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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Time for some personal gnosis here on Gnosis Diary. And also some opinion. And news. 

First up, a gnosis experience I had with an ancestor. After that, I reflect on the marketing of AI/ML chat programs as chats with your beloved dead.

I rarely receive gnosis about ancestors because my ancestor practice is pretty minimal compared to most heathens. I'm tasked with increasing the feminine energy in heathenry to balance the excessive masculine energy, and to try to balance heathenry closer to 50/50 male/female membership. (Of course it's never going to be a perfect 50/50 because there are some people who don't fall into either category. And some people who do, who are either men or women, have unusual energy-- like me! I've been reliably told that my energy is unlike a normal woman's energy.) One of the ways I try to increase feminine energy in heathenry is by honoring the female ancestors, and I always have an offering in front of the idol of Embla. But the only ancestor I have real conversations with in my head like I do with the gods is a male ancestor, Lollus. That is probably because Lollus is the only one of my ancestors who is an actual god.

 The following is a story about a personal gnosis experience I had with the god Lollus.

 It was predawn and I was having an everything bagel and coffee for breakfast. I’d just done my coffee ritual as usual, and had taken my first bite for Sif, and since this food had poppyseeds in it I directed a bite to Lollus as well. I “heard” him in my head—it’s like when I hear character dialogue while writing fiction, or like when I remember what characters or real people said in the past. I process it like hearing something but it doesn’t actually have any sound, it is not at all like actual hearing. It would be startling if it actually sounded like an actual sound.

 He said he didn’t want any more sacrifices from me. He said it was because I never think of him any other time. I mentioned that I have sometimes thought of him just before dancing, to try to dedicate ecstatic dance to him, but of course the nature of ecstatic dance is that it is wordless. He said all ecstatic dance does honor to him whether I think of him or not. I don’t have to do anything special to honor him.

 I mentioned that I began honoring him while starting my ancestor* practice, and that I also have a small house shrine to Embla and the female ancestors. He said I could continue calling myself his descendant, although not a biological one.

 Of course I had to pursue that thought. “Descended from your people?” That wasn’t it. “From your priest?” That wasn’t quite it either although it was close. “Not biologically descended from you when you were a Roman emperor—descended from you as a god when your priestess had a god baby. Yes?”

 “Yes, that is it.”

 “May I tell others about this?” I asked. I usually ask this when I have been given gnosis that pertains to me or to the relationship between me and a god. When I’m given other kinds of gnosis it’s already obvious whether it is meant to be shared, since many things I’m told are meant to be messages to humanity or to interested heathens and pagans.

 He said yes, so I went and wrote this. Right after finishing my bagel. I got to the computer in time for the memory of the conversation to still be fresh enough to capture some of the actual phrases we said, although others had become slightly mushy and not really quotable.

 *(For more info on how I discovered Lollus was the first in the Lale family tree, see my prior post “Lale, Lollus, and …”)


So, now here are my reflections on present day corporations inviting people to have conversations like that one with an "AI" (ML. It's not really an artificial intelligence, just machine learning.) 

I don't usually have a godphone to dead people unless they are also something more. Lollus is a god, and my late companion Tom is one of Heimdall's Guardians now. I communicate with Tom often. I have communicated with my dead parents a few times but it's not a practice I would want to expand on.

However, there are lots of people who do have a spirit practice in which they regularly speak with the dead. Some of them might communicate godphone style, or they might use a divination tool of some kind.

Here is where I repeat my warning against "summoning" any being, be it the dead, other spirits, gods, d*mons, etc. Magical tools that "summon," such as ouija boards, and magical rituals that "summon," are bad practice and just asking for trouble. If you're going to learn a tool or ritual to contact the dead, or gods, or land spirits, or etc., respect their selfhood and their consent. 

If someone wishes to speak with the dead and does not know how to do it, I would advise them to learn, but if they prefer to hire a medium or volva or other spirit worker, there are many. The trick is to figure out which ones are for real and which ones are just providing entertainment, because of course many of the for-real ones say they are just providing entertainment, due to old "anti- (G-word) laws"  that criminalize fortune telling. 

