Posts tagged ‘heathen’

Winter Solstice Podcasts

I was going to make a list of my favorite Druid, Celtic, Irish, Pagan, Heathen podcasts, however since it’s almost the solstice, for fun I’m going to list winter solstice/holiday season episodes. I have only listened to a few of the holiday-specific episodes, and I’m making comments as I go. So far I have a review of the Kindling the Hearthfire Yule 2017 episode.

Story Archaeology– this is a team effort between Isolde Carmody, an Irish archaeologist and Chris Thompson, a professional storyteller.

Midwinter Special: Craneskin Bag: a Santa’s Sack of Gifts from Irish Mythology

A Crock of Cobblers: a Holiday Special 2014

New World WitcheryEp 21 Winter Lore 2010, Yuletide Cheer/Greetings! Ep 38 2011Ep 47 2012, Ep. 58 2013Ep. 70 2014 Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Ep. 85 2015, Ep. 103 2016, Ep. 104 Yuletide Fear (ghost stories) Ep. 120 2017 Cheer, Ep. 121 Fear,

This is about magical and esoteric traditions and folklore unique to the New World, there are interviews and discussions with practitioners from many different cultures and traditions. And to be clear, this is broader than Paganism, I would say that magical traditions in general regardless of origin, have the commonality of an animist worldview.

Kindling the HearthfireEp. 8 2017 This is an ADF Druid centered podcast begun by folks in the ADF Pantheacon party suite. First part is music, poems, invocations for the season, there’s a talk by Rev. Rob Henderson about holidays that can be celebrated in the Hellenic & Roman traditions- since their seasons are a bit different than us northern folks are used to, then there’s info about the Vedic hearth culture, the Indo-European root culture of Hinduism,  and a section on cooking, including an Indian recipe.

Heathen TalkEp. 22 Yule 2015 – Discussion of Yule, the Wild Hunt & Mannerbunde. I am going to note that the folks on this show have some very specific ideas about Heathenry that not everyone in Germanic polytheist religions share, they have a very tribal, cultural focused take on heathenry. With that in mind, it’s a great show.

Celtic Myth Podshow– retellings of Irish, Scottish, Welsh and other Celtic myths, legends and folktales, and Celtic music. This show is on hiatus but episodes are still on the website. Christmas Music Special 2009, Ep 22 Christmas Wish 2010, Ep. 32 Yuletide 2012, Ep. 38 Winter Music 2013,

 

 

 

 

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December 14, 2018 at 2:50 am Leave a comment

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.

June 5, 2018 at 7:52 am 3 comments

Odinism, Asatru, Heathenry?

My uncle has lived for many years among the Crow Indians on an open reservation in Montana, and has befriended them and been trained as a sweat lodge leader, a very rare honor for a non-Indian. Back in college, I invited him to come to a University Pagan Society meeting, thinking he might find some commonalities. He observed us, rather bemusedly and later commented to me with his trademark mischievous grin: “I’m not a pagan. I’m a heathen“.

I’m not capitalizing it this case because he used idiosyncratically- I think as a way of thumbing his nose at white, Christian society. Certainly I’m aware that his Native friends wouldn’t be likely to call themselves pagans or heathens, as those terms are used offensively by missionaries.

So what does Heathen mean, how is it used properly, and how does it differ from Pagan?

Heathen means “dweller on the heath“- a country-dweller, so the connotation is much like Pagan, but due to it’s Germanic origin, it has become adopted to refer to modern revivals of the religions of the Germanic peoples– and there are more specific terms used for particular ethnic branches, approaches and so on. I also sometimes see Celtic and occasionally Slavic reconstructionists use “heathen” with an ethnic modifier instead of “pagan”, because those cultures tend to find more similarities with Germanic traditions than say, those of the Mediterranean and Near East.

On a socio-cultural level, Heathens differ in many ways from the broader Neo-Pagan community, and while sometimes overlapping, they do often keep to themselves. A great comparison of Wicca and Asatru can be found here.

Asatru– meaning “true to the Aesir“- in Icelandic (Aesir being the gods of the realm of Asgard) Asatru is often use interchangeably with Heathenry- but not all Heathens consider themselves Asatru. It is the label that most American Heathens identify with, a mainly Norse-influenced reconstructionism, and some prefer to use it to be specifically Icelandic. An individual member is called an Asatruar.

Vanatru– “true to the Vanir” The Vanir are another tribe of Norse gods, and people who focus on their worship sometimes use this word for themselves- others may use Vanic Paganism, Vanic Polytheism, or Vanic Heathenry.

Links: Misconceptions about Vanatru, A Defense of Vanatru

Odinism– belief/worship of Odin, is an older term that is less often used- primarily by the Odinic Rite, a British-based organization. Sometimes devotees of Odin will call themselves Odinists, while referring to their religion by a different name. Some Heathens feel this term reflects an erroneous view of Odin the All-father as a Germanic Yahweh figure. Related terms: Wotanism, Wodenism.

