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Gods or Ancestors?

Gods or Ancestors?

Occasionally I get a comment from someone who’s convinced that the gods don’t talk to us mere mortals that often.  That most people who deal with the gods are actually dealing with the ancestors.  It’s an interesting part of Heathenry I think is worth addressing. Are Heathens receiving messages from gods or ancestors?

Actually, I think it’s both.

The Unknown Gods

Before I get into the supposition that the gods are with us, let me address the personal nature of the gods, themselves.  There are Heathens who believe that our gods really aren’t personal deities.  That the concept of a personal deity comes from Christianity and those concepts taint our modern day beliefs.  There is some truth to that.  The gods aren’t just the gods of humanity, but the gods of all things.  In fact, I suspect that there are gods we humans do not know.  We don’t know them not because our knowledge of them disappeared, but because we never knew them to begin with.  I suspect there are gods who do not deal with humans at all, who instead govern other things and animals other than ourselves.  They are never in contact with us, except maybe if we touch their realms.

Not the Gods I’m Talking About

These aforementioned gods that have very little to do with humanity are not the gods I am talking about. The gods I am talking about are the gods who have made themselves known to humans.  Who still make themselves known to humans. Odin, Thor, Freyja, Freyr, Tyr, Loki, Baldr, Skadi, Ullr, Heimdallr,…the list goes on.  We would not know them if we did not have contact with them. Sure, you could say that hearing thunder and calling it a god is the basis for Thor, but then, why bother to have positive connotations with a thunder god if he didn’t somehow look benevolently on humans?

So, we can assume that the gods we know have had interactions with humans.  Who still do have interactions with humans. When someone tells me that they’ve interacted with certain deities, I generally accept their word.  Not because I’m gullible, but because unless they give me a real reason to disbelieve them, who am I to say otherwise?  I’ve talked with gods and goddesses and I already knew some things that the people who had a UPG told me, so if something doesn’t sound right, I might have to ask further questions.

Is it a God?

I know that gods have taken other forms to get their message through to their recipients, so it would not surprise me if ancestors do the same thing.  Could an ancestor mimic a god?  Yes, I know of one case where it has happened, and not for the better. There are plenty of not so benevolent spirits out there looking to cause harm, but it’s pretty obvious when they do show up.

One way to tell if it is really a god is to consider the following:

  • Do they act like the gods/goddesses of our stories and of other people’s credible UPGs?  Yes, there have been interactions with gods/goddesses that all seem to have the same feeling.  Or are they different, and in what ways?
  • Does the deity ask you to do something harmful to yourself or others?  If they do, you may not be dealing with the entity you think you’re dealing with.  Chances are its malevolent and you need to get away from it.
  • Does the entity inform you who they are?  Some spirits do lie, but you have a better chance in deciding if you’re really dealing with the god just by research and talking to knowledgeable folks.
  • Does a Gothi/Gythia confirm your experience?
  • How does the god treat you?  Is it in line with what you know of the god?

My Own Experience with the Gods

The gods are an interesting bunch.  Some will just pop in to say hello or see what is going on, but most are reserved and only show up at times they deem is suitable. They seldom come when you call –remember, they’re not your bitches.  Even if you ask nicely, you can get complete crickets.  They may have more important things to pay attention to.  Like the entire universe.

Some landvaettir may also come into contact with you.  While you might not consider them gods, per se, they are tutelary spirits who have powers.  You may not find them as powerful as someone like Thor or Odin, but in many cases they may be able to help or harm you, depending on your relationship with them.  That being said, I am firmly agnostic when it comes to landvaettir.  I haven’t seen one, but I have had odd situations that maybe could suggest them.

The gods do occasionally mimic other gods in other pantheons.  Odin and Loki, in particular, will shape change to whatever god you believe in to give you information, if you believe in another deity and not them.  (Yes, I’ve had that happen.)  Tyr will do that too for those who he wants to be his followers.  (Again, that’s my experience and your mileage may vary.)  Depending on the person, they may do this in order to give you information you need and if you’re only open to Jesus or Yahweh, then that’s where they go.

