Crafting Yule Traditions with Väntljusstaken

Approaching the Winter Solstice/Yule time generally brings modern-day Heathens a variety of minor (in the scheme of the world-events) conundrum of choices. Most have a background in Christianity which is often considered baggage to be eschewed, something to consider as part of who we are, or somewhere in between.

The relationship with that monotheistic religion prior to moving into Heathenry (or other non-Christian practice) can be considered bitter and harmful, or positive in many ways but just not the path for that individual.

Probably one of the most uniformly celebrated holiday around the world is that of “Christmas”.  Since the beginning of the Christian advancement and conversion practices, the movement has absorbed local pagan traditions, renamed them with Christian terms, incorporated them into the religious liturgy, and created new traditions to coincide with their new faith. As societies and cultures changed with integration and interaction with others, practices adapted to stimulus of new and different ideas. Over the centuries of practice, and as people were born into the faith, the origins of these practices were forgotten and often lost to the mists of Niflheim.

Thankfully,  due to archaeology, writings, and the continuance of traditions from generation to generation, we can begin today to recall some of those origins and attempt to reconstruct what our ancestors may have practiced. Given that this includes a lot of geography, a vast amount of time, and really having only the most minuscule clues resulting in a lot of guessing, surmising, and connecting dots that may not belong together, volumes of books are written about the “pagan” origins of Christmas.

About this time among Heathen groups, particularly on social media, discussions arise about how people celebrate during the Yule season and how they do it in a Heathen way.  The results vary from people taking examples from certain practices (as noted above) and using them as their foundation for a Heathen Yule tradition to those who unravel the traditions from their heritage and Christianity to find the the pieces with which they can form new or revised Heathen traditions to connect with the Gods, Ancestors, and Nature Vaettir (spirits).

Lighting the Sunwait Candles for a Modern Tradition

Vantlusstaken Fehu 02One of those re-purposed traditions is that of the Väntljusstaken (Sunwait Candles) being re-envisioned from the Advent Candles. I discovered this in 2017 from the post of a friend and found the page on Facebook to inspire the growth of this delightful tradition for the entire family.

It takes the premise of lighting a candle for a specific number of days or weeks prior to Christmas eve (usually twelve days) and changes some of the parameters (which are also flexible depending on the individual).  The Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles practice came from Swedish traditions and adapted for a meaningful experience.

The lighting of the candles begins six weeks prior to the winter solstice on Thursdays. Thursdays were selected because of a Swedish tradition known as Thorshelg.

“The reason for the Thursdays is that, Thursdays have a traditional significance in Scandinavian folk lore. Thursdays have been the day for trolldom (folk magic) and communicating with the gods and nature spirits long into Christian times,” explained one of the page organizers. “There are accounts as late as the 19th century where the Thorshelg (Thor’s hallow) was celebrated by inviting Thor and Frigga to the house on Thursday night”

She continued to state that other cultures have a specific holy day and that as there isn’t a one day specific to all of Heathendom universally, it makes sense for people to select what works best for them in this “tradition in development.” Some may choose to do the activity on the six Thursdays prior to the Winter Solstice (21 December), some may  choose to do it on the day that the solstice falls upon for six weeks prior – with the final candle on 21 December, some may choose to begin six days prior with the final day on  the solstice, and some may choose another day that is special to them. “I think everyone should feel free to do as they feel most comfortable. We are creating this together,” she said.

The procedure of the event is to light one candle each week until the solstice, recite a poem, stanza, or meditation, and contemplate on the season. For the Väntljusstaken activity, the first six letters of the Futhark (F U TH A R K) were chosen as a sort of runic “guide.” In preparation of the activity, one can select the six candles, carve or draw a stave on each candle (or as part of a decorated base or candle holder), anoint each candle, or address the energy of the runes with the candle. This would be a great activity for families to include their children in a creative activity that can also include storytelling, learning about runes, and strengthening those family ties at this special time of year.

