Posts tagged ‘Heathenry’

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.

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

July Heathen Round Table

Heathen Round Table Prompt for July:

What are your beliefs about deities from other religions/pantheons, both polytheistic and not? Do you honour any, and how do you balance that with heathenry?

Well I have been a Gaelic polytheist or Druid for a lot longer so for me the question is a bit more in reverse. That is, I honor both the Tuatha De Danaan as well as the Aesir & Vanir. I believe the two can blend together pretty well for both historic reasons and cultural similarities. There is a lot of Norse influence in especially northern Scotland, the Hebrides and Orkney islands, there is the blending of Anglo-Saxon and Brythonic traditions in Britain and in continental Europe, it is often tricky to distinguish between historical accounts of which tribes were Germanic and which were Celtic. I’m continually researching and learning new things about how these cultures compare, overlap, intersect and how they differ. I also from time to time will honor deities of other cultures/religions, typically when I am invited by friends or family members to partake in a ceremony, holiday celebration or simply a meal-time prayer. I just won’t participate in aspects that conflict, such as reciting creeds or statements about how there is only one god

July 26, 2015 at 7:51 am Leave a comment

Pushing Round Tables together

The Heathen Round Table topic for July has been posted: What are your beliefs about deities from other religions/pantheons, both polytheistic and not? Do you honour any, and how do you balance that with heathenry?   

Well, that one’s certainly a relevant one for me! Be sure to link to the wordpress blog above, or tag your tumblr posts with #heathen round table.

I notice the Celtic Round Table on tumblr hasn’t been updated since April. Summer happens, people get busy! It’s also on wordpress here. A lot of the participants are part of the Polytheist Community Forum that I belong to, so I will poke them.

So I’m starting it up again with- for folks in the Northern Hemisphere: Do you celebrate Lunasa or other harvest festivals?  Do you integrate any local practices, such as county/state fairs, corn feeds, barbecues, etc? How and why?

For Southern Hemisphere peeps: Do you celebrate Imbolc or other late winter/early spring festivals?   Do you integrate any local practices or holidays? How and why?

The Kemetic Round Table is also on hiatus- I’m not a part of that community, but just thought I’d bring it to folks’ attention in case anyone’s interested in re-starting or re-visiting old topics- you can still submit posts for the old ones.

July 8, 2015 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment

Patron Deities- Are We Talking About the Same Thing?

It’s common in Pagan communities to hear people talk about their patron or matron deities. Within Neo-Paganism this could have a couple of origins- patron saints- who are regarded as in being guardians of a particular profession, family, area of life (ex: a type of illness) place, or specific person. Another origin may be the Holy Guardian Angel, who is called upon in Thelema and some types of ceremonial magic(k) more generally. The concept of a personal guardian spirit that watches over someone all their lives is found in many cultures, but I feel that is a different, though related topic to that of patron deities.

An important thing to remember, however is that the term “patron” is used many different ways and may even have more specific meanings for particular traditions. Therefore, it’s best when in a pan-Pagan community space- be it online or in person, to think of “patron” in the broadest possible sense, and narrow down from there as a person shares more about their practice and theology. Having a patron (or patrons) is not a requirement to be a True Pagan ™ though it may be encouraged, recommended or required in particular traditions.

Common Uses of Patron

A- Deity that a person feels closest to, and is their all-purpose “go to god” (this what I have with Brighid)

B- Deity that a person has formally dedicated themselves to serve, typically by swearing an oath- either temporary as for a year and a day like dedicating to a coven, or for life.

C- Dedication or devotion to a deity that involves being a priest/ess or monastic-like lifestyle. In this case, the person may still use the term patron, but typically more commonly call themselves a priest or devotee of X. The relationship is often seen like that of a parent and child, or a spouse or lover.

Assumptions and Misconceptions

There is often debate about whether a person can choose a patron or must wait for “signs” that a deity has chosen them. I think either side can be taken to an extreme with people assuming that is someone chooses a deity, then they must have randomly chosen one out of a hat for shallow reasons or at the other end, people worry about not having had enough of a dramatic “Burning Bush” type experience.

