Asgard’s Holy Symbol of the Asynjur

Counsel me now, Frigga,” said Odin, “as I would fare forth, to wise Vafthruthnir.” -Vafthruthnismal

Sigil inscribed brass mirror held over snow

Read here how to use the Goddess Mirror in devotional practice and spiritwork. For the why, history and design, consult the previous post (linked here).

  • Introduction — Devotional Tools for Goddesses

  • Using The Mirror — Prayer and Consecration

  • Frigga’s Eye — Core Symbolism

  • Frigga’s Court — Line 1

  • Devotional Calendar — Line 2

  • Heavenly Harmony — Lines 3,4,5

  • Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall — Using the Shiny Side

  • Toli, The Shaman’s Mirror

  • Thoughts on Sacred Tool Design

This article explores how to use custom devotional tools in building relationships with deities, the benefits of a devotional calendar, debugging tips for those having trouble with getting a connection, and a detailed user’s guide to sacred mirrors from a Northern Tradition Pagan point of view. It’s certainly also applicable to Heathen practices.

I believe the advice here will be of general interest when making your own sacred tools. I’ll first give suggest how to consecrate the mirror and use it in daily prayer. Then we’ll explore its symbolism, what the inscriptions mean, and how they can be used for spiritual work. Regular prayer with any holy symbol is how you make it holy.

Making the Second Mirror

It took me six months to design and a week to make my goddess mirror prototype, which I’ve been using for a year and a half. The brass disk I used was a one shot find, and I didn’t expect others would want their own. I was wrong. I got asked earlier this year to make another one

The request came from a Pagan Facebook friend who wanted to offer it as a birthday gift to his daughter. Well, she was assigned male at birth, and he wanted a gift that showed his love and acceptance of her womanhood. That’s beautiful! How could I say no to that? I have many trans women and trans men friends. Symbols of affirmation are important, I had to do it. Plus, more people honoring my Ladies is why I made this blog. When queers like myself look to the gods, we want to find those like us as inspiration, and a number of these Ladies are queer themselves. So I act as bard and spiritual matchmaker in my service.

I had a two month deadline to get it done on time. What with ordering tools from China, and finding the brass at a reasonable price, I barely made it, and she was thrilled. Yay! I even managed to cover my costs and pay some of my time.

It needed a user’s manual though. Otherwise it’s just a pretty shiny thing. This is the user’s manual I wrote for her.

Lexicon of runic symbols used on the mirror

Introduction — Devotional Tools for Goddesses

The Sky Goddess mirror is both a tool and a toy. First and foremost, it is a holy symbol to be used in meditation, prayer and devotion to the Ladies of Asgard. Yet it also invites play. You can see how it reflects the world around, feel the writing with your fingers, make sunlight dance across walls, polish it while chanting a mantra, balance it on a finger and ring it like a bell with a pen, play tactile games, spin it around, lay it against parts of your body, hold it in various ways, move small stones on it like a board game, decide which segment should be at the top for a day, drum on it with a pen, etc. It’s touchable, shiny, pretty, and inviting. Even laying on a table or mount, there’s plenty to look at without getting bored. The names can be read or chanted aloud as you consider the relationship between any two Ladies. You can even use it to design music for string instruments, or play a chord while you commune with the goddess it belongs to. Simply put, it’s fun to play with for spiritual purposes.

As a whole, the engraved symbolism is about harmony and balance. It might be said that the Aesir gods guide folks in living honorably and gaining wisdom, facing personal battles with courage to be victorious. With wit and weapons, the core of their adventures lays in defeating fearsome giants. Not so with the women. Even vengeful Skadhi’s tale is not about murder but about peace-weaving between enemies. There are few tales of monster-slaying goddesses because that’s not their domain. They may have to kill, but that’s never the end-goal.

Defusing conflict, cooperation, and befriending opponents are more the tools of their trade. It’s not the monster at your door you should fear — it’s the one in your home, in your bed, in your heart. Despair, depression, and feeling worthless can stop a hero from ever setting foot on her journey of self-discovery and transformation. No sword is sharp enough to slay the demons within. It is thus not with a hammer or spear that the goddesses arm you, but with an unpolished mirror. As you seek yourself in its reflection, it is at first cloudy, hazy, dirty and blemished. This is normal. Everyone starts that way. So what will you do about it?

