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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Honor the Bull part 2

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Part 2 of this 3 part series deals with the Bear symbol in the Bull and Bear pair which are the patron spirits of Wall Street and by extension the national and global economy. 

Bears are still important in Asatru and other Heathen religions and in my personal practice. The ancient art of Bersarkrgangr is named after the Bear spirit, as it was the most common fylgia, or spirit skin, of historical Bersarkrs. My personal Bear spirit is a guardian spirit as well as a being that I can embody through the art of Bersarkrgangr. I honor my Bear ang gift him with honey. I see him in my mind’s eye as both inhabiting his own realm which is a bear paradise with trees full of wild honey hives and a river full of salmon and a soft place to rest, and also continuously within and around me as my fylgia and guardian against bad entities.

So, there is of course nothing inherently wrong with Bear as spirit being, or with bears the animal. The people of New York have simply chosen the Bull as their being for prosperity, symbolizing the growth of the field in summer, and the Bear as their symbol of winter’s cyclical death and hibernation. The association between Bears and winter is ancient and also a continuous practice, as seen by customs such as the Yuletide bear dance Tot Ursi practiced in Romania, a possible survival of which is the dancing bear that was part of Russian winter celebrations until recently. The seasonal cycles of growing and dying back to grow again are not only part of the mythology of agricultural peoples but are part of the mythology of peoples that still honor Bear as well. For example, the Saami people have a Bear God who hibernates in a cave in winter, and one of the tasks of a Saami shaman is to wake up the Bear God in spring so that summer will come. A possible echo of this idea has come into the Norse mythology as the image of the summer and fire god Loki in a cave; in tracing symbols like this the story elements are just excuses for the image, and the important part is the image that is the same through different civilizations and time periods, so other associations with that image in Norse mythology are not as important, although it is suggestive that one of the being opposing him in that story is Skadi, goddess of winter. In addition to Loki, Odin and his entire bloodline are associated with bears. Odin, Thor, and Thor’s sons are all associated with bears, especially Odin as a patron of Bersarkrs. (Freya’s bersarkrs are cat related.) So the Bear is a wonderful being and there is nothing wrong with Bear. Bear has just been assigned the role of winter and hibernation in the Bull and Bear system. So, in the Bull and Bear system, one honors Bull for prosperity.


For further reading:

On Bear worship:

Religion Laid Bear by Alan Leddon.

On Bersarkrgangr:

Bersarkrgangr: The Viking Martial Art, by Erin Lale, Enheduanna Journal #3.

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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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