Some polytheists (especially some Heathens and Hellenics) argue against the idea of patrons, claiming that they are not historical and are influence of monotheism, particularly American evangelical Christianity a la “my personal relationship with Jesus Christ”. I do think there are some folks who have rather immature relationships with their patrons, especially when they seem to expect them to swoop down and rescue them from any screw-up they make- I call this phenomenon “My Little Loki/Hermes/Bast”, et al or My Little Totem for that matter.  But there are historic examples of close personal relationships with deities in many cultural contexts- for both priestly and lay practitioners. Having a patron also does not mean the person stops being a polytheist, they generally will worship a variety of spirits and gods, with particular focus on the patron(s). That said, henotheism- the worship of only one deity (or form of deity) while acknowledging the existence of others- or even occasionally honoring them for festivals is an acceptable norm in certain traditions such as Kemetic (Egyptian) religion and Hinduism.

Culturally Specific Terms

Heathenry & Asatru: Fulltrui–  in Icelandic fulltrui means trusted friend or fully trusted one

Essay by Morgan Daimler on Fulltrui

Hinduism: Ishta devi or ishta devata– in Sanskrit this means cherished or beloved deity- an individual chooses a form of God to focus their devotion. Looking for websites about this, but I’m not sure which ones are the best sources on Hinduism…

Kemetic Orthodoxy- in KO (note that this is a specific organization, not all Kemetics belong to it) there is a rite of Parent Divination which determines which of the Netjer- the Gods that the person will serve.

Note: I consider the topic of patron deities to be more of a 201 level, especially I haven’t gotten much into theology yet, but this is a very common topic beginners ask about on fora, and they often get many mixed messages! So I thought I’d sort things out a bit here. Not all forms of Pagan practice and belief necessarily involve deities, and some info here could also apply to relationships with other types of spirits such as totem or power animals/plants/fungi, ancestors etc.

June 24, 2015 at 11:24 pm 5 comments

Midsummer Musings

I typically don’t celebrate the Summer Solstice formally, because Dan & I usually go camping around that time. A couple times when I was at home, I performed an ADF style Hellenic ritual for Helios. For a while my cultural foci were Gaelic and Hellenic, now it’s Germanic & Gaelic. In the Gaelic tradition, the solstices and equinoxes are less important, though there are some associated customs, particularly in Scotland where there is more Norse influence. American style Asatru & Heathenry tends to lump everything into a pan-Germanic blob, albeit with a Norse/Icelandic, slant but I’ve been trying to sort out where the different holidays come from, and what people added in- like “Vali’s Day” instead of Valentine’s Day. Altogether, the customs of Midsummer are very similar across the British Isles, Scandinavia and even in Baltic and Slavic countries- bonfires, herbs and flowers being gathered and believed to have magical properties for health and fertility, wearing flowery wreaths, dancing and mock weddings being performed.

I think there are some holidays that work OK for solitary practice- Samhain for example can be rather quiet and contemplative. But clearly summer holidays are not like that! But we do have community festivals coming up- the following weekend will be the Twin Cities GLBT Pride festival. Totally secular and modern of course, but I can’t help seeing a lot of the same themes, just in a queer-er form. I’m not sure if there will be bonfires, but surely there will be barbeques- this is America after all! Certainly we’ll be having them on Independence Day. People will definitely be having sex, even if it’s less prone to baby-making! Cross-dressing is associated with some holidays- more so with Beltaine & some versions of Samhain, and that will certainly be going on. Drag is a performance, a ritual of sorts, and theatre comes from ritual. Fairies and witches are believed to hang out on Midsummer’s Night.

Aine- the Irish goddess of the summer sun, is also a fairy queen (there may be more than one Aine)

Sol, the Norse sun goddess has Afrodull as one of her epithets, which can be translated as Elf Splendor, Elf Shine or Elf Wheel (more info here- this page is about Yule, but has a lot of speculation about Sol) To me the idea that the Sun goddess was more important at one time in Norse religion rings true, and the author suggests we can see echoes of that in Idunna, Freyja and others as well as a stronger sense of who she is from their Baltic neighbors to the east, as Saule.

