A closer look at my Pathwalking Kit
excerpt from The Pathwalker's Guide
(Note: Much of my kit is described in passing in my journal entries, but it was suggested to me that I ought to write something more specific about it, and about making pathwalking kit in general, so this article is a more in-depth look at how we created these things.)
In order to pathwalk, you have to move with your physical body in this world and your astral body in the superimposed world. However, most of us don't think about the fact that we rarely go anywhere with nothing but our bodies. We take our stuff for granted. It doesn't occur to us that underwear might be important, or good shoes, or a mug to drink from. When we journey, of course, we simply shape ourselves clothing and tools, usually without thinking about it.
When we do think about stuff, we think about fancy ritual tools like knives, amulets, jewelry, and so forth. While there's nothing wrong with that, my magical tools are on a much more practical scale. I was warned clearly about the nature of my kind of journeying: take nothing with you that is not magicked to the point where it will show up in both worlds. That is, not if you want to be able to use it in both worlds, anyway. This meant that every piece of clothing, every tool, everything that I was going to take with me, had to be "whammied", as I put it to my magic-practicing friends. We planned the kit six months in advance, and everyone helped to put it together. I walked into the otherworlds with the combined magic of a dozen people on my back and in my arms.
A word of advice to those who would create pathwalking kits: having the help of other magically-trained people can be good or bad. On the one hand, having people who care about you put their energy into implements, especially if it's done while making them, is an immense source of luck and hamingja. (The word "hamingja" is a Norse concept similar to "luck", or "fortune", or "power", or "mojo". Gifts carry hamingja, as do old things that have been well loved.) It's like carrying their blessings on your pathwalking. On the other hand, make sure that every one of them is committed to the project with a whole heart. Two of the people who helped me were actually quite ambivalent about my journey; one feared for my safety, and the other resented my taking time from other duties. Once I'd crossed over, everything that they had given me began to fall apart, or get lost, or go dull. I ended up having other friends scramble to find and whammy some replacements. The hamingja of a loved one's blessing only works if it's given without reservation, and with open hands.
As much of the kit as possible should be made of natural materials. Things that were recently alive enchant better than plastics and other man-made chemical constructs. If you have to bring something artificial, try to add something to it out of natural materials that will hold the charge, which may or may not work. If you carve something yourself out of wood, the best wood of all comes from the place where you'll actually be doing the pathwalking, because it's a link to the land-wight there. (One assumes that you will not be doing long-term pathwalking in any place where you don't intend to form a good relationship with the land-wight of the vicinity.) Metal holds a charge well, but the less processed it is, the better. The best metal tool of all would be hand-forged by you or by a blacksmith who understands magic work, but you can also inscribe manufactured metal tools with a decent result. Several craft-mages that I know swear on the utility of magicking with a Dremel tool.
Things that I wish that I'd gotten around to putting together: A leather bottle for portable water. Some kind of firemaking thing, either flint and steel or a firebow or fire-twirl. (This would have necessitated learning to use these things, and as the guy who promised he'd teach me up and died, I never got around to it.) A good knife of my own - I borrowed one, which worked, but I would rather have had my own. Handmade rope. A wrought-iron fork. Some kind of sundial that could be planted and made permanent. Some sort of handmade paint, usable on flesh and on stone, and a brush. Home herbal aspirin for the medkit, which I've since learned how to make by grinding wintergreen berries into apple cider vinegar.
I'm sure that other pathwalkers would think of things that they couldn't do without, but this is the survival list that I used. Since I was being brought my meals and my hot water and my fire every night by Joshua, there was no way that I could call this real wilderness survival, but that wasn't the point. I wasn't out to prove that I could survive in the wilds of this world, I was out to prove that I could survive in the wilds of other worlds. To that end, having to worry about my basic food and shelter needs here was counterproductive. Don't take on more physical obstacles than you have to in order to do the work; it proves nothing useful.
Part I: Daily Kit
The biggest and most important thing that I made was my Cloak of the Nine Worlds. I'd been terrified that I might get lost, and my boyfriend suggested that the best cure for getting lost was taking a map. Since I wanted everything that I took to have some practical usage, we came up with the idea of making a cloak that was also a map. Each piece of it was appliqued and embroidered to represent a not-to-scale fantastic picture of a particular world, and the hood and upper back were made from leafy fabric to symbolize Yggdrasil. The idea was that when you wore the cloak, you were Yggdrasil, and the worlds swirled around you. Yggdrasil is a ladder that you can climb, going up and down from world to world, without having to follow known "roads".
