Virtual Spiritual Encounters

Desk top altar set up. iPad screen,representations of the gods; incense and offering; divination tools (runes, scrying bowl), and an offering bowl.
Example of a basic desk top altar for a ritual. Includes items for use during the ritual.

Creating Sacred Spaces Using Online Technology

The world is in a condition of a paradigm change. At the time of writing, travel restrictions, social distancing, cancellations of events, and recommendations for people to stay at home and “isolate” due to the fast spreading Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) have altered the way we are interacting with each other. The silent streets, closed businesses, and people scurrying about to get their shopping with as little interaction with others has created a noticeable shift in the universal energy, wyrd in Germanic practices, that influences how we perceive the realm of spirit.

As people find ways to maintain connection through online resources such as concerts, classes, medical appointments, conferencing meetings, and more, we are maintaining and expanding relationships and connections in creative ways that will last for a while to come. During this time when in-person gatherings and events are suspended, we can take the time to strengthen and build our spiritual community world-wide by harnessing the technology we have to reach out and get to know each other locally and around the globe.

Among these conferencing meetings will be the rise of virtual rituals, light/calming meditations and healings, and divination readings. These subjects have long been frowned upon by many in the spiritual community as inferior ways in which to have a spiritual experience with others, preferring physical interactions. The benefits of virtual experiences is that that participants are able to connect and create meaningful spiritual space with others from local regions to around the world. This is particularly valuable to solitary practitioners who normally have few or no one nearby with whom they can share these experiences on a regular basis.

From the safety and comfort of one’s own home (or garden, park, other natural setting if capability and connectivity allow), we can create a setting around us and connect them together like bubbles of sacred scared space via the web. Let’s go over a few of the ways that we can access these virtual spaces to continue connections with our local groups as well as expanding and including others who otherwise would not have a way to connect in person.

Ritual: This is often a controversial topic as there are some in paganism, including the Druid and Heathen communities, who think that virtual ritual is not effective. They take great pains to deny it has any value and denigrate those who participate as well as the event itself. My experience and opinion are that virtual ritual is a wonderful way to provide a deeply moving and sacred experience for those who cannot do so physically with people they know, trust, and care about.
One of the aspects that will require more attention of participants, is that of focusing on the ritual and avoiding the temptation to multitask and be distracted by activities and events around their location. To help deal with this, I encourage people to fully participate in the ritual, just as if they were attending one in person with a kindred, grove, or circle. Practice the very same etiquette you would at a physical event. Dress for the occasion (as you normally would – or maybe dress up more in your home), don’t type or surf the web simultaneously, set aside the time and space without interruption, and don’t talk or interrupt unnecessarily. Respect the person(s) facilitating the ritual as well as other attendees.

Another way to engage in the ritual is to not be just a virtual observer. It is different to have participants on a screen (either with or without video. Since some are concerned about being recorded, they may turn off video to participate) and to not be in the physical presents of the elements of the ritual. But, by mirroring what is happening with the facilitator with elements in your presence, you can feel more engaged and part of the ritual experience. To do this, the facilitator can send out a list of what ritual tools, offerings, and elements they will be using. Participants can bring similar elements and set up an altar space before them. As something is done by the ritualist, mirror it in your physical space. I think this will help establish a wonderful connection through the cyber realm and also knit the webs of sacred experience to everyone involved, very similar (even if not exactly) to physical ritual events.

Meditation and healings: These can also be very effectively done via a web conferencing platform. Similar to the ritual experience, participants can use the tips provided above to help set their room or space for meaningful experience. The caveat here is that video really should be used so that the facilitator can observe the person. It is also recommended that very deep trance and journeywork should not be done in this manner because a physical proximity is important between the participant and mediator for such deep experiences. For guidance and light calming techniques and healing discussions, video can be an effective way to communicate (just as phone guidance was prior to such advances).

