Monthly Archives: June 2021

QOTD

The worst thing you can do in your spiritual life or practices is seek peer acceptance or approval from others. Your service must have the Gods at the center and must always come back to the Gods. You don’t need approval from human beings. You need approval from the Gods.

–Ptahmassu Nofra-U’aa

Be Safe in This Heat Wave

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For those in areas affected by this heat wave, please stay safe and hydrated. If you’re working out doors, hiking, gardening, etc. try to do it in the early morning or at twilight when the heat is not so intense. We’re having record breaking temperatures across the US and Canada and it is blistering hot outside. Check in on your family and friends, especially the elderly. If you do go outside, wear a hat. 

One thing that I’ve found helpful is drinking rehydration salts. If you find yourself getting a lot of muscle cramps in this heat, the problem may be dehydration and electrolyte imbalance (usually calcium, potassium, or salt). Rehydration salts correct this. My physical therapist recommended them last year and I have found them extremely helpful. I mention this here because it’s not something I”d have considered prior to that recommendation. I use a brand called Liquid IV, but I think there are probably other brands available. (I like to mix them with Emergen-C). 

Whatever you do, stay safe. 

Most of all, stay hydrated.

Universities Attack the Classics

Today I learned that Princeton University is no longer requiring Greek and Latin of its CLASSICS majors. Why? To combat racism.  See here and here.

Well, all hail the racism of low expectations. This is a travesty. Classics is one of the key disciplines in a proper education in the humanities and if one doesn’t have Latin and Greek, then one should not major in Classics. Better yet, instead of gutting this discipline, maybe Princeton should do the sensible thing and offer classes in Latin and Greek for ALL incoming students: four years of learning these key languages won’t hurt anyone. Better yet, maybe stop catering to woke-ness and start doing what the students pay you to do: focus on education. 

What you will have now, in your “Classics” students, are ill-educated kids who are dependent on other people’s opinions i.e. translations for access to the key texts that helped to shape the Western world. Instead of educating, Princeton is crippling them.  It makes me sick. I taught myself Latin and Greek. My Greek isn’t great but it’s passable. Was this difficult? Yes. Was it doable? Also yes. Cutting Classics programs doesn’t do a damned thing to combat racism. What it does is tear apart those disciplines that offer students a window into the building blocks of Western Civilization, into literature and cultures that valued the cultivation of virtue, character, courage, and heroism. Of course the new religion of woke-ism wants to do away with those things. It offends their sense of degeneracy. If you have students who can only approach key texts via translation, then they are at the mercy of whoever is doing the translations. 

Princeton is not the only university to destroy its Classics program in the name of saving the student body from imagined racism. Howard University, one of the oldest historically black colleges in the US, and the only with a Classics program, recently announced its decision to close its Classics program too – something the student body is thankfully protesting because they at least, know the value of this field. Last year, there was a similar decision to remove certain key texts in Classics at Oxford too. 

Classics is for everyone and everyone can benefit from its study. In the perfect world, we’d be studying Latin from first grade and Greek from middle school and regardless of major, both would be required (at the very least) throughout undergraduate study. I’m still too stunned on learning of Princeton’s decision to comment further. Farewell to the Ivy league. 

Happy Solstice This Weekend AND Happy Father’s Day

Firstly, this weekend is one of our major holydays, the summer solstice. My household will be making offerings to Freyr, His Retinue, and Sunna and Her Retinue. (I’ll also be personally celebrating the anniversary of two of my ordinations so I make special offerings to the Gods in gratitude for the opportunity to serve Them thusly). For those who celebrate the Solstice, may it be one of health, healing, and abundance. 

One of the things we plan to do is to put up a shrine to Ask and Embla. We started incorporating prayers to them when we honored our ancestors at this past year’s Sunwait and it was such a tremendously powerful experience that I realized this was important, cosmologically important. Little by little, we’ve been collecting their shrine and I hope to raise it this Sunday. I had thought initially to include it – logically I think—with the ancestor shrines in our ancestor room (our ancestors stole my dining room lol. The whole thing is filled with shrines to our honored dead) but that didn’t feel quite right and the more we all meditated and prayed about it, the more it became clear that they should have their own separate shrine space. I have thoughts about where it’s going to go and once we install it, I’ll post pictures (I might wait till it’s all pretty. Lol. I like shrines to be offerings, to the best of my ability of beauty to the Gods and spirits. It sometimes takes time for a shrine to really come together aesthetically). 

