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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Fireverse 6: Mythology is Subjective

Mythology is stories, and stories reflect the mind of the storyteller. We acknowledge that when we talk about how a given mythological tale reflects a culture and its level of scientific and social advancement. The individuals who told the stories also projected them through their own personal lenses, not only as members of their culture but as people with internal psychology.

One of the things I learned while writing Some Say Fire, in which I retold as much of the heathen lore as I could find along with original material inserted interstitially, is that it is impossible to write objective fiction about the gods no matter how hard I try. Even though I relate to the gods either as people with personalities or as nature, when I wrote fiction about them they inevitably turned into archetypes. For example, the ways that Fireverse Odin differs from traditional Odin all turned out to be about my real life deceased father. I didn't intend to do that. I didn't even realize that until after I had enough of a draft completed to show it to someone else and my critique partner pointed it out to me; I knew I had turned my problems over to my higher power by giving them to Loki, but I hadn't realized how much that distorted all the other characters in the story.

Only after I had dealt with those issues was I able to get past them and reach the real Odin. In mythology or fairy tale, the father figure is your father, the road is your path, and the mountain is whatever obstacle you yourself must overcome. Everything turns into dream symbolism.

This same phenomenon must surely have happened when the lore that we have received in written form was first written down. The lore contained in Snorri's Edda must therefore reflect Snorri the individual as much as it reflects the lore as he had heard it in his lifetime, and as much as it reflects his culture and the times he lived in.

Fireverse Odin turned into my father and Fireverse Loki my wounded inner child because those are the personal issues I needed to resolve through my creative writing. Snorri's Odin turned into Yahweh and his Loki turned into the Devil. As a Christian with recent heathen ancestors living in the time of conversion, watching his culture be destroyed by the very thing he most passionately believed in--the Church-- resolving the cognitive dissonance between his Christian beliefs and his love of the stories of his culture must have been his greatest psychological need.

The subjectivity of story, even mythology from an oral tradition, is something to keep in mind in interpreting the lore. Some of my fellow Asatruars treat the Eddas as if they were the word of the gods. The Eddas were written by men; men have human needs, including psychological needs. The storyteller shapes the story even if he tries not to.

Image: image from publicdomainpictures.net

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My first book signing!  Photo by Chiri Peterson.  Used by permission.

My first book signing! Photo by Chiri Peterson. Used by permission.

Updated from Between the Shadows, November 22, 2014:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Fireverse 3: Books Are Magic

Continuing my story of receiving gnosis through fiction writing, it was always obvious to me which parts were inspired, because they felt different from everything else. That feeling would not be obvious to the reader, though. In thousands of hours of writing and being open to receive gnosis, over the course of a year and a half, I had perhaps a few minutes of messages for humanity. They occurred at unpredictable times. There are mediums who contact a god, dead person, or other being and relay questions and answers for someone else, but I’m not one of them. I'm a writer. I receive poetic inspiration.

This is the gnosis I received about what happens to burned books. I sat down to write in my novel, and this came out of my fingers. 

What flowed out:

Loki was sitting on a marble bench reading a book. Odin sat down beside him. “Hello, Loki.”

Loki didn’t look up. “Hi.”

“What book is that?”

“Leaves of Grass. In German translation.”

“Is it any good?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Is it from my library?” Odin received many book sacrifices. Anytime a book was burned in the world, if it was not dedicated aloud to some other god, it always went to him. Sometimes there were whole piles of the same book all burned together. He had not gotten around to reading every title in his library yet. He was still working on all the ones burned together at Alexandria.

“Mmhmm.”

There was a long pause. “I’m going herb shopping in Midgard after lunch. Would you like to come with me?”

“Mmhmm.”

“Are you the father of Zisa’s new puppy?”

“Mmhmm.”

[redacted – unsuitable to print in a family newspaper]

“What?” Loki looked up, blinking in startlement. “Um, peeled, thank you.”

“Just checking to see if you were listening.”
 

What I think it means:

Unless specifically dedicated to someone else, burned books go to Odin. Books have an afterlife.

Further thoughts on this gnosis:

That was the original gnosis, the actual words which flowed from my fingers when Odin inspired me with this message. Later, I put in a scene in which burned books actually show up in his library. The talking scene was gnosis, and the scene in which a bonfire spontaneously shows up in the library, depositing a pile of books, came from my head based on that gnosis.

