12 Reasons Why I Follow the Heathen Gods and Not the Christian One (Part Two)

12 Reasons Why I Follow the Heathen Gods and Not the Christian One (Part Two)

This is the second part of 12 Reasons why I follow the Heathen Gods and not the Christian One. If you want to read the first part, you can read it HERE.

In the last piece, I slammed the Christian faith, but I realized I didn’t really address Heathen beliefs. So, even though this includes comments about how Christianity differs, my main focus is on Heathenry.

So, let’s get started and see why I prefer Heathenry over Christianity.

8. Heathenry doesn’t care whom you worship or who worships our Heathen gods

In most forms, Heathenry really doesn’t care if you worship our gods, the Christian god, some other pantheon, or no god. In the past Heathens would worship gods from different cultures alongside the Norse/Germanic gods. Granted, it seems a little incongruous to worship the white Christ alongside Thor, but there you go. I personally think it’s folly to worship the Christian god alongside our gods, because the Christian god has made it abundantly clear he does not want to be worshiped alongside pagan gods.

But, if I want to honor Tyr, Skadi, Perun, Zisa, and some other god, that’s no big deal to Heathenry, for the most part. (Yeah, there are wankers in every religion, including ours, who will say that’s not Heathenry, but they’re not Asa-popes, so ignore them.) The main part of Heathenry is that you accept our Nordic gods and goddesses, and that’s about it.

Our Gods are Colorblind

Also, our gods and goddesses are colorblind. That means that it doesn’t matter what ethnicity you come from, if you’re Heathen, you’re with us. Yeah there are some folkish (AKA racist) types who have decided for whatever bizarre reason that only white, Northern peoples can worship our gods, but that’s totally incorrect, especially given the recent DNA and bone mineral compositions discovered in archaeology. People who have occupied Viking burials have proven to originate in Poland, Russia, Slavic countries, Mediterreanan countries (including Italy and Spain), Mongolia, and North Africa.

Warning: SCIENCE! or How We Know Where People Came From

We know Vikings came from different ethnicities because scientists analyzed the strontium isotopes in their teeth and compared it with the soil of many places. The land you grew up in leaves a lasting strontium signature that is unique to that land. Scientists can determine where the person in a particular gravesite grew up given the unique set to isotopes. So, even though we only have some writings about a black Viking, we can infer from the strontium isotopes that those who were given warriors’ burials (or, at least burials with grave goods) were not just from Scandinavia (although many were), many were from other regions and other skin colors. Many had Mjolnir pendants. Surprise!

Vikings Went EVERYWHERE

This should come to no surprise to anyone because the Vikings traveled as far east as Baghdad, as south as North Africa, and as west as the Eastern seaboard of North America. We know from new finds in archaeology that there was a thriving eastern trade between the Vikings and places such as Constantinople, Baghdad, and a number of cities around the Caspian Sea. Vikings left runes, carvings of their ships, and other artifacts where they went. It makes sense that they mingled with the local populace, and even obtained mates from those locations.

Heathenry is Egalitarian

So, it makes sense that Heathenry should be egalitarian, in respect to other faiths. Heathens incorporated the gods of others with their own gods, and worshiped whatever gods made sense to them.

Christianity, however, is a religion of persecutors. I have plenty of documented evidence how pagans were constantly forced to convert — often at sword point. The so-called Christian persecution by Romans doesn’t really hold up when comparing the biblical texts to Roman historians. Did persecution occur? I don’t doubt some did, but I more suspect those stories were made up to provide martyrs for the church.

7. Heathenism treats men and women more as equals; Christianity is misogynistic

Heathenry treats our men and women as equals now, and in the past, they were treated almost as equals. We know that the concept of the shieldmaiden isn’t a fanciful story, given that we’re now discovering burials with swords and weapons of war include women, whose skeletons were mistaken as men’s until someone thought to run DNA analysis on them.

Misogyny as a Christian Tradition

Unfortunately, most of our modern beliefs and misogyny stems from our Christian traditions. That women could never be warriors, that they didn’t have a role in society, other than producing babies, and that they didn’t travel with the Viking men. And yet, we’re now finding more and more graves that had presumably Viking men contain female skeletons with swords.

Now, some people discount this, saying that they didn’t think the women actually used the swords, but as one archaeologist so deftly put it, “Would there even be an argument that the person buried with the sword was a warrior, if that person was male?” Excellent point.

Women were often priestesses called Gydhja. Heathens revered these women and they helped people when it came to healing, seeing the future, and talking to the gods. Yes, there were priests (Godhi), but women played a significant role as well.

Although nowadays some sects of Christianity allow women priests, this is something that has occurred within the past fifty years. Even so, many sects–including the Catholic Church–do not allow priestesses. Obviously a travesty and it aligns with what is in their bible.

Women Fought and Traded Alongside Viking Men

Preconceived notions aside, we know from burials that women did accompany men given the strontium isotopes in their teeth. And while more Viking men than women came from Scandinavia, there was a large enough faction in both sexes which came from other places. In other words, there was more diversity in women than men, but at the same time, there were enough men who came from different places who were given Viking-style graves to suggest that the women weren’t slaves or concubines, necessarily. The grave goods in the burials suggest that they were people of some status other than slaves.

Not all women who came with the Vikings were warriors, though. Most likely many of them were traders, artisans, skilled crafters of goods, and other support laborers. Sure, there were the camp followers, but there was also a need for someone to support the armies or raiding parties, as well as establish connections with the locals in the area. Both men and women could easily fill that role.

