About Lily

A teacher of youngins, Lily finds meaning through the pursuit of knowledge. She is an artist, a witch, a hedge-rider, a rune reader, and animist who finds solace in books, folklore, and coffee.

Runes and Whispers: THURISAZ

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Proto- Germanic Reconstructed Name: THURISAZ 
Meaning: “thorn” or “giant”

 

Original Text in Poems:

Anglo-Saxon Poem
Ðorn byþ ðearle scearp;
ðegna gehwylcum anfeng ys yfyl,
ungemetum reþe manna gehwelcum,
ðe him mid resteð.

Norwegian Poem
Þurs vældr kvinna kvillu,
kátr værðr fár af illu.

Icelandic Poem
Þurs er kvenna kvöl
ok kletta búi
ok varðrúnar verr.
Saturnus þengill.

Translation:

Anglo-Saxon  Poem
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.

Norwegian Poem
Thurs (“Giant”) causes anguish to women,
misfortune makes few men cheerful.

Icelandic Poem
Thurs (“Giant”) is torture of women
and cliff-dweller
and husband of a giantess
Saturn’s thegn.

Musings:

Thurisaz is the third rune of the Elder Futhark and represents the d sound in the alphabet. This is a powerful rune, an aggressive ally, and a violent force if not given proper attentions. All three of the runic poems mention Thurisaz with warnings of giants and thorns; they speak of “exceedingly sharp evil things” and the “anguish of women.”

The Anglo-Saxon Poem names this rune the thorn (Ðorn), calling it “uncommonly severe” and “sharp.” According to the poem, Thurisaz is an “evil thing for any knight to touch.” Thorns are instruments of protection, grown by plants to ward away animals, and though the poem regards the thorn as evil, what is good for the plant is not always good for the beast. A thorn is also a visible, if not a somewhat passive form protection: if you cut your hand on a thorn, well then you should’ve heeded the plant’s warning.

The Icelandic Poem and the Norwegian Poem both refer to Thurizas as a giant (Þurs). The Icelandic poem specifically seems to be referencing one particular giant, calling Thurizas the “torture of women and cliff-dweller and husband of a giantess” and “Saturn’s theign” (a theign being Old Norse for an attendant to the king). The Norwegian poem warns that “misfortune makes few men cheerful.” The Jötunn, the giants of Norse mythology, are proud and fierce and as mighty as the Aesir and Vanir with whom the Jötunn have a very complex relationship.

One can also not discount the similarity the word Thurizas bears to the son of Odin and wielder of Mjölnir, Thor. Though he is not mentioned specifically in any of the poems, Thurizas is often called “Thor’s Rune.”

When Thurizas appears, it is a warning and an ally, a call to arms.  One must be able to protect one’s self with all the sharpness of a thorn and the ruthlessness of a giant when it is time to pick up the hammer.

Cursing a Rapist

I have a good friend and years before we met, she was attacked and sexually assaulted in her home.

Now, thirteen years later (the irony of this doesn’t escape me), her rapist has been caught and will tried for his crimes against her and against the other women he has violated. In a few hours she will take the stand and give her testimony against this cretin and last night she asked for strength and power.

Filled with righteousness on her behalf and on the behalf of all women who have suffered at the hands of men, I sent her power.

I drew a picture of his true self, his disgusting self, his decayed inner self. I sewed his eyes and nailed his tongue down with my pencil. I split his penis and stuck pins into it.

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I beat my red drum and my chest, I called to me the spirits of blood, bone and shadow. I banged my fist on my counters and doors, waking up the house wights, I yelled to them to attend me. Around my kitchen I sharpened my mother’s pocket knife, whispering of the power and viciousness of the bitch.

I invoked Hekate, Durga, and Sehkmet. I let me voice reverberate through my house.

Hekate
Three Faced One! Guardian of the Crossroads! Keeper of the Keys!
I call on thee, attend my rite!
Lend [my friend] your power of justice, look upon this evil she faces with your dark gaze, 
feast upon him with your three mouths! Hail, Hekate! 
Durga 
Creator and Destroyer! Three Eyed Lady! Fearless one!
I call on thee, attend my triangle! 
Lend [my friend] your power of strength, turn this evil from her,
Bind him with your many arms! Hail, Durga!
Sehkmet 
Mighty One! Great Lionness! Destroyer of Men!
I call on thee, attend my triangle!
Lend [my friend] your power of destruction, consume this evil she faces with your savage teeth,
Maim him with your bloody claws! Hail, Sehkmet!
I rubbed garlic into his eyes and salt into his wounds. I drowned him in my beer and spit and blood. I cursed him.
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I spit on your grave. I piss on your doorstep.
I cursed him.
I folded the paper, I bound him tightly. I laid Tiwaz, Thurisaz, and Ansuz upon him. A binding. A curse. The spirits hold him down.
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To Tisiphone I give your penis, may she split it in half. To Megaera I give your hands, may she chop them off. To Alecto I give your tongue, may she pull it out. 
I cursed him.
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I took him outside and I dug into the dirt my bare hands and I buried him. I laid rocks to seal his grave.
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I curse you. I bind you. The justice of the wronged will destroy you, the righteousness in her words will castrate you, the truth in her testimony will render you impotent under the fierceness of her gaze.
I curse you. I bind you. 