On the chosen night, light the candle while reciting the Väntljusversen poem (available in Swedish, Dutch, French, and German on the page) or one of your choosing that is meaningful to you/your family. The rest of the ceremony is up to you to create to suit  your desires for the winter, Yule, the coming year, etc.  One thing that this author does is to contemplate on the energy of the rune of the week. How does that energy/power influence and interact with my life? How can I harness or observe those influences and recognize them?

At the end of the time, extinguish the flame. At the next week, relight the candle prior to starting with the next until all candles are lit at the end of the process.  Some choose to allow all of the candles to burn down on the final night, sending the energy and intents of the working into the universe. (A note of caution: do not leave burning candles unattended, accessible to children and pets, or around flammable decorations or items.)

Vantljusstaken_Pantheon Skulptor
Sunwait Candles with statues by Pantheon Skulptor.

Väntljusversen poem

vantljusversen-swedish.jpg

Fehu – In the first of sunwait we light
The candle of Fehu so bright
Until the return of the queen of skies
May her beauty and splendor in it rise

Uruz – In the second of sunwait we light
The candle of Uruz so bright
With all that has passed and ahead of us lies
May the passing of time in it rise

Thurisaz- In the third of sunwait we light
The candle of Thurisaz so bright
When the force of winter upon us lies
May the return of spring in it rise

Ansuz – In the fourth of sunwait we light
The candle of Ansuz so bright
In worship of gods old and wise
May the powers of Regin in it rise

Raido – In the fifth of sunwait we light
The candle of Raidō so bright
In yearning for that which never dies
May our longing for new life in it rise

Kenaz – In the sixth of sunwait we light
The candle of Kenaz so bright
A light in darkness again shall arise
May the hope of yule in it rise

For some, this may not work for you for a variety of choices.  In Heathenry, we develop our practices and relationships with the Gods in ways that are meaningful to each of us today. The Väntljusstaken is not a right or wrong way to honor Yule or the Gods.  It is a way to do it.  If you find this is a way that brings joy and meaningfulness to the season, please share your experiences and photos on the Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles, Huginn’s Heathenhof, and Gifts of the Wyrd Facebook pages. May your Winter Solsitce/Yule Tide seasons be filled with joy and amazement.

Listen to the podcast about Vantljusstaken which includes a reading of the poem in Swedish and English.

This article was first published on Huginn’s Heathenhof. Though it is less than six weeks to Yule, you can “catch up” by lighting each candle, reciting the verse, and contemplating on the rune that has already passed.

Images used in this article are from the Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles Facebook page with permission.

 

Frau Holle leads the Wild Hunt

My dear friend Birgit  has been blessed with writing songs to the Gods for many years and shared a beautiful tune she penned a few years ago to our ears – Heil Dir Holle. Here she is singing this with birds joining in the background.

Frau Holle StampFrau Holle is known in regions of Germany as the protector of children, keeper of the home crafts (such as spinning), Goddess of Winter, leader of the Wild Hunt and matron of witches.  The Grimm’s preserved her tale in their fairy tales, detailing the gifts given to two young girls. One of integrity and industriousness, the other greedy and lazy.

Frau Holle GrimmFrau Holle teaches, inspires and rewards the hard worker, sometimes finishing an industrious worker’s reels for her during the night, but she punishes the lazy, fouling their work.  While governing domestic chores, Holle is also strongly associated with the outside wilderness, wild animals and places remote from man. Her main celebration is during mid-winter and was originally known as Die Zwolften (The Twelve).

Frau Holle  is  the patroness of the Urglaawe faith, and the mother of the Deitsch nation. Many of Urglaawe’s views of Holle result from the oral traditions of the healing practice of Braucherei.

Enjoy getting to know Frau Holle.

Words to the song by Birgit Knorr. You may hear Birgit sing the song on YouTube here.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Seelen sinnen tief im Wasser,                     Souls are dreaming deep in water,

Seelen sinnen tief im See.                             Souls are dreaming deep in the lake.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Federflocken fallen leise,                             Feather flakes are falling softly
Federflocken fallen lind.                               feather flakes are falling mildly.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Gib uns gute Arbeit heute,                          Give us good work today,
gib uns gute Arbeit nun.                               Give us good work now.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Schillernd scheinen deine Flocken,            Glittering shine your flakes,
schillernd scheint der Schnee im Land.    Glittering shine the snow on the land

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

Bade mich in Deinem Brunnen,                     Bathe me in your well,
Brunnen bringt mich in Dein Land.             [the] well brings me to your land.

