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Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Hunting season has drawn to a close, which means Yule is around the corner.  Suddenly, I’m going from Hunting to Yule once we celebrate Thanksgiving next week.  (Yeah, Thanksgiving gets preempted by hunting season.)  So, we celebrate Thanksgiving the week after.  After that, we’re in the few weeks before Yule, which means a busy time.

This year I told my non-Heathen, agnostic, mostly atheist, husband I wanted to celebrate Yule, too.  We were both raised in Catholic families (yeah, crazy) and we were both raised in the Christian tradition of Christmas. So, Yule will be somewhat new to him, and the prayers and offerings will be private.

Why I’m Keeping the Prayer and Offerings Private

Prayer and offerings are part of our beliefs, and yet, it can look strange to those outside of our religion. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my beliefs, it’s just that my husband doesn’t understand or believe in them.  Looking at it from an atheist perspective, I get it. It looks like a bunch of woo-woo to him and it can look like I’ve lost my marbles.  (Maybe I have?)  But I do get it.   Not everyone is going to look on our religion positively, which is why I’m presenting a more secular Yule to my family and not pushing my religion on those who aren’t interested in it.

Having grown up Catholic, the whole religious thing comes off as a way to either guilt someone or as a way to try to recruit them.  I don’t push my beliefs on someone who does not have them.

How I’m Planning to Celebrate Yule

One book I’ve found helpful in celebrating Yule is A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule.  It’s worth the four bucks on Amazon to buy the eBook, if you’re really looking for ideas.  It offered some good ideas for me, so it might come in handy to you too.  I’m also blending other celebrations we’ve had in the past.

December 20th — Mother’s Night

I’ve never really celebrated Mother’s Night, except perhaps by baking stuff.  Yes, I’ll be baking cookies and desserts to prepare for the upcoming Yule. I’ll also be offering my female ancestors gifts on my altar.  When cooking, I often go into meditation and focus on my ancestors.  Sometimes, I’ll hear the ones who were closest to me in my mind.  It is a day to honor them, so I do things that they would appreciate.  Usually involves holiday preparations.

The Christmas/Yule Tree will already be up because I think it’s too much to try to get it put up during this time.  Apparently people who put up their Yule trees during Yule don’t have time issues.

December 21st — Solstice/Yule

This is a big day for me.  I will designate a Yule log to burn in my woodstove.  If I can find good twine, I may make it prettier with pine boughs and pine cones. I will put together a venison roast for dinner and we will crack open a mead to celebrate.  I may try my hand at making a yule log cake.  In the late evening, I will hold a blot outside for the gods.  I will also leave gifts to Sunna, Mani, Baldr, Loki, Tyr, and Skadi on my altar.  I may gather the ashes from the Yule log later to smudge the corners of the house for protection.  I will read the runes for the Solstice to get a feel as to what is to come for the new year.

December 24th — Christmas Eve

My family celebrates Christmas Eve and Christmas as a secular holiday rather than a religious one.  Given that we’ll already have the Christmas Tree up, we have another big meal (usually a venison or antelope roast) and more mead.  We exchange presents and open them up.  Again, another blot for the gods and the wights.

I like the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve for reading.  This is something I’d love to incorporate in my Yule plans.

December 25th — Christmas

We visit relatives in town and deliver presents.  We then come home and have a feast (again).  This time, it will be roast goose.  Usually, I plan on a pork roast in honor of Freyr, but this year, we have a couple of geese in the freezer, so we’ll have a traditional Dickens type of dinner.

December 31st — New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve has never been a big thing with me.  Even so, I’ll probably wait for the New Year and offer a blot to the gods as a thank you for the good things that happened this year and a prayer for a better upcoming year.  I will then read the runes for the upcoming year again.  Often the runes’ message coincides with what I learned earlier.

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day may see me perform a salt ritual to protect the home and farmstead.

My Yule is Low Key (but not Loki)

Yule will be low key, and I prefer it that way.  It’s 12 days of festivities and of those 12 days, I celebrate at least three with special meals. The blots I choose to do in private.  The offerings will go on my altar and will be either left there, if not perishable, or left outside, if perishable, once I am done with them.  Plenty of critters outside will partake of the scraps.

My prayers are more spontaneous, than anything.  They come from the heart, and I do not write them down.  The salt ritual too isn’t written down, but I call upon the wights to protect the dwelling and barn, and to discourage those wights intent on harm.  It does seem to make a difference.

Celebrating with Non-Heathen Family Members

Obviously all my family members are non-Heathen, so I adjust my Yule celebrations toward the secular as well. The offerings and prayers are done when they are asleep (easy for me to do), and with those family members whom I visit at Christmastime, I focus more on seeing them and making them happy, not the religious side.  After all, Yule is a family holiday, whether celebrating the ancestors, like on Mother’s Night, or simply getting together with family and friends on Christmas. I’ve learned to take everything in stride on holidays because getting worked up about them is too much stress for me.

Let me know what you do for Yule in the comments and let me know if there are any traditions you do that are special.

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Elves and Other Races–Do We Remember The Others?

Elves and Other Races–Do We Remember The Others?

Historians used to look at folk tales and fairy tales as cute stories to tell children, but in light of current evidence, maybe they were true.  I’m talking about other races like the Elves and Wights whom we show our respect. Maybe there is a collective unconscious like Jung proposed.  Perhaps we’re remembering other races through the passage of time?  Stick with me on this, and maybe I can offer a scientific and rational explanation for our stories.