Brass mirror reflecting sunlight over snow

Using The Mirror — Prayer and Consecration

Frigga’s Mantra: “Ráð þú mér nú, Frigg” (”counsel me now, Frigga”)

If you like chanting foreign language mantras in meditation, so you’re less distracted by the meaning of the words you’re saying, this Poetic Edda quote is excellent in praying to Frigga for inspiration. It’s better sung using “Frigga” than “Frigg” though. The Old Norse pronunciation is approximately thus:
“Raath Thuu meer nuu, Frig-ga.”

Ásynjur Morning Prayer

With the rising of Sunna, I hail you,
Gentle goddesses, strong and wise.
Help me to be true to myself,
My gods and my commitments today.

Walk with me, Ladies,
Be my shield, oh goddesses, be my strength.
Grace me with your presences
As I order my day through your wisdom.

Ásynjur Night Prayer

Look upon me this night with grace,
Oh goddesses.
I give thanks for this day,
Both in boons and tangled unfoldings.
May my lips always praise you
And my heart ever do you honor,
Hail Asynjur!

Consecration: There are two main schools of thought on how to charge a magical tool to make it sacred. The first is to cleanse and enchant it. The second is to have it acquire power through repeated usage. I’ll give suggestions for each method, and it’s okay to do both. On a purely mundane level, repeating any ritual action over a period of time makes it a trigger for your mind to go into “spiritual mode.”

Cleansing by Water: Get a large enough bowl to dip the mirror into. Fill it with water, add a pinch of salt. Rinse the mirror in the bowl, repeatedly saying:

Water run clear, water run pure, clean this mirror to its core.”

Cleansing by Fire: Light a candle. Incense will do in a pinch, but herbs are better. White Sage is most popular in First Nations traditions. Mugwort is its northern European equivalent, though it grows everywhere in the Northern hemisphere. Pick something to burn, and move the mirror through its smoke, saying repeatedly:

Fire burn with sacred smoke, dispel all darkness from my sight.”

Charging the mirror: This one’s common sense. To charge a magic mirror, you polish it. If you like the tarnish and are doing it purely as a magical gesture, then you can simply polish it with a rough cloth. Wet your cloth with vinegar if you want to see more changes in color. If you really want it to give a clear reflection (which is not necessary for its usage), you’ll need some sort of very mildly abrasive paste. To remove tarnish, use one of the commonly sold cleaners for silverware. To remove really rough spots and for a thorough sanding, I use Scotch-Brite or similar plastic scrubbing pads. For the edges, fine grit sanding paper.

Since the main point of polishing is to charge the mirror, rather than clean it, you need to pick an intent and make some sort of mantra or chant for yourself. What do you want the mirror to do for you? Tell it that, over and over. You can polish it for ten minutes or ten hours. This is a meditation, you can do a bit of it each day, or once a week as you enchant your mirror for what you want. For mine, I spoke of true sight, and reflecting hidden truths on the reflective side (shamans look at their patient’s reflection to diagnose illnesses). For the inscribed side, it was about a doorway to see and speak to the Asynjur.

Making the Mirror Holy: There’s only one way to truly make it a holy symbol. Without this step, it’s just a pretty piece of metal on a shelf. You have to pray with it, day after day. Speak into it, let your breath caress it, as if it were a doorway to the goddesses through which they could hear you. Feel the coolness of its edge against your forehead. Hold it to your heart. I’ve shared the daily prayers I use above (morning and night prayers adapted from Sigyn-Lady of the Staying Power, by Galina Krasskova and Fuensanta Plaza).

Brass mirror with rune sigils over grass

Frigga’s Eye — Core Symbolism

So Frigga wandered, asking all things: “Will you weep for my son Baldr, that he may be return from Hela’s realm?” Each person, plant, rock and animal agreed, save for one. -Gylfaginning

Before we study the runic writing, let us look at the pattern that organizes all of this information. It’s big and bold, yet hides in plain sight within the details. To discover it, one must do away with words and look at the big picture, the spider’s web that unifies and connects each part to the whole. Frigga’s name is not written anywhere on the object. So where is she shown?

One day, Odin and Frigg were sitting in Hlithskalf and looked out upon all the worlds. -Grimnismal

Four Arms: Upon the mirror’s back you’ll find a diamond engraved in the center, with four arms extending from its corners to the edge of the circle. This is Frigga’s Eye, the symbol used in dedication to the sky goddesses. These arms emanate in the four directions from her pupil, lovingly embracing every being within the circle of creation. Two arms wouldn’t be quite enough to represent the All-Mother’s love for all living things.

