Ah, it’s already June again, which means we’re almost at Summer Solstice. Saturday, June 20th is the solstice, which marks the longest day of the year. This is the time when we celebrate the spring and summer gods and goddesses such as Freyr, Freyja, Baldr, Thor, and Sif, as well as Sunna. Here are five ways you can enjoy the solstice, even though you may still have to be careful with COVID-19.
Get Up and Greet the Sunrise
Okay, this is for those early birds who can get up and greet the new day. Or, for those of us who are night owls, who stay up long enough to see dawn break. The rest of you mere mortals will probably be a bit bleary-eyed for this. Even so, prepare a blot and offer it to Sunna, the wights, the ancestors, and to the gods and goddesses of summer.
Leave Summer Solstice Offerings to the Gods and Wights at Your Outdoor Altar
Thank the gods and goddesses for another year, and leave them offerings for good harvests and health. Don’t forget the wights and the ancestors either, especially when it comes to good harvests on the summer solstice. The local wights are said to make the difference between a good harvest and a bad one. So, even if you’re agnostic about wights, like I am, err on the part of superstition and offer them something. Don’t have an outdoor altar? Use this day to make one now! Follow this link for how to create an easy-to-make outdoor altar.
Do Something Outdoorsy
The best way to celebrate the summer solstice is to get outdoors and do something that helps you enjoy the long daylight. This includes simple things like taking a walk, going hiking, going fishing, or doing some type of activity that involves getting outdoors. With COVID-19, remember to keep your distance from people who are not in your household, and to wear masks if you’re heading somewhere people are present.
Sorry to be a killjoy about it, but we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. So, go outside, but do so responsibly.
Hold a Pork Feast for Your Family
Plan on preparing pork for your dinner on the summer solstice, whether it is pork chops, a pork roast, or even a ham. Pigs are special to Freyr, so having pork is a good way to celebrate the god. So, crack open that bottle of mead and offer a toast to the gods, along with those who live with you to Sunna, Baldr, Freyja, and Freyr.
Tend to Your Garden
You do have a garden, don’t you? Even if it’s only a few herb pots or flowers, give them extra care today. Summer solstice is the longest day of the year when photosynthesis is at its peak due to all that sun. Even if it’s cloudy, the daylight provides extra time for growth.
I hope I’ve given you some cool ideas for this solstice. Let me know what you’re planning on doing for the summer solstice in the comments.
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I had a poll on Patreon which indicated that people wanted me to do some posts on going from Christianity to Heathenry. If you’re new to Heathenry, you may not know all the reasons why Heathenry is that much better than Christianity. In this post, I give you five excellent reasons why Heathenry is better than Christianity.
1. Heathenry Doesn’t Have Sins
Heathens don’t have to worry about sins, because there aren’t any in Heathenry. Yes, we have the 9 Noble Virtues and whatnot, but when it comes to someone judging us, that just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that Heathens don’t have rules they have to obey when it comes to morality, but they are more interested in honor, oaths, and behaving correctly than worrying about whether someone will judge us because we weren’t as nice as we could be with our family or we told white lies.
If there’s anything like sin in Heathenry, it’s oathbreaking, murder, and adultery. Then, the bad guys end up having their corpses gnawed on by Níðhǫggr the dragon/serpent in Nastrond, presumably when the dragon isn’t gnawing on Yggdrasil’s root.
Christianity, on the other hand, has sin. Big time. Lie? That’s a sin that could damn your soul. Talk back to your parents? Sin. Swear using “God” or “Jesus Christ,” and you’ve blasphemed. Going to hell for sure without some sort of absolution. The Catholics are big into the confessional and sacraments. Without those, you’re definitely on the eternal punishment list.
2. Heathenry has Hel, but it’s Not a Place of Torment
When people die, they go to a place of rest in Helheim. If they die in battle, they go either to Freyja’s Fólkvangr or Odin’s Valhalla. Freyja gets the first choice of those who die in battle. The rest join Odin at Valhalla for fighting and feasting.
Some of the dead go to the halls of their patron gods or goddesses. Only the really evil people end up in Nastrond to be gnawed upon by Níðhǫggr. (Oathbreakers, adulterers, and murderers.) What do the people in Helheim do? They do the same things they did when they were on Earth, but it is more peaceful and not as hard on them.
