At the time of writing this I am not currently, nor have I at any recent point been involved with any groups, but if at some point I do in any way, shape, or form get involved with any group (unless it is one I have founded and am the leader of) it does not in any sense imply I am following or at all loyal to whatever tradition the group is related to.
Often times when people become active within a group other members make the (often times false) assumption that this person has somehow (without that person actually pledging such) dedicated themselves to following the tradition of the group. But the truth is that often times the person is a spiritual-tourist. What this means, spiritual-tourist, is someone that is there to observe and learn things from some of the ideas of the group picking and choosing what aspects of the groups tradition they wish to adopt for their own personal spiritual tradition and also rejecting the parts that are not useful to them. This is not at all a bad thing to be a spiritual-tourist, and it is important that members of the group that have decided to adopt the tradition of the group not negatively judge spiritual-tourists. Another reason why someone may become active in a group who is not there for the purpose of following the groups tradition, are those who are looking for a social outlet. This also is not a bad thing. It is a normal healthy human need to have social outlets. There is many verses from northern lore that talk about this exact need as a normal valid thing, the need for people to have the company of other people. When members of a group whom are the ones there because they have devoted themselves to the tradition of the group start to negatively judge spiritual-tourists and social members this often times creates more of a cult like vibe within the group, which leads to such groups getting very negative reputations. This is something needs need to be careful about. It is important that members of any open public group are light and playful enough about things to accept that not all will wish to be as serious about things as those who have devoted themselves to following the groups spiritual path.
The point I am making in explaining all this here is that if at some point I do get involved with any Heathen or Pagan (or any religious or spiritual) groups or organizations of any sort I am doing so as either a spiritual tourist or as a social member and not as someone wishing to dedicate myself to the tradition of the group. I have my own personal Heathen tradition I follow which is my own and I shall not give that up to follow someone else’s tradition. This post is also related to this one.
No matter what we may consider our religion to be labeled, Heathenism, Asatru, Vanatru, Norse-Paganism, Anglo-Saxon Paganism, Northern Tradition Paganism, we still all follow various separate traditions within any one of those various religions, with tradition being a sub-path within the larger label of religion. I have my own tradition. It is mine. I may choose to share it with others who are interested in it, if there is any such, but that is not at all my purpose in having my own tradition. I have my own tradition simply because it is what works for me spiritually. I don’t expect what works for me will be what works for and/or is ideal for others. In some cases it may be, but that is not for me to decide, only each individual can decide if they wish to follow another persons tradition or even make their own. Just because I may take some elements from or gain some ideas from or be in some ways inspired by some other traditions does not in any way make what I follow that other person’s tradition. My tradition is only my own. There is not a tradition existing that does not take ideas from other traditions and remix them with their own ideas to make their own tradition. This borrowing and remixing is how all new traditions are made. People of other traditions need to keep in mind what may be good or bad for practioners to do in their own tradition’s system does not hold true in other people’s traditions. Each tradition has it’s own basis for how things work and why. I do what I do in my own tradition because that is what works for the basis of mine. I am not a heretic of your tradition, because I am not even a member of your tradition. Unless you are someone who follows my exact tradition than even you have no concept of why I do whatever I happen to do.
Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs are a form of old folk magick based on runic magick, but in a form that was created by German immigrants. They are used on barns and other buildings as a way to bring in good luck, protection, and positive energies. They are talked about in the book, Northern Magic, by Edred Thorsson. Wikipedia has more info on them. In Pennsylvania there survives a form of fold magick called Pow-wow. Many elements of Pow-wow magick hint back to older forms of northern magick, as that is it’s roots going back. You can buy hex signs from a place called Jacob Zook.
Wisdom spoken by the god Thor:
“Never underestimate. Be it friend, foe, or self. If you do, you’ve already lost the battle before it’s begun.”
“Live life to it’s fullest, every day and every moment as if it’s your last.”
“When all seems lost, there’s always a bit of hope when you need it most.”
