Browsed by
Category: connecting with gods

Using the Magic in Nature and the Seasons

Using the Magic in Nature and the Seasons

Oh my god!  I said the “M” word!  Does that mean I’m going to talk about…GULP…Magic?  Well, yes, and no.  I want to talk about changes in the seasons and how you can recognize them long before most people do.  Which means maybe not magic, but more observation and perhaps a bit of empathy.

Let me explain.

Recognizing the Rhythms of Your Land


Regardless of whether you live in the country or the city, in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, or in the Americas or “across the pond,” the land you live in has its own rhythm, its own wights (and I use that term loosely), and its own timing.  Back when I lived further south in the Rocky Mountains, it took me forever to recognize this–mainly because I wasn’t a Heathen then and I had other concerns which took up a good deal of my attention.  Back when I was younger, the weather, the climate, and the land were simply distractions from day-to-day living.  Now, I realize that day-to-day living is a distraction from the weather, climate, and the land.

Look, you don’t need to become a tree hugger or run around naked in the forest to connect with nature.  (However, if that’s what you do to get your rocks off, that’s none of my business.)  It involves changing your viewpoint and paying more attention to the natural occurrences that surround you (even in the city.) Changing your viewpoint isn’t that hard, but it does require mindfulness.  This is why I often recommend mindfulness training to those who are getting started in Heathenry.

Mindfulness as Magic

If there’s a form of magic I do believe in, it has to do with mindfulness.  Seriously, it’s something everyone can do and it will help discipline your mind enough to deal with the stress of modern life.  I recommend a book called Mindfulness for Fidgety Skeptics if you’ve never done this before. I get a small stipend from Amazon if you buy it through the link. You support this website if you use the link, so I would appreciate it if you use it.  Even if I didn’t get some money through this, I’d still recommend the book.

What You’ll Discover Paying Attention to the Land

Being mindful and paying attention to the land opens a whole new world of experiences you never knew existed.  You start noticing not only the cooler temperatures of autumn setting in, but also the increase or decrease in humidity that follows the change.  Maybe you start seeing stratus clouds and high cirrus replace the fluffy cumulus.  Maybe you see a shift in the bird population, the increase or decrease of certain insects, or even the shift in the quality of light you get.  Instead of noticing the latest fall fashions creeping into people’s wardrobes, you notice how the squirrels are moving from tree to tree to gather food.  You may see different species of birds.  If you live in a place with deer, you may see a shift in their foraging.

At night, you may see a change in the constellations–if the light pollution isn’t too bad. If you live in wildfire country like I do, you can actually see if there are new wildfire starts nearby just by the color of the moon, often before the news picks it up.

How This Makes You a Better Heathen

At this point, you may be wondering how this makes you a better Heathen.  Let’s think about this a bit: our gods and the landvaettir are nature entities.  Even Odin, who is our creator god, deals with natural forces.  (How much more natural is the creation of life?)  So, we’re looking at gods who reside over nature.  By paying attention to things not human made, we gain a deeper understanding in the world around us.  You become a better Heathen, and you even open yourself up to the wights and gods.  It may or may not be a type of magic, but I know it works.

How to Communicate with the Gods

That’s one thing about being a Heathen a lot of Heathens miss.  You see, you can get close to the gods without all the mumbo-jumbo.  In fact, I suspect it’s the best way to get in touch with the gods.  You don’t get a conversation with the gods from mumbling prayers or sacrificing goats usually.  You get that from opening yourself to them and seeing who pops up.  That requires paying attention to them and listening to what they have to say.

If you’re not receptive to the gods unless Thor takes a hammer to you and smacks you silly, you’re unlikely to hear them.  That does happen to the most dense of us and it is quite unpleasant.  Trust me when I say you will really get shaken out of your reality when the gods do that.  It will make you question your overall sanity, unless you’re already bat-shit crazy.  Now, it’s a lot easier to deal with because I’m more in tuned with them, but for a while it was fucking nuts.

