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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Heimdall, Open the Bridge

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

My companion Tom Newman died of Covid on Friday. His patron god was Heimdall. This is the temporary altar setup I made for a toast to Heimdall and Tom, mostly composed of things from Tom's house and car. The rum had previously been used in last year's Rainbow Season ritual to Heimdall and his mothers.

When I was assembling this, originally I was only going to include the Heimdall coin as a kind of portable Heimdall altar that could go in the assemblage, but the Tyr coin literally leaped out at me. I don't know if that is because of Tom's dedication to justice or if it's because this is so close to Zisasege. That's an Urglaawe holiday but I feel close to Zisa too so although as an Asatruar I don't do the exact same full Zisasege ritual that Urglaawer do I am planning to do a little something for Zisa on the 28th. Zisa is Tyr's wife in Tyr's aspect as Ziu. So, I was opening the boxes to see which one the Heimdall coin was in and when I opened the box containing the Tyr coin it sproinged right out at me, so of course I included it.

Another interesting thing that happened during this ritual was that the glass jar candle broke. That's one of my candles, not one of Tom's. I tried to find the candles from Tom's house and I had been so sure I had brought them inside to keep them from melting in my garage but I couldn't find them so I used that one. (Our local kindred and other local friends cleared all the religious items, weapons, pictures, trophies, souvenirs, and other things that should not walk off with the state probate agency's cleaner team if the state decides to lock up Tom's house for probate and send in a cleaner team, which happens. I also cleared all the perishables out of the fridge and freezer that I had been using the past 2 years when I had been looking after Tom's house for him, hoping he would be able to move back into it, and having the occasional lunch or snack there while working over there. We turned Tom's house upside down looking for his DD-214 so he could have a military funeral, and we had to finish before he actually died in case the state locked me out when he died. I don't know if the probate office is even working right now due to the Covid restrictions but I couldn't take that chance. A kindred member found it last week. Anyway a bunch of us cleared it out in a hurry once we realized how much Tom was deteriorating and things are not organized they way they would be if I had known Tom was never moving back into his house from his care center and had spent the past 2 years carefully organizing and moving his stuff instead of carefully preparing his home for his eventual return. This hurried clearing might end up being as unnecessary as having Tom's bathroom renovated for wheelchair use, but I don't know whether I'll still be able to access Tom's house or not, just like I didn't know Tom would never get to use that bathroom at the time I had the work done.)

OK now that I've explained why I couldn't find Tom's candles, on to why I am talking about the broken candle thing. Since my earliest explorations on pagan and heathen consciousness I've always thought that if a magical or religious item broke it meant that was because it had done its job and now it was dead. But a little while ago I realized some objects could be repaired (see my post Letting Go of a Magical Object.) When I saw and heard the glass break it was startling and the candle was still lit. I had to extinguish it quickly. This is a good reason never to leave a lit candle unattended. I was glad I was right there when it happened. So I was thinking about the idea that ritual items that break have done their job and I was wondering exactly what the candle had done, and since I now possess a godphone to the god of fire I asked him. Loki told me that the thing broke because it was of low quality (not his precise words, that's a polite paraphrase) and it didn't mean anything. Things break because they break. It's the way of material objects to break or wear out. But it was good that I had done some "funerals" for broken jewelry and things like that in my teens and twenties, and moved on to funerals for animals later, because it prepared me to hold funerals for people. The practice made me ready to hold my mom's rites earlier this year and now my companion's. Letting go of broken jewelry my dad had made for me when I was a teenager also prepared me to let go of other meaningful things and to practice detachment. Even though the reason I started ritually letting go of broken things was based on an illusion, it was still a good practice for me.

I'm not ready to write Tom's obituary yet. When I'm ready to write about him I'll start a Forever Missed page for him. I'm in the middle of planning a virtual online funeral for him, and I feel that my world will never be the same. The religious Asatru funeral for him will be a sumbel. I'm still working out the technical details. It will be just for people who knew him and will be by invitation only. He will also have a public military funeral in person at the local veterans' cemetery. The date for that has not been set yet. I'm receiving a lot of help and I've had plenty of practice handling an estate after handling my mom's earlier this year but I'm still overwhelmed. I'm still committed to all my radio and public appearances though. I'll write another post 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.


  • Victoria
    Victoria Monday, 28 September 2020

    My deepest sympathies for your loss.

    May he pass swiftly to his ancestors and add to the deep well of love, support and wisdom for his kin to draw upon.

    Sceal æghwylc mon alætan lændagas.
    Every man shall relinquish the days loaned to him.

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Tuesday, 29 September 2020

    Thank you, Victoria.

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