Heathen Ideas

Week 3: B is for Blot

A blot is a sacred Heathen cerimony often preformed on religious holidays, or during gatherings of the Norse Paganism community. It Is a way to pray to the gods and ask them for favors, give back to the gods for all they give us, and a way for both mortals and the divine to draw together as a community. It is arguably our most important rite. Regardless of which gods you worship or how; the blot is a time when we can come together and bond over our similarities rather rather than fight over our differences. It is a gathering of people and gods, a joyous celebration of community. At least that is what it should be. Some blots are more welcoming than others. Segregation of different sects has always been a problem for Heathens, just as it has been for many other religions. Still I have hope than the majority would prefer to unite rather than fracture in the face of minute differences.

The blot is an ancient ritual, and has been relatively well cronicaled in our lore. Blot itself means Sacrifice and Worship. But it also derives from an ancient word meaning blood. And originally it did begin with an animal being sacrificed for a feast (the creature was killed as humainly as possible, and as much of it as possible was used). But in modern times only a very few sects of Norse Paganism still partake in this paticular part of the tradition. Most prefer to skip this first step, and buy or make food for the sacrifice instead. In any case, the first step to any blog is the preparation of food to be used later in the event. Just about anything can be used, though pork is the most traditional anything can work, even something as simple a a chunk of bread. The food should be made as fresh, and presentable as posible, blessed, and oaths made over the meal. This is something that will be shared by man and god after all. Next the the space should be made sacred. This is usually done with a Thor’s hammar or by making the sign of Thor’s hammar with ones hands, to the north, south, east, west, above, and below. Other common methods are to walk a candle, or sone other type of flame around the outside of the circle. Traditionally this job belongs to the host or a leading member of the community. Next a bowl is filled with ale, and if an animal is sacrifice for the occation, some of its blood is traditionally mixed in. And a sprig from an evergreen is used to lightly sprinkle each guest and the altar with the ale to bless them. And then runes are usually drawn in order to hear what the gods are trying to communicate.

With the opening cerimony done, the toasts begin. A drinking horn or goblet is filled with ale (or apple juice or cider for the mixed age events) and is given to a woman usually referred to as a Valkyrie. Her job is to hold (and refill) the horn and pass it to each person in the circle. The guests are NOT supposed to pass it to each other. The first toast is given to the gods. Starting with the host, each person takes the horn and calls upon a god or goddess, maybe says a small prayer, and then drinks from it. The next toast is a brag. Each person (again starting with the host) says a boast, something that they have do that their proud of before again drinking from the horn. The final toast is to an ancestor. Each person talks about one of their ancestors (or just their ancestors in general), saying as much or little about them as they feel comfortable with before their final drink from the horn.

Now that the toasts are done, whatever food you prepared earlier is consumed by everyone present. This should be a merry time. The leftover food and drink should be taken outside (if you aren’t already) and poured on the ground as a gift to the gods who were invited. Finally the host gives a gift to the people he invited (this is usually something like a rune Thor’s hammar, or other sacred trinket ment to tell their immediate fortune or bless them with good luck), and and everyone else has the option of also giving gifts (thigh it isn’t required) in order to strengthen bonds.

Week Two: A is for Askr and Embla

Norse paganism is, more than anything else, a religion based around our ancestors. We stand on the shoulders of those that came before us. And Askr and Embla were the first. Askr is the father to us all, and Embla our mother.

Well, let’s begin at the beginning. The poetic Eddas and the prose Eddas both explain the creation of the pair. In the poetic Edda they are found by Odin and his brothers Villi and Ve as they walk across the beaches of the newly created Midard (the realm of men). The are drift wood with no destiny. And so the three gods give them life and grant them control over the newly created world, thus creating man and allowing them a kingdom of their own. In the Prose Edda Odin once again takes part in making us, but this time with the help of two different gods, Hœnir and Lodur. In this tale, Odin gives the couple spirit, Hœnir gives sence, and Lodur gives blood and goodly hue.

Now Askr’s name is easily translated, it quite literally means ash tree. But Embla is not so simple. Though most people believe that her name means elm tree because of the similar sound, most linguists agree that’s not the case. Infact, her name is more closely related to the word vine. And this paints a very interesting picture of gender roles. While the ash tree grows tall and straight, the vine is small and it’s form curved and wondering. While the ashes strength is outward, proud and visible to all, the vines strength comes from within. Their power is deceptive, while small and apparently weak, they have the power to overcome the tree, and not the other way around. But the vine also needs the ash, because the vine cannot support its own form. It needs the steady, well rooted tree to support it.

Week 1: A is for Asir

In the Norse mythos the Asir are one of three races of gods living in the world tree. They are the gods that everybody thinks about. Thor, Odin, Tyr, Frigg, and Heimdall just to name a few. And, across the board they are also the most heavily worshiped.

In the poetic Edda Voluspa a great Seeress tells Odin about the beginning and end of the world. We learn that first there were Jotun, great chaotic gods that represent the wildness of nature, both at its most creative, and it’s most destructive. And then, the Asir were born. The gods of culture, order, civilization, and war. Gods of the cities and great halls. And so the grandsons of the first Asir, Odin, and his brothers Villi and Ve went out and killed the first of the Jotuns. And with his body they made Midgard, our world. And just like the gods of culture and war slew the terrible and beautiful god of chaotic nature, so did we clever apes mimick the gods in our world. And through the acts of the three brother gods a pattern was born. Something must be slain if something else is to be created, life equates death, equates life.

It is from the Asir that we get the term Asatru, which is nearly synonamus with Norse Paganism. Asatru quite literally means true to the Asir, and it has inspired other similar terms such as Vanatru, true to the Vanir, and Rokkatru, true to the Jotun. But, in a grand example of influence, the Asir were not only the first, but the most well known. They have always been man’s gods more than any other race. It was Odin and his brothers who not only gave us the realm we enhabit, but who breathed life into our first ancestors. And later, the god Heimdall came to Midgard slept with three human women, creating the three social classes. It was the Asir who, more than anyone else, shaped our ancestors lives.

Pagan blog protect intro!

Well, a friend of mine introduced my to the pagan blog protect, which is an event that will encompass the entire year. Each week everyone involved will be given a prompt to write about. This week it will be the letter A for example. And they can write about anything they want as long as it is in regard to both the prompt and paganism. And on Friday of each week, all the participants post their response. It is a chance to both explore your own faith, as well as the beliefs of others. It is also a wonderful way to connect to other like minded individuals. Anyone can join and if your interested, you can find out more at http://onewitchsway.com/pbp2012/

Obviously, I’ve decided to give it a try. And so I created this blog just for the ocation. Now this is my first ever blog, so I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do, but I thought it best if I start with an introduction.

I’m a 23 year old American, currently living in southern California, having recently returned to my home state after a year long stay in Alaska. I’m a wife and a mother of one beautiful 10 month old baby boy. I’m a stay at home mom, but I keep pretty busy, and I love my job! I’m also a proud Heathen, or Norse pagan. That means that I believe in and worship the old Norse gods and goddesses, such as Thor. I’m particularly dedicated to the gods Odin and his blood brother Loki, as well as the goddess Hel. Yes, I worship Loki and Odin. I’m neither Asatru (those true to the Asir) or Rokkatru (those dedicated to the Jotun or giants). I’m a true Heathen (someone neutral to both sides). I believe that both are gods, and that I have no right to choose who is worthy of my worship. The gods are greater than I, and each has a role to play in all that is. But I will get into that later.

For now, I’d just like to introduce myself and say hello, so…. Hello, see you again Friday!