An Oath by Cord

Handfastingcord

About two weeks ago I got an email from two pagan friends of mine. They’d been married for five years, {which had been a Goth wedding bash in a torture museum on friday the 13th, ’cause they rock that way}, and now they wanted to do it all over again and renew their vows with a handfasting. A handfasting is, to put it overly simply, a pagan wedding ceremony. The couple’s hands are bound by a special cord and they speak their vows. After that, they jump over a broom, which is believed to bring fertility and good luck to the happy couple. It is a wedding before the Gods and the Elements as well as a declaration of love in front of their family and friends.

They asked me if I would do them the honour of leading the ritual and doing the actual handfasting, on friday the 13th of May. Which was a little over a week away… gulp… I was of course amazingly honoured that they asked me and dove into my treasure trove of books to put together a ritual that was personal, heartfelt and festive. After a few emails back and forth asking tons of questions I had everything I needed to write the ritual. They also asked me to weave the cords, which are the braided cord in the picture above. Black and purple as ‘their’ colours, with red, love, to bind them together.

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The happy couple and me, just before the fasting of hands.

To the day itself: we were lucky enough to have the last day of bright, sunny weather that day, so the back garden where we had our ritual, was beautifully lush green and warm. A group of the happy pagan couples friends and family had gathered, together with three other witches to celebrate their love with them. We hung out and enjoyed to almost-summer-sun while talking and mentally preparing for the ritual to come. Now, I’ve been a High Priestess for a few years now, but this was the first ritual I led with this many non-pagan people. I’ll be honest, I was a bit nervous, hoping that I didn’t overwhelm them with too much information, while at the same time explaining why we were doing what we were doing.

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The Vows

I really was a magical night and a lovely group of people to share this moment with. The couple exchanged vows, jumped over the broom and shared their first mead and cake as a married couple. After closing the circle again, we went back to our cosy nooks in the garden and feasted and talked until the sky was dark and littered with stars. Blankets came out for those who were cold and the mead flowed freely. It was warm and it was wonderful and I’m still honoured to have been a part of it. This was my first handfasting of a couple that wasn’t me and my husband and I loved it! It’s an amazing thing to acknowledge a couple’s love in this way, in front of the Gods. So again, thank you Jan and Mira, for this heartwarming honour.

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Thanking the Gods while the couple is munching cake.
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Dutch Deities for D&D pt.2

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Are you guys and gals ready for part 2 of our Dutch Deities for RPG’s series? ‘Cause here it is! Last time I gave you a quick rundown on a few Dutch deities with their corresponding alignments, domains and symbols. Quick and ready to use for your favourite pen-and-paper RPG. Today we’ll dive a little deeper into the myths surrounding these deities and why I chose these specific domains and symbols for them. So here we go!

Arcanua
There is not much that we know about this Goddess. All that was found was a bronze and enamelled statue of a rooster, standing on a leaf. The name Arcanua was on a small bronze plaque. Her name means ‘the mystical one’ or ‘the mysterious one’, which is why I linked her with the trickery domains. The back of the rooster has a hole in it, presumably to either burn oil in it or stand a candle. Of course the rooster itself has some ties to the sun and the early morning light, hence the light domain.

Arduinna
The Goddess of the Ardennes. These vast forests were even bigger back in the day, probably spanning a good part of the Netherlands as well. A statue of Arduinna was found where she was sitting on top of a boar, hence the fur and animal domain. She is similar to the Goddess Diana, a protector of the forest and its creatures.

Aulrinia
Not a Goddess, but the mythology fit too perfectly to not include her. She was a famous völva, a Germanic priestess believed to have gotten her powers from the elves, which is why I made her Elven. The völva were seers, healers and witches. The name Aulrinia is closely related to the word Alruin, which is the Dutch name for Mandrake, which explains her symbol.

Baduhenna
Of all the Dutch Gods and Goddesses, this is my favourite. Her myths tell of a fierce battle taking place in ‘the Forest of Baduhenna’, between the Frisians and the Roman oppressors. The Frisians were familiar with the terrain and managed to kill 900 Roman soldiers. Then something weird happened. The remaining Romans, filled with paranoia, killed another 400 of their own men. This gave Baduhenna a quite fierce reputation of being a Goddess of battle, war and madness.
The name Baduhenna also has some connections to the Celtic Morrigan, another Goddess of battle and madness. The suffix -henna is simply a way to note that she is female. Badu looks and sounds similar to Badb, the battlecrow. She is part of the Morrigan and is known to fly over, in crow form, and bless her favoured side of the battle, while causing confusion and fear to the other side. This is why, at least to me, Baduhenna has a strong connection to ravens, and perhaps is even an aspect of the Raven Queen from D&D’s fifth edition.

