The Problem of Understanding Ancient Language: On Hieroglyphs and Runes

Scholars and archaeologists alike make it their work to apply ‘facts’ to what can only ever be biased study. On magical systems such as the Tarot, the Runa, or the ancient Mayan and Egyptian hieroglyphs, there always comes the problem of perspective and inserting our modern rationalities or assumptions into the picture and postulating it as truth.

As my wanderings have now taken me to Mexico, and I have had time to explore some of the Mayan pyramids, such as Chichen Itza, and taking close looks at the pictographs and hieroglyphs on these old blocks of stone, I do not see simply a language waiting to be decoded. How can this be in the first place when the Mayans did not know other languages and therefore there can be no English, Latin, or Spanish translations, or in the case of the Vikings, English or other Germanic language codes. Because this is not the real meaning of these pictures.
It may be a symbolic language, but not in the sense of being linear, or necessarily even spoken, but portraying something far more grand, and mythic. This is because we forget that these cultures, the Scythians, the Vikings, the Picts, Mayans and Egyptians did not have strict oral language. They communicated a story that was to be told, that was divined and lived rather than recorded. These people thought in cosmic terms, the ancient mayan pictoglyphs simply can’t mean ‘this and that god did this for that reason’, the pictures are like landscapes of time, put down permanently in local materials and objects. Telling the heroic myths, legends or failures of their lives. It seems far fetched to try to attach specific meanings when all we have is broken manuscripts and lost fragments of syntax to give them relevance. The problem is not in the deciphering but the view or outlook of the decipherable. I think if we are to tap into the more esoteric meanings of these streams and relics of communication left behind, we must approach them in a more subtle way, without the repeated formula of finding sure answers.

Smithing

Lately I have had an increasing obsession with a wide scope of art, and progressing towards smithing, such as wood carving/burning, metal etching, and hopefully this spring, forging! Here is something I tried out with my new knife, it’s the Bear Grylls one, a solid blade with the teeth at the hilt. I carved my name in runes WOLFSHAMAN.

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Here are the Birch and Furze Ogham staves and Celtic knot, done with wood burning tool (pyrography) tumblr_mjir5wPwLM1s5roa8o1_500Staves on a raven skull and deer bone splint. The top one is Ansuz, the wisdom of that which is hidden, identified with the same glyph of ‘odhroerir’. The raven is Odin’s totem, also being the avatar of the mind and memory. Through knowing the rune of :Ansuz:, the cerebral and clairvoyance is focused. The other one is an Icelandic magic stave Óttastafur, it was used in the Teutonic era to ‘induce fear’, I don’t know how much of its meaning is still preserved today.

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Wulfaz & Kristjan

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This is an old heathen drawing I collaborated on. The wolf can be one of Odin’s guardians Freki or Gerri, and the sheep is the Kristjan.

Rede:
The oath they will swear,
the small shall become great
And though blind, I will see
With this tablet of incantation, this will be.

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Wulf And Dream

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I felt the need to share this beautiful painting made by a past lover for me after recently being told from a woman that I have been close who lives in Arizona, that I appeared as wolf in one of her dreams! . The repetition of this happening is quite intriguing. With my first mate, she did not dream of me as a wolf, but we often lost ourselves to animistic desires, growling and intimately playing like wolves. My second lover, Ishtar, after meeting me in person, started calling me Wolfshaman, which I have used as my spiritual/author name since. She had lucid dreams three nights in a row where I was in wolf form, she being a witch and I stalked and devoured her, each night more lustfully and fiercely. Sinmara, my she wolf has envisioned me as in lupine form in dream fetish, and we call each other wolf/shewolf naturally. The same avatars and fetches are appearing in our relationship. I don’t fully what to make of all this yet, but my totem spirit is the wolf, and I have continue using it as the fetch/primal personality for Teutonic/Germanic traditionalism, as wulf being a sacred animal of Wodanaz. It is yet another psychological reverence and apotheosis working through my life.

this is my offering this month for the “Human Mating & Dating” of Animist blog carnival

http://lifthrasirsuccess.wordpress.com/animist-blog-carnival/

Fetters Of Bondage

This is how you make leather cuffs for BDSM.

