#Norsevember: My Thoughts on The Runic Tarot

Posted in Norsevember, Runes, Tarot on November 30, 2021 by Occult Detective

And so Norsevember comes to a close. What better way to end the month long celebration than with a review of the Runic Tarot Kit from Llewellyn Books/Lo Scarabeo?

Norse mythology meets tarot; this is the deck that the Pagan community has been eagerly awaiting. Based on the gods and mythology of the Norse, the Runic Tarot is the ultimate divination deck for connecting with Valhalla, the realm of the gods. The powerful art is imbued with a fierce, ancient aura as it weaves together the wisdom of the runes, the poetry of the Skalds, the valor of the Einherjars, and the evergreen bounty of life and nature. This reading deck pays tribute to the divine spark within humanity, calling out to everyone who feels the pull of the ancient Norse ways.

Boxed kit (5½ x 8¼) includes a 78-card deck and guidebook

What a description! Yes, that is the deck I have been waiting for. Let’s see if it delivers…

At first glance, my goodness, what an impressive product. The publisher really goes all out, with the magnetic box containing a beautifully rendered deck and tarot booklet. I mean, this is a really sharp design, just beautifully put together.

The art is spectacular, and from that standpoint alone, I find it well worth the price… but, I do have issues. From a divination standpoint, obviously, any heathen would turn to the runes over this deck. As a lifelong tarot enthusiast, however, I longed for a tarot style heathen deck. Does this fulfill that desire? Unfortunately, it falls short.

There are just some odd choices. The most dramatic for me, that leapt out as soon as I flipped through the cards, was not having Odin represented on The Hanged Man. A central tenet of his character, to not find him there is…curious.

This lead me to being more mindful of the imagery and runic connections, and in this, I found other curious omissions and misrepresentations.

The Runic Tarot is filled with missed opportunities.

While it’s obvious the publisher spared no expense — they produced a beautiful and artful product — the creators, talented, without question, failed to do their proper homework. Someone well versed in heathenry should have been involved with this.

I am torn. I really want to recommend this deck. There are some many things to love about it, but it is misleading and just not representative of the faith I call my own.

I’m afraid we’re still waiting on a proper heathen tarot.

Perhaps I’ll try my hand at it in the coming months.

Maybe you’d like to try the deck out yourself? Here’s the amazon link. Maybe I’m too close to the heart of it?

Three for Thursday: #Norsevember #Survival

Posted in Bushcraft, Norsevember, Wyrd on November 18, 2021 by Occult Detective

I’ve always been fascinated by bushcraft, living (not just surviving but thriving) off the land. I love to build lean-tos, traditional woodland shelters, and, when I was a younger man, I did a lot of winter camping. I was never keen on lugging a tent about, preferring to utilize my natural surroundings.

So, with Norsevember upon us, I was thinking about what items would be most essential for a man (or woman) who was headed out into the bush. So whether you’re talking 1000 years ago or tomorrow, what do I view as essential gear, if I can only snatch three items?

THREE
FIRE

Fire is essential so you absolutely HAVE to have some means of building one, be it through a lighter, matches, or, a ferro rod, or, better yet, all of the above. I carry a fire source with me AT ALL TIMES. Just in case.

TWO
HATCHET

A good hatchet is a versatile tool and just generally an all around handy thing to have in the wild. From building a shelter to chopping and splitting wood to hacking up game or brush, this is something I lean on heavily. I am always shocked when I don’t see this on an essential gear list.

ONE
KNIFE

So, I carry on my person AT ALL TIMES, not one, but two knives: an Old Timer three blade pocket knife and a 9 inch Old Timer Cave Bear lock blade. I don’t know about you, but I use a knife nearly every single day in some way or another.

#Norsevember You Give a Little, You Get a Little

Posted in Norsevember, Wyrd on November 17, 2021 by Occult Detective

The following is repurposed, but perhaps more timely:

“You know why things happen? Because gods make them happen. You wanna know how to make good things happen? Be good to your god. You give a little, you get a little. The simplicity of that bargain has always been appealing.” — Mr. Wednesday, American Gods

[On July 1, 2017], I posted a quote from Janet Farrar, excerpted from an interview she and Gavin Bone gave to Pagan Pages a small handful of years back. It read, simply, “…the most important teachers are yourself and the Gods.

I believe there is a balance there, between ourselves and the gods we honour. Far too often, we sway too heavily toward one or the other, and in many cases, the gods we learn from are inappropriate to our advancement as both human and spiritual beings.

I’m thinking now of these new constructs, the gods of media, commerce, conservatism, and liberalism, and what have you.

But it’s possible to be misaligned to the old gods as well, be they pagan, heathen, one of the Abrahamic faiths, or some other flavor.

