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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.
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.

Why Bad Things Happen — a Heathen’s Perspective

Why Bad Things Happen — a Heathen’s Perspective

If you’ve followed my blog for more than a couple of years, you know I’ve written about why bad things happen before. But sometimes pieces need updating, and quite honestly, there’s enough turnover in readership to warrant another look at why bad things happen.

The Year of Hell

This year, 2020, will officially be known at my house as the Year of Hell. It started with a close relative dying and went down from there. You already know about the pandemic and economic down turn, as well as the civil unrest.

If there’s any consolation with this pandemic, I may have already gotten COVID-19 and the proverbial Angel of Death has passed by my door. This time. Another positive side, I don’t live in an area with lots of protests. We have also (so far) escaped having a really awful fire season around here, even though we’ve had to deal with unhealthy air from the Washington/Oregon/California fires. I’m not getting as many work assignments, which cuts the money back, but my spouse hasn’t been laid off, and I’m still capable of writing. So, that’s what I’m doing. But, I’ve been watching the news in total disbelief at people’s behavior.

I want to slap everyone’s face and shout, “What is wrong with you people?”

Obviously, that isn’t going to happen, so I am holed up in my little home, hoping the moron who sneezed nearby me at a grocery store didn’t have COVID-19.

Yeah, it’s that kind of year.

No, the Gods Are Not Punishing Us

Bad things happen all the time. Because we’re raised in a Christian society, we’re tempted to draw the conclusion that the gods are punishing us. After all, the Judaeo-Christian god is great at punishing mortals, if you believe the Old Testament. And our Heathen gods and goddesses can be vengeful, but this isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to humans. Unless you really piss off Old One Eye, (Hi, Odin!), chances are you’re just a victim of random events. I mean, seriously, what can one mortal do to garner the wrath of a god or goddess? Certainly not enough to warrant a pandemic, race riots, violent protests and responses, epic wildfires, a global depression, and a very contentious presidential election.

Let me put this in perspective: humans are nothing compared to the universe. The gods take interest in us because we are their children. But they don’t take interest in everyday affairs unless they want to. When the forests become kindling because of a shift in the weather patterns, it’s unlikely Loki threw a match in to start the fires. Rather, he might enjoy the chaos of the outcome, but that is his darker nature. But the wildfire that ensues is either because of lightning, or it is manmade in some way.

Bad Things Happen Randomly

It’s more likely that bad things occur randomly, or may have been set in motion due to poor choices people made. The gods didn’t cause COVID-19 to jump from a bat to a human by way of pangolin or some other animal; viruses are quite handy at doing it by themselves. Chances are, it was the folly of a vendor who trafficked the infected animal, the person who ate the infected animal, or (if you believe the story about the Wuhan laboratory) the lab that isolated the virus. In other words, we have no one to blame–or at least no one to blame but ourselves, as humans.

Why We Look to the Gods when Bad Things Happen

As humans, we often look to higher beings when bad things happen. It’s part of feeling helpless. We ask the gods to help us, or we blame the gods for something that happened to us. But the gods are not our bitches. They don’t run when we call; they often don’t cause calamities either. The tornado that touches down does not know or care that people are in its way. It simply behaves according to its nature as defined by physics.

Likewise, viruses don’t care if you’re the president of the United States or if you’re a child in a third world country. It will infect you if you don’t take precautions against it, and the random luck of your genome and your health may be the only thing that might protect you if you somehow contract the disease.

It’s human nature to look to a higher power when something bad happens. Questions run through our minds such as “Why didn’t Eir stop this?” “Why is Odin punishing me?” “Will Thor protect me?” Our gods generally don’t take sides when it comes to our lives, although we may try to please them with offerings and ask for help, but there are no guarantees. Even Frigg and Odin couldn’t stop the death of their son, Baldr.

Our Wyrd is our Wyrd. It’s how we respond to it that can change it. Not our prayers or offerings.

Why Bad Things Happen

Bad things happen. Good things happen. Sometimes things happen for no reason. Sometimes things happen because humans set things in motion without knowledge of the consequences. And sometimes there are bad people who do bad things. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes Murphy is in control.

I can look at this year and wish it were gone already. It doesn’t mean that next year will be better, but there is always hope that things will improve.

