Posts filed under ‘Heathenry’
One tendency I’ve noticed in ADF, and broader American-centric Paganism is a misuse, based on misunderstanding, or sometimes laziness of the term “Norse”. Especially with the older material on the ADF website, the rituals labeled “Norse” have phrases in German, with deity names in anglicized Icelandic. Also featuring the goddess Nerthus as Earth Mother, who was worshiped by continental Germanic peoples not “the Norse”.
Actual definition of Norse– of or relating to people who spoke Old Norse in Scandinavia, and traveled and/or settled in other areas of the world, their culture, traditions, literature etc.
Norse is not the same as–
Norwegian– From Old Norse developed two branches, East Norse- Danish and Swedish and West Norse- Icelandic, Norwegian and Faroese.
Vikings– Norse people who farmed part-time, and went trading and raiding in the summer during the Viking Era. Most Norse people were not Vikings, but because of the popular image (we can especially thank Wagner’s operas)
Nordic countries vs. Scandinavia– Just read this
Any Germanic culture or a Pan-Germanic mishmash– When we look at historical and literary sources for Germanic cultures, that spans everywhere from the Anglo-Saxons, the continental Germanic peoples (who often aren’t easily distinguished from the Celtic peoples- the Romans divided them with the Danube river) to Iceland and Scandinavian countries.
Other terms to sort out-
Teutonic– this is sometimes used, especially in older sources to refer to Germanic peoples inclusively or Germans specifically. Originally referred to the Teutons, a Germanic tribe mentioned by Greek and Roman writers. (More here)
German vs. Germanic– the Germanic language family, of or relating to people who speak Germanic languages and their cultures. German– citizen of modern Germany, or earlier historic chunks of land that later became Germany, sometimes used to refer to German-speaking populations around Europe and other parts of planet Earth.
Northern Tradition– I see this used to refer vaguely to Germanic polytheistic/animistic traditions, usually with a Nordic slant, and sometimes with Saami stuff added in for good measure. (Which seems rather rude, considering the erm, prickly relationship between Saami folks and non-Saami Finns, Swedes and Norwegians.)
We have very little info on the Anglo-Saxon goddesses (if they were goddesses) Hreda and Eostre. A while back this scholarly book came out that has some info-
Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda & the Cult of the Matrons by Philip Shaw
Review by Rhiannon (mostly talking about Eostre)
From same book- Notes & Quotes from Heathen Chinese about Hreda
Celestial Gods, Turning & Shining– Molly Khan
Prayer to Mani, God of the Moon– Molly Khan
The Midsummer Sun– Molly Khan
Moon & Sun Prayer Cycles by Raven Kaldera
Sheena McGrath’s Blog articles (with sources)
Will the Real Sun God(dess) Please Stand up? Because some people can’t get over the fact that the Norse had/have a sun goddess & a moon god…
The Autumnal Equinox- September 20-21st is celebrated under various names in Heathenry
In Urglaawe it is called Erntfescht– Harvest festival, called Harvest Home in English. Dunner (Thor) Siwwa (Sif) and Idunna are honored. September 28th is the goddess Zisa’s feast day (Zisasege) and for practicality this is often combined with Erntfescht.
Hostblot (umlaut over o) in Swedish, Haustblot in Icelandic, the name means “autumn sacrifice”
Winter Finding is a name used in North American Heathenry for the fall equinox. Not to be confused with Winter Nights!
Alvablot in Swedish or Alfablot in Old Norse (date varies from October-November in Scandinavia & Iceland) A time to make offerings to the alfar or elves- male ancestors (the female version being Disablot) or specifically spirits of grave mounds. Sometimes this is observed as part of Winter Nights.
Winter Nights- Vetnaetr in Icelandic This can be celebrated anywhere from Oct 19th to the 26th of October, due to Neo-Pagan influence sometimes it is on the 31st of October, or 1st of November. It can also be a 3 night festival. A time for honoring ancestors and preparing for winter.
Allelieweziel– October 31st is celebrated in Urglaawe, as Frau Holle begins the Wild Hunt, gathering lost souls for reincarnation. Between Erntfescht and Allelieweziel, the Butzemann or activated scarecrow is burned.
Ewicher Yeeger– the Eternal Hunter, is a deity unique to Urglaawe. He is identified with Holler, the Continental German name for Ullr. Around November 15, Ewicher Yeeger rails against King Frost and his army of Frost giants, to give Holle more time to gather souls.
November 11th is Remembrance Day observing the end of World War I in the British Commonwealth, and Veteran’s Day (honoring both alive and dead veterans) in the United States. Heathens in these countries sometimes will hold a blot/sumbel to honor the military dead- sometimes calling it Einherjar Day– the name referring to Odin’s warriors who go to Valhalla. I leave it to the individual or group whether it’s appropriate use that label for all who have died in various wars- your theology/cosmology may vary.
Another more German folk custom-y holiday (observed in many European countries) that falls on the same day is Martinmas, or Martinsdag. Obviously, yes a Christian holiday, but I think it has re-Heathenizing potential. Children carry lanterns in processions behind a man dressed as St Martin riding on a white horse. A feast of goose is traditional, as are bonfires. Here’s Beth’s Martinmas post from last year.
Sprigs on the Anglo-Saxon Branch of the Germanic Tree-
Fyrn Sidu– means Old Custom, equivalent to terms used in modern Scandinavian countries- Forn Sed (Swedish) Forn Sidr (Danish)
Theodism or Theodish Belief is a reconstructionist tribalist sect founded by Garman Lord and further developed by the brothers Swain & Eric Wodening.
