What are some blogs/sites/Tumblrs you’d recommend? (Not a popularity contest, just try to expose your readers to something they may not know about.)
For this post, I wanted to post a few blogs/content creators that I regularly read or watch, especially ones on here that do a great job of being informative, fun or both! These aren’t in any order or anything, these are just ones that I greatly enjoy
This is easily one of the more well-written and informative blogs on heathenry on WordPress. Notable posts include this one on people misusing the term “Valknut”, and another on people that decry other Pagans for observing Ostara. Everything is highly researched and annotated, and the author really knows their stuff. One of these days, I strive to be as well-informed on this topic as the author.
I know Crawford is pretty well-known in Heathen circles as he is one of the foremost Old Norse professors outside of Europe at the moment. I think what I like the most about Crawford is that he does everything on a scholarly level rather than injecting personal biases into his videos. As far as I can tell, he’s not actually a Heathen, refuses to talk about modern politics, and keeps everything on track. A must watch!
Another big wealth of information on YouTube that never tries to inject his political beliefs into his videos. Skjalden is very informative, and likes to touch on more obscure subjects that most creators ignore, as well as keeping everyone up to speed on the latest archaeological news coming out of Northern Europe.
I don’t read too many travel blogs on here, but I definitely enjoy what I see from this one since the author usually takes great pictures of historical sites and various museums, which is exactly the sort of thing I do whenever I get a chance to travel. One of these days, I’d love to travel to Scandinavia, and this blog gives me many ideas on where I should go.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given about the Heathen path? Your biggest influences?
To me, some of the best advice I’ve been given is to be selective on what sort of information one reads, and do research on authors before you get into them. One of the members of the group I’m interacting with a lot, said this to me. They had a lot of knowledge of some of the most prominent authors in the Heathen movement – both good and bad. With Heathenry being infiltrated, and sadly built on the views of racist people from the past, its hard to keep yourself “pure” from running into these ideas. I’ve run into many many many books that look promising only to find out that the author is either overtly racist or leans heavily that direction.
Take, for example, a Journal that was recommended to me from a Facebook group that I generally trusted not to be a hive of this sort of thought – it turned out to be written by Carolyn Emmerich – an avid racist that pushes that agenda into pretty much all of her writings. It started innocently enough – a book on Germanic Folklore, “cool that’s right up my alley!” I thought! Then the red flags started popping. She talked about foreigners a few times, then outright decried Jewish people at a later point when talking about Grimm’s more troubling bits of folklore (The wrote ones that fueled Nazi propaganda a tad). I then ran Google to look into my concerns and BOOM – huge Neo-Nazi leanings.
From that point on, I am careful to vet all of my prospective book choices. yeah, its easy to fall into the “everyone’s a racist!” idea, and yes some authors hide it more than others. You see this in metal music a lot – bands getting accused of having Nazi ties left and right – its gets tiresome, but its usually easy to spot the legit idiots out there. You also have to avoid blogs entirely founded on the idea of cancel culture for authors that they see as problematic for various reasons aside from their work – sometimes you DO have to separate the art from the artist, and honestly the real shitheads out there are exactly trying to hide it.
As for biggest influences, I’d have to say that YouTube personalities do great work, and I take a lot from them currently. People like Survive the Jive, and Jackson Crawford are weekly watches for me, and give me the sort of information I crave most of the time. Yeah, their stuff is far less practical than scholarly, and they have clear biases at time, but it gives me a great jumping off point to run with.
What’s the best thing about being heathen? The worst?
I think the answer to both is sadly “other Heathens”. At their best, heathens are some of the nicest, most sharing people and really know how to have fun. I have had a great sense of community with other Pagans that I have lacked for many many years. its great to feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself, and its hard if you have no way to scratch that itch otherwise. At their worst, there are many that call themselves Heathens that are insane sociopaths, racists (or both) with little to no care for the actual religious movement as a whole. Sadly I have seen my fair share of both sides, and I’m still a relative novice. I mentioned my previous Kindred, and the stuff that was going on there that led everyone to basically quit – it would have been easy to allow that to cloud my judgement of everything.
