Stewards of the Wildlife?

When I was a kid, one of the things I was taught in Sunday school was that God had appointed us humans with stewardship over the animals that don’t happen to be human (and also of the plants, presumably). That idea really struck a chord with me as a child, and I saw it as my job, and the job of all Christians (or possibly all humans…I was in primary school, I’m not sure how thoroughly I thought all this through) to care for the Earth.

Even after I became a polytheist/animist, this idea stuck with me, lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. But this evening, watching a DVD about wildlife conservation where this idea was touched upon, it struck me that wildlife does not need human stewards guiding and managing it.

Humans are not superior to other forms of life. Nature does not need a shepherd. Nature needs humans to live in harmony with it, to realize it’s inherent worth, to stop actively destroying it at every turn…To realize that we actually are animals, we actually are nature, not some separate, superior group of beings.

I think it’s animism that has led to this realization. I think of Tiger, and the Sumatran tigers than he embodies, and I think…us? His stewards? Their stewards? Don’t make me laugh. I think of the spirits of the copper beech that grows outside our block of flats, and wonder what arrogance could possibly lead me to believe that I have some sort of stewardship over them. If someone came up to me telling me that they had this God-given duty of care and control over me, I’d punch them in the face. So would you (or maybe you’re not as aggressive as me and you’d just call the cops. Anyway, you get my point).

Don’t get me wrong, I think caring for the planet because you believe humans have stewardship over Her is a heck of a lot better than just mindlessly trashing everything in sight without a second thought. But it does strike me as yet another example of humans assuming superiority over everything else, and I think it’s that sense of superiority to, and separateness from, the rest of the natural world that has brought us all to this total devastating mess in the first place.

anthroprocentric

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Orange Iced Buns.

Husband’s had to put up with a lot of s*it from me lately, so whilst he went out with his CPN to sort out some housing stuff, I figured I’d make some appreciation/apology iced buns for him. They turned out pretty good!

  • 150ml plant milk (I used soya)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil/vegan spread
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 250g wholewheat bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons plant syrup (I used agave)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 100g icing sugar
  • about 6 teaspoons orange juice (maybe from the orange you grated for the zest?)

Put everything except the juice and icing sugar into your breadmaker in whatever order your model likes things, and set it to make dough.

Once the dough is ready, shape it into 8 or 9 little buns, line them up on a baking tray and leave them to rise in a warm place for about half an hour (apparently you’re supposed to put oiled clingfilm over them as they prove, but I was taught to use a clean tea towel as a kid and it seems to work, so I’m still doing it. I don’t like clingfilm).

Once they’re ready, bake them at Gas Mark 6/200C/400F for 15 or so minutes, until they’re done and sound hollow when you tap them. After that you just have to let them cool, make icing with the icing sugar and orange juice, and ice them.

They won’t last long after that! Up next; Raven’s diet recipes…

3 Ways to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of your Wardrobe…

Monsoon of Random

When we talk about our carbon footprint, we often think of using public transport, walking instead of getting in the car, reducing water usage, switching the lights off, cutting down on plastic usage. How often do we think of the contents of our wardrobe? From how our clothing was made, to how we care for it on a daily basis, and how we part with it. Clothes are becoming one of the most environmentally toxic products we currently use and dispose of. From harsh chemicals used in processing, to micro-plastics in the wash, and chemicals entering the ecosystem via our washing machines. And right to the end of your cherished shirts life – which may well be a landfill.

So, here are three things you can start doing today that can have a huge impact on reducing that carbon footprint right down…

1. Buy more natural fabrics..

…including organic cotton…

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Hel Angrbodadottir.

Hag, desiccated and decaying.

Eternal Queen of the vast ninth world.

Loving Mother.

 

All that You are is more than I can know;

Not in this brief human span.

Goddesses hold mysteries that are not for mortal minds to grasp.

Radiant corpse,

Beckon me to Your side.

Otherworldly Mother,

Dark Daughter,

Allow me to kneel in Your presence.

Death is not a Lady I flee from.

Open Your rotting arms to me;

Teach me whatever I am able to learn.