Elves, Wights, and Hidden People

If you’ve been a Heathen for any amount of time, you know that we honor both the Light Elves and Dark Elves. We tell stories about trolls under bridges and we respect the Wights, the spirits of the land (even if we have a hard time believing in them).  So much so that we honor these creatures and tell stories about them.  In Iceland, they even route roads around rocks and move construction projects around areas purported to be homes of the Huldu or Hidden People.

We think and talk about people of an elder race. But what elder races?  Because science confirms that there were “elder races” living during the time Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa and into other lands.  Could our myths and legends correspond to these hominids?

What Races Coexisted with Homo Sapiens?

The first question to ask is what other hominid races coexisted with Homo sapiens.  Although an older article, this New York Times article mentions that Homo erectus may have lived among Homo sapiens as late as 27,000 years ago.  We know that Neanderthals lived among humans up until about 40,000 years ago.  And then, there’s the mysterious Denisovans that we know very little about but know we have some of their genome as as well as Neanderthal. Then, there is Homo floresiensis, those “Hobbit” people, who lived in Indonesia up until about 50,000 years ago.  For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to primarily be talking about the Neanderthals, since we have the most information about them, but these arguments could work for any of the hominids that existed along with Homo sapiens.

Although Neanderthals were our cousins, DNA and archaeological evidence points to crossbreeding amongst the two species. Humans and Neanderthals common ancestors had separated about 400,000 years ago, which makes the interaction between the two species interesting. Unlike Homo sapiens, Neanderthals had been outside of Africa for nearly 200,000 before our ancestors stepped out. Their evolution continued in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.  Could these be the “other races” our collective unconscious seem to point to?

What Our Ancestors Must Have Thought of the Others

Our Homo sapiens ancestors no doubt had contact with Neanderthals and other races of hominids, but I wonder what our ancestors thought of them.  Neanderthals had bigger brains than our ancestors, had the ability to makes tools, and even had the ability to make art.  They probably had speech of some variety, but their voices were higher pitched than ours.  They buried their dead, or at least cared for the dead rather than leave them where they were or dump them in a garbage pit.

The Neanderthals were heavier set and tended to hunt close up against some pretty dangerous prey, like mammoths.  That meant that they suffered some pretty serious injuries.  Their heavier bodies, bigger chests, and large noses gave them the ability to live in colder climates.  They had adapted to their environment successfully, which probably put our Homo sapiens ancestors in awe.  Homo sapiens had evolved in hotter climates, making the colder climates our ancestors entered a real challenge in a lot of ways.

Did our ancestors emulate the Neanderthals?  Did we learn from them?  Were we at odds with them?  One can only guess what our ancestors thought, but given that there are very few artifacts, other than DNA of the contact, I suspect the contact was more or less peaceful.

What Happen to the Others?

What happened to the Neanderthals, if they were so well adapted to the colder places?  Why did a successful species go extinct after surviving some 350,000 years?  Scientists don’t have all the answers, but they do have clues into why our “elder cousins” may have disappeared.

First, Neanderthals were never in large numbers.  They lived in small familial groups and inbred quite a bit.  The didn’t have the genetic diversity of modern humans — even though we’re pretty much a group of inbred hominids, ourselves, nearly going extinct about three times.  They practiced cannibalism on more than one occasion.  While no doubt our ancestors did too at various times, the Neanderthals didn’t have a large group to choose from.

Lastly, as their numbers dwindled, they probably sought mates outside of their race.  We know modern humans bred with them and that people with ancestors from Europe and Asia have about 2 percent Neanderthal genetics.  This suggests our races did have interactions.  Apparently we could breed and produce viable offspring — at least, occasionally.  Neanderthals were already going extinct, probably from lack of numbers and genetic diversity.

Neanderthals didn’t go extinct all at once, either.  Pockets of them existed in various places until they simply died out or until they joined modern humans.

Are the Others the Basis for Elves, Wights, and Other Races?

Now comes my controversial conjectures. First, let me say that it is just the meanderings of some rather interesting thoughts — you can disagree with me all you want.  But, science has proof of Neanderthals, Homo erectus, Denisovians, and other races that lived during the same time as modern humans, whereas we have no physical proof of Elves.  So, I’m simply connecting the dots between science and lore.  Our legends tell of races that existed before us.  Could the Elves, Dwarves, and other denizens be inspired by these older hominid races?  Could the Elders simply be Neanderthals, eventually dressed up over time so they are unrecognizable?  It’s a tantalizing thought.

In which case, our wights are ancestral spirits of former hominids.  That the Alfar and Disir are indeed ancestors of humans — just very much older. Were they magical?  Given I really don’t believe in the concept of magic, you can make your own inferences and not trust my beliefs, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Changelings

We know from fairy stories that Elves weren’t always benign.  We know that they may switch babies with their own progeny, hoping to fool humans. It’s believed that these changeling stories are in existence to explain birth defects and developmentally disabled children.  This makes a lot of sense on many levels, but I can’t help wonder if changelings may have occurred with other races.  What happened when a Neanderthal and modern human mated, in terms of progeny?  Were changelings a description of what could have occurred if Neanderthals tried to substitute their children for human children in the hopes of giving them a chance to survive?  I don’t know, but it is an interesting thought.

What Does The Rational Heathen Believe?