I haven’t heard of anyone else receiving the same gnosis, but it makes sense to me that books would have an afterlife. Heathenry is strongly infused with animism, and the wider culture in which we live treats books as objects of reverence. We are taught as children to respect books, and not to damage them. Authors sign books like artists sign artworks. The physical book has inherent worth in our culture, beyond the knowledge that is in it. In the US, the three guaranteed freedoms listed first in our Bill of Rights are speech, the press, and religion, of all which are related to books and knowledge. We have book temples; we love books and the knowledge within them so much we've had public libraries for centuries longer than we've had public health care. Our culture has elevated the importance of books above our own lives. Of course, with that much human energy directed at them, books aren't just inanimate objects.

When you read a book, you are a telepath who owns a time machine. You see into the mind of the author, even if the author is long dead. When you write a book, you speak to the whole world, and to the end of time. What an awesome creation writing is! Books are magic.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I Have Been So Long Away

Summertime...and yet the living is not but so easy.

My rich and full life has kept me away from here for a good part of the summer. I'm not just a village witch, you know. I'm a gardener and canner, and this summer we expanded one of the community gardens and brought another one "online" in my neighborhood.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Fireverse Part 2: When I Challenged Loki to a Duel

Why? Because apparently I possess the common sense the gods gave a honey badger.
 
I had just run for office for the second time. I was exhausted and disillusioned. I had seen how the political sausage was made and felt that the system was rigged. I read an essay on Popehat, “Burn the [expletive deleted] System to the Ground,” and agreed wholeheartedly. That opened me to Loki in his aspect as Breaker of Worlds. I didn’t realize that until much later, though.

In November 2013, I went to see Thor: The Dark World. I enjoyed it, but I left the theater thinking, “I could write a much more authentic story about the heathen gods than that!” That opened me to Loki, too, and to Odin, though I didn’t realize that until later, either.

“Yes, you could,” purred that voice. Loki appeared in my mind as a fictional character, talking and making story. I didn’t think it was really him, though. For one thing, I was used to hearing fictional characters talking in my head; it’s how I’ve been writing fiction for decades. Like many other authors, when I get an idea for a story and the characters start talking to each other, it always feels like the characters are banging on the inside of my head trying to get out. For another thing, he didn’t look like I remembered him. I had met Loki as a child, in a dream, without knowing who he was, but by the time he showed up again, I had identified the Lord of the Monsters as Loki (see my previous post Lord of the Monsters for that story.) Now he was coming around my mind cosplaying as Marvel-Loki. It took me a while to realize, “Duh, shapeshifter.” Of course he can look like anyone or anything he wants.

Scenes played in my head. I saw chemtrails create the Fimbulwinter, and the Well of Worlds on fire because it was full of fracking fluid, and Sif lying dead in her temple, poisoned by her own worshippers who accidentally sacrificed unlabeled GMO grain. I saw myself die in a zombie apocalypse with a Smith & Wesson Shield in my hand – weeks before I actually was given one for Yule – the dead rising because the Rainbow Bridge was out. I heard Heimdall say it broke under the weight of dead cats and dogs.

“Look, there is dialogue, there are scenes, write.” His horns of flame tickled the inside of my skull, giving me a headache.

I told him, “Shut up in there or I’ll write a scene in which you get bitten by the Midgard Serpent.”

His eyes twinkled and he laughed at me, and—well, I wrote the scene. It is now in the book.

He was delighted. “You wrote something!”

Yes, I did, I wrote something. You win. Score one for Loki.

So, when I realized, “Holy *^(&^ it’s really Loki!” what did I do? I challenged him to a formal duel, using traditional Old Norse fighting words. I wrote a horrible little fanfic story in which the very worst thing that could ever happen to anyone happens – what I thought was the worst thing that had ever happened to me, that is. I wasn’t even aware that was what I was doing. It only became glaringly obvious in hindsight. At the time, I thought I was insulting him.

“Ha, ha! Look! You wrote more things about meeeeeee!”

He reacted as if I amused him, but months later, I realized that when I tried to insult him, what I was really doing was revealing my deepest unhealed trauma. Being a god, he saw right through me, and saw what I could not see myself. He resolved to help me heal it through writing, though I didn’t realize that at the time either.