Hexennacht: A Ritual

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The veil thins, my dark little creatures! Hexennacht, the night of Witches, approaches. Also called Walpurgisnacht, the night of April 30th is a darker, wilder sister to Beltane– which is a nice holiday and all, but I ain’t Celtic.

On the opposite end of the year than October 31st; I think of Hallow’s Eve and Hexennacht as book ends, two sides to the same coin laid upon the mouth of the dead so that they may pay their way on Charon’s boat. A journey across the river Acheron. A voyage through the underworlds.

In Germany it’s believed that witches gather on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, for dark revels and communions with demons on the night before May Day.

This is a night of celebration, for the dead speak and the veil has thinned.

I will be celebrating Hexennacht on Sunday night and below you’ll find a skeleton outline of the ritual I will be using. Feel free to mad-lib it to your black heart’s content. Let me know if you do!

Whisper to the dead and they will whisper back, witches.

To begin, I cleanse myself with smoke or water, grounding and centering down into the earth, before casting a Triangle of Blood, Bone, and Shadow.

Triangle

Bone

Dark One of Unknowable Depths. You whisper to me ancient secrets of magic and death. Stalking the space between worlds, you exist betwixt and between. Within the veil, between the flesh, is your wicked domain. Guide me through my Triangle as you guide me through the veil. Oh come and be my teacher.

Blood

Bloodied Warrior of Vicious Protection. Through the mightiness of my ancestral line, I know your name. Guardian of my mother’s mother,  you are the protectress of ancient children. A creature of the venerated wild, mistress of tooth and claw. Ward my Triangle as you ward my Journey. Oh come and be my keeper.

Shadow

Dreaded Enchantress of Infinite Wisdom. In your kingdom of obsidian my soul takes root, burrowing into wicked soil. You are the black serpent of the crossroads, snake witch, the deep darkness is yours to command.  Reveal my Triangle as you reveal my shadow.  Oh come and be my reflection.  

I then invoke the wights and spirits of my house and land, as well as my own personal ancestors and beloved departed.

Invocations

House Spirits

Wights of place! Of hearth and home! Of brick and beam! Of wood and stone! Heed my Triangle, drawn with power! I call upon you in this sacred hour! 

Departed Family

Ancestors, beloved and departed- dead to us, but never gone. You who are called [list departed family and ancestral surnames]! Come, attend my rite!

For Hexennacht I will light a fire under the dark sky and throw in dried herbs to mingle with the smoke– sage, local henbit, and mandrake. I will beat my drum and sing, calling my ancestors to me. I will throw my runes and divine that which my mundane eyes cannot see. I will dance, widdershins, around my fire and I will pour out homemade mead for my ancestors to drink.

Dark revels are about on this night. Don your masks so that you may join in the celebrations, trick the spirits into believing you are one of them, because truly, on Hexennacht you are.

Open your ears and soul and eyes to the calls of the dead and the spirits. 

A Problem with Whiteness

My brother-in-law says to me he can tell when an Italian restaurant isn’t authentic. I think to myself that he wouldn’t know authentic Italian or Italian-American cuisine if it fell from the sky and crushed him, but I humor him. How can you tell, I ask.

When they’re run by white people, he explains. 

I stop, startled into silence by this assertion, mutely gaping as my father-in-law agrees.

“So, then,” I begin slowly finding my voice, “are you saying Italians aren’t white? Are you saying I’m not white?”

I am genuinely confused and the two starkly pale men of Irish ancestry standing in my kitchen seem confused as well.

My brother-in-law stares at me as if I asked the stupidest question he’s ever heard.

“Well, umm, uhh yea…” He is struggling for words and I offer him none. I let my brother-in-law flounder under my emerald gaze, until he is saved by my husband’s sudden appearance as he seems to have a sixth sense for when his family are making asses of themselves.

