Posts filed under ‘Heathenry’

Crossing the Danube: Celtic & Germanic differences

Whenever I go into Heathen or Asatru spaces I joke silently to myself that I’m metaphorically crossing the Danube, the river that the Romans considered the rather arbitrary division between the  continental Germanic and Celtic tribes. Similarities and differences between Celtic and Germanic groups are sometimes over-emphasized or downplayed, in addition to of course intra-Celtic and intra-Germanic cultures having those problems. This adds up to create some misunderstandings between these two cultural/linguistic families including in the religious aspects. I will discuss the general spectrum of Celtic paganism, polytheism and Druidry, and get into a little that is specific to Celtic Reconstructionism. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Decent Celtic information has tended to be more obscure than decent Germanic information (at least Icelandic sources!) , in spite of often being more popular among Pagans most easily available information was up to not that long ago. Frankly, I’m amused what Heathens angrily denounce as being fluffy, the amount of fluff they have typically had to deal with seems so minor by comparison to the Celtic side.
  2. I know many Celtic Pagans/polytheists and Druids that are also at least partially involved in Norse/Germanic traditions whether for reasons of ancestral/ethnic heritage and/or spiritual inclination. We also sometimes have spouses who are Norse/Germanic by culture & spirit, and the household may to some degree combine the two, particularly with ancestor honoring. Folks who primarily identify as Heathen or Germanic/Norse polytheist seem to be less frequently eclectic/syncretic or dual/multi-tradition. Though I am seeing an increase in that, especially with the Religio Romana.
  3. How historically gender-egalitarian- or even “matriarchal” or “feminist” nature of Celtic cultures were gets exaggerated, while the not-so gender egalitarian-ness of Germanic cultures gets exaggerated. They both were mixed bags for the status and treatment of women- patriarchal overall, but women especially higher class women, had more rights than most of ancient Greece or Rome. This also varies by time period, specific culture and so forth of course.
  4. The warrior path gets over-emphasized in a distorting way among Germanic folks, and particularly in some types of British Druidry, Celts somehow become pacifists..like say what *where* are you getting this from? When really being mostly farmers and herders with a few aristocratic warbands was for the most part what both the Celtic and Germanic tribes did.
  5. The conversion to Christianity of the Irish, Scots and Welsh at least was more peaceful than that of most Germanic peoples I’m aware of. That doesn’t mean we’re happy about it, but that Celtic Pagan relationships with Christianity & Christians is overall less hostile. You see more overt syncretism between the two, and a spectrum between Celtic Paganism and Celtic Christianity gets referred to as Celtic Spirituality or Celtic Wisdom generally. Though there are shared customs, sacred sites and local spirits honored by both Christians, Heathens and secular folk in Germany, Austria, the Low Countries and Nordic countries and by their diasporan cousins. I certainly don’t see Heathens celebrating the patron saint days of their homelands!
  6. There is more Celtic Reconstructionist (particularly historical) overlap with general Paganism/Wicca/Witchcraft and Druidry both Neo-Pagan & fraternal/ceremonial magic influenced types as compared with Asatru and Heathenry, which has roots in some places in folk culture & custom revivals and to some degree in occult/magical orders, though that influence seems to have lessened over time. Much to its chagrin, Celtic reconstructionists have had more difficulty in differentiating themselves from broader Paganism as compared with Heathens, who have been quite persistent in their distinct identity.
Advertisements

June 5, 2018 at 7:52 am 2 comments

Neat Polytheistic Projects

Signal-boosting some cool stuff I see other folks doing on social media- it’s not all strictly polytheistic content, but at least of interest/relevance. Let me know if there’s anything you’re working on that you’d like to share, and if I like it I will add it to my next link round-up.

Rev. Jan Avende’s Daily Shrine Challenge The idea is to post a picture of your shrine, with a list of suggested themes. This runs from Feb 1- March 21

Polemical Topics in Polytheism Series– this topics are all too big for me to fit into mere comments, so I may make my own posts on them!

Sarenth’s Ritual Praxis Series -this is from an intentionally pan-Germanic perspective

Podcasts-

Bespoken Bones Podcast – this podcast interviews folks from a variety of spiritual viewpoints about ancestor veneration practices.

Brute Norse– Scandinavian archeology, history and culture

 

February 20, 2018 at 4:14 am 4 comments

What Norse doesn’t mean

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.)

 

July 10, 2016 at 2:14 am Leave a comment

Hreda & Eostre

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

Molly Khan’s posts on Hreda- about the info written about her in Bede and another about her own UPG and another about Eostre

March 1, 2016 at 9:32 pm 1 comment

Heathen Holidays Sept-Nov

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.

September 3, 2015 at 1:47 am Leave a comment

Anglo-Saxon Heathen Blogs & Websites

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.

Anglo-Saxon- inspired but Not Heathen or reconstructionist

Seax Wica– founded by Raymond Buckland, this was supposed to be a form of Wicca that drew more on Saxon roots

Lyblac is a more recently founded tradition of Anglo-Saxon witchcraft- seen by its founder as a progression of Seax Wica.

Alaric Albertsson has more about the history of specific organizations here.

Folks in ADF with Anglo-Saxon hearths- see ADF Blogs

Wyrd Druidry- or Heathen Druidry Folks in Order of Bards Ovates & Druids who draw on AS magic, herbcraft traditions, inspired by Brian Bates (the Way of Wyrd) author, who is  psychologist- not an expert in AS or medieval studies. Facebook group by this name.

Current Blogs

Grennung Hund Heorth– Hrafnblod Also Kemetic

Heargweard– Warder of the Stones- Karl Benson, located in New England

Ironwood Hearth– located in northern Georgia

Of Axe & Plough– Anglo-Saxon, with some Continental Germanic influence as well as Roman polytheism, Location: Northeast U.S.

Rosie Writes– mostly general book & music reviews, but she also has some posts about Anglo-Saxon stuff- Location: United Kingdom

Weodmonath & LammasHaligmonath,

Conflating Ing with Frey?

Silver Well Hearth– Dorset, Wessex, U.K.

Sundorwic– Southern Ontario

Thunresfolc Heorth– Ohio

Weiss Alb– East Coast, U.S.

Welsh Heathen– Anglo-Saxon & Roman, in Alabama

Wind in the Worldtree

 

Blogs by non-heathen academics on Anglo-Saxon subjects

Dutch Anglo-Saxonist

Organizations

Frithstead– Anglo-Saxon Heathen Fellowship- in southern New Hampshire

Ealdrice Haedengyld– Theodish Heathen Fellowship in Richmond, Virginia

Earendel Hearth– Pennsylvania

September 2, 2015 at 11:46 pm 6 comments

Untangling Heathen Holidays: July/August, Northern Hemisphere

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

General References:

The Holy Tides- Hlaefmaesse- Freyfaxi

Hoietfeshct by Rob Lusch  p. 10, Hollerbier Haven: A Journal of Traditional Deitsch Wisdom Vol. 3, Issue 2

July 8, 2015 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


Calendar

June 2018
M T W T F S S
« May    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Posts by Month

Posts by Category