Fosite
A God/dess worshipped on the Dutch isle of Ameland. They are known both as male, under the names Fosete, Fosite and Forste, and female under the names Fosite and Fosta. Which why for this purpose they are both male and female, a duality within one deity. The name seems to be linked to the Germanic God Forsite, the God of justice and peace. Fosite had holy wells dedicated to them on Ameland, which is why their symbol is a clear drop of water. People who got water out of these wells did so without speaking. This was done both out of respect, and because they apparently were a force to be reckoned with when angered.

Hesus
The only God I could convert into an Evil alignment. The only evidence of this God has been found in France, but scholars believe that the town of Hees gets its name from this God, and therefore believe that he may have been worshipped in the Netherlands as well. In Hees there was an enormous linden tree which was probably used for human sacrifice, perhaps to this fearsome God. In 1903 the tree fell after being struck by lightning.

Hludana
In several rivers in both the Netherlands and Germany votive stones have been uncovered naming this Goddess. A few of these reference to the stones being offered up by fishing guilds that resided in the area. Quite simple and straight forward, this one!

Irmin
A God of war which was worshipped on the Dutch Veluwe. He is believed to be related to the Germanic Tyr or Tiwaz, another God of war. Possibly this God was one of the most important Patron Gods of the Saxons. The Saxons celebrated their festivals around a huge pillar called the ‘Irminsul‘, which was believed to be a symbol for the Yggdrasil or ‘World Tree’.

Jecha
Not a lot is known of this Goddess. She is a Saxon Goddess of the hunt who was worshipped in Drenthe. The name Jecha is derived from the word ‘jach’ meaning hunt. This Goddess is believed to be similar to the Goddess Diana, Goddess of the forest and hunting.

Lady Holle
This is a bit of a tough one, because this is where a lot of folklore, myth and fairytales start mixing together. In the Netherlands the tale of ‘Vrouw Holle‘ is a very popular fairytale, speaking of an enchantress who makes it snow in the world by fluffing up a pillow. She punishes laziness and rewards those who do household chores without complaint. She is thought to have connection with the before-mentioned Hludana. The brothers Grimm stated in their books on Teutonic mythology the possibility of a Germanic Goddess called Holle, Holda or Huldra. So we’re not sure if she even was a Goddess, or just a fairytale, but I think she still makes and awesome deity.

Meda
A Goddess of purity, innocence and virginity who was also called Medea. She was called upon by young daughters for protection. There is no connection with light in itself, but a vision of beauty and purity is in my mind one of goodness, healing and hope.

Nehalennia
The most famous and well-known Goddess of the Dutch pantheon. She was a Goddess who was worshipped in Zeeland and was connected to our North Sea. Dozens of votive stones dedicated to her have been found, all of them thanking this Goddess for a safe sea passage. Some of these stones were recovered in England, meaning that she was worshipped on both sides of the passage. A lot is known of this Goddess, but the most important aspects of her are that as a Seagoddess and protector of travellers.

Sandraugina
In Brabant a votive stone dedicated to this Goddess was found, sacrificed by worshippers of her temple. The stone was decorated with cornucopias and branches filled with leaves and apples. Which is why Sandraugina is thought to be a Goddess of abundance and prosperity.

Tamfana
Another difficult one. Looking at the history books, there is only one mention of the name Tamfana, which speaks of the destruction of the sanctity of Tamfana. The people there were celebrating one of their holy festivals, and were said to be too drunk to fight back. It’s not know where this sanctity was located or even if this Tamfana was a God or a Goddess, or perhaps neither. Since -fana means sanctity it’s entirely possible the name of the deity was actually Tan or Tam.
However, the people of Oldenzaal claim that this Goddess is bound to the Tankenberg, and more in particular a large stone that lies there. Some interesting myths surround this place, supposedly there was a temple dedicated to Tamfana there, where the Goddess would use a golden chalice to divine a person’s future.

Viradectis
Votive stones dedicated to this Goddess have been found in Belgium, Scotland and the Netherlands. Not a lot is known of this Goddess, but the stones have been sacrificed by the Tungri, a Germanic tribe of well known tradesmen and seafarers. They probably traded grain, which was a popular product shipped from Belgica.

