The Norse Gods: Thor

The Norse Gods: Thor

Thor is one of the most popular Norse gods, renowned for his superhuman strength and courage. An Aesir, Thor is the god of thunder, lightning, and storms. He is a major figure in Norse mythology, appearing in several forms, including in the Prose Edda, the Heimskringla, and the sagas of Icelanders.

Who is Thor?

Thor is a powerful and complex deity whose story has been retold throughout history. He is the son of Odin, the Allfather, and the giantess Jörð.

Thor is a fierce warrior who is strong and courageous, and the protector of the Gods, Midgard, and its inhabitants. He wields a mighty hammer, Mjöllnir, which helps him control the forces of nature, like lightning and thunder. The hammer is so powerful that nothing can withstand its force, except for the scales of the serpent, Jörmungandr.

Thor’s Role Among the Gods

In Norse mythology, Thor has several roles and responsibilities. He is the God of Thunder, the protector of Asgard and the realm of the Gods. Thor is also the guardian and protector of the humans and other creatures of Midgard. He is the god of strength and courage, and portrayed as a mighty warrior. Stories of his battles with giants and other creatures of chaos depict his mighty strength.

Thor’s chariot is pulled by two magical goats, Tanngnjostr and Tanngrisnir. These magical goats pull the chariot through the sky and carry him wherever he wished. Thor would summon the goats with Mjöllnir and they would pull him and his chariot, allowing him to travel across the nine realms. According to legend, after a journey Thor would kill the goats and eat them, but the next day they would be magically restored to life.

Thor at Ragnarok

His most famous story is that of Thor and Jörmungandr, where the giant serpent challeges him.  Unfortunately, his hammer, Mjöllnir, is unable to stop Jörmungandr. To defeat the great serpent, Thor engages in a fierce battle using strength and courage and is eventually successful in killing the giant creature, losing his own life in the battle.

Modern-Day Thor

In modern times, people consider Thor as a symbol of strength, courage and resilience. He is also a popular figure in pop culture, appearing in comic books, movies and other forms of media. Of course, he is one of the gods Heathens venerate.

Nature Associations

At one point in time, our ancestors may have associated Thor with the sun and the sky, because of his control over the forces of nature. This could be one explanation for why his hammer, Mjöllnir, is depicted with a whirlwind around it, representing the wind and storm of Thor himself.

Thor is an important figure in Norse mythology, and his stories and adventures remain a part of modern culture. People often describe him as the god of thunder, strength, and courage. He is the fierce warrior and protector of the gods, Midgard, and its inhabitants. His strength and courage are legendary, and his stories will continue to be retold for generations to come.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today! Become a Patron!

Happy Yule 2022!

Happy Yule 2022!

Happy Yule 2022! Welcome to the Rational Heathen’s Yule (b)Log–see what I did there? I want to wish you a happy Yule 2022.

Watch the Sunrise over Stonehenge on the Solstice!

Most of this post are roundups of past Yule posts, but I have a special treat for you! You can watch the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge live, which is way cool, thanks to the English Heritage site. The live video will happen the morning of December 22nd due to the timing of the winter solstice. Click on the link above to get access to the various channels, including their YouTube Channel. It’s all free and very cool.

The Month of Ýlir or the First Yule Month

Finally! I cover Ýlir as the first of the two Yule months. I also cover feasting and Yule.

The War on Christmas and Other Fallacies

So, this isn’t quite a post on Yule as it is on how Christians borrowed liberally from pagan celebrations to celebrate Christmas as we know it. Still, I count it with the season. Check it out.

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Yeah, everyone’s got them. And if they’re Christian, they may have a tough time with your Heathen ways (pun intended!). Here’s a way to make everyone happy.

8 Ways to Celebrate Yule for the Solitary Heathen

Yule can be a bit lonely for the solitary Heathen, so here are some cool ways to celebrate it by yourself.

What You Need to Know about Yule

Because I should be talking more about the history of Yule and how it relates to the modern Heathen.

When You Can’t Get in the Yule Spirit

Bah humbug! Are you the Scrooge around Yule? So am I. So, here are some ways to cope.

The Yule Goat Sneaks Heathen Tradition into Christmas

Heard of the Yule Goat or Yulebok? Well, if you haven’t, here’s your chance to add a little paganism to your relatives’ Christmas under the guise of Christmas.

Should a Heathen Teach Their Kids about Santa Claus?

Is Santa Claus Christian or Heathen? Should you teach your kids about him?

