Tag Archives: akasha

Connecting to My Ancestors through Cooking, Building, and Making Mead

Banana Bread, by Ginny

Banana Bread, by Ginny

“Is this thing on? Is anybody listening?” These are questions I often ask my ancestors when sitting with a cup of tea, coffee or mead. Usually, I leave some for them, and some bread. Sometimes, this makes me feel a little strange: after all, shouldn’t they be too busy doing their own things? Shouldn’t I be solving my own problems? If they want to check in on us and see how we’re doing, can’t they do that any time they like? Even so, as a Heathen, that connection is important to me. On our feast days, we prepare the first plate for the ancestors. I have a small shrine dedicated to the ancestors which sits in a corner of the living room on my grandmother’s table. It enjoys a natural place in our daily life and during most gatherings. When we hold Sumbel (a Heathen cup-sharing, story-telling, merrymaking tradition), this shrine becomes the centerpiece of the room.

An occasional chat with my deceased people is calming. Frequently, though, I enjoy connecting with my ancestors a little more actively. I mean that literally – I like to make or do things that I know they used to enjoy themselves. Every Thanksgiving and Yuletide, I try to make my grandmother’s cranberry relish. It’s a simple enough recipe, but there’s something soothing about working with the fruits and waiting for the Jello to set. My grandmothers also liked to bake. I haven’t tried to replicate the famous zucchini bread yet, but I have made my own banana bread and pumpkin bread from scratch. My grandfathers had their own pastimes. Whenever I build something, I think of my dad (still with us, thankfully!) and his father, and their well-stocked workshops. I have fond memories of running Grandpa’s riding lawnmower around his massive backyard whenever I smell freshly cut grass. My mom’s father collected stamps and coins. It’s not my passion, but sometimes I leaf through the half-finished albums he helped me start, remembering him.

Mom was fond of tea, a taste I’ve recently re-acquired. She also enjoyed cross-stitch, a hobby we shared for a time. I should pick it up again, but I haven’t yet. She encouraged me to write poetry and such. I still do this, and I often think of her kind criticism of my early works. Mom taught me how to cook, and while I don’t cook as often as I should, I enjoy it when I do. I would probably enjoy playing my mother’s clarinet, although it was never my instrument. I haven’t tried it in years because it’s now in the care of my niece.

I also want to briefly mention my newest hobby, brewing. There’s something deeply satisfying about brewing a batch of mead. There’s a lot of cleaning and sanitizing effort, but the actual brewing is simple: mixing honey and water over fire. Just the way the ancients did it.

Some of these activities are specific to just one or a few of my ancestors. I often find that I have just one or two people on my mind when I want to connect. Other times, though, such as Yuletide, I feel the need to remember and honor them all, so it’s good that many of these activities can be combined. I can eat a slice of the bread I made yesterday and drink some tea while I sketch plans for a project. Sometimes, I leave them all a little tea and bread to say “thank you.”

How do you connect with your ancestors?

This article is cross-posted at The Pagan Princesses.


thor_hammer_pendant Here is a a picture of the Thor’s Hammer pendant I found at the Austin Celtic Festival this past weekend.  I suppose I should write more but at the moment its kind of busy around here :)You can click the image for a link to the gallery with a higher resolution view of the artwork.

Other news includes Freyrfaxi with R, and J&J in August that was very nice, PPD in October, and the formation of Red Oak in September.

Let us not also forget the 11 year anniversary with Gwenhwyvar, commemorated with dinner at the Emerald and a movie afterward 🙂

Hopefully an upcoming Jul feast in December will close out this mostly excellent year nicely 🙂


of the Gods.

[i meant to post this yesterday when i wrote it but didn’t get time]
I am fire, the forge-spark burning
Am air flowing, feeder of flames
Am earth moving, molding, lifting
Water rushing, river of life.

I walk among the Ancestors
Their ways and wisdom, their worth my own.
I dance among the land Vættar
Their company and courage mine.

I march among mighty Æsir,
Sing with Danu’s sons and daughters,
Walk the wilds, a Vana-friend.
For I am of the tribes of Gods.

Kom Helge Ande

Gjallarhorn recorded this folk song and psalm, in a sort of folk form reminiscent of both Chant and Stav.  Their treatment reminds us that our world view and faith, as children of Europe, has not changed as much under the surface as some of our neighbors in this country would have us think.

“Kom Helge Ande” also happens to be included in quite a few editions of the Svenska Psalmboken.  The earliest I have found is the 1695 edition, but the earliest full version of the Psalm that seems to be viewable online is from 1819.

Gjallarhorn Psalmboken (1819) Translation (Mine)
Kom Helge Ande till mej in
Upplys min själ
Uppfyll mitt sinn
Kom, Helge Ande, till mig in,
Upplys min själ,
upptänd mitt sinn,
Come, Holy Spirit, (in) to me!
Light up my soul!
Fill up my senses!(*)
Att jag i dej må bliva
Låt lysa livets ljus på mej
Och led mej på den rätta väg
Dej vill jag mig helt giva
Att jag i dig må bliva,
Låt lysa livets ljus för mig
Och led mig på den rätta stig:
Dig vill jag helt mig giva.
So I in thee may be
Let light(**) life’s light fore me
Eke(***) lead me upon the right way
(to) Thee will I myself wholly give.

(*) The 1819 Psalmboken says “upptänd,” meaning light up or ignite, from the same Germanic root as modern english “tinder.”  Other versions, including Gjallarhorn’s, says “fill up.”  The verb “Upplys” in the previous line means to illuminate.