Finally, it’s also Father’s Day this weekend. Fathers are important to maintaining healthy households and raising healthy children (this isn’t meant to take anything away from mothers and single mothers – moms are crucial too, obviously, but this weekend is about dads). So go give a thank you to the man who helped raise you, or to the father figure in your life (I realize not everyone has a positive relationship with their birth families). If one doesn’t have living father figures, it’s a good time to honor Father Deities.

A Message to New Readers

In a different time and place, I’d make a subtle, carefully reasoned argument about why it was important to pray or make offerings. I’d go into the ins and outs of piety and help newcomers to my blog see why it was so important. I would do, what I have done, for thirty years laying out the theology of devotion, of human anthropology, and opening up our cosmology in ways that lead one more easily down the paths of piety. Yeah. Today is not that day. These things have been covered by me numerous times before and by those across a broad spectrum of traditions who are wiser than I in these things. I’m tired of repeating myself. Besides, trying to speak common sense to someone lacking character, virtue, or identity (you know, outside of their genitals or whom they choose to rub those genitals against) is like pissing in the wind these days. So let me be clear and y’all can stay or go as you wish. 

I have zero interest in discussing theology with people who lack the most basic respect for the Holy, people who have no concept of devotion. We literally do not speak the same language. Do not step to me with your muddled thinking, your entitlement before the Gods, your foolishness, lack of piety, pollution, refusal to show the most basic elements of devotion, refusal to pray – to do that one very simple thing that aids in our discernment, draws us closer in devotion to our Gods, and protects us from evil. You fucking people have destroyed, polluted, and shat on your own “traditions” and now you’re coming into very polytheistic spaces to do the same to us. NO. 

If you find it too damned much trouble to pray. GTFO. 

If making a simple offering seems ‘wasteful,’ likewise GTFO.

If serving the Gods as a faithful and pious retainer isn’t the center of your being: GTFO. 

You sensing the theme? Take it to heart. 

Polytheism is about venerating the Gods, Who exist as independent Beings outside of us. WE are not the center of the universe. We were put here to serve the Gods, to live lives of mindful devotion creating in our world doorways to that which is Holy, to that which created us all.  

It is not enough to just exist and pretend to practice a religion. One actually has to DO something. People who come on blogs and other social media sites and tell you that any contact with the Gods is mental illness, that sacrifice is wrong, that devotion isn’t necessary, that prayer isn’t necessary, that cleansing isn’t needed, or who project their every identity dysfunction onto the Gods, are like fire hoses full of shit. They are purposely spreading pollution. This is evil. I’m done pretending otherwise and I’m done being anything approximating hospitable or nice. 

I encourage my readers to comment on my posts here but read the fucking room first. There are plenty of places where people can go to defile themselves. No one needs to do that here. There’s a whole internet at one’s disposal. GTFO.

Rebuttal to a Very Sad Piece

A friend sent me this article today. I read through it once and then again and knew I had to respond. There is so much wrong here, so much that could have been handled with a little decent pastoral care, but also a little cultivation of piety. In fact, the first thing I thought upon reading this, was why was a supposedly Pagan site publishing it. We really shouldn’t be advocating for people leaving the various traditions that might fall under that umbrella. It would be nice, instead, to see posts encouraging newcomers and providing guidance for those who may be struggling. We do not proselytize – across the board that seems to be a commonality between Pagans and Polytheists, the result of having our traditions destroyed via forced conversion generations ago. Still, once someone comes into our house, so to speak, it’s only right to provide proper hospitality and that sadly, seems to have been lacking here. I may come back to this, but there are a few other points I’d like to touch on first.

I will say this though before going further, I think this piece highlights more than anything that I’ve read recently the practical difference between Polytheists and Pagans. Should the terms be synonymous? Yes. Are they? Not by a long shot. I think it would have been much, much easier for this person had he been working within an established tradition, other that Wicca, which is pretty much do as you please.