Classes/Workshops: These have been provided for a number of years already with the increase in use and popularity of YouTube. You can find a YouTube video for practically anything that you want to learn or learn how to do. What this possibly expands upon is now creating a live event that your local group can join in from their own homes. With the increase of recommendations to remain away from even small group gatherings, this makes it an effective way to maintain group cohesiveness. It also provides wonderful opportunities to expand invitations to others in the local pagan community who may be interested in learning about your path, but may not have been able to attend because of a private location or fear of meeting unknown people. It also opens the opportunity of bringing in people from further way (such as solitary practitioners) as well as the potential for guest speakers.

Divination/Readings: Finally, we have divination and readings. Moving to a teleconference capability expands upon a communication technique that has been around for meeting the needs of seeking divine guidance for decades. Readings have been given by telephone, chat rooms, messenger, recordings, and letters.

Teleconferencing allows for an interactive experience that includes a way for each to see the other, the seeker can see the cards or oracle tool being used, and interact a little more easily than by other means. The tips above are useful here as well, since we want both parties to be present in the moment and attentive to what is occurring before them.
So we have an opportunity to truly turn a situation from doubt, uncertainty, annoyance, and isolation into one that can still include others and provide a way to share experiences and knowledge (gnosis) and maintain the vital connection of community. Something that is highly needed at all times, but particularly when we are faced with being alone (either physically or on our journey) or facing troubled times.

May your virtual encounters be blessed by the Gods, Goddesses, and beings you work with and filled with many shared experiences.

This article first appeared in Oak Leaves Issue #89 – Summer 2020, a publication of Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF).

Listen to my discussion about online ritual with Robb Lewis of the Ring of Ghosti on episode 36 of Gifts of the Wyrd Podcast.

Program books from PantheaCon convention

PantheaCon 2020: the closing of a chapter

pantheacon program and ribbons

This year marks the final Pantheacon. After 26 years, the organizer of the event, Glenn Turner, has retired and decided to pursue new adventures and experiences that life has to offer.  I wish her the most wonderful journey and thank her and her many volunteer team members for setting up this amazing experience for so many.

My first PantheaCon was actually not one that I attended. In a previous chapter of my wonderful adventures, I was an Irish dancer.  I love Irish dancing and whenever traditional Irish music is played, dance steps that I learned or wanted to learn are moving in my head. Irish music and dance are, magical.

But I digress. My first exposure to PantheaCon was when it was still in San Francisco (SF).  I was in SF for an Irish dance competition (called an Oireachtas for those who are curious) and we were staying at the same hotel that was hosting PantheaCon.  My friend and I wandered through the vendor area to check out the goods offered and saw many interesting people.  This was prior to my pagan and my Northern Tradition experience, though not before I was aware of the gods and goddesses. Little did I think then that a couple years later I would be attending conference workshops and making many wonderful friends over the following 14 or so years.

My years at PantheaCon have been a positive experience. I have met people with whom  I have enjoyed sharing space, exchanging ideas, and continuing connection beyond the PantheaCon space. The con has dealt with troubling occurrences and responded to those issues brought up by addressing and providing redress in following years. I have seen inclusive and welcoming programming and spaces the years that I’ve attended.

The programming included a range of topics over the decades including 101 classes, rituals, panel discussions, workshops, meditation, concerts, and performance. Having such a variety of subjects gathered in one space provided a wonderful collection for people to relate and see how other traditions practiced and interacted with the otherworlds. Among the joys of the event are the variety of ways that people express their style. Hair color from the rainbows, sparkles and glitter, elaborate dress to jeans and tees, and tails, ears, and fairy wings. We’ve seen wizards, sorceresses, elves, fae, animal spirits, and even St. Nick show up as well as the many beautiful spirits and smiles throughout the event.

pantheacon ribbons
Ribbons collected at PantheaCon since 2009

Another of the fun activities was ribbon collecting. To many (especially the children), collecting little 2 x 4” ribbons to attach to the name badge was as much a part of the convention experience as attending workshops. The ribbons were of many colors and had messages from as simple as the name of an organization to clever sayings.

