Pareidolia, or Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Pareidolia, or Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Many people have asked me about “knowing” when a god sends signs to them. Some of the signs are real, but most of the signs are simply pareidolia, which is obviously a holdover from our evolution. Let me explain.

What is Pareidolia?

A face in a house — a type of pareidolia

Pareidolia is seeing patterns in random things or events. Our genetics are hardwired to see patterns where there really aren’t. Our minds are structured to look for patterns in the world around us; to see order in chaos. Good examples of pareidolia are seeing a face in the moon or hearing a secret message when a record is played backwards. Maybe hearing “words” coming from a noisy brook or seeing faces in the trees. Pareidolia is responsible for people finding patterns in random numbers or discovering “secret messages” by using numbers and parts of the bible.

Why We Evolved with Pareidolia

Pareidolia is a useful feature in ancient, and even modern day, humans. It gives us the ability to see possible threats in the form of predators. It allows us to look at someone’s face and interpret whether they are friendly or dangerous by their expression. If we didn’t have pareidolia, chances are we wouldn’t have survived as a species. For example, it gives us the ability to recognize game when we hunt. Anyone who hunts knows to look not just for the whole animal, given that many game animals live in dense forest. Hunters look for images that come together as parts of an animal, such as a leg, torso, or even the head amid the chaos of branches, rocks, and trees.

Examples of Pareidolia

Descent of the Snake at Chichen Itza

I’ve already covered the face in a tree and the man in the moon, but there’s more to pareidolia than that. It’s finding patterns in randomness. The constellations are a great example of pareidolia. Ancient peoples looked at how the stars appeared to them in the night’s sky and “saw” creatures, heroes, and gods in them. No matter whether you think Ursa Major looks like a bear or a plow, the stars align themselves in the sky according to the Earth’s position in the cosmos. If the Earth revolved around a different sun, or in a different part of our galaxy, or in a different galaxy, our constellations would look very strange to us. And no doubt we would come up with new constellations.

We use pareidolia in emoticons. Even though this is just a bunch of symbols, we recognize the faces: a wink ; -) a smiley face  : -) or a startled face =:0 Chances are, you probably have used one of those at one time or another. Every time we “see” a face in something, even when there isn’t a face, that is pareidolia.

Some architects have used pareidolia in their designs to cast shadows in certain ways. Like Kukulkan in Chichen Itza on the equinox, known as the “descent of the snake,” or certain architectural features that make shadows that appear to be a person.

What Does Pareidolia Have to do with the Gods?

Sometimes a raven is just a raven

Now that you understand what pareidolia is, you can see how easy it is to try to recognize and organize patterns in a random number of things or events. So, sometimes you might see things that are random and attribute it as a message from a particular god. For example, let’s say I walk down the street and see a guy with an eye patch. Then, later that day, I do a search on the web for something and the name “Odin” crops up on a website.  And then, as I’m taking a walk, I see a raven. Is this a sign from Odin that he wants to talk to me?

Probably not. There is such a thing as coincidence. But, being a good Heathen, I might think that Odin is trying to tell me something. Only, there’s really no message. Think about all the cases of pareidolia we see on the news. How someone thinks they see Jesus and the Virgin Mary on toast or in a stump. Or how someone claims they see things that suggests its a sign from otherworldly beings. Like having one’s entire neighborhood flattened by a tornado only to have their house spared. It’s in our nature to want to find meaning in things, even when there is none. Just because you got spared when everyone around you died doesn’t mean the gods were looking out for you, it means you were lucky. Now, if you tell me that Thor appeared, warned you a tornado was going to hit, and you escaped, that’s different. I’m then more inclined to believe the gods watched out for you.

Is it a Sign, or is it a God?

Let’s say that you do end up seeing “signs” everywhere, and at certain times. Does that mean it’s just coincidence? Or is it a sign from a god? My first inclination is to go with pareidolia, BUT gods have been known to be subtle. Maybe too subtle. It took Tyr practically bashing me over the head to get my attention. Yeah, I can be pretty clueless. But seriously, if you start seeing patterns, you can ask the god or goddess for something more obvious. If they’re truly interested in you, they’ll oblige. Make an offering to them and ask for guidance. It won’t hurt anything and might cement the relationship. If nothing comes of it, so what?

My thoughts are if the god or goddess wants your attention, they’ll get it. After all they’re gods. They have a way of getting what they want.