Christianity has heaven, hell, and purgatory. Heaven for those whom their god deems worthy to hang out with. Hell for just about everyone else. Purgatory for those who have sinned a little or who had the bad luck of not getting baptized, having original sin. With the exception of purgatory, heaven and hell are eternal.
3. You Have More Than One Soul
It seems incredibly odd in the Christian context, but Heathens believe we have more than one soul. I’ve seen several different writings that pertain to the soul, but from what I can gather, our souls consist of the hugr (reason), mynd (memory– I’ve also seen minni), hamingja (luck), fylgja (fetch), hamr (the skin or physical body), and ørlög (deeds upon which fate is based). There are probably others that I haven’t quite sussed out yet, but those seem to be the main ones. Yeah, I probably skipped over some. Deal with it.
These souls are tied together and get split apart once we die. Some go to our resting place, either Helheim or one of the halls of the gods; others stay on this Earth to be reincarnated into another body. The hamingja and the fylgia are typically reincarnated when we die. Hamingja or luck–both good and bad–can often follow families or clans. Hugr and mynd generally go to our afterlife. Other parts of ourselves die such as the hamr and the lic (which is the body).
Christianity believes you have one soul and the fate of that soul depends on whether you believe in their god and behave the way their god wants you to behave. Screw up and you pretty much go to hell.
4. You Don’t Have to Proselytize
One of the nice things about being a Heathen is you don’t have to convert anyone. In fact, conversion is something we don’t do because we pretty much figure you’ll either figure it out on your own or you won’t. There are other gods and other religions to check out if you’re not into believing in our gods. We believe what we believe, and if you want to believe, well fine. If you don’t, that’s okay too. We’ll all find out in the end who’s right and who’s not. Or if the atheists are right, we won’t know and won’t care anyway.
Our lives focus on the here and now rather than whether we get eternal rewards or torture. We are concerned with our honor and the way we behave, not because someone is going to punish us, but because we are our deeds.
Christians, on the other hand, require that they not only believe in their god, but they also must “spread the good news.” Many flavors of Christianity require that their followers go out and annoy other people in order to convert them.
5. Don’t Relate to One God? You Have Others
In Christianity, you have the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Don’t relate to that god? Well, if you’re Catholic or Episcopalian, you have saints, but beyond that, if you don’t relate to their god, you’re pretty much screwed.
Heathenry has several gods, the wights, and the ancestors to talk to. Not a fan of Odin and Thor? Try one of the other gods or goddesses that resonate with you. Not interested in the gods? There are land spirits and ancestors. You can make friends with the wights and ancestors and use their knowledge and inspiration to help you.
There are many other reasons why Heathenry is better than Christianity, but I challenged myself with five reasons. You may have other reasons I haven’t mentioned. Tell me about them in the comments.
Well, that title is a bit of click-bait, isn’t it? Seriously though, as Heathens looking into the upcoming new year, we do have oaths, resolutions, or at least, things we’d like to accomplish next year. This is why I’ve come up with six resolutions we, as Heathens, should make for next year. See if you agree with me.
Take Better Care of Yourself
You may think it’s odd for me to tell you to to be selfish and take care of yourself first, but that’s exactly what I’m telling you. Your resolution should be to care for yourself better than you have been caring for yourself. This means getting more sleep, more rest, better quality food, and exercise. Why? Because if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. And if you care for others, i.e., children, animals, elderly, disabled, or sick, who will take care of them if you become sick? No one.
So, you need to care for yourself, in order to care for others in your life. Eat organic foods and less junk food. Exercise at least three times a week, preferably more. If you do get sick, stay home and get well–go to the doctor, if necessary. There are people who depend on you to be on top of your game; you won’t be 100 percent if you’re tired all the time, sick, or out-of-shape.
Did you know that 50 percent of Americans’ diets consist of processed food on average? Yes. All the soft drink, frozen meals, breakfast cereals, desserts, canned foods, and prepackaged whatever isn’t necessarily healthy for you and takes you away from your Heathen roots. I encourage you to buy local foods, which have ties to the land you live in, and will sustain you better and taste better than the shit that comes prepackaged.
Learn a New Skill
As Heathens, it’s important for us to keep our minds and bodies challenged. That means learning a new skill, whether it’s a new craft, a new language, a martial art, a musical instrument, or a new sport. Learning new things not only improves your mental function, it helps postpone the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When we work on things that our ancestors did such as knife-making, hunting, knapping, leather tooling, farming, raising livestock, weaving, spinning, foraging, gardening, preserving food, and whatnot, you may find a greater understanding and link to the past.
