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Thor is Mighty Powerful [FREE CONTENT]

Thor is Mighty Powerful [FREE CONTENT]

Lightning has always been a powerful natural phenomenon, but just how powerful, we just didn’t know until now.  Teruaki Enoto, a physicist at Kyoto University in Japan, has proven that lightning is a natural particle accelerator, producing x-rays, gamma rays, radioactive particles, and…wait for it…
antimatter!  

Oh, how cool is that?  Check out my link in my free Patreon post to learn more about it.  

Hail the Goddesses and Gods of Spring

Hail the Goddesses and Gods of Spring

As we approach the vernal equinox, winter starts to lose her icy grasp and  spring slowly slips in. Spring for me means mud season, which isn’t  something I or my livestock particularly enjoy. One of my goats gave  birth on the Ides of March to a lovely buckling.  I had to come up with  makeshift quarters for them and bring the kids inside at night due to  the cold and predators.  I’m now on kid watch for the last pregnant doe  of the season, which means checking on her every couple of hours.  Yay  me.  Hence the lateness of the blogs.

Here up  north, we’re still in Skadi’s grasp, although the winter goddess is  slowly relenting to the gentle hands of the spring goddesses and gods.   These goddesses and gods are powerful in their own right, and while we  may not know everything about them, I think we can make some good  assumptions about them.  Let’s look at them.

Courtesy of Magickal Graphics

Eostre or Ostara

If you want to start up an argument between  Heathens or between Heathens and Christians, mention Eostre, the Anglo  Saxon goddess of spring and rebirth. (In German, it’s believed to be  Ostara.)  A goodly portion of recons think that Eostre was simply the  name of April and St. Bede suggested it was the name of a goddess when  it wasn’t.  Christians will accuse you of trying to undermine Easter if  you mention it.  Nevertheless, if you wish to enjoy a feast day to  Eostre, do it. I have a whole post dedicated to Eostre and why I think she was probably a real goddess.

In Urglaawe, practitioners believe in the goddess  Oschdra (Ostara?) who  gives the Oschter Haws (Easter Rabbit) the  ability to spread color throughout the world in the spring. The Oschter Haws was brought into Pennsylvania by German settlers where the Easter rabbit laid colorful eggs.

That  being said, if you’re an Eostre believer,  celebrate with candy,  colored eggs, bunny rabbits, and chicks. (The candy, incidentally, is a  later addition of more modern times.)  Have fun and enjoy yourself.   Make an offering to Eostre for the spring.

Idunn

Idunn, of the golden apples fame, is the goddess of spring,  renewal, and immortality, is certainly a terrific goddess to honor in  the springtime. She’s interesting not only because she’s a powerful  goddess, who keeps the gods young, but she wasn’t born into the Aesir or  Vanir (though you can make a case for her being Vanir, being a goddess  of fertility.)  She hails from alfar blood, making her one of the Elves.

She’s  particularly important because without her, the gods would grow old and  die.  Her apples bring youth to those gods who do age.

Freyja

When talking about spring, I feel that you simply must  include Freyja.  Freyja is a Vanir and a fertility goddess.  Without  Freyja we would have no beginnings when it comes to new life. She is  literally the conception of life, and my own UPG suggests spring is  indeed her time. As such a powerful goddess, she has many roles: goddess  of war, love, beauty, seidr, and death.

Freyr

If Freyja one of the quintessential goddesses of spring,  Freyr is one of the gods of spring. One could make the argument  (successfully, I might add), that he is a summer god.  But Freyr also  has the duty of gestation and growth.  He is the male god of fertility,  but he is often associated with germination. It just makes sense he is a  fitting god for spring.

If you think about Easter  celebrations, you’ll note that a traditional Easter meal is a ham.  No  surprise there.  I’ve read that Christianity was happy enough to  incorporate the pagan traditions of eating ham at Easter when ham was  originally eaten in honor of Freyr. As Heathens, having a traditional  ham dinner is certainly a great way to celebrate spring and Freyr.

Thor

On first blush, Thor seems out of place in the list of  deities having to do with spring. But the thunderer is certainly  considered a god who brings the rains which helps the fields to grow.   Little wonder that he is married to Sif, who is a spring/summer goddess  in her own right. Thor presides over the wind, rain, and even the  crops.  It makes sense that he is considered a major god and one who  presides over spring and summer.

Sif

If Thor brings about  rain to the crops, it is Sif, his wife, who receives the rain. She’s  definitely a fertility goddess and an earth goddess.  The story about  how Loki cuts her golden hair and must find a substitute for her is a  suggestion that her hair is the wheat crops. (Incidentally, cutting a  woman’s hair was a sign that she was unfaithful — something to think  about when reading that Loki found his way into her bedroom and cut her  hair while she was sleeping.)  But, I digress here.  Sif is certainly an  earth goddess and spring and summer is her time.