How we approach the gods is important, and our minds, bodies, and spirits must be aligned.

Obviously, the majority are led to their faith by their parents, who in turn were led by their parents, and so on, but the past century has seen a change in this. More and more, people are opening up their hearts and minds to more possibilities.

I attended a Presbyterian church as a child, not by choice, but by parental edict. The God of Abraham never spoke to me, even when I was an impressionable youth. My heart always leaned toward the gods of my more ancient ancestors.

Making a connection to the gods is important to our spiritual growth, but it one that must be taken with great care. Trust your instincts and be open to change. More importantly, be honest with yourself.

There is a vast multiverse that stretches out across the heavens, brimming with incalculable realms of divine and infernal beings. Somewhere, out there, amongst their number is a voice calling to you.

All you have to do is listen… and answer.

You’ve Been Warned

Posted in Yuletide on November 12, 2021 by Occult Detective

#Norsevember: Loki & Sigyn by Lea Svendsen (Available for Pre-Order)

Posted in Book Review, Norsevember on November 10, 2021 by Occult Detective

This captivating book takes you deep into the infamous legacy of Loki and his wife Sigyn. As a controversial and misunderstood figure in Heathenry, Loki is often approached with trepidation. But this book introduces you to his true self: a trickster, but a devoted husband and creative problem-solver, too. You’ll also learn about Sigyn, the often forgotten goddess of loyalty and compassion.

Join Heathen author Lea Svendsen on a rich exploration of these two Norse deities, together and separate. Discover their adventures in parenthood, their complicated relationships with other gods, and the entertaining exploits that only a trickster can accomplish. Learn how to set up an altar to each of them, what offerings they like, and how to perform rituals. You’ll also find insights on Loki and Sigyn from Pagan and Heathen leaders.

In February, 2022, Llewellyn will release Lea Svendsen’s Loki and Sigyn: Lessons on Chaos, Laughter & Loyalty from the Norse Gods. I received an Uncorrected Proof from the publisher a few weeks back, and I am happy to, finally, be able to release my thoughts on it. I’ve had some definite ups and downs of late, battling various infections from a cocktail of anti-and probiotics, and while still not over the proverbial hump, I didn’t want to put this off any longer.

The short of it is, this is a book you’ll want to digest, particularly if you are a heathen leaning pagan, although there is plenty in this book for anyone with a perchance for magick. I was, admittedly, unfamiliar with the author so cannot verify the authenticity of her biography, but it is certainly colorful.

The fact is, any book that deals with heathenry is fraught with peril. So very little of the culture has survived to modern times, and much of what is available to us has been tainted by Christian hands. Loki in particular.

The author does an admirable job of navigating these tumultuous waters. Where scholarship fails us, she intuits Loki and Sigyn’s roles. Svendsen’s relationship with the gods, and with Loki and Sigyn in particular, is front and center. She does not shy away from her attempts to connect and understand beyond what little academia has been able to bring to the table.

Her writing style is comfortable and relaxed. She writes with confidence, but in a very folksy way that comes across less of a teacher/student interaction, but more like a helpful neighbor. This, I think, is a strength in this particular work, where so little is known and in need of reconstruction with but the barest of bones to work with.

The book is short, but covers a wide breadth, from Lore to an exploration of American Heathenry and how conversion baggage lingers. You’ll also find chapters on clergy, rituals, and the like, all thoughtful (and largely speculative), but with a passionate air that defines the uncharted territory that we have been forced into due to the desecration of our ancestral faith.

I am waning. The medicines are taking their toll on me, so let me, in summation, acknowledge that I found Lea Svendsen’s work a valuable asset. And while I do not agree with her, whole-cloth, in terms of her interpretation of Loki, and to a lesser degree, Sigyn, I do appreciate her devotion and forthrightness.

Loki is a complex character, as tricksters tend to be. For a culture built on storytelling, how could he be anything less than everything to the skald’s who spin their yarns with him at the story’s core.

Loki and Sigyn: Lessons on Chaos, Laughter & Loyalty from the Norse Gods by Lea Svendsen is available for preorder for only $16.99, well worth the price of admission. It includes are Foreword by Mortellus, author of Do I Have to Wear Black?: Rituals, Customs & Funerary Etiquette for Modern Pagans which is an added bonus.

While I felt the book had its faults, I was honored to read it… and I think you will too.