Yule as a Non-Event

When life intrudes and you can’t properly celebrate Yule.

Book Review: A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

I know many Heathens want to celebrate Yule, but don’t necessarily have an idea how to do it. This is a great book, if you’re looking for ideas.

Enjoy! And have a Happy Yule 2022!

The Rational Heathen

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site. Thanks.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today! Become a Patron!

 

The Month of Ýlir or the First Yule Month

The Month of Ýlir or the First Yule Month

I had been meaning to write about Ýlir for some time, but life and everything has gotten in my way (blah, blah, blah, excuses, excuses). So, I’m looking at the end of Ýlir and wondering if I can pull off a post before Yule. well, here goes very little.

The Norse divided the year into two seasons: winter and summer. Ýlir is the second month of winter in the Old Norse calendar. It is also the first Yule month. It generally started late November and ran until late December, usually ending on the Winter Solstice. The Viking calendar was flexible because it was set to the lunar phases. So, the actual dates varied when compared to our own calendar.

Let’s Talk Yule and Ýlir

It seems a number of websites have different opinions on Ýlir and Yule. Some sources claim that Ýlir gets its name from Yule, which is named after Jólnir from the word Jól. Jólnir is one of Odin’s many names, so it stands to reason that Ýlir is a reference to Odin.

The problem with this is that an Icelandic site points out that this is debatable because in 8th century Old English, géol, means Christmas festival. England was in the middle of conversion to Christianity by the 7th century and was mostly converted by the 8th century. That being said, there were still holdouts and pockets of paganism, so it’s likely that géol is what was carried over from the pagan winter celebration.

The word géol is the Anglo-Saxon word for Yule. We know that Norse pagans celebrated Jul — the old name for Yule and the Saxons were Germanic tribes with the same gods as the Norse. Now whether Ýlir references Yule is arguable, but I suspect it does.

Feasting during Ýlir

Now that we’ve beaten a dead etymological horse, let’s look at Yule. In many cases Norse and Germanic pagans held feasts that lasted twelve days and included the solstice. As I mentioned in my last post, land owners and nobles frequently used winter celebrations as a way of displaying their wealth and power. After all, what gave you more cred than hosting big feasts that had foods people normally didn’t have this time of year? The commoners loved it because it meant more food and celebrations. The nobles loved it because it was a good time, all around.

Not everything was about war during the Viking era, but even in the winter months, noblest tried to outdo each other. What better way to strengthen your people’s loyalty than show how generous you were?

What Yule was All About

December in Reykjavík, Iceland. Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland, photographer. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. No, the Vikings didn’t have airplanes.

Yule was a twelve day celebration of the return of the sun. Even if you lived where you wouldn’t see the sun above the horizon, the winter solstice marked the last day of the year where the darkness was at its longest. After winter solstice, you could guarantee the days would start growing longer again.

In many ways, Yule signified the return of Baldr, the god of the summer sun. Just as summer solstice was the longest day before the northern hemisphere retreated into darkness, Yule marked the cycle of return to the light. So if Yule is Baldr’s return, summer solstice was the death of Baldr by Hodr’s hand.

I cover the history of Yule in this post, so I’m not really inclined to do so again. I also cover the Yule Goat and other Yule celebrations in previous posts, so check them out.

Have a wonderful Yule!

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

 

 

Viking Winter Preparations and Activities

Viking Winter Preparations and Activities

Image by adriankirby from Pixabay

I thought I’d talk about Viking winter preparations and activities since we’re in December. Preparing for winter isn’t something we modern Heathens have to worry about much. I mean, maybe you get your car serviced or make sure that you’ve got snow tires on your car, but actual winter preparations isn’t usually something most people in modern, developed countries really have to worry about.

I often ponder how our ancestors coped with their hard lives in the context of the seasons. While many of us are worried about preparing for back-to-school and the holidays, our Northern ancestors were engaged in surviving another winter with brutal cold and an unforgiving landscape. Little wonder that they turned to the gods to aid them when they could.

Viking Winter Preparations and Activities: Food for Thought

Image by Jalyn Bryce from Pixabay

So what were the Viking winter preparations and activities? Most of our ancestors were farmers until modern times. Farming, in most cases, was how people supported themselves, their families, and their communities. They might have been required to pay their lord a certain percentage of food they grew, but in many cases, what people grew was necessary for survival during the winter months.

Most of what people ate were foods that they grew, raised, gathered, or hunted. Sure you might trade with your fellow landowner for something they grew, or occasionally bought exotic foods or spices from traders, but for the most part, your food was what you could produce.

