Meditation

I did the minimum of 25 weeks of meditation. This happened from the beginning of June to the end of November. However, I have continued with my weekly meditation. At first, I tried doing daily devotions and doing a 2P meditation at every devotion. However, I could not keep up a daily practice. Beginning in October, I switched to a weekly practice on Wednesdays.

During this time I have tried several forms of meditations. I have done breathing exercises and the 2P meditation. I have done coloring book meditations, where I color a page from a coloring book as I reflect on a specific god. I did this for Odin, Thor, and Brigid. I evolved from a devotion that was only about meditation to a mini-ADF style rite where I thank specific beings. I have also experimented with First Quarter Moon meditations and meditations to empty the mind and listen to nature.

In June, when I first started, I had two goals: control my breath and develop focus. I was trying to do daily devotions and each time do these things: I said my First Oath, breathe 4-4-4 breaths until I felt centered, and said the Fire and Water Focusing. After four weeks, my breathing was deeper, and I realized that I enjoyed saying the Fire and Water Focusing like a mantra, perhaps several times, but almost in a trance or meditative drawl.

In July, I moved on to different forms of meditation. This is when I did a handful of coloring pages dedicated to specific gods. While I still did occasional ‘daily’ devotions, I was focusing on meditative and reflective coloring. This turned out rather well. For instance, I had a revelation that Odin was a god of change. So many of his attributes are about transformative states: life and death, war and peace, calm and ‘berserk.’ He is all about those changes. This method did not work so well when I did Brigid, but that may be because I don’t know her as well as the Norse gods.

In the second half of the month, I also added the 2P meditation to my devotions, taking time to sit with the images of the fire and water. This month, I also visited Colorado and did a mediation with my mom at the end of a hike. I tried to clear my mind and listened to the sounds of nature, which was wonderful. And then the grove’s Cross-Quarter high day was at the end of July and, as has happened several times, I had a vision in the group mediation. I had a vision of two waterfalls, one was of the Underworld Waters and it was navy, black, and purple. The other was of the Upperworld Light and it was white, yellow, and orange. It was set up like an ambigram, so the top and bottom are exactly flipped.

In August, I did my own ritual for the holiday, and when I meditated, I used the waterfall imagery. At this point, I’ve gone beyond just breathing and focusing; I added more to my devotions, a general ‘thank you’ to the spirits. However, I regularly only did two devotions out of five (work)days, so was a lagging in the daily aspect of the devotions. August was also Summerland, and I did Ian’s spirit ally workshop and gained an ally. All I could tell was that it was a spirit of the night and a spirit of shadow, like the shadows formed by a bright moon. And it wanted a stick of incense every First Quarter moon (I also went to the First Quarter moon ritual.)

By September, I was reporting feelings of calm and peacefulness when doing my devotions and meditation. Before doing the DP, I felt awkward and out of sync during meditation. However, I was also considering changing my devotional practice. I was considering which elements to discard, like the Fire and Water Focusing, and which elements I would add, like opening the gates. Near the end of the month, I created my mini-ADF rite. I took a breath, did the 2P, praised the Earth Mother, said some words to ‘open the gates,’ then praised each kindred, then asked for a single omen (since I was still learning the runes), and then went backwards. I give offerings of steel cut oats for each being. This skips certain important figures in an ADF rite, but I felt like I did the important parts. I also experimented with certain phrases to praise each being, which I recorded in the journals. However, I was unhappy with how long this took, since it added five minutes and I could barely manage 2 days a week, let alone every day.

In October, I was still doing the short devotions and then the once-a-week mini ritual. I felt weird about ‘opening’ the gates without an actual gatekeeper, so early in the month I asked for the assistant of any gatekeeper who was willing to help in a weekly rite. And I after taking the omen, I decided to do a second meditation. I was secretly hoping for a vision, closing my eyes, and taking deep breaths. And eventually I saw a bear. It was walking through the snow and the snow was falling all around so I couldn’t see it well. The bear was walking on my left and on my right, in tandem with the bear, was a human. Somehow, I could see their face: it was tanned and round; they worse a hood with thick fur. I thought perhaps it was a man, but I couldn’t be sure. I thanked the kindreds for the vision, and then ‘went backwards’ in order to end the rite. It took 25 minutes. I researched it and found the beards were considered an ancestor in Russian mythology. And I learned about Artio, who I had made a clay statue for as a child. So I decided this bear was the gatekeeper I had asked for.