So there you have it. A list of awesome Dutch Deities for you to use in your next D&D/Pathfinder/RPG session. If you have any questions or would like some more info on any of these, or other Dutch deities, feel free to let me know! Are you suddenly inspired to make a war cleric of Baduhenna or a tempest cleric of Nehalennia? I’d love to hear about it!

Dutch Deities for D&D pt.1

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the Goddess Baduhenna, Goddess of War and Madness

…and other RPGs of course! Being pagan I love reading and researching mythology. A year ago I started looking into my own countries history. I knew we worshipped the Germanic Gods here, but were there a few Gods of our own? This curiosity led to a year of study and research and, up to now, 37 Dutch Gods, and my study is far from over.

In August I needed a new character for our Pathfinder campaign after my beloved Aasimar Oracle perished. I decided on a Human Warpriest, called Noor. For her deity I chose the Dutch Goddess Baduhenna, a Frisian Goddess closely connected to Badh and the Morrigan. She is amazingly fun to play! We’re looking into D&D 5th edition, which is just amazing, and in the back of the Player Handbook there are lists of real Gods and Goddesses converted to a format usable for D&D and other RPGs. So I figured, I have all this info on Dutch Deities, why not do the same and share it with the rest of the geeks?

So here is a short list of Deities that are usable in RPG. In part 2 {coming next week find it here!} I’ll give short backgrounds on each deity’s myth and how I came to their lore. Thing is, on a lot of Dutch Deities we don’t have a lot more than the name. Take Arcanua, of Her we only found a bronze statuette of a rooster with Her name on it. In the back you can set a candle. We know Her name means ‘the mysterious’ or ‘the hidden’. Furthermore, roosters are a symbol of the dawn. Hence the Light and Trickery domains. I included two sets of domains, the first set is for D&D 5e, the second for Pathfinder. Of course you can mix and match as you please, that’s the beauty of these systems. So here you go and please, let me know what you think!

Deity

Alignment

Domains

Symbol

Arcanua, Goddess of mystery and light

CN

Light, Trickery

Animal (Feather), Sun, Trickery

A bronze rooster and golden sun

Arduinna, Goddess of woodlands

N

Nature, Life

Animal (Fur), Plant

A silver boar

Aulrinia, minor Elven Goddess of magic and prophecy

LN

Arcana, Knowledge

Knowledge, Magic, Travel

A root in the shape of a human

Baduhenna, Goddess of freedom and madness

CN

Trickery, War

Liberation, Madness

A red raven and silver moon

Fosite, both God and Goddess of peace and justice

LG

Knowledge, Life

Law, Protection

A clear drop of water

Hesus, God of vegetation and sacrifice

NE

Death, Nature

Plant, Decay

A humanoid figure hanging on a tree

Hludana, Goddess of fishing and rivers

NG

Nature

Water

A fish above a woven basket

Irmin, God of war and strength

LG

War

Strength, War (Tactics)

An Irminsul

Jecha, Goddess of woodlands and the hunt

N

Nature, Life

Animal, Luck

A simple bow and arrow

Lady Holle, Goddess of magic, winter and weaving

CG

Arcana, Tempest

Magic, Water, Weather

Three snowflakes in a triangle

Meda, Maiden Goddess of purity and light

LG

Life, Light

Healing, Sun

Three golden rays angling down

Nehalennia, Goddess of the sea and travel

N

Nature, Tempest

Protection, Travel, Water

A ship’s wheel

Sandraudiga, Goddess of prosperity and abundance

NG

Nature, Life

Healing, Luck, Plant (Growth)

A red apple with green leafy vines

Tamfana, Goddess of joy and prophecy

CG

Arcana, Knowledge

Knowledge, Magic

A golden chalice

Viradectis, Goddess of trade

N

Knowledge

Knowledge, Travel (Trade)

Three falling golden coins

As I stated before, here in the Netherlands we also worshipped the Germanic Gods, as well as some of the Norse ones. There are several names we Dutchies used for these Gods and I listed them below. So if you do decide to use the Dutch Pantheon, you can easily include the Germanic Gods for some extra flavour!

