Why? Because apparently I possess the common sense the gods gave a honey badger.
I had just run for office for the second time. I was exhausted and disillusioned. I had seen how the political sausage was made and felt that the system was rigged. I read an essay on Popehat, “Burn the [expletive deleted] System to the Ground,” and agreed wholeheartedly. That opened me to Loki in his aspect as Breaker of Worlds. I didn’t realize that until much later, though.
In November 2013, I went to see Thor: The Dark World. I enjoyed it, but I left the theater thinking, “I could write a much more authentic story about the heathen gods than that!” That opened me to Loki, too, and to Odin, though I didn’t realize that until later, either.
“Yes, you could,” purred that voice. Loki appeared in my mind as a fictional character, talking and making story. I didn’t think it was really him, though. For one thing, I was used to hearing fictional characters talking in my head; it’s how I’ve been writing fiction for decades. Like many other authors, when I get an idea for a story and the characters start talking to each other, it always feels like the characters are banging on the inside of my head trying to get out. For another thing, he didn’t look like I remembered him. I had met Loki as a child, in a dream, without knowing who he was, but by the time he showed up again, I had identified the Lord of the Monsters as Loki (see my previous post Lord of the Monsters for that story.) Now he was coming around my mind cosplaying as Marvel-Loki. It took me a while to realize, “Duh, shapeshifter.” Of course he can look like anyone or anything he wants.
Scenes played in my head. I saw chemtrails create the Fimbulwinter, and the Well of Worlds on fire because it was full of fracking fluid, and Sif lying dead in her temple, poisoned by her own worshippers who accidentally sacrificed unlabeled GMO grain. I saw myself die in a zombie apocalypse with a Smith & Wesson Shield in my hand – weeks before I actually was given one for Yule – the dead rising because the Rainbow Bridge was out. I heard Heimdall say it broke under the weight of dead cats and dogs.
“Look, there is dialogue, there are scenes, write.” His horns of flame tickled the inside of my skull, giving me a headache.
I told him, “Shut up in there or I’ll write a scene in which you get bitten by the Midgard Serpent.”
His eyes twinkled and he laughed at me, and—well, I wrote the scene. It is now in the book.
He was delighted. “You wrote something!”
Yes, I did, I wrote something. You win. Score one for Loki.
So, when I realized, “Holy *^(&^ it’s really Loki!” what did I do? I challenged him to a formal duel, using traditional Old Norse fighting words. I wrote a horrible little fanfic story in which the very worst thing that could ever happen to anyone happens – what I thought was the worst thing that had ever happened to me, that is. I wasn’t even aware that was what I was doing. It only became glaringly obvious in hindsight. At the time, I thought I was insulting him.
“Ha, ha! Look! You wrote more things about meeeeeee!”
He reacted as if I amused him, but months later, I realized that when I tried to insult him, what I was really doing was revealing my deepest unhealed trauma. Being a god, he saw right through me, and saw what I could not see myself. He resolved to help me heal it through writing, though I didn’t realize that at the time either.
I also realize now that reacting as if he was amused was the “laugh so you won’t cry or scream” phenomenon that I’ve seen so often before, particularly in myself. He deflected me with humor, and I didn’t realize just how very seriously he was taking my unconscious cry for help until much later. I also didn’t realize until much later that often the being who showed up to inspire my writing insisting that I call him Loki was really Odin, although I had a sneaking suspicion of it for months before it became really obvious.
Every night I dreamed of Ragnarok. Dreams in the twelve nights of Yule are supposed to be prophetic. I saw Thor’s head on a pike. Loki boiled tea from the flowers left at the graves of the dead, and held a tea dance. It was absurd and terrifying.
Finally I had my outline done and I started writing. The pressure eased. Dialogue poured out my fingers, into the keyboard, and when I saw it on the screen, I thought, “I just wrote WHAT about WHO?” I was afraid what I had written might offend Thor. When I went outside I expected a lightning bolt between the shoulder blades. I was mortally afraid to walk beneath the sky, until I raised a cup of coffee to the Thunderer and asked for a sign of approval if he wanted me to keep writing this story this way, and an out-of-season rainstorm arrived, a blessing from Thor.
On Yule 2013, I laid two fires, a bonfire for the ceremony and a barbecue fire for cooking the feast for after the ceremony. I lit both fires. The bonfire shed fire all around it and required much work to contain, and when I set the leaf-design iron lid aside to toss burning branches back into the fire, I burned my foot on the lid. I stood in the cold bucket of water. It was time to concede. It was time to admit that I could not win a duel against a god. Like the cup of coffee I had offered to Thor, I had to make some small gesture toward Loki. So I threw my hair-combings into the barbecue.