Am I white?

My grandfather is full-blooded Italian. His parents immigrated from southern Italy. My name is Italian. I have my great-grandpa Vito’s nose, I have my grandfather’s eyes and his olive complexion.

I have been mistaken for many different ethnicities, I’ve had people argue with me that I couldn’t possibly be of European descent because of how I look. I suppose I’m ethnically ambiguous, though that’s rather an odd term.

But see, here is the problem with whiteness–

You are only white for as long as the dominant culture says you are white.

Whiteness is a gift bestowed upon the ruling class to those of us less fortunate.

For the time being we are white enough. Southern Europeans, Roman Catholics, we are white enough.

But not too long ago, we weren’t.

The term “guinea” refers to those of us from Southern Italy who are darker than our more Northern cousins. It is a slur. It is a slur meant to call into question our whiteness. Because not too long ago, we Italians were not white. We were guineas and dagos and wops.

Am I white?

My friend from Japan is not as dark skinned as me, my friend from Cyprus is not as dark skinned as me, my friend from Morocco is not as dark skinned as me. Shouldn’t they be white?

Am I white?

White is not the color of your skin, white is the blessing bestowed upon the less fortunate by the dominate culture until suddenly it’s not anymore.

Until suddenly we are dagos and guineas and wops again because really, that’s what we were the whole time.

Am I white?

Full Moon Offering

On the evening of the full moon, my mother-in-law came to visit. To put it gently, this is not a fun time for me. My husband’s mother is a narcissistic, manipulative, dishonorable bitch and that’s about the nicest thing I could probably say about her.

I sat on my couch and listened to her turn what should have been a brief encounter to pick something up, into an hour long diatribe on why no one loves her or cares about her, all the time consciously willing my eyes not to roll into the back of my head. I take special cautions to avoid her and normally this works just fine, we usually see her about twice a month and rarely at our home. But sometimes it cannot be avoided.

I could feel my house, my wights, my spirits recoil away from her, I could feel her energy polluting my home. I wanted to scream.

When she finally left, I could see the mental exhaustion painted across my husband’s face, and so I suggested we dye eggs. Something fun and whimsical and childlike to erase her foul aura from our house.

I forgot it was the full moon. 

So we dyed our eggs and I offered them to my house and my own spirits and when I went to bed I dreamed of my father smiling at me.

The next day, besides my herb garden, I found a rabbit. A creature broken and mangled and half-eaten: prey.

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I have lived in my house for two years now and have never found a dead animal anywhere on our little property and when I saw her lying there I knew the wheel was turning.

I spoke to my witch sister and she said offering, this is an offering.

Offering. 

Yes. An offering, a sacrifice.

The carcass was properly disposed of, in the way one must do in the city, and as the sun set and twilight descended, I made my own offering. I cut a sprig of oregano from my garden and boiled it. I poured the water and oregano onto the spot where the rabbit had been left and I sprinkled salt upon the ground. All this, an offering to the door this death had created, a piercing of the veil, and I breathed in that power.

For you see, what is good for the wolf is not necessarily good for the rabbit and trust me when I tell you, my little darklings, I am a wolf. 

When Spirits Speak

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 8.10.27 AMMy home is a guarded space. My wights and I, we have an understanding, we have a working relationship, a partnership. They will own these bricks and beams, this wood and stone, this dirt and land, long after my family and I have left. It’s really more their’s than it is mine.

Yesterday, I arrived home from my muggle life and I had a feeling: an urge to offer. So I poured salt in my hand, coarse and purified, and I sprinkled it along the boundary of my fence and house. I sang to the wights and spirits, I called on them with the salt, both an offering and a warding.

This place is ours. Let nothing in that would do ill. This place is ours. Accept this offering, heed my will. 

The wights are listening, the wights are always listening even when you think maybe they’re not. They live in everything.

Your home is made of wood that was once a tree. Does the tree not have a spirit? Your home is made of brick that was once clay and shale. Does the rock not have a spirit? Your home sits atop the ancient land. Does the land not have a spirit? Maybe neglected spirits, maybe forgotten spirits, but spirits nonetheless.

After my offering of salt and song, I came inside and found crawling about on my hand a wee spider. The spirits are always listening. I took the little guardian outside and I thanked her for her weavings. There is power and craft in a spider’s web. Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 8.09.54 AM

In my backyard are frogs and rabbits, spiders and cardinals, mushrooms and weeds. They own this place.

Six Months

I am not okay.

