My VΓ€ntljusstaken / Sunwait Candles 2020

This year, I decided to make a VΓ€ntljusstaken / Sunwait Candles arrangement for the Yule Holiday. Yes, I am already a few weeks late, but I plan to do a few weeks all at once this upcoming weekend. I think it turned out pretty good πŸ™‚

For more info this is a solid link.

REVIEW: TYR – Hel (2019)

Official album artwork

It had been quite a while (nearly six years) since TYR blessed our ears with their critically acclaimed album Valkyrja (2013) – but in 2019 they triumphantly returned, with their newest and eighth overall studio album – Hel (2019). This was somewhat of a re-introduction to the band for me, as I think I last purchased The Lay of Thrym (2011), and sort of lost track of the band (I have rectified this since). The long pause for the band could be chalked up to many reasons: Touring schedules as Metalblade Records works its bands pretty hard, a few roster shake-ups with two drummer changes, and a bit of a scandal wherein the band was falsely accused of being white nationalists because they use Runes, which is easily one of the stupidest instances of cancel culture I’ve seen. So how is Hel, was it worth the wait?

For, me very much yes. I know I am in the minority here, but I feel some of TYR’s more popular older songs come across almost like folky Dream Theater songs – not necessarily a bad thing, but not my cup of tea. This usually resulted in long drawn-out and overproduced albums like How Far to Asgard. This got better in the 2000’s when the band settled on the sound that they currently still more-or-less use. Hel, isn’t really a concept album any more than any other album they’ve done, considering all of the TYR albums deal with Norse Lore, but the songs all do have an overlying theme of dealing with heroes deaths, Hel and the underworld.

Hel | TΓ½r

Perhaps there isn’t one BIG classic song like Hold the Heathen Hammer High on this album, but this album is not a one-hit wonder like others – its a competent work from beginning to end. I honestly couldn’t pick one song to say it was “the worst”, and more than one song went into my permanent rotation. Gates of Hel, and Empire of the North are two of my favorites, but I also quite enjoyed the handful of more folky songs sung in Faroese such as Álvur kongur and Ragnars kvæði are awesome, and show how this band surpasses other similar bands of their kind whilst avoiding pretention.

  1. Gates of Hel 06:42
  2. All Heroes Fall 05:16
  3. Ragnars kvæði 04:08
  4. Garmr 04:53
  5. Sunset Shore 04:42
  6. Downhill Drunk 04:27
  7. Empire of the North 05:11
  8. Far from the Worries of the World 05:35
  9. King of Time 04:57
  10. Fire and Flame 05:39
  11. Against the Gods 05:43
  12. Songs of War 05:16
  13. Álvur kongur 07:24

I know the lead singer, Heri Joensen, is a divisive figure for these types of bands. He has come across in interviews, at times, seemingly saying he dismissed some heathens as being “re-enactors” which confused and hurt some of the band’s audience, but that said TYR delivers Pagan music to Pagan fans no matter if they want to do that or not. I believe Heri, is at least, an atheist and he has every right to feel the way he does and it doesn’t detract from the music in any way whatsoever.

If you have yet to purchase this album, please give it a shot, there are few bands that exist to make purely “Viking” music that are as prolific as TYR, and few can continuously make quality music without seeming like they are simply “painting by numbers”. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait a further seven years for the next album, my fingers are crossed that a break in touring may result in some work being done.

30 Days of Heathenry – Day 30 “Future”

Oracle Girl, Photomontage, Witch, Advent, Hidden, Dark
Public Domain via Pixabay

Question

What do you feel the future holds for you in regard to your path?

Answer:

I don’t have too much to say that hasn’t already been addressed, but I can put my three hopes for myself and my path on here to finish this out.

  1. I want to be more active – Assuming 2021 isn’t another solid year with Covid-19 looming over us, I would like to go to more events. Here’s hoping more opportunities pop up for things such as Pagan pride Day, lectures, book signings, Blots, and Sumbels. I want to be an active member of this community the best I can.
  2. Obtain my learning goals – In a previous prompt, I listed things I was trying to learn such as me taking Norwegian classes on Duolingo – I want to keep at this. I crave knowledge, and want to do well. I also hope I can avoid my tendencies for unintentional ADD and put things down forever at a time.
  3. Hopefully fully join a Kindred – I have been an associate member of a Kindred for a while, and Covid has really stalled my ability to attend events with them. Here’s hoping that in 2020 I take the plunge and join up with some cool, like-minded people.

That’s it folks, its been a wild 30 days. I’m not going to lie, blogging every day is pretty rough – I may not do another challenge like this for a while, but we’ll see LOL.