If you had need of work such as a blacksmith, you might employ one, have a slave who could do the work, or do it yourself. You might pay in barter, such as food or products the smith might need, or if you obtained silver from raiding or trade, you might use that as payment.

Winter Celebrations

No doubt winter was a time for celebrating, since the farm work was pretty much done, especially if the harvest was good. After slaughtering the animals you weren’t going to keep through the winter, you had an abundance of meat, which meant preserving it or feasting on it.

Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay

I was listening to a podcast the other day where the expert pointed out that feasts in the Middle Ages were often used to show status. The lord would often have feasts to show off his wealth by offering foods that perhaps others didn’t have. This gave them a higher status in the community, or more cred.

Using feasts to show off one’s generousity and wealth makes sense. Cred, even back then, was vitally important in small communities. So, even our Viking ancestors probably showed off their wealth by providing feasts. What better time than after harvest and at solstice?

Winter Fun and Games

So, with all this time, what did our ancestors do? Sure, they hunted, tended to their animals and equipment, and preserved food, but they had free time. Much of it was spend playing games and doing outdoor activities.

tafl Games

Apparently, Northern peoples were gamers and played a lot of “tafl games” or table games. We know they played Hnefatafl, which died out when chess became popular. We only know the play rules because the Sami played a variation of it that is called Tablut. Tablut was still played in the 18th century and a clever botanist wrote down the rules during an expedition to Lapland.

There’s a lengthy explanation why Hnefatafl is a reconstucted game, including poor translations of the botanist’s writings and that’s it’s a variant and probably not the actual game.

Anyway, you can play it online, if you want to experience Hnefatafl. I’ve just downloaded an app to play, so feel free to search for it in the playstore. It’s also available as boardgames, so check out the links below.

Kubb or Viking Chess

Kubb is an outside game that some people in Norway call “Viking Chess.” It’s played with wooden blocks. It’s considered more of an summer game than one in the winter, and its dubious whether the Vikings actually played it, but what the Hel? You can have fun playing it anyway.  The instructions for playing are in the link above. You can also get some nifty Kubb Games HERE.


Kubb took off in the 1990s, and from the resource mentioned above, there’s no mention of it beyond a century ago. However, since our religion is largely a reconstruction with debatably accurate sources, adding Kubb to your family’s and friends’ game list isn’t like Thor or Odin is going to smite you for introducing an anachronism. Besides the game sounds like something a bunch of drunk Vikings could have made up.

Viking Winter Preparations and Activities: Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Ice Skating

I suppose one can’t talk about northern peoples without mentioning skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating. Our Northern ancestors didn’t invent any of those modes of transportation, but they sure did make them popular.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoes. Licensed through the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Snowshoeing was invented at least 8000 years ago in central Asia, according to Snowshoe Magazine. The first snowshoe artifacts archaeologists have uncovered date to 4000 BCE, and archaeologists believe humans used them well before that. It’s assumed that snowshoes existed before skis although there have been skis uncovered in Russia that date to 8000 BCE. Archaeologists hypothesize that people looked at the feet of animals who could walk on snow and mimicked their pads by creating a snowshoe that could spread their own weight over a wider surface area.

We know that the ancestors used snowshoes as their primary transportation when crossing the Bering Land Bridge to North America. How do we know this? Archaeologists have discovered that indigenous peoples still used snowshoes, but not skis. European ancestors tend to favor skis as they traveled west, which is why we see skiing as a popular sport originating in Europe.

Skis

Painting by Knud Bergslien. Public Domain.Skis came about as people looked for faster ways to move over snow. According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, skis were invented at least 10,000 years ago. Apparently archaeologists found skis in Russia dating to 7500 to 8000 BCE. We know that there’s a rock carving depicting skis and skiing in Norway that was carved 4000 BCE and pieces of skis from a Swedish bog date to around 3500 BCE.

As an aside, I expect the discrepancy in time between snowshoes and skis has to do with what is considered a ski and a snowshoe in the past. Skis often resembled snowshoes, and snowshoes might have resembled skis at one point, leaving it all to conjecture.

Although the Vikings didn’t invent skiing, the Norse actually gave the name to skis. We got the words ski and skiing from skríða á skíðum—“to stride on skis.” How awesome is that? Anyway, in 1274 the Norse had to outlaw hunting moose while the hunter was on skis because moose were in danger of becoming extinct. Wow. That’s really bizarre. Who would’ve thought skis would be a huge advantage when it came to hunting moose?