In Deitsch lore, it is told that Oschdre (cognate with Anglo-Saxon Eostre) created the colors of the world. Oschdre could be another sun/dawn goddess.

The rainbow flag originally had eight colors representing hot pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. Since the colors pink and turquoise weren’t easily available (the first flags being hand-dyed by Gilbert Baker, who created the flag in 1978) the colors were reduced to a standard six, but I love the symbolism behind the original flag.

So these are my weird brainstorm-y ideas. I’ll sleep on it & see if I can make a ritual out of it- I’m thinking one that’s for the purpose of blessing the GLBT community, with particular emphasis on bi/pan & trans/genderqueer folks.

June 18, 2015 at 8:57 am 2 comments

Getting Started in Various Polytheisms

If you aren’t sure what tradition you will be following (or creating!) this is a nice way to compare things a bit before you dive head-first into something! Remember also, that polytheist and animist practice doesn’t have to be based on a particular cultural tradition- either historic or living. One example of a modern, polytheistic religion is the Otherfaith, involving worship of eight Gods and a multitude of spirits. Though I’m not a follower myself, I find it fascinating to watch the development of the Otherfaith, the reflection of human diversity in their Gods (or rather are we reflections of the Gods?) and my discussions with Other People has added a lot of insight in my own attempts at finding modern inspiration.

General

A list with lots of resources- Pagan 101

Polytheism 101: Building a Shrine, Offerings, 

Devotional Primer– advice from an eclectic heathen

Keeping a Daily Practice: 7 Keys to Success by Dagulf Loptson

Daily Devotions– suggestions for each day of the week. On the main blog page, she posts each day the day of the week activities as well as hymns for deities/spirits associated with that day of the month, festivals etc.

Indo-European Polytheisms

Guide to Gaelic Polytheism

Longship– Beginner’s Guide to Heathenry- pan-Germanic

Roman Polytheism

Non-Indo-European polytheisms

Natib Qadish– Canaanite polytheism

Daily Prayer

Kemetic Polytheism (Egyptian)

Kemetic Starter Guide

Ritual

Hinduism

Super Simple Daily Puja

Shinto-

Shinto Resources

Non-historically inspired polytheisms

The Otherfaith

Modern American Polytheism– this can be combined with various other pagan/polytheist traditions.

June 10, 2015 at 9:53 pm 7 comments

Heathen Round-Table for June

A Heathen Round Table has started up- inspired by the Kemetic Round Table, it’s an invitation from Heathens, Northern Tradition, Asatru or Vanatru folks of all stripes to discuss a monthly topic on their blogs. The first question for June is-

“How did you first become involved in heathenry? What started you on this path, and how has it changed you?”

Norse mythology was the second mythology I discovered as a kid reading D’Aulaires Greek myths & Norse myths. The mythology books were near the fairy tale books in the library, and as I steadily devoured fairy tales I came across them. I decided that both sets of Gods were *way* more interesting than grumpy ol’ Yahweh, but actually being a pagan/polytheist/heathen wasn’t yet on my radar. After getting into Paganism as a teen, my first impressions of Asatru in Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon were not exactly appealing! Later after joining the University of Minnesota Pagan Society I got the chance to meet some actual Heathens, and the folks I met were friendly and serious about their cultures/religions so that gave me a much better impression of Heathenry. But my focus for years has tended to be more on Irish/Scottish Druidry. While I still keep with that path, I’ve come to realize that I am much more culturally Anglo-German as a Midwestern Euro-American mutt, and German & Scandinavian cultural influences in Minnesota, Wisconsin and neighboring states are pretty much my adopted culture. I’m something of a recovering “armchair Pagan” and trying to kickstart myself back into practice. My partner is also mostly German in heritage, and though spiritually agnostic, has expressed interest in going to Heathen gatherings for the cultural aspects ( As he put it: bratwurst & polka music? Where do I sign up?)