Women in Viking Society Had More Rights

We know that a woman could divorce a man under certain circumstances. We also know that women could own land, titles, and a fair amount of property, especially if they were widowed. Women were priestesses, and seidr was considered more of feminine magic than male magic. Freyja was a major deity, right alongside Odin and Thor. We know that Freyja gets first pick of the dead warriors — which presumably includes female warriors. Yeah, Odin gets the second cut. Think about that.

I’m not claiming that everything was fair for women. In fact we see in our myths that Odin was and could be downright misogynous. Just read the passages from the Havamal about his belief concerning women, and I rest my case.

Christianity is Misogynous

Okay, so let’s look at what Christianity says about women. Paul says women should obey their husbands in Corinthians. Timothy has a slew of bullshit. Outside of the Bible, you have people like Martin Luther saying “If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it.” Wow. What an asshole.

Women have almost always been the victims of witch hunts since Christianity began. The “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” in the Bible (Exodus 22:18) has given religious leaders a reason to murder innocent women throughout the ages. And while men did get caught up in this bullshit, more often women are the targets.

6. Most Heathens accepts Science as fact; Christians, not so much

Most Heathens accept science and the information it has brought to us on how our world was formed, Sure, we have our own version of fundamentalism, but if pressed, I think most Heathens would accept the latest archaeological findings.

Norse Creation Stories

Our religion has its own creation stories. We certainly don’t accept that the world was created in six days like the Christians. Most of us also don’t believe that our world came into being when fire and ice joined together and made rime that a cow licked to create Frost Giants and gods. And most of us don’t believe that Odin and his brothers killed Ymir to create our world. If hard pressed, I’d say that Heathens consider the Norse creation story as a myth and not fact. I believe the story is an allegory of sorts, explaining to a Bronze Age to Iron Age culture how the world came into existence. It gives a satisfactory tale that people enjoy listening to.

Viking Creation Stories Are Oral Traditions, Similar to the Children’s Game of Telephone

Viking stories were oral traditions. That means they weren’t written down. Sure, we have images of certain stories that show that the key components were still told, but oral traditions change after time. Since the creation story was written down well after the Viking Age, chances are it changed quite a bit over the years. Chances are the story people told before the Viking Age began and what they told after Scandinavia was Christianized were probably very different, as our Northern ancestors told and retold the stories countless times, embellishing them for the audience, similar to the children’s game of telephone. (Or is it called “operator?” I can’t remember.)

My point is Heathens generally don’t consider these stories as gospel. They are stories about our gods and heroes that have elements of truth in them, but aren’t considered a science text. Even so, we have sagas that have led us to discoveries such as the Viking settlement in North America and other interesting archaeological finds.

5. Heathens consider our writings incomplete and written by humans; Christians believe that their Bible is the word of their god

Bronze age to Iron age peoples wrote the Bible, not their god. There are so many inconsistencies within the Bible that you really can’t expect to take the text as law. Heathens, on the other hand, know that our stories were passed down in an oral tradition until someone like Snorri Sturluson wrote them down. We know they’re not complete, and we know that they’ve been influenced by Christianity.

We also know that there are common themes in the Norse stories we read. For example, we know that Tyr sacrificed his hand to Fenrir because we see images of Fenrir and Tyr on artifacts.

What about the Havamal?

Some believe the Havamal is Odin’s own writings. I can’t say for certain, but there might be a glimmer of truth to that. Still, if you believe the Havamal is Odin’s own words, that’s okay. He provides guidelines and not laws like the Christian god for how to live your life. It’s simply words of wisdom coming from the All Father.

The Havamal does have misogynistic statements in it. But you do have to consider the source–if indeed Odin wrote it. I don’t consider Odin a role model for how to treat women, and you shouldn’t either. So, like anything, Heathens take the story with a grain of salt. Or they should.

Heathens Accept Unverified Personal Gnosis or UPG (More on this later)

As Heathens we accept that the Heathen gods are still around and speak to us personally. We don’t require a church to hear our gods.

Okay, I’ve espoused enough for this time why Heathenry is infinitely better than Christianity. I’ll hopefully have a wrap up sometime soon. Again, take what you like out of this and tell me what you think in the comments section.

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Twelve Reasons Why I Follow the Heathen Gods and Not the Christian One (Part One)

Twelve Reasons Why I Follow the Heathen Gods and Not the Christian One (Part One)

Sure enough, a Christian came on board and asked why I believe/follow the Heathen gods. I have tons of reasons why, but I’ll be happy enough to mention twelve. The problem is my explanations are lengthy, and I have a lot to say, which means this is probably going to go over three posts. Which is fine, since I’ve been failing miserably at keeping my posts up.

If you’re a Heathen, chances are you will find my arguments useful, especially if you have to talk to a Christian (ahem,…family member?) about why you’re Heathen and not Christian. No doubt there are other reasons, but I back my statements with facts and science. So, feel free to quote me.

So, without further ado, here are my first four reasons for why I follow the Heathen gods.

12. The bullshit Adam and Eve story being taken as fact.

Not a reason for why I follow the Heathen gods, but rather why I don’t follow the Christian one. First on my list is the Christians’ entire creation story of Adam and Eve. Yes, I know this is in the Torah, but I suspect that most Jews don’t take the Adam and Eve story as fact. If you believe that Adam and Eve were actually real, you’re an idiot.

