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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Rainbow Season part 1: preparing for the ritual

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

My kindred’s Autumnal Equinox ritual this year is called the Rainbow Season Ritual. It’s a ritual to Heimdall and his nine mothers. Other heathen groups celebrate Vetrnatr or Winter Nights in the fall, but here in the Mojave Desert, trying to celebrate the onset of cold weather when it’s still over 100 degrees out just doesn’t feel appropriate to our local weather and landscape. If we are to honor nature, then we must take real nature into account, and not just what a date on a calendar says. I considered trying to move Winter Nights to the actual time I would expect it to start freezing out, but then it would coincide with Yule. So instead, we’re celebrating the end of monsoon season. After the thunderous, rainy, lightning-prone time of Thor comes the rainbow, the time of Heimdall.

Heimdall is the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge. The Rainbow Bridge is the road through the air that connects our world, Midgard, with the world of the gods of Asatru, Asgard. It's not a place, but a way. Heimdall has a horn which he will blow to alert the gods when the end of the worlds come and the forces of entropy go up the divine shining bridge to destroy the universe.

Heimdall is the patron of one of the kindred members. When I gathered things to put on the altar for this ritual, a lot of them came from T.N.’s house, the house where I’m having the ritual. I found them and dusted or washed them in preparation (T.N. was not doing this himself because he has not yet moved back in. I’m managing the property for him.) There were several different horns, a carved wooden whale—T.N. had been given that by his old kindred in California—and two artworks that I had made and given to him, a painted mat and a round embroidery, both in honor of Heimdall. There was a little seal whose fur I dusted with a damp cloth.

I also brought things from my house, but most of those things related more to the nine mothers, that is, things relating to the sea: shells, pearls, even a CD of the sound of surf. Heimdall’s nine mothers are the waves of the ocean, the daughters of Aegir and Ran.

One of the things I put in the crate to go over to T.N.’s was a small round decorative shield with the three horns symbol on it. The three horns symbol is usually considered a symbol of Odin, but horns relate to Heimdall and this particular object was a gift to me from Ran. Long ago when I lived in California, I had gone to the Ostara ritual and campout held by Freya’s Folk, in which the participants gathered at dawn to launch a miniature Viking longship into the Pacific with small sacrifices for Ran aboard. This shield had been on the ship. After the ship had burned and foundered in the waves, several shields from the ship floated back to the beach. The leader of the ritual, Prudence Priest, had proclaimed them “Gifts back from Ran!” and we had all rushed to pick one up. I had picked up this one. Usually, this object is displayed in my spiritual souvenir wall shrine. Now I’m putting it in the wooden crate headed for T.N.’s house to display on the altar to honor Heimdall’s grandmother.

T.N. wants me bake something sweet to eat during the ritual. I found some rainbow sprinkles in my cupboard—I didn’t buy them, and I’m not sure how they got there, but it doesn’t matter—and thought that would be a good Heimdall related decoration on a frosted cookie or cupcake, since rainbows are one of his symbols. How many to make and bring, though? Some of my potential ritual participants have said they have to rsvp “maybe” until the last minute. I figured, “Well, I’ll just make a full batch and if there are too many I’ll put them in [T.N.]’s freezer after the ritual. I can deliver some extras to him sometime when I make my usual run to collect his mail and bring it to him.”

Black Bell rum is the drink that will be in the small green glass sumbel horn for this ritual. Black Bell is named for the early divers who dared the dark of the deeps. Black Bell honors brave men, and it honors the ocean for which they risked all. When Heimdall turned into a seal, he dared to fight in the world beneath the waves, to go below the rainbow spray and gentle rhythms of his wave mothers into the depths, and to use a shape shifted form in a contest against the noted shape shifter, Loki. If the waves are Heimdall’s mother, then the black depths of the ocean are his dark mother, and this contest was his equivalent of the hero’s journey to the underworld. He emerged with the jewel, victorious, returning to the world of air and light, initiated into the mysteries of the world beneath. It is this water initiation, this symbolic rebirth from the mother sea, that I honor with Black Bell.

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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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