All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

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Lay down before you the tools you will need:
the hammer, the dagger, the horn, the bottle of mead,
the salt, the candle ready to be lit,
they keys and the handful of soil, rich as you could find,
best from an ancestor’s grave if you can;
lastly your own blood, so freshly drawn
it has not yet begun to clot.

Best to perform this rite in secrecy;
behind a locked door, at the least,
or deep in the forest, shielded by old oaks and ash trees.
On the bank of a raging river,
or as close to the top of a mountain
as you can climb;
unhallowed eyes have no place watching you now.

You must be clean to perform this work;
the gods and the spirits will know
if shadows lay down alongside your soul,
and then what you intend will be for naught;
you will fail.

Do not undertake this working lightly;
you need not wear a funereal visage,
but whatever it is you seek to achieve
will find no aid in giggles.

When you are ready to begin,
fix in mind your purpose and your need,
all that has brought you here;
do not let your thoughts wander.
For focus is the final tool you bring to this rite,
and without it, all your efforts are for nothing.

Show respect to those you bespeak,
gods and spirits and ancestors,
for they are greater than you
–yes, they are–
even the smallest of them knows things
you have yet to learn,
and if you mock them, dismiss them,
or deal with them with derision,
you will never learn those things–
at least, not from them.

Above all, remember:
this is holy work,
not for dullards or the vain, or the jeering;
there is a place in this work for the holy fool,
but the key word there is ‘holy’,
not ‘fool’.

When you have finished, do not forget gratitude;
thank those whose aid you have asked for,
and do not be too impatient.
Some works take longer to carry out than others,
and do not forget:
sometimes you will ask a question,
request a favor,
and for reasons we may never understand,
the answer can still be ‘no’.

If this is the case, do not be disheartened;
remember that those we entreat
know more than we do,
and perhaps they do not grant our requests
to save us from something far worse,
down the line.
Many times, it has been so.

Pack away your tools,
clean up the spot where you have performed
this most holy ritual,
and go back, for the moment,
to the task of living your life
until it is time for the next rite
to be carried out.


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Observation about the afterlife

You know…for all that I am fulltrui to Odin, I am not expecting to go to Valhalla when I die, and that is for the simple fact that I am not a warrior. The idea of fighting and dying every day only to get up the next day and do it all over again sounds like my definition of the Christian Hell. I’m a rapidly-approaching-elderly housewife with some poetic skill, and I’ll be just fine with a warm bench in one of Hela’s quieter halls.

Combat isn’t everything, and sometimes honor can be found places other than at the sharp end of a sword.

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Learning Curve

We start out with the gods by knowing nothing,

and that is the beginning of our education.

Many of us start out with books,

good ones if we’re lucky,

bad ones when we’re not.

Sometimes we pick up good information

on the gods and goddesses,

but sometimes we come away

with our heads filled with lies and rumors and bias.

To this, again if we’re lucky,

we add personal experience

in all its many forms:

Sometimes they talk to us.

Sometimes we hear them,

and sometimes we do not.

When we hear them,

sometimes we actually listen,

and sometimes we do not.

When we hear, and listen,

sometimes we speak back to them

…and sometimes we do not.

Talking with the gods is generally considered prayer,

but prayer can take many forms:

music and song, dance, feasting and offerings,

joy and laughter and tears,

and sometimes, reverent silence.

However long we revere and venerate them,

we learn more,

and more,

and more.

And the more we learn,

the more we realize

that there is always more to learn,

that there will always be more to learn,

that the task never ends–

and that is the beginning of our knowledge.

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This, then, is what I have given all of You:

All my words—the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime;

All the ways of stitching them together:

The awkward, the graceful, the singing;

All I think about, with a few small exceptions:

(My family, the spirits, the land and its sovereignty,

its well-being, and the last tiny dregs of things that make me smile.)


Once upon a time, I wrote nothing of the gods,

and all my words were of worldly things.

These days, I can write only of the gods,

(and my ancestors, and the spirits, and the land),

and nothing of worldly matters at all.

This, then, is my sacrifice to You:

For a very long time now, You have had my life;

Now, I give you my heart.

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I can’t always make sense of the voices in my head–

whispering, commanding, shouting, crying,

and all of them always overlapping.

They all always want something,

a voice to tell the world their stories,

their needs,

their anger,

and I’m happy to be that voice.

There’s nothing for me in their need,

but I don’t need there to be:

I’m not in it for gain or glory,

and even writing that down smacks of hubris, to me–

that I could dare to say

I let the gods speak through me.

What arrogance, to claim to speak for the divine,

though it is less pride and more

that I see myself only as a tool:

a megaphone, a mouthpiece, an intercom,

no more than that, and easy enough to replace

if I break down, misbehave,

or taint anything they say

with my own bias or words.

I do not speak for the gods;

rather, they allow me to serve them–

even more, they use me like

I might use a hammer to drive a nail

to hang a picture on the wall,

and I am content to be of use,

though it is often

confusing, distracting, worrying, fearful,

and sometimes even painful.

But I would not give it up for anything,

though sometimes I think it will drive me mad;

I know how blessed and privileged I am,

to be able to hear their voices

–and with such clarity–

when so many others can hear none of them,

and if I am sometimes overwhelmed,

it is a small price to pay

to know they exist, to be of use to them,

and to know that what I do

reaches others

and makes Them happy.

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I know full well the Gods do not need me.

They don’t require my devotion to exist;

my faith, my prayers,

are not Their meat and bread,

and my tears of pious joy

are not Their wine.

If anything, it is the opposite:

How could I live without They who made me,

who crafted my body,

who formed my soul,

who gave me sense and thought and breath?
How could I move, speak, sing without Their gifts,

or without Their Will?

It is They who created me,

guide me,

sustain me,

and to whom I will eventually go

–when my allotted time here, decided by Them–

is at an end.

No more of this foolish and ignorant fable

that They would die out without our prayers;

They existed for eons before They made us,

and They will continue long after we are all dust.

It is a joy and a privilege to serve,

but the Gods do just fine on Their own.