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Meeting the 9 daughters of Ran

Week 4 1/2: Ran - Goddess of the Northern Seas, Mistress of the Net

Personal Gnosis on Ran UPG

Week 4: Duva Previous MermaidNext Mermaid Week 5: Unn

Hronn Crest, Mermaid of Fear


A New Way to Get My Attention

Thursday July 9, 2010

I found myself singing Blodughadda’s song at home. I’ve been practicing many of Their songs, usually while driving, but I don’t normally sing spirit songs without deciding to do so first. So I opened up my head to ask: “Are You trying to get my attention?”

Blodughadda’s voice answered: “Yes. Tomorrow. Come to the river. You must meet the next tomorrow.”

“Okay,” I answered, “I’ll do my best to be there.” I remembered there were thunderstorms forecast, and suspected it might be Ran… seeing as it was out of the usual Sunday pattern, and Ran is a goddess of sea storms, among other things, and none of the 9 specifically are.

Apparently, the songs serve for two way communication! I’m often singing something, so it’s a good way to get my attention, I’m often oblivious to spirits otherwise. When I find myself singing a spirit song from now on, I’ll check whether They’re trying to talk to me. Cool.

When I try to remember what I did at the river Friday, my head goes fuzzy. But here’s what I remember.

My friend had lost his bag of runes on Mount Royal the week before, and while looking for them, had found a cell phone. Today, the woman in question got back in touch with me so we could meet, and I returned it on the way to the river. She gave me a CD of instrumental music by a Montreal band called “Music For Money” as thanks, I think she’s related to one of the artists. I popped it into the player during my drive to the river. It was moody and melancholic and poignant, freaky, disturbing, and just perfect for setting the tone for the experience, blending well with the sound of thunder and pouring rain. Kinda gothy too in a way. If you want to hear it, here are their sites: http://www.musicformoney.ca/  http://www.myspace.com/musicformoney

It was just starting to rain when I got in the car, rained hard during the drive, then almost stopped when I got to the shore. I had some apprehension. I suspected Ran would be there.

I sang Blodughadda’s song as I approached the river, and turned left, feeling the pull to go upstream. There was barely a drizzle of rain, but I was in my bathing suit and swimming shoes (rubber soles, spandex tops, I don’t trust the bottom of the river to be safe).  I walked a fait bit, and Blodugaddha seemed unusually playful, letting me see Her, then diving and coming up further upstream as I followed on shore. When I reached the spot, She was smiling, for the first time I could remember, and seemed excited.

“Come,” She said, and I went into the water.

“Greetings Blodughadda. You seem to be in a great mood.”

“Oh I have reason to be.” She told me to go under the water to get wet. Once I had, She called me further in. “My mother, Ran.” To my left I saw the other, abundant black hair partially hiding her down cast face, and dragging behind Her like a straggly cloak.

My memory gets fuzzy at this point. Then I remember being further upstream,. The current was much stronger here than all the other places, or perhaps it’s because of the rain, but I was being pulled away from the shore. I had to dig my feet in against the current, and sometimes had to swim back to regain my footing. She asked for the banana I’d brought, so I struggled back to the shore, realizing I’d been carried quite a ways downstream. Ran wanted me to hand it to Her directly, and I had to lose my footing to do that. She took it, and I nervously swam hard to get back to the shallows where I had foot. I was very aware that I could die if the currents took me away.

The First One's Always Free : The Tides

She asked what I wanted, and I told Her I wanted to be able to know what I needed to keep and get rid of. I have too much stuff, it’s distracting me, and I wanted to be able to go through it myself, rather than have events take it away for me, as often happens to spirit workers. So I needed help, and I’d learned She was good for that. Much preferable to Hela’s drastic ascetic method or the Fire Etin crash and burn approach, at least to me. I’m a giving person, I’d rather give it away to those who want the stuff.

Expecting Ran, I had brought a pill container with a tablespoon of sea salt, in case She gave me a similar blessing. She made me repeat something like what She gave to Raven:

“From this day on, my mouth is a cave of the sea, it ebbs and flows with the tides of giving and taking.”

