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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Novel Gnosis part 11: Frigga

Frigga wears cloud gray. Sometimes she wears a blue head scarf. In the stories in which she and Odin favor different champions, they are not truly antagonists but are engaging in a contest they both enjoy, pitting the universe’s two best minds against each other, somewhat like playing chess. There is one thing they genuinely disagree on, and that is the best way to handle prophecy. While Odin tries his best to fulfill prophecy, Frigga tries to use knowledge of the future to change the future.

Frigga makes a lot of fiber art, and makes all the clothes for Odin’s family. When Thor and Loki were unmarried and lived with Odin, that included them too.

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Novel Gnosis part 10: Freyr and Gerda

In the Lore, Freyr the twin of Freya sends his servant/ avatar to woo Gerda in a story widely interpreted as a metaphor of the warmth of spring bringing fertile green growth to the earth. In that story, Freyr gives up his sword for marriage. This is interpreted to mean he becomes a god of peace when he marries, which is why his temples forbade weapons inside. The Asatru wedding ceremony includes the transfer of the groom's sword to the bride, which may be an echo of this tale. In Voluspa, the Prophecy of the Seeress, Freyr is foretold to wield antlers instead of a sword at Ragnarok. Because of his, he is sometimes depicted as an antlered god.

In the Fireverse, Freyr and Loki don’t really get along that well after Freyr’s marriage. Fireverse-Gerda was an important witch in Jotunheim and had been being considered to take over the spot that Hel had originally been expected to fill before becoming queen of the world of the dead. (At first Angrbodha didn’t know if Hel was going to survive birth, since she sloughed half her skin almost immediately, but after it became clear she was going to live it was thought she might become the priestess of the hot well of the Iron Woods, the keeper of the source of the river that powered Jotunheim’s thermosynthetic ecosystem.) So Gerda becoming part of Asgard society kind of messed up some of Loki’s relatives plans, and Loki wasn’t convinced Gerda really wanted to be there and that ticked him off. That is plot-driven story stuff, though, so I don’t know if any of it applies outside the Fireverse.

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Novel Gnosis part 9: Freya

In the Fireverse, Freya’s big house Sessrumnir has the same characteristic as Frigga’s house in that both of the houses can generate whatever sort of room is needed at the moment, with whatever sort of décor and furnishings, while still having some permanent areas. Most of the cats live in the field with the warriors, but some of them live in the house.

Even though the name of Freya’s house means “many rooms” and traditionally all the dead that go to a particular god go inside the god’s house or the building set aside for them (such as Valhalla), in the Fireverse, Freya’s legion of warriors camp in the field of Folkvangr, between Freya’s house and the main road of Asgard. Freya’s army is not meant to be used at Ragnarok, but to survive Ragnarok and help build the new world. She doesn’t have her entire army train every day the way Odin’s warriors do, but some of her warriors do choose to battle each other as training. There are also combat sports contests such as jousting tournaments, occasionally. Freya’s warriors can choose to participate in such contests or not. As a nation-building army, not all the members of her army are combat oriented, even though they all died in battle just like Odin’s warriors.

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Novel Gnosis part 8: Fenris

Fenris the wolf is the son of Loki and Angrboda. In the Lore he is prophesied to help destroy the world at Ragnarok, so the gods bind him.

Fireverse Fenris and Jormungandr have beast shapes because Loki is a shape shifter. In the Fireverse, Odin is aware of the prophecy about Fenris, and that is the main reason he gives Fenris to Tyr and Zisa to raise, to try to keep Fenris under control. Zisa already has an affinity for dogs because Fireverse Zisa is the same goddess as Nehallenia. Tyr and Zisa raise Fenris in their home as their foster son. It is a great tragedy when the gods decide Fenris has gotten too big—in the way that Ymir got too big, so that allowing him to keep growing would mean he would eventually eat the whole universe—and they decided to bind Fenris. The main person behind the decision to act when they did was Odin. Fenris regards his binding as a betrayal by his father figure Tyr. Fenris still loves Zisa but he is permanently mad at Tyr. Zisa still feeds Fenris; she catches fish in her nets in her fishing boat (she no longer sails her war boat) and brings them to his island where he is bound and she dumps her nets out on the beach, where he can just reach them.

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Novel Gnosis part 7: Eir

Fireverse Eir is pretty much as described in lore: lives on a mountain, teaches healing to women, and her colors are green and copper.  In my story, no one can overrule Eir when she’s giving doctor’s orders, not even the king. I’m not sure if that’s gnosis or a result of my unconscious cultural expectations about the authority of doctors.

Outside the Fireverse, I get the impression that Eir doesn't want offerings just because. I'm not that close to her, but I got close enough at one point for her to tell me if I kept offering her things when I didn't have an immediate medical need right then that I was going to have to enter her service and become a doctor. I was already a godspouse at that time so I asked outright if that meant I would have to leave my godspouse relationship and she said yes, so I declined her generous offer as politely as I could. From then on, I only offer her things when I need something right at that moment, and I usually toast her with ginger ale. She had indicated to me that the reason she doesn’t want to be invited a lot of times without an immediate need is simply because she is very busy.

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Novel Gnosis part 6: Cosmology

The worlds are many things. They are times, places, states of mind, they are what is beyond the doors into otherworlds from Midgard, they are metaphors, and in the Fireverse they are also other dimensions. Jotunheim is 2D space. The story in which Freya rides Ottar to Jotunheim disguised as her battle pig is rendered in the Fireverse as “She rode him so flat they ended up in Jotunheim.”

Asgard is nine-space. When Loki is telling his versions of heathen mythology to the human character P, he tells the stories as if they happened in a three dimensional place so that the human can understand them, but he also tells her that they aren’t really like that. When Loki and P are sailing the ship through space, P is aware that it is not really a Viking longship despite its appearance, but when she asks Loki about it, he tells her to accept the metaphor as it is given to her.

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Novel Gnosis part 5: Bragi

Bragi is the god of music. He is married to Idunna, whose apples keep the gods from aging.

Fireverse-Bragi is probably pretty different than the Bragi of this universe, because the Fireverse needed a character within Asgard society that would actively oppose the teller of the story, who was Loki, and the opposition character became Bragi. Loki is usually cast as the opposition character in most traditional tellings of the mythology, but of course he would not cast himself in that role.

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