Shit! The Runes DO Work

Shit! The Runes DO Work

Fucking freaky. Occasionally the Runes remind me I’m not just screwing around. Like the time when I asked them who was guiding me with the runes and they spelled out Thor’s name and gave me Tyr’s rune.

The Beginning…or Why I Consulted the Runes

The gods know I could use help. My pagan series has been going along just fine, but money is always something I need. This is how they decided to help me, and the rune reading associated with it.

Some Background

As you may know, I read a lot of pagan and nontheist blogs. After reading another pagan’s blog, I was reminded I need to provide more consistent offerings. So, I chose the thing that is near and dear to my heart: tea. The gods gets the first cup in the morning, or when I refresh the tea leaves, once weekly. Preferably on Tuesday, because Tyr.

Weekly Offerings

I’m still new at this regular offering thing, but with the exception of providing the offering a day late, and the little matter of my spouse using the offering bowl for salsa (ahem), it seems to be going okay. I pretty much just offer the tea. No pleas for the winning lotto ticket, or anything like that. Oh, maybe a thank you for keeping us relatively healthy, and a generic, “please keep us safe” kind of thing. I don’t do ceremonies or make lofty speeches. I figure they know what I need probably better than I do.

Email Out of the Ether

So, a few days ago, I got an email from a publisher. That makes me sound much more important than I am, so don’t be too impressed. Anyway, a publisher wanted me to work on a project provided that their Powers-That-Be approved the proposal. It’s an update of some work I did more than fifteen years ago.

Where’s the Work?

So, I panicked because I had no idea where the original work ran off to after so many years and computer deaths. All I can say is thank the gods for PC Mover. Despite me not wanting to move everything to my new computer, that’s what it did. Again. And again. And again. The original documents were on my hard drive, passed along from computer generation to computer generation. Which means I have copies on at least four hard drives. And now, Dropbox.

Consulting the Runes

At this stage, I was somewhat ambivalent about what I should do. My pagan urban fantasy series is going well, and even my spouse thinks it’s time for me to focus on it. But…the amount I could bring in for four months of Hel might be worth it. I suspect that the work offer had to do with my offerings, but I wasn’t sure. I needed to consult the runes. Big time.

My Reading — I Shit You Not

First Rune: Matter Under Consideration: Ansuz

Ansuz means message, writing, and language. Sometimes from the gods.

Second Rune: What will affect the matter. Either positive or negative: Gebo

Gebo means gift and partnership. Something given in exchange for a partnership. Business or personal.

Third Rune: Upcoming elements. Outcome: Eihwaz

Eihwaz is a rune of defense, protection. Can be associated with good outcomes. I stared at the first two runes and wondered about Eihwaz. It suggests that I need to go carefully into this. But it is likely to be positive.

I asked for clarification and pulled the rune Uruz.

Uruz is strength, but it can also mean upheaval in some ways. Yeah, taking this project on will definitely change things. But again Uruz is usually a good sign for me.

Why I Got Freaked Out

When it comes to the first two runes, the reading was spot on. I mean it’s about a writing project and a partnership. The Eihwaz simply tells me to be careful, which I know, dealing with publishers. For someone who reads the runes, having the runes spell out what was going on was freaky. It’s almost as if the gods said, “look you skeptic, we’re going to make this ridiculously clear so even you can understand.” In other words, every time I try going agnostic, a god hits me over the head with reality. Sheesh. You think I’d learn.

Then, Eihwaz

I was about to leave this on a positive note, but then the publisher decided to lowball me. Well, Eihwaz is once again spot on. So, I don’t know. But I do know the runes work, when asking questions that are important. I’ve occasionally got a garbled mess when I’m unfocused, but often it has to do with another matter that is more pressing in my life. So, I wait and see. Maybe they come back with a sane offer, maybe not. Maybe the gods just wanted to remind me not to be agnostic.

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Harvest Time, Alfarblot, and Preparations

Harvest Time, Alfarblot, and Preparations

Here in the Northern Rockies, harvest is in full swing. Lots of peppers, corn, beans, potatoes, melons, and pumpkins fill the farmer’s markets. Inevitably, that means food banks get a ridiculous amount of produce donated from local farms. 

I am far from rich, being a writer. (And if you want to support my writing, go to my patreon page and sign up — or buy me a coffee.) That’s why I hunt and go to food banks. Since the main food bank in my area now allows one to take whatever you need, I’ve been back there once every two weeks. They say some people go there every day, but I live out of town a fair ways, so to save fuel, I have to plan trips accordingly.

I won’t bore you with my shopping experience, but suffice to say, most of the food had been picked over early. That being said, as I waited, stuff that I actually needed appeared and I was able to bring home a lot of good stuff.

Last night I created ratatouille and filled my dehydrator with parsley and peppers. I couldn’t help thinking about our ancestors and what they must have gone through during this time to prepare for winter. I have to do a fair amount of preps, but it couldn’t be anything like what they did.

The Harvest and Preparation

Our ancestors needed to prepare for the lean winter months. That required them to pay attention to the harvest. Harvest was a time when everyone worked, from the highest thegn to the lowest slave. Landowners at least had to supervise the harvest and keep track of everything being done, if they wanted it done correctly. Women and children had to help process the food to ensure it was properly preserved.

If you were a lord, you might have delegated oversight to trusted men or women, but this depended on how much land you owned, what time in history you lived, and how big your kindred was. Remember, kindreds were basically extended family. There might be people whom you had no famillial ties within your village, but they and their families had some positive aspects for being considered part of your kindred.