Ice Skating

Bone Ice Skates. Photo by Steven G. Johnson, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0.

Skate like a Viking! Seriously, our Norse ancestors strapped shin bones of deer or oxen to their feet to skate on the ice. They even used animal fat to make them slipperier. Some Norse used iron, but those who used bone skates tended to be faster. Probably had to do with the smoothness and the friction. Unlike skating blades people use nowadays, these were large, flat surfaces.

The Norse even held speed skating competitions where winners would receive prizes in the form of silver spoons, copper pots, swords, and young horses.

I think this blog post is long enough when it comes to Viking winter preparations and activities. Let me know what you think.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site. Thanks.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

How I Owed Three Beers and a Shot of Rum to a Goddess

How I Owed Three Beers and a Shot of Rum to a Goddess

Well, okay then. You may be wondering about the title on how I lost three beers and a shot of rum to a goddess. No, I didn’t lose a bet, but it sounds like I did. Actually, I won in the grand scheme of things, but the cost of three twelve ounce curls is sort of amusing.

Let me explain.

Hunting Season and Its Insanity

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Well, this year we got tags for some of our favorite critters, including antelope or pronghorn. If you’ve ever hunted pronghorn, you know that prayers of desperation can accompany the hunt given how wily and fast those beasts are. Hence three beers and a shot of rum.

For those who have never hunted them, understand that pronghorn are the second fastest land animals on the planet–right behind the infamous cheetah. If you google their speed, you’ll see that American antelope can run up to 61 miles per hour. That’s fucking fast. And they have ways to make sure their off your dinner menu.

Skadi and Beer

So, many of you know that Skadi is my other main go-to god, or in her case, goddess. She’s not as easygoing as Tyr is — at least, not to me. We started our antelope hunt, and sure as shit, she told me she wanted beer if we wanted a successful hunt. Craft beer. Not something beyond ridiculous, but something cool.

Okay, I agreed. We got our first pronghorn. Yay!

Forgotten Promises

Image by jessica45 from Pixabay

Now, I don’t make casual promises, but my memory isn’t always the best. Yeah, I forgot to buy the beer. Mea culpa. I don’t go into town often, and I don’t drink beer. So neither are simple to get where I live. Add that I have a spouse who generally doesn’t drink either. In other words, I do not have much alcohol to offer at home. Hey, I buy cheap, blended red wine for cooking, okay?

So, I come home from going into town to get groceries and I hear the goddess tapping her foot.

Skadi: “Where’s the beer?”

Me: “Uh…”

Skadi: “Seriously?”

A Disaster in the Making

So, our next hunts were a bit of a disaster. We got on antelope three more times and for various reasons, they spooked, the shot was off, or some other problem. It got bad. Really bad.

So, in desperation, I took out a shot of rum from the rum I use to make fruitcake and asked Skadi if she would accept the rum.

She agreed. So, I offered her the rum.

The Next Day…

The next day was the beginning of deer season. My spouse woke me up and told me a buck was on our property. I went out there, and after losing the buck for a bit, found him behind me. I shot and he landed in a place where we could get to him. My spouse, incidently, was late to work helping me dress out the buck.

Our deer hunting went stupidly fast and within three days, we had filled all our deer tags.

“Remember the beer,” Skadi said.

Three Beers and a Shot of Rum

Image by David Greenwood-Haigh from Pixabay

Now, I ended up in the supermarket in the nearby town, looking over the craft beer in the beer section. Luckily craft beers are a thing around here. So, I looked at them, bewildered, until I saw a winter ale with an obvious reference to snow. The goddess said, “yeah, that one!”

It’s an IPA, which if I recall my brewing, makes it more bitter with hops than regular brews. Perfect.

So, Skadi got the shot of rum already and tomorrow she gets three beers. Yeah, I’m hoping for more successful hunts coming up.

…As long as I remember the beer.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

Are Humans an Invasive Species? A Heathen’s Point of View

Are Humans an Invasive Species? A Heathen’s Point of View

I was talking with a friend of mine and he remarked that humans are an invasive species. I had to think about this a moment because, quite honestly, I don’t consider humans to be an invasive species.

To a large degree, this is an insulting term when referring to ourselves as such. Insulting and wrong, mainly because of the definition of what an invasive species entails. Even though we shouldn’t consider ourselves an invasive species, that doesn’t mean we aren’t damaging the environment and causing extinctions. But calling ourselves invasive isn’t correct.

I’ll go over the facts with you, and give you my take on it.

