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

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

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

Let me explain.

Hunting Season and Its Insanity

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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

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

Skadi and Beer

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

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

Forgotten Promises

Image by jessica45 from Pixabay

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

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

Skadi: “Where’s the beer?”

Me: “Uh…”

Skadi: “Seriously?”

A Disaster in the Making

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

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

She agreed. So, I offered her the rum.

The Next Day…

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

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

“Remember the beer,” Skadi said.

Three Beers and a Shot of Rum

Image by David Greenwood-Haigh from Pixabay

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

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

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

…As long as I remember the beer.

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

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

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

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

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

What Exactly is an Invasive Species?

Spotted Lantern Fly

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

Image by Dominik Rheinheimer from Pixabay

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

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

Are Humans a Non-Native Species?

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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

Image by Daniel from Pixabay

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

What About the Introduction Part?

Image by Ante Hamersmit from Pixabay

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

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

Let’s Talk About What We Really Are

Image by Dorothe from Pixabay

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

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

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

So Why Does Not Being an Invasive Species Matter?

Image by erge from Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Radical Christians Co-opt Religious Symbols

When Radical Christians Co-opt Religious Symbols

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

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

What the Radical Christians Are Doing

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

Why I Find this Objectionable

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

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

It makes me want to go all Viking on them.

Radical Christians are Co-opting Sacred Symbols for Hate

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

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

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

More Issues with Radical Christians

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

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

Taking the High Ground

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

Time to Make Ourselves Heard

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

What You Can Do

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

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

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

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

Be Safe

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

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

 

Chilling with Loki

Chilling with Loki

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

My Experiences with Loki

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

Advice from Loki

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

Seidr and Skinriding

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

Loki’s Advice

Image by Melissa G from Pixabay

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

What is Tower Time?

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

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

What Do I Think About This?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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

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

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

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

 

Apps for Heathens

Apps for Heathens

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

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

Runic Formulas

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

 

Rune Divination — Runic Tarot

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

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

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

The Havamal App

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

Learn Old Norse

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

Duolingo

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Elder Futhark: Algiz or Elhaz

The Elder Futhark: Algiz or Elhaz

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

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

Divination with Algiz

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

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

Some Final Thoughts on Algiz

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

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

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

Summer Solstice 2022

Summer Solstice 2022

Summer solstice is one of those days that our ancestors celebrated that sort of annoys me. Not because it’s a solstice per se, but because I hate the heat and it heralds the beginning of summer. It’s also a time when we have the most daylight, although to me it feels like the days don’t shorten fast enough afterwards.

I know I’m in the minority on this, but I am pleased to say that’s just how it is. Oh yeah, and for those in the Southern Hemisphere, a Happy Winter Solstice!

Roundup of Solstice Articles

This year I’ve come up with a roundup article of summer solstice themed articles I’ve written in the past. Check them out:

Yeah, you may have noticed, I don’t exactly write enough about the summer solstice. Maybe I’ll change that in the future.

Have a terrific summer solstice. Stay cool! (Or if you’re celebrating winter solstice, stay warm!

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

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

As the Summer Solstice Approaches

As the Summer Solstice Approaches

Exhausted. You wouldn’t think that the summer solstice would cause me to become exhausted, but the reality is there’s too much to do now that summer is striding towards us. I can feel its touch, even though the relentless rains are turning everything into a lush, green carpet.

Heralding the Winter

Summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and the daylight will give into night bit by bit after the solstice passes. The days will shorten again, but the hottest days are still to come. Sometime around July 1st, the rains will stop and the land will dry out. We won’t see much rain until September.

It is a time when I must plan for the upcoming fall. Hunting season is just around the corner, relatively speaking. Planning comes during this time because the temperatures are too hot to do much else. I hope we have a typical summer, and not a global warming summer. I can handle the 80s–not so much temperatures in the 90s and 100s. At this point, I’m imploring Skadi to make it an early winter.

