A Prayer to be Said Before Travel

Laughing wind 

Smiling Wind

Carry me away

Adventure for to find

 

Kind rain

Gentle rain

Watch over my home

Until I return again. 

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This prayer goes out to the Voices on the Wind, who’s primary associations with weather lead to secondary associations with travel and communication.  I like my prayers to be simple and repeatable.  I like to whisper the prayer, or think it over and over.  This prayer could be accompanied by lighting an candle or making an offering to the Voices on the Wind.  I said this prayer the other morning before leaving for my vacation with a small offering of milk for the Voices on the Wind, then I repeated the prayer when I got to the airport, and then once again when the plane took off.  And so far the Voices seem to be with me, the flight and the drive went smoothly.  

the returning part v: the eyes in the night

(Feminine)

Night, Beauty, and Winter

Associations: Snow, Ice, Stars, The Moon, Jewelry/jewels, Makeup/glamours,

Offerings: Shiny things, Snow, ice, meltwater, anything Moon or star related, anything you use to make yourself feel beautiful.

Connecting with The Eyes in the Night has been a challenge for me, she embodies so many of the things I struggle with.  My self esteem problems cause me to constantly question my physical appearance and to doubt my beauty, both external and internal.  When I’m overly critical it is in fact the Eyes in the Night who can snap me out of it, something that even my beloved Hunter can’t always do.  She once told me the story of how she had to find her beauty, and how her beauty was not what she expected to find when she set out on her quest.

Being the goddess of Winter, ice, and cold, also puts me at odd with the Eyes in the Night.  Winter is the hardest season for me, the cold triggers something in me that causes my pain to spike, the lack of sunlight causes me to loose energy and time.  But with spring on its way in I can look back at the winter and appreciate the Winter for what it is.  I can even see the beauty in it, which is what the Eyes in the Night would want of me.  It is not just the glittering cold and sparkling ice that makes the Winter the domain of the Eyes in the Night, her first sphere of influence was the beauty of the night sky.  She is not the moon and the stars, but the celestial bodies are part of her.  They are her eyes, looking down on the world searching for beauty in the world, looking to exalt the beautiful deed or action, to praise the beautiful spirit.  The long nights of the cold months are her’s, as the long days of the summer belong to her twin brother the Lightening Struck Tree.

My search for the Eyes in the Night took me to some of the most beautiful places in the Otherworlds:  Dark caves with glittering walls, dragons’ hoards, shining cities made of glass. But also some disturbing places:  Lakes of crystal clear ice as smooth a a mirror reflecting back the endless night sky, except for the shadows of frozen sea monsters beneath your feet; a vast dark hall, where creatures from across the Otherworlds stand frozen in time, positioned by mad collectors on a depraved mission to own beauty.  Completing her Returning was a challenge in understanding beauty, braving the cold, and coming to except that her Eyes were always watching me.  In the end, it was knowing I was being watched over by countless bright eyes that brought me close to the Eyes in the Night.

 

The Returning Part VII: The Voices on the Wind

(agender)

Messenger, Wind and Weather

Associations:  Wind, storms, small birds especially sparrows, starlings, and swallows, letters, communication,

Offerings:  Candy/cookies/sweets, the envelopes of your mail, rainwater, soda/juice, feathers

Collective entities have always been hard for me to pin down and wrap my mind around, but the Voices on the Wind helped me to finally figure it out. When I first started to gather the fragments of this entity I was confused, they were so scattered and each one was so different from the other. The only thing that carried over from one fragment to the next was the movement and the whispering. Like a class full of first graders, they are constantly in motion somewhere, somehow and constantly chattering and whispering. They are the youngest of the Forgotten Ones, if they take on a physical form it is often that of a child, reflecting their youthful attitude and inability to sit still.

Much of the Voices on the Wind’s personality can be extrapolated from their role as spirit of the winds and weather, particularly the restlessness.  Just the wind is always in motion, so to are they.  They are as mercurial as the rains in early spring, and as fleeting as the first snow in October.  As they travel the world enjoying, enjoying adventures and games of let’s-pretend, they bring the weather with them.  And like any child, they’re chores can slip their mind when something distracts them, leaving some areas with droughts and others with floods and rain for weeks.  It is this wind and weather aspect that makes the Voices on the Wind a favorite of the Salt Gatherer.  The two can often be seen in each other’s company, like a grandparent taking a precocious child for an afternoon at the park.  Except the park is the coasts and oceans of the world, and instead of flying a kite the two play with thunderstorms on strings.

