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31 Oct 2009

Winternights/Samhain 2009


Winternights/Samhain 2009

Issue #5 is Here!

By the Hum of Ullr’s Bow: Winter Songs Compilation CD
is included with the magazine and is also available for purchase separately.

Bands on the compilation CD include:

• A Minority of One • Allerseelen • Andrew King • At the Head of the Woods
• Beastianity • Hamramr • Irij • Ironwood
• Ruhr Hunter• Sangre Cavallum • Sieben • Steve von Till • Svarrogh • Waldteufel • Wardruna

(You can read more about the artists here).

Hex needs your help! This is a community-supported not-for-profit publication. You can support us by clicking the image above and ordering magazines and prints, and by spreading the word to all like-minded folk!

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Autumn Light

Hail to the autumn light
Hail to the autumn night
How I live for your gentle respite
And the long slow death of the year

Summer is over and autumn is come
The sun now gentle, her strength fading long
She spills her love on homestead and tree
And bears her burden to shadowed reprieve

The wind whispers a soothing harmony
Amid red leaves that shed to the time
Of some hidden rhythm deep inside the earth
That bears us down and into rebirth

Hail to the autumn light
Hail to the autumn night
How I live for your gentle respite
And the long slow death of the year

I love the shadows of rustling tree leaves
I love the soothing scent of cold air shifting
I love the long nights borne round the home fire
And the arms of my lover that stoke my desire

I love the cool tang of the earth on my feet
I love the grey clouds that brood without conceit
I love the bird song as life ekes its last
The days grow shorter, the moon reclaims his task

Hail to the autumn light
Hail to the autumn night
How I live for your gentle respite
And the long slow death of the year

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Wodan’s Wilde Jagt by F. Heine

.: The Mists of October :.

Along roadsides in the rural areas of the Southeastern US we are beginning to see snow gathering! No, it’s not real snow, but cotton. Farmers today often apply defoliants which cause the leaves to fall off just before harvest, leaving behind a fat blanket of fluffy white cotton balls, easily mistaken for snow (well, at least at a distance if you squint a little). That means it’s time for pumpkins, scarecrows, and the fall festivals and fairs to show up, and for Halloween.

Growing up we loved this time of year, Mom would start making us costumes and we’d empty our pillow cases for the ‘loot’ we hoped we’d get. Honoring this time of year as a Heathen isn’t quite as simple, though. First you have to do some homework.

It was at this time, as mists began to rise in the morning and evening and winds howled across the land, that the barrier between the living and dead was said to thin. It was when ghostly spirits could be encountered in the fading light, and when the Wild Hunt began to ride the dark skies before peaking during the twelve days of Yule.

The Wild Hunt was said to be led by many legendary figures, including Odin, King Arthur, and Holda or Perchta. However it always seemed to be accompanied by a chorus of baying hounds, pounding horses’ hooves, and a few ghosts moaning like the wind. Often this chorus was heard before or during winter storms.

Today, the Wild Hunt is often tied with the Celtic tradition of Samhain. Lore from past and present seems to have merged to become today’s Halloween, and despite the passage of traditions, cultures, and religions, this time still retains the elements of wildness, death, and spirits.. Halloween falls on All Hallows’ Eve, October 31st. It is followed by Samhain, or All Hallows’ Day, on November 1st, and by the Catholic All Souls Day on November 2nd.

The Heathen Hearth can celebrate this time of year in many ways:

  • Plan an Icelandic Winters Night Feast with a blót to Frey as Thorgrim did in Gisla Saga.
  • Symbolically leave something for Odin’s horse, Sleipnir. Try some freshly harvested hay tied into an animal shape or a corn dolly. This offering issaid to helpwardoff the Wild Hunters.
  • Trick or Treating also follows a much older German concept called “souling,” in which people went begging for soul cakes in return for saying prayersfor the deadkin of their benefactors.
  • Find some favorite pictures of your ancestors, especially your dísir (female ancestors), and put them in a prominent place. Build a fire if youcan andtoast thedeeds of your ancestors in memory, and so your children will know who they are.
  • Many folk feel this is a great time for augury. Take out your favorite tools – be they runes, wooden staves, a little bag of odds and ends (somewomen’s gravescontained such bags, I call this Junk Augury), cards, whatever tools you are comfortable with. Then call the ancestors to assist you and make a cast tosee a possiblefuture.
  • Don’t forget to ward the hearth with a carved and lighted turnip or pumpkin and get out the garlic: Stephen Pollington tells us that “[i]n Folktradition, garlichas been associated with the devil, but conversely could be worn to protect against the walking dead on All Hallows Eve.”

