Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_11-25-10catnecklacegrove059-2.jpgMost of the Vanatruar I know, myself included, are not reconstructionists - each of us seems to have our own idiosyncratic way of relating to the Powers, much like bio-regions differ from region to region, the Vanic path will vary from person to person.  I do not believe that reconstructionism is superior, nor do I believe that modernism is superior: in Vanatru, there is no one true way of doing things, we recognize that diversity is organic and natural, responding to the needs of different situations and relationships. With that caveat...

One of the questions I am often asked is "where do I start? how do I begin?"  If you are new to Vanatru, you may feel overwhelmed by the very do-it-yourself approach found among much of Vanatruar.  Sometimes people need a point in some direction, even if they choose later on to do things differently.  In my book Visions of Vanaheim (paperback | PDF), I look at some older practices connected with the Vanic cultus - such as the wain processions of Frey and Nerthus - and how one might adapt these practices for the modern day.  One of the rites of the elder Heathen that we know about is a ritual called blót.  This word means "blood" (ETA: see clarification in comments re: the meaning of the word)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    The Old Norse word blót does not mean "blood". That is the ON word blóð. Blót means "worship, in particular pagan worship involvin
  • Nornoriel Lokason
    Nornoriel Lokason says #
    Thank you for clarifying! Do you know if they're cognates, by any chance? (Asking out of linguistic curiosity.)
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    Doesn't seem to be, although it's a common enough folk etymology. Old Norse blót derives ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bhlā
  • Nornoriel Lokason
    Nornoriel Lokason says #
    Thank you!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Home Fire

Home. We don't really know how we feel about it. We may reject the place that raised us and seek to escape its troubling pull. Or we may long for an idealized home and set out to find it. But home is something you can neither escape nor find in its perfection. Rather, “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” (Robert Frost) We can't avoid the imperfection inherent in living with those we haven't chosen. And even those we choose can disappoint us, and we them.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    So, tell us - HOW did you get to be such "a repository of (not so) useless bits of information on ancient religion, spiritual prac
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    I do have a rather futile Masters in English from a very long time ago, but anything I know about the rest is a result of being fa
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Now that is funny! And I know exactly what you mean. Sorry about the double entry before; it looked like the first one hadn't "
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Really nice, as usual. How did you get to be such "a repository of (not so) useless bits of information on ancient religion"? Did

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
I love Nevada!

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, in 1995 I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. I finally came home to the desert. Flying into Las Vegas, I passed through a layer of dark emotion, like a cloud over the city, which was being blown away by the wind. As I descended I saw that the negative emotions of the whole valley were being collected by a giant black pyramid and projected out from the city on a bright beam of light. On the valley floor, the city does not press on my mind like other big cities do. The pyramid bleeds off all the excess psychic energy, leaving the valley as clear as farmland. The Vegas valley is a spiritually comfortable place for me.

I opened an independent bookstore, The Science Fiction Store, which is no longer in business. A couple came to place merchandise in my store. A very pregnant woman held the door for her husband while he rolled in. When I shook her hand, I knew she was going to be my best friend. She still is. The little being who was inside her is now a stage manager. (Those who have been reading my life story on this blog and are wondering how I went from planning a career in intelligence to opening a bookstore, the short answer: the fall of the Soviet Union.) I sometimes get strong psychic impressions from touching things or people, including when I shake hands. That is a side effect of learning to read runes, because I trained myself to pick up impressions from my rune set by touching the individual stones.

Trying to make extra money, I briefly worked as a phone psychic. I did rune readings, and developed some charts that I later published in Idunna Magazine that made the readings easier to perform. Sometimes the callers were budding psychics, telepaths, and empaths who had no training, no access to advice, and nowhere else to turn. They were getting the same kinds of headaches and disorientation I got when I had tried to thin my shields to get my telepathy back when I was a teenager. I taught them how to shield. That was as much as I could do in the half hour before the calls self-terminated. I had to stop doing the phone readings because reading for people I couldn’t see, hundreds or thousands of miles away, exhausted my powers. They took a long time to recharge.

A local woman planned to lead tours to haunted spots and the UFO viewing at Area 51. I went with her on her scouting trip for the tours, and visited the haunted hotel in Goldfield. 

A quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts:

     “The haunted hotel looked like it could have been the set for a Western.  Everything was in simple, worn woods, except for red velvet carpeting and patterned velvet wallpaper.  The hotel’s manager took us up to the ghost room.  Renee knew I was sensitive psychically, and asked me if I could feel the ghost.

