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5 Great Things to Heathens Can Do to Celebrate Eostre Anytime (and While Under Quarantine)

5 Great Things to Heathens Can Do to Celebrate Eostre Anytime (and While Under Quarantine)

Okay, by now you’re all probably sick and tired of the quarantines and stay-at-home directives. It’s no big thing for me because I’m a writer, and more importantly, an introvert. (Gosh, a writer with a scientific degree? An introvert? Unheard of!) Anyhow, while the Christians are bemoaning they can’t go to mass for Easter, we Heathens can still celebrate the month of Eostre. Even if you’re the sole Heathen among people of other faiths in your household, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself during this time. Here are five ways you can celebrate the Feast of Eostre (whether or not you believe she is a goddess):

1. Dye Eostre Eggs with Your Own Natural Dyes

This one takes a little bit of work and some ingredients, but the colors are spectacular and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it at least once. Most of the ingredients are probably already in your refrigerator or pantry. Here are some links to recipes for dyeing your eggs with natural ingredients that are completely safe (unless you have an allergy to particular food ingredients):

  • Kitchn has some eggcellent recipes for dyeing your eggs colors such as blue, pink, lavender, yellow, and orange. They tell you what your eggs will look like if you use white eggs or brown eggs. (Hint: use both and have a host of cool colors!)
  • Good Housekeeping has similar recipes, but includes a way to make your eggs dark blue. I like their suggestions.

Dyeing eggs with your own colors is more fun than using tablets out of a package. And you’ll probably like the results better.

2. Eostre Egg Hunts for the Kids (and Pets)

This one doesn’t have to be for kids only, but if you’re alone or staying home with your significant other and no one else, this isn’t probably as fun as it could be. Naturally if you have a yard, hiding eggs becomes easier, but you can also hide eggs in a specific room. If you hide eggs inside, be sure to have an egg count, otherwise you may be in for a nasty surprise (and smell) in a couple of weeks. And while you’re at it, if you have a pet, you might want to hide some treats for them and show them the first few treats, so they might get the idea of searching for treats. Dogs can usually figure this out, but I’m not discounting cats.

3. Have a Feast in Honor of the Gods and Goddesses of Spring

Whether or not you believe that Eostre was the Anglo Saxon goddess (or Ostara, a Germanic goddess) of spring and fertility, we can always hold a feast in honor of the gods and goddesses of spring. Roast a pig or ham in honor of Freyr, and dedicate the feast in honor of him, Freyja, Thor, Gerdr, Sif, and Idunn, among any other gods and goddesses you’d like to include. Even if you’re a solitary Heathen, you can make yourself some pork and make an offering or blot to the gods.

4. Get Your Garden Planted

Whether you live on a farm, in the suburbs, or in the city, you can have your own garden, even if it is only a container garden. In most parts of America, it’s warm enough to start seedlings outdoors, and for those of us who live in the colder climates, we can start them indoors. Not sure what to plant? Start with herbs. Most are easy enough to grow, and you can dry them and use them in a number of recipes and in rituals. Container gardens are great for apartment dwellers because they take up very little room and they are portable.

5. Meditate Outdoors

It’s springtime, which means that you should probably enjoy the outdoors. But with the quarantine, you may be pressed to find a spot where you can enjoy yourself. With meditation, you don’t need a big place to get away: your balcony or backyard will do. Or, if you’re not under a strict stay-at-home order, find a quiet place in a park or forest where you can be away from people and simply meditate. Never meditated before? Check out Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. Meditate on the season and the world around you. It will help ground you as a Heathen plus put you more in touch with the gods and goddesses of Heathenry.

Okay, so now you have some things to do for celebrating the Feast of Eostre. Go, and have fun. And stuff yourself with chocolate bunnies, because I said so. Next post, I’ll give you ideas for keeping yourself and the kids busy while indoors.

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Celebrating Spring with the Gods Despite the Coronavirus

Celebrating Spring with the Gods Despite the Coronavirus

It’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere (finally), even though in many parts of the world, we still have winter weather. During this time, our thoughts normally turn to the more pleasant weather and outdoor activities. This year may be a bit different, though. I’ve promised myself to not make every post about the 800-pound gorilla in the room (Coronavirus/ COVID-19), but talking about celebrating spring is going to be tempered with what we’re dealing with. So, if you’re looking for great things to do while still being mindful of the pandemic, I’ve got your ideas right here.

