The Elder Futhark: Jera

The Elder Futhark: Jera

The twelfth rune in the Elder Futhark, and fourth rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Jera, which corresponds to the “y” sound in the word “year.” This is an interesting rune, and one that evokes the cycle of the year and harvests. It is the rune of planning, waiting, and seeing your plans comes to fruition. Like the oncoming harvest, a lot of what this rune tells you depends on your actions and plans. It is a positive rune in many cases, but it can be very frustrating because it advises waiting.

In Anglo-Saxon, Jera is spelled Ger or Ior, and in Old Norse it is Ar. Jera is the rune of good harvest. As with a harvest, there must be preparations to the fields, seeds planted, and crops tended. But Jera suggests that the harvest will be good, and you just have to be patient.

Like Isa, this rune requires waiting, but like the harvest, it promises good things in abundance. Our Northern ancestors were primarily farmers and understood that they had to wait to receive the bounty of their harvest. Harvest didn’t happen in a day or a week. It started after the last harvest with plans for the next season. Farmers had to save seeds from the current harvest to replant their vegetables and grain crops. They had to prepare their fields to lie fallow over the winter. And then, they had to wait until the ground thawed after a long winter so they could plow and plant their seeds. With each planting, the farmer hoped for a good crop without pests and diseases. But Jera is a rune of good harvest, which means droughts, hailstorms, and damaging weather, as well as pests and diseases, aren’t a factor for this harvest. It means there will be plenty and good times are ahead.

Divination with Jera

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you that good things will happen, but you must wait. Because Jera is derived from the proto-Germanic word meaning “year” (jēr) and the Old Norse word for year is Ar, it suggests that your waiting for good news may take a long time, quite possibly a year or longer.  Jera tells you that all your preparation and plans will come to pass. That good times are ahead, and that you will reap a bountiful harvest. But it advises patience as well. Good things don’t happen all at once. It takes time and planning for you to succeed in whatever endeavor you are asking the runes about.

Should you get this rune in your castings, you’re going to enjoy good things coming your way, but you must be patient. If other runes around it are negative and it is drawn in the future spot, it means that all your trials and travails will end with something good heading your way. If it is in a past spot, it suggests that you are coming off a time of harvest and new situations may arise. A present spot may suggest you moving into harvest, or maybe a cycle that will bring you towards the good things. Above all, just be patient. Good things come to those who wait.

Some Final Thoughts on Jera

When Jera appears in a spread, you may find that the outcome you are waiting for depends on your preparation and work. Nothing is ever easy with the runes, just as nothing was ever easy for our ancestors. Jera is a signal in many ways to work towards your goal, and if you are willing to work hard, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your success. As always, the position where Jera appears as well as the runes around it will dictate how successful your endeavors are. Good luck!

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The Elder Futhark: Isa

The Elder Futhark: Isa

The eleventh, and third rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Isa, which corresponds to the “I” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use). This is considered a negative rune, whenever it comes up. It does occasionally have positive sides, but I’ll talk about that later. It is the rune of ice, winter, standstill, and waiting. If you get this rune, you’re going to be frustrated, because it means that everything is at a standstill. Like an ice dam, something is being blocked until you or something else can remove it. It can also point to a river covered with ice: nothing seems to be moving, but there may be an underlying current beneath the ice.

In Anglo-Saxon, Isa is spelled Is, and in Old Norse it is Isa. Isa is the rune of standstill, winter, and waiting. Our Northern ancestors were no strangers to the long, harsh northern winters, and the prevailing ice that accompanied them.

Winter was a time of waiting. Sure, there were feasts, such as Yule, and winter activities such as skiing and ice skating. But our ancestors were waiting for spring, when the animals gave birth, and when the crops could be sowed.

Winter was a time when people had to live off their food harvested in the fall. It was often a time of scarcity and hunger, especially if the crops failed. Sometimes people hunted and fished to bring in food, but often the prevailing ice and snow prevented such activites. Game migrated when the snows got too deep, making it difficult to hunt. So, people waited–and hoped for–an early spring.

Divination with Isa

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you that you must wait for an answer. The amount of time is indeterminate but finite, meaning that you could be waiting a long, long time. This is why Isa is considered a negative rune. Most of the time, we can deal with a “yes” or “no” when it comes to an answer. Isa tells us we must be patient and wait.