Some of my favorites over the years include:

You’ve Been Runed (this was my ribbon);  It’s the Money or the Honey (my husband’s); Mind the Ginnungagap!; What would Loki Do?; I’ve been Butterfly Mooned; Open the Whale;                My Other Athame is a Light Saber; What would Eddy Do?;    Bad Druid, Now Go to Your Tree;  Take a Liking to a Viking  

Then there were the hospitality suites. These places were spaces provided by groups to facilitate additional learning, introduction, or fellowship around common tradition or themes. The suites also hosted panel discussions, workshops, rituals, and socializing opportunities. As a person of the LGBTQI+ community, I enjoyed connecting with others from the queer community, allies, and people of color throughout the convention and especially within the hospitality suites.

For four years, my husband and I hosted a hospitality suite for divination. We held workshops, shared the latest decks and books from the top publishers, and made way for the divination deck tool swap. It was a lot planning and commitment, but we enjoyed the interaction and meeting some really talented and interesting people.

With this being the last of the con, I focused on the people of PantheaCon. I looked for those that have attended over the years and infuse the convention with their quirkiness, their smile, and their joy.  I spent time with special friends in the vending room who carefully select their products to be the best for the person who chooses to go home with it. Or those who handcraft clothing, jewelry, artwork, drums, tools, books, pottery, and more.  I enjoyed meeting authors from Llewellyn and Weiser as well as the wonderful staff from both companies who come every year from the Midwest and East Coast to sunny California only to spend most of the time inside to meet with attendees.

What I missed this year were the many people who chose not to or could not attend the event. There were less hospitality suites as many chose not to attend, leaving fewer spaces for people to have those inclusive spaces to connect, have fun, and additional opportunities to the regular programming schedule. I thank the groups who did attend and set up those spaces. They were welcome and appreciated.

the last ribbons of PantheaCon (PCon) 2020

As this chapter of pagan conventions draws to a close, another will follow it. A planning committee is already formed and working out details to produce a new convention that will further the needs of pagans for the next season. May it find the grounding, volunteers, and support to continue this valued and necessary need for community building, encouragement to face the world (especially when many are solitary practitioners), and learn about and from other traditions and practices.

To all who have likewise enjoyed PantheaCon, it has been a pleasure to share space with you over the years.  To the future conventions and shared ritual and learning fires, be they in person or virtual – hail!

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Turning the Wheel book cover
Turning the Wheel from Iaconagraphy Press.

The Oracle of Nehalennia

Tarot and oracle decks abound in many styles, themes, and practices.  From traditional images to pop-culture characters, deck creators are tapping into their experiences to bring creative and relevant ways to connect during divination experiences.

Favorite and well-known Gods and Goddesses are often the subjects of decks, individually or as part of a collective. This is an amazing way to learn more about and connect with the different beings of a pantheon, a tradition of spiritual practice, or aspects of a particular God or Goddess that is expressed with the deck. Designers draw inspiration from the myths/stories, personalities, and traits of the Gods to develop correlations to divination responses.

Oracle of Nehalennia cards.The Oracle of Nehalennia is such a deck. This deck is created by Bela Síol with beautiful watercolor artwork by Igor Alexandre about the Dutch Goddess, Nehalennia. The deck has 33 square cards and comes with a full color book that is in English and Portuguese (Síol’s native language). Through this colorful deck, Síol carefully explores the many ways that Nehalennia is known, has revealed Herself today, and how those traits can provide inspirational messages.

Nehalennia is a Goddess known from the southern coastal region of the Netherlands called Zeeland. She was honored locally and by the merchants who came to the regions to transport their goods by sea. Not much has survived about this Goddess by the sea, and she had almost fallen into almost complete obscurity until a storm in 1645 exposed the remains of a temple devoted to Her in Domburg.

Votive Stone to Nehalennia in the Rijksmuseum of Antiquities, Leiden The Netherlands. Image (c) J Hyatt
Votive stone dedicated to Nehalennia in the Rijksmuseum Antiquities, Leiden, The Netherlands. Photo mine.