Heil Dir, Holle, hehre Mutter,                    Hail to you, Holle, noble Mother
heil Dir, Holle, hohe Frau.                           Hail to you, Holle, high woman.

 

*The statue of Frau Holle featured above is located at Frau Holle Teich (Frau Holle’s Pond) at Hoher Meißner, Werra-Meißner-Kreis, Hesse, Germany. photo by Jan Tjeerd (c) 2017

Honoring Ties to our Ancestors

The “Othala” Connection to Where we Call Home

Recently I had a very interesting experience that made me think of the importance of our ancestral connections and how that may be linked to the rune – othala. Othala is the rune of inheritance and mostly connected to our ancestors. **

“An estate is very dear to every man, if he can enjoy there in his house whatever is right and proper in constant prosperity.” – Old English Rune Poem, translation by Bruce Dickens. *

Othala is either the final rune of the futhark or the second to the last rune with dagaz being the last. This placement confusion is due to the futhark order being found complete in different locations with the two runes interchanged. It is most commonly placed as the final rune in most rune studies today.

When we think of ancestors, many think in terms of those from whom they are descended – grandparents, great grandparents and on back.  This is quite true and an important and valuable part of our ancestor veneration. The things that people have learned over the millennia, have certainly made an imprint in some way upon each successive generation.  Some things have fallen away and are not vital in the ways they once were to our survival, perhaps, but we honor and remember that those decisions and lives made an impact in some way that form a part of who we are today.

Some other ways, and this is what really struck me during this experience, that we can honor ancestors is to remember those who are not part of our direct lineage.  This would include ancestors of a location (such as a home town or geographical place), ancestors of influence (such as teachers, important figures, people whom we admire), and ancestors of people of causes or movements (such as those fighting for equal rights, pioneers, military, merchants, explorers, scientists, etc.).

During my recent experience, I was visiting the area where I grew up. For all intents and purposes, this was the last time I will be visiting this area unless I make a special effort and journey just to go there. As the time drew near to drive away, my heart became a bit heavy as I knew that I would not be visiting these landvaettir in the future. That the connection to the spirit of the people who settled the region (ancestors of the place) would become very thin.

 Working with House and Land Vaettir

Emery
Mountain overlooking author’s hometown in Utah.

There were connections to many places in this area, so I decided to address them as I prepared to leave.  At one house, I thanked the house and land spirits who were part of my family for those many years. I invited any friendly ones who would like to journey away with us to join. Those who wished to stay, I gave offerings and thanked them. Wished them a fond good bye and that I hope the new inhabitants would be kind and friendly.  Likely they would not recognize the spirits there, but They are known and appreciated.

The land area that was part of my growing up is around 70 miles along a state road in a desert community.  Little towns with as few as 200 people to about 1,000 people with the largest city in that area being just over 8,000 people.  A lot of open area between towns with a lot of colors, desert landscape, and bright blue sky. When I left the city at the north end of the two counties, I would have to drive through nearly every little town along the highway as I headed south.

A Knot in the Heart: That Strange Departing Feeling

That day came and I could feel the restlessness of the land spirits and the spirits of the place that have been there for so long. There was a sense of sorrow as I drove through that area with the thought that this is likely the last time I’ll be there.  I took in all of the beauty that surrounds that area. The layers of colors on the mountains. The areas of green where rivers converge to create a small oasis where people settled. The smell of hay growing in the fields. The vast openness that I don’t see in cities.

Through each mile, I connected with those spirits. I thanked them for being my root and my “othala” connection – to this land and region. I thanked them for welcoming my family when we moved there with openness and embracing us.  For taking care of us and making this place a very deep connection for me.