Learn to Meditate
Meditation isn’t necessarily sitting cross-legged and saying “Ommm,” although you can do that, if you want to. Meditation is what is called “mindfulness,” which is being aware of your body and your surroundings. It’s being present within the moment.
Meditation allows you to pay attention to everything around you. It allows you to clear your thoughts and lower your heart rate. It allows you to reduce the stress in your life and your reaction to the stress. And it also enables us to forge a link between ourselves and the gods.
When we clear our thoughts, we open our minds to the gods and allow them to enter. Although they can overcome the constant chatter of our busy minds, they don’t like having to do that. Tyr, I know, isn’t thrilled with dealing with the chaotic “monkey mind” that we all have. He’ll do it when he has to, but he prefers an ordered mind. Loki, on the other hand, is great with distractions.
One good book worth considering is Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. There are other good meditation books as well, so if you’d like other referrals, I can provide them.
Get Outdoors More Often
It’s all too common for humans to become “box people,” as one friend used to call people who never stepped foot in nature. These people went from climate-controlled homes to climate-controlled cars to a climate-controlled workplace, and back again. They had safely encapsulated themselves in boxes that didn’t challenge them. Oh sure, they might enjoy a nice day outside during lunch or on the weekend, but rain, snow, wind, heat? No way.
It’s ridiculously easy becoming maudlin about nature from the 10th story of a high rise, or even on the manicured lawns of suburbia. When you’re out in it, you have to learn what nature requires you to do. That means planning and preparing to be out with it. The wild is not a kind mistress — some areas are downright dangerous for the unprepared. Heathens need to go to those places –wild and natural places–where there is both beauty and danger, and know what to do. I’m not telling you to risk your life, by any stretch; I’m asking you to claim what is your birthright as a creature of this Earth. This requires knowledge, preparation, and skill.
If you’re not ready for a wilderness experience, you need to start small. Go to a park and enjoy the grass underfoot and the trees overhead. Watch the animals, however tame they may act around humans. Take walks more outside. Pay attention to your surroundings. Read about places you’d want to visit and go there when funds are available. In the meantime, learn the national forests and parks in your area. Learn about the wildlife. Become a hunter and angler. The more you learn about nature, the better that knowledge will serve you as a Heathen.
Learn More About Your Ancestors
Love them or hate them, your relatives and ancestors say a lot about who you are. Without them, you would not exist. Whether you were adopted into your current family or whether the family who raised you were your actual birth parents, every Heathen should know where they came from. You should honor those ancestors whom you deem worthy of honoring. If you have no recent ancestors whom you feel are worthy of reverence, that’s okay. Go back further, or choose to honor more distant ancestors in general. Not all of them can be assholes.
Even if you can’t go back very far in your lineage, knowing and understanding the people whom your ancestry belongs to is a good idea. Why? Because you can add and incorporate customs, gods, and practices into your beliefs and honoring. That way, it becomes something more personal to you.
If you’re adopted, honoring the ancestors of your adopted parents can also bring meaning as well. After all, they chose you to be part of their family and kindred. Remember, we’re talking ethnicity here, and not race, because race is a construct. We’re all humans, which means if you were raised Swedish, even if your birth parents might have been Anglo Saxon, you’re Swedish in ethnicity, if not birth.
Learn More About Our Gods and Our Past
As Heathens, it’s important to read the Eddas, stories about our gods, and important literature that has made up much of what we know about the Heathens who came before us and Heathenry. Learning how to translate and read old manuscripts is a part of it, certainly, but even if you can’t pony up for a course in Old Icelandic, Old Norse, or Anglo Saxon, just reading the translated stories will provide richness to your life and your beliefs. It’s a good idea to do your own research and formulate your own thoughts–lots of recon wankers will tell you what to believe because they have a “theory.” Trust me, you can decide for yourself.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on resolutions. If you did, consider buying me a coffee for my hard work. See you here in 2019. May you have a wonderful and safe New Year!
Occasionally I get a comment from someone who’s convinced that the gods don’t talk to us mere mortals that often. That most people who deal with the gods are actually dealing with the ancestors. It’s an interesting part of Heathenry I think is worth addressing. Are Heathens receiving messages from gods or ancestors?
Actually, I think it’s both.