     I shook my head while I set up my tripod to take a shot of the ghost room.  “I don’t sense anything, but then I wouldn’t really expect to, with all these other people here.  There’s a half a dozen of us in this room.  The psychic emanations of the living are a hundred times more powerful than a spirit’s, unless it’s a naturally powerful spirit which was never human in the first place.  I would need to be alone here to detect anything.”

I love Nevada, but one thing I missed about living in California was having large pagan and heathen festivals within driving distance that I could go to just by buying a ticket. I heard a rumor that there was a heathen group in the area, but I didn't meet anyone who was in one. I was not really looking very hard, though. After the experience in which I learned the lessons I wrote about in the Good Knowledge, Bad Teacher posts, I did not really want to join another kindred, I just wanted to go to public ritual as a member of the public. I sometimes wished that I could just look up a conveniently located public ritual place in the phone book to go to, just like my Christian relatives could look up a convenient church in the phone book when they came to town. Instead, I started keeping the holidays as a solitary, or if the holiday I wanted to celebrate was an American holiday like Yule celebrated by non-heathens as well, I might have a holiday dinner party with my closest friends regardless of religious affiliation. I was not yet calling that American Celebration, as I titled it in my latest book, but that was the origin of it.

About the image that accompanies this post: This is a sunprint I made titled Las Vegas Skyline with UFO. The original is in the permanent collection of the Hammargren Home of Nevada History, a private museum.

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Ariadne was just a girl and other urban legends of antiquity

We like to think of the gods as having always existed, time out of mind. In one sense they are timeless, of course, but in another sense they are closely linked to the cultures and societies of specific eras. It’s important to know when each deity ‘showed up’ and in what culture they did so, in order to understand which versions of the myths are the original ones and which are later alterations.

That’s right, later cultures came along and changed the earlier versions of myths, in most cases because they were taking over a society and wanted to downplay or even demonize its deities in favor of their own. You may be familiar with the way the writers of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) depicted Asherah, Ba’al and other Middle Eastern deities as evil demons. You may also have heard about the ways the medieval Christian church condemned the European Pagan gods as evil spirits in the cases where they couldn’t manage to transform them into local saints. Well, these kinds of propaganda weren’t invented by the Judeo-Christian world; they’ve been going on as long as there have been people and pantheons.

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I was asked recently to develop a talk which could be delivered as a sermon, using ancient Egyptian sacred texts and ideas.  Here is Part 1 of that talk.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Book_of_Gates_3rd_Hour_20140605-170414_1.jpgWe open this morning with words from the sacred Egyptian text called the Book of Coming Forth By Day:

[rhythmic shaking of sistrum]

“Oh my heart, my mother! My heart, my mother! Do not rise up against me as a witness, do not speak against me in the presence of the great god, lord of the west. Dua, ibi, hail to you my heart! May you say what is good to the gods. I go forth, not dying in the west, but becoming a spirit in it.”

The crafting of a life is an epic journey, a story which has been told around the world for as long as we have memory. For the ancient Nile dwellers, survival was exquisitely poised on the banks of that great river where the mysterious flood arose each year, bringing new fertility to the whole land. But the Egyptians also carried the understanding of how this life is linked to the next one, the deep mysteries of life, death, rebirth and new, transformed life.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Good Knowledge, Bad Teacher: Part 3

 Lesson 3: Getting Help When You Have a Bad Teacher

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thank you!
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for your wise and courageous words. May spiritual mystery and manipulative/exploitive secrecy never be confused one for

One of the frequent questions I get from budding Heathens, Asatruar and Norse pagans is "Where do I start?" After fielding two such letters in one day from a divination client and a prospective student (who already summons spirits in a Ceremonial framework but wanted to connect with the Norse Gods), I began compiling a page of resources on my website-- and this series of blog posts.


Heathen from the Swedish group Forn SedSince Heathenry is a living faith of active practice, the best place is always with a good local group, a kindred of kindhearted people open to teaching you. To find a good kindred, ask around among your pagan community or attend a regional Heathen gathering, a moot. Go to a Pagan Pride Day in your area, stop in at the metaphysical shops and book stores, and look for websites and Facebook pages for nearby groups, especially those who offer teaching and community outreach or participate in larger events.

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