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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Writing and Writers part 2

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Sometimes we are influenced by writers without even reading them. I recently found out about early influences on me from writers my family knew. As I discussed in Writing and Writers part 1, with the story of the carob being an influence on Snorri's version of the Baldur tale, second hand or third hand influence can have a big impact. 

After I blogged about Honoring the Bear, I posted a link with some commentary on the Official Animal Spirit Beings Thread in my discussion group, the Asatru Facebook Forum. In my blog post, I mentioned that when I studied the martial art Shaolin Sho Shu Kung Fu Way of the Beast as a teenager I had learned an exercise to connect to the seven beasts of martial arts and had once seen myself in the mirror as a giant mantis, which had frightened me at the time. I had also connected with other beasts, including cat and bear.

Later, when I studied the martial art Bersarkrgangr, I had come to regard cat, bear, and wolf as my fylgjar, the type of animal spirit in that tradition. When I did my recent bear honoring, I had reconnected with all four of those spirit beings. 

In the forum, I also said that when I was a young child, I had played with toads and frogs a lot, and my dad had nicknamed me Toad. The nickname stuck until I went off to college and met people who had never heard it. I believe that frog and toad were protector beings for me as a child.

My older brother Jay responded to my forum post with this forum comment:

"You may not remember, but among dad's beatnik friends was William S Burroughs, who told after dinner stories which like myself you probably internalized and wove yourself into. He also believed he was possessed by a chthonic being under whose influenced he had killed his wife playing William Tell with an apple, among other things, and tried to escape it his whole life. He claimed his Welsh nanny cursed him as a child; and that the spirit was the same as the toad Nietzsche feared he must swallow. Uncle Bill designed his stories as rituals, combining his model Lovecraft who was a disciple of Crowley and the rites of his friend Bataille's cult of Nietzsche, Acephale. So, you are connected to this dual tradition through Burroughs as am I. Plus you adored the stories about the Voidanyoi and Baba Yaga mom read to you. This is probably why you wanted to learn Russian when the opportunity arose in high school."

To Neitzsche the toad was a symbol of all he feared that he must take in. To Burroughs it was a dark and malevolent spirit being. But to me it was a friend.  

Look for Writing and Writers Part 3 coming soon



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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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