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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Asatru FAQ: Patron Gods

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Frequently Asked Question: Am I supposed to have a patron god?

My answer:  Some people have relationships with gods, and some don't. Some of those relationships are like a patron, like a father, like a co-worker, like a friend to relax and have a beer with, like all kinds of different sorts of relationships. Person A can have relationship type 1 with x god and type 4 with z god, while Person B can have relationship type 12 with gods a, b, and c, and think x god is too scary to work with and decline to have a relationship with them, and that's all OK. 

If you're wondering whether you already have a patron god, and if so who it is, list all the numinous experiences you've had that make you wonder whether there is a god close to you, and write down all the symbols and signs associated with your experiences. Then see what that collection of symbols might suggest.

If you like a particular god and you're wondering how to start a relationship with them, start small. Raise a toast to them during your next sumbel. Read about them, either in lore or in modern devotional books. See what develops.

If you're wondering how to get gods to speak to you like they do to other people, remember that speaking isn't the only way they can communicate. Everyone connects their own way. I connected via writing. Your way may be different. They might speak to a writer because a writer uses words, but if you feel close to the gods while appreciating nature, they might "speak" through nature. For example, if you enjoy admiring the sunrise, they might "speak" to you as warmth or light. If you like and notice animals, they might "speak" to you by sending a particular type of animal. Also, it's entirely possible to go along for decades without really hearing them and suddenly hear them. Sometimes that happens because you're working on it, and sometimes it happens just because. You can work on developing your spiritual skills such as meditation, but you can also work on yourself to become as mentally healthy as possible. That can do a lot to advance your spiritual path.

Any question that begins with "should I" or "am I supposed to" often boils down to seeing if you fit in with the community or group with which you've become associated. There are many sects within heathenry, and Asatru is just one. There are subsects within Asatru as well. Some of these sects and subsects have patron gods and some don't. How a particular sect views the gods often comes down to whether it is a retroheathen or modernist sect. Retroheathens are trying to be authentic, that is, having a practice as close to what historical heathens had as possible. Modernists are a new movement within Asatru, and they are trying to build something new. When the heathen revival began, everyone was a retroheathen. We were trying to discover what was, so we could lay the foundation for something new. Over the decades, we have laid a foundation and started building. Retroheathens believe the foundation is not yet complete and still needs more building, or at least the temple still needs walls and a roof. Modernists believe the foundation is already laid, the temple has been built, and we are now in the the phase of interior decorating. 

Some Asatru groups and individuals call a patron god a fulltrui or fulltrua, and some don't. That term is mostly used by Americans, as the word means something quite different in modern Icelandic ("representative" or "delegate.") 

Image: Sigyn by H. G. Theaker, public domain

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners and other books. She 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, and is the author of the Heathen Calendar 2017 and 2018.

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