 

 

Looking for Answers from the Gods About the Pandemic

Looking for Answers from the Gods About the Pandemic

As I sit and work day-to-day, I remember when I first heard about COVID-19 pandemic, Tyr told me that my job was now to stay safe and alive. So far, I’ve managed to do so. But it got me thinking about others who do not hear the gods, and I’d imagine they wonder the gods have to say when it comes to this already brutal year.

We Now Continue Our Year From Hell…

I intentionally used the Christian Hell, because I doubt strongly Lady Hel would treat humans this badly. 2021 is shaping up to be as awful as 2020 in a lot of respects. Sure it’s a new year, and we have the vaccine, but it’s going to take a shitload of inoculations before we can truly think this pandemic nightmare is finally over. Assuming the vaccine does what it’s supposed to do.

Our ancestors dealt with diseases all the time, and unfortunately they did not live long. You had a one in three chance of dying before you turned 21. If you were a woman back then, the chance of dying in childbirth was huge. Most people didn’t make it to 50. True. If you did, you were very old. It took courage and strength to survive in the Viking Era. Despite all the hardship, people did live their lives and lived as Heathens.

What the Gods Might Say to Us About the Pandemic

When it suits the gods, I sometimes hear from them. Despite my connection to them, I try very hard not to put words in their mouths. Different gods have different agendas. Even so, I do get impressions and feeling from them. And the message I get is to survive. Yes. Survive. You, me, …everyone. Use our brains to understand what is happening and listen to those who know more about it than we do. That means, listen to medical and health professionals who have more knowledge than your neighbor, your favorite politician, or your favorite conspiracy website. Even I don’t have the answers to everything, but I will tell you how I see it. Too many people are quick to go back to “normal” living when most of the population isn’t vaccinated, and we really don’t know how long the vaccine is effective.

As Heathens, we need to understand that the gods are not our bitches. They don’t run to us when we call. They don’t coddle us. They expect us to behave like the adults we are and face our problems head on. That may mean to show enough courage to wear a mask to protect the more susceptible people. To give up our parties and socializing for a while. And even to act like an adult when others aren’t.

Not Our First Pandemic: Our Ancestors had it Rough

I get it. It’s been a tough year sheltering in place. But guys, we have it easy comparatively speaking, to our ancestors. Our medical professionals tell us to wear masks, stay at home when not doing anything that is vitally essential, and social distance when we’re in places with other people. Yeah, the virus has screwed with our jobs and our livelihoods; I get that. Kids can’t socialize and play with others. Yeah, I get that too. Suddenly parents have had to become parents again and deal with their family on the full-time basis. Not always easy.

I look at how our ancestors had to cope with disease and hardship, and look at us today. Despite almost a half million dead in the United States alone—and yeah, I do know people who have had this terrible disease, or who work with patients who have it—we humans are better prepared than we have ever been to combat this disease. And what’s more, simple measures such as wearing a mask, handwashing, and maintaining a distance from others who are not in your immediate household can help prevent you from getting the virus and spreading it to others. When compared to what our ancestors had to deal with, our sacrifices for not spreading the disease seem minor.

Humanity hasn’t Changed, Much to My Chagrin

All that being said, I’ve been horrified that our behavior as a species hasn’t changed since the last pandemic. And how we haven’t changed that much since diseases such as the plague have ravaged our populations. Different accounts have shown that people’s behavior is still pretty much the same in a crisis. Despite all the progress in science we’ve made, people are still quick to trust in their god or gods that they will be spared despite our knowledge and education. Or they go about blaming conspiracies by certain mistrusted groups. Or they make shit up and try that to protect themselves.

In short, most people have never learned critical thinking. And honestly, that will be the downfall of humanity. Our own stupidity and ignorance will kill us faster than anything else because most are unwilling to understand the logic behind health professionals’ recommendations. You know, the guys with the fifty-pound heads who study diseases for a living? Who make recommendations from the current data they have? No, they’re not infallible. And no, they may change their recommendations as new data comes to light, but honestly, would you rather trust your neighbor who believes in chemtrails, or a seasoned medical professional with enough training and degrees, who has studied this disease, and has the latest information?

The Gods are Not Your Bitches

Look, if you’re looking for Odin, Thor, or whomever to keep yourself and your family safe from this pandemic, I’ve got news for you. The gods are not your bitches. They don’t come when we call them like some well-trained dog looking for a biscuit. Look, I’m on good relations with about a half-dozen gods and goddesses, and they don’t pop in most of the time when I talk to them. Sure, they listen. But whether they decide to talk with me is their decision; not mine. I get that.

