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, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.
Adapting a Toasting Ritual for Pandemic Times

Usually the sumbel ritual we do in Asatru and other forms of heathenry involves passing around a horn. My kindred usually has two horns, one containing alcohol and one containing a non-alcoholic beverage. The cow's horn honors Audhumla, the Sacred Cow. We not only drink from the horn, but when we pass the horn, the horn is like a talking stick that tells us whose turn it is to make a toast.

These days we're using individual cups for everyone, for the sake of pandemic safety. We're also standing farther apart. Normally if we're outside standing around a bonfire we'd all pack in closely in a circle, or if we were inside we'd be sitting at a dining table, also fairly close together. Someday we'll return to passing the horn as a talking stick, because it's a lot easier than having the ritual leader call on people to ask if they want to make a toast. I think we might keep using individual cups to actually drink out of, though. Now that we're all aware of the germs that might get passed around along with the horn I don't think we'll go back to actually all drinking from the same horn. In the future we'll pour into the horn and then pour from the horn to cups or to each person's personal horn.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I receive written letters in the mail from prisoners asking questions about heathen practices and asking about Asatru resources and books. (Most people who read my writing and want to contact me do so on the net, but prisoners often don't have access to the net.) I've received a few such letters recently in reaction to my latest article in Witches & Pagans Magazine, which was the Heathen Vs. Hate symbol guide designed to enable people to tell the difference between heathen symbols and hate symbols.

When I was asked to write the symbol guide, I was chosen because I had already done a lot of work on that topic for the Trollslayers' Guide, an internal document for the admins and moderators of my forum, the Asatru Facebook Forum. The article was an interesting challenge to write because the editor wanted a symbol guide without actually showing any of the symbols. The reason for that was because having a hate symbol like a swastika appear in the magazine would get the magazine censored and removed from places like prisons and schools. Print magazines and print books are some of the few resources to which prisoners have access, so making sure the magazine didn't get disallowed is important for that population. So, I had the constraints of prison censorship in mind when I was writing the article, and I'm pleased that some prisoners found it useful.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I was asked a favor that necessitated my asking the landwight who lives in my garden and protects all within its territory if it was OK. I rarely speak in words with the landwight. My relationship with the land spirit predates my developing a godphone, so when I do speak with the landvaette of this place, I'm used to making statements and not receiving a reply in words. This time I got a reply, though.

A friend messaged me on fb that her daughter's pet snake had died. They were planning to move to a house but had not done so yet, and they asked me if they could bury the snake in my yard temporarily and then move it later. Before I could reply I had to ask the landwight. Up until then, everything buried here had lived here. The animals buried in this land had already been part of this land and the landwight's territory. I asked the landwight with nearly the same wording that I had been asked, which emphasized that this was to be temporary. The landwight agreed.

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Heathens in historical times did not have godparents. But that doesn't mean you can't. Although it's not based on historical heathen customs or rituals, there are Asatru organizations and individuals who do have godparent rituals. There are baby blessing rituals online that include godparents. You don't have to copy one of those, though. Pretty much any ceremony you want to do is going to be fine. The godparent part of the name giving ritual was made up, so you can make up your own version.

Like a lot of rituals we do-- I'm planning my kindred's Ostara egg hunt now-- godparents were included in that modern name giving ceremony because people wanted them, because the wider culture has them and it's a cultural expectation. The wider culture has godparents because the wider culture is Christian. If you want them, go ahead. There is no historical heathen ritual to follow for that. So just do it however you want.

If you prefer a more historically based version of Asatru, then design your name giving or baby blessing ritual without godparents. You can include adult friends, relatives, and kindred members in your child's life without having to copy a special type of relationship from Christianity.

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I received my third reading on the subject of whether I should take a job as a presenter at a specific online event.

Reading C: Tarot, from Lady Firespring at Sacred Spring

I got a tarot reading from Lady Silverspring. We spoke on the phone. At the start, she asked me what my purpose for the reading was, and I indicated that I had been wondering if I should take that job and at that point it was looking like no, but I wanted to go ahead with the reading because it was part of the next steps I needed to take on my career path. My friend said I should make a more open ended question, so I went with, "What's my best career move at this time?"

