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 16: Honir

Like his brothers Odin and Loki, Honir can shapeshift, but his shifting power goes far beyond theirs. Honir is a soul changer. He can not only mask as other gods like Odin and Loki can, he can actually become other gods. Odin, Loki, and Honir can borrow each other’s powers. In the Fireverse, Loki used the soul changing power once, when he needed to get a wagon full of warriors into a city and decided to do it by driving a legitimate wood cutter’s cart through the main gate using the proper passwords, which he was able to do by taking not only the cart and the carter’s appearance but the carter’s memories too (the carter was a jotun, and the city was in Jotunheim.) He was able to do that by borrowing Honir’s powers.

Honir was rarely in the story much in the Fireverse because he actually lived in Vanaheim as a hostage, and only manifested in the story in the presence of both his brothers, usually only while they were on the triple throne. Honir didn’t have a physical body but he could manifest one if he wanted to. In one of the episodes in the story, the three brothers were called to Midgard to heal someone via summoning “God, Wod, and Locke.” Honir took the role of God, and thus, he responded to a prayer ostensibly directed to the Christian deity, although the formula clearly reserved that space for the brother of Odin and Loki.

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Novel Gnosis part 15: Hodur

In the Lore, which is what we heathens call the body of literature collectively chosen by the heathen community as our canon, Hodur is either Baldur's brother or his human rival for Nanna or both.  In the story in which Hodur and Baldur vie for the affections of Nanna, which ends with Baldur both winning the girl and getting killed, there are three basic versions in the lore. The lore has two stories in which Hodur and Baldur are brothers and a different story in which Hodur is a human warrior. In only one of these stories is Loki even a character in the story. In the non-Loki stories, Hodur and Baldur fight with swords. In the story with Loki, Baldur dies in a mock sacrifice that turns into a real one when weapons that can’t hurt him are hurled at him but one of them is magically turned into a lethal weapon. This weapon is made of mistletoe, the only substance which his mother has not made to promise not to hurt him—she made everything else promise because of a prophetic dream he had. This story is in one way a story about self fulfilling prophecy, and in another way about the nature of a sacrificed god who is also prophesied to rise again as king in the next universe.

Now, the novel gnosis: The reason Frigga did not bother asking mistletoe not to harm Baldur is because mistletoe was his own sacred plant. She must have not it wasn’t necessary to ask. But of course that is what also makes it perfect for a sacrificial ritual. Mistletoe is a liminal plant, neither of earth nor of air but partaking of both. It blooms and produces berries but they are poisonous. It grows without roots, and is green in the winter when its host tree is dormant. It’s a bundle of paradoxes, which is what makes it sacred. That is Baldur’s symbol when he is alive. But after his death, his symbol is the ox-eye daisy.  Daisies in general are also a symbol of the dead.

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Novel Gnosis part 14: Hel

Continuing this series on my religious insights I gained while writing a novel, that is, novel gnosis. In Some Say Fire, Hel the goddess is called Hela. Hel the place is called Helheim.

Hela, the goddess

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Novel Gnosis part 13: Heimdall

Heimdall is the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge. After Odin sculpted humanity, there is a story in heathen Lore that the god Rig then fathered new kinds of humans, and most Asatruars consider Rig to be a name of Heimdall. 

In the Fireverse, Heimdall is partly a participant in a lot of the shenanigans that Thor and Loki get up to in Jotunheim, because he is the one who lets them in and out. He opens the Bridge for them when they go and listens for them to call on him to send down the Bridge for their return. He’s a friend to both of them. There is Lore that Thor does not walk on the Bridge because his mighty footfalls would destroy it, but in the Fireverse he walk on it like everyone else.

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Novel Gnosis part 12: Garm

Garm is the helhound of Norse mythology. He is literally Hel's hound.

In the Fireverse, after Fenris is bound, Zisa misses having a puppy around the house, and takes steps to produce Garm. Garm’s parentage is kept secret and when he starts showing signs that he is not an ordinary dog he is sent to be Hel’s watchdog before anyone in Asgard guesses the truth. In the Fireverse, this is the secret behind Loki’s claim in Lokasenna to have had sex with Tyr’s wife.

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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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