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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The Calendar Buried in a Jar

In the early 20th century, there were pagan revivals all across Europe. Polish pagans developed a calendar of Polish pagan holidays based on surviving traditions and the best research available at the time. During World War 2, the precious calendar was saved from the Nazis by burying it in a jar. 


In 1946, it was dug up and published in a booklet edited by Władysław Kołodziej. The booklet also contained poetry and articles of interest to Polish pagans. 

In 1980, a new calendar based on the older one in the booklet was published as as samizdat. Samizdat basically means self-publishing, but the word has the same connotations of illegality as 'moonshine' does for Americans. The Soviet Union only allowed certain expressions of religion under state control, and had a full censorship state in which anything that was not published by a government run press was illegal. Samizdat was contraband. Nonetheless, Polish pagans took the risk of possessing samizdat in order to publish and read this booklet.


Sometime after that, the booklet made its way out of Poland and into the hands of a professor at the University of Johannesburg. Scott Simpson heard about my Slavic Calendar project through my post on this blog last month, and furnished me scans of various pieces of Soviet-era samizdat. Now I have an electronic copy of the booklet, and the samizdat, here in Nevada. It's been on a long, strange journey. I'm in awe.

The information contained in the calendar in a jar is now being combined with holidays from other Slavic countries and other Slavic revivals and reconstructed traditions, to be published in the 2017 Slavic Calendar. I'm grateful to everyone involved in collecting and saving all this information and bringing it all together. I'm grateful that I work in the publishing industry and can work on projects like this. Most of all I'm grateful I live in a country where I don't need government permission to publish anything.

Image: one of the many calendar images used by Slavic reconstructionist pagans in the 20th century.

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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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