Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, modern life on a heathen path, community interaction, and general heathenry.

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Erin Lale

Erin Lale

Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, American Celebration, and other books. She has been a sworn Priestess of Freya since 1989, is a Bride of the Ninefold Odin (Odin, Honir, Lodhur, Loki) and given to Sigyn. She has been a freelance writer for about 30 years, was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is the Acquisitions Editor at Caliburn Press. In 2010 and 2013, she ran for public office. She is gythia of American Celebration Kindred.
Taking Over an Asatru Internet Forum part 2

When I first became a forum admin on the American Asatru group several years ago, I was invited to do so because the group creator liked my book Asatru For Beginners.  I said yes because I had just had a bad online experience in a different group and wanted to help create a space that would be better. I wanted to create a troll free space where heathens could talk about their heathen religious stuff free of mockery by trolls and safe from online harassment and stalking and other internet ills. I wanted to create a group which would be a supportive religious community where people could find friendship and advice about life in addition to religion. I envisioned a space where there would be fun things to do, and which would be especially supportive toward creators such as authors, artists, and musicians. The group became that.

Before I joined the management team, the American Asatru Association group was already a space that screened membership applications to keep out neonazis and white power gang members and other such undesirables, in addition to keeping out trolls. It was also already a group that welcomed heathens of any sect, not just Asatru, and from anywhere in the world, not just the Americas. It welcomed universalist, tribalist, and folkish Asatruars, and was a Loki-friendly group. Those policies stayed the same while I was adminning under the original group owner, and I plan to keep them in place. 

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    You're welcome!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Thank you for the link. I think I became fascinated with Norse Myths from reading D'Aulairs' Book of Norse myths as a child and t
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Also Anthony, if you're interested in posing a discussion topic to the group, you're welcome to join and ask the members. How one'
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Hi Anthony, there might well be some members who started with that book. The recently completed Heathen Demographic Survey, availa
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Congratulations on your new position, I hope you have fun with it. One of the books I have on my computer desk is "Norse Magic" b
Taking Over an Asatru Internet Forum part 1

Once again, as I did before when I became manager of the old MSN Asatru group, I've just taken over management of an Asatru internet forum. There are a few notable differences from the last time. Firstly, this time I'm fully prepared and qualified to run an internet forum. Secondly, this time I wanted the job. Thirdly, the internet is different than it was back then. Fourthly, MSN Asatru had about 200 members, and the American Asatru group on Facebook, formerly known as the American Asatru Association, has about 4,500.

With both groups, I inherited an established forum with its own established procedures and expectations. MSN Asatru was a free for all. I didn't screen members or moderate posts, excepts to remove commercial spam, and to remove posts that violated the terms of use of the MicroSoft Network, which meant I removed anything even vaguely pornographic, including any nude images. Images were not used on forums very often back then, because posting an image in one of the one MSN Groups required an image host site and some basic knowledge of html.

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Teaching Folk Dance at the Moot part 3

In the last great Ice Age, when cave bears roamed the snowy earth, peoples across Europe, Asia, and North America all honored the Bear. Because bears hibernate, they return in the spring, along with the sun, the warmth, and the fertility of the land. It would make sense to do a dance with loud drumming in the spring to wake them up, thus bringing the blessings of springtime, but Tot Ursi is still performed to this day in Romania, and it is part of the winter solstice celebrations. Like winter solstice traditions of burning a Yule Log to keep the light alive while the sun is god, Tot Ursi is danced to keep the Bear spirit alive while the bears are gone. (For further reading on Bear spirituality, see Alan Leddon’s book Religion Laid Bear.)

In Tot Ursi, meaning "All Bears," the dancers can growl and make bear-like sounds, but they also make “brrrrr” sounds, which don’t sound like a bear at all. I think the “brrr” sound may be a form of lalling. Lalling is making nonsense sounds such as “lalala” in a song, or for ritual purposes. Lalling is named after the Germanic god Lollus. I found Tot Ursi while doing genealogical research on my last name (for more info on that topic, see my blog post  Lollus, Löhl, and Ursul din Lăloaia )

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I remember that song!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I suddenly remembered the childhood song: "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" when I got to the last line of this article.

