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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A Rune Magic Book Set Me On My Heathen Path

Continuing the story of my early experiences that led me to Asatru, I finally arrived at the trailhead of the heathen path at 17. In this quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts, my older brother’s girlfriend Cynthia gave me a gift that set me on the road of the runes:
     “On my 17th birthday, Cynthia gave me a slender book, Futhark:  A Handbook of Rune Magic, by Edred Thorsson.  Reading it felt more like recognition than discovery, and by the time I put it down I knew I had seen Truth.  As a devotee of Tolkien I knew that runes were ancient writing, and could be used for magic.  Now I saw infinite levels of meaning in the mysteries the runes symbolized.  What clinched the feeling of Truth for me was that, understood metaphorically, nothing in the eldritch rune lore contradicted what I knew of science.  In Norse legend, in the beginning was the void, and the first other thing to exist was the differentiation of fehu and isa, fire and ice, the primal energy and the primal pattern.  It was easy to read this as energy and matter, two sides of the same coin, or the same magically charged void, but also a realistic description of the first things to exist in the multiverse, particles / waves.  Only then came the multiverse, then the giants or old gods, then the new gods, then our world, and then us.  Human beings were shaped from trees, and then followed a succession of human types known as Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather, Grandmother and Grandfather, Mother and Father, and finally Noble—that’s us.  It was evolution writ large, gods included.

     I began working with runes, first as crafter and then as reader.  Later I wondered why she had given me that book, and not a book about her own religion, Wicca; perhaps she knew somehow that the runes were the path for me.”

The runic world view was what brought me to heathenry. I had not yet read about the gods, and did not yet realize I had already encountered one; it would be years before I figured that out. I had not yet ever heard the word Asatru or met another heathen, but I was on the heathen path from that day, January 25th, 1986.

(A side note about the image illustrating this post: There really is a place called Uppland. On Earth; if there is a way to find pictures of Jotunheim in the Wikimedia Commons, I have not found it. The Uppland in the photo above is in Sweden. This rune stone is there, and it's the oldest rune stone in Sweden, dating from the 6th century AD. I doubt that Uppland, Sweden has a snowfield full of giantesses with Snow Cups on their heads, though. The place Uppland from my dream of the Lord of the Monsters is probably not the same place. It would be really cool to visit it someday and see, though.)

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Erin Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners and other books. She 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, and is the author of the Heathen Calendar 2017 and 2018.


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