Browsed by
Tag: magic

Handwringing and Hecate

Handwringing and Hecate

Ah the joys of Samhain and the muddled mix of goddesses and pantheons that the Wiccans bring.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m a person who believes the Heathen gods and goddesses are the same as gods and goddesses with different names in other pantheons.  However, there are differences and I’m not into simply playing the mix-and-match game that many pagans do.

Is the Rational Heathen Against Following Other Gods?

Now here’s where my beliefs get tricky.  I get that sometimes we get a call from other gods and goddesses, and I am not one to tell you whether to follow them or not.  Chances are, if they’re helpful to you, you’re going to follow them.  And you may add them to the list of gods and goddesses you follow.  Our Northern ancestors were egalitarian in that way.  The god helped you out?  Well, follow him until he’s less than helpful.

No, what I object to is the blatant mishmash of religions and customs that integrate the gods willy nilly, without respect for each culture and pantheon.  That smush Zoroastrianism with Celtic beliefs and call it good.  Or that brings in Christian, Egyptian, and Norse gods and beliefs together in a type of melange that is quite unpalatable.

Look, I get that many religions are closely related. You want to borrow from them?  Fine.  But don’t tell me the Artemis/Hecate/Selene trio is Mani (who happens to be male).  Or that a ritual you mashed together from Greek and Roman practices for Hecate works for Freyja.  (It might; it might not.)  This is your UPG, and very few Heathens are likely to concur with your interpretation.  I am more open to Slavic and Germanic gods and goddesses crossing over than Middle Eastern deities combining with Nordic gods.

Why Halloween/Samhain?

Samhain was the Celtic/Gaelic new year which is a lot like our Yule (which, incidentally, the Wiccans also celebrate.)  Harvest was an important time for them, and Wiccans believe that the veil between the living and the dead thins during this time.  Yule, on the other hand, deals with the the darkest times of the year, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, which is more in turn with the concept of the “Veils.”

Incidentally, my mom died during Yule. I don’t necessarily feel her presence at that particular time, mainly because she manages to get inside my head a lot, but it is certainly a noteworthy occurrence.  The colder, darker days are deadlier toward animals, which suggests to me that we may have a closer handle on when the living and the dead have more contact.

I give you all my explanation for Halloween and Samhain in another post, so I’m not going to run through the entire litany here. Given that Halloween is a Christian celebration, it is something that simply doesn’t do much for me.  I’ll probably celebrate a harvest festival, using the days after hunting season to celebrate what I will call Hunting Harvest/Thanksgiving as a way to celebrate a good hunt.

Mixing Pantheons

I sort of look at Wiccans who follow the Northern gods as “Heathen Lite.”  They’re a type of Heathen, to be sure, but when you mix different systems, you can’t help but lose some of the authenticity.  If you’re a Wiccan, I mean no insult.  I like people who are Wiccans as much (and sometimes more) than some Heathens I know.  Even so, you’re in Wicca for the magic and witchcraft.  I get that.  We have our own (ahem) “magic,” but it isn’t necessarily the spell variety.  In fact, it’d be nice if Heathens did court the Wiccans to get some of their numbers in ours.  (I guess we won’t do that by calling them “Heathen Lite,” eh?)

If you’re a Wiccan and you’re interested in our gods, talk to a Universalist Heathen and you might just be surprised how much we do have in common, even if we’re not into mixing our gods that much.  You just might find our gods and goddesses are powerful and may help you more than others.

Thanks to my Patron, James Sean Cudd for sponsoring this post.  You too can sponsor my posts on Patreon for just a dollar.  Go to my Patreon page and check it out.

Using the Magic in Nature and the Seasons

Using the Magic in Nature and the Seasons

Oh my god!  I said the “M” word!  Does that mean I’m going to talk about…GULP…Magic?  Well, yes, and no.  I want to talk about changes in the seasons and how you can recognize them long before most people do.  Which means maybe not magic, but more observation and perhaps a bit of empathy.

Let me explain.

Recognizing the Rhythms of Your Land


Regardless of whether you live in the country or the city, in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, or in the Americas or “across the pond,” the land you live in has its own rhythm, its own wights (and I use that term loosely), and its own timing.  Back when I lived further south in the Rocky Mountains, it took me forever to recognize this–mainly because I wasn’t a Heathen then and I had other concerns which took up a good deal of my attention.  Back when I was younger, the weather, the climate, and the land were simply distractions from day-to-day living.  Now, I realize that day-to-day living is a distraction from the weather, climate, and the land.

