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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I am Bear, I am Wolf: Anger Meditation

Unexpected angering news waited for me on the internet on Sunday. I had been having such a great day. I had finally gotten to see my companion and organize his stuff for him at his care center, after having to just deliver his mail and supplies to the front door of his care center for months, due to pandemic restrictions. While I was clearing out a pile of months' worth of old magazines one of the workers mentioned it had gotten so big it tipped over on the workers a few times, so I suspect they may have allowed me in to organize his space because of that. Regardless, it had been really nice to finally see him in person.

I had come home, tested my blood sugar to see if it was safe to get in the pool before eating, and it was not, so I devoured a home grown pear first. Let me tell you about this pear. It was perfect. Soft, juicy, sweet but not insipidly so, everything a pear should be. I had a nice swim, and then a good lunch, and signed into the net thinking "Oh, I'll just check my messages and then log some work hours in at my new job." (I had recently started a new job on top of my writing career and my home business doing life management / property management, and of course my gythia duties and service to the heathen community but that's volunteer work. I had also recently given up my home business dyeing fabric because of my failing grip strength.) My friends, nothing good ever comes from "Oh, I'll just."

That was when an alert reader messaged me about some guy using the title of my out-of-print book Asatru For Beginners, a new version of which I had just launched on the first of this month. I handled business first before I started to feel much. I contacted my publisher first thing, and told my fans via my blog (added to the end of the Questions and Answers post I posted yesterday) and social media that that guy's book is NOT my book. The only official, authorized new version of my book Asatru For Beginners is my new book Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. As I finished my social media work I suddenly felt like crying, but I shook that off angrily. I was not about to let some man I don't even know steal my thunder and make me cry.

Why take my title? This book is my life's work. Writing and serving the community of Asatru and heathenry and the gods as writer and priestess is my life's work. Writing is my career. Serving the gods and the community of Asatru is my calling. According to the Amazon presale page for his book, this Nordvig guy is a college teacher. He could have titled his book something to let people know it was written by a professor, instead of taking the established title of a famous book the community knows was written by a priestess who wrote it from my experiences as a gythia and my experiences managing Asatru forums in addition to reading and research. He could easily have claimed academic expertise, to set his book apart from any other beginner's book, but instead he chose this masquerade.

People who know me know that I don't usually get too emotional. My childhood hero was Mr. Spock. The last time I had an in-person corporate job in a call center the QA guy nicknamed me The Jedi because I was the most unflappable person he knew. Last week during a recorded interview about my new book I was told there was a rumor that a white supremacist gang put a hit out on me, and I blew it off. I said it was probably an exaggerated rumor and no big deal. But you know what? If it's true, meh, I don't really care, except that if it is true then it's something to be proud of. But this book title thing upset me.

This was bringing up all the old feelings from when my book was pirated. This was not the same thing and titles aren't even protected the way book contents are, but the old feelings reappeared anyway. My pursuit of the book pirate all those years ago eventually led me to discovering a child sex trafficking site and contacting law enforcement about it, so that was a very different thing, but this was bringing all that up. (See my old post When My Book Was Pirated: Asking Tyr for Justice.) I tried to tell myself I was done after alerting my publisher and fans and that it was time to go on to the next task.

I thought I might try to sign into work and do calls, but I felt pain welling up in my heart. My hands started to shake and I knew I could not deal with people on a professional level before dealing with my emotions. So it was time to put on the bear skin.

Now, when I say I put on the bear skin, I mean it metaphorically. I don't literally have the skin of a bear. I am a bersarkr. The spirit of Bear is within me, guarding me. I have 3 skins, Bear, Wolf, and Cat. I previously manifested Mantis during my early martial arts training but I have not continued in that direction.

This is what I did. I put on some music. Calming music, not the marches and warlike tunes I usually use for calling the Bear. Digiridoo music, lovely and peaceful. I danced. I danced the Bear, and I clawed, and I roared, and I offered honey. I did actually have any honey in the house, but I had krupnik, a honey liquer, and Bear found that acceptable. I toasted Bear, and Odin, the god of the bersarkrs, and Thor and his sons, also bersarkr gods. Usually I also dance Cat and offer to Freya, but not this time. This time, the music turned, and it sounded like deep howls, and I howled, and Wolf came to me. For the first time, he was not only Wolf, he was also Fenris Wolf. I danced. I howled, and I snapped my jaws, and I crunched air, and I offered crunchy foods. I embodied the Wolf and I crunched-- they were veggie sticks, jicama, the crunchiest thing I happened to have in the fridge, but for me and for Wolf for a moment they became white bones.

I am Fenris Wolf eating the world. I am Bear, who is part of me but not me-- but now we are one. I reach out my hand and touch the scales of Jormungandr as he passes by, the boundary serpent keeping the world in and the void out, maligned protector of us all.

Yes, this raises energy. One can direct it, or not. One can also just let it pass. This can also be the prelude for speaking with the fylgia spirits, which is what we call the animal powers that manifest through bersarkrs. It can be the prelude for speaking with the gods, as well. Either way the music shifts, and so do I. Eventually my emotions turn to joy, and I am just dancing.

This is the way a bersarkr gets rid of anger. Not by sitting and trying to empty my mind, but by moving, by dancing, by clawing. By calling the Beast, becoming one with it, letting its movements become my movements. This is my anger meditation. To dance the Bear, or the Wolf. To move my mind aside for the fylgia and let it run. Let it dance. Until it is satisfied and it is just me dancing.

Image: Wolf gnawing bone, photo by Erin Lale


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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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