The Unknown Gods
Before I get into the supposition that the gods are with us, let me address the personal nature of the gods, themselves. There are Heathens who believe that our gods really aren’t personal deities. That the concept of a personal deity comes from Christianity and those concepts taint our modern day beliefs. There is some truth to that. The gods aren’t just the gods of humanity, but the gods of all things. In fact, I suspect that there are gods we humans do not know. We don’t know them not because our knowledge of them disappeared, but because we never knew them to begin with. I suspect there are gods who do not deal with humans at all, who instead govern other things and animals other than ourselves. They are never in contact with us, except maybe if we touch their realms.
Not the Gods I’m Talking About
These aforementioned gods that have very little to do with humanity are not the gods I am talking about. The gods I am talking about are the gods who have made themselves known to humans. Who still make themselves known to humans. Odin, Thor, Freyja, Freyr, Tyr, Loki, Baldr, Skadi, Ullr, Heimdallr,…the list goes on. We would not know them if we did not have contact with them. Sure, you could say that hearing thunder and calling it a god is the basis for Thor, but then, why bother to have positive connotations with a thunder god if he didn’t somehow look benevolently on humans?
So, we can assume that the gods we know have had interactions with humans. Who still do have interactions with humans. When someone tells me that they’ve interacted with certain deities, I generally accept their word. Not because I’m gullible, but because unless they give me a real reason to disbelieve them, who am I to say otherwise? I’ve talked with gods and goddesses and I already knew some things that the people who had a UPG told me, so if something doesn’t sound right, I might have to ask further questions.
Is it a God?
I know that gods have taken other forms to get their message through to their recipients, so it would not surprise me if ancestors do the same thing. Could an ancestor mimic a god? Yes, I know of one case where it has happened, and not for the better. There are plenty of not so benevolent spirits out there looking to cause harm, but it’s pretty obvious when they do show up.
One way to tell if it is really a god is to consider the following:
Do they act like the gods/goddesses of our stories and of other people’s credible UPGs? Yes, there have been interactions with gods/goddesses that all seem to have the same feeling. Or are they different, and in what ways?
Does the deity ask you to do something harmful to yourself or others? If they do, you may not be dealing with the entity you think you’re dealing with. Chances are its malevolent and you need to get away from it.
Does the entity inform you who they are? Some spirits do lie, but you have a better chance in deciding if you’re really dealing with the god just by research and talking to knowledgeable folks.
Does a Gothi/Gythia confirm your experience?
How does the god treat you? Is it in line with what you know of the god?
My Own Experience with the Gods
The gods are an interesting bunch. Some will just pop in to say hello or see what is going on, but most are reserved and only show up at times they deem is suitable. They seldom come when you call –remember, they’re not your bitches. Even if you ask nicely, you can get complete crickets. They may have more important things to pay attention to. Like the entire universe.
Some landvaettir may also come into contact with you. While you might not consider them gods, per se, they are tutelary spirits who have powers. You may not find them as powerful as someone like Thor or Odin, but in many cases they may be able to help or harm you, depending on your relationship with them. That being said, I am firmly agnostic when it comes to landvaettir. I haven’t seen one, but I have had odd situations that maybe could suggest them.
The gods do occasionally mimic other gods in other pantheons. Odin and Loki, in particular, will shape change to whatever god you believe in to give you information, if you believe in another deity and not them. (Yes, I’ve had that happen.) Tyr will do that too for those who he wants to be his followers. (Again, that’s my experience and your mileage may vary.) Depending on the person, they may do this in order to give you information you need and if you’re only open to Jesus or Yahweh, then that’s where they go.
Is it an Ancestor?
You could be contacted through an ancestor. It’s not all that unusual. If it is an ancestor who has benevolent intentions, you should definitely get a name or an understanding of who or what they are. They shouldn’t be passing themselves off as a god. If they are, I wouldn’t want to deal with them simply because of the dishonesty.
Ancestors are pretty much what they were when they were alive. If they were a son-of-a-bitch when they were alive, they’re still a son-of-a-bitch–maybe more so, because they’re cranky they’re dead. Some ancestors you don’t want to deal with; others are just fine. Regardless, it should be pretty damn obvious if Uncle Milton makes a call. He shouldn’t be saying he’s Loki or Odin or whomever–if he is, tell him to go the Hel away.