Billions and Billions…

The Earth is billions of years old. Yes, BILLIONS. That means if you subscribe to the whole Genesis thing, you’re essentially a creationist that believes the first Homo Sapiens came into being about 6000 years ago. (That’s counting back all the lineages from Jesus to Adam.)

But we know thanks to Archaeology and Paleontology (Science, people!) that our species of Homo Sapiens evolved some 200,000 to 300,000 in Africa. We left Africa some 100,000 years ago in a migration. So, Adam and Eve could not have existed at all, let alone 6000 years ago.

Adam and Eve–Seriously, People?

Yes, yes, there was most likely a mitochondrial Eve whom all humans obtained their mitochondria from, who lived some 150,000 years ago, but this isn’t the Eve of the bible. In fact, it’s an unfortunate term, because the bible thumpers use this as proof for an Eve. Just as there was a Y-chromosomal Adam (again, unfortunate term) who lived somewhere between 180,000 and 560,000 years ago. Never mind the fact that “Adam” couldn’t have been an actual Homo Sapiens, but was probably one of the precursor homids we evolved from.

What apparently happened is due to the two or three times humans nearly went extinct, those with mitochondrial Eve’s mitochondria survived, just like those with Y-chromosomal Adam’s Y chromosome, survived. Kids, it’s not rocket science. And I should know, being a former rocket scientist.

Yahweh the Asshat

Okay, so we’ve cleared the existence of Adam and Eve up, it’s time to analyze the story, itself. Looking at the whole Adam and Eve story suggests that the Christian god is a serious wanker. He creates two naive adults (that are basically children), puts a tree of knowledge in their garden, and tells them not to eat from it.

I don’t know about you, but what responsible adult would do that? Let’s change the tree to a firearm, god to a parent, and Adam and Eve to a brother and sister. Now, tell me, would you leave a firearm out where kids could get them? I thought not.

Furthermore, we have a supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing god. Would a decent god who knew what would happen would stick a tree and a serpent in the Garden of Eden to tempt them? Seriously? Who does that? A sadist, that’s who.

Where the Christians Get it Fucked Up

You might be interested in how the whole Christ myth plays into the Adam and Eve story. You see, Yahweh was so pissed off, that he allowed Adam and Eve’s original sin to get inherited by all their descendants. So, we all do time for a sin committed supposedly by the first humans. Let’s pretend we’re lobotomized for the moment. What judge would make the innocent great-grandson of a murderer do time? And not just the innocent great-grandson, but the innocent sons and daughters of the murderer, their kids, their grandkids, and anyone else in the line, in-perpetuity?

Now, wait, it gets better. Send your son down to Earth, have him antagonize officials enough to get himself crucified so he can redeem all of humanity for the sins of the first supposed humans.

But science proves there wasn’t an Adam and Eve, right? So, what does that say about Jesus’s sacrifice?

Ask and Embla (the Norse Adam and Eve)

Okay, so you’ve read the whole Norse creation myth how ice and fire collided to make a rime, and a cow licked the salt from Ymir. And how Odin and his bros slayed Ymir and created Midgard. And how Odin and his bros created Ask and Embla…

Guess what, people? It’s a fucking story by an Iron Age culture how the world came into being. It isn’t fact. It is a story told by people with limited knowledge of the world how it was created. That means it may have kernels of truth in it, but a lot of it is just storytelling.

Next…

11. Eternal damnation for not believing

Okay, this is rich. You don’t believe in Yahweh or Jesus, and you burn in Hell forever. You sin against god’s laws and you burn in Hell forever. Hels Bells, even the US penal system only keeps you incarcerated for life if you’re really bad, and puts those to death who commit really heineous crimes.

Yeah, Heathens have our own version of the Christian Hell in Niflheim called Nastrond. Murderers, adulterers, and oath breakers get chewed on by a dragon. (I kind of like this), but honestly, is it for eternity? We don’t know. And oddly enough, Valhalla has plenty of adulterers, oathbreakers, and murderers, according to the sagas, so I really doubt Nastrond keeps them all there.

I’m not sure what to think about Nastrond. Is it a Christian addition to our stories, or does it really exist? Even the Greek Hades had a place where people who sinned against the gods got eternal punishments, but for the most part normal people existed in Hell as shades. Heroes were brought to the Elysium Fields. Everyone else just sort of hung around in an okay sort of afterlife.

So, do murderers, oathbreakers, and adulterers go to Nastrond forever? Hel is often fair, which makes me think the punishment fits the crime. Break an oath or cheat on your spouse once, and maybe you get gnawed on for a bit. Commit genocide and start a world war, and maybe you get chewed on for as long as it takes. But what do I know?

10. Heathenism is an ancient religion; Christianity is a new religion

Let’s talk religion, shall we? Heathenism is an ancient pagan religion that has its roots in animism. We were some of the last pagans before Christianity took hold, because the Norse were in remote areas.

Although religion primarily came from the Middle East, we still have proof that Stonehenge and other monuments were erected some 5000 or more years ago–around the same time as the Sumerians were creating their own monuments. I can’t say that Heathenism sprung from these early roots of sun and moon worship, but certainly there are links to shamanistic and animistic beliefs.

From what I can tell, Heathenism in the Nordic cultures came out of pro-Germanistic beliefs, thought to appear somewhere around 500 BCE. Yahwism appeared around 1000 BCE but he was a Canaanite god who was one of many gods and goddesses. He even had a spouse named Asherah who was worshiped with him. Judaism didn’t start being monotheistic until somewhere between 515 BCE and 70 CE. And Christianity didn’t really appear until about 42 CE with Paul’s proselytizing.