And in November, I repaired my relationship with Odin, so my meditation set up changed a bit again. But I have to give the backstory for this: I felt Odin’s presence a lot in Dec of ’17. I was cleaning my room and my mind wanders when I do that, so I guess I went into a kind of trance state. I kept looking at one of my favorite trinkets (a statue of a woman with two wolves at her side) and kept thinking that she was ‘the daughter of Odin’ for some reason. It got to the point where I braided my hair and had the thought that I was the daughter of Odin. And to make it even weirder, I heard coyotes in the backyard, so I went out to look and I found two of them running back and forth together, basically dancing. I late looked for any daughters Odin had in the lore, but there aren’t any, as far as I can find. I kind of feel that this, in a strange way, was Odin claiming me as a devotee. But I wasn’t sure. Then in February some medical issues came to light and I was very worried. And in meditation I saw a wolf falling, but I also had a strong sense that ‘this was not Ragnarök,’ aka not the end. And it was true: in the end, I had my surgery, and everything went smoothly.

Despite this connection and this helpful prophesy, I was still unsure. In May I admitted to him that I was nervous about wearing his symbols or even saying I was a flower of Odin. There is a lot of appropriation as well as racism in Heathenry, and Odin-worship is prevalent among those groups. My own great-grandpa’s brother was a Nazi officer, so these things weigh heavily on my conscience. And I also didn’t have this conversation in a proper way. I didn’t take an omen and I didn’t do a meditation, so I didn’t give him the chance to respond.

Unsurprising to me now, I stopped hearing from him. But I was still aware that I wasn’t hearing from him; I didn’t just forget it. And it bothered me that I couldn’t seem to find him. At that time, I started reading Diana Paxson’s book, Odin. I didn’t do that practical work, I just read through it. During Summerlands, I asked a seer what Odin wanted from me and she (or I guess he) said “everything.” And during another ritual I was hit by the sudden thought: “I should pour out a whole bottle of mead at the tree (in the neighborhood) to apologize to Odin.” I thought on that thought for a while and realized that I had offended him in May and that if I did want to have any relationship with him, I was going about it the wrong way.

This brings me back to my mediation in November. I did my mini ritual at the oak tree in my neighborhood in broad daylight. I offered all the mead and I explained what I did wrong and that I would buy a valknut necklace. And I said I would do a devotion to him on Wednesdays where we could actually talk about what we each wanted out of this relationship. I took a rune and got Pertho, which means uncertainty. But I took that as a sign that Odin was willing to give me a chance.

So I added a meditation piece to my weekly devotion. I met Odin in a log cabin in the forest every week in November. Two of those weeks I was traveling, so it was hard to focus, but I took my time reimagining the forest and the cabin and that helped ground me. On both traveling weeks I had a small cup, a small candle, and a stick with the Kindreds.

In December I did receive my valknut pendant and I really like it. It is simple, not like some macho designs you see in Heathen jewelry. I continued to do Wednesday meditations through all of December. I realized I had done about three weeks more meditation than I needed to just before I took my Dedicant Oath.

I feel that over the course of the year, I went from not have a good experience with meditation to gaining more understanding and experience of meditation. I also think I worked through why ADF has certain things in its ritual order and how those pieces help a ritual (particularly opening the gates). I have also gained personal experience with all three of the Kindreds. I had struggled in the past to connect to certain gods and to my ancestors. I hadn’t even tried the spirits. So I have also broadened the scope of who I communicate with. And while I couldn’t do daily devotions, I am happy with the outcome of this year-long experiment: my weekly devotional rituals.

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