Austrōn = Ostara, Goddess of spring

Donar = Thor, God of thunder

Frea = Freya, Goddess of beauty and love

Freke = Frigg, Goddess of love and marriage

Frija = Freya, Goddess of beauty and love

Ing = Freyr, God of male virility and prosperity

Saxnot = Tiwaz/Tyr, God of law and heroic glory

Thunar = Thor, God of thunder

Weda = Odin, God of magic, prophecy and healing

Wōdanaz = Odin, God of magic, prophecy and healing

Wotan = Odin, God of magic, prophecy and healing

A note on Frigg/Freya, in myths they are so often interchangeable that scholars now believe they might be the same Goddess. They call Her Frijjō for this purpose.

So that’s it for now, see you next week for part 2!

Chocolate Bunny Ostara Ritual

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Yesterday was the Spring Equinox, the time where day and night are the same length. Us pagans call this day Ostara, a celebration similar to Easter. For a while now I’ve wanted to get back into celebrating the seasons and the pagan wheel of the year. Since spring is the time of new beginnings, this seemed a perfect place to start!

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I wanted to do something small. I love elaborate rituals in large groups, but when I’m alone, a few words are enough. I decorated my altar with a few Ostara symbols: spring flowers, eggs and most important for my ritual today; rabbits.

The rabbit is a symbol of fertility, of spring and is one of the Trickster animals. To me, the high leaps of the rabbit signify the ‘leap of faith’, of taking a chance and starting something new. This is what I wanted to focus on for this ritual. Spring is my favourite season, a season of new life and happiness, bright colours and a bit of silliness. Inspiration for this Ostara ritual came from two things: S.J. Tucker’s Rabbit Song, a song about how Trickster chose Rabbit as his animal, and a silly Lesser Banishment ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit I found online, which includes lots of sweets and jellybeans.

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For my Chocolate Bunny ritual I got a chocolate bunny {after eight minty chocolate, oh my!} which became the center of my small celebration. I called upon Mother Moon, Father Forest and the Elements for guidance and support and started by lighting the pink candle, which has been a feature in all Ostara rituals so far. I sang the Rabbit Song and blessed my Chocolate Bunny with the fertility, growth and leaps of faith of the real rabbits and took a bite. {Really, any excuse for chocolate is a good one, right?} During the day I will eat my Bunny, letting the blessings of spring flow through me and strengthen me on my path and my new venture.

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There is a new project I’ve been working on {I’ll tell you all about it later, promise!} and, since I’m a total oracle cards hoarder, wanted to lay some cards on the project. I picked one of my favourite decks for this one; the Messenger Oracle by Ravynne Phelan. I drew three cards: inspiration, action and outcome. The first one represents the inspiration, which was the card ‘follow the moon’. It told me to follow the moon’s cycle both in nature and within me. The action card was ‘seek your destiny’, which told me to not be afraid to take that next step and seek my true power and destiny. The last card was the outcome, the ‘need and necessity’ card told me that it can go either way, but if it is something I feel I need to do {and I do}, then the outcome doesn’t matter.

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I thanked the God and Goddess and the Elements and promised them to try and strengthen our connection this year. I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected to my Path and to the Gods, and it’s something that I’ve been missing. So I hope that this year I can reclaim that connection again.

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This little totem bunny was made last year from clay, after a spirit animal meditation. I still adore this little thing and wanted to show her off just a little…

How did you guys celebrate spring/Ostara/Easter? I’d love to hear!

How to: drawing the God and Goddess

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Oh my, my first tutorial! I’ve been drawing these little Gods and Goddesses for a while now, and my circle sisters kept asking me how I do it. So, yesterday I gave them a little class on how to draw the simple God and Goddess shapes, after which we painted some beautiful stones and wooden disks. Then I thought: I should make a tutorial out of this. So here you go! A small photo tutorial on how I draw the God and Goddess!

The Goddess:

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Step 1: draw a small circle, this will be the head of the Goddess.

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Step 2: draw (or visualise) two guiding lines going straight down from the side of Her head, starting where Her ears would be.

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Step 3: draw a curved line, staying within the guide lines. This will be Her boobies, waist and hips. Leave space between the head and Her torso for Her neck and shoulders, about two neck heights.

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Step 4: repeat on other side.

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Step 5: start at the top of the curved lines, Her armpits as it were, and follow the curve of the head up. You can let Her hands touch if you like, but Her arms will look way too long.

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Step 6: curve back down and form the shoulders and neck. Try to keep the arms the same width by following the outer lines back down again. {practice, practice!}

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Step 7: clean Her up a bit! And (optional) add some curves to Her boobies and a little doodle to Her belly. Tada! You’ve drawn a cute little Goddess!