You may be able to point to Judaism and say your religion started with that, but honestly, not so much. You don’t follow all the laws laid down in Leviticus–you mix meat and milk, you mix different types of textiles, and you probably eat pork. And you certainly don’t kill your kids for being disrespectful. Not to mention that you now celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday and not Saturday.

9. Heathenism does not preach; Christianity is a religion of proselytizers

When was the last time you had a Heathen knock on your door and ask you if you knew about the good news from Odin?

As Heathens (and Pagans) we really don’t give a shit about what others believe as long as their religion doesn’t interfere with our rights. Look, you can believe your garbage about creationism all you want, but I draw the line when you try to teach kids your Yahweh and Jesus myths as fact. Just like I draw the line at having legislators come up with deeming a human life starts at conception (thank the Roman Catholic Church and evangelicals for that.)

Look, I don’t give a shit if you have a nativity scene or Christmas lights at the State Capitol. I don’t care if there’s an Easter Egg hunt on the White House’s front lawn. What I care about is whether you decide to make Christianity the main religion of the United States.

Heathenism isn’t about proselytizing. It’s about your relationship with the gods and nature. A Heathen has a relationship with his or her gods and nature, and doesn’t really give a shit what you believe as long as you don’t shove it in his or her face.

Tune in next week for my next set of why I follow the Heathen gods.

 

Eostre and Spring: Is Easter a Christian Holiday?

Eostre and Spring: Is Easter a Christian Holiday?

Every year about this time, Heathens, pagans, and those who don’t celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter are quick to point out that Easter isn’t a Christian holiday; yours truly included. But I do wish to address Easter as a Christian holiday, even if it has taken its name and customs from pagan celebrations.

Easter as a Christian Holiday

I’m talking about Easter first as a Christian holiday so we can distinguish between the Christian holiday and a pagan celebration. Despite the name, Easter, the holiday has its roots in the Jewish celebration of Passover.

If you’ve ever watched The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston, you know that Passover celebrates the flight of the Israelites from the Pharaoh’s oppression as described in the Book of Exodus in the Bible. Never mind that archaeologists are pretty sure that the pyramids were built by paid labor and not slaves. Furthermore there are no records by the Egyptians of Israelites in Egypt, let alone slaves.

Jesus purportedly entered Jerusalem for the week of Passover, which, for his troubles, ended up getting him nailed to a cross.

Why Easter is Primarily Christian

Now, before we go into all the pagan traditions surrounding Easter, I’m going to point out that despite my dislike of Christianity and its destruction of paganism, pagans can only superficially claim Easter because it is around the Vernal Equinox. The whole fairy tale of the “purportedly magic Jew” rising from the dead after being crucified is more or less their shtick. It happens around the time of Passover, which is based on the Book of Exodus in the Bible.

I can hear you saying “But Tyra, what about the other resurrection myths? What about the celebrations of Dionysus and Osiris? What about Beltane? And what about Odin hanging from Yggdrasil for nine days?” Yeah, yeah. All that is true and chances are the Christians stole the ideas from pagans, but the whole bullshit celebration of Easter is undoubtedly theirs. They wove the pagan stories together to fit their religion and there you have it, a Christian story.

Nothing is particularly new with the Jesus story. There have been many instances in religion of gods becoming men or appearing to be men. There are many instances of gods being crucified or hanged from trees. And there are plenty of instances of men or gods rising from the dead and becoming more powerful. The Jesus story is just a narrative that puts those elements together in a one god, Christian fashion.

But Easter is Pagan! Right?

Easter isn’t as pagan as Christmas. Sure, it takes elements from various beliefs and spins them into a story that has both familiar and new elements present. The story uses archetypes that are ingrained in our psyches. But it is a Christian story. Why? Because it doesn’t quite mimic any other pagan myth out there.

Before Easter, pagans may have celebrated the equinoxes, although the solstices seem to be more popular for obvious reasons. Imbolc was the Celtic version of Entschtanning (celebrated by those in Urglaawe) also known as Grundsaudaag, which happened around the first or second of February, which we now celebrate as Groundhog’s Day. Beltane was the Celtic version of Mayday, which celebrated the beginning of summer. As Heathens, we really didn’t have an Equinox celebration, as far as I know.

Although St. Bede mentions the Anglo Saxon month of Eostre, which is named after Eostre/Ostara, we know very little about Eostre. She had a feast day around the same time as Easter, which probably made the whole Christ thing more palatable. The fact that Eostre gave Easter its name is probably one more way the Christian church co-opted Pagans.

What About the Pagan Trappings Around Easter?

Sure, Easter took on the pagan trappings of Eostre/Ostara. No bunnies were visiting Christ on the cross, as far as we know. And while eggs are purported to be the symbol of rebirth among the Jewish peoples, I haven’t done enough research into that to back that up. But you can read about my opinions, Was Easter Appropriated? HERE.

Ignoring Easter

This year I nearly forgot about Easter except my husband had the day off. And to be point-blank honest, I was more concerned about avoid talking to my Christian family that day instead of anything special. So, our dinner was stir-fry venison. Because that’s a proper Eostre dish. I’m just saying…

This doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate Eostre bunnies and stuff yourself full of Cadbury eggs. The whole candy thing was a 19th century invention anyway to give candy makers a boost, so it’s not religious at all. Personally, I’m good with any holiday that promotes candy.

