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Meeting the 9 daughters of Ran

Week 5,6,10: Unn - Undine of Tides & Memory,
Mermaid of Rhythms

Personal Gnosis on Unn UPG

Week 4.5: Ran Previous MermaidNext Mermaid Week 7: Kolga

Crest of Unn

Sunday July 11, 2010

I was tired today, and not much in the mood to go to the river. But I knew not going would be Bad. If I was lucky, They’d kick my ass for standing Them up. If I was unlucky, They’d just ignore me, considering me an oathbreaker unworthy of Their time. And that was definitely something I didn’t want. Getting a bad rap with one would make it much harder to talk to anyone else. So I went.

On the way out, I decided to bring my doumbek (a drum). Until then, I had no idea who would be there to meet me, but at that point, I suspected Unn. I drove, listening to Her song and trying to memorize it. Once near the shore, I had no pull in either direction. So I started singing Blodughadda’s song and  drumming along. I’d been practicing drumming along with my heartbeat earlier that week, so with a finger on my jugular, I got into that rhythm.  I couldn’t really feel my heartbeat while singing, but between lines, I could tell if I was still on the beat. I messed it up a few times, but it was a lot better than when I had first tried.

When I was done, I saw a figure in white in the middle of the river to my left, diving and popping back up to wait for me. I walked quickly to follow Her upstream, She stopped in front of a tree, and came closer to the shore, so I knew where to go. Once there, I greeted Her and introduced myself. I should know better than to ask Their names… They never answer that. Fortunately, my first guess was right, it was Unn. She looked pretty friendly, wearing a sort of white tattered dress, brownish hair, and had a rather squarish jaw. I wondered if They’d been making efforts to look more human for my benefit. Though why They’d bother, I have no clue!

She asked me to go into the water. I gave Her the pear I’d brought, then She  had me go under the tree, which was stretched out low over the water. She was just beyond the branches of the tree that dipped into the water, and asked what I wanted. Basically, to keep my oath of offering to each of Them, meeting one every seven days, a cycle. To learn if I could, and to get permission for the song She’d given to Raven, if only to be able to call Her or give Her a way to call me by bringing the song to my mind. Having read that She’s a bit of a math geek and being a bit of one myself, I said I was curious if She’d show me something different. I drew circles, sine waves and asymptotes on the water as I talked. I explained my project to build an astrolabe (a sort of medieval astronological circular slide rule), and She seemed to think it a good idea. I explained it showed where the sun and the stars were at any given time or date, but not the Moon, which was almost impossible to calculate. It was just too complicated for that device.

“I can give you a song to find the Moon,” She said as She smiled.

“Ummm, okay… that sounds good… but how would that be useful to me?”

“You need to know where the Moon is to use my other song, or it doesn’t work. Where is the moon now?”

It being a bit after sunset during the dark of the Moon, I thought about it for a bit, then pointed West and a bit down. At the dark of the moon, the Sun and Moon are pretty much in the same place. During a full moon, they’re at opposite ends of the Earth. Yeah, I’d done my homework.

She clapped Her hands: “Very good! But where is it?”

I was puzzled. I pondered, as I looked in the direction of the Moon. “Ummm… under the water?”

“Yes, yes! It’s under the water, that’s exactly right. The moon is either in the sky, or underwater.” That sort of made sense, in a mythical way. She added: “Now, reach out your hand, and I’ll give you the song.”

I did, She reached out to touch my hand… and my hand started to quiver and shake. “So what is your hand doing now?” She asked.

“It’s shaking”

“But how is it shaking?”

“With a complex rhythm?”

“Yes, it’s shaking with the rhythm of the Moon. Now get your drum, and drum it.” So I did, returning to sit on a branch of the tree to drum it, which was basically my hand fluttering on the drumhead. Then She started teaching me the song.

Unn's Love Song (To Mani)

Moon in sky, Moon under water,
Keep to your way, and do not stray
Children of tides await your say
Hearts, hearts, hearts obey

Flushed my face, my blood you sway
Turn my heart the other way
Kill my calm, aloofness allay
Hearts, hearts, hearts obey

Try to touch you as I may
Blurred my bedside love dismay
Taunt my heart for one more day
Hearts, hearts, hearts obey


“This is your love song to Mani, isn’t it?” I asked. She blushed and nodded. “He… He makes me. He makes me swell.”

The moon makes the tides… that’s true. Wow. I asked:  “It’s lovely… but what use would it be for me to sing it? Though I am honored You shared it with me!”

“Sing it, to find the Moon. To talk to him. He sees much. And to turn someone’s mood… at the cost of your own.“ She smirked, cocking Her head. She explained how Her other song worked, the one to see the past: You find where the Moon is, then you move the Moon backwards though the sky in your mind as you sing, through the days and nights, to the time you want to see. You have to know where the moon was at that time too though.