Eight Rays: smaller lines radiate out as the eight-fold path of sacred knowledge(See http://www.northernshamanism.org/the-eightfold-path-to-altered-states-of-consciousness.html). Frigga is said to know all fates, though she speaks them not, and these rays bring her insights of light and dark from each of the four corners of the worlds.

Twelve Powers: Together the four and eight lines mark out twelve months that span the seasons on the Earth, changing and yet ever returning to begin anew. In the night sky, they are the nigh-eternal constellations that process along the ecliptic, serving as mnemonic markers for celestial tides. By these cycles are animals born in the most auspicious times, farmers informed of when to plant or harvest, while astrology ascribes even subtler influences upon people.

Lacking any surviving goddess symbols, Frigga’s Eye was inspired by the motif of Brighid’s Cross, the Spanish God’s Eye and cross-cultural Sun Wheel. Frey has the boar, Odin the Valknot, and Thor a hammer that often stands for all the gods. Now we have a holy symbol for clerics of the Sky Goddesses too!

Frigga’s Court – Line 1

Twelve maidens toil in hope of peace, the Queen of Heaven they serve together. Bound in fealty to no man, they work her will across the worlds.

The nearly forgotten names of Asgard’s goddesses are on the outer line of the disk. Simply reciting the names of the twelve makes a fine meditative and devotional mantra.

Even those well versed in Norse legends rarely know their names. The Eddas were written by men who wanted to preserve the heroic tales of the gods, not goddesses. Thus even the most erudite are only familiar with the wives and lovers of male gods, or occasionally their enemies. So let’s first look at that better known list of goddesses:

  • Odin’s: Frigga (wife), Freya (sorcery teacher)

  • Thor’s: Sif (wife), Jarnsaxa (lover, mother of Mothi and Magni), Thrudh (daughter)

  • Frey’s: Gerda (wife), Freya (sister)

  • Bragi: Idunna (wife)

  • Njord: Skadhi (wife), Freya (daughter), Nerthus (consort)

  • Baldr: Nanna (wife)

  • Loki’s: Sigyn (wife), Angrboda (wife)

In the Prose Edda, Gylfi asks “Who are the Asynjur?” (goddesses, the female Aesir). Shockingly, none of the above goddesses are named, save Queen Frigga and Freya. We get a brief description of twelve other goddesses, as well as a mention of Sol and Bil. Sunna is honored with the smooth golden side (more on that below), and the twelve are on the inscribed side. They are called “Maidens” because they belong to no man, thus Frigga’s court of twelve goddesses acts independently of Odin’s court (which is also twelve sky gods, assisted by their wives). 

Freya stands apart as a foreign queen held hostage, her deal is with Odin, so she is not truly part of the Asa clan or under Frigga’s rule. She’d probably want a mirror all of her own anyway. The identity of Bil is a topic of speculation.

Holding the mirror with the arrow arm pointing down, Fulla is the first goddess name at the top when read clockwise. Below are their names, Icelandic pronunciation, translation, basic function, sign and month. I should point out that hardly anyone uses the original pronunciation, and the Ladies themselves don’t particularly care.

Fulla

Sjöfn

Snotra

Lofn

Gefjon

Gná

Foot-lah”

Syo-ven”

Snotra”

Loven”

Geff-yon”

Gh-now”

Abundance

Affection

Wise

Permission

Giving

Towering

Management

Friendship

Hospitality

Forbidden loves

Work wealth

Communication

Capricorn

Aquarius

Pisces

Aries

Taurus

Gemini

January

February

March

April

May

June

Hlín

Sága

Eir

Syn

Vör

Vár

H-Leen”

Sow-gah”

Eh-eer”

Sin”

Verr”

Vower”

Lean-to

Story

Healing

Denial

Aware

Oaths

Protection

Storytelling

Healing

Guard

Seership

Contracts

Cancer

Leo

Virgo

Libra

Scorpio

Sagittarius

July

August

September

October

November

December

Goddess Astrology

At some point I decided to associate each goddess with a Western astrology sign, though it might be more accurate to say I was pushed into it by the Ladies. My girlfriend read aloud the personality description of each zodiac sign, in a random order, and I answered which Lady this most sounded like. This was to make up the new monthly order for my devotions. Surprisingly, my calendar didn’t change much. Most of them were already in the correct month, or moved one over.