Surprisingly to me, although I had to laugh a bit at how much it dovetailed with internal godphone conversations I've had, the first thing that came up was that money is an illusion. I was like, "I know, sunshine is real, my cat is real, money is an illusion, but I have to treat it like it's real." And the next card was the Hanged Man, which made me laugh out loud. "Yes, Odin." I saw him in my mind's eye stroking his beard and saying "mmm" to indicate his presence.

As far as the convention job went, I should not take it, and basically, I don't have to take opportunities just because they fall out of the sky at me. The things I already decided that I want to do for money and career, that I'm already taking steps to go out and get for myself, are the things I should be doing. Those are long term and I need patience and trust and faith to keep going but that doesn't mean I just wait, I do things, and I should keep doing those things.

Another thing that came up in the reading was grief. I need to give myself space for that. I don't have to fill all my time with accomplishing things and keeping busy. My friend said the word Guardian more than once, and I let her know that that was a title Tom had now. She said he had decided to stay around as a protector instead of reincarnating and I said that was correct, Tom had been a Heimdall's man while he was alive and he had chosen to become one of Heimdall's Guardians.

After that our conversation became more general. We hadn't talked in far too long. It was a great reading. It confirmed what I had heard in my other readings, that I should not take that job, but it went farther and told me about what I should be doing instead. The tarot reading told me that my job right now is to grieve and to do the the long term things I'd already been doing before the job opportunity arrived. I should continue as I had already been doing before.

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How I'm Making a Decision About a Convention part 2

I'm deciding a moral dilemma. I have an opportunity to make money while bringing my message to a new and possibly broader audience. On the other hand, there is a risk that instead of bringing my message to more people, association with the convention's sponsor could damage my reputation and thus diminish the reach of my message.

As I mentioned in part 1, my next step was to seek divination from 3 different diviners. I'm not looking for a 2/3 majority on the yes or no question of whether to go any further with the pursuit of this opportunity; divination isn't democracy. I'm looking for what all 3 agree about. The first person I asked is not doing divination at this time, but I know many diviners. I have not seriously sought any other diviner's advice before, so this is new for me. I already know that I can't read for myself, though. Every time I do that, what I see is my own death.

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I'm facing a moral decision, and since I'm using signs, godphone, and divination in my decision making process along with the more usual method of asking my friends and fans for advice, I'm blogging about my decision making process here on Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen. The processes I'm using are relevant to the topic of this blog. Whatever decision I reach will also be relevant because it's about an opportunity to talk about Asatru and heathenry.

I received 3 money related things (one actual money, two possible opportunities to make money) all in a clump: 1. my first royalty check for my new book arrived! yay! 2. I got a couple of nibbles on getting a housemate, even though the suite isn't actually ready right now (the attic workers are arriving again in about an hour or so actually, as I write this), 3. there's an opportunity to be a paid speaker at an online pagan event. At first I thought I was being formally invited by the convention organizers, but it turned out to be just informal feelers via a presenter. An actual invitation would come later if I decide to fill out an application form to be hired as a presenter.

I need to decide whether to pursue (and eventually, to accept) opportunity #3. I want to promote my book, of course, and I'm always out for heathen visibility. This opportunity arriving in association with the other things seems to indicate a sign that it's a good opportunity for me. Three is a special and sacred number in heathenry. Not incidentally, this is the first time I've ever been offered an opportunity to pursue a PAID speaking engagement in a major pagan or heathen related event. Although I've done paid speaking at science fiction events, at pagan events I usually just get free tickets and maybe free content like books. The reason I'm hesitating is that the event is associated with Christian Day. Not as a speaker, just behind the scenes, and I would not have to deal with him personally at all.

I started my decision making process on this by making a friends-only post on my Facebook page asking for advice. I got conflicting advice. The advice generally fell into these categories: A. My voice is needed in the community, not in spite voices like Day's but because of them, to give people someone else to listen to; B. Working with Day would mean I would be someone the commenter could no longer support; C. Who? Who cares? Take the money and do my thing. D. The 3s mean this is something Odin wants me to do. E. What would Loki do? What would Odin do? What do they say? F. Seek divination from a diviner I trust. G. Aside from money, what would I gain by being a presenter at this convention?