Anglo-Saxon Heathenry– focus on the traditions of the Angles, Jutes and Saxon peoples who invaded England from Germany.

Theodism– founded by Garman Lord, this is a specific tradition of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry that has a particular tribal structure (theod means tribe)

Irminism/Irminschaft– continental Germanic Heathenry, name comes from the Irminsul, a pillar representing Yggdrasil, the World Tree.

Urglaawe– Deitsch  Heathen folk religion(Pennsylvania German) see also Pow-wow  (Braucherei)

“The Deitsch Heathen religion of Urglaawe derives many practices and lore from the Heathen elements of Braucherei.[9]Included among these elements is a knowledge of the old Teutonic deities and other spirits. The oral traditions of Braucherei also carried myths regarding the interactions of the deities with enemies, such as the Reifreis (Frost Giants). Certain deities, most notably Holle,[10] Wudan (Odin),[11] Dunner (Thor),[12] and Ewicher Yeeger (Eternal Hunter),[13] have played an ongoing role in the evolution of Braucherei. Some practitioners have historically appealed to these entities, whether in the context of deities or as saints or compassionate spirits, for help in their healing work. Urglaawe practitioners utilize solely Heathen imagery and references in their work.”

Forn Sed– Swedish for Old Way/Old Custom, or just “Sed” (link to org page in English)

Forn Sidr– Danish for Old Way/Custom (link to org page in Danish)

Nordisk Sed– Nordic Way/Custom “in Norway and Sweden the term “Forn Siðr” is mostly bound to the, and considered a synonym for the, Nordisk Sed movement, which is in conscious contrast with Scandinavian Ásatrú groups. Scandinavian Heathens regard Nordisk Sed as a more authentic Scandinavian religion, based on Scandinavian local traditions, in contradistinction with the more eclectic Ásatrú, based on the Eddic material, and influenced by 19th century Romantic trends and 20th century New Age ideas.[2] The ideology of the Nordisk Sed or Forn Sed groups is called þjóðtrúin Icelandic (“troth of the folk / of the theod”,variants folketro or folketru in Norwegian and folktro in Swedish actually meaning folk religion —, or less ambiguously “fundamentalistic traditionalism”- Wikipedia, Neo-Paganism in Scandinavia

Not (Necessarily) Heathen Traditions & Terms

There are some other religious labels that are often lumped in with Heathenry that are seen both among Heathens and by themselves as not being Heathen.

Folkish, Universalist and Tribalist– these refer to socio-political positions an individual or organization may take within Heathenry in regards to how they view ancestry and race. People who use these labels don’t even agree on what they mean, so be careful!

A good nuanced explanation of these differences can be found here.

Norse Wicca– is not a specific tradition, but simply means the practice Wicca worshipping/honoring/invoking Norse gods. As with Wiccans in general, Norse Wiccans will have theological views that vary from “All Gods are Ultimately One” to polytheism, whereas Heathens are generally polytheists.

Norse Paganism– even broader than Wicca, just means they are Pagans of some sort with a Norse focus, many of these folks now call themselves-

Northern Tradition Paganism– founded by Raven Kaldera, is unlike Heathenry, not reconstructionist, culturally has more in common with Neo-Pagans, and includes worship of beings/gods (Loki & giants) that other Heathens may not include. They are staunchly anti-racist/pro-GLBT etc. Note: I’ve noticed more people calling themselves this, but I don’t think they are all necessarily members of Kaldera’s group.

Seax Wicca– tradition founded by Raymond Buckland that draws on Anglo-Saxon lore.

Lokean– just means a person who worships Loki. Partly since honoring him is controversial among many Heathens, Loki worshippers may or may not call themselves Heathen, and they may belong to any number of different non-Heathen traditions or religions. “Lokeanism” is not really a separate religion as such, though I suppose an individual might use that term to describe their path.

Rokkatru– coined by Abby Helasdottir, used mostly by Northern Tradition Pagans for people who focus on the worship of the Jotuns. People who honor individual jotuns (like Loki) may or may not call themselves this.

Norse DruidsADF Druidism is Pan-Indo-European, not just Celtic, so if you see any Norse Druids around, that may be what’s going on. Many of them do consider themselves part of the Heathen community, there is a lot of overlap between ADF and Troth membership. Or they might just be Norse Druids!

Norse-myth influenced Pop Culture Pagans- (for lack of a better term) this can refer to anyone who incorporates pop culture characters that relate to Norse mythology into their magical or spiritual practice. For more explanation/discussion see my post

Germanic Magical/Esoteric Practices & Traditions

There are various forms of folk magic deriving from Germanic cultures which are practiced by both Heathens and non-Heathens, including Christians. As with Paganism, some but not all Heathens practice magic, either as part of or in addition to the practice of their religion.