Then I got the message from them that I should tell people their Asgardian Goddess sign. At this point I had a pretty decent connection to the Ladies, so I said:

But… but… Vikings didn’t have anything like Western astrology. This doesn’t make any historical sense.”

We are sky goddesses, and there are twelve of us. It makes perfect sense.

But why? I mean, I can associate each of you to a month without telling people why. If I say it’s astrology based, they’d just think I’m a quack who doesn’t know her lore.”

People need new ways to connect to us. The old ways have been lost, and would not be meaningful to modern people even if they were known.

Okay… can’t we… make something new that sounds ancient then?”

No. Your people are familiar with astrology. They enjoy reading personal prophecies for their astrological sign, whether they believe in it or not. We want you to tell everyone their Goddess Sign. This will neatly assign one of us to watch over each of them.

But… but… I don’t… I mean…”

Did we fucking stutter? Do it.

As it turns out, people do like knowing their Goddess sign, and are curious to hear the tale of the goddess who watches over them. Whenever I’m invited as guest lecturer to an Anthropology of the Supernatural class, a few students are eager to know about their goddess — even asking about those for friends and family. No one cares that it isn’t remotely historical. Everyone loves hearing about what makes them special, and who looks out for them in the sky. Thus the second row of the mirror gives a three letter runic acronym for the month and sign of each goddess.

“What if I’m born at the end of the month? Do I get that month’s goddess, or the one for the next month’s astrology sign?”
“You get both!” I always tell them with a grin.

In the beginning, my devotional periods were by moon cycles, with Fulla ruling the first full moon of the year. I’ve more or less given up on doing suppers by the moons — it worked well when I was alone, but it became a hassle in planning events with a group. Most of the new gnosis I get from goddesses is now from trance work I do outside the spirit suppers anyway, and the events are to give others a chance to commune with them.

Brass rune goddess mirror held in palm

Devotional Calendar — Line 2

Twelve months in a years, twelve ladies to remember, granting time to commune with each one.

On the second line are the first three letters of that goddess’ astrological sign and devotional month. For Fulla, you’ll see the runic acronyms CAP and JAN. This gives devotees a month to invite that Lady into their life, meditate, make offerings, get to know her and focus on her lessons. On the first of January, or every day if you wish, you might pray as such (changing the name and description on subsequent months):

Lady [Fulla, manager of abundance,]
Your virtues I invite, your presence I embrace.
Goddess reveal your grace, wherever I may go.
For this month I pray you, be my guide and mentor.

Permission I grant you, to see from my senses,
Teach your loves and lessons, steer my path to your ways
Let us meet over meals, to share my heart and mind.
Gladly I give you now, warm welcome in my life.

Hail [Fulla!]”

Devotional Dead-Ends

You may have tried making offerings to a deity before now, perhaps making an altar space on a shelf, and waited for something to happen. Maybe you lit a candle, burned incenses, drummed to get in trance or recited poetry. Chances are, not much happened and it felt like a waste of time. Bummer.

Or maybe you’re a little sensitive to energies, and felt something happen to the piece of cake on the altar, as if its essence was being siphoned off somewhere else. Offering accepted, great! Now where’s my divine revelation? Dammit, if they’re gonna eat my cake, they could at least stay and talk to me for a minute (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience here…).

Debugging Your Devotions

All right, so let’s look at it from the divine point of view, so we can guess at why this didn’t work. Pretend you’re a goddess. The doorbell rings, you answer, it’s a postal worker with a package for you! Most excellent. You sign for it and look it over. It’s from Suzy Jones in Midgard. Huh, never heard of her. New fan I suppose. Let’s see what her offering is. Inside you find a mini-bottle of Baileys, a candle, a stick of incense, and some poetry in your honor. How thrilled are you?

Suppose you’re a popular deity who gets a dozen of these a day. Your excitement level is probably quite low. If they’ve composed some truly awesome new poetry about you, you’ll probably take the time to read it. If it’s a quote from the holy books, eh, whatever. At least they did their research. Your staff can write them a thank you note and send along standard blessing #37. It’ll take a bit more than that to impress you. Those whose names you can’t remember ever seeing are probably wankers, and not truly worth your time. Should they start sending you a prayer each day for a few weeks though, or make offerings every Friday for a month, then there’s the potential for a relationship. It shows that they’re seriously interested in you.