My Own Experience with Ancestors
I’ve spoken to my closest ancestors and have had feelings and intentions from them. I’ve also had dreams with an ancestor in them, usually in the form of talking with them about certain things. Not all dealings with those ancestors have been pleasant; I’ve annoyed them the same way I did back when they were alive. They were in shock when they went to Helheim instead of the Christian heaven or hell. (Despite them being devout Catholics and not pagans.) This along with other bits of knowledge has led me to conclude that the Christian beliefs aren’t real and our beliefs are more in line with reality. Call it UPG or whatever, but I’m convinced that if there was a Jesus and if there is a Yahweh, it is a deceptive god.
Are ancestors more receptive than gods? In most cases, yes, but you should be careful with them until you get to know who exactly is knocking on the door. Some ancestors you definitely don’t want.
So, the gods do talk to humans. The landvaettir talk to humans. The ancestors talk to humans. They’re a rather chatty bunch — the lot of them. It’s just up to you to listen.
It’s been about six years since Tyr and Thor first entered my life as Norse gods and I’ve entered Heathenry. (Tyr has been in my life for years, only I didn’t recognize him.) I’ve been thankful they’ve done so because they’ve offered a a new perspective on my life that I had not gotten any other way. I still deal with a number of really stupid issues due to Christianity that I brought with me, but I can feel a certain amount of healing going on that I just didn’t have with the other religions, and lack of religion.
This piece is a reflective piece, but it is also some advice I have for new Heathens and those who are still on the path after a number of years. This is my perspective, as always, and as I often say, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) or, as a professor once tried to guess the acronym, Your Mouse Might Vomit.
Moving into Heathenry from Christianity
Heathenry, and in fact, Paganism, isn’t really about rebelling from Christianity (or another religion), though you may go through a period of comparison and outright hostility toward your previous religion. I know I did. It’s that part of your bruised ego when you finally realize that everything you were told as a child was a lie and there is no Christian god. (Even if you believe there might be a Christian god, you can’t possibly believe it is as powerful as the Christians claim.)
Now that you have your newfound beliefs, it may be tough to not stick them in other people’s faces. But what exactly are you hoping to accomplish? Are you looking to alienate your friends and family, because you’re sure not going to convince them to convert? It’s better to not say anything and keep the peace than it is to rile everyone up. Of my family, only my husband knows I’m a Heathen, and as far as I can tell, he’s good with it. Of course I don’t rub it in his face, either. If he wants to remain an atheist agnostic, that’s his choice, and I respect that.
Heathenry isn’t Christianity with Many Gods
Heathenry isn’t Christianity with many gods instead of one god. While Christianity had adopted many pagan beliefs into their doctrine, it still isn’t what a Heathen believes. Christian states that man was given mastery over the world and all animals. This is clearly hubris, in my not so humble opinion. Heathens look at ourselves and our gods as being part of the natural world. We are just one species in a realm of natural and supernatural creatures. We recognize where we are in the world and how we need to be mindful of those creatures, both seen and unseen.
Whether you are agnostic on the supernatural critters like me, or whether you believe in them is irrelevant. It is part of our lore and deserves at least some attention, if not outright acknowledgment. If anything, our ancestors’ beliefs and stories make for some fascinating reading.
No One Has the Right Answers
I’ll say it right up front that those who claim to “know” how Heathenry should be is full of shit. Sure, we have some good ideas how some of our ancestors practiced Heathenry, but overall, we don’t have a perfect picture how to reconstruct it. The problem is that Heathenry covers at least a thousand years, if not more, and the ways our ancestors practiced Heathenry varied from generation to generation and from region to region.
Although there were gothis and gythias, there were no Asa-popes telling people how to behave, and if there were one or two, they wouldn’t have affected all of Heathendom. While there may have been a major temple in Uppsala, the archaeological evidence for it is scarce. (Even if a Christian church were to be built on top of it, you would think there would be some evidence.)
Moving Forward Instead of Looking Back
Heathenry is an ancient religion with deep traditions. I won’t argue with you there. We don’t know all the traditions, and those that we do know about were written down by people of other religions, who may or may not have had their own agendas. Ancient historians are not infallible.
Even if we somehow magically figured out everything about Heathenry in the ancient times, would we really want to mimic it? If you say “yes” then apparently you want to bring back human sacrifice, and that makes you a total loony tune, crazy person that I want nothing to do with. And yeah, that’s one of my rules: no human sacrifices. There are other behaviors we should not mimic — not if we follow our own version of the ethics of reciprocity.
