Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Erin Lale

Erin Lale

Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners. An updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path, is coming in 2020 from Red Wheel / Weiser. Erin was sworn to Freya as Priestess in 1989, given to Sigyn, and is a Bride of Odin and his brothers (Honir, Lodhur, Loki.). She has been a freelance writer for about 30 years, was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, is gythia of American Celebration Kindred, and admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. In 2010 and 2013, she ran for public office. She is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press for 5 years, created the Heathen Calendar 2017 and 2018, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.

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My Ceremonial Key

In Asatru and other heathen traditions, receiving a house key can be part of a marriage ceremony, when a woman is starting her household by moving into a new place with her new family. For that reason, many people see it as a symbol of marriage, but it's really a symbol of property ownership. I've had the real life keys to the home in which I live for a couple of decades now, and my relationship with the landwight here is a strong and good one, but I haven't included a ceremonial key in my ritual garb. My mom was the homeowner.

Many of the adjustments I've made since my mother's death have had both a mundane and a spiritual dimension, and this is one of them. I'm not becoming the exclusive owner of my home-- my brother and I inherit it equally-- but it's close enough for me to feel that receiving the official title paper is the right time to put on the ceremonial key.

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I'm the GoH at online Bindrune Festival

This Saturday, April 4, there is an online pagan and heathen festival to replace the in-person festivals and conventions that were canceled. Bindrune Festival has speakers via podcast and live chat. My recorded podcast Asatru Ritual Basics will go live Saturday afternoon, and I will be available to answer questions during a live chat during my time slot.

I'm really excited to be the Guest of Honor at this Festival. Other speakers will be talking about Celtic, Slavic, and Buddhist topics in addition to more Heathen topics.

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Who is Ostara?

In planning my kindred’s Ostara ritual for this year, which we canceled, I ran across an interesting association with similarly named dawn goddesses. The goddess Ostara may be older than we think.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember Deep Space 9 sufficiently to get the analogy.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, glad it was clear!

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Snake Patrick Day

Happy Celtic Heritage Day!

Many Asatruars and other heathens and pagans don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day because it's a Christian holiday. As practiced in the USA, though, it's more a secular celebration of Irish culture, and of our idea of Irish culture (green beer is an American thing.) At this time of year, many of us are still circulating that story that the legend of Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland was really about driving out the Druids.

This is an interesting example about how mythology changes over time to suit the culture telling the story. For us modern people, we want to see the snakes as a symbol of something else because we don't need a magical explanation for why they are no snakes on that island. Our bedrock belief is in science. When we read a myth that purports to explain why a thing in nature is the way it is, we automatically read it as a metaphor, because we just don't think that way.

For the medieval people who ascribed the snake story to "St. Patrick" it was a story about a miracle, about a man wielding godlike magical powers, which somehow proved he must be channeling the power of a particular god. Who got to be called saint and who was instead called witch for demonstrating the same supernatural magic is a study in sociology.

Image: photo of me in a parade.

Image caption: I and other heathens parade with a Renfaire guild every year. This is about visibility, although I started doing this before I formalized the Heathen Visibility Project. As we march down the street with our hammers on, the message is: "See us. We are here; we are proud; we are part of this community."

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I associate St. Patrick's day with corn beef, cabbage and potatoes. Since reading books on Voodoo I also associate St. Patrick wi

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Tea with Frigga

I intended to make it more elaborate. I thought of getting out the embroidered round altar piece with Frigga spelled out in runes, at least. Possibly a decorative spindle. Find and bring out a matching tea pot and tea cup and even a saucer. Get or maybe even make some tea cookies. In reality I just made the tea in the usual pot that was already sitting on the kitchen counter. Instead of a beautifully arranged altar setup we just had our tea at the table, without even a table cloth, like a friend had dropped over to help out and express support.

Who knew the sovereign goddess, the queen of heaven, the goddess most associated with the running of an efficient estate, could also be the sort of friend who ignores the mess when one is overwhelmed?

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Of Death and the Butterfly

Shortly after my mom died, the goddess Sigyn told me our relationship would change soon. She did not elaborate, but I did not have long to wait.

(To recap: I became sworn to Freya in college, and Freya gave me to Sigyn a few years ago.) About a week or so after mom passed on, Sigyn told me I was free. She assured me that she would always be part of my life, and she would help me through my grief and would still send butterflies sometimes, but I no longer belong to her. I would never need her again the same way I needed her while caring for mom. This is a grief unlike any other. I would now grow closer to another goddess.

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Hail Hel

Hail Hel, goddess of the dead.

On Feb. 4th, 2020, in the words of my brother, "My mother won her last struggle to free herself from the limits of her form, emerging from an outworn body as a transcendent and radiant being into the limitless possibilities of the Infinite and the unknown."

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