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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Butterflies Across Nevada

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The first time I traveled with Tom was October 2014, on our first trip to Front Sight. I saw tons of ravens and butterflies. One might not expect a gun club to double as a wildlife refuge, but it has a lot of open land, including large undeveloped areas where people aren’t allowed. The first day out in the open desert, I saw lots of ravens. One raven flew over the range with prey in its beak. And the butterflies! Yellow ones, white ones, blue ones, brown ones, two different kinds of orange ones, even a couple of Monarchs!

Butterflies are Sigyn’s animal messengers, just like ravens are Odin’s. I took both those signs as cosmic thumbs ups.

I was sure what Odin’s approval was for, because this was during the time when I was writing Some Say Fire, and he and Loki had been helping me with my issues through my fiction writing. Odin approved of my taking a chance and learning to trust another human being.

I knew Loki approved of that, too. I didn’t need a sign from him; I could feel a small touch of his presence whenever I looked within, not his attention but just a presence, like a little standby power light.  I know a lot of people associate spiders with Loki, but that doesn’t resonate with me, so when I saw a very large spider occupying the side of a soap dispenser, I did not associate it with Loki. I just made a tactical movement over to the next soap dispenser.

I saw lots of ravens and butterflies throughout the course, but especially days 1 and 4. Day 1 was about approval of my choice to push through my fear and go out there at all. Day 4, there were just so many butterflies, all following the wind and crossing the range right to left, that I knew Sigyn was signaling approval of something, but I was not sure exactly what.

There was a point in Day 4 in which I wanted to quit. During the skills test that afternoon, my gun malfunctioned 5 times in a row. Time 3, one of the rangemasters cleared it for me, time 4 happened in the rangemaster’s hand, he was sure he had it fixed before he handed it back to me and then it malfunctioned again. I got brain lock. I forgot what to do. After that I couldn’t hit anything. That was partly mental, but I was also really tired and both my hands hurt, not just the one with the one year old healed fracture.

That was not the end of the day; there were going to be contests after that. I sat down in the shaded chair area and wondered what I was even doing there. Then I felt Loki and Odin within me. Loki approved of my desire to travel to heathen gatherings with a traveling companion. He wanted me to be able to fulfill that wish, and that meant getting comfortable with traveling with Tom. I sensed that Odin agreed with Loki. He didn’t care whether I learned to shoot well or not; my role is poet, not warrior. Thus reassured, I went back out and participated in the contests, even though I knew I was going to lose.

At the end of the day, when the instructor handed out the certificates, I was one of the handful of people he gave special recognition to. “This is for Erin, who brought that small gun, and stuck it out to the end.”

I realized that was what Sigyn approved of: sticking it out to the end. She approves of positive stubbornness, a personality trait I have in common with her. It wasn't that she cared about what I was doing, it was that she approved of the personality trait I was exhibiting while doing it. That realization helped me draw closer to her. 

 

 Image: an Orange Sulphur butterfly I photographed in my garden. 

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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.

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