Taking this from the opening paragraph, the author mentions roadblocks as though they only occur when one is meant to leave one’s “path” (1). This simply isn’t the case. No matter how deeply entrenched one is in one’s religion, “roadblocks” occur. That’s a normal part of any faith and working at them, struggling, holding the course or overcoming those blocks is one of the things that makes one’s faith stronger in the long run. It’s part of spiritual sustainability, a necessary part. Nothing true and worth having is without difficulty. One can absolutely be devoted to one’s Gods and working within a nourishing tradition and still encounter “roadblocks.” In fact, it’s often a sign that something is amiss, that one is too complacent if one isn’t occasionally struggling.

I also want to point out sooner rather than later, that in this article (2) there is no mention of any devotion to the Gods, spirits, or Holy Powers of any sort (3). Conversion is a different experience when one is running to a Deity or Deities that one loves. Note, that does not necessarily mean that there is ekstasis or any mystical experience happening. It can and should be enough to simply love the Gods for what They are, that They are (4).

The author mentions conflict over “societal norms” that “came into play from Christian parents.” Man the fuck up. This is inevitable when one converts. Hell, it’s inevitable when you’re a fucking adult. Show a little moral courage. (Even in Christianity, the whole point of growing up is that you start your own family, move away, and live an adult life. See Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31). This is a matter of personal integrity and character and if one is devoted not just to a tradition but to the Gods Themselves, then what does the opprobrium of family and friends matter? We don’t, after all, honor the Gods to virtue signal or get the pats on the head. We honor Them because it is the right thing to do. This goes back to what I have often complained about in our contemporary culture: the lack of character, morality, and virtue formation in young people. There are consequences for every choice we make. Maybe you will become alienated from your family and that is a sad and difficult thing, but are you behaving correctly with your Gods? Quite frankly, anyone who would put you in that position needs to take a hike. Why would their opinion even matter?

The author mentions having a “mind heavily influenced by the sciences that could not comfortably move forward without help.” This seems to be setting up an equation where science and religion are in opposition. That has never been the case in the polytheistic world. We invented many of those sciences after all. This is a false dichotomy and really, betrays a lack of personal and internal work – which is not all on the author. There IS a lack across our traditions of competent pastoral care. Converts do need help. It’s not a one and done experience but an ongoing and often difficult and painful process. I feel very badly for this guy that he lacked any competent help. He’s also right about the shallowness in so many branches of the community. I think if we focused more devotion and faith and less on acting like a badly dressed, downwardly mobile social club maybe this latter problem would repair itself (5). I may disagree with some of what he writes and his reasons for leaving his faith but I appreciate him writing about this openly because it really draws attention to the deficits in our communities.

I don’t understand approaching a religion with the idea that one will see if it’s a good fit or not, as the author mentions considering, nor relying on social media for one’s spiritual enlightenment. Where are the Gods in this? And if one doesn’t have any interest in or devotion to the Gods of the tradition one is following, then why practice any religion? Part of this really does come down to commitment to one’s practice, and that’s a choice each devotee makes every day again and again. No religious tradition is going to immediately answer every single life question one has. That’s not its purpose. The purpose of religion is to manage the protocols of relationship with the divine. It does not absolve us of wrestling with the hard philosophical questions.

The author opines that it is best to seek out knowledge from “individuals who have put in the effort to establish a level of scholarship.” Yes, provided you’re not expecting them to do the work for you. Go to your clergy, your spirit workers, your mystics, the devotee with a particularly potent practice. Learn from them. Go to your scholars in like fashion. Just understand that, as I noted in a previous article, all the learning and lore in the world isn’t going to make up for a lack of perseverance and piety. There is, after all, academic knowledge and gnosis and one does not take the place of the other. Nor should we prioritize scholarship. Some of the smartest, most devout people are just regular people. They love the Gods and have put in decades venerating Them. There’s no academic degree but a remarkable level of piety and frankly, I’d take that person over someone like Dr. Mary Beard who is going to shit all over our religions as she has done in the past. Again, this comes down to values. What do you value? What do you prioritize? Are the Gods even on that list? You can study until you’re blue in the face, but if you’re not backing that up with ongoing, consistent devotional practice you will achieve nothing.