Heathens need to look forward, not back. Our past can give us guidelines for our future, but they’re just that: guidelines. The past was not only a different time, but humanity saw things differently. We didn’t have the technological advancements, longevity, medical treatment, and overall knowledge about the world then that we do now. It would be foolhardy to live in the past without accounting for the future.
Well, I’ve rambled enough. Let me know what you think.
This spring I had a lesson on why the good old days weren’t that great. Having dealt with the realities of raising livestock, I’ve become far more appreciative of modern medicine, and science, in general. Not that I wasn’t appreciative of science to begin with, but when you see it in action, it changes your worldview. And you start to realize just how tough our ancestors had it then. You also realize how unlikely it was to see 50 years old back then.
You see, I raise goats. This, in and of itself shouldn’t necessarily bring up modern medicine, but if you want to see how science can improve your life, try animal husbandry. And sadly, for the past several years I’ve had a 50 percent attrition rate (or worse) on the kids. This year ended up being different.
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Once again, I’ve stumbled onto some really big bullshit about arch heathens, so I think it is time to make my opinions known on the subject. Arch heathens, if you get the current vernacular, were an impressive, idealized version of the Heathen. Sort of an uber Heathen, as it were. These purported arch heathens kept the faith pure and knew some sort of unwritten code of conduct across the ancient world that spanned from Greenland to Russia and south into Africa, and across several thousands of years ago, ending with the conversion to Christianity. They were of one mindset and kept the faith pure. (Ein volk!Ein reich!Ein führer!) <– That was sarcasm for those who don’t recognize it.
Did you just feel the urge to goosestep in your mom’s basement? If not, then can you already see the flaws in the argument? If you can’t or won’t, then read on, MacDuff!
What Heathenry Really Was
Before I talk about the fatal flaw in the arch heathen concept, I need to address Heathenry, in general. Heathenry was born out of Proto-Indo-European Polytheism. So, for argument sake, we can probably look at that form of polytheism being a proto form of Heathenry. So, that would show up sometime around 3500 BCE. For those not awesome at math, that’s more than 5500 years ago. Germanic Heathenry appeared on the scene around 1700 BCE with related religions appearing around 300 years earlier. Norse religions showed up maybe around 200 CE (AD).
So, when we look at Heathenry, we’re looking at a time period of about 4500 years. Even if we go with German Heathenry at 1700 BCE, that still gives Heathenry a healthy 2700 years. When dealing with people whose lifespans were 40 years, if they were lucky, we’re looking at 20-year generations and turnover. Assuming a 20-year generation, i.e., the time it takes to propagate and develop a new generation, we’re looking at either 135 generations or 175 generations of Heathens in total.
The Fatal Flaw in the Arch Heathen Concept
Now that we’re established the timeline for Heathenry, let’s talk about the concept of the arch heathen. The arch heathen is the prototype Heathen. He makes and knows the rules. He’s the guy all many of the reconstructionists venerate and hold up for all to see. Okaaay. Which arch heathen are we talking about exactly? Are we talking about the guy who was in Germany at 1700 BCE? Are we talking about the guy back in 3500 BCE wherever the Hel he was? Or are we talking about the Viking arch heathens? And which Vikings? Are we talking Iceland or Russia? Maybe Sicily? Or France? How about North Africa?
And where, pray tell, is someone in ancient manuscripts pointing to a particular person and saying he or she is an arch heathen? You can’t. Because the concept and idea is made up. The argument for an arch heathen has absolutely no supporting evidence. Sure, there were gythias and gothis, but one over-arching mode of behavior and belief? Nope, nope, nope. We can’t even prove archaeologically that the Temple of Uppsala existed. All we have is Adam of Bremen and Snorri’s documentation about it. So, Uppsala may have been a Heathen Vatican, but chances are it wasn’t. Too many Heathens in too many places.
No matter which group of Heathens you point to, you’re going to have variation in culture, thought, understanding, and yes, religion. One group is going to value Freyr over Odin; another group is going to value Odin over Thor. And so on. It is bound to happen, because people are different. Very different. Saying that because you see arch heathen-like behavior in Germany means that there were arch heathens like that everywhere is absurd. That person was there at that time in that place. We don’t know if they were common before or after. All we have are writings of certain non heathens and works that were written down by Christians 200 years after the conversion to Christianity.
What Timeline are we Talking About?
