What does it mean to have power in supply chains?

Earlier in the year, George Williams visited Traidcraft’s projects in Odisha, India. Here, he reflects on what it means to have ‘power in supply chains’.

In the Eastern Indian state of Odisha, Traidcraft has partnered with organic cotton specialists ‘Forum for Integrated Development’. Together we’re working with around 4,000 extremely poor households in the districts of Kalahandi and Rayagada.

The primary cash crop in the area is cotton and Traidcraft has a long history of working in the Indian cotton sector, including developing the standards for Fairtrade cotton and the world’s first Fairtrade cotton supply chains. The work in Odisha builds on this learning and experience, but it’s about much more than cotton.

Farmers are being trained on agro-ecological approaches that enable them to reduce their costs of production and lessen their dependence on potentially dangerous chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Farmers are now growing intercrops between their cotton…

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A Midsummer Prayer

Wyrd Designs

Trundholm Sun Chariot – National Museum of Denmark

Hail Sunna
Daughter of Mundilfari the time-turner,
Sister of light-gleaming Mani,
Wife of Glenr, and fair mother,
We hail you.

Day-Star, Light-Bringer,
Elf-Beam, Ever-glow,
All-bright, fair-wheel,
Year-counter
We greet you.

Shining grace bestow upon us,
Healing hands lay upon us,
Blessings of warmth, joy and plenty
We ask of you.

Hail to thee Sunna,
Dancing Fire of Sky and Air,
Lady of the Midnight Sun,
Golden, ever-Shining One.
We Hail!

Sun Offering Bowls – National Museum of Denmark

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Sunwheels & Midsummer

Wyrd Designs

Midsummer (or Litha, Sonnenwende, Sankthansaften, Midsommardagen, etc.), is without a doubt, a day with heavy connections to the sun. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Midsummer is the longest ‘day’ of the year, as the sun appears in the sky for far longer than any other day of the year. In certain places of the Northern hemisphere including parts of Scandinavia, the sun may never fully set, giving locals an eye-witness view to what’s colloquially known as a ‘midnight sun’. As such, it should come as no great surprise that in pre-Christian times, as well as for pagans and Asatru today, the day is marked with celebration honoring the sun itself.

Sunna (or Sol) is described in our tradition as the Goddess who in her chariot drawn by horses guides the sun in its track, as her brother Mani similarly drives the moon coursing through the sky. We…

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Midsummer.

Although we’re really busy at the moment, I’m really happy to say that we’ve managed to get a clear day to celebrate Midsummer on 😀 Having said that, I’ll probably have to sleep at sometime during the day lol.

Anyway, although we have a whole day to do nothing but celebrate, we do have a lot going on in general right now so we’re planning to do something fairly modest. In the morning I’ll make a cleansing salt scrub with basil, parsley and coriander (apparently they’re in season right now, though to be honest we grow ours on the windowsill so I think they just sorta do their own thing). I don’t have much red, orange or yellow in my wardrobe (it’s mostly black, black a little bit of grey and then some more black), but I have a red and black top I can wear. Husband’s much more colorful than me! Red, yellow and orange are three of his four favorite colors, so he’ll look very Summery.

I thought it would be cool to learn about the Sun on Midsummer, so I’ll play on the computer for a while. I *really* want to go for a walk, even if it’s just once around the nearby park. But I don’t want to just walk; I want to walk mindfully, paying attention to what’s going on around us with the plants, animals and weather. I also hope to journey, though I’m not quite sure what that will be about yet. I also really wasn’t sure what myths I should read. The Norse myths never seem seasonal to me. Any suggestions, anyone?

We plan to offer elderflower cordial, seasonal fruit (strawberries, cherries and peaches in our case, but apricots, bilberries, blueberries, gooseberries and greengages are also out now) a seasonal salad (loads is in season right now! Asparagus, beetroot, carrots, courgettes, lettuce, tomatoes…) and white chocolate and strawberry muffins (can’t be healthy all the time…). There are a lot of daisies and dandelions on our estate right now, and the copper beach is dropping these beautiful, shiny, purple-black leaves, so there’s plenty to decorate the altar with. I also hope to do a litter pick on the estate, but we’ll see. And of course we also have our prayer.

Anyone else got any plans?

Midsummer Prayer.