If the conducting of the weather is a chore for The Voices on the Wind their favorite game is being the messenger for the Forgotten Ones, carrying the voices and communications of their older siblings to listening human ears, and carrying to voices of human supplicants and believers to the other Forgotten Ones.  You can hear them sometimes, maybe you think it’s the wind through the trees, rustling, howling; it could be wind, or it could be distant thunder rolling in, it could even be the sea crashing. But, if you let the wind sweep over you, carrying away all other sound, then you can hear them. A voice, many voices, a choir singing in the wind.  Sometimes a single voice will fall out of the clamor onto a pair listening ears, and sometimes all of the voices in the world will boom as one inside an open head; both are the Voices on the Wind.

The Returning Part VI: The Bloodied One

Masculine

War, Violent Action, Honor, 

Associations:  War, Warriors/Soldiers/Armed forces, Victims of Violence, Weapons (primarily bladed), 

Offerings:  Blood offerings (carful with this one, as he finds them binding), Poppies, Red Whine, Salty food, Copper, sharp things, 

The Bloodied One is a grim entity, incredibly serious, and unendingly devoted and loyal to those he has sworn to, or who have sworn to him.   Despite this seriousness, in contrast to his sister, the Eyes in the Night, and his lover, the Lightening Struck Tree, the Bloodied One in a surprisingly social deity.  He prefers to surround himself with comrades and siblings-in-arms, favoring them with honors, glories, and protecting them from the dangers in their lines of work.    It isn’t only warriors and soldiers who can appeal to the Bloodied One, but victims a well.  Any one who has ever faced violence in their lives, any one who has spilt blood, or whose blood has been shed, can approach him and be cared for equally.  

In many ways I am still getting to know the Bloodied One, I have never really been a warrior, nor, thankfully, have I ever been a victim.  I have the deepest respect for him and those in his keeping, and with a number of veterans and active servicepersons in my family I pray constantly  to him on their behalf.  I hope to become more familiar with the Bloodied One, his bailiwick being so crucial to the world we live in currently.   

It was easy to find the pieces of the Bloodied One, though his reassembly was no mean feat.  There are a number of great battle fields in the Otherworlds, and arenas of blood sport, places where the earth was once soaked with blood where the fragments and shards of his essence fled to when they could hold together no more. Once collected these fragments had to be cleaned, rust scoured away, dried blood soaked out of cloth and scraped from metal.  Once clean, the shards of the Bloodied One fit together like armor, like battle gear, to form the complete entity. 

 

(This is a little out of order from what I posted on Tumblr, I’ve been so bad at keeping up on wordpress, but I’m going to try a shift my focus a little to be more balanced.  Tumblr is kind of pissing me off)

The Returning Part V: The Story Teller

( genderfluid)

Stories, Trickster, Knowledge

Associations: Keys, poetry, proses, stories, history, ink black and paper white, brass and copper metals,

Offerings:  Spoken stories or poems, burnt stories or poems, deep red wine, chocolate.

The Story Teller is the Forgotten One that is the hardest to write about.  The only fact that can be stated about the Story Teller is that she is constantly in flux, constantly changing, shaping himself to fit the story that ze is telling.  Her appearance changes, his personality changes, and as you may have noticed their gender and sex changes, all at seemingly random.  Sometimes the species of the Story Teller changes to fit the part as well.  The only way to consistently identify the Story teller is by the key that it wears around whatever short of neck it has at the time.

The key was not originally a symbol the Story Teller associated with zirself, prior to the Returning he didn’t have any symbol.  He is the chronicler of the Forgotten Ones, who kept in zir memory all of the stories and adventures of the pantheon.  In this role the she proved to be integral to my completion of the Returning, and my understanding of the relationships between the 10 other spirits.  I was the one who likened the them to a key used to unlock an ancient library, and the symbol stuck.

Together with the childlike Voices on the Wind, the Story Teller is also the one who keeps the joy and laughter in the Forgotten Ones, with tricks and jokes, and good-natured mischief.  His constantly shifting shape lends itself to mistaken identities and jests and pranks worthy of harlequins.

With the exception of the Hunter (who let’s be honest here, is the exception to pretty much everything in my life) the Story Teller was the only Forgotten One to seek me out.  After I had passed the ordeals to Return the Stonecutter I took a small vacation, throughout the whole process of Returning the first four Forgotten Ones I had learned things about myself that I hadn’t expected to.  I retried to my Gallery, which contains the remnants of my past lives as books and statues, to remind myself of who I was.  The Story Teller found me there, she had fared slightly better than his siblings, and told me some of the stories ze remembered, the first myths of the Forgotten Ones that I learned.

