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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Erin Lale

Erin Lale

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.
Novel Gnosi part 37: Valkyries and the Afterlife

Valkyries are psychopomps, beings who carry the dead to the afterlife. They are called choosers of the slain, because they select warriors who die in battle to bring to Freya in Folkvangr or to Odin in Valhalla. Freya is the leader of the Valkyries and gets first pick. When the Valkyries are not attending a battle, they are found with Odin and the Einherjar, Odin's chosen warriors, in Valhalla.

The Fireverse Valkyries mostly have war duties. Although any of them might serve someone a drink in Valhalla, it’s not really exclusively Valkyries who do that. Odin has many dead humans for servants, and some of them are dead women who are basically Valkyrie themed waitresses rather than actual Valkyries. The actual Valkyries are unearthly powers.

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Novel Gnosis part 36: Vali

There are two gods named Vali in heathen mythology, Vali Odinsson and Vali Lokisson. Or are they really the same god?

Vali Lokisson

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Novel Gnosis part 35: Ullr

Ullr in Norse mythology is a god who hunts with a bow in the winter on skis, and so, his distinguishing characteristics are the same as Skadhi's. Many heathens consider Ullr and Skadhi to be a couple or at least counterparts.

In modern times, Ullr is still a popular god. Ullr medallions are still worn by skiers for protection, even skiers who are not heathen or pagan. There is a brand of schnapps named Ullr which is marketed to skiers.

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Novel Gnosis part 34: Tyr and Zisa

Tyr is the original skyfather in heathen mythology. His major sphere of influence is justice. Zisa is his wife. Her symbol is the war boat, and she was identified by Tacitus as being the same goddess as Isis.

The Fireverse uses the names of gods as recorded in the Icelandic / Norse sources, unless the name is not recorded there. In the Icelandic, the name of Tyr's wife is not written down. However, Tyr is the same god as Ziu, and Ziu's wife's name is Zisa, so in both my novel Some Say Fire and in my personal practice I call them Tyr and Zisa.

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Novel Gnosis part 33: Time

Continuing my series about insights I've gained via novel gnosis, that is, religious revelations I've gained via writing fiction, today I'm talking about the nature of time. I'm going to talk about both the Fireverse, the universe of Some Say Fire, the unpublished novel about Norse mythology I've based most of this series of blog posts on, but also about the Time Yarns Universe, my science fiction shared world.

Loki tells the stories of heathen mythology to P as if they happened in a particular chronological order, but in order to make that work there are several points in the story when something happens, such as Thor getting his belt and gloves, “and then it had always been that way.” The gods have the ability to change the past. The Rainbow Bridge can deposit them in any part of Midgard’s history they wish to visit, but more than that, Loki tells P that those whose home is Asgard can move through time as easily as P can walk from one room into another room. They can also return to the time they left just like going back into a room they just left. The gods are not actually time traveling when they do that like a human would be if a human moved around in time like that, because the gods are native to a dimension in which time does not flow just one way. That is, our human concept of time travel doesn’t really match up with how that actually works for them.

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Novel Gnosis part 32: Thor

Thor was the most popular of the heathen gods in historical times. His most notable possession, his hammer, is not only a weapon but also a useful tool. He is depicted riding a chariot pulled by goats; goats are a useful domesticated animal. He is married to Sif, whose major myth is a metaphor for wheat harvest. All these details point to a god of the common man, of farmers and workers. His role as protector of mankind from frost giants and other inimical forces made him one of the powers people relied on for basic survival.

In the Fireverse, Thor is enthusiastically manly, liking to eat and drink manly things, liking to adventure in Jotunheim and Midgard and to fight giants. At one point a character asks him what he likes on his salad and he says bacon, a very manly answer. He enjoys contests of strength. His manliness and physical strength does not really mean that he is in any way less intelligent than other gods, though, despite how he is sometimes depicted.

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Novel Gnosis part 31: Sleipnir

Sleipnir is Odin's eight legged horse. The depiction of Sleipnir in art as having eight legs is also obviously a depiction of a regular four legged horse running very fast. He runs so fast his legs blur and you see them in all positions at once.

Sleipnir does not have a human-like form and does not speak in human-like words, but he is still a demigod with his own will. He doesn’t let just anyone ride him. In the Fireverse he lives in a stable as befits his form as a horse, but all the buildings in the Fireverse are metaphorical, made to appear the way they do so a human being can understand the story. The reality of the gods' world might have no relation to how it appears to my human mind.

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