Maybe they were warriors who fought alongside you. Maybe they were people who helped you out, or whom you helped out. Basically, your community was there for protection and help. Because it was unlikely that separately they were stronger without you (or you without them).

Preparation for the Darkness

Winter, for all its beauty and majesty, could be a very brutal time for kindreds. Basically if you didn’t have the food saved, you were shit out of luck. Sure, there was game and fish to be had–assuming you could break a hole in the ice or find game in the snow–but other than your livestock and your food stores, that was it when it came to edible foods. The northern hemisphere was retreating into darkness, culminating in the solstice where the light returned. 

The gods help you if you had raiders, thieves, pests, or a bad harvest. There’s a reason why our ancestors were good warriors. They had to be. Not only did they raid other peoples for their treasures, but they also had to defend their homes against other raiders. Losing your food was a death sentence, unless you somehow procured more. This is why it was so important to be part of a kindred and not an outlaw. Outlaws didn’t have the safety of a kindred.

Planning for a Harvest Festival

Now with the harvest almost completed, we modern day Heathens can look to have a harvest festival now. Maybe it’s winter finding, Alfarblot, or Samhain for you. Maybe you just want to celebrate Harvest. That’s perfectly acceptable. Maybe you’ve had a rough year and need something to look forward to. Maybe you had a good year and need to celebrate it. As a Heathen, the second harvest festival seems like a good idea.

Like most Heathens, I feel that more celebrations are better than too little. So, if you want to celebrate Harvest, Halloween, Winter Finding, and Alfarblot, go for it. Just be aware you’ll have a very busy schedule.

Alfarblot?

Our ancestors celebrated a holiday known as Alfarblot. It was to remember our male ancestors. When it was celebrated exactly, we don’t know, but I seem to recall it could have been in the fall or the winter.  Choosing to remember our male ancestors during the second harvest festival seems appropriate. So, if you want to celebrate Alfarblot around Halloween or Samhain, that’s perfectly okay. I like to think of it around the beginning of November, but anytime around Halloween is fine.  Seeing as we really don’t know all the holidays from the past, we can celebrate it in the spirit as it was intended.

Why We Need to Celebrate Harvest

Harvest is a time for celebration of the foods we’ve received from our farmers, but more importantly, the Earth. Just think how our lives would be different if we couldn’t grow fruits and vegetables. As a species, we all might still be hunter/gatherers. Or maybe we wouldn’t even exist because the carrying capacity of the land wouldn’t be able to support so many humans.

Yes, humans domesticated plant and animal species, but without the Earth and our life’s genetics, we would have nothing. Even our biological scientific advancements in genetically modified engineering require DNA. That DNA happened either by the gods or by chance, whichever you believe. Without it, we would be here, nor would we have the foods we eat. Without good weather and optimal growing conditions, we wouldn’t have a harvest.

How to Celebrate the Harvest and Alfarblot

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate the harvest, here are some tips:

  • Try cooking some Viking recipes. You can Google “Viking recipes” or try some recipes HERE.
  • Give offerings to both the land some recipes HERE and the gods and goddesses of the harvest. This would include Freyr, Freyja, Thor, and Sif.
  • Give offerings to Ullr and Skadi for a safe and prosperous hunting season, if you hunt.
  • Make a feast from local foods.
  • Visit a farm and help with the harvest. Some farms will allow you to pick your own produce for a cost.
  • Work with your local food bank or food pantry to help feed the needy.
  • Have a harvest game day–Northern peoples loved to play board games and games of strategy in the winter months.
  • Decorate your home in an autumn theme. Be sure to do a salt ritual to ensure to banish negative wights.
  • Put up photos of your recent ancestors, or things that remind you of your recent ancestors, especially the men. If you don’t know who they might be, or if you don’t want to honor certain men, that’s okay. There are other male ancestors whom you can honor, even if you don’t know them. And you can always honor a man who has made a positive difference in your life.

Those are just some ideas. Let me know what you’re doing!

Did Our Ancestors Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox?

Did Our Ancestors Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox?

Yes, it’s that time of year: approaching the Autumnal Equinox. The world has gone into pumpkin spice everything, the weather has been shifting towards colder, and darkness is creeping up on us. Living in the Northern Rockies, I started noticing the shift in weather in August, and darkness has crept up on us. When we had light at almost 11 pm, we now have total darkness before 9 pm.

Even at less extreme latitudes, people probably notice the march toward the darker days. So one has to wonder if our northern ancestors celebrated the equinox.

The Equinox was a Time of Harvest

The Norse split the seasons into two: winter and summer. It makes sense, really, because there was just growing seasons and snow. As much as I’d like to think our ancestors marked the equinox, chances are they were too busy getting the harvest put up.

Right now, my own experience as a landholder tells me that people probably were concerned about getting prepared for winter. For my family, it is getting enough hay and firewood for the winter. The upcoming winter requires me to dry fruits and vegetables for use during the winter months and get them stored properly, because there are times I won’t be able to get to the grocery store.

For our ancestors, their experience was much more dire. They were their own store, meaning that if they didn’t have it, or if their family didn’t have it, they went without. Sure, they could (and did) hunt, fish, and slaughter their own animals, but if they didn’t have enough of a certain food, they went without.

In this day of local grocery markets, it kind of blows one’s mind to think if you didn’t have enough of something, that was too bad. That meant that harvest was exceedingly important because if it didn’t produce enough, you were screwed.

This is why our ancestors put so much emphasis into the seasons. The seasons governed their lives and dictated when they had to do certain things to survive.

