Category Archives: Heathenry
For many Loki-friendly Heathens, April 1 is one of this God’s feast-days. While there are many recognized paths to this God, April 1 honors Him specifically as a trickster, a meddler, a wrench in the machine of entropy. Loki challenges our assumptions and pushes us well beyond our comfort zones. He demands that we grow and learn and confront our own bullshit. He’s a truth-teller, irreverently so at times but however uncomfortable His presence, wit, and wonder-working, sustains by His actions the architecture of the worlds.
Tonight, my household will be making offerings to Him. Sometimes we do a full ritual on His feast-days but we will have to abbreviate that tonight (I am down with a migraine unfortunately, though courtesy of modern migraine medication I am at the point finally where I can type and read). Still, He will have offerings, prayers, and praises and always we will celebrate Him and all the myriad ways that He calls us to greater attention, greater responsibility, greater mindfulness in our spiritual work and in the world at large. Praise Him.
Prayer to Loki
In the blistering furnace of our hearts,
may You be hailed.
In the fierce rantings of mind and memory,
may You be hailed.
In the tumultuous storm of our senses,
may we gasp, and chant, and sing Your praises.
May our lips burn with whispered adorations to You.
May our bodies shake in the onslaught of Your presence.
Where You are honored, there be in all of Your glory.
Where You are reviled, there also be,
and work Your cunning wiles.
May You ever be the unquiet thought,
the unruly impulse, the unwary stirring
of holy cravings, the longing for internal revolution,
the descant-mad, dervish-driven
prophetic-spewing roar that drives us
ever and always, unceasingly, unmercifully
into the arms of our own liberation.
Hail Loki, Liberator,
cunning, wild, and wise.
May You ever be hailed.
(By G. Krasskova)
(image by Arthur Rackham)
A Litany for Healing (Heathen)
That our health care practitioners may remain healthy,
We pray to You, Eir, best of Surgeons.
That the families of those suffering be given the strength to endure,
We pray to You, Thor, Protector of Mankind.
That those afraid or grieving may be comforted,
We pray to You, Sigyn, Lady of Enduring Grace.
That those most at risk be granted vitality and kept from harm’s way,
We pray to Idunna, Who bears the sacred apples of restoration.
That those suffering financially due to this crisis be sustained,
We pray to Andvari, Who governs the flow of resources.
That we may remain kind to each other despite our fear,
We pray to Nanna, Goddess of compassion.
That each household may have what it needs,
We pray to Frigga, Sustainer of Asgard.
That those confined to their homes find ways to flourish,
We pray to Freya, Goddess of abundance and power.
That we be shown mercy,
We pray to Jorð, Goddess of the good, green earth.
Bless and protect us, Holy Ones,
and keep Your people from harm,
inasmuch as wyrd allows.
To You, Great Gods, we pray.
A Litany for Healing (cultus deorum)
That this plague may be driven back,
we pray to Apollo, Who brings protection and healing.
That our healthcare workers may be sustained,
We pray to Asklepius, best of Physicians.
That those most at risk, remain safe and healthy,
We pray to Hygeia, Goddess of Health and Healing.
That those of us sheltering-in-place remain healthy and resilient,
We pray to Panacea, Goddess of preventive medicine.
That those grieving or afraid may be comforted,
We pray to Dionysos, Who brings relief.
That households may have what they need during this crisis,
We pray to the Goddess Salus, Whose hands bring salvation.
That we be shown mercy,
We pray to Ceres, Goddess of the land.
Look with favor upon us, Oh Gods,
Bless and protect us and preserve us from trouble,
this we pray, ever in Your service.
Happy Ostara (or Eostre), dear readers. I know it is a strange time in which we live (as one of my history professor said recently: keep a diary!) and that most of you won’t be gathering this year in person for religious celebrations. That doesn’t mean that you are barred, however, from celebrating and experiencing the equinox and it doesn’t mean that you are barred from honoring our Gods. In fact, quite the opposite. This is a time to reach out to Them, a time to praise Them, a time to honor the land and the Gods that make it fertile. We just have to get a little creative in conjuring a sense of community as we do so while hunkering down and sheltering in place! Here are some ideas:
- write and share prayers to the Deities associated with this holy tide (Ostara or Eostre, Mani, Sunna, Hrethe, et Al). If you work with a group, a kindred, a circle or what have you, you can do this communally. One person starts the prayer and sends it to the next and so on, and so forth until it is complete. it becomes a group offering, a shared expression of devotion.