  • Tip #1 — Make regular offerings to the same spirit: It shows you’re serious. To some degree, it doesn’t matter which one you start with, they do seem to talk to each other. Proving yourself worthy to one means that all their friends will be more likely to answer or take interest in you (after a few months of offering morning and evening prayers to Sigyn, Gerda showed up in my garden — the first uninvited deity visit of my life).

Let’s suppose instead that you’re an unpopular goddess, and this is the first offering you’ve received this year (because you’re little more than a footnote in your pantheon’s sacred lore). Well, then, you’re probably pretty hyped that someone remembers you and cares enough to talk to you! You take a sip of the Baileys. Sweet! But I won’t drink it all now, let’s make this pleasure last. You carefully put the rest back in the box, and rush over to your… um… computer. Opening up GodFaceBook, you search for Suzy Jones.

Is she GFB friends with any other gods you know? Nope. This is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that she’s available to choose you as her primary goddess, but it’s bad because no one can vouch for her worthiness as a devotee. Then you search fan pages. She’s got a few hits on the Aesir page, meaning she’s participated in group rites. A good start. You also find she’s left a few prayers in the comments of Freya’s fan page. All right, so she’s prayed a few times, probably gave up when the Vanadis didn’t personally shake her hand and give her a cookie.

  • Tip #2 — Less popular spirits are easier to please: With fewer people competing for their attention, they’re more likely to show interest.

Your divine influence in Midgard is pretty low these days, having no shrines and few followers to speak of. On the one hand you’d like to snatch this one up. On the other, you don’t really have the juice to spare on miracles. You go to Suzy’s spirit profile, and click follow. This way you’ll keep track of what she’s doing, and can make small changes she might notice are from you. Those won’t cost you much. Tweaking reality to create meaningful coincidences is much easier than making a visible apparition.

  • Tip #3 — Pay attention during the week following your offering: Notice any unusual events, recurring themes, or changes in your behavior and preferences. These may be messages from the deity or signs of their presence. It helps if you give them permission to do so, as in the prayer above, or at least invite them to give you clear signs.

Suzy’s been sending you love letters every day for a week now, so you decide to pay her a visit. She can’t see me, but no matter, I’ll get to see what she’s like. Hmm, small altar. Nice flower. Bit messy, and that I could forgive, but Suzy… pastel curtains? I’ll have to teach her my colors. Suzy finds herself suddenly despising the color of her curtains, and wanting a different color. I have a real hankering for some gravlax, maybe I can get her to find some? Suzy gets a craving for a fish she doesn’t recognize. She makes some frozen fish-sticks, but that doesn’t really satisfy her at all. It’s the wrong flavor, and she starts thinking smoked salmon is what she wants. Or no, sushi. Raw fish would totally hit that spot. But it’s inconvenient, and expensive. She spends the next three weeks dreaming about it until she eventually gets some, and it’s sooooo good, she gets shivers of food-gasm. Come on Suzy, figure it out. I’m right here. (Note: This is based on my experience on Hlin’s month, it’s how I learned she loves raw fish, as cravings ended with her month).

  • Tip #4 — Invite them, and offer hospitality at a specific time and place: If you designate a chair as the god chair, then you’ll know where to look and feel for their presence. Treat them as people, and they will respond to you as people, rather than as fuzzy blobby archetypal energies. Find ways to spend time with them, just like any new friend.

Spirit suppers deserve their own article, but the core of them is simple.

Invitation: Make a small offering to the desired deity, such as a drink, food or incense. Ask them if they’d like to join you for a meal at a specified date and time. If you don’t get a feeling either way, use a divination tool to get an answer. You could alternately suggest meeting over tea and cookies, drinks, or simply a chat over coffee. 

Just this week, I had pizza with Gna at a restaurant. The server asked about the slice of pizza and fries on the plate across from me when I requested a doggy bag. “It’s for someone who can’t be physically present,” I said. “I’m not taking it.” She probably understood it as being for a departed loved one.

– Ward: Pray to whomever you feel appropriate, so that your home will be protected from undesirable spirits and only your chosen guest may enter. I call on Gerda, goddess of walled gardens, but Thor will do as well. You can find hammer wardings all over the internet. 