Teach me to love You better.

In my time on Miðgarðr I will keep on trying;

Remember me when that time comes to an end.

Revisiting the Poetic Edda.

Revisiting the Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Heroic Legend is an anthology edited by Paul Acker (Professor of English at Saint Louis University) and Carolyne Larrington (Fellow and Tutor in Medieval English Language and Literature at Oxford University). It’s published by Routledge as a part of Routledge Medieval Casebooks, and a new copy will set you back something like £35/$46 – unless you want a hardback copy, which will be more than twice that.

If you’re into researching the social context of the Norse legends and all that kind of thing, then this will totally be worth the money. However, it doesn’t look at any of the myths of Gods and Goddesses (I honestly dunno if Fenja and Menja are Goddesses or not; if T/they are, then there is a really interesting article on T/them entitled ‘Mythological Motivation in Eddic Poetry: Interpreting Grottasöngr’. But other Deities only get a passing mention, if at all, and aren’t the focus of the book). So if you were hoping for in-depth studies of the Gods and Their stories, this is not the book for you.

This book focuses on the legends of the Poetic Edda; Helgi and Sigurðr, Brynhilda and Guðrún, and all those dragons, valkyries, witches and warriors that we all kinda know and…kinda don’t. It definitely gave me a lot of new things to think about, even if it hasn’t impacted my devotional life all that much – though I think it has the potential to. If you’re a reconstructionist then it would probably have more effect on your spiritual understanding than it has on mine, given it’s ideas about homosociality and homophobia, the power and social roles of women, Kingship, and other concepts. All these things shape the ancient understanding of the Gods and Goddesses, after all.

The final two essays look at the way Richard Wagner, William Morris and Tolkien understood and re-wrote the Völsunga Saga. I found them worth reading, but obviously they deal with modern works rather than Medieval.

Purity in action

I had not thought of this in terms of purity and impurity before. Thank you for writing.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

Purity is a matter of concern to a majority of the traditions that influence my practice(s). It’s a subject approached from a variety of angles – one might consider internal purity, external purity, and behavioral purity. Because I’m a devotee, not an initiate, I concern myself with the basic forms of purity, namely things like honesty, kindness, compassion, non-violence, steadfastness, devotion, and so forth. Cleansing rites are valuable and have important effects but if one doesn’t exhibit the principles that these rites embody, the activities rapidly become empty and meaningless. Although the above-mentioned standards can be regarded as a “basic” approach to purity, they aren’t simple and nor do I succeed in exhibiting them with consistency. But you see that steadfastness bit up there? I am obliged to continue trying.

One would rightly point out that unless interior forms of purity are exhibited, then they’re not much use to anyone…

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October Angel Prayer.

October is here, and September is over for another year.

Thank you, Archangel Uriel, for guiding us through the past month.

Now we greet you, Angel Barbiel, guardian of October.

Please help us to see the progress we have made, to be grateful for the generosity of the natural world, and to enjoy what we have.

Thank you, Angel Barbiel.

A Basket Full of Blessings.

Sister recently had to move away for work, and Husband and I wanted to give her a good housewarming gift to get her off to a good start.

When it comes to traditional housewarming gifts, there’s a lot of ideas out there on the internet…but most of them are pretty vague. What I really wanted were English traditions, but all I could find were vague mish-mashes of Italian, German or completely unattributed ‘traditions’. Not to be put off, we decided to just make something up.

Bread seemed to be an important factor in most online line-ups, so we started with that. The idea of including bread is so that the recipient will never go hungry. Likewise, we added a coin so that Sister will never be poor. Salt is supposed to bring flavour and spice to the recipient’s life, but I always think of purity with salt. Also, I doubt Sister would appreciate the gift of a broom…So we used salt for purity (http://oryxdesertsalt.co.za/) and a spice mill filled with harissa spices for flavour and spice (http://www.ukuva-iafrica.com/prMASTER.html). Honey is traditional for bringing sweetness to life, but Sister doesn’t like it so we used jam instead (http://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/c-37-organic-jam-and-fair-trade-spreads.aspx). We put in a candle (http://thejusticebrand.com/justice-candles/) for light in the darkness…and finally a key dish so she’ll never loose her keys (https://www.namaste-uk.com/product.php/9132/19058d94f4530eb7f1d7422b8db30557). That’s not massively traditional…I just happened to know she needed a key dish. Finally, we added an explanatory note (so it didn’t look like we’d just handed her a random pile of junk);