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 29 – “Misconceptions”

Horned Skull, Monster, Skull, Evil, Devil, Horror
Public Domain via Pixabay

Question:

Do you feel that others have misconceptions when it comes to your faith?

Answers:

OHHHHH YESSSS LOL

I could probably write a book about this, but here are some that always make me chuckle. In no particular order.

Vikings Season 4 The History Channel - TV Eskimo
History Channel’s Vikings

I am not wearing this because I love a show from History Channel – I already touched on this one on a previous post, but its too good to ignore – One of my clerks (I’m a supervisor in my office) would ask me weird questions about various thigs pertaining to a shirt I was wearing, or some jewelry, etc without actually coming out and asking if I was Pagan which I know he was hinting at. This man was VERY Christian and obviously was trying not to offend me, but it was funny to see him root around the elephant in the room without addressing it. My job (prior to a big layoff) actually had a large number of Pagans working there, so it is a healthy place for me despite the occasional Christian zealot that I can easily stay clear of.

The best part of it was when he decided that I must be a HUGE fan of the TV show The Vikings on US TV via The History Channel. Truthfully, I have watched about three seasons of the show, but I watched it before I was a Pagan and it did not cause me to switch teams in any way. Most days would be like “Hey, have you seen season six of Vikings?” to which I’d be like “nah, I’m really behind on that show, I have to be in the mood to watch it.” This would shake him, “huh, I figured you were into that”.

10 serious actors being totally undermined by their wigs, from Jude Law to  Angelina Jolie
Thulsa Doom

No, I don’t worship snakes – This actually comes from my days as a Gnostic, but it still stands. I sometimes wear an ouroboros pendant around my neck as a symbol of my never-ending quest for knowledge, this has become somewhat of a personal motif of mine throughout the years. Now that I am a Norse Pagan, it could symbolize JΓΆrmungandr, but I have not come to terms with the implication of the symbol on my faith.

A LOOOONG time ago, somebody once asked me about the significance of my necklace, and I basically said “just like you wear a cross, I wear this ouroboros”, to which they replied “So, uh…..you worship snakes?”. Yes my Child, as a priest of temple of Set, me and Thulsa Doom from Conan go way back…..I didn’t say that because I am not a jerk, but I always imagine James Earl Jones when telling this story lol

Game, Rpg, Dungeon Keeper, Master Of The Game
Public Domain via Pixabay

I am not LARPing – Here’s a fun one, just because I am Norse Pagan, that doesn’t mean that I think I’m a Viking, I am not LARPing my religion any more than a Christian would be, separated by even more time from their own religion. I have friends that are into medieval martial arts, they are not LARPing either – to insinuate it as such is honestly asinine.

I see this a lot of pseudo-intellectual Christian neckbeards a lot. They wade into a discussion on something they have no understanding on, to try to paint entire swaths of practicing Pagans as Avid Lord of the Rings fans or something. I’ve also seen this sentiment a lot from the more Racist heathens out there, they like to dismiss anyone not into Folkish ideas as being LARPers. Honestly people need to cut the crap – if your religion isn’t brand new or anything, of course people are emulating the past – that’s kind of how it works. I guess everyone’s a LARPer by that argument :/

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 28 “Younger”

Baby, Teddy Bear, Play, Toy, Teddy, Bear, Cute, Child
Public Domain via Pixabay

Question:

What would your current self like to tell the younger you about Heathenry?

Answer:

Perhaps, one of the best bits of advice I’d give myself is to just drop Abrahamic religion entirely. I drifted so far from my Catholic upbringing, to a point where I was completely against YHWH and a practicing Gnostic, believing “God” to be a charlatan at best, perhaps almost on the evil side at worst. I was starting yo begin leaning towards the understanding that maybe the whole thing was a colossal misunderstanding, and that parts of Judeo-Christian lore were legit frauds. Instead of clinging to “here’s what Christians REALLY did back them, as a way to call out fundamentalism, I honestly should have listened to my heart and left it for good about a decade before I did. And that is in all its flavors, not even Lucerfianism Gnosticism etc.

I had a few bad experiences in the past with friends that were Wiccans not taking stuff seriously, and basically using it as a way to be hateful against others without actually practicing any Wicca at all. I should have realized they were bogus, and to not judge “PAGAMISM” as a whole based on them. Just like having to endure fake Heathens nowadays that watched The Vikings, and have based their entire woldview on that, I assume there was an explosion back then Due to the popular film The Craft. Learning to separate these fringe elements from the greater body of the Pagan Community has helped me a lot.