I praised Her generosity, and She agreed now was the right time to offer the drops of blood. She had me hold off on the 9th drop though. I asked if She had more to teach, and how I could speak with Her away from the water. “Get your water drum into the water,” She said, so I dipped the bottom of it. “You are silly to think we will come when you’re in your bath. That’s not how it works. Each of us has our way. Blodugaddha’s way is to come through rivers, even the rivers of blood in your body, if she so chooses. My way is rhythm. I can come when you drum, we all can, and I can teach you the rhythms for the others to come. But there is more to do on the drum first. I can show you that too.“

Okay, NOW I was seriously impressed. Finding the Moon is nice, but I could use an ephemeris. Seeing back into the past, useful, yes. But knowing how to drum the spirits? THAT’s extremely useful, and those rhythms just can’t be found in the Northern Tradition without being spirit taught, at least at the moment. Plus, learning that each undine has her own special path is very useful in knowing to ask about it.

I’m fully expecting to pay more than a few drops of blood to learn those rhythms though. As someone has put it, there’s usually a “honeymoon period” with the Gods. You get something you want. Then you have to work to pay off your debt. As They’d been extra nice to me, I hoped I wasn’t piling up more debt than I was able to reasonably pay. Oh well, we’ll see. Time to go further into debt…

“Unn, I was hoping you could tell me what Sinthgunt is goddess of?” (sister to the Moon and Sun, She is known only for being named in the Merseburg charm)

“She is the Goddess of…” I held my breath, awaiting Her answer, “Nothing!” She laughed, while I frowned. “Nothing??” I asked. “That’s right. I don’t understand it myself, but there it is! You’ll have to horse her to get the full answer.” I sighed.

After asking “Is it this? Is it that?” for a while, here’s what I got. Mundilfari is the God of Time. His daughter Sinthgunt is all about imaginary lines. As best I could gather, that means paths, trajectories, courses, directions and distances. The ancients understood time, but empty space wasn’t a concept as such. Ginnungagap is more a great big hole than the void of potential we think of today, even if the modern version may be more accurate. Really, there is no such thing as truly empty space. Even so-called empty space contains dust, but Sinthgunt is as close to empty space as you can get. Not the night sky and outer space, that’s Nott’s domain.

On the topic of the drum, I told Unn about my idea of having strings of beads on the drum, 3 beads and a separator, 1 bead, 4 beads, 1 bead, 5 beads, etc. to express the number Pi, the basis of all trigonometry, circles, orbits, etc. It’s an irrational and transcendental number (in math terms), which I thought would appeal to Her mathematical leaning. She liked the idea, and added: “I will bless these and guide you in preparing the drum.” 


Week #6 Unn’s second Lesson


Sunday 18 July 2010

Surprisingly, Unn was back for a second week in a row! Her lesson consisted of teaching me Her rhythm, and Mani’s, as well as a blessing on my drum. I’m still practicing them. Both are a bit strange. They’re more intended for tapping water than a drum I think.

Unn’s rhythm

-Left hand taps down with fingertips, tap with heel of hand tipping hand up, tap fingertips again tipping hand down, thumb tap tipping hand to the right, pinky tap by tipping hand left.
-Fingertips, heel, fingertips.
-Fingertips, heel, fingertips, thumb, pinky.

Or put another way, if you’re facing North, the directions are: NSNEW, NSN, NSNEW

During this time, the right hand’s index (1), middle finger (2) and ring finger (3) are tapping near the rim of the drum.

I also tried  it this way, which seemed equivalent to Her and feels better to me:
The hand sort of rocks back and forth, unrolling from the left to the right.

Doing both at once is… challenging! Basically, this translates to (in basic drumming notation):
Dum ta da ta da, Dum ta da, Dum ta da ta da

The hits are on the following beats: 1&2&3 4 5 6 7&8&9. The pattern is 5, 3, 5

D is for the right hand, T for the left hand. Dum and Tum are loud beats, ta and da are softer ones. Tek and Dek are rim shots that make the drum ring.


Week #10 Unn’s Third Lesson


I could put the lessons fully chronologically, but it makes more sense to put all of Unn's lessons together on Her page I think.


Sunday August 15, 2010

Today I felt neither apprehensive nor lazy about going to my river appointment today. I mentally reviewed those I had met so far: Blodughadda, Hronn, Hevring. Duva, Unn, Kolga. Himinglava. I realized their names were a sort of mantra for me, and the order I had met Them in was the key that made it almost uniquely mine. Assuming everyone also meets Big Sister first, that still leaves 8 factorial combinations. 8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1 = 40,320 combinations. If it’s possible to meet any of them first, then that makes 362,880 combinations. Until They acquire over 40 thousand devotees, I think I’ll consider my sequence pretty unique.