 

When You Don’t Hear from the Gods

When You Don’t Hear from the Gods

Lately, I’ve been dealing with not hearing from the gods. It’s not like they abandoned me; it’s more like they seldom chime in. You’d think with all this time at home during the pandemic, I’d hear more from them. Instead, I’m hearing less. Part of it may have to do with the chaos and weirdness in the world. Let me explain.

The Gods are Not Our Bitches

You’ve heard me say it over and over, the gods are not our bitches. Unlike the Christian god who promises to be your very own personal Jesus, our gods don’t coddle us. Sure, if a god takes an interest in what you’re doing, you might get some help. But in many cases, they let us live our lives and figure out our own problems. They’re not vending machines where we put in a quarter—can you get anything from a vending machine for a quarter nowadays?—and get a favor to pop out. Sure, there’s the whole gifting thing, but really, when it comes down to it, the gods do what they want.

I’ve come to this conclusion as I’ve seen People Behaving Badly™ in the news and in real life. Part of me wants to run to Tyr and demand him to reinstate justice in this world, only I realize that our current situation is clearly human caused. Tyr didn’t put idiots in charge—we did. And if they blatantly violate the rule of law, then that’s our mess. Tyr is many things, but he isn’t a white knight coming to save the day. If that were true, Nazism wouldn’t be on the rise. Hel’s Bells, Hitler would’ve never risen to power.

You Want a God to Bail You Out? Not Our Gods

If you’re expecting a god to come bail you out when things get rough, you probably shouldn’t be in Heathenry. The Christian god promises to do just that, only expect to be disappointed when shit goes south. I’ve noticed that the Christian god takes a lot of credit for other people’s hard work. People give thanks to the Christian god when someone improves after an operation or treatment when it was clearly the surgeon and modern medicine that cured them. A sister of mine who is a Christian claims Jesus won’t let her fall, when it is clearly the work of my other sibling who bails her out, or her church friends who help her when she is down.

Our gods expect us to take responsibility for our actions. Sure, we have the concept of luck or orlog—the ancient Heathens recognized that sometimes, no matter how much you try, shit happens. Some folks seem to have rotten luck that is tied to their wyrd or fate. But I would point out that many people make their own luck.  Sure, it’s not your fault you were born in the circumstances you’re in. And sometimes, no matter how careful or clever you are, shit just happens. But often the choices people make affects their orlog. I mean, take drinking and driving. You might get away with drunk driving for a while, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you got into a traffic accident and got killed or killed someone. Or you might luck out and get arrested for DUI. Of course, luck is relative when it comes to that.

My point is that with some notable exceptions, we make our own wyrd. Our choices define our wyrd. Our gods understand this and they allow us to make our choices. In fact, they delight in seeing us succeed on our own, because it makes us stronger as individuals.

So, What Should You Do if You Don’t Hear from the Gods?

Your first step should be to remain patient. I know it’s ridiculously hard, but remember that what seems like a long time for us is incredibly short for gods who are billions of years older than us. We may find ourselves adrift and without guidance for quite some time. But, that’s what the runes are for. The runes are able to give us guidance when we don’t hear from the gods. So, my recommendations are as follows:

  • Continue making offerings to the gods as you normally do.
  • Practice Meditation. Yes, meditation. It will help quiet your mind and enable you to hear the gods better.
  • Establish a relationship with one of the wights in your area. If you’re agnostic, like I am, go ahead and at least make offerings to them.
  • Talk to your ancestors. If you were on bad terms with parents or grandparents who are dead, look to talk to ancestors from generations farther back. Not all of them were complete asshats. And yeah, they do listen. They may not offer much to say, but perhaps they can offer you comfort.
  • Use your runes for advice and guidance. Often, they can bring insight you didn’t have before.
  • Be patient and wait. The gods are not your bitches.

Pareidolia, or Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Pareidolia, or Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Many people have asked me about “knowing” when a god sends signs to them. Some of the signs are real, but most of the signs are simply pareidolia, which is obviously a holdover from our evolution. Let me explain.

What is Pareidolia?

A face in a house — a type of pareidolia

Pareidolia is seeing patterns in random things or events. Our genetics are hardwired to see patterns where there really aren’t. Our minds are structured to look for patterns in the world around us; to see order in chaos. Good examples of pareidolia are seeing a face in the moon or hearing a secret message when a record is played backwards. Maybe hearing “words” coming from a noisy brook or seeing faces in the trees. Pareidolia is responsible for people finding patterns in random numbers or discovering “secret messages” by using numbers and parts of the bible.

Why We Evolved with Pareidolia

Pareidolia is a useful feature in ancient, and even modern day, humans. It gives us the ability to see possible threats in the form of predators. It allows us to look at someone’s face and interpret whether they are friendly or dangerous by their expression. If we didn’t have pareidolia, chances are we wouldn’t have survived as a species. For example, it gives us the ability to recognize game when we hunt. Anyone who hunts knows to look not just for the whole animal, given that many game animals live in dense forest. Hunters look for images that come together as parts of an animal, such as a leg, torso, or even the head amid the chaos of branches, rocks, and trees.

Examples of Pareidolia

Descent of the Snake at Chichen Itza

I’ve already covered the face in a tree and the man in the moon, but there’s more to pareidolia than that. It’s finding patterns in randomness. The constellations are a great example of pareidolia. Ancient peoples looked at how the stars appeared to them in the night’s sky and “saw” creatures, heroes, and gods in them. No matter whether you think Ursa Major looks like a bear or a plow, the stars align themselves in the sky according to the Earth’s position in the cosmos. If the Earth revolved around a different sun, or in a different part of our galaxy, or in a different galaxy, our constellations would look very strange to us. And no doubt we would come up with new constellations.