Honoring the Gods and Goddesses of Spring

Springtime  is a transition time. As modern day Heathens, we acknowledge that the  equinox is the first day of spring.  However, in ancient times, our  ancestors looked at spring differently.  Spring was believed to maybe start with Grundsaudaag or Groundhog’s Day in Urglaawe tradition.  The groundhog replaced the badger or bear in German tradition.  While,  we’re well past Groundhog’s Day, we can hold a feast in honor of spring  and our spring gods and goddesses.

Sigrblot usually comes in April and is celebrated with offerings to Freyr and Freyja.  Most pagans consider May 1st as a celebration time of spring which  includes Walpugisnach.  While it may be a more modern interpretation of  the Heathen calendar, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy it. Unless  you’re a member of the recon rabble, there’s no reason why you can’t  adopt Heathen and pagan traditions your own holidays as you see fit.

I  mentioned coloring eggs and rabbits as part of the Eostre celebrations.  Even if there wasn’t an Eostre, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take our  older Heathen traditions that survived and changed, and make them in  honor of the spring goddesses and gods you do wish to venerate.  I think they will be pleased.

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Is Thor Stupid?

Is Thor Stupid?

It seems to me that there are two camps when it comes to Thor: those who think he’s at least average intelligence (for a god, whatever that is), and those who think he’s maybe not as dumb as a post, but would be challenged by one occasionally.  Since I picked on Thor last week, I’m going to test his good graces again and tackle his intellect.

All Brawn and No Brains

I suspect that thinking Thor is stupid is a relatively recent phenomena which has to do with our current stereotypes.  Although the stereotypes are changing, the common stereotype of the muscle man is the stupid jock. I think, rightly or wrongly, that stereotype has been crafted over the years.  Although science disagrees that people who are athletic are stupid, it’s still a stereotype that is perpetuated.  I did a quick look on the Internet in the quest for the search of why muscular people, particularly men, are considered stupid. I found a reference on that oh-so-accurate Wikipedia (that was sarcasm, for those not paying attention), and even a blog which mentions a study on it.

My Own Experience with Jocks

Growing up, I had the joy of dealing with bullies, and dealing with kids who were naturally better at sports. I had undiagnosed asthma which precluded me from doing well in physical activities when I was younger.  This was during a time when people thought asthma was “all in your head.”  It took years for me to admit I have it, and now that I do, life is much, much easier. But I digress.  Most of those kids were, well — not the brainiest — and those who were smart, tended to hide it for fear of being bullied.  To add to the stereotype, I grew up when nerdy guys in lab coats got people to the moon.

In college, I saw kids who got scholarships and were treated like gold because they were good in sports.  While not all the jocks were stupid, many were not the sharpest knives in the drawer, because they often were given a pass.  I went into the sciences, geek girl that I am.  So, the stupid jock was commonplace.

My junior and senior year, I worked out and trained in martial arts.  So, I got to know the weightlifters.  Many had been the kids everyone picked on when they were small; a good portion of them were introverts. So, they did the best thing they could think of: not become a target. Many of the people I knew in martial arts were smart.  Yes, there were the average and idiots in the group as well, but most I would categorize as being clever enough.

So, why the dichotomy?

When We Moved from Agrarian to Industrial

I think that the shift in emphasis started in the 18th century, but really didn’t take hold until the 19th century and early 20th century where people started separating themselves into white collar and blue collar (note: this is not a rich versus poor argument).  My parents looked down on those who didn’t have office jobs as being unable to be smart enough to attain those positions.  Never mind that many of the blue collar jobs paid better than white collar jobs.  I suspect that this attitude was fostered though the colleges and through those who were able to work pushing paper for a living.  I suspect that the GI Bill after WWII and emphasis into getting higher degrees also pushed more people into thinking that manual labor means you can’t hack an office job.

I’ve already mentioned the moonshots, which were a result of the cold war. In fact, I suspect that the emphasis going into science and other intellectual activities caused a bigger split, suggesting that you couldn’t be both strong and smart.  Sure, we had our Hollywood heroes, but they emphasized not  strength, per se, but beauty. Professional athletes were always admired, but they were never considered brilliant, except when it pertained to their performance

When Physical Prowess was Admired

It used to not be that way.  Prowess in sports suggested you were good on the battlefield. Being physically fit has paramount before firearms became prevalent. After all, whether you lived or died, whether your family would survive, and whether you had enough food was largely dependent on your fitness and skill as a hunter, warrior, and farmer.  Firearms replaced swords, pikes, maces, and knives, and armor went away.  No longer did you have to carry some 50 to 70 pounds of armor and weaponry.  While there were wars, most problems were resolved in torte.

Brains and brawn weren’t considered mutually exclusive.  Many warriors were considered clever and intelligent.

