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.

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Butterflies Guided My Path

When I set out to scatter my mom's ashes in a place with trees in June 2020, butterflies literally guided me to the right place. I was driving along Kyle Canyon Road on Mount Charleston, Nevada, when butterflies started appearing, one after another. A lot of them. So many butterflies! So I pulled off the road. More butterflies appeared after I got out of the car. Different kinds, different colors and sizes.

I looked around: both evergreen and deciduous trees, check. Was there water? I didn't see water, but I saw a line of blooming wildflowers, reds and whites and other colors. That was clearly a dry watercourse. It would be a small creek when it rained or during snowmelt in the spring. In my mind's eye, it was flowing down to the larger river across the other side of the road, through a culvert. The butterflies were all headed in the other direction, though. I followed the dry streambed up to its source. It ended at cliff. There were many interesting rock formations and gnarled tree roots, and more flowers. That was the place. I decided to climb the cliff and scatter the ashes down onto the stream source from the top. I didn't realize it was going to be quite so difficult when I started out; it was loose scree and it grew more vertical toward the top, but toward the top there were also big sturdy tree roots to grab, which would have been easier to manage if I hadn't been carrying a box of ashes, leaving only one hand free. I managed it, though. I looked around up there, waited for a hiker and his dog to pass by (OK I petted the dog,) realized there was an easier way down-- of course! but that was alright. There was a breeze flowing from one side, so I positioned myself carefully to make sure the ashes would float away from me, opened the box and cut up the plastic inside. I spoke some words-- not a formal ritual, nothing actually religious since mom was an atheist, and realized I was smiling as I spoke. I was filled with an odd kind of joy at how perfect everything was. I let the ashes go and they sailed out over the edge and settled on the steep slope of the cliff itself. I was filled with peace.

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Herbs and Runes Part 2

Here are some commonly used herbs and the runes that correspond with them. Reminder: this is gnosis, not lore, and none of this is set in stone. If your gnosis differs, go with that. If this doesn't resonate with you, go with your gut.

 

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Herbs and Runes Part 1

Oak and ash and thorn, from the folk song, can be interpreted in many ways. Giving it a heathen interpretation, Oak is Odin's or Thor's, representing the higher worlds. Ash is Askr's. Askr was the first man, according to heathen mythology, along with the first woman Embla. Ash represents midgard, the human world, or could represent the world-tree which connects the worlds to each other. Thorn is one of the names of rune known in the Elder Futhark as Thurisaz. It can represent either the thurses, that is the giants, or Thor, but here it represents the thurses, the lower worlds or lower dimensions.

This is gnosis. Here on Gnosis Diary I post a lot of gnosis, but also stories that happened in my life, and general Asatru info, so to be clear: the following is my personal gnosis about correspondences and with different aspects of working with herbs and runes. This information may be at odds with other peoples' gnosis. When it comes to gnosis, let intuition be your guide. Some things will just feel like they flow easily, or are just right, and other things will feel unapproachable, or warm or cold. If you feel like a different thing will work better for you, or your working group or guides or gods have given you something different, then go with what works for you. When you receive gnosis of your own, you can practice discernment, ask if others have the same gnosis, check with your usual powers which help you, look for omens, etc. None of this is set in stone.

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Rebuttal of TERF Values

This essay was prompted by a "TERF" (="Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminist") statement made in my local pagan community. TERFs usually reference biological determinism, defining being a woman as being fertile and giving birth, which excludes women like me, a "cis" (="not transgender") woman who has never been fertile, and is now in the crone stage of life. Sometimes their biological definitions reference having a womb, which would also exclude women like my mom, who had hers removed right after having me.

(I don't usually use the term "cis" because of its origins in academic papers meant as a substitute for "the normal population" or "the control group" and thus it is inherently binarist. Plus, as a binarist word, it has been used to exclude non-binary people, and has been used as a slur against non-binary people. It is the most appropriate word to use in this particular instance, however, using it strictly to mean "not trans.")

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  • Victoria
    Victoria says #
    In the case of the mythos of some of the Heathen gods/goddesses is it gender fluidity, gender transgression or that deities were n

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The Snake Equation

The Snake Equation, pictured above, is a meme of unknown origin circulating on the net. Because this meme shows this equation superimposed over classical art of Loki, it occurred to me that this equation in Chaos Theory could be considered a teaching of Loki. I tried to derive a spiritual truth from it that I could consider to be a teaching of Loki. I wrote a scene describing its meaning into my novel Some Say Fire, but since the book will probably never be published, I'd like to share this insight here on my blog.

If you look at it just right, the top line appears to spell "snake," hence the name of the equation. This is an equation in Chaos Theory. First I'm going to explain the terms, and then explain the spiritual meaning I have derived from this equation.

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Novel Gnosis part 40: Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil is the World-Tree in heathen mythology. It grew by itself in the deeps of time, before the worlds came to be. The worlds are the fruit of its branches. Some art of the World-Tree depicts all nine worlds in the branches, while some depicts the worlds of fire and ice below the Tree with the Tree's roots going down into them. That image references the story of the birth of the universe in which the magically charged void divided into two main powers called fire (energy) and ice (patterns.) The dynamic combination of those two powers gave rise to matter and everything else, including the Tree, the Sacred Cow that woke up the gods and the giants, the Well at the root of the Tree, and all the raw materials from which our world was made.

Throughout most of the retellings in Some Say Fire of the stories collectively known as The Lore, the World-Tree is pretty much as described in the mythology. During the parts of the story that take place during Ragnarok, though, the main human character P sees Yggdrasil from the deck of the Naglfarr, the boat made of nails. She is basically in space, but also in a higher dimension, and the boat is not as it seems. It’s not literally a Viking longship despite how it appears. The view she has of the Tree is meant to be literal within the story, though. And the Tree is rotted in the heart-wood, hollow, and the Well below it is on fire. This shows how messed up everything is, and how much Ragnarok is needed by that point. At that point in the story, someone really needs to push the reset button on the universe and make a new one, because the old one is no longer sustainable.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    It's interesting to see how the myths of my ancestors are interpreted in a different country. The Norse gods appear in Oh, my God
Novel Gnosis part 39: Wolves Ravens and Brothers

Continuing my series on novel gnosis, that is, religious insights I gained via writing my unpublished novel Some Say Fire, today I'm talking about Odin and the number 3. Three as a sacred number recurs in many stories in heathen mythology, that it, the mythology of the pre-Xian peoples of northern Europe. It also occurs again and again in the broader context of pagan mythology in the rest of Europe and related cultures. Odin's symbol the Valknut is a set of 3 interlocking triangles.

In the Fireverse, the universe of Some Say Fire, Odin’s 2 wolves Geri and Freki are generated out of Odin. Like his 2 ravens and his 2 brothers, he creates them by dividing himself. He has the power to divide himself into 3 parts and he does it 3 times: once each to create the wolves, the ravens, and his brothers.

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