We use pareidolia in emoticons. Even though this is just a bunch of symbols, we recognize the faces: a wink ; -) a smiley face  : -) or a startled face =:0 Chances are, you probably have used one of those at one time or another. Every time we “see” a face in something, even when there isn’t a face, that is pareidolia.

Some architects have used pareidolia in their designs to cast shadows in certain ways. Like Kukulkan in Chichen Itza on the equinox, known as the “descent of the snake,” or certain architectural features that make shadows that appear to be a person.

What Does Pareidolia Have to do with the Gods?

Sometimes a raven is just a raven

Now that you understand what pareidolia is, you can see how easy it is to try to recognize and organize patterns in a random number of things or events. So, sometimes you might see things that are random and attribute it as a message from a particular god. For example, let’s say I walk down the street and see a guy with an eye patch. Then, later that day, I do a search on the web for something and the name “Odin” crops up on a website.  And then, as I’m taking a walk, I see a raven. Is this a sign from Odin that he wants to talk to me?

Probably not. There is such a thing as coincidence. But, being a good Heathen, I might think that Odin is trying to tell me something. Only, there’s really no message. Think about all the cases of pareidolia we see on the news. How someone thinks they see Jesus and the Virgin Mary on toast or in a stump. Or how someone claims they see things that suggests its a sign from otherworldly beings. Like having one’s entire neighborhood flattened by a tornado only to have their house spared. It’s in our nature to want to find meaning in things, even when there is none. Just because you got spared when everyone around you died doesn’t mean the gods were looking out for you, it means you were lucky. Now, if you tell me that Thor appeared, warned you a tornado was going to hit, and you escaped, that’s different. I’m then more inclined to believe the gods watched out for you.

Is it a Sign, or is it a God?

Let’s say that you do end up seeing “signs” everywhere, and at certain times. Does that mean it’s just coincidence? Or is it a sign from a god? My first inclination is to go with pareidolia, BUT gods have been known to be subtle. Maybe too subtle. It took Tyr practically bashing me over the head to get my attention. Yeah, I can be pretty clueless. But seriously, if you start seeing patterns, you can ask the god or goddess for something more obvious. If they’re truly interested in you, they’ll oblige. Make an offering to them and ask for guidance. It won’t hurt anything and might cement the relationship. If nothing comes of it, so what?

My thoughts are if the god or goddess wants your attention, they’ll get it. After all they’re gods. They have a way of getting what they want.

 

 

Looking for Answers from the Gods About the Pandemic

Looking for Answers from the Gods About the Pandemic

As I sit and work day-to-day, I remember when I first heard about COVID-19 pandemic, Tyr told me that my job was now to stay safe and alive. So far, I’ve managed to do so. But it got me thinking about others who do not hear the gods, and I’d imagine they wonder the gods have to say when it comes to this already brutal year.

We Now Continue Our Year From Hell…

I intentionally used the Christian Hell, because I doubt strongly Lady Hel would treat humans this badly. 2021 is shaping up to be as awful as 2020 in a lot of respects. Sure it’s a new year, and we have the vaccine, but it’s going to take a shitload of inoculations before we can truly think this pandemic nightmare is finally over. Assuming the vaccine does what it’s supposed to do.

Our ancestors dealt with diseases all the time, and unfortunately they did not live long. You had a one in three chance of dying before you turned 21. If you were a woman back then, the chance of dying in childbirth was huge. Most people didn’t make it to 50. True. If you did, you were very old. It took courage and strength to survive in the Viking Era. Despite all the hardship, people did live their lives and lived as Heathens.

What the Gods Might Say to Us About the Pandemic

When it suits the gods, I sometimes hear from them. Despite my connection to them, I try very hard not to put words in their mouths. Different gods have different agendas. Even so, I do get impressions and feeling from them. And the message I get is to survive. Yes. Survive. You, me, …everyone. Use our brains to understand what is happening and listen to those who know more about it than we do. That means, listen to medical and health professionals who have more knowledge than your neighbor, your favorite politician, or your favorite conspiracy website. Even I don’t have the answers to everything, but I will tell you how I see it. Too many people are quick to go back to “normal” living when most of the population isn’t vaccinated, and we really don’t know how long the vaccine is effective.

As Heathens, we need to understand that the gods are not our bitches. They don’t run to us when we call. They don’t coddle us. They expect us to behave like the adults we are and face our problems head on. That may mean to show enough courage to wear a mask to protect the more susceptible people. To give up our parties and socializing for a while. And even to act like an adult when others aren’t.

Not Our First Pandemic: Our Ancestors had it Rough

I get it. It’s been a tough year sheltering in place. But guys, we have it easy comparatively speaking, to our ancestors. Our medical professionals tell us to wear masks, stay at home when not doing anything that is vitally essential, and social distance when we’re in places with other people. Yeah, the virus has screwed with our jobs and our livelihoods; I get that. Kids can’t socialize and play with others. Yeah, I get that too. Suddenly parents have had to become parents again and deal with their family on the full-time basis. Not always easy.

I look at how our ancestors had to cope with disease and hardship, and look at us today. Despite almost a half million dead in the United States alone—and yeah, I do know people who have had this terrible disease, or who work with patients who have it—we humans are better prepared than we have ever been to combat this disease. And what’s more, simple measures such as wearing a mask, handwashing, and maintaining a distance from others who are not in your immediate household can help prevent you from getting the virus and spreading it to others. When compared to what our ancestors had to deal with, our sacrifices for not spreading the disease seem minor.