Enjoy the Weather

Just because everyone is distancing doesn’t mean you can’t do things. Just don’t plan on crowd activities or activities with anyone other than those who live with you. Instead, try getting out to wild places like National Forests and Wilderness areas. Try to go places where you know you won’t have to deal with other people. Can’t get away or too far to avoid other people? Have a picnic in your backyard or on your balcony.

Get Out and Hunt or Fish

If you hunt or fish, check out what season it is for hunting certain game, or fishing. You might want to try your hand at other types of hunting that you haven’t done in the past, largely because of other commitments. Who knows? You might find a new type of hunting you enjoy?

While you’re at it, offer blots to Skadi and Ullr, because they are the goddess and god of hunting. And if you’re into fishing, a blot to Ran and Njord might work well.

Offer Blots to the Gods and the Local Wights

Eir is the goddess of healing, and a Valkyrie. Making offerings for healing both humans and the world is not a bad idea at this time. Give offerings to the gods and goddesses of spring. Include Freyja, Freyr, Eostre, Sif, Gerdr, and Thor in your blots for a prosperous and healthy spring. Be sure to include animals and new plantings so that there are good harvests in the fall. I talk about making an outdoor altar HERE.

Don’t forget the local wights. Although I am agnostic when it comes to them, I admit that I offer the local landvaettir something to ensure they are happy. They can make a difference between positive experiences and negative ones.

Get Your (Container) Garden Planted

I’ve talked a lot about getting closer to your Heathen roots by planting gardens, even if it’s a container garden. Now is the time to do it, if you have good weather. Even apartment dwellers can plant container gardens and enjoy them. I recommend planting seeds for vegetables and herbs because they’re useful and you can use them in cooking, but you can choose whatever you’d like. Maybe some flowers that will make your place look beautiful?

Read Those Books You’ve Been Meaning To

If you’re like me, you have a gazillion books on the shelves that you haven’t read. Time to dust them off and start reading them. Or if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber like I am, you can read as many books as you care to for $9.99 a month with Kindle Unlimited.

Do Some Spring Cleaning

Frigga and Frau Holle will be delighted if you decide to do some spring cleaning. Anyway, you should be disinfecting things because of the virus, but this gives you an excuse to finally get all those dirty dishes out of your sink.

 

Just Have a of Coffee or Tea, and Enjoy the Weather

Okay, if you can’t get to your favorite coffee shop, brew up some coffee or tea and sit on the porch or on the balcony and just enjoy the weather. Don’t get too enamored with the Internet, because yes, it will rot your brain. Okay, I don’t have any proof of that, but seriously staying online all the time isn’t good for you. Sit and enjoy the weather and the coffee (or tea). Meditate. Thank the gods you’re not sick, or if you are, do what you can for a speedy recovery.

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The Month of Gói or Women’s Month

The Month of Gói or Women’s Month

Sorry I dropped off writing about the months. I’ll pick up now with the month of Gói, which is the fifth winter month in the Norse calendar. We don’t know a lot about the traditions of this particular month, except that the Norse named it after the daughter of Þorri, or Thorri. The month of Þorri precedes Gói, and is most known for its Thorrablot. Thorri is a winter spirit, akin to our own Jack Frost. Farmers held a blot to Gói in this month to welcome her. Tradition states that this month was the month where men took care of their women more. I can totally get behind that.

Weather During the Month of Gói

Gói runs somewhere between mid-February to mid-March, so there’s no doubt that even if the Spring Equinox is just around the corner, the weather during Gói was daunting during Viking times. The temperature in Norway was probably high 20s to low 40s Fahrenheit during the month, with occasional drops below zero. Sure, there were thaws, but the weather was too cold to consider planting, given that you could have some pretty nasty freezes. I suspect that farmers welcomes Gói because of the signs of an upcoming spring (even though they had only two seasons: winter and summer). Maybe Gói was considered a herald for summer when the farmers could plant their crops? Regardless, it’s unlikely anyone farmed during this time.