More shall be added to this entry as they are gathered…
This is a very good and interesting and well stated article, Revivalism and the Progressive Heathen
This post is related to an issue explained here, of there being problems with some very bad racist types being attracted to Heathenism. In this post below I explain why racism never was a valid part of Viking culture, and why racist attitudes are not a valid part of Heathenism. The issue of immigration is strongly tied in with the issue of racism. The Vikings were in their day some of the most well traveled people, that settled all over the place in far off lands, thus immigration was strongly tied into Viking culture as a way of life.
I believe that people should be allowed to immigrate to other countries and given opportunities to do so. The culture of a place grows when the people of that country are exposed to the culture of other ethnic groups. All throughout all of human history the greatest leaps in technology and human ideas have come about though the interaction of different ethnic cultures together. Without this culture exchange of ideas between ethnic groups, cultural ideas tend to stagnate and impede social progress. The mixing together of new things from other sources is the way all things in the universe grow stronger. When only the same is being constantly mixed together, things become weakened. This is a law of how nature itself works. In more ancient times in which war between different ethnic groups was very common, this process of the need to gather in ideas and even as well DNA from other ethnic groups happened through the process of war.
When an enemy was defeated their women would be captured and then be made to be part of the conquering group, and of course these women would in time be made to marry the men of the conquering group, and some taken as slaves also (and likely made to provide sexual pleasure for the men who have enslaved them). As well some of the men of the group that has been defeated may be made to be slaves, but the ancient world concept of slavery generally included the chance for the slave to eventually work their way toward being a free person again. Of course freed slaves would then become a normal part of the culture group they had previously been enslaved in, and likely also reproduce within that group and contribute to the diversity of the group’s DNA.
Also in some cultures such as the northern ones which the Vikings derived from, it was common to encourage travelling strangers that visit to sleep with your wife so that new DNA can be interjected into the group, and then the man would adopt any child that resulted as his own (this practice is shown in the Rígsþula from the Poetic Edda). Another practice common with the Vikings, and the cultures the Vikings derived from, was the exchange of hostages when a war does not have a clear winner and it is decided to call a truce. The Norse form of hostage exchange involved the hostages becoming part of the new group they are made to live in and then living by it’s culture and social rules. Of course many such hostages then would end up marrying into people from the group they have now come to life with, and the children of the hostages would become a normal part of this new group. Thus from all these things in no way did the DNA or even the culture of various groups stay the same. It was always mixing with outside ethnic groups and thus keeping the culture and physical health of that ethnic group strong by mixing in elements from the outside.
The concept of different human “races” is a 19th century idea that has no basis in actual science or reality. Even cultural groups such as the Vikings had no concept of different ethnic groups, only the concept of people from other tribes, or people that follow different gods/goddesses than them (but they even did not until the late period have the concept of different religions). This concept of people from other tribes had nothing to do with the physical appearance of the other people, but instead only on that groups social allegiance. In truth the physical makeup of any ethnic group is just a mixture of different physical traits which that group of people evolved towards over long periods of time living in a certain area of the planet. Humans over long periods of time if they live in smaller isolated groups (as was the case in the past) will physically develop traits that help them best able to adopt to the weather and climate conditions of their area. These are well known facts by anyone with any knowledge of the social sciences, but unfortunately there are many people out there who are afraid of loosing their own ingrained ethnic culture and have backwards 19th century ideas of there being different human “races”. This issue is further encouraged by the fact that many US governmental bureaucratic forms that people have to fill out, which incorrectly ask a person what their “race” is. It would be more correct to ask what someone’s ethnic background is. Ethnic background is related to the language a person speaks and the related social culture that language group has developed.
As Heathens it is good to take after the culture and values which the Vikings had. They were explorers that enjoyed travelling long distances to explore other lands. Clearly if they did not enjoy experiencing other cultures they would not have been willing to spend so much time and effort to travel the long distances they did for trade and exploration. It can be stated that it is likely the Vikings were the most curious of all groups about other cultures and wishing to see and experience foreign distant lands with different ways, as that is exactly what they did. Even Buddha statues have been found in Viking treasure hoards, which shows their interest in artifacts from other cultures. Vikings were known to become employed in distant lands as mercenaries. Many Viking tribes ended up settling all over the place and the Viking culture spread and mixed with and enhanced other cultures. The Vikings themselves did immigrate to many lands. Thus to say that others should not be afforded the same rights is rather hypocritical, and even goes against the values of honor which is an important value in Heathen culture. Another side to this is that welcoming those from other lands is an aspect of hospitality. We as Heathens need to extend our own values towards the interactions we have with all people, not just with other Heathens, otherwise this makes what we believe in only a facade to impress others of our own faith, and not something we truly are practising or believe in.