You need: straps, eyelets, clamps, rings, leather, and a knife

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I had these straps from old clothing so I did not need to put the eyelets in myself, but if you have just the fabric straps, just use a hammer and an eyelet tool, but this is mostly for aesthetics. You need one hold at least on both sides for the metal rings, and clasp. Attach two rings together going through one hole, while will be the restricting part, cause the wrist bracers to stay tight.

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Take the leather and cut it into a comfortable width for your wrist. Most will have a soft textured side and a smooth side, you don’t want to cause pain with them, just restrict movement. Curve it around your wrist to make sure. Make a slit in one edge of the leather with the knife to put the first ring through. Pierce two holes in the other side for the second one.

Open the post and slide it through the two holes.

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Then close the ring by force and pull both of them through until the leather cuff is a circle.

Try it on your wrist after. Make two to restrict the arms of course, then do the same process with ankles. Wrap the lose end of the strap around something like a post or chain on the wall in a fetish dungeon. and loop it back to the two rings and connect it. The wrist won’t be able to turn to unclasp it, and you will have a lover at your will.

DSCF7740this is my offering this month for the “Human Mating & Dating” of Animist blog carnival

http://lifthrasirsuccess.wordpress.com/animist-blog-carnival/

They Told Me to Use Them

These are the archaic sigils I drew for my flesh hook suspension. They were to be painted on my body with henna, but it did not come out dark enough. I had tried with the first drawing on making a bindrune shape with animal totems around it on four corners but felt I was not adopting their symbolism very well, and had to search deep inside for what the forces in my life were really present and how I could put them into form. The second drawing is the archetype of those energies.

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The bindrune is two kaun, one algiz, two ur, two fe, hagall or gipt, and iss. The mother goddess is the divine feminine, the creationist and balancing identity of me, my anima. The shield is for the defense against enemies and fending off opposition (protection rune on front), and the sword for the tendencies to take what is mine in life, moving through the land and claiming what I need. The plant is the Ayahuasca, but is for knowing the practical, medicinal, and spiritual uses of all flora in my bio-region, and experimentation with shamanic substances. The huts is meant to be a cabin, and survival the flame, which is my ongoing quest of learning the right skills, gathering resources, and getting in tune with permanent natural living. The wheel is the cycle, and the moons could represent the nightside, the darker fabric of my being that revolves on itself. In the center is the wolf paw, my animal spirit. The top left drawing was meant to be for the winter season, but is only ephemeral.

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Faux fur hunter gatherer wolf drape

Heavily inspired by the Game of Thrones series, and old shaman culture with a dose of primitive hunter/gatherer look. I made this garment from some faux wolf fear and leather patch. I looks something like a skirt for males, but I also wore it over my shoulders, so I call it a drape.

Stock:

fur of your choice, real or fake

leather or suede or patch

metal clasps or eyelets and cording

paint

I acquired the fur from a fabric factory, you can probably find one of these wherever you are, they are abundant. Mine was fake arctic wolf fur. In essence I would sometimes rather have faux fur, especially considering it is almost impossible to find natural death, and often furs are from endangered species. It can still carry potent feeling if you are connected to the idea of wearing skins.

Cut the top edge to the circumference of your waist, and the bottom edge 7 inches longer, so it forms to broadening outlay at the base. Make the the space between the base and your hips is going to float over the ground when worn. It can drag of course which looks interesting when walking in the woods, but will get dirty, this is up to you. I cut strips of leather, one on side of which was the texture and a slight earthy brown color. Stitch these on at the top where the 2 seams meet. Then attach the clasps on top, you can use more than two, but they need to have holes in them to fit a needle through.