At once the fire popped and spat and threw off a great light in acceptance of my sacrifice. Not the fire I threw it into, but the great Yule bonfire, which suddenly stopped trying to get out of its metal confines and started burning merrily and throwing off a great white-yellow pyramid of herbal smoke straight up into the air. The rest of the ceremony went off perfectly, and the cooking did too.
That was when my head cracked open and I started hearing the rest of the gods, too. They inspired my writing. Loki’s laughter echoed down trunk of the World-Tree and shook dry rot from its heart. His voice moistened the dark between the stars, shivered through all the worlds and waited for me every night as I closed my eyes. I no longer heard it in dreams, but now, in that half awake, half asleep state as I drifted off to sleep. As I slipped into the state of consciousness called hypnogogia, I saw Loki standing in my room, and a large snake slithered into my bed. Nervously, I told Loki his snake was getting too close, but he laughed and told me it wasn’t his snake.
“That is my blood brother, Bolverkr, the mead of poetry in his mouth, here to help you birth a new world.”
Image credit: "Loke by C. E. Doepler" by Carl Emil Doepler (1824-1905) - Wägner, Wilhelm. 1882. Nordisch-germanische Götter und Helden. Otto Spamer, Leipzig & Berlin. Page 255.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen
My personal experiences, including religious / spiritual experiences, modern life on a heathen path, community interaction, and general heathenry.
Why? Because apparently I possess the common sense the gods gave a honey badger.
My path has taken a few sharp turns over the years, but I like to think of it as switchbacks on the same path up the same mountain. If I couldn't handle the turn, I'd be off my path.
In the Fireverse series of posts, I’ll be telling the story of how my relationships with the gods changed because of writing the unpublished, overgrown novel Some Say Fire. The book is a healing journey, and writing it opened me to receiving inspiration from the gods and to connecting with my own subconscious. The book is about the length of Lord of the Rings and took me about a year and a half to write. In writing it, I spent many hours thinking about the gods, retelling their stories, and being mentally open to receive their messages. There is more than I can put in a series of blog posts, even a rather long series. I’ll tell the most significant gnosis, and the most important events.
Here on the Gnosis Diary blog, I’ve been telling the story of my personal journey on my heathen path more or less in chronological order, and now we’ve caught up to where I was when I started writing it. I wanted to write Gnosis Diary because I have gnosis to share, messages given to me for humankind in the form of a novel that is at times horrifying, which some other heathens to whom I’ve shown it have found offensive, and which may be unpublishable. How can I share what I’ve learned if the book is never published, or if it’s published and never reaches a mass audience? How can I be sure people will realize which parts are actual gnosis and which are just part of the story?
Here on Gnosis Diary, I can pick out the parts of Some Say Fire that are genuine gnosis, and not only relate what flowed out when I was writing, but also interpret it outside the context of the story and tell what I think the message means. I already did that with the early post on this blog where I quoted part of a scene inspired by Sif and interpreted it as a message to humanity to stop using GMO Roundup Ready grains that poison the land. Hardly anyone liked that post, so I felt I had not gotten my message out enough, and that I needed to do something else to help the earth, and that was what led me to participate in the editing of A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.
I also already relayed a message to humanity to please stop misusing the Rainbow Bridge, and that it is not a destination but the way to Asgard, and if one intends to go somewhere else, to please direct one's companions to where one expects to go, and if one wishes to direct one's animal companions to the Northern gods, to send them to the gods associated with them, such as cats to Freya and dogs to Nehellenia or Zisa. I concluded with a list of animal associations with the Norse gods. No one much liked that message, either, but people did like the list, so I expanded it and worked it into the new, expanded version of Asatru For Beginners that I'm working on.
When I write fiction or poetry, I often hear lines of dialogue or lines of poetry in my head. That’s quite common among writers. Over the decades that I’ve been writing, I have sometimes felt that what I wrote was inspired by Odin. For example, I wrote the poem Skadhi: Water Cycle by hearing it in a dream, waking up, and copying it down verbatim. Like a lot of other writers do, I’ve often heard fictional characters talking to each other in my head. So when I set out to write Some Say Fire, at first I didn’t realize that sometimes I wasn’t just hearing characters with the names of the gods talking, sometimes I was hearing the actual gods. I had never heard them speak before. Some people possess a “godphone,” but I’ve never been one of them. I didn’t even realize it when they started talking directly to me rather than each other. I just thought that meant there was a character that represents me in my book, so I put in a human protagonist. I didn’t realize it was really them until they started doing real things, and then it terrified me, because of some of the things I had written about them by then. In the 25 years between when I became Priestess of Freya and when I started writing Some Say Fire, I had never heard the gods speak to me. Writing this book cracked open my mind to them so that I could hear them. I usually don’t experience automatic writing, either, but I did sometimes while writing this book. I put my fingers on the keyboard and things flowed out.