I really love the concept of Elves and Wights, but as I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m largely agnostic about them.  I’m more inclined to accept that they are a collective memory of past interaction between hominid races rather than accept the lore at face value.  Still, whichever way you consider our stories, the ideas I’ve presented are intriguing.

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Shamans and Charlatans

Shamans and Charlatans

I ran across a person who is making money hand over fist with her “channeling” archangels.  Now, you might tell me that I’m just bitter because I don’t make tons of money like she does. Okay, you might be right there. But I think charging a lot of money for a “gift” from a supernatural entity smacks of charlatanism.  Here’s why I think that they might be a charlatan.

What are Angels?

Of all the Christian constructs, I’m more inclined to accept angels and archangels over other supernatural beings.  The concept of the angel, that is a messenger of the gods, goes back a fairly long ways in history. The concept isn’t linked just to the Abrahamic beliefs.  The word, “angel,” comes from the Greek word, angelos, meaning “messenger.”  The Sumerians were the first to have angels.  They even worshiped a type of personal angel, similar to our Fygia that were, in essence, guardian angels. The Babylonians continued with angels and demons, which no doubt influenced the Jewish belief system, and thereby Christianity.

A UPG warning ahead (so you know).  I believe that the so-called angels of Christianity are actually gods from earlier religions, and that our gods have occasionally taken their forms (as well as forms of the Christian god) to appear to people who eventually become Heathens.  This is my experience, and you can take that with a grain of salt.  I know, in my case, Tyr has done so, and I suspect Odin has as well.  I also suspect other spirits and supernatural entities have taken the guise of a Christian angel to get their message heard.

Charging for Communing

The concept of communing with angels and archangels doesn’t seem that farfetched to me, as I’ve noted.  But the concept of charging people a monthly fee for their insight sends off warning bells as being a charlatan.  They claim that people won’t believe their message if they don’t charge something, but getting rich off advice given by the minions of a poor Jewish carpenter seems a bit hypocritical.  Okay, a lot hypocritical.

I remember being in a panel at a SF convention and using runes on someone else, rather than myself.  I was stunned to find people all around me who charged for doing that sort of thing with their Tarot cards. Never mind that I ended up being more accurate than they were.  That’s really not a boast.  I felt so out of my league with those people, that I ended up being stunned at my own accuracy.

Occasionally I have charged for my rune draws, but it’s a nominal fee — like $5.  I am very cautious about it, because I really don’t know if it works well enough to change people’s lives.  And quite honestly, the gods are the gods.  The gods are not our bitches.  They don’t come running when we call to them, nor do they do things we ask of them, unless they think it’s a good idea.  I suspect angels–if they really do exist–have better things to do than counsel people on their day-to-day lives. Yeah, and if I recall archangels seem to have lots of things to do besides talk to our silly asses day-to-day.  The gods do, I know that.

Yes, the runes are the runes.  They may or may not tap into a god’s psyche.  And one could claim, I suppose, that you spent umpty umpty bucks becoming a channeler.  You know how much training I had with the runes? Zilch, other than books.  You know how much training I had contacting gods?  Yep, zilch, nada, none.  And yet, I’ve gotten some interesting contacts.

Communing with Angels

So, do I think the people actually commune with angels and archangels?  Probably not.  In most cases, as much as I hate to say it, they’re charlatans like those people who did toll-free Tarot readings and advise people of their love life.  Maybe a few of them were actually legit, but most were just trying to make a buck off of incredibly gullible people.

Of those who are actually legit, I don’t think they’re talking to whom they think they are talking to.  For one thing, I don’t believe in the Christian god, and if he does exist, he’s not the god the Christians think he is.  So, the angels and archangels could be damn near anyone or anything.  Hels bells, it might even be a malevolent spirit.  If I hazard a guess, I think they’re probably talking to a wight, if they’re talking to anything.

So, How Does this Relate to Heathenism?

For those getting into Heathenism, and for those who have been in Heathenism some time, it’s important to recognize when someone is blowing smoke up your ass.  (As an aside, this term actually comes from an attempted “cure” by blowing smoke up someone’s ass.  I know, TMI.)  Basically if someone is demanding lots of money for something that isn’t particularly well defined, such as prognostication, you may want to ask a lot of questions.  Questions include:

  • How do I know that you’re really talking to <name that entity or god> and not just ripping me off?
  • What do I get in return for my money?
  • Who made you the Asa-Pope and why should I believe you?

I know, I know.  I’m a wet blanket here.  Look, there are plenty of major religions out there begging for money who have amazingly gilded churches.  The Catholic Church is just one of them.

Where Does the Rational Heathen Fit in?

You HAD to expect a Doctor Who reference in here with angels. I’m just sayin…

At this point, if you haven’t read a lot by me, you’re probably wondering what the fuck am I doing and what am I selling?  Look, I know I’ve mentioned that I’ve had several conversations with our gods, but I give the information I think is pertinent freely.  Yeah, yeah, I do have a premium version of this site and a pay wall on some pieces, but I’m pretty up front when I’m telling you that what you’re paying for is to keep me writing about the stuff you like to hear about.

I’m not lying to you and saying that Tyr has a special message for you if you only pay me $29.99 a month.  (He doesn’t, by the way.)  I don’t tell you I’m taking the money and saving souls while lining my pockets with the cash. (You’re going to Hel, by the way, if a god doesn’t claim you or if you haven’t died in battle.) What I tell you is that I could use some help monetarily and if you like what you’re reading and want to support my endeavors, I’d appreciate if you could at least pitch in a buck or two to at least keep the blog and the Internet up.

