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Vetrnætr Blót Bidding

Hail Óðinn, Hanged God, Father of Battle, Granter of Victory, Lord of the Gallows!

Hail Þórr, Thunder, Mighty Áss, Great Champion of the Æsir, Warder of Miðgarðr!

Hail Ingvi-FreyR, Giver of Wealth, God of the World, Lord of Alfhaim, Shining One!

Hail the landvættir! Hail the house gods! Hail the álfar! Hail the Ancestors!

We bid you join us and receive our offerings true. We raise this horn of ale in your honor and share it as a token of our gratitude for the gifts you have given us. Accept this sacrifice, a symbol of our labor to provide for our families, and find it worthy. Grant us your blessings as winter draws near and keep us safe through the cold nights. Protect us from all ill-willing wights, trolls, and niðlings. Keep our homes safe from storms and our hearths warm. Let good friends find comfort in our company and may we find food plentiful and drink always full. We offer up this horn of worthy ale to you, may it be well received.

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2,000!

The blog just hit 2,000 page views. Today also marks 1 month of activity. Thank you all for making far more successful than I ever imagined!

Atlanta Pagan Pride Day

I have to say, somewhat disappointingly, that it is exactly what I expected it to be. An old friend and I were the only Ásatrúar / Heathens there. We had been hoping that a local group would be there but after I was on site I looked at their Facebook page and noticed that they had scheduled something else for this day. In years past, there had been other reconstructionist faiths there as well as at least one group representing Ásatrú. Those days are clearly long gone and this event really was for the Wiccan and Neo-Pagan crowd. While I was there I saw things that made me want to rush home and smash out a post about why they get no respect and why no one takes them seriously. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to rip on someone else for what they do. So, instead, I’m going to try and turn this into something a bit more constructive and see where it goes.

My friend expressed to me his frustration in trying to get Neo-Pagans to understand that what we do is unique and different from what they do. This got me to thinking about the reality of the situation. They don’t have the concept tools to follow where we are going. Some of this is their fault but some of it is ours. The very lack of any presence by anyone in our entire and rather broad spectrum of religious traditions shows just how far our communities have drifted. Yes, we find a lot of what they do annoying but the reality is that most converts come from Neo-Paganism, not somewhere else. If we find them frustrating or annoying because of their ignorance of us then that is our fault because we haven’t done ecumenical work with them. That’s right, I said a dirty word right there. Ecumenicism is necessary if we are going to teach them to respect our traditions. Yes, we do run the risk of someone snapping up something and running off with it, but that risk exists no matter what. As it stands, we scare them away by being jerks. What’s that gotten us?

We need to do a better job reaching out to the Neo-Pagan community because we will find more allies there than enemies. We also need to reach out to them and work to address the reality that we do have to deal with the issue of racism but that it does not define who we are and that racism is not what we represent. One of the things I got tired of hearing when I did work with some part of the Neo-Pagan community in the Atlanta area years ago was hearing that they thought we were all a bunch of Neo-Nazi morons because they only ever saw the scum who abuse our faith and heritage to mask their agenda of hate. We can also teach them to respect our traditions and that it would be better not to copy them because it is both insulting to us and something they don’t really understand the ramifications of. In truth, we need to work towards dialogue with the Wiccans and Neo-Pagans, even if it drives us nuts. They aren’t going to come to us so we need to go to them.

I desire a day when Pagan Pride Day lives up to the claim of representing the diversity of traditions rather than the diversity of Wicca knock-offs in Atlanta. I would actually like to see us lead an interfaith blót, maybe to FreyR for frith, at one of these events. Yes, it does require us to turn an eye to “showing off” our religion and that is something that a lot of us aren’t comfortable with. It does require that we work to break down a self-imposed restriction built from frustration and irritation. If we don’t then we run the risk of becoming truly isolated and that will work against us. There are more of them than there are of us. We need to be on good terms with them because we want them to have positive opinions of us and to send people to us that might otherwise be lost or missed.

I’m sorry that its been so long since my last post but work has been extremely busy and hectic and I just haven’t had the time to write.

Today is Atlanta’s Pagan Pride event. I decided to go this year because I want to meet up with an old friend I haven’t seen in years. He was planning on attending to meet with folk from Atlanta Heathens, a group I don’t know but am taking the opportunity to meet as well. I will be doing a longer “after action report” later.