Seax Wica– founded by Raymond Buckland, this was supposed to be a form of Wicca that drew more on Saxon roots (this wouldn’t be seen as a type of heathenry but perhaps we could say it’s a cousin…)
Lyblac is a more recently founded tradition of Anglo-Saxon witchcraft- seen by its founder as a progression of Seax Wica.
Heargweard– Warder of the Stones
Son of Seaxneat– very focused and scholarly blog about Anglo-Saxon history, religious reconstruction, book reviews
Of Axe & Plough– Anglo-Saxon, with some Continental Germanic influence as well as Roman polytheism
Ordgethanc– Theodish blog by Nick “Hildiwulf” Ritter
Rosie Writes– mostly general book & music reviews, but she also has some posts about Anglo-Saxon stuff-
Theodish Heathen by Swain Wodening
Blogs by academics on Anglo-Saxon subjects-
Frithstead– Anglo-Saxon Heathen Fellowship- in southern New Hampshire
Ealdrice Haedengyld– Theodish Heathen Fellowship in Richmond, Virginia
Earendel Hearth– Pennsylvania
As I commented before, when looking up information about Heathen holidays, especially with American-based books and websites, it tends to be a big Pan-Germanic mix- some Icelandic, some Anglo-Saxon and some modern American inventions like Einherjar and Vali’s Day. Then there are holidays based on Christian-era folk traditions, which may or may not have pre-Christian roots, but as my readers know, I’m more of a fan of continuing comparatively recent folk traditions that we can share with non-Pagan/Heathen members of various cultures. In the end, I’ll likely end up blending things together from more than one tradition, but I want to know where things come from to begin with! My suggestion is celebrate whatever is being harvested- in my area, it tends to be cucumbers and tomatoes and in July the blackberries in my front yard ripen.
Observance- Cultural Origin- Customs
Lokabrenna- July as month to honor Loki- American Heathen + Global Online Lokean community, with inspiration from later Scandinavian folk beliefs If you are into astronomy (or astrology for that matter) the folk beliefs connect Loki to the rising of Sirius and the hot “dog days” of summer, check when Sirius is actually rising- this could fall in July or August.
1st or 2nd of August- Lammas, Loafmass, Hlaefmaesse– English, Anglo-Saxon revivalist
Based on English Christian customs of baking loaves of bread made from the first wheat harvested and offering them to the Church- a festival of first fruits. More info- Wyrt Wizard, Lammas Eve. The English folk song “John Barleycorn” is a popular one to sing, and may be associated with Frey himself or his servant, Byggvir (meaning barley). Some Heathens, particular Vanatru see Lammas as the time when Frey sacrifices himself for the land and people, probably a Wiccan or Neo-Pagan influence.
“Come Hláftíd (Loaf-Tide) Béowa, the god of barley, and his bride, Béole “the little bee”, are given worship. The “first fruits of the harvest”, bread and beer, brewed of barley and honey, are offered to them, that they might beward the speedsome harvest.”- Ealdrice Haedengyld
1st or 2nd of August Freyfaxi– Icelandic name- American Heathen usage
It’s unclear to me whether this festival was celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavia or Iceland. The name for this holiday seems to come from the Icelandic Hrafnknel’s saga and Vatnesdaela saga, both feature a man who was a Freysgodhi (priest of Frey) who named his horse Freyfaxi. There are also horse associations (horse racing in particular) with Lunasa, the Gaelic festival around the same time. So to me this one “clicks” with the intermixing of the Norse with the Scots and Irish.
Chapter on Loaf-fest/Freyfaxi in Our Troth
Many connect the harvest with the story of Loki cutting off Sif’s hair. A ritual drama can be acted out, or the story can be told, sung or recited in poetic form. Making corn dollies as part of a “first sheaf” rite is also an option- the Last sheaf tends to be observed in October/November.
Hoietfescht– Urglaawe- Festival of the Hay-time, Hoiet is the Deitsch name for July, and this festival falls either the last week of July or the first week of August. Other names include Sommermit or Corn Boils. At this time, the Wanes (Vanir) are honored for the gifts of the harvest- Frey, Freyja and Njord
Hoietfeshct by Rob Lusch p. 10, Hollerbier Haven: A Journal of Traditional Deitsch Wisdom Vol. 3, Issue 2
Heathen 101 info–
Being Queer-identified & Heathen- Safe Spaces– Nice essay, but it’s a little old, so some bad links. Hence this list.
Friendly Online communities
Queer Heathens– Facebook, closed group
Urglaawe– Pennsylvania Deitsch Heathenry (see also related Deitsch culture/language groups)
Lokeans & Allies Ice Cream Social– Loki’s peeps are typically very sexuality/gender diversity friendly!
Virtual Sessrumnir– for devotees of Freyja
Circle Ansuz– anarchist Heathen group (I’m not an anarchist, but they have good info on far-right Heathen groups)
Sex, Status & Seidr: Homosexuality & Germanic Religion by Diana Paxson
The Viking God Odin- A Queer God of War (Note: this article is about a book written from a gender studies/queer studies perspective rather than a religious/mythic studies one, but hey the author is Norwegian…)
Nithing/Nidstang are Old Norse queerphobic slurs/concepts- don’t use them!
Lofn’s Bard– modern inspired stories about Frigga’s court (all unmarried ladies…)
First Love– modern inspired story about Frey
Not Recommended Spaces/Communities & How to Recognize/Avoid Unfriendly Groups/Individuals
Asatru Lore Forum
The Asatru Folk Assembly, Asatru Alliance (they publish Vor Tru magazine)