Pow-Wow–  “Early Pennsylvania was a melting pot of various religious persuasions, as William Penn’s promise of religious freedom opened the doors for many Christian sects: the AnabaptistsQuakersLutheransGerman ReformedCatholics, and all manner of religious mystics and free-thinkers. It is from this blending that the Pennsylvania German Pow-wow tradition was born”It primarily consists of healing charms and protective symbols (hex signs) that were painted on barns.

To be continued…

July 18, 2014 at 11:23 pm 7 comments

A Druid’s Thoughts on Privilege

This is the post I spent so much time fussing over, but didn’t end up using for Pagan Blog Project. I decided to post it after all before I spend any more time on it that I could on other things! Another very insightful post about a broader perspective on privilege can be found at the World of Dust & Bones Blog: Paganism & Privilege Part 1: How We Talk about it (which in turn was a response to this post by John Halstead)

Note: I’m going to discuss religion and privilege in the United States specifically because I can better understand & explain it, I would be greatly interested in hearing viewpoints and experiences specific to other countries.
Some “privileges” are really rights that everyone should have, while others are simply unfair advantages that no one should have. Everyone should have the right to practice their religion freely, (or not practice any religion) in a way that does not interfere with others’ rights. Christians in the United States and many other countries have this right, but it is more protected and unquestioned than it is for those of minority faiths. Christians in the U.S. also  sometimes misuse their privileged status to get favorable treatment for their religion that other religions do not get. These are facts that most Pagans would agree, and most Christians that have any self-awareness at all. (I.e. not the ones who think this was founded as a “Christian nation”.)

On to Wiccan(ate) Privilege
Wicca, and pagan religions,  that closely resemble it, are like it or lump it still the largest group of self-identified Pagans. Anytime a group has been around longer and is bigger, it is typically going to get social privilege along with that.
The status of Wicca and Wicca-like forms of paganism within broader interfaith pagan settings (8 sabbats, use of magic, Goddess or God/Goddess theology etc) is similar to the status of Protestant Christianity within monotheist religions. Talk about God and religion in the public square-  “civil religion” historically reflected this, and excluded Catholics, Jews and Muslims. The Catholics and Jews are *kind of* more included, and the Muslims are slowly starting to be,  though they face an uphill battle of xenophobia and anti-terrorist paranoia.  Then there’s all kinds of wrestling over who’s “really” a Christian, as we saw in the 2012 election with a Mormon and a *suspected* Muslim running for President.

After Wiccans, Druids and Heathens/Asatru are the most commonly known pagan religions. If you’re a pagan of some sort, you probably know of all three, and likely specific traditions and organizations that fall within them. If you’re a monotheist or atheist in the broader U.S. culture, it’s likely you know of Wicca, think of Paganism in general as “Wicca-like” or the same, and may have vaguely, in passing heard of Druids and Heathens.
Druids are usually considered “close enough” to Wicca to benefit from some types of Wiccan privilege. As in, we typically celebrate the same 8 holidays, consider ourselves nature/earth-based.  British-style revival Druidry such as OBOD is even closer to Wicca. (Ross Nichols, its founder was good friends with Gerald Gardner after all) And as with Wiccans and their close cousins, many Druids have interest in movements like feminism, environmentalism, peace, some kinds of New Age spirituality and magic.

Ruadan:And ADF really seems to have more in common with Wiccanate paganism than it has with Celtic Reconstruction than some people want to really believe, even though it does seem to generally be a recon-friendly group.” Spot on. As someone who is part of both, I think that is very true. We celebrate the 8 “standard” holidays and have a ritual structure that be adapted for various pantheons.

Heathens worship some of the same Gods as Wiccans, and celebrate some of the same holidays (like Yule) But in general the Heathen community has less in common with secular aspects of Wiccan subculture.  (link to the Hammer & the Pentagram article) The Heathen community has developed a very distinct identity from Wicca-centric Greater Pagandom, and the positive interactions they have had are much due to the efforts of people like Diana Paxson, who was Wiccan before becoming Heathen, intermarriage and friendship between the two and so forth. To the Heathen’s advantage, the United States has major English & German cultural influences- secular holiday customs, and various other customs and social mores that we are familiar with not to mention the English language itself.

Further afield, we have Roman, Greek, Egyptian reconstructionists/revivalists/polytheists. Other pagans may be familiar with Roman, Greek and some Egyptian God names and mythology, but the ritual practices, calendars, and cultural worldviews are likely to be very foreign to them. And the knowledge many pagans do have of these cultures is often superficial and distorted by outdated Victorian or feminist scholarship, and Western occultism. (Actually the knowledge people have of Celtic cultures is usually pretty superficial too, but that doesn’t stop them from thinking they know all about it.)