Maybe I’m not thinking big enough on this whole archangel thing.  Maybe I need to channel those, charge people $25 a month, and have my own videos…

Nah.  I’d probably get Weeping Angels.  In which case, we’re all screwed.

How to Perform a Salt Purification Ritual

How to Perform a Salt Purification Ritual

“I think I might have problems with wights,” I told one wight expert about issues at my barn. Never mind that I’m strongly agnostic about wights, and never mind that I don’t believe in magic. I was at wit’s end when it came to my goats getting sick and dying. I had one necropsy performed on a dead kid which proved nothing except that I had a very healthy, dead kid. The expert recommended that I perform a salt purification ritual to rid the barn of negative influences.

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Wights, Ancestors, and Dreams

Wights, Ancestors, and Dreams

I think I’m getting high off mint. 

I don’t think of myself as a particular lightweight when it comes to alcohol or medications.  (In fact, doctors usually have to use several times the amount they think they need for me to be numbed.  And I won’t go into alcohol, at this time.)  So, when I was digging up mint out of my garden to replant and possibly sell, I felt a wave of absolute joy from something. I suspect it was a wight of some sort, or maybe an ancestor.  It could’ve been me getting high off the heady scent of the mint, but I think it unlikely. 

Feral Mint

I had planted the mint several years back in an attempt to rid some other noxious weeds with my more preferable version of a weed.  Out West, we have the unfortunate situation of having constant invasive plants.  The mint, although incredibly invasive, is minimal compared to the other invasive plants, some which are quite poisonous to wildlife and livestock.  At least the mint can be eaten without harm.

The intoxicating smell of the mint, the gentle breeze, and the sun suddenly transported me into several minutes of pure joy.  I swear, I felt hands on my shoulders as I stood there alone.  Then, as quickly as it came, it left, but not before leaving me in wide-eyed wonder over what just happened.

Being Closer to Nature

Our ancestors were closer to nature than we are.  Let’s face it, most of us grew up in urban or suburban environments.  A few of us actually lived in rural areas.  Even so, we still aren’t as close to nature as our ancestors who had to deal with the good and the bad on a daily basis.  Don’t get me wrong: nature can be deadly, and often is.  We, as humans, have learned to keep the bad stuff (as defined by humans) at bay, but unfortunately, we’ve put the good stuff at arm’s length as well.

I moved into the mountains when I could.  I’m not unique that I did this nor that I have a meager ranch of a few acres whence I get a large portion of my meat and some of my vegetables. When I do the work, I get the feeling that this is just a taste of the backbreaking work our ancestors had to endure.  It wasn’t romantic or pleasant, but it did come with the benefit of being closer to what this Earth is all about.

Ancestors

Both my parents loved gardening. My mom was a Master Gardener.  Even so, I don’t recall her

planting more than tomatoes, zucchini, and basil for food.  My plants are in container gardens (with the exception of mint) because of the rocky ground here, but I have a variety of lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, beans, squash, corn, and herbs, all in containers. Yeah, it isn’t in the ground, but it is easy to get to.

I don’t know what my grandparents did in terms of gardens.  My dad worked on a farm when he was younger and ate fresh food.  My mom probably did the same.  Her dad was a baker who loved to hunt.  I know little of my dad’s side — I know his brothers were hunters.  I do know some relatives and have some genealogy charts.  Maybe I need to take another look at them.

I suspect that there are farmers and hunters in my ancestors.  At some point, all our ancestors were hunter-gatherers.  So, maybe they would look at our lives and marvel at the easy way we have it, but also the apparent lack of connection.

Odd Dreams

I had an odd dream last night.  In the dream, I was hunting with my husband (not unusual) at a ranch we had never been to.  There were many strange things there, but the oddest had to do with a big pavilion that was set up for hunters.  When you went inside, you were in row after row of cubicles with phones and computers, presumably for those waiting.  Only, everyone in there was dead.  They had killed themselves because they were waiting to hunt, but couldn’t.  They were being told to wait, and they could only read while waiting.

None of them bothered to step out of the tent.  None of them tried the Internet connection or computers. None of them took the chance to go out and hunt.  In retrospect, I think the dream had to do with how people are choosing to live their lives.  They are sitting in a row of cubicles until someone tells them they can go hunt, or they go crazy and kill themselves.

I wonder if this is a metaphor for life?  People waiting around in cubicles until they die, never taking the chance of stepping out and hunting, even if they were wrong?  It makes you think, doesn’t it?


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The Wight Stuff: A Case for Car Wights

The Wight Stuff: A Case for Car Wights

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C.

Clarke.

Occasionally, I write something that I think is controversial, but ends up being controversial in ways I never expected.  Last week’s post created a bit of a kerfuffle over, not the concept that we are doing blots wrong, but the idea that there could be car wights.

Seriously?  Seriously?

I’m not one to shy away from a good controversial discussion, especially when I think there is much to do about nothing, as Shakespeare would put it.  So, I’m going to dedicate this blog to the lowly car wight, who just might have been slighted by those who think it could not exist.

Ready for some fun?  Let’s go…

First Understand Whence I Speak

Before I even get started in the entire “are their car wights?” debate, let’s talk about my own beliefs on the subject of wights.  I am agnostic when it comes to wights.  I haven’t met one directly, and while I’ve had some pretty freaky shit happen with stuff, I can chalk it up to something natural or at least some root cause that is probable.