Isa is an interesting rune, though, because although it suggests everything is at a standstill, there is a finite amount of time before everything frees up again. It may suggest something is blocking your forward progression. You can break through that ice dam, but it may be a serious challenge ahead of you. Then again, Isa may be telling you that nothing appears to be happening, only something really is. Whatever is happening may be hidden from you. In this case, it’s important to pay attention to the underlying motion.

Should you get this rune in your castings, you are more likely to be frustrated in whatever answer you seek. It’s telling you either to wait, or that everything is at a standstill. Either way, you’re going to have a hard time achieving your goal. You may have something blocking you from your goal that you must overcome, or something else is going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about. Or maybe you simply have to wait until something changes before you know the answer.

Some Final Thoughts on Isa

When Isa appears in a spread, you may find that your circumstance tells you to wait. That can be a real source of frustration. After all, you may find yourself at what appears to be an unyielding block to your goal. At this point, you need to decide whether to try to break through or wait it out. Sometimes the best thing to do is to wait. Like an ice dam, it may be holding back a torrent. Then again, that block may be insurmountable, and you may need to wait.

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Why Bad Things Happen — a Heathen’s Perspective

Why Bad Things Happen — a Heathen’s Perspective

If you’ve followed my blog for more than a couple of years, you know I’ve written about why bad things happen before. But sometimes pieces need updating, and quite honestly, there’s enough turnover in readership to warrant another look at why bad things happen.

The Year of Hell

This year, 2020, will officially be known at my house as the Year of Hell. It started with a close relative dying and went down from there. You already know about the pandemic and economic down turn, as well as the civil unrest.

If there’s any consolation with this pandemic, I may have already gotten COVID-19 and the proverbial Angel of Death has passed by my door. This time. Another positive side, I don’t live in an area with lots of protests. We have also (so far) escaped having a really awful fire season around here, even though we’ve had to deal with unhealthy air from the Washington/Oregon/California fires. I’m not getting as many work assignments, which cuts the money back, but my spouse hasn’t been laid off, and I’m still capable of writing. So, that’s what I’m doing. But, I’ve been watching the news in total disbelief at people’s behavior.

I want to slap everyone’s face and shout, “What is wrong with you people?”

Obviously, that isn’t going to happen, so I am holed up in my little home, hoping the moron who sneezed nearby me at a grocery store didn’t have COVID-19.

Yeah, it’s that kind of year.

No, the Gods Are Not Punishing Us

Bad things happen all the time. Because we’re raised in a Christian society, we’re tempted to draw the conclusion that the gods are punishing us. After all, the Judaeo-Christian god is great at punishing mortals, if you believe the Old Testament. And our Heathen gods and goddesses can be vengeful, but this isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to humans. Unless you really piss off Old One Eye, (Hi, Odin!), chances are you’re just a victim of random events. I mean, seriously, what can one mortal do to garner the wrath of a god or goddess? Certainly not enough to warrant a pandemic, race riots, violent protests and responses, epic wildfires, a global depression, and a very contentious presidential election.

Let me put this in perspective: humans are nothing compared to the universe. The gods take interest in us because we are their children. But they don’t take interest in everyday affairs unless they want to. When the forests become kindling because of a shift in the weather patterns, it’s unlikely Loki threw a match in to start the fires. Rather, he might enjoy the chaos of the outcome, but that is his darker nature. But the wildfire that ensues is either because of lightning, or it is manmade in some way.

Bad Things Happen Randomly

It’s more likely that bad things occur randomly, or may have been set in motion due to poor choices people made. The gods didn’t cause COVID-19 to jump from a bat to a human by way of pangolin or some other animal; viruses are quite handy at doing it by themselves. Chances are, it was the folly of a vendor who trafficked the infected animal, the person who ate the infected animal, or (if you believe the story about the Wuhan laboratory) the lab that isolated the virus. In other words, we have no one to blame–or at least no one to blame but ourselves, as humans.

Why We Look to the Gods when Bad Things Happen

As humans, we often look to higher beings when bad things happen. It’s part of feeling helpless. We ask the gods to help us, or we blame the gods for something that happened to us. But the gods are not our bitches. They don’t run when we call; they often don’t cause calamities either. The tornado that touches down does not know or care that people are in its way. It simply behaves according to its nature as defined by physics.