I looked at many different people's conceptions of what the Nine Worlds looked like in relation to where they all were, and none of them rang true. Finally, a friend suggested that I ask the expert.....Yggdrasil itself. I ceremonially asked the Great Tree for a map, and nothing happened at first. About three weeks later, however, the idea suddenly appeared in my head, as if it had been placed there. The presence that touched me briefly was very old, very slow, and very inhuman. It was a lesson learned: talking to Yggdrasil is a slow process. Like Tolkien's Ents who didn't like to move or talk hastily, Yggdrasil lives at a different and much slower pace than us, and it can take hours just for it to notice that you've tried to contact it, and days for it to figure out how to respond. When dealing with giant world-supporting magical trees, the key is to be patient.
The "map cloak" concept worked well, because I could simply grab the appropriate part of the (rather voluminous) cloak when changing worlds, and it gave me a good mental anchor. We enchanted the cloak to be a living map, one that would help to guide me to go wherever I touched, and I used it when changing worlds.
When Mickey Hart was researching material on sacred drums which later became his book Drumming On The Edge Of Magic, he commented that "wherever there was a shaman, there also seemed to be a drum". My drum was a simple frame drum given to me years ago by my wife, who saw it and was informed by the spirits that it had been placed there for me. She knew that I'd had a similar frame drum years ago with tambourine jingles around the outside, and that when someone had accidentally sat on it and broken it, I'd removed and saved all the jingles. I drilled holes and transferred the jingles to the new drum, thus transferring its spirit and energy. I named her Moonsong, after my last drum.
Most of the pagans that I knew used frame drums that were either Native American-style or Celtic bodhrans. (When I'd take my new jingly drum to gatherings, they'd assume that it was one of those, and that I'd "defiled" it with the jingles. Then I'd show them the "Made In Pakistan" sticker on it.) As time went on, I was urged to add more and more things to it, bits of metal, bells, boiled-out dried goat hooves to clack together, and finally three shin-bones of a favorite buck goat, Phil, who had come down with inoperable kidney stones and been lovingly sent off to Hel. I positioned the shin-bones so that they hung on the underside of the frame and beat the drum from the inside; all I had to do was hold it and move it a little, and it would practically beat itself. The final addition was painting the branches of the Tree on its surface, with the Nine Worlds hanging in its limbs. I also made it a case from an old red suede skirt that my wife had worn for years, and I embroidered a deer motif from a Sami hunting drum on it.
I'd used the drum to go into trance plenty of times, but when I'd journeyed between worlds, I'd done it on force of will alone. I was also slow and clumsy, and sometimes had to try a few times to get it right. Learning to use the drum to get me there was a vast improvement in my technique.
When I built my wardrobe for the trip, the most important thing was that the clothing have a great deal of hamingja. First of all, since it all had to be enchanted, I knew that it was going to have to be made of natural materials. Natural fibers hold magic much better than do synthetic ones, because they were alive more recently than the age of the dinosaurs. Secondly, anything given as a gift from someone who cares about you holds its own hamingja, especially if it used to be something of theirs, something that they valued, that they used with their hands or wore with their body. So I sent a message out to my circle of friends and family, asking them to donate any old natural-fiber clothing that they didn't want. Even if it was full of holes, I figured that I could patchwork it together.
I was inundated with old clothes in no time. A few friends actually gave me old linen tablecloths that had been used on their feast tables, and now had large visible stains. I cut tunics out of them, piecing the unstained parts together. One green linen tablecloth from Germany became a pair of pants with laced cuffs at the bottom. A friend gave me all her old silk shirts; I cut them apart and patchworked them together into linings. Each tunic, shirt, and pair of trousers was embroidered with runes that gave them particular qualities. The green linen pants, for example, were embroidered with "tireless" and "noiseless". The tunics were decorated with trim I made out of wool I'd spun from my own sheep, and each had a rune by the collar that gave it a certain magical slant. I made one Water (Laguz), one Harvest (Jera), one Earth (Berkana), and one Sunrise (Dagaz). The first time I wore the Sunrise shirt, I felt like I'd drunk ten cups of coffee. I put chainstitch into the trim, as I've found it holds magic best.