- share pictures of your shrines and offerings — I have had people email me more times than I can count telling me how inspiring they find the pictures of my personal shrines. I don’t share them often, but maybe I should. Let us see what you’re doing. 🙂 We are a very visual culture, after all.
- Make art celebrating the Gods and this holy tide. Share that online too.
- Reach out by phone (i hate the phone. Do not reach out to me by phone. I’m doing just fine lol) to one of your friends. Make offerings together, each in your own space connected by the wonders of modern technology.
- Send a friend a surprise Ostara gift box.
It’s early for me. I’ve just exhausted all my creativity pre-coffee in coming up with those five suggestions so why don’t y’all help me out? What ideas do you, my readers, have for celebrating and maintaining community in this time of crisis? Please feel free to share in the comments.
I’ve read recently of several Pagans (or maybe I should say Playgans) who fled to Christianity when Covid 19 hit and i cried. It disgusts me how little some people care about their traditions and their Gods (and I wonder what those apostates will do when they discover bacteria exists. Where will they run then? *sarcasm*). Don’t be like that. This is a time to re-commit and re-invest in our devotions, our Gods, our traditions, and all the spiritual commitments that form the warp and weft of our lives. We can choose how we let this affect us. We can choose devotion and, I firmly believe, we will be the better for it.
So, Ostara: what are you all doing? 🙂
A reader asked me late last week if I had any prayers, both to the Norse and the Greco-Roman Gods, for healing in a time of plague. This is what I have to share. Stay safe folks, mentally as well as physically. Don’t hoard toilet paper. Be kind. Wash your hands. If you’re bored out of your skull, here are some online field trips, and here a list of courses you can take for free. Many museums are also providing fabulous virtual tours. I wish you all good health and healing in this time of crisis.
Prayer to Eir
Goddess of Healing, please hear my prayer.
Keep our doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers safe.
Bless their minds, hearts, and hands.
Grant them vitality and fortitude,
that they may do their jobs well.
See that they have what they need.
Bless them with health in this time of sickness.
Preserve them I pray,
and may this plague quickly pass.
I hail You, Eir, Best of Healers.
Prayer to Apollo
Apollo Smintheus, please hear my prayer.
Stay Your arrows and bestow Your blessings instead.
Bearer of Victory, Preserve us.
Alexikakos, Ward off this evil.
Turn our luck to glory,
that we and our communities may emerge unscathed
from this sickness devastating the land.
You are the essence of light and fire
and fire purifies. It cleanses. It heals.
Bestow that healing upon us,
and vitality, and well-being.
You are life, Apollo.
You are life,
The bright victory of the sun,
the mysteries of the cosmos,
You the light that illuminates.
Preserve us all, I pray.
Spring always seems to sneak up on me. Maybe it’s because I always mourn the passing of mild winters (it’s been mild in my area and I do love winter), or maybe it’s because the spring semester is always rather frenetic. I just know that the holy tides always seem to sneak up on me. This year March seems particular full since I’m toggling between my husband’s Bacchic calendar, and my own Heathen.
We have the Heathen Ostara coming up, which falls on the spring equinox. I usually honor Mani and Sunna, as well as Eostre/Ostara at that time. I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do this year yet (I know, I need to get on it) and sometime this month I like to honor the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Hreðe. I suspect strongly that She had a feast-day around this time, but if so, that day has been lost to memory. Still, She gets Her share of offerings from us in March.
March 9 is for Olvir of Egg and company, martyrs. He and several other farmers were murdered by King Olaf for not abandoning their faith in the Gods. It’s a good time to pour out an offering to them and to remember their sacrifices and most of all their steadfastness. The lesson I take from them? It’s simple: Never back down from honoring the Gods. Never apologize for devotion to the Holy Ones. Never hide your polytheism to make someone else comforable. Their discomfort is theirs to bear. We have ancestors and martyrs, fierce men and women who were tortured and who died for their polytheism. The least we can do is speak up and be present. That’s my rule of thumb and it’s sometimes very hard, but it’s a challenge I lay to myself and every other polytheist out there: never, ever yield. I look to men and women like Olvir and those who died with him as an inspiration when I encounter situations where it might be very had to be openly polytheist. I meditate on their stories and pray that in doing so, I will shape my own character to be as fiercely committed and fiercely subversive. This month is an opportunity to honor them all anew.