Look, you don’t need to become a tree hugger or run around naked in the forest to connect with nature.  (However, if that’s what you do to get your rocks off, that’s none of my business.)  It involves changing your viewpoint and paying more attention to the natural occurrences that surround you (even in the city.) Changing your viewpoint isn’t that hard, but it does require mindfulness.  This is why I often recommend mindfulness training to those who are getting started in Heathenry.

Mindfulness as Magic

If there’s a form of magic I do believe in, it has to do with mindfulness.  Seriously, it’s something everyone can do and it will help discipline your mind enough to deal with the stress of modern life.  I recommend a book called Mindfulness for Fidgety Skeptics if you’ve never done this before. I get a small stipend from Amazon if you buy it through the link. You support this website if you use the link, so I would appreciate it if you use it.  Even if I didn’t get some money through this, I’d still recommend the book.

What You’ll Discover Paying Attention to the Land

Being mindful and paying attention to the land opens a whole new world of experiences you never knew existed.  You start noticing not only the cooler temperatures of autumn setting in, but also the increase or decrease in humidity that follows the change.  Maybe you start seeing stratus clouds and high cirrus replace the fluffy cumulus.  Maybe you see a shift in the bird population, the increase or decrease of certain insects, or even the shift in the quality of light you get.  Instead of noticing the latest fall fashions creeping into people’s wardrobes, you notice how the squirrels are moving from tree to tree to gather food.  You may see different species of birds.  If you live in a place with deer, you may see a shift in their foraging.

At night, you may see a change in the constellations–if the light pollution isn’t too bad. If you live in wildfire country like I do, you can actually see if there are new wildfire starts nearby just by the color of the moon, often before the news picks it up.

How This Makes You a Better Heathen

At this point, you may be wondering how this makes you a better Heathen.  Let’s think about this a bit: our gods and the landvaettir are nature entities.  Even Odin, who is our creator god, deals with natural forces.  (How much more natural is the creation of life?)  So, we’re looking at gods who reside over nature.  By paying attention to things not human made, we gain a deeper understanding in the world around us.  You become a better Heathen, and you even open yourself up to the wights and gods.  It may or may not be a type of magic, but I know it works.

How to Communicate with the Gods

That’s one thing about being a Heathen a lot of Heathens miss.  You see, you can get close to the gods without all the mumbo-jumbo.  In fact, I suspect it’s the best way to get in touch with the gods.  You don’t get a conversation with the gods from mumbling prayers or sacrificing goats usually.  You get that from opening yourself to them and seeing who pops up.  That requires paying attention to them and listening to what they have to say.

If you’re not receptive to the gods unless Thor takes a hammer to you and smacks you silly, you’re unlikely to hear them.  That does happen to the most dense of us and it is quite unpleasant.  Trust me when I say you will really get shaken out of your reality when the gods do that.  It will make you question your overall sanity, unless you’re already bat-shit crazy.  Now, it’s a lot easier to deal with because I’m more in tuned with them, but for a while it was fucking nuts.

I hope I’ve given you some things to think about.  Let me know what you think.

 

Five Bad Reasons for Becoming a Heathen

Five Bad Reasons for Becoming a Heathen

I ran into an interesting post on Patheos entitled 5 Bad Reasons to Become a Pagan.  It’s an interesting post, but it seems to cover more Wiccan than Heathen issues.  So, like any good Viking, I’ve raided the subject and decided to talk about the five bad reasons for becoming a Heathen.  Maybe you agree with me; maybe you don’t.  Whatever.  But here is my list.

Bad Reason #1: You Want to Join a Whites-Only (Neo-Nazi) Religion

If you’ve hung out on my blog for any length of time, you knew this would be one of the bad reasons. We don’t want white supremacists or Neo-Nazis for the simple fact that they are a foul pollutant to our religion and we do not believe what they believe.  The history of Heathen belief bears this out.

Our ancestors belief in “race” was much different than identifying with the color of one’s skin.  Instead, they discriminated on religious beliefs, class, and political alliances.  So if you were a Viking from Scandinavia who believed in the Heathen gods, you were considered a vastly different person than the Anglo-Saxon who believed in Christ, rightly or wrongly. Now, if you were from Nubia (an African country) and had dark skin, you were considered the same race as Christians who had white skin because you believed in Christ.   If you were another color, Heathens didn’t care as long as you worshiped the Heathen gods and allied yourself with the kindreds they were in. So, your allies were considered the same as you.

As Heathens, we accept that the gods call people who are of a different ethnicity than those whose ancestors have come from the Northern European lands.  We are not here to judge our gods’ choices as to whom they wish as followers. Although skin color may be an issue today, Heathens should be inclusive when it comes to following our gods.