Community was Important

Back then, community wasn’t just for socialization. It was the only means you could survive in that harsh climate. You did a lot of things, but there were other people whose expertise you relied on. Not everyone was a blacksmith, carpenter, hunter, cloth maker, or field worker. While there were many farmers, the farmers also needed their tools repaired, sick animals cared for, and furniture made. Sure, some people did it all, but many people traded things they made or grew for services.

People understood that in order to survive the harsh winters, one had to depend on the community. Without the kindred, there was a reasonable chance you wouldn’t make it to the spring.

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox

As I said, I don’t think that people had a particular observance for the equinoxes during the Viking era. However given that our northern ancestors spread throughout Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa, different customs arose. Since the autumnal equinox came around harvest times, it could’ve easily been incorporated in harvest celebrations. So, there is no reason why you can’t celebrate it as a Heathen.

Things to Do to Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox

There are plenty of things you can do to celebrate the autumnal equinox. Here are some ideas:

  • Plan a feast of locally harvested and in-season foods.
  • Decorate your home with pumpkins, autumn leaves, and other reminders of the season.
  • Make an offering to the gods — mead, harvested nuts, apples, and other in-season foods.
  • Can, dehydrate, and freeze foods for winter.
  • Go to a farm that allows you to pick your own apples or vegetables and do so.

Gods of the Autumnal Equinox

You should honor the gods of Autumn. You may wish to honor the following gods and goddesses:

  • Thor and Sif — for rains and the grain harvest.
  • Skadi and Ullr — for the fall and winter hunt, as well as snow sports.
  • Freyr and Freyja — for the harvest bounty.
  • Baldr and Hodr — for the balance of light and dark.

Let me know what you’re doing this equinox, if anything.

Strange Days, or Lack of Logic

Strange Days, or Lack of Logic

The lack of basic logic in people today confounds me. I used to think that human beings were generally intelligent, but now, I’m pretty much convinced they’re not. At least the majority of people lack basic intelligence.

Taking Two Steps Back for One Step Forward

While not all progress is good, I’m seeing a lot of regression when it comes to the United States. People are clearly ignorant when it comes to science. A lot of folks believe what their neighbors and friends tell them rather than objectively look at the facts and make a rational decision.

Death Cults and Culture

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I consider Christianity a death cult. Their reward happens after they die, and their reward or punishment is predicated by their behavior in this life. What’s more, their afterlife is believed to be far better than this life if they behave according to their doctrines.

This is an appealing doctrine, if you’ve been handed shit all your life. Although why worship a god you believe handed you shit from the moment you were born so that you could get a better lot is beyond me and goes against all logic. I’d think, “this god handed me shit, and now it wants me to worship it? Hel, no!”

While we have our own version of a death cult in Heathenry, i.e. warriors go to Folksvangr or Valhalla, I believe most Heathens are simply glad to go to a place of rest and peace. We focus not on where we go when we die, but how we live our lives. Our reward is our life right now. The challenges are just that–challenges. We must overcome them in the best way we know how to.

Holy Rollers and Misplaced Faith

I often visit the food bank because, well, I am not rich. Writers are generally not rich. One food bank I visit is one run by a Christian church that I have dubbed “the Holy Rollers.” These people are nice enough, even though they have weird views. Unfortunately, one of their views defies logic and is killing them.

You see, many of their congregation do not believe in getting vaccinate against COVID-19, with predicable results. One woman whom I know was in tears (without a mask, by the way) because a prominent member of her congregation died from COVID-19. I would think this would cause everyone to line up to get vaccinated, or at least wear masks and social distance, but no. They continue their behavior and mistrust the vaccines because of anecdotal evidence.

The woman told me she couldn’t have the vaccine because she had a latex allergy. Odd, because there is no latex in the vaccines, and the stoppers do not contain latex. (Yes, I looked this up.) She claims it caused the recurrence of breast cancer in a seventy-something year old (no, vaccines don’t do that), and congestive heart failure in someone else (incredibly rare, but maybe.) She claimed everyone she knew who was vaccinated was now sick.

Except Me

Except me. And my husband. And if I could point out, my sisters, their spouses, and their children are vaccinated. At least a half dozen other people we know are vaccinate and have had no issues. In fact, I had some of the side effects (swollen, hot arm for a week, and feeling tired and achy for a few days), but I would still line up and get a booster if the experts said I needed to do it. Why? Because I know the disease is worse than the vaccination.

This intense COVID-19 year has also encouraged me to get my flu and shingles shot this time around, because I had chicken pox as a kid. Twice. So, I’d rather have a ramped up immune system than being sick or dying. Go figure.

Correlation does not Equal Causation

I doubt that my story will figure into the Holy Roller’s list of people she counts when talking about the COVID-19 vaccination, because it doesn’t fit her narrative. I listened to her statement about people getting sick from the vaccines and stay silent because she won’t listen to me. If she did, I would tell her correlation does not equal causation. In other words, just because something happened around the same time doesn’t mean the two events have anything to do with each other.

Let me give you an example. You’re walking down the street, it’s going to rain, and you hear a Led Zeppelin song blasting out of a store. At the same time, a bolt of lightning strikes the light post near you and you get shocked. When you wake up in the hospital, are you likely to think that hearing the Led Zeppelin song caused the lightning? Maybe if it were the Immigrant Song, but for argument’s sake, we’ll say it was Black Dog. Or maybe it was Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Doesn’t matter. Are you likely to ascribe the music playing from a store the reason for the lightning? Of course not. You’re more likely to assume you underestimated the storm coming in.