Six months ago today by father’s heart abruptly shut down and he died in the front yard of the house I grew up in. My sister was with him. Two of my parent’s neighbors were with him. Eventually the emergency responders were with him.

He died any way.

I talk to him all the time. I tell him  I’m sorry for everything I ever did wrong or anything that may have disappointed him about me. I ask him for advice, I ask him what I should do now. I apologize every day.

I feel like the worst daughter in the world and I don’t even know why.

My father and I were always close. He was loving and caring and I was extraordinarily lucky to have him as a dad.

Some mornings I wake up crying and I don’t know why. I mean, I suppose I know why, my dad’s gone, but there was nothing to set it off. I’m just alone, crying, not wanting to wake anyone up because no one really wants to talk about this.

I get so angry at everyone around me because everyone is treating me like I’m okay. I am not okay. I don’t know how I should be behaving to make people understand. Should I be drinking more? Crying more? Should my behavior be erratic and out of the norm? Should I not be going to work and living my life?

I don’t know what to do. Every time someone says to me they’re here if I need to talk I wan’t to scream and throw something. I want to smash everything in the room until I’m surrounded by objects as broken as how I feel.

Obviously I want to talk. I brought this to you. I’m telling you I don’t feel good. Of course I want to talk. But no one wants to talk to me. I am making everyone uncomfortable.

So I sit here and I write

and I cry into my coffee

and I stare at photos of my dad

and I wonder if it’s possible to just be alone forever.

My Sister, My Blood

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My sister has a voice like a chainsaw and a mouth that cuts deeper than any sharpened steel. Amber eyed and wild haired with deep olive skin, she is not unlike the Greco-Roman Furies; Allecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera all at once. She is on the cusp of both Ares and Taurus, born with all the war-like ferocity of the former and the unmoving stubbornness of the latter. My sister is a force unto herself.

In adulthood she and I have learned to navigate the turbulent ocean of our relationship, sailing together on a ship made unbreakable by the squalls and hurricanes of our life together. But it was not always so.

I am older, but she was always taller and bigger and stronger and physical in a manner I was not as a child. Her weapons were on the surface: a keen mind, an unfailing sense of self, a ruthlessness I often admire. My sister forced me to forge secret weapons, to guard myself with an expertise only siblings can teach. Your siblings, if all goes well, are with you from birth to death. They know you before you are a fully realized vessel, when you are nothing more than wet clay, and they are there with you through the wedging, throwing, and firing of life and adolescence. Siblings have the experience to see through the facade you present to the world, cutting through your walls to the very foundation of your soul, because your foundation is their foundation.

No one understands my soul as intrinsically as my sister and no one knows her soul as expertly as I; it is a bond that cannot be replicated and brings with it a power often abused.

As children my sister and I would fight and bicker and push and pull. She would scream, her voice like a maelstrom, so I would turn away, ignoring her outbursts and refusing to acknowledge her. Her thunderous yelling was her sword and my contemptuous silence my shield.

I can recall the worst fight we ever had was at Girl Scout camp in elementary school; we were living in Seattle, she was six and I was eight. I can remember pulling her hair to wrench her to the ground; she had said something that finally broke me, though neither of us can remember it now. I rolled on top of her and pinned her down, but she wouldn’t stop speaking, so I grabbed the closest thing to us, a sock, and I shoved it in her mouth, hellbent on silencing her.

The Girl Scout leaders had to call my father to come pick us up early from camp, they’d never seen two scouts fight as viciously as my sister and I were capable of. We were bloodied and bruised and exhausted from the force of our violence when my father came to retrieve us. I will never forget that car ride home. He wouldn’t say a word to us, which was jarring as my sister inherited her ability to yell from our Italian bred, Brooklyn born father. He didn’t speak and we didn’t speak, allowing us to stew in the fearful anticipation of the punishment he’d surely deal out when once we’d made it home.

At the time it was late winter, early spring in the Pacific Northwest and it was cold and damp outside. Back at our house, my father demanded, barely even able to look at us such was his shame and rage, that we go into the winter-dead garden and pull weeds. In silence we did this. Tears streaming down our faces, our chests racked with sobs, our gloved hands cold and shaking: forced into camaraderie in our punishment.

I can’t tell you how long we were out there, it felt like an eternity, until finally my father came out of the house and he looked between us, disgrace painted across his stern features, and ordered us to face each other saying,

That is your blood and if you don’t have your blood, you don’t have anything.”
And we cried.

When Silent Anger isn’t Enough

Today I’m angry.

I am so goddamn angry.

I am so goddamn motherfucking angry. 

You may have noticed I’m a little upset.