So the argument of whether wights exist is largely an entertaining discussion to me.  It also means I look at what could exist and not necessarily what does exist. So, let’s get started.

What’s a Wight, Really?

When we look at legends and lore, we get a pretty interesting view of how our ancestors looked at the world.  The world was full of beings, seen and unseen, that either helped, harmed, or ignored humans. We can point to etins/jotun, trolls, alfs (elves), dwarves, and various nature sprites and come up with a statement, along with the Anglo Saxon definition of wight, to include creatures and things. Now, for the sake of argument, we can narrow that definition down to supernatural creatures since many of the folks who dislike the idea of a car wight are stating that cars can’t have wights.

I would narrow it down further to supernatural creatures that inhabit only natural places, but this doesn’t hold true for wights. Some wights don’t live in rocks or trees or forests. Some live in barrows which are manmade, some live on farms and in houses, and some have been known to travel on boats.

Types of Wights

There are almost as many types of wights as there are ordinary critters in the world.  Not all the same rules apply to these wights either, nor have they all come from the same place. The alfar or alfs may be our male ancestors, just like the disir are our female ancestors. We have ghosts, trolls, werewolves, and zombies in our beliefs (call them what you will in Norse, if it makes you feel better.), so, we have quite the variety.  Some, most notably the alfs, can’t touch iron. Others, such as the dwarves and etins work and use iron quite handily.

I bring this up because the obvious problems with some wights and iron.  It would obviously not be the type of wight who inhabited a car, so let’s rule them out right then and there. Some wights seem to be bound to objects; some, like the huldufolk in Iceland, seem to be able to move out of rocks when told that a highway may be going through.

We can also take a look at magical items, including swords, and consider them wights of sorts because they seem to have their own will.  In these cases, swords that are imbued with will and spirits can certainly be constructs as well as wights. Why do I bring these up? This is important to consider when deciding if a car is a wight or not.  We can’t look at one thing that matches the wight criteria and exclude others simply because we don’t like the idea. The swords have undergone the blacksmith’s fire in order to become something that humans can use.  Cars simply undergo a more modern forging and stamping.

Taking this One Step Further: Car Wights

Okay, so we know wights can inhabit human constructs, some can tolerate iron, some can travel and inhabit boats, and some aren’t so strictly bound to objects.  Okay, then.  Let’s look at the car, shall we?

  • Human construct?  — Yes, but so are farms, graves, and homes.
  • Iron in it? — Yes, but many wights are good with that.
  • Natural materials? — Materials are made from atoms and molecules, many mined and reworked to served specific purposes.  But yes, it came from nature at one time.
  • Gives gifts for gifts? — Yes.
  • Personality?  – Yes.

But what about magic?  As the science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” What would our Heathen ancestors think of our technology if they were to step into our time? What would they think of a vehicle that has no horses or oxen to pull it? I submit to you, if we didn’t teach them how cars work (teaching them would be a tough thing given the difference in culture and education), they’re likely to think it was some type of magic.  Hence they would be considered supernatural creatures.

So, are there Cars Wights?

By the definition of what I’ve established as a wight, I’ve managed to at least suggest that cars could have wights, or even be wights. They have personalities.  They have quirks.  We name them. We give them gifts (fuel, care) in exchange for their gift (transportation). They are made from components of this earth. Obviously the car wights aren’t alfs, given the metal, but cars could carry any of the huldufolk that could tolerate iron.  And our ancestors would think they were magical.  That qualifies a car as a wight, or at least something that would have a wight in it.

On of my patrons brought up the fact that cars don’t have free will. I’ll grant you that. But I’m not certain all wights have free will either. And given the fact that free will may be an illusion anyway, it’s a moot point.  But a point that may or may not be relevant to the discussion. Some wights are tightly bound to their homes; others are not.  So, they do have to operate within the confines of their set parameters.

So, there may be car wights; there may not.  I’ve at least given a good case for why there might be. Whether you accept them or not is your choice.

Airplane Wights

As a postscript, I have to bring up airplane wights.  Why?  Because airmen in Great Britain during WWI had claimed to see gremlins damaging airplanes.  What’s more, Charles Lindbergh claimed to have seen some sort of gremlin that kept him awake during his transoceanic flight. If gremlins aren’t our modern day version of wights, I don’t know what is.

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Blots: Are We Doing Them Wrong?

Blots: Are We Doing Them Wrong?

I’ve been racking my brain about what to write this week.  So, naturally, the idea comes to me while I’m feeding my goats and other sundry critters.  Heathens do a lot of offerings and blots, but are they the right ones? And can we scientifically talk about “offerings” in the context of a more enlightened age?  Actually, I think we can, and I know I’m going to ruffle a few feathers with this, so hang on.

Let’s Talk About Wights

One of the critters we give offerings to are the wights.  Wikipedia states:

Wight is an English word, from Old English wiht, and used to describe a creature or living sentient being. It is akin to Old High German wiht, meaning a creature or thing.

Now, granted, the concept of Wights in our beliefs tend to touch on those magical spirits that inhabit homes, land, and other places.  Technically, our gods could be considered wights, as well as humans, as the Anglo-Saxon term actually suggested a human being.

I’m rather agnostic when it comes to wights, although I seem to have had what could be construed as possible encounters with them.  But for the sake of argument, I’ll talk wights like I believe in them.

