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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Answering Questions About My New Book Part 2

Here are some more questions and answers about my new book Asatru: A Beginner's Guide to the Heathen Path, and about me and my other books and projects. This book is the ONLY official, authorized new version of my out-of-print book Asatru For Beginners.

With that out of the way, here are some more of the questions and answers. Part 1 of this 2 part series ran last weekend.

So you believe in Thor?
Yes. That’s the simple answer. The more complicated answer is that belief is not central to heathen religion. Is Asatru a set of beliefs? Or is it more of a set of ways to relate to a set of deities and other beings, including other humans? We often say we are not an orthodoxy—a set of beliefs—but an orthopraxy—a set of rituals and customs. What is important in heathenry is not whether we believe in Odin or Freya or our ancestors, but how we honor them and communicate with them. Traditionalists also include a variety of cultural practices which modernists don’t practice. Cultural practices are ways to relate to one’s self and one’s society in addition to one’s higher powers.

To put it another way: In mythology-- that is, stories-- Thor has a red beard and rides in a chariot pulled by goats. When I encounter him in real life, he looks like a big gray rain cloud. How could I possibly disbelieve in a big gray rain cloud?
Do you write other things besides Asatru nonfiction?
Yes, I also write science fiction, poetry, recipes, speeches, lots of different stuff. I used to write the Outdoors column for the Sonoma Index-Tribune, back in the early 90s when I lived in California. I’ve done technical writing about back end wireless communications processes. In fact, the first short story I sold to Perihelion Science Fiction was inspired by working with wireless technology. I created the Time Yarns science fiction universe, and edited 3 multi-author anthologies in that universe, as contributing editor, meaning I also had a story in each volume. I was also contributing editor of a Viking and heathen themed short story anthology called No Horns On These Helmets.  I directed a short art film, Rain Dance, which you can watch on IMdB. I’ve also started an online photo and video movement, the Heathen Visibility Project, to fill search returns on heathen related search terms with images of heathens and things made by heathens, to drive images of neo-Nazis misusing our symbols off the first page of search results, in order to deny them that social space. Anyone can participate in the Project by using the hashtag heathenvisibility. I have a channel on Youtube, and heathenvisibility images on DeviantArt and Shutterstock.
Do you have your next book in the works already?
 Yes, Novel Gnosis is finished, again (I think.) I had a book contracted with a publisher that closed before publishing it. Once when I was visiting a fellow author, we talked about our experiences receiving gnosis while writing fiction, and we thought that would be a great topic for a collection of essays by multiple authors. I approached a third fellow author, with whom I’d been discussing gnosis via email, and he got onboard. Then I contacted the publisher I was working with on American Celebration, Caliburn Press, and they gave the go ahead to do Novel Gnosis. I posted an open submission call on my blog Gnosis Diary, got several more essays, sent in the manuscript, and it was accepted. Then Caliburn Press closed. So Novel Gnosis was never published. The publisher of my Asatru book requires their books to be longer than Caliburn did so I added some content, but when I presented it to them, the publisher wasn't interested in a multi-author anthology. I may have a new publisher for it again, but they want some content from some additional authors and I'm waiting to hear back on that.
Any more fiction appearing soon?
As it happens, I had another book orphaned by the closure of Caliburn besides the Novel Gnosis book. Caliburn also had purchased Eternal Press, which published my space fantasy Planet of the Magi. Unlike Novel Gnosis, Planet of the Magi was actually published before Caliburn closed, although only an ebook edition appeared before Caliburn’s closure. Planet of the Magi had really great cover art, and I purchased the rights to the cover art when Caliburn closed, and I’m hoping it will still have a print edition with another publisher someday. I’ve put that on the back burner at the moment to concentrate on getting my nonfiction published. In the meantime, I’ve always got more short stories appearing in various magazines and anthologies. Most recently I had a story in Spring Into Scifi 2020, featuring what may or may not be an AI, or Loki, or some combination of both.
If you were a superhero, who would you be?
MadGenius was a character I created in the 90s. She was able to leave her body while sleeping, and fly through the city handing out justice. She got her superpower from an experimental mental health drug. She didn’t need a secret identity because she was lying in a hospital bed the whole time she was out-of-body fighting crime. I drew a couple of pages of the comic before realizing I was no good at drawing comics and gave up. I don’t think that concept would work now, because the name Mad Genius is being used for another author’s fan club, and the traditional crime fighting superhero doesn’t fit today’s culture. These days supers and their villains have more scope. So if I were to write a superhero today, I might write one based on my recent paper on Bersarkrgangr which appeared in Enheduanna Journal. I’d create a cat type berserker, whose power is to turn into a cat. I’d give her something to fight that’s larger than street crime. Or heck, put ‘em both in the same graphic novel, and let people try to guess which one is the hero and which one is the villain.
Where can we read more of your Asatru nonfiction, besides your books?
("I write the blog Gnosis Diary: Life as a Heathen on Pagansquare." Obviously you're reading this on my blog right now, but this question was originally posed elsewhere.)
I also publish nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in various magazines and anthologies. Besides the paper on Bersarkrgangr in Enheduanna, I also recently published a paper on Sigyn in Witches & Pagans Magazine, and my article on how to tell heathen symbols from hate symbols is coming soon in the same magazine. I review books for Eternal Haunted Summer Magazine. To participate in my online community, join the Asatru Facebook Forum. You can get my latest publishing news on my blog, my Amazon author page, and my social media; I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Minds, and MeWe; and my author site

Q: What's coming up next that you're excited about?

A: This weekend I'm planning to virtually attend Frith Forge over the net. I'm pretty excited! Usually attending a big event is a once every few years thing because of the amount of time, money, planning, and other resources that go into travel. But this year I've already attended several heathen and pagan events over the net, which is really cool! I plan to do more virtual events as they come up. I hope it remains an option after the time of the lockdowns is over.

Q: Anything you'd like to add?

A: (Links to buy my book are on part one of these questions and answers, which posted on this blog in part 1.) Remember you can check my book out of your library both in the print edition and the ebook edition via Overdrive or your local system!



About the rumor that a white supremacist gang put a hit out on me:

I heard it for the first time last week while doing a live interview about my book launch, and at the time I dismissed it as an exaggeration. It sounded to me like the kind of distorted story that circulates like the game called Telephone or Gossip where a story is changed every time someone hears it until it's unrecognizable. I thought it was probably a garbled retelling of an online spat I had with someone whose book I reviewed, or something like that.

Then after I mentioned it off-handedly in the I am Bear post, a reader of this blog contacted me and told me to take it more seriously. So I just want to reassure everyone that although it's probably nothing, I am taking extra precautions just in case.

It is highly unlikely that it is my wyrd to die in battle in a shootout against a white supremacist gang, but there are worse ways to go-- literally, I watched my mom die of cancer this year-- so if that is my wyrd then I accept it. I wear a Valknut and I mean it. I'm not afraid of death; I've looked into the eyes of death and found her to be kind, gentle, and loving. It's life that is suffering. But right now I have a lot of things left to accomplish so I'd prefer to put that off a bit.

I tried to learn more about the rumor but I did not uncover any details. I don't know what gang it was supposed to be. The rumor didn't say why either except that it was associated with me being a writer. I'm going to guess it probably has something to do with the immanent publication of my guide on how to tell the difference between heathen symbols and hate symbols, because that is information that can be used to identify neonazis and white power gangsters. If they meant to silence me before the article comes out, they are too late, it's already typeset and will be on newsstand shelves soon.




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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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