I decided that the Story Teller needed to be the next Forgotten One to be Returned, I needed to wealth of knowledge they possessed, knowing more about the remaining spirits would make finding and reassembling their fragments much easier.  I found parts of hir wherever a story was told or knowledge was passed:  In libraries, museums, and bookstores, around campfires, at bedsides, and where ever tales are told to pass the time and to keep out our fears.

The Returning Part IV: The Stonecutter

(Male)

Crafts/invention, strength, and trials

Associations: Non-precious stones or metals, grey colors, Winter, handicrafts and skills.

Offerings: Sweat, any object you made by have, a dedicated tool, time set aside to make things in his name, oatmeal, bacon.  (Don’t ask why but he really likes bacon sandwiches)

I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling where your hands just itch with the need to create something, to take raw materials and make something that wasn’t there before.  When I get this feeling I like to think of it as Stonecutter being in my hands.  He is the craft spirit, the inventor and smith spirit of the forgotten ones.  It was he who shapes the arrowheads for the Hunter and the Huntress, who creates the dagger and the axe for the Bloody One, and the plowshare and the sickle for the Fallen Grain.

Shaping stone from raw cortex into a tool or weapon is an incredibly difficult task; it takes strength, precision, and perseverance.  Not only must the stone be struck at exactly the right angle to produce a flake, which can be made into a useful shape, but also it needs to be struck hard enough that the flake comes off in one piece but not quite so hard that it causes the flake to shatter.  Is this kind of exact, measured, perfectly placed strength that Stonecutter embodies, the practiced strength of a craftsman.

The Stonecutter also embodies the concept of trials:  As a trial and error, as well as trials and test.  It is through the process of trial and error that most creations and inventions come to be.   The act of creation is also in and of itself a test, a trial, and an ordeal.   Something is forced from your hands; something takes shape where there was nothing before.

The Stonecutter was possibly the hardest of the Forgotten Ones to return, every step was an ordeal.  The fragments of a Forgotten One scattered when they were broken apart, and each piece drifted to a place of importance to that particular entity.  For the Fallen Grain they could be found in gardens and fields, markets and flower shops, across the Otherworlds, the pieces of the Woman with the Mammoth Head were found mostly in caves and plains, or near herds of Otherworldly animal spirits.  For the Stonecutter the places his fragments gravitated towards were hard to reach, atop mountains, deep in mines, and once in the heart of an active volcano.  I had to chip away obsidian and flint to reveal fragments, I had had to grind down slate with sand and water, and hollow out soapstone with a stick.  Exactly as the Stonecutter would have done.

The Returning Part III: The Fallen Grain

(female)

Plant mother, harvest, agriculture, minor connotations of cooking and hospitality, Mate of the Woman with the Mammoth Head

Associations: green and gold colors, plant life (especially grains/fruits/vegetables) spring, summer, and September.  Abundance,

Offerings:  baked goods, fresh fruit/vegetables, fruit juices, wheat and wheat-byproducts, fruit pies

 

The Fallen Grain is a fairly quiet type of entity; she’s laid back, calm for the most part, and loving.  While her Mate the Woman with the Mammoth Head gave birth to the animals the Fallen Grain gave birth to the plant life of the world, from the grass to the trees.  Above all the Fallen Grain loves the plants that can be cultivated.  In contrast to the Hunter and the Huntress, who are at their hearts wild, the Fallen Grain is willing, and often pleased, to lay her offspring down in the straight lines of a furrowed field, or within the bounds of a garden.  She sees this order as the best way to care for her beloved plants.  She is not the Earth, but rather the flash of light that causes the tiny sprouts to shoot up from the loamy soil.

The Fallen Grain is the closest to a domestic or home and hearth entity among the Forgotten Ones, she loves her fields, her garden, and her orchards.  She also loves harvesting from these and distributing their gifts to those around her, whether this is in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, baked goods, or bouquets of flowers, even baskets of firewood for cold winter nights. 

It took me a long time to come to understand the Fallen Grain; I don’t like doing as I’m told or falling into line.  But working with her showed me that the Wildwood isn’t always the best place for things to grow.  She taught me that some things need not just tending, but order, to survive.  I associate her very strongly with my Norwegian-American family and ancestors, who for generations have been farmers in North Dakota.  There is a tender touch that she has with young plants that I have seen in my farmer uncle and my gardener aunts. 

Returning the Fallen Grain took me to places in this world and the Otherworld that I usually spend little time in.  I began in woods and meadows, finding the parts of her associated with trees, undergrowth, moss, and wildflowers.  But then there were farms, gardens, even window boxes, where I found fragments of her in seeds, bulbs, flowers and fruit.  Reassembling the fragments was less like putting together the pieces of a puzzle and more like plowing a field, planting wheat or corn, and then shaping the grown crop into an image.