See what I’m getting at? People can draw correlations all the time to different things when the truth lies someplace else. We trust science because of the scientific method and the review of other scientists so that the conclusion is deemed sound.

Trust Doctors Not Talk Show Wankers (or your next door neighbor)

I’m probably preaching to the choir, but the bullshit being spread via social media and talk shows shouldn’t be trusted. I don’t care how entertained, livid, or interested you are when you listen to these sources. I don’t care what quack guy with an MD after his name they got to testify about their latest miracle cure for COVID-19. The reality is if that so-called cure REALLY worked, the mainstream hospitals and doctors would be using it. Use logic, people!

Ivermectin doesn’t cure COVID-19. It’s made to kill parasites, not viruses. I’ve given my dogs Ivermectin over the years to prevent heartworm. It kills roundworms, hookworms, and other types of worms in livestock. A horse dosage of Ivermectin can kill you. Case in point: my husband talked to a hospital worker who mentioned the hospital he works at has someone who has gone blind and is paralyzed because he used horse or cattle ivermectin.

Yeah, it’s serious. And no, dog vaccines won’t prevent you from getting coronavirus. Why do this shit, which isn’t effective at all? Get the damn jab, wear a mask, and social distance. Really.

If Not for You, for Your Community

One of the basic tenets to being a Heathen is being a member of a community. I am all for rugged individualism and choices, but not in this case. When something causes you to harm others directly or indirectly, it is time to think about how your actions affect others. You can give COVID-19 to other non-vaccinated or even vaccinated people. You can be a host for a mutant strain that could cause more deaths. And you can become so sick that you and your like-minded pals fill up the hospitals to the point that they have no room or resources for other emergencies, like heart attacks or accident injuries. In other words, your irresponsibility has caused someone else to die, who could have been saved.

Now obviously, I’m not speaking to you if you have worn masks, practiced social distancing, and gotten vaccinated. If you hadn’t, here is your wake-up call. Quit being selfish and start acting like a Heathen instead of like a spoiled child. Grow up and adult.

Going Atheist: When Belief in the Gods Fails

Going Atheist: When Belief in the Gods Fails

I decided to write this piece about when belief in the gods fails because Tyson Chase, a fellow blogger has gone from pagan to atheist. It’s a shame, because I enjoyed reading his posts, but I understand where he is coming from.

I read a number of blogs from pagan and atheist authors off Patheos, (and if I want to get pissed off, I read the Christian blogs, too), but it always intrigued me that someone living in the heart of Mormon country would be pagan. I found it daring, to say the least. But his belief in the gods failed because it’s tough to reconcile gods and magic with science. So, he has become an agnostic atheist.

Writng as a Former Agnostic Atheist

It’s kind of funny that I had the exact opposite experience. I went from Catholic to Agnostic (with heavy emphasis on Atheist) to Heathen. The gods had to figuratively whack me upside the head to get my attention, but they did get my attention. I had to accept that there were gods, and that their existence coincided with the science I knew and understood. Not gods of the gaps, but actual gods who existed in a pantheistic way, and who could take forms.

Not everyone will have that kind of experience. In fact, some people will claim I am delusional. So be it. I make no apologies for it. If you’re one of those who believes this, you are not my audience, and I recommend that you simply move along and don’t waste your time.

Sometimes I’m still agnostic, especially when it comes to things like magic and wights. I’ve had some odd encounters that I can’t rationally explain without jumping through a bunch of hoops to make reality fit the model, so I’ll just claim I’m agnostic and let it go at that.

But when asking for an obvious sign and getting one? Well, that’s where the gods have stepped in and slapped me upside the head. Hel, they even spelled out their names.

When You’re Tempted to go Atheist

I’m not one to tell you to not go atheist. I can only tell you my own experience. I’ve known Heathens who were basically atheist who just liked keeping the Heathen ways alive. Like the people in our society who don’t really believe in the Christian god, but still celebrate Christmas, they like the holiday and the practices, but don’t believe the gods exist. That’s fine. Our gods don’t require our belief.

The Heathen (and also many other pagan) gods aren’t easily measurable. They aren’t part of the physical world, (but they do have the ability to take on physical forms.) They don’t insist that people worship them, although they show up to those they want to work for them in this world.

Yeah, I don’t think I’m so important to Tyr that he couldn’t get anyone else to do what I do, but he and Thor chose me for some damn reason. An atheist-leaning agnostic, at that. Go figure.

What About Science?

Paganism/Heathenism and science aren’t mutually exclusive. Scientists discover new things about our world all the time. Some of their discoveries and theories strengthen our beliefs as Heathens. Some of the information discounts what we believed in the past. That’s okay, really. If we cannot change with the new discoveries and facts, then our religion has no relevance to our current society. This is why Christianity is having such a tough time keeping and attracting new followers. Most Christian denominations fail to change with society, and thus become irrelevant to most people.

Look at their bible. Many still believe that the world was made in six days. They believe that man sinned from eating from the tree of knowledge, and that sin stays with everyone until they are baptised. Furthermore, if you don’t believe the bible and in Jesus, you get punished for eternity.

Heathens don’t believe that. In fact we look at our books as inspirational texts and more like guidelines than actual rules. We accept science and look at it as one more key to understanding our universe.

As Heathens, we know our books were written by people from an oral tradition. No matter how hard you try to get the information right, like the game of telephone or operator, the stories are going to change from one generation to the next. Add multiple generations and a change to Christianity, and the stories not only become Christianized but also very different from the original story. And be aware that the original story was told through the viewpoint of a Heathen who lived over a thousand years ago.