So, What About Thor?

I feel that Thor has gotten a bad rap, not because he’s stupid, but because he has likable characteristics that make him more…well, human. Somehow he loses Mjolnir, and has to go in drag to get it back.  He journeys with Loki to Jotunheim and yes, he is tricked by the Jotun’s magic, but then so is Loki.  Then, there’s the story how Thor tricks a dwarf who is about to marry his daughter in the Alvissmal where the gods promised Thor’s daughter while he was away. Tricking a dwarf to stay above ground after sunrise (and thus turned to stone) doesn’t suggest a stupid god.

My UPG Take on Thor

I am not an expert when it comes to Thor, but what little dealings I’ve had with him shows me a strong and compassionate champion.  Yes, he has a temper; yes, he is not beyond using his strength. But I have noticed that he is more likely to forgive if someone makes an error like Thjálfi did in breaking the bone of his goat and sucking out the marrow. As one of the gods who favors humanity, I can think of no better champion.

I don’t think Thor is stupid.  I think that because his strength is so great, we sometimes don’t take into account that Thor is smart too.  After all, he’s the son of Odin and Jord.  Would Odin have a stupid kid?  I don’t think so.

How We Can Learn from Thor Losing Mjolnir

How We Can Learn from Thor Losing Mjolnir

I’m staring at two half-finished blog posts and hating them.  I think it’s because even though I tend to write stuff that causes people to think about some heavy things, today I need a little levity.  And I think I’m not the only one that needs it in the Heathen community.

Taking Everything Too Seriously

I swear to the gods, people take everything way too seriously most of the time. Hel, our ancestors
didn’t always take everything seriously.  The stories about Loki and Thor are prime examples. Thor loses his hammer; Heimdall devises a plot for a cross-dressing Thor (after Loki found out Thrym the king of the Jotun wanted Freyja as his wife) to so he can get his hammer back. The story is fairly short, but I can imagine a bunch of drunk Northmen telling the embellished story and laughing. Then, there is the story of Loki’s and Thor’s journey to Jotunheim.  Oh yes, and the building of Asgard’s wall and Loki’s philandering with a stallion…

Our ancestors understood that levity was important, and not even the gods were beyond having amusing stories told about them.

Why We Need to Lighten Up

My point is that our ancestors had plenty to worry about.  They had invaders and wars. They had famines and poor harvests. They had diseases that wiped out whole villages that today we’ve cured or at least made less deadly.  They didn’t have smartphones, iPads, and Pokemon Go. Yes, yes, we have plenty of terrible things happening in this world, but sometimes its important just to laugh and shake our heads over the crazy stuff.  I swear if more people just relaxed and didn’t throw down every two minutes, I think we’d be a lot better off.

Science Backs Me Up on This

We know (from science, of course) that getting angry all the time isn’t healthy.  According to Scientific American, people are getting angrier all the time and less civil due to the Internet.  It’s because you’re dealing with a perfect storm of perceived anonymity, the ability to have a monologue, the inability to gauge people’s emotions and reactions, and the ability to be an armchair advocate without really doing anything toward a cause. What’s more, the media outlets actually foster this behavior by leaving up the worst comments, thus allowing people to think this is acceptable behavior.

People are Angrier Because of Issues

A fairly recent piece written in the BBC talks about how Americans are even more angry than before due to a number of issues. We’re bombarded with bad news all the time and becoming more polarized.  I remember back when 9-11 happened.  I spent a long time being depressed because I was seeing news constantly about the terrorist attacks. Eventually, I had to turn the TV off.  So it has been with the Internet.

Dealing with Rage

At some point, we have to decide if we’re going to stay angry all the time, or whether it’s time to lighten up. Obviously, there are times for seriousness, but we should take a clue from the gods and see humor even in the most dire situations (such as losing Mjolnir).

 

Are the Gods People?

Are the Gods People?

Heh.  This one is sure to get me in trouble with some folk.

A lot of people are pretty convinced that the gods look like something out of Marvel, Wagner’s Opera, or <name your preference here>.  Some followers of northern paganism, including Asatru, Heathenry, and even Odinism, are constantly insisting that the gods are at least human looking and have physical forms that look like…well, like white people.  I’m going to drive a truck right over that belief.

Why the Gods Appear Human — Warning UPG Ahead!

It’s laughable to think that the gods are human.  They can take human-like forms, but they certainly aren’t human any more than the natural elements being human.  Because they’re Norse and Germanic gods, it’s not surprising that to most people they look, well…, like something out of Lord of the Rings. This, I suspect, is more because of cultural biases rather than actually what the gods look like or are.  They relate to us in ways we can easily accept.  If that means looking like an old guy like Gandalf the Grey with an eyepatch and two ravens on his shoulders, then that’s what Odin will look like. We have a cultural understanding what Odin is going to look like through our stories. Odin may look differently to another culture.  In fact, unless he had a specific reason to look like Gandalf, he would look like whatever was appropriate to the culture of whom he spoke to. If that means that he needs to show up as Christ, an African American, or a fruit cake to tell us something, that’s probably what he’d do.  At least, that has been my experience with Odin. As usual, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV), and if you actually deal with the gods, you may have different experiences.