In the early 1970s near the town of Colijnsplaat, votive stones with inscriptions to Nehalennia were recovered from the sea which inspired more research into this unknown entity. The stones (most of which appear to come from the region of Köln) typically depict a seated woman in roman style clothing with a basket of bread or fruit, the bow of a ship behind her, and a dog seated at her feet. They would have been lavishly decorated and bear inscriptions which generally indicate them as an offering to the Goddess by merchants or ship captains as an offering for safe passage across the sea for their ship and cargo. This would associate her with the liminal coastal region of land and sea, travel (particularly over water), merchants, property, loyalty, and a connection to the sea.

Síol explains that she experienced the presence of Nehalennia first as an unknown being, meaning she did not seek Nehalennia out.  It was only after working with the Goddess closely, that she learned more about Her nature and identity. The cards represent different aspects known about Nehalennia as well as generating divination interpretations to associations with the merchants, sea-farers, and people of the region.

Within the book are very detailed descriptions of the scene on the card and how it connects to Nehalennia directly (such as through recovered lore, experiences of Her followers today, or archaeological revelations) or how other aspects are connected such as with harbors, beaches, shells, etc. The book then continues with possible divination interpretations depending on the type of situation or question from the user.  This can include something as simple as a “yes/no” inquiry, immediate advice on a situation, or personal, mental, and emotional contexts.

When asked about the different context options for the meanings, Síol replied that since there are so many different ways to approach divination with an inquiry and different layers to what is revealed, she wanted to show just some of the potential ways that a card could be interpreted. This helps to explore the other ways the images and connection to the Goddess can be explored and applied in a divinatory setting. The book also includes a few sample spreads created to accompany the oracle.


The artwork is by artist Igor Alexandre who worked with Síol to create bright, colorful images that include classical elements. The bright water color style works well to evoke a connection to the past that is fitting for Nehalennia. Síol commented that during the creative process, she would have an idea for a card and upon communicating it to Alexandre, found out that he also had the same or very similar idea.
The card stock is thicker than regular cards and the square, oversized shape makes them difficult to shuffle (riffling would crease and ruin them quickly). Reading with them, however, is a joy. Knowing the story of Nehalennia and Her connections to the sea and trading brings the divination experience to a deeper meaning.

Check out the interview with Bela on episode 22 of the podcast where she discusses her connection to Nehalennia.  She is also working on other decks for release including The Morrighan and Freya. The Oracle of Nehalennia is available from

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Turning the Wheel book cover
Turning the Wheel from Iaconagraphy Press.


Crafting Yule Traditions with Väntljusstaken

Approaching the Winter Solstice/Yule time generally brings modern-day Heathens a variety of minor (in the scheme of the world-events) conundrum of choices. Most have a background in Christianity which is often considered baggage to be eschewed, something to consider as part of who we are, or somewhere in between.

The relationship with that monotheistic religion prior to moving into Heathenry (or other non-Christian practice) can be considered bitter and harmful, or positive in many ways but just not the path for that individual.

Probably one of the most uniformly celebrated holiday around the world is that of “Christmas”.  Since the beginning of the Christian advancement and conversion practices, the movement has absorbed local pagan traditions, renamed them with Christian terms, incorporated them into the religious liturgy, and created new traditions to coincide with their new faith. As societies and cultures changed with integration and interaction with others, practices adapted to stimulus of new and different ideas. Over the centuries of practice, and as people were born into the faith, the origins of these practices were forgotten and often lost to the mists of Niflheim.

Thankfully,  due to archaeology, writings, and the continuance of traditions from generation to generation, we can begin today to recall some of those origins and attempt to reconstruct what our ancestors may have practiced. Given that this includes a lot of geography, a vast amount of time, and really having only the most minuscule clues resulting in a lot of guessing, surmising, and connecting dots that may not belong together, volumes of books are written about the “pagan” origins of Christmas.

About this time among Heathen groups, particularly on social media, discussions arise about how people celebrate during the Yule season and how they do it in a Heathen way.  The results vary from people taking examples from certain practices (as noted above) and using them as their foundation for a Heathen Yule tradition to those who unravel the traditions from their heritage and Christianity to find the the pieces with which they can form new or revised Heathen traditions to connect with the Gods, Ancestors, and Nature Vaettir (spirits).