What Exactly is an Invasive Species?

Spotted Lantern Fly

When we talk about invasive species, we often think about the spotted lantern fly or feral hogs. (Both, incidentally are invasive species.) Sometimes we talk about the spotted knapweed or giant hogweed, when it comes to invasive plants. But are humans invasive? Well, not according to the definition.

Image by Dominik Rheinheimer from Pixabay

An invasive species is as defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “animals, plants or other organisms introduced by man into places out of their natural range of distribution, where they become established and disperse, generating a negative impact on the local ecosystem and species.”

Thanks to the Smithsonian Magazine, who analyzed this very question some time ago, they also came up with other definitions which included a non-native species which has widespread distribution. But do humans fit in the invasive species category?

Are Humans a Non-Native Species?

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Now, here comes the tricky part. Are we not native to the land? Humans have colonized every continent on Earth except Antarctica at least 20,000 years ago. Most places even earlier because our Homo Sapiens ancestors migrated out of Africa about 100,000 years ago. Yes, many species were around before us, but given that we’ve lived almost everywhere on Earth for a very long time, one could make the argument that humans are indigenous to all continents except Antarctica.

Image by Daniel from Pixabay

Even in the Western Hemisphere where scientists are still trying to decide when the first humans arrived on the North American continent, humans could be consider indigenous. (Current archaeological finds suggest around 20,000 years ago.) I think that most Native Americans and First Nations people would agree with me on that they are indigenous. And arguing that European descendants are an invasive species doesn’t work, because we’re all the same species.

What About the Introduction Part?

Image by Ante Hamersmit from Pixabay

Part of being an invasive species is having humans introduce the species (intentionally or not) to a place outside the range of normal distribution. That non-native species has to disperse and cause a negative impact on the native species and the environment. The concept of humans introducing themselves is patently absurd, even if we have had a negative impact on other species. So, that doesn’t really count either.

As a side note, if we were an invasive species, where would we return to? The European-descendants to Europe? The Native Americans to Asia? But then, we all came out of Africa, so do we all go back there? The concept is ludicrous. I, for one, wouldn’t go simply because I hate hot weather. And bugs. Africa is too buggy for me.

Let’s Talk About What We Really Are

Image by Dorothe from Pixabay

For all our destructive tendencies, what we should really be considered is a hyperkeystone species. A keystone species is “…defined as organisms that have outsized ecological impacts relative to their biomass. Here we identify human beings as a higher-order or ‘hyperkeystone’ species that drives complex interaction chains by affecting other keystone actors across different habitats.”  (Worm B, Paine RT. Humans as a Hyperkeystone Species. Trends Ecol Evol. 2016 Aug;31(8):600-607. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.05.008. Epub 2016 Jun 13. PMID: 27312777.)

In layperson’s terms, a keystone species is an animal that impacts the environment in a way that exceeds its basic needs to survive. A hyperkeystone species affects not only its environment the way a keystone species would, but also affects all the other keystone species no matter where they are.

So, basically we’re not only using up resources beyond what a normal animal of the same mass (weight) would to survive, but we also affect all the other keystone species as well.

So Why Does Not Being an Invasive Species Matter?

Image by erge from Pixabay

Okay, so now you know we’re not an invasive species. But why does that even matter? An invasive species doesn’t really go out of its way to be malicious; it simply does what it always has done to survive. Problem is, it has good success in the new environment because there aren’t any predators to keep it in check. So, it is able to flourish unchecked.

Humans, on the other hand, have no real predators anywhere on Earth to keep our population in check. Sure, we might get taken out by a lion or grizzly bear in the wild, but for the most part, we’ve eliminated the dangers of predators outside of our species by our technology. War, famine, disease, natural and manmade disasters, and all the other blights that come with humanity now keeps our population in check.

Being an invasive species means that it has no way of restraining itself. Hogweed and knapweed spread because that’s their biological programming. Feral hogs destroy their environment because that’s what they do. They don’t think or consider the consequences of their actions.

On the other hand, Humans can recognize when they’re doing damage to the environment. We can make changes in our behavior so that it causes the least harm. That’s why we can’t be an invasive species. We’re cognizant of the changes we’ve made to the environment and have the ability to fix it if the damage is fixable.

We Aren’t an Invasive Species Because We’re Part of the Ecosystem

We evolved as part of Earth’s ecosystem. We didn’t just arrive “poof!” out of nothing. The myth of Odin, Vili, and Ve creating humans from tree trunks is a nice story, but it is simply a way our ancestors tried to explain how we came into being. The idea that humans were carved from trees, given life, intelligence, and then given souls suggest that maybe we were crudely carved from life, itself. That may be reaching a bit, but it is something to ponder.

