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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When It's Either a Sign or a Sign

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

When I perceive the gods' presence in nature, sometimes I feel that it is a sign as in an omen and sometimes it's just a sign of their presence as in a way that one detects them. When we talk about whether something is a sign, I think a lot of us talk past each other because someone will call something a sign and mean it as in the signs and symptoms of the presence of x thing, and other people will think they are talking about being the chosen one of a novel.

I've heard people say not every thunderstorm is Thor, but to me, every thunderstorm is definitely Thor. Sometimes he's showing up for me and sometimes he's just doing his thing. And either way, thunder is a sign-- of his presence. It's how we detect him. It doesn't necessarily mean anything else, unless there is some context in which his presence would be the answer to a question, but that would be highly unusual to the point of nearly unheard-of. Which is why I think people misunderstand when I say he's in every thunder roll. They misunderstand when I say he will sometimes show up for me. And sometimes he would show up for my mom, even though she was an atheist. 

Let's take a recent example. I'm writing this part of this post in September. It may be later when I write additional things before posting it. But as I write this, it's the tag end of monsoon season here and it just rained yesterday. Earlier this week there was no rain in the forecast, but one day I went out in my garden and noticed I had enough mint to make a pot of fresh home grown mint tea. That's one of the things that Thor will accept for toasting from me, specifically because it's something I grow with rain water. He might want something different from someone else. In any case, I looked up in the sky and commented that I would make mint tea for Thor if he brought some rain. It didn't happen that very day, but later that week he did bring some rain. A lot of rain! And of course he got a toast or two with mint tea. Also some coffee later. The whole group of us who live here went out to have mint tea and watch the storm. Rain appreciation is one of the things we do every time it rains. This being the Mojave Desert, it's an event every time. 

If someone asked me what that meant, I would say it meant that I prayed to Thor for rain and promised him mint tea and it rained. It's really that simple. It's about rain. It's about the cycle of his gift of rain growing things from the ground and being returned to him as a gift of the thing grown, the classic cycle of life pagans and heathens generally celebrate with our holidays, just personal and specific to my region and garden instead of general and calendar based. Surely the ancient pagans and heathens did more appreciation of agricultural success than modern people do, and I don't think we need to look beyond that for greater meaning. The cycle of life and survival is the great meaning. 

I think I've told this story before, but I'll mention it again. If there was a rain storm predicted on the news and it didn't appear when she thought it was supposed to, she would go out in the yard and look up at the sky and yell, "Hey! Where's my rainstorm?" And then it would rain. But she claimed she did not believe in gods or magic. She said religion was stupid. And yet, the rain showed up for her anyway. 

So, is it a sign? Or is it a sign? 

The sun shows up every day, even when hidden by clouds. What does it mean? It means the sun is there. Yay! Hail Sunna! 

Surely that is enough of a meaning? And yes, the light we can see is a sign of her presence. It IS her. There she is. The light itself is both the sign and the blessing, and also the goddess. 

Hail the gods and goddesses!

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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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