Lighting the Sunwait Candles for a Modern Tradition

Vantlusstaken Fehu 02One of those re-purposed traditions is that of the Väntljusstaken (Sunwait Candles) being re-envisioned from the Advent Candles. I discovered this in 2017 from the post of a friend and found the page on Facebook to inspire the growth of this delightful tradition for the entire family.

It takes the premise of lighting a candle for a specific number of days or weeks prior to Christmas eve (usually twelve days) and changes some of the parameters (which are also flexible depending on the individual).  The Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles practice came from Swedish traditions and adapted for a meaningful experience.

The lighting of the candles begins six weeks prior to the winter solstice on Thursdays. Thursdays were selected because of a Swedish tradition known as Thorshelg.

“The reason for the Thursdays is that, Thursdays have a traditional significance in Scandinavian folk lore. Thursdays have been the day for trolldom (folk magic) and communicating with the gods and nature spirits long into Christian times,” explained one of the page organizers. “There are accounts as late as the 19th century where the Thorshelg (Thor’s hallow) was celebrated by inviting Thor and Frigga to the house on Thursday night”

She continued to state that other cultures have a specific holy day and that as there isn’t a one day specific to all of Heathendom universally, it makes sense for people to select what works best for them in this “tradition in development.” Some may choose to do the activity on the six Thursdays prior to the Winter Solstice (21 December), some may  choose to do it on the day that the solstice falls upon for six weeks prior – with the final candle on 21 December, some may choose to begin six days prior with the final day on  the solstice, and some may choose another day that is special to them. “I think everyone should feel free to do as they feel most comfortable. We are creating this together,” she said.

The procedure of the event is to light one candle each week until the solstice, recite a poem, stanza, or meditation, and contemplate on the season. For the Väntljusstaken activity, the first six letters of the Futhark (F U TH A R K) were chosen as a sort of runic “guide.” In preparation of the activity, one can select the six candles, carve or draw a stave on each candle (or as part of a decorated base or candle holder), anoint each candle, or address the energy of the runes with the candle. This would be a great activity for families to include their children in a creative activity that can also include storytelling, learning about runes, and strengthening those family ties at this special time of year.

On the chosen night, light the candle while reciting the Väntljusversen poem (available in Swedish, Dutch, French, and German on the page) or one of your choosing that is meaningful to you/your family. The rest of the ceremony is up to you to create to suit  your desires for the winter, Yule, the coming year, etc.  One thing that this author does is to contemplate on the energy of the rune of the week. How does that energy/power influence and interact with my life? How can I harness or observe those influences and recognize them?

At the end of the time, extinguish the flame. At the next week, relight the candle prior to starting with the next until all candles are lit at the end of the process.  Some choose to allow all of the candles to burn down on the final night, sending the energy and intents of the working into the universe. (A note of caution: do not leave burning candles unattended, accessible to children and pets, or around flammable decorations or items.)

Vantljusstaken_Pantheon Skulptor
Sunwait Candles with statues by Pantheon Skulptor.

Väntljusversen poem


Fehu – In the first of sunwait we light
The candle of Fehu so bright
Until the return of the queen of skies
May her beauty and splendor in it rise

Uruz – In the second of sunwait we light
The candle of Uruz so bright
With all that has passed and ahead of us lies
May the passing of time in it rise

Thurisaz- In the third of sunwait we light
The candle of Thurisaz so bright
When the force of winter upon us lies
May the return of spring in it rise

Ansuz – In the fourth of sunwait we light
The candle of Ansuz so bright
In worship of gods old and wise
May the powers of Regin in it rise

Raido – In the fifth of sunwait we light
The candle of Raidō so bright
In yearning for that which never dies
May our longing for new life in it rise

Kenaz – In the sixth of sunwait we light
The candle of Kenaz so bright
A light in darkness again shall arise
May the hope of yule in it rise

For some, this may not work for you for a variety of choices.  In Heathenry, we develop our practices and relationships with the Gods in ways that are meaningful to each of us today. The Väntljusstaken is not a right or wrong way to honor Yule or the Gods.  It is a way to do it.  If you find this is a way that brings joy and meaningfulness to the season, please share your experiences and photos on the Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles, Huginn’s Heathenhof, and Gifts of the Wyrd Facebook pages. May your Winter Solsitce/Yule Tide seasons be filled with joy and amazement.