I made myself an ankle-length black circle skirt out of heavy cotton donated by a friend. I sewed two bands of orange trim on, and then I began to embroider, in runes, a poem that was to go all the way around the skirt eventually. When I began the trip, I had only the first line. I gained one line each day, and one on the way home. The skirt is full enough, though, that I haven't yet filled it all up. Why a skirt? One of my shamanic geases is mandatory gender-crossing behavior.
My jacket, like the case I built for my drum, was made out of old suede skirts that my wife had worn and torn - much hamingja, I figured - and a piece of orange leather made to look like snakeskin. I embroidered another Sami deer-and-bird motif from a spirit drum on the back, between the shoulder blades, so that the Hunter would watch my back. I sprinkled powdered elk antler, left over from carving an antler given to me by an ex-lover, under the patch as I sewed it on. Embroidered bands of Sami motifs decorated the back, sleeves, and pockets. The rest of the jacket had a "snaky" feel to it, so Joshua embroidered a repeating motif in blue-greens meant to symbolize the Midgard Serpent, and I stitched it onto the collar so that it went around my neck like a snake hangs when you drop it over your shoulders. Under the band of trim were tucked several shed snakeskins collected from a formerly owned ball python, and I sewed them securely underneath where they would be safe. Other pieces of embroidery were added over time, some of them Sami designs of fish or geometric motifs, some Scandinavian designs of deer, evergreens, and other animals. The belt for the jacket was handwoven by a friend, and I hammered disks of sheet brass with runes and shaman-drum designs and stitched them on.
Joshua also magicked my wool socks, sewing runes onto them that said "WARM DRY FEET". (He joked while doing it that he felt like a mom sending her kid off to summer camp and stitching his name into all his clothing.) In spite of everything, I still ended up underestimating how cold it was going to get - that summer and fall was unseasonably cold and rainy - and my first night out, I sent Joshua a note authorizing him to buy and rune-up two pairs of cotton long underwear.
My friend Jarrett Grace, a fellow member of the local pagan fiber arts guild, made me a pair of magic mittens knitted from green wool he'd handspun himself. They were made in a bear-paw style, with the "hood" that fell back to reveal half-fingers underneath, so I could have warmth or dexterity as I chose. He knitted WARM HANDS into them in runes, and "locked magical intent into them with every knitted stitch," as he put it in his own inimitable British style. As it happened with several of my belongings, the mittens ended up with an extra unplanned magical quality: they insulated the hands from other magic, so that one could touch something enchanted without it rubbing off on you. My daughter discovered this while examining my kit; she was able to pick up my magical hairbrush without being affected by its powers.
Joshua drew runes on a pair of moccasin boots with a magic marker for me. He had been worried about making them properly, but then he found the instructions being "downloaded" into his head, and he couldn't sleep until it was done. The instructions said that there had to be some sort of alliteration in the lines, as alliteration was a useful magical tool according to his late-night vision. The poem that he ended up writing was: "Pathwalker, Wegtamer ("way-tamer"), Walk two paths as one, Walk one path unerring, Walk no path unloved" on one boot, and "Welcome wherever we walk, gestr, vinr ("guest, friend"), Fleet footed, Never fail, Steps sure, Never stumble" on the other.
I also brought with me a belt that my wife had tooled with magical symbols years ago, and my old hat decorated with a skunkskin given to me by the former lover who'd given me the elk antler. The skunk is also my totem, and the fylgja that is my tie to this land rather than the land of my ancestors.
The Druids had what they called a "crane bag", which held their magical items. Many people conceive of this bag as a little pouch, suitable for wearing at the belt, but I still remember the words of a friend who is a traveling urban shaman, homeless and wandering the country. He referred to the handmade calico-and-denim knapsack over his shoulder as his crane bag, and advised me that the best ones were big enough to hold everything you might need to take with you. So I created my magic bag-to-hold-my-stuff large enough to be a good-sized knapsack, out of a russet suede skirt that my wife had outgrown. It was the sort that fastened up the front with snaps, so I just cut strips off the bottom to make into straps, and them sewed the waistband and cut hem up with heavy thread, leaving the snap edge to be the opening.
