The Pagan Blog Project: L is for Lantern

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really have a good feel for deities.  The ones I’ve connected with the most are those in heathen traditions.  Today I want to talk about imagery used for deities in my experience.

I’ve used two main image sources for altars: actual physical statues/picture representations and symbolic imagery.  Statues and pictures are nice if you find something (or better yet are able to create something) that speaks to you as authentic in your mind.  I’ve seen people commission artists for portraits to adorn their altars and shrines which can often be much more personalized than ordering one of maybe four designs of a deity’s statue online.  Depending on the deity, you may have more options or much, much fewer.

For me, I find hard images to be helpful if I don’t have a great grasp on the deity.  The face is helpful.  There is of course the drawback though that being fed an image created by someone else, you are going to basically imprint with that specific image in mind.  Still, if the image works for you, use it.  And remember, it doesn’t always have to specifically be a statue or portrait of that deity.  This may go a little into the realm of symbolic imagery, but if you have an image of a character that makes you think of that deity or an unrelated design that just strikes you as perfect, those are perfectly acceptable as well.

I usually enjoy symbolic imagery better for a few reasons.  First of all, I don’t feel as if I’m drawing impressions off of someone else’s idea.  But possibly more important for those who have to keep their pagan life sort of secret, you can be a lot sneakier with symbolic imagery.  And by sneaky I mean you could possibly create a shrine in the middle of your living room without guests or family ever batting an eye at it in suspicion.

The title of this post is “Lantern” because that is one of my main symbolic images.  The first deity I was very drawn to and to this day continue to go back to when I’m lost is Heimdall.  After awhile, I wanted some kind of image of him, but was not satisfied at all with the sculptures available (which are sadly few and far between).  I thought about a Gjallarhorn representation, or something Bifrost-like.  While the horn didn’t really work out, I did end up making a multi-colored tile incense burner for his shrine.  But it was more for him and not for me to use as a way to reach him.

I ended up choosing a lantern because to me a lantern represents vigilance as well as self-knowledge and path-finding.  All three of these things are aspects I see in Heimdall or that he has helped me with.  I like this even more because the lantern I found (pictured above) has a tealight holder in it, so lighting a tealight is sort of like training my mind to get into a different mode.

Each person should really use whatever speaks the best to them.  While I’ve noticed that my symbolic images tend to resonate with me more than the statues or portraits, I know many people really enjoy the more traditional route and get a lot out of it.  But I am also glad that I found something that worked for me.  The lantern has provided a lot of comfort at very dark times.


Algiz – Initial Rune Study

Six months ago I started a thorough initial study of the Elder Futhark. Each week I would focus on a new rune, reading the rune poems and a number of published interpretations. While these posts are old (originally posted to my Tumblr), I want to move them over here for easy reference.

Week 15: Algiz

Basic meaning:  Elk, Protection

Further meanings:  A shield.  Protective urge to shelter oneself or others.  Defense, warding off of evil, guardian.

Divinatory meanings:  Protective force, a guardian.  Connection with the gods, awakening, higher life.  Follow your instincts.Keep hold of success or maintain a position won or earned.

Merkstave meanings:  Hidden danger, consuption by divine forces, loss of divine link.  Taboo, warning, turning away, that which repels.

Magical uses:  Can be used to channel energies appropriately.  Most prominent rune for devotional worship as it protects/defends while also acting as a channel or conduit.  It is the rune of hallowing, warding, adn access to higher spiritual awareness.  Can also aid in communication with other worlds (upright, Asgard, Vanaheim, Alfheim and similar realms; reversed, Helheim and similar realms).  Can help strengthen magical power and luck (hamingja) as well as life force.

Personal thoughts on and associations with Algiz

Before studying Algiz, I’ve had multiple needs of its protective power.  Thus far it has served me well in any magical working needing additional protection or defense.

Early on in my pagan studies (like, when I knew next to nothing instead of random handfuls of things which is what I know now), Algiz turned up in a kind of intuitive pastel art piece I was doing.  The surface thought was that it was supposed to be a representation of a crossroads. Of all the different crossroads designs that I could come up with (the “Y” shape being the most common for the particular purpose) I made it look similarly to the Algiz rune instead.


This wasn’t intentional as, at the time, I didn’t know a damn thing about the runes.  I’m sure I’ve seen the shape before, but beyond that, there was no conscious meaning behind the shape.

On retrospect, I believe it to be an illustration of my own spiritual growth.  I seem to constantly find myself at a metaphysical crossroads.  But as I’ve gone farther down the different roads, my understanding of and even communication with various deities has grown stronger.

My next goal is to put this into its traditional upright meaning.  Instead of constantly wandering, stay awhile and climb.

As a side note, I was unaware that this rune was often associated with Heimdall and Bïfrost.  This makes me happy.

Sources for meanings:

  • Runelore by Edred Thorsson
  • Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic by Edred Thorsson
  • Principles of Runes by Freya Aswynn
  • Northern Mysteries and Magick by Freya Aswynn