– Hospitality: Make supper, open the door, offer them a seat, and serve them exactly as if you had a human guest. Tell them about yourself, your day, your hopes and fears, just like you would any guest. Pay attention to impressions you get. Pretend you can see them and imagine they’re answering you. Carry on a conversation with your imaginary friend. It’s as simple as that. Some of the things you “imagine” them saying may surprise you (if they say exactly what you desired OR what you feared, that’s more likely to be from your mind than theirs…) When it’s done, thank them for coming, open the door, and thank the one who protected your home as you close it.

How to read the Sky Goddess Mirror

Heavenly Harmony — Lines 3,4,5

Twelve women hold hands, their healing circle intoning word, with constellations at their feet. Celestial choir, each singing her part, in the syncopated music of the spheres.

Five heroes stood as equals to defeat the Evil One.” When have you seen that in ancient stories? Never. The “Five Man Band” is a modern story trope, because classical heroes either fought alone or with a sidekick. Try to think of any mythical heroes who fought among a team of equals. I’ll wait.

Heroes don’t need any help. They get magical gifts for doing noble deeds, occasionally listen to advice, but that’s it. Ever wonder why poetic prowess was considered as worthy of honor as skill in battle among Vikings? That’s because entertaining alone, without needing the help of a sung melody, musical instrument, never mind a troupe of musicians at your back, was far more heroic. More manly.

Only the weak needed to work together, it was thought, to coordinate their efforts and cooperate to achieve goals. In other words, women. Norse and Celtic heroes were likely scoffing at the “womanly” tactics of the Roman legions… all the way to their graves. This is my personal gnosis from Saga.

The harmony of roles played out by Frigga’s Handmaidens is shown by the three inner circles. This section is a practical tool for bards to use in creating music. Give the mirror a quarter turn counter-clockwise, so that Lofn is on top. While Fulla starts the calendar year in January, managing abundance to enhance prosperity, the astrological year starts with Lofn in Aries (at the Spring Equinox). Like her trickster counterpart among the gods, the rule-breaking lady gets things moving. Here is the translation of the big runes on the third line (in runes, Kenaz, Gyfu, Dagaz, etc.):

C G D A E B F# C# G# D# A# F

Trained musicians will recognize this as the Circle of Fifths, a core tool of music theory for figuring out chord progressions in a song. Those composing music for choirs, piano, violin or guitar — indeed anything that has multiple voices, instruments, strings or a keyboard — absolutely require this pattern for their work. It’s not just a symbol for harmony, it is a method for creating harmony.

Playing mandolin, I might start a song with the G chord. I could continue with a C, D or A chord and be sure that those will sound good together. That’s what the Circle of Fifths is for. If I started on E, then I’d know A, B and F# would flow well afterward. Those are the major chords though. The fourth line shows minor chords below each major chord (Am is noted with the Ansuz rune, for instance):

C

Am

G

Em

D

Bm

A

F#m

E

C#m

B

G#m

F#

D#m

C#

F#m

G#

F

D#

Cm

A#

Gm

F

Dm

Still starting with a G chord, I can add Am, Em and Bm to my list of chords I know will sound nice as a followup.

Handmade brass mirror reflecting my hand

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall — Using the Shiny Side

The shiny golden side of the mirror honors Sunna, the sun goddess (aka Sol in Icelandic), and she is specifically named in my morning prayers. For its simplest usage, you may polish that side as a meditation and prayer for clarity and enlightenment. Beyond that, we go into magical, mystical and shamanic uses of the mirror which are beyond the scope of this article. Simply put, you’ll have to try it out and learn for yourself. I will briefly point out the major uses of magic mirrors, and examples across ancient cultures.

  • Protection: Mirrors reflect curses and spells. Wear it, or put it facing a window.

  • Blessing: Reflect light with the mirror onto that which you want blessed.

  • Scrying: Gaze into the mirror like a crystal ball, and let images come to you. Or pray to a particular spirit, and use it as a window for a “video-conference.”

