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 30: Skadi

Skadi, also spelled Skadhi, is a winter goddess. Her name means injury or harm. She was a frost giantess and joined Asgard society and became a goddess after going to Asgard to wreak vengeance and being offered weregild. Weregild is a payment to compensate for a crime. Among the things she received as weregild was a husband.

My gnosis is that Skadi’s spear point is made of clear rock crystal. Skadi’s color is white or clear and her beverage flavor is peppermint.

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Novel Gnosis part 29: Sigyn

Sigyn's name means Victory Woman. She is the butterfly goddess, the lady of compassion, goddess of caregivers, wife of Loki, grieving mother. What follows is my gnosis about her. For a more scholarly article please see my paper Sigyn: Butterfly Goddess published in Witches & Pagans Magazine.

In the Fireverse, Sigyn is the only being with any agency left by the end of time. Everyone else is caught in the Prophecy (Voluspa) either trying to achieve it or trying to resist it. By the time Ragnarok comes, the other gods have done everything they can to set up the conditions that will result in a properly functioning next universe. Those who have a role to play in making Ragnarok happen try to do their assigned parts, but things don’t go exactly as the Prophecy foretold, and without Sigyn’s actions, the death of one universe and the birth of another would not be achieved. Hers is the final victory, the end and beginning. She presides over the ends and beginnings of life both for humans and for universes.

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Novel Gnosis part 28: Rindr

Continuing the novel gnosis series of posts, wherein I discuss religious insights gained via writing my unpublished behemoth Some Say Fire, today I'm talking about Rindr. Rindr is kind of an obscure goddess so I'll start with an introduction to her story in the Lore, which is what Asatruars and other heathens call our religious canon. Rindr is the daughter of Billing, king of the Ruthenians. That sounds like she must be a human but she is considered a jotun, also called ettin or giantess. Odin needed to father his son Vali to be an agent of vengeance and decided Rindr was to be the mother. He set out to woo her in disguise as a warrior named Roster, but she did not accept him. He tried twice but was rejected both times, so instead Odin turned himself into a witch named Wecha and used magic. The two main interpretations of this story by scholars are the agricultural metaphor interpretation that Rindr is a personification of the frozen winter earth that needs to be thawed and fertilized, or the feminist interpretation that Odin is a problematic figure. I don't subscribe to either of those interpretations in my novel gnosis.

Rindr was born with the potential to become a goddess, like some other jotnar who joined the Aesir, but didn't finish becoming one until bearing the god-child. Her story then is a story of the trial of initiation that makes one reach one's potential, similar in general movement if not in detail to Odin's trial on the tree. The ways in which Rindr doesn’t quite pass the goddess ascension tests and how Odin figures out how to make it work anyway highlight exactly what those tests are and what they are for.

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Novel Gnosis part 27: Odin

Continuing my series about novel gnosis, that is, religious insights I gained while writing fiction, today the topic is Odin. In heathen religion, Odin is a complex god with spheres of influence ranging from wisdom and magic to war. He and his brothers sculpted the world and humanity.

Trying to separate actual gnosis about Odin from parts of the Fireverse-Odin character that were distorted by the story’s function as a healing journey for me, it’s clear that Fireverse-Odin functions psychologically as a father figure, but lore Odin has definite fatherly overtones as well, even having two nicknames that include the word father, namely Allfather and the possibly older Yulefather, which is related to his name Yule-Being (Jolnir.) So I’m confident in saying that my gnosis is that Odin is a Skyfather, even though it’s clear historically that the original Skyfather of the Germanic peoples was Tyr. In a mythopoeic tale, every father is your father, and every mountain is the obstacle you yourself must overcome. The process of writing Some Say Fire healed me of issues I needed to resolve to become a godspouse, and becoming one helped me be able to finish the story. Odin and Loki were often in my head as I was writing. Sometimes they masked as each other. They usually no longer mask as each other when they communicate with me, now that a few years have passed since I finished writing the novel.

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Novel Gnosis part 25: Nidhoggr

Nidhoggr is the worm that eats the dead. Many things in mythology are taken too literally and need to be examined as symbolic, but in this case the standard interpretation is ignoring the obvious literalism of a worm eating corpses. This is not describing punishment of sinners, it’s recycling. Worms literally eat corpses. Then they turn the matter into worm castings that grow plants.

This isn’t really novel gnosis in that I did not arrive at this insight while writing my novel, but I did discuss it in my head with Sigyn one night while I was at least partly asleep, and I only developed the ability to talk to gods and have them answer me while I was writing a novel with the gods as characters in it, so in a way all the conversations I’ve had with them since then follow directly from the writing of the novel.

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Novel Gnosis part 24: Narvi

The children of Loki and Sigyn are Narvi, also called Nari or Narfi, and Vali, who shares a name with a son of Odin. Vali Lokisson and Vali Odinsson will have a shared entry in the Novel Gnosis series later. The Nar- root word means corpse.

The sweet children of Loki and Sigyn were caught in the web of fate. The gods exist outside of linear time, so they knew what was coming from the beginning. They chose to give life and to love and be happy for the time they had, even though they knew it would not last forever.

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Novel Gnosis part 23: Nanna

Nanna is Baldur's wife. As I mentioned in my prior post on Hodur, in the Fireverse Nanna was the old moon goddess before the moon power passed to the moon god Mani. I believe this insight works in the actual mythology too. That's the reason I'm posting my novel gnosis: I think that some of what flowed out of my fingers when I was writing Some Say Fire was actual religious truth. I believe that much of my novel was directly inspired by Loki and Odin and other gods. So, here is the gnosis I've gleaned from the chapter focusing on Nanna.

In the Fireverse, when Baldur and Hodur were both wooing Nanna, Baldur invited Nanna to a ball he held in his mother’s underwater ballroom in Fensalir. Usually Fensalir only admits women and children, but there was an exception for the ballroom. The ballroom is round and one can look out of the curving walls at the underwater portions of a lake. The ballroom chapter being told from the perspective of Loki, like the rest of the novel, the story focused on Loki’s attempt to help out Hodur, which did not go well from Loki’s perspective. There were shenanigans involving a snow making machine. In the end, Nanna chose Baldur, just as she was always meant to, even though that’s not what Loki was trying to achieve.

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