What Did People do with All that Winter?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how people didn’t go stir-crazy with all that winter. There were plenty of things to do during winter, especially crafting and repairs. People had to keep their livestock alive, which meant proper care for them in the winter so they would have wool, fiber, meat, and milk for the rest of the year. There was hunting, if you wanted fresh meat. They also played games, sang, told stories, and prepared their tools and weapons for the upcoming summer. And they had skis and ice skates to get around on the snow and lakes.

Food was what they preserved over the summer and fall. The cold, dry air allowed them to dry fish and other meats using a brine to help preserve them. The only fresh food was the meat they could hunt and catch, and perhaps milk, if their cows or goats started to calve or kid.  As a side note, you know all about the Christmas fruitcake, made from dried fruit and nuts. Well, I suspect these cakes come from earlier times as a way to provide a treat with fruit, even when the fresh fruit was out of season.

New Life

About this time, the livestock would start giving birth to their offspring. I know, because that’s how my goats are, if I breed them. The Viking farmers would’ve kept their calves, kids, and lambs inside with the other livestock, possibly in a birthing pen so the little ones could stick around their mom and not get trampled by the rest of the herd. They would’ve taken the extra milk to make cheese or use in cooking after the young ones had eaten their fill.

So, the month of Gói was largely spent in preparation for summer. In a few weeks, I’ll talk about the next month, Einmánuður.

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The Elder Futhark: Hagalaz

The Elder Futhark: Hagalaz

The ninth, and first rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Hagalaz, which corresponds to the “H” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  This is a probably one of the most negative runes you can get, whenever it comes up. It does occasionally have positive sides, but I’ll talk about that later. It is the rune of disruption, hail, natural destructive forces, and uncontrolled chaos. Where Wunjo is an excellent rune to get, Hagalaz is the exact opposite. When I see Hagalaz in a reading, I take a deep breath and know that it’s going to get rough for a while.

Hagalaz‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Hagalaz is spelled Haegl, and in Old Norse it is Hagall.  Hagalaz is the rune of hail–a destructive and uncontrollable force in nature.  No doubt hail wreaked havoc on our ancestors, damaging crops and homes, and possibly causing injury if you were outside in it.

While today, we understand that hail comes as a results of convective forces in large thunderstorm cells. The water droplets freeze at high levels, fall, and then updrafts carry them upward with more moisture to freeze again, larger and heavier. The most powerful the updraft, the greater the number of times the hailstone is carried higher to gather more ice. Eventually, it gets heavy enough where even the updraft can’t carry it, and it falls to earth as hail.

Our ancestors knew none of this. Instead, they probably understood that dark, violent thunderclouds with lightning sometimes brought hail, though why or how was unknown. Instead, they knew it was unpleasant and destructive. It was an uncontrollable force of nature that would not be denied.

Divination with Hagalaz

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you about destructive events, disruptions in your life or plans, and chaos. If your life is in turmoil and you get Hagalaz in the present position, or the matter being considered, chances are it’s just a reflection of your life or plans at the present moment. Maybe it’s something as simple as you being conflicted over something and it is disrupting your life, because of it. People who pull Hagalaz in the present or past position have been feeling like their lives have been spiraling out of control. If you get Hagalaz in the future position, it suggests your plans and life are going to be disrupted and you’re likely to feel like you have no stability in your life. In other words, hang on: you’re in for a lot of chaos and destruction in your life, physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.

Hagalaz doesn’t seem to have a positive side to it on first blush. Like all runes, the context of the disruption depends on its position and the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Should you get this rune in your castings, you may think it is something huge that will disrupt your life. Well, maybe. The runes don’t differentiate between big and little. It’s up to you to determine whether you get pea-sized hail or whopper softball-sized hail when it comes to your disruption. For example, let’s say you get Hagalaz when you cast the runes about your upcoming wedding. Hagalaz may be saying something as simple weather will delay your travel plans. Or, it might say your fiancee will leave you hanging at the altar. See the difference? You just don’t know.

Some Final Thoughts on Hagalaz

When Hagalaz appears in a spread, you may have a sinking feeling. Don’t, even though you may have some rough times ahead, or glitches that show up in your plans. Hagalaz brings change as well as disruption, and change often is for the better.