 

Is it an Ancestor?

You could be contacted through an ancestor.  It’s not all that unusual.  If it is an ancestor who has benevolent intentions, you should definitely get a name or an understanding of who or what they are.  They shouldn’t be passing themselves off as a god. If they are, I wouldn’t want to deal with them simply because of the dishonesty.

Ancestors are pretty much what they were when they were alive.  If they were a son-of-a-bitch when they were alive, they’re still a son-of-a-bitch–maybe more so, because they’re cranky they’re dead.  Some ancestors you don’t want to deal with; others are just fine. Regardless, it should be pretty damn obvious if Uncle Milton makes a call.  He shouldn’t be saying he’s Loki or Odin or whomever–if he is, tell him to go the Hel away.

My Own Experience with Ancestors

I’ve spoken to my closest ancestors and have had feelings and intentions from them.  I’ve also had dreams with an ancestor in them, usually in the form of talking with them about certain things.  Not all dealings with those ancestors have been pleasant; I’ve annoyed them the same way I did back when they were alive. They were in shock when they went to Helheim instead of the Christian heaven or hell.  (Despite them being devout Catholics and not pagans.)  This along with other bits of knowledge has led me to conclude that the Christian beliefs aren’t real and our beliefs are more in line with reality.  Call it UPG or whatever, but I’m convinced that if there was a Jesus and if there is a Yahweh, it is a deceptive god.

Are ancestors more receptive than gods?  In most cases, yes, but you should be careful with them until you get to know who exactly is knocking on the door. Some ancestors you definitely don’t want.

So, the gods do talk to humans.  The landvaettir talk to humans.  The ancestors talk to humans.  They’re a rather chatty bunch — the lot of them.   It’s just up to you to listen.

 

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.

Very Unruly Wights and Other Issues

Very Unruly Wights and Other Issues

I’ve come to the opinion that the wights or landsvaettir around my home tend to be tense and sometimes malevolent little buggers.  I’m still agnostic about them, mainly because I just don’t see them.  Even so, I can still remark about them.  While some days it seems we get along really well, there are other times when life is total shit with them.  I’d like to say I make them happy — I give them extra eggs, milk, chocolate, mead, and even meat scraps from butchering animals and hunting, but I’ve had a number of animal deaths in my herd that, well, not even the veterinarians have great clues about why it happened. I blame the wights and just overall bad luck.

Annoyed Wights and April Fools Jokes

I did have my computer act up while I put together the April Fools Day post.  At one point, the only words that showed up were Huldufólk and jötnar.  A normal scientific person would simply figure it’s the way the resources get used up on the system, but the fact that those two words were causing such, well, gremlins (and I’m not talking the car), made me pause.  I think I’m probably going to have to assure them I still respect them.  Tough room.

Thor, the Saint of Scaring the Crap Out of Unruly Wights

Then, there’s misplacing stuff.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve threatened to call Thor down on them when stuff that suddenly disappears that I need.  I use Thor’s name, and by mjolnir, that item shows up immediately.  Catholics may have Saint Anthony; I have a thunder god who scares the crap out of our wights. Probably not the best politics with the wights, but it does work.

Ideas from Fairy Tales

I think I got the idea of Thor being scary to wights when I had read a Norwegian fairy tale about a farmer who was having his daughter baptized and didn’t want to invite his troll neighbor because it would offend all the Christians. So, he knew the troll didn’t like loud crashing noises (aka thunder) and warned the troll not to come because there would be loud drums and other crashing things.  You can sort of see how the Jotunn dwindled to trolls — and the thing that scared them is Thor.

Fairy tales used to not be children’s stories. They were just stories. Stories people told to amuse themselves. Stories that teach. Stories that tell us of our past.  It’s really cool to read stories where you can see pagan influences throughout.  It’s also interesting when they give a nod to Christianity.  The more they try to sell you Christianity, the more likely it’s a pagan story that they “cleaned up.”