June 9, 2015 at 8:12 pm 2 comments

Comments on Why I am Not a Heathen

I reblogged Pagan Church Lady’s Why I am Not a Heathen essay But of course, being me I have to add my own commentary. I am not sure whether I’d identify with the label Heathen or not- I generally call myself a polytheist- the details vary as I figure out my path. I tag my posts about Germanic/Norse religion with heathen, heathenry and asatru partly just to add another voice for inclusive, non-asshole Heathenry.

Rejection of NeoPaganism

I have generally found more friendly attitudes from Heathens who interact with broader Neo-Pagandom. Their friendship and cooperation does not necessarily mean being “fluffy” or “eclectic” just as when I go to an interfaith gathering, that doesn’t mean I suddenly decide I’m going to start observing Buddhist or Muslim traditions.

I most definitely respect the choice of Heathens and Heathen groups to choose to engage and work with other Pagans or not. I think there are various good reasons for doing so. I can also understand why many Heathens feel they don’t have much in common with non-Heathen Pagans or even simply feel excluded by Pagan festivals, Pagan Prides and other entities that are very Wicca-centric. Many other polytheists and followers of other indigenous/folk/tribal religions feel similarly.

It would be enough to simply state- “As a Heathen, I don’t consider myself/identify as part of the broader Neo-Pagan communit(ies), here are some reasons why…” and list some relatively neutral reasons of differences in values, focus etc. I do see those sorts of explanations from some folks. But even more often, I see a list of generalizations with undertone of “Eeew- we’re not like Those People!” A caricature of promiscuous, nudist, hippies is then painted- while on the other side, a caricature of gun-toting redneck Heathens  is painted by some Pagans. Rather ironic- considering both Pagan and Heathen mean “redneck/hick/hillbilly” in other languages. In any case, obviously these generalizations are very harmful to all our communities, so I ask that we try to get to know & judge each other as individuals. I admit that I can be very judgmental myself and make assumptions about other people’s character, beliefs and behavior based on their appearance, the bumperstickers on their car and so forth. So this is a learning process for everyone, I am no exception!

Dismissal of UPG/Spiritual Experience

I most definitely consider the Eddas, Sagas and so forth to be useful sources of information about Germanic and Norse mythology and religion. But they are not The Lore- Holy Writ from On High as Handed to us by the Gods! The Eddas, in particular are Norse myth skaldic Christian fan fiction. Actual folklore, by definition is information (lore) handed down orally by the folk, the common people, not attributed to any one person. Just as we’ve gotten literary interpretations of legends of King Arthur and his knights from Malory’s Le Morte de Arthur and secondary or tertiary historical sources from Geoffrey of Monmouth, we have literary interpretations of Norse mythology and history written from particular viewpoints by authors of Sagas and Roman dudes like Tacitus. Is Snorri Sturluson a better source for the original myths than say, Wilhelm Wagner? Yes, definitely. But that doesn’t make the Eddas holy writ. To develop any revived polytheism into a living religion we need to come up with our own folklore- we are the folk- the common people. We can use texts as guides and templates, and hold them up against our own insights and experiences. But ultimately, we need to create lore ourselves- for our time, for our lands, for our people. Likewise, Heathens in Europe tend to draw more heavily from the folklore and customs of their respective nations, even if those customs don’t go back to preChristian times. We can too. But we live in different climates, different terrains, with different cultures. So we need to adapt accordingly.

My additions- Black & White Thinking– Whenever I attempt to join an online Heathen group, before posting I have to learn not just the rules of moderation, but all the unwritten rules of this particular cadre of Heathens which I learn by lurking and carefully poking thru archives before I dare make a post. Which authors are good, which are “fluffy”. Whether patrons or fulltrui, let alone godspouses are a Real Thing ™ Whether using runes, magic and seidhr is a legit part of Asatru/Heathenry or assumed to be a fluffy Wiccan influence. Whether certain beings/deities/spirits are off-limits or not. Whether exhibiting any sense of compassion and mercy is hospitality or “Too weak and Christian”. Granted, Pagans across the board are quite capable of black & white thinking, and engage it quite avidly, but I don’t typically see the same level of uniform judgment about *every single spiritual belief & practice* My Lords and Ladies!