The point is that even the Norse myths suggest we came from the land. We didn’t just appear out of nowhere, even if the gods had their hands in our creation. We weren’t told, “You are masters over all creation.” On the contrary, we were given the chance to thrive and strive to be better.

That doesn’t make us masters of the land, but our role as hyperkeystone species puts us in a spot where if we do damage, we need to fix it in order to survive.

Luckily, we have the gods who can help us. No, they won’t get us out of the mess we’re in, but they can work with us to undo the damage we’ve done as a species. All we have to do is ask while we do the heavy lifting. Now, we just have to clean up after ourselves.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

When Radical Christians Co-opt Religious Symbols

When Radical Christians Co-opt Religious Symbols

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

I read a really interesting piece in The Atlantic on how radical Christians (mostly rad-trad or radical-traditional Catholics) have co-opted the rosary as a tool of violence.  I can’t help thinking about how the Nazis took our runes and Heathen symbols to use to promote their cause. There are some pretty scary parallels there.

What the Radical Christians Are Doing

Their latest fad is to drape rosaries over their semi-automatic rifles (usually AR-15s), take pictures of them, and posting them. It’s a not-so-subtle threat to those of us who don’t have their beliefs that they believe themselves warriors of their god. Nevermind that Jesus always preached peace. But why the fuck would they want to listen to that Jew anyway? (Assuming he even existed.) They’re a bunch of Nazis, anyway.

Why I Find this Objectionable

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

I have no problem with someone owning an AR-15 or some other semi-auto rifle. Their choice. I have no objections to people owning prayer beads or rosaries or whatever. Hel’s bells, back when I was Catholic, I prayed on those. I still own rosaries and other prayer beads inherited from my parents and in-laws. What I object to is the blatant and crass use of their religion and religious beliefs with the not-so-subtle underlying threat of violence.

It makes me want to go all Viking on them.

Radical Christians are Co-opting Sacred Symbols for Hate

I never thought in a million years that something like the rosary would be used for hate. But then, if there had been any true Heathens around the time of Nazi Germany, they probably would felt the same way on seeing the adoption of the sun wheel, Irminsul, runes, and our myths as being a reason for attacking and slaughtering millions. The similarities are staggering.

What’s more, it seems the more rad-trad the Christians are, the more alt-right they are. Or more appropriately, the more Nazi they are. And they are using holy symbols as a way of giving their cause validation in the eyes of their god. A god who is basically a Canaanite god that was adopted by the Hebrews and later by the Christians.

Make no mistake: radical Christians are dangerous. And the more dangerous they are, the more likely they’ll become embolden and go after people who aren’t like them. That includes minorities and people who don’t worship their god. People like us.

More Issues with Radical Christians

Case in point: radical Christians are also getting bolder when it comes to pagan gatherings. According to the Religious News Service, Christian groups are now harassing pagan festivals with bullhorns and preaching to try to deter generally peaceful pagan gatherings. And apparently law enforcement isn’t doing a lot to stop them. Imagine what would happen if a pagan group was to interrupt a Christian gathering? I guarantee they’d get arrested.

It’s truly as if the radical Christians want a violent confrontation so that the pagans end up looking bad. Because Christians would never resort to violence. <koff> For some reason the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and most of the witch trials spring to mind. Call me crazy.

Taking the High Ground

It feels odd to tell those of us whose ancestors were Vikings to not get into a brawl with these radical Christians, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. We will not win this if we’re being shown as instigators in a fight. Even if we’re not the instigators, the fact we resorted to violence would come off as bad. Because the group that throws the first punch loses in this. The media will eat this up and we will look like the aggressors. Okay by you? You might have won the fight, but you lost the war in the court of public opinion. Look no further than Antifa. Hel’s Bells, they’re listed as a terrorist organization. Think about that a moment. Heathens aren’t terrorists, or shouldn’t be.

Time to Make Ourselves Heard

Even so, it’s time we make ourselves heard. The Christian extremists are bullies. They expect for us to back off every time. We can’t; otherwise, they win. But we can do this with less risk. Pagan festivals need better security and work with law enforcement beforehand to let them know we expect help if the Christians come to call. Get on the law enforcement’s good side, even if the individuals don’t agree with our beliefs. It’s hard to put fault in someone obeying the law.