Yeah, I’m a geek. I really enjoyed probability and combinatorics math classes. What chance is there that some event happens, if it’s truly random? I can calculate it.

Actually though, I could include Sequana in my sequence as well. That’s probably a good idea, and it makes for a nice mantra to briefly honor them with every day. Also, very useful to have a daily check-in to let me know if They want to talk to me. Actually, I should add Ran to this sequence.

Blodughadda, Hronn, Hevring,
Duva, Ran, Unn, Kolga,
Himinglava, Sequana, Bylgja, Bara
Only two more to meet, Bylgja and Bara, undines of obsession (drive) and erosion (patience). I wondered which one it might be! My girlfriend asked to join me today again, and her boyfriend wanted to come too. I checked my intuition… yes, it was fine for them to come with me. I stopped first to get some fruit to offer. As I looked over the selection, I noticed the limes. “Hmmm… if all you eat is fish and sea food… you might want some LIME to go with it! Done!”

So far, the bananas, pear, apple, orange, and peaches had only received an unenthusiastic reaction from the mermaids. I was hoping to figure out something they might like!


Unn Returns

I got near the shore, feeling only a vague presence, and sang Blodughadda’s song. Then an eddy in the water caught my eye… there was my visitor! I followed Her to the left, to a new part of the shore that was made of large rocks to sit on. She seemed to be wearing some sort of white tunic with dagged sleeves, much like the one Sequana had, just more ragged and torn looking, held with lacing rather than sewing. It was Unn, visiting a third time, and I beamed, thrilled to see Her again! Out of all of them, I felt the most affinity with Her, and real affection. I suppose it is mutual, since She’s the only one who’s been coming again to see me.

With Blodughadda, it’s more a work relationship, though I appreciate Her putting up with me immensely. Hevring, well, I don’t feel as close to Her, but She’s the one I’ve called on the most, to deal with my sadness in a useful way. I think I’d like to see Her again too. Hronn didn’t talk much, but she put me through a useful lesson. I’d like to get to speak with Her more as well. Kolga, well, being alone sucks, so I’m not too fond of Her, but I do realize how important Her lessons can be to me. Mother Dearest, Ran, is just plain scary, though in a strange way I kinda like that. Duva’s really into the sisterhood bonding things… and being all mysterious. Talking with Her is challenging, but I like her. Sequana was fun, getting to play with the ducks. And I wish I’d been able to hear more from Himinglava.

Looking over what I’ve just written… it feels like I’m going to be going to see Them for a while yet. Not because I’m obliged by vows… but because I want to. I like Them and want to get to know them.

Back to Unn. I greeted Her joyously, and asked if a blood offering would be appropriate.

“No, my sisters would get jealous.”

“Would you like this lime then?” Oh, I saw some interest there! She wanted me to go deeper into the water before throwing it to Her… but She caught it, and devoured it with gusto! And… with really really sharp teeth! I’d forgotten She wasn’t even remotely close to human.

“Yes, we are monsters to you,” She nodded, almost with regret.

“Maybe… but I’m sometimes called a monster among my own people, so I’m used to it. I like monsters, and I like you.” We had a moment. It was good. And I was glad She liked the lime.


More Water Drum Rythms

She kinda just stood there in the water while I babbled, trying to figure out what I was supposed to, or ask. Eventually, I started tapping out Her rhythm in the water. And then Mani’s rhythm. She seemed pleased, though She said I needed to practice them more, so I could do both hands at the same time. Then She said:

“Go to your drum, sit. I will teach you another rhythm.” She smiled.

I did, and sat, listening to the wind, and to what sounds came to my mind, reproducing them on the drum as best I could. She seemed to want me to figure out what the rhythm was for on my own, so I kept drumming. It felt… like my body was melting, turning to water, and flowing down. Further, I could feel like I was seeping down into the Earth.

“That rhythm is called Down With Water, or Going Down With Water.” Okay, that made sense. I felt it would be useful for any kind of journeying downwards, like going to the Underworld, or down into the Earth. And it could be used to melt something that needed to be grounded, and let it flow down away from the person.

The next rhythm She taught felt like a geyser spurting up, or a spring surging up out of the Earth, spraying water up. “This rhythm is called Up With Water, or Going Up With Water,” She said. It felt very invigorating! And I was sure it would be good for helping someone return from a spirit journey to their body and filling it. It would also help in getting out of trance to full wakefulness, or when partially out of body (what we therapists call “dissociated”).

Next was a strange rhythm that made the surface of the water sparkle strangely, like it was a veil between two different worlds. It felt like it could be used to scry in a mirror or surface of water, or to use those as doorways into the Otherworld. I had a hard time understanding the name… but it settled on “Opening The Mirror Path”. Very useful in working with the Veil!

She said I wasn’t allowed to share those rhythms yet, I had to master them first.