Using the Summer to Prepare

One pagan whose blog I’ve read said that summer solstice is a time to pause, because the crops have already been sown and the harvest isn’t until fall. Ah, but that is only part of the summer. Work isn’t done especially during summer. It’s a preparation for the cold nights ahead. Berries and edibles need foraging. Dairy animals need milking. Cheese needs to be made. Young animals need caring for.

The sun’s return heralds the shift in daylight. Sunna says, you’re already late getting things done for winter. Hurry up! Sure, there were idle hands, which meant families sent their restless sons and daughters to go Viking during that time. But being a Viking didn’t always mean raids. It meant trading as well. Some Vikings traded for goods from the south and east, using the waterways as highways.

Fall Meant Harvest

Image by CANDICE CANDICE from Pixabay

Our Northern ancestors only recognized two seasons: Summer and Winter. Everything else was just shades of those two seasons. Summer was a time for planting and harvest; winter was a time of slaughtering animals and putting up the food for the long nights. It was vitally important to work now so you could survive the winter.

Which was More Important: Summer or Winter Solstice?

Image by Berdan Mardinly from Pixabay

I’m sure our Northern ancestors celebrated the summer solstice, but the winter solstice was probably more important. The winter solstice was the return of the sun; the sunlight’s return was vitally important. And given that the sun’s warmth wasn’t always a given, (as witnessed from two volcanic eruptions in the 6th century), our ancestors naturally celebrated when the sun came back. The two volcanic eruptions in the 6th century caused widespread crop failures, famine, and probably contributed to the plague pandemic at the time. The sun had been noticably dim and there was widespread drought throughout the world. The winters and summers were colder and millions of people died due to the brutal conditions.

These two volcanic eruptions began the Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA). The loss of sun, crop failures, and relentless cold must’ve made it feel like fimbulvetr had indeed arrived. So, the return of the sun’s light was vitally important to our ancestors.

Summer Solstice and the Death of Baldr

I have pointed out quite a bit how the story of Baldr’s death is actually a metaphor for the summer solstice and the upcoming winter. Baldr is the god of the summer sun; Hodr symbolizes winter and cold. On the summer solstice, Hodr slays Baldr, but Baldr rises again on winter solstice. An excellent tale.

Have a bit of mead this summer solstice! Be safe!

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

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The Magic of Everyday Things

The Magic of Everyday Things

I was reading a post by John Beckett how Neil deGrasse Tyson told people that the lunar eclipses are unspectacular and he should just let people enjoy them. I happen to like listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s podcast, and I like watching him on TV. While I haven’t verified Dr. Tyson’s comments, on first blush, I’d agree with John Beckett. Lunar eclipses, while fairly common, are indeed beautiful, and are part of the magic of everyday things.

The Magic of Everyday Things

But the post got me thinking about all the special things that happen day-to-day that we take for granted. Most of the time, we tend to use the words, “magical” to describe something special. Whether it’s a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a natural place, or some place out of the ordinary, we are quick to state there’s something “magical” about it. And while I’m not fond of the m-word, as many of my readers can tell you, I think it might be correct to use the term “magical” to describe that.

What is Magical?

At this point, you may ask what is magical? Do we simply swap the word “special” for “magical”? I don’t know if that’s appropriate or not, but I think it might be the case. While you and I can argue over the existence of magic, in the long run, it may be semantics. What I consider nature, you might find magic in it.

We can, however, agree that some things are indeed magical in appearence. A sunrise or sunset. A special place within nature. Or maybe a lunar eclipse. Does it matter if we understand the underlying cause for what we find beautiful or awesome? I still get amazed by the rainbow or by the night’s sky, nevermind that I know how a rainbow is formed and what makes up the night’s sky. Knowing that the sun’s particles hitting the Earth’s magnetic field doesn’t make me want to see an aurora any less. There is  beauty even when we know about the thing.

