones–and of course this allows me to make different offerings to each.  I’ve decided to forego an altar cloth for now, though I might decide to go back to using one later.

 Image

Tweaked things a bit, obviously.  I’m going to work out a more aesthetically pleasing arrangement for everything, but I’m not too concerned with fixing them according to the cardinal directions, though I do have Eormensyl in the north and Sunne on the east side.  While I use the glass cups for making offerings to each collective Kindred, the terracotta jar I reserve for offerings to a specific God or Goddess, as the brown candle on the right is burned for a specific Deity as well.  Still to come are symbols for Thunor and Eorthe (probably better known as Hertha?), and another representation for Eormensyl (the Anglo-Saxon name for Yggdrasil).  I find myself growing rather fond of my little bit off a neighbor’s bush, though, so I’ll probably keep the other tree for a portable altar kit.  My next trip to the store, I’ll get a box of some kind to place under the shrine, for storing offerings and candles and such.

I’ve also learned that this summer, I’ll be receiving a chest of drawers that belonged to my grandmother before she had to move into an assisted living facility.  When it arrives, I’ll make its top a shrine to my ancestors.  As an heirloom from my grandmother it seems most fitting.

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