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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Recent Short Gnosis Experiences

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Since this is Gnosis Diary, here are a few short entries of my recent gnosis experiences.

A Story About Cucumbers

One day in in early fall this year, I happened to see a picture of Armenian cucumbers in my garden in a social media application that shows me photos I posted that day in previous years. I had not planted any vegetables this year for a couple of reasons, firstly because the mature landscaping in my front and back yards didn't leave much room for annual plantings, and secondly because it was getting to be too much work for, as I struggle to keep up with basic house and yard work. But on that day I saw the pic and wished I had some Armenian cucumbers in my garden. Then I kind of left the garden alone for about a week while I prepped for, went to, and unpacked from renfaire. (I no longer camp, but I was demonstrating weaving so I had a bunch of stuff on site, including an iron bed for afternoon napping.) Then I had to catch up with housework and you know, work-work, since I had a paid editing project. So it was a while before I went out in the garden again. Guess what was in the garden? Did you guess Armenian cucumbers? Thank you, gnome. They're delicious. 

Birds, Tea, and Butterflies

I often see wildlife in my garden or on my street. There are many birds that live in or visit my garden, including quail, goldfinches, house finches, hummingbirds, and a woodpecker. Once this fall I saw a raven on my street. Because it was unusual, and because the raven is a significant bird in heathenry, that one felt more numinous than sightings of the other birds. I greeted it as Huginn and Muninn, just in case it was one of Odin's birds.

I see butterflies a lot in my garden, too. I participate in butterfly population tracking by submitting my butterfly photos to for IDs to be verified and placed on the sighting map. Butterflies are sacred to Sigyn, according to modern group gnosis (see my article on Sigyn in Witches & Pagans Magazine.)

I have both a morning coffee ritual and an afternoon tea ritual. I never skip the coffee but sometimes I do skip afternoon tea depending on what I'm doing that day. With my morning coffee I raise toasts to Odin and his brothers and to Thor. With afternoon tea I raise toasts to the goddesses. I especially toast Frigga with linden tea, or jasmine green tea. I especially toast Freya with rose tea, and Sigyn with lavender tea. If I happen to have any coffee cake or tea cake, anything with cinnamon in it is for Loki, and the first bite of any cake or bread is for Sif. 

The Truck Spirit

Oddly, this story started on the DMV website. There was a page warning owners of classic vehicles like my truck that starting next year in 2023 classics are only allowed to be driven in parades and for maintenance, as ordered by a new state law passed by the state legislature. I won't go into who I think the lawmakers were trying to target in passing a law that creates an excuse to stop anyone driving an old car. After all, that's politics, and this story is about a spiritual experience.

To recap the background, I had inherited this truck when my died died in the 80s. At the time, I was in college and was new on the heathen path, and the only pagans I knew were Wiccan. It was a newbie mistake to cast a travel safety spell on the truck; I should have cast it on myself, but I didn't realize that until decades later. That was the start of its accumulating magic over the years. My mom had named it when it still belonged to my dad, but it didn't develop a personality until I'd been driving it for years. Its personality was loyal and protective. On several occasions it seemed to be lucky or to have saved me. It had a spirit. That was why I hung onto it all those decades, even after I decided I was never going to camp in it again, and as I got older the amount of cargo hauling capacity I needed decreased with the decrease in the things I could reasonably expect to be able to do. I always intended to fix it up when I got the money to do it, and this year I made plans to do so. I fixed one thing, and then got stuck trying to get the next thing on my list. The thing after that was going to be painting. As close to the same color as I could get it. I felt I could not change the colors because it was a horse-like being and it needed to stay horse colored. It had been the same colors for decades and that was part of the spirit's "body." 

So, there we were. I had intended to keep the truck until I could no longer physically drive. But that was when I pictured using it for doing truck things. I do a surprising amount of cargo hauling, more than transporting passengers. What counts as "maintenance?" I already kept a chart telling me when I drove it so I could be sure to drive it once a week. Is that "maintenance?" Would I be at risk driving it home from Costco with obvious purchases in the back? Even if nothing happened it would add an element of anxiety to a task I should give my full concentration, driving. 

Fortunately, in recent years I have developed the ability to listen to noncorporeal beings. I could not have done this before the novel gnosis writing experience which resulted in my becoming a godspouse, but now I could simply ask the truck spirit what it wanted to do. I explained the situation and asked the truck spirit what he wanted to do. I said he had a year to decide, but he decided immediately. He wanted to be released from his physical form. The truck was like his "body," as I had already thought. And for decades his "body" had been falling apart. Like mine, yes? I understood that. Just as I have parts that no longer work right and am not looking forward to it getting any worse as I age, the truck spirit experienced its "body" aging. I had not been aware until then the truck spirit experienced that. Unlike me, the pickup truck "body" doesn't require a spirit in it to keep functioning. The spirit could be released and leave the truck itself still drivable. These days, I am protected by the spirit of Tom, and by Odin god of journeys and travel, and by other gods. I was driving mom's car as often as dad's truck anyway so I was not being protected by the truck spirit every time I was on the road for years now. It was sad but not dangerous for me to release him. I released him. I raised a toast to Hel. 

I felt that I needed to make some sort of obvious change to the truck body before the next time I drove it -- it, not him, just the physical truck now. For two reasons: to interrupt my automatic greeting and speaking to the truck when I got in it so that I would not accidentally call the spirit back, and also because the body changes when something dies and is released to the spirit world. Humans can be cremated, or alternatively washed and viewed and buried. I have a dried butterfly in a fancy glass coffin. Two cats, and briefly a snake, were buried with ceremony in my garden. The physical truck still runs though and if it didn't it could just be repaired again so it had to be some other kind of change. I decided to paint it. Purple. So when I see I no longer think of it like an old horse, and don't accidentally call the spirit back, because now doesn't look like it did. Regardless of whether I painted it now whoever it goes to for parade use was going to have to paint it again anyway but at least this way I had a clean break with releasing the spirit and also the new paint will protect the metal until it can be made into whatever its final form will be. 

I am going to be looking into who might want to tow a parade float with a truck. I have a year to get that sorted out.

I ended up having to talk about this with Tom's spirit because the truck spirit got rid of its protective magic energy when it passed on by passing it along to another of my protectors, but once we talked about that it worked out ok. I also talked about this with a friend who had had a protective car spirit once but the physical car had been taken from her and she never got it back and she felt bad about it. I told her to ask her guides or gods to make sure its spirit had been released. 

Image: A goldfinch in my garden eating flower seeds. Photo by Erin Lale.

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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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