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Teaching Folk Dance at the Moot part 2

I’m preparing to teach Basic Folk Dance at Southwest Frith Moot. My time slot between the other things on the schedule is a half hour, so I’ve selected two dances, Hora and Tot Ursi. Tot Ursi is a procession dance and the Hora is a round dance. Tot Ursi is so simple that I can teach it before I teach any actual dance basics, so I can teach Tot Ursi, do a short lecture teaching dance basics, and then teach the Hora. The dance basics I need to teach for the second dance include what “line of direction” means (move to the right, starting on the right foot), how to hold hands (dancing in a circle round, left hand up and the right one down,) and how to cut in.

My mom and I dance with the Ethnic Express Folk Dancers. We dance to bring people together—ourselves, most of all—and to preserve the world heritage of dance. I’m the only heathen in the dance group. Mom and I originally got into folk dance as an activity we could do together when I was in high school. Even when she can’t dance, our folk dance friends are a big part of our life.

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  • Babatunde
    Babatunde says #
    can you teach me and where are you thanks??
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Babatunde, the moot is in Arizona, but the event is full. I'm in the Las Vegas, Nevada, area. I do plan to teach this dance at the

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Teaching Folk Dance at the Moot part 1

Folk dance is ritual. Dances are performed for holidays, weddings, the agricultural cycle, and to bring people together. I’m going to teach folk dance at an upcoming heathen gathering.

At the dawn of agricultural, newly settled villagers who needed to work together on farm tasks danced together to learn how to move as a unit and co-ordinate with each other, and to build team spirit. Those are also some reasons for military marching. There are folk dances that actually are forms of military drill, such as the vari hasapikos, a Greek men’s dance for a four man team, that teaches how to read a leader’s hand signals and follow them in unison.

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Dancing Goddesses is a fantastic book. I recommend it.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My local library has a copy of Dancing Goddesses: folklore, archaeology, and the origins of European dance by Barber. It's a fasc

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Powers That Changed Gender

One of the things people coming from either Wicca or Christianity to Asatru notice is that the idea that the sun god gets resurrected at Yule doesn't fit in our culture, because to heathens the sun is she. Yet, people still try to wedge the sun god into heathenism, and go looking for a sun god, and identify Baldr as a sun god-- correctly! -- and end up trying to celebrate Baldr's resurrection at Yule, although the lore says he won't come back until the after the end of the universe. 

I have novel gnosis on this topic, that is, gnosis that I received while writing my overgrown unpublished novel Some Say Fire. In the Fireverse, powers that are transferred to another host upon the previous host's death always swap to a host of  the opposite gender. Thus, when Baldur died, the sun power was transferred to Sunna, who became the sun goddess. When Baldur's wife Nanna died, the moon power was transferred to Mani, who became the moon god. Like many things in the Fireverse, that's an oversimplification of the process, but has a kernel of truth in it.

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Hi Anthony, that's cool, I didn't know about that manga. Yes, heathens did "Thor loses his hammer and then gets it back" AND "Thor
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    In the manga series Oh, my Goddess the three Norns become goddesses and the middle one Verdandi (called Beldandi in the series) se
Comparison of Heathen and Romani Spiritual Words Part 2: Chaos and Cosmos

Comparison of Heathen and Romani Spiritual Words and Concepts

Part 2: Chaos, Cosmos, and the Nature of Time

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    A decade or so ago I go a video game called Xenosaga. One of the characters was a tall android woman named Kosmos. Another chara
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Hi Anthony, that's cool. I like the "dance partners" image. Cosmos and Chaos are of course words derived from ancient Greek, so t

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