Humanity hasn’t Changed, Much to My Chagrin

All that being said, I’ve been horrified that our behavior as a species hasn’t changed since the last pandemic. And how we haven’t changed that much since diseases such as the plague have ravaged our populations. Different accounts have shown that people’s behavior is still pretty much the same in a crisis. Despite all the progress in science we’ve made, people are still quick to trust in their god or gods that they will be spared despite our knowledge and education. Or they go about blaming conspiracies by certain mistrusted groups. Or they make shit up and try that to protect themselves.

In short, most people have never learned critical thinking. And honestly, that will be the downfall of humanity. Our own stupidity and ignorance will kill us faster than anything else because most are unwilling to understand the logic behind health professionals’ recommendations. You know, the guys with the fifty-pound heads who study diseases for a living? Who make recommendations from the current data they have? No, they’re not infallible. And no, they may change their recommendations as new data comes to light, but honestly, would you rather trust your neighbor who believes in chemtrails, or a seasoned medical professional with enough training and degrees, who has studied this disease, and has the latest information?

The Gods are Not Your Bitches

Look, if you’re looking for Odin, Thor, or whomever to keep yourself and your family safe from this pandemic, I’ve got news for you. The gods are not your bitches. They don’t come when we call them like some well-trained dog looking for a biscuit. Look, I’m on good relations with about a half-dozen gods and goddesses, and they don’t pop in most of the time when I talk to them. Sure, they listen. But whether they decide to talk with me is their decision; not mine. I get that.

Asking a god or goddess to protect you from COVID-19 while you’re still going to bars, not wearing masks, and not social distancing is insulting to our gods. They expect for us to use our brains and show foresight. They expect us to take the measures we can to protect ourselves from a pandemic. To expect them to keep you safe is ludicrous.

So, yeah, trust in the gods, but prepare yourselves. And don’t treat our gods like the Christians treat theirs.

An Insult to Tyr: the Attempted Coup

An Insult to Tyr: the Attempted Coup

Like many of you,  I watched in horror as the Trumpets broke into the Capitol building,  violating laws, and making an attempted coup to keep the Don as dictator.  I saw white supremacists, people wearing anti-Semitic messages including an Auschwitz t-shirt,  and a guy sporting Heathen tats who got a lot of press. I was so angry and frustrated I could do nothing to stop these morons from desecrating the very symbol of the US democracy.

Where I Stand, So You Know

I’ve been accused of being liberal and conservative. The truth is, I’m closer to being Centrist. That means, I have both liberal and conservative tendencies. I hated both candidates, to make it known. In fact, I voted for neither. There are reasons why I didn’t like Biden, and why I didn’t like Trump. In fact, I find them both too extreme for my taste. So, understand what I’m about to say comes primarily from the viewpoint of why I believe the march on the Capitol building was no less then an act of sedition.

Why this was an Insult to Tyr

The Republican Party, for all intents and purposes, considered itself the champion of the rule of law. Now, you can argue about that all you want, but the march clearly showed otherwise. Tyr, as you know, is the god of law. That means he is the champion of the rule of law. No question.

This was a total insult to the god of laws. Tyr would have found those bearing the Valknut, Yggdrasil, and Mjolnir on their skin at the rally to be an insult. These people were nothing more than armed insurrectionists, looking to overthrow the legal results of an election using fear and intimidation.

Anything but Lawful

What happened during that march and subsequent riot was anything but lawful. Lots of Trump’s followers seem to have drank the Kool-Aid when it comes to the explanation the far-right is giving. That it was a peaceful march. That the problem occurred with law enforcement and the Capitol Police.

The reality is that what happened wasn’t legal. It was a fucking attempted coup. According to credible news reports, the rioters were looking for Vice President Pence and members of Congress to lynch. They had a working gallows in front of the Capitol, for fuck’s sake. Five people died and many more injured. All whipped up by none other than Donald Trump. None of this would have happened if Trump had not encouraged these people to march on the capitol. Seriously, did anyone really think that this would go well?

These people damaged the Capitol building. They desecrated what should be considered a sacred area for democracy. They also have harmed the United States, possibly irreparably, in the world opinion. We went from being a world leader to a Banana Republic in the matter of one day. And yeah, Trump is to blame for this.

Why We as Heathens Need to Speak Up Now

Whether you voted for Trump, Biden, or Obi-Wan Kenobi (He’s our only hope), the election process was not rigged. Each state has their own people handling the voting process, and many, many people work hard on the Republican, Democrat, and other parties’ sides to ensure a safe and secure election. Every time I voted in the past, I saw volunteers who worked hard in the past to ensure my vote was counted.

The same thing happens all over the United States. It’s part of representative democracy in action. Trump’s allegations of voter fraud were unfounded by people in his own party. These are people who he put into place who swore a duty to uphold the Constitution. Not pander to Trump or only uphold the Constitution when it was in Trump’s favor.

Not once did Trump or his legal counsel offer proof that there was widespread voter fraud. Instead, we heard allegations, lies, and half-truths. Only after his own aids begged him to make a statement to try to calm the crowd hours after the attempted coup started did he offer a lukewarm statement—neither condemning the actions nor stating he was wrong.