Listen to the podcast about Vantljusstaken which includes a reading of the poem in Swedish and English.

This article was first published on Huginn’s Heathenhof. Though it is less than six weeks to Yule, you can “catch up” by lighting each candle, reciting the verse, and contemplating on the rune that has already passed.

Images used in this article are from the Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles Facebook page with permission.


Frau Holle leads the Wild Hunt

My dear friend Birgit  has been blessed with writing songs to the Gods for many years and shared a beautiful tune she penned a few years ago to our ears – Heil Dir Holle. Here she is singing this with birds joining in the background.

Frau Holle StampFrau Holle is known in regions of Germany as the protector of children, keeper of the home crafts (such as spinning), Goddess of Winter, leader of the Wild Hunt and matron of witches.  The Grimm’s preserved her tale in their fairy tales, detailing the gifts given to two young girls. One of integrity and industriousness, the other greedy and lazy.

Frau Holle GrimmFrau Holle teaches, inspires and rewards the hard worker, sometimes finishing an industrious worker’s reels for her during the night, but she punishes the lazy, fouling their work.  While governing domestic chores, Holle is also strongly associated with the outside wilderness, wild animals and places remote from man. Her main celebration is during mid-winter and was originally known as Die Zwolften (The Twelve).

Frau Holle  is  the patroness of the Urglaawe faith, and the mother of the Deitsch nation. Many of Urglaawe’s views of Holle result from the oral traditions of the healing practice of Braucherei.

Enjoy getting to know Frau Holle.

Words to the song by Birgit Knorr. You may hear Birgit sing the song on YouTube here.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Seelen sinnen tief im Wasser,                     Souls are dreaming deep in water,

Seelen sinnen tief im See.                             Souls are dreaming deep in the lake.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Federflocken fallen leise,                             Feather flakes are falling softly
Federflocken fallen lind.                               feather flakes are falling mildly.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Gib uns gute Arbeit heute,                          Give us good work today,
gib uns gute Arbeit nun.                               Give us good work now.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Schillernd scheinen deine Flocken,            Glittering shine your flakes,
schillernd scheint der Schnee im Land.    Glittering shine the snow on the land

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Bade mich in Deinem Brunnen,                     Bathe me in your well,
Brunnen bringt mich in Dein Land.             [the] well brings me to your land.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.


*The statue of Frau Holle featured above is located at Frau Holle Teich (Frau Holle’s Pond) at Hoher Meißner, Werra-Meißner-Kreis, Hesse, Germany. photo by Jan Tjeerd (c) 2017

Honoring Ties to our Ancestors

The “Othala” Connection to Where we Call Home

Recently I had a very interesting experience that made me think of the importance of our ancestral connections and how that may be linked to the rune – othala. Othala is the rune of inheritance and mostly connected to our ancestors. **

“An estate is very dear to every man, if he can enjoy there in his house whatever is right and proper in constant prosperity.” – Old English Rune Poem, translation by Bruce Dickens. *

Othala is either the final rune of the futhark or the second to the last rune with dagaz being the last. This placement confusion is due to the futhark order being found complete in different locations with the two runes interchanged. It is most commonly placed as the final rune in most rune studies today.

When we think of ancestors, many think in terms of those from whom they are descended – grandparents, great grandparents and on back.  This is quite true and an important and valuable part of our ancestor veneration. The things that people have learned over the millennia, have certainly made an imprint in some way upon each successive generation.  Some things have fallen away and are not vital in the ways they once were to our survival, perhaps, but we honor and remember that those decisions and lives made an impact in some way that form a part of who we are today.