The Wonder of Our World

When I look at our world, it brings me all sorts of wonder. We’re special when it comes to our universe. Our universe had to have just the right laws for stars, galaxies, and life to form. A little too much gravity, or changes to the mathematical constants, and we wouldn’t exist. It’s kind of like our planet. We know life came about because certain factors came together to produce it.

Scientists can only speculate why things happened the way they did. As pagans, we accept that the gods have had a hand in things, because we essentially won the lottery when it came to existence. Of course, if we didn’t exist, we wouldn’t know we lost, so the point is moot.

But the world wasn’t created for us to enjoy–we benefit from the gods’ desires to create. We know that we aren’t the only lifeforms in this world–that we share with other creatures, both sentient and nonsentient. We understand that what we do affects our world in some way. And as we continue to grow and become greater in our mastery over our world, we recognize that we can improve or damage nature and our world–a world we did not create.

Do I Believe in Intelligent Design?

The word “intelligent design” is a concept that the Christians use for belief in their creation stories. While I believe that the gods may have had a hand here and there tweaking our world, I believe that we evolved from lower forms of life. I don’t for a second believe that the gods came from the ice rime licked by a cow, unless somehow this is a metaphor for what actually happened. I don’t think Odin and his brothers fashioned humans from fallen logs, unless you think of it as some metaphor for evolution. We have so much garbage in our genetic code and many serious genetic issues that it certainly doesn’t suggest that anyone intelligent actually designed us.

So no, I don’t believe in intelligent design, even if our gods set forth the laws and the mechanism  behind evolution. Call my cynical.

But Life, Itself, is Magic

As creatures of this world, we can’t help but look around us in wonder. Whether you see the glorious mountains, a stormy sea, a brilliant blue sky, or a meadow full of wildflowers, each are a gift for us to marvel at. Have you ever been somewhere that was so perfect in your mind that you couldn’t help but stand back in wonder? Maybe it was the feel of the breeze on your skin, the melody of the birds, the scent of wildflowers, or the stillness of the forest. That moment when you felt it: wasn’t it perfect? Yes, if you’ve felt it, you know what I’m talking about.

So, enjoy the lunar or solar eclipses. Welcome Mani at night and Sunna during the day. Wonder at the rainbow. Watch the stars and pay attention to the meteor showers. Connect with the other denizens on earth — the plants, animals, and everything else. Because there is magic in that. Magic in living.

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The Downfall of Roe v Wade and the Concept of Soul

The Downfall of Roe v Wade and the Concept of Soul

The leak that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v Wade has left me wondering where the America I grew up in has gone. I remember when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Roe v Wade case. I was just a kid at that time. The year after abortion became legal, I ended up going to a Catholic school where all I heard about was how evil abortion was.

And the bullshit lies they told me about contraception, sex, and other things.

Now that I am past the age of having children, I am not personally affected by the upcoming Supreme Court ruling, but I am terribly incensed. It will have profound affect on women in our society, and will throw us backward into the darker days when women were forced to carry to term or go to back alley doctors to get an abortion.

Women as Baby Makers

The whole right-to-life stance makes women into baby makers and not individuals. Think about that. If you believe the sole purpose of a woman is to be a baby incubator, then you’re an asshole and part of the problem.

The far right will tell you that isn’t their argument at all, but don’t believe their rhetoric. They claim they are worried about the souls of unborn children, which isn’t correct. But for the sake of argument, let’s explore that.

The Concept of the Soul

Christians believe that we are all gifted with a soul that is born and sent to heaven or hell, depending on how one lives their life. In our Heathen belief system, we have multiple parts to our “soul” that makes up who we are. These include:

  • The Hamr or our bodies. Appearence.
  • The Hugr or our minds and thoughts.
  • The Fylgia or our spiritual fetch. A part of us that can travel outside our bodies.
  • The hamingja or luck.