The Vikings practised meditation too. Often times they sat some place outside to do this or even very commonly on a burial mound. Was common to place one’s cloak over oneself to block off the senses so that the focus was turned more inward while doing this. Since most Vikings lived in communal longhalls I doubt meditating at home would have been so good since was probably too much activity going on there. But since we tend to live in dwellings nowadays with less people living in them, it is more useful to meditate indoors as there is less to disturb us there. Of course outside meditation can be used as well when one wishes to feel the energies of an area for spiritual world purposes.
An example of this as done by the Vikings was when Thorgeir Thorkelsson was asked to decide on the issue of Icelandic conversion to Christianity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianisation_of_Iceland
For me daily meditation is part of my Heathen practice. I find that it enhances my ability to stay focused during rituals and also in general makes me better able to deal with stresses and normal ups and downs of life. Regular meditation basically helps to make you emotionally and spiritually tougher and more resilient and overall increases ones will-power. Also it makes my mind better able to gather and absorb knowledge and wisdom. All around it has very good benefits.
Wisdom spoken by the god Odin:
“The value of that which is sought should be met with a gift of equal value. Be ready to sacrifice to gain. A balance must always be kept.”
“A horn half full is a horn that’s already been shared in half. Never see it as half empty or you’ve seen no value in the half you shared.”
“Never have a pissing contest with a Jotun. You might just find yourself drowning well above your head.”
“Sometimes you need to listen with more than your ears. Be open and you’ll hear with more and know more than just your ears can hear. The world is full of wisdom if you learn how to hear it.”
“The best and worst palce is between two women.”
More shall be added to this entry as they are gathered…
“A pearl even starts out as a grain of sand. It’s a little irritant, a nuisance, something that is easily discarded and dismissed. But when it’s kept close, accepted in it’s annoyance, nurtured, bonded with other substance, it becomes a thing of beauty and a small treasure. Such is how an idea is born, something small and insignificant is handled and coped with until it too becomes a gem.”
“Never judge the ocean by the surface. You never know what lies beneath the waves.”
More shall be added to this entry as they are gathered…
The following are some book reviews I wrote on Amazon.
The Norse Myths
by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Simply put _the_ book to read to learn about Norse lore as someone new to it…
This book is basically a retelling of the lore of the northern gods/goddesses rewritten in a modern very easy to understand story form, targeted for the modern reader. It is accurate, accessible, and enjoyable to read. For anyone interested in Asatru, or Heathenism, or Norse-Paganism, it is a must read. For anyone interested in the gods/goddesses, and mythology of the Vikings this is the book.
Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism
by Diana L. Paxson
Best Asatru book for getting a general overview as to what Asatru is..
This book is the best for explaining, in an accurate, well written, well researched way, over all what Asatru/Heathenism is. It gives a very balanced, fair, and easy to understand explanation of things. There is not much here of a how-to nature about Asatru, just explains well what it is, for those totally new to it.
Hammer of the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism in Modern Times
by Swain Wodening
Good ideas and accurate research, poorly proof-read and filled with typos
The ideas presented in this book, and the accuracy of the information are great enough to overcome the very poor job at proof-reading, with all the glaring typos in this book. I do highly recommend this book since it is very informative and knowledgeable. Just be aware that there are a lot of bad grammar mistakes in it, some of which even change the meaning of a few things in ways that may mislead people new to the subject being discussed. If this book was properly edited I would give it 6 stars were that possible.
Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic
by Edred Thorsson
The standard for learning the runes…
This and Runelore are the books to read to learn about the runes. All other books should be gauged according to the information in these two books to determine accuracy.
Runelore: A Handbook of Esoteric Runology
by Edred Thorsson
The standard for learning the runes…
This and Futhark are the books to read to learn about the runes. All other books should be gauged according to the information in these two books to determine accuracy.