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What Should a Heathen Do About the Coronavirus Pandemic?

What Should a Heathen Do About the Coronavirus Pandemic?

If you’re like me, you’re probably concerned about the novel coronavirus pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, or the disease it causes, 2019-nCoV. Now with it rampaging throughout the world, and in 33 states in the US, it’s not a matter of if, but when. As a Heathen, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it to ensure you and your family’s safety. What should you do about the possibility of quarantines and restricted travel? Naturally, the Rational Heathen has her own thoughts on this matter.

Panic Bad; Preparedness Good

As one of the…mumble, mumble people…in the age demographic that is more at risk, I’ve been cursing that I don’t have a way to grow younger. But the first thing I understand is that in any situation, panicking doesn’t do a damn thing. If anything, it only makes the situation worse. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared for any possibility, such as quarantines, restricted travel, and possible shortages of supplies when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s unlikely we’ll see the same Draconian methods we’ve seen in China and elsewhere in the world, but there is a possibility, depending how bad the coronavirus pandemic  might get.

My husband woke me up this morning to ask me a simple question. He asked me if I thought it was too early to start planting seedlings when the National Weather Service forecasted temperatures to drop into the 20s. I have a tiny greenhouse, but it’s not heated, so I told him yes, it was too early. I figure when we stay at least in the 30s, I can start planting.

Now, he never has been concerned enough about the garden to ask me about it. I had volunteered the other day that I had seeds that I could plant that would give us fresh vegetables, if there were shortages. But, of course, I’d have to actually plant them ahead of time. Not that I’m a huge prepper or anything. Even so, we have game meat and can hunt small game. I have livestock. I can and dry food. It’s convenient to do so. My basic Heathen habits of keeping and preserving food has already gotten us far ahead of the curve.

What Should You Do About the Coronavirus Pandemic?

At this point, you’re probably wondering what you can do. Maybe you don’t have a small ranch and live in the city or suburbs. I get that.  My soil is too rocky for a garden and the only things I’ve gotten to grow in it is mint, oregano, and thyme. So, I do container gardens. And you can, too, no matter where you are. Check out the Homeland Security’s preparedness pages and prepare a disaster kit for yourself and your family. Planning ahead ensures that you won’t be in panic mode should there be something serious happening.

For the gods’ sake, don’t overbuy stuff. Get what you think you might need should there be an event that quarantines you and your family at home. Remember there are other people in your community who could use the items, too. And while you might be tempted to go Viking with a credit card, that’s just a form of panic. Get what you need, and you won’t fall over dead when the credit card bill shows up in the mail.

Now that the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, the only thing we can do is reduce our contact with sick people, wash our hands a lot, use hand sanitizers, avoid shaking hands, don’t touch our faces, and by the gods, if you’re sick, stay the fuck home.

What About the Gods and the Wights?

If you’re new to Heathenry, chances are you think that praying to the gods for safety or a cure would be the way to go. I am not discouraging you from doing that, but be aware that the gods are not your bitches. In other words, unlike the white Christ, our gods aren’t vending machines. We can perform blots, that is, give them offerings for safety, but they’ll do whatever the Hel they want. And BTW, I don’t believe in Christ for various and sundry reasons, mainly because the stories are blatant rip offs of pagan myths, and no obvious historian who lived during Christ’s time mentions him. It is only some 70 years after Christ do we have anything written about him.

That being said, our gods expect us to handle our own problems. Whether or not you agree with me, humans to a large degree have brought this virus on themselves due to the failure to control our own numbers through birth control until the carrying capacity of the land starts getting stressed and a pandemic hits. And yeah, eating bizarre wild animals that carry coronaviruses isn’t too smart either. Especially endangered species like the pangolin.

Is this a way the Wights are striking at humanity? As a semi-agnostic Wight believer, I can say with all certainty, I don’t know. But you have to admit that when humans are crowded on top of each other, biologically it never ends well. Larger pandemics have occurred with fewer people. Only our technology and medicine have prevented something like the Black Death from happening again. We never learn from history.

