Building Local Community: Economically

Last week I wrote a short(ish) piece on Odin’s demand that His people aid their community. After posting it I found myself faced with multiple unusual opportunities to aid my community, both local and global. It felt as though Odin knew what I had written and decided to make me walk my talk. It’s certainly the kind of thing he would do.

At first I intended to give a brief overview of ways I serve my community, both local and global. But the words wouldn’t come. So I took a couple of days and did some reflection, then came to the solution that I would write several blog posts, allowing me to go into more depth on how I help my community which, in turn, may inspire you to do the same in your community.

The first post is, as you probably guessed by the title, my favorite way to contribute to my local economy.

 

Shop at Local Businesses or Buy from Local Sellers

I have a weakness for thrift shopping and I have an even bigger weakness for person-to-person sales. So you can imagine the deep and abiding love I have for apps like OfferUp, Close5, and LetGo. I have been both buyer and seller on these apps and I recommend OfferUp to anyone starting out on peer-to-peer sales.

There is a real sense of community in the act of giving a neighbor money in exchange for their goods. It’s closer to how things were when humans lived in tight-knit groups, though with a decidedly modern twist. I also consider this practice an aid to the global community: instead of going out and buying new furniture, clothes, or electronics (among other things) I have re-purposed something that a neighbor no longer wanted. In the last month I have used this app to secure a set of IKEA counter stools, a bistro table, a bed frame, a lantern, and an N64. Brand new I would have spent close to a thousand dollars but I doubt I’ve spent more than $150. And that $150 is still in my community, with my neighbors.

In a similar vein is the idea of local shops. Most people go a big-box store for most of their needs and I am, by and large, one of those people. But when I can afford to, I try very hard to buy from local specialty shops. I try new restaurants and rate them on Yelp while I tell my friends about them in the hopes that more people will try them out. I tip food service employees as well as I can, and I do my best at my own job to ensure I give our patrons everything they need to reach their goals. In a society and an economy like that of the US, nearly every interaction is an economic one and I try my best to make sure I am a net gain to my community’s economy.

There are more ways to stimulate your local economy but these are my top choices. If you have another favorite please feel free to leave it in the comments!

 

**This piece was inspired by Odin’s advice that all people stand by and aid their community**

 

Photo Finish Friday: Quiet Spot

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The gods are not choosy – or considerate – in regards to when they dole out inspiration. In the shower, behind your desk at work, in the middle of a traffic jam… we’ve all had those moments. This is usually the result of our minds being allowed to wander until inspiration stumbles along. I’d like to think the gods take advantage of these off-guard moments to slip us insights we would have otherwise been too distracted to notice.

I want to challenge all of you – and myself, if I’m being honest – to make room for these moment in your day if you can. Even if it’s only once or twice a week, give yourself an hour or so to just wander through nature or play with the light coming through your window. Lay on your back and imagine shapes in the ceiling or let your vision go soft and find new meaning in the blurry shapes. Let your mind wander enough that the gods can lead it somewhere special.

Photo Credit: Xandria Magnusson, Blog Owner
Please do not use without permission

Build Your Community

Nearly every culture has a myth that goes a little something like this:

The mightiest of the Divine looked at humanity and wanted to walk
abroad
in their world.  So he went down and dressed as a beggar.
He went from place to place, home to home and blessed  those
who showed him kindness. He cursed or withheld blessings from
those who did not show their fellow man kindness.

When I hear a tale like this, I imagine Odin as a wanderer in long grey robes with a walking staff and a beard. Others see Zeus, or an angel of The Lord. Even Santa has traits of this tale woven into his very purpose: be kind and the Mighty Ones will reward you.

I think we’ve lost sight of this in the chaos that is today’s information-overloaded world. That is not to say that I dislike the connected nature of the modern world – clearly I rather enjoy it. But I don’t think human society has caught up and the effects are everywhere.

Despite being able to reach out and speak to just about anyone at any time, how often do we really reach out? It is so hard sometimes to remind yourself that you can wait before getting started on X,Y, or Z long enough to pick up your phone and text a friend, call a relative, or reply to an email from someone with something nice to say.

In the lore that I have built my practice on, Odin was known to give advice. Often this advice centered on things like “take care of your community”, “tend you home and your village”, or “take care of your family”. These aren’t just words meant to inspire kindness: they’re psychologically sound suggestions.

Multiple studies have shown that well-connected communities are healthy communities. And I’m not talking about the “fit in or get out” kind of community. I mean the community that reacts to its unique members with love and support. These are not the communities that cover up dangerous behavior, either. Rather, then expose it and work together to right the wrongs that may have been done.

The kind of community that thoughtfully reaches out to one another without expecting perfection in who they find.