Bad Reason #2: You Want to Worship Our Gods Because You’re a Marvel Fan

You know, it’s okay to be introduced to the Heathen gods through Marvel, but if you’re becoming a Heathen because you find Tom Hiddleston or Chris Hemsworth sexy, maybe what you’re looking for isn’t a religion but a fan club.  You shouldn’t worship Loki because you’re enamored with Hiddleston.  Believe me, you aren’t the only one coming into the Northern religions because of the movies. The rest of us who are serious are going to sigh in disgust.  We’re not a place for you to live out your fantasies when it comes to actors, so you might as well go someplace else.

The other issue is that the Marvel Thor universe is only loosely based on our mythology.  There are plenty of differences, so don’t think you’re coming into a religion that is like the movies or the comics.

Bad Reason #3: You Have a Drinking Problem and You Want to Hide It

Heathens drink mead.  A lot.  We have rites that use mead quite often.  Both the blot and the sumbel use mead, and drinking often accompanies our holidays (which are many).  That being said, Odin states the following in the Havamal (11 – 14):

11.
A better burden can no man bear
on the way than his mother wit:
and no worse provision can he carry with him
than too deep a draught of ale.

12.
Less good than they say for the sons of men
is the drinking oft of ale:
for the more they drink, the less can they think
and keep a watch o’er their wits.

13.
A bird of Unmindfulness flutters o’er ale feasts,
wiling away men’s wits:
with the feathers of that fowl I was fettered once
in the garths of Gunnlos below.

14.
Drunk was I then, I was over drunk
in that crafty Jötun’s court.
But best is an ale feast when man is able
to call back his wits at once.

 [Translation Source]

You can argue whether these are really Odin’s words transcribed, but most Heathens accept it as wisdom.  So, if you’re an alcoholic, or a borderline alcoholic, who wants to use Heathenry as an excuse to drink, go to rehab.  Seriously.  We need people who have their wits about them and not people who use Heathenry as an excuse to drink.

Bad Reason #4: You Want to Use Heathenry as an Extended Version of Cosplay

I’m probably going to step on toes here, but if you’re using Heathenry just to dress up in cool clothing and armor, swing swords and carry medieval weapons, maybe you need to either be in an reenactment group or the SCA and not a Heathen.  Certainly there are Heathens in reenactment groups and the SCA, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be there.  The problem is when those people don’t take their Heathen beliefs seriously.  Look, I get that there are atheist and agnostic Heathens out there, but they still take their lore seriously (maybe a little too seriously for my taste).  No, I’m not saying that you need to become a recon asshat who insists that everything be done according to their (or some Asa-pope’s) interpretation of what the ancestors did, but at least you’re interested in the archaeology, lore, Eddas, writing, and the past.

Bad Reason #5: You Want to Be a Powerful Magic User

Oh gods, here I am using the “M” word (magic) again.  (I’m fairly skeptical about magic, so bear with me on this.)  Heathenry has a limited amount of  magic — we have seidr, we have runes, we have gods and giants, we have wights and other supernatural critters, we have berserkers and ulfhednar and whatnot.  We have our own lore and magic that surrounds it.  That being said, if you’re really looking for playing with magic a lot, you need to check out other pagan beliefs, most notably, Wiccan. It’s not that most Heathens wouldn’t welcome you into the fold; it’s just that you’ll be disappointed with Heathenry because we really don’t have what you’re looking for.  Other pagan beliefs have more magical tendencies. The Heathen magic is usually communicating with wights and gods, being possessed by a supernatural entity, foretelling the future, wards, and making requests to entities in the form of blots.  I’m not saying you can’t become powerful in your own right, but in many cases, you’ll find the magic somewhat lacking.

There are other bad reasons that are valid when it comes to becoming a Heathen..  Maybe you have some thoughts on this as well?

Rune Casting

Rune Casting

I’m a rune caster.  I’ve given some pretty amazing castings that were spot on, which is why I’m going to talk to you about them.  Everything within my scientific brain says they shouldn’t work.  And yet, everything I’ve experienced seems to point in the direction that the runes do work.  I once asked a friend who was getting his degree in Physics why it seemed to work.  He shrugged and told me that it was probably just the ambiguity of the runes.


He might be right.  What’s more, it’s likely that subconsciously my brain keeps track of the rune stones and how they feel.  So, when I do a reading, I’m actually tapping into my subconsciousness.

This is premium content.  You can subscribe HERE and log in HERE to view this content.

Get the Daily Pass for just 99 cents and read all the restricted content you want.