I folded over the edges of the straps and stitched them by hand with chain stitch in bright colors. As I sewed, I concentrated on binding magic into it that would have two purposes. First, it would never get lost and would always be to hand when I looked for it. Second, it would resist being picked up by anyone but me. (My friends later referred to it as "Raven's monogamous bag.") Before I'd even finished the embroidery, the straps themselves were beginning to take the magic; they were always within reach when I thought to look for them, and when I'd toss them into the embroidery bag, they'd always surface as soon as I opened it.
I put a couple of small appliqued patches on it; one with an eye and one with a crossed- out hand, both against theft. Unlike the smaller tools, which were merely charged, the bag ended up getting itself ensouled by the process. By the time the straps were riveted on, Bag - for that was her name - had taken on a very feminine personality. When I held her in my arms or on my back, I felt a distinct sensation as if she were "cuddling" me. When other people grabbed her straps to pick her up, they tended to immediately drop her. "It felt as if your bag bit me," one said.
5. Bowl, Cup and Spoon
One of the things that I was outright ordered to make was a set of ritual dishes. My mug was a carved cherrywood piece that my parents had bought in Germany when I was a child. My spoon was a simple wooden spoon from the kitchen that had been used for years of stirring cake batter. My bowl, on the other hand, was somewhat more special. It was a wooden oak burl that my wife had found on our property soon after moving in, and carved into an asymmetrical bowl shape. It was the first creative thing that was made on the property, and as such it was a link to the land-wight. Joshua wood-burned runes into it that said "Health, hamingja, harm be not done." The cup got something similar, but more extensive: "Health, hamingja, fair memory, harm be not done." I remembered all the stories about various nonhuman folk whose magical draughts made one lose their memory, and I wanted to specifically guard against that. The spoon was woodburned with a spiral up the handle and a bind rune of Othila and Eihwaz on the back.
The idea was to create dishes that would automatically neutralize any enchantment, sorcery, or astral poison. One could drink a faery brew out of my mug and it would have no more effect than if it were water. Indeed, that was what we concentrated on when we charged it as a group: visions of everything that went into it becoming as pure as water.
As soon as I went to eat my first meal after having crossed over, I realized that I was going to have to eat everything that I consumed out of those dishes. It wasn't just the poison or enchantment issue; I was quite sure that everything Joshua brought me was safe. It had become a taboo: when away from your own plane, you only eat out of the dishes you have brought along. Experimentally ignoring the taboo increased the gastric problems I associated with world- crossing, so I can only guess that they helped to stabilize the food and drink magically in some way.
Although I chose wood, magical dishes could be made just as well out of clay, and the runework could even be fired in (although clay is somewhat more fragile; I wanted something that could be dropped on the ground safely). Metal might work as well, although I would suggest copper as the best option, then steel, and to avoid metals such as aluminum.
My friend Allyson found me a wooden hairbrush with natural bristles on it. I have long hair that's too thick for a comb, and I didn't want to go nine days without properly brushing it, but it was difficult to find hairbrushes that weren't made of various sorts of plastic. One was finally discovered, though, and Joshua woodburned the round handle with a pattern of braided cord that slowly unraveled, until at the end of the handle it was only hanging strands. Between the strands he burned the word "Unbinding" in runes. I'd been given the message that this was the word that had to be on it.
Although we just expected it to be magically untangling, sliding through my hair and removing all snarls and elflocks (and it performed wonderfully for this), it turned out to do more than just this. I'd had a self-inflicted binding spell on me for behavioral change; it was designed to slowly fade out as the change became habit. (I strongly recommend such spells for dealing with addictive or unwanted behaviors.) It was about half faded, but after Josh brushed my hair with the newly magicked brush, suddenly the rest of the spell was gone. My hairbrush had become a wand of unbinding, useful for getting myself out of any unwanted spells that might fall upon me.
For those with less - or finer - hair, a comb might do just as well as part of a pathwalking survival kit, and would serve the same purpose. Carved wooden combs can still be found, imported from Asian countries; if you're skilled with woodworking, you might be able to carve one yourself out of an appropriate piece of wood.