What You Can Do

You are not helpless. As a Heathen, you know this. Maybe you shouldn’t go toe-to-toe in combat with these fuckers, but you can make a difference.

What about your day-to-day life? Can you write? Start blogging and tell people about Heathenism. How about a podcast? A newsletter? Get creative. Get the word out any way you can. Don’t want to use your name? A-Okay. Use a pseudonym — many Heathens and pagans do, myself included. Hel’s bells, I’ll even talk about your endeavor if you tell me about it and I like it.

Don’t have time? Support those who promote pagans and Heathens, or even just freedom of religion. Maybe it might be a donation to The Wild Hunt, one of the bloggers on Patheos, or a favorite YouTube person. If you’re feeling particularly generous, even donate to my Patreon account (link below), if you think I’m doing a decent enough job promoting Heathenry. I’m not intentionally shilling for myself, but rather giving you ideas how you can make a difference.

Vote for candidates who don’t promote Christianity over other religions. Donate to their campaign funds, if you can. Or if you can’t, try volunteering to help the candidate’s campaign out. You can make a difference.

Be Safe

I don’t need to quote the Havamal to remind you to be wary. These are troubling times and the Christian extremists are going to great lengths to push their agenda. We need to push back, but in a safe manner. Don’t risk your life or the lives of your loved ones, because we need every single Heathen voice to stand firm. Use pseudonyms. Take precautions. You can still work against the Christian extremists without risking lives, especially your own. Stay within the law. Tyr wants it that way.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

 

Chilling with Loki

Chilling with Loki

I read about an interesting seidr that had Loki giving advice to everyone. Now, I am rather skeptical about people being skinridden by gods, but the message sounded like it could’ve been from Loki–at least the Loki I know. So, I’m going to keep my mind at least somewhat open when it comes to that seidr.

My Experiences with Loki

Loki is sort of the ADHD poster child of the gods. Who is on a sugar and caffeine buzz. Although the stories may show him as malicious at times, I’ve found that he’s more of a sympathetic trickster god. He plays tricks that often gets him into trouble, but he also works hard at trying to fix things. (Often to avoid the ire of the other gods.) He doesn’t like hypocrites and will often voice his opinion, whether the opinion is wanted or not.

Advice from Loki

I’ve gotten advice from Loki, often because Tyr didn’t have advice for me. Loki’s advice is…well…, not necessarily the best. Sometimes he’s made things worse. So, I don’t necessarily follow his advice. Because he’s a chaos god, you can expect your life to be interesting if he shows up.

Seidr and Skinriding

If I were to do seidr, I don’t think I’d want Loki skinriding me (possessing), just because he’d do something that would get me into loads of trouble. The Seeress who let Loki skinride was bold in doing so, probably because she had people who could help her if anything went wrong. And probably because Loki is a god and pretty much gets what he wants. The Seeress is undoubtedly experienced in seidr, so I can’t pass judgment on that.

Loki’s Advice

Image by Melissa G from Pixabay

Loki made it clear we need to bring joy and play into our lives. Because we’re facing a dark time. A time when everything is in upheaval. He also said this is a dangerous time for pagans because of the enemies we face and we must build our masks to keep us safe. That’s why many of us don’t want to be outed. Lastly, he said that know that Odin is working to ensure things survive during this time of upheaval. The term, Ragnarok, was used. Many other pagans have used the term “Tower Time” to describe what we’re going through.

What is Tower Time?

Tower Time refers to the Tower card in Tarot. It means utter destruction and change, if I understand it correctly. This time is when the tower (old thing) is destroyed and people must rebuild. It is a time of violent change.

I am not fond of “Tower Time.” But we’re obviously living through it. And Loki apparently gave us advice for dealing with it.

What Do I Think About This?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

If Loki did indeed skinride and give the people there his message, I think the message is sound. Even if he didn’t, the message is sound. We need to find joy in life. We need to be careful because of the Christian extremists. And we need to have faith that something will survive this time.

To be honest, I’m worried about the future of the human race as well as the future of the United States. We have Christian Taliban trying to make the US into a theocracy. This is definitely worrisome. We’ve also seen how five Christians have relegated women to breeding stock.

I don’t have an answer to what is going on. But Loki sure seems to think that somehow we’ll get through this if we’re careful.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

 

Apps for Heathens

Apps for Heathens

Disclaimer: I get absolutely nothing (no compensation) for recommending these apps. These are just apps I have on my tablet and smartphone.