Likewise, viruses don’t care if you’re the president of the United States or if you’re a child in a third world country. It will infect you if you don’t take precautions against it, and the random luck of your genome and your health may be the only thing that might protect you if you somehow contract the disease.

It’s human nature to look to a higher power when something bad happens. Questions run through our minds such as “Why didn’t Eir stop this?” “Why is Odin punishing me?” “Will Thor protect me?” Our gods generally don’t take sides when it comes to our lives, although we may try to please them with offerings and ask for help, but there are no guarantees. Even Frigg and Odin couldn’t stop the death of their son, Baldr.

Our Wyrd is our Wyrd. It’s how we respond to it that can change it. Not our prayers or offerings.

Why Bad Things Happen

Bad things happen. Good things happen. Sometimes things happen for no reason. Sometimes things happen because humans set things in motion without knowledge of the consequences. And sometimes there are bad people who do bad things. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes Murphy is in control.

I can look at this year and wish it were gone already. It doesn’t mean that next year will be better, but there is always hope that things will improve.

What Can We Do When Bad Things Happen?

Believe it or not, you aren’t totally at the mercy of fate. There are things you can do to prevent further calamity—at least to yourself.  Just like people who wear seatbelts in a rollover crash and somehow survive, you can make everyday choices that will put the odds in your favor if something bad does happen. I mean, some of it is a no-brainer, like wearing seatbelts, wearing a mask when you’re in public, washing your hands, and getting your flu shot. Some things take a little more planning, like when you go on vacation, or choose to live in an area where natural disasters occur.  We evolved with a pretty big brain and enough foresight to conceive of possibilities. Use your brain and think it through. Maybe driving while intoxicated isn’t safe, and you should get a cab instead? Maybe driving with your headlamps off at night isn’t clever?

Occasionally, you’re going to have bad shit happen that you can’t work around. Trust me, I know. I’ve lost people to bad things that I had no control over, although, in retrospect, they did when it came to matters regarding their health. Still, there are things you can’t always account for, and with the exception of Odin and the Norns, we pretty much don’t have a clear picture of everything in our future.  But just remember, the gods aren’t out to get you, unless they’ve told you they are.

And even then, don’t believe everything you hear. Seriously. We can’t control everything, so control what you can and move on.

Did Our Ancestors Celebrate  the Fall Equinox?

Did Our Ancestors Celebrate  the Fall Equinox?

Did our ancestors celebrate the fall equinox? The question is an interesting one, and left for much interpretation. Certainly, some of our ancestors did pay attention to the equinox, as marked by many paleolithic stone circles. However, if we’re talking about those ancestors in the Viking Age, the idea gets a bit more muddled. I’ll explain.

What Exactly is the Fall Equinox?

For those of you who don’t know, the equinox is the time when the sun shines directly on the equator. To explain how that happens, we’ll have to refresh our basic astronomy.

Our planet, Earth, revolves around the sun. One circuit around the sun equals one year. The Earth spins around its axis as well, and the length of time it takes to make one full revolution is approximately 24 hours. With me so far?

But the Earth’s axis is tilted compared to the plane of its path around the sun. The Earth is tilted because it “spins” similar to a top. But unlike a top, the Earth’s wobble occurs over millions of years, and not seconds, like the toy. Because the Earth is in a tilt, it stays in the tilt as it revolves around the sun. So, winter occurs in our hemisphere when our hemisphere is furthest away from the sun. That is the winter solstice. The equinox occurs midway between winter and summer solstice when the sun is equal distant between the North and South poles.

Did Our Ancestors Recognize the Equinox?

So, the equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator, giving us a near equal day and night. Hence the name, Equinox, meaning “equal night.” But did our ancestors recognize the equinox, and did it have any special meaning to them? Did they celebrate the fall equinox? (Or spring equinox, for that matter?)

We can look at various archaeological digs and find that yes, our ancestors did know about the equinox, and in some cultures, it must have had a religious significance. Stonehenge and Newgrange are two archaeological sites that keep track of the solstices and eclipses. Other sites across Ireland and Great Britain may also track the sun.

Other cultures, notably the Mayans, Chinese, Native Americans, and Egyptians also tracked the sun with their pyramids and monuments. So, it is likely that ancient European cultures were aware of the equinoxes. But how did our Northern ancestors celebrate the Fall equinox?

