Posts tagged ‘Norse mythology’
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…
For the last week of each month, the Pagan Experience prompt follows the format of Pagan Blog Project, writing an entry for each letter of the alphabet. I’ve decided to instead focus on a different alphabet- the Elder Futhark Runes, the oldest known Germanic writing system. We actually don’t know if it was used for divination in ancient times, but the runes are found carved into jewelry, weapons, stones and other items. They were used to indicate ownership, commemorate events and accomplishments on rune-stones and perhaps imbue objects with magic power and luck.
Personally I am not that into divination or magic- though that may change! However, I do find the runes to be a useful way to understand concepts that were important to the ancient Norse and immerse myself in their cultural worldview. The runes can also be used to add a different perspective to choices and problems that we face in our own modern lives.
Questions people have when approaching the runes-
Do you need to be Heathen/Asatru/Northern Tradition (etc.) to study/work with or use the runes?
Well, you certainly don’t need to be a medieval Christian to read Tarot, and that’s who invented it. Some Heathens think that you need to be, but I don’t believe this is the case. However, I do think you will get a lot more out of the runes if you make an effort to learn about Norse mythology, the Rune Poems, and Norse history and culture.
Do I need to worship/honor/believe in the Norse gods to work with runes?
(This is actually a different though related question, as there is theological diversity among Heathens)
Not necessarily, studying the myths and learning from them does not require worship or belief. If you are a Pagan or polytheist who focuses on another pantheon, but wants to study runes, I would recommend paying your respects to Odin in particular, and other deities associated with specific runes. If you have a spiritual problem/issue with Odin, then I would recommend not studying the runes too deeply. Being the Wander, he does “get around” and I hear of many Hellenic polytheists and folks of other traditions who honor Odin.
Is this a Nazi thing?
The runes were (mis) used by Nazis for political purposes, but this was not because they or Hitler in particular was Heathen. They were promoting a sense of pan-Germanic identity, and so they took symbolism, myths and ideas throughout various Germanic cultures and distorted them for their own purposes. In particular, Sowilo (used for the letters SS) Othala and Algiz tend to be used by Neo-Nazis, so you might want to avoid wearing those as necklaces or other obvious ornamentation.
Visions of Vanaheim by Nornoriel Lokason
Available on: Amazon, Createspace, Etsy
V of V was previously published in 2009 under the name Svartesol, in its new edition it has been greatly expanded with information gained from the author (and others’) personal spiritual experiences astrally travelling to Vanaheim. However it is made pretty clear throughout the book what information is from historical sources and what is spiritual experience.
While the term Asatru, meaning true to the Aesir is sometime used generically to mean a Norse polytheist (esp. reconstructionist) religion, a growing number of people have come to see Heathenry as including three pantheons- the Aesir, the Vanir and the Jotuns. While most Heathens focus on the Aesir (assuming that this includes at least some of the Vanir- Frey, Freya & Njord), others have come to focus on the Vanir, calling themselves Vanatru, and the Jotuns or Rokkur, Rokkatru. Lokason believes that the Jotuns are the oldest pantheon, the Vanir branched off of them and the Aesir came in later on. He goes through a timeline of archaeological evidence in Northern Europe and interprets it through this theory.
There are chapters on both the deities traditionally seen as Vanic- Njord, Nerthus, Frey and Freya, as well as deities named in the lore that the author and other Vanatru believe to be Vanic, such as Idunn and Eir, and beings that Lokason has learned about or encountered through his spiritual journey.
The Eshnahai (which is what the Vanir call themselves) are a race of elves (the distinction between elves and gods being minimal) and Lokason shares with us details of the 24 Eshnahai tribes, named after various animals that they can shape-shift into, aspects of their daily life and spirituality. The holidays of the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year have their equivalent in Vanaheim, and descriptions of how they are celebrated there as well as how they might be here in Midgard by a solitary or a group are given.
I will admit that I am a rather unlikely reader for this book- I tend to be skeptical when I hear of information gained from shamanic journeying, channeled from spirits and the like. However, this is how religions are formed- from visions, from extra-ordinary claims of miracles. To truly explore religion means that at some point, you will have to open yourself up to possibilities of the uncanny. So while I’m still not sure if I am necessarily a True Believer in all of Nornoriel’s Lokason’s experiences, I am keeping an open mind and enjoying the ride.
I think this book would be enjoyed by non-Pagans who enjoy mythology and fantasy fiction, by Pagans who otherwise might not be interested in Heathenry, but are open to a more visionary perspective on it. Heathens who want to explore further their relationships with the Vanir, elves, connection with nature and practice of magic and seidhr would also find a lot of value in the book. I also think Celtic Pagans and Druids would find a lot of that resonates within these pages.
Above all, you can see the love and devotion with which it was written. There are a couple of errors in the text, unsurprising for a self-published work, but not enough to take away from the reading experience.
This is the first book in a planned series of four- the next one entitled Voices of Vanaheim is set for release in November 2014. It will be a collection of stories told from different perspectives about the history of Vanaheim and the Eshnahai.
“Of all of the devotionals on the market for different gods and goddesses of the Northern tradition, I have yet to see one specifically dedicated exclusively to Njord, the sea god of the Vanir… a god particularly close to my heart, who has long been dear to me. His serenity and his wisdom, his generosity, kindness, and gentle humor, have blessed my life over the years. He has given me and my family gifts of cleansing, renewal, and hope this past year at the Oregon coast, where his presence is powerful; in gratitude, I am stepping up to the plate to put out a devotional book in his honor, a gift of praise, and a way for others to know him and love him.