Excuse me, do you mind?

After I’d practiced the first rhythm, and before learning the other two, my girlfriend commented that my drumming was disturbing the other spirits in the water. Ah, yeah. “So I should talk to the River Spirit and ask for permission, shouldn’t I?” “Yeah… that would be good.” Sigh. I keep blundering. Good thing I have help.

I excused myself to Unn, explaining what I needed to do, and sang Sequana’s spirit song to ask for permission to drum water rhythms I was learning. I wasn’t getting Sequana’s full attention, but I did get Her permission. Seems she would just “adjust” things so the little water spirits weren’t disturbed. All good.


A few more answers from Sequana, Gaulish River Goddess

While I had some of Her attention though, I also asked Sequana if She was the same river spirit that was honored by Native Americans here. “No, I am the river goddess of your ancestors.” I got this mental image of different bodies emerging from the water, each one a different way to relate to the river for different peoples, but each just an extension of the river. Kind of like choosing your graphical user interface. Same computer body, but you could interface with it through Windows or Linux. At the same time, each was an individual with her own memories. Sequana remembers how the Gauls honored her. It’s just that Her body is the Seine in France because Her people are there, and Her body is ALSO the St-Lawrence where their descendants live… provided people here remember and honor Her at the river. Polytheology can be confusing… but basically, it means I don’t have to make standard Native American offerings to the land or river, unless I’m trying to get THAT incarnation of the land or river. Honoring the land as Jord should work just fine. And I’d imagine They talk amongst each other, sharing a body and all.

My guess, and it’s just a guess, is this: The river wants to be honoured, respected and kept clean. Fat chance of getting the French who live here to do that for a Native American spirit. But Sequana has ancestral pull on the French, so She’s the one reaching out to us. That’s why Her spirit chant says to remember, for us to remember Her, and for Her to remember us, so we can re-establish our spiritual connection to the waters that keep us alive.


A potentially meaningful event

Before I got a chance to start practicing the first rhythm, a man arrived at our little section of the shore with his yellow bicycle and started talking to us. His name was Bela, from Czechoslovakia, and he was very chatty. He came to swim every day, often swimming across the river and back, and wanted us to watch his bike so no one would steal it while he did so. I pay attention to what animals are doing when I’m talking to spirits, as they can be another way for spirits to talk. Humans are animals, so that applies too. After his swim, he came back, and gave me a VHS video tape to thank me. It’s called “Falling in love” with Robert DeNiro. I suppose I should listen to it sometime.

After I’d returned to the car and started taking notes, I realized I needed a way to close the mirror path… and that rhythm was there, waiting for me in my mind. It’s called “Closing The Mirror Path.




November 28, 2010

Addendum: since the third lesson, I’ve applied Up With Water to opening my chakras from the root up to the crown, drumming on my own body. I’ve also used it in combination with massage to help with knotted muscles, once I’d figured out the energy was supposed to move up at that spot, and wasn’t. I just tapped the rhythm on the person’s back, from below the point of blockage up to the top of the back. It helped al lot.

Practicing Unn’s rhythm felt like a weird coordination exercise, but I’m wondering if it isn’t some sort of three dimensional representation. The left hand works the 4 directions, so perhaps the right hand signifies up, middle and down. Perhaps it represents water’s motion, or maybe it’s a three dimensional sigil? Maybe I’m seeing patterns that aren’t there, but there’s certainly something mysterious about how that rhythm is played. Maybe it’s just meant to teach coordination of both hands, before more complex rhythms are taught.

I’m allowed to share two more rhythms now. Here they are:

Up With Water

(fast) Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum (slow) ta da ta  

It feels like pressure building up with more and more insistence, and then gushing out like a geyser. The first five are all done with the same hand, the last three alternate hands.
The hits are on the following beats: 1&2&3 4 5 6

Down With Water

Dum ta da ta Dum ta da

The hits are on the following beats: 1 2&3 4 5 6

D is for the right hand, T for the left hand. Dum and Tum are loud beats, ta and da are softer ones. Tek and Dek are rim shots that make the drum ring.
If you’re left handed, I’m pretty sure you can reverse the hands. D is for your dominant hand, whichever one that is.



Meditation of the Day

Get a drum. Or use a table, cooking pot or whatever. Try the rhythms. Notice what you feel. Unn might be a math geek, but her lessons are about moving, not thinking. So try moving in these ways, and maybe your thinking will move along Her ways. I’m not sure whether they’ll work for you without praying to Unn first and asking for permission. Maybe starting with Her rhythm is all that’s needed, though it never hurts to be polite and ask nicely for permission too. Or maybe they work on their own. I don’t know. Why not try and find out?

Hail Unn, Undine of Tides and Rhythms!


Week 4.5: Ran Previous MermaidNext Mermaid Week 7: Kolga


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