So, we’ve established that our Heathen ancestors worshiped our gods or forms of our gods for 2700 to 4500 years and have worshiped our gods across the ancient world. We know that religions change all the time, even in the past. All we have to do is look at other forms of religion and see that this is so. Christianity is an excellent example. We can look at the 2000 years Christianity has been in existence and we see plenty of differences, even if we only look at the Catholic Church. Originally Christianity was a conglomeration of ideas that came from Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, Mithracism, and other religions. Eventually, the Council of Nicaea got everyone on the same page, but there were future schisms. The Catholic Church split into Eastern Orthodox and Western Roman Catholicism. And that’s not even talking about the Protestant Reformation.
Okay, so you’re talking about a particular timeline, maybe, a few hundred years? Really? How much information do you have from that period? And why do your so-called arch heathens rate above any other Heathens at any particular time?
A Lot Changes in 200 Years
Maybe the recons are only looking at 200 years. Which 200 is anyone’s guess. And we don’t have pinpoint accuracy with historical writings or archaeology. A lot goes on in 200 years in cultures. Don’t believe me? Look back 200 years in our recent past. In 1818, we had no car, no electricity, and the United States had only 20 states. Too modern? Okay, let’s compare 1818 with 1618. Jamestown was founded in 1607 and by 1618 there were a handful of new settlements. People still believed in persecuting witches then. Ships were pretty much wind driven. The Mauritius sailed in 1618. In 1818, we were working on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution with steam engines and steamboats. In 1810, England had its first primitive railroad. By 1827, we had the first railroad in the United States. The 30 years war started in 1618 started by the Jesuits against the Protestants. By 1818, the United States had freedom of religion in place in the Constitution.
Heathenry was Influenced by Other Religions
I’ve talked a lot about how Heathenry had been influenced by other cultures and religions. Our ancestors traveled — a lot! They had boats, they had horses, and yes, they had their own two feet. Heathens traveled east into Russia, south into Africa, and west into North America. They saw many different cultures and peoples — and they didn’t kill or conquer all of them. Many they traded with. We have found religious symbols from other cultures (such as the Buddha!) in gold hordes, and we know that Norsemen and Islam have had contact. Since Heathens were open to other forms of beliefs, even then, some aspects of other religions got adopted and incorporated as people from other cultures became assimilated into the Heathen culture.
Don’t believe me? Tell me why we have the Vanir then, when we already have the Aesir? Tell me why Tyr was the top god, only to be replaced by Odin? And why was the Christian god worshiped along with the Heathen gods for a time in Iceland? All these changes came about because of influences of other cultures and religions.
Arch Heathens or Archbishops?
The quest to follow these so-called arch heathens smacks of something very Christian, in my not so humble opinion. Recons are constantly throwing the arch heathen around like they were the only ones who had insight into our gods and the way to do things. We could argue that the arch heathen is the pagan archbishop. Don’t believe me? The Catholics use the archbishops along with the pope to create their church doctrine that they insist everyone who is Catholic must obey. The recons use the arch heathens to create Heathen doctrine that they insist everyone who is Heathen must obey. You see the difference? No? Neither can I.
Look, if I wanted to have a bunch of Asa-pope dilettantes order me around, I would’ve stayed in the Catholic Church. No doubt you have your opinions on this. Keep it civil and I’ll let you have your say.
Sometimes I’m at a total lost when it comes to what I should write for the Rational Heathen. I look over my past writings, peruse the pagan blogs, then the Christian and atheist blogs, and then end up playing Age of Empires. See? I really do work on this.
The past several days I was beating my head against the proverbial writing wall, so I just gave up and worked on some other things. Then, in the morning when I was waking up, I heard a god…
Ah, the Heathen life. The Rational Heathen has goats, which means spring kids, and the insanity that brings. If they all had lived, I would’ve had ten Kids on the Block. Yeah, bad pun, deal with it. Right now, I’m down to seven and as bad as having a 30 percent attrition rate is, it beats out the really bad year when I lost all the kids due to various aliments.
I Hate Spring, and Here’s Why
Here in the Northern Rockies, the weather is typical spring. In other words, the weather sucks to pull goat babies out of the butts of pregnant doe goats. Temperatures dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night and the days can soar as high as 40 or 50 degrees. And it alternately rains and snows. And melts. And makes everything muddy. And I mean everything. It sucks, especially for newborn goats who really have no defense against the weather. So, even though it is Freyr’s season, it is a real pain in the ass for someone like me who has livestock. I’ve been spending most of my time awake and going down to the barn every two to four hours to check on the does. So, it means long nights.