The author suggests asking “has this path served its purpose?” What is the purpose other than to bring us closer to the Gods, that we may serve more fully and well as Their devoted retainers? Other goals require other criteria but aren’t really part of a religious tradition. I would ask instead, “Have I done all that I can? Is this where my Gods wish me to be?” but that requires a different set of priorities, one that doesn’t put us and our sense of entitlement at the center of our cognitive world.

Moreover, the author notes that our communities have “leaders, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and so on.” I don’t see him mentioning clergy there, or spirit workers, or devoted laity. This speaks to a particular set of values out of alignment I suspect, with any religious tradition. Maybe the problem is that he went to the wrong people for help. Your average lawyer doesn’t owe you anything and your average teacher is tired and underpaid (I’m guessing there was never any question of exchange of services when he bombarded folks with his existential issues).  I’d also add that if you demonstrate lack of commitment and devotion, no elder or teacher worth their salt is going to open the doors to Mystery for you.  First, you have to deepen yourself, persevere, and make yourself capable of receiving those Mysteries. It’s not a self-help class or a quick fix to making friends and influencing people. The growth does have to start with each individual but the purpose of that growth is to better reach the Gods, a goal I see lacking in the original article.  There are no quick answers worth having.  

There has been plenty of material written on devotion and how to deal with some of the problems that arise in centering oneself in one’s tradition. Research is exhausting. That is one statement in the article with which I’ll agree but if something really matters, you stay the course. Better yet, balance that research with devotional practices. When someone comes to me asking to join my House, I don’t start them with a ton of academic research. I start them with shrine work, with learning how to pray, with meditation, and making small offerings. The problem with clinging to “modernity” as an identifier (the author says, “Modern Paganism is simply that, modern.”) is that it all but ensures that devotion and piety will be expunged. The modern worldview is part of the problem. The more time one spends cultivating devotion, the more one realizes that modernity is a cesspit and our spiritual goals would be better served by returning to a way of engaging with the world that is far more organic and rooted in an awareness of the divine and our place in relation to it.

The author talks so fervently about leaving Paganism, determining a course of action, creating goals, seeing them through. It might have been more productive had he approached his faith with that same attitude. While the author occasionally mentions “faith,” throughout the article I kept finding myself asking “faith in Whom? In What?” He writes about religion as though it is all about his own “personal growth and knowledge.” That is indeed, a very modern and very self-absorbed lens through which to approach any tradition. I would say the problem isn’t the tradition, it’s that there was no one in his community to help guide him out of this destructive attitude and into an awareness that it is our privilege to venerate the Gods and doing so elevates us as human beings.

Faith, real faith is never “blind” as this author asserts. He seems to want everything laid out for him without contradiction or difficulty. Everyone who takes it seriously struggles with faith and that’s ok. That’s actually necessary. But here we get to the crux of the author’s issues: he reduces “Modern Paganism” to “blind faith in astrology, divination, spells, deities, and magick” (sic). A) I have faith in actually knowing how to spell magic, B) astrology, divination, spells, and magic are all specialties that the lay person has no reason to engage in; moreover, they require training to do well and they’re not devotion; and C). real faith in the Gods isn’t blind. It’s an ever-evolving relationship. Like any relationship, you have to put in the work. Maybe focus less on fumbling spells and more on prayer. Maybe put the books away and sit before your shrine contemplating the Gods. Where your faith is weak, ask Their help in making it stronger. Faith is never blind. It’s a commitment, a light in the darkness, the central core around which one’s life revolves. You know what it isn’t, ever? Easy.

I’m going to stop here. I feel badly for this guy.

Notes:

  1. I detest the term “path.” You’re either practicing a tradition or you’re not. It’s not a “path”, it’s a tradition. The difference is between witless meandering and nurturing a container of the holy.  
  2. This is the only piece that I’ve read from this person, so I don’t know if he mentions these things in previous articles. My friend, who read through several pieces said no, and I’ll accept his hearsay in this instance.
  3. This is perhaps THE major factor in whether one chooses to call oneself a Polytheist or Pagan—do the Gods actually matter to you?
  4. I again refer readers to Dver’s marvelous piece here.
  5. A lot of times those who don’t have a very strong devotional practice feel that they don’t have space in the religion – well, reaching out to newcomers and helping them to get oriented, networking, and making sure that folks know to whom to reach out to if there are spiritual issues, well, this is the type of social stuff that those less interested in devotion could be doing. It’s important work and those folks should also be given the resources to help newbies. Some of this clergy need to be handling or at least overseeing but the day to day can easily be done by lay people. This would actually build community in a sustainable way. Look at pretty much any Christian tradition: they have hospitality committees for Gods’ sake. They don’t expect their specialists to be doing all of that AND liturgical stuff on top of it too. We need to adjust our value system, so that we value the work of prayer, devotion, liturgy, spirit work, but also so that we equally value lay people and hospitality. Everyone has something he or she can contribute.