The Northern Ancestors’ Year

The Norse kept a calendar that had only two seasons: winter and summer. The reason is pretty obvious. There was snow, and there was no snow and farming time. The solstices seemed to have played a bigger role in Norse beliefs, hence Yule and Midsummer.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that the peoples in the Viking Era weren’t aware of the equinoxes. Certainly, during the fall equinox, people were busy with the harvest. But they would hold harvest festivals to celebrate and give thanks for a good harvest. I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t mark the equinox in some fashion, since it meant the night would overtake the daylight. No doubt many Northern peoples looked at the equinox as the herald of the upcoming winter darkness.

Solstices were More Important

Other pagan cultures celebrated Mabon, and today we have Winter Finding. As much as I would like to think the equinoxes were important, I suspect that the Solstices were more so. The first month of winter is in October in the old Norse calendar, and the first month of summer is in April. So, obviously the spring and fall equinox wasn’t as important as the solstices. But, they still had some importance. Eostre was celebrated close to the spring equinox and harvest celebrations were close to the fall equinox.

As always, if you have insights, be sure to let me know.

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The Gods of the Hunt: Skadi and Ullr

The Gods of the Hunt: Skadi and Ullr

When it comes to the approaching autumn, two gods I constantly associate with the cooling weather is Skadi and Ullr. Skadi and Ullr are two very powerful gods in our Northern pantheon, which is why it befuddles me that not a lot has survived when it comes to stories about these two gods.

Let’s Talk Skadi First

We know more about Skadi than Ullr, so I’ll talk about her first. Skadi is a Frost Giant (or Jotun) turned goddess and is the daughter of Þjazi. Skadi has a single story (although she and Loki argue in Lokasenna) on how she sought justice for the death of her father, Þjazi.  Þjazi was the Jotun who tricked Loki into stealing Idunn and her Golden Apples from the gods.

Skadi demanded to marry the god of her choice, plus someone had to make her laugh to fulfill the blood debt. Her demands were agreed on if she would choose her husband by looking at their feet only. Thinking she would choose Baldr, she chose the most beautiful feet–which belonged to Njord. Skadi couldn’t abide by the dreary coast, and Njord couldn’t stand the high mountaintops. So, theirs is an unhappy marriage.

Some Heathens have claimed that Skadi divorced Njord and chose Ullr, who would’ve been a better consort, but I haven’t seen anything in the literature to suggest that.

Ullr, the International Man of Mystery

Now we come to Ullr, and by the gods, there isn’t a lot written up about him. Which is a shame, because Ullr was an important god in the Northern countries. Ullr is the god of wintertime sports and hunting. He is also the god of oaths; our ancestors swore on Ullr’s oath ring. Ullr was called on in duels, presumably to oversee the contest or to grant favor. He was also the head of Asgard when Odin was in exile for ten years.

Beyond being handsome and fast on skis, the only other thing we know is that his home is called  Ýdalir, meaning “yew dales.”  This has given rise to the belief he was an archer, since bows were frequently made from yew. He is believed to be the god of winter sports and hunting. Nowadays, you can celebrate Ullr in December at Breckenridge, Colorado during Ullrfest, which celebrates snow, skiing, and the god, of course.

There has been some conjecture that Ullr may be another name for Tyr. The association is somewhat sketchy but you might be able to draw the conclusion due to people swearing their oaths on Ullr’s oath ring. And Tyr, who is often depicted more as the Aesir‘s second-in-command would be a more likely candidate to take over the throne of the All-Father while he was in exile, rather than Ullr. But even with these two examples, there aren’t any other obvious association between the two. In other words, we don’t know.

Unverified Personal Gnosis Time with Skadi and Ullr

Before I go further with this, I want to caveat this by saying these are my experiences with these gods, and like anything, Your Mileage May Vary. I’ve had plenty of dealings with Skadi, but not Ullr. Back when I competed in a certain winter sport, Skadi and I held an uneasy truce. I was a lot more wary of her then, and while I know she is a very dangerous goddess, over the years I’ve come to understand her. She doesn’t suffer fools in her territory, so every time I am out in the backcountry, I am aware she could take me out.

Still, Skadi has been a friend to me and my husband. (She smiles on him with a lot with animals.) Even so, I think I’ve gained some favor. I have had animals wait patiently while I get my equipment ready and even wait for me to shoot them. My offerings/blots go primarily to Skadi and Tyr, whom I consider my primary gods.