‘A loaf of bread so you will never go hungry, a coin so you will never be poor, a candle for light in dark times, salt to banish pollution and negativity, jam to bring sweetness to your life, spices to bring joy and excitement to your life…and a key dish so you’ll never lose your keys.’

Some other traditional gifts would be;

 

Finally, here’s the bread I made for Sister. It’s a simple recipe, but nice – especially for someone who doesn’t like ‘bits’.

MAPLE OAT LOAF

  • 275ml plant milk (I used soya)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil/vegan spread
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 450g strong white flour
  • 50g rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast

Simply put everything in the breadmaker in whatever order your model likes ingredients to be added, set it to whatever comes closest to a 750g white loaf, and press ‘start’.

Also on this blog I have cheap ‘n’ cheerful oat bread (https://ravensblog2017.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/cheap-n-cheerful-oat-bread/), orange iced buns (https://ravensblog2017.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/orange-iced-buns/), dark beer bread (https://ravensblog2017.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/dark-beer-bread/), Divine tear ‘n’ share chocolate chip bread (https://ravensblog2017.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/i-made-something-divine/) and lazy hot cross-less loaf (https://ravensblog2017.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/lazy-hot-cross-less-loaf/)

If you’ve done something similar, or know of more traditions, I’d be really interested to hear from you 🙂

The Holy Tides – Haligmonath / Winter Finding / Winterfylleth / Winter Nights / Vetrnætr / Haustblót / Völsi blót, & Autumn Weddings [Expanded]

A *lot* of ideas here!

Wyrd Designs

Autumn is upon us, my favorite time of the year.

Some practitioners of the Northern Tradition are celebrating Winter Nights (Vetrnætr, Haustblót ) around now, the time of the autumnal equinox so it is more in sync with mainstream pagan Mabon celebrations. Yet many more won’t be celebrating it until mid to late October, when it will be more in sync with the pagan celebration of Samhain. There are others who may not even celebrate it until November as that would be the approximate time when the harvest has concluded in their area.

The reason for the discrepancy is that as much as we sometimes treat the pre-Christian ancient German, Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon cultures as being part of a somewhat synonymous culture, the fact remains that we have regional differences as it applied to both methods of time-keeping, as well as it applied to when agriculturally related festivals were…

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Autumn Mini Scones.

I did the sensible thing and made my scones today! And, to make sure they are of sufficient quality to be shared with Deities, Spirits, Ancestors and workmates tomorrow, Husband and I have selflessly taste-tested them. Good news – they turned out nice 🙂

  • 500g wholewheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100g coconut oil/vegan butter spread
  • 60g sugar (I normally use coconut, but this time I’ve had to use regular white sugar. I sulked about it for at least half an hour lol. Same goes for coconut oil – usually I would use that, but I’ve had to change to an inexpensive vegan spread. The important thing is we still have food!)
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1 large cooking apple, chopped into small pieces
  • 300ml plant milk

Mix the baking powder and soda into the flour so it’s all evenly distributed. Then rub in the coconut oil/spread until it’s like sand – using your hands is easiest. Once that’s done, mix in the sugar, cinnamon, apple and plant milk until you have dough.

Roll the dough out until it’s about two centimeters thick (I did this in two batches). Then use a small cookie-cutter to cut out your scones – I ended up with a total of 24. Then bake them at Gas Mark 6/200C/400F for 15 minutes.

These are really nice with jam, but the apple makes them sweet enough to eat plain – especially if they’re still warm 🙂 I made these scones mini because I want to share them out, but I’m sure they would make perfectly good normal-sized scones too. I’m not sure how long they’d take to cook, though.