We ask You to be with us, Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, so that together we can all celebrate Midsummer.

It is time to say goodbye to the Spring, the new life and fresh mornings. We thank You for Your gifts and will welcome You again in Your time.

Now it is time to celebrate the Summer! We rejoice in the brightness and abundance of this time of year.

Thank You, kind Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, for the many gifts of Summer.

Please bless the plants as they bloom and fruit.

Please bless the bugs and the bees as they go about their vital work.

Please bless us here as we work for abundance, both material and spiritual. Please help us to grow stronger and to keep hold of the spark of fire in our hearts (or whatever is most appropriate to you).

Please bless us all, so that we may learn to share the prosperity that comes in to our lives and create a world where we can all  have happiness and plenty.

Thank You all for hearing our prayer. May You in turn be blessed and joyful in Your lives (and accept these gifts of…).

 

We’re also including Lady Jörð, Lady Sól, Loki and the Angel Tubiel in the prayer we’ll be saying.

Father’s Day Prayer.

We ask You to be with us, Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, so that together we can all celebrate Father’s Day.

We want to thank you, our Ancestral Fathers. We celebrate the love and happiness you shared with your children, and thank you for the hard work you put in and the pains you endured.

Thank You, kind Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and Ancestors, for the Fathers of the world. Thank You for the Fathers who brought us life and for the Fathers who raised us.

Please bless the many and varied Fathers in our world, and please bless (names), the Fathers and Father figures of our lives.

(This verse if appropriate, otherwise change or omit entirely;) Please bless us here, so that we may strengthen the bonds we have with our Fathers.

Please bless us all, so that we may learn to celebrate Fatherhood in all it’s positive forms.

Thank You all for hearing our prayer. May You in turn be blessed and joyful in Your lives (and accept these gifts of…).

 

I know a lot of people have really difficult relationships (or simply no relationship) with their Father. I’m really lucky – my Dad and I are like friends. Husband’s Dad, sadly, passed away when he was twelve – though since setting up our Ancestor shrine, he has made his presence felt on several occasions! The full version of this prayer includes verses of thanks to him, to my deceased paternal Grandfather, to both Husband’s deceased Grandfathers, to several Deities Who are Fathers and even to someone I had children with in a former life (I admit that last one is a bit weird).

If your relationship with your Father is awful or non-existent, maybe you could ask blessings for a Grandfather or some other male in your life who has been like a Father to you. I also know someone who gets their Mother a card on Father’s Day, since she has had to be both Father and Mother to that person. Alternatively, you could use the prayer to ask for help in improving the relationship. Everyone’s situation is different, but I’m thinking about writing some kind of ‘please help us improve our relationship prayer’ at some point (though obviously some ‘Fathers’ are best just avoided completely). Everyone will have some male Ancestor somewhere along the line who was a decent bloke though, so I still think Father’s Day is worth celebrating in some way.

The Housewight

Spindle and Key

I have had opportunities to think about what is generally called ‘housewight’ in heathen circles, and I remembered a book I read last year from German scholar Erika Lindig.[1] She wrote her doctoral thesis about written and oral traditions of tales and beliefs in the Hausgeist/housewight in Germany, based on tales printed and published in the 19th and 20th century. Which of course means that those tales document a young  development of housewight belief before it died out.

What is a housewight? It is an entitity noticed by people as living in a house and homestead, usually as benevolent, but also sometimes as being full of mischief and malevolence. They do stick to families, but they’re usually connected to older houses and homesteads in a rural environment.

Hausgeist is a scholarly term, the folkloristic name used by common people was Kobold which is a noa term…

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Musings on the Goddesses of the Jotnar, Angerboda and Iron Wood Magic

Northern Tamarisk

Despite the more obvious practices of Seidhr, spells, enchantments, divination and shapeshifting, there is another powerful magic in the Iron Wood: the women Themselves.

The women are the fiercer, more powerful sex among the Jotnar – think of Angerboda and Skadi, of Groa and Gerda. But this strength isn’t just physical, and nor is it purely ‘magical’. Their true power lies in Their personal power, Their Sovreignty, Their sacred expression of Their Selves. They are empowered women, the ones who stand up for Their needs and desires, standing Their ground, asserting Their boundaries.