A Stupid, Crazy Level of Ableism Pagans, not being any exception to our broader cultural influences are once again quite capable of every sort of ism- racism typically manifests as clueless, well-meaning “we’re all human/I don’t see color” platitudes and micro-aggressions, sexism typically as gender essentialism and Truly Liberated Women will, of course sleep with me! Homophobia and biphobia are typically not tolerated, but transphobia definitely rears its head especially in the name of “safe spaces/rituals for women”. Ableism is most definitely present in various forms. But damn, among Heathen groups online anyway- I found the ableist insults and assumptions to be so constant as to be intolerable. Other isms, while present, I could learn to dodge, but I found ableist crap in pretty much every Facebook heathen group I have joined and left, notable exceptions are the Urglaawe/Braucherei groups, ADF Heathens, and a couple of local Heathen groups. Lokeans, while they vary broadly are also generally more inclusive of most categories of excluded people- I consider them a slightly different category however, since not all them identify as Heathen. People act worse online in general, but I notice particular sets of obnoxious traits among online Heathen groups, atheist/skeptic/humanist groups, Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s) and right-wing libertarians- rampant ableism (under the guise of intellectual snobbery/superiority- anyone who disagrees is stupid/retarded/crazy) machismo, and dominance by white male heterosexuals who raise a hissy fit if anyone ever mentions the concept of privilege, and loudly claim how oppressed they are by Social Justice Warriors. I agree that some nonsense that goes on in the name of “social justice” online is pretty ridiculous, but they can’t distinguish between that and everything else. (Yes the irony of that subtitle was intentional)

The Racial stuff– well, that you already know my opinion, and I have been informed by certain Heathens that I’m apparently “obsessed” with race, motivated by white guilt, “cultural Marxism” and other interesting accusations. It seems I’ve violated some social norms of their communities by not minding my own business. Well if speaking out against racism violates the norms of your community, I definitely don’t want to be a part of it. Clearly I share values with some Heathens and not others, but once again that is the same with every other community I participate in.

May 15, 2015 at 4:36 am 1 comment

Why I Am Not an Heathen (Though I Kind of Wish That I Could Be)

What she said (with personal life story variations)

Pagan Church Lady

This (long) post has been a long time coming.  I’ve referenced my feelings about personal background and development in some other articles and have been spending a lot of time trying to explore myself in relation to the modern Pagan movement and Heathenry.  Although the title was inspired by Bertrand Russel’s piece “Why I am Not A Christian” I won’t, as he does, seek to deconstruct the idea of a particular deity.  I will, as he does, explain why the values expressed in the religion in question do not fit mine, and why that leaves me in a difficult place.

Let me begin by explaining that I’ve had a love for the Aesir and Vanir since childhood.  I first read of them in children’s fiction when I was four or five and rapidly advanced to reading more adult storybooks about them.  Later on I discovered source material like the Eddas…

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May 15, 2015 at 1:10 am Leave a comment

Vanatru Symbol Found!

Awesome! Get to work, artsy folk!

EmberVoices: Listening for the Vanir

Calling all Vanatruar: PLEASE USE THIS SYMBOL!

I have long been frustrated by the lack of a single clear symbol for modern Vanatru suitable for a pendant. Mjolnir and Valknots are popular among modern Asatruar. The most popular symbol for the Vanir are knotwork boars, and various Trees but they’re used among Pagans in general, especially Celtic pagans, so it’s not a clear message when we use them to represent Vanatru.

So I have been searching for some time for a suitable symbol, preferably with some historical basis, but not already in common modern use, that can represent Vanatru clearly when we wear it. I have hoped to find something simple and striking, such that it is instantly recognizable even when drawn casually by a person who isn’t much of an artist.

Well, I do believe I’ve found it!

This version has 9 bristles and 4 legs, deliberately. Historical…

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February 19, 2015 at 6:44 am Leave a comment

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