7. Pen, Ink, and Paper
My pen was a peeled hazel stick, carved with the word "SWORD" in runes (I'm a writer, so it makes sense to me) and fitted with an ordinary brass dip pen nib in one end. My friend Tannin, who runs an occult store, made me Dragon's Blood Ink, properly magicked by her. My daughter Jess had received a papermaking kit for a birthday present some years back, but it had lain unused while she navigated her tumultuous teen life. Dragging it out of the closet, she spent several days learning to use it and making me around sixty sheets of homemade paper. My mother donated many piles of newsprint to use for the project. Forty of the pages were bound into a small journal, which Joshua covered with green leather, and the rest were tucked into the back of it to use as notes when I needed something brought or fixed.
I knew I would need a hatchet because I'd be laying my own fires. I had at first wanted to start them from scratch, but I couldn't master the art of the firebow or fire-twirl, or even tinder and flint, soon enough. We decided that the better part of valor was to have Joshua bring me down fire every evening with my dinner, and that Julie, who had planned to be working in the back woods periodically, would start off morning fires for me on particularly cold days. Chopping the wood, however, was my job. To this end, my friends the Tashlins (Wintersong, Fireheart, and Summerwind) prepared to magic me a hatchet. They considered forging one, but due to time and equipment constraints, they decided to buy one and fix it up. They burned runes in the handle, sharpened it, and worked on ensorceling it to be both sharp and safe. The idea was to make it able to chop through anything seamlessly except for human flesh, which it would refuse to cut.
To this end, after all three had worked on the ensorcellment, Wintersong shut himself up alone and magically "taught" the axe to avoid human flesh. Part of this process involved him swinging it at himself and convincing it to stop at the last moment, a technique which his partners strongly disapproved of (which was why he did it in private and didn't tell them about it until afterwards). This particular axe had to be especially safe because I have spatial dyslexia, and I'm rather klutzy at best.
The hatchet, like Bag, did inadvertently end up with something of a soul. The Tashlins named it RavenWing. I used it only as a tool during the trip; I did wonder if it could be used as a weapon (being as it was only enchanted to avoid human flesh) but as my job on this trip was diplomatic and spreading mayhem would be a bad idea, it remained useful in peaceful pursuits.
9. Wool, spinning, and spun spells
I brought along a basket of carded wool for spinning, and a Viking-style spindle with a carved soapstone whorl. My wife makes soapstone spindles, complete with carved runes, and I remember one night we were watching the Discovery Channel when a show on the archaeological excavation at L'Anse Aux Meadoux (the site of Leif Ericson's ill-fated colony) came on. I was spinning, using one of the soapstone spindles, when on the television appeared a soapstone whorl that could have been its twin, if it had been buried in the back yard for hundreds of years. It had been dug up on the site. I held mine up and cackled gleefully.
During the weeks leading up to the journey, I spun spells from the wool from our sheep. This is a simple trick if you know how to spin; just recite the spell and concentrate while the spindle whirls, and push the energy out, and visualize it getting twisted up in the fibers. I made a number of spells in gray-and-white yarn for invisibility, designed to be tossed over the shoulder as you recite the spell, and then you walk away and your pursuers can't find you. I also spun some out of black yarn for shadow-binding spells, and some out of plain white silk fiber for creating boundary spells (string it from tree to tree in a circle, and then mark the proper runes on the "anchor" tree). I cut a stick of rowan wood and wrapped them all onto it, and stowed it in Bag.
10. Magical Medkit
I created a small first aid kit for myself, in case of emergencies. The padded case was made from donated cotton clothing in bright yellow and orange (for visibility) and had several loops inside to hold everything in place. For years I'd collected the small colored glass bottles that mimic old-fashioned medicine bottles, some in the shape of fishes or skulls or houses. I'd started collecting them as a child out of love for my grandmother's collection, and as an adult, I eventually inherited that collection, as the relatives that picked over her empty house had no use for two shelves full of tiny glass bottles. I chose the smallest ones, ranging from two to three inches high, and filled them with herbal tinctures made by my wife - comfrey for sprains and bruises, echinacea and goldthread for the immune system, mullein for colds, hawthorn berry for my blood pressure, valerian for sleeping, and a shot of my wife's famous elderberry liqueur. Joshua replaced their poorly-fitting rubber corks by carving little ones out of discarded wine corks.