Around my area, at least, there seems to be a slight issue with tribalism. Some groups have more power than others and try to become the local Heathen Popes, whilst others try to kick the whole “community” thing to the curb, and ignore any sort of rules or actively antagonize other groups. both are VERY tiresome, and reek of people that have no matured past High School suddenly finding themselves in a leadership position they should not be in.
Its easy to allow people like this to make you turn into something very similar, but its important to try to be the change you want to see in others – those hate-filled terrible groups have a way of self-destructing after a while on their own. There’s no reason to go down with them.
What’s on your agenda to learn more about? What topics are interesting you lately?
This is actually something I try to do a lot, Ever since I left school, I have vowed to never stop learning – to gather as much information and experiences that I can to better myself, and hopefully help enrich the lives of others as I impart some of my knowledge to them. I need to organize this better TBH, but I can come up with a rough list of five topics I am currently into and am actively trying to find out more on…
I am trying to learn Norwegian – I am truthfully not certain where my Scandinavian portion of my ancestry is from – I did not know my father, but I know he was from Wisconsin at one time, so he likely was either part Swedish or Norwegian. This largely wasn’t why I started this, but I felt like it helped me along the path to choosing a new language to try to learn. I could have done German, but it seemed too hard LOL! A few months ago, I decided to dive into Duolingo’s Norwegian class, and it has been pretty fun. I’ve heard its one of the easier languages for English speakers to learn, and can help with understanding Danish and Swedish as well, so I figured it would be beneficial.
I had, at one point, wanted to get back into Spanish as I had taken two years of it in High School, but honestly its really hard, and its been too long so I would have to start from scratch more-or-less. My ultimate goal for this is to read some Historical books from Scandinavia that may not be translated over here, and perhaps travel there one day.
I am currently really into learning about the Neolithic and Bronze Age – I chalk this up to me seeing a Stonehenge exhibit last year in Kansas City, reading a book about it, and playing Farcry Primal on PS4 all at around the same time.
Once I have time to re-arrange my books (currently dealing with repairs due to water damage) I want to create a nice reading area in my downstairs area. Perhaps I can get back into my 1 book a week reading schedule that I once had. Some books I plan to read soon are above.
I am trying to study some lesser-known Gods –This one is tough if you want to read well-researched books and monographs that go in-depth with some of these figures. Sure you can jump on Amazon and find books on Deities like Hel, for example, but you have like a 50/50 chance that the book is a cheap, poorly researched mess by a racist.
I want to learn more practical Magical work – One thing I also need to implement more is magical work. This will come along as I start working more on my altar, and my goal is ultimately to have a daily practice that I do – something to focus energy on, and hopefully help sway the Gods towards me. Its hard to find things that have been settled on as “official” Norse Pagan rituals, as a lot of the magick we do is honestly Wiccan magic due to the almost complete loss of source material on what actually was practiced, but its a start.
and finally –
I am trying to seek out more Viking and Pagan comic books – One of my hobbies is comic books and graphic novels, so I have been trying my hardest to find ones that deal with the themes of ancient Pagan Europe or Paganism in General. Luckily with a renewed interest in Vikings (for better or worse) this has lead to more choices. I am trying to get to where I have a pretty good idea of Vikings in sequential art, maybe start blogging more about it – who knows.
So there we have it, that’s what I’m currently trying to learn and work on – what are some things my readers are learning about or working on? Please let me know in the comments!
I have an affinity to knowledge Gods, so when I initially embarked on this path, I saw myself drawn towards Odin quite a bit, much in the same way thaat I was drawn to Thoth when I was dabbling in Gnosticism and Hermeticism, some have even tried to link the two in various ways. Now, I am honestly searching for my patron deity more and more. I always hear about issues with being a devotee of Odin, and need to look into some of the other knowledge gods even more. However, my search my bring me back around to the Allfather, if it does I will be satisfied.
As I stated more eloquently in my previous post about prayer, I feel that Thor has been watching over me this year, as he does with most common people. I like his way of helping people, even at the risk of being a bit rash. Not sure this fits my personality a bit. I have also been looking into both Hel and Tyr as gods that I like aspects of. My plan for 2021 is to really nail this down and let myself become a true follower of a God that truly represents me.
What importance does nature have in your practice? Do you honor the wights or spirits of the land around you?