Northern Magic: Rune Mysteries and Shamanism
by Edred Thorsson
It is a nice pleasant read for learning some other interesting runic and northern topics
This book is the one to read to learn about the Younger Futhark runes. It also has some interesting information about Pennsylvania-Dutch Hex signs. After reading some of Thorsson’s other books first this is a nice one to read to learn about these other things. It is actually more nicely written too as far as a smooth easy read then most his other books too.
Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner
by Raven Kaldera
Best book for deepening the spirituality of those into northern traditions…
This book is not for those new to Asatru/Heathenism/Norse-Paganism, but is instead for those whom are already familiar with the northern traditions and already have their own practice going. Basically what this book is about is deepening ones spirituality and this it does amazingly well like nothing else. Highly recommended for anyone on any of the northern spiritual paths. If you love the gods/goddesses of the north and have a spiritual practice involving them then do yourself a favour and read this book.
It is a very sad thing that there are a small number of very loud and vocal racists and hate oriented extremists that flock to Heathenism, claiming their twisted ideas are what Heathenism is about. These people tend to have a very poor fund of knowledge and low intelligence in general and actually have values that are strongly in opposition to the values the Vikings and the Norse had, as well as a total lack of any sense of spirituality what so ever. I found a really good blog post by grumpylokeanelder that explains very well why such people tend to be drawn to Heathenism.:
Another post from a different blog with much details.:
Racism, extremism, hate, extreme forms of social conservatism, all these things are NOT WHAT HEATHENISM IS ABOUT! Anyone who tries to claim these things should be connected to Heathenism has no place in Heathenism.
Hail Tyr! One-handed god. Feeder of the wolf. Battle god. Sword god. Oathbinder. Lawkeeper. Leader of the Thing. Truest and most steadfast of gods! May you keep out those who would turn to Heathenism for their own ignorant hate oriented extremist agendas. Keep holy the spiritual Thingsted that is the Heathen path so that true seekers of spirituality that is related to connecting with the gods of the north can practice in frith, joy, and harmony, and so that faith in the old gods and goddesses of the north can grow strong in the modern age.
You love sex. ✓
You have a foot fetish. ✓
You like ships and boats and being near or on water. ✓
You like nature. ✓
You tend to be polyamorous. ✓
You like peace and harmony. ✓
You like things of beauty. ✓
You tend to prefer natural and healthy foods. ✓
The Norse Viking concept of bad wasn’t so black and white as many people nowadays tend to think. It is more the idea of someone either being in frith with their family/tribe/group, vs going too far and being too wild in their actions and being outlawed and considered dangerous basically. Loki is a good example of this. He isn’t evil really, just sort of one who was all about testing the limits of social order and bringing in new ideas. For a long time he was a mix of both positive and negative in regard to his value to the Aesir, until he eventually went too far and also by this taunted his wyrd to go down a darker path that threw him out of being in frith with the Aesir. Norse concepts of right and wrong and righting wrong are more about balance and restoring balance, than about moral judgment or condemnation, which is a Christian cultural influence and way of thinking. Sadly many Heathens are still far too tainted by Christian thinking and this creates a environment of discord and a general lack of frith in the Heathen scene in general. Generally speaking proper Heathen way of thinking is very open minded and accepting that others outside ones family/tribe/group will have different ways of thinking. The greatest value for historical heathens when it came to actions was to take actions that upheld the frith within their family/tribe/group. Even frith between groups was important as addressed by the codified system of weirguild, and addressing actions with similar counter actions when actions throw out of balance frith. A good example of how what is considered proper differs between each family/tribe/group is that for the Vanir it is considered proper and normal for sisters and brothers to have sex with each other, and even the Aesir do not judge the Vanir for doing so within their own group as they see that as what is proper Vanir behavior, but the Aesir would not allow that kind of behavior by members of the Aesir as that is not proper Aesir behavior. This concept of differences of what is considered proper behavior I feel also applies with regards to those who follow different gods or goddesses as their patron. Like what is proper behavior for an Odin follower, I feel is not the same as what is proper behavior for a Tyr follower, or a Freyja follower. I feel that this concept of proper behavior for each depending on whom they connect with spiritually applies not only in regards to types of actions not allowed or considered