I’ve also heard other Heathens talk about other parts of the soul, including munr (memory, emotions), and Óðr or divine spark or inspiration. I’ve even heard other Heathens talk about the soul having six to nine parts.

The Afterlife and the Soul

My opinion is it really doesn’t matter. We’re a complex organism and we have multiple souls just like we have different systems in our bodies. Some of our souls die when we die. Some are passed onto others. Still, other souls go to the afterlife, wherever that will be.

It’s interesting because I’ve read that some of our souls don’t leave until the Hamr decays or is sufficiently destroyed. It may explain why ghosts stick around their graves. Or maybe there’s another part of our souls that stick around our graves. I’ve heard paranormal people call them “echoes,” which makes them more or less impressions of the actual person. Again, I don’t know.

What Has the Soul to Do with Roe v Wade?

The Catholics (and the Right-to-Lifers) believe the moment of conception the soul enters the few cells or protoplasm. Philosophers, scientists, and religious people across time have struggled with understanding when life begins. Some have said it begins when the baby draws its first breath. Others believe it is when the fetus is viable. Still others believe it is when brain activity occurs. Nobody has the answer, assuming there are souls.

When the Soul Occurs for Heathens

You have your opinion when the souls enter one’s body. Maybe it’s when the Hamr is fully formed. Maybe it’s when the Hugr begins. Or maybe it is some other time. That is between you and our gods. Odin and his brothers didn’t create Ask and Embla until they carved the ash tree and gave it thoughts, feelings, and the spark of life. Before that, the empty shell that looked like a human wasn’t human.

This would suggest that without those things, one wouldn’t be considered “alive.” But that aside, we can debate when a fetus becomes something that contains a soul, or becomes something that is human, and we just don’t know. Nor do I think that it is something another person should decide for the woman who is carrying the fetus. I believe that is up to the woman to decide–not the politicians.

The American Public’s Opinion

The American public agrees with me on this. 70 percent of the US population are strongly for keeping Roe v Wade in place. How we got to the point where a bunch of right-to-lifers decided to vote with their religious beliefs and not support law is a rat’s nest I don’t feel like untangling in this post.

The Republican Party Isn’t What it Once Was

Suffice to say, the Republican party isn’t for the rule of law and the separation of church and state any longer. They are the party of neo-Nazis, theocrats, oligarchs, and fascists. The Republicans would rather win by lies and put their totalitarian thug in power. They are the party of whack-job conspiracy theorists. They are not rational. Therefore, I simply can’t support them. In the past, I would’ve considered myself conservatively fiscal and probably centric when it came to social issues.

Changes in the Republican Party

But there have been a lot of changes in the Republican Party that made me realize how dangerous the alt-right is:

  • Failure to support science
  • Preferring to avoid masks, vaccines, and other methods of preventing more people from dying in this pandemic
  • Insistence that this is a “Christian nation” and only Christianity should be considered the one religion here
  • Insistence that schools teach the Bible creationism instead of science
  • Embracing neo-Nazis and white supremacists
  • Attacks on women’s rights, including abortions
  • Desire to treat LGBTQ+ people like second-class citizens
  • Lending credence to whacko ideas such as those espoused by QAnon
  • Attempt to overthrow a presidential election

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll stop my rant. I’m not even warm to the Democrats because of their political leanings, but right now, they appear to be the sane ones. (And from me, that’s saying a lot!)

After the Supreme Court Overturns Roe v Wade

If you’re not pissed off that the Supreme Court has thrown out a woman’s right to choose, you’re part of the problem. Conservative states are poised to make abortion illegal, which will only allow those people who can afford to travel to a pro-choice state to have and abortion. The so-called pro-life states will ban abortions even in the case of incest, rape, and when the woman’s life is in danger. But given that Roe v Wade’s foundation was on privacy, you can bet other bans will go into effect, such as birth control, sexual preference, and gay marriage. Even witchcraft, magic, and paganism. Think about that.

My friends, this is just the beginning.

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