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.
Reflections on Spiritual Changes Since My Mom's Death

A lot has changed over the past year. Obviously, many of the changes are not of a religious nature, but since this is my heathen path blog I'm focusing on the spiritual changes. My mom died in February. That was just before the Covid restrictions started. I was able to hold a normal, traditional wake for her with family who had flown in from out of town and many of her local friends, including the folk dancers and some members of her bridge club. I handled it. It was hard but I handled it. Then I was alone. The lockdowns started and I was alone. And then there was Tom. My companion Tom Newman died in September. More about that in a moment.

I've already blogged a lot about the experiences I've had since mom passed on.

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I know how much my fellow heathens and pagans get annoyed about things being called Christmas that are actually pagan. The upcoming conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21st 2020 will make the two planets appear as a single bright star to the naked eye, or like a double planet. Since it will be visible just after sundown it will be easier to view than some other sky occurrences, so people are excited about it. I've seen posts on the net saying the media calling it a Christmas star is wrong because it will be on the solstice, not on the 25th. The date of Christmas in the Bible is in lambing season, but the date established for the holiday by the Church as December 25 was supposed to be the solstice.

Christmas was originally established over the date of Roman Saturnalia, or on Sol Invictus (the Romans had multiple gods with overlapping areas of influence just like we heathens), which was on the winter soltice in accordance with the Julian calendar in use at the time. The winter solstice precesses, though. The Gregorian calendar reform re-established the drifted date of Christmas with the solstice. Eastern Orthodox who still follow the Julian calendar have their Christmas on January 7 according to our calendar, the Gregorian. Since the Gregorian calendar reform, the solstice precessed again. So the dates of Christmas and the solstice are off again, but they aren't supposed to be. Christmas was supposed to be on the solstice, so calling it a Christmas Star is not really wrong.
 
However, it is not going to look like a cross in the sky. It's going to look like a double planet, or if you have a telescope, like two planets close to each other.
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Yule Ritual Plan

Planning a ritual in the time of Covid may require some adaptations. My kindred usually does winter holidays indoors, as illustrated by the picture above of last year's Yule, but this year we decided to do a bonfire outside in my back yard. Outdoor events are considered safer than indoor ones.

Ritual planning can require some forethought even if you've conducted a lot of rituals. Here are some ideas for an Asatru style Yule ritual, which other kinds of heathens, pagans, and polytheists might like to vik as well. (Asatruars sometimes semi-humorously say we are "viking" something, because that sounds so much cooler than "stealing.")

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Heimdall's Guardians

I had a conversation via the godphone in my head with my companion Tom the day after his military funeral. In life, he followed Heimdall, and in death he joined Heimdall's company. Heimdall is the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge, and those who join him in the afterlife are likewise Guardians, but they guard living people here on the earthly plane of existence. Just to be clear, this blog is Gnosis Diary and you are reading gnosis right now, though bits of lore might also appear in this story.

I've had multiple conversations with Tom since his death and I already knew he had become my spiritual protector in his afterlife. I have made a habit of starting my day by sitting next to his shrine, lighting a candle, sharing a beverage with him and spending some quiet moments together, whether we speak or not. Often the cat joins us. Our little family of three, all together.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, there are. We got one in the mail from our vet's office after our kitty Beni-Wan Cat-Obi died. It was clearly meant to be
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm not familiar with the corporate greeting cards you mentioned. Are there actually greeting cards for people who's pets have di

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Before Tom's funeral sumbel, when I was arranging various statuary on the porch, I unpacked several boxes of Tom's religious items which I had packed at his house. I couldn't find the blue Freyr statue. A few weeks later there was a slight adjustment to the timeline. Then I found the blue statue, but it was Freya. Definitely had boobs. It also had a thick layer of dust, which I tried to wash off and discovered the blue was paint that just washed right off. I washed it until it turned into this, the design standing out in high relief. Then I thought, "Oh oh, I washed the goddess. The slaves of Nerthus who washed the goddess got drowned in a lake. Please don't drown me in a lake. Or the pool. Or..." To which the goddess replied that she would not drown me and I already survived drowning in the pool. Which was true, but I never thought of it that way. I fell in an aging but relatively able woman and came out an athritic old crone, so, I guess that was my shamanic near-death experience? Hmm. It didn't seem very spiritual and I'm pretty sure all I really experienced was fear. But anyway, here's my new Freya statue. To be handled with gloves on only because that blue stuff still comes off on everything.

See the image on this link because I can't upload pics to my blog right now for an unknown reason:

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Navigate 2020 Chaos with Loki

This year's world events seem so random it's like being a character in a role playing game subject to the dreaded random encounter dice. People have been making memes all year about the latest random event and "did you have x on your 2020 bingo card?" Usually when someone suggests a particular event is chaos I reflexively try to explain why it's actually the function of order, that is, the function of some understandable process in which causes lead to effects, much like the heathen concept of wyrd and orlog. This year, though, it really does appear to be full of totally random, causeless events all over the world. There is a popular theory circulating on social media that explains the phenomenon, sometimes shared seriously and sometimes humorously. It references CERN, the Mandela Effect, and a small, possibly curious or mischievous, weasel.

Assuming you're a regular human and not a time mage or a god or one of the physicists planning to crack open reality and punch through to another universe, how can you travel through this time, relentlessly moving forward one minute per minute whether you will or you nil? How better than to invoke the protection of a god known for working through chaos to bring about a better world?

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This year Halloween will have a full moon. It should also have full bellies-- full of candy. Just like all years. Instead of having trick or treaters come to the door and ring the bell, my neighbors and I have decided we're going to set up tables and chairs outside and give away candy outside near the curb. I keep seeing people on the net saying Halloween is canceled, but plenty of other events are happening outdoors and Halloween is an important community ritual. Plus wearing masks is part of the tradition! There's no reason it can't be done safely. Keep it outside, keep groups apart from other groups, and it's no different from any other outdoor event.

I'm not going to be personally putting candy into the kids' sacks this year, I'm going to let him help themselves from the bowl. I'm just going to be out there to be sure one kid doesn't take it all, just like my neighbors will be doing. This is going to be a no contact event for me and Halloween still goes on.

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