My Core Theology: A Meditation on Existence

At my core, I am a pantheist as well as a polytheist and animist. I believe that everything comes together to a greater consciousness, a greater Being. Over the years, I’ve meditated and pondered and written and dreamed about how best to express this. Lessons have come to me over time from various divinities, and the result now is a meditation that takes a form of 3×3 – a Tricursal Valknot, if you will, as a representation of the collective Being, bestowed by the Ancestors. Like Borromean Rings, each triangle stands alone, unlinked with either of the other two, and yet the three are entwined such that each holds the other two together.

A Tricursal valknot - three triangles interwoven such that no two are linked, but the three are entwined together. One is purple, one is gold, one is teal. The image shows a symbol on which to meditate about three values, each of which has three parts to it.
Three Values, Three Paths, Three Parts

There are three things of inherent Value:

Freyja’s Lesson:
To BE is of value.
That which IS is Being.
That which IS is called Beautiful.
The Value given in return for Beauty is Love.

Hella’s Lesson:
To DO is of value.
That which DOES is called Useful.
The Value given in return for Use is Gratitude.

Brighid’s Lesson:
To BELONG is of value.
That which BELONGS is called Frithful.
The Value given in return for Frith is Trust.

The Ancestors’ Lesson:
All things together make the Whole which is the Universe.
The Whole is Divine.

The Purpose of the Universe is to BE.
The Universe is Beautiful.
The Universe is Loved.

The Universe recognises the value of all that IS.
The Universe finds all things Beautiful.
The Universe Loves.

All things are a part of the Divine.
All things are Sacred.

All things serve the purpose of the Whole.
All things have Being.
All things are Beautiful.
All things are Loved.

Worship is an expression of Love for Divinity.
(Love Languages are forms of Worship.

Sex is an expression of Love.
Sex is a form of Worship.


With gratitude to my Mother, Jan Parcel, to Freyja, to Raven Kaldera and Hella, and to my dear friend Dee Shull, and Brighid! Thank you all so much for your help in illuminating this for me over the years!

Posted in Ancestors, Crafts, Gnosis, Mysteries, Personal, Poetry, Polytheistic Theology, Praxis, RedWood Vanatru, Reference, ST4R, Vanatru | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Help Nicole Cover Emergency Expenses

Hello everyone!

It’s been an absolutely exhausting trial of a year-plus for everyone I know. My households shared a bubble for 14 months of lockdown, which we are cautiously emerging from one step at a time. Everyone I know is facing some kind of personal trial or other, myself absolutely included.

I want to ask your help with one of them, today, please – if you can’t contribute directly, at least share the link along:

My friend Nicole and I, along with others in Treebridge coven, helped a mutual friend out of an abusive situation. It was handled on very short notice. I handled much of the logistical wrangling, while Nicole dove directly into the fray, hopping on a plane to collect our friend and drive her and her two cats across several states to live in the safer place we found for her.

Nicole floated the cost of that sudden, expensive move. We’d originally planned to do some crowdfunding to help our friend, but things changed and we had to move our timetable up abruptly.

Now Nicole is facing potential financial crises of their own, because of those expenses they so generously floated! It’s time for us as a community to step back up to share that burden around – what is carried by many burdens few!

If you have even a few dollars you can pass Nicole’s way, we’d be very grateful. We’d rather see dozens of people contribute a few dollars each than have any one person expect to carry the whole expense. If you can’t, we entirely understand, but please do pass the link along to others who maybe can. We’re a big community, and we can and do take care of each other when the need arises!

Thank you, all!


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Guest Poem: Lament of Aristaeus

One of my longtime favorite artists, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law shared this poem, and gave me permission to share it with you here. I find it moving, bittersweet. Enjoy! -E-

Lament of Aristaeus

I mourned once for their passing.
Must I now mourn again?
They paid once for my folly.
Must they now pay again?

I chased a girl
in a moment of wildness,
a moment of madness;
and then she was gone,
and they were gone
in payment for her young life.

And he, whom she chose to love above me:
he was gone too,
with nothing but a song to mark his passage.
(Though what a song it was!)

They left me with nothing
but the shadow of the hives
and the shadow of the lives
that once buzzed within.

I know I was at fault,
and it was just, though cruel, retribution
that took my honey-laden children.

I have done no wrong this time.
There is no girl,
no Bacchanial madness in my eyes.
No snake,
no song,
no death for a death.
No retribution earned.
My children are the victims now.
Pollen-heavy, their bodies fall to the ground
like a golden snowdrift,
and as cold.

Who will pay for their casual casualties?
I would not wish the retribution I received
visited upon another,
just or not.