So, What to Do if You Lose Faith in the Gods

First, understand that Heathenism and science (or paganism and science) are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the two complement each other. You can read about quantum theory and still believe in Odin. You can look up at the night’s sky and feel Tyr beside you. You can understand the mechanism behind weather and still hear Thor’s voice in the thunder. Science does not negate this.

But let’s say you’ve been Heathen a while and never heard a god. Never seen a wight. Never felt anything close to divine. Okay, so you haven’t. So what? Lots of people don’t hear from the gods. And the gods are not your bitches. That means you can’t summon them up like a lab experiment.

Maybe you’re looking for proof and are disheartened that the gods don’t speak to you. Look, the gods sometimes speak to me. Not always. Even when I’m searching for an answer, sometimes all I get are crickets. Be patient. Wait and see. Use your runes and talk to others who are Heathens for their opinions.

If this truly bothers you, then perhaps you’re not in the right form of paganism, or maybe not in the right religion at all. Maybe you should be an atheist or agnostic. But, I would encourage you to be open to the gods, even if you decide Heathenism isn’t for you. You never know when one of the gods will look you up. Or bitch-slap you upside the head like they did with me.

The Point to All This

I suppose the point to this rambling post is that if you really want to leave paganism/Heathenism, no one will stop you. Sure, we’ll be sad to see you go, but everyone must follow their own path. Just as Tyson Chase must follow his own path. I enjoyed Tyson’s posts, and maybe he might pick up blogging on the nonreligious channel, but I kind of doubt it by the finality of his tone. Still, the pagan/Heathen door is always open for those who wish to honor our gods. I wish you good luck, Tyson, and I look forward to whatever you choose to write in the future.

Do You Really Think a God Like Kali Would Care?

Do You Really Think a God Like Kali Would Care?

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I was reading how this beer with Kali’s image on the can has offended Rajan Zed, an American and president of the Universal Society of Hinduism. Basically, he considers putting a pretty cool image of Kali on a beer can to trivialize the goddess. Okay, maybe that’s so. But honestly, assuming Kali was paying attention to our silly little lives at all, I’d think she’d probably be amused, if anything. Let me explain.

The Gods are Way Above Us, or a Colony of Ants

Image by cp17 from Pixabay

If you believe in the gods, chances are you believe that they are very powerful entities. Why else wouldn’t they be, if they were gods? Someone on Reddit likened our relationship to the gods as ants to humans. They proceeded with a fairly amusing anecdote about ants drawing a containment circle around a person and demanding that the human give them sugar, or kill another ant, or whatever. Now, if that were to happen to you, would you be angry, annoyed, amused, or simply ignore them? If you found the whole idea of ants containing a human with crystals ludicrous, think what the gods might think if we humans were to try that. Yep. That’s the message you need to keep in your head for the time being.

With this idea in mind, let’s take the whole ant/human thing one step further. Now let’s say the ant colony now has a sugar water drink and they put your photo on it. Or maybe an ant artist’s rendition of you. Of course, you’d look like an ant, but damn, they swear it is your likeness. Are you offended? They swear it’s the best sugar water available. Or maybe you might think it’s pretty damn funny that ants have created you in their image, and named a drink after you.

Now Let’s Look at the Gods

While I don’t believe that our relationship with our gods is quite as extreme as ants to humans, you can see the point. With the exception of Yahweh, most gods go about doing their godly things with as much consideration to us as we do with ants. If the gods take any notice in what we’re doing, it’s because we’re doing something to get their attention. But trivial stuff? They probably don’t even bother.

That’s why I found Christianity to be stupid. What kind of god gives a shit about whether you attended church on Sundays? Or if you had sex before marriage? Or if you swore using his name?

Humanizing a God

Too often, I think pagans–and even us Heathens–tend to bring the gods down to our level. It’s a natural tendency, given that we really don’t know the god’s true form. Chances are that our gods’ forms are so beyond being human, we couldn’t conceive of, much less relate to, them.

I’m reminded of the Greek story about Zeus and Semele, the mother of Dionysus. Zeus loved Semele so much that he promised her anything swearing by the River Styx. Hera, Zeus’s wife, who is insanely jealous, told Semele to ask to see Zeus in all his glory as a god. This, of course, would kill her. But he made an oath he couldn’t back out of, and so she died. But Zeus rescued his son, Dionysus, whom Semele was pregnant with, and sewn him into his thigh to finish gestating.

Are We Ants to Our Gods?

You may be wondering if I think we really are like ants to our gods. Probably not, but we are certainly less evolved than they are. Perhaps they look at us more like favorite species, or–and I’m hesitant to use the word–pets.

Our gods basically keep out of our lives unless they choose to interact with us. In recent times, it has been my experience that they have been calling to us again. Possibly because Christianity is waning, and they see an opportunity to communicate to us their desires and intentions. Although I have only a cursory knowledge of the Hindu pantheon, I’d argue that Kali probably isn’t too worried about her image on a beer can. Just like our gods aren’t overly wrapped up about Marvel and Thor.

My TL;DR point is that the gods have much more important things to do than getting wrapped up over their mug on a beer can.

Except maybe Yahweh. He’s an asshat.

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Wake Up Calls from the Gods

Wake Up Calls from the Gods

For the past few years, humans have gotten wake up calls, but few are answering them. For the most part, we humans wander around kind of clueless, and yet, the gods are constantly telling us when we’re doing it wrong. Only, we don’t listen.

The Wake Up Calls, or Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

If you’ve felt like your life is in complete turmoil all the time, join the club. Between the pandemic, the bizarre weather, and the social problems, you might be feeling just a tiny bit stressed out. No, it’s not just you. These are the times we live in.