These kind of communities are not built overnight, nor do they spontaneously happen. Each of us must create this community. Frigga and Odin urged me to do just that when I made my commitments at the beginning of the year: to reach out and to accept and aid those I found. It’s been hard, but that is exactly what I have been trying to do. I’d like to think I’ve made a positive changes in the world but keeping my promises and reacting with love to the people who cross my path. Only time will tell. And I still fail on occasion, but I’m only human and I think Odin understood that when he advised care of our communities.

So this summer, as the heat picks up and people come out of hibernation, try to show your community some love, and I mean your close community. Say hi to your neighbors or show them a little understanding. Reach out to friends and keep the promises you make. Have patience with someone who is struggling. Do your best and watch as your community begins to change, to warm, and to bear fruits of kindness like you have never seen before.

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Frejya’s Bracelet

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I Wear My Gods Like Armor

Religious jewelry is almost as old as human thought is. You can find countless archaeological digs from around the world that have brought forth jewelry from the dawns of time that, which each year, grow further and further away.

So when I say that I wear my gods as armor, you probably have a pretty good idea what I’m talking about. A bracelet adorn my left wrist, the first of a collection I am stringing. My wedding ring is almost as much a dedication to the sanctity of my marriage in the site of Frigga as it is a sign that I am someone’s wife. My usual necklace (often misidentified as the Celtic Tree of Life) is Yggdrasil, a reminder  that all things grow and all things die.

The gods were never meant to be a “once in a while” part of our lives. If you believe, that belief permeates the every day. Your mundane existence stops being mundane when you realize that the birds on the wires overhead are the same birds that brought Odin his news and that the random luck you experience could be the hand of Loki (and you’d better make sure you’re not taking more than you should – because he can exact a heavy price).

And when you wear your gods like armor, then nothing can touch you. Today was the first day I wore my Freyja bracelet and I feel beautiful. My hair is behaving, my clothes fit better, and I just seem more radiant. I can feel the weight on my wrist, right where the Odin bracelet will go to lend me wisdom, topped by the Frigga bracelet for steadfast faith. When they are literally wrapped around me, I am untouchable.

 

Wear your gods like armor. Honor them with your faith and remembrance. And watch your life change with every step.

The Deity is in the Details

My spiritual life does not seem to flow smoothly. It come in fits and starts, feasts and famine. This pattern extends to the rest of my life as well, though for the purposes of this blog we’ll stick to my spiritual life.

Why mention this? Because for a long time I thought it meant something was wrong with me. The other Pagans around me had these long-term, stable, steadfast spiritual lives. They conjured and cast and prayed like clockwork. I was lucky if I could either remember to set out the sugar for my house Fae, or keep up with the deluge of demands I was facing.

But the truth is that there is nothing wrong with this kind of pattern. If you, like me, seem to be drowning in divine or spiritual attention one week but parched for it in the next, you either have to learn how to portion it out, or you have to learn to ride the tide. I’ve never been much for saving things up, so I’m just trying to learn how to keep afloat when I need to and find my own wellsprings when the interactions are less plentiful.

These past two weeks are a prime example. At the end of May I was beginning to doubt my faith. Did I really have a connection to Norse gods? Were there really any gods at all? I have these fears on occasion and they usually coincide with a spike in my anxiety levels. And then, like every time before, I felt the hands of the goddesses on me and my mind was still.

Create for me, said Freyja. She wanted a bracelet, one I would wear every day so I would remember Her.

Provide for me, said Frigga. She wanted me to settle me home, so that my dwelling would be homage to Her ways.

We are in everything, they said together. They are in the luck They have given me in finding what I need to settle my home. They are in the pressure I feel in my chest when I reach for my pen and They are in my hands and in my mind’s eye when I string the beads to offer Them. My fingers can hardly keep up with Their desires and my days are not long enough to do everything I feel them urge me to.

I know this will pass and I will be left wondering where They have gone. But maybe, just maybe, next time I will remember They are in everything and the time between their floods will not feel so barren.

 

Red Light, Green Light

I’m back, but will it stick this time? Which way is the right way? Can I do everything I want to do, or am I on another dead-end street?

Odin help me. I have lost my way and have spun in circles so often I’ve fallen down dizzy. Bless me, Frigga, All-Mother and seer of ways. I am a child lost among the wilds.

2016 has been a roller coaster of a year. Several times I found myself doubting my religion, my experiences, even my sanity. But I am here and I think I know where I need to go. But I’ve said that so many times before that I’m not even sure I can trust myself to see the plans through.

I’ll try to provide an update soon, but that depends on whether or not my work schedule slows down and if I can gather the strength to break past my usual barriers.

Blessed Odin, lend me your wisdom.

Mighty Thor, share with me your strength.

Cunning Loki, aid me in wending my way through this mess.

Lovely Freyja, gift me the speed of your cart.

Wise Mother Frigga, abandon not your child. Take me to safety and surety.