Pay-what-you-want and gift services

In keeping with a Heathen ethic of reciprocity, I offer the following services to my extended community on a pay-what-you-want or gift basis.  This permits me to accommodate a diverse range of budgets without compromising my own.

Gift and pay-what-you-want work is made possible through the ongoing support I receive from many kind people.

If you’d like to help make it possible for me to offer more of these services to folks who can benefit from them, the best way you can do so is by supporting the Hermitage on Patreon!

1. Dark ambient music playlists

Hermitage: monastic dark ambientOne of the ways I encourage deep attentive listening as a contemplative practice in the communities I serve is through my Chthonic Cathedral Project: making custom themed playlists of dark ambient music.

I consult with event organizers, yoga instructors, meditation groups, performers, and ritual hosts to provide playlists, albums, or single tracks to suit their specific needs and tastes.

I can design a playlist for you around a theme, as a devotional to honor a specific deity or spirit, or for whatever other purpose you can dream up!  I can also give your playlist a name, and design an image to accompany it.

See my collection of playlists at Playmoss for a small sampling of my work.  I’ve got 30+ themed playlists already compiled – I’ll be adding them on Playmoss as time permits.

A sampling of upcoming playlist titles:

Cacophony: A Noisy Dark Ambient Mix
Ominous Portents: Doom Ambient
The Inward Eye: Dark Ambient for Solitude
Telluric Currents: Dark Ambient for the Spirits of the Stones
Blood of the Earth: Dark Ambient for Ecological Grief and Mourning

To help me come up with the most appropriate tracks for the mood you want to evoke, it’s best if you can provide specific instructions about the intended atmosphere or progression of your event or ritual (e.g., “for the 15-minute intro I want some background music that imparts a sense of spaciousness; then I want something with kind of a harsh noisy edge to jolt us into the next segment”), or about the types of sounds you prefer (e.g., “I need at least 20 minutes of drones, with no voice samples or percussion”).  To give me an idea of your tastes, it’s also very helpful if you listen to some of my existing playlists and identify some tracks you like.

Folks for whom I’ve provided custom playlists include:

* Ingrid Kincaid, aka The Rune Woman, who has organized rituals in Portland, OR for Skadi and Mordgud using my music recommendations.
* Bridie Przibram of UK-based Yoga in Black, who became “a total convert” to dark ambient via the first playlist I made for her (yay!)

These custom playlists are a gift service.  Whenever I receive funds as a thank you from someone who appreciates my playlists, I use a portion of the funds to directly support the musicians whose tracks appear in the playlist, by buying their music or merch on Bandcamp.

Of course, you too can support the musicians directly, by buying their music!  For the Bandcamp tracks you can click on the Bandcamp | Buy Now button underneath each track name, and you’ll be taken directly to the page where you can buy the track and download it immediately. When you do that, it will make me happy as well: my appetite for good dark ambient music is near-insatiable, so I want the musicians to receive enough support to enable them to keep making more of it.  Lots more of it!

Interested in a custom themed playlist?  I’d be happy to make one for you!  I’ll need at least 2-3 weeks’ lead time before your event.  Use the contact form on this site, or e-mail me at:

shrine.of.skadi AT gmail dot com

2. Endarkening: Designing and decorating meditative spaces

The Black Tent Temple Project - Endarkened Meditative Spaces

I design and decorate small enclosed spaces of endarkenment in Portland, OR for rituals, workshops, meditation spots, shrine rooms, grief circles, creative incubation retreats, etc.  I call these Black Tents (with a nod toward the Red Tent Temple movement, which was one of my early inspirations for starting this project), because my intent is to make these spaces tent-like, whether or not I build them inside a real tent.  They can be used for many purposes.  Would you like…

  • A subterranean-themed space to honor a chthonic deity or land spirit?
  • A private space to take your grief, far from the madding crowd?
  • An intimate home-based performance space for dancers?
  • A gothic-themed divination and scrying table for readers to meet with querents?
  • An enclosed cozy comforting spot in the basement where overstimulated people can retreat for solitude and quiet?
  • A leisurely reading nook with a darker feel?
  • How about an adult blanket-and-pillow fort?

I have built all of these and more.

See my Pinterest board for photos that provide an idea of the kind of atmospheres I aim for with my endarkening work.  The Black Tent in the photos above is the work of Priestess Gerrie Ordaz, who consulted with me and built a Black Tent at the Earth Traditions Oasis summer event in Chicago, IL.