Yeah, yeah, I know. What could Android apps have to do with Heathenry? Well, my friends, I suspect that the gods have just as much interest in technology as we have. Maybe more.  So, the other day, the idea hit me about talking about some Android/Smartphone apps I’ve found interesting, and yes, maybe a bit helpful.

Runic Formulas

I got this image from the Play Store, so you can see the type of runes, bindrunes, and other information they have there. They also allow you to create your own bindrunes with this app. Interesting? Yes. Lots of reference material in this. I’ll probably be looking at this app for a while. If you’re not handy with bindrunes, it has ready-made bindrunes for you. Free (with ads) or pay (without ads).

 

Rune Divination — Runic Tarot

Although I despise the Runes being called Tarot, I found this little app to be quite useful. I think that anyone who is learning the runes will find this app handy, and it’s easier to bring on trips than your actual runes. (And if you don’t have runestones, that’s okay!)

This app was designed by the same person/group as the Runic Formulas app, and it has a similar feel.

It does do inverses (I don’t) and I believe it has a blank rune if you want it (NOT), but despite that, it is useful. Free (with ads) or pay (without ads).

The Havamal App

I like this app. You can either go through the Havamal by sections, from front to back, or have the app pick out a stanza for today. A nice way to have the Havamal handy.

Learn Old Norse

I thought this was an interesting app to try out.  It has lessons and texts so that you can learn the basics of Old Norse and then build up your vocabulary with the challenges. A lot of it is dry, but you may find this app useful, especially when paired with videos on learning Old Norse.

Duolingo

I really can’t talk about good apps without telling you about Duolingo, if you haven’t used it yet. It is a language app that really is the best one out there in my not so humble opinion. Duolingo doesn’t have a lot when it comes to ancient languages, but if you want to learn German, Norwegian, Irish, or Gaelic, you’re in luck. I’ve been learning on Duolingo for two years in my spare time and it works. I love it. It has both paid and free learning. The paid gives you some perks and no ads.

So, there are other apps I use, but these are pretty cool. Check them out and let me know what you think.

A huge thank you to Sarah Keene and Roland Lock for making this post possible! They are my patrons on Patreon.

Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!

 

 

The Elder Futhark: Algiz or Elhaz

The Elder Futhark: Algiz or Elhaz

The fifteenth rune in the Elder Futhark, and seventh rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Algiz or Elhaz, which corresponds to the “z” sound in the English alphabet. This powerful rune is the rune of protection and defense.

In Anglo-Saxon, Algiz is spelled Eolh. In Old Norse, it is Yr. Algiz is the rune of the elk; that is, in North America, we call it the moose. Algiz takes on the properties of protection and a shield, which makes it a powerful rune to use in bind runes when you want to protect something. Algiz is the rune of the elk/moose, and takes on the strength of that animal. Moose are known to be incredibly aggressive at times, and often attack by stomping and using their massive horns to defend themselves. Having the power of such a strong animal as protection can be a good thing.

Divination with Algiz

When you get this rune in a casting, its meaning depends a lot on the position it appears in and what runes surround it. Since it is the rune of protection and shielding, it could mean you’re protecting or shielding something and you will fight to keep it safe.

Should you get this rune in your castings, it can be either good or bad, depending on the placement. It means there is a shield, or needs to be a shield around something. For example, if you get Algiz in the current spot, it suggests you or someone else has a shield up or you might be looking for protection. If you receive it in the spot in a casting which offers advice, it recommends that you or the matter in question should be on guard. You may need to look at the runes around it to understand what is influencing that rune. Remember, the runes don’t stand alone when doing a cast. Algiz is influenced by the runes around it, as well as it being able to influence the runes cast with it.

Some Final Thoughts on Algiz

When Algiz appears in a spread, you can assume you need to be on your guard with whatever you’re asking about. It might mean you have or need a shield. Or you may offer protection to someone. Or someone is guarding something from you. In some ways, it can feel negative, but it can serve as a warning in the future spot to guard yourself and be prepared to take action to protect yourself or whatever it is Algiz is shielding. I haven’t had issues with this rune, per se, when it shows up in a cast. Usually it tells me to be careful and not always take things at face value. It offers advice to protect whatever it is I need to.

A huge thank you to Sarah Keene and Roland Lock for making this post possible! They are my patrons on Patreon.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site. Thanks. Did you know you can become my patron for as little as $5 a month? This entitles you to content not posted anywhere else. Plus you get to see posts like this three days before the public! Without patrons, I’d be having a very hard time keeping this blog going. Become a patron today!Become a Patron!