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. An updated, longer version of her book, Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path, is coming in 2020 from Red Wheel / Weiser. Erin was sworn to Freya as Priestess in 1989, given to Sigyn, and is a Bride of Odin and his brothers (Honir, Lodhur, Loki.). She has been a freelance writer for about 30 years, was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine, is gythia of American Celebration Kindred, and admin/ owner of the Asatru Facebook Forum. In 2010 and 2013, she ran for public office. She is a dyer and fiber artist, was acquisitions editor at a small press for 5 years, created the Heathen Calendar 2017 and 2018, and founded the Heathen Visibility Project.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Review of Horn of the Kraken

Set in the Fate of the Norns universe originated by Andrew Valkauskas, Horn of the Kraken by Stephen B. Pearl is the first in a new series within that universe. This is a universe full of magic and fantastical beasts, where the Norns choose human champions. Based on historical conversion-era Europe, featuring some historical figures such as Eric Blood-Axe, Horn of the Kraken is also set during Fimbulwinter, the prelude to Ragnarok. Fimbulwinter is the breakdown in the cycle of the seasons in which the sun never rises again and winter lasts until the end of the world. The world’s central problem is the mass failure of agriculture, and the world’s politics centers on the impact that would have if it occurred during the Viking Age. The villains, who are Christians out to convert the heathen and control the world’s economy and political structures, are using a mysterious new superweapon, the Horn of the Kraken.

Into this come five chosen heroes. Fjorn is a nobleman and a fighter/bard. Politics stalks him because of his bloodlines. Sigurlina is a seidhkona, a type of heathen witch with powers of necromancy and healing. She serves Freya and is sworn to avenge her family against Christian ruler Hakon. Audun is a rune master who has a near-death experience at the hands of the Christian enemy that echoes the story of Odin’s runic initiation on the Tree. Ragna is a thief. She tags along to get out of town ahead of trouble. Vidurr is a werewolf who serves Surtr, the king of the fiery underworld who is prophesied to fight against the gods at Ragnarok and destroy the world. Vidurr’s sole desire in life is to avenge his family against the Christian “crusaders.” Although those who serve Odin and those who serve Surtr are theological enemies within heathenry, they join forces against the outside threat of the Christians. Pearl knows enough about heathenry to portray both the Odin’s man and the Surtr’s man as having no god-based conflict with the Freya’s woman.

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The 5 Kinds of Gods in Asgard

The heathen gods set an example of an inclusive society. Asgard has former enemies from the First War living together in friendship. The Aesir and Vanir made peace ages ago and now the Vanir in Asgard are treated as full citizens of Asgard; for example, Freyr is expected to fight on the side of Asgard at Ragnarok.

There are 5 kinds of beings counted among the Aesir in Asgard, including those born Aesir and 4 other kinds. These kinds of beings are interchangeably called races, tribes, nations, and species. The 5 kinds are the Aesir, Vanir, Jotnar, Thursar, and even an ascended human.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    I will never understand why some Heathens embrace racism, when the stories of their gods are full of intermarriages between beings
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thanks, Kayly!
  • Kayly
    Kayly says #
    Hi, I recently joined the site but have been reading your articles here for a long time. I just came to say I really enjoy your w

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Lokabrenna Day

Lokabrenna Day is on the heliacal rising of Sirius. This year, that will be August 8th through most of the USA. Lokabrenna means Loki’s Torch, and is the Icelandic name for Sirius. Some heathens and other pagans celebrate this day as sacred to Loki.

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The Gods Helped Me Find My Way

I was trying to navigate to a new destination, where I was planning to present gifts. Gifts are holy in heathenry. So, although outwardly I was just driving to a party, spiritually I was traveling on my path as a gythia. When I arrived at the point where public street met private street, I had an adventure.