Your Car Wight

Okay, with me so far?  So,  let’s say the wights are the essence of some sort of “thing,” whether it is a tree, stone, a piece of land, or whatever is around us.  We can consider animals as part of the “wights,” in my not so humble opinion, and we may be able to consider everyday objects as wights as well.

“Wait a second,” you say.  “There aren’t wights when it comes to computers, dishes, or cars.”  Oh, I would heartily disagree.  If you’ve ever worked on cars, airplanes, computers, or some other mechanical device, or operated them for any length of time, you damn well know each of them have their own distinct personality. You can drive five of the very same model and same year of vehicle and get a different impression of each.  Even from the factory.

Now, you may argue that cars obtain their “personality” from the persons who assembled it on a particular day, the flaws in the parts they might have, and the owners they have.  Okay, so how is this different from something living?  We obtain our basic genetic code and personality from our parents (Mom had something to do with our assembly), the flaws we have (you have arthritis or maybe a healed broken bone?), and the experience and care we receive growing up.  Hmmm.  That sounds like there are correlations here.

“But my car isn’t sentient!” you say.  “It’s a man made construct!” I’d agree with you, only to a point. Everything we see and use has been created from the same natural materials that came from stars. The metal that makes up the car was mined.  The fuel it uses is from plants and animals that rotted millions of years ago.  Everything in a car — every molecule — came from nature.  We did not create the mass, although we can rearrange molecules and change them into different compounds.  So, if you subscribe to wights at all, you have to consider your car is a wight.

Does My Car Need Offerings?

This is a silly question, but one that you’ll have to look at seriously.  We certainly do make “blots” to our cars. We even have some very prescribed rituals for making sure they are satisfied and will give us a gift in return for our gifts.

Our frequent blots to our cars: we go to the gas station for fuel.  We offer our hard-earned tokens that symbolize our energy equation (money) in exchange for other energy (fuel), and we have a special requirement for how to provide the offering (open the fuel cap, prepay at the pump, insert the nozzle, etc.)  Less frequent blots: changing the oil, rotating the tires, getting a tune up, etc.  Often, these blots occur at a particular seasonal time: change summer tires to winter tires in the fall, change winter tires to summer tires in the spring, tune up the car late spring for summer trips, etc.

We offer these “gifts” in exchange for our car’s gift: transportation.  Still don’t believe the car is a wight?  People talk to them all the time.  They name their cars.  They grow attachments to them. Some people trust their cars better than they trust their spouses.   I remember back in college friends comparing the top end speed of their Volkswagen Beetles. Same era and virtually the same cars, yet they were very different.

Now, did these wights talk back or go rescue your ass when you got stuck with a bad date?  Of course not. That’s not within their operating parameters.  But they have quirks and behaviors you can’t ignore (especially when they hate cold weather).

Let’s Take This One Step Further

So, if you’re with me that cars and computers and airplanes can be wights, then it’s not a farfetched conclusion to look at what we give them in return for gifts. We give them something they need in order to perform properly.  When I look at my goats, I know I need to feed them hay and minerals plus give them water, and assuming the goat kidded, I will get milk in return.  Gift for a gift.  Now, let’s look at our nature wights and our gods.  This now brings me to the question: if we give offerings, what are we giving the gods and nature Wights that they need?

In other words:

What the fuck does a god or land wight need with mead?

See my problem?  We could make up some woo-woo stuff about the essence strengthening the land wight or the god appreciating the sacrifice. But I’m not sure that really works. In fact, I would argue that it may not do anything for the land wight. And a god? If a god is the essence of what he or she represents, I’m wondering if sacrificing things that have no bearing on what the god is would even be appreciated.

Now I may be full of shit here. But I notice that more often than not the gods favor those in particular areas who have made a fair amount of effort toward whatever they look to gain. Sure, there is blind, dumb luck like those who win who play the lottery, but with the exception of maybe the Lokeans, most of us don’t depend on randomness in our lives.

So What Would Be an Appropriate Offering to the Gods and

Wights? (Or would Thor like a Tesla Coil?)

If we take the gods as personified metaphors, then we need to look at their function and see what strengthens their role.  Wisdom and creativity are two things that Odin would like.  Tyr is obviously the god of laws, so doing something toward upholding law and order is appropriate.  But then I start getting silly and seeing within my mind’s eye Thor’s glee at a Tesla coil.  Yes, somehow, I think he likes those.

When it comes to wights, the offering should be appropriate to the wight. If we can, we need to understand what makes that wight and that particular environment thrive.  That might mean clearing out noxious weeds on a piece of land, or maybe providing water during a drought, but in all honesty, I believe that if there are wights, wights are limited by the physical constructs they cling to. That means that they can only do what is prescribed by their form. A tree wight, for example, can only do things that trees do — in the relation of gifts and giving. It can accept things that the tree can use, and it can provide what the tree can provide.  Anything else is asking something beyond it’s reasoning.  It’s like asking a dog to explain particle physics to you.  Assuming the dog knows particle physics (which, with the exception of a couple I know, don’t), the dog can’t tell us that he knows because he can’t speak our language due to lack of a soft palate, shape of the tongue, and possibly the inability to understand English. (Although most dogs I know have a limited human vocabulary.)  So, I suspect is the problem with asking the wrong thing from the wights.

So, Where am I Going with this?