taboo, but also in regards to types of behaviors that should be done. For example Odin followers should be into runes and should study magick, and a male follower of Odin having sex with women outside of his marriage (so long as his wife is ok with him doing so) is also acceptable as that is part of honoring the ways of Odin. One who follows a god or goddess that has a more strict code of conduct has to be more strict about their actions and behaviors as this reflects the values of the god/goddess they follow. Acting in ways that respects the value of the god/goddess you follow is the act of staying in frith with your patron and respecting the concepts they stand for. Of course I feel that when you are part of a group you should honor the rules the group has for actions when dealing with the group, it’s members, or doing any activities which represent the group; this is staying in frith with the group. Staying in frith with your group as well as with your patron god/goddess is very important I feel. Actually it would be considered more worse in the Norse concept of morality to harshly judge others as this is harmful to frith. Unless the other person is directly living within your family/tribe/group it would be considered wrong to judge someone else unless that person takes some action which causes harm to your family/tribe/group/friends/allies/gods/goddesses. judging others without cause is actually harmful to the frith of your own family/tribe/group/friends/allies as that invites conflict that often times will have a negative impact on all those you hold troth with. The most important thing for proper actions in all cases is to act in ways that uphold frith, honors your troth connections with others, and upholds any oaths you have made. If you keep in mind these three things then you should be making the best possible actions for all situations.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about frith:
Frith is an Old English word meaning “peace; freedom from molestation, protection; safety, security”.
In terms of Anglo-Saxon and post-Anglo-Saxon culture, the term has a considerably broader scope and meaning. Frith has a great deal to do not only with the state of peace but also with the nature of social relationships conducive to peace. Moreover, it has strong associations with stability and security.
The word friþgeard meaning “asylum, sanctuary” was used for sacrosanct areas. A friþgeard would then be any enclosed area given over to the worship of the gods.
Frith is also used in the context of fealty, as an expression of the relationship between a lord and his people.
Frith is inextricably related to the state of kinship, which is perhaps the strongest indicator of frith. In this respect, the word can be coterminous with another significant Anglo-Saxon root-word, sib (from which the word ‘sibling’ is derived) – indeed the two are frequently interchanged. In this context, frith goes further than expressing blood ties, and encompasses all the concomitant benefits and duties which kinship engenders.
Frith also has a legal significance: peace was effectively maintained in Anglo-Saxon times by the frith-guild, an early manifestation of summary justice.
Troth means loyalty to all those you hold relationships with. Loyalty means to stay by them and to maintain a tie with them and to keep any promises you make towards them.
Here is an online defination of troth:
1. Faith or loyalty when pledged in a solemn agreement or undertaking.
fidelity – faith – allegiance – faithfulness – loyalty
This concept of faithfulness does not mean sexual faithfulness _unless_ it has been specifically agreed that this is part of what it means between both parties. For example Odin is marries to Frigga, yet he has many lovers. He would never consider wishing to leave his marriage to Frigga or having a greater overall connection to other women than he does to her. His other sexual interactions are kept in the context of being not something that competes with the unique relationship he holds with Frigga. Many of the Norse gods/goddesses have sex with others outside their marriages. For some of them this is alright as that is part of the agreed or implied arrangement for those relationships. As well some of the gods/goddesses are sexually monogamous. This really depends on what is the agreed relationship.
As you see part of troth is also to keep ones word. Most important is to uphold oaths. Oath breakers are the one type of person in the concept of Viking Norse culture that are totally unforgivable; at least those who intentionally break oaths. Those who purposely break oaths with intention to cause harm are called nithlings and are considered to be worth less than dirt. What this means is that it is important you keep your word. Of course if something happens that you cannot keep your word then you need to own up to this and talk about it with the ones you made the promise to and see if another arrangement can be agreed upon. Keeping ones word does not mean being a inhuman robot, sometimes circumstances do come up that don’t allow someone to keep their word, the point is that the person does their best and communicates with the others involved when they cannot and is responsible for their actions in this way.