I hope I’ve given you some things to think about.  Let me know what you think.

 

Gods Don’t Knock–Making Room for the Heathen Gods

Gods Don’t Knock–Making Room for the Heathen Gods

My life is stupid busy.  It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, nor is it something I wear like a badge of honor. Which is why it befuddles me why a god–much less several–would pop into my extremely busy life.  It’s not like I actually opened up a door, even though Tyr says that I did.

(Am I really arguing with a god?)

Information Addiction

Okay, back to something less esoteric (and I swear all this has a Heathen point, so bear with me).  The truth is that someone like me is a real information addict.  Which is why when I start writing anything, I get distracted–oooh, shiny!–and I start researching stuff that leads me to not working but instead hoarding information, and occasionally disseminating it.  Take this piece.  I had no fucking clue what to write about (a constant issue with me) and so I went to some of my favorite sites for inspiration.  Only, there wasn’t inspiration but shit that is just distraction.  Here’s a sample of my browser’s history:

  • 5+ Ways Not to Take Things Personally
  • Web Hosting Hub Review: The Good, Bad & My Experience
  • Brainjunk and the Killing of the Internet Mind
  • 10 Steps to Conquering Information Overload
  • Popular–Wordpress Plugins
  • Between Two Worlds: My Journey With Hekate
  • Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News
  • Lift Weights, Eat More Protein, Especially if You’re Over 40
  • The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week

     

Chances are your browser tabs are loaded in the same way. You’re constantly reading shit other people (including the Rational Heathen) have put out there and have about the attention span of a gnat–oooh,shiny!*

Why We’re Internet Addicted

Humans are, by nature, dopamine addicts.  Dopamine is the feel-good chemical in your brain that makes you feel happy, gives you that sudden rush during orgasm, and causes you to get high if you take drugs that interfere with the natural chemistry of your brain. (Some drugs cause the brain to produce more dopamine; some drugs inhibit the recycling or reuptake mechanisms.  Some really powerful drugs do both, but they’ve got their own risks, like death.) Dopamine causes us to chase after those adrenaline highs (because dopamine is also a precursor to epinephrine and norepinephrine) and it causes us to become thrill seekers. It’s what causes us to hit the feeder bar, as it were, to get that really good feeling again and again.

Internet addiction, by nature, does similar damage to the brain as cocaine.  When we learn something new, guess what?  We get a shot of dopamine.  So, when we’re bombarded with things we read, learn about, feel, etc., we get hits.  But we’re often getting those hits on a fast and furious basis and not in a natural sense.  So, we get artificial highs from hits off our phone, our computer, and our tablet.  But it’s work, right?  (Yeah, I have a million justifications why I have to be playing Castle Siege, too.)

The problem is that even bright people tend to use their time for dopamine chasing and not things that actively enrich their lives. I mean, how many times do you check your Facebook posts, your chat rooms, your email, and your text messages a day?  How many times do you have to look at your phone?  This is not life.  It is not living.  It is certainly not living as a Heathen.

I’m not saying if our ancestors had these tools that they wouldn’t have fallen into the same trap.  On the contrary, they did use psychoactive substances, most likely alcohol and mushrooms.  Those who had contact with the Middle East probably had access to opium poppies.  Did these substances allow the ancestors to see the gods?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I’ve known Heathens who swear they have met the gods after getting drunk or smoking weed.  Having never experienced that, I don’t know if it was the weed or alcohol, or whether it was the lack of inhibition that enabled them to connect to the gods.

The Gods Don’t Knock

Thanks to Magickal Graphics

Occasionally I get inspirations from the gods when I’m on the computer, but it’s rare. More often, however, I’ve heard the gods when I’m not linked into the dopamine feeder bar called a computer. It’s because when I’m on computers and smartphones, I’m too tied up chasing that next hit. It’s when I’m away from computers and other distractions that I can finally listen.  And that is when they often talk to me.  Quietly, and in their own way.