Gifts have spiritual significance in all sects of heathenry, not only the gifts presented to gods but also gifts given to other human beings. Gifts that have special significance for life events and for important occasions within the culture also have special spiritual significance, both in heathenry generally, and in American Celebration style Asatru as we practice in my kindred, in particular. This occasion was for three co-occurring special life events for the recipient. The gifts I had made included a bottle of my home grown lavender brew dedicated to Sigyn, so this gift also had a special significance for the goddess as well. The recipient had recently participated in a ritual I had led honoring Sigyn, and this gift was meant to help her deepen her relationship with the goddess.  

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Taking Over an Asatru Internet Forum part 2

When I first became a forum admin on the American Asatru group several years ago, I was invited to do so because the group creator liked my book Asatru For Beginners.  I said yes because I had just had a bad online experience in a different group and wanted to help create a space that would be better. I wanted to create a troll free space where heathens could talk about their heathen religious stuff free of mockery by trolls and safe from online harassment and stalking and other internet ills. I wanted to create a group which would be a supportive religious community where people could find friendship and advice about life in addition to religion. I envisioned a space where there would be fun things to do, and which would be especially supportive toward creators such as authors, artists, and musicians. The group became that.

Before I joined the management team, the American Asatru Association group was already a space that screened membership applications to keep out neonazis and white power gang members and other such undesirables, in addition to keeping out trolls. It was also already a group that welcomed heathens of any sect, not just Asatru, and from anywhere in the world, not just the Americas. It welcomed universalist, tribalist, and folkish Asatruars, and was a Loki-friendly group. Those policies stayed the same while I was adminning under the original group owner, and I plan to keep them in place. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    You're welcome!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Thank you for the link. I think I became fascinated with Norse Myths from reading D'Aulairs' Book of Norse myths as a child and t
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Also Anthony, if you're interested in posing a discussion topic to the group, you're welcome to join and ask the members. How one'
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Hi Anthony, there might well be some members who started with that book. The recently completed Heathen Demographic Survey, availa
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Congratulations on your new position, I hope you have fun with it. One of the books I have on my computer desk is "Norse Magic" b
Taking Over an Asatru Internet Forum part 1

Once again, as I did before when I became manager of the old MSN Asatru group, I've just taken over management of an Asatru internet forum. There are a few notable differences from the last time. Firstly, this time I'm fully prepared and qualified to run an internet forum. Secondly, this time I wanted the job. Thirdly, the internet is different than it was back then. Fourthly, MSN Asatru had about 200 members, and the American Asatru group on Facebook, formerly known as the American Asatru Association, has about 4,500.

With both groups, I inherited an established forum with its own established procedures and expectations. MSN Asatru was a free for all. I didn't screen members or moderate posts, excepts to remove commercial spam, and to remove posts that violated the terms of use of the MicroSoft Network, which meant I removed anything even vaguely pornographic, including any nude images. Images were not used on forums very often back then, because posting an image in one of the one MSN Groups required an image host site and some basic knowledge of html.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Teaching Folk Dance at the Moot part 3

In the last great Ice Age, when cave bears roamed the snowy earth, peoples across Europe, Asia, and North America all honored the Bear. Because bears hibernate, they return in the spring, along with the sun, the warmth, and the fertility of the land. It would make sense to do a dance with loud drumming in the spring to wake them up, thus bringing the blessings of springtime, but Tot Ursi is still performed to this day in Romania, and it is part of the winter solstice celebrations. Like winter solstice traditions of burning a Yule Log to keep the light alive while the sun is god, Tot Ursi is danced to keep the Bear spirit alive while the bears are gone. (For further reading on Bear spirituality, see Alan Leddon’s book Religion Laid Bear.)

In Tot Ursi, meaning "All Bears," the dancers can growl and make bear-like sounds, but they also make “brrrrr” sounds, which don’t sound like a bear at all. I think the “brrr” sound may be a form of lalling. Lalling is making nonsense sounds such as “lalala” in a song, or for ritual purposes. Lalling is named after the Germanic god Lollus. I found Tot Ursi while doing genealogical research on my last name (for more info on that topic, see my blog post  Lollus, Löhl, and Ursul din Lăloaia )

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I remember that song!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I suddenly remembered the childhood song: "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" when I got to the last line of this article.

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