Answer: Truthfully, not as much as it should. I do try to honor the wights when I can, I’ve given offerings of apples and other small things to the animals that I see in my neighborhood (groundhogs and rabbits), but honestly need to do more. Some of the festivals and blots I have done are in the woods, but I honestly need to get out there more and do more nature work – perhaps camp, or go on some hikes etc. I know I keep blaming Covid-19 as a stop-block to a lot of my spiritual activities, but planning more outdoorsy activities has been hard. Most campsites and parks have been absolutely overrun with people due to people being blocked from doing other “summer stuff” one normally does, such as the pool, or theme parks. I feel trying to commune with nature in the backdrop of hundreds of randos walking around is not possible.
Once my girlfriend’s son gets older, I’d love to do things like take him camping, but he’s honestly too young now. For right now I will try to revere nature as I can, and treat the spirits the best that one can for these trying times.
What holidays do you celebrate as part of your practice? (Conversely, how do you celebrate secular holidays with a heathen flair?)
Answer: My family and I have been slowly, but surely, trying to incorporate Pagan feast days and major Holidays into our repertoire within the last year. Luckily the Kindred that I am associated with holds at least a quarterly Blot of some sort, while Covid-19 has made this exceeding tough to even attend those. Last year I celebrated Freyr’s Blot, vetrnætr, Yule, and a few smaller feats here and there. While it’s hard to do the more familial Holidays (such as Thanksgiving) like this, as my girlfriends family is Christian, we try to do as much as we can.
I’ve gone online and found some “Wiccanised” calendar wheels that attempt to give an idea of what the people’s of the past may have celebrated, but even then its tough to discern exactly what to do, so I feel its important to “do your own thing”. We’ve even incorporated some other pagan holidays into the mix when hanging with more “Eclectic Pagans” which as cool. As I recall, we celebrated Mabon last year, for example.
Here’s hoping 2021 returns us back to some sort of “normalcy” and all of the feasting and frivolity of many holidays to come is realized once again.
06) If heathenism gave you a code to live by, what would that look like? (i.e. How has this faith encouraged you to live?)
Here’s how I piss everyone off 6 days in…
It’s hard to honestly answer this for many reasons, yeah I could go online and find sets of rules that supposedly tell me how to live as a Pagan, it would be easy, and perhaps for an absolute beginner that is scared of the freedom of not having doctrinal law peering over your shoulder, I guess it could be quite comforting. For most that have jumped from Abrahamic religion to some version of Germanic Paganism, its hard not to have a codified law and holy book available, some people even end up leaving due to this sadly.
Some would say that we should live our heathen lives based on the Nine Nobile Virtues or the None Noble Charges, laws created in the idea of what ancient Scandinavian laws could have been, but I take issue with them for a number of reasons. Chiefly, I don’t see Paganism as any sort of dogmatic religion, so putting hardline rules in place reeks of Christian tendencies sneaking into something that claims to want to distance itself from such leanings. Many treat the NNV as a stand-in for the Ten Commandments, but at least there they were enshrined in Christian Doctrine.
Not everyone knows this, but the “Nine Noble Virtues,” or “NNV,” are not set down and codified anywhere in the lore. They were first created by members of the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists, the Odinic Rite, and the Asatru Folk Assembly less than 50 years ago. That particular strand of Heathenry is something that I want absolutely zero part in to be quite frank. I understand that we can all trace the resurgence of Heathenism back to those guys, unfortunately, but time has passed and we need to move on.
A lot of the virtues look harmless as posted above, but when you do a deeper dive into their intentions, it becomes obvious what’s going on – Take “hospitality”, for example – The Odinic Right says this about it: “To succour the friendless but to put no faith in the pledged word of a stranger people.” – so basically don’t trust outsiders…..hmmmm thats a red flag, and honestly quite the opposite of Odin’s rules for hospitality actually in The Lore.
I feel that the NNV are very simplistic, and at face value gear someone towards more of a militarized temperament, and abandon much of what Odin teaches us in Hávamál for starters. I don’t see an idea that we should strive for knowledge, nor is there any mention of the joys and merriment that go with festivals, how to take care of a family, or even something simple like how to treat the religious side of things. I’m not going to say its wrong, as many see value in the NNV, despite the baggage, but its simply not for me whatsoever.