The gods have been sending us messages or wake up calls — and a good portion of our population has decided not to heed them. So, we’re dealing with the fall out from the problems.

What Wake Up Calls?

At this point, you may be wondering, “What messages? What wake up calls?” No, chances are Thor didn’t hit you with a bolt of lightning. But you might have been under that nasty heat dome or are dealing with wildfires and smoke right now. It’s unlikely Eir whispered in your ear when you got sick, but you’ve heard the CDC announcements to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Or maybe you thought that Tyr might grace you with his wisdom, only to hear the news on how some people are still complaining about the inequality they’re dealing with.

The Gods Talk to Us in Many Ways

While some of us are fortunate (or crazy enough) to hear our gods actually speak; our gods constantly interact with us daily through our environment. They speak through Nature a lot, and if you pay attention, you get it. Problem is, there are a lot of people who hear the messages and don’t care, disagree, or think their own opinions are more valuable than what the gods say. This is stupid and foolhardy.

Does human ignorance and arrogance frustrate and anger the gods? Of course it does, but Humans aren’t their only concern. They don’t intercede for us because, quite frankly, they have other business to attend to. What business? Shit, I don’t know. This is a big universe, and the gods speak in ways they want to.

The messages are clear, and ignoring those messages are at our own peril, because the consequences are severe.

Dealing with the Pandemic

We don’t really know much about how the pandemic started. Sure, there are a bunch of conspiracy theories out there, but most scientists believe that SARS-CoV-19 was a bat disease that was spread through an intermediary host such as a pangolin to humans, and mutated enough to become a pandemic.

Pandemics get their power from people in crowded conditions, such as cities. Usually the pathogen is highly contagious and mutates at an astonishing rate to infect as many people as they can. That’s why crowds are a really bad idea. And without protecting yourself and others some way, you can quickly spread the disease.

With our crowded planet, it’s easy to see disease spread. That’s why vaccinations are important–to help build immunity against the pathogen. Otherwise, you’re playing Russian Roulette with your life and your family’s lives.

Pathogens in the Past

Before vaccines, people either got sick and died, or they had enough natural immunity to combat the pathogen, or they practiced their own form of social distancing and rode out the pandemic. The problem, of course, was that a lot of people died. The Black Death is a prime example. It’s estimated that the Black Death wiped out anywhere from one third to one half of Europe. Whole villages became ghost towns within weeks, if not days, because everyone became sick and died.

Back then, people always assumed it was because their Christian god was displeased with them. In reality, it was a dangerous bacteria that mutated that spread easily either through coughing, flea bites, or contact with contaminated bodily fluids.

Like today, conspiracy theories were common back then. People blamed the Jewish population for poisoning the wells or bringing on the disease, when they did not. People thought it was pagans or witches casting spells on them. So, it wasn’t uncommon for Jewish and pagan persecution back then, due largely to ignorance.

Now the Gods Speak with the Pandemic

Some people think their god will save them from this disease. That is hubris, and they’re fucking wrong. People have been either ignorant of, or ignoring the science behind the pandemic and vaccinations. Time and time again, doctors have proven vaccinations save lives. Did you live in fear of smallpox while growing up? Did you worry about getting measles or mumps? How about polio? All these diseases are relegated to the history books (or are outbreaks in unvaccinated communities) because of vaccines. Rabies is a small concern unless you get bitten by a wild animal (bat, skunk, or raccoon, for example), largely because we vaccinate our pets against rabies. And what do they give you to save your life? A course of vaccines to amp up your immune system to fight the disease.

But now, people refuse to be vaccinated. And yeah, the disease is still around, and more powerful with the Delta variant. So, when the CDC said it’s okay to go without masks if you’re vaccinated, people read the first part of the statement without the last part. (How stupid can they be?) The gods do not suffer fools, and those who decided it is their god given right to infect themselves and spread it to others are tempting a big smack down. And now, we have rising cases.

Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Get a vaccination. You can get COVID-19 Vaccination Information HERE.

What About the Fires? Mega-drought? Excessive Heat?

I know you’ve probably heard politicians and scientists talk about climate change. In fact, I was a big climate change denier, but the more I look at the data, the more I think that spewing greenhouse gases into our atmosphere isn’t a good idea. Furthermore, we need to reduce pollution. The US is a contributor, but China is easily the worst. And yeah, when people buy the newest gizmo instead of using the old one until it breaks or is incompatible with modern technology, they fuel even more pollution. We’re seeing it as fires, heat domes, and droughts. Not to mention disappearing coast lines and melting glaciers.

What You Can Do About It

Get vaccinated. Wear masks and practice social distancing because the pandemic isn’t over by a long shot. With those who are unvaccinated, they’re causing SARS-CoV-2 to mutated into variants. Already some people are getting breakthrough COVID-19 which can still spread, even if the vaccine makes it less dangerous, if you catch it.

I’m not saying go live in a yurt and forgo your computers, smartphones, and latest gizmos. (Unless you really want to. But those Mongolians in the picture even have solar energy.) I’m not saying ditch your car. What I am saying is be smart about what you buy, where you go, and what you do. If you can, invest in renewable energy for your home such as solar, wind, or geothermal energy. If that can’t happen, then consider purchasing the best energy saving devices when your old ones need to be replaced. Go LED bulbs because the twisty bulbs (mini-fluorescent types) still have mercury, plus they’re brighter and a lot more energy efficient. Switch to power companies that don’t use fossil fuels, if you can.