I filled a small pillbox with myrrh for antiseptic for cuts, figuring that any of the tinctures would work well as antiseptic as well due simply to their alcohol content. Another tiny screw-top makeup jar held out homemade "Green Goo" for skin irritations, which is simply melted beeswax with pureed jewelweed and a little Vitamin E oil stirred into it and cooled into salve. I also sterilized and wrapped a needle and a pair of tweezers for pulling out splinters, which turned out to be my most frequent use of the medkit. I had been given a quarter yard of fine Egyptian linen, and I cut it into bandages of different sizes, fringed the edges, packaged them in clean unbleached paper coffee filters, and microwaved them. Another coffee filter held a bit of candied ginger for upset stomachs. I also brought along a good-sized pot of udder cream to rub on my fresh tattoo. I had my friend Nahi the Reiki master, our group's healer, charge the kit. It wasn't elaborate, but I figured that if I hurt myself more extensively than I could fix with the kit, I needed to quit and go home anyway.
I also made myself some homemade cough drops, and ended up using every one of them. The recipe goes as follows:
Raven's Herbal Cough Drops
1. Make up a very strong tea of the following:
5 parts Horehound
2 parts Thyme
1 part Spearmint
1 part Peppermint
1 part Lemon Balm
1 part Rose Hips
(Optional: 10 drops peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, or both.)
2. Strain out the herb bits and put the tea in a large pan.
3. Add 2 ½ cups of sugar and 1 tbsp butter and bring to a boil on the stove.
4. During the boil, cover for about 3 minutes so the steam can wash down crystals on the sides of the pot. Then uncover and cook at high heat, without stirring, to the hard-crack stage, which is 300 degrees. (You'll need a candy thermometer or some other thermometer for this part.) The syrup should be separating into threads that are hard and brittle.
5. Have a greased marble or ceramic slab or large plate ready. Pour a little onto the plate, cut it with scissors as it cools, and roll the bits quickly into balls. Keep the rest of the pot going over low heat as you use it. Work fast; this is best done with several pairs of hands and a few greased plates.
6. Wrap the cough drops in small pieces of wax paper and store in a cool place in a sealed jar. If you pile them all together without separating them, they may fuse into one giant cough drop that must then be chipped out of the jar. Take as needed for colds and coughs.
11. Guitar and case
My guitar, Madrigal, didn't need any ensorcellment; two decades of being played by me had done that for her already. However, her case was padded black nylon, and it seemed very inert and unspellable. My attempts to magic it all slid off. We discussed various possibilities, which might work for other people who are trying to transport a magicked item in an unmagickable case, such as making a large natural-fiber bag that the whole thing could be popped into, or stitching panels of enspelled fabric onto it to hold the magic. I eventually ended up just making an alternate case for her, though, pieced together from various colored quilting cottons.
I brought the guitar because I knew I'd have to sing for my guest-right in a few places. It didn't matter that the songs weren't old Norse sagas - I expect that they're tired of that anyway, and appreciate fresh new things. For the unmusical, reciting poetry or telling good stories is a good way to earn your entry into a new place.
12. Personal care items
Allyson, the Martha Stewart of pagandom, made me an impressive gift basket of magically charged soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant stone. It became very important to me to get clean before changing worlds, if possible, as a matter of purification, and I was grateful to have her gifts.
Allyson's Magical Soap
Use a simple olive-oil based Castile soap recipe, of which there are many, and add the following ingredients:
Dulse - for the element of Water, and for the cleansing of the Sea
Rosemary - for the element of Fire, and for consecration and protection
Sage - for the element of Earth, and for wisdom and knowledge
Thyme - for the element of Air, and for clairvoyance and contact with other planes
Bran - as an abrasive, good for getting off serious dirt
Green Clay - for grounding and purification
Pine Rosin - for psychic projection
Liquid Chlorophyll - for the blood of the Green Man
Each bar of soap was charged and marked on the full moon with a bit of Allyson's blood; she warned me to wash it off before using a fresh bar.
13. Other random items
I also brought my bag of runestones, a utility knife with a handle of goat's horn from one of our goats, a single necklace, and a punched-tin lantern given as a Yule gift from a pagan friend who worked as a tinsmith at Old Sturbridge Village. We brought bedding and an oil lamp to the hermitage, but aside from that, the rope bed, the wooden moon box, and Maegen's cage, the place was spartan and undecorated. Joshua came down every night with charged candles and relit the lantern and the oil lamp, delivered my dinner, and rang the bell attached to one of the trees that held up the treehouse.