I’m not saying that happens every time.  Sometimes I just get silence and nothing else. But the gods don’t knock and ask to speak to you.  You must be ready to hear them.  You can’t hear them if you’re always getting hits from the dopamine feeder bar.  Eventually, you just kind of numb out to everything.

But What About Drugs?

At this point, you’re probably asking “what about drugs or mind-altering substances?”  As much as I’m against illegal drugs (for various reasons, having had first hand experiences with addicts and the damage they leave behind),  I’m not going to lie to you and say that you won’t be able to have a conversation with your chosen deity.  Our ancestors used mushrooms and alcohol, (certainly to channel their inner berserker), and quite possibly to commune with the gods. However, I think the cost of using them to elicit possible contact may be greater than you’ve anticipated.   For one thing, the types of drugs used back then are nowhere near the potency of today’s illegal drugs.  Even marijuana (which I don’t think the ancestors used) was less potent than it is today.  Meth and heroin, for example, are much stronger than what was available in the Viking Era. Then, there is always the “bad trip” and the always nasty side effects of mushrooms such as the toxic Amanita muscaria or fly agaric, purported to be the mushrooms the berserkers used.

There is a Better Way

I’ve been doing a lot more research on meditation, since it is my chosen path to the gods. Although it is touted as an Eastern discipline, I suspect that our ancestors may have used it to focus on the gods as well. It is a way to train your mind that just about anyone can do.  It has the benefit of being able to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and give you greater control over your mind and body without feeling like you’re into self-flagellation. If anything, it’s actually quite relaxing.

 

If you’re looking for a book on the subject, I highly recommend Dan Harris’s Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book.  I picked it up because I loved the title, but it is a good place to learn how to do it.  Also, if you do buy it from the link, I get a small amount of compensation which will help support this blog.

Other Ways to Connect with the Gods

Obviously there are many ways to connect with the gods besides meditation, drugs, and unplugging.  One is to go to the places that they are and just listen.  I’m talking going to a natural place and just sitting quietly awhile.  Do you hear Thor’s voice as a spring storm comes up?  Do you feel Skadi’s touch when the wind whips through the trees as snow falls?  Do you feel Tyr’s presence as you look into a starry night’s sky?  Does Sunna embrace you on a clear day?  There are many places to feel the gods and their powers. I suspect that if you don’t hear a god, you might connect with a landvaettir, which might be just as rewarding.  My point is that our gods seldom look to contact us, unless we open ourselves for that contact.  That’s why I recommend keeping yourself open and aware.  You just might connect with a god or goddess.  Maybe not the one you intended to connect with, but one that you need to hear from.


*Actually our attention span is less than nine seconds, which is less than a goldfish’s attention span.

The Gods are Not Your Bitches

The Gods are Not Your Bitches

It’s nice to see someone in the pagan community agree with me, even though they said it nicer than I did.  The gods, whether you think of them as people or metaphors, don’t necessarily jump when you ask them to jump.  They don’t necessarily do things because you whined at them.  And they certainly aren’t our bitches who show up because we called to them.

Connecting with Gods

Connecting with the gods is a personal thing, In My Not So Humble Opinion (IMNSHO), and each connection is as different as it is for each individual to be different.  How you related to one god isn’t necessarily how I relate to him.  I think it has to do with who we are and how we got to this point. Tyr, for example, doesn’t really pop in, raid the refrigerator, and open up a bottle of mead on the counter at my house.   If he does at your house, please tell me.  I’d be mighty curious about that.  I’d be surprised.  (Now, if it were Loki, I’d expect that.) Some folks claim to have real life experiences.  I’ve only had one, and that made me question my sanity.  (Meeting Odin on the street — seriously.)