The Rational Heathen’s Conclusions

I feel for all the innocents caught up in what is obviously failings on the part of various countries to prepare for an event such as this. If the corona pandemic subsides during the summer, we can expect it to come back with a vengeance in the fall when the cooler weather stimulates its growth and transmission. We just may be lucky that this virus is comparatively mild to what we could get. Stay safe, practice good hygiene, and above all, stay well.

 

The Elder Futhark: Wunjo

The Elder Futhark: Wunjo

The eighth and last rune of Freyr’s ætt is Wunjo, which corresponds to the “W” or “V” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  This is a positive rune, whenever it comes up. It is the rune of joy, pleasure, kinship, and harmony. I can’t think of a better rune to cast anywhere, so if you get Wunjo, you can feel good about the casting.

Wunjo‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Wunjo is spelled the same way, and in Old Norse it is Wynn.  Wunjo is the rune of prosperity and happiness. While some interpretations suggest that too much can be a bad thing, in my not so humble opinion we could all use a bit of joy in our lives. In other words, roll with it.

Divination with Wunjo

When you get this rune in a casting, it talks about happiness, pleasure, and joy. If you get Wunjo in the future position, it suggests good things will come to you in the future. Likewise, if it’s the present or the matter under consideration, it’s talking about you being in a joyful place or seeking joy.

Wunjo doesn’t seem to have any negative side to it. Like all runes, the context of the joy depends on its position and the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Should you get this rune in your castings, you should be guarded in your reaction, only because there are small joys and big joys. The rune doesn’t differentiate between the two. For example, you may ask if you’re going to win the lottery and you get Wunjo. Okay, that could mean you get the jackpot of $56 million or $10 from a scratch ticket. See the difference? Both are causes for happiness, but getting Wunjo doesn’t mean it’s time to empty your bank account on the lottery.

Some Final Thoughts on Wunjo

I know that this is a short post, but there’s really not a lot to say about this rune when it comes to meanings. When I cast the runes, Wunjo can be rare for me, and I must take into account the rune, its position, and the runes around it. It’s not that I don’t get the rune in castings, but it can appear elusive at times, probably because there’s plenty of chaos in my life. When you get Wunjo, expect something positive, whether it’s big or small.

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.

A Heathen’s View of the Afterlife

A Heathen’s View of the Afterlife

The end of the year/beginning of this year saw the death of an in-law and got me thinking about the afterlife. The in-law in question was very Catholic and requested that they have a funeral and burial in the Catholic tradition. That meant a vigil (aka a wake), funeral mass, and then a ceremonial burial. It was odd to go through the entire process because I ended looking at it from a Heathen perspective.

Churches and Whatnot

First, the church. A Roman Catholic church which was heavily modernized. If you took away the crucifix on the stand and the portrait of Jesus, it looked like something you’d see as a pagan temple with trees and even a walk-in fountain. There were only chairs and no pews. In other words, it wasn’t what I experienced while growing up.

The sermons and eulogy had the typical “they’re with Jesus” bullshit. I expected that. But I saw the camaraderie among the church goers that made me think of how the church was looked at during Medieval times. You see, the Catholic church was not just a place of worship, but it was also a way for people to socialize the way they do now. They heard the latest church music, they saw the latest fashions, and yes, it gave them a way to connect with their neighbors. I saw that at the funeral and the luncheon that followed afterward where people brought what they made to share with us. So, I get why the Christian churches are popular. They provide a sense of community as well as a promise of an eternal life.

What About the Heathen Afterlife?

First, Heathens generally don’t (or shouldn’t) worry too much about the afterlife more than this life. In other words, our current life is what we’ve got to make our lives better or worse. It’s not that we don’t have an afterlife (we do), but it’s not really a big concern. Most of us will go to Helheim, which isn’t the traditional Christian Hell that is a place of eternal torment. No, it is a place of rest, basically. To the living, it might seem a dreary place of quietness, but to those spirits who have lived a tumultuous life, it is a place of rest. People do the same things they did in their life as in their death. In other words, it’s not really something to worry about.
Náströnd by Frølich

There is one exception to Helheim that is worth mentioning: Nástrǫnd (Corpse Shore). Nástrǫnd is a place near the river where the snake or dragon, Níðhöggr, chews on corpses of those who murdered, broke oaths, or committed adultery during their previous life. This is the punishment for those who are truly evil. The rest of us don’t have to worry about being a dragon’s dinner anytime soon, so unless you fall under those three evil behaviors, you’re pretty much safe.