As I passed significant places (such as where I worked as a teenager, my school, a home I lived in, homes of my friends and family friends, hangouts, parks, even the church I attended as a youth), I thanked the spirits dwelling at those locations for all that I gained as a result of their influences that helped me form who I am today. I spoke to them that even though my physical presence may not come back, I am still connected to them and they are still part of my othala here and will not be severed.

It was quite an emotional experience and I was a little bit surprised at the intensity of it. It was a very good experience and I’m glad to have been able to connect with Them as I left the area.  It will be strange to not go back now and then.  But I hope to always have that sense of “home” with them.

How Do You Connect to the Land/House Vaettir of Your “Othala”?

Jans-Runes
Runes made from Utah Quaking Aspen laid out on lava rock with sandstone and coal from where the author grew up.

If you have moved away from a place that you consider home, have you had that experience? Have you returned often and then had a time when you knew you wouldn’t go back?

How do you connect with the place you are now? Do you engage the land, city, and house vaettir where you are now?

If you haven’t made an effort to reach out to those ancestral spirits or the ones where you are now, do you think you might want to?

The experience of connecting with ancestral vaettir and ancestors can be very rewarding and meaningful. Also, making that relationship to the Ones where you are now is also very rewarding and helps to establish further that sense of home and being wherever you are. Even if you will be there a short while, it is worth making those connections and introductions as part of the hospitality of living together.

 

* Translation by Dickens, Bruce. 1915. Runic and heroic poems of the old Teutonic peoples. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 

** The othala rune has unfortunately been adopted by racist, white supremacist, and nazi groups to promote bigotry and hatred to others based on immutable traits such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and other traits they deem undesirable. They misappropriate the rune’s connection to heritage, ancestral lineage and inheritance to support their racist and bigoted ideology. This is a deplorable use of othala and is not the subject nor the intended context of this post in any way.

*** This article was originally posted at Huginn’s Heathenhof  on 29 July 2018 and is the work of Jan Tjeerd.

Norse Witch: You’re NOT doing it wrong!

Claiming the Heathen [Heidhrinn] heart – you aren’t doing it wrong

Norse Witch_Connla FreyjasonThere are many in the Heathen community who are very quick to pronounce “you are doing it wrong!” Especially when it comes to practices of a magical, modern, or “not found in the lore.” What those attitudes fail to recognize or acknowledge (in their own idea of what heathenry was) is that in the random time period they select as THE point for all things heathen/asatru is that even at that point – they were practicing UPG (unverified personal gnosis), modern practices, and WITHOUT the “lore”.

In this book, Freyjason has created a dialog and sacred safe space in which those who feel the call of the Northern Gods, Goddesses, and Beings can practice in a modern context in ways that they sense those same Gods and Beings are leading them. Freyjason has a very deep connection to many of the God/desses with very intense and personal relationships as well as knowledgeable foundation of the lore, sagas, Old Norse language, and archaeological findings.

This foundation is a great starting point to bring what we can know from the past, even BM Believemixed with the suppositions and practices that have become established from hopeful surmisings, and provides a way that one with whom this resonates can implement in their day to day practice. The end goal of the book, in my first reading, seems to be that the most important thing to do is connect with Them on a level that you can. Regardless if it was practiced 1500 years ago, 1000 years ago, 500 years ago, or 30 years ago (regardless of the source of the practice – verifiably historical [rare] or reconstructed (from lore sources) or imagined [what they think how viking-era people should have practiced]).

 

Establishing a solid foundation

Norse Witch sets out to reclaim the Heathen (or Heidhrinn) HEART. This is accomplished in a writing style that makes the reader feel like they are sitting in the same room with the author and hearing the experiences first hand. Freyjason cuts through the distance with a writing style that engages on many levels during the experience and entices the Heidhrinn heart to wake up and move forward with how the God/desses are interacting with them.

BM BalanceThe interesting way the book is structured is a very layered style. It’s not necessarily a progressive A-Z manual of steps, although he has certainly put forth early on very key basic information. What he does do is intertwine the knowledge based information (such as who the Gods are, the nature of the Nine Worlds, basic concepts such as good versus evil etc) with experiential exercises. Such as how to meet and get to know the God/desses calling or one wants to meet.

