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. An updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path, is coming in 2020 from Red Wheel / Weiser. Erin was sworn to Freya as Priestess in 1989, given to Sigyn, and is a Bride of Odin and his brothers (Honir, Lodhur, Loki.). She has been a freelance writer for about 30 years, was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, is gythia of American Celebration Kindred, and admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. In 2010 and 2013, she ran for public office. She is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press for 5 years, created the Heathen Calendar 2017 and 2018, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.

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The Great Cow Mother

In heathen mythology, the first self aware being was Audhumla, the sacred cow. She licked the gods and giants out of the ice and nurtured them with her milk.

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Dance Is My Village

My international folk dance group is not a heathen or pagan group. In fact, I’m the only Asatruar in it. Most folk dance groups, festivals, workshops, and cruises are secular and intercultural, except for the ones specifically associated with a particular ethnic group or church / temple. Our group’s mission is to preserve the world heritage of dance. And of course, also to have fun. But my dance group isn’t just a place to do an activity; it’s also a community.

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Writing a Poem Heathen Style

Composing poetry in the style of ancient heathen literature follows a few basic rules which are unlike the rules of composing modern rhymed poetry or free verse. One does not have to compose in the ancient style to use poetry in a heathen context, of course. One could write galdr (spells) and poems for sumbel (toasts) and other uses of poetry in any style one wishes and have them be just as good and just as effective. But if you want to write in modern English in the manner of the ancient heathens, here are the basic rules.

 

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Composing a Song for Magic

A song or poetry for a spell doesn't have to be great poetry or a great tune. The photo here is of a little song spell I made up one day. It goes "Wind, wind, wind, blow away my troubles. Make life smooth, without any nubbles." It's not objectively a great poem, and probably only fiber artists like me even have a sensory reference for what a nubble is. (It's the individual thing that, in a group, makes a fabric nubbly.) I wouldn't send it to a poetry anthology for publication, because it's just not very good as art. But it's as functional as any of the good poems I've written. I wrote it down mainly because I enjoy writing in my personal calligraphy font and at the time I had an art project to fill a blank book with such writing.

The song was something I created improvisationally. The strong desert wind suggested the idea, since it does tend to actually blow things away, including things it previously blew in, such as clouds and leaves. If I was composing poetry for people to read as art, I would have taken the time to find a better rhyme, and make it longer. If I was composing for ritual, I might keep it short if I was going to teach it to other people as a chant, but I'd certainly find a better rhyme if I could. If I couldn't find a better rhyme for troubles I'd change troubles for some other word. Not because that would make better magic but because it would make a nicer experience for the participants and observers. But as a song for magic, just for my personal use, it's fine the way it is.

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October and November 2019 Heathen and Asatru Holidays

Moveable feasts in this time period include the Feast of Ullr, which is a heathenization of the USA holiday Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving takes place on the fourth Thursday of November each year. The modern secular holiday Wolfenoot also takes place in November. It has been adopted by many heathens and pagans. Last year, 2018, was the first time Wolfenoot was celebrated, and it occurred on the same day as the USA's Thanksgiving, which gave it a boost among those seeking an alternative holiday to celebrate on that day. That also happened to be a full moon, which gave Wolfenoot a boost among those who already howl at the full moon. But Wolfenoot is a fixed date holiday, always on the 23rd of November, not a moveable feast like Thanksgiving.

October
1
Month of possible date of Disablot begins (Icelandic Asatru)

6
Oktoberfest ends (Munich, Germany)

8
Day of Erik the Red (American Asatru, American Odinist)

9
Leif Erikson Day (American Odinist), World Odin Prayer Day (Odinist)

12
Day of Leif Erikson and Freydis Eriksdottir (American Asatru)

14
Winter Nights (alternate date) (American Asatru)

28
Day of Erik the Red (alternate date) (American Asatru)

29
Winterfyllith begins (American Asatru)

30
 Winter Nights (American Asatru),
Alf-blessing (American Asatru),
Freyr-blessing (American Asatru),
Allelieweziel begins (Urglaawe)

November
1
Winter Entdeckung (Germany)

2
Winterfyllith ends (American Asatru)

9
Day of Queen Sigrid (American Asatru, American Odinist)

10
Allelieweziel ends (Urglaawe)

11
Einherjar’s Day (Universalist American Asatru),
Hollersege (Urglaawe),
Ewicher Yeeger Sege (Urglaawe),
Marten Gas (Norway) 

21
Alfablot (Asatru)

23

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Rainbow Season part 1: preparing for the ritual

My kindred’s Autumnal Equinox ritual this year is called the Rainbow Season Ritual. It’s a ritual to Heimdall and his nine mothers. Other heathen groups celebrate Vetrnatr or Winter Nights in the fall, but here in the Mojave Desert, trying to celebrate the onset of cold weather when it’s still over 100 degrees out just doesn’t feel appropriate to our local weather and landscape. If we are to honor nature, then we must take real nature into account, and not just what a date on a calendar says. I considered trying to move Winter Nights to the actual time I would expect it to start freezing out, but then it would coincide with Yule. So instead, we’re celebrating the end of monsoon season. After the thunderous, rainy, lightning-prone time of Thor comes the rainbow, the time of Heimdall.

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Thunderstrike

A story about rain and perfume. And weather witching.

When I'm getting ready for the day, I put on one of the dedicated Cherry-Ka's Trunk perfumes that I keep in a little painted wooden Russian bowl on my desk. I have one of each of the Norse god dedicated scents. The four heathen scents Derin had already created before I started buying them are Silver Wordsmith for Loki, Hidden Goddess for Hel, Bilskirnir for Thor's house and family (I use that one to honor Sif), and Thunderstrike for Thor. The three I helped inspire are One-Eye for Odin, The Hornsman for Heimdall, and Vanr Volva for Freya. I also have three of Derin's non heathen perfumes, Siren, Library, and Wild Mojave. Sometimes I select the one I want to wear for the day. Sometimes I stir around in the bowl and pull a scent for the day.

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