Then put all the salt in my mouth. Not some of it. All of it. Some got wet and stuck in the container, I had to scoop it into my mouth with my fingers. I expected my mouth to go dry with all this salt, but instead, it watered abundantly. Weird. I kept it a while, and it still watered. Eventually She told me to spit it out, and made me test it.

“Should I give this away?” Mouth dry to keep it, wet to let it go.

“Should I take this?” Mouth wet to let it flow to me, dry to refuse. So far so good, this is what I’d hoped to accomplish today.

But the second one's a real doozy : The Net

She asked what more I would like… hmmm. Well, my business was iffy with the economy, and I said it might be nice to be able to draw enough clients to reliably cover my expenses. She went all Temptress on me!

“The sea holds many treasures,” She told me, “it draws men in and takes what it wants. I can teach you how to cast that net, to bring in riches, to catch all the fish you could ever want. To be rich. You want to be rich, little spirit worker, don’t you?”

Alarm bells went off in my head! “Whoa! No I don’t. I don’t need to be rich. And I certainly don’t want to fleece people for all they’re worth! Or even force them to come to me. I just want enough to be able to live, cover my expenses, and give them what they need. Something closer to Duva’s spell of ‘I have what you need’ perhaps, mysterious and alluring, but they get to choose if they come or not. I don’t want to strong-arm them, it’s gotta be their choice.”

She laughed. It was kinda scary to watch. “Good! Because if you’d agreed to force them to come satisfy your whims, you would have been at the mercy of anyone else who wanted you to satisfy their whims. Give and takes. What you take, you must also give. What liberties you take with others, you consent to others taking with you. There would be no defence, no way for you to refuse. How could you? If you thought it was fine to force others, then your spirit would be open to being forced as well.”  She smiled. It was a bit nerve-wracking to watch.

“So what kind of net would you like to cast, little spirit worker ?”

“One that brought in just enough for what I need.”

I thought of a song called “Fisherman’s Boy,” by Heather Dale, (lyrics pdf, youtube) where a boy went to the beach each day and collected fish who were stranded into a bucket, returning them to the sea, “back to the living”. As a man, he worked the fishing boat like his father, sorting out the unneeded fish, and returning them to the sea. One day, during a storm, his boat was smashed and all thought him dead. But he was found alive and unharmed the next day, washed up on the beach. He’d been returned to the living as well. That’s the spirit of what I wanted.

I thought about it. Taking what I needed meant that I agreed to be taken as well… if I was truly needed. I mulled it over. But really, I was okay with that, though I realized it meant sinking deeper into letting the Gods do what They wanted with me, without me necessarily being able to say no. Ah well, in for a penny, in for a pound I suppose.

“You will be a fish too, little spirit worker, if you use my song. A fish in someone else’s net. And you will be treated as well by them as you treat the fish caught in your own net. And you will be freed when unneeded, inasmuch as you free your own catches. Is this what you want?“ Scary, scary Temptress!


“Very well. I will teach you the song to cast that net.” Gulp!

She poked the middle of my right palm with a pointy finger… and then grabbed hold of my hand, putting something in me. She wanted blood from that spot. I went back to shore for the lancet, but blood wouldn’t come from that place, skin was too thick. I ended up using a finger, but it was hard to get much out. It ended up being an offering of 3 drops, and twice washing reddened finger into the water. Thinking of the lesson about flow, I thought if more wasn’t flowing, then it wasn’t supposed to. It took two pricks to get those 3 drops as it was.

Her net song started with: “Cast my net, catch my worth” I have to go look at what She’s left in me to get the rest, as trying to learn it directly from Her was confusing. “rebirth” was on the second line. As the rain started pouring again, it felt joyful, like going home for that water, laughing. I watched. It was very pretty, and different, seeing rain from water level while swimming. But as it started thundering, I started retreating to shore, with Her laugh: “Yes, run away little spirit worker!” She and Blodugaddha were having a great old time in the storm. Much later, I got the rest of the song unpacked from my brain:

Ran’s Net

Cast my net, catch my worth
Caught my meal, I cause rebirth
Men like fishes, flock in mirth
Lay my nets, along the firth

School of fish, learn to follow
Made of mesh, my trap is hollow
Came the fishies, caught my meal

Calm my belly, life I steal

Price I pay, trapped in turn
Prey I pray, to not return
Salty steal, sweet ordeal
Stuck in darkness, was my deal


I have not used Ran’s song yet. Honestly, it scares the bejesus out of me. That last verse chills me to the bone. I’m reminded the the TANSTAAFL principle: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If I were to use it, I’d make very clear that it was just to catch what I truly needed, and to be extra gracious with my clients, so that when I was caught in turn, it would be our of a same real need, and I’d be treated well. Then again, that’s how I normally operate. Still, I’ll save this one for when I’m truly desperate.