I also realize now that reacting as if he was amused was the “laugh so you won’t cry or scream” phenomenon that I’ve seen so often before, particularly in myself. He deflected me with humor, and I didn’t realize just how very seriously he was taking my unconscious cry for help until much later. I also didn’t realize until much later that often the being who showed up to inspire my writing insisting that I call him Loki was really Odin, although I had a sneaking suspicion of it for months before it became really obvious.

Every night I dreamed of Ragnarok. Dreams in the twelve nights of Yule are supposed to be prophetic. I saw Thor’s head on a pike. Loki boiled tea from the flowers left at the graves of the dead, and held a tea dance. It was absurd and terrifying.

Finally I had my outline done and I started writing. The pressure eased. Dialogue poured out my fingers, into the keyboard, and when I saw it on the screen, I thought, “I just wrote WHAT about WHO?” I was afraid what I had written might offend Thor. When I went outside I expected a lightning bolt between the shoulder blades. I was mortally afraid to walk beneath the sky, until I raised a cup of coffee to the Thunderer and asked for a sign of approval if he wanted me to keep writing this story this way, and an out-of-season rainstorm arrived, a blessing from Thor.

On Yule 2013, I laid two fires, a bonfire for the ceremony and a barbecue fire for cooking the feast for after the ceremony. I lit both fires. The bonfire shed fire all around it and required much work to contain, and when I set the leaf-design iron lid aside to toss burning branches back into the fire, I burned my foot on the lid. I stood in the cold bucket of water. It was time to concede. It was time to admit that I could not win a duel against a god. Like the cup of coffee I had offered to Thor, I had to make some small gesture toward Loki. So I threw my hair-combings into the barbecue.

At once the fire popped and spat and threw off a great light in acceptance of my sacrifice. Not the fire I threw it into, but the great Yule bonfire, which suddenly stopped trying to get out of its metal confines and started burning merrily and throwing off a great white-yellow pyramid of herbal smoke straight up into the air. The rest of the ceremony went off perfectly, and the cooking did too.

That was when my head cracked open and I started hearing the rest of the gods, too. They inspired my writing. Loki’s laughter echoed down trunk of the World-Tree and shook dry rot from its heart. His voice moistened the dark between the stars, shivered through all the worlds and waited for me every night as I closed my eyes. I no longer heard it in dreams, but now, in that half awake, half asleep state as I drifted off to sleep. As I slipped into the state of consciousness called hypnogogia, I saw Loki standing in my room, and a large snake slithered into my bed. Nervously, I told Loki his snake was getting too close, but he laughed and told me it wasn’t his snake.

“That is my blood brother, Bolverkr, the mead of poetry in his mouth, here to help you birth a new world.”

Image credit: "Loke by C. E. Doepler" by Carl Emil Doepler (1824-1905) - Wägner, Wilhelm. 1882. Nordisch-germanische Götter und Helden. Otto Spamer, Leipzig & Berlin. Page 255.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    From reading "Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes" by Chris Knowles I would say that many of the best c
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Yes, it would be really cool if they let Sjofn and Lofn loose in the MCU. Maybe Marvel-Thor would finally get together with Sif!
Fireverse 1: Fiction Writing As Gnosis Generator

My path has taken a few sharp turns over the years, but I like to think of it as switchbacks on the same path up the same mountain. If I couldn't handle the turn, I'd be off my path.

In the Fireverse series of posts, I’ll be telling the story of how my relationships with the gods changed because of writing the unpublished, overgrown novel Some Say Fire. The book is a healing journey, and writing it opened me to receiving inspiration from the gods and to connecting with my own subconscious. The book is about the length of Lord of the Rings and took me about a year and a half to write. In writing it, I spent many hours thinking about the gods, retelling their stories, and being mentally open to receive their messages. There is more than I can put in a series of blog posts, even a rather long series. I’ll tell the most significant gnosis, and the most important events.

Here on the Gnosis Diary blog, I’ve been telling the story of my personal journey on my heathen path more or less in chronological order, and now we’ve caught up to where I was when I started writing it. I wanted to write Gnosis Diary because I have gnosis to share, messages given to me for humankind in the form of a novel that is at times horrifying, which some other heathens to whom I’ve shown it have found offensive, and which may be unpublishable. How can I share what I’ve learned if the book is never published, or if it’s published and never reaches a mass audience? How can I be sure people will realize which parts are actual gnosis and which are just part of the story?