Asking a god or goddess to protect you from COVID-19 while you’re still going to bars, not wearing masks, and not social distancing is insulting to our gods. They expect for us to use our brains and show foresight. They expect us to take the measures we can to protect ourselves from a pandemic. To expect them to keep you safe is ludicrous.

So, yeah, trust in the gods, but prepare yourselves. And don’t treat our gods like the Christians treat theirs.

An Insult to Tyr: the Attempted Coup

An Insult to Tyr: the Attempted Coup

Like many of you,  I watched in horror as the Trumpets broke into the Capitol building,  violating laws, and making an attempted coup to keep the Don as dictator.  I saw white supremacists, people wearing anti-Semitic messages including an Auschwitz t-shirt,  and a guy sporting Heathen tats who got a lot of press. I was so angry and frustrated I could do nothing to stop these morons from desecrating the very symbol of the US democracy.

Where I Stand, So You Know

I’ve been accused of being liberal and conservative. The truth is, I’m closer to being Centrist. That means, I have both liberal and conservative tendencies. I hated both candidates, to make it known. In fact, I voted for neither. There are reasons why I didn’t like Biden, and why I didn’t like Trump. In fact, I find them both too extreme for my taste. So, understand what I’m about to say comes primarily from the viewpoint of why I believe the march on the Capitol building was no less then an act of sedition.

Why this was an Insult to Tyr

The Republican Party, for all intents and purposes, considered itself the champion of the rule of law. Now, you can argue about that all you want, but the march clearly showed otherwise. Tyr, as you know, is the god of law. That means he is the champion of the rule of law. No question.

This was a total insult to the god of laws. Tyr would have found those bearing the Valknut, Yggdrasil, and Mjolnir on their skin at the rally to be an insult. These people were nothing more than armed insurrectionists, looking to overthrow the legal results of an election using fear and intimidation.

Anything but Lawful

What happened during that march and subsequent riot was anything but lawful. Lots of Trump’s followers seem to have drank the Kool-Aid when it comes to the explanation the far-right is giving. That it was a peaceful march. That the problem occurred with law enforcement and the Capitol Police.

The reality is that what happened wasn’t legal. It was a fucking attempted coup. According to credible news reports, the rioters were looking for Vice President Pence and members of Congress to lynch. They had a working gallows in front of the Capitol, for fuck’s sake. Five people died and many more injured. All whipped up by none other than Donald Trump. None of this would have happened if Trump had not encouraged these people to march on the capitol. Seriously, did anyone really think that this would go well?

These people damaged the Capitol building. They desecrated what should be considered a sacred area for democracy. They also have harmed the United States, possibly irreparably, in the world opinion. We went from being a world leader to a Banana Republic in the matter of one day. And yeah, Trump is to blame for this.

Why We as Heathens Need to Speak Up Now

Whether you voted for Trump, Biden, or Obi-Wan Kenobi (He’s our only hope), the election process was not rigged. Each state has their own people handling the voting process, and many, many people work hard on the Republican, Democrat, and other parties’ sides to ensure a safe and secure election. Every time I voted in the past, I saw volunteers who worked hard in the past to ensure my vote was counted.

The same thing happens all over the United States. It’s part of representative democracy in action. Trump’s allegations of voter fraud were unfounded by people in his own party. These are people who he put into place who swore a duty to uphold the Constitution. Not pander to Trump or only uphold the Constitution when it was in Trump’s favor.

Not once did Trump or his legal counsel offer proof that there was widespread voter fraud. Instead, we heard allegations, lies, and half-truths. Only after his own aids begged him to make a statement to try to calm the crowd hours after the attempted coup started did he offer a lukewarm statement—neither condemning the actions nor stating he was wrong.

It’s Too Late to Hope this All Goes Away

Hope is not a plan. Whether you like it or not, we Heathens just got a black eye for tolerating this Nazi and white supremacist bullshit shit far too long. Don’t think so? Check out the Rolling Stone article. Quibble all you want about “how they got this wrong,” or “they got that wrong,” the truth doesn’t matter a flying fuck in the face of popular perceptions. (Yeah, a follower of Tyr just said that—deal with it.)