If you’re still with me here, I’m not sure I am the person to attempt to write a new code of Heathen ethics – perhaps that would be an interesting thought experiment at some point, but I think it goes past the intention of this prompt today. Truthfully I only take a portion of my ethical leanings from the Lore, I don’t believe we should attempt to live 100% like how something was written in the distant past – if so, we’d be going to literal war over a derogatory slur uttered to someone such as found in many of the Sagas, or we’d be justifying all sorts of misogynist views on women as purportedly spoken by Odin in the Hávamál. Granted, I have seen and known Heathens like this, missing the entire point that many of those stories were to illustrate that nobody was in the right.
Most Heathens love to point out things to Christians like Leviticus proclaiming that eating shellfish or wearing mixed fiber clothing is punishable by death, and that you can’t enforce old laws like that, then try to do the same exact thing. A lot of us get accused of being Viking Cosplayers, and stuff like this is honestly why.
I honestly try to base most of my morals on Humanism, as weird as that sounds. At the risk of being lumped in with all of the so-called Wicca-infused Heathens that are much derided by so-called traditionalists, its really the only way to live in a society now. Yes, one can look to the old ways for traditions, lore, inspiration, and spiritual fulfillment; but unless one plans to live in a breakaway off-grid Amish-esque Midsommar cult village where you have your own rule of law, its not really possible – and truthfully is everything worth bringing back just because it’s there? Do we want to start paying wergild due to an accusation of dishonor? Do we want to enact what we think Viking Sharia Law courts would be? No, that’s silly.
Do you give offerings? What value do you see in them? What is their purpose?
The point of an offering is to start a conversation with The Gods, not to simply beg for things. Heathens need to separate ourselves from the Abrahamic notion that one prays in order to attain something only. If one builds this relationship, in a mutually beneficial way, one is able to build favor with the Gods, and perhaps, more luck is to follow. That goes hand-in-hand with not asking for crazy things of the Gods, Odin isn’t a djinn that will magically give you a new Ferrari. If you ask for something like that, you better be ready to pay out. Otherwise misfortune can follow.
It is better not to pray at all than to pray for too much;
nothing will be given that you won’t repay.
It is better to sacrifice nothing than to offer too much.
Odin carved this before the birth of humankind,
when he rose up and returned again.
Stanza 145, trans. by Jackson Crawford
So what do we know about historical offerings? in a written form, not much sadly – There isn’t much in the way of clear information on many historical Pagan rituals aside from those that were seen as “enemies” such as Adam of Bremen who wrote extensively about his travels through Pagan Scandinavia. Church leaders, such as Adam, described his supposed witnessing of various sacrifices/rituals in the same way that a folk horror film director exploits the fear of the countryside to illicit fear in “the more civilized” (think Midsommar).
The sacrifice is as follows; of every kind of male creature, nine victims are offered. By the blood of these creatures, it is the custom to appease the gods. Their bodies, moreover, are hanged in a grove which is adjacent to the temple. This grove is so sacred to the people that the separate trees in it are believed to be holy because of the death or putrefaction of the sacrificial victims. There even dogs and horses hang beside human beings.
Adam of Bremen‘s depiction of sacrifice at Uppsala
He further documents forced drownings in a colorful way that makes it appear that scary Pagans would just nab random people and chuck them in the river against their will. While not saying it was 100% incorrect – I have a feeling that the agenda of the Church was to make everything look bad to push for mass conversion. Adam was, of course, not present for these atrocities of faith, but “heard about them from colleagues that were”, this is of course, a great plan on how to get away with just making stuff up, then not taking blame if proved wrong.
On a smaller scale though, we DO have some idea of what people gave to the Gods aside from alleged large-scale sacrifices noted above. Offerings were sometimes simple acts of leaving food and drink on an altar or shrine in the house, on a rock, in a tree, or burned as effigy. We have found all manner of items in tree hollows and bogs including small stones, carved statues, jewelry and even locks of human hair given to the gods. The latter example proved it wasn’t lavish gifts that folks always gave, it was important ones. Hair, for example, could be seen as sacrificing ones own beauty to the Gods, which is somehow very powerful feeling.
