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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Holy Cusswords

Holy cusswords, [email protected]&m*n! Cussing is of course a euphemism for cursing, which can mean using a socially unacceptable word, naming a power in an undignified manner ("taking the Lord's name in vain") or formally casting bad magic. Present day Asatruars use the Old Icelandic word blot, meaning sacrifice, as a name for one of our rituals. In modern Icelandic, the word has become blota, which means a cuss word. That which is holy transformed over time into what is a curse and then into what is an empty phrase that may once have been a curse, merely a cuss now. Or is it still a curse? Or is it still holy?

Words have power; that's why a magic spell is called a spell, the same word that means to write a word. When we use a minor cussword like f--- or sh-- that refers to a bodily function, the thing that makes it a cussword is the social taboo of the word and of the action, that is, it refers to something society considers unacceptable to do in public. The same goes for cuss words that refer to parts of the body; they are socially taboo because they refer to body parts normally covered by clothing. These words and concepts are not inherently bad, merely socially taboo. But more religious oriented cusswords like d--- or the name of a god are in another category. To say d--- is to literally curse, that is, to place a curse of damnation on someone or something. If we believe in magic we should be cautious about using such words. If we believe in gods we should be respectful of their names. To say H--- is to call upon Hel, goddess of the dead. The situation may call for that, or it may not. We should be mindful whether the situation calls for calling upon such a god.

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Dying to go to the salon?

How to deal with not being able to get a haircut keeps coming up on my social media. I'm one of the traditionalist Asatruars who don't cut our hair, and I have some styling tips for you.

Coincidentally, this is not the first time I've given out hairstyle tips. Years ago, I spoke to a local college religion class about Asatru. I showed up in my gythia robes and so I had already talked a little bit about what my outfit meant, and I was wearing the pincurled style I wore during my campaign for public office, and I mentioned that many traditionalists don't cut our hair. One of the students asked me about how I kept my hair from getting split ends if I didn't cut it. My reply was, "It does have split ends. You just can't see them because I stick the ends together with mohawk spiking gel."

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Heathen Visibility with a Mask

In these times, we're not socializing in person, and not going fun places for the most part, so it's natural that people are posting fewer selfies. But if you were participating in the Heathen Visibility Project before the lockdown started, you don't have to stop. We can still participate in the Heathen Visibility Project; let's just give ourselves permission to not look perfect. If you, like me, still have to go places, you can still get selfies out and about. If you don't still have to go places, you can get them at home. It's OK if you're dressed more casually than you usually would be if you were taking pics at a nice restaurant. You may have to stay home, but you don't have to stop participating in internet projects. We may have to cover our faces, but we don't have to hide who we are.

This season's must-have accessory is the home made cloth face mask. Here's me in one of mine. I had just put my mask on after driving to my companion's care center, to deliver his mail to a worker at the front door. I don't get to see him; they are only allowing medical visits, and life management isn't medical. (Life management is what I call property management plus, the plus being errand running, help with paperwork, collecting and delivering mail, etc. Right now I don't have any pet sitting clients, although that was how I started out with this.) The design on this mask is a Thor's hammer. It's a sunprint on cotton. A sunprint is a contact photograph, in this case of a paper cutout. I usually frame my sunprints as art, but I wanted a heathen design for a mask.

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Smell the Flowers

There is always something good somewhere, even in hard times, even in hard lives. "Stop to smell the flowers" has become a cliche, but we said it so much because it's useful.

In Taoist and Buddhist traditions they have the concept of the yin and yang, which are depicted always having a tiny spot of their opposite inside. Like the good in Darth Vader (lol, sorry, I'm such a geek I couldn't resist.) Heathen philosophy doesn't put this concept so starkly in a visual symbol, but in our mythology the entire universe was generated out of the dynamic combination of two opposites, the runes fehu (primal fire) and isa (primal ice.) So everything we see around us is both matter and energy, both power and pattern, both potential and the universal laws of physics that make potential reach its physically manifested form.

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I have a new author site!

My new website includes links to my books, social media, and of course back here to this blog. I'm counting down the days to August 1st, 2020, when my new book Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path will go live. In the meantime there are 3 places to preorder my book, which are linked on my new site.

My new site is: https://www.erinlaleauthor.com/

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Odin the Artist and the Purpose of Life

Many people spend their lives looking for purpose. Sometimes what they really want is meaning, which is slightly different. Sometimes their inner yearning for purpose is really a calling, which is very different. But purpose? I wanted purpose, when I was younger. I didn't know that I was already fulfilling my purpose. If I went back in time and told my younger self, "You are art"-- she wouldn't understand what I meant. But perhaps I can explain it here.

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The Manifesting Frog

I love frogs and toads. I used to play with them as a child in California’s Central Valley, and my dad nicknamed me for them. Later, as a teenager in Sonoma, I saved tree frogs when their marsh habitat was drained for development, transferring them to our yard. Here in Nevada, I’ve put frog and toad statuettes all over the back yard, for many reasons: because I like them, because they are traditional garden helpers, and because people have given me these artworks over the years because they knew I liked frogs. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to find a tiny ceramic frog in my garden, except the ones I put there weren’t under the earth.

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