But What About Valhalla?

People who die in battle are taken to either Freyja’s land, Fólkvangr, or Odin’s Hall, Valhalla. Freyja gets first pick of half the dead, and Odin gets what’s left. There is much conjecture on what actually happens in Fólkvangr, but we really don’t know if that’s a place where soldiers rest or whether they train for Ragnarok. Everyone has heard stories about the partying and reliving one’s battles in Valhalla. Some Heathens dispute this because of various writings about it, so I’m not going to go into that right now.

Other Places the Dead May Go

In Norse mythos, there are plenty of places where the dead may go in an afterlife. Here are a few.

Rán’s Hall

Those who died and are lost at sea go to the goddess Rán (goddess of the sea) and stay in her hall. I have no idea what goes on there, but for some reason, I have the whole Pirates of the Caribbean images of sailors that have been turned into half-fishes and whatnot.  Now, this may just be my imagination, but you’ve got to wonder what it would be like living your life under the waves.

Helgafjell

This is a holy mountain where the dead reside. Those who have special abilities could look on the mountain and see the dead that inhabited it. Apparently it is a place for resting, a warm hearth, and good food and drink. People live the same way we do among the living, and appear to be very happy.

Asgard, Andlàngr, and Vídbláin

These three places within the Nine Worlds are three heavenly realms that reside in the world that Asgard sits. There are Nine Heavenly Realms within the world where Asgard sits where the spirits of the dead reside during and after Ragnarok.

Halls of Particular Gods

Lately, there’s been a lot of UPGs (Unverified Personal Gnosis) that certain people will go to different halls of the gods. There appears to be some precedence for this as Thor takes on two mortal children, Thialfi and Roskva, as bondservants after Thialfi lamed one of Thor’s goats. (I am certain there are other stories with humans serving the gods in their halls, but I digress.) There’s also the matter of the dead residing in Valhalla and Fólkvangr. I believe these UPGs are true, for the most part.  I’ve had a UPG with this as well. Certain people who serve certain gods are destined to dwell in their halls after death.

Also, there seems to be link between Alfar and the dead. Could Alfar (Elves) be the souls of humans who had died? In which case, Freyjr is lord of the dead as well.

Reincarnation

In Germanic Heathenism, we have stories of those who have been reincarnated after death. Usually this occurs in family lines, rather than outside one’s lines.

The Soul in a Heathen Context

Heathens don’t look on the soul or spirit as a single entity, but rather a multiple entities. I’m not going to go over them at this point because this piece is long enough, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll write about the different parts of the soul later and were each piece actually goes.

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Happy Yule and Winter Solstice!

Happy Yule and Winter Solstice!

Happy Yule and Winter Solstice! Yeah, it’s that time of year when I tend to not do much on the blog. So, in keeping with that tradition, I’m going to provide links of all the posts I’ve made about Yule in the past, including at least one from this year, in case you missed it.  Anyway, have a good Yule and if the Yule Goat comes by to deliver presents, don’t roast him, okay?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 


 

As you all may know, I am a fiction author, and currently I’m working on a bunch of Urban Fantasy novels with a Heathen bent. Right now, several of my books are in promotions. That being said, you can visit the following newsletters, and if you’re lucky, you can download my books and enjoy them. (No, I’m not telling you my real name, dammit, and if you figure it out, please keep it to yourself.)

It’s All About the Dragons runs now through December 31st. Some free, most 99 cents.

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Have a great Winter Solstice and a good Yule!

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What You Need to Know about Yule

What You Need to Know about Yule

Yule is one of the biggest Heathen celebrations. If you’re new to Heathenism, chances are you know of Yule and maybe got a quick explanation. Or maybe you looked it up on the web. All good. But maybe you want to read about Yule from your Internet curmudgeon and rabble-rouser (That would be me). Seeing as this blog gets the most hits on winter solstice, I’ve finally wizened-up and will post more about Yule.

So, this year, I’m going to give you a nice list of Yule pieces I’ve written in the past and maybe some access to some freebies on December 21st. (Just another reason for you to visit this blog then, eh?)