Calling Thor or the Gods Refuse to be my Bitches

One time I got annoyed that it wasn’t raining.  You see from early July to September, we’re in the midst of fire season.  I took the rain maker my sister gave me and said in my most angry voice, “why the fuck won’t it rain?”  I turned the rain maker over.  Thor answered me with a low rumble.  I could not have timed it better if I had tried.  We didn’t get rain, though.  And that was the only thunder I heard that day.

Just goes to show how uncooperative the gods are.  Once again, they refuse to be my bitches.  Go figure.

I Need a Better Relationship with the Wights

I’ll admit, I’m better dealing with the gods than I am with the wights. And I know that’s kind of topsy-turvy, but that’s the way it is.  I often think when I talk to the wights, ancestors, and gods and ask for their help, I can forget that I’m dealing with creatures that have their own agendas, thoughts, and wills.  I suspect other people fall into this trap as well.  Even with the best intentions, I’m not the best person to ask how to deal with wights.

I have a place for my wights to hang out in my house, but whether they decide to be positive or negative is their choice.  I think they are a mixed bag of critters — some helpful, some not so helpful.  The one that was mucking with my computer connection is definitely not a fave. I get that there was some apprehension over the April Fools post, but it was all in good fun.  Still I heard the words “don’t diss the Huldufólk” in my head.  Well, kids, you need a sense of humor, and if you’re hanging around me, it’s kind of important to realize when I’m not serious.

Now, what I really need are kitchen wights who will do the dishes.  I realize I have the electric dishwasher wight, but it still needs to be loaded.

I’ve Never Seen an Elf

I’ve Never Seen an Elf

I have a hard time with landvaettir. As much as I would love to believe in these nature spirits or ghosts, I’ve never seen one. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, but I’m having a tough time with them.  Basically it goes under “I haven’t seen them, so I’m agnostic about them.”

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Growing up without Magic

It’s not from lack of trying, either. As a kid, I grew up skeptical and I was always wishing that something was true that I knew wasn’t.  Near my home when I was growing up, we had plenty of milkweed, dandelions,  and goat’s beard.  We called the seeds “fairies” because of the way the floaty seeds looked. I remember a kid telling me that by a particular creek you could see fairies.  I went there, hoping to see a supernatural entity, only to be sorely disappointed. When I asked the kid later, she said she meant the seeds.

Drats.

Much of my early life was spent in the woods of New York and Virginia before it all became paved over.  (Yes, I’m THAT old.)  There were places we went where you could find old ruins of farmhouses that existed before the Civil War and my dad used to find tons of miniballs from what I presume were lost around the Civil War.  These places could be magical.  But honestly, I never saw any thing that said “magic.”

Everything had a reason. People who believed in magic and ghosts were foolish or uneducated.  Everything could be explained scientifically. Kind of dreary, if you ponder it long enough. But science had its own wonder and own magic.

Still No Magic; Still No Elves

 

Some people claim to be able to speak to the land wights and the Elves. I’ve pretty much given up on that because I’ve never seen or heard one back.  I have, however, thanked them for the land, the food they brought us, and the wood we use to heat our home. I read some Asatruar books which told me how to “see” my guardian animal spirit and saw nothing.  The trick is to look at your face in the mirror at night for a long time. Granted it’s a trick that plays upon our minds and is called pareidolia.

Pareidolia plays on our mind’s ability to recognize faces in inanimate objects. When looking in the mirror at night, we don’t see everything and so our imagination fills in the gaps.  Except if you don’t have an imagination.  Which, I probably don’t.

(I’ll have you know I’m a bitch to take at movies, too.  There are some science gaffs that really take me out of suspending disbelief.)

I do have Spirit Guardian Animals, though

That being said, I do have spirit guardians. They came to me in dream and meditative visions.  One has actually flashed by my car in the same place in the same situation every time until I noticed her.  I found out that I have three spirit guardians I can call on, and maybe more. One is a fox, one is a hawk, the third is a white wolf or Husky/Malamute.  Both the fox and the hawk I have seen personally.  The wolf is in my dreams, or  may have been a dog I owned.

So, maybe I do have some magical beings that do show up from time to time.  They just don’t screw too much with my sensibilities.   Maybe Elves and land wights are too much to ask for.  Then again, you never know…

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