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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Continuing this series on my religious insights I gained while writing a novel, that is, novel gnosis. In Some Say Fire, Hel the goddess is called Hela. Hel the place is called Helheim.

Hela, the goddess

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Novel Gnosis part 13: Heimdall

Heimdall is the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge. After Odin sculpted humanity, there is a story in heathen Lore that the god Rig then fathered new kinds of humans, and most Asatruars consider Rig to be a name of Heimdall. 

In the Fireverse, Heimdall is partly a participant in a lot of the shenanigans that Thor and Loki get up to in Jotunheim, because he is the one who lets them in and out. He opens the Bridge for them when they go and listens for them to call on him to send down the Bridge for their return. He’s a friend to both of them. There is Lore that Thor does not walk on the Bridge because his mighty footfalls would destroy it, but in the Fireverse he walk on it like everyone else.

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Garm is the helhound of Norse mythology. He is literally Hel's hound.

In the Fireverse, after Fenris is bound, Zisa misses having a puppy around the house, and takes steps to produce Garm. Garm’s parentage is kept secret and when he starts showing signs that he is not an ordinary dog he is sent to be Hel’s watchdog before anyone in Asgard guesses the truth. In the Fireverse, this is the secret behind Loki’s claim in Lokasenna to have had sex with Tyr’s wife.

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Novel Gnosis part 11: Frigga

Frigga wears cloud gray. Sometimes she wears a blue head scarf. In the stories in which she and Odin favor different champions, they are not truly antagonists but are engaging in a contest they both enjoy, pitting the universe’s two best minds against each other, somewhat like playing chess. There is one thing they genuinely disagree on, and that is the best way to handle prophecy. While Odin tries his best to fulfill prophecy, Frigga tries to use knowledge of the future to change the future.

Frigga makes a lot of fiber art, and makes all the clothes for Odin’s family. When Thor and Loki were unmarried and lived with Odin, that included them too.

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Novel Gnosis part 10: Freyr and Gerda

In the Lore, Freyr the twin of Freya sends his servant/ avatar to woo Gerda in a story widely interpreted as a metaphor of the warmth of spring bringing fertile green growth to the earth. In that story, Freyr gives up his sword for marriage. This is interpreted to mean he becomes a god of peace when he marries, which is why his temples forbade weapons inside. The Asatru wedding ceremony includes the transfer of the groom's sword to the bride, which may be an echo of this tale. In Voluspa, the Prophecy of the Seeress, Freyr is foretold to wield antlers instead of a sword at Ragnarok. Because of his, he is sometimes depicted as an antlered god.

In the Fireverse, Freyr and Loki don’t really get along that well after Freyr’s marriage. Fireverse-Gerda was an important witch in Jotunheim and had been being considered to take over the spot that Hel had originally been expected to fill before becoming queen of the world of the dead. (At first Angrbodha didn’t know if Hel was going to survive birth, since she sloughed half her skin almost immediately, but after it became clear she was going to live it was thought she might become the priestess of the hot well of the Iron Woods, the keeper of the source of the river that powered Jotunheim’s thermosynthetic ecosystem.) So Gerda becoming part of Asgard society kind of messed up some of Loki’s relatives plans, and Loki wasn’t convinced Gerda really wanted to be there and that ticked him off. That is plot-driven story stuff, though, so I don’t know if any of it applies outside the Fireverse.

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Novel Gnosis part 9: Freya

In the Fireverse, Freya’s big house Sessrumnir has the same characteristic as Frigga’s house in that both of the houses can generate whatever sort of room is needed at the moment, with whatever sort of décor and furnishings, while still having some permanent areas. Most of the cats live in the field with the warriors, but some of them live in the house.

Even though the name of Freya’s house means “many rooms” and traditionally all the dead that go to a particular god go inside the god’s house or the building set aside for them (such as Valhalla), in the Fireverse, Freya’s legion of warriors camp in the field of Folkvangr, between Freya’s house and the main road of Asgard. Freya’s army is not meant to be used at Ragnarok, but to survive Ragnarok and help build the new world. She doesn’t have her entire army train every day the way Odin’s warriors do, but some of her warriors do choose to battle each other as training. There are also combat sports contests such as jousting tournaments, occasionally. Freya’s warriors can choose to participate in such contests or not. As a nation-building army, not all the members of her army are combat oriented, even though they all died in battle just like Odin’s warriors.

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Fenris the wolf is the son of Loki and Angrboda. In the Lore he is prophesied to help destroy the world at Ragnarok, so the gods bind him.

Fireverse Fenris and Jormungandr have beast shapes because Loki is a shape shifter. In the Fireverse, Odin is aware of the prophecy about Fenris, and that is the main reason he gives Fenris to Tyr and Zisa to raise, to try to keep Fenris under control. Zisa already has an affinity for dogs because Fireverse Zisa is the same goddess as Nehallenia. Tyr and Zisa raise Fenris in their home as their foster son. It is a great tragedy when the gods decide Fenris has gotten too big—in the way that Ymir got too big, so that allowing him to keep growing would mean he would eventually eat the whole universe—and they decided to bind Fenris. The main person behind the decision to act when they did was Odin. Fenris regards his binding as a betrayal by his father figure Tyr. Fenris still loves Zisa but he is permanently mad at Tyr. Zisa still feeds Fenris; she catches fish in her nets in her fishing boat (she no longer sails her war boat) and brings them to his island where he is bound and she dumps her nets out on the beach, where he can just reach them.

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