In modern heathenism there is something called thews, this it a codified set of principles that it is considered good (by some people) to follow. None of the existing modern thews are actually something written down as principles that one should or has to follow, from the Viking times. They are all modern creations. Many of them are good ideas (at least for some people). The most popular thew in current day Heathenism is the Nine Noble Virtues, but this is not the only one. There is others such as the Anglo-Saxon related Heathenism one called the The Twelve Æþeling Þews. There is also a very nice one associated with the Vanir, the Vanic Virtues (the one I personally follow). None of these thews are in any sense required for anyone to follow who is Heathen. Like mentioned earlier the only basic principles that must be followed by everyone is respect for frith, troth, and keeping oaths (ones word). Really as was discussed earlier, if one does or does not follow one of other more than one of these thews or some other thews of guiding principles should be determined by what agreements any groups you have troth with wish, in combination with and most important of all; what your patron gods/goddesses wish you to follow. For those not connected to any Heathen group than following what your patron gods/goddesses wish is the only factor that matters in deciding which, if any, of the lists of thews is right for you to follow.
Hear me pronounce the runes so you can learn how to. The rune names are chanted in Heathen magick. It is very important to learn how to properly pronounce them.
Nehalennia is a very ancient Vanic goddess. She is goddess of the ocean. She is related to hounds, trade, the sea, ships, and the harvest of the sea itself. She rules over passage from one state to another, such as the transitions from living to death (or my theory is the other way around too), and any journeys by water. She is an ancestor goddess of Njord, Freyja, and Freya. Her nature seems to be calming, gentle and providing, yet wild and untamed, in many ways like the character of the sea itself. She is seen to have very water like appearance. Some see her as very beautiful, with wide bright young eyes like a young girls, a perfect and lean figure, and wearing a hound necklace, being topless and wearing a very tiny mini skirt, and wearing a fishing net as a shawl. Her color is a blue green like the sea. I feel her runic energy for sure is laguz in a big way! Alternate spellings of her name are Nehelennia, and Nehalenni.
Some consider her a goddess of the dead, but I feel that isn’t exactly correct. She isn’t a Goddess that comes to claim the dead, but more one that helps them to safely make their journey to that realm. She basically rules safe passage from one place to another (either places being earthly places or even places as in states of being as in travel from the world of the living to world of the dead). This is more of a protecting and nurturing thing. Not harsh like for example Hel can be at times. Basically the historical offerings to her that have been found, they seem to have found were ones given in thanks for sailors making safe passage. Travel in general is associated in movement from one realm to another. This is connected with the rune laguz. This seems to be her energies. She is very connected to the goddess and female mysteries of helping beings pass from one state to another. Since women are the ones who give birth they rule over this aiding of beings coming from one realm to the other. Birth is a transition from the spiritual realm to the physical realm, in the same way birth is a transition from the physical realm to the spiritual realm. What is interesting also about birth and about the womb is it is a realm filled with water. This is very connected to the mysteries of wells or caldrons in the Norse cosmology. There are three important wells, and it is considered that wyrd (the Norse concept of fate or karma) for all beings flows through these wells. It is of course water that flows through wells so it seems wyrd and water are very connected. Since Nehalennia is a goddess that can be seen as the personification of water itself, it only makes sense that she rules over this mystery of the passage of wyrd or the passage from one state to another or even journeys or movement in general. Another rune connected with this mystery is perthro, but perthro may be considered the captured state of the flow of water in a sudden given moment. Yet Nehalennia seems to be more the open oceans, waters freely flowing without restriction, thus she is more related to laguz, not really to the parts of this process connected to perthro. Perthro is more the well structure itself, the vagina, laguz is more the water contained in it. A vagina is of course a very wet comforting place. ;) These mysteries are very Vanic in nature, since the Vanir are connected to both sexuality and to water and ships.
The drawing I have of Nehalennia is made by Amarina and used with her permission.
More about Nehalennia:
She is written about in Our Troth Volume 1, pages 394-395.
She is also in Exploring the Northern Tradition, page 118.
An invocation to Nehalennia:
Hail Nehalennia! Beautiful goddess of the hounds, trade, and the sea! Lost lady of the Vanir! Ancestor of Njord, Freyja, and Freyr!