Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, community interaction, general heathenry, and modern life on my heathen path, which is Asatru.

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Answering Questions About My New Asatru Book

On August 1, book launch day for Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path, I hosted an online book launch party on my social media instead of having an in-person book launch event. People posted some questions to my social media. Here's an unroll of questions and answers from the event.

Question:
What changed for you, from the beginning to the end of writing this book? How did writing this book change you?

Answer:
Ooh, interesting questions. From the beginning, as in when I first starting writing what would become the original version of the book, Asatru For Beginners, or from the beginning of when I decided to write a new, longer version? I think I've actually got a blog post about both of those. Here is where I talked about revising my book and creating a new edition. https://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-paths-blogs/gnosis-diary/revising-my-successful-book.html

That post is really about changes in the subject matter, Asatru, rather than changes in me, though. Changes in me: my relationships with the gods deepened-- actually, they kind of exploded and transformed but in a good way-- while I was writing my unpublished novel Some Say Fire. I'm older and I hope wiser, lol, with a lot more life experiences under my belt than I had 20 years ago. I've learned a lot about how religion influences and is mutually influenced by specialized or marginalized communities, which covers everything from seidhr practitioners to the QUILTBAG  / LGBT+ community (not that those two are totally separate from each other! )


You'll notice that post was from 2017. It took two more years to revise and find a publisher, and then it was another year after that for the book to be actually published, because traditional print publishing doesn't go at the speed of social media. During the time I was revising my book, I was also working on the Heathen Visibility Project, and published two Heathen Calendars and a Slavic Calendar. Then the publisher that was doing the calendars went out of business, and I decided to publish the Asatru and general heathenry related calendar information as a chapter in my new book.


As for the second part of the question: how did writing this book change me? Since I've been writing about Asatru for so long, including a blog and a forum and even some academic papers and fiction and poetry, I don't think writing the book changed me that much. But publishing it definitely has. Finding a "real" traditional publisher, the kind that places books in bricks and mortar bookstores, was a lifelong dream. Or perhaps a multiple lifetime dream, considering that I starting publishing in the first place because my mom was a freelance writer and taught me how. This is a multigenerational success story. This is the career point of success equivalent to becoming tenured. All this work led here, and it's time to enjoy it.
Here is where I blogged about writing Asatru For Beginners: https://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-paths-blogs/gnosis-diary/early-net-experiences-part-2-the-writing-of-asatru-for-beginners.html I wrote the book around the turn of the millennium, but that blog post is from 2015. Even then I was already starting to revise my book to create a new edition.

Question:
List 3 things in your top drawer of the desk where you write. What are their stories?

 
Answer:

One: A protractor in a little plastic case, which is in the archeological underlayer of the stuff in the desk drawer. I acquired it in junior high school when I was taking a class in mechanical drawing. I last used it to design a Valknut for embroidery. Two: In the overlayer, a notepad that came to my companion’s mailbox as a freemium from some charity. At first when new ones arrived I stacked them up on his desk, but as the months went by the stack became too high and fell over, so in the interests of organizing his house and not being wasteful, I started using them. Three: A bag of safety pins; of course I use them for sewing projects and for fixing things I should have gotten around to having be sewing projects, but I also use them to affix tent walls to the tent top, so I can configure the same tent for a vending booth, a pool changing tent, or a sleeping tent.

Question:
How did you become an Asatruar?

Answer:
Books played a big role. I was influenced by Tolkien as a child. I knew there was something special about Gandalf. Later I came to realize the wandering wizard was an Odin figure. On my 17th birthday, I was given the book Futhark: Handbook of Rune Magic. When I read it, I knew that was my path. It took me years to find other heathens after that, since heathens were not yet connecting via the internet back then. Eventually I encountered the Ring of Troth and Freya’s Folk and started attending their festivals

Question:
When you howl, what howls back?

Answer:
My family. My older brother started a family tradition of howling at the full moon, because of the family legend about lycanthropy, and I added howling at lunar and solar eclipses, because in heathenry there’s a story that the sun and moon are being chased by wolves. I howl at the wolves to let the sun go, or let the moon go. One time when there was a total eclipse, my mom and I went outside and howled, and when the bright edge of the moon started to reappear, I said, “Keep it up! It’s working!” and we howled some more.


Question:
So, what is this family legend about lycanthropy?

Answer:
There was this story that the first Lale ancestor in America got kicked out of France for lycanthropy. A few years ago my brother used the net to trace our genealogy and discovered the legend wasn’t true in any of its particulars, but we did have an ancestor who was banished from a country. It was Bavaria not France, it was the 1500s not the 1700s, and it was for being a Protestant, not for being a werewolf. This is a lesson in what happens when a story is passed down by oral tradition. All the details may change but there is still a kernel of truth in there. The trick is, when you’re reading a folktale, you don’t know which piece is the true part.

Question: 

Do you have any audio resources I can listen to?

Answer:

Yes, my book is has an audiobook edition. You can get it on either of these links:

Storytel:

https://www.storytel.com/sg/en/books/1846961-Asatru-A-Beginner-s-Guide-to-the-Heathen-Path 

Audible:

https://www.audible.com/pd/Asatru-Audiobook/1541441044?qid=1596486147&sr=1-2&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=TSP5VQV1X9YXRABDWJ25&fbclid=IwAR1GV84km86FIbrz4sNP-jAQOa8IJXkV_XYJQaB5ZsDynK0KREbose8D3Oc

Also, I have 2 audio recordings on my author page about what to expect at your first heathen ritual, and how to do the two most basic types of Asatru ritual, the sumbel and the blot. Visit my author page to play audio free: https://www.erinlaleauthor.com/

Also I was recently interviewed on Touch of Magic with Sin City Witch. You can listen to the replay here: https://youtu.be/PpoIkEUTMU4

Question: 

How can I buy your book today?

Answer:

On these links:

Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Asatru-Beginners-Guide-Heathen-Path/dp/1578637023/

Barnes and Noble
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/asatru-erin-lale/1135232720

IndieBound (independent bookstores)
https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781578637027

Or ask for it at your local bookstore or library. 

***

Update: As of today, August 9th, an alert reader contacted me about a new book coming out next month which is titled Asatru For Beginners, the title of my out-of-print classic book. The one coming out in September is NOT my book. My new book is titled Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. A book using my 20 year old book's title is coming out right on the heels of my book launch of the new version of my book. My book came out August 1st and I'm proud to report that as of today it is entering its second week as a #1 New Release on Amazon. The book using my title is by one Mathias Nordvig, whom I do not know. His book also has a subtitle, so the full title of his book is Asatru For Beginners: A Modern Heathen's Guide to the Ancient Northern Way. My classic book had no subtitle. My new book does have a subtitle and it also includes the words Heathen and Guide. The word Northern also appears in the title of Galina Krasskova's new book on the Northern Path which was published last year. The Northern Path and Asatru are two different heathen sects.  I know that titles and title keywords are an important way that readers find books, especially in this time of the pandemic when many bookstores are still closed and readers are doing a lot of their shopping via the internet. Do not be confused. My older book Asatru For Beginners has an officially authorized new version, and that version is Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path.

 

 

 

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, and the updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path. Erin has been a gythia since 1989. She was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. She also writes science fiction and poetry, ran for public office, is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.
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