I was also given a gift of a corked glass bottle of seawater by a friend, who simply felt that I would need it. The seawater came in very handy for pathwalking uses, to line up ocean shores with little freshwater streams, and to invoke the Great Serpent. The same friend also brought a gift from his little girl. She had heard about my journey and decided to give me a protective gift - a scrap of her "blay", or magic security blanket that had disintegrated into little pieces some time earlier. She still used the bits for various protective reasons, and she felt that I would be safer with the tiny scrap of blue fabric, still showing its faded cows and moons and stars. She was a little worried that I would find it wanting, as it was just a ragged scrap, but I figured that there was a lot of hamingja in a little child's security blanket. Besides, in all the folktales, people are always better off when they accept blessings and advice from children, fools, and homeless beggars.
Part II: Offerings
A good chunk of the collected items for this trip were simply offerings, created specifically for the denizens of the various worlds. Going on the assumption that any guest is more welcome when they bring gifts, we created a bribe-fest for every sort of creature that we could think of, which probably had a lot to do with my not getting attacked or run out on a rail. Some I carried on me, others were brought down on specific days at my request. All were magically charged, either at their making, or at their purchase. They were, in the order that I gave them out:
1. Silver coins, hand-melted and cast. I had friends give me all their real silver jewelry that they no longer wanted or needed to melt down. Some of these included wedding rings from handfasted couples who had split up, oath-rings from broken oaths, pendants from spiritual paths no longer followed, chains that had become unredeemably tangled, and someone's baby spoon that had snapped in two. All went into the flame at the Tashlin's forge to be melted down and recast into rough silver coins inscribed with bind-runes. In a very real way, these coins were transformed out of a wealth of broken dreams and wishes. My donated hoard made eleven of them, and I handed them out to various folk along the journey as a kind of toll. The first one was given to an innkeeper in Midgard. The last few coins were given to the duergar lords, who appreciated the silver if not the crude workmanship.
2. In Muspellheim: Fruit of various kinds for the fire giants, who don't have very much of it, charmed to have "innocent cute little baby" energy in them. My daughter did the ensorcellment, carrying them about wrapped in a cloth on her shoulder, as one would a baby, and the fire Jotun definitely found them much more appealing to chomp down that way.
3. In the Myrkwood: tribal-looking junk jewelry to leave in the shrines of the local tribes.
4. In Asgard: For Odhinn, a bottle of Willow's Blood mead, made by my friend Willow and dyed red with hibiscus flowers. For Frigga, a bottle of blessed salt, and an hour of my help with the spinning. For Freyja, a bottle of "loved-up" honey, as Joshua put it. For Iduna, new modern varieties of apple to try.
5. In Alfheim: Here my friend Allyson, the Martha Stuart of Paganism, did her usual amazing job, She built a set of runes for the Alfar royalty out of marzipan. Each rune was marked with a mixture of special spices that seemed appropriate for that rune, oil, and her blood. They were presented in a cardboard box covered with mirrors, glass gems, and plaster, with a bag of gold tissue to put them in. Although the Alfar weren't fond of me personally, they were much impressed with my gift.
6. In Vanaheim, a bottle of harvest pomegranate mead for Frey, a bag of organic flour, some organic fruit, and some dried corn.
7. In Jotunheim: A great iron pot of cooked leg of mutton with onions, and a bottle of Jack Daniels.
8. In the Iron Wood: Raw organ meats - hearts and kidneys - for the barbarian Jotun tribes.
9. In Svartalfheim: For the Svartalfar, small round chocolates shaped like eyeballs (it was October, and there were Halloween candies appearing in the stores), and a red glass ornament with "I'm fun to smash" energy on it. For the Duergar, the rest of my silver and a bottle of Crown Royal whisky, which softened them up a good bit.
10. In Niflheim: For the frost giants: more fruit, especially citrus fruits which they never see. For Garm, a chunk of meat wrapped in bread.
11. In Helheim: For Hela, a giant bouquet of carefully dried and preserved long-stemmed roses. My friend Julie is a solitary pagan on a military base, and she celebrates the high holidays by herself, and uses long-stemmed roses of appropriate colors rather than a sword, as she can't keep large weapons on the base. She dried the sacred ritual roses after every holiday, and donated a full year's worth for the perfect gift for Hela. For the Dead: Singing. Hours of singing.