I call the universe of Some Say Fire the Fireverse. It differs from our own world in some ways. Many of the things in the book are meant to show how messed up that universe is, so as to show why the Fireverse needs to end and be restarted so a better world can come about, which is the goal of the heroes of the novel. Some of the gods are different in the Fireverse, too. For example, Fireverse-Odin is as different from Asa-Odin as Marvelverse-Odin is. Nonetheless, writing the book became both a healing journey and a vehicle for receiving gnosis. I’ll be writing about those things in this series of posts.
Image credit: Francisco Farias Jr. via Public Domain Pictures
Today is the 28th. This date has personal significance for me, which will be explained in a later post. This is the date on which I honor the northern trinity each month, so it's an excellent day on which to begin the Fireverse blog series. Odin and his brothers are separate gods with distinctly different personalities, and yet they also appear in fused forms and borrow each other's powers and appear as each other. In honoring them, I have learned to embrace mystery over taxonomy. I'm learning to be comfortable with paradox. Today, I hail the tripartite god by all of his names: High, Just-as-High, and Third, Odhinn, Vili, and Ve, Wotan, Wili, and We, Odhinn, Honir, and Lodhur, Odin, Honir, and Loki, and by all his other names aspects and all possible combinations thereof. On this day I say: Hail the ninefold Odin!
Genealogical research led me to a god of which I'd never heard. My family name, Lale, was originally spelled Löhl. Lale is a phonetic spelling in English of the way Löhl would have been pronounced.
Back in the 90s when I became an initiate of the modern version of the Bersarkrgangr tradition (see my paper Bersarkrgangr: The Viking Martial Art) they told me my name was a Chatti name, and that the Chatti tribe were cat-type bersarkrs who followed Freya, just like me. The Chatti came from the area in Europe that was briefly Alsace-Lorraine, an area of mixed French and German influence. That meant I was from one of the right families, which was one of the two prerequisites to be eligible to join their group.
The internet era has enabled genealogical research with records from all over the world that have been scanned and are now available through this marvelous device right from home, without having to travel to every town and country and examine the records in person or pay someone else to do so. Family legend said the original Lale ancestor in America was kicked out of France for lycanthropy. That would have been in the 1700s, before the American Revolution. Recent genealogical research my brother did on the net turned up a kernel of truth. We did have an ancestor who was banished from a country, but it was Bavaria, not France, it was the late 1500s, and the charge was not being a werewolf but being a Protestant. That's a sobering example of how much oral transmission of information can change the story over time.
That's as far back as an unbroken line of records go, so with anything earlier than that, I'm just speculating about whether it has any connection to my family, but what I found is interesting nonetheless.
There is a river Löhle in today's Germany, near the town of Böblingen in the region of Württemberg. Württemberg is where the Lale ancestor who came to America was actually from (not France as the family legend said.) The river may have been named for Lollus, or the other way around.
Lollus was known as a god of the Franks, a Germanic tribe. There was a Saint Lollus in the 700s. Offerings of grapes and grain were given to Lullus or Lollus at the place called Löhle or Lölle. Whether these gifts were to the god Lollus or to Saint Lollus, or whether the people making the offerings drew any distinction between the two, is unclear. Did the god Lollus walk among the people in the 700s in the form of a human, Christian Saint?
Not much is written about Lollus in English. The book Barbarian Rites: The Spiritual World of the Vikings and the Germanic Tribes by Hans-Peter Hasenfratz, translated by Michael Moynihan, says Lollus was depicted as a naked young man holding his tongue. It suggests he may have been paired with Frija, a combined form of Frigga and Freya.
A name dictionary I consulted as a teenager told me the name Lale meant nothing in French, but meant "one who speaks" in German. This article on entheology.org connects Lollus to speaking in tongues, and states that the opium poppy was sacred to him: http://entheology.org/edoto/anmviewer.asp?a=259
So, are people with the name Lale or Löhl descended from the people who worshipped Lollus, the people from the area bearing his name? I don't know, but I wonder.