It’s Too Late to Hope this All Goes Away

Hope is not a plan. Whether you like it or not, we Heathens just got a black eye for tolerating this Nazi and white supremacist bullshit shit far too long. Don’t think so? Check out the Rolling Stone article. Quibble all you want about “how they got this wrong,” or “they got that wrong,” the truth doesn’t matter a flying fuck in the face of popular perceptions. (Yeah, a follower of Tyr just said that—deal with it.)

What now matters is that those of us who aren’t white supremacists and Nazis need clean house. That means ZERO TOLERANCE for morons who speak like white people are superior to everyone else and who supported this attempted coup.  Kick them out of your hof; end their membership in your organization. As a follower of Tyr, I found the whole attempted coup insulting, especially when paired with the images of the Valnut, Yggdrasil, and Mjolnir. These people failed to follow the rule of law. This is not what Heathenry stands for. And we as Heathens should decry their behavior.

I don’t pretend to be perfect. I’m Human. I’ll sling mud at other religious beliefs with the best of them, but by the gods, I look at everyone of different ethnicities as human, no matter what their skin color is. And I don’t believe that anyone who believes differently should be physically harmed for their ideals, provided that they’re not harming others. Their (and my) rights to swing their fists ends where someone’s body begins. Murder is not an option.

I’m sorry this is a late post, but I really had to think about what I was going to say in response to this failed coup. If you’re a Heathen, Norse pagan, or whatever, now is the time to stand up for democracy and freedom, not totalitarianism and anarchy. Add your voice to those of us who already believe in equality under the law, in the rule of law, and in keeping the peace along with our elected representatives. Don’t stay quiet, or the assholes have won. Let the world know what Heathenry really is about. It’s about laws, justice, and speaking up when we see a wrong. Violence is not what we are.

Happy Yule and a Post Roundup!

Happy Yule and a Post Roundup!

Happy Yule! Once again, I find it’s Yule and I still haven’t done everything that needs to be done. This is probably going to become a tradition on Yule to offer a post roundup of all the articles I’ve written over the years about Yule (at least the ones that are interesting).

Check them out and enjoy Yule!

Celebrating Yule with Non-Heathen Family Members

Yeah, everyone’s got them. And if they’re Christian, they may have a tough time with your Heathen ways (pun intended!). Here’s a way to make everyone happy.

8 Ways to Celebrate Yule for the Solitary Heathen

Yule can be a bit lonely for the solitary Heathen, so here are some cool ways to celebrate it by yourself.

What You Need to Know about Yule

Because I should be talking more about the history of Yule and how it relates to the modern Heathen.

When You Can’t Get in the Yule Spirit

Bah humbug! Are you the Scrooge around Yule? So am I. So, here are some ways to cope.

The Yule Goat Sneaks Heathen Tradition into Christmas

Heard of the Yule Goat or Yulebok? Well, if you haven’t, here’s your chance to add a little paganism to your relatives’ Christmas under the guise of Christmas.

Should a Heathen Teach Their Kids about Santa Claus?

Is Santa Claus Christian or Heathen? Should you teach your kids about him?

Yule as a Non-Event

When life intrudes and you can’t properly celebrate Yule.

Book Review: A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

I know many Heathens want to celebrate Yule, but don’t necessarily have an idea how to do it. This is a great book, if you’re looking for ideas.

Enjoy! And have a Happy Yule!

The Rational Heathen

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Book Review: A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

Book Review: A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule
Author: Jenn Campus
Available on Amazon and https://dreamsofydalir.com/
Price: $3.99 or Free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers
Format: Amazon Kindle (eBook)

For Yule, I decided to do a book review on celebrating Yule (seems appropriate). I’ve chosen A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule. I’ve recommended this book in the past, but maybe, you haven’t seen this little gem. This Yule, since you probably are spending it alone or with immediate family, due to the pandemic, it’s helpful to have a guide in celebrating it.

Not for Recons

Now, this book is pagan and not necessarily Heathen, but even Heathens can get good ideas from it. It’s not a primer on Heathen celebrations and you won’t necessarily find something that will be 100 percent Heathen. That being said, if you’re a reconstructionist, avoid this book, because these are not the droids you’re looking for. For the rest of us Heathens, who are simply looking for good ideas to incorporate into our Yule celebrations, this is beyond helpful. It may give you even more ideas on how to celebrate the season.

What I Liked About A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule

First, I’ll say that I like how this book is organized. She takes you through preparation and each day of Yule, and what she does to celebrate it. For those still starting out as a Heathen, this offers nice suggestions for each day and how to give offerings to the gods who preside over Yule. Some of the rituals are obviously the author’s design, but I look at them and think how wonderful it is that another Heathen has designed her own rituals according to her family. Other rituals, such as the Yule log and leaving oatmeal with butter out for the Tomte have their roots in Heathen tradition.  She includes her prayers to different gods and goddesses as well as cool things like recipes for a Yule log cake, glog, and crispy roast pork with cherry sauce. It all sounds delicious.

What I Didn’t Like About This Book

It’s really hard for me to come up with something wrong about this book. Yes, it’s more pagan than reconstructionist Heathen, but I’m okay with that. If I could make a complaint to the author, it would be that a paperback version isn’t available, possibly because it is a short book at 66 print pages. Lots of people can complain that it’s not in other eBook formats or with other vendors. But given that the Amazon app is available for most platforms such as Android and iOS, not to mention Windows, you don’t need to buy a Kindle Reader or Fire device to read and enjoy it.

So, if you’re looking for modern ideas with Heathen influences for how to celebrate the 12 days of Yule, pick up a copy of A Guide to Celebrating the 12 Days of Yule HERE.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site. Thanks.

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