Response D. is where I started, of course. The 3s are the reason I asked my friends for advice instead of just dismissing the idea out of hand. I take signs seriously.

Well, but I have a godphone, and response type E gave me a logical next step to take. What would Loki do? I easily heard that answer in my head: Loki would say "f them, haha, I'll do my own thing."

On the other hand, Odin would do almost anything for knowledge. So what does Odin say? I asked him, in my mind. His reply: "Do what you want, but if you don't pursue this opportunity, I will know that what you want isn't really money."

My immediate  mental response to that was of course, "No, I want it. I do want money." We're talking about $150 for a one hour to one and a half hour class. Not a life-changing amount of money, except for two things: A. I've never made $150 an hour before and that would catapult me into a position to demand more money for my labor later, and B. this is an opportunity provided by Odin and I have to go on to a next step to show him that I appreciate the opportunities he is showing me and that I do in fact want to make an actual living and have money and would like to continue to be provided opportunities to earn money.

So, I have to go on to a next step, and I have to do it now. The next step does not have to be applying for the job, though, and in fact, I actually can't do that right now, because the application forms won't even be available until July. So that is NOT the next step that I have to take now. It has to be something else.

Another step I could take is to ask about the convention's safety policy. I asked the person who messaged me about this opportunity and was told they don't have one. But, their site isn't set up for this yet, and won't be until this summer. So, I'm thinking, if I could influence this online convention to have a safety policy, that's a positive outcome I could achieve. That would be worth doing. But, I would really need to wait and see if they come up with one on their own first, which I would not see until they have their site set up for this. Or would I? Maybe I could relay my desire for a safety policy through the person who put out the informal feelers. OK yes, I literally thought of doing that while I was typing this out, so just preparing this blog has helped me work through my decision process.

But I also can't wait on further decision making to see if they do it or not. I'd have to wait til their have their website up next summer to see if they really do it, regardless of what they might tell me next. So, I still need to take another next step right now. My next step is to seek more advice. Divination advice, as per Response F.

I messaged the person who initially contacted me about this, "My next steps are: 1. I am relaying through you to the organizers that I would desire a safety policy on the website, and 2. I'm pursuing divination and will get back to you when I have the results."

Response G. isn't really advice exactly, but it did get me to clarify to myself what I am trying to achieve. This is not ONLY about money but the money is important because I wanted it and Odin is trying to provide it. Aside from the money, though: A big, popular online platform from which to speak would allow me to reach more people with my message. My message consists of: buy my book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path; participate in / promote the Heathen Visibility Project, which is simultaneously a pride project like Pagan Pride, a project meant to be useful to journalists and bloggers, and an anti-Nazi project, which is really important to the whole culture not just specifically to Asatru; for more info besides in my book you can read my blog (this one! ) and apply to join the Asatru Facebook Forum. More generally, my message is about how Asatru is done and how it got that way. I also have messages from the gods to humanity to communicate, including: respect and protect the Earth. These messages, especially the anti-Nazi and pro-environmental messages, may be more important than anything about Day. If I did a presentation, it would be specifically an anti-Nazi presentation. I'd talk about the Heathen Visibility Project and about how to counter Nazi magic.

Back to: what is my next step?

Response F. suggested divination, and that's my next step. I asked Odin if that was an acceptable next step and he said yes. He said he is only asking me to take a next step right now. Because 3 is such an important number in this decision making process, I'm going to ask 3 different diviners. Probably people who each use a different method or system. The first person I asked was not doing divination at this time. I'm about to ask some other people. I'll blog about my divination results in future posts in this series.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thanks for the replies! I've had one of my 3 divinations so far, with the advice being to not work with Day. and the other 2 divin
  • David Dashifen Kees
    David Dashifen Kees says #
    Tough stuff, and thank you for sharing it. On the one hand, we (Pagans) are lucky in that our community is small enough that when
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Day is an abuser and a bully. Do as you wish, but I wouldn't touch anything he is involved with--or can profit from--with a thirt

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