This year we carry on the family tradition, as always, with (mostly) home-made costumes. I’ll be falling back on a favorite costume, the one with the tall black hat and the special broom! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA…


~ Teresa Luedke, Hedgewife

Bibliography & Further Reading:

Kveldulf Hagen Gundarsson, “The Folklore of the Wild Hunt and the Furious Host,” Mountain Thunder, Issue 7, Winter 1992,

Stephen Pollington, Early English Charms, Plantlore, and Healing (Norfolk: Anglo-Saxon Books, 2000).

Swain Wodening, Hammer of the Gods, Anglo-Saxon Paganism in Modern Times (Little Elm: Angleseaxisce Ealdriht, 2003).

* * * * * *

* Eat Like Your Ancestors *

One month ago I gave up alcohol. And caffeine. And pretty much any food discovered or invented more recently than the stone age. I did make an exception for dairy products, because I tend to do pretty well on dairy products. It’s the beer, bread and potatoes that have always been my problem.

The logic behind this, the Paleo Diet, is that the healthiest foods for human beings are likely to be those which are most natural and which people have been eating for the longest time. This is largely supported by the findings of Weston Price.

So I live on meat, fish, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Supplemented generously with milk, cream, yogurt and cheese. Of course I try to go fresh, raw and organic whenever possible.

It was almost one full month before that that I took my oath to begin eating right and drinking right every day. As usual with these kinds of changes, getting started was the hardest part.

Now that I’m rolling, I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago. I feel fantastic. My nascent beer belly has disappeared and my recovery from exercise hasn’t been this fast since I was seventeen. Most Importantly, I no longer feel depressed and tired all the time. When I go to work now, I’m actually at work, not just counting the minutes until I get to go home. When I have to wait a little while for my dinner now, I just feel hungry instead of turning into a werewolf and biting everybody’s heads off.

What does my kooky new diet have to do with magic and Heathenism? Well, nothing. And everything. I’m a strong believer in the principle that you should eat as your ancestors ate. It’s what your body’s genetically adapted for. I’m also a strong believer that poor diet can have a radical negative effect on a person’s mental well-being. It certainly works that way with me and I’ve seen plenty of evidence that it works that way with many others, too. Finally, I’m a very strong believer that a diet is not something you should go on temporarily. A healthy diet is something you can thrive on for life.

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there. Some of it is even published by our own governments. Of course, I don’t necessarily know everything there is to know about human nutrition, either, so you’ll need to do your homework and make some educated judgements for yourself.

~ Clint McDowall

[Editor’s note: apart from dairy – and there is a fantastic article on dairy in the latest issue of Hex – an amazing food that the Paleo Diet misses is fermented foods – sauerkraut, kombucha, etc. Fermented foods have incredible nutritional properties but certainly do not date back to the Stone Age. Nevertheless these traditional and nourishing (and delicious) foods are worth your researching and trying!]

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Old English Rune Poem

Need is tight in the breast; but it often
Happens for human’s children to help and to save
Each, if they listen to it early.

Old Icelandic Rune Poem

Need is a bondswoman’s yearning
And a difficult circumstance
And drudging work.

Old Norse Rune Poem

Need renders little choice;
The naked will freeze in the frost.

~ Rune poem translations by Sweyn Plowright

Winternights is a time of change. Change can be intimidating: we humans like things to remain the same, and sometimes we will cling to something unsustainable until it hurts more to hold steady than to accept the shifting conditions in which we find ourselves.