Buy from local farms that use organic and bio-sensitive methods of producing food, whether it’s produce, meat, or dairy. Hunt and fish if you live in an area that supports that. (Learn how to do it right, seriously.) You can get several months of excellent meat that doesn’t impact the environment. And send a message to your legislators. Tell them you want the town, city, county, state, and country to use non-polluting, renewable energy. Yeah, you can’t fix what’s going on alone. But you will have an impact.

My point is that these are wake up calls for humanity. Listen to the gods.

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Hlæfæst or Lammas, or Something Else?

Hlæfæst or Lammas, or Something Else?

We’re coming up on August 1st, which is the August Harvest Festival, Hlæfæst. It’s also known to most modern pagans as Lammas. If you’re still using the AFA Holiday wheel-of-the-year, it’s called Freyfaxi. For obvious reasons, I’m not keen on the AFA world, and after having read about the story of Freyfaxi, I don’t consider it a good name for a harvest festival, although Freyfest might be more in tune with the holiday.

What to Call the First Harvest Festival?

So, I’ve decided to simply call it the August Harvest Festival or Hlæfæst (Loaf Feast), in honor of the holiday that existed in Anglo Saxon times before Christianity got its mitts into it. If you feel more comfortable to call it Freyfest, by all means, do so.

What is Lammas or Hlæfæst?

Hlæfæst is probably more of a modern day creation than it is a holiday from the past. We can kind of associate it with Lammas, which is the Wiccan/neopagan version of the holiday. It’s the first of three harvest festivals many Wiccans/neopagans celebrate. Lammas literally means “Loaf Mass” or “Loaf Feast.” As I said above, it has been Christianized, like so many of the pagan holidays, that we have to go by what little we can gleam from past traditions and historical notes.

When the Christians Honored Lugh

I remember going to church while in parochial school during the Blessing of the Loaves, which is the Christian version of Lammas. Naturally the Christians decided to Christianize it to get more people on board with their teachings. In the past, people associate Lammas with Lugh, who is a Celtic god. I can imagine Lugh laughing at the Church because they kept his holiday–they just gave it different trappings.

Can We Celebrate Hlæfæst as Heathens?

Although Lammas celebrates a god from the Celtic pantheon, there’s no reason why we can’t appropriate it and call it Hlæfæst. Hlæfæst celebrates the grain harvest, which honors Sif, Thor, Freyr, and Freyja. Rather than just honor Freyr with Freyfaxi, I think honoring four gods and goddesses is better because these are the gods who make the grain grow. It makes sense to give thanks to them.

Remember that Heathenism, although based on an ancient religion, is pretty much still new, which means a lot is still open for interpretation. You can celebrate Hlæfæst as it suits you and your family.

How to Celebrate Hlæfæst

Since we’re kind of on our own when it comes to how to celebrate Hlæfæst, I propose the following:

  • Bake bread using local wheat or as many local ingredients as you can in honor of Thor and Sif. If it’s too hot, try a bread machine to make your bread.
  • Cook a pork roast in honor of Freyr. If it’s just too hot to cook a roast, go with pork chops or some other cut of pork that is simple to cook.
  • Cook vegetables and eat produce that is in season along with the pork. Thank Freyja for the food.
  • Offer a mead toast and blot to the gods and goddesses that helped bring this food to your table.
  • Visit a local farm or farmer’s market and buy fresh produce for yourself and your family.
  • Decorate your house with a harvest theme.
  • Make offerings to the landvaetr and the gods.

Tell me if you celebrate Lammas or Hlæfæst, and what you do.

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When is Genocide Ever Acceptable ? Apparently, When Christians do it to Pagans…

When is Genocide Ever Acceptable ? Apparently, When Christians do it to Pagans…

I read this one post about a Christian who apparently thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to commit cultural genocide and to murder children as long as they’re Christianized and buried as Christians. No, no, he doesn’t say it in those particular words, but I am going to quote him from his own piece written in The American Conservative, and I hope you’ll see what I do.

The Quote from The American Conservative

The guy who wrote it is not just a writer there, but he’s an associate editor. That gives him a bit of clout. It also suggests the other editors generally agree with him. Here is the quote I’ve pulled. Let’s see how pissed off this makes you:

“Whatever natural good was present in the piety and community of the pagan past is an infinitesimal fraction of the grace rendered unto those pagans’ descendants who have been received into the Church of Christ. Whatever sacrifices were exacted in pursuit of that grace—the suffocation of a noble pagan culture; an increase in disease and bodily death due to government negligence; even the sundering of natural families—is worth it.”

What the Fuck Did I Just Read?

Okay, okay, I bet you’re wondering where the context is, and that I am going to give you right now. He is talking about the tragedy of the Native American children’s graves in Canada. (Note: I am using “American” in the sense of North America, not just the United States. That encompasses Canada.) You know, the stories we’ve heard on the news where they found at least 751 graves? Only, he doesn’t buy into the fact these are a big deal. His opinion is that everyone knew about these graves and these children died from the normal high mortality rate of children, and particularly of Native American children. He blames the Canadian Government for under-funding these residential schools for lack of medical care. He also claims that this was just a common graveyard because there are oral traditions that adults are buried there too. 

Yeah, because it never looks suspicious removing headstones. Which those in charge did.

People remove headstones when they don’t want other people to see how many people are buried there. Or who is buried there. Other times people don’t mark the graves because the persons therein weren’t considered important enough.  Or they were in a hurry to just bury them, usually because of a war or because of a pandemic. Looking at the children’s unmarked graves we can kind of figure that the first three reasons are in play, since we’re dealing with more than 150 years and probably 751+ children buried there.

