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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Save the Monarch for Sigyn

Earth Day is coming soon. Earth Day used to be Arbor Day, when people planted trees. Some modern Asatruars call it Yggdrasil Day, meaning day of the World-Tree. Although every day should be Earth Day for pagans and heathens, for those who are looking for a way to commemorate it, I have a suggestion: save the Monarch Butterfly. 

Butterflies symbolize many things across many cultures. Modern heathens and pagans have come to associate the butterfly with the goddess Sigyn. The process started with personal gnosis, became group gnosis, and eventually found some foundation in the lore, as I explore in my upcoming paper "Sigyn: Butterfly Goddess," scheduled to be published soon in Witches & Pagans Magazine.

Those who love Sigyn find their own unique ways to honor her. I honor her in various ways. I have lavender bushes in my garden, which are a favorite buffet of bees, birds, and butterflies. I use the lavender in various food related uses, but in particular I make extracts of lavender with other flavors as a beverage for toasting Sigyn. I include lavender in my recipe for Northern Lights Goddesses Brew, which has various ingredients to honor various goddesses, in which the lavender is for Sigyn. I have butterfly jewelry to honor her, and a butterfly and runic inscription on a rune scarf I made, to honor her as well.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, once when I was looking for something with which to honor Sigyn, I got the impression that what she really wanted was not another image of butterflies but actual butterflies-- real live butterflies flying around in nature. I ordered milkweed seeds and planted them in my garden, but they didn't do much. Later I realized that my local area is a migration area for the monarch, not a reproduction area, so the best thing to put in my garden for them is general nectar flowers that support the adult forms of all kinds of butterflies. I usually only see monarch butterflies here in my yard and out in the deep desert nearby in October, but this winter I've seen an occasional monarch fly through. 

In modern secular culture the monarch butterfly is part of the logo of the Non-GMO Project, where it indicates a product that is free of such items as the Roundup Ready seeds which were designed specifically to promote the use of the herbicide Roundup, which causes loss of monarch butterfly habitat. The butterfly symbol on a product therefore means that product is produced in a manner that is safe for butterflies. One way I honor Sigyn is to choose products bearing this symbol over similar products without it. I first started paying attention to the non-GMO Project for the sake of Sif, as I wrote about in a previous post. Once I had started looking at it, though, and noticed their logo, it became apparent that the interests of Sif and of Sigyn run together when it comes to issues of nature and agriculture. 

Each individual action we take might not do much by itself, but when many people act together it sends a strong signal of what we want. And what is it that I want, in this instance? To stop poisoning the earth, for Thor, for Sif, for Jord. To save the monarch butterfly, for Sigyn. When many people act together, we can make real change in the world. 

Image: monarch butterfly by ulleo, creative commons via pixabay

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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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