Ullr is still a concept to me. Maybe because I have gods that fulfill the roles he seems to have, I haven’t quite made the leap to adding him to my main gods. I do, however, remember him in my blots. So, maybe that’s good enough for him at the moment.

So, let me know about your own experiences with the hunting god/goddess in the comments!

A quick shout-out to Sarah Keene, who has helped make The Rational Heathen possible with her continued support!

Choosing a God or Goddess: Why the Gods You’ve Chosen Might Not be Right

Choosing a God or Goddess: Why the Gods You’ve Chosen Might Not be Right

Choosing a god

or goddess isn’t as easy as people sometimes make it. What’s the big deal, you say? You worship or honor Odin. Or maybe Freyja. Or Thor. But what if I told you that the god(s) or goddess(es) you’ve latched onto might not be the right gods or goddesses for you? This is especially true for the newcomers to Heathenry, but even us “old timers” can make the mistake. Let me explain.

Choosing a God in Heathenry

One of the great things about being a Heathen is that you don’t have to gravitate toward a particular god or goddess. Because we’re polytheistic, we have many different gods, ancestors, and wights we can choose from. Unlike other religions, you don’t have to choose a god or goddess. You can honor or worship them all. Nobody—at least not me—is telling you who calls to you.  (Never mind those recon wankers; they’re not the Asa-popes they think they are.) At the same time, you can choose one or two whom your venerate more, while still maintaining good relations with the others. Or you can pick and choose from different pantheons, if you desire. There’s a historical precedence for that.

Some Heathens in history incorporated other gods and goddesses into their worship as they learned of them from other tribes, kindreds, and even other ethnicities. The Vanir are probably the best known for this. Some scholars believe that our ancestors added another tribe’s gods and goddesses that became the Vanir. Even when Christianity came to our northern ancestors, many tried to incorporate Jesus as another god in the pantheon. Of course, that didn’t really work too well, but we can see by the Icelandic Cross, jewelry makers were catering to both sides for a while.

Newbie Choices in Gods and Goddesses

A lot of newbie Heathens tend to go with Odin, Thor, Freyja, or Loki, largely because of popular media. This is fine, and those gods are good within their own rights (although people might argue about Loki), however, that’s pretty much how far those new Heathens take it. They look at Odin as the All-Father in the same way that Christians look at Yahweh as “God the Father.” This comparison is laughable—or, maybe not, given the mercurial temperaments of both deities—when they are different in a number of ways. There are more gods and goddesses that may be far more influential and far more relevant in one’s life than the All-Father.

Odin isn’t all-mighty. Sure, he’s a god to be reckoned with if he’s angry at you, but if he hasn’t taken specific interest in you, he probably won’t care if you worship him or not. Same goes with our other gods. Most don’t bother when it comes to mortals. They have more godly things to deal with than our day-to-day whining and supplication. That being said, there are gods and goddesses who may take interest in you, but you may miss their calls if you’re always thinking about the more popular gods from modern media. Which is why, if you’re a newbie, you need to do your research about the other gods and goddesses.

Don’t Forget the Wights and Ancestors

Choosing a god is important, but so is recognizing that the gods aren’t the only supernatural creatures in our beliefs. The wights and ancestors tend to take more notice in us, because they’re often more local and/or personal than gods and goddesses are. Because they are closer to us than many of the gods, by making friends with them and honoring them we can often receive both aid and advice from them.

Who are your Ancestors?

Your ancestors are not only your parents and grandparents, but their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. They are the people whose blood runs through your veins. Without them, you would not be alive today.

Ancestor veneration or ancestor worship (if you want to call it that) is a big part of Heathenry. Many Heathens gain strength from those who came before us.  Some Heathens go through the whole genealogy thing too.

Now, granted, some of your ancestors were probably not people whom you should show respect to. If you come from an abusive home, for example, there’s probably no love loss there. You don’t have to respect or honor them. Look to your grandparents or some other ancestor in your line for help. At the same time, if you were adopted, don’t worry about who your ancestors are, especially if you don’t know your birth parents. Look at the ancestors of the people who adopted you and their family. You are part of that family now and you may find an ancestor among them who will be your mentor and helper in times of need.

Who are the Wights?