#Norsevember: A Heathen is as a Heathen does

Posted in Norsevember on November 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

I grew up on the banks of Turkey Creek surrounded by towering Ash trees. If you were to drive there today, you would find them all dead, the land overgrown and untended. True also of my favorite stomping grounds, the haunted Mississinewa forest, now a sea of dead ash. A lot of those ash were planted to replace the elms that died one hundred years previous. Both trees succumbed to diseases spread, inadvertently, from Asia. As went the ash and elm, symbols of our Northern Folk, it is not lost on me how too our heritage struggles to maintain balance in these modern times.

I think it is important to embrace one’s culture, one’s roots. But as the ash borer laid low the ash, it seems that to speak of one’s cultural heritage, to try and revive that which was lost due the systematic dissection of our cultural folkways by invading crusaders, is saddled with labels such as white supremacy, racism, and such.

I judge no one by the color of their skin, by their sexual preference, or how they identify. Life is bloody short — too short to waste on bigotry, hate, or malice. As an animist I believe we are all equal parts of the whole of creation. but I also acknowledge that there are cultural differences. And that’s not a bad thing. We should all be as accepting of our differences as we are of our similarities. We are all in this dance together. We should lift one another up, not tear one another down.

The problem is these organizations that try to rope as many people under their umbrella as they can, establishing rules and membership fees and the like. A kindred should be a small gathering of family and friends, exclusive and binding. As soon as that reaches out beyond a tight social circle, agendas and politics mar the faith. We do not need to grow under a corporate church, with people placed on high above others. Gather your people close. Worship under the stars, and let their ambitions be damned.

If you’re filing for protected status, for tax purposes, with government entities, you’ve already lost faith in my eyes.

We are the Folk. We do not need such to worship freely. Each kindred should be a family — loving and accepting of those who are bound not necessarily by blood but by love for one another. No color. No gender. No orientation. Just a genuine affection for one another, bound in a circle about a fire, lifting up their voices in unison to proclaim an adoration for the gods and wights and ancestors of old.

It’s only complicated if you make it so. A Heathen is as a Heathen does. Defend what’s yours…

Summoning Circle

Posted in Wyrd on November 9, 2021 by Occult Detective

I thought this was an interesting meme floating around the web. When I posted it, I got some interesting responses: Tarot Cards, Comic Books, Frazetta Art, and the like, but what would “I” put in the circle that I feel best represents “me”?

So from left to right we have a guitar pick, a d20, and a Mjolnir talisman. Beyond representing my love for playing guitar, the pick symbolizes creativity and intent. The d20 acknowledges my love of the game, but also is an embodiment of the friendships forged at the table. The Mjolnir is more than a symbol of my faith for it also represents love and family and magick and wonder.

But what is the common denominator between all three items? Storytelling, for it is what attracts me to the guitar, to roleplaying games, and to Northern European spirituality. I tell stories, regardless of the medium. It’s a large part of my paranormal investigations — collecting stories and sharing them with others. It’s why I write, draw, play music… Every hobby, every passion, every fiber of everything I love is centered around stories. And if there’s a campfire involved, all the better.

Magic(k) in Paranormal Investigations with Shawn, Michelle, Eilfie, and Me

Posted in Investigations, Magick, Occult Detectives, Paranormal on November 5, 2021 by Occult Detective

“Bob Freeman, Eilfie Music, and Michelle Belanger talk about the use of magic before, during, and after paranormal investigations. They all share their personal practices and stories of real-life investigations.”

A few nights before All Hallow’s Eve I joined Shawn Hebert for a roundtable discussion regarding the use of magic(k) in paranormal investigations to launch the second season of his podcast, The LVX Files. The real stars of the episode were the whimsical and ethereal Eilfie Music, whom I adore, and the erudite and perspicacious Michelle Belanger. Both are paranormal television veterans, having cut their teeth on Paranormal State which ran from 2007-2011. Michelle, of course, in addition to being an author, has gone on to be a part of a number of other programs, including Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman’s Portals to Hell.

Just to give you a few insights into the discussion, firstly I was very much under the weather. I had been suffering from a pretty nasty ear infection and between the pain medication and antibiotics it’s a wonder I was coherent at all. Luckily, Eilfie and Michelle were on top of their game and did the heavy lifting. Secondly, I was having all kinds of technical issues. Not only was my internet dropping in and out, but the overhead in my den was giving me fits, hence the dim lighting.

All that being said, man did I have a ball in this discussion. This was my second time as a guest on The LVX Files and Shawn is a terrific host. He’s just so comfortable to talk with and is able to direct the conversations effortlessly. I appreciate that he is always a part of the moment. A lot of interviewers tend to be aloof and separate from the subject. Shawn is not shy about climbing into the mud with his guests and that’s much appreciated.

While our roundtable tended to focus on the television side of things, which was completely reasonable considering Michelle and Eilfie’s pedigree, there was a lot of good general information that dropped.