The first 11 chapters or so I think prepares someone who may be newly experiencing the Northern (Norse) “exposure” of the Nine Worlds and helps them to establish a grounding and center for their exploration. Although I moved through the book at a regular reading pace (I have been a practicing Heathen for over 10 years), I recommend someone newly exploring Norse Witch (Heidhrinn) to move at a slower read and to meditate and explore the referenced companion resources (listed in the back of the book under each chapter) as well.

The remainder of the book goes to a bit more next level practices including Rune work, wight-walking (spiritual walking amongst the realm of the animal and nature spirits – vaettir), deeper manifesting work, and the God/desses who are not as proactive in human activity.

BM RitualOne of the best features of the book is the plentiful amount of rites, invocations and meditations. While most have a similar structure, including using the same openings and setting of boundaries, this is very good to establish a familiarity with how to set and maintain well sacred space and activity within it. This will help it become second nature so that as we grow and progress, we can alter and add different elements, poems, incantations, modes and Beings to work with.

Some “cherries on top”
Artwork throughout and the beautiful cover
Poetry by the author or friends he knows
Freyjason translates his own passages of the Eddas and Sagas used in the text
Traveler’s notebook for the Nine Worlds

EddaThumper (wp)

Qualities of the Book

Stylistically, the book is a reference volume. It is sized to carry in a backpack or satchel, but at slightly over 400 pages, it is slightly heavy. This may deter from everyday carrying around and light reading, but when taking a long ride, a trip to a quiet place to read – it’s a great size. The dimensions of the book (6 x 9) are just a good size to hold in the hand. The print size and font is extremely friendly on the eyes and throughout the book (including the gorgeous cover) is artwork by the author himself.

Some of the paragraphs could use some breaking into additional graphs to avoid long stretches and the conversational style occasionally seemed to drift before getting back to topic but they weren’t enough to derail the reading experience.

Wrap Up

BM WyrdOverall, this is a book of introduction and connection to the [Heidhrinn/Heathen] heart. It will be a very good resource for a small study group of folks who can experience, read, discuss, and encourage each other along the path. Some may find it too basic depending on their style of Heathen practice or length of time practicing. But it is a book that can benefit many who are truly seeking to connect with the Northern Divine culture, called to the magical practice of a Norse Witch, and desire to make that a daily experience to enrich their relationships with Them (Gods/Goddesses/Beings) for a spiritually awakened life here on Midgard.

 

Norse Witch by Connla Freyjason can be ordered on Amazon.  View more of Connla’s writings and artwork at Iaconography.  Listen to an interview with Norse Witch author, Connla Freyjason on episode 20 of Gifts of the Wyrd podcast.

Book Reviews: Stories for all ages

Story of ArbuxThe Story of Arbux

by K. Fritz                 Saga Press www.sagapress.ca 

Available on Amazon.

The Story of Arbux is a delightful tale of a 16-year-old’s friendship and adventure with a giant. The book relates the tale through the memories of the protagonist’s grandson as he recounts the adventure as told by his grandfather.

Stories from Opa (Grandpa)
I really enjoyed this book. Reading this brought back many memories of being a young boy doing things with my grandfather in his workshop or in his yard.

He was always telling me stories and teaching me many things that I use throughout my life. It is appropriate for any age and (because of the way the author breaks up the story into different sections) it makes a wonderful book to read to children and to let them read on their own. The illustrations by Caroline K. Jensen are few, but they add a nice touch to the story as we move along.

Friendship, Loyalty, Duty
The format sets up a great dynamic between the four main characters of the book: the grandson, Grand-dad, Grand-dad as a teen, and the giant – Arbux. In between the memories of the grandkids hearing the tale of this great adventure, we are exposed to wonderful lessons that have a greater meaning when coming from a beloved grandparent.