I’ve written about Wights recently, so I don’t need to go there. That being said, the local Wights are often the tutelary spirits of the land that are often familiar with you and your situation. Some will live in your house; many prefer being outdoors. They consist of many different types including Elves, Hidden Folk, and other spirits.

The Wights can be very helpful or harmful, depending on their nature and how you treat them. There are rules to make the Nisse happy, for example. Nisse or Tomte like having porridge with milk and a pat of butter on either Winter Solstice or Christmas, depending on which lore you follow. If you skimp (no butter) or don’t leave the offering, they can cause havoc.

Part of being a Heathen is making friends with these spirits and helping them, just as they might help you.

So, Where am I Going with This?

I am not telling you to abandon your worship of the popular gods and goddesses. Instead, I’m suggesting—especially if you’re a newcomer to Heathenry—to consider opening yourself to other gods as well as the ancestors and the Wights. At the very least, you will have a deeper understanding of your faith and what your ancestors believed in.  And who knows? Maybe there are gods and goddesses you haven’t considered honoring who are actually closer to you than you knew. Choosing a god or goddess that is lesser known, or even a wight or ancestor, to honor or worship with your more popular gods may encourage a deeper and more profound relationship.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments.

 

What Exactly Are the Wights in Heathenry?

What Exactly Are the Wights in Heathenry?

If you’ve entered Heathenry recently, or even if you have been in it a while, chances are you’ve heard about Wights. Often called the landvaetr, the wights are pretty intrinsic to Heathen beliefs. But what exactly are they, and how do they fit into the Heathen belief system?

Where the Term, Wight, Comes From

The term, “wight,” comes from Middle English, but we really have J.R.R. Tolkien to thank for bringing it back into the lexicon. The original word mean “a living, sentient being,” but the word mostly went out of style until The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings became popular. That Tolkien chose the word, “wight,” is no happy accident. He was a professor of Anglo Saxon at Oxford University. (The Anglo Saxon root of “wight” is wiht, for those curious.) In his stories, he spoke of “Barrow-wights” and other denizens. So, he used the term, wight, to describe a particularly supernatural phenomenon. Namely, creatures that are not quite of this world, but have sentience, or are, at least animate enough to consider them creatures and not things.

Heathens (as well as other pagans and fantasy writers) have co-oped the term to describe supernatural creatures that aren’t quite gods, but are still quite powerful. I believe we probably use the word because most people are familiar with the concept of wights nowadays, but aren’t necessarily familiar with the term, landvaetr. In other words, even though landvaetr or “land spirits” are the correct words to use (when talking about land wights), for simplicity sake, we use “wights.”

What Are Wights, Exactly?

Now that you’re familiar with the concept of wights, let’s talk about what a wight encompasses in Heathenry. Wights are just what you might think: Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, and other supernatural denizens. These include the nisse, tomte, disir, alfar, and hulderfolk. They include the ancestors who have continued after their death to reside in our world as spirits. And they include not only the land spirits, but also the sea spirits, of which there are many. This is the broadest sense of being a wight.

My Experience with Wights (Or Lack Thereof)

Growing up, I always wanted to see Elves and Fairies. Even when I was old enough to know better, while still being a preteen, I hoped to see the hidden folk. I grew up largely in suburbia, but way back when I was a kid (yeah, you can add the old codger voice to that), there were still tracts of undeveloped land around our homes. I lived in the Eastern US where you could still cross lands that had blackberry and raspberry bushes growing wild, find ruins of old farmsteads that predated the Civil War, and other cool things. We never thought we were trespassing on someone’s property, although I’m pretty sure we did that a lot, but we found some pretty cool stuff with metal detectors and just generally exploring. I knew most of the creeks and entrances into property where people wouldn’t give you grief for crossing. Yeah, I suppose it was a different time. My mom and dad had no idea where I was going, and I wasn’t worse for the wear.

Anyway, back to wights. Despite being in a history-rich area, I never saw a single wight. The gods know, I tried. Instead, I tromped through streams, played in the mud (and got in terrible trouble for that), explored, and discovered a lot of things. Wights—not so much. Maybe they just looked at me as some kid who was mostly harmless and alone. Maybe my early skepticism banished them, I don’t know.

Do Wights Exist?

