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. An updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path, is coming in 2020 from Red Wheel / Weiser. Erin was sworn to Freya as Priestess in 1989, given to Sigyn, and is a Bride of Odin and his brothers (Honir, Lodhur, Loki.). She has been a freelance writer for about 30 years, was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, is gythia of American Celebration Kindred, and admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. In 2010 and 2013, she ran for public office. She is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press for 5 years, created the Heathen Calendar 2017 and 2018, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.
April and May 2019 Heathen and Asatru Holidays

April 1: Loki Day. Loki's Day is celebrated on April 1st by American Asatru groups and individuals influenced by the old Ostara festival held by the old Ring of Troth, which was a multi day campout that included April 1st when that date fell on a weekend. Loki Day was a day for pranks and jokes in honor of Loki, and toward the end of the RoT women who were awake in the early morning threw their hair-combings into the fire for Loki. When the Ring of Troth broke into two groups, the American Vinland Association kept the Loki celebrations intact, while over the years the Ring of Troth abandoned them due to the influence of new members who were Nokeans (see my post on Nokeans for a definition and discussion.) The Troth recently re-embraced Loki, so the old custom may or may not come back. Also on April 1st: Narrentag (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and the season of the possible date of Alp Aufzug begins (Switzerland.)

9 Day of Haakon Sigurdson (American Asatru, American Odinist)

14 Flyttedag, Faredag (Norway)

15 Sechseläuten (Zurich, Switzerland)

21 Sigrblot (Asatru)

22 Yggdrasil Day (American Asatru)

30

Valpurgisnacht (American Asatru),
May Eve (American Asatru, England),
Walpurgisnacht / Wonnenacht (Urglaawe), Wonnezeit begins (Urglaawe),
Walpurgisnacht (Germany, Austria, Switzerland),
Valborgsmässoafton (Sweden)
Valborgsnatten (Norway),
Maitag Vorabend (Switzerland),
Valborgsaften (Jutland, Denmark) 

May

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Asatru FAQ: How Do I Know If a God Spoke to Me or Not?

Frequently Asked Question: Was x a real sign/ was x just a dream or a real communication from a god / was x a fiction story idea or a message from a god?

My answer: What you want to do is to confirm (or not) whether you have received a message. That's a yes or no question, which is the simplest type of question to divine for. If you use runes, decide in advance which ones count as yes or no and pull a rune. Or, you can use bird omens.

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No, Christianity Didn't Steal Ash Wednesday from Heathens

No, Ash Wednesday is not a heathen or pagan holiday. Yes, Wednesday is named after Odin (Woden.) Yes, other cultures besides Christianity used ritual fire and some even used ritual ash. Some Hindus in India receive a blessing from ash from a sacred fire. Fire as a source of cleansing, heat, and light is pretty basic and obvious, and the fact that x culture used it does not mean y culture stole the idea from x culture.

The internet meme making the rounds that claims that fire and ash is an exclusively heathen or pagan symbol is ridiculous on its face; all cultures used fire. The internet meme claims the ashes from heathen festivals were protective in heathen culture. While it is possible that some heathens in the past did use ash for some magical or religious purpose, but if so the person who created the meme really ought to cite the source.

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Karmadillo

The story of the karmadillo could be a parable, except that it's true. It perfectly illustrates the concepts of wyrd and orlog.

Wyrd is basically the law of cause and effect. Orlog is the layers of past action that affect current action. Past actions that affected this situation include someone in the man's society inventing a firearm, the firearm company selling firearms, the man buying one-- which implies all the past actions from the man's ancestors moving to America to the man getting a job which paid him enough to buy the home where this happened and have enough money left to buy a gun and ammunition for it-- and on the other side of the equation, all the many actions of nature that resulted in the evolution of an animal with a bulletproof armor hide.

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February and March 2019 Heathen and Asatru Holidays

Many heathen sects celebrate some version of Groundhog Day and Easter.