The earliest reference my brother uncovered to a name that could be a Lale variant is a Roman soldier named Laleianus. The name is on Trajan's Column in Rome. Supposedly Laleianus helped conquer the Pannonians, a people that lived in what is today Romania and the Danube region. This did not seem to connect with Lollus the 8th century god or saint. There was however another Roman, named Marcus Lollius, a prominent political figure who was the patron of the city of Sagalassos in Turkey.
The story of Laleianus and the Romanians did not seem to connect with bersarkrs, either, until I ran across this video of a Romanian folk dance labeled Urs Laloaia:
Romanian Bear Dance Urs Laloaia:
With thanks to translator James Hoscyns: ursul din
Lăloaia means the bear from Lăloaia. Lăloaia is the name of a mountain and a village at its base in Bacău in Romania.
The music has this drum song:
Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
(pause then repeat)
The dancers step on the dums.
This dance has been preserved as a festival dance in parts of Romania and Moldova. Here are a couple of videos where the camera was closer to the dancers:
Parade through town:
March through a snowy street and then dancing at a house:
More videos of this dance are found by searching the keywords Tot Ursi or Ursul de la Dărmăneşti.
The bear dancers in each of these videos make a strange trilling sound. It is not really a bear-like sound. It is unlikely to be a direct imitation of the sounds that bears make. This trill has some other origin. Could it be connected to the lalling of Lollus?
So far there does not appear to be any evidence beyond similarity of names and the strange trilling sound of the dancers connecting Lollus with bears, or with the bear dance, or bersarkrs, but this is an interesting avenue for further research. Eventually I hope to turn this quest for knowledge about my ancestors into a formal paper on Lollus. I would very much appreciate being directed to more information on Lollus, or the Lale name in any of its variations, or the bear dance.
Ursul de la Dărmăneşti dancer, photo credit Dan Duta via Mediafax Foto.
Hoarfrost sparkled on the dark ground, reflecting harsh nearby ballfield lights that did not illuminate the tree-dotted lawn of the park. It was winter 2009. Local heathens of the Las Vegas area gathered to welcome a new baby, who was wrapped in a large fur blanket against the winter cold. The kindred sponsoring the event consisted of a core group of heathens among a larger a group of non-heathens in a Renaissance Faire guild, so, some of the people gathered there wore modern dress, some were in Renfaire or re-enactor garb, and some wore a mix of both.
The kindred’s godhi, or priest, was going to perform a baby blessing and naming ceremony. The godhi was having a bad time with a chronic health issue right then, and did not feel up to calling power, so he asked me to perform the blessing.
I was there as a community member, so I did not have any of my ritual stuff with me. I looked around for things I could use, and saw that there was a bottle of mead for toasting (sumbel) and blessing (blot.) The baby’s family’s sword was firmly stuck point first in the ground. I could work with that. That would be the conduit for the ancestor honor transfer. The ancestors were under the earth, and the sword was part in the earth and part above it. In heathenry, there are many different traditions about where the dead go and what they become after death, since heathenry draws on a vast time period and many different, although related, cultures. In many of the ancient cultures, there was no clear line between the grave mound and the elf mound, and that idea survives in the modern saying that the dead have gone to stay with the elves. An early story about the interior of a grave mound showed the dead fighting each other in endless war, very much like the Viking age depiction of Valhalla. So, the direction of the ancestors is down, in the earth.
I mentally tallied what was and was not essential among the things that were not there. I could do without a blotbolli (blessing bowl.) I would pour the mead from the horn directly onto the asperger. I had to have an asperger, a tool with which to sprinkle the blessing liquid on the baby. Many dark shapes of pine trees stood out against the stars. I would cut a pine branch, except that I did not have my ritual knife with me either. Years ago, when I had been asked to make a rune stick for a friend, I had pulled on an oak branch and a stick had snapped off in my hand, cleanly as if cut. I resolved to repeat this feat tonight.
I went to a pine tree, and caressed its needles. I spoke to it, and asked it for the use of its branch for the holy ritual. The branch snapped off in my hand.
We gathered together for the ritual. In an Asatru baby blessing, the mother has already given form to the child, body from body, and now it is time for the father to give to the child. I directed the baby’s father to place one hand on the hilt of his family sword, which was firmly stuck in the earth, and one hand on the baby. I narrated, “You are the link between your ancestors and your child. The might and main and the honor of the ancestors is coming up from the earth, through the sword, through you, and into your child.”