I used to always take issue with people, when I was catholic, not taking Lent seriously. Here you had a fasting period, 40 days long, where you had dietary restrictions and were supposed to give something up as well. I’d see folks do things like give up eating M&Ms for Lent, or Give up Watching the News – pointless exercises in false righteousness. But giving up a status symbol such as your own long braids is so much more intense. It almost shines close to the act of Tyr sacrificing his own sword hand to help protect his family from Fenrir.
Now the question arises – how do I do offerings? There is a handful of things I do on a daily basis to speak with the Gods. Whenever I work out, I have pledged my strength to the Gods in order to become more of a warrior than I currently am. I don’t envision myself going off to fight anyone since I am nearly 40, but perhaps I can help others in other ways? I visualize the Uruz rune for strength as I work my way through the pain and devote it to Thor. I also give food offerings during important feasts and occasionally give things like beer on an altar. Truthfully I need to get better at my daily practice.
Has this brought me any favor with the gods?
Unverifiable Personal Gnosis (UPG) Time: A lot of this came to be fairly recently as, I was close to losing my job due to political inaction regarding Covid-19 this year. The place I work is one of the places that The President has a vendetta against, and is seemingly doing everything in his power to destroy. As you can imagine, this has been insanely stressful for everyone at my job, and I routinely asked Thor to help us in any way he can since he often watches over the “common man”. On the day that the layoff was set to occur, I had given some offerings and talked to the Gods about our situation – as I was arriving that day, I pulled into the parking lot to see that my parking place had four large Corvids (probably crows) standing there. I took this as a sign that I was protected, and thankfully I made the cut.
In closing, I try to do offerings when I can, mostly because I have seemingly personally benefitted from it. In turn, it has helped me feel like a better person as I have been trying to help others as well. I don’t give lavish gifts, or promise nine of every animal on a tree, but it seems to add up.
How have your friends and family dealt with your faith? (Not public yet? Tell us a little about how you were raised. Too personal? Tell us about the family member to whom you are closest.)
Truthfully, that’s not really anything I have to deal with much anymore- my parents have sadly passed away at this point and I have very little contact with extended family. Losing my Mother in 2016, in many ways, is what caused me to become the person I am now. Yes, I hit my absolute lowest point ever as my mother WAS my family for the longest time. The stress surrounding that caused my marriage to fall apart, made me gain a ton of weight, and not take care of myself. Good news is, I’m better – I’m in a happy relationship, am basically a step-father to a young boy, slimmer, and am feeling the best spiritually I have for a really long time – perhaps the Gods needed to tear me down to finally get me on track? Who knows.
I was raised Catholic, but haven’t practiced since High School – My Dad was Catholic until the very end, but my Mother waivered. She only really re-accepted her Catholic faith when she was on her deathbed, but for a while veered somewhat close to some form of Paganism, like a vague Native American Animism or something. Mom wouldn’t care – when I was Gnostic she, albeit thinking I was New Age or something, supported me.
When I was married, I had to hide my spirituality. As discussed in my previous post, I considered myself to be an Occultist/Gnostic for the better part of 15 years – my ex’s family was VERY Christian. I simply did not talk about it around them, and had to pretend I wasn’t myself for the longest time. I’m sure that if they knew exactly what I practiced at that time they would have been very upset with me. And now? I’d imagine they’d see Paganism as being akin to the cartoonish 80’s notion of what a Satanist is. While I miss those guys, its honestly better for my mental health to be away from that.
My Girlfriend’s family is supportive – they honestly don’t care what we practice despite being Christian themselves. At one point they even asked if we could pray for their neighbors in a very trying time.
As for friends / co-workers, most of them don’t care. I have had people at work act weird when I started wearing things like a Odin charm carved from a coyote bone around my neck or a Runic hat that I’ve been wearing due to having to wear a Covid mask (to help hold it on). Some assumed I was an avid fan of the TV Show Vikings – something that I honestly have not seen that much of, nor did it factor into me being into paganism in any way. This was very confusing to them, as many are used to people becoming fake versions of things to show fandom to a show like the fake bikers that Sons of Anarchy created.
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.