Who will be the one to mourn?
No boy, and no song (no matter how sweet)
will be able to bring back the fallen,
and stem the honey-mead
seeping through the cracks.

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RedWood Vanatru Daily Prayers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here regularly for a variety of reasons. I’d like to get back to it, but I admit, my spoons and motivation for this kind of writing have been low for a while now. I am always up for answering questions, however, so if you have something you’d like to see me write about here, do feel free to ask in the comments, or drop me a line at EmberOutreach at Gmail dot Com!

Over the years, these prayers have shifted and changed, in words, and in tune. They are now fairly stable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t personalize them to suit your local practice as an individual or a group – RedWood Vanatru should always be localized!

Listen to the prayers sung by me – Ember Cooke

Sigrdrifa’s Prayer – Vanatru Version
Words – Modified from traditional
Music – Ember Cooke

Hail Day! Hail Day’s Sons!
Hail Night and Night’s Daughter!
With loving eyes look down on us here
And send to us victory

Hail Vanir! Hail Aesir and Jotnar!
Hail to the great and generous Earth!
Eloquence and native wit bestow on us here
And healing hands while we live!

Hail the Gods!

Ancestors’ Prayer
Words – Diana Paxson and Ember Cooke
Music – Ember Cooke

Our mighty Mothers here we honor
From womb to womb since worlds’ beginning
And Fathers of the flesh and spirit
Sacred seed itself renewing
And mindful Mentors, wisdom winning
Sacred Skalds and holy Heroes
And kind Companions, comfort bringing
Faithful Friends and helping Healers
All who lived and died before us
Ancestors! Be will us always!

Hail the Ancestors!

Landspirits Prayer
Words – Ember Cooke
Music – Ember Cooke

Hail to the Land wights and Water wights
Hail to the Sea wights and Sky wights
Hail Plant wights and Animal wights
Thank you for sustaining us!
We honor your sacrifices.
May your next life be greater than your last!

Hail the Landspirits!


Posted in Ancestors, Animal Spirit Work, Community, Crafts, Land Spirit Work, Poetry, Praxis, RedWood Vanatru, Reference, Ritual, ST4R, Vanatru | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

#FirstOtherworldProblems Fire!


Introducing Mini-Me, a young nonbinary person (i.e. early 20s, not underage) who came to live with my household a year or two ago, and is so often mistaken for my child that it is now a running joke. 😉

This is the first personal comic I’ve done in quite a while, I know. I’m posting more image-based everyday life stuff over on Instagram these days, for those who are curious, and writing a bunch of Dragon Age fanfic as I learn how to write fiction prose.

I’m quite sure there’s still plenty of Pagan non-fiction left in me, but it’s not the mode I’ve been in lately. Still, if you have a question, I will do my best to answer it!



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Too Much Is Never Enough

CW: Misogyny, Assault, Sexual Assault, Mild Gender Binarism

This video is powerful and important for anyone raised female (though it’s primarily appealing to cis-women, and has a few binaristic “huh?” bits in the end, due to it being primarily a commentary on how women are treated by men with regards to our bodies).

My first thought was “Ow, ow, ow, yes.” and my second thought was “HAIL FREYJA!”


I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about this, but none of them are coherent right now. Maybe I can come back to it later, when I’m not crying.


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Glossary Updated

For those of you who care for such things, I added a new section to my Theological Glossary, for common theological attributes to divinity, such as “Omniscient” and “Transcendent” or “Immanent”.



Posted in Interfaith, Lore, Polytheistic Theology, Praxis, Reference, ST4R | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Help A Pagan Leader Keep His Home!

Oggie is a wonderful man, and a long-time acquaintance (dare I even say friend? :]) of mine. He has run a small ADF group out in Texas for years now, and has long been involved in the SF Bay Area Pagan community as well.

He is currently struggling to keep his home in Texas. If you have a moment and a few dollars to spare, please help him!


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On Making New Myths

We can not help but create new myth as we practice. It is a natural side effect of living our faith. -E-

Drinking From the Cup of Life

Is there room for new myths in modern polytheism and paganism? It’s a more contentious question than one might think.

labyrinth_02Ancient myths, also known as the Lore, are useful to us modern seekers of old gods in that they give us a baseline to work from. They give us common points of reference for an invisible world we grasp only partly, and often more with the head than the heart. Ancient myths give us an idea of who our spiritual ancestors in pre-Christian times thought they were dealing with, though it’s been argued that devotional inscriptions and poetry might be a better guide than mythic folk stories.

So, on the one hand, we’re reluctant to dilute the usefulness of these points of reference by giving modern works equal weight, especially modern works created expressly as fiction. If you doubt me, ask a random sampling of Heathens what they think of…

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Sometimes Ravens Fly

I have left Hrafnar. It feels a lot like moving the last of my stuff out of my parent’s house. I haven’t lived there in a long time, but I never stopped thinking of it as home. Until I did.

