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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Letting Go of a Spiritual Object

Sacred objects and spiritual souvenirs sometimes have to leave our lives. There are several different circumstances when we might have to say good-bye to something that used to be important to us. These circumstances largely dictate how we let go.

1. The item is broken

a. repair or b. funeral

Occasionally you might need to just keep a broken object in its broken state, perhaps because the god to whom it was dedicated told you to. Usually you would either repair the object or give it a funeral, though. 

2. The item no longer fulfills its purpose in our lives

a. It now has a negative connotation that exists only in our mind, not in the object itself, such as, when we stop being friends with its maker, or it was present during a traumatic episode. Solution: pass it along to someone who can appreciate it.

b. We have grown away from the purpose for which we had it, such as, it is an item representing a god we used to be close to and now we are closer to another. Solution: pass it along to someone who can appreciate it.

c. We have already replaced it with another object, for example, years ago I had an Eye of Odin staff and then I got an Eye of Odin ring. Solution: pass it along to someone who can appreciate it. (I gave the Eye of Odin staff away during the official giveaway activity at Pagan Spirit Gathering in 2010.) 

3. The item has become tainted 

a. cleanse or b. funeral

how to cleanse:

To cleanse away minor negative connotations or taint, and recharge it with new positive thoughts and energy, first use salt or saltwater to cleanse, then cleanse/ recharge with incense (what some heathens would call recels or reek sticks) or fire, then a final recharge with light, either moonlight or sunlight or both, with song / chants / runes or poetry spoken aloud, and blessing with alcohol or blood or an item specific to the god or being to whom the object is dedicated, such as rose petals for Freya. If any of these steps would damage the object, then substitute something similar. It is not necessary to do all of that, just choose at least one cleansing and one recharging / blessing.

To cleanse away a major taint, give the object a funeral and then a new birth ceremony like you would do for a brand new object (see the next post, Welcoming a New Spiritual Object.)

how to funeral: 

Tell the object it was a good (whatever it was) and fulfilled its purpose but it's done now. Then dispose of or destroy it. You can bury it and give it back to the earth, or cremate it with fire. You can also unmake it.

If you are not giving the object a permanent funeral, but only letting its spirit go and drawing a new spirit into it, then don't dispose of it or bury or cremate it. Instead, unmake it and remake it and then give it a new birth ceremony or other welcoming ceremony. Not all objects can be unmade and remade. Examples of unmaking and remaking include melting down a metal object and casting it anew, unraveling a sweater and knitting it anew, etc.

4. We made the item to be sold or given away in the first place.

For example, I make Rune Scarves. Sometimes I get attached to particular artworks I've made just because I like them so much, even if I never use them myself. Solution: just let go. Crafts made to be sold or given as gifts are like eggs, sooner or later they hatch and fly away and that is how it is supposed to be. 

5. We are planning ahead for our own passing

Solution:

a. pass the item along now, perhaps to an apprentice,

b. specify in a will to whom the item will be passed along. B only works if someone looks at your will before disposing of your items. 

c. Designate an executor who will recognize the significance of your spiritual items. Rather than listing all your items in a will, chose a person who will know how to care for the items and can be trusted to decide to whom they will be given. 

Image: the pendant I had dedicated to Lodhur, which broke sometime after this photo was taken. 

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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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