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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Holy Cusswords

Holy cusswords, [email protected]&m*n! Cussing is of course a euphemism for cursing, which can mean using a socially unacceptable word, naming a power in an undignified manner ("taking the Lord's name in vain") or formally casting bad magic. Present day Asatruars use the Old Icelandic word blot, meaning sacrifice, as a name for one of our rituals. In modern Icelandic, the word has become blota, which means a cuss word. That which is holy transformed over time into what is a curse and then into what is an empty phrase that may once have been a curse, merely a cuss now. Or is it still a curse? Or is it still holy?

Words have power; that's why a magic spell is called a spell, the same word that means to write a word. When we use a minor cussword like f--- or sh-- that refers to a bodily function, the thing that makes it a cussword is the social taboo of the word and of the action, that is, it refers to something society considers unacceptable to do in public. The same goes for cuss words that refer to parts of the body; they are socially taboo because they refer to body parts normally covered by clothing. These words and concepts are not inherently bad, merely socially taboo. But more religious oriented cusswords like d--- or the name of a god are in another category. To say d--- is to literally curse, that is, to place a curse of damnation on someone or something. If we believe in magic we should be cautious about using such words. If we believe in gods we should be respectful of their names. To say H--- is to call upon Hel, goddess of the dead. The situation may call for that, or it may not. We should be mindful whether the situation calls for calling upon such a god.

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Tagged in: curse holy names taboos words
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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