Journeying to the Runes – Part 4: Nauthiz

While normally, I don’t go into detail about these journeys, the words that Nauthiz spoke to me require a bit of context to understand. So please, let me tell you a story.

Crow, my guide through this world, led me to a village – the people were upset, some crying. A large fire had been built near the fields – which were rather empty. I asked an older man, the first person I came across, what had happened. “The crops did not thrive after the hail came, and many of the young ones are now sick. We’ve built the need-fire, so the gods can hear our pleas.”

I asked to be taken to one of the children and was led to a little boy, maybe 7 or 8 years old. I laid my hands upon his head and sung a song of power (that centered around Nauthiz) and when I had finished I knew he would be well. As I left the small house with the boy sleeping inside, the people of the village kept stopping me – to thank me or to ask me to help their children. I knew however that I needed to speak with the need-fire.

I approached the need-fire and asked if there was a rune spirit. It said:

I am Nauthiz, and here you have seen my power.
Though these people felt they had no power
They realized the on thing that can always do – seek help.
And you have seen the other aspect of me –
For it was through you that aid and hope have been given to these people.

I turned around and the village cheered me as I left for the aid I’d given.

And truly, I believe this aspect of Nauthiz – the giver of aid – is so often overlooked. It is a great gift of Nauthiz that we see the ties that bind and can call out to have them cut; sometimes we can accomplish this ourselves, but other times we need the help of others. Sometimes we are but instruments of healing and I am honored whenever I am chosen for this role.

A Bellydancer’s Ramadan

Blessed Lughnasadh! That, however, is not the holiday I’m here to talk about today. Rather Ramadan is the topic of the day (of the month, even) and how it factors into my bellydance community.

For those unfamiliar with the month of Ramadan – it is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calender, so it changes dates every year. To the Muslim community, it is a month of fasting from sun-up to sun-down. Chapter 2, Revelation 185 of the Quran states:

The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.

Because bellydance comes out of the myriad of cultures in the Middle East, many dancers choose to respect the month of Ramadan in some way or another. The most common practice that I’m familiar with is abstaining from performances, particularly paying gigs (this is what my troupe does). I think perhaps it’s better to think of it as abstaining from public performances – we still dance together and perform at bellydance community events (haflas and the like) but not for the public at large. No fairs or stages, but rather dancing for dancers – coming together as a community to celebrate what we do for ourselves and for each other. If for Muslims Ramadan is a time for introspection and improvement, perhaps that is what we dancers should focus on as well.

And how do I, as a Pagan feel about this? Just fine. All too often we (as a society) get caught up in fighting for what we believe in and trying to keep it pristine. I think some inclusiveness and experience is a far better practice. “Fasting” within the bellydance community for the month of Ramadan makes sense – and it’s not a requirement. Some dancers/communities pay no attention while others simply acknowledge it and go about their business. To each their own. Personally, I feel my life is enriched by “observing” Ramadan in this fashion.

P.S. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about Lughnasadh – Enjoy my favorite jam for this Sabbat:

Journeying to the Runes – Part 3: Berkana and Tiewaz

Tiewaz and Berkana are the first two runes of the third aett. I have always experienced these two runes as having a deep connection. In fact, on this particular journey I was first brought to Berkana who led me to Tiewaz; stating that I should experience them together. Even now I’m not exactly sure how these two are connected, at least it’s difficult to put into words. To me, they are perfect compliments – not opposites. Exploring this connection will be the focus for another journey.

My tattoo of Tiewaz and Berkana

I am Berkana, and you know me well,
The strength and grace of your foremothers;
The growth and renewal of spring time.
Come to me and be nourished and filled,
To learn the truth of interdependence,
For nothing can truly survive alone

I am Tiewaz, the spiritual warrior.
I am more then simple honor-I am more then
Having a code of ethics. I am having one
And sticking to it. I am the laws and orders

Of the Universe present in humanity.

Journeying to the Runes – Part Two: Isa

I’d mentioned a while back that I was starting to journey to meet the spirits of the Runes – and I’ve been continuing to do that. I haven’t really been sure how to share what I’ve encountered, but I do feel that it is, in part necessary – and now, even though some of these journeys happened 6 months ago, is the time to begin sharing. For the record, my journeys are not recounted here in full – only that which I’ve been called to share.

My second journey took me to Isa:

I am Isa – the cold biting ice…
I am the serenity of stillness,
A quiet retreat from which all possibilities are born.
I hold the patterns of all things…
A pause with the promise of the continuation of the cycle
Like the pause between inhale and exhale.

