Shrine Retrospective: Skaði (Part 1)
The first in a series of photo retrospectives on shrine-building work at the Sanctuary
[Author’s note: I am currently in the process of sorting through photos and text from my previous blogs and rearranging the fragments into a series of retrospectives covering over 10 years of my shrine-building work as a “sacristan“ at Black Stone Sanctuary. Here’s the first.]
"Skadi is the goddess of the hunt and winter. She is a Jotun, a giant, and may well represent the primal woman, the woman of the snowy mountains, the lone huntress, clad in furs, who runs with the wolves…Skadi represents a passionate fighter..."
~ the late, great Andréa Nebel Haugen (1969-2021), from her book The Ancient Fires of Midgard (published 1999)
Andrea M. Haugen is known for her work with Hagalaz’ Runedance, Nebelhexë, Aghast, & Aghast Manor. Although she disassociated herself from Heathenism in her later years, she was one of my major inspirations in the early days after I met Skaði, especially because of her song “Wake Skadi.” May she rest in peace and power.
Skaði (aka Skadi or Skadhi) is the frost giantess and huntress of the frozen Northern lands Who stole my heart and brought me into Her service in 2004. She helped me through a devastating divorce in 2007, and inspired Shrine of Skaði, my devotional dark fusion dance project. The dance project was active every autumn and winter from 2006-2019, and is now in hibernation…but I’ve been building and tending shrines for Her for over 15 years, and I will continue to do so as long as I am able and She continues to accept my service offerings.
I've since learned that She helps a lot of women survive divorce; it seems to be one of Her specialties.
Skaði and Njörðr
The story of the marriage and divine divorce of Skaði and Njörðr has long been an inspiration to me. Skaði’s determination to be true to Her will and Her own wild nature — even if it must come at the cost of Her marriage — helped me learn to tap into hidden wellsprings of strength as I grieved the loss of my own 14-year marriage in 2007 and watched in horror as my previous life burned to the ground. Black Stone Sanctuary was born from the ashes of that loss.
There's even a dark ambient track (one of my favorites!) named after this tale, which suits me perfectly since my spiritual life is so thoroughly intertwined with dark ambient and drone music.
A lightly edited snippet from my former dark fusion dance blog:
"Skaði, a goddess of shadow Who knows the terrain of grief and broken-heartedness intimately, taught me how to find the courage to go on, even in the wake of suicidal depression, social anxiety, rejection, betrayal, and grief. She accepted my bitter, white-hot rage and my intense desire for vengeance upon my duplicitous, cheating ex; She, after all, is the One who placed a venomous snake over Loki in the myths, so She knows this emotional terrain well.
“She guided me as I waded through the bleakness in the wake of profound loss. Skaði taught me a lot about how — and when — to let go. She showed me that if I could learn to embrace the darkness of my grief and pain deeply, I could tap into wellsprings of strength and flows of creativity I didn’t even know I had, and even find precious gifts in the midst of the wreckage.
"Skaði showed me that one of my callings in life would be to create endarkened incubation spaces — in other words, to use my art (and all of my work, for that matter) to promote respect for the sacredness and wisdom to be found in darkness, both literal and figurative. Our culture doesn’t really “get” darkness as something that can be empowering — we tend to associate it with evil, so we sweep it under the rug or look the other way, rather than listen mindfully and embrace what it has to teach us."
Coming up in future shrine-building retrospectives:
Clips from the Shrine of Skaði ritual dance project
Stories from my service project building a shrine room for Skaði at the Many Gods West conference (2015)
Photos from Ingrid Kincaid’s ritual for Skaði (2016), including a custom-themed dark ambient playlist I provided for the ritual