Grandson movingly intersperses memories of Grand-dad taking care of himself and his siblings which adds to the flow of the story rather than interrupt it. Fritz masterfully weaves the memory of hearing the story with the retelling of it in way that we grow up with the children while experiencing Grand-dad and Arubx’ journey to Norway.

We learn valuable lessons of growing up in a loving way that doesn’t feel like preaching at all. Grand-dad treats the children with respect and carefully explains what he means in language they can process and comprehend. Many of the lessons come from “Oddy Quotes”- quotations from the Havamal and Eddas.

Among the lessons were how to treat others, the length of friendships, and being a good host and a good guest. These lessons are such a part of Grand-dad’s character, that we accept the words as if they are from the High One Himself.

Grand-dad’s story progresses from his chance meeting with the giant to building trust and friendship. He realizes that Arbux is out of place, deduces where he might be from (based on his knowledge and belief from the Eddas and the Old Ones) and determines to see Arbux get home.

We are treated to many fun, tense, and touching situations as the two grow closer in their own ways. By the conclusion of the story, readers genuinely feel a connection to Grand-dad’s commitment, love, and sense of honor to his friend. And we find a love for them both too.

Fritz creates a sense of sitting in the presence of Grand-dad with the children waiting for the next installment of the fascinating tale. With the memories of Grand-son, we come to love and to aspire to Grand-dad’s approach to life.

The Story of Arbux would make a wonderful animated film or short series. I really hope someone would take a look and make it happen. It earns a treasured place on the shelf with other favorites and will be very nice to revisit now and then as well as sharing with children. It is definitely one to have as a physical book to more easily go back and forth between the story.

Listen to an interview with Arbux author Karoline Fritz on episode 23 of Gifts of the Wyrd podcast.


At Friggas FeetAt Frigga’s Feet: Sasha, the Rabbit & The Tale of the Sun and Moon       

by Larisa Hunter:        Illustrated by Laura Bell

Saga Press     Available on Amazon.

At Frigga’s Feet is a great book of two tales that are really nice for little children. The two tales have great lessons that are told by Larisa Hunter in ways that they can understand and enjoy. And are fun to read.

The first story is about Sasha the Rabbit who gets a little greedy and then lies to Frigga to avoid the consequences. But lies get out of control and they harm others, as Sasha found out. The story is told in such a way that parents can interact with their children while reading it to get their feedback and see how they would respond to such a situation. This is a really nice way to impart the value of honesty and doing the right thing.

The second tale is the story of Mani and Sunna and how they came to be the bearers of the Moon and the Sun.

The illustrations by Laura Bell are so colorful and easy to identify with, that I wish there were more throughout the story of Sasha, the Rabbit. The illustrations in The Tale of the Sun and Moon enhance the story and will help little ones visualize the characters as we progress through it.

I look forward to sharing this with the children of friends and family and to sitting down and reading it with them. Each of the two stories can be easily read before bedtime – if the kids are not too tired from a long day of play.

 

Listen to an interview with Saga Press publisher Larisa Hunter on episode 19 of Gifts of the Wyrd Podcast.

#Heathenry50: Why Heathenry?

Norse Witch_Connla Freyjason

Why Heathenry?

The first topic of the #Heathenry50 Challenge is to ask the question and explore – “Why Heathenry?”  With the myriad ways one can express spirituality and religion, what is it about heathenry (heathenism, heidhrinn) that connects with me?

The road to where I am is not unlike many others. I was raised in the United States during what I thought was the end of an era dominated by Christianity (now it appears there is a movement within the government to implement a state religion of a certain variety of Christian “values” – tossing out the separation of church and state once again). I was raised in a Christian culture, Latter Day Saints (LDS), which was actually not too bad as a child. The importance of family, helping others, and spiritual/religious practices were all good things to learn.

Bronze Age Imagination

At the awakening age of 10 years, I met some kids at school who introduced me to the wonderful world of comic books. I had already been a fan of science fiction and fantasy books and television (The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Space 1999, Star Trek, etc. were all favorites), but this medium opened up a new world of imagination and characters that I fell in love with. And I have not abandoned these characters now 40 years later – they are still fond in my memory and I love to revisit those stories.  This era of comics (roughly 1968-1985) is known as the “Bronze Age” in the comics-world and it is my favorite era.