It’s my guess—and you folks can argue with me over this—that most Heathens are pretty convinced that wights aren’t corporeal creatures, but more likely spirits. Or maybe they consider wights the personification of the natural forces at work. In other words, they aren’t really singular entities. Some people feel that they are ancestors—and yes, there are good cases for this. And some people believe them to be a little below gods. Again, there is a case for that as well.

That being said, I’m clearly on the agnostic side of the fence when it comes to wights. In other words, I haven’t actually had the pleasure of meeting one. I’ve spoken to people whom I consider sane (or mostly sane) who work with wights, so there is a possibility that they do exist on some level. Despite my agnostic views, I do make offerings to them. I also can do rituals that banish bad wights. Hel’s bells, I’ve even had some interesting experiences with what can only be considered gremlins. (The type that gum up mechanical things, not the creatures you’re never supposed to get wet or feed after dark.)

What Else About Wights?

There are literally books about wights, but for the sake of expediency, I won’t go into specifics in this post. Instead, I’m planning a series of posts about wights and the other less than godly creatures in our belief system and give you my take on them. And of course, if you’ve had dealings with wights, be sure to tell me about it in the comments!

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The Elder Futhark: Naudhiz

The Elder Futhark: Naudhiz

The tenth, and second rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Naudhiz, which corresponds to the “N” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  This is a another one of the most negative runes you can get, whenever it comes up. It does occasionally have positive sides, but I’ll talk about that later. It is the rune of restriction, need, and scarcity. Naudhiz doesn’t really have any good meanings, so if you pull up this rune, you’re going to be in for a difficult time, unless it is talking about something in the past.


In Anglo-Saxon, Naudhiz is spelled Nyd, and in Old Norse it is Nauðr .  Nauðr is the rune of need, constraint, and famine.  It speaks of times when need fires were created to burn away famine or diseases.

Our ancestors were no strangers to nature’s destructive forces. That included failed crops, famine, and disease. This was a time when people did without. Naudhiz is the rune of “not,” and it meant that people would most likely suffer when this rune was cast.

Divination with Naudhiz

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you that what you desire is unlikely to come about, or maybe, there are constrains regarding the outcome. If your life is in need, that is, you’ve lost your job, you’re out of money, or maybe your relationships aren’t working, and you get Naudhiz in the present position, or the matter being considered, chances are it’s just a reflection of your life or plans at the present moment. People who pull Naudhiz in the present or past position have been feeling like their lives have been constrained or lacking something. If you get Naudhiz in the future position, it suggests your plans and life are going to constrained in some way.  Naudhiz often means no.

Naudhiz doesn’t seem to have a positive side to it, and in many cases it doesn’t. But at the same time, maybe it’s like the Rolling Stones song which says “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find, you just might find, you get what you need.”  Like all runes, the context of the constraint depends on its position and the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster.

Should you get this rune in your castings, you may think it means you’ll never get what you’re working toward. Well, maybe. The runes don’t differentiate between big and little. It’s up to you to determine whether you get disappointed because your lottery ticket didn’t win, or you didn’t get that promotion you were expecting, or if you lose your job. Naudhiz can mean all those things, so you need (see what I did there?) to be very specific, and even then, the runes may address something else in your life, and not what you were asking for.

Some Final Thoughts on Naudhiz

When Naudhiz appears in a spread, you may panic. Don’t. Sometimes it may be addressing something that you are needy in and need to work on improving. Maybe in the future spot it is serving as a warning, rather than an actual future. Remember, you can change your path. That’s one of the awesome parts of weaving our own Wyrd.

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5 Ways Heathens Can Celebrate the Summer Solstice

5 Ways Heathens Can Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Ah, it’s already June again, which means we’re almost at Summer Solstice.  Saturday, June 20th is the solstice, which marks the longest day of the year. This is the time when we celebrate the spring and summer gods and goddesses such as Freyr, Freyja, Baldr, Thor, and Sif, as well as Sunna. Here are five ways you can enjoy the solstice, even though you may still have to be careful with COVID-19.

Get Up and Greet the Sunrise

Okay, this is for those early birds who can get up and greet the new day. Or, for those of us who are night owls, who stay up long enough to see dawn break.  The rest of you mere mortals will probably be a bit bleary-eyed for this. Even so, prepare a blot and offer it to Sunna, the wights, the ancestors, and to the gods and goddesses of summer.

