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Variation on the First Merseburg Charm

March 10, 2011

At an oracular seidh session at Pantheacon I asked the seeress if it was appropriate for me to be focusing on working with my female ancestors for the indefinite future, or if I should be balancing it with male ancestor work. (My heart says the former, but I have no desire to be neglectful or cause offense.)

She said I’d balance out matters in time, but now was for working with the disir. She also said (approximately) “I keep getting the impression that you and your disir have some work to do with the first Merseburg charm. . . freeing from fetters?”

I looked it up. Here are sources for some translations and commentary:

Wikipedia (general)
Wikipedia (user-customized)
New Northvegr Center
Skadi Forum

Following is a personal poetic reframing based on translations of the original; the gist is essentially the same, but it’s nuanced to refer to my specific situation.

“On paths of the past           one discerns the disir.

Some hardened hearts,           some savaged selfhood;

Others reach forth           to free the afflicted –

Weight lifted from wyrd           helps heal hamingja!”

For context’s sake: I have had at least one very negative female ancestor and at least a handful of very damaged ones within the past few generations. For years I’ve been doing a lot of work to face that and to heal. I feel the ancestors from further back have lent me assistance me in this work. If there is such a thing as “family luck” that people can contribute to for good or ill – some define hamingja so – rehabilitation is a major endeavor, and a gift to the future.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Faoladh permalink
    March 11, 2011 1:13 PM

    In his The Galdrabók, Stephen Flowers gives another translation:

    Once there was sitting lofty ladies
    sitting here and there
    some bound bonds,
    some hemmed the warrior bands,
    some picked
    at the fetters,
    so that the hasp-bonds break,
    and the warriors escape.

    • March 14, 2011 10:28 AM

      Thank you – not speaking the original languages, as many translations as I can cross-compare are welcome!

      Do you generally recommend The Galdrabók? I’ve heard of Stephen Flowers but haven’t had much opportunity to look at his work yet myself.

      • Faoladh permalink
        March 14, 2011 11:17 AM

        The first edition received mixed academic reviews. I understand that Flowers (who you may also know as Edred Thorson, when writing for an esoteric audience) took those criticisms to heart in the second edition, though I have not yet compared them extensively. It has some value for aspects of what I am doing, and the book is a fascinating look at northern European magical practices outside of the grimoire mainstream (though perhaps influenced by them). Flowers’s discussion of the structure of the spells in the Galdrabók is interesting and possibly fruitful for those with those interests. If you’d like, I can loan one or both editions to you, so that you can look them over.

        • March 16, 2011 10:07 AM

          At some point I will be happy to take you up on that, but in the short-term the idea is kind of making my brain overload. ;)

  2. March 16, 2011 7:27 AM

    (Popped over here to see your recent posts after you sent me a private message on livejournal. Pardon me not being more specific about identities, but I don’t cross the streams with the blogger ID.)

    I actually did a major cleansing ritual intended to heal toxicity from deeply wounded female ancestors a few years ago, in order to conceive my daughter. I was too scared of passing on that family luck for my body to accept a pregnancy beforehand! Kemetic framework rather than a heathen one, though.

    • March 16, 2011 9:47 AM

      S’ok – I get the ID segregation, as I manifest it myself. Welcome!

      I’d be interested in hearing more about your ritual, if you’d be willing to share – I think the topic of dealing with problematic ancestors is often mentioned but rarely explored (or at least rarely discussed). I still work Kemetic “freelance”, as it were. Long story short – organizational involvement strongly discouraged if not actually forbidden, personal devotional work encouraged and supported.

      (Tangentially, I should really stick up pages with hotlinks per culture/pantheon, so I could point you competently and quickly to the posts where I explain where I am in regards to that POV. . . .)

      • March 16, 2011 10:14 AM

        Do not get me started on organisational involvement in Kemetic stuff. I can go on and on and on and I get less coherent as time goes by. (Unwise to get the Set kid to start rambling about incompetent, incoherent authority structures.) I’m actually working on a non-denominational basic Kemetic book at the moment, dealing with what I do rather than that crap. It’ll probably be a few more years in the writing, but I have a lot of people cheerleading at me to get it done already …. (I posted an excerpt to an interfaith pagan board recently and had bunches of people going “AWESOME” … including one Celtic recon. I feel weird about this.)

        I’m going to do the middle-level explanation on the assumption that you have the basic terminology structure in your head already:

        The ritual was based on one of the spells from the Book of Going Forth By Day, specifically the one for purifying and reconciling with the ka. Because the ka is the soul that is inherited from the akhu (and shares an identity with their kau), it seemed to me that it could in theory carry the scars of generational trauma; further, that working to heal those scars would not only protect future children (who would not be forced to inherit them), but would act to heal the ancestors themselves as well (since it’s the same soul, after all).

        Nrgh, *digs up notes*, okay, it’s Chapter 105 of the BoGFbD, beginning “Hail to you, ka of my lifetime”. I changed that to “My living ka”, seeing as how I’m not dead yet. The text suggests that one cleanses and reconciles with the ka with gifts/purifications of natron, incense, and amuletic papyrus, so: I inscribed the ‘ka’ symbol on a piece of paper, censed it, washed it in water and pseudonatron, and then ate the piece of paper (and drank the cleansing water too to make sure I reassimilated all the energies). I wrote up a slightly tweaked version of the text to 105 to serve as the recitation for the heka.

        For bonus stuff from my actual immediate cultural heritage, this heka was performed at a Samhain ritual gathering, for the resonance with ancestor energies.

        (I realised as I was building this ritual that it has strong parallelisms to the Feri ritual of kala in both purpose and structure, which pleases me, because I am a syncretic practitioner of both religions. When talking to other Feris I say that I conceived my daughter with a supercharged kala ritual.)

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