As soon as I heard about Many Gods West, a new polytheist conference that will take place this coming summer in Olympia, WA, I knew I wanted to go. Immediately I started feeling nudges toward attending this gathering in service of Skaði, and building a shrine room there for Her. Since She has been the primary deity in my devotional practice for almost ten years now, and I have maintained a shrine “room” (well, really a section, but if I had sufficient space it would definitely be a full room) for Her that whole time, it would hardly be surprising that She might think it’s time for me to step things up a bit.
My vision of this shrine room is as a quiet sacred space carefully designed to facilitate meditation, prayer, and contemplation of Her mysteries. It features shrines for Her (of course), art displays, devotional writings, and decorations associated with Her myths – snow, hunting, mountains, wolves, etc. Devotional playlists of dark ambient music selected for Her play softly in the background.
So I asked Skaði: if She wanted me to do this, would She step in and facilitate my attendance somehow – help me write a proposal first, and if accepted, then find me a source of funding, a way to transport all the materials for putting together the shrine room, and a way to provide for my other needs as Her shrine room keeper?
I did think it possible that She might have some hesitations, especially given that the conference will take place at the height of summer. Summer is the slow season here at the Hermitage; She is usually less active in my life then, and as I’ve written elsewhere, I have often thought that one of the reasons I did not connect with Her when I was younger is that I grew up in Hawai’i. The year-round tropical weather and beaches are anathema for Skaði, Who prefers cold mountainous Northern lands. Hmmm, I thought…so maybe if I got a room with strong air conditioning for Her shrine room? And used a lot of cool colours, like blue and white? Might that pass muster with Her?
Apparently I needn’t have worried, though, because so far there’s been nothing but enthusiasm from Her about having an official shrine room. The ideas are coming fast and furious, and I’m already struggling to keep up: expanding my devotional dark ambient music playlists for Her, talking to artists about commissioning works related to Skaði for the event, frantically jotting down notes, and so on.
She has facilitated several new acquisitions for Her shrine at the Hermitage this winter, so I’m off to a good start in my preparations. She even inspired me to venture out to the day-after-Xmas sales to acquire specific winter-themed shrine items, something that is VERY difficult to do given my enormous hatred of shopping. (These acquisitions even included a nail polish for me to wear for the event; amusingly enough, it’s called “ice queen.” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little when I saw that. Perhaps I’m projecting a bit, but it seems to me that She has quite a sense of humour sometimes, even about the most trivial details.)
If this comes to pass, it will be a reach out into the big scary unknown for me. I am a hermit for good, sound, spiritually and artistically driven reasons. I hate to travel. (Seriously. I’m a homebody through and through.) I’m a monastic, not a priestess. I’m not a Big Name Pagan. I’ve never done Pagan In Public before. What introvert would want to take on something like that? And while we’re at it, aren’t I supposed to be concentrating on my book manuscript and ritual dance project?
Yet it’s clear that my role as a temple keeper is one of service, and despite my nervousness it makes perfect sense that She might want me to prove myself in this way before She allows me to take on the responsibility of a more permanent home for the Hermitage. So it’s not as if I can argue. Well, OK, I could argue, but I suspect that it would not be wise to do so.
So after a couple of months of intense activity, I’ve now put together a full proposal for Skaði’s Shrine Room, and I’ll be submitting it to the conference organisers soon. We will see how it goes.
Here’s a toast I wrote for Skaði. I delivered it during the Yule faining I attended in December – my first experience with small group ritual, aside from a short processional with fellow devotional polytheists a few years ago – and it was well received all around.
“Mighty huntress, snowshoe goddess, giver of cold counsel, dweller among the rocks and snowy mountains, we honour You at this darkest and holiest time of year. Guide us as we own our shadows and brave the depths of winter.”