So, am I telling you to stop laying out offerings?  No. Am I telling you that my way is the only way? No. Am I thinking that we’re doing blots wrong?  Maybe.  We got the concept of offerings from our ancestors, who may or may not have had an understanding of what the gods and wights wanted/needed.  After all, while there are many good things we learned from our ancestors, our ancestors got shit wrong all the time, especially when it came to science.  So they could’ve just anthropomorphized the gods and wights and assumed they wanted things that people want. But do the gods have needs that we as mortals can satisfy?

And then the question remains is, are they at all interested in what we give them?  I mean, Odin doesn’t need Twinkies.  (Neither do I, but no one sends a package my direction, either.)  It may simply be the act of giving the gods something we value that works, and not necessarily the item. I can accept that.  But I do ponder the implications of today’s musings and wonder if we’re going down the wrong path with our blots.

Then again, the whole idea is the goats’ fault, since I was feeding them. You can blame them.

If you enjoyed this post, consider becoming a patron of The Rational Heathen.  For about the cost of a Starbucks’ coffee a month, you can get information not on the blog as well as early releases of the post such as this one.  There are other levels of support as well, so feel free to check it out.  What’s more, you only pay for the posts you get.  So, if I don’t produce anything, you don’t owe anything.  It’s a great way to encourage me to write, and to produce really cool things.  Join up at Patreon and become The Rational Heathen’s patron! 

Wights, Goddesses, and Strange Things

Wights, Goddesses, and Strange Things

I’m pretty much what most people would consider close to a subsistence hunter. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that I live in a state where I can hunt nearly year round.  Lately, I’ve run into what can only be considered a goddess’s sense of humor.

My Relationship to the Goddess

Most of my life I’ve spent outdoors and in cold weather because, quite frankly, I melt when I have to deal with heat.  Any heat.  Cold and snow has always been my thing. When I went out in the forests in the past before I became a heathen, I could feel something there.  Something powerful and something that could be dangerous.  That pretty much describes Skadi.  You respect the goddess and she’ll let you live another day.  Don’t respect her and you’re dead.  Even those who have a healthy respect for her can screw up and end up frozen to death, buried in an avalanche, drowning under the ice, or eaten by a predator.

Yeah, you better respect her.

I’ve had a healthy respect for her for years, but she can sometimes surprise you with unexpected things. For example, our success in hunting is directly related to her graciousness — and the kindness of the wights. We always be sure to thank the animals we kill and apologize that we must do this to eat.  I sometimes leave little offerings for the wights in that area as a thank you.  I wish I was better at this, so I need to do that more often.

Thanks to Magickal Graphics

Skadi Always Liked You Better

Skadi can be a bit of a capricious goddess when it comes to hunting. For one thing, it’s tough to ask her to send animals your direction.  When she does, it’s amazing.  The animal will actually wait for you to kill it.  Now, you may think I’m bullshitting you on that, (I would), but I’ve seen it now at least four times, and maybe more.  Most of the time, she blesses my husband with such animals.  (I personally think she likes him better.)  But recently, she gave me a turkey which I shouldn’t have been able to shoot, and when I hit him, he could have run off, but instead waited for me to finish him.  (When I dressed him, I found that the shotgun load had broken a wing, but didn’t do any other damage.)  You see, turkeys are fast runners as well as fliers, so having one wait for me was pretty amazing.

Now, you may say the goddess had nothing to do with that.  You may be right.  Maybe animals just wait to get killed.  But I kind of doubt it.  So, I thank the wights and the goddess for the game and feel good about the hunt.

Explaining Hunting Rules to a Norse Goddess

Sometimes even I forget the basic rule: The Gods are Not Your Bitches. But to be honest, hunting isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. Animals tend to make themselves scarce with people around, which means locating them can be problematic.  I’ve looked over the statistics for our state and hunters maybe fill around 8 percent of their tags.  That counts all animals with a tag taken, not just deer or elk.

Hunting also means you abide by a set of artificial rules.  You can’t hunt on private property without permission, you can’t hunt at night, and you have a certain season you can hunt.  The type of game is restricted, such as males or females, age, and how you can harvest your animal.  Basically it’s enough to drive anyone who isn’t familiar with it all insane, which is why it can be a bit problematic when you have the goddess’s attention and try to explain what kind of bear you want to hunt, why you can’t bait them or hunt at night, you can’t hunt a sow with cubs, and sure as shooting, you can’t shoot the bear she dropped in your lap in the middle of a public road. (Yes, this did happen to us.) The goddess delivers, just not always where you need it. I suspect it is her sense of humor for having to endure my litany of conditions. (At this moment, I have a vision of Skadi peering over the 2016 hunting guide and frowning perplexed.)

At the end of the season, I should give the goddess the hunting guide as a burnt offering in my woodstove.  No doubt she’ll find the reading pretty strange.

The Wights and Hunting

Whenever we go to hunt, I can usually get a feel for the area.  I understand that even though I’ve never seen wights, I do get a sense of the “mood” of the land.  In most cases here, I can feel the overall mood and decide whether the wights are positive or not. The places we’ve hunted so far have had some amazing feelings.  The land is awesome; the animals, if we see them, are usually great. I’ve had deer come up to me within 20 yards regularly while we were looking for elk. As much as I would’ve loved to have shot them, the deer season isn’t upon us, so I have to just admire them.  We’ve been lucky and found animals we’ve shot due to either the wights or Skadi, herself, when we pretty much thought the animal was lost.