Why, you may ask? Because apparently I’ve found myself in a goddamn motherfucking B-rate post-apocalyptic horror movie, where a fascist congealed pile of orange pond algae someone glued googly eyes to has managed to be elected as president of the goddamn USA.

I’m angry and you should be angry too, even if you don’t live in the USA. Even if you did vote for this piece of tangerine shit because of emails or something? Everyone should be pissed.

Unless you are a Nazi, in which case, this all probably seems awesome to you, in which case, fuck off.

This has been a wake up call, like the worst sort of wake up call. Like someone threw a bucket of freezing cold urine on me sort of wake up call.

I have been too quiet. I live my life secretly. I don’t speak up, I don’t talk out of line, because it’s really too much of a hassle. I hold my beliefs close to my chest and silently hate and judge and curse and banish and derisively laugh. But mostly I keep to myself.

No more, fuckers. No more.

It is about to get real up in this motherfucking bitch- oh my gods, will it get real.

I am going to be calling all of you. I am going to be writing to all of you. I am going to be cursing and hexing and binding all you pieces of shit.

I will be marching and protesting and speaking and quite possibly punching, because it’s just an alternative kiss. Amirite?!

Get ready for the worst four years of your lives you Evangelical, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, taint lickers.

Keeping Wights and Home

If you are familiar with the old Russian hag Baba Yaga, then you are no doubt familiar with the story of her encounter with a pair of orphaned children whose cruel stepmother sent them to work for the ancient witch. While Baba Yaga was away, the kind-hearted children managed to escape from her chicken legged house with help from the witch’s neglected household. When Baba Yaga returned home to find the children gone, she demanded answers from the disobedient trees, animals, and gates that allowed the children to escape. The household replied:

“We were always ready to obey thee, but thou didst neglect us.” 

 

So, it was not that the children were good and needed to be saved, though I can understand why some might interpret the story thusly, but rather it’s simply that the children respected the needs of the household. They fed the mice, dogs and black cat, placed ribbon on the birch trees, and oiled the old gates and were rewarded for their appreciation. The household doesn’t complain that Baba Yaga was cruel to the children or that she herself is “evil” (in fact no indication they have any thoughts regarding the morality of the situation) they merely wanted acknowledgement and respect.

Your home is alive. From the cabinet doors in your kitchen to the wooden beams behind your walls, your dwelling is absolutely infested with spirits. Maybe they followed you there, attaching themselves to your person or your ancestral lineage, maybe you invited them with craft or will-working, but most likely they were there before you arrived and will be there long after you’re gone. It has been my experience that very few things in life belong solely to one being. You have to learn to share.

So here is my three point list of recommendations on how to keep your house wights happy.

1. Cleanliness


As my oma would say, it’s important to have a little Putzfimmel: a cleaning obsession. People don’t like to live in filth and neither do wights. I recommend a weekly cleaning schedule to keep your house or apartment in good condition and a monthly schedule for deeper cleaning. I know that might feel overwhelming when you work full time and/or have children to take care of, but trust me it’s worth it. Even if keeping wights happy isn’t your main goal, everyone deserves to live in a clean home. Many folks I know also have maid services, which is fine, but I would suggest maybe once a month or so doing at least some of the cleaning yourself to help establish a connection with your wights. They’ll appreciate the effort. 
Have you ever walked into a house and thought “Holy fuck, get me the fuck out of here.”? Have you ever walked into a house and just known the people living inside were unhappy? We leave those emotions around us, like a pollutant, and the wights can feel it as well. Your wights and spirits live with you, they’re around you as much as members of your family, so just as their happiness affects you, your happiness affects them. Remember to emotionally clean up and take care of yourself as well.

2. Offerings

These don’t have to be grand gestures and actually, I’ve found that wights rarely appreciate a large effort and find it to be insincere. Maybe my wights are too Germanic for their own good, but some smoke from my pipe and a good beer usually does the trick. You might try asking your wights what they prefer and how often they’d prefer it. Walk about your house, property, or apartment and feel for your wights, establish a connection. Which brings me to my next point-

3. Communication

This is simple- talk to your wights. Going out of town? Let them know. Is someone coming over to take care of your fur-babies? Let the wights know. If you establish an open line of communication, your wights are more likely to listen and talk back. Don’t expect them to speak in words and phrases, they’re not people, they’re not even corporeal beings. They’re the very inhuman consciousness of your dwelling. Like I said earlier, you have to feel them and the more you talk to them, the more likely they are to respond.

I hope this has been helpful! Just remember happy wights, happy life.