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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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Seeing order in randomly generated patterns is the essence of fortune telling and interpretation of omens. Hundreds of years ago, people might expect to go outside and see many different species of birds routinely as part of their everyday experience. Thus, reading the first type of bird one sees after asking a question was something people could reasonably expect to do as part of their normal lives, because seeing random birds was part of people's normal lives. My everyday experience includes the internet. I see random stuff on my Facebook feed and on the day's Google Doodle as I'm sipping my morning coffee. 

Random stuff is exactly what's traditionally used for fortune telling and omens. Rune casting interprets the way lots fall on a cloth. The rune Perthro, the rune of destiny or wyrd, is shaped like a dice cup, which refers to rolling dice to read a fortune. The heathen art of reading bird omens derives a positive or negative answer from whether one sees a white bird or a black bird first. (Black is the good color, because Odin's ravens are black.) In other traditions, tea leaves make patterns in a cup, and a deck of cards has a traditional significance for each card in Tarot and in cartomancy. 

Googlemancy is reading random stuff on Google, or on the internet generally. It's seeing an unexpected image when you go to a website or try to post something. For example, once, I went to Google and the day's Doodle was the image was a red fox. Red foxes stand for Loki, so I interpreted that as a positive message from Loki. I wrote about that previously in my post The Morality of Chaos, here: 

Googlemancy can also be something one does on purpose. I first encountered Googlemancy when a social media friend shared a suggestion to go to Google and type in the date of your birth and "died on" to find a past life. Of course, if one does that again years later, one will get a different result, because the search algorithm changes and more data is entered over time. It's up to you whether you take the first result, or the one you resonate with the most, or just discount the whole thing as a parlour game.

I've had the experience of googling my own name in Google Images and finding something totally unexpected: not only an image that's not me, but nothing I have ever seen. One could read meaning in that.

Not every result one gets that way will actually mean something. It's just like with the bird omens: the bird one sees when one goes outside only means something if one has decided before opening the door to look for bird omens. Very rarely, one might be walking along not trying to see a sign, and see something totally unexpected, perhaps a bird that is rare or out of its range or season. That, too, might mean something. As with the birds, so it is with unexpected search results or a randomly sighted social media meme. That sudden sense of knowing, that awe-struck, breathtaking moment when one just knows that one has caught a glimpse of the divine order behind random everyday occurrences, that intuition is the same whether one is looking at birds, or tarot cards, or a screen.


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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.


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