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Author: The Rational Heathen

When There’s Not a Lot to be Thankful for at Thanksgiving

When There’s Not a Lot to be Thankful for at Thanksgiving

Well kids, it’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving. Or maybe you call it something else. Or maybe you’re outside of the US, and you’ve already celebrated a Harvest holiday. Whatever. For those of us who have Thanksgiving, you may be feeling like I do. That is, there isn’t a lot to celebrate. And you’re probably right.

Lack of Thankfulness or Gratitude on Thanksgiving

I’ll admit. There’s not a lot of things to feel thankful about this Thanksgiving. We’re still in a pandemic. There’s a lot of civil unrest. Cost of everything has skyrocketed. People have lost their minds and believe all sorts of insane notions.

I look at what is happening and I’m convinced we’re doomed as a species. I used to think people were somewhat logical. Boy, was I wrong.

So, if you’re not feeling particularly thankful this Thanksgiving, I’m with you. No matter what people say to try to foist a warm and happy feeling on you, don’t feel guilty for not feeling thankful. Your feelings are your feelings.

Hope, or The First Step on the Road to Disappointment

My spouse always quips that hope is the first step on the road to disappointment, and yeah, it’s true. Of course, we’re cynics, which means we can’t be disappointed if something goes wrong. But honestly? I can’t help but think living one’s life being in a constant state of cynicism isn’t healthy. Which is why in the past I kept thinking people couldn’t get so idiotic. First step…disappointment.

Scientists Tell Us to Be Grateful Anyway

This is NOT me.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on improving one’s mood, and one of the things scientists tell us is to come up with things that we’re grateful for. Just saying the words are enough to help improve your mood. I’ve tried it, and the jury is still out on that one. As is the advice, “fake it until you make it.” Or act like you’re happy, and you’ll feel better. The thought is if you go through the motions of celebrating the holidays, you’ll feel better. Again, I don’t know.

The other thing scientists tell us to do is write down all the positives of our lives so we can see how wonderful it is. My list using looks like:

I’m grateful:

  • I’m alive.
  • My spouse is alive.
  • I have dogs.
  • I have cats.
  • Hunting season is upon us.
  • Someday I will get those book contracts.
  • I got one deer.
  • I do not have COVID-19, nor do any of my family.
  • There are vaccinations for COVID-19,  and I am innoculated.
  • I have firewood and a wood stove.
  • It is fall, although it is snowing.
  • I have Tyr and Skadi.

Yeah, for a writer, I have no imagination. I don’t know if it makes me feel better, but at least I’m not spending time moping about the stupid shit.

Tricking your Mind, or Why My Sibling is Getting Better

Apparently, gratitude of some variety helps. By not focusing on your problems all the time, you can genuinely make yourself happier. I’ve seen this in action, and dare I say that I’m impressed.

Maybe Jedi Mind Tricks Would Work?

You see, one of my Christian siblings suffers from addiction and depression. They are active in their church, which means they do get to interact with people there. Well, my sibling found out a person in the church they knew didn’t have enough money to get Christmas presents for all their kiddos. They couldn’t even afford new shoes for them.

Now, the cynic in me says, maybe they shouldn’t have had so many kiddos–birth control, right?– but I honestly don’t know the parents’ situation. This has been a tough couple of years for more than just me. I know a lot of people are struggling right now.

My sibling decided to “adopt” the family and budget in presents for these people. Which is awesome. As a result, my sibling is doing better with their own problems. Their outlook is better. Their behavior is better. And they are less depressed. I can’t help but think because this sibling is focused on helping someone else, they don’t feel the need to dwell on the shit that is wrong with their life. And they feel good doing so.

My Recommendation for those Ungrateful Wretches

If you’re an ungrateful wretch like I am, you might want to consider doing something to help someone else. Or maybe look at the little things in your life which makes you happy and be thankful for them. As I was hunting, I got a beautiful show of how the waning light plays on the conifers. And yeah, I was thankful for that. Because I saw something a lot of people don’t see. Right now, I am by my woodstove, and it has a warm fire in it. I am thankful for the warmth.

But sometimes it’s tough to find little things to be thankful on Thanksgiving. Even so, you can find something in your life that gives you joy, even for a moment. Don’t look at the big stuff, unless there is something big that gives you joy. The big stuff is often overwhelming. Focus on the here and now. Mindfulness meditation can help.

I hope you have an enjoyable Harvest celebration or Thanksgiving. Stay safe.

50 Shades of Nazis

50 Shades of Nazis

Nazis, seriously? A reader of this blog commented on a post of mine saying he’d be rather be called a Nazi over Antifa.

What is this world coming to? Seriously?

Kids, it’s not either/or. It’s “None of the Above.”

Nazis, Seriously?

How the fuck did we get to the point where people align themselves with the Nazis? The NAZIS, for the gods’ sake. These were the bad guys in WWII. They believed in a “master race,” even though race is a were the bad guys in WWII They believed in genocide. They committed countless atrocities.

No Communists, Either

I’m not a communist apologist, either. Stalin and Mao (to name a few) committed atrocities in the name of communism. Mass murders and genocide. Even today, communists oppress and murder people. People are not free under their regimes. According to the Washington Post, Antifa is the equivalent of leftist neo-Nazis. So, both Antifa and Nazis are bad.