I also would have re-assured myself that there are still practicing Norse Pagans out there despite what the Christians want one to believe. Its kind of like how many people talk about Native Americans as a historical footnote – especially with Thanksgiving and all (which is why this comes to mind). Hey guys, they’re still here, and tired of being marginalized. Same for Pagans, people like to act like Paganism was “barbaric” and that “we’ve evolved past it, to the reeeaaal religion” or some nonsense. Separating oneself from that idea is the first step at de-colonizing oneself from it entirely.

So basically, Younger me: drop the Jesus talk, be more like your ancestors, and don’t be so judgmental to others that may be unexperienced. Yeah, pop culture religious types exist, but cut them some slack.

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 27 “Divination”

Skull, Skeleton, Medieval, Rune, Stone, Ancient, Celtic
Public Domain via Pixabay

Question:

Do you do any divination? Have you ever had any done for you? Do you have any interest in this realm? What is your relationship with the runes?

Answer:

Not much unfortunately. I learned how to read tea leaves a couple of years ago – it was pretty cool, but I don’t have much experience with it, so I’d like to try it again. To get more specifically close to Heathenry, I have read a number of books on Runes, but have yet to be able to set aside time to learn rune meanings and the like. With me currently trying to learn Norwegian, I don’t have enough time to devote to it right now.

Last year, when I attended Pagan Pride Day in Kansas City, I did pick up a starter divination kit from a merchant that was basically small sticks that had been painted in different ways. The caster would throw these, and depending on how they fall, there was chart for the result corresponding to an answer to a question one might ask. Perhaps I will start with these and move forward.

My girlfriend is much better with this sort of stuff, as she has done Tarot cards for a number of years, its just not simply anything I’m too experienced in, but am willing to learn.

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 26 “Creativity”

Art, Watercolors, Arts And Crafts, Paint Brushes, Blank
Public Domain via Pixabay

Question:

Make something with your own hands today, in an attempt to connect with your faith. (This could be anything: writing, crafting, even a making meal. Or researching anything related.) Report back.

Answer:

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 25 “Meaningful”

Sea, Stones, Beach, Lonely, Human, Pebble, Pebble Beach
Public Domain via Pixabay

Question:

Share a picture of something meaningful to you.

Answer:

Personal photo

I could post all sorts of stuff for this, pictures of family, ancestors etc. but I figured a picture of something that actually ties into Heathenry would be a good idea. Also a lot of those things were addressed in previous prompts. This is me, and was taken at a vetrnaetr celebration in 2019, I wish I would have taken more pictures, but I didn’t want to be inappropriate in any way. I felt like this ritual was perhaps one of the first times I truly felt like I had experienced a REAL ritual. Yeah, the old Kindred I was in did things, but it was really informal and the actual religious side of things always took a back seat to everyone talking about Football or something that sort of skewed the whole experience.

During the ritual, one of the goΓ°i came around and drew runes on our foreheads with some ashen paint. I’m a sucker for symbolic stuff like that in any sort of ritual, so it was really cool.

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30 Days of Heathenry – Day 24 “Songs”

Question:

List three songs that strike you as particularly meaningful at this moment in regards to your practice. (Bonus points for links to YouTube, etc.)

Answer:

Heilung – Alfadhirhaiti

I could honestly post anything from Heilung here and it would click – this musical project does an amazing job of trying to recapture shamanic rituals of the pre-viking era. While nobody truly knows how close they are, they do an amazing job of staying believable and making amazing music all the same. This song is an Old Norse prayer of sorts to Odin, as most of the lyrics are the myriad of names that The Allfather is known by in the lore.

Wardruna – Lyfjaberg

“Healing Mountain” is an amazing song and video, but the song itself chronicles a persons trek to said mountain, where a pilgrimage there can heal or comfort you as long as you place an appropriate offering. The lyrics are definitely taken from the Sagas themselves, and while I am not certain where Lyfjaberg stands today, its very fitting to listen to such a song in this Covid-19 soaked year.

TÝR – Hold The Heathen Hammer High –

An anthem of sorts. For too long us Pagans have hid in the shadows, too scared to be outed or to practice in the open. perhaps now, more any any time in history, we need to stand up for our beliefs and show everyone that we aren’t evil devil-worshippers like some think.

Bonus: Depeche Mode – Blasphemous Rumors

I know what you’re thinking, this has nothing to do with Norse Paganism does it? No it does not, but it does remind me of the former life I led, as a follower of YHWH thinking that he had any love for anyone but himself. Perhaps my Gnostic tendencies are sneaking through here, but my inclination that Christians worship a God of evil makes me never want to go back in any way whatsoever. It also makes me highly cautious around his followers. Plus, Depeche Mode Rules!

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