Posts tagged ‘loki’

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

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

Tiptoe among the Tulips, I mean Heathens

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What, me fluffy? (Photo of bunny rabbit in Viking helmet & shield.

So I signed up for a Asatru/Heathen group on Facebook, and I was reading thru their long list of rules, which hey, I do appreciate it when the rules are specifically laid out- and that is well-moderated. Unlike in person interactions where I may have to figure them out the hard way! But I was just thinking, Wow, I think hanging out with all these Lokeans and Vanatruar online has kind of “corrupted” me, at least as far as the No UPG Thanks, We’re Serious Asatru Recons are concerned.  (This is the part where y’all get the chance to cackle!) I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, if they want to focus more on scholarly stuff in that group, and don’t want to get sucked into UPG arguments, fine.

Celtic Recons sometimes have a reputation for being anti-UPG, but the information we have available on Celtic polytheism is even more limited than what we have of Germanic traditions, so at they very least we have to be open to different ideas or we won’t have much to go on. Not to mention, every now and then some scholar will come out with a paper saying so-and-so wasn’t historically worshipped as deity. If someone has been worshipping that deity, and connecting with them and having experiences, it seems ridiculous to drop that practice based on the direction of current scholarship, which might change when the newest journal comes out. Same with Germanic religions- it was mentioned in the rules that discussing the worship of beings who are mentioned in myth but have no historic cult is verboten. Umm, that’s a lot of gods…I kinda wondered if that really was about Heimdall, Baldur, Skadi? Or someone else with red hair….

I pretty much consider myself neutral as far as the Loki/jotun worship issue is concerned, which is kind of like trying to be neutral about abortion among feminists or something…my partner (who’s agnostic, but familiar with Norse mythology) said to me once “Isn’t worshipping Loki kinda like voting for the Pro-Ragnarok party?” “Maybe so, I said. But everyone loves a rebel, particularly pagans!”

So no, I’m not going to say that honoring Loki & co. is a good or bad idea (heck, some people have rather dubious reasons for worshipping Odin…) mostly I’m just bugged by the obsessive Lokean-bashing that goes on among some heathens. I also notice that the most vocal about this, frequently use ableist, homo/transphobic language in their bashing, and seem to be more frequently (though not necessarily) associated with the folkish wing of Asatru. Hence I will be avoiding the AsatruLore forums…  I also have made the acquaintance of many bloggers/posters who have behaved courteously to me, and share many interesting and thoughtful ideas in their writings who are Loki-worshippers. Are there other Loki-worshippers who behave badly? Yes, I’m sure there are, just as they are badly behaved worshippers of every deity.

As for Vanatru, I do not necessarily label myself as such, but I do find that many Vanic identified folks are a lot friendlier, more open to new ideas, but often still scholarly. They tend to have a less of a Macho Viking Warrior mentality- a mentality which I think is very unhealthy, and also more reflective of modern projections of what some people want the ancient Norse to be, and the bias of the limited information we have on the religion.  Even people who don’t specifically call themselves Vanic/Vanatru, but happen to have one of them as their patron, seem to be friendlier.

I don’t care whether your spiritual practice is totally something you came up with yourself, or based on painstaking PhD. level research. If you behave honorably and politely, and treat people who are different from you and disagree with you with respect, and don’t put up with racists/sexists/homophobes/abusers etc. in the name of “frith” or “what will the neighbors think, let’s sweep this under the rug” then I will consider you a worthy person to discuss ideas with, whether online or offline- maybe even a friend. And I’ll tell other people that when they talk about you behind your back.

I don’t want to get into these arguments. I’ve had enough of many of the same ones among Celtic Recons. I will just be careful where I go, and what I talk about. Much like life outside the Internet.

(Oh and for the record, I’m pretty sure both major American parties are Pro-Ragnarok, at least as far as their policies are concerned…)

July 24, 2014 at 2:42 am 1 comment

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

Khaos- Are We Praying For it?

I’ve been pondering a chicken and the egg problem- or should I call it the god and the goth-

We are constantly wringing our hands and moaning “whatever shall we do” about problems with various forms of dysfunction, infighting and disorganization among Neo-Pagans, as well as many people struggling with (un/der) employment, poverty and mental illness. (though I’m not blaming people for  economic  & mental health issues) Much of this maybe distorted by the demographics and behavior of the Internet- some people behave worse online, because they can get away with it more easily by hiding their identities,  and our brains tend to magnify negativity.  Still, I see this off-line as well.

People with all sorts of personal problems, backgrounds of difficult family relationships and who just plain don’t fit in, are frequently and often disproportionately drawn to New Religious Movements (NRMs) of which the Neo-Pagan movement is one.

However, I’ve also noticed that many of these people are focusing their worship on gods of chaos, destruction, death and social upheaval. Certainly deities such as the Morrigan, Dionysus, Kali, Shiva are legitimate parts of our religions but I’m wondering if giving and getting to much attention to and from them is collectively adding to our problems.

In some cases (such as Hecate) darker aspects are more emphasized in modern practice than in ancient times. Other gods we have no evidence were worshiped in ancient times, and while that by itself may not be a problem if you’re not a strict reconstructionist, worshiping some of these gods is a really bad idea.  Lilith, a goddess disguised by the Patriarchy as a demoness (as with pretty much any other negatively depicted female figure in mythology) Spiteful Eris, the original cause of the Trojan War becomes a cool goddess for spiritually dabbling hippies in the 1960’s. As far as absurdist religion goes, try the Flying Spaghetti Monster, not Eris. And then there’s Loki, red hair, handsome looks, fun stories, He’s all about stickin’ it to the Man- that wimpy Baldur dude? Who needs him? Ragnarok, bring it on!

 

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project.

 

May 27, 2013 at 8:26 am 4 comments


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