What are the Gods, Exactly?

I tend to think of the gods as natural entities and metaphors for what we see in nature. Their power is over certain natural phenomena. I’m not quite pantheistic, but I think I can make a case for it. But that’s another subject for another time. When we look at all the gods, they all have natural phenomena associated with them. Thor with thunder springs to mind, but there are certainly others. Sif with the earth and harvest. Freyr with male sexuality, fertility, and agriculture. Tyr with laws and the heavens. Odin with creation.  Some, like Frigg, goddess of marriage and the household, are aimed more toward human constructs, but given they are universal, we can think of them as natural.

So, are the gods their elements?  I suspect they are, or at least strongly linked. I know they’re not human or in human form, but I suspect they can manifest themselves in whatever manner they need to be.

Where are the Gods?

There’s been some debate as to whether a particular god is only in Northern Europe, or whether Northern Paganism extends beyond the lands whence they came.  If we look at the actual roots of Norse Paganism, we can see it actually evolved from Proto-Indo-European Paganism.  And that evolved from nostratic paganism.

I’ve shown this evolutionary tree of religion before, but I want to talk about nostratic paganism for a moment. As far as I know — and people can certainly point me in better directions — there isn’t really a lot of evidence concerning what people actually believed some 17,000 years ago. We know people believed in an afterlife and certainly gods to worship and sacrifice to, but given our ancestors didn’t have a written language then, we really don’t know exactly what tribe worshiped what. And while we know that our ancestors made the jump from animism to paganism, we don’t really know when exactly or how. We do know that our ancestors probably worshiped a set of gods because later iterations seem to suggest they came from one root.  So, we’re looking at the same gods being worshiped (or similar gods being worshiped) across various cultures. Yes, the names change, and some of the roles change, but we see similarity between gods of various pantheons.

It seems unlikely that if we discovered our gods during the nostratic paganism times that our gods would be rooted in just one geographic location. And if they were in one location, we’d probably be looking more south than north. But this doesn’t make sense.  Natural phenomena doesn’t change simply because it’s in another region.  Hence, I think it’s unlikely we’re dealing with different gods.

Making the Case with Thor

Let’s take Thor and lightning (and thunder).  I use Thor as an example because he’s easily understood and thunder gods exist damn near everywhere.  Thor as a thunder god is one of our most powerful and revered gods, and yet, he has names throughout different cultures. But lightning is lightning, and thunder is thunder. While lightning may come in various shapes, it’s pretty much the same thing. I suppose you could argue that there is ball lightning, volcanic lightning, more violent thunderstorms with lightning, and even sprites, but I’d argue that it’s the same thing, just behaving differently according to its environments. Look at lightning and you’ll see pretty much the same phenomena.

If we argue that the thunder gods are different in the Western hemisphere than the Eastern hemisphere, then we should see marked differences in the thunder and lightning in the United States than in Asia or Europe or Africa. But we don’t.  We see that the behavior is the same.  The thunder and lightning follow the same behaviors as put forth by natural laws (physics aka Tyr).  So, Thor is Thor, whether he is called Perun, Zeus, or the Thunderbird.  It does, however, make me wonder if Thor is an Earth phenomena or whether he governs all lightning.  No, I haven’t a UPG on that yet, but I suspect Thor isn’t tied to just our little rock.

Physics, Ethics of Reciprocity, and Tyr

We also see that the natural laws extend well past the borders of northern Europe. If Tyr’s laws didn’t

exist everywhere in our Universe, we’d be in a terrible mess. Imagine if gravity existed only in some parts of the world and not in others. That alone would be a scary thought because there wouldn’t be attraction between masses that would hold them together. Or energy isn’t what we understand it is. Or anything that we have come to learn about the universe suddenly disappears.  There would be places on Earth where everything and anything goes. Or maybe gigantic rifts in space time because there are pockets of things that don’t follow Tyr’s laws.

On the human side, I suppose one could argue that Tyr doesn’t exist in all places as the embodiment of humankind’s laws.  And you might have a case.  And yet, we see at a basic level other religions point to codes of conduct that they approve of. “Golden Rules” if you want to take the Christian term, or Ethics of Reciprocity.

Do all cultures have Ethics of Reciprocity?  I suspect so in some form.  Whether they’re followed is iffy — humans aren’t exactly the best when it comes to doing the right thing.

So, there you have it, my take on the gods.