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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Novel Gnosis part 25: Nidhoggr

Nidhoggr is the worm that eats the dead. Many things in mythology are taken too literally and need to be examined as symbolic, but in this case the standard interpretation is ignoring the obvious literalism of a worm eating corpses. This is not describing punishment of sinners, it’s recycling. Worms literally eat corpses. Then they turn the matter into worm castings that grow plants.

This isn’t really novel gnosis in that I did not arrive at this insight while writing my novel, but I did discuss it in my head with Sigyn one night while I was at least partly asleep, and I only developed the ability to talk to gods and have them answer me while I was writing a novel with the gods as characters in it, so in a way all the conversations I’ve had with them since then follow directly from the writing of the novel.

There are other recycling / composting images in the lore connected with the dead. Holle's Mill grinds the dead back into their constituent parts so the various parts can be reborn. That includes the multiple soul parts that the heathen traditions teach each person has.

Image: worm, naturally by byzantiumbooks, creative commons via


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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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