(**) Let shine life’s light before me.  Literally, Let light(v.) life’s light (n.) before me, but modern English lacks unambiguous spellings of the verb and noun form.  In modern Swedish, both forms survive:  Lysar på – to shine before, and Ljus  (a light).

(***) ME, “also,” compare with Chaucer:  “Ond Zephirus eek, with his sweete Breath” (sic.)

The word “Ande,” literally “spirit,” survives along with the concept “Helga Ande,” or “holy spirit,” from the tribal days of the North.  Although the word seems to have fallen out of use in German, the word “Andacht,” which has curiously religious connotations and a completely unrelated etymology (“dacht” – “thought”, “andacht” – “belief”), survives.

Moreover, the formula of this Psalm is actually quite common in Christian prayers in the west.  At its core is the ancient tradition of asking for a sign, of offering something (in this case oneself) in exchange for guidance or revelation.  It’s a very tribal sort of contract between the invoker and the Spirit.  “Do this, and I shall…”

“Come, reveal, take and I shall give myself to you”

One can find the same sort of invocation, reaching out, asking for guidance, for a sign, in the hymns of the Rig Veda, and many other holy texts from around the world.

Brighid & Freyja

So among other errands today, Gwenhwyvar and I managed to sneak down to one of the local new age shops.  And there, among the various little statues on the shelves behind the counter, was Brighid, the Celtic goddess of things fiery and inspire-y, and of healing and protection.

bz-bri2 One aspect holds the twin serpents (medicine), one holds a sword or dagger and smith’s tongs, and the third seems more mystical.  All three have poppy flower crowns.  The imagery here is the same as in this piece from the same company, which has a better explanation of the objects.  I’ll have to puzzle out how this relates to the three Brighids.  But, I have some time—she’s taken up residence on my desk.
fb1 There was also this small statue of of Freyja.  I like the art but I’m not sure about Gypsum stone.  [update:  I picked up this Freyja about a week later after deciding that Gypsum stone doesn’t bother me] Finally there was one of Artemis, but the particular art didn’t really speak to me.

crazy faith
alison krauss & union station

I lit my love and watched it burn
Asking nothing in return,
Except the lessons I would learn
By holding crazy faith

I’ve been touched by that bright fire,
Down to the root of my desire
While the smoke it rises higher
On crazy faith

Your not asking if I love this man,
I know you don’t
You don’t belive you can
Yet I’ve seen love open like a dancers fan
It’s crazy i know but my faith says so
It tells me.

Am I a fool for hanging on?
Would I be a fool to be long gone?
When has daylight gone to dawn?
On my crazy faith

The questions will not let me sleep
Answers buried way too deep
At the bottom of our lover’s leap
Made by crazy faith

Your not asking if I love this man
I know you don’t you don’t belive you can
Yet I’ve seen love open like a dancers fan
It’s crazy I know
But my faith says so
It tells me

Love your losing, lose your love
Let the hawk fly from the glove
Do not search the skys above
Search your crazy faith

Love is lightning
Love is ice
It only strikes the lucky twice
Once so you will know the price
Once for crazy faith

Your not asking if love this man
I know you dont you dont belive you can
Yet I’ve seen love open like a dancers fan
It’s crazy I know
but my faith says so….

meeting people

Gwenhwyvar and I went to the monthly Norse group meet and greet.  It was a nice afternoon for it, and it was a small group this time, but good conversation and being near Central Market the snacks were also yummy. I got to disclose a bit more of my background and hear some perspective on that, and how it fits with the Norse/Germanic mindset.  I also got to ask what a faining was.  It turns out that one (tecnically) can’t do a blót without blood sacrifice (of an animal) because that’s what the word means.  A faining is any other bloodless  offering (of drink, food, incense) one might make instead of a blót.

celtic reconstruction…

It would appear there are groups who have done a fair amount of research into the old ways of the Celtic lands.  Here’s one such group.  I don’t really know how I feel about that.  I have the impression that there’s a lot less known about the actual practices of the time, compared to the ways of the Norse and Teutonic groups.  I don’t know that this impression is true, though.

Meeting people

I went to go meet some local heathens and pagans this evening.  We actually took the whole crew, because it was a public place with a playground and outdoor cafe and everything.  I figured it would be good to have Gwenhwyvar along to see what was what.  It was nice to connect with real people and see that they might actually be normal.  The setting was a bit more overwhelming than I thought it would be, because the place was absolutely mobbed.  Nonetheless, the gathering put on by the Heathen group whose e-list I’ve been following for a few months was also attended by two reps from the Pagan group whose list I’ve also followed.  So, it was sort of like a two-for-one in terms of effort. 

I’m looking forward to the next such gathering, although I will probably be out of town for the next month’s event so it might not be until Yuletide that I am able to go again.  Next time, definitely without the wee ones in tow just for the purpose of being able to concentrate without worrying about their well being or Gwenhwyvar’s stress level in the crowd of kids.

I do need to find out some things before I go much further with the heathens, though.  I need to mail them and find out what they mean by “folkish” because it does mean different things to different groups.  Worse, it is also a buzzword that some of the hateful groups hide behind / rally around.  Fortunately, these people didn’t strike me as hateful or xenophobic but I should, I guess, ask to be sure.  Also, even if they aren’t, there are definitions of folkish that still wouldn’t fit me very well, ranging from “overly oath-happy” to “let’s revive the old social structure.”  So, it behooves me to ask.  If I’m really looking for a group at all, I want one that recognizes that the gods call whom they will.