Around here it’s been guess and by golly when they actually were bred. That’s my own fault because I got a new goat buck who was just a kid. So, I left him with the does so I could be sure they would be bred. All this winter, I watched the does balloon with babies and waited. One of my best goats had twins, only to have them succumb to pneumonia. Then, the kid train started. I had four does deliver in two days. Eight kids total.
One didn’t survive despite my ministrations. It happens, but I take it personally every time. No idea what killed him. If we had decent goat vets out here, I’d consider a necropsy, but the last necropsy told me that I had a healthy, dead kid. True story, that.
It’s Not Easy
Right now, I have seven kids with a couple being somewhat sketchy because they had bacteria infections. I’m treating them will all the medication I can muster. Kids born during mud season are just about guaranteed to have some illness. What’s more, I have one who is a quarter of the size of the others and who has a birth defect that a kid last year had. Same mom.
The mom doe goat in question is about as disappointing as they come. Her first kid was born with two long back legs and died within a day. The second kid from last season had a fused toe joint that curled the hoof under the leg that made him very lame. He survived only to die of bloat. The little doeling is a runt and has one leg where the toe joint has somewhat curled and is twisted a bit. Two different unrelated bucks; same doe. To make matters worse, I can’t milk that doe because she is wild in temperament despite the handling, and she drinks off herself. She also drinks off her mom.
So today, we slaughtered the doe goat and butchered her for meat. Not what I would prefer, but either you make it in my herd or you don’t. I can’t afford another pet goat, especially one with a bad temperament. Her kids, if they survive, won’t be bred. Since their father was a cashmere buck, I’ll be keeping them for fiber (wool).
Spring and the Heathen
Despite my obvious dislike for the season, Heathens in the past looked forward to spring. Sure, it meant lambing, kidding, calving, and planting seeds, but what it really meant was the onslaught of winter was finally over. I suspect that many people and livestock went into survival mode in the wintertime. Even with winter grazing, livestock couldn’t really forage for food as they could in the spring and summer, so either had to be sold, slaughtered, or had to be fed. This meant that you could only keep the animals you could afford to feed or the land could support. This also meant you had to keep your breeding stock and hope that the critters made it through the winter.
Spring was the return of life, and therefore the return of food for our ancestors’ livestock. New kids, calves, and lambs meant an abundance of food for the next winter, if they survived the harsh realities of an early spring. Livestock was typically smaller than modern day’s version, so they didn’t need near as much to eat as their modern counterparts, but they didn’t produce as much either. I suspect the goats from the past were hardier than those we have today. Those who didn’t survive didn’t pass on their genetic code.
Kids and the Modern Heathen
As a modern Heathen, I am slightly more self sufficient than city dwellers, living a semi-subsistence lifestyle. But even I must use modern technology to keep my animals alive during this topsy-turvey time of spring, here in a land with unpredictable weather. We get warm and cold spells, rain and snow, and of course, wind that threatens any young creature’s life. I look at the deer around the house and am amazed that they live as long as they do with the same weather, predators, and diseases we must endure. It is a true testament to life that despite adversity, wildlife thrives.
I have three crates full of kids that need to be hand raised. I have five goats who need to be milked. I’ll get about two gallons of milk a day — enough to feed the little ones with some addition of cow juice. I’ll also bring hay up to get them started.
A Lesson I’ve Learned
If there is a lesson to be learned by this, it is that our ancestors had hard lives. They didn’t have the antibiotics and other medicines I have available. They probably sweated over their livestock as much as I do, or even more, because they couldn’t just go to the store and buy a package of hamburger if it didn’t work out. Each dead kid, each failed milker, and each failed crop put them one step closer to starvation.
It gives you an idea how far we’ve gone as a species. Even our poorest people in first world countries fare better than that. There are enough food pantries in my area that can prevent hunger for those who do not qualify for food stamps or SNAP benefits. The Heathen then relied on their family and kindred to prevent starvation, but it could be a closely run thing. So, even though I pay homage to the ancestors, quite frankly, I’ve had enough of a taste of their lifestyle to know that it’s harder than it appears. At least I’m unlikely to starve if I lose any more kids.
Now that I’ve talked about five reasons for not becoming Heathen, the flip side is what are good reasons for becoming a Heathen. Naturally, there are people who may disagree with me, but I think there are good reasons for becoming a Heathen. Let’s get started… [READ THIS AND ALL PREMIUM POSTS FOR JUST $1. SUBSCRIBE NOW!]