Major Win in the EU Court of Human Rights for Romuva

The Wild Hunt recently posted this article. It is a very important ruling by the ECHR re. the status of Romuva (Lithuanian indigenous polytheism) in Lithuania. The Lithuanian parliament, under pressure from Catholic Bishops, denied legal recognition to Romuva (and the rights and protections that entails), despite the fact that Romuva meets all requisite legal requirements. The Church was afraid of the competition — seriously, that was one of the concerns. Adherents of Romuva are growing significantly (a thing that fills me with joy). The head of modern Romuva, high priestess Inija Trinkūnienė, took their case to the EU, which issued an unanimous decision condemning the actions of Lithuania’s parliament. It’s a complicated case and you can read the link on your own, and there are also links in that article, which I encourage folks to follow.

Of course now it remains to be seen what the parliament is going to do, but if they refuse legal recognition it opens up the way for significant sanctions. Had the Church not interfered, it looks like the initial parliamentary vote would have come down on the side of granting recognition to Romuva.

The

above symbol is the Romuva flag. Don’t worry. It’s not a Nazi symbol. The other common symbol is a very stylized World Tree.

(This is rather personal to me. I am half Lithuanian. My original last name was Dabravalskas (for any Lithuanians reading this, in America, we don’t have the option for taking the proper gendered/married/unmarried forms of Lithuanian last names. We all use the male version. For Americans who may not know, traditional Lithuanian surnames differ depending on whether one is a guy, married to that guy, or a daughter. Had we been living in Lithuania, my bio mom’s last name would have been Dabravalskane, and mine Dabravalskuite). I don’t practice Romuva, but I do honor certain Lithuanian Gods as part of my personal practice — I felt many years ago a certain press from my paternal ancestors to do this. It’s not a huge part of my practice but it is a very personal one. I am overjoyed to know that the religion of my ancestors is growing in Lithuania. This country was the last in Europe to bend the knee to the yoke of Christianity (converting only in the fifteenth century — later even than Iceland) and people began returning to their traditional polytheism as soon as they gained their independence from communist Russia. It’s been growing ever since. May it continue to do so. I’ll post updates here as I find them).

Lectio Divina for June 11, 2021: Voluspa Stanza 27

I always have to begin these posts with reminders that lore alone is too easy, a low bar. When I began in Heathenry in the early nineties, the only thing that people valued—even over integrity in one’s devotional relationship with the Gods or indeed any devotional relationship at all – was how much lore one could quote. No one really cared to interrogate how mediated that lore was by Christian authors either. Coming predominantly from Protestantism as the majority of converts of that time did, all most Heathens cared about was replicating the relationship with the Bible with which they’d grown up (and despite the fact that pre-Christian Heathens were living in a predominantly oral culture – no one wanted to examine the implications of that very much either). To that end, anything devotional, anything mystical, anything that might accidentally take the Gods off the pages of a book and allow for actual, complicated, inconvenient engagement was strongly and doggedly edited out. Can’t have pesky piety or actual gnosis now can we? Unless that piety is bound between the pages of a book. Fortunately, we’re growing past this bullshit (which really, was just an excuse for unwarranted vanity and bullying, and had very little to do with actual piety at all in way too many cases) and it can’t happen quickly enough (1).

I’m a firm believer that we grow spiritually by allowing the Gods into our lives, developing a devotional praxis, allowing Them to crack us open spiritually, forcing our souls to expand and evolve into that which allows us to become better retainers to Them. While I think the lore may be useful as a scaffolding for that process, it’s a map, one of many. It’s not the territory. It’s especially not territory when one’s worldview is still that of a modern Protestant (all respect to my Protestant friends. Rock on in your own sandboxes. It’s a problem though when someone converts but stays religion X, Y, or Z in their minds. One can’t just replace one God with Many in theory and assume nothing else has to change).