To the writers of the time these powerful, self-assured women must have been seen as a real threat to the ‘way of the world’. These are independent Goddesses who know Their needs and magics and are respected for it. How much of the ‘terrible and terrifying’ description of Them is really true, and how much is the…

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Father’s Day Gift Ideas.

Sorry I’ve left this so late! Father’s Day has snuck up on me a bit this year…If, like me, you’ve suddenly been hit by the realization that Father’s Day is *next Sunday*, here are some gift ideas I’ve put together. Hope it helps!

Traidcraft are a fairtrade company (obviously…this is me writing here, after all!) who make a lot of different things, including some fun products created from recycled bicycle chains and old keys – recycling at it’s manliest. There are useful things like bowls, bookends and keyrings, and there are also these awesome dinosaurs made from bicycle chains (I especially love the sauropod). They also have a Spring sale on right now. Search through their website at http://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/

If he doesn’t already have one, I definitely recommend buying your Dad (/Grandad/Father figure/whoever it is you need a Father’s Day gift for) a re-usable coffee mug. You don’t need me to lecture you on the fact that we’re all using way too many disposable items and clogging up the planet with our trash…we all know this by now. 100 billion single-use coffee cups hit landfill *every year*! Ecoffee mugs are a great option – they’re made from bamboo and corn starch so they’re sustainably produced, and when they reach the end of their (long and useful) life they can be composted. Find out more and check out their range of designs at https://ecoff.ee/

Shared Earth are another eco-friendly, fairtrade company. Among (many, many) other things, they make clocks, coasters and boxes out of recycled computer circuit boards (another example of manly recycling). They also make boats, cars, motorbikes, helicopters and aeroplanes out of tin cans. Take a look at http://www.sharedearth.co.uk/

The Woodland Trust is the UKs largest woodland conservation charity, and through them you can dedicate a tree or an entire area of woodland to your Dad for Father’s Day. Definitely an option if the house and garage are already overflowing with his ‘collections’. http://www.woodlandtrustshop.com/category/191-fathers-day.aspx

If you’re going to go down the socks and chocolate route, then you gotta do it right. Seed and Bean are a ridiculously ethical company turning our ridiculously delicious chocolate bars – and even better, they’re having a Father’s Day sale. You can go extravagant with a hamper, check out the four-bar gift boxes or pick one or two bars from their extensive collection of interesting flavors at http://www.seedandbean.co.uk/shop.html. As for socks, try out Thought or Doris and Dude. Their socks are made from bamboo, so they’re eco-friendly as well as very comfy to wear. Search Thought for gift sets or individual pairs at https://www.wearethought.com/sustainable-socks/mens/  or individual pairs at Doris and Dude at http://www.dorisanddude.com/category/products/socks/size-7-11/

My Dad loves birdspotting, so I’ve brought him a beautiful hand-crafted wooden kingfisher by Tilnar Art (This Is Life Not A Rehearsal, Always Remember This – https://www.tilnarart.co.uk/). It was made in Zimbabwe from either jacaranda, munyunya or olive wood, none of which are endangered species. Tilnar Art is, of course, a Fairtrade company, and I brought the bird at Just Fairtrade in Leicester, the indie business where I volunteer. I love that this gift will not only make my Dad happy, but it supports artisans in Zimbabwe *and* an independent local business. He’s also getting a home-grown bonsai fig (though…it’s huge. I’m not sure it counts as bonsai any more!)

I hope this has been helpful and given you some ideas. If you have any more good Father’s Day ideas, please feel free to share them 🙂

Musings on Odin’s Ravens and Wolves

Wyrd Designs

Among the many descriptions of Odin, we see that he is described as having a pair of ravens, and a pair of wolves.


Thanks to some nature specials I watched recently when I couldn’t sleep, I discovered that ravens tend to mate for life. While pre-adult ravens may live and work together in groups with otherravens, when they hit adult status about 4 years into their 40 year or so life-span they then become extremely territorial. The only time adult ravens will be seen together (peaceably) out in nature (be it the woodlands or the urban jungle) is when they are a mated pair.

This makes me wonder if Odin’s ravens Hugin (Thought) and Munin (memory) may in fact be a mated pair.


Another interesting tidbit, is that while wolves may exist in packs, they (like ravens) also tend to mate for life. And the only animal besides…

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