Leave Summer Solstice Offerings to the Gods and Wights at Your Outdoor Altar

Thank the gods and goddesses for another year, and leave them offerings for good harvests and health. Don’t forget the wights and the ancestors either, especially when it comes to good harvests on the summer solstice. The local wights are said to make the difference between a good harvest and a bad one. So, even if you’re agnostic about wights, like I am, err on the part of superstition and offer them something. Don’t have an outdoor altar? Use this day to make one now! Follow this link for how to create an easy-to-make outdoor altar.

Do Something Outdoorsy

The best way to celebrate the summer solstice is to get outdoors and do something that helps you enjoy the long daylight. This includes simple things like taking a walk, going hiking, going fishing, or doing some type of activity that involves getting outdoors. With COVID-19, remember to keep your distance from people who are not in your household, and to wear masks if you’re heading somewhere people are present.

Sorry to be a killjoy about it, but we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. So, go outside, but do so responsibly.

Hold a Pork Feast for Your Family

Plan on preparing pork for your dinner on the summer solstice, whether it is pork chops, a pork roast, or even a ham. Pigs are special to Freyr, so having pork is a good way to celebrate the god.  So, crack open that bottle of mead and offer a toast to the gods, along with those who live with you to Sunna, Baldr, Freyja, and Freyr.

Tend to Your Garden

You do have a garden, don’t you? Even if it’s only a few herb pots or flowers, give them extra care today. Summer solstice is the longest day of the year when photosynthesis is at its peak due to all that sun. Even if it’s cloudy, the daylight provides extra time for growth.

I hope I’ve given you some cool ideas for this solstice. Let me know what you’re planning on doing for the summer solstice in the comments.

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Creating Your Own Altars

Creating Your Own Altars

Thanks to the requests of my patrons, I’ve got plenty to write about! Sheta Kay was kind enough to give me an idea for this next post. I’ve covered altars in the past, but probably not as much as I should. So, let’s talk about altars and how to construct one.

What were Altars Like in the Past?

Because of Christianity, we really don’t have much information to go on when it comes to Heathen altars.. We can assume they set altars in the corner of the house. Most likely, they had small statues and other objects that they considered holy.  Maybe they were significant to the wights of the area and the gods. Offerings were left at the indoor altar to the gods and local wights. and it was a place to reflect and pray.
Outdoor altars were typically made of stones in a cairn-like formation, or as wooden staves with the gods’ and wights’ faces carved into the pole. The Northern people drove these staves into the ground in sacred places. People probably left offerings and performed blots there.

What Did People Consider Holy Ground?

We’ve all heard of holy ground—certainly in vampire movies and other stories. But the concept of holy ground was not just confined to Christianity. As a matter of fact, our ancestors understood thresholds very well. As a result, they ringed their hofs (temples) with fences made from stone or wood. The inside yard, Heathens called a hörgr, and everything within it was considered holy.
The interesting part about the hof and hörgr was that they weren’t always used as a place of worship. The people held town meetings and thing within a hof. The hörgr might have merchants and temporary shops in an open-air market set up for people to trade and buy things.

Hof and Hörgr

Nowadays, most of us Heathens are a scattered bunch, and with COVID-19, we may be scattered even more for some time. It’s unlikely that having a hof and hörgr in most communities will happen for some time, since Heathenism is a small religion, when compared with Christianity, or even Wicca.

Creating Your Own Indoor Altar

Creating your indoor altar is relatively easy. Choose a piece of furniture, or even a shelf on a book case, and add your statues and images of the gods and wights as you see fit. You may not have the money to purchase those statues, so if you’re artistically inclined, draw or paint your own. Or maybe bring in things that remind you of the certain gods. For example, I have wolves for Tyr and Skadi, a fox for Loki, horses for Freyr and Odin, Mjolnir for Thor, and a cat for Freyja. I also have stones, feathers, and elder branches for the wights.

Outside Altars

I have instructions for creating your own outdoor altar HERE. The instructions are for a cairn, but you can also create your own outdoor altar by creating or buying staves and putting them in a special spot in your yard. I’ve heard of people using sticks, or even tongue depressors and drawing the pictures of the gods on them using permanent markers. You can also write the names of the gods you wish to honor on the stick in runes and use them that way.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas when it comes to creating your own altar. Tell me how you did in the comments and add a photo of your altar! I’d love to see it.
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