Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen

My personal experiences, including religious and spiritual experiences, modern life on a heathen path, community interaction, and general heathenry.

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Erin Lale

Erin Lale

Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners, American Celebration, and other books. She has been a sworn Priestess of Freya since 1989, is a Bride of the Ninefold Odin (Odin, Honir, Lodhur, Loki) and given to Sigyn. She also works with other gods of the Asatru pantheon. She has been a freelance writer for about 30 years, was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, and is the Acquisitions Editor at Caliburn Press. In 2010 and 2013, she ran for public office. She is currently a forum admin at the American Asatru Association, and was Board Secretary during the formation of its corporation, and is gythia of American Celebration Kindred.
Priest, nun, daughter: Relationships Between Gods and Humans

People sometimes ask, Why would a god want a human godspouse? Or, why would a god be a human's patron?

Sometimes I think we're the cats of the gods. Asking why a god would want a relationship with a human is like asking why humans adopt cats and bring them into our homes. Because we love them, of course. Why do we love them? Love or do not, there is no why.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    You're welcome, and thank you for commenting! Glad to know someone got something from my writing.
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    "Or, why would a god be a human's patron? Sometimes I think we're the cats of the gods. Asking why a god would want a relationship

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Return to Witches' Tower

I became convinced that Hotel Circle in San Diego was cursed because every time T. N. and I went to visit his old city, some weird glitch happened with each hotel. One had a light that flickered out when the shower was in use, one had a keycard door that wouldn't co-operate and an a/c that wouldn't turn off, one had a plumbing issue that had the hoteliers tearing the wall apart as we quickly changed rooms, one hotel only booked us for one night, locked us out as we came back from the beach (wet and sandy, and cold, because it was winter and raining-- as I told the weather reporter who had to interview some fool tourist out on the beach in the rain, "the ocean is big and wet and salty whether it's rainy or sunny,") and then tried to move us into an incompletely renovated room missing such amenities as towel racks and a bed.

So, I decided that the next time we stayed in Hotel Circle, which is within the view from Witches' Tower, I would go up the Tower and perform an exorcism upon Hotel Circle. I first exorcised a place back in college, which I wrote about in my previous post The Day I Cast Out Satan. The first time I did such a ritual, I did not know any other heathens, all the people I knew in person that I could get magical advice from were Wiccan, and the only book I had about heathen magic was Futhark: Handbook of Rune Magic, so the ritual style was more Wiccan than heathen. In planning to perform such a ritual again, 30 years later, I had to decide if I was going to change anything about the ritual because I know so much more now than I did then. Ultimately I decided to change very little, because the first ritual worked, and that's the test of a magical ritual.

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Googlemancy

Seeing order in randomly generated patterns is the essence of fortune telling and interpretation of omens. Hundreds of years ago, people might expect to go outside and see many different species of birds routinely as part of their everyday experience. Thus, reading the first type of bird one sees after asking a question was something people could reasonably expect to do as part of their normal lives, because seeing random birds was part of people's normal lives. My everyday experience includes the internet. I see random stuff on my Facebook feed and on the day's Google Doodle as I'm sipping my morning coffee. 

Random stuff is exactly what's traditionally used for fortune telling and omens. Rune casting interprets the way lots fall on a cloth. The rune Perthro, the rune of destiny or wyrd, is shaped like a dice cup, which refers to rolling dice to read a fortune. The heathen art of reading bird omens derives a positive or negative answer from whether one sees a white bird or a black bird first. (Black is the good color, because Odin's ravens are black.) In other traditions, tea leaves make patterns in a cup, and a deck of cards has a traditional significance for each card in Tarot and in cartomancy. 

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No, the Patriarchy Didn't Steal Friday the 13th

There's an article circulating on the net claiming that "before patriarchal times" Friday the 13th was a sacred day for women to honor the goddess and to celebrate their menstrual cycles. However, the time period generally considered "before patriarchy" was the stone age in Europe when goddess figurines like the Venus of Willendorf were made, that is, 7,000 BCE to 9,000 BCE, and / or pre-Minoan Crete, before approprixately 3,000 BCE, which was also the stone age. Friday the 13th didn't exist before the application of Germanic derived week names to a Roman-derived calendar system, which did not happen before approximately AD 200.  

The "fri" in Friday is from the names of heathen goddesses Freya or Frigga, and the artwork illustrating your article is Freya. These are two of the major goddesses of heathenry, commonly called Norse mythology. The Old Norse calendar had every month starting on Sunday, and every month had 30 days (with some extra days added in the middle of summer) so days of the week didn't change number every month like our calendar does.

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Why Charming of the Plough is Celebrated On More Than One Date

If you actually have a farm and use a real plough, it's traditional to bless the plough right before using it. The date that one would begin using one's plough would be different in different locations. 

Most pagan and heathen groups that celebrate Charming of the Plough on a specific date don't actually use a real plough for anything. Some American Asatru groups celebrate Charming of the Plough on the second day after Twelfth Night, which is January 3rd. Some celebrate it on February 2nd, which is otherwise called Candlemas / Groundhog Day / Imbolc / Imbolg / Brigid's Day. 

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, I love the Old Farmers' Almanac. I live in the Mojave Desert bioregion just south of Las Vegas, Nevada. We have different
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Back when I was still gardening I would use the "Old Farmer's Almanac" to determine planting times for vegetables. I think the ear

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Embla

My practice of honoring the First Woman started with a weed. A weed is a plant growing where one doesn't want it. 

In June of 2016, I found a four foot tall plant in my tomato bed. Online friends on the Plant Identification group helped me positively identify it as a Siberian Elm, which is not the same species as the American Elm. Siberian Elm is an invasive non-native species, so it had to go. But, it was an elm. Elm is the tree the threefold Odin made the first woman from. Embla was her name, and was also the word for elm. I was unlikely to have an elm sapling again, so I had to make good use of it. I pulled it up roots and all and whittled it into an Embla doll with my pocket knife.

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Goddesses Brew

My Northern Lights Goddesses Brew debuted at Yule 2016, but it can be used for any occasion when one wishes to honor the heathen goddesses. It's an extract of herbs in grain alcohol. Because it uses fresh lavender, I can only make it when lavender is blooming in my garden. The grain in the grain alcohol honors Sif, goddess of wheat and corn. The herbs honor other goddesses, as listed below. I first extract and then strain the fresh lavender, which takes between one to three weeks, and then extract the other herbs from commercial tea, which takes about a week. 

Grain for Sif 

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