As you might imagine, this is mostly for the Wiccan and Neo-Pagan crowd and I expect the usual antipathy between our two communities to mean that there will only be a small contingent of Northern Folk here. In years past, I used to do a lot with the Neo-Pagan community in the Atlanta area, in hopes that those I dealt with would understand us a bit better. In the end, I think I learned far more about them than they learned about us. I’m hoping that Atlanta Heathens will prove to be able to do, as a group, what I used to try to do, only better.

Beowulf on living

As a slight post script to my article regarding our tendancy to focus on living rather than eternity, Beowulf, that ever so famous poem, provides us with a fantastic passage about life and death.

Each of us must accept the end of life here in this world, so we must work while we can to earn fame before death.

Fame (a good reputation), honor, family worth; these are the things that ought to matter most to us instead of being obsessed with “the here-after.” Personally, I find the idea of “dying into the mound” to be very comforting. While there is a bit of metaphysical extrapolation required because of the lack of family burial sites and the fact that I favor cremation over burial, as my parents did, I believe all but the worst of us or the most glorious of us rejoin our kin in death. I look forward to feasting with them in Hel’s Hall (Snorri’s account of Hel is a rather limited one, all evidence considered) after my time on Midgard has ended. Until then, I plan to work hard and strive to live up to our ideals so that I can earn a high place among my ancestors.

I inadvertently outted myself as an Ásatrúar to a co-worker yesterday. When he realized I wasn’t Christian he asked me point blank what I am. I have a rule, I will evade the topic if I can but if you ask me directly then I will give you an honest answer. Now, he’s a polite and decent young man of a quiet, non-preachy (at work) Christian persuasion. However, the world he lives in is pretty small and is only aware of “big name” non-Abrahamic religious beliefs like Buddhism. The idea that “pagans” of any kind are still around was mind-blowing to him.

What struck me as interesting was that he skipped right over “Do you believe in God?” and went right to “Do you believe in Heaven or Hell?” as his first question. This lead into a bit of a discussion about beliefs regarding the after-life but he seemed to have a very hard time understanding that I wasn’t concerned with this and that I was more concerned with how I live this life and how it impacts my family and, eventually, children.

This got me to thinking about a key characteristic of Ásatrú. We are a religion of life, not one of death. Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity, seems to be almost completely consumed with what happens after death and almost completely ignores what is going on in life. To them, life is ultimately about getting your seat in Heaven and little else really matters. To us, what happens in death isn’t all that important. In truth, we don’t even have a single belief and the lore shows us many beliefs our ancestors held. What matters to us isn’t death, but life.

I’ve mentioned the idea of “we are our deeds” before and I really do think that this is one of the single best summations of our religious and philosophical character. Our primary responsibility on Midgard is to care and provide for our families and clans. It is to them that our first obligation exists. In our modern world we can extend this to national obligation, and if we are feeling particularly generous, we can place the “good of the species and all mankind” as an even larger concentric circle of obligation. The key thing here is that urd and orlog is determined by our actions (among other things, but let’s not be picky) and if we act in harmful ways, our families suffer for it. This means we are bound by honor and duty to behave in a responsible and beneficial way.

What struck me as odd, and even uncomfortable, about this part of the conversation was the difficulty that he had understanding that family is first and foremost in our lives (at least for those of us who have family) and sits at the very foundation of our identity and customs. It informs us of who we are and is easily as important as keeping troth with our Elder Kin. One of our heroes from the Conversion period, King Radbod of Frisia refused conversion because it would have separated him from his Heathen kin, a situation he found unthinkable. I find it sad that I had such a hard time explaining this to the young man I work with because he just couldn’t accept the idea that family was more important than going to his Heaven.

As a side note, I was also amazed at the contrast between his obsession with “eternity” and what happens after death. I’m an Odin’s Man. I’ve dedicated myself to a god of many things, death being one of them. I’m fascinated by customs and beliefs about death from around the world. As an Ásatrúar and as an Odin’s Man, however, I’m not nearly as obsessed with the afterlife as it seems Christians are. I find it a peculiar obsession, especially because they seem to care so little about what they do in life. I know that this is a matter of perception as much as anything, but it’s just so weird to me to be concerned about an eternal reward but give almost no concern to the world they, and their decedents live in.

Runes Cast and Sung

Runes Cast and Sung

Runes I cast and sing their songs.
The threads of each man’s skein
I know, I read, I help weave.

Nornir I call for wisdom to see;
Rightly I know, rightly I read
Staves of power, mighty staves.

Deeds and words are marked,
Recorded, kept, and cast.
Their songs sung, and stained truly.

Under the boughs of a windy tree
Do all the Powers sit and judge
What merit each man has done.

Runes I cast and sing their songs.
The threads of each man’s skein
I know, I read, I help weave.