More posts on the subject:

Baring the Aegis: On Interfaith & Privilege– this is one of the most moderate polytheist responses that I feel closest too.

Unity & Diversity by Helio Pires, Golden Trail blog

A Gaelic Polytheist’s experience’s with WP in a CUUPs ritual

February 24, 2014 at 3:20 am 2 comments

Favorite “B” PBP Posts

While I was writing about Being a Bastard, Jack-a-Dreams wrote about Being Respectable, in response to some declarations that were made on another blog. I commented on his post, and a related one at Adventures in Vanaheim.  I know I’m going to end up writing more on it myself. But back to the “favorite b posts”- as with the A’s I’m combining both weeks:

Belief– at the Crossroads Forest, Kaye comes up with a list describing her beliefs- one excerpt I like “To be frank, I often refer to myself as a “sleep number polytheist,” with the levels of hardness and softness being adjusted as the need arises. My personal belief is that all gods exist, though I only work with a few of them from a few pantheons, and that these deities are all made of the same “stuff” or divine energy.” Baphemetis’ post was simple but profound. one quote- “I believe in folklore and fairytales, because I believe there is always a grain of truth to something.” As a skeptic, I also related well to Grumpy Druid’s post “For me, my beliefs are a working model, a theory to serve as a starting point for working out all the other stuff in my life, like love and taxes and the platypus.” (not sure where the platypus fits in…) Prairies & Pyramid writes on how a harrowing experience in her life impacted her spiritual development. In “Bars & Bond’s- Believing When There’s No Light“,  Stumbling Through Faith writes of leaving Christianity, but finding healing from her hurtful past in a church.

Bees and Bulls– insights on symbolism from Sulischild

Beowulf– Valkyrie in the Juniper Tree, writes of this importance of this saga to her as an Anglo-Saxon Heathen. “Modern heathenry owes a lot to Beowulf, even heathenry that has precious little to do with the Anglo-Saxons. In Beowulf we see a perfect outline of a drinking ritual, we see a right proper boast and challenge, and we see the social structure of such a rite. ”

BilingualCrafty Rose compares learning/exploring a new religion to learning a new language.

Binary- Rethinking the Ci Cyfarth on how Pagans need to re-evaluate our attitudes surrounding sex and gender

Birch is the one symbol that is shared by both the Irish Ogham and Norse runic systems. At Musings of Huginn & Muginn, Ravensong explains the basics of Berkano the Birch rune (earlier posts are on Ansuz and Algiz.)  Scathcraft wrote an excellent description of the birch with some analysis of what it symbolizes in Ogham. (in French, but there’s a link to Google translate) Looks like another good Celtic polytheist blog. As both a Gaelic & Saxon Heathen, Aiwelin discusses both systems.  Aromawitch also writes on this topic.

Brighid– is definitely the deity I feel closest to so I am always interested in learning of other people’s experiences with Her. Isleen gives a brief summary of info about Her, and another post with correspondences. Most of them I recognize, but there are a few (like associations with stones, the Empress tarot card) that I think are modern UPG.  Rocquelaire and NanLT both wrote about how the Irish goddess of healing & creativity helped them through difficult times.  Anonywitch writes about how she feels drawn to work as a midwife by Brighid.   At Shanda-ism the writer expresses a little confusion at an encounter with Brighid, as she follows a path that is nature-honoring but not deity-focused. At Walking in Beauty, Donald Engstrom writes of his experiences with Bridget’s Flames, and shares the artwork he has created to honor Her. More posts on Brighid: Philosophical Pagan,  Echtrai, Leithin Cluan

Book of Shadows– Abgeneth shares some cool crafty ideas on how to make hand-bound antique-y looking blank books.

Boudicca– the New Pagan writes of the British warrior queen- great synopsis of history with nice pictures!

Boundaries, Respect Them by Ravan Asteris  pulls no punches about about some basic rules of Playing Well with Others that are all too often ignored.

The Broom Closet– Kathleen writes on why its important to be out as a Pagan if you can, referencing arguments Dan Savage has made to the GLBT community. Related to this- That Baffled Look- Your Paganism is Showing– Kel writes on confusing people with the religious symbols she wears and her attempts at explaining her faith.

Business & Bragging by Kylara On the hang-ups Pagans have over charging money for spiritual services.  I’ve gotten so sick of this debate, while I agree we need to be careful of avoiding self-aggrandizing I think we have fallen too far on the Virtuous Pagan Poverty side of things.  It is nice to hear some common sense cutting thru the B.S.

Way more where that came from but I think that’s enough of a list.

January 26, 2014 at 12:49 am 1 comment


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