Supplies I keep at the Hermitage that I may be able to use for your project include:

  • shrine supplies
  • scarves
  • altar cloths
  • sheer curtains and valances
  • small black rugs
  • thick textured velvet fabrics and curtains to soften the acoustics
  • drapery tiebacks
  • overstuffed pillows
  • subdued red or blue LED lighting
  • posters and framed art
  • a teardrop beanbag chair in purple velvet that serves as a meditation seat for those who can’t or don’t want to sit in lotus position

All the textiles are black and purple in color, with a smattering of rich jewel tones such as blood red, magenta, rust, and silver.

As my budget is very limited, and I am a non-driver who must haul all supplies in wheeled suitcases on public transit, it may work best to use a combination of my own supplies plus on-site supplies that you provide.  If you are willing to haul me and my supplies to and from the site where the Black Tent will be built, we’ll have more options.  (Pillows and curtain rods are bulky, and difficult to haul on public transit!)

To inquire about my availability for your Black Tent Temple project, use the contact form on this site, or e-mail me at:

shrine.of.skadi AT gmail dot com

I also encourage anyone and everyone who likes the idea to run with it, and build Black Tent Temples of their own!  (And if you do, I’d love to see photos!)

So beautiful…you have a gift. You design the most beautiful spaces.
~ Celestine Nox

3. Monastic retreats and hospitality

The Black Stone Hermitage - meditation corner

Meditation, shrine, + lectio divina corner at the Hermitage (love the spruce tree right outside the window!)

As part of my monastic service learning path, I regularly host local and out-of-town guests at the Hermitage for day visits, overnighters, and weekend retreats.

In addition to folks who are interested in my Paths of Sacred Endarkenment retreats, I’ve also hosted attendees of local arts and esoteric events, and presenters at conferences who don’t want to stay at a hotel or use AirBnB.  (Due to HOA regulations, short-term renting of units via AirBnB is not allowed in my building.  Hosting guests, however, is.)

I consider hospitality to be particularly important for Norse polytheists interested in monasticism, because there are so few of us engaged in these experimental efforts right now that it’s helpful just to get the word out in the world that this is A Thing that we can do.  And part of monastic hospitality, as I see it, involves welcoming people who seek a place of spiritual sanctuary, regardless of religion or lack thereof.  So I welcome guests from diverse faith traditions, and guests who are not religious but are interested in the creative work I do at the Hermitage.

Since the Hermitage is in downtown Portland, within walking distance of stores, restaurants, libraries, and a weekly year-round farmers’ market, it’s a convenient location for many reasons. Visitors also enjoy privileged access to the in-house library, the Black Tent Temple space, and my full collections of teas and dark ambient music.

Even short distance travel can be difficult for me due to multiple chemical sensitivities (especially reactions to fragranced products) and animal dander allergies, but I am well positioned to serve the community through hosting guests – the Hermitage has been family-owned since 2008, when I took over the responsibility of caring for it and making it into an endarkened space of worship.  So I make the best of this stroke of good fortune by sharing it!

I book visits 3-4 weeks in advance, and patrons always receive scheduling priority.  Contact me via the form on this site or e-mail me at:

shrine.of.skadi AT gmail dot com

On behalf of all the communities I serve with this gift work, thank you kindly for your support of the Hermitage!

Services available at hourly or per-word rates

1. Freelance writing, copy critique, & other project consulting

I am self-employed full-time as a professional freelance writer. While most of my work comes from steady clients, I occasionally have openings for new projects, and am happy to discuss rates and terms.

Please use the contact form on this site or inquire at my business email:

blackstone.homeservice AT gmail dot com

2. Proofreading

I have been doing freelance proofreading work since I was a teenage book nerd and my English teacher hired me for my first job at the age of 13: helping him correct other students’ spelling exams. (That didn’t make me too popular with the other students…but it sure helped to sharpen my skills!)

I now specialize in proofreading promotional copy for musicians, artists, and dancers.  I can often handle speedy turn-around times, especially for shorter texts.

Previous book proofreading work includes Alley Valkyrie‘s first book, Night of a Million Stars, a book which I highly recommend!

Praise from previous clients:

“As a non-native English speaker, I suspected that the text on the website of my music project needed some serious proofreading, so I decided to ask Ms. Swanson for her services, after I learned that she is a professional writer and proofreader. She did the job quickly and professionally, so I was more than happy with that. I would recommend her skills to anyone who needs professional proofreading services.”

– Hristo Gospodinov of Shrine

“Ms. Swanson is the person I go to when I need something proofread or have questions about English grammar.  She is quick but thorough.  Highly recommended.”

– Pär Boström of Hypnagoga Press

For more information on rates and terms, please use the contact form or inquire at my business email:

blackstone.homeservice AT gmail dot com