This will keep them in place, and should be repeated for reinforcement. You can alternatively use cording the goes across the two pieces and pulls tight. Another piece of leather I cut had suede on one side. I painted a symbol adapted from the :wolfsblood: emblem, and changed the runic characters around the outer circle, it reads “Lycanthropic Transformation”. The runes under it reads “Canis”. You can paint your own picture, or use a patch (back patches would suffice) and the placement should be just about the middle of the back of the fur.

Attach the patch with pins to keep it aligned, and use good quality thread and needle to stitch it. The leather is tough and hard to pierce. If you have leather gloves, this would also be recommended. Be patient, and expect to take 6-7 hours by hand or use a machine and be modern. I added belt loops on the inside of the hips to keep it stationary when I walk. I was listening to neofolk and stitched till my fingers bled, and but some of in on the fur by the waist to show. I made a hanging tail that I attached to my waist, which I acquire from the same place. The drape looks like an old garment from the medieval renaissance. You can attach pouches inside if you want to gather plants and bones, or put a book inside.

Lupine pack communication: with wolf sister Lupa the Greenwolf!

For those who don’t know, Lupa is a shaman living in Portland. She is a prolific artist, (I have always wanted to be interviewed as an artist myself), and a practitioner in pagan culture. Regularly part of events, and shaman dances, you might see her at Howl Con if you live in the area.

When you submerge yourself into the skin spirit rituals with a given animal, do you feel the inherit traits in each one, or is it just a means for communication solely with the animal totem? Do mammalia, or predatory have more challenging and intimidating energies, than perhaps reptilia and fish, who might be more passive?

It’s both; when I wear my wolfskin, I connect with both the spirit of the skin, and the totem Gray Wolf as well. Part of why I do this skindancing is to offer the spirits of the skins a way to have a body again, to move and dance. In return, I get a chance to feel a bit of what it’s like to be that animal.

It really depends on the individual skin spirit (or other animal spirit), as well as the totem of the species. People think of predatory mammals as being big and aggressive, which they can be, and dragonflies as being graceful and relatively harmless. Yet in their own world dragonflies are ruthless killers driven primarily by the needs to eat, to mate, and to not be eaten, while lions and wolves have complex social systems in which they can be tender and loving to each other. We have to be careful not to let our biases as humans intrude.

If you can dig far into your brain and remember, can you write the different animal parts you have worked with?

Oh, geez. Soooo many over the last decade and a half. Hides, bones, claws, teeth, feathers, hair and more. My art has brought me into contact with so many of them that there’s no way to catalog them all. Probably the most unusual has been dried horseshoe crabs; they’re such ancient beings and they see the world in such a different way than we land-dwelling upstarts. Keep in mind we’re talking a family of animal that has the existence of living trilobites in its ancestral memory.
Do you do much bone hunting or carrion collecting in nature? How is this while always having a cyclus of dead critters to work with, living in an apartment and trying to clean them? Do you prefer to bury them and the decay happen naturally?

Not any more. Now that I’m primarily an urban dweller, I don’t have easy access to places where animal bones might be found. Also, roadkill collection is illegal here in Oregon. And because I am in an apartment that I share with another person, I don’t have the room to deal with something quite so messy—all we have is one tiny porch that’s mostly covered in garden and barbecue grill. I’d rather make the art than tan hides anyway; I leave the messy bits to others these days.


I once found an eagle in the north, with no head. Another time with my ex, we found an opossum and a dead cat, both of them had fetuses inside, and the opossum fetuses were still living, crawiling out of the pouch while the mother lay rotting in some grass. What has been the strangest animal death you have discovered?

Really, none of the ones I’ve seen have been unusual. Everything’s been attributable to natural causes. There were the many tiny crabs washed up after a storm on the Oregon coast, and countless animals hit by trains in my hometown, and the huge pile of deer bones left by hunters at the end of a quiet rural cul de sac in rural Oregon

I suppose the only notable death I ever came across was the doe that was hit on the road in front of a house I lived in in Pittsburgh. The doe had been hit by a car, and it shattered her jaw and leg. She stumbled around until a cop showed up and shot her, and they just rolled her into the ditch in front of the house. It was summer, and over the next week I watched the progress as the maggots reduced her to mostly bones. Once she was clean enough I pulled her up into the garden and let her decay the rest of the way before harvesting the bones.