Some other ways, and this is what really struck me during this experience, that we can honor ancestors is to remember those who are not part of our direct lineage.  This would include ancestors of a location (such as a home town or geographical place), ancestors of influence (such as teachers, important figures, people whom we admire), and ancestors of people of causes or movements (such as those fighting for equal rights, pioneers, military, merchants, explorers, scientists, etc.).

During my recent experience, I was visiting the area where I grew up. For all intents and purposes, this was the last time I will be visiting this area unless I make a special effort and journey just to go there. As the time drew near to drive away, my heart became a bit heavy as I knew that I would not be visiting these landvaettir in the future. That the connection to the spirit of the people who settled the region (ancestors of the place) would become very thin.

 Working with House and Land Vaettir

Mountain overlooking author’s hometown in Utah.

There were connections to many places in this area, so I decided to address them as I prepared to leave.  At one house, I thanked the house and land spirits who were part of my family for those many years. I invited any friendly ones who would like to journey away with us to join. Those who wished to stay, I gave offerings and thanked them. Wished them a fond good bye and that I hope the new inhabitants would be kind and friendly.  Likely they would not recognize the spirits there, but They are known and appreciated.

The land area that was part of my growing up is around 70 miles along a state road in a desert community.  Little towns with as few as 200 people to about 1,000 people with the largest city in that area being just over 8,000 people.  A lot of open area between towns with a lot of colors, desert landscape, and bright blue sky. When I left the city at the north end of the two counties, I would have to drive through nearly every little town along the highway as I headed south.

A Knot in the Heart: That Strange Departing Feeling

That day came and I could feel the restlessness of the land spirits and the spirits of the place that have been there for so long. There was a sense of sorrow as I drove through that area with the thought that this is likely the last time I’ll be there.  I took in all of the beauty that surrounds that area. The layers of colors on the mountains. The areas of green where rivers converge to create a small oasis where people settled. The smell of hay growing in the fields. The vast openness that I don’t see in cities.

Through each mile, I connected with those spirits. I thanked them for being my root and my “othala” connection – to this land and region. I thanked them for welcoming my family when we moved there with openness and embracing us.  For taking care of us and making this place a very deep connection for me.

As I passed significant places (such as where I worked as a teenager, my school, a home I lived in, homes of my friends and family friends, hangouts, parks, even the church I attended as a youth), I thanked the spirits dwelling at those locations for all that I gained as a result of their influences that helped me form who I am today. I spoke to them that even though my physical presence may not come back, I am still connected to them and they are still part of my othala here and will not be severed.

It was quite an emotional experience and I was a little bit surprised at the intensity of it. It was a very good experience and I’m glad to have been able to connect with Them as I left the area.  It will be strange to not go back now and then.  But I hope to always have that sense of “home” with them.

How Do You Connect to the Land/House Vaettir of Your “Othala”?

Runes made from Utah Quaking Aspen laid out on lava rock with sandstone and coal from where the author grew up.

If you have moved away from a place that you consider home, have you had that experience? Have you returned often and then had a time when you knew you wouldn’t go back?

How do you connect with the place you are now? Do you engage the land, city, and house vaettir where you are now?

If you haven’t made an effort to reach out to those ancestral spirits or the ones where you are now, do you think you might want to?

The experience of connecting with ancestral vaettir and ancestors can be very rewarding and meaningful. Also, making that relationship to the Ones where you are now is also very rewarding and helps to establish further that sense of home and being wherever you are. Even if you will be there a short while, it is worth making those connections and introductions as part of the hospitality of living together.


* Translation by Dickens, Bruce. 1915. Runic and heroic poems of the old Teutonic peoples. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 

** The othala rune has unfortunately been adopted by racist, white supremacist, and nazi groups to promote bigotry and hatred to others based on immutable traits such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and other traits they deem undesirable. They misappropriate the rune’s connection to heritage, ancestral lineage and inheritance to support their racist and bigoted ideology. This is a deplorable use of othala and is not the subject nor the intended context of this post in any way.

*** This article was originally posted at Huginn’s Heathenhof  on 29 July 2018 and is the work of Jan Tjeerd.