Finally, my household has started giving the first night of the lunar month (which is not necessarily the first night of the month) to Mani and we hold a small ritual where we praise Him, bringing offerings and making prayers. This month, the first day of the lunar month falls on the 25th, so pretty close to the equinox. It’s definitely going to be a Mani-centric month! I think that is pretty awesome. Mani can never have enough devotional attention.
It’s late so I’m going to wrap this up. I’d love to know what everyone has going for the equinox. Feel free to post in the comments.
We praise You, All Father, Architect of the Worlds, Who breathed us into being.
We praise You, Runatyr, World-maker, Whose keen far-seeing intellect wove the fabric of reality.
We praise You, Bolverk, for by cunning negotiation You brought us poetry and ecstasy.
We praise You, Oski, ever generous Giver of gifts, for You pour Your favors out upon Your people.
We praise You, Sigfather, for teaching us to ever strive for victory, for inspiring us with Your might.
We praise You, Woden, for sharing healing charms and the wisdom of driving out corruption.
We praise You, Galdrfather, for giving us the gift of enchantment, the continual re-sacralization of our world.
We praise You, Yggr, for Your sacrifice upon the Tree. by which You instructed us in wisdom.
We praise You, Odin, that You have elevated us by means of your nobility, driven us forward by means of Your attentions.
Oh Burning Brand.
Oh Self-Chosen Sacrifice.
Oh Sweet Wine of Ecstasy.
Oh Bottomless Well of Wisdom.
Oh unscalable, soaring Height.
Oh Fierceness without Measure.
Oh Might without Opposition.
Oh Treasure-House of every Honor.
Oh Hunger without Restraint.
Ever and always do Your people praise You.
May we always praise You too.
(published in Hymns and Prayers of a Polytheistic Household, by G. Krasskova and H. Jeremiah Lewis, available here).
I have a small portable shrine at work and I often pray before I go in for classes. Today, this prayer and the following really jumped out at me. I wrote the one to Odin, Sannion the one to Freya. There is so much to meditate upon them. When I sit with these prayers, giving them proper attention and focus, it opens doors to the Gods for me in my heart and mind, settles my spirit, grounds me in piety. It really is a lifeline. I want to write one like the above for Freya soon.
To the Lady of the House
To the home that ever honors you, O Glad-of-heart, bestow health, wealth and overflowing good luck
that our neighbors may look upon us
and envy our pious and well-ordered existence, especially the diligence and delight
with which we conduct your venerable domestic rites. For you, Freyja, Keeper of the Keys,
are the model we imitate; the loving manner
in which you looked after your kin when but a tender girl, especially your handsome brother
and dear old father Njörðr.
They wanted for nothing,
and back then you busied yourself always
with keeping your abode in Vanakvisl
gleaming clean, everything in its proper place
and the cupboards and pantry ever fully stocked.
Like a ferocious feral feline
you chase off all that does not belong,
especially the corrupt, unharmonious and malign,
and Freyja, Receiver of Many, it is you
who preside over guest-friendship and feasting,
you who banish cares
and bring refreshment with the mead-cup,
you who fill hearts
with precious love of their own,
an appreciation for what we have,
and what it took to get it,
respect for the labor of all
who keep a household running properly,
honor to the aged and responsibility
for the young and the vulnerable,
and above all the value
of distinct but complementary virtues.
Freyja, O Mistress of the Winding Way,
help us to be patient, understanding and kind
with those whose lives have been entwined with ours, and always to cherish them and to see
the beauty and uniqueness in them.
This we pray Goddess
of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, widows
and the good men who love and care for them.
(Also available as above).
and Who’s rhythms bind my life together. Odin. Blessings on these gifted singers and on those who listen.
now, go make offerings.
I recently signed a petition, and urge you to do the same. The issue: trademark protection of the word “Heathen”. I’ve seen how luxury brand Hermès has used their trademark to go after religious items for Hellenics and their God Hermes. We have a chance to try to save the Heathen term.
“Dave Lancaster owns a company called Heathen Productions which produces a t-shirt line known as Heathen Nation, who holds a Trademark on the word Heathen. His company has been serving vendors, crafters and merchants who even so much as use the word Heathen in their description box for their product with take down orders and threatening legal action if they do not comply. He is not a Heathen himself but he is affecting the livelihood of many Heathens just trying to support their families and or kindreds.”