Here is where I suddenly go on a rant about using AI/ML. Yep, you guessed it, there are now "Artificial Intelligence" (really Machine Learning) programs that will chat with you as if they are your dead loved one. It's pretty creepy. The actual dead people are right there in the form of spirits. Or they are in the places where the dead go, but available to chat if you can reach them, like how modern seidhr workers contact the dead in Hel. 

Why would someone ignore the actual dead and invest the energy and honor for their departed loved ones into what's basically Clippy? If we ever have a robot rebellion, machines worshipped as the beloved dead might be a likely source for how it happens.

Now, you might think "worship" is too strong a word. But every time we lay flowers on a grave, we're giving an offering. Every time we lift a glass and say "here's to the Professor!" we're making a sacred sumbel toast. Every time we burn a candle before a photo of our dear departed we're making a sacrifice.

Magic and love and sacrifice do things, real things, in the real world, or what are we all doing paganism and heathenry and witchcraft for? If we believe that communication builds relationships, that offerings build relationships, then what happens when we give offerings and love and communication to a computer program? Surely it would become a magical egregore or tulpa, if not a real life actual Artificial Intelligence with a will, wants, and needs that humanity did not assign it. That's a disaster waiting to happen.

Meanwhile the real spirit Aunt Bessy is watching you chat to AI-Aunt-Bessy-Exe in hopeless frustration. Don't do this, people. Please don't.

Are there good ways to use a computer to contact the dead? Sure! Or to contact the gods, or your inner child, or whoever you want to contact. Here are a couple:

Good Ways to Use a Computer to Contact the Dead (or the gods etc.):

* Automatic writing. Automatic writing is a process in which you enter a meditative state and write without thinking about what you're writing. Just let the words flow out your pen onto paper, or out your fingers onto a keyboard. Most people use a pen or pencil well enough to write words without thinking about it too hard. Touch typists can do the same thing with a keyboard. Portions of most of my fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are written this way. If you're going to use automatic writing with a computer, I advise typing into a document file that you can save locally and also back up, rather than onto a hosted site or cloud storage, because you could lose access to anything stored outside of your personal control. 

*Googlemancy. Googlemancy is like bibliomancy, but with a search engine. When googlemancy started, it was specifically a parlor game to find your immediate past life. You type "died on (your birthdate)" into a search engine and the top result is your immediate past life. Is it accurate? Who knows! lol. Googlemancy 2.0 is to call upon spirits or gods or the dead or your familiar or spirit guide or whoever and then type your question into a search engine. The top result is the answer. These days I have to specificy, the top natural result, under the sponsored links. The sponsored ads might have nothing to do with you. lol. Unless they do. As with any form of fortune telling, interpretation is up to you.

This is similar to asking a question over a book and then opening a page and stabbing your finger down on the page, and whatever is there is the answer. Does it work? Maybe, maybe not. It works about as well as tarot cards, or runes, or a crystal ball, or whatever-- that is, you make it work, or you don't.

There was a famous case of successful bibliomancy circulating on the net for a while long ago. I don't know if it's true, but maybe it is. It goes like this: a businessman was losing money badly and despaired about finding a way out of his dilemma. He turned to bibliomancy to find his answer. He asked his god what he should do, and opened the Bible and put his finger down on a page, and he found the answer that saved him from ruin: Chapter 11.


On our late mother's birthday in 2024 my brother posted his reflections on her life and some stories and commentary about her and our ancestors. I think it's beautiful so I'm sharing the link here: 


My housemate's brother died this week. I would have put this in my previous post News and Death Rites but I had just posted it already when this happened. We did the toasting as we did for the others who died recently and put flowers on the main house altar. She predicted more people close to her would die soon. 


Someday I too will be an ancestor. I'm already working on a post about that, which I plan to post another time.


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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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