Welcome! I’m Danica Swanson, better known in some corners of the internet as D. JoAnne Swanson. I’m a freelance writer, dark ambient music specialist, dark fusion dancer, introvert, animist, and polytheist Heathen devotee of Norse deities Skaði (Skadi) and Móðguðr (Mordgud). My religious mission is to help make inroads toward organized monastic life for would-be polytheist nuns and monks through creating space for leisure and sacred endarkenment.
This is my main website – here you’ll find information about all of my current and upcoming projects, and links to my earlier work.
The Black Stone Hermitage is where I live, work, and serve my community. The Hermitage is also a concept that I am developing and extending to others through artistic and devotional use of my living space as a host. With time, I hope the Hermitage will become a contemplative retreat and house of worship that will outlive me, and will continue on to serve future polytheists who feel called to monastic life and seek solitude for contemplative reasons.
I specialize in creating reverent endarkened atmospheres for worship, prayer, meditation, and devotional dance through creative combinations of shrine-building, writing, dark ambient music, gothic home decor, and magical aromatics from conifer forests.
As part of my monastic path of service and hospitality, I make the Hermitage available by appointment for visitors – especially folks who are interested in collaborating to develop organized monastic traditions appropriate for polytheists interested in the pre-Christian religious and folk traditions of Northern Europe. Since monastic traditions for Heathens do not yet exist anywhere in the world, we have a great deal of room for experimentation, with all the pros and cons that implies.
At this early stage of the modern polytheist revival, I believe outreach is important even for reclusive types like me, as we live in a culture where people who are considered “too religious” are seen as aberrations. So part of my work is simply to stand in solidarity and fellowship with other polytheists, especially those who feel called to monastic life, and to write publicly about my devotional and contemplative practices.
Although I was born and raised in the USA, and grew up in Hawai’i, my ancestors originally hail from Sweden and Germany. I have long felt immense grief related to “whiteness” and being cut off from my deepest ancestral and ecological roots. I’ve spent years reading about settler colonialism and the ongoing sovereignty struggles of indigenous peoples, and trying to figure out how to decolonize my life, including my spiritual practice, in ways that will help me reconnect with my own ancestral heritage. I feel as if I’m just getting started.
I host visitors at the Hermitage for leisurely reading and study days in my in-house library, for a monthly geomancy (divination) study group, and for Paths of Sacred Endarkenment retreats.
My community service work also includes building endarkened meditative spaces through my Black Tent Temple Project, providing custom themed dark ambient music playlists for rituals and events through my Chthonic Cathedral Project, and doing house cleaning and home organizing through my solo business, Black Stone Home Service.
Photo credit: Ilana Hamilton of Blackthorn Photography