The thing most painful about Need is not the “drudging work,” nor the prospect of being condemned to “freeze in the frost.” It is rather our hesitation and prevarication. It is our unfettered thoughts and feelings that cause us the hurt, as we react out of fear or anxiety and not from a decisive or conscious perspective.

Allow me to explain.

Change is about doing something new, or experiencing something new. That novelty might come about because something established is lost, or it might come about because the status quo has expanded in shape. Either way, here is something worth chewing over: you can only do something for the first time once.

Implication? If change is pushing you into a situation reminiscent of something you’ve successfully dealt with in the past then you already  have a stock of inspiration and ability to invoke. Your roots already run deep. There is no need to let the immediacy of life’s challenges efface the memory of your victories and strength. Take time to recall what made the difference before, and follow through that guidance.

On the other hand, if Need represents a truly new situation then action is probably the key: any action, it likely does not matter. Hesitation is what causes the pain – once you dive from the precipice of action, the resources of your being have much better chances of being activated. You cannot know what the best outcome will be in the case of a novel challenge so just put aside your preconceptions as best you can.

Problem? When we feel the oncoming stuckness of the frost it can be hard to make contact with the kind of free-flowing initiative and desire necessary to get the friction-fire or Need-fire blazing. This is where things go wrong: if this sort of thing did not happen, Need would not be such a challenge.

The answer to this problem might lie in the underlying logic of friction-fire, which, in my opinion, is one of breaking things down. Lighting a Need-fire byforce of friction alone is the most basic, stripped down response to cold that you can get.

Hence Nauthiz is saying: in the face of change, simplify your understanding. Break down whatever confronts you into smaller pieces and then tackle them one at a time.

Anything can be overwhelming if you try to deal with it at a large scale. Do not worry about the bonfire you think you Need; focus first on getting the slightest bit of smoke.

Nauthiz is drawing our attention to the here and now: when you feel the urge to ruminate on all the foreboding what-ifs of life, Nauthiz is calling you back to the present moment in all of its slippery thinness. Rumination is paralysis: setting very small goals and achieving them is far better (and, ultimately, easier) than staring uselessly at the oncoming blizzard.

There is something indicative about the way that the Need rune poems are written: the hardship and struggle aspects of the rune are presented front and centre, while the possibilities for action, warmth, and positive growth are implicit and easily missed.

Yet those positive themes are certainly present when we look through to the whole poems – or the whole of our circumstances. Take some time to seek out more than just the obvious story of difficulty. Relief and change can come from strange places: through self-compassion and self-respect you can resist Need-induced tunnel vision.

These runic articles often seem to bear relevance to my own life circumstances (though it is often not obvious how until weeks after they have gone out), and this one’s appropriateness is immediately clear. Three cheers, then, for the ever dubious prospect of taking one’s own advice!


* * * * * *

Telling the Bees:

An English Arcanum

“Telling the Bees are a wondrous thing,” ~ Fabulous Furry Folk, Glastonbury Assembly Rooms

“Quietly powerful, mesmerizing singing,” ~ Oxford Folk Festival

“Mischeivous and magisterial…their crisp, knowing arrangements serve to underline their devotion to the tradition of English folk music in all its godless splendour,” ~ Catweazle Club

Telling the Bees return with their eagerly awaited second album of darkly crafted folk.

Drawing once again on landscape, folklore, myth, and the themes of love and loss, An English Arcanum consists of eleven original tracks that are firmly within the English pastoral tradition. Weaving traditional, classical, prog, and even funk influences around haunting troubadour songs, Telling the Bees combine fiddle, mandolin, cello, bass, and English bagpipes to beautiful effect.

Packaged with stunning artwork by renowned illustrator Rima Staines, and released on the band’s own label, Black Thrustle, An English Arcanum is certain to delight and will confirm the band’s unique place in English Folk.

The album in digipack will be released on November 26, 2009. It can be ordered, and more information can be read, from:

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: Issue Three Almost Gone! :

Issues One, Two, and Four are sold out!Only limited numbers of Hex Issue Three remain…

Order at:

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Until Yule, may you and your household be blessed and kept. Hail!

~ HEX Magazine

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