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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Anchor Token

When a small object simply appears in my life as if by magic, I generally interpret it as a sign of favor or a gift from the gods or other beings. Especially so if it a meaningful symbol that is easy to interpret. So when a tiny plastic anchor manifested on my back porch, it was clear to me that it was a numinous event. Here is the story of that day.

It was the first really hot day in May here in the Mojave Desert just south of Las Vegas. It was not quite going to break 100 but it was definitely going to be hot enough to go swimming. I was really looking forward to swimming season because swimming is my most reliable and best pain relief. It's great for my whole body and particularly the old knee injury but it's my old neck and shoulder injury for which swimming is the best relief. Long time readers of my blog will recall that ironically I got those injuries when I fell in while cleaning the pool. All winter I try my best to keep my shoulder from locking-- that year when I was running for office and had no time to even go to the public hot tub in the winter, I spent months trying to do my hair with only my left hand because I couldn't get my right up high enough, and it's something I hope never to repeat-- and this winter there had been several days warm enough for me to heat up the hot tub, and of course there is always the shower or bath, but actual swimming is best. The first two winters of the pandemic the public pool had been closed, but this year it was open. But after two years of never going to an indoor public place without my mask, and being unable to get the second vax or boost, I was cautious of swimming at the indoor public pool, and every time the pain in my neck and shoulder got so bad I was considering going anyway the weather had turned and I had been able to get in the hot tub. I had never actually gone to the indoor public pool this winter, although I was glad to know it was available if I needed it. Maybe by next winter the pandemic will be over, I hope.  So I had made it through the winter with my arm still working and without dying of the plague-- I had gotten sick with something or other on New Years' weekend but couldn't access testing in my local area for love or money, so I don't actually know if I had Covid or not, but I didn't have the can't smell thing so maybe not-- and now it was about to be swimming season at last.

In the morning before I left to go run errands in town I saw a butterfly. It was on the flowers of my Australian Racer, a flat ground cover. It was white, and I caught my breath and went still to observe it, to see if it was a Checkered White, the specific butterfly I most associate with the goddess Sigyn. It was! Checkered White! Seeing it was a sign of the goddess. There are many things I interpret as signs of the gods, not just small objects appearing. Particular wildlife encountered are in that category too.

By the time I got back from town I was soaked from the skin out with sweat and ready to jump in the pool, or at least to carefully step in on the steps. In honor of the occasion of my first big swim of the year, I put on my mermaid scale print bathing suit and coiled up my hair and secured it with my faux-pearl barrette. Thus attired as a mermaid, I got into the water and the relief was both instant and also built as I went. My mind blanked out and I experienced pure joy. There was a moment when I was underwater and actually thought of myself as a mermaid momentarily, before realizing I had legs and needed to kick with them. I thought that was funny after I surfaced, but apparently I touched something that way.

Years of mermaid rituals had always featured my kindred member who is an actual mermaid performer with a professional mermaid tail as the mermaid, but I had of course received the blessings. Now, my sheer delight in the water opened up something more, although I did not realize it until I saw the token.

When I got out of the pool, there was a tiny anchor on the carpet on my back porch. It was pool colored, the blue green of clear water in a white plaster pool like mine. I picked it up, and saw that it appeared to have once been an earring for pierced ears, which I don't have, although its hardware was crushed flat. I knew it was a token from the gods or powers, but my second thought was that someone might have lost it. The only person who had been in the back yard lately who wore pierced earrings was my housemate, so I went in and asked her if she had lost an earring. Nope, it was not hers. As I thought, it had just apported there. It was a token from the gods or other beings.

The next question was, who had left it there for me? There were several possibilities. An anchor is clearly a symbol of the sea, especially to me as my dad and older brother had both been in the US Navy so I recognized that specific anchor shape as a naval symbol. One of the great things about having developed a godphone in the past few years is that now when I have a question like that I can just ask and listen within. It did not take long to find out that it was from Aegir and Ran.

My kindred had started honoring the mermaids because of two kindred members, Amanda the mermaid performer and Tom the Heimdall's man, as we honored the Nine Mothers of Heimdall as mermaids. Tom was gone now, lost to Covid, but Amanda had become a gythia in the aftermath of that.

Decades ago, when Tom and I had both lived in California, we had gone to rituals organized by our mutual friend Prudence Priest, who was the leader of a San Francisco based kindred called Freya's Folk, and for some years had been leader of the Ring of Troth, before it split into two successor groups. Back then, every year there were two festivals where heathens camped out and had rituals, one in the redwoods called Ravenwood and one on the coast called Ostara, which was of course on Ostara in the spring. At the Ostara festival, the main ritual was always filling a replica Viking longship with small sacrifices such as nickels, lighting it on fire, and pushing it out past the breakers into the ocean. This was a sacrifice to Ran. One year we got gifts back from Ran when the ship's shields floated back onto the beach. Everyone had run to grab one and the one I got had a three horn symbol on it, a symbol of Odin and of mead. Ran had helped me steer towards Odin even during the time when I was sworn to Freya. Now Ran was back in my life, along with her counterpart Aegir. The mermaids were their daughters, and they appreciated my kindred's honoring of them.

I asked them what they would like from me. They like mead of course, and Aegir likes ale, but it turns out, back when I had selected rum as a drink with which to worship Heimdall and his mothers because of its association with the sea, I had chosen well enough for Aegir and Ran too. I didn't have any mead or ale in the house, since those are things that spoil so I only buy them right before they are to be used, but I did have rum, and that was acceptable. I had rum for the same reason that old time sailors kept it, because I could keep it around long term even in the heat of summer and it would stay good. So I raised a toast to Ran and Aegir with dark rum. I also toasted the mermaids their daughters, and Heimdall their grandson. I discussed with Aegir and Ran where to place the anchor token and we decided on the shell on my main house altar with the (possibly fake) pearls in it. That is how I added two more gods to my usual household practice. This morning I put on Siren, a mermaid honoring perfume by Cherry-Ka's Trunk, which is made by a friend of mine. This afternoon I will be swimming again, and no doubt thinking of Ran and Aegir, and their family.

Image: the anchor token in the abalone shell and pearls, 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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