All those gathered there toasted the child with mead in the sumbel ritual. I asked the parents what they named their child. I poured mead over the asperger and blessed the child by his name in the names of the gods, the ancestors, and all wights (spirit beings) of good will. As we did not have a blotbolli to pour out to the land wight, I poured the rest of the bottle to the land wight. I returned the pine branch to the land. The ritual was done.
Image: graphic by Karen Arnold. via publicdomainpictures.net
2015 was going to be the last Ravenwood. Prudence has been putting on Ravenwood since the early 90s, with her local group Freya's Folk, and at first under the umbrella of the national organization The Ring of Troth, and then the American Vinland Association, which was one of the two successor organizations to the old RoT, the other one being The Troth. Using a state park for heathen festivals had always been intended as temporary, and Prudence had bought land farther north years ago. She has been slowly improving the land at Folkvangr over the years and is almost ready to pass it on to someone who will start holding festivals on it. This campground in the redwood forest held a glow of nostalgia, but it was time for the last one.
I was very invested in going to the last Ravenwood, both emotionally and literally. Emotionally invested, because Ravenwood had been my first experience of the heathen community. It was the place where I first met other Asatruars, after having only known Wiccan Pagans in high school and college. Ravenwood was a heathen festival held on Mt. Tamalpais in California, near where I used to live in Sonoma. I had not attended since I had moved to Nevada in 1995. Literally invested, because I intended to sell my books there, I had bought copies of my new book No Horns On These Helmets, and of my nonfiction books, to sign and sell at a vendor table at the festival....
A drum appeared in front of me out of the darkness. Someone stood behind me as I sat singing along with the jamming fiddlers, guitarists, and autoharpist by the snapping campfire. I took the drum. Someone's hands showed me how to hold the drum, and how to play the three notes of the dumbek: dum, tek, ee. I put my hands on the hairy hide. I started to play, and magic welled up inside me. When I drum, I feel the vibration of the universe, I hear the music of the spheres, and my hands thump out the rhythm of the heartbeat of mother earth.
That was how I acquired Mr. Hairy Goat, the gourd drum. That was how a long-dormant connection to the Native spirituality I had grown up with. Although the drum was a Middle Eastern style, and I had been an Asatruar for decades, and the festival I was attending was not even a pagan festival but a folk dance and folk music festival I went to because my mom wanted to go, somehow drumming connected me to a note of Native American spirituality; the rhythms that came to me naturally sounded Native. I had largely stopped trying to pursue Native spirituality (except for relating to the land spirits as my father had taught me) after events of the year after I left college. Now it came to me. Mom and I were camping in my truck at a folk music, dance, and storytelling festival in California. Mom was doing the dance program. I sometimes dance with her and her folk dance group, but at this event I had signed up for the singing program. It turned out, the someone in the dark was a drum vendor at the festival.
As a child, I had tried to learn the violin, even though the teacher said I was too old to start (I was about 10 I think.) Maybe she was right, because I never got very good at it. I had played my grandfather's violin, and had given it up when braces gave me jaw pain so bad i just couldn't hold it properly. I had hung onto the violin itself for years. I had planned to pass it on to my future child, and had even pre-planned an entire ceremony for calling my grandfather's musical talent into my future progeny, which I intended to do as part of the naming ceremony. I gave up the dream of ever having children in order to receive medical treatment that solved a decades-long on-again-off-again disability. One of the things I did to let go of that dream was to sell grandpa's violin. Shortly after that, the drum came into my life. I think that by letting go of the violin, I then had my interior music-place open and ready to connect with a new instrument, and that is why the drum came to me.
I got so into drumming that I was asked to become the conductor of a drum circle I participated in, SageWomen. I felt the need to have a Native American style drum as well as Mr. Hairy Goat, and I made my own frame drum from white oak and elk rawhide, and named her Grandmother Elk. I sang and played the drum in a short-lived Celtic folk-rock band named North Wind, which once played at Las Vegas Pagan Pride Day. I led the drum circle at Unity Center, a local interfaith-friendly church.
I drummed for a Native American flute maker who was performing in a Las Vegas art gallery to promote his double flutes, which they carried. The next time I went to a powwow, he was there, and from then on I felt welcomed and connected with the Native community in the local and greater Southwest area. I dug out my old powwow regalia, which was now too small, untied the seams and put in extra panels to expand it to my new size, and wore it to powwows to dance the intertribal dances. I danced at the Las Vegas Honoring Veterans' powwow. I danced at Snow Mountain.