I was first introduced to Hrafnar when a dear friend invited me to his handfasting at a Heathen campout. I discovered that many people I already knew and liked were regular attendees. So when I found myself working in the Oakland hills, I started attending Hrafnar, thinking of myself purely as a curious, hopefully welcome guest.

When I started hearing the gods, I was unprepared, and ran away for a while.

I joined Hrafnar again in earnest the January of 2003, at the encouragement of several friends, including the couple I have come to consider my Pagan Godparents. Alas, they had to move away shortly after I returned. But that was okay, because Diana Paxson and Lorrie Wood immediately took me under their wings. I joined the Rune Class Diana was teaching, and Diana had Lorrie take me on as a personal student to come up to speed in Heathen lore and trance ritual techniques.

Over the course of the next couple years I spent much of my spare time with Lorrie, often with Diana, learning everything I could about Hrafnar’s ways, joining Seidhjallr, helping Lorrie with email admin duties where I could, and even joining the American Magic Umbanda House, of which they were also both members at the time. Diana also mentored me through the Clergy training program with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, although I did not ultimately choose to be ordained by them.

It was with Lorrie and Diana’s support that I and fellow members of Hrafnar and the Hammer Oak kindred founded the Vanic Conspiracy in 2004. As the Vanic Conspiracy became my focus, I continued on with Hrafnar, my role shifting from Lorrie’s student and Diana’s mentee to Hrafnar’s default Vanic Priestess. I took my ordination vows to the Vanir in Diana’s home, Greyhaven. As my attention became more divided, Hrafnar, which I knew was well in hand, tended to get dropped in favor of commitments that needed me more.

Even though I have always lived in the South Bay, I still spent most of my spare time in Berkeley after I stopped training with Lorrie full time, because I was dating Hobbit, who lived in North Oakland – a man I met again through the Hrafnar community. It was with the support of that Berkeley-centered community that I was able to finish my degrees first in Network Programming, and then in Religious Studies.

After I graduated, though, my focus became increasingly centered within my own Santa Clara Valley. My clergy time was spent on building RedWood Vanatru with the Vanic Conspiracy, and on helping my new boyfriend, Lon Sarver, build Thiasos Bakkheios. I was no longer training with Lorrie or Diana. I was no longer dating Hobbit in Oakland. I had hived off of Seidhjallr with other members who lived in the South Bay. I was no longer involved in the American Magic Umbanda House. My connections to Hrafnar were increasingly vestigial.

But I do not let go easily. Since committing to my involvement with the Vanir and Ostara, I had diligently attended Hrafnar’s Ostara ritual and Vanir Party each year. Whenever possible I also attended Yule, and the Odin party as well. The only time I did miss Ostara, I was dismayed.

Last year, Lorrie let me know that her husband had gotten a job in another state. She was moving away from the area, and was preparing to transfer all her email services. As I had remained a backup admin for Hrafnar the whole time, I agreed to take on more of those duties for her so that her and Hrafnar’s transition could go more smoothly. It was painful to watch Lorrie go, but I have been able to visit her in her new hometown, and maintain my connection to my dear friend and former teacher.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, though, that it was this year I found myself unable to attend Hrafnar’s spring Vanir Party for the first time. Another clergy commitment had been scheduled first, and I couldn’t keep the same dates open that Diana ended up needing. This was after I had already accidentally scheduled myself to be out of town for Ostara the previous month. For the first time since I joined and trained with Hrafnar, I haven’t been able to attend Hrafnar in over a year. I missed it, and yet, I found it was a relief to put those remaining commitments down, even temporarily. That should have told me more than it did then.

Over the summer, Hrafnar has been dealing with a lot of policy concerns and challenges. I won’t get into the details here because contrary to how it may seem to those involved, it’s only peripherally relevant to my departure. I have watched from afar as they struggle to deal with what is before them. I have given them what support, information, and wisdom I had it within my power to give. And in the process, I realized that somewhere along the line Hrafnar stopped being “Us” to me, and started being “Them”.

No living organization is static. Hrafnar is very much alive. Diana is a stable presence at the helm, but the membership is always shifting. Much of the current core are people I am barely acquainted with. Diana and Lorrie, and many others I was once close to will always be family to me, but clearly Hrafnar is no longer home.

I know that Hrafnar has a lot of important changes coming over the next few years. I do not have the ability to help them make those changes from within. I heard once in a song:

“The old road is rapidly aging.
Please get out of the new one
if you can’t lend a hand…”

I’ll always be a raven, but sometimes, ravens have to fly.


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