Here on Gnosis Diary, I can pick out the parts of Some Say Fire that are genuine gnosis, and not only relate what flowed out when I was writing, but also interpret it outside the context of the story and tell what I think the message means. I already did that with the early post on this blog where I quoted part of a scene inspired by Sif and interpreted it as a message to humanity to stop using GMO Roundup Ready grains that poison the land. Hardly anyone liked that post, so I felt I had not gotten my message out enough, and that I needed to do something else to help the earth, and that was what led me to participate in the editing of A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.

I also already relayed a message to humanity to please stop misusing the Rainbow Bridge, and that it is not a destination but the way to Asgard, and if one intends to go somewhere else, to please direct one's companions to where one expects to go, and if one wishes to direct one's animal companions to the Northern gods, to send them to the gods associated with them, such as cats to Freya and dogs to Nehellenia or Zisa. I concluded with a list of animal associations with the Norse gods. No one much liked that message, either, but people did like the list, so I expanded it and worked it into the new, expanded version of Asatru For Beginners that I'm working on.

When I write fiction or poetry, I often hear lines of dialogue or lines of poetry in my head. That’s quite common among writers. Over the decades that I’ve been writing, I have sometimes felt that what I wrote was inspired by Odin. For example, I wrote the poem Skadhi: Water Cycle by hearing it in a dream, waking up, and copying it down verbatim. Like a lot of other writers do, I’ve often heard fictional characters talking to each other in my head. So when I set out to write Some Say Fire, at first I didn’t realize that sometimes I wasn’t just hearing characters with the names of the gods talking, sometimes I was hearing the actual gods. I had never heard them speak before. Some people possess a “godphone,” but I’ve never been one of them. I didn’t even realize it when they started talking directly to me rather than each other. I just thought that meant there was a character that represents me in my book, so I put in a human protagonist. I didn’t realize it was really them until they started doing real things, and then it terrified me, because of some of the things I had written about them by then. In the 25 years between when I became Priestess of Freya and when I started writing Some Say Fire, I had never heard the gods speak to me. Writing this book cracked open my mind to them so that I could hear them. I usually don’t experience automatic writing, either, but I did sometimes while writing this book. I put my fingers on the keyboard and things flowed out.

I call the universe of Some Say Fire the Fireverse. It differs from our own world in some ways. Many of the things in the book are meant to show how messed up that universe is, so as to show why the Fireverse needs to end and be restarted so a better world can come about, which is the goal of the heroes of the novel. Some of the gods are different in the Fireverse, too. For example, Fireverse-Odin is as different from Asa-Odin as Marvelverse-Odin is. Nonetheless, writing the book became both a healing journey and a vehicle for receiving gnosis. I’ll be writing about those things in this series of posts.

Image credit: Francisco Farias Jr. via Public Domain Pictures

Today is the 28th. This date has personal significance for me, which will be explained in a later post. This is the date on which I honor the northern trinity each month, so it's an excellent day on which to begin the Fireverse blog series. Odin and his brothers are separate gods with distinctly different personalities, and yet they also appear in fused forms and borrow each other's powers and appear as each other. In honoring them, I have learned to embrace mystery over taxonomy. I'm learning to be comfortable with paradox. Today, I hail the tripartite god by all of his names: High, Just-as-High, and Third, Odhinn, Vili, and Ve, Wotan, Wili, and We, Odhinn, Honir, and Lodhur, Odin, Honir, and Loki, and by all his other names aspects and all possible combinations thereof. On this day I say: Hail the ninefold Odin!

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Leslie J Linder
    Leslie J Linder says #
    awesome! I just looked at eternal press. looks great! I may have something to dust off. have a great day.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Excellent! You have a great day, too!
  • Leslie J Linder
    Leslie J Linder says #
    Good idea for a project! I also have (more than one) large novel sitting in a dusty box, and they also were very spiritual process
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thanks! If it's genre fiction, dust it off, I might want it for Eternal Press.
Pagan News Beagle: Watery Wednesday, July 15

Welcome back to Watery Wednesday, where we celebrate themes of community and cooperation around the globe. Join us this week as we talk about the community role of soul food, news about the Pagan Spirit Gathering, and the fight for justice within the Pagan community. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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