What Can We Do When Bad Things Happen?

Believe it or not, you aren’t totally at the mercy of fate. There are things you can do to prevent further calamity—at least to yourself.  Just like people who wear seatbelts in a rollover crash and somehow survive, you can make everyday choices that will put the odds in your favor if something bad does happen. I mean, some of it is a no-brainer, like wearing seatbelts, wearing a mask when you’re in public, washing your hands, and getting your flu shot. Some things take a little more planning, like when you go on vacation, or choose to live in an area where natural disasters occur.  We evolved with a pretty big brain and enough foresight to conceive of possibilities. Use your brain and think it through. Maybe driving while intoxicated isn’t safe, and you should get a cab instead? Maybe driving with your headlamps off at night isn’t clever?

Occasionally, you’re going to have bad shit happen that you can’t work around. Trust me, I know. I’ve lost people to bad things that I had no control over, although, in retrospect, they did when it came to matters regarding their health. Still, there are things you can’t always account for, and with the exception of Odin and the Norns, we pretty much don’t have a clear picture of everything in our future.  But just remember, the gods aren’t out to get you, unless they’ve told you they are.

And even then, don’t believe everything you hear. Seriously. We can’t control everything, so control what you can and move on.

5 Great Things to Heathens Can Do to Celebrate Eostre Anytime (and While Under Quarantine)

5 Great Things to Heathens Can Do to Celebrate Eostre Anytime (and While Under Quarantine)

Okay, by now you’re all probably sick and tired of the quarantines and stay-at-home directives. It’s no big thing for me because I’m a writer, and more importantly, an introvert. (Gosh, a writer with a scientific degree? An introvert? Unheard of!) Anyhow, while the Christians are bemoaning they can’t go to mass for Easter, we Heathens can still celebrate the month of Eostre. Even if you’re the sole Heathen among people of other faiths in your household, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself during this time. Here are five ways you can celebrate the Feast of Eostre (whether or not you believe she is a goddess):

1. Dye Eostre Eggs with Your Own Natural Dyes

This one takes a little bit of work and some ingredients, but the colors are spectacular and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it at least once. Most of the ingredients are probably already in your refrigerator or pantry. Here are some links to recipes for dyeing your eggs with natural ingredients that are completely safe (unless you have an allergy to particular food ingredients):

  • Kitchn has some eggcellent recipes for dyeing your eggs colors such as blue, pink, lavender, yellow, and orange. They tell you what your eggs will look like if you use white eggs or brown eggs. (Hint: use both and have a host of cool colors!)
  • Good Housekeeping has similar recipes, but includes a way to make your eggs dark blue. I like their suggestions.

Dyeing eggs with your own colors is more fun than using tablets out of a package. And you’ll probably like the results better.

2. Eostre Egg Hunts for the Kids (and Pets)

This one doesn’t have to be for kids only, but if you’re alone or staying home with your significant other and no one else, this isn’t probably as fun as it could be. Naturally if you have a yard, hiding eggs becomes easier, but you can also hide eggs in a specific room. If you hide eggs inside, be sure to have an egg count, otherwise you may be in for a nasty surprise (and smell) in a couple of weeks. And while you’re at it, if you have a pet, you might want to hide some treats for them and show them the first few treats, so they might get the idea of searching for treats. Dogs can usually figure this out, but I’m not discounting cats.

3. Have a Feast in Honor of the Gods and Goddesses of Spring

Whether or not you believe that Eostre was the Anglo Saxon goddess (or Ostara, a Germanic goddess) of spring and fertility, we can always hold a feast in honor of the gods and goddesses of spring. Roast a pig or ham in honor of Freyr, and dedicate the feast in honor of him, Freyja, Thor, Gerdr, Sif, and Idunn, among any other gods and goddesses you’d like to include. Even if you’re a solitary Heathen, you can make yourself some pork and make an offering or blot to the gods.

4. Get Your Garden Planted

Whether you live on a farm, in the suburbs, or in the city, you can have your own garden, even if it is only a container garden. In most parts of America, it’s warm enough to start seedlings outdoors, and for those of us who live in the colder climates, we can start them indoors. Not sure what to plant? Start with herbs. Most are easy enough to grow, and you can dry them and use them in a number of recipes and in rituals. Container gardens are great for apartment dwellers because they take up very little room and they are portable.