There have been places where the land felt wrong, no doubt due to the wights there. Luckily where I now live most of the wights feel more welcoming than anything, which amazes me.  It may be just me and those who can feel them, or it may be that they are more open to humans.  I don’t know.  I do know that I offer the local wights eggs and milk to them frequently, and they seem to like that.

Why I Hunt

My husband and I have been hunting a long time. We love nature and we love animals, but importantly, we love the meat we get.  We’re not particularly interested in antlers, mainly because you can’t eat those, but we won’t turn down a trophy buck if he walked out in front of us. I think that Skadi approves of that, simply because it is respectful.  We try to use most of the animal and give back into nature that we can’t use.  Overall, it has served us well.

Hunting, Gathering, and Being Heathen

I think that many people have lost their connection with nature and the natural order of things. Some of being a heathen means that we should keep the connection to the land and nature the way that our ancestors did.  As a hunter, I’ve had to learn to read animal signs and tracks, know how to stalk an animal without my scent giving me away, and of course, locating the beast we’re looking for. I’ve been getting better at identifying edible plants as we hunt and learning to gather them for food.  It’s a delightful skill, and one that I feel the pleasure from those wights around me when I recognize the bounty they have offered us.

When I look at what we do versus those who sit and analyze the dusty tomes, hoping to glean a bit of truth, I know that my path is more fulfilling in a lot of ways, at least for me.  Yes, there are those who cannot do what I do on a daily basis, due to where they live, but there are many ways to get in touch with our world.

Some Suggestions for City Folks

Look, I spent my childhood and adolescence growing up in suburbia.  Even so, I spent an inordinate amount of time in the forests near my home back when parents didn’t worry so much about where their kids went.  (Somehow, we survived.)  Anyway, I’ve been to the big cities like New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Chicago, so I get the problems you people have.  So, here are my suggestions to help you get a little closer to nature.

  • Take a class in wildcrafting or foraging.  Believe it or not, even in the big cities nature tries to reclaim what humans try to eliminate.
  • Plan a day trip at least once a month to someplace wild.  Go for a hike.  Find a place to meditate.  Look for wild edibles. (It’s important to have someone who knows what they look like identify them to you first before you take them.  Also it’s important to know what the state laws are for gathering wild edibles.)
  • Learn to hunt.  This is a bit of a steep learning curve, but it can be done.  Take the Hunter’s Safety course.  Don’t want to use a firearm?  Bowhunting is certainly a possibility.  You will have to learn how to handle your weapons safely and get good at shooting, whether with a rifle or a bow.  Find someone to mentor you.  You might just discover a new skill that puts you in touch with your ancestors.
  • Plant a container garden with herbs.  You can bring them inside when the weather gets cold and you have terrific herbs to use in your cooking.

These are some ideas off the top of my head.  Maybe you have other ideas on how you can become part of the natural order.  I certainly don’t have all the answers, but you can always talk to  me about it and give me your ideas as well.

 

The Wights Won’t Let Me Go Back to Atheism

The Wights Won’t Let Me Go Back to Atheism

Well, okay, that was a shocker.  Sometimes I need to be reminded that the world really is weird and sometimes despite my statement being The Rational Heathen, I find something I can’t explain.  This time, it’s wights.

How This All Started

I’ve been reading quite a bit from the Atheist Republic  and finding that I have a lot in common with those unbelievers. I’ve never pretended to be a devout religious fanatic, which is why when I’ve communicated with Tyr and some of the other gods, I’ve felt like, well, a poser.  You see, I’d call myself agnostic in a heartbeat — except for that.  Today I was feeling pretty ambivalent about the gods and was about to say something on a private Facebook group about it, and when I hit enter, the words vanished.

Poof.

None of my other posts had.  Just those.  Tried again.  Poof.

The Wights’ opinion and a Doctor Who Reference

I wrote “Okay, I was going to talk about my indecision about going back to atheism and the wights blew my words away. If they don’t behave themselves, I’ll threaten to call down Thor.”

I hit enter.  The only thing that appeared was Okay.

I edited the post and began to wonder what the fuck was going on.

Do the Wights Really Listen?

Well, crap on toast.  I don’t know what to think about that little interchange.  As a friend put it when I bemoaned why Tyr would even venture to approach a near atheist, she said “he must like a challenge.”  I guess that’s true.  I don’t know why Tyr would consider me, but I have some suspicions. And I’ve been surprised at some of the allies he’s picked to help me.  Maybe the wights are just part of that group of allies.

I kind of wonder since I did a salt ritual recently to clean out the bad wights if the good ones have stuck around and are trying to keep me heathen.  You have to wonder when your computer only acts weirdly when you write about them or question your own heathenism.  It doesn’t fuss when working on other more intensive projects.  Just saying.

My Atheist Leanings

Some days I feel like maybe it’s all a delusion and I really need to accept that there are no gods. I think that maybe I’m just giving myself consolation by thinking there are entities greater than ourselves that can help us through life.  Otherwise, life gets scary if we really think we’re on our own.

I can’t help but wonder if this was the rationality in looking for gods and wights.  It’s a big scary world when we can’t depend on anyone but ourselves.  That being said, I get weird shit happen when I question it. It’s like the gods set up those pesky wights to keep me in line.

I’ve still been losing critters, but not at the rate it has been.  Of course, some of it is just plain bad luck.  Some of it has to do with diseases.  I think it is funny when I start writing about wights, they pay more attention.  Maybe that’s the way heathenism works.

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.