Let’s Talk About Cultural and Ethnic Genocide, Shall We?

From South Dakota, but I like it.

Canada has a lot to answer for when it comes to its indigenous population. But let’s face it: the United States has plenty to answer to the Native Americans as well. Yes, our government robbed their land and committed systematic cultural and ethnically genocide. Some atrocities included the Trail of Tears, the Nez Perce War, and the American Indians Wars. But, Canada is as much to blame for the same tactics. I quote from Reuters:

“The residential school system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed about 150,000 indigenous children from their families…”

Holy shit. Yeah, the US was guilty of it, too. But here’s the thing: this was still going on in Canada 25 years ago. Look, I remember the 1990s. I couldn’t have imagined that a country would allow various religions to just snatch kids away from their families to indoctrinate them. Because they were Native Americans. Because they were different. And dare I say it? Because they were Pagan.

In these instances, yes, it was the Catholic Church responsible for taking kids away from their families, preventing them from speaking their native languages, and depriving them of their right to practice their own religion and their own cultural heritage. And the government allowed it. Sure, there were other churches that did the same thing, but let’s focus on the Catholics, eh? You know, the ones who are still finding $300 million Canadian Dollars to revamp and repair their churches, but could only cough up $25 million Canadian Dollars for the survivors of these atrocities? Think about that for a moment.

Let’s Look at the Mindset of the Conservative Christian

Now, I know lots of Christians would find the attitude this editor had about Native Americans to be appalling–or, at least, I hope they would. But honestly? Would they applaud children being taken away from their families to be indoctrinated in the Catholic (or whatever else) Church? Many apparently never living past their school years? Think about when you grew up. Do you remember kids dying and being buried behind the school? Probably not, unless you were a victim of one of these schools. 

I went to K-12 school during the time these residential schools were operating. (Yeah, I’m THAT old–deal with it.) I only remember kids dying in maybe auto accidents or gang violence. And that was in high school. So, in my sheltered existence, I don’t recall hearing about someone dying because of the school per se. But then, I wasn’t taken away from my family and forced to endure a boarding school where my classmates might just disappear and never return. Go figure.

But let’s talk about the reason why he thinks this isn’t any big deal. The editor thinks that anything the indigenous populations endured was worth becoming Christianized. In other words, the “Indians” were pagans. Pagans are bad. Therefore, atrocities? No big deal. Right?

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

Yeah, he feels badly for “the little tykes.” He blames the secular authority for the deaths. Never mind that the Catholic Church has HOW MUCH money? (See the $300 million dollar quote above.) Never mind the Catholic Church has more gold than Fort Knox. But dammit! They’re pagan! And we can’t have that, can we? So, it’s better to die a good Christian than live with one’s family as an awful pagan.

Do you get why his mindset is utterly horrifying? And just how many Christians agree with this?

It sickens and saddens me that Native Americans have been treated/are being treated in this fashion. That they lost so many children. Furthermore, if people such as this editor believes that the ends justify the means, then anyone who is pagan is considered worthy of this treatment.

Think about THAT for a moment.

Anyone.

Because they are Pagan.

So yeah, think about this if you believe because it’s Native Americans, it has no bearing on you. Never mind that the combined number of dead children is over a thousand (when you consider both residential schools grave sites). Never mind we don’t know what other undiscovered grave sites lurk where these people buried the children. In the minds of the perpetrators of this cultural genocide, it needed to be done because the children weren’t Christian. Hence they needed to be taken away from their parents, taught their religion and culture were wrong, and probably die due to abuse and lack of care.

Except, none of this should have happened.

The Elder Futhark: Eihwaz

The Elder Futhark: Eihwaz

The thirteenth rune in the Elder Futhark, and fifth rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Eihwaz, which corresponds to the “eo” sound, which has no English equivalent in the alphabet. Probably the closest is the pronunciation of the name “Theo.” This is powerful rune that is protection, and oddly enough, death. It is the rune Yggdrasil and the Yew tree.

In Anglo-Saxon, Eihwaz is spelled Eoh, and in Old Norse it is Eihwas. Eihwaz is the rune of protection and defense. Self bows were often constructed of yew. If the wood was chosen correctly, it would have two different properties in the wood, itself. One part would be rigid; the other would be flexible.

Eihwaz is a powerful rune of protection. Like the self bow or yew staff, it can be both hard and flexible. The rune is even shaped somewhat like a bow, or a staff, if you use enough imagination. The reason why this rune can be a portent of death is because the yew, itself, is poisonous.

Divination with Eihwaz

When you get this rune in a casting, it suggests a strong defense of some kind. It can be your defender, depending on where it is in the reading, or it can defend against you if you are the aggressor. It is the rune of defense and protection, similar to the rune, Algiz. Then again, it can signal death in a very real way. It can mean death of an old way that can make way for something else. Or it could mean a literal death, but this is rare, in my experience.

When I’ve had Eihwaz appear in my castings, I’ve never interpreted it as death. It always seems to say that something bad is usually coming to an end, making way for something else, usually good. Eihwaz is my bow that keeps my enemies at an arrow shot away. It offers me the tools to protect myself.

Should you get this rune in your castings, it is a powerful sign that something is protecting and defending you. Like Yggdrasil, the protection is powerful enough to withstand damage even at the roots. It can help give you strength when times are tough.

Some Final Thoughts on Eihwaz

When Eihwaz appears in a spread, you may find that Eihwaz signals that you are protected, and that a difficult time will soon be over. As always, the position where Eihwaz appears as well as the runes around it will dictate how it should be read, because they can affect its meaning.

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