What does kink represent and hold for you? Do you think it is the most intimate way to tie into sexual spirituality, and bringing the body to new levels of consciousness?

I think it’s one of many ways in which a person can be sexual. I don’t think it’s any more special or intimate than vanilla, but I do feel there are certain levels of intensity that it can hold that are unique to it. Kink can be a ritual even without the conscious intent thereof, and much of more formalized BDSM, especially D/s or M/s, can be very ritualized.

The importance of any sacred sexuality is how it transforms you. Do you become a better person for it? Do you feel better and healthier afterward? Then you did it right.

In more recent years I have distanced myself from a lot of sacred sexuality because I see so little attention paid to a lot of the inequalities in sexuality in the US. People treat women as “sacred Goddesses” to be worshiped, but do nothing to fight discrimination against and oppression of women as a group. Heterosexual sex is held up as a standard of “balanced energies” while homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia still exist even within paganism and sacred sexuality. Rape and sexual assault happen in these communities, as well as the kink community, and often they’re ignored.

And, honestly, I have become more private and personal about my sex life. I asked my ex-husband Taylor to take “Kink Magic” out of print more because it was a symbol of our marriage, and it was a form of closure, not because I regretted it. But these days I keep my cards closer to the chest, at least as far as details go. I don’t go to public kink events any more and I have zero interest in public scening. 


As one who also identifies with my spirit animal to be that of a wolf, I am curious what you think of the various wolf conservation areas? Do you think this poses problems and domesticates wolves when they have human care, and are then released?

From what I have seen, the people who raise wolf pups to be released into the wild are very careful not to acclimate the pups to human companionship. I see this as a very good thing; wild animals need to be truly wild, not quasi-domesticated.
Are you fond of the concept of human Re:wilding? If you do, how do you integrate yourself into it? Do you practice any kind of self-sustainability, growing food, owning land, reducing possessions, etc?

I feel that the more skills we have, the better, no matter the sort. As Robert Heinlen said, “Specialization is for insects”. I am in a tiny apartment, and I don’t really have a proper garden so I have to rely on grocery stores and farmers’ markets for my food, but my intent is once I have some more stability across the board and can buy a house, I want it to be a place where I can turn the yarn into garden, raise rabbits, etc.

I do try to not consume more than I have to. Outside of books and clothing, most of my possessions are art supplies and therefore temporarily “mine”. I don’t collect tchotckes and the like, and I’d rather people gave me food as gifts than toys and such.

I have been developing more outdoor skills; I didn’t go camping until my early twenties because I never had the opportunity. My family didn’t like outdoor stuff other than backyard barbecues, and I didn’t really have friends until I was an adult. So I’ve been trying hard to build up missing skills, and I recently went solo backpacking for the first time earlier this month. And I’m doing more to educate myself about the flora and fauna of the area; I’d still starve out in the wild at this point, but maybe a little more slowly.
Have you had thoughts about making displays of taxidermy into art scenes to unveil something atypical with their spirits? Like having a wolf mount feeding on real entrails with dead trees, detritus on the ground, and raven mounts with rare stones for eyes in the trees? Sort of like a still life after death.

I have some plans for things to do with reclaimed taxidermy, but I’m keeping that under wraps for the moment.


Do you do much tenting in the nature to be further in touch with your wild personality, and animal atavisms?

Not as much as I’d like, but every time I’m out there, whether hiking or camping, alone or with others, it’s a connection to the inner wild self, my own Wolf, as well as to everything around me. My shamanic practice has become more more bioregional and localized once I moved to Oregon, and so I don’t just work with the animals, but also plants, fungi, waterways, geological totems, etc.