5. Meditate Outdoors

It’s springtime, which means that you should probably enjoy the outdoors. But with the quarantine, you may be pressed to find a spot where you can enjoy yourself. With meditation, you don’t need a big place to get away: your balcony or backyard will do. Or, if you’re not under a strict stay-at-home order, find a quiet place in a park or forest where you can be away from people and simply meditate. Never meditated before? Check out Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. Meditate on the season and the world around you. It will help ground you as a Heathen plus put you more in touch with the gods and goddesses of Heathenry.

Okay, so now you have some things to do for celebrating the Feast of Eostre. Go, and have fun. And stuff yourself with chocolate bunnies, because I said so. Next post, I’ll give you ideas for keeping yourself and the kids busy while indoors.

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Celebrating Spring with the Gods Despite the Coronavirus

Celebrating Spring with the Gods Despite the Coronavirus

It’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere (finally), even though in many parts of the world, we still have winter weather. During this time, our thoughts normally turn to the more pleasant weather and outdoor activities. This year may be a bit different, though. I’ve promised myself to not make every post about the 800-pound gorilla in the room (Coronavirus/ COVID-19), but talking about celebrating spring is going to be tempered with what we’re dealing with. So, if you’re looking for great things to do while still being mindful of the pandemic, I’ve got your ideas right here.

Enjoy the Weather

Just because everyone is distancing doesn’t mean you can’t do things. Just don’t plan on crowd activities or activities with anyone other than those who live with you. Instead, try getting out to wild places like National Forests and Wilderness areas. Try to go places where you know you won’t have to deal with other people. Can’t get away or too far to avoid other people? Have a picnic in your backyard or on your balcony.

Get Out and Hunt or Fish

If you hunt or fish, check out what season it is for hunting certain game, or fishing. You might want to try your hand at other types of hunting that you haven’t done in the past, largely because of other commitments. Who knows? You might find a new type of hunting you enjoy?

While you’re at it, offer blots to Skadi and Ullr, because they are the goddess and god of hunting. And if you’re into fishing, a blot to Ran and Njord might work well.

Offer Blots to the Gods and the Local Wights

Eir is the goddess of healing, and a Valkyrie. Making offerings for healing both humans and the world is not a bad idea at this time. Give offerings to the gods and goddesses of spring. Include Freyja, Freyr, Eostre, Sif, Gerdr, and Thor in your blots for a prosperous and healthy spring. Be sure to include animals and new plantings so that there are good harvests in the fall. I talk about making an outdoor altar HERE.

Don’t forget the local wights. Although I am agnostic when it comes to them, I admit that I offer the local landvaettir something to ensure they are happy. They can make a difference between positive experiences and negative ones.

Get Your (Container) Garden Planted

I’ve talked a lot about getting closer to your Heathen roots by planting gardens, even if it’s a container garden. Now is the time to do it, if you have good weather. Even apartment dwellers can plant container gardens and enjoy them. I recommend planting seeds for vegetables and herbs because they’re useful and you can use them in cooking, but you can choose whatever you’d like. Maybe some flowers that will make your place look beautiful?

Read Those Books You’ve Been Meaning To

If you’re like me, you have a gazillion books on the shelves that you haven’t read. Time to dust them off and start reading them. Or if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber like I am, you can read as many books as you care to for $9.99 a month with Kindle Unlimited.

Do Some Spring Cleaning

Frigga and Frau Holle will be delighted if you decide to do some spring cleaning. Anyway, you should be disinfecting things because of the virus, but this gives you an excuse to finally get all those dirty dishes out of your sink.

 

Just Have a of Coffee or Tea, and Enjoy the Weather

Okay, if you can’t get to your favorite coffee shop, brew up some coffee or tea and sit on the porch or on the balcony and just enjoy the weather. Don’t get too enamored with the Internet, because yes, it will rot your brain. Okay, I don’t have any proof of that, but seriously staying online all the time isn’t good for you. Sit and enjoy the weather and the coffee (or tea). Meditate. Thank the gods you’re not sick, or if you are, do what you can for a speedy recovery.

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