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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in asatru

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Asatru FAQ: Organic and Non-GMO Food

There is no religious requirement to eat certain foods in Asatru. However, some Asatruars observe personal taboos. These personal taboos are based on personal gnosis or group gnosis, which are just as valid for determining an individual person's religious path as the teachings of the wider tradition of which they are a part. There are also traditional foods and beverages associated with holidays and sacrifices to specific gods in Asatru and other heathen sects, both in the Lore and in modern practice based on personal and group gnosis.

Some modern devotees of the goddess Sif avoid buying GMO wheat or GMO corn. This is a personal or group taboo observed as an act of devotion to the grain goddess. This practice is not about what the person eats, but about what the person supports with their purchasing power. Those who follow Sif can eat whatever random grain they are given or provided. When they have the opportunity to buy wheat products or corn products with their own money and make their own purchasing decisions, they will buy non-GMO wheat and corn if it is available. If certified non-GMO wheat and corn products are not available, it is also acceptable to purchase the waste products of a bakery, factory, or store, usually termed day-olds, markdowns, bakery leftovers, outlet goods, damaged, expiring, etc. The point is not about healthy eating, it is about refusing to support the damaging agricultural practices of GMO factory farming with one's money. Monsanto may be gone as a separate company, but everything it was still exists within the agricultural economic sector.

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Adapting a Toasting Ritual for Pandemic Times

Usually the sumbel ritual we do in Asatru and other forms of heathenry involves passing around a horn. My kindred usually has two horns, one containing alcohol and one containing a non-alcoholic beverage. The cow's horn honors Audhumla, the Sacred Cow. We not only drink from the horn, but when we pass the horn, the horn is like a talking stick that tells us whose turn it is to make a toast.

These days we're using individual cups for everyone, for the sake of pandemic safety. We're also standing farther apart. Normally if we're outside standing around a bonfire we'd all pack in closely in a circle, or if we were inside we'd be sitting at a dining table, also fairly close together. Someday we'll return to passing the horn as a talking stick, because it's a lot easier than having the ritual leader call on people to ask if they want to make a toast. I think we might keep using individual cups to actually drink out of, though. Now that we're all aware of the germs that might get passed around along with the horn I don't think we'll go back to actually all drinking from the same horn. In the future we'll pour into the horn and then pour from the horn to cups or to each person's personal horn.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I receive written letters in the mail from prisoners asking questions about heathen practices and asking about Asatru resources and books. (Most people who read my writing and want to contact me do so on the net, but prisoners often don't have access to the net.) I've received a few such letters recently in reaction to my latest article in Witches & Pagans Magazine, which was the Heathen Vs. Hate symbol guide designed to enable people to tell the difference between heathen symbols and hate symbols.

When I was asked to write the symbol guide, I was chosen because I had already done a lot of work on that topic for the Trollslayers' Guide, an internal document for the admins and moderators of my forum, the Asatru Facebook Forum. The article was an interesting challenge to write because the editor wanted a symbol guide without actually showing any of the symbols. The reason for that was because having a hate symbol like a swastika appear in the magazine would get the magazine censored and removed from places like prisons and schools. Print magazines and print books are some of the few resources to which prisoners have access, so making sure the magazine didn't get disallowed is important for that population. So, I had the constraints of prison censorship in mind when I was writing the article, and I'm pleased that some prisoners found it useful.

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Heathens in historical times did not have godparents. But that doesn't mean you can't. Although it's not based on historical heathen customs or rituals, there are Asatru organizations and individuals who do have godparent rituals. There are baby blessing rituals online that include godparents. You don't have to copy one of those, though. Pretty much any ceremony you want to do is going to be fine. The godparent part of the name giving ritual was made up, so you can make up your own version.

Like a lot of rituals we do-- I'm planning my kindred's Ostara egg hunt now-- godparents were included in that modern name giving ceremony because people wanted them, because the wider culture has them and it's a cultural expectation. The wider culture has godparents because the wider culture is Christian. If you want them, go ahead. There is no historical heathen ritual to follow for that. So just do it however you want.

If you prefer a more historically based version of Asatru, then design your name giving or baby blessing ritual without godparents. You can include adult friends, relatives, and kindred members in your child's life without having to copy a special type of relationship from Christianity.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Ásatrú is much in the news these days. So how do you pronounce it?

Well, let me give you the pagan answer: it depends.

Ásatrú = ása, “of the æsir” + trú, “trust, faith, belief.” (Trust, true, and the archaic verb trow—as in I trow, meaning “I trust”—are English cognates of the second element.)

That Ásatrú is both an Old Norse and a Modern Icelandic word tells you a lot about Iceland. The language has changed so little that these days kids in elementary school can still read sagas written 1000 years ago with just a few footnotes per page.

Old Norse Ásatrú: AH-sa-tru. (That's AH as in “Open your mouth and say—.”)

Modern Icelandic Ásatrú: OW-sa-tru. (OW as in “How now, brown cow?”)

So you can take your pick. Me, I learned my Icelandic from the redoubtable Anatoly Lieberman, whose informed opinion was that, Icelandic being a living language, we might as well pronounce it as current speakers do.

For me, it's also a matter of the kind of pagans/heathens that we want to be. Are we a museum exhibit, the ancestors fossilized, or are we the living heathens/pagans of our own day?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Marker with Thorshammer

The marker for my companion Tom is up at the Veterans' Cemetery in Boulder City, Nevada. Tom wore the Thorshammer in life and it means a lot that he can have that symbol on his columbarium marker. Many heathens worked for many years to get the hammer symbol approved for Veteran graves. I am grateful for their efforts.

When it came time to have a marker made for Tom the cremation package from the mortuary company included getting the veterans' cemetery approval to have a military funeral and have his remains placed at the veterans' cemetery. I just had to tell them what I wanted and they took care of it, but they did show me the form to review for accuracy, and it had an option for the Thorshammer symbol preprinted on it, along with other faith symbols. It was a number and a checkmark. It was easy, and that part was done last fall, and yet, it didn't seem completely real that the hammer would be there until I went out today (in March) and there it was. It was easy for me because the people who came before made sure the option would be available. It took them a lot of effort. Somewhere in this same cemetery there is already a gravestone with the Thorshammer on it.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A question that can come up when students first learn that heathens in historical times had divorce and that the wife was the key holder in most times in heathen history (with some notable exceptions) is: what happened after that? If the woman was the property owner did the man lose his status after divorce?

That's a good question, and the answer is sometimes, but not usually. Social status in the ancient world depended on a lot more besides being landed or not. A man would only lose status when he left his wife's property if the man's status was tied to the estate, which was not always the case. That had to do with how much property was involved in the marriage, which was more an issue with the upper classes, and whether there were any noble titles involved, also only an issue for the upper classes, and only in some time periods.

An example would be if the property on which they lived were exclusively her inheritance and getting divorced meant he had to stop being a land holding lord and go join some other lord's house carls. But that would have been a really small percentage of people. It would not affect most people.

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