For this book I am soliciting prayers, poetry, essays on Njord (especially personal experiences with him), and rituals for Njord. You may make more than one submission – please feel free to submit as much material as you like. This book – The Giving God: a devotional for Njord – will be going out via Ravens Hall Press (Nicanthiel Hrafnhild’s imprint, which released Visions of Vanaheim and will be taking the other three books in my Vanaheim series), with an estimated release date of July/August 2015. The deadline for submissions is May 1st, 2015.”
Beloved Dead Devotional ed. Camilla Laurentina
Submissions open August 7th, 2014 and close February 28th, 2015.
The intention of this devotional is to build a source book of modern meditations, hymns, prayers, and other resources for death workers working in our greater community. All Pagan and Polytheist traditions are welcome and encouraged to submit to this project.
Submissions should fall into one of three categories: Vigil of the Dying, For the Recently Deceased, and Funerary Tools. They may include, but are not limited to meditations, poems, hymns, prayers, original retellings of myths, rituals, and scholarly articles with a focus on historical practices within one’s tradition. Artwork is also welcome and encouraged with a preference for pieces that are easily reproduced in black and white.
Click each link for more info!
I wrote the previous post to survey what all is included in the large umbrella category of “Pop Culture Paganism” and what within it I personally find to be of interest. That does not mean I am giving my stamp of approval on every type of PCP-ism that exists and everything that each PC Pagan says or does. That would silly. Heck, even in more specific traditions/organizations I belong to like ADF, I certainly don’t agree with all of my co-religionists on everything and share all their individual beliefs and practices.
Anyway, Lovemydane brought up an issue that is a major point of contention among the Asatru/Heathen community- the depiction of Thor, Loki, Odin et al. in Marvel comics. I haven’t read any of the Thor comics or seen any of the movies so I can’t comment on them too directly. However, I do enjoy watching Oh My Goddess! an anime series (based on manga) that draws inspiration from Norse mythology. The main character, Belldandy (Japanese rendering of Verdandi) works for a “Goddess Help Line” which is accidently dialed by Keiichi Morisato, a shy college student. Belldandy appears in his dorm room and tells him that she will grant him any wish he makes. Befuddled by this gorgeous woman claiming to be a goddess, he thinks it’s a joke and wishes that she will stay be his side forever. She stays on Earth, realizing that she has created a contract with him that she is bound to fulfill. Later her sisters, Urd and Skuld show up.
Those of you who are familiar with Norse mythology know these three sisters as the Norns, the powerful Goddesses who decide the fates and of humans by measuring and cutting the thread of life- and Wyrd. The cosmology of Oh My Goddess! is very different from Norse cosmology, and bears an obvious influence from Christianity- the universe is divided into Heaven, Earth and Hell, Verdandi, Skuld and Urd and others are under the authority of the Allmighty One (Odin- with some Jehovah influences) whereas in Norse myth, there are 9 worlds, and Odin, while powerful cannot determine Wyrd as the Norns can. Likewise, in Greek mythology Zeus is subject to the power of the Fates/Moirae. Watching this anime is just a form of entertainment, a purely secular activity though I find it interesting and fun to compare with what I know of Norse mythology.
So, what if someone were to watch Oh My Goddess! and decide that they want to worship Belldandy, the character as a goddess. Would that be a problem? Well that depends. If they decided to completely base a religious practice off of the show and manga, it could be a rather unbalanced and shallow practice, because the media are designed to entertain, not to do all the things religions are intended to do. But that would be a problem for that one individual and would not really be anyone else’s business. Now if this person decided that Belldandy was the same as Norse myth Verdandi, and Oh My Goddess! cosmology/laws of the universe trumped Norse mythology, and was more “real”, “valid” and called themselves a Heathen/Asatruar and came into a Heathen forum, or offline in-person blot with all of these ideas, or tried to explain to the public (or just their friends/family) that what they’re doing is actual Heathenry, then yeah. Those would all be major ethical violations of Heathen community norms of piety and hospitality and we would be right to be offended.
On the other hand, there some people who initially come across Norse or Greek mythology references in pop culture and get interested in learning about the originals. It might just remain an intellectual/aesthetic interest for them or it might develop into a religious practice. If they come into a forum and mention that their interest was piqued by Hercules, Xena or Marvel comics, we shouldn’t attack them for it, but we should check to make sure they understand the difference. In works of fiction that draw on history, people will often put in a disclaimer that this is a work of fiction and not historically accurate. However they do not have that responsibility with mythology. (This movie not approved by Homer or Snorri Sturlson!) We can be offended when they get our mythology “wrong” but I think it’s better to just see as a different, alternate mythology.
So if you want to worship a pop culture version of a deity, do you have ethical responsibilities to a community that worships a more traditional form of the deity? (Which you may or may not see as the same being, but they probably don’t) Yes, you do. You have the responsibility to not misrepresent yourself or your religious practice to the general public, the Pagan public and that specific community. As long as you do that, the more traditionally-minded polytheists ought to leave you alone.
For more on the Marvel Thor issue:
Worse than Breasts & Melanin by Kvasir amongst the Gods
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…)
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.