What now matters is that those of us who aren’t white supremacists and Nazis need clean house. That means ZERO TOLERANCE for morons who speak like white people are superior to everyone else and who supported this attempted coup.  Kick them out of your hof; end their membership in your organization. As a follower of Tyr, I found the whole attempted coup insulting, especially when paired with the images of the Valnut, Yggdrasil, and Mjolnir. These people failed to follow the rule of law. This is not what Heathenry stands for. And we as Heathens should decry their behavior.

I don’t pretend to be perfect. I’m Human. I’ll sling mud at other religious beliefs with the best of them, but by the gods, I look at everyone of different ethnicities as human, no matter what their skin color is. And I don’t believe that anyone who believes differently should be physically harmed for their ideals, provided that they’re not harming others. Their (and my) rights to swing their fists ends where someone’s body begins. Murder is not an option.

I’m sorry this is a late post, but I really had to think about what I was going to say in response to this failed coup. If you’re a Heathen, Norse pagan, or whatever, now is the time to stand up for democracy and freedom, not totalitarianism and anarchy. Add your voice to those of us who already believe in equality under the law, in the rule of law, and in keeping the peace along with our elected representatives. Don’t stay quiet, or the assholes have won. Let the world know what Heathenry really is about. It’s about laws, justice, and speaking up when we see a wrong. Violence is not what we are.

Happy Yule and a Post Roundup!

Happy Yule and a Post Roundup!

Happy Yule! Once again, I find it’s Yule and I still haven’t done everything that needs to be done. This is probably going to become a tradition on Yule to offer a post roundup of all the articles I’ve written over the years about Yule (at least the ones that are interesting).

Check them out and enjoy Yule!

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!

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.

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

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

A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule
Author: Jenn Campus
Available on Amazon and https://dreamsofydalir.com/
Price: $3.99 or Free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers
Format: Amazon Kindle (eBook)

For Yule, I decided to do a book review on celebrating Yule (seems appropriate). I’ve chosen A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule. I’ve recommended this book in the past, but maybe, you haven’t seen this little gem. This Yule, since you probably are spending it alone or with immediate family, due to the pandemic, it’s helpful to have a guide in celebrating it.

Not for Recons

Now, this book is pagan and not necessarily Heathen, but even Heathens can get good ideas from it. It’s not a primer on Heathen celebrations and you won’t necessarily find something that will be 100 percent Heathen. That being said, if you’re a reconstructionist, avoid this book, because these are not the droids you’re looking for. For the rest of us Heathens, who are simply looking for good ideas to incorporate into our Yule celebrations, this is beyond helpful. It may give you even more ideas on how to celebrate the season.

What I Liked About A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

First, I’ll say that I like how this book is organized. She takes you through preparation and each day of Yule, and what she does to celebrate it. For those still starting out as a Heathen, this offers nice suggestions for each day and how to give offerings to the gods who preside over Yule. Some of the rituals are obviously the author’s design, but I look at them and think how wonderful it is that another Heathen has designed her own rituals according to her family. Other rituals, such as the Yule log and leaving oatmeal with butter out for the Tomte have their roots in Heathen tradition.  She includes her prayers to different gods and goddesses as well as cool things like recipes for a Yule log cake, glog, and crispy roast pork with cherry sauce. It all sounds delicious.

What I Didn’t Like About This Book

It’s really hard for me to come up with something wrong about this book. Yes, it’s more pagan than reconstructionist Heathen, but I’m okay with that. If I could make a complaint to the author, it would be that a paperback version isn’t available, possibly because it is a short book at 66 print pages. Lots of people can complain that it’s not in other eBook formats or with other vendors. But given that the Amazon app is available for most platforms such as Android and iOS, not to mention Windows, you don’t need to buy a Kindle Reader or Fire device to read and enjoy it.

So, if you’re looking for modern ideas with Heathen influences for how to celebrate the 12 days of Yule, pick up a copy of A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule HERE.

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.

This post was made possible by Sarra Keene and all my patrons at 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!

 

Five things you can do for winter preparations

Five things you can do for winter preparations

Every year in November and December, I go through typical winter preparations. This year has been no different. While I realize that my preparations for winter it’s probably vastly different from yours, given the fact that I live in a rural area, there are still some things you can do right now to prepare for the oncoming season.

1. Prepare your winter food

At this point, I tried to get as much food stocked up for the winter. Most of this entails drying fruits and vegetables that I get either from the Farmers Market or from the local food bank. Quite often in my area, they give you far more produce then you could possibly eat, so it behooves oneself to take advantage of the extra food. I have a dehydrator that I run a lot during this time.