Among those characters were several who kept my mind open to possibilities. Wonder Woman, Thor, Hercules, and Superman (among others) all had mythologies associated with them that were a part of their everyday lives. Granted, Thor and Hercules were themselves gods; but they were still associated with the pantheons that existed along with them.

I loved reading about Thor being sent to Earth to teach him a lesson of humility by Odin. How Princess Diana (Wonder Woman), always sought the guidance of the Greek Gods and Goddesses for wisdom, strength, and advice. Although I know now that these are not the exact representations of the deities that were worshipped in our world, these characters still represented the basics of who They are and kept Them alive to readers in a way that allows that spark of interest and faith.

The interaction with the Gods by Wonder Woman and others always kept that door in mind from being completely closed, locked and sealed from the possibility that the Gods were still alive and wanting to connect with humans. Although it was another 18 years or so before I fully explored that possibility, it was still always there in some way.

The Gods Move in Subtle Ways

Forward over the years of full Christian immersion (including a period of King James only conservatism) to a point in life where spiritual choices were being made.

These choices led to dropping Christianity and pursuing a more animistic approach to life. My philosophy/theology simplified to the following:

  • I believed that those who went before me were important and deserved to be remembered, talked to, and appreciated for where I am now.
  • I believed that there are spirits in nature and we need to honor, respect and cohabitate with them.
  • Finally, I still believed the Gods exist, live, and want to interact again with humans.  My question was – whom do I connect to and how?

Looking for people to connect with who had similar questions, I found a group of witches and began doing things in tangible ways again (ritual). In 2006, I found Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) at Pantheacon (a west coast pagan convention).  Since I was involved with the local Irish community, I began learning about the Irish Gods and opening relationships with Them.  What a joy to have those doors that were kept ajar by my childhood heroes and their connections to the Gods flung wide open!

Through ADF, I learned a lot about ritual, study, knowing the Gods and developing relationships and practices that work for me today. Although ADF is known as a “Druid” organization, it is not limited to Celtic spirituality. ADF is an inclusive organization that focuses practices on Indo-European spirituality. Among the members is a very large heathen group which includes Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Vanic, continental Germanic, and other practices of the northern regions and pantheons.

But . .  . Why Heathenry?

Indeed, why Heathenry? One would think that with the connection and immersion of Irish culture (I do have Irish ancestors), why would I spiritually migrate? As noted above, the Gods move in subtle ways. Although I do have some Irish ancestry, most of my ancestors are Dutch and Danish.

It was during a time of meditation that Brigid took me by the “hand” and said we were going for a walk. Before I knew it, I was standing before Freya and Odin. Brigid gently nudged me forward towards Freya saying to me that They (the Irish) had fostered me until I was ready to be passed on. From that point forward, the relationships have grown and become strong.

For me, relating to nature spirits, ancestors, and the Gods of the Northern lands connects with me on many levels. I found early in my journey that the Vanir were very interested in a friendship and we connected quite well.

I also appreciate the cosmology within the stories, the variety of personalities of the Gods and Goddesses, as well as the interest in working with and remembering the ancestors (be they blood, historical, or chosen influence) and nature spirits (wights).

These are all key to my practice and it is wonderful to find this within the various practices under the umbrella of heathenry. There are many ways to learn about Heathenry and the wonderful practices within it: Anglo-Saxon, Asatrú, Continental German, Heidhrinn, Icelandic, Norse, Norse Paganism, Rokkatrú, Vanatrú and possibly others. I will post some recommendations that I have found helpful shortly.

Important note! One does NOT need to be of a certain heritage to get to know any pantheon. I absolutely deny that premise used by racists to justify excluding people of color from any Heathen, Celtic, or other path! The Gods will connect with whom they choose to regardless of heritage, skin color, gender, identity etc.

 

Artwork for Norse Witch by Connla Freyjason.