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Step 8: experiment! Give Her a bigger belly by going outside of the guiding lines, make Her arms bend at the elbows a bit more, etc. etc.

The God:

GodStep1

Step 1: draw a circle again, this will be the head.

GodStep2

Step 2: draw the body. Almost a kite-shape, starting from the neck and slanting down. Round the edges a bit and flatten the base.

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Step 3: add antlers. And that’s it actually, the God is a lot easier to draw!

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Step 3.2: how I draw the antlers. First a short line curving up from the head. The second line is a longer one making a slow curve. Thirdly a short little twist from the last quarter of the second line. Simple, yet effective

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And that’s it! Now you know! Fill them with symbols to make them a specific God or Goddess, like the Goddess Baduhenna:

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Or make them really tiny and paint them on some beautiful stones to make elemental markers:

GoddessGodDoodle them, zentangle them, use them in you mandalas, oh the possibilities! I hope you enjoyed this first ever tutorial and if it inspired you to make some art of your own, I would love to see it!

Angel Altered Tin

Hello and welcome to the new year! I hope everone had lovely holidays filled with love and warmth. I know I had. Our family is sort of starting a tradition. Each year we will give each other one handmade gift, along with the bought one(s). Next few posts I will be showing you some of my handmade holiday gifts!

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The first one I want to share is the altered tin I made for my mum. She loves angels and wants to put up a little angel altar in her bedroom. When she saw the Mermaid Altered Tin I made for my friend Flava, she hinted {not so subtly} that she would love an angel themed one, so that’s what I did!

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I covered the lid of the tin in white pearl fimo and used a stamp roller to get the reliëf of the leaves. The wing was made with the same colour clay, then I added the swirls and tiny feathers in pure white and pastel blue. This was my first time attempting something like this, so I’m quite proud of how it turned out.

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My mum has a pinterest board filled with angels, so I borrowed some of the styles she liked and drew this angel. I wanted to make it look a bit like stained glass, so I added minimum shadows but used a bunch of muted blue tones. Again coloured with letraset markers of course.

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This quote is from Mary Jac, which I found through the google machine. I’m playing around with hand lettering so this was an awesome opportunity to practice! First I drew a muted rainbow in the background and stamped a few feathers with light blue ink. Then I added the lettering.

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The stone is a blue agate, which I painted on with acrylics. I blended a very soft purple and green with white to get the colours in the wings. The lines were added later with a Staedtler fineliner.

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Last, but certainly not least, a small prayer chain. The ‘skirt’ of the angel is made with acrylic flower beads while her head is genuine rosequarts. The little heart shaped pendant is the same one I tried to draw inside the tin.

She absolutely loved it and I loved making it! These little altar/altared tins are so much fun and so relaxing.

Well, my pretties, I will see you soon with more handmade holiday stuff!

 

Mermaid Altered Tin

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Last post I talked about the little Goddesses we were making for our travel altars. The Mermaidgoddess didn’t come out as I had wanted her for my Nehalennia altar, so I decided to make something else fun with her! My good friend Nikki is secretly a mermaid in disguise, so to surprise her I wanted to make a little tin ‘shrine’ for her.

MermaidboxInside

I started with the inside, glueing the mirror pendant on an ATC background and fixing that to the inside of the tin. I then wrote the text which says ‘I see and honor the Beauty, Kindness & Joy others see in me’. If she’s anything like me, and she is, she needs to remind herself of that every once in a while. On the other side I used a Sizzix die to cut out the shells. The bubbles are made with a pearl pen and the little beach is real sand with tiny shells and pearl beads.

MermaidboxFront

The front was first covered with washi tape. I embossed cardstock covered with metal tape to make the scales, which I then coloured with my trusty flexmarkers in blues and greens. The mermaid is a drawing I made especially for this project, digitized, re-scaled and coloured with flexmarkers. The little moon is also made with the pearl pen and gives a nice shimmer.

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I wanted to make a tiny offering bowl to go with the shrine, so I painted the inside of a shell with silver paint and added rhinestones and shells to make it pretty!

MermaidboxFull

When I added the little beach on the inside, I was afraid the Goddess wouldn’t fit anymore, but everything fit perfectly!

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She absolutely loved it! I gave it to her the day we went to the Kreadoe, the biggest arts-and-crafts fair of the Netherlands. We had a blast and I bought a bunch of awesome things that I can’t wait to make new stuff from!

This was the first time for me making an altered tin like this, but I loved it! I already have a pretty good idea for the next one, so stay tuned!!