A lot of people can and freeze — and I do this too — but I’ve found that I have a lot more room when it comes to dehydrating. You can store a lot more dehydrated food than canning or freezing — any you have the bonus of it staying good for a long time if stored in airtight containers.

I usually find that I have more peppers, carrots, and celery then I can possibly use in a few days. While root vegetables tend to stay pretty well for a while, I really find dehydrating them makes a lot more sense. When I make a stew or pot roast, all I have to do is grab my dehydrated vegetables from the cupboard instead of wondering what that nasty black stuff is at the bottom of my vegetable tray.

You can easily purchase a dehydrator for about $60, give or take, and save a boatload of money on produce you would have normally thrown away. You can dehydrate lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, carrots, celery, pineapple, cranberries, peaches, apples, oranges, lemons… just about anything you care to imagine.

2. Hunting

Fall means fall hunting. Hunting means excellent venison, turkey, and grouse, so I look forward to it. Unlike many people, my family relies on hunting for most of our meat. That means I make offerings to Skadi, Tyr, and Ullr, as well as the local wights for success.

Even if you’re a city dweller, chances are there are ways to hunt in your area. In the United States, you’d be surprised at the urban hunting opportunities available. Never hunted or shot a firearm? There are classes for hunter safety and for firearm safety. Prefer something more akin to our ancestors? Bowhunting is big.

Don’t think hunting means deer only. Small game such as rabbit, squirrel, and raccoon can provide decent meals (although I look at squirrel and trash pandas as a last resort for my food). Some people really love small game meat, so give it a try.

Also grouse, quail, chukar, duck, goose, and turkey are all excellent foods, and I find grouse better than chicken and goose remarkably yummy. Wild turkey (the bird, not the alcohol) is amazing if brined properly. I prefer it over store-bought turkey.

3. Gathering Food

Fall is usually the time I gather wild rosehips, elderberries, and any chokecherries I’ve missed. This year, we had a really bad cold snap early in Fall that pretty much killed off the berries. So, luckily I had gathered chokecherries and made syrup this summer, and I have a lot of dried rosehips and elderberries from the previous year.

I honestly stay within my comfort zone when it comes to foraging. I have a lot of book knowledge when it comes to certain plants, but I stay within the plants I know for certain. If I came across some morels, I’d go for them, but I don’t recognize other mushrooms and stay away from them. If this is something you’re interested in, I’d recommend finding a mentor or looking for a class on the subject. Get it wrong, and you could poison yourself.

4. Plan Your Yule

It’s not too late to plan Yule for yourself and your family. Even if you live in a Christian (or other faith) household, you can still plan on certain days/celebrate the Heathen holiday. There’s no reason why you can’t celebrate Mother’s Night and Solstice as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas. Sure, your family may look at you oddly when you suggest spending December 20th or 21st reminiscing about loved ones who are no longer with you. Or, they may appreciate it. I’ll try to create another post on things to do for Mother’s Night—hopefully before December 20th!

Don’t forget to plan Christmas Eve and Christmas as well. Yes, you may not believe in the whole mythos, but honestly, where’s the fun of being a spoilsport for your family? Kids love Santa Claus, and you can certainly enjoy a secular Christmas. Plus, the Tomte are looking for oatmeal with a pad of butter on Christmas morning.

5. Spend Some Time in Nature

Now, more than ever—especially with the pandemic—you need to go into nature and enjoy its beauty. (Bring a mask with you, in case you run into people.) If you live in the north where we have snow, enjoy the amazing beauty of a snowy forest. No snow? That’s okay. Even the stark beauty of barren branches and the shortening of days will remind you that on the winter solstice, the days will grow longer again. And warmer days will soon be here.

So, how are you planning on preparing for winter? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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 Elder Futhark: Jera

The Elder Futhark: Jera

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

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

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

Divination with Jera

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

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

Some Final Thoughts on Jera

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

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 Elder Futhark: Isa

The Elder Futhark: Isa

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

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

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

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

Divination with Isa

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

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

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

Some Final Thoughts on Isa

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

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Why Bad Things Happen — a Heathen’s Perspective

Why Bad Things Happen — a Heathen’s Perspective

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

The Year of Hell

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

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

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

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

Yeah, it’s that kind of year.

No, the Gods Are Not Punishing Us

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

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

Bad Things Happen Randomly

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

Why We Look to the Gods when Bad Things Happen

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

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

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

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

Why Bad Things Happen

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

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

What Can We Do When Bad Things Happen?

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

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

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