Yule—What is It?

Yule is a midwinter celebration that occurs on the winter solstice and days following that day. Many pagan religions have some version of Yule to mark the time when the days go from getting shorter to growing longer again. In the northern hemisphere, it is a celebration of the light during the darkest month. It is in anticipation of Sunna taking more away from the dark and cold times and the return of Baldr, the god of the mid-summer sun.

Christmas borrows most of its trappings from pagans, and in particular, the old Heathen customs. Sure, Christmas now celebrates the birth of Christ, whom we have no really good idea when he was born, assuming he even existed. Even the Puritans outlawed Christmas for a time, because they recognized it as a pagan holiday. Man with a beard delivering presents? Yep, Heathen. Singing carols? Heathen. Christmas Ham? Heathen. Feasts? Heathen. Christmas tree? An old Germanic tradition that stems from Heathenry. Mistletoe? Heathen. Yule log? Well, you get the idea…

In fact, if your family is Christian, you can enjoy celebrating Christmas because it’s really Yule with some Christian dress-up. Just don’t be a smart-ass and tell your Christian family that or you’ll be sure to get a lump of coal this year.

A Very Brief History of Yule

We know that the Germanic peoples celebrated Yule at least as early as the 4th Century. Yule was typically held for 12 days, usually starting around the solstice. In the Norse calendar, the month of Yule was known as Ýlir. One of Odin’s many names is Jólnir (Yule-person), which has a the root Jól Yule), thus the association with Yule. During this time, Odin was said to lead the Wild Hunt through Midgard. In some places, children would leave hay in their stockings or shoes for Sleipnir and Odin would return the favor by leaving candy or presents. Yeah, it’s true: Odin is Santa.

In the Saga of Hákon the Good, we know that Yule had diminished to three days, starting at the winter solstice. According to the saga, King Haakon I was instrumental in Christianizing Norway and changing the date of Yule to match Christmas. We can easily see how Yule traditions blended into Christmas traditions as many Heathens became Christianized.

Although Christmas was celebrated in Europe, it really didn’t have the same look as it does now. We can thank Queen Victoria for adopting her husband’s (Prince Albert’s) German customs and making Christmas complete with Christmas trees and feasts. Furthermore, Charles Dickens recreated Christmas in A Christmas Carol.

The Wild Hunt and Yule

Like the Celts, Heathens believed in the Wild Hunt, but the leader of the Wild Hunt was Odin who led his hunters through Midgard. In many stories, he is joined by goddesses, most notably Holda (Frau Holle) and Berchta (Perchta). The Wild Hunt flew in the sky, but occasionally flew down to chase their prey close to the earth. In some places, if you came upon the Wild Hunt and failed to join them, bad things could happen. Or Odin might accidentally run you over on Sleipnir, which is why in some cultures you needed to lie down to avoid being hit by the horses’ hooves if they rode too close to the ground.

What they hunted is up for interpretation. People, souls, or game, the Wild Hunt was something to be feared. The current belief is that the souls of the dead ride with Odin, but I’m fuzzy as to what Odin is hunting. More souls? Possibly. Basically, it’s a time when the veil between the realm of the dead and our world is at its thinnest because of the darkness. This is why we celebrate Mother’s Night (Mōdraniht) on the 20th or 21st of December. Historically, it was celebrated on the 24th. We celebrate Mother’s Night in honor of the disir, our female ancestors.

Modern Yule Celebrations

There are plenty of awesome ways to celebrate Yule. I’ve outlined several in a couple of articles HERE and HERE. I really like Hugin’s Heathen Hof’s 12 Devotional Days of Yule. I think you’ll like them too.  Anyway, have a terrific Yule and be sure to check out my post on December 21st.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

As a Thanksgiving treat, I’m providing a list of articles I’ve written which covers Thanksgiving in some way. Check them out and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 


 

Thanksgiving or Harvest?

Is it a Christian or Pagan celebration?

Is Thanksgiving Dying?

One pagan writer is concerned if Thanksgiving is being preempted by all the other distractions. My thoughts on this.

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving with Christian Relatives

Most of us Heathens have Christian relatives and friends. Here’s how to have a peaceful Thanksgiving.