It’s not my place to tell you how to connect with gods, but I might offer some advice: They aren’t your bitches, and most aren’t interested in you unless you bring something to the table.  Occasionally, a few of us hear the call and say “what the fuck?” That happened to me, but I realize that having such experiences can be uncommon, not the rule when it comes to the gods.

My Own (Limited) Experience

I think the gods tend to be a bit more mindful about our pasts when we “connect” with them. As a follower of Tyr, he’s my main go-to god for just about everything.  That being said, sometimes I realize that other gods are more suitable to my petitions, but I really don’t know them that well.

Tyr knows I have a lot of baggage from religion and childhood. If I have a fault, it is I lean pretty heavily on him from time to time. It’s mostly just moral support, but occasionally it’s a “I need this” kind of request.  Yeah, it comes from growing up Roman Catholic and being shoved into the “pray to god to help you” mentality.  Realistically, I know that Tyr is not the god for that sort of thing, but when I have shit raining down, he gets an earful.  Because I look at him like a friend.  Sometimes I just get a sympathetic ear and not much more. Sometimes I get help.  Sometimes another god pops into my life because he or she is better at helping me.  If anything, I now have five gods/goddesses that I offer blots and talk to.

That’s how I relate to the gods.  I wasn’t looking to go back to being a theist, so I kind of have the opinion that because they found me, they knew what kind of package they were picking up.  Lately, when I bemoaned not being able to talk to the wights with someone who actually does a fair amount of work with them, I learned some things and actually got some positive things happen.  Okay, so I’m a bit agnostic on them still, but they’re included.  And I get a more positive feeling from them.

Why We Demand Help

I often talk about Christianity, mainly because I can’t get away from my Christian upbringing.  If you were raised Heathen, Pagan, or with another religion that wasn’t derived from the Abrahamic religions, you probably don’t have the same reliance that many who have left those faiths have to their gods. We’ve been spoon fed a pack of lies since we could understand words. It’s not our parents’ faults, per se, they’ve been as brainwashed as we have since their childhood. There’s a good reason for them to teach us Christianity’s teachings, too. The fear of their hell and eternal torment makes even the toughest guy in the room quake.

So, we’re taught very early on that god will provide. That god will care for us. That everything will work out to god’s plan.  And when stuff goes our way, we praise god.  When shit happens — and it does happen to good people, and even the best followers of the Christian god — we tell ourselves that it was god’s plan, or maybe they weren’t really that good.  Because a kind and just god wouldn’t allow that to happen, would he?

So, we beg for good things to happen to us.  That we get that raise, get accepted to that school, get a job, find a significant other, heal someone or ourselves, or win the lottery. The reality is that unless we get off our butts and do something, it’s unlikely we’re going to see positive results.  That’s where that old saying “god helps those who help themselves” most likely got started.  Well, whether you should maybe claim it as a god’s victory is questionable.  I’d argue that every victory is your own, and if the gods help you out, you should be thankful for their aid, but you’re the one who really made it happen.

The Gods are Not Our Bitches

If we look at the gods as strictly archetypes or metaphors for the universe that surrounds us, we can pretty much deduce they don’t need us, although we’re already heavily reliant on them.  We rely on Sif and Freyr for growing things, Thor for our thunderstorms (i.e. rain), Sunna for our light, Mani for more than just a shining orb above us at night, but may have had to do with actual life, Tyr for our laws, both human made and natural, Odin for our creation, and so forth.  My point is we rely on them for a lot already, so calling them down to aid us, especially when we have no rapport with them, seems a little self centered.  If we consider them entities, so much more so.

If you have a relationship with a god or gods, chances are you already know your boundaries. If you’re looking for help and you only have relationship with one or two gods, maybe they’re the first should hear your plea and then see what they say.  Other gods most likely need some type of introduction and probably a pretty decent relationship before one can ask for things from them.

When we understand that they’re entities (or at least metaphors) with their own agendas, we can see that our gods aren’t the Christian vending machine that our society has come to expect.