The 12 days of Entschtanning in the Urglaawe tradition (Pennsylvania Deitsch) run from the 1st to the 12th of February. On the 1st of February, German Reconstructionists in the USA celebrate Idisi Segen.

February 2nd is Groundhog Day, Charming of the Plough, Idis-thing, Disting, and Barri to different groups among American Asatru. It's also Candlemas (English), Lichtmess (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), and Lichtmesdag (Luxembourg.)

Some American Asatruars have invented a holiday to be celebrated while mainstream American culture is celebrating Valentine's Day on Feb. 14th. This holiday is variously called Vali's Day, Freya's Day, or just the Fourteenth of February (similar to the custom in Denmark where it is called Fjortende Februar rather than St. Valentine's.)

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Asatru FAQ: Shouldn't We Have a Sacred Language?

Every so often, people come up with ideas we've already tried. That's one reason long time heathens are a great resource for newer heathens. We remember. One idea that keeps recurring is the idea of having a liturgical language, like Latin for the Catholics, or an official common language for our religion that is also used as a common secular language, such as the modern revival of Hebrew among Jews as the national language of Israel.

Asatruars actually tried that before. In the 90s, Asatruars in the USA were calling themselves Ulfgar Tyrsson and Freya Freyasdottir and calling quarters with Thorsson's Hammer Rite in Old Norse. And saying "hailsa."

Hailsa

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January 2019 Heathen Holidays and the Metonic Year

Heathenry includes many different traditions. Most major heathen sects derive their holidays from a specific country, time period, and / or language, but American Asatru tends to be more eclectic because its members tend to be of various ethnicities. Even when trying to replicate Icelandic Asatru holidays, American Asatru sometimes sets them on different dates due to different methods of calculation. Iceland celebrates Þorrablót on the Friday after the 9th of January. American Asatru celebrates Thurseblot on the full moon of January.

Each of the many heathen peoples of history had their own calendar system, and calculating modern dates for ancient holidays requires not only knowing what date the celebration was actually held-- which isn't always completely obvious from the available evidence-- but also doing the math to convert the old calendar system to our new one, often with a stop midway into the Julian calendar because correspondences between it and various ancient calendars are sometimes provided in written lore.

One of the many ancient calendars was the metonic calendar, which is now used by Theod, a heathen sect based on Anglo-Saxon culture. The metonic calendar months for 2019 are:

Æftera-Geól Jan. 8 – Feb. 5
Súlmónað Feb.6 – March 7
Hréðmónað March 8 – April 6
Éosturmónað April 7 – May 5
Þrimilci May 6 – June 4
Ærre-Líða June 5 – July 3
Æftera-Líða July 4 – Aug 2
Weodmónað AUg. 3 – Aug. 31
Háligmónað sept. 1 – Sept. 29
Winterfylleð Sept.30 – Oct. 29
Blótmónað Oct.30 – Nov. 27
Ærre-Geól Nov. 28 – Dec. 27

Although not all ancient heathen peoples celebrated solstices and equinoxes, many modern heathen sects and groups do. For 2019 these dates will be:

Spring Equinox March 20 Summer Solstice June 21 Fall Equinox Sept. 23 Winter Solstice Dec 21

A few more heathen or heathen related cultural holidays in January 2019 are:

Jan 1:

Yuul ends (Urglaawe)

Julfest ends (Germany)

Jan 8th:

The Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival in Whittlesea, England is celebrated the Tuesday following Plough Monday. Plough Monday is the first Monday after Twelfth Night (by the Gregorian Calendar.) In 2019 the Tuesday after Plough Monday is January 8th.

Midwinterhoorn Blazen ends (Overijssel, Netherlands)

Jan 9:

Day of Raud of Strong (American Asatru, Odinist)

Jan 11:

Þorrablót (Icelandic Asatru)

Jan 21:

Thurseblot (American Asatru)

 

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