Tips for the Song Impaired

One tool I’ve found useful in unpacking spirit songs is online rhyme dictionaries. I’m not totally clear on how spirit songs work, but one thing I’m pretty sure of, the mermaids aren’t speaking English. So whatever their song is in their language has to get translated somewhere in my brain.

But it also has to be poetic in English, have the right rhythms, sounds, and alliterations. End rhyme isn’t used in Old Norse poetry, so maybe it doesn’t rhyme in their language either… but this is English poetry, and English normally rhymes. So when I unpack a song, I may hear a sound which makes no sense to me, and I have to try to hunt it down. Like the word “firth”, which I’d never heard of. I heard in my head the first part “lay my nets along the something”, and the something had to rhyme with mirth. But I had no clue what it could be, until I checked the rhyme dictionary. There’s not that many things that rhyme with earth and mirth. Firth fits more beautifully than anything I could have thought of. Here’s what it means, from a few dictionaries.

Definition of firth:

·  noun:   A long, narrow inlet of the sea. Firths are usually the lower part of an estuary, but are sometimes fjords.
·  noun:   a long narrow estuary (especially in Scotland)
·  noun:   English linguist who contributed to linguistic semantics and to prosodic phonology and who was noted for his insistence on studying both sound and meaning in context (1890-1960)


Meditation on Ran

So hey, you just got a spell that will bring you exactly the people you need, to do what you want. All you have to do is sing it out loud and mean it, assuming Ran agrees to grant it. Tempting, isn’t it?

First though, you have to choose who you want to catch, and what you want out of them. If you don’t specify your wish very precisely, you’ll get whatever She feels like sending you AND you’ll still have to pay the price for it. Wishes are very tricky. We’ve all heard the jokes about genies granting wishes, and how it can go terribly wrong. So you have to really spell it out in detail, no pun intended. Think about that.

Once you’ve figured it out… are you really willing to pay that price? Remember, if you cast this net and catch your fish, then you will be a fish in someone else’s net. It’s not free. You’ll get taken advantage of, quite probably in a way you won’t like, about as much as you take advantage of your own catch. You’ll have to be very very nice to whoever you get… and you won’t even be sure who is part of your catch, and who isn’t, it will all look like fortunate coincidences. So you’ll have to be really nice to everybody. And then you won’t know when it’s your turn to pay… and even when you do pay, you won’t know if there’s still more to pay. Wishes, as I’ve said, are tricky.

I could entertain you with stories of love spells I’ve cast, both for my benefit and that of others. I was casting the ethical version of love spells too, to attract someone appropriate, as opposed to the unethical version which aims at making a specific person fall in love. And you know what, they all worked within a week!

And they were all disasters. They make really funny stories though, in retrospect, and each of them was a learning experience. I don’t do love spells anymore. But hey, knock yourself out if you want to have a hand at it. Provided you have some basic magical training, they’re the easiest to cast, and they pretty much always work. Just not the way you intended.

If I were you though, I’d start by making a really nice offering to Ran before trying this spell song, so She’s in a good mood towards you.

Or, you can make friends and influence people the old fashioned way. Dale Carnegie has a great book on that, I highly recommend it.

Hail Ran, Goddess of the Net and the Sea !

Relevant Events This week

Wednesday July 7th: Made offering of homemade pear wine to Gerda in my garden on my balcony, and to my surprise, She came! She even gave some much needed advice, I'm not very good with plants, but I'm making efforts to learn. She also taught me a new way to communicate with plants.


Week 4: Duva Previous MermaidNext Mermaid Week 5: Unn


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