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 2: the Alfar

The Alfar (elves) live in Alfheim. Just like the jotnar living in Jotunheim and the dvergar living in Svartalfheim, the Alfar are really living in Alfheim even when they seem to be living in Midgard (the human world.) They can all go to other worlds but they all live in their dimensional homes regardless of whether that home appears to have a physical location in Midgard.

In Iceland when they are going to build a road, they will try to build around the “elf church” (sacred place of the alfar) but if it’s too hard to reroute they can ask them to move. The elf-whisperer isn’t really asking them to move their home, just the portal between the worlds. My novel-gnosis is that such a place is really more of a dimensional gateway than just a place where they live. Destroy the place on Midgard and you destroy the gateway, but if you ask nicely before building the road they may be able to move their gateway first.

Image: elf woman by SilviaP Design via Pixabay

P.S. if you like my writing you can find out more here: https://www.erinlaleauthor.com/

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Novel Gnosis part 1: intro

In this series of posts, I will be presenting some of my novel gnosis, that is, my religious insights gained via writing fiction. Most of these come from my unpublished behemoth Some Say Fire, in which I retold the entire corpus of heathen mythology, with original work inserted interstitially, like in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Some of my novel gnosis comes from my Time Yarns Universe, which has both published and unpublished works in it.

What does novel gnosis look like?

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Novel Gnosis part 26: Njord

Njord is a sea god in heathen mythology. He is the father of Freya and Freyr. The lore does not say who their mother is, but it is hinted that it might be himself, or his counterpart. That would be Nerthus, except that Nerthus and Njord never appear in the same story. Nerthus appears in lore written by Tacitus in the Roman era, and Njord appears in lore written in the Viking Age. Linguistically the name Nerthus probably became the name Njord, and thus, Nerthus the goddess probably became Njord the god.

In Viking Age heathen mythology, Njord was briefly married to Skadi, the frost giantess who became a goddess of winter. That story took place in Asgard, though, and Njord, Freya, and Freyr all settled in Asgard as adults, with the status of hostages after the First War. So, Skadi is a stepmother, and after the divorce, a former stepmother. 

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Asatru FAQ: Authentic Viking Tattoos?

 

A frequently asked question is: How do I get an authentic Viking tattoo? There are lots of art designs that Asatruars and other heathens wear, but if you you want something historically accurate to the Viking Age, there are a few things to keep in mind.

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The Heathen Gods as Ideals

Picture the Platonic ideal of a cloud. Is it oval, white and fluffy? Set against a blue sky? Pretty, static, happy in a mild and calm way? Or did you imagine a thundercloud squirting rain and lightning and booms and rainbows and wind in all directions, wild and raw? Starting wildfires and putting them out? Fertilizing the earth, growing crops, and also flooding them, knocking them over, sheeting them with ice?

We are not always talking about the same ideal when we picture something as natural and observable as a cloud. How much more nebulous-- how much cloudier, as it were-- is the picture when we talk about such a thing as masculinity, in toxic and non-toxic flavors? Or any other quality that is socially constructed?

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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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