Mythical Mirrors

The Yata no Kagami mirror is the sacred tool of the Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu, a symbol of truth, wisdom and honesty. The sword, jewel and mirror were the three relics necessary to ascend to the throne of Japan. It was one of the symbols of Venus, and represented a passage into the spirit world rather than vanity. Celtic women were buried with mirrors, and it’s claimed this was as a means of passage to the afterlife. Mirrors were sacred to the cow goddess Hathor in Ancient Egypt, with a solar disk as her headdress. The word for “life” and “mirror” were the same, ankh. Mirrors were often shaped as ankhs, round head over outstretched arms as if to embrace, with the handle representing Hathor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yata_no_Kagami

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hathor

http://celticmirrors.org/

See also: From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend, By Valerie Estelle Frankel

Brass mirror held up, reflecting sunlight

Toli, The Shaman’s Mirror

The Siberian shaman’s mirror, the toli, is said to be the second most important tool of the shaman after the drum (see Riding Windhorses by Sarangerel). While it’s my main inspiration source, I didn’t want to appropriate it outright, so I created the Northern Tradition design described above. I’m also not a fan of using magical tools bearing symbols I don’t understand. That can have unintended and undesirable consequences.

Older shaman’s mirror are most highly valued in Siberia, some being over a thousand years old, and were made of brass, bronze, iron, jade or silver. Silver ones were smaller and mostly used in healing. Glass mirrors are also used, but metal ones are vastly preferred.

Mirrors that have been used by ancient shamans are greatly prized, for they are empowered by their own master spirit. The downside is that each spirit has their personality, and will only allow itself to be used for what it wants. Some like to do healing and blessings, some are for warrior shamans who need protection and a weapon against darkness. One can journey into the mirror in spirit to ask what it does and wants.

-Symbols: The back of these mirrors are decorated with “Chinese symbols of good fortune, zodiac animals, trigrams, or the domain of Rahu, the star god, a deity in charge of the planets and time.”

-In Buddhism, the mirror is a “ symbol for clarity, completeness of perception, purity of consciousness, and the enlightened mind mirror reflecting phenomena placed before it without generating delusion or judgment.” http://www.generalintention.com/research/2012/7/7/the-shamans-mirror-ancient-animism-tool-of-shamanism.html

-Shaman’s Armor: Shamans hang these mirror over their ritual outfits, as many of them as they have, usually with streamers of blue silk. Most important is the one over the chest to protect the heart, deflecting and reflecting attacks. They may be loaned to children and sick people as protection, but are particularly necessary when one is about to face dangerous spirits. Whether doing the exorcism of a place or healing work, the shaman is at risk of attack or possession from disease spirits as they do battle. Those mirrors are their first line of defense.

-Divination: The mirror does not need to be shiny to be used for scrying. Hazy ones actually make it easier to see patterns, symbols and visions when seeking answers. A shaman might beat their drum while gazing into it, or have an assistant do so, and ask the mirror to reveal what they seek.

-Disease Diagnosis: By gazing at a patient’s reflection in the mirror, the shaman can see intrusions and hostile spirits that hover around or inside the client’s body. They might find a spell linking to a sorcerer’s curse, or track down where the illness started in the body. Likewise, they can examine anything else to find curses or other problems.

-Healing: After charging the mirror with healing energies through various rites and prayers, the mirror is put in a bowl of water to infuse it. The water is then drunk by the patient (See Sarangerel).

-Portal: In the Himalayas, a large mirror is set in place on the altar as a portal from which beneficial spirits may enter to provide protection and offer healing (Himalayas). Alternately, the practitioner can use the portal to journey to the spirit world, after attuning it to the world they seek. It can be set upright in a bowl filled with sand. 

-Spirit Houses: A large 7 inch mirror (melong) is hung from the healer’s neck with a silk scarf. Three slightly smaller ones are set upright in bowls piled high with mounds of sand or flour, to symbolize the healing mountains from which shamans receive their powers. Behind the smaller mirrors are images of healing deities. These spirits use the mirrors are temporary spirit houses and foci from which their powers could become manifest (See A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools by Evelyn C. Rysdyk). Note that in Northern Traditions, Lyfjaberg is the Mountain of Healing, where Mengloth does her work with nine maidens (including the best known healer goddess Eir).

So there you have it. Something to reflect on, eh?

All comments greatly appreciated. If you’d like me to craft one, let me know, but realize I need a full day of work to make it. At half my normal hourly work rate, that comes to 240$, not counting the cost of materials, specialized tools, nor the time for research, design and failed attempts. That’s the price I quoted for the second mirror. If you want to make one yourself, I’ll tell you exactly how. Then it’ll just cost you a few hundreds in tools and materials.

I’ve also completed the design on a commission for a sea mirror for the Nine Mermaids, Aegir, Ran and Njord. That one will be pewter. Then there’ll be a copper one for Mengloth and her Healing Goddesses.

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