Where the Wackos Meet

You go too far right or too far left, and the methodology of the institutions look the same. Oppression. Mass murder. Destruction of people’s rights. In fact, the sides who oppose each other start behaving like each other the farther right or left they go. Sure, their rhetoric might be different, but those are just words. I’m talking action.

If your side is the one talking about harming other people, murdering, or proposing lunacy instead of logic, you are part of the problem. You have become like your enemy, and I honestly can’t see any real difference.

Freedom, or Just a Way to Harm People?

In the United States, we value freedom. But freedom doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. Your behavior and rights stop where you are harming someone. In other words, I have the right to swing my fist all I want to as long as it doesn’t impact someone’s nose (or body). Likewise, I don’t have the right to cough on, breath on, or otherwise spread my germs on people during a pandemic. Yeah, wearing a mask sucks. Deal with it. Don’t want to get a vaccine? Don’t expect to keep your job in healthcare.  Get a job that isn’t affected by the mandate.

Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories abound on both sides of the political spectrum, but I hear more from the far right than the far left at the moment. People no longer use logic. Instead, the more fantastic the claim, the more they believe.

Look, if you (or anyone, for that matter), make a fantastic claim and expect me to believe it, you’d better have PROOF. And not a “well, Faux News says…” Give me testable, verifiable proof of your claim by legitimate sources. Because the more fantastic the claim is, the more proof you need.

You CAN Be Neither Far Right or Far Left

Honestly, people. You don’t have to throw in your lot with the goosesteppers of either camp. No, you don’t have to agree with everything one side says or another side says. You can use LOGIC to deduce which claims are true.

Nazis and Antifa followers are both wrong. You don’t have to follow either of them.

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Halloween 2021

Halloween 2021

Welcome to Halloween 2021. If you’re new to this blog, you may not be aware that I am not the Samhain/ Halloween kind of person. BUT, I understand that a number of you are, so with that in mind, check out my blogs on Halloween.

If you’re wondering why I’m not into the whole Halloween thing, you can probably glean some info from the posts. I’m not going to go through it all here again.

Enjoy!

 

 

Have a safe halloween 2021, whether you celebrate it or not.

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Why I’m Against Horns on Viking Helmets

Why I’m Against Horns on Viking Helmets

Okay, I’ve been talking about a lot of serious stuff lately. But a reader asked me what’s wrong with horns on Viking helmets. You guys who know the history behind it can just go elsewhere if you’re too bored, but for you folks who don’t know martial arts or history, (or willing to bear with me), I can explain.

What’s Wrong with Horns on Viking Helmets?

No. Just, no.

When we’re talking northern peoples, they never wore horns on their helmets when it came to battle. (There might have been ceremonial helmets, but honestly, no. Just, no.) The whole horned Viking started in the 1870s when (and I quote from Wikipedia):

…Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the first Bayreuth Festival production of Wagner‘s Der Ring des Nibelungen, which has been credited with inspiring this, even though the opera was set in Germany, not Scandinavia…

So, the whole horns on Viking helmets was made up in the late 1800s, and is not factually correct.

Let’s Talk Battle, Shall We?

I’ve been trained in at least four different martial arts. Three happen to be Asian (with a smattering of weapons). The fourth is European long sword. When fighting hand-to-hand–or even with a sword–having anything to grab onto your opponent is a huge advantage. Grab a horn and you’ve got control of your enemy’s head. Where the head goes, there goes your enemy. Can you imagine how easy it would be to snap a neck? Or pull him down so you can gut him? Yeah, I’d want my enemy to have horns on his helmet.

Horns would also get in the way of fighting, because you’d have extra weight on your head that could pull you one way or another. And can you imagine wearing your horned helmet on a ship? OMG–I can hear Viking moms now! “Beorn! Take that horned helmet off, or you’re going to poke somebody’s eye out with it!”

Look, space was at a premium on long ships. I don’t think there was room for them.

Were There Ever Horns on Viking Helmets?

Odo bayeux tapestry.png

Public Domain, Link

Okay, so the image of the Viking with the horned helmet is made up due to the 19th Century Romanticist Viking Revival.  But were there ever horns? Maybe, according to the Denmark National Museum, but they were probably “headgear [that] was worn for display or for cultic purposes.” Yeah, they say there are images on golden horns of men wearing horned helmets who might be beserkers, but honestly? It’s unlikely, especially because of the reasons I gave above. Plus, no verified Viking battle helmet has ever been found with horns, and depictions of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 on the Bayeux Tapestry shows the Anglo-Saxons with conical helmets, not ones with horns. (Yeah, the Anglo-Saxons were Viking descendants–I get that, but still.)

Sure, there were other cultures that had horned helmets, but those weren’t everyone. Case-in-point, the Japanese Samurai. A Samurai often had an elaborate headdress on his helmet to identify him and to protect the vulnerable spot on his helmet (that being the center weld). Samurai were originally mounted archers, which made them more likely to be mounted, commanding their ashigaru or foot soldiers.

I hope that helps. As always, leave your messages in the comments below.

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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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