You can sign the petition here: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/heathens-vs-heathen-nation
For Heathens, this is one of our holy symbols. It may, in fact, be our holiest of symbols and it’s certainly the one that the majority of us wear to indicate that we are Heathen (in much the same way a Christian might wear a cross or a Jewish person a star of David) (1). I’ve been meditating a lot on what the Hammer means, especially since it seems I cannot wear it these days without questions and occasionally direct hostility. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this gift, crafted by the duergar, given by Loki, wielded by Thor for the good of the worlds is the most important symbol we will ever bear.
Thor is a God Who brings holiness. There is nothing foul or polluted, wicked or spiritually wrong that He cannot conquer. He renders His protection without contract or stipulation. For this reason, He is called “Friend of Man.” More than any other God, He watches over Midgard – the human world, our world – ensuring that it maintains its integrity (despite our own depredations of our home). He travels with Loki, the God most gifted at finding loopholes. I think this is particularly important. I think that very special care must be taken when the Gods act directly in our world, that doing so promiscuously threatens to weaken the very scaffolding They seek to maintain, and perhaps Loki is Thor’s favorite traveling companion because between the Two of Them, They can find all those loopholes too, never missing an opportunity to drive back evil and entropy threatening existence (2).
I often think that Thor is one of the Gods most often underestimated. Despite one of His by-names being “Deep-Minded,” despite the fact that He is the Son of Odin, despite the fact that He is the son of the earth (Fjorgyn), the Goddess Who provides all we need to sustain our world, He’s quite often dismissed as … a dumb jock. He’s pigeon-holed in a way that I also see with Goddesses like Freya. We reduce Him in our minds to a one-dimensional character in a book. I don’t think this is purposeful or intentionally disrespectful, I think it’s what we’ve been programmed to do by popular culture, by the way our Gods are treated in academic writing, by the way they’re treated in comparative lit., and by the way They were treated by the working-class founders of American Heathenry. But our Gods are not characters in a set of stories. They are living Holy Powers, Immortal Beings, the Creators of our very existence and the space in which it plays out.
Consider a few of His by-names (heiti ): Atli (The Terrible), Einriði (One Who rules alone – in other words, I interpret this to mean that He is more than capable in and of Himself of purifying and rendering holy, and carries the blessing of the sovereignty of the land through his Mother), Harðhugaðr (strong spirit, fierce soul), Rymr (noise, which makes me think of how sound, like rattles, drums, bells, chanting, etc. is often used to clear spiritual pollution and purify people, places, and things), and last but not least Veurr (Hallower, Guardian of the shrine). Thor hallows. Wherever He is, whatever He touches, wherever He chooses to make Himself manifest, there He hallows and in hallowing creates space where the enemies of the Gods simply cannot exist.
Thor’s hammer, then, is a sign that the Gods are engaged with us in the ongoing process of creation. It is a sign that They guard us, that Thor girds the world against dissolution, against entropy, against all that would threaten the cosmic and divine architecture. Like His mother, Thor provides. He sustains. Like His Father, He battles back the enemies of the Gods. Like He, Himself alone, He renders holy those places He has been, those spaces through which He has passed. When we wear the Thor’s hammer, we are signaling that we too are aligned with divine order. We are signaling that we stand with Him in maintaining, protecting, and most of all nourishing that which the Gods have created.
So, wear the hammer proudly. When people ask you about it, or the ruder ones challenge you for wearing it, explain exactly what it means and hold your ground. We must not give up a single inch of space, not in mind, not in body, and not in soul. That hammer signifies that we are hallowed ground, reclaimed, rededicated, consecrated to our Gods, committed to Thor’s protection. Wear it proudly, wear it mindfully, and every time you touch it, give thanks to this God Who sustains His Father’s creation.
- Some Scandinavians will wear it as a cultural symbol and then of course it’s endlessly misappropriated by individuals who have no faith in the Gods, but you see the same thing with other religions’ symbols too, at least the latter use by the godless.
- I think there are cosmic rules that the Gods adhere to, blocking how directly They may act in our world. This is hinted at most fully in the Homeric corpus but I believe it holds true amongst our Gods as well, that the more they violate those structures They Themselves have put into place, not only the more They weaken the cosmic architecture, but more importantly, They provide openings for the Nameless, that unnamed force – the Kemetics called it Isfet, Native Americans had different names for it – that ever hates and threatens divine creation to also come in. I think there’s a cosmic détente and no God is better at finding ways to act without violating that détente than Loki.