One day at a drum circle, some of the other women were doing reiki healings on each other. I was apparently the only person there who was not a reiki healer. They asked me to try doing a blessing with my drum, so I did. Magic flowed. I had never had any powers or talents for healing before, though I had attempted various systems. This was utterly natural. I just directed the open end of Mr. Hairy Goat at my target person and drummed. They all said they could feel their own energy lifted up into the drum, changed, healed, and then put back inside them at a higher level of energy. The next time the drum circle met, some of them said I had improved their conditions. People started asking me to perform drum healings every time. I learned that I couldn't do it too often, and I also eventually learned that I had to turn the drum on myself when I was done performing healings for the day or I would have a low-energy hangover with achy sleepiness the next few days. I learned through trial and error that to do a healing with the greatest chance of success and least personal energy expended, I had to wait until the drum circle had already done a few drum songs and raised energy and entrained with each other and then have them do a simple rhythm that I could follow along with doing a simple one-beat heartbeat rhythm, just a plain dum dum dum dum dum, and that while I was doing the healing it would work best if I did a slow beat regardless of how fast the rest of the circle was going. I learned to pull energy from the rest of the circle and direct it. All this, I learned entirely by doing it, sometimes doing it wrong, and doing better next time. I also learned that although he didn't mind if someone else played him, I couldn't have someone else drum for me with Mr. Hairy Goat and try to get any of the healing effects for myself; it just didn't work right, even though I felt like I wasn't really the one doing the healings, I was just the legs that carried the drum around, I was apparently necessary in some way to make the energy flow right.
Mr. Hairy Goat is a sacred healing drum, but Grandmother Elk is a sacred drum, too. She is a drum for leading a drum circle and getting everyone to entrain on each other and find a common rhythm, and to do conductor things like making everyone louder or softer and getting everyone to stop at the same time. She has a loud voice. Last year, I led the drum circle at my local Pagan Pride Day. I invited attendees to drum, provided instruments, collected their energy, and channeled it to the healers performing the ceremony. The leader of the healers said she could feel me throwing major energy. All this, because I went alone for the ride when I had the opportunity, and took what was literally put right in front of me.
Photo caption: me with my drum Grandmother Elk, at the labyrinth at St. Rose. The activities organizer of the local Catholic hospital asked me to drum for their Labyrinth Walk.
Some people in the heathen community seem to approve of piracy, what with the whole Vikings rah-rah. Successful pirate societies don't pirate from their own. Today's Somali pirates don't pirate Somali ships. That's how it worked in the Viking Age, too; Vikings raided across the sea, not across the street.
This is an account of a ritual I performed asking Tyr for justice. My book Asatru For Beginners had been pirated shortly after the print edition came out. I was originally going to tell the entire story of what happened, and how chasing pirated versions of my book all over the net eventually led me to the file sharing section of a site engaged in immoral activities, but at that point the story really becomes about non-religious matters, so I'm just going to blog about the ritual I performed once I had done all I could do by regular means.
The type of ritual I performed is the most common of heathen rituals, the sumbel. Sumbel is a toasting ritual. It is often performed in a group, for a holiday, but it can also be performed alone. It is very simple, with a Germanic efficiency that I see as elegant like something perfectly engineered, a type of beauty completely different from flowery excess.
I assembled the things I needed for the ritual, which were my portable altar, which was necessary to hold the other things, my drinking horn, and a bottle of something to put in the horn. I chose to offer him Eau de Vie de Bourgeons de Sapin, a drink made from evergreen tree needles. The reasons I chose that drink are: 1. because it is a traditional drink from Alsace, where some of my ancestors are from, thus it has a personal connection with me, 2. because evergreen has a clean, strong flavor which seems masculine to me, and I think of Tyr as manly; 3. evergreen is also symbolic of the eternal life of the gods and of nature, so it seemed appropriate as something to offer a god, and 4. because it is a rare and special drink.
I wept as I summarized the situation briefly and asked him for justice. I ended the toast with "hail Tyr," and drank to him. What was left in the horn after the toast I poured out on the ground.
Back when I was new to heathenry, some other Asatruars said that heathens don't pray, but I realize now that they were reacting against Christianity, not following the example of historical heathens. There are numerous examples in the lore of people asking the gods for various things. We might not pray in the way that Christians do, but we do communicate with the gods in our own ways, and we do ask them for help when we need to. When I had done everything I could do myself, I asked Tyr for justice, and he delivered it.