Let me explain things a bit from my perspective. I have zero interest in gathering evidence to prove a location is haunted to the public. I have zero interest in whether the public at large believe in the multiverse of dimensions that exist and are home to the vast array of entities that make up what some call the spirit world. I have a vested interest in helping people who do believe they have encountered these beings, in whatever form they take, and I am compelled to interact with them, for my own interests and in the interest of helping those in need.

I don’t feel like the so-called “scientific method” used in paranormal investigations is of much use beyond looking good on television. The gadgets tend to give an air of verisimilitude to the viewer. It gives them something tangible to focus on when, in reality, the best tool an investigator has is their 5 (or 6) senses. Unfortunately, that does not make for “good television”.

So, what do I use beyond those senses?

A typical investigation finds me first doing a tarot or rune reading beforehand. Usually tarot. This gives me a feel for the place. Next, I do a sweep of the location with copper dowsing rods. This helps me isolate the active areas and gives me a clue as to what sort of energy I am dealing with. Then, I open a dialogue, sometimes using a digital recorder or ghost box app. I’ll sometimes utilize scrying mirrors, summoning circles, blasting rods… the whole occult arsenal.

Having an opportunity to chat with like-minded people was a thrill for me. It’s more rare than you’d imagine. We occult detectives are an isolated breed. And for the talk to go down with three of my favorite people, well, that’s just icing on the proverbial cake. With luck, we’ll have the opportunity to rattle the chains of the departed together, in some lonesome clime or long forgotten hall… when these plague days are well behind us.

#Norsevember: Four for Thor’s Day

Posted in Norsevember on November 4, 2021 by Occult Detective

Well again, Sleuths. As a card-carrying Heathen, how could I not embrace Norsevember? I thought I would add a quick missive today, sharing four books I would recommend to those interested into delving into heathenry. So let’s to it:

The Poetic Edda:
Stories of the Norse Gods & Heroes

Jackson Crawford

The Saga of the Volsungs
with The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok

Jackson Crawford

The Wanderer’s Havamal
Jackson Crawford

Two Sagas of Mythical Heroes:
Hervor and Heidrek /
Hrolf Kraki and His Champions

Jackson Crawford

Ha, well there you have it, four books and just one author. Jackson Crawford is the face of modern Old Norse studies. He parlayed his scholarly compulsion into a respected position as professor of Nordic Studies at two prestigious universities, as well as being a consultant on movies and video games, before setting youtube (and patreon) on fire with his Viking Cowboy shtick.

The guy knows his business, and I’ve found these translations to be solid works, well suited for those entertaining this field of study. And, as an added bonus, his publishing house, Hackett, is right here in my home state of Indiana.

The fact of the matter is, the heathens of old were storytellers. If you want to learn to be a heathen in modern times, you’d best start with the stories. If you only read one, make it the Havamal. Everything, and I mean everything you need to know about what it means to be heathen is there. Then it’s all about writing your own story as you introduce yourself to the gods and the spirits of this glorious multiverse.

Skál and Fair-weather.
Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.

#Norsevember: Skál and Fair-weather

Posted in Norsevember, Wyrd on November 3, 2021 by Occult Detective

Once more my dragonship, Alba Gu Brath, takes to sea as another Norsevember is upon us.

Here is an excerpt from a short missive I wrote for Alex of Spells & Spaceships, Norsevember’s progenitor:

“…within those stories of Odin and Thor and Freya lay links to those sort of spirits I had come to accept, the land and water wights, and I imagined that the gods themselves did truly exist, but that they were my actual ancestors and they achieved a sort of godhood through our reverence of them, and they became aligned with elemental forces.

What I didn’t know then was that I was embracing animism.”

Hi. My name’s Bob and I’m a Norse Pagan Northern European Animist.

an·i·mism/ˈanəˌmizəm/ (noun)

  1. the attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.
  2. the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe.
  3. a doctrine that the vital principle of organic development is immaterial spirit
  4. attribution of conscious life to objects in and phenomena of nature or to inanimate objects
  5. belief in the existence of spirits separable from bodies

I am reminded of something the late, great Norm MacDonald said, “…we are not superior to the Universe but merely a fraction of it.”

I believe that all things, be they creatures, places, or objects, are imbued with a distinct spiritual essence.

I also believe the gods of the Northern Europeans were, at one time, living and breathing individuals whom many of us revere as our venerated ancestors and who have become the embodiment of natural and preternatural forces.

Your own mileage may vary.

So, for Norsevember this year I am going to post on my heathen spirituality every Wednesday, Odin’s Day, and I will post reviews of “Norse”-related content throughout the month.

Skál and fair-weather, my friends. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.

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