There are practices now to create life using ‘biobricks’ that can stimulate primitive life using a computer. As well as gene transplanting through different animals, such as taking spider silk and putting it inside a goat to collect the silk from its milk, or using camouflage squid cells in farmed plants. What are you thoughts on modern science and experimental
biology?

I think it’s going in some truly fascinating directions. However, I also think that like so much of our technology we’re too self-centered. We look only to our own needs, and not how our technology affects other humans and other beings as well. I am not entirely against genetic engineering, especially in the medical field, but we don’t think nearly enough about ethical and other implications and realities of our explorations. In the words of Stan Lee, “With great power there must also come great responsibility”. Spider-man is far from the only example of that.


Tell me about some of the festivals you have been apart of, pagan, occult, music or otherwise, and what you did there.

Holy cripes. There have been so many! I’ve been to festivals across the country from Florida to New York to Washington. (Oddly enough I haven’t been to any in the southwest!) Primarily pagan in flavor, with occasional others. I cut my teeth at Brushwood Folklore Center in New York state; in addition to a roster of yearly festivals, they have drumming and dancing every weekend when the weather permits. So I got a lot of good experience there; it’s where I first did public wolf-dancing, and met a lot of awesome people. I also wish I’d spent more time at Four Quarters Farm in Pennsylvania; the few times I went there I was really impressed with the energy as well as the rituals there.

I’ve gone to lots of events here in the Northwest, at though certainly not all of them. One of my very favorites is Sunfest, held every summer solstice out on the Oregon Coast. I’m going to be leading the rituals there next year (2013) with a shamanic/totemic theme—more info soon! Anyway, it’s a nicely laid-back, family-friendly festival, and it’s become one of my favorite things of the year.

And then there’s FaerieWorlds, which isn’t so much a pagan festival as a bunch of people dressing up in fantasy costumery and having a great time with excellent music. I don’t usually get to leave my booth much because I’m usually too busy working and selling art and costumes to people, but because everybody comes to visit, they bring the festival to me.


If there is a time that creating dead animal art, and having such a prolific artistic routine becomes too much, is there anything you want to accomplish or try before your own life spirit dies off?

I want to own my own home; I’m tired of having to audition every time I move to prove to some rental company that I deserve to have a place to live. Less mundanely, I want to do something with the Master’s in counseling psych I was awarded last year after three years of graduate school. Assuming I don’t get hit by a bus or develop cancer, I should be able to do both of these before all’s said and done.

Any last howls, from a fellow lupine creature to another?

Besides “buy my art and books”? Heh—I kid, mostly. Well, keep in touch—I write stuff at http://therioshamanism.com, as well as http://nature.pagannewswirecollective.com, and all things Lupa can be found at http://www.thegreenwolf.com. I like hearing feedback from people who’ve read my books and so forth, and I like hearing about the adventures of my art that has gone on to other homes. Plus I’m open to questions and thoughts about shamanism, totemism, and the like.

Avi Relic

I wanted to make use out of some pelvis bones I had collected from a dead deer, and decided to craft this dreamcatcher-esque. I had found an entire deer spine with two legs/hoofs some ways down a train line and could not let the creature go to waste. The bones still had some mummified flesh dried onto them, but not enough to be a problem for painting. First I took a saw and cut it in half so it would leave me a smaller piece with a flat surface to draw on. Then I spray painted them black. After this I added some designs that were made to resemble the ogham alphabet, with my own unique touch. “Ogham is sometimes called the “Celtic Tree Alphabet”, based on a high medieval Briatharogam tradition ascribing names of trees to the individual letters” I added a rendition of the raven talons cycle on one side, with my art initials :WS: Then I drilled a hole in the top and three at the rounded edge, and attached the feathers with thread. One of the feathers is from a raven, the other a blue jay, the last two either being a sea gull or owl.

(I plan to make more of these artistic guides for those others who like crafting with dead things)

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