Icicle – Isa in nature

Clearly, Isa is making reference Niflheimr – the primordial ice, the proto-matter of the world. Also, Isa speaks of the importance of its place among the Futhark. It is the pause before continuation of Jera and the stillness after the chaos and disruption of Hagalaz and Nauthiz. Isa also holds the patterns of all things – look to the Runes, all of which are composed of lines and many composed abound a main stav.

Profound Fair Moment

We Lovely Dozen have a bit of a history with the county fair – a history of not totally awesome, to be more exact.

Last year, we were invited to perform only to discover the day of our set that we’d been moved to an uncovered stage – in the rain. We decided to take our show back to our dance home for anyone who wanted to join us. So when we found out Wednesday that we’d been invited to dance again (today, actually), we were understandably a bit on edge.

With good reason.

Not a photo from today, but me in the same outfit (more or less).

We were indoors this time around, in a space with an asphalt floor, no sound system, and (kinda terrible) echoes. Also, it was a building at the fair – lots of coming and going, shouting and crying (next to the face painting for the kids). Complaining about our dance space, however, is not the purpose of this post.

After our set, which ended with an audience participation song, we had a little girl (maybe 5) come up to us with her mother. We tried to get her to dance, but as little folks often are, she was too shy to move. The look in her eyes as we danced was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time. She then wanted a picture with the “pretty girls”!

Moments like this stick with me. I remember reading some time ago in some book by Scott Cunningham (perhaps Living Wicca?) the idea of seeing the Divine in the eyes of children as they explore the world, as they learn, as they grow. And it is beautiful.

Speaking of dancing and children – another song I’m very much loving at the moment:

 

Waking Up

This week has been full of nothing but wake-up calls. It figures that this would happen around Midsummer – the time when the earth is fully awake and totally alive.  Aside from these clear signs to pay attention, Spirit is also giving me a big push, energetically speaking, to move forward – onward and upward, shifting and changing – GO!

Speaking of Midsummer – we here in the Midwest were treated to a different version of the solstice then usual. Generally, it’s a hot sunny day; great for really feeling the fire of the sun, the power of the Sun God. Today, however, was rainy in the morning and stormy in the evening – a different sort of power, but power nonetheless. Washing away any stubborn bits of the past season (of the earth and your life, of course) and leaving a ready field for new growth.

P.S. This is my Midsummer jam this year.

The “Dancer Statement” – or how Tarot can word things better than I can

I’ll be auditioning next weekend for a newly forming bellydance troupe. Generally speaking a standard audition – small choreography to show, the “pop quiz”, and a small teaching demonstration. One thing that really stands out is this: “A 300-500 word personal statement on why you bellydance, what you believe you could bring to a Troupe, and how you could characterize yourself as a performer.”

Ain’t that a task! We don’t often take the time to sit down and really figure out why we do what we do – and we should. As I first began to think about who I am as a dancer, a wonderful metaphor came into being – I am the Magician and the High Priestess. These figures come from the Tarot and refer to two different important archetypes. The Magician is the creator of his/her own reality, confident, logical, and stable. The High Priestess embodies the unconscious – intuitive, non-linear, and mystical. As a dancer, I am both the creator and the creative, in the very same moment.

I then realized that 1 – that’s not 300-500 words and 2 – that doesn’t make much sense to the non-Tarot-inclined. But why shouldn’t I use the Tarot to help me flesh out the statement I’m really trying to get at?

I couldn’t think of a good reason either. I decided on a simple three card spread; giving each position a question to address:

Why do I dance: 6 of swords
Why is dance important: 7 of wands
Who am I as a dancer: the Star

Why do I dance: 6 of swords – I dance to transform emotions into power – the power to captivate and influence and inspire. In dancing, I allow myself to express things that the logical mind has no words for.

Why is dance important: 7 of wands – Dance has always been and should continue to be a powerful venue for creation, expression, and passion. We consciously create a space and community that fosters that exchange – we challenge each other to grow and dare and become more.

Who am I as a dancer: the Star – As a dancer, I am free to express joy and grief – and anything in between – in a purposeful and fulfilling way. I give myself the freedom to follow my own path and in doing so, unconsciously allow other to do the same.

What an insightful read! And this format could be used with just about anything: why do I teach, why do I seek out knowledge, why do I (insert job here)… I think you get the idea.