As I said to a good friend yesterday, when we were discussing the Sonnatorek (part of Egil’s Saga): yeah sure, it might be useful under certain circumstances, but what is really useful is having a devotional relationship with the Gods. That is what truly sustains, and if someone is against that, or hostile to it, then why waste time with them? Nothing will help them or assuage them in a lasting way, because their souls are empty. I don’t think we should fill that space with lore (2) when doing so only reinforces lack of devotion and impiety. It’s a simple rubric: don’t do that which nurtures impiety. Of course one could argue that using the lore like that is a steppingstone, except I’ve not seen many Heathens stepping past that point so I guess I’m less than sanguine about the whole thing (3). I suppose I digress…

Either way, it’s odd to find myself returning to the lore for lectio divina. It is useful though, when it’s kept to its place and we don’t, as a Victorian mater or pater familias might say, allow it to rise above its station. One of the things that I like about the lore is that it gives us hints about the core competencies or what the Greeks would term τιμαι of our Gods. Since I’ve been slowly cultivating a devotion to Heimdallr over the last couple of months, I thought I would focus on a verse about Him for this post.

27. Veit hon Heimdallar hljóð um fólgit
undir heiðvönum helgum baðmi;
á sér hon ausask aurgum forsi
af veði Valföðrs. Vituð ér enn eða hvat?´

27. I know of the horn | of Heimdall, hidden
Under the high-reaching | holy tree;
On it there pours | from Valfather's pledge
A mighty stream: | would you know yet more?

Right away, this stanza makes a connection between Heimdallr and Yggdrasil, the World Tree that sustains and supports the nine worlds, a key point of the sacred architecture of creation. If the Tree sustains, and Heimdallr’s key attribute (His horn- hljóð – and more on this word in a bit) is hidden beneath the Tree, then does He play some role in protecting and sustaining it and by extension all creation as well? Further, in this passage, while we already know the Tree is holy, that is emphasized here again. It’s not just that the horn is hidden under the high-reaching Tree (a spatial terminology that should already have our mental bells ringing), but it is specifically “holy” (helgum). This word isn’t just holy, but it may also imply that a place is appropriate for sacred rites and even inviolable (see Zoega).

This makes me think about Heimdallr’s heiti or epithets/by-names. I haven’t found many:

  • Rígr : ‘king’
  • Hallinskiði: ‘the one with the lop-sided horns’ or ‘the inclining rod (which may mean ‘beam of sunlight’)’ or ‘axis of the world’ (4). If we take this latter meaning, then we have yet another reference to Yggdrasil.
  • Gullintanni : ‘golden tooth’
  • Hvitastr Ása -the whitest God (though in this sense it’s not white skin but white in the sense of brilliant, blinding light).

He’s associated to some degree with the Ram, which might account for the second by-name. I have no idea what “Golden Tooth” refers to – perhaps a story that hasn’t come down to us, perhaps one of His mysteries? Rígr of course, refers to His actions in the Rigsthula, where He establishes social order across Midgard (generally with his penis, but sometimes that’s just the way our Gods roll).

Hljóð raises some questions. It’s a slippery word and might not refer to Heimdallr’s horn at all. It could be a poetic gloss for his hearing or even (and probably more likely of the two) His ear/s). This latter would make sense, given that a strong parallel is being drawn in this passage between Heimdallr and Odin, one of Whose bynames is Valfather. Odin’s eye, which He ripped out in exchange for a draught from the Well of Mimir is His pledge, and lies in Mimir’s Well, which itself is situated at the foot of the Tree. The spatiality of this passage seems to imply that Heimdallr made a similar sacrifice.   

When I first learned about Heimdallr, I was taught that He had sacrificed an ear in much the same fashion that Odin sacrificed an eye, and that the Gjallarhorn was representative of both that sacrifice and His power.  Once I got to the point where I had enough familiarity with Old Norse to look at the original passages myself, I realized it’s not quite so concrete and while I still lean in that direction, the word hljóð here is ambiguous and, I think, points to something far larger than just a concrete ear or horn. A sacrifice was made and where for Odin, that sacrifice involved sight, for Heimdallr, it was a different sense, hearing. What that means on an esoteric level, I don’t know (yes, yes, writer of the Voluspa, I would know more).

Not having a concrete answer doesn’t mean that one can’t engage in fruitful speculation. After all, when it comes to our Gods, that’s pretty much what we have even where lore is extant. Our knowledge, if one can call it that, of our Gods is always tempered by and through our experience and that is limited as our human insight is limited in comparison to the Holy Powers. The two thoughts that really jump out for me came from a student, who once asked me if Heimdallr, like the Hindu Agni hears all our prayers, or like Lukumi’s Ellegua stands at the crossroads of the worlds keeping bad things at bay and allowing blessings to flow. To be honest, my own personal opinion is yes, pretty much. I think that He is a God of holiness, One Who ensures the purity and inviolability of holy spaces. I further think His nature and power is such that nothing unholy may exist in His presence. In our House we invoke Him before every ritual we do, to ensure that our ritual container (i.e. the space in which we’re celebrating the Gods) might be clean and free of all interference and pollution. We ask that He turn His attention to us and open the way across Bifrost for our prayers to reach the Gods clearly and without impediment. We entrust to Him our safety from any external pollution. We pray to Him also to restore harmony to our home and our hearts, minds, and souls, after any contact with negative spirits, malefica, or pollution.

If, as this verse hints, Heimdallr is mythically associated with Yggdrasil and also made sacrifice at Mimir’s well, then this underscores His essential role in maintaining the integrity of the worlds and their architecture. That’s no small thing. Perhaps this is why it is said in lore that He has nine mothers: each one a doorway to and root within one of the worlds.

As always, if there’s a particular stanza from the Eddas or other lore that you’d like me to discuss, just shoot me an email.

Notes:

  1. When you have a community that would take as a priest the atheist who can quote a ton of lore over the devotee with a deep, ongoing devotional relationship to one or more of the Gods, there’s a problem. Now yes, I think clergy and other specialists should know their lore. Why? Because it instills a particular cosmology that echoes throughout our tradition and shows various doorways to mysteries of our Gods. It’s important to know Their stories but the end is never lore in and of itself and that acquisition should never be bereft of the knowledge that it is, at best, a spotty map with multiple lacunae.
  2. Or only with lore – if I thought Sonnatorek would be helpful, I’d recommend it to someone without hesitation.
  3. What I’ve seen is recitation of lore taken to mean one is a “better” Heathen and used to gain ego points. It’s pure vanity and also pure bullshit. Their devotional relationships may be absolute trash fires, or non-existent but Heathen X can quote the lore backwards and forwards so let’s all bow down. Sorry (not) but I do not think so.  
  4. I forgot where I found these. I keep spreadsheets with any heiti I find for the Gods. I can’t recall where I came across the second by-name here.

Brilliant post from Dver

Dver has a brilliant post about the nature of devotional relationships here. I have found the same rubric holds with the elemental powers too. Fire, for instance, will always act according to its nature, regardless of the relationship you have cultivated. Anyway, go, read, learn, ponder. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Fenris Invoked in Healing???

This, to me, might be a game changer. Yesterday Wyrd Dottir sent me this article. A human skull fragment dating from the early 8th century was found during an archaeological excavation in Ribe, Denmark. The fragment was found in 1973 but apparently we’re just hearing about it now. I’m certainly just hearing about it now and it rather blows my mind.

One theory is that the bone was worn as an amulet. Scholarly opinion on the inscription differs.  Either Ulfr, quite possibly Fenrir is invoked (i.e. the Wolf), Odin and Tyr, or a threefold name for Odin.

Here is the inscription, in Danish and then English (taken from the article linked above):

Ulf/ulv og Odin og Høj-Tyr. Hullet/Buri er hjælp mod dette værk (denne smerte). Og dværgen overvundet. Bourr.


Ulfr/ Wolf and Óðinn and HótiwR/High-Týr. The hole/Buri is help against this ache (pain). And the dwarf overcome. Bourr.

Bourr is most likely the name of the person the amulet is intended